Monday, May 28, 2007

Isn't it lovely?

Image source unknown

Some call them weeds. I call them beautiful.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Marriage and retail

"Archie's marriage felt like buying a pair of shoes, taking them home and finding they don't fit. For the sake of appearances, he put up with them. And then, all of a sudden and after thirty years, the shoes picked themselves up and walked out of the house. She left. Thirty years." (from White Teeth by Zadie Smith)

I don't approve of the "mega sale" model for romantic relationships, also known as the "grab anything that looks like a good bargain, and if you find it looks bad on you later, just throw it out" model. Come to think of it, I don't even approve of the "mega sale" shopping model... if I'm paying for something, it had better be something I'm prepared to love for a lifetime (its lifetime or mine, whichever ends sooner), not just something that happened to be cheap and available.

Image by Petr Kovar

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bangkok!

Selected pictures from three days in Bangkok:
I was unexpectedly allocated a room with two twin beds, instead of one king. It worked out well, because my travelling companion has been known to hog the covers.
She bagged the bed on the left as soon as we got in. Pushy, pushy.One of the walls in the hotel coffee house was decorated with assorted cooking utensils. I'm constantly fascinated by how a little creativity can turn an everyday object into a work of art.
Went for a walkabout in Siam Square after lunch. There was this queue of people from the record shop on the corner, where an unassuming-looking guy was signing CD covers, all the way to the other end of the road. I wonder if there'll ever be anyone or anything I'm willing to queue like that for.
I met the lovely Orn and her friend Tong for dinner, after which they took me for sorbet at Iberry. The sorbet was delicious, and the warmly lit interior with all that wrought iron furniture and white china made it all the sweeter. They've probably tried to dress up their ice-cream parlour to look like an old-fashioned dining room. I wouldn't mind having a dining room that looks like this ice-cream parlour!
From the Skytrain station, I had to walk through this corridor of the hotel to get back to my room. It's a long corridor with marble floors and I loved how it suddenly turns a corner instead of just going straight down. I know, it's "just a corridor". But can't you imagine a tall, striking lady running down those steps in a ballgown with her hair streaming behind her, racing to beat the clock and get home before her coachmen turn to mice?
Got back to my room and found that my comforter had been turned down and dressed with an orchid (for beautiful dreams?) and a bookmark (in case the dreams didn't happen).
The view from my breakfast table on the riverside terrace the next morning.
Viewing presentations must be hungry work.
Breakfast the following day was a simple, one-pass-at-the-buffet-table affair for me. I think I must have made some appetising choices, because...... the spread even attracted some local wildlife.
Heh no, it's not a stampede. I spotted Jilly Pepper's long-lost herd at the Jim Thompson boutique in the airport. Love the colours!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fluffy

I need to say it. Our Mudslide is adorable. Adorable, I tells ya.

Cosying up to my little elephant friend, Jilly Pepper. She has claimed this corner of my bed as her own. Usually I'm all territorial and fussy about privacy and who gets to (or doesn't get to) come hang out in my room, but there's always the Fuzzy Amendment.


My Shanghai trip (with some pictures)

I know. I got back three weekends ago. But I only just borrowed the cable to upload pictures with.

Just a little background/refresher information for those who don't know or may have forgotten... I went to Shanghai in late April to cover the opening of a fashion brand's first stand-alone boutique in China. I won't state the brand or publish any of the pictures that will give it away here, since that probably warrants advertising.

It was my first trip to China, "banana" that I am, but I did have some very good moments. I'll let the pictures tell the story from here onwards. (Thanks, KV, for lending me the camera!)


A Shanghai sidewalk.
Which came first, the movie or the restaurant?
I don't know why, but I really liked this shot. Maybe because I like side lanes. Maybe because I like scooters.
Maybe because I'm just random.
Clearly, random is everywhere. I just realised the words probably can't be read at this resolution. This is the window of a store in an immense shopping centre on Shanghai's famous "shopping street", Nanjing Lu. From left, the words read: "My favourites", "The colour of a sapphire-blue sky", "A new-born life", "My long shadow", and "Strikingly colour ribbon". They brought back fond memories of those writing classes in uni when we had to construct a whole story based on a few arbitrarily chosen words.

This is for my peng iu, Aaron, and for my "lil' bro", Aaron. See, I was thinking of you both.
This sign was on my bedside table. It reads, "WARNING: The Hotel Management has Determined that SMOKING IN BED is Dangerous to Your LIFE."
I THINK they're Quite Serious about It. Fortunately, My Life is SAFE.

The view from my room while I was munching on a bak hu (meat floss) bun at 7am the next day. What's so special about this street, you ask? Well, nothing... but if you zoom in really, really close on that clump of people near the little white building, you'll see that they're old people, social dancing. I always find it touching when I see older couples dancing together. And I wasn't expecting to see it on a Shanghai sidewalk. To me, it was an indication that this day would contain many more delights. (That proved true. Do scroll down, gentle reader.)

