Saturday, December 17, 2016

Spotted at the MRT

P.S. Tan Swie Hian is a Singaporean poet, calligrapher & artist

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Musings of a 7 year old brain

K's casual conversation over morning coffee: "I would like my birthday to be famous... you know how everyone celebrates Christmas because it's Jesus Christ's birthday? It's quite simple really, I only need to start a new religion. I am thinking, maybe something to do with friendly ghosts...?"

Thursday, December 08, 2016

What the future holds...

Was chatting with some old friends last night about the new technology around Amazon Go, and while its all so new and exciting, we wondered whether anyone thinks about the long term impact of what this is all leading up to. My friend Y called it the grim "WALLE world" (and she works in robotics!). Perhaps. The more we incentivize humans to disengage with each other and engage with machines only, the grimmer the world gets. Sounds terribly pessimistic, but I can't shake the feeling off.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Voters xenophobia

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong wrote this after Brexit, and I am pasting it here in the American context now when it looks like Trump is going to win:

"Other developed countries also face similar challenges as Britain. We all live in a globalised, interdependent world. The desire to disengage, to be less constrained by one’s partners, to be free to do things entirely as one chooses, is entirely understandable. And yet in reality for many countries disengaging and turning inwards will likely lead to less security, less prosperity, and a dimmer future."

Hillary vs Donald

Very far removed from the US politics, but I have to say I really like Hillary. Its easy to be a Michele Obama, be a great orator, and to be liked for being a first lady who is intelligent and knowledgeable. It's way tougher being Hillary, being unapologetic about being ambitious, and being disliked for it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

A hoarding problem

Amazing antique store for hidden finds on Amoy Street, run by a friendly old man. Went in today, just to feel good about the mess in my own home. #SmallConsolations #MovingIsTraumatic

Thursday, September 22, 2016

People vs OJ Simpson

We started binge-watching this mini series and are almost through, and we shook our heads muttering, "how is this a true story", almost all the way. It's a show with a lot of insights: into race, celebrity, fame, justice, domestic violence, even friendship ... but here's the one that struck a cord with me most deeply: the sexism faced by a working woman every day, no matter how successful she is professionally. For that insight alone and the way it's portrayed (no efforts wasted on subtlety, but to hell with that), this series is worth watching. 

P.S. Also watching 'The Night Of', again lot of insights, but gives me too many nightmares about my own son!!

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The title of the book is completely (and I suppose purposefully) misguiding. My personal associations with vegetarianism are non-violence, cruelty-free living, and a denial of the carnivorous human instincts. And the narrative of this book is quite the opposite on all those counts. It's a very, very strange plot, headed by a most unfathomable main character and the most explicit moments one could come across in a book written by an Asian writer. It's so beyond the boundaries of what's considered normal, it became plausible in some weird dimension, and did actually move me to tears at a couple of points. A book that leaves you with a heavy heart...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Singapore Night Festival 2016

This was such a dramatic show! Quite enjoyed it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


A big crowd congregates opposite the Asia Square building. I wonder if there's been a fire breakout or an accident of some sort. When I realize what's going on, I have my palm on my face.

A wise man once said, "If you feel stupid, remind yourself that there are people out there looking for Pokemon." 

Wild forest fires & the wind that brings haze

It's the time of the year when wild forest fires break out (not without human intervention of the most stupid & unscrupulous kind), in Indonesia, and the nonchalant south-western winds carry the resultant fumes all the way to Singapore & Malaysia. Happens over & over again. The elites in this country buy air purifiers and make Facebook posts calling for boycott of palm oil; but nothing really changes. Some clever marketeers distribute free haze kits, images on one's news feed of orangutans burnt alive makes one sick in the stomach, kids begin wheezing, the poor continue labouring through the terrible air conditions, and a state of emergency gets declared in an already impoverished Sumatra. There's only one conclusion to be made here: the world is perverse in all sorts of ways.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Love this pic of the Indian Olympians

These women look fierce, determined and focussed; and it's such a different kind of attractiveness! So much grittier, prettier (and at the same time, more primal) than women posing with duck-lipped pouts. Delightfully earthy. Love it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Jo Schooling & Singapore's Olympic Gold

What an incredibly inspiring story... A young boy of 13 meets his hero Michael Phelps, then 8 years later finds himself competing against that same hero and wins in the most crucial swim of his life, on the world stage, in the most intimidating sporting event in the world and creates a new record! 

