Singapore Adventure

Thursday, November 30, 2006

by venitha

Just when I get my juvenile giggles under control with regard to the titbit situation, I go underwear shopping (Why oh why doesn't VivoCity get a Victoria's Secret?) and discover that underwear in Singapore are called knickers. Oh my God.

"Excuse me. Do you have these knickers in any other colors?"

"What's in the bag?"
"Oh, just some new knickers."

"Look, Jim! Check out my knickers!"

I wonder how long it'll be before I stop giggling every time I go to the bathroom.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Love, Hate, Name Something You Ate XIII
by venitha

  • One thing I love about living in Singapore is...
    ...the fruit stands. Whether you're hungry for slices of guava or apple, a hunk of papaya or pineapple, a stickful of chikku or kiwi, a healthy snack is always at hand. Fresh, pre-washed (at least that's what I keep telling myself), pre-peeled, pre-cored, pre-sliced, and served up in a plastic bag (of course). Best of all, if you share with someone, you can joust with the serving sticks. En garde!

  • One thing I hate about living in Singapore is...
    …talking on the phone. To be fair, I hated talking on the phone before we moved here, but Singapore has significantly increased my aversion. In addition to a disconcerting lack of candor ("Yes, we're open today" - other than from 3 to 6, which they don't bother to mention) and a surprising number of outright lies ("No, we don't have that" - when I was just there, and they do have it, and I'm calling to see how long the sale price is good), I have also, in the last 18 months, gotten exactly no better at understanding the Singaporean accent on the phone.

    "May I please speak to someone who speaks Engl-... er... better... Um... I'm sorry. Is there someone else I might talk to?"

    About half the time, this gets me hung up on, something which, over the last 18 months, I've gotten quite used to.

  • A new thing I ate recently is...
    …burritos! Apparently it takes just about a year-and-a-half for two Westerners to get really sick of Asian food. We recently united the rockin' good find of whole wheat tortillas with a fridge full of leftovers and hence issued into our home a new culinary era. I admit that the appeal of refried beans is significantly enhanced by the fact that many Singaporeans, who, astoundingly, believe that beans belong in dessert and only in dessert, would find them revolting. Yum!

  • Something I recently bought is...
    …the coolest of cool Christmas presents for the family members who have visited us here in Singapore. But I don't want to spoil the surprise. A note to all you shoppers out there, though: I first saw this item in VivoCity, but when I called to ask for details, they hung up on me (see above). I called a competing store in the right-next-door Harborfront Centre, and they not only spoke English I could understand, but they had the same item for less than half the price.

  • Singlish o' the day:
    : snacks. So I think this is not so much Singlish as British English versus American English, but this word never fails to make me smile. I especially love that people here deliver it without batting an eye ("Thank you for the titbits" or "There are titbits in the break room" or "Help yourself to a titbit"), and suddenly I'm a 13-year-old stifling giggles in Health class. Before you send me mail saying "Geez, Venitha, grow up already!", try using titbit in polite conversation yourself, and let's see how far you get.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Shopping for Walnuts
by venitha

Butter? Check.

Just one more item on my list, and then I'm out of here, off to whip up one scrumptious apple crisp. I talked Sonja out of a pumpkin pie when collecting the ingredients proved a challenge, and I just unearthed some brown - well, brownish - sugar that I hope-hope-cross-my-fingers-pray will carmelize more than the lame stuff I used in Test Crisp #1.

Jim: "You think a blowtorch would help?"
Venitha: "More than snarky comments."

Directly in front of the walnuts, a man is squatting, restocking the shelves. I so cannot do that pose. I peer around him and swear softly. The narrow walnut row, just yesterday crammed with cans and cans - yes, cans - of walnuts is now empty. Rats. I look hopefully at the many boxes littering the aisle.

"Excuse me, do you have any more walnuts?"

The man looks up at me blankly, clearly not comprehending English, and exhales a breath so fouled by cigarettes that I step backward. He leans to look around me and shouts to his co-stocker, on a ladder down the aisle.

"Walnuts?" I repeat.