One of many pictures I haphazardly snapped while walking around the Bund, which I got to by public bus. I didn't know why I wanted to spend my one free morning on this trip at the Bund. I still don't know why. When I was little, my mother used to talk about the TV series a lot. Maybe that's why.
Except that it wasn't covered in snow, this reminded me of...
"I hadn't known what Humans were like before I met you. Of course I can't give you up to the Witch, not now that I know you. But we must be off at once. I'll see you back to the lamp-post. I suppose you can find your own way from there back to Spare Oom and War Drobe?"
This little charmer (I'm talking about the cat) held my attention for quite a while, because shortly after it snacked on dried meat, it dashed across the broad sidewalk...
... to this tree, where it proceeded to run up and down branches with the finesse of a trapeze artist. I was already missing my daily dose of fur by then, so this was truly heaven-sent. (I never get to see Mudslide climb anything other than Pops' leg, anyway, and that's not an entertaining sight.)

After spending the whole morning breathing in rather smoggy air, and following two nights of very little sleep, by lunchtime I was feeling quite ill. I realised I had only an hour and a half before we had to gather for the press conference. So, I went to a fast-food type Chinese place near my hotel, performed the ancient Chinese art of ta pau, and had lunch in bed, something I never ordinarily do but when one is running out of time and needs to eat and sleep simultaneously... not that I managed to, but I think I came close. And all without spilling anything. (Those who've had many meals with me will realise what an achievement this is, because I am a Really Messy Eater.)
On closer examination, what I ordered ended up looking (and tasting) a lot like the beef rice at a popular Japanese chain. (Won't advertise them either!) Very MSG-full. Good thing I'd boiled and stored 2 litres of water by then.

The rest of my trip was spent "working", and there are brand logos all over those images so I won't post them here.

By the way, I know some of my faithful (and curious) friends wanted to see pictures of me in those outfits I borrowed for the party and press conference. I don't do that whole "this is my blog, so here's meeeeeeeee!" followed by 952 pictures of myself thing. If y'all still want to see the pictures, please leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail, and I'll e-mail them to you.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Love Always

I think this phrase has turned into such a cliche, a cheapened, reduced version of its true self.

It's used to sign off greeting cards, splashed on gift wrap, thoughtlessly dashed off at the end of a note.

But what does it truly mean to love, always?

Let's say, hypothetically, I wrote a note to someone I loved deeply, and signed off with "love always".

That would mean I'm bound to keep my word and, well, love him always.

Even when he's late for dinner.

Even when he leaves the toilet seat up.

Even when his socks stay in a messy heap, like very flat roadkill, on the living room floor.

Even when he's sick and can't even cough without sneezing, let alone say "I love you, too."

Even when life is average, everything is going smoothly and there is none of what a friend calls "mushi mushi" (as in how my dad sometimes picks up the phone) stuff to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside about each other.

Even when life is downright lousy, with work stress, problems with parents, and friends who seem more interested in telling you what to do than in being with you.

How about family? Can I truly say "love, always" ... even when they don't seem to have time for me? Even when they don't do something they'd promised they would? Even when they just can't be and do everything I wish they could, simply because they're also only human?

To the people around me, can I truly say, "love, always"? As in, "I love you, when you're able to sit down with me for hours over coffee and just laugh. But I also love you when you say something hurtful about my ambition and dreams."

"I love you when you're efficient at work and willing to have lunch at an inexpensive place, and I love you even if today you can't say a nice thing about anyone, including me, because you're just too hurt by what's going on in your home."

"I love you and constantly want the best for you, no matter what happens."

I think if we were forced to expand the two-word phrase to this whole sentence, a lot of us would be much less willing to use it, because we'd suddenly realise the implications.

It isn't easy, but I believe it's a worthy pursuit.

Am I truly able to love ... always?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

a desperate prayer

God, please grant me the clarity I need to submit my 2 pages before the end of the workday so I can leave at 6pm sharp and begin to regain the balance I lost, working 27 hours' OT in 5 working days.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Simple pleasures: Reading

I've loved reading ever since I picked up my first book. I think it was a Richard Scarry pocket edition, Mr Fixit Fox. I can't even estimate how many books I must have read by now.

I have a possibly bad habit of re-reading old, well-loved books over and over again, rather than picking up a new book. The rationale behind this is: I know what I love about the old books, and I don't mind reading something I've read several times before because good writing is something that can be enjoyed countless times without losing any of its savour. With a new book, there's always the risk that it'll turn out so bad that I get literary food poisoning (when I would rather expel the entire contents of the book than have any ideas, impressions or memories from it remain in my mind).

It's now the evening of the second of two consecutive public holidays. With the remaining hours of free time before the hectic schedule of closing week begins, I'm having a hard time choosing between: CS Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Treehouse by Naomi Wolf; and The Golden Road by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

I first read The Golden Road when I was 12 and the older I get, the more I love it. The same goes for all the Montgomery books I've read. Someday, when I have more time, I'd love to write about why I love the work of this late-19th-century Canadian author so much. Right now, I have a date with...?

This time, I think Lewis wins. The beautiful leather-bound, gold-edged copy of the entire Chronicles of Narnia I was given two Christmases ago is as much a delight to touch, smell and see as to read, and who doesn't love a little multi-sensory enjoyment?
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