My Valentine | 13-190217

Sick. Weak, with achy joints and devoid of my usual zest for life, I get through Monday and Tuesday by staggering slowly from room to room in a creased old T-shirt, with dreadlocked hair and as pale as 9 months’ intense exposure to tropical sunshine allows. Thoughts of taking a shower, getting dressed, moving my body and involving myself in the world beyond the spheres of my flat and two most frequently used iPhone apps only enter my mind as fuzzy, unrealistic waves that quickly fade out again. Working from home, slowly responding to emails and filling in figures in spreadsheets, semi-active in chat fora, washing my face in cold water to conduct video job interviews with candidates in London, attending trainings with my camera turned off. Resting, reading, napping when I get too lightheaded. Sweet words of comfort from parents and friends, with all English people wanting to drop by some grapes (when the fourth of them offers this gesture, I aks what it is about English people, sickness and grapes, and she replies that English people always bring grapes to hospitals, something I, having spent five years in London, am quite surprised to learn now). Sanoop is nursing me, bringing water, offering pills (an American thing), lulling me to sleep with body healing binaural beats, fetching (on my request) freshly squeezed orange/carrot/ginger juice and grain-free sourdough bread from the Bakery and surprising me with a pretty bunch of red roses and the sweetest card before going to work on Valentine’s Day (Tuesday), telling me I look beautiful although I know that objectively I don’t. I feel useless and unfamiliarly drained, but I know it will pass after a few days (the mere thought of any alternative fills me with dread), and so my spirits are still relatively high. I get to relax; I’m at home and looked after; I can (just about) think and type on my laptop; it’s been ages since I was last sick.

Valentine. We have to cancel our planned romantic night out with oysters and champagne in one venue, followed by cocktails at my friend Simon’s bar. I shower around 6pm after closing down my laptop/before collapsing on the sofa with my book for the 8th time that day, in the hope of appearing a little bit less of a sad creature for my boyfriend’s return from work, but my intention is to stay in. In the sofa. With him. Maybe food. Definitely a Netflix rom-com. Coming through the door at 6:30pm, looking smart in a slim white shirt and Italian leather shoes, he suggests a walk, if I’m up for it. While it’s odd for me to not leave the house for three days, it’s not in my nature at all to say no to a walk. I’m like a puppy. Usually I’m the one wagging my tail at the door with the lead in my inpatient paw. We stroll down towards the river at dusk. Spot and check out a new pretty yoga studio on Outram Road. Dance theatrically across the highway bridge below the sleepy-looking concrete hotels in the river valley, singing, of all songs, Wonderwall, with obligatory mock-intensity. Stop for a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice at the quaint boutique The Warehouse Hotel (read about its godown history and see the pictures of the modern interior and pretty white exterior). Take a seat in the 9-10 metres or so long soft light brown leather sofa running across half the lobby. Cast our heads back to gaze up towards the tall open ceiling, with elegant lamps hanging from black wheels in the rafters. Peer happily at the shiny copper pineapple cocktail jars lining the shelves atop the fancy bar. The elegant black staircase leading up to the guest chambers. The dapper guests folding their legs in the smooth furniture. Getting a sense of the marvellous room – dark, calm yet energetic ambience; beautiful quality features; minimalist mix of midcentury Scandi and heritage Singa. So spacious but still with a defined, comfy feel. Like Ace but for grownups; or, for Singapore. Venturing outside again we are met by drizzling rain, adding a fresh hint to our short stroll back. Pick up cheese-free thin-crust seafood pizzas at the tacky-cheerful family restaurant Chapter 55, which comes with a pink rose, which we place in the vase with its red sisters upon returning home, where we sit down on the sofa, leaning towards each other, feet up, watching Crazy, Stupid, Love on my laptop placed in front of us, as we still haven’t installed our gigantic tv, which continues to be hiding behind the cabinet doors across from the sofa, but apart from that technical detail, this may be as American as a Valentine’s date can be.

Morning Yoga. Every morning, sometimes with the rain drizzling down, sometimes in emerging sunshine, we put on some blissful piano music and do a series of sun salutations, stretching thoroughly and setting our intentions for the day, occasionally followed by a session of freestyle or YouTube-led yoga, on the balcony. We then head out to the kitchen, where he makes spicy masala chai on a mix of organic soy and oat milk, and I make breakfast – toasted sourdough bread with thin layers of chia/almond spread, mashed avocado, fresh apple and lemon juice, or Bircher muesli with shredded apple, or overnight chia pudding with acai powder and fresh grapefruit. Enjoyed to the sound of the parrots from downstairs squealing in through the open windows (their owner taught one of them to say ‘hello’, I learned the other day), a podcast and chitchat.

