twenty eight

i’m reminded of a line in an old song which goes, there’s such a lot of world to see. i could tell you about all the places still on my list (peru, patagonia, the endless plains of africa!) and my plans to get there. but today, i would rather think about the world which is right here — the scent of home, south bridge road in the middle of the day, the flicker of a candle on a pistachio tiramisu square, coffee and my mum and dad in the morning. five girls whose paths have crossed and converged into a blazing boon lay road, warm hands that fold over mine and guide me into dreams of drywall, blue walls, and two brass halos of golden light glowing in tanjong pagar.


red morning, sailor’s warning?

starting my week with:

breakfast of champions
1. breakfast of champions. noodles, the best 70c coffee around, and a beautiful yolk explosion waiting to happen. these breakfasts always happen on the spur of the moment, so every time i’m at the nus arts canteen for breakfast, i wonder if it will be my last. it’s so good. an everyday miracle.

2. big apple red nails, apt because that’s exactly where we’re headed in about five days. i’m in charge of food and need to get a list together tonight that consists of more than roadside kebabs. if you could draw up a 10 day menu of new york city – 30 meals as diverse as the people who live there – what would it include? pizza slices, folded down the middle? georgian cheese bread from the outer boroughs? magnolia bakery cupcakes, katz’s pastrami sandwiches? where do you begin to digest it all?

3. melty soft rose lips, and a fresh, almost mascauline scent that smells so pretty somehow, like citrus, champagne and just a hint of…tobacco, perhaps.

red always feels like boldness and bravery to me. in about thirty minutes i have to go tell my supervising professor (also just about the best person in my academic life) about a recently-received offer to write policy and programmes for special needs education, and i’m very close to accepting, which means i have to leave the footloose life of a researcher. wish me luck with making the right decisions today x

20 baghdad street

masjid sultan

my parents brought me to their secret breakfast haunt at bussorah street two days in a row. it’s 7.30am. we pull up. the street is quiet and still in shadow, but the light glints gold off the masjid sultan domes. we pick up packets of nasi lemak. my mother peels the little fried fish and my dad mixes all the chili paste into the rice, which is unusually light for a typically indulgent dish. the proprietor makes the drinks out of a little corner of a french eatery with red walls and framed posters, and i’m sure the ice coffee i have is my new favourite. some days the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but on others, go ahead and exchange that for thirty minutes of better things. claim your right to early morning magic.

crossing gazes

crossing gazes

life brought me on another little adventure yesterday. got my sandals and ankles soaked by rain gushing down the slopes of Lock Road, but made it to the Mizuma Gallery in time to share a moment with some intense, photorealistic portraits by Hyung Koo Kang. i haven’t been trained to understand art as connoisseurs do, can’t decipher hidden clues and cheeky conversations embedded in histories and brushstrokes and angles, but there is always something universal, something visceral about a bare room and a haunting image.

the happy list #8

best tuition classes are made of these
1. Surrender to fun. My English tuition classes are coming to an end, and I couldn’t bear to spend the last few classes going through syllabus material when my students are done with their exams for the year. Instead, we had mini-muffins, kept a poem in our back pockets, and had a masterclass in speed paraphrasing with Taboo. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and these kids found more confidence in the language via this game than through weeks of direct practice. Best class ever.

little india magic hour

2. A full day date. Our dating life often makes me think of the poem above. I’d have to stop and think if you asked me what we did on our 6th anniversary (which was just last week), but I remember flashes of the everyday moments vividly. I remember him waving hello after an econs tutorial from four storeys up, before we started going out. I remember us having cokes after long days of walking up mountains and temples and crawling through caves.

And I’ll always remember what we did on Tuesday. Tea for him and coffee for me, time and space to sit, scheme and dream. A trawl through favourite textile and tailor shops, and a text from him the day after filled with exclamation marks and encouragement when I told him I might have just got my first writing assignment for a print magazine. That was the day I realised two things: first, that some little moments are just big ones in disguise; and second, that his support gives me more strength than I ever thought possible.

spectacles for the sick

sewing tiny hems
3. Making do when you’re sick. Caught the flu bug and couldn’t think through the giant excel database I’m tasked with completing this week. Instead of feeling rotten and sleeping, sometimes you just need to put your granny specs on and channel the fuzzy energy elsewhere. Today’s target of choice: making the hems on my DIY silk scarves as tiny as I could get them. Switched over to a special blue thread with a beautiful sheen, and it makes the little stitches photograph like dots! Swoon.

take me there where life is fair


To-do: resume jewellery-making and pay my sewing room a visit to finish my first dress.

To-do before aforementioned to-dos: write abstracts for autism conference submission, shrink thesis to a tenth of its original length to be considered for a research award, find the sheer nerve to pull up 15 thirty-page long focus group transcriptions to be checked for consistency, complete five more anxiety assessments…and most of these need to be done while i’m camping out at the theatre in between doing the makeup for two principal cast members of Never/Land*.

Life lessons i can’t wait to master: How do you make the most of your fair share of twenty-four hours per day? What is it (exactly) you are working for? Anyone else in the same boat? Let’s commiserate and be happier afterwards.

*Never/Land is this year’s SMU law musical production, a spin on the story of Peter Pan that’s full of wit and a surprising number of parallels with Singaporean life as we know it. Sam has written and arranged all the magical songs for it, and one of our theatre idols is attending on saturday! “Excited” is an understatement!

formula one fangirl

in my city
people watching at dinner
racecourse tracks
maroon 5 campout

singapore, you looked so fine this weekend. we may have ridiculed every new building that popped up on the bay, from bug-eyed concert halls to a speedboat marooned atop hotel towers, but when the city is alive at night, how can you stop your heart from swelling?

wans and i hit the races on saturday night. plonked ourselves on the padang and picked up some bananarama dance moves while feasting on cod, chips and beer. we found our seats and put in earplugs in time for the roar of the racecars, but i couldn’t stop my eyes drifting up towards the columns of the old supreme court. ghostly but gorgeous. later on i got the hiccups and we watched the crowd around us multiply by hundredfold. maroon 5 came on. adam levine took off his shirt, the drum beats for sunday morning began, and i morphed back into my fifteen year old self and melted into a puddle. one can never be too old for old-fashioned fangirling, singing out loud, and dancing with hands held high.

it’s not happenstance

He could be wearing a windowpane suit one day, and theatre blacks and a grey hoodie the next. On both days he is in his element, and I am in mine — he spins songs with nimble fingers leaping across ivory keys, and i’m across the room, in the centre of petals of pale gold satin and organza, working with needle and thread. I’ve always loved sewing because it quietens the mind, but here at the smu studio i am always listening, observing, looking up in between stitches to realise that it’s possible to be smitten with an old, best friend in new ways all over again.

sometimes sun people



the day’s yield: wobbly chit-chat, funny leg-flailing, one third of nasi lemak, a quarter of a bottle of 100 plus, warmer complexions. skill practice of one-handed cycling and over-the-shoulder speech. more than three moments that felt like davis again and added a wistful pang to my sun squint, a tank top tan but only on the right side of my chest.