Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Scary things K has picked up

- K has picked up the word "shoot" (from friends at school, I guess) and uses it in all the wrong ways (I'll shoot the car into the wall; the elephant shooted water with its trunk; and so on). It's scary. Even though on a daily basis he continues to be a peace-loving child.

- K was told by an older girl in school that only babies wear diapers & grown-ups wear "panties". So he asked his dad to buy some panties for him. The dad, as expected, was aghast. (Incidentally, when K says he likes the colour pink, even that makes his dad uncomfortable).

- K has a plastic handphone. He clicks pretend-pictures on the phone & says aloud, "Let me put them on Facebook now". This is scary because at 2 if he knows about this, how long is it going to be before he expects us to give him a real iPhone? We've tried telling him about the value of money, but he insists that money is not a problem, its always available in an ATM.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A portrait of the man in a tie

The man in a Ferragamo tie,
With ironed pleated trousers,
And a jacket to match,
Loafers made of animal hide,
And a shiny metal watch.

A thumb rolling over the Blackberry scroller,
Eyes speed-reading an email,
While he quibbles on his phone,
About two basis-points,
That could cost dollars million & half.

Confident he'll meet his ambition,
He's been successful so far,
He's a man of aspiration,
I'm not quite convinced however,
That he knows what his aspirations are.

The lap of luxury is a gluey lap,
He worries about being able to stay high,
To maintain that abundance,
Although only a few years ago,
He wasn't acquainted with it at all.

A leader; a grabber of opportunities,
He's loved for his charm & suave.
And he lives it up high,
The fruition of five long days,
In a weekend of unfettered verve.

When the suit is off though,
A naked man stands in front of the mirror.
Before he learnt to live life with staidness,
He had knocked the ball that smashed the neighbour's window,
That impetous boy without the tie.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Attended an evening of poetry with the legendary Gulzaar at Singapore's Esplanade theatre & was absolutely blown away. Alongside Gulzar, was another writer - Pavan Varma - who has translated some of Gulzar's work into English. And although the english translation almost never had the same quality of expression, we were thankful for it in any case; mainly because it served as a guide for some heavy-weight urdu vocabulary (not a strength of mine).

I was apprehensive at first. Despite all my love for poetry, I'm far from being a master of urdu and wasn't sure of what to expect from an urdu poet. I went in with expectations of songs of love, longing, chaand, mohabbat and shikwa. I was pleasantly surprised though with the range of topics Gulzar has written about. There was a verse called "kitabe" about forgotten books; a gem of a verse about a diary full of incomplete verses like stubbed cigerrettes; about nature & the environment; about a grimy pub in Mumbai; about the charms of the afternoons in old Dilli, there was a beautiful little verse about RD Burman called "Pancham"; and he ended with a verse I completely loved, titled "Meghna" which spoke about his experience of his daughter giving birth to his grand-son (It got me teary-eyed to hear of a father's tumult at watching his little girl become a woman; a mother; going through the pains of labour.)

Admittedly, its not easy listening to poetry being read aloud. You need time to take it in, ruminate over the words, build the imagery, and by the time you've done all that, you've probably missed the train of verse the poet is reading. Gulzar was a patient reader & allowed us enough time to digest every sentence. And seeing the poetry through the eyes of the poet himself; hearing his views & origins of the thoughts; was a treat. Having said that, I can't wait to get my hands on the book & re-read the verses in my own time & on my own sofa.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kopi & Teh

I was first introduced to the local Singaporean coffee and tea around 4 years ago, by some friends at work. A hot beverage with condensed milk & loads of sugar - -it was revolting at first & I continued to rely on my exhorbitant cup of Starbucks on most mornings. But over the period of time, I've learnt how to make the best of my local coffee or tea. The important thing is to ask for the right thing.

The regular Teh Tarik is excessively sweet for my liking. The Teh-C-Kosong comes with no sugar and with evaporated milk; rather than condensed milk. Then you ask for Teh Halia which comes with ginger; and you've got yourself something pretty close to the Indian chai. This I like.

For coffee, firstly I always ask for Kopi-Po which is not as strong as regular Kopi. Then you ask for Kopi-C-Kosong i.e. with evaporated milk and no sugar. I'm still not a fan of this coffee, but I have to say the kopi-flavour grows on you over time.

The terminology is complex - its Malay, infused with Hokkien, infused with Singlish. And I guess no foreigner ever gets the right tea/coffee the first time. Its a process of trial & error. The rabbit hole is full of new & interesting things if you're adventurous enough.