"No ma'am. Out of stock." He says, not even looking up.

"Yes, I realize there are none on the shelf, but... " I indicate all the boxes spread in the aisle, but still, he doesn't look.

"Out of stock," he repeats firmly, clearly dismissing me. I glare at him venomously.

Exasperated with both his typical lack of cooperation and his inexplicable lack of vaporization, I turn back to the nuts, still infuriatingly obstructed by Smelly Squatter. So pecans, then. I rudely reach around him. Pecans will be perfect. I snap the package savagely from its hook. Much better than walnuts. I throw it into my basket. Whatever was I thinking?

As I sashay past Ladder Boy, I'm thankful that he's too high up on the ladder to kick in the shins. Also, for the fact that I don't say out loud what I am thinking: I am so not thankful for you.

At the checkout, my favorite clerk, Celine, greets me warmly, and our smiles evaporate my foul mood. She nods knowingly at first the ice cream, then the sugar. Yes, she thinks, this explains her figure much more than her usual guavas and snap peas.

"Where I'm from, it's a holiday today. Thanksgiving."

"Oh, are you Christian?"

"Well, um, it's not, well, Thanksgiving isn't a religious holiday. It's about family. And we have special foods. Or... not. And... we give thanks for all the good things in our lives." Or we miss the point entirely and spend the day throwing temper tantrums in the grocery store. Whatever.

I bid Celine Happy Thanksgiving and gather up my groceries. On the walk home, I make a mental list of the many, many things for which I'm thankful. And I don't kick anyone in the shins.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Lemon Juice, Ah?
by venitha

"Aaaannhhh!" With a wincing pucker, Jim hands my drink back to me.

"I warned you it was sour. I love it." I take a big noisy slurp of the lemon juice, then rattle the ice cheerily in the cup.

Jim nods slowly, then licks his teeth with a grimace. "I can see that if you like sour, that would be the case, yes."

"That bad, huh? Would you like something else? Say... sugar cane juice?" The Super Sweet Wonder Twin of lemon juice's Super Sour, sugar cane juice is decidedly not a favorite. And letting such Wonder Twin powers activate in your stomach could be lethal.

"No, thanks, I think I'm done."


I discovered the pleasures of Singapore's tangy lemon juice the last time Rohit was in town. At Newton Hawker Centre, he asked for lemonade, and like the doting auntie I am...

"Two lemonades, please."

"Lemon juice, ah?" the woman asked.

"Yeah, whatever."

Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and water and ice - note no sugar - is what we got. My first thirsty slug left my jaw tightly clenched in sour shock. No sugar? That's just not... American! Well, I know, this isn't America. No, I am reminded every frickin' second of every frickin' day that this isn't America, but... yum! I really like it!

Rohit, a child who doesn't even like chocolate - Good Lord, Deepali, is he serious? That's just not... American. Well, I know, he isn't American, but chocolate?!? - didn't bat an eye, though he let me drink most of his lemon juice and wasted no time hitting Baba up for the much cooler delivery system, if much lamer flavor, of coconut juice.


So I've been happily puckering and clenching away as I perform a grand taste test on the lemon juices of the many juice bars in my neighborhood. As there appear to be no secret ingredients, the true competition is just in the shops. My favorite, of course, is the most expensive, but has a quality that I've grown to appreciate in Singapore: I can see the entire kitchen and watch them make the juice. Clean city, my... um, yeah.

At my least favorite shop, a scary woman screeches my order in a Chinese accent to an ogre caged behind a very high wall, and in less than a minute, Shrek's somehow squeezed out my juice. I can clearly make out lemon and juice among all the nasal twangs of Flo's short order. This is followed by some other words, which, surprisingly, are not ang moh, and my apparently-quite-complicated order is finished up with the same sound Jim made when he first tasted the lemon juice: Aaaannhhh!

Somewhere in between these two shops, both geographically and on my preference list, is the Tropicana, with its convenient location and its chaotically colorful Carmen Miranda fruit cooler, but its stomach-unsettling milkshake menu, where, nestled nefariously among the innocent banana and the harmless papaya, are the Dastardly Duo, corn milk and carrot milk, and that Evil Genius at the heart of every olfactory crime in our , durian milk.