We've read a lot about it in the Singapore newspapers. The government bestowed a million dollar prize on Schooling. And a smart reporter did some number crunching and estimated that Schooling's  parents probably spent about 1.2 million dollars on his training already - all self sponsored at an American university under the best coaches in the world. While Schooling deserves every bit of awe that he has generated, isn't it sad how elitist sports have become? What chances does a poor boy from any of the poor Asian countries stand in the world of sports if those are the financials involved?

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Alternate ending with a twist

Remember little K's Star Wars phase which we thought was never going to end? I think it might just have ended. But before I could jump with joy and thrust my fist into the sky.... a new phase has started. He's obsessed with Harry Potter now. He has devoured the first 4 books (followed by the movie), and can only talk about Harry Potter characters and their back stories. As a parent, the good news here is that there's way less branded merchandise for Harry Potter than there was for Star Wars. 

So here's something that came up during dinner a few weeks back: if Voldermort had 'summoned' some nuclear bombs maybe he could've killed Harry in the first book itself? 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Grain Trader

Here's a food recommendation for anyone reading this blog: Grain Traders at The CapitaGreen building at Raffles Place. Healthy food that tastes so very delicious and served in a very chic setting. Not for the value-conscious folks who may frown upon a $16 salad lunch, but then again, it does do magic with your tastebuds.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The sun is out of control y'all!

It's been 10 years in Singapore & this is the worst summer yet!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Only in Singapore

I take the train to work everyday and at Raffles Place station (where most offices are), many would've noticed that SMRT has stationed an employee whose job is to smilingly and loudly say, "good morning sir, good morning m'am, don't forget to smile today!" He is a pleasant-faced grey haired man, probably in his late 40s who keeps smiling at commuters till they eventually smile back at him. 

I am sure the "smiley uncle" (as he is known to everyone) has other jobs at SMRT when he's not persuading commuters to smile during rush hour at Raffles Place, but still I found myself thinking at first, "what a waste of tax payers' money! As if you can brainwash people into feeling happy!"

But you know what, it works! Like everything else in Singapore does. On a particularly gloomy day yesterday, I found myself thinking of the smiley uncle & smiled.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

China Diary

Isn't it crazy- Having spent about a decade in this part of the world, this was only our first ever visit to China! Well, there was a good reason for it. We were worried about not being able to get by without knowing the language (and we don't quite enjoy being guided by someone else when we are traveling). But then H had a conference in Beijing and we tagged along, so it just kind of happened. And we are glad it did.

Beijing, we thought, was a lot like Delhi. Wide roads, important looking government buildings, taxi drivers looking for a reason to fleece you, and lots and lots of cultural history. We also took a day trip to Mutianyu to see the Great Wall, which was pretty darn impressive for a 2000 year old structure. And then Shanghai felt a lot like Hong Kong or Mumbai - chaotic, unplanned, unstructured, vibrant, more cosmopolitan, casual. A sort of Mumbai from the future (in terms of infrastructure and cleanliness). On our last weekend, we visited an ancient Chinese water village in Xitang. At first, we were unsure of what to expect in the Chinese countryside, but it turned out quite charming and quaint, even though a bit touristy. 

