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 world will always welcome lovers

lace shadows

went to The Wedding Dress exhibition at the museum yesterday. ivory gowns will always be beautiful to the eye, but it is amazing to think about the immense skill that goes into construction and all that handiwork. woke up this morning still marvelling at lace shadows, pearls dripping off dresses and of course, that incredible corset!

It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by.

The Happy List #5

1. Feasting with friends.
cafe le caire, by wans

(photo by tan wan lin)

We had the mezzé at cafe le caire before languorously sipping on beers elsewhere, and it’s $16 for plentiful portions of hummus, tahina, olives, salad, babaganush, chickpeas and feta to be scooped up with flatbread. Also, the fluffiest falafel I’ve ever had! This incredible photo is by my talented friend wan lin, who is ace at capturing sunsets with practically any kind of photographic equipment.

poached eggs/group therapy cafeThe poached eggs at Group Therapy cafe were perfectly smooth, covered in hollandaise and crushed black peppercorns and served on light, thick toast.

2. A georgette blouse I want to pair with dark denim and gold accessories every day


3. The gift of words

finallySam bought me this book I’ve been stalking at Kinokuniya for years — a collection of (love) letters exchanged between Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salomé. Here is a section that made me melt:

Now I am closing my manuscript folder: the Visions are in it, the 12 novellas, many of which I will some day read to you, letters, pages filled with notes, and Ruth. Did I not myself write these lines once in some dream filled with presentiments?

“…until the whole world dropped away from me
And nothing of all that life remained
Except a boundless gratitude
And a love stretching on forever!…”

If they had not existed, I would have written them now. How wonderful that they do exist. For hence this strange exchange: I can express my happiness in your words. –And thus you in turn will understand my happiness. Is it not so?

starHe caught me sitting on the floor by the shelf, swooning and lost in its first few pages, and I felt like a guilty voyeur. I’m not very far into the book, but my favourite little detail so far is how Rilke signs off — it starts off formally with his full signature, but by his third letter he is René Maria, and then very simply, René.

5. My parents, Lauren and I are headed to Malacca tomorrow for what’s left of the weekend! I haven’t been there for ten years, but I’m looking forward to trying satay celup for the first time, visiting a man who restores antique jewellery, a popiah skin maker and a red paper cutter, and just wandering around with my dusty but trusty camera!

burrata / galbiati gourmet deli


Detoxing with plenty of fruits, vegetables and soup today after a semi-indulgent weekend, but there’s no denying what has top-of-mind prominence in food memory today…!

The burrata appetizer at Galbiati Gourmet Deli — plump pillows of fresh burrata, resting atop strips of prosciutto di Parma, green and black olives, ripe tomatoes, artichokes and toasted olive foccacia. Be still my beating heart.

Galbiati Gourmet Deli, 400 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 678050

magic hour

west coast, magic hour


the day was too golden to spend inside the lab, so wans and i snuck off to meet kenny for plain vanilla bakery cupcakes and the usual tea/dinner hybrid. i thought it would only take an hour at most, but by the power of wan lin’s trusty pink car, as well as our unyielding appetite for richer, sweeter afternoons, we ended up moving on to a bench in the pandan valley barbecue area with three forks and two slices of pie, pondering over the benefits of a graham cracker crust, and engaging in pie politics over who gets the last piece — a game i’m happy to play! later on, a golden retriever picks up slippers with his teeth and gives them to us as an invitation for a tug-of-war game, and wans and i go sun-chasing at the park i’ve never known of. a little boy shows me the shell he’s found by the breakwater and scampers off to find more. we walk on, and find clouds that look like hockey players, pest controllers and smoke.

not quite sure i know how to make sense of days like these. they are beautiful, no doubt, but they are also thick and heavy — with summer heat and the promises (or threats?) of the formless future. can we continue to devour life by the forkful when it doesn’t have a shape or name?

top panorama – west coast park; pies from windowsill pies at pandan valley