Super Sour and Super Sweet have their work cut out for them. Wonder Twin powers... Activate!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Well, Dang
by venitha

This working for a living thing is really interfering with my blogging time.

Oh, wait, I'm not working now. Well, dang. Then what...?!?


Monday, November 20, 2006

Thankful for Football
by venitha

As the second Thanksgiving in a row during which I don't get to race in a Turkey Trot with a Will Run For Pie sign tacked to my butt approaches, I'm still thinking of everything for which I am thankful: my mother-in-law home from the hospital, my kind and thoughtful neighbor Mei, good friends with whom to share a turkey dinner. Sadly not on the list, not anywhere even close to list, not even on the same planet as the list, is my - and Jim's - current location at the bottom of the heap in my family's (American) football pool.

Top ten reasons why Jim and I are so incredibly lame:

Insufficient beer consumption. It's too expensive to drink much beer in Singapore, whereas all the rest of the pool players live in Wisconsin, cheap beer capitol of the world and, as a happy consequence, a really really really fun place to visit.

Distinct lack of football weather. It feels like we're still in those pointless August pre-season games. Who can care about football when it's this hot?

Poor timing. Unlike some other pool players who shall remain nameless, Jim and I submit our picks before the games are actually played.

Share and share alike. After the solid thumping I gave everyone, er, well, almost everyone last year, it's only fair to give someone else a chance. (This excuse doesn't work for Jim, as he sucked the king twinkie last year, too.)

Unfriendly football environment. There will be no Singaporean kids out playing football during half-time on Thursday afternoon, there were no good-natured bets placed on Monday night's game around the water cooler Nescafé machine at work today, and there's never any speculation in the local paper about Favre's imminent retirement. Being so removed from civilization takes a toll.

Geographical sabotage. We now live in a place with no domesticable fowl, yet we're competing against residents of a country that not only farms turkeys but has genetically engineered them to grow extra sets of legs just for my man Madden. How can we possibly compete with that? (Yes, I admit that I'm currently reading Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

The Badgers! We're too distracted by Wisconsin's awesome season to pay attention to the NFL. Woo hoo!

Out of sight; out of mind. Never actually seeing a game has taken its toll. Actually, I did catch some of Peyton Manning's smooth moves on ESPN when I was in Taipei, but it was a Sunday night Monday morning game, and those have never counted as real games in my opinion. Plus, I was just a wee bit distracted by the constant interruptions by ads for the pay-per-view porn channel. And you thought the toilet was the most interesting thing about that hotel room.

Time difference. All the other poolers have a jump on us because of the time difference. I mean, the Monday night game isn't even played here until Tuesday morning! Can you imagine? Every week, we therefore start out behind, and even my brilliant prognostication can't compensate for such a consistent and brutal handicap.

Well, we're at the equator. This is a popular catch-all excuse for just about everything in Singapore - until you think about it. Why do light bulbs burn out so quickly? Well, we're at the equator. Why does that man have 6-inch long hairs growing out of the mole on his face? Well, we're at the equator. Why does the sun set consistently at the same time every night? Well, we're at the equator. Oh, um, right.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dreaming of a White Christmas
by venitha

In mid-October, Andrea and I jogged down Orchard Road. "Good God, are those Christmas decorations? It's not even Hallowe'en!"

A month later, Jim and I vainly searched the aisles of Cold Storage for pistachio pudding while blared from its loudspeakers. I rolled my eyes in annoyance, at the song, at the lack of pistachio pudding - and Snyder's pretzels and grape jelly and good cottage cheese - and at being taunted. White Christmas indeed.

Jim has repeatedly tried to interest me in a Christmas vacation.

How about we finish off Indochina with a trip to Laos?

Let's tag along with Brian and Andrea to . Caves and mountains and... what else do they have? Orangutans?

And in a kind effort to cheer me up when he had to nix my southern-India-in-January plan, I say we splurge: Christmas in Sydney!

To each new destination, I've had the same response: "I don't know, Jim. It sounds... hot."


