Monday, April 30, 2012

The Long Distance Mother

Almost all the nannies/ domestic helpers in Singapore are Filipino women; who in most cases have families & little children of their own back home, but live in Singapore staying in strangers' homes taking care of strangers' babies as if they were their own.

Ana moved into our home & family around 4 years ago, when we found out we were expecting K. Her own kids were already grown up by then, but I've often wondered how she saw our lives. Watching a pampered single-child in Singapore with over a 100 toys in his room, must seem so wasteful, excessive & unfair to her. And yet, she seems simple-mindedly happy & content in his company; takes pride in his milestones; fusses over and worries for him when he's sick; and sulks when she drops him off at school. Meanwhile, her own 20-year-old son has come to Singapore this week & is staying with us. She can't get over the fact that her two separate worlds are finally piecing together!

Hush, hush, sweet child,
Here, let me sing you a song,
Let me rock you gently,
And hold your tiny hand.

There once was a little prince,
Who lived in a castle of gold,
He floated on clouds,
Knew no care in the world,

His smile makes a rainbow,
In a sky grey and dark,
His hand reaches hearts,
And unties its knots,

He laughs & gurgles,
Like the gushing Davao River,
Bordered by the coconut trees,
And a tiny brick house,

That land which I left,
You, a prince from another land,
You take me back there,
How do you do that?

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Water Puppet Show in Hanoi

On our way to Halong Bay, we spent a day in Hanoi and found ourselves in the middle of its crazy Old Quarters. Its a city thats thousands of years old, and looks it. If you've been to Pune, its very much like the Laxmi Road/ Peth area, but older. There are no traffic rules, there are no pedestrian footpaths & building maintenance is not a priority for people. There is however always a buzz of activity; you can't ever fault the city for being boring! Saw the Indian-style two-wheeler commute (families of four or five on one scooter) after ages & loved it :)

In the evening, we walked into the Water Puppet Show. Because TripAdvisor recommended us to do so. I thought it would be a tourist-trap, but quite liked it eventually. The themes of the puppetery was Vietnamese folk-lore; the rice harvests, the fishermen, the rural festivals, the red dragons, the children climbing kept us engaged & entertained; even had us laughing aloud on occassions. Well recommended, TripAdvisor.

The Cruise along the beautiful Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam is one of its kind. It comprises of almost 2000 little limestone islands emerging out of a green-blue ocean. They say the limestone hills are a result of millions of years of evolution & erosion by the waves & climatic conditions. Its beautiful. We took a short 2-day cruise through the bay & were mesmerised by how gorgeous and spooky an effect the cliff-n-caves landscape can create. I can honestly say, I've never seen anything like it before!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

I had never been on a real safari before. So it was exciting to hop into an open pick-up van driven by a wildlife ranger, equipped with nothing but a 18-year old Thai girl carrying a spotlight, setting out to explore the forests of Khao Yai. The safari started around 6 pm and as it got darker, we started realising that if a herd of wild elephants had to attack us, we could probably do nothing about it. We stuck to our narrow road running through the jungle on either sides; and passed by spooky signs like "Beware! Cobra crossing here"; with the spotlight moving through the trees while pairs of nocturnal animal eyes glittered back at us. We didn't spot any of the carnivorous wild animals though (I would've probably panicked if we did!), but got pretty darn close to some exotic variety of deer & monkeys. Adventurous enough for me :)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Weekend in Bangkok

So this is how the most bizzare day in K's life so far went:

- He started the day by making a road trip to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo near Bangkok where he held a baby tiger in his lap & bottle-fed him with tiger-mommy-milk. Although he was slightly disappointed that the cub mewed rather than roared, he did eventually say that tigers are his new favourite animals :)

- Next, he held a baby croc & agreed for the first time with his parents (that crocodiles are not cute at all.)

- After the Tiger Zoo, he went for a meal at the Robot Restaurant in Bangkok; where he punched orders into a touch-screen interface at the table and a robot (a real one too!) picked up the right sushi platters from the counter & brought them to our table. How cool was that! :)

It was like a day out of Alice in Wonderland for little K! :):)

The next day we went to Khao Yai National Park outside of Bangkok, will write a longer post about that later!