Holland Green. Dinner in a house – not a condo, not a walkup, not a shophouse, but an actual standalone villa, and a beautiful, art-filled one at that: Monday night showed me an entirely new aspect of Singapore! Tired from a sleepless overnight flight and a long day at the office, I left work early, around 5pm, to go home, for the first time that day, as I went straight from the airport to the office at 7am to take advantage of any remains of momentum I had in me from a wonderful weekend in Byron, and take a cold shower, get dressed and get going. My friend and barre teacher, who has been home on summer vacation from her Gaga teacher certification course in Tel Aviv, had invited me and another friend over for a dinner at her family home before she leaves for Israel next week. As the Grab took me through a neat, leafy residential area north of Holland Village, I marvelled at all of the tranquil beauty, which instantly added another layer to my love of Singapore …. the houses and gardens were expensive, but the impression is not overly manicured, swanky or opulent… Not as sleek and impersonal as the condo jungle down by Orchard… or as urban as the East Coast… it was just … nice, charming, well-maintained, nurtured, wholesome; like a place I could imagine retreating to and feeling at home and at peace. And the charm continued as I stepped inside my friend’s house… beautiful lounge filled with antique furniture, beautiful carpets and all sorts and styles of impressive paintings. My friend was putting the final touches to a lovely, fragrant Indian dinner… her sweet mum gave me a big hug and joined us for a gin and tonic and chat (her dad is in Hong Kong on a business trip)… the food was delicious… there was dairy free ice cream and cacao cake for dessert… and after a long, lovely meal and conversation, we stepped upstairs to see the entire home and to meet my friend’s two brothers, who were hanging out in their rooms, working on school projects, and politely engaged in a lovely conversation with us… I can’t remember the last time I was in a family home like this, and I can see why my friend loves coming there on breaks from her relatively rough and comfort-free existence in Tel Aviv. Even to me, after having left Sanoop in Australia (he’s there for another week) and having flown all night, this evening felt like one warm hug.
The homely theme trended throughout this week…
Rye Bread. Finally got around to baking the sourdough rye bread mix that Rock Paper Dresses gave me a few months back, and every day this week I enjoy the rough, dense, perfect slices, the fragrance, flavour and consistency of which takes me back to my childhood and to simple university days, topped with thick layers of Vegemite and turmeric-infused sauerkraut. YUM.
Friday Night with Newcomers. Every time a friend leaves Singapore, a new one arrives. It’s incredible how that works! One friend moved to Auckland last week and another moves to Tel Aviv next week; this week, on Friday night, I met an old friend and his new girlfriend from London for dinner. They just got here last week and are staying for, at least, two years. I mean, of course I still miss the girls who left – I just am so fascinated with the powerful, positive, capable reality of how people seize new opportunities with the world as their playground; how everything is connected and feels ever increasingly expansive and more intimate at the same time. It was a fun night in Tiong Bahru (I couldn’t think to suggest meeting anywhere other than here!) – drinks at Merci Marcel followed by dinner at the new outdoor Thai place followed by a tour of our old-fashioned flat followed by a night cap at Bincho. Lovely to see them – they are wonderful people, the conversation was easy and free-flowing and fun, they were happy to be in this magnificent country, and, they were duly impressed with everything our little neighbourhood has to offer.
Weekend. The low-keyest kind. Woke up on Saturday morning and felt completely devoid, depleted, bereft of energy. Not of zest of life – just pure physical and mental driving force. Such a peculiar sensation – I could see the sunlight shining alluringly outside the window; I could see on my Instagram story that there was a live concert of some sort at the Marina Bay, with lots of young people sitting on the steps leading down to the water and enjoying what seemed like incredible vibes, and as opposed to the preceding multiple weekends, I had no plans whatsoever (except for one brief translation, as a favour to a friend). Usually, all of those factors would have had me roaming around and about. Sanoop was in Melbourne for a conference, and even if I would have loved exploring that gorgeous, energetic city, I actually really appreciated being present where I was. I wasn’t feeling depressed, even sad, or anything. Just totally flat, remarkably capable of shutting out the world. Like my body and mind really needed a break from external impressions. As such, all of Saturday and Sunday, I was literally lying on my couch, something I’ve so rarely done before and which seemed at once so novel and alien and at the same time so nourishing and just right. Kind of like Byron last weekend. I’ve been dreaming of it for a while, actually, just waking up and having no plans, obligations, anything, and just being able to lie low and read, actually read – a magazine or book cover to cover, the full length of proper articles on my news feed, my thoughts. And also to not entertain any thoughts. Some people have a hard life because of tough, rough, unjust external circumstances. Others, like me, are so fortunate or blessed or however you choose to phrase it that we get to choose whether we want a hard or an easy life. It’s all about our mindsets. I don’t seek challenges just for the sake of challenges, but sometimes my eagerness to please myself and others and take advantage of good opportunities combined with bubbles of curiosity, passion and love lead me to having quite a full schedule. It’s nothing too stressful or unmanageable… But sometimes the result is that my body and mind tell me that they need a break from all of that. From Saturday morning to Monday morning, I was reading (transcripts of touching John McCain eulogies and sweet Oz troves: WellBeing, Frankie, The Dry), sleeping, thinking, staring into space, breathing, meditating, doing yoga with Adriene, translating, eating veggies and drinking litres and litres of herbal tea from The Farm and reading and sleeping some more. Napping both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Left the house a total of three time – twice to go swimming (the slowest, longest laps ever; one of the most soothing, comforting activities I know) at the Highline, alone, and once to go for a bounce barre class, cycling straight home afterwards, feeling that I did benefit from a little bit of my favourite and very easily-accessible activities yet super lightheaded and fragile rather than the usual energised, haha. Social interactions were limited to brief phone conversations with Sanoop, my mum and one overseas friend. Last weekend, I spent 26 hours roaming around Byron Shire with my love, soaking in all of the good stuff around us and giving all I had in terms of engagement. This weekend, I spent the same amount of hours on the couch, and it felt oddly satisfying and natural (except for the fact that all of the verticality tensed up my neck, which in turn gave me a pounding headache, but that was easily relieved with one of Adriene’s neck-targeting videos). Needless to say, I felt like a duracell bunny when waking up on Monday, haha….
Aussie Lit. It wasn’t until early last year, on my first trip to Australia, I started reading Australian fiction, works recommended by sweet, enthusiastic booksellers and Aussie friends. And what a find! Emily Bitto’s The Strays, Tim Winton’s Breath and The Turning, Gerald Murnane’s Stream Systems… and, here, Jane Harper’s The Dry, a page-turner of a mystery novel set in drought-affected rural Victoria. Each of them extremely well-written, wise, witty, informative – on a human-insight level and about the vast country in which they’re set… And now it occurs to me that I did read other, including Indigenous, works back in uni, as part of post-colonial lit studies – maybe it would be good to dive back into that pretty distant-seeming syllabus! And if anyone has any other recommendations, please let me know! 🙂