Several months ago, at a party, we met a man from India who asked us where he should vacation in America. "New York or LA?" We laughed and tried to convince him that America was much more than its coastal cities.

"Go to the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls," Jim urged.

"And New England in the fall," I added.

"Oh, yes! I must go to New York City at Christmas and go skating at that place."

"Rockefeller Center? You've seen too many movies."

"No, no! I must go!" At the time, I was amused by his insistence. Perhaps, like the Germans' inexplicable love for David Hasselhoff, Indians have a thing for Meg Ryan.


Today I shopped on-line for a Christmas present for my parents. As I stared longingly at Amazon's falling snow and frolicking penguins, I suddenly knew great empathy for Mr. Rockefeller's quest, for I have a dream of my own.

I go running with Sue in the crisp morning darkness. Bundled in layers, we leave foggy clouds of breath in the air as we marvel at my neighbors' beautiful and ridiculous outdoor lights. I leave Martha Stewart's macaroni and cheese in the oven and go to church on Christmas eve and light my candle from Marilyn's while singing Silent Night. I go to Boulder on Christmas morning, play with Matthew and Elizabeth's presents, eat all the chocolate from their stockings, share a happy holiday family dinner. Then I pack Maggie up in the back of the 4Runner and sing a raucous "Blue Christmas" duet with Elvis as we drive straight up to Winter Park to spend a week skiing in fresh powder, drinking hot chocolate spiked heavily - Whoops! I'll take this one - with butterscotch schnapps, and watching endless college bowl games. Go Badgers!

My desire is equally narrow in scope: there's so much more of the world to see. And it's equally overdone: I've already been there. But I'm also equally as mesmerized, dreaming of a white Christmas.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Weasels And Cha Ca And Dog, Oh My!
by venitha

Jim's stinky tofu post absconded with my appetite, and I've been too nauseous to do justice to Vietnam's incredible cuisine. Here, at long last, are the epicurean highlights of our October trip:

Watermelon juice. Light and refreshing and pretty in pink. The perfect accompaniment to a buffet lunch deckside, though I wouldn't recommend drinking a gallon of it before a 3-hour van ride.

Dragonfruit. I wrote in my journal that aboard the Dragon's Pearl we were served dragonfruit that burst in our mouths with tangy flavor and lit the skies above Halong Bay with explosions of hot pink fireworks. Clearly a hallucination brought on by too much watermelon juice.

Bia hoi. It's fresh, and it's beer, light and refreshing and really really really cheap. Best of all, it makes Jim really really really happy. That wonderful smile is all-too-rare these days.

Dill. I had no idea that dill was so big in Vietnamese food, and I'm hoping it was just a fluke. Perhaps we just stumbled onto dill season. Or maybe Hanoi is experiencing a dill surplus similar to what's fueling Taipei's current Banana Bonanza. To my palate, dill is a bully, overpowering all the shyer, better-behaved herbs, and I resented the feathery sprigs protruding from our spring rolls and the down blanket burying our cha ca.

Dog. While I had no intention of going anywhere near a restaurant serving dog, the suspiciously few street dogs in Hanoi managed to upset my stomach nonetheless. The village we trekked through on Cat Ba Island had a comforting crowd of canines; then it occurred to me that perhaps they were no different from the flocks of chickens.

Weasel coffee. It's hard to believe that weasel coffee - yes, you guessed it; they pass the beans through a live weasel before roasting them - is anything but a joke on the tourists, but we all happily fell for it. And it proves my theory that just about anything brewed by superslow drip and mixed with sweetened condensed milk is going to be delicious. FYI, the below converts to just under USD 3.50/lb.

Praying mantis prawns. If these have anything to do with passing the prawns through a , I don't want to know.

Spring rolls. Mmmm mmmm mmmm. Any spring roll delivery system works for me, but my favorite is roll your own with shrimp, basil, bean sprouts, cucumber, pineapple, and - yummy! - lots of that delicious sauce.

