With Friends in Singapore & Copenhagen | 23-290418

Singapore Friendship. The only person I knew in Singapore when moving here, an English girl from London, has left her flat around the corner from me to move into a stunning Peranakan shophouse on Everton Road, and in a lunch break this week, I head over to see all three floors of her new heritage digs – and hear how her writing is going – she’s currently working on a guidebook to Tokyo. So interesting to see one of these beauties from the inside – there’s a gold fish pond in the living room floor!! The next-to-newest friend I made here, an American girl with Vietnamese roots, just came back from a work offsite in LA, and this week we catch up over dinner at Tiong Bahru Club and drinks back at my place, talking and laughing in a way that indicates that we’re already very close although we only just met a few months ago at a Creative Mornings event. The newest friend is a Danish girl, who works at the Danish Seaman’s Church, which is where I first met her at Easter, and this week we have our first date: dinner at Afterglow in Tanjong Pagar. She reminds me of a cross between three of my closest friends – we immediately hit it off, talk for hours and hours, the conversation flowing easily between topics such as religion and spirituality in general, exotic nature experiences in various parts of the world, acting, learning new languages (she’s studying Mandarin), learning in general, our love of Copenhagen, our love of Singapore, love in general. She’s so positive, sweet, curious, natural… such a good listener… very creative. A yoga teacher back in Copenhagen before moving here about a year ago, she knows another friend of mine, who lived here for three months last year, as she used to attend her vinyasa classes! Haha, not sure whether it’s Denmark or the world that’s small … Maybe it’s just a question of natural attraction. If you lead a rather transient lifestyle, you’re naturally trained in quickly detecting kindred spirits – and, reversely, knowing when not to waste your energy in terms of socialising. In Singapore, the people I know and love tend to come into my life and then leave Singapore on a pretty frequent basis, and I’m so used to saying ‘farewell, I’ll see you around.’ Some people ask me if it isn’t taxing to always have to find and connect with new people and subsequently say goodbye – superficial, lonely, hard? I actually don’t think so… It’s exciting, stimulating, and it means that it becomes easier and easier to dig deep rather quickly, both in terms of how I present myself and how I approach and interact with people. And just because people physically leave Singapore and the ‘era’ we experience together comes to an end, it doesn’t mean they disappear out of my life: true friends are there in spirit if not physically; you touch each other’s lives; some day, we meet again. The friend who left just before Christmas, I’ll meet this Sunday for a morning run in Copenhagen. Right after she left Singapore, I also said goodbye to one of my favourite barre teachers, who goes to Europe every spring to audition for dance gigs – she’s a contemporary dancer. Currently, she’s in Tel Aviv, where she’s going to stay for a while, as she explains in this inspiring letter. At her farewell party, I met a sweet Kiwi couple, who just moved here recently – they live in one of Sanoop’s and my favourite areas, Bugis, and when I’m back from Europe, I’m meeting her for dinner. Speaking of New Zealand: this week, as I meet her for lunch on Raffles Place, my best (and only) Singaporean friend tells me that she is moving to Auckland, where her husband just landed a job. They love travelling and living abroad; which is probably also what attracted us in the first place – she studied design in Aarhus, close to my hometown. My initial reaction is, NOOO, I’m going to miss you so much!, after which I quickly arrange my thoughts and follow up with an, Aw, I’m so excited for you! In a message a few minutes later, Sanoop adds a comforting, … and now we have a reason to visit Auckland! Similarly, her ambivalence lies in the thought of leaving friends and family vs. excitement about getting to explore and create a home in a new country. And driving her business, Esse, from there, which on one hand is fine, as she’s independent and technically can work from anywhere, but also challenging in that she’s got so many great connections in Singapore and is relatively close to the manufacturers in Vietnam and India. She’ll want to build up a new professional network in New Zealand, which is a thrilling and daunting idea… This week is Fashion Revolution Week, and in celebration thereof, I post a picture of us from our lunch, both clad from top to toe in her beautiful garments, with the caption, ‘as this girl and a team of thriving, empowered seamstresses in Saigon, working with eco-friendly, durable materials under fair, sustainable conditions and often featured individually in Esse’s story, are the clever and creative minds and hands behind the majority of my wardrobe, I rarely need to ask the question, #whomademyclothes?’ (The campaign question). Finally, but not least, there’s my best friend in the world, who I met here in Singapore, but who is not moving anywhere unless I’m moving as well. Most of my days start and end with him; we do nothing and everything together; talk about the most mundane and the most extraordinary things together; this week, some of our shared experiences are morning yoga in our living room, going out for craft beers at a new joint in Tiong Bahru and catching a screening of horrifyingly important and impressively well-structured (palatable balance between shocking and reassuring) A Plastic Ocean at 1880. To wrap up this note on Friendships: I spend the weekend with a high school friend and two friends from London and their kids in Copenhagen – and with my parents in Germany. That’s a lot of the world and almost all of my own personal world covered, haha.