Turned out the language wasn't such a big issue after all. Our little translator K did a fantastic job! :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Expatriates by Janice Y K Lee

What a lovely book! Set among the American expats in Hong Kong, this was a backdrop which felt very familiar, so it was fun reading about it. Highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was well-spent at the park (cricket, picnic lunch, some grown up time, some kiddie time). Would've been perfect if Singapore were a little cooler, but that's being greedy now.
A lot of Whatsapp messages were received on Mother's Day, and many Facebook posts were tagged. Not really sure if I'm comfortable calling myself a 'superhero' or 'an angel from heaven'. It's a bit intimidating, don't you think? I'm human, I make mistakes, I'm imperfect, and I'm a mum only because I love being one.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Alphonso Mangoes!

Are in season... And we've got a whole crate full of them...Yay, smells like the summer of '89

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Swan Lake

Reverse schooled (v): When a child introduces a 30-something parent to something cool and new, and the parent learns with wide-eyed rapture.

K came home from school the other day, and said he learnt about folk-tales in his language class, and would like to watch the ballet The Swan Lake. I had never seen a ballet before. I had watched Natalie Portman's Black Swan and I had watched my friends daughter's ballet recital with students under the age of 12, but never seen a proper ballet. So we googled The Swan Lake and watched it together on YouTube. Little K knew the sequence of the Acts and what happens in each Act, so he talked me through it as the story progressed. It was in the final act, that I saw tears welling up in his eyes as he said, "Now Prince Seigfried & Odelle decide they want to die together rather than live apart". His emotional grasp of the ballet shocked me. At the age of 7, I would've imagined that he would find an hour long ballet boring, but I was so wrong! He surprised me with the breadth of his interests - from Star Wars to Swan Lake it's quite a span! As for me, I learnt and saw something new yesterday. And it sure was pretty!

P.S. Here's me thinking in verses again:

Swans tiptoe across my screen,
As violins make their melody prance,
And a story unfolds of a tragic love,
Beautiful words that can be spoken only in dance.

I watch him tearing at the swan's despair,
Her hollow arched back and despondent gait,
As I watch my own swan's metamorphosis,
I am stunned by the moment's weight.

He has learnt a new language today,
Felt a stir in a new depth within,
Rooting for love he doesn't yet understand,
Unknowingly but not unwittingly, to win.

The Dressmaker

I got into this book because of a book club I recently joined. I didn't eventually make it to the book club meeting, so as usual, here I am blogging about it.
The book is a good peek into rural Australia from the '50s, but it's a little simplistic, even caricaturish, in its lead characters. The heroine is extremely good. At everything. The village folks are extremely narrow-minded and cruel. With everything. There is no grey (which usually make for fascinating characters, for me).

Not the best book I've read, but it was my first book set in Australia, so it gets points for expanding my literary horizons! Besides, Rosalie Ham is a gifted story teller, she keeps the pace going even though it's a slow story in a rural village-life kind of setting. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Gosh, this blog made it to 10 years!!!

10 years makes a decade! That sounds like a staggeringly long period of time! It certainly didn't feel like it though, and when I started I certainly didn't expect petty-change to be alive 10 years later. How crazy is it that it lived and told the story of my life over the 10 years in many petty changes that led to my personal evolution (or so I would like to think - who would choose to believe in devolution anyway). 

In celebration of this blog's 10th birthday, I went back to scroll through some of my posts from 2006, and I picked this one to repost as a celebration of that evolution.

Friday, April 22, 2016


I met my childhood soulmate Uma after 6 years. In Bali. So you can imagine the excitement leading up to this trip. 

Childhood friends have an unfair advantage over newer friends... They've seen you before you learnt to wear your different masks. They've seen you #nofilter. Years pass by, you add complexities to yourself and your life, you evolve and change, you go from being a person to being a family, you absorb influences and cultures, you adapt, and after a while everyone forgets that original person underneath. Meeting that person again, through an old friend, is an unusual kind of joy!

Bali was great as usual, scorching but great. A bicycle tour around villages of Ubud, and some fantastic meals also contributed towards making it a memorable trip!

K's 7th

7 is the new 17. Seriously, he talks like a teenager, behaves like one, and is complicated like one. The silver lining, he still allows me to kiss and cuddle him (not in front of his friends though).