Cha ca. We worked up an appetite wandering from a closed-for-the-afternoon restaurant to a closed-forever restaurant to a relocated-down-the-street-but-woo-hoo-open restaurant in search of the famous cha ca. Lonely Planet Vietnam may be just a tad in need of updating. Cha ca is fish fried with herbs. Dammit, Dill! Stop molesting the fish! Ours was served with rice noodles, spring onions, cilantro, peanuts, and - yummy! - lots of that delicious sauce.

That delicious sauce. No, no, not the peanut sauce, though that one's scrumptious, too. And, no, not the tamarind sauce either, though hey! I could make that here with fresh tamarinds! No, the sauce that's closest to my heart is, well, that's just the problem. What is it?

Light, refreshing, watery, yellow, it skips playfully across my palate and induces me to tag along in its childlike behavior, licking my fingers, ignoring double-dipping etiquette, and jousting over the sauce bowl with cucumber spears limp with the afternoon heat. My searches on the web would have me believe that it's fish sauce, lime juice, and garlic, but I'm skeptical. These are all heavy hitters, and this sauce is anything but. I'm collecting recipes - please post yours here - and eventually I'll make some spring rolls and do a Vietnamese dipping sauce taste test. Want to come?


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Eating The List
by venitha

"How are you doing?" Jim asks as we jaywalk through the rain to the shelter of a bus stop.

"I'm really hungry. I could go for sushi." A common state of affairs.

"Ooh, me, too." Thankfully, also a common state of affairs.

"Do you have your card?" A year of regular patronage, or, actually, a month of obsessive patronage, and Jim has qualified for a membership and very exciting special birthday discounts come April.

"No, of course not." Tragically, yet another common state of affairs.

"How about that paper?" Initially, they gave him a paper receipt, valid until he received the golden card.

He opens his wallet and searches to no avail.

"Ooh, do you have cash?" Hitting an ATM was his task as he left for a massage this morning and we scavenged less than $10 between the two of us.

"Well, I, um... no."

I look at him, bite my tongue, and take a deep breath to staunch my implosion over his sheer worthlessness. If I did implode, disappearing right here and right now, it's entirely likely that he would never find his way home. If not for the magnetism of their enormous flat screen tv, impossible to ignore for those of us without tv's, I have serious doubts whether he'd find his way back around the corner and down the block to the shelter of Cheryl and Eric's.

I look down River Valley Road bereft of buses and clench my fist tightly round the list in my pocket. Errands, numbered for optimal execution efficiency, are listed on one side, props required for said errands on the other. I want to make Jim eat it.


Three hours later, sushi cravings sated, errands run, and fatalities narrowly avoided, we slump on the couch with a pint of chocolate ice cream and a single spoon in celebration of Marilyn's 80th birthday far too far away. Her son has his faults, to be sure, but he's also honest and loving, smart and funny, handsome and sexy, cheerful and kind. And he has a wonderful mother.

"Thanks for putting up with me, Jim. I'm sorry I made you eat the list."

"Eat the what?"

"You mean I just imagined that? Oh, thank God."

He eyes me warily, taking the ice cream. "Thanks for putting up with me. I'm sorry, too."

I rest my head on his shoulder, and when we get to the bottom of the carton of Ben and Jerry's, he lets me have the last bite.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Morning Song of Hanoi
by venitha

Dawn creeps lazily into our hotel room, damp gray fingers curling through the window slats, slowly outlining the elaborate moldings of the ceiling above. I listen for the inevitable raucous crowing of a cock, but I hear only the outraged squealing brakes of a bicycle, the rhythmic shishing scrape of a broom, the beloved soft snore of a husband.

My handphone reveals it to be... oh, crap, I have no idea. Is it an hour earlier in Hanoi or an hour later? Did I change my watch or my phone? Or neither or both? A pox on Asia for preferring beauty (my handphone is adorable) over brains (I have to set its time myself), low prices over quality, beans and corn over chocolate.

The me-meep of a passing xe om diverts me from my internal rant, reminding me instead of our cyclo driver yesterday, hornless, but undeterred. , he shouted me-meep! Laughing, Jim and I echoed him.

