Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Nice & Presentable PJs

With a dog who wakes me up at night when she has shitspolosions, I only have eight minutes to jump out of bed, leash her and run out of the flat to the streetside grass patch where she could uhhhh 'explode'. There're other nights when she wakes me up from fear of the incoming thunderstorms, or if she just need to pee or poop (solid pieces). So I still take her out. 

On some nights, she wakes me up because she was bored and wanted me awake. WALAOEH. She doesn't want to play, but she just wants to be sure that I wasn't dead. She'll politely tap on my arm to wake me. If I ignore her, she'll scratch harder. That ensures me waking up rather quickly. If I ignore her further, she jumps up on the bed to stomp on us, and goes to stomp on Daddy's face. Haizzzzz, I don't want her to wake the man, so I grudgingly get up. 

To these night wakings, I often have to ensure that my pyjamas are more or less presentable. If it’s shitsplosions, I don't have time to change. I fly out of the front door in exactly what I went to bed in. I have eight minutes. If I ignore that, I'd end up cleaning liquid poop off the floors in the estate or in the lift, and having to Dettol the heck out of the spots.     

If a thunderstorm rages or thunder rumbles without the rain, I'd have to take my pillow and blanket out to the living room or the study to sleep there, so that she'd be mollified and hang around, instead of scratching the man's eyes