In the theme of his latest obsession, he celebrated his 7th birthday at the Army Museum and the most loved birthday gift was a book on World War II. There goes my hope of raising a Gandhian. 


I have a lot to catch up on. First, there was a quick trip to Perth to see our friends S & A who may be leaving Perth soon. Lovely weather, the most beautiful sunset at Cottesloe Beach, the most delish seafood at Freemantle and some great (and so very reasonably priced) Aussie wine.

Fun fact learnt on the trip: Did you know Koalas sleep over 20 hours a day? I see a resemblance... Think I married a wrong species?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Best. Burger. Ever.

Tried MeatLiquor, newly opened in Singapore (relatively new, that's is). I've found my new comfort food!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Quoting Rabindranath Tagore...

"Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Ruled by the mob

The mob holds a trial,
The mob's verdict is guilty,
The mob decides the punishment,
Nothing less than capital would do.

This happens on the streets,
This happens on the telly,
This happens on social media,
Who is the mob, who's who?

Are they people backed by facts?
Are they people who scream their vocal cords hoarse?
Are they people at all, you might ask,
It's okay, I've asked that too.

Thugs who rule by intimidation,
Thugs sneakily disguised as us,
Thugs who shame those who aren't thugs by asking,
Are you starting a coup?

It's easier of course to join that mob,
Than it is to stand apart,
Easier still to lay low and quiet,
And ask - What else could a lone guy like me do?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What I'm reading...

Some beautiful and hard hitting poetry in there. And some great short stories too.

Saw a rainbow on Valentine's Day...

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Steve McCurry Exhibition

The Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Singapore is running an exhibition of some of Steve McCurry's most famous photographs. These two were little K's favourites. Why? In the first photo, K likes how the little boy is running and both his feet are in mid-air. In the second photo of the shaolin monks, K likes how the guy can walk on a wall like Spider-Man, but what he really loves in this photo is the monk's hairstyle. Perfectly great reasons to love a photo, I say!

A little bit of nature

It was the long weekend for Chinese New Year, so we decided to do a little nature trail with a few friends. We explored the Dairy Farm Nature Park this time. Walked along the Wallace Trail on a beautiful non-humid day (yes, such a day is possible in Singapore!)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2015 in Retrospect

I've been very late with this post this year.  We are already in February. This year is already cruising at full speed! 

So, 2015. I got a lot of "alone time" this year with little K going to 'big school'. At first, it was depressing (kind of like being the centre of his universe for 6 years and then finding out that the centre has moved. I did it graciously though ;) It wasn't easy, but I did it). We spent two months of mom-son time in India before he started school and made some amazing memories together. And whether I'm the centre or not, his universe is always going to be with me. 

What did I do with all that alone time post-August? I wrote a lot. I exercised a bit. I cooked a tiny bit. And I spent a very tiny bit of time organising our finances and paperwork - all the projects postponed for too many years! 

We were a little disappointed that our "project 2015" didn't materialize, but we have no regrets about it. The universe spoke and we accepted what it had to say. We were a little jaded with the beureaucracy and the paper-pushing, but glad we have a closure now.

What am I most excited about in 2016? Let's see: maybe a new book, maybe some new business opportunities, some much-anticipated reunions with old friends, a trip to Rottnest Island, little K's acting debut at his school play, a new salmon recipe that I quite love, Bali again, welcoming a new baby to our friends' family, hopefully a new home, there's a lot to look forward to. If I have three wishes for 2016, they'd be:
1. I wish my work bears fruit. Some nice juicy apples would be much appreciated!
2. I wish H wouldn't smoke so much & just live a more healthier lifestyle.
3. I wish K would grow out of his weird fashion phase sooner rather than later .

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Back to Dubai

We spent New Years Eve in Dubai, the city that was our home 8 years ago. On the agenda, was eating, catching up with fam & friends, eating, drinking, and eating. Souvenirs from Dubai? 3 boxes of hummus.