Go big or go home…

Posts Tagged ‘thoughts

I was quite surprised when I wrote the one week post, “Really, a week’s gone already?”, and jubilant at one month, “Wow, we’re really doing it!”

But two months passed unnoticed, caught up among making a life. Suddenly we’re more then a quarter of a year in. How did that happen?

I’m not really sure where to start filling you in. There have been a few ups and downs – hence the radio silence.

The big news is that I’m moving to a different department in my company. I was working in healthcare, but it turned out to be more medical education than creative copywriting. Once I discussed this with the firm they were amazingly supportive and I’m moving to their creative team on Monday.

I’ll be covering both health and consumer accounts, which is respectively where I’ve come from and where I want to go. Hooray!

We’ve also had a few guests, visited a few strange tourist attractions and eaten a few strange things.

Long Beach Seafood, folk - yum!

Long Beach Seafood, folk - yum!

Food highlights include black pepper crab, cooked whole in unctuous sauce and pulled apart with our hands, and Indonesian grilled fish. This is barbecued while you wait and served with sweet chilli sauce studded with birdseyes and tiny chewy fish.

Tiny mouthfuls of deliciousness

Tiny mouthfuls of deliciousness

Have also sought out xiao long bao (I believe ‘small basket dumpling’ is the literal translation). They are Shanghainese; soup, pork and crab filled, and probably manna. The Singapore version wasn’t up to the original standard, but pretty damned good.

Over the road we have a nice cheap food centre that sells north Indian food, seafood noodles and chicken rice – it’s impossible for two of us to spend more then $20 here (£9), and that’s if we have a couple of beers.

Further down the street there’s a great Indian restaurant where they’re starting to recognise us, and the next road down boasts a whole string of places selling Singapore’s infamous fish head curry (I ate an eye, I win a prize!).

Over the crossroad there’s a lovely little French place – straight off the streets of Paris, as the snails, fois gras and profiteroles attest.

The range and price of the food out here means we’ve settled into a pattern where we eat out about four times a week.

In other news, I appear to be gaining weight.

Love you all,

Elle xx

Singapore life is good. It’s sunny, the food is great, my new job promises to be interesting. I can take taxis everywhere and go to the beach at weekends. But is it all soy milk and honey? Not quite.

The first month I was here I was too busy to be homesick. It was only when I started work that it hit me – the routine threw into relief the differences between life here and in the UK.

It hasn’t been awful. I’ve had no sense that I’ve made a mistake, no panic. The best way to describe it is fleeting claustrophobia. I think about someone from the UK, imagine the journey from my London flat to theirs, and suddenly I’m thinking about 12 hour flights and feeling trapped.

An existential (Daoist) version of this: even if I went back to London now, it wouldn’t be the same city I left. Life is flux; we change in step with our environment and don’t notice the process. Once we leave we fall out of step, diverge.

So the London that I remember is already gone. Thinking in those terms feels sad and final, but the flip side is that the same would be true if I’d stayed. Perhaps I would have had a kid, moved to the suburbs, who knows? But the life I was living was changing, day-by-day, imperceptibly.

When I think of it that way, it makes me glad that I took charge, insofar as I can, and left on a high.

I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying that looking backwards can make me feel trapped because I can’t return to the things I remember. But looking forwards puts that into perspective.

Next time: kittens and pink things! Promise.

Today is our one month anniversary. We’re in our new flat but not online, so I’ve gone all the way to an internet café to mark the occasion (who knew internet cafés still existed! I thought poor people and backpackers would all have iPhones by now).

We haven’t seen much of the city yet – our time has been taken up with admin and housekeeping. On that front, our little home is making me very happy, even though there are no sockets for shavers and all the cupboards are too high or too low.

My favourite house things:

• The view, and how it changes through the day.

After dark it’s a mess of twinkling lights. Early in the morning there’s just haze, crystallising into city as the sun sharpens.

(Right now it’s raining, and the top of the CBD is lost in the clouds.)

• The big telly!

The TV itself (all 42 inches of it) is neither here nor there. J and I decided we weren’t going to get one, not realising they’re standard in furnished Singapore flats. So we’ve done the only sensible thing, and hooked the PC up to it. And *that*, as the kids say, is made of win.

• The ice tray.

Yup, really. The freezer has a built in ice tray; once the cubes are solid you twist a lever and they drop into a drawer below. Estimated ice cube capacity: 150 – all neatly stored in the pull-out bucket. This kind of organisation is going to take my martini mixing to dizzy new heights.

Food porn

Things I’ve tried:

• Carrot cake (ibid)

Takoyaki – octopus balls. For want of a better explanation, mini seafood toad-in-the-holes. Really good.

Rou gan – dried pork slices, a bit like biltong. Also really good.

Things I’ve not tried:

• Hotdog prata – wtf!

Pig organ soup. Ummm…

Other experiences

Medical exams; mandatory in order to secure gainful employ. I had mine today, and rocked up at the hospital with the tocsin of civil liberty sounding faintly but distinctly.

Neither my employer nor the hospital volunteered any information about what I would be tested for, but I asked a nurse and she said HIV, diabetes and kidney disease. Which doesn’t explain the chest x-ray, and begs the question, “What happens if anything comes up positive?”

The rest of the exam was basic: height, weight, b.p., except that the nurse giggled when she weighed me. And earlier today, the receptionist at my new agency said, “You’ll soon find the hot weather will melt all that fat off you,” while smiling benignly, as if she’d just told me she liked my shoes.

Fortunately I’m reasonably immune to stuff like that, although I had better get used to feeling Amazonian; a lot of SE Asian girls are teeny-tiny and very body-conscious.

Yours, hen pang Elle
xx

(57.2 kg in case you’re wondering. I think that’s bang on 9 st.)

• A blind busker with a sign that read “I am sorry I cannot see you appreciating my kind music.”

• A cover story from Simply Her, Singapore’s Cosmo: Don’t fire your maid! Strategies to keep her happy and competent.

simplyher

I read the article slack-jawed. Advice included:

Treat your maid as you would your children. Be patient and always set clear boundaries.

and:

Don’t be rude or abrupt when you issue orders. Try always to say please and thank you.

WTF! I would never ask another human being (adult or child) to do something for me without trying to be polite. But J says clearly lots of people are rude, and at least the magazine is trying to do something about it.

The rest of it was dull as anything, party-line all the way. “How to be more productive in the office.” “How to budget better.” And LOTS of ads, mostly for skin whitening products.

• The nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever seen:

Orchard Road Maccy D's

Orchard Road Maccy D's

That’s all for now. Zai jian, hao peng you, happy Friday everyone!