Welcome Home. Landing at 6am, I go straight to Tiong Bahru and find a cute welcome home sign on the door with a 3-step guide to dropping my bags, hugging and repeating step two. It’s raining hard all day, and it feels like a cosy vacuum: I don’t leave the house until barre late in the afternoon – my boyfriend makes chai tea for breakfast, we both work from home, and I bring home healthy burgers from Real Food after barre, which we eat while watching good, old, cute, funny Serendipity on Netflix. Ahh, home!
Born to Run. On my run along the river on Tuesday morning, I listen to Desert Island Discs with Bruce Springsteen; someone I’ve never really listened to, but, as happens so often, after the podcast interview, I now want to not only listen to his music but also read his new autobiography. It’s raining heavily still, and the run is so refreshing – it almost feels as chilly as in California, and I have the riverside pavement pretty much to myself. Do literally run into a friend, though, near Alexandra Road. This nice little sign of being at home makes us both happy – wet hug and a brief chat. Back home I’m met with freshly prepared breakfast and steaming spicy masala chai.
Sarnies. My favourite coffee break this week: meeting the designer, Alicia, of Singaporean clothing brand, Al Et Clar, for long blacks and coconut whip around the corner from my office. I first met her at the barre studio, where she had a pop-up shop and I won one of her dresses in a Christmas challenge. I love their style – the minimalist and easy to wear yet sensual and classic feel, with which they’re incorporating inspiration from France and Scandinavia into their Southeast Asian reality, visible in timeless staples available all year round, which is great for a seasonless place like Singapore, and how they’re designing with quality, longevity and minimal waste in mind, by working directly with sustainable Vietnamese producers and manufacturers, to make women feel beautiful and powerful inside and out. Besides, Alicia is lovely company – good conversationalist, attentive, sweet and funny. She’s off to London next week, so we chat about UK fashion, food, art…
The Women of the Tech Revolution. So many (late-20s/early-30s) women show up for the event hosted in a nifty downtown co-working space, JustCo. My friend and I grab a glass of wine from BottlesXO, who’re advertising their app from a stall next to the speakers’ podium, and take a seat to hear the head of HR, a women running an agency within Google, a manager in TechGov and a head of innovation at Accenture, all women, talk about … not tech at all actually, but basically how it is to be a career women. They are all interesting, cool and inspiring to listen to (and look at – all immaculately dressed, brushed, made-up and manicured), but what makes the biggest impression on me is how fortunate Scandinavians are in some respects. They talk about the importance of ensuring that companies have maternity leave, but not one of them mentions paternity leave, and they all agree on the importance of marrying ‘the right guy; someone who doesn’t mind helping with the children’, but don’t talk about how nice it would be to have a society where a women would be able to take care of a child on her own, or the interesting aspect in this whole feminist setup – the event is not really about their careers or the so-called tech revolution; it’s about being a mum. They all nod when one of them mentions that Singapore is the world’s best country to ‘be a working mum’ in because you can ‘outsource the mundane tasks like cleaning, cooking and taking kids to activities’ to your helper. I want to ask them what their helpers do when they want to work and raise kids, or what you do if you can’t afford a cleaner; if it wouldn’t be wonderful to have a society where everyone has the opportunity to have a great work/life balance, by for instance looking into what it would take to make childcare more accessible. But I feel a bit insecure and keep my mouth shut. Maybe it’s fair enough that they only speak from a personal experience as women with a high position. It does make me wonder, maybe for the first time ever – if I have kids, what will I want to prioritise and how will I want to structure my time?
Money Bag Chicken is what’s for lunch at the office in celebration of Chinese New Year.
Happy Rooster Year Party. On Saturday night we have a New Year’s party at our house – we’ve decorated the house with colourful silk paper roosters from Chinatown and play Chinese music that’s supposedly made for the occasion. Our guests are all expats, and none of us have done a lot to familiarise ourselves with the customs and rituals of the holiday, but some have brought pineapple tarts for good luck and prosperity and everyone is happy with this special opportunity to set good intentions for the new year.
Bestie. In the middle of the party, a close friend arrives with her husband and 8 months old baby, after a week in Bali. I usually stay with them in Copenhagen, so it’s lovely to be able to return the favour – they’re staying with us for a week. Meeting our friends at the party on Saturday night, we keep it low-key alone with them on Sunday: a stroll around the Marina Bay and in the Gardens, lunch at Red Baron by Gillman Barracks, hiking through the Southern Ridges with a break on Henderson Waves, hanging at home with wine, home-cooked food and relaxed chatting. She’s been one of my best friends since high school, and I’m very happy she and my boyfriend get this opportunity to get to know each other – and that I get to get to know her little daughter.
This Week’s Specials:
- On Loop. It’s become a habit of mine to put the first (good) tune that gets stuck in my head in the morning on loop for the rest of the day. A mix of current hits and old favourites. That way, the day becomes coloured by that song, and the words and other elements of it become less and less of a distraction, as I quickly (after 5-6 repetitions) start to internalise it: James Arthur singing Say You Won’t Let Go (on my favourite barre teacher’s playlist all week, coming up just as we start stretching, and as such, it becomes a soothing cue), Kate Bush singing Wuthering heights, Nat King Cole singing L-O-V-E and Stéphane Pompougnac singing Champs Elysées. (It can’t be forced, though – if it’s there, it’s there, and otherwise, it’s just a shuffle day)
- Reads: Papmachéreglen (gift from my friends visiting) and The God of Small Things (in preparation for my up-coming trip to Kerala).