Frikadeller. On Thursday evening, in return for the lavish lunch I was invited to have at his office (an eldorado of gourmet dishes and barista-made coffee, not to speak of gorgeous interior design, relaxed hip-corporate chitchat and vibrations and terraced roof top gardens for a post-dining stroll) earlier in the day, I make a Danish national dish for Sanoop. Well, it’s a pretty universal and very simple specimen, meatballs, and I opt for a chicken version instead of the traditional Danish mix of veal and pork. Minced meat mixed with eggs, onion, garlic, a dash of flour, a dash of oat milk, sage and other spices, panfried in a bit of olive oil. Most have their own version of the recipe, likely perfected through generations. My mum’s are the best, of course. Mine are decent. My boyfriend appears to agree, munching on more than he’s initially being served. Along with sides of green peas blended to a mash with lots of fresh lemon juice and mint leaves, delicious black olives and a crunchy salad of raw, shredded beetroot, carrot and apple, drizzled with more lemon juice, white sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Creative Mornings. On Friday morning, after a run, after my morning ritual with my boyfriend, I meet my friend down on the corner, from where we grab a taxi to take us to the beautiful Singapore Art Museum on the edge of Bugis for a session of Creative Mornings – a wonderful worldwide movement of breakfast lectures, where inspiring personalities from various creative industries speak and spark networking over sponsored coffee and light designer meals. Today’s talker is the young managing editor of cool, edgy, indie Singaporean Vulture Magazine, Clifford Loh, who appears full of energy and good intentions – to remind people to observe and absorb moments. After the talk and the discussion (I win an old issue of the magazine for asking a question, yay), I check out the current exhibition, Atlas of Mirrors, and walk to the office with a spring in my step – if you’re lucky, and I consider myself very lucky, Singapore is as beautiful and exciting as you make it.

Hot Treat. On Saturday morning we go for our weekly (as of last week) hot yoga treat around the corner, or down a picturesque little alley full of potted plants, cacti, pretty murals and brightly-painted doors, in Yong Siak Street, which is like waking up to a warm, loving, stretchy hour-long embrace. The class is full but it doesn’t feel claustrophobic; on the mat between us is a good friend of ours, and the teacher is very clear in her instructions, observant and attentive, making sure everyone poses harmoniously in the heat.

Teru Sushi. Sweat running down our faces and bodies, but remarkably refreshed and energised, we walk home to shower after class, and then we meet a friend for dinner at the rather anonymous-appearing Japanese joint by Link Hotel. Fresh and meaty $1 oysters and small bowls of fat, tender sashimi, salad, miso soup and plain rice.

Lost Guides. Spend the afternoon editing my friend’s new and beautifully curated off-the-beaten-path guidebook to Singapore.

Kilo Surprise. Sanoop tells me to be ready to go out at 6:30pm on Saturday night. Location revealed when we get there – one of the spots from the book I’m editing, which I mentioned in passing I’d love to check out. Located in a converted warehouse in the greenery by the Calling River, Kilo is the epitome of identikit minimalist hip – smooth concrete floors and wooden midcentury-style furniture, large lush potted plants and vibrant artwork on the walls. From our spot at the concrete-topped bar, we enjoy the softly lit dusk view of the river and chat to the bartender as he prepares my gin and fresh lime juice with burnt rosemary and pours Sanoop’s crisp sake, as we wait for our hearty, healthy, artistically presented small sharing dishes with Asian (wasabi sashimi and papaya and crispy duck salad) and Latin American (mole and quinoa salad for the meat) touches – finishing off with a chocolate fondant (him) and marinated plums and raspberries (me) for dessert. People around us look chic and dapper; everyone seems relaxed and cheerful. Ahhh…

Kallang River Walk. Crashing the party in the downstairs bar at Kilo, we take silly pictures in the photo booth and dance around to the dj’s vibey music, before heading down to the river to walk off steam from the food and drinks. None of us have been out here before; it’s a quite nice promenade – with manicured flowers and palm trees between the floor tiles and the streaming water, white and light grey suspension bridges with nifty details in the design, a peaceful sense of comfort between the playgrounds and shiny railings along the stretch and the panorama-windowed luxury condos towering above. We stop and rest our hands on railings multiple times, gazing down into the glittery reflections of electric light in the water.

Night Bus – all the way across town, feeling like tourists, excitedly pointing out postcard perfect areas and buildings. The bus is only half full, and there’s a calm, friendly atmosphere onboard. Pleasant and romantic novelty – we’ve never taken a bus together before. The trip reminds me of when we rode on the tram in Hong Kong, and that it really is a nice way to get around town (I’ve only gone on a bus in Singapore a few times before, just when I got here, exploring the East Coast area and Holland Village), especially late at night when there’s no traffic to speak of. There’s a young, adventurous and sensible ring to it, haha.

Keppel Bay Picnic. Wake up at 7, make banana pancakes (very ripe bananas beaten with eggs, oats and dashes of baking powder, manuka honey and ground cinnamon), pack them with some freshly cut mango, water bottles and a picnic blanket, kiss my boyfriend awake, get an uber down to Keppel Bay Marina, from where we walk along the splendor of glassy condos and white yachts to the wooden boardwalk winding its way over the water out along the shore, and stop at a grassy spot under a great lush tree canopy, where we do 4 slow sun salutations, meditate (him) and read (me) for a bit, and then tuck into our sweet treats with the morning sun burning in our faces, watching the black and white bungalows and steel Reflections in the green hills above us, the hazy-green islands in the bay, the huge cruise ships and tankers in the distance. Napping with our arms wrapped around each other and our feet pointing towards the rolling waves a few inches away. Ah. What a start to the day and end to the week (well, the day continues – with lunch with friends at Superloco by the river in Robertson Quay, followed by hours of writing in my new favourite hotel lobby, with Sanoop sitting next to me, sipping his favourite Japanese beer, and walking home to enjoy a peaceful evening of more writing, reading and relaxing, with warm evening sunlight and sounds of children playing in the street streaming in through our many windows, and cooking and devouring chicken tacos together, and, finally, watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, him patiently putting up with me passionately squealing along to Moon River), but most of all; what a moment in time.

This Week’s Specials:

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