Soft music begins to play, haunting and beautiful and vastly superior to the in-need-of-a-gong show we were appalled by last night. Is it an ice cream man? I can only hope. Hanoi has the best dark chocolate ice cream. A man? Mmmm... the noodle bowls are nearly as scrumptious as the ice cream. Morning tai chi? Hey, that would be worthy of a picture!

Barefoot and tousle-haired, still in my pajamas, I step out onto our sunny balcony and look down upon the Old Quarter three stories below. There is no tai chi, but the morning street scene is just as captivating. A girl and her mother, both also clad in what I can only call pajamas, walk hand-in-hand, each clasping a small plastic bag. I wonder what they've got. A yawning man tends an enormous pot over a tiny stove. Will it ever boil? A goth teenager rides on the back of scooter, holding a half-eaten banana in one hand, SMSing furiously with the other. Now there's a talent.

Eventually, the balcony becomes uncomfortably warm, the scooters outnumber the pedestrians, and the watched pot boils. When the lovely music is replaced by the harsh reality of the morning news, I go back inside to wake up Jim.


We spent nearly a week in Vietnam in October.

It's very common for women and girls to dress like this in many southeast Asian countries, though not, to my knowledge, in Singapore. Can someone please explain this? I mean, these are pajamas, right? I took this picture in Cambodia, where the mother of these two girls asked if she could take a picture of her daughters - dressed like this - with Jim. He agreed, and he has not yet, to my knowledge, been blackmailed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stinky Tofu
by jima

"What is that?" Venitha asked, pointing out a row of deep-fried blocks of quivering goo buried under slimy gray-green-brown sludge.

"!" Woo hoo! Finally one I know! The street foods in Taipei are particularly mystifying, and not being able to read doesn't help.

"It smells awful," she said. "I think I can live without trying it."

Fine by me, for I already know Stinky Tofu. I'm not completely immune to his appeal, but when I meet him on the street, I keep my distance. My excuse for giving him the cold shoulder? I keep mistaking him for Raw Sewage.

I was introduced to this charmer at a Hsinchu night market, and if I had my way, our relationship would have ended then and there. Seriously: Raw Sewage.

We soon met again, however, at a classy lunch spot, and Stinky had cleaned up his act. His smell didn't induce an instant hangover; his taste was not completely revolting. I was stunned. Could this really be the same Stinky? I admit that Stinky benefited more than a little from the theory of relativity: when you're expecting Raw Sewage and Rotting Garbage shows up, Rotting Garbage doesn't seem so bad! While I wouldn't go so far as to say I liked him, I sent the jury back out and vowed to stop badmouthing him to all the other, more fashionable, Tofus. (Pictured is one of my near-the-Taipei-hotel favorites, though I never seem to catch his first name. I brought him back to our hotel room this weekend to meet Venitha, but she was unimpressed.)

A year passed, and I forgot all about Stinky, until one day, by chance, we renewed our acquaintance at a fancy restaurant. We even became friends of a sort, for Stinky, at least in his steamed-and-floating-in-an-orange-ish-soup get-up, is good, and reveals himself to be a close relative of : slightly rotten, but smooth, with just a touch of tangy tartness. Like his cousins Sauer Kraut and , Stinky Tofu is fermented, and he unfortunately suffers more than a little from the resultant odor problems.

So what's his big brother King Durian's excuse?


Friday, November 03, 2006

I Love This Bathroom
by venitha

"This bathroom is huge!" I gushed as I squeezed Colgate - alas, I am out of travel-sized Crest - onto my toothbrush.

"How do you really feel about it?" Jim responded from the comfort of the king-sized bed.

I love it.

I love the separate tub and shower. I love the big white bathrobes. I love the phone by the toilet. Hmmm... who to call... who to call...

I love the well-lit vanity and its generous counter space. I love the built-in shelving next to the sink and in the shower. I love the super magnifying shaving mirror. Well, actually, that mirror is kind of scary. Way too much information.

Best of all, though, I love the toilet. Check this out.
I love it all. A woman could live in this bathroom.

