Thursday, November 9, 2023

J.Gargiulo, Sonata for Violin and Piano N. 4 "From the Window", MarĂ­a Du...

Happy birthday to my brother Julian!! 
Composer extraordinaire of this gorgeous piece played here by the lovely Maria Duenas!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Sailing for a Day in South East Asia

Sailing on a yacht to celebrate a special birthday is a dream that in Singapore can become a reality. With fingers crossed (it was rainy season after all), we took the plunge and booked a once in a lifetime experience for our daughter Eliot's 18th birthday (*)
We arrived at the meeting place in Sentosa Cove with homemade chocolate cake, champagne, and pizza (via a delivery sent to the departure point). The girls, on a break from their exams, exchanged hugs and then followed the skipper to the yacht along the pier. Passing the docked mega-yachts, balancing cake, presents, and bags with towels and sunscreen we made our way to our "yacht for the day" called Maserati. After the skipper gave detailed instructions, I waved goodbye to the girls who would be sailing on their own with the two skippers to Lazarus Island off Singapore Straits.
Once there, they would anchor and go swimming in the pristine green waters and do stand up paddling as well. From where the boat was anchored, it was an easy swim to the sandy white beach of Lazarus Island. Originally called Pulau Sekijang Pelepah (pelepah in Malay means palm fronds), Lazarus Island used to actually be a penal colony. It's hard to believe now that in the late 1800's this uninhabited paradise once housed political detainees and opium addicts. 
Tired and suntanned from what may have been the sunniest day in a two-week streak of pouring monsoon rain, the girls returned home full of cake and laughter and covered in sunscreen. No encounters with pirates but hopefully an unforgettable adventure in the South China Seas to remember on a cold winter day.

* Yacht Bookings is a one stop shop event company specialising in yachting events be it weddings, corporate D&D's, team building and product launches. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Must be Singapore...

If it's no longer mozzarella di bufala, tiella with scarole and olives, or pizza...then it must be Singapore! Notwithstanding the misleading t-shirt. And supposedly fried rice with kimchi, a dish I first tried when I arrived years ago and have been ordering ever since from my local food court, is also an excellent jetlag remedy. Something I need because that 6 hour difference is pretty brutal. After so many years of travelling this Italy to Singapore route, I do have my own trusty, time-tested system which consists of 3 basic rules:

1) Stay up as late as possible (last night I made it until 2 am!)
2) Wake up as early as possible with alarm clock because your body will feel like it's 3 am even though local time is 9 am⏰️ 
3) Absolutely no naps. In fact, I would say this is the golden rule worthy of being embroidered on a pillow: No Naps When Jetlagged.

And of course, if all else fails, really spicy Korean food should do the trick!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Familial Support

There's nothing like family least from my brothers. In fact, I just realised that if there are any secrets I wish to keep to myself, the best place to do that is in my blog. As there is pretty much no chance at all that they'll read it. Especially if I send them a direct link to it. 
Watching movies and eating pizza together...well, that's another story. We're definitely on the same page. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Unpredictability of Travel

After living for so many years in tropical Singapore there are certain things one takes for granted: the sun rising and setting at the same time every day, the heat and humidity,  the availability of soup for breakfast and so on.
After the past few weeks in London though, I've had to give some certainties up. It's sunny outside? Not necessarily warm, in fact, throw in the wind and it can feel relatively polar. It's light outside? Could be either 5:00 am or 21:00 pm. 
And while I like a bit of unpredictability in my life, one thing I definitely wasn't expecting was to get my hair sucked into the hair dryer this morning and my daughter having to cut it out with a knife. Oh yes, a knife because we're staying at my brother's house and we couldn't find a scissor. In Singapore, we don't even own a hair dryer. And counting on the humidity to dry one's hair is just the kind of predictability I miss.

But did I mention how beautiful the architecture in London is?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Facing My Childhood Nemesis

When I was a little girl,  my biggest fear was the Wicked Witch of the West. And even though it was irrational, I was positive she was under my bed with her green-painted face and scary laugh. I was sometimes paralysed with fear my whole body stiffening even as I pretended to not be afraid of something that was clearly impossible. That's the thing about fear. Your body reacts to it even when your mind is busy reassuring you that your worries are unfounded. The fear itself might be irrational but the reaction it provokes is very real and leaves you helpless. To this day, I remember exactly how I felt then and I think (hope) its made me a better mother and even friend who has always taken fear at face value. Not focusing on the actual fear but on the feelings provoked by it.
I finally saw in London this week the musical Wicked and as expected its a completely different story from the original Wizard of Oz. Told from the side of the Wicked Witch of the West, its more of a morality play reminding us all that there are always two sides to every story. But even though I can sympathise with this witch (and in that respect a glass of chardonnay in my hand definitely helps), I can't forget 7-year-old me lying in the dark absolutely terrified about what can't possibly be hiding under her bed.
Next up, Hansel and there anything scarier than children's stories? I don't think so. 