Tibirke Bakker & Tisvilde. Landing in Copenhagen Airport at 6:30am, I go through the usual ritual of breathing in the sweet, fresh SPRING air of my native country, smiling at the beautiful, streamlined design objects flooding the terminal and buying a moist, freshly baked rye bread roll sprinkled with pumpkin seeds from Lagkagehuset before boarding a train to North Zealand. At Hillerød Station, the husband and 2-year-old daughter of one of my best friends from high school are waiting to pick me up and take me to their idyllic summerhouse in Tibirke Bakker, where my friend is waiting with freshly brewed coffee – and their son, who was born two months ago. We spend the whole day playing with the kids and walking through the beautiful beech forest to Tisvilde for a look at the beach and a bite to eat at a cosy little cafe. And we have plenty of time to talk… and to just be comfortably silent together. Our lives are so different: they are both lawyers at big firms in Copenhagen, own a house in the city and a summerhouse in the country and have two children. Looking beyond all of that, we luckily still have a lot in common, values, humour, interests, energy levels…

FLOWY 24 Hours in Copenhagen. Back in Copenhagen in the evening, my friend and I drink champagne at home, go for dinner at Mangia and then for cocktails at Lidkoeb with two mutual girlfriends while her husband looks after both kids. When we get back at around 2:30am, I sleep in their beautiful, comfortable guest room just as I’ve always done when visiting from either Singapore or London. What’s relatively new is that there’s a toddler watching cartoons in the sofa next to me when I wake up at 7am, haha. I love that. At 9am, I meet my friend, who moved back from Singapore in December, for a sunny run around Frederiksberg Have and Søndermarken followed by breakfast at vegan Acacia. So good to see her! And summery Copenhagen! It’s as hot as in Singapore here – and in Germany and London next week – but about 50% less humid, haha. Pretty perfect. Cherry trees and lilacs are blooming all over town and so many people are out and about, celebrating this dear, precious, long-waited season. Walking down Gl. Kongevej from the breakfast place, my friend and I bump into a friend I was going to visit later today… Like the friend from yesterday, this girl just gave birth two months ago,    and she’s got her son with her in his stroller. As such, we say goodbye to my running buddy and start strolling around Frederiksberg and Vesterbro before finding a spot, Mother (haha), in the Meatpacking District to have some lunch in the sun. A few hours later, I meet another friend for a walk along the Lakes, similarly with a stroller containing a 2-month-old baby boy. In both, or all three, cases it’s interesting to hear each of their personal and very honest accounts of what it’s like to become a mother – details about the birth itself, the feeling of unconditional love mixed with unprecedented worries and frustrations, thoughts about being on maternity leave and the idea of returning to their, in all three cases, very demanding careers in a year. Most of all, it’s just good to be able to spend time with them and their gorgeous little boys, laugh together, give each other multiple hugs, talk about our immediate surroundings; all of the things that we can’t do on a daily basis. Very heart-warming and meaningful, if brief, meetings! On my way to the airport at 4pm, I think about the past 2-3 weeks and smile: from spotting wild koalas and kangaroos in Australia one weekend to running into wild monkeys in Singapore the next weekend to meeting no less than 3 – pretty calm and domesticated! – newborn boys in Copenhagen the weekend after that… Wow!

Erfurt. Fly to Frankfurt, where my parents pick me up in a happy, hug-filled reunion, and fall asleep on the backseat as we drive to the capital of Turinga, Erfurt, where their company is based.

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