It wasn't til I was rinsing my toothbrush - God bless countries where I can drink the water from the tap - that I realized that the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei's bathroom is about the same size as my bathroom at home in Colorado, and the two share a lot of the same fabulous features, though of course we don't have that toilet. Yet. I made a mental note - not that I'm likely to need it - to thoroughly appreciate my glorious bathroom when we return home. For an entire day at least.


Jim lured me out of our hotel's bathroom this morning with goodies snitched from the hotel's breakfast buffet.

"Do you think there are weird... things this?" I eyed the yogurt with suspicion as some I bought at a 7-11 last night had one large mushy strawberry (pictured, though less mushily, on the container) and a dozen unnaturally-rectangular sticky chewy globs (not pictured, and a most unwelcome surprise).

"Doubtful. It's from Germany."

"God bless the Germans."

"Some of them especially."

As he left for work, he encouraged me to make the most of my day of leisure. "You should definitely try out that toilet. It's pretty cool. I'll warn you that I took all of my clothes off first, though."

"Ooh! How exciting!"

It took me most of the day to work up my courage to get bored with the rest of the bathroom, but I can now happily report that certain parts of me are cleaner than they've ever been before. Of note:
  • I prefer the easy-going "family"/shower setting - "family" as in you might still be able to have one if you stick with this mode. No "rhythm" for me, thanks; that was just a bit weird. The "bidet"/woman style is a very directed no-nonsense approach, which I love symbolically, but it's perhaps a bit much for a virgin like myself.
  • I really dislike the heated seat, and there does not, unfortunately, appear to be a way to get the water without the hot seat. A serious design flaw, in my admittedly-uneducated opinion.
  • I did not undress completely, preferring to - here's a concept, Jim - just sit on the toilet.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hot Dates
by venitha

Jim kisses me good-bye at o'dark thirty, and I roll over and go back to sleep, perchance to dream of the pleasures of the day ahead: limpid brown eyes, thick black hair, and a devilish 4-year-old grin. Jim is off to Taipei, but I'm sticking around Singapore for one more day; I've got a hot date flying in from Shanghai.

The doorbell rings right on schedule, and Rohit swaggers in, mother in tow, even more adorable and, in a sassy disregard of my strict orders back in June, taller. Within minutes, his coy shyness has abated, he's consumed all the orange-mango Fanta in the fridge, and he's ogling with manly interest the construction site across the street.

He teaches me to count to wu in Mandarin, soundly trounces me in a cutthroat game of Dots and Squares, and serenades me on my bamboo flute.

"Do you know Take Me Out To The Ballgame, Rohit?"

"No. What's a ballgame?"

"My God, Deepali, is he serious? You've got to get this child back to Colorado, pronto!"

Rohit peppers me with questions: Why are your fingernails so long? Can I have a cookie? Where are your socks? Do you have a car?

We send giggling ho-ho-ing snorting barking toilet-flushing emoticons to Jim in Taipei. We race my pint-sized Comfort Cab up and down the hallway. We count all the real Comfort Cabs creeping slowly along the CTE, and we ooh and aah at all the snazzy sportscars. The are our favorite.

Deepali chaperoning, we walk hand-in-hand to Newton Hawker Centre, sit side-by-side to share a lemon juice with two straws, and play an uproarious, wildly enthusiastic, side-splittingly hilarious game of . Okay, now you do rock and I do scissors. No, wait.

At last Rohit's Baba, chaperone number two, arrives with, unexpectedly, chaperones three through ten, some of whom turn out to be - horrors! - my competition for Rohit's affection and capable, astoundingly, of eating with chopsticks. No way can I compete with that. Lucky for me, Rohit is a rice man.

Later, alone in my apartment, I admire the messy fingerprints on my mirrored walls and the newest artwork on my cluttered fridge. I scoop the stash of niece/nephew birthday gifts, now given the four-year-old seal of approval, back into their bag, and I scoop my clothes for Taipei off my bed and into my suitcase. I turn out the lights and snuggle under the covers, perchance to dream of the pleasures of the day ahead: soft brown eyes, slightly-graying hair, and a beloved 39-year-old grin.