Monday, August 1, 2022

You Can Take The Girl Out Of Singapore

After living 16 years in Singapore, there are certain things you don't take for granted. And I'm not talking about the, it's the opportunity to eat amazing food at any time of day. So if say one were enjoying a brisk walk through Covent Garden, in the heart of London, it's perfectly understandable that the Din Tai Fung sign promising delicious soup dumplings would beckon more forcefully than Circe to Ulysses...I admit I'm weak. I love everything about London and from today that includes its dumplings. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Goodbye Mom

Mom, my very first role model, a comforting cold hand on a feverish forehead. Always happy to hear from us regardless of the time. Our biggest fan, sometimes embarrassingly so. Occasionally, I wondered who exactly she was talking about in such glowing terms when on the phone with a friend of hers, only to was me (or my brothers). Always hoping for a yes to staying up late to watch old British thrillers and eat ice cream. And if you wandered into the kitchen early the next morning, there she was drinking coffee (when did she sleep?) Excited to hear your news, rejoicing when it was good and comforting when it was bad. 

She could sometimes fudge the truth like when she convinced my husband to accompany her to the summer market and it turned out to be three markets and he forever after joked that to keep up with my Mom one needed the stamina of a marathoner, noting with chagrin, that once home she still managed to cook spaghetti alle vongole for 10 people. Or when she told her grandchildren to call her Bronte even though her name was Norma. "I always liked the name Bronte," she reasoned. Or untrustworthy, like when she gave you recipes and left out key ingredients..."You mean I didn't tell you about the parsley/parmigiano/garlic..." 

But mainly she was the person you called to tell stuff, from the mundane to the profane: books in excruciating detail, delicious meals eaten with friends, and funny mishaps in the kitchen. I will miss that unwavering, totally biased love for my kids, her positive attitude, and encouraging words. But most of all, I will miss her voice on the phone saying: "Jen?!" even though she was the one who had called. Or laughing when I would answer with the catch phrase: "Well, well, well...look who it is." The silent afternoons loom large without the daily calls I realize only now just how much I took for granted.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tropical Nights

“The air was thick with humidity, but instead of feeling damp, it seemed lush. Like the whole city had just stepped out of the tub, and hadn’t quite gotten its robe on.”

― M.L.N. HanoverDarker Angels

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Shakespeare & Company

When I lived in Paris right after college, this bookshop was one of my favorite haunts and the very first book I bought here was Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage." Always top on any book recommendation list I give. If you had told me then that I would be coming back one day with my own kids, I wouldn't have believed it.

Last summer in Paris.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November in the Tropics

November is so dreary...
When my daughter woke up on the day of her 12th birthday party sick, my first thought was: "I am not rescheduling this party." When it became clear that I would indeed have to locate the numbers of 15 disparate parents of classmates and call them exactly one hour before they were due, I did what any caring parent would do: I tried to evaluate just how sick my daughter was. Would nausea and stomach spasms really be that bad? When propping her up on a pillow no longer seemed like a feasible option, I made the call(s) and cancelled the party. I was feeling pretty good about my sense of calm and alacrity dealing with the situation until the phone rang: "Hello, I'm H's dad..." With a bit of dread, I looked outside the balcony and saw a man with a present and a girl next to him. Oh no, someone had slipped through the cracks. Turns out, the mom was preoccupied with a sick baby and hadn't seen her phone.
Once the party was cancelled, I was secretly thinking: "Oh well, better luck next year." But no, turns out cancelling to Eliot just meant by one week, not a year. So I baked another chocolate cake, called the pizza guy, contacted all the parents (again), and hoped that there would not be a thunder storm on the day (there was, but then luckily the sun came out).
And it was all worth it. Well at least until bedtime, when after thanking me with  big hug, she smiled and said: "I think this year we should have a Christmas party." 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Once Upon a Time, My Mom

Being faraway from loved ones is hard but it helps when my brothers and I receive an email that says: "I wish I could gather you all up in one big hug." One thing that doesn't change with time or distance is my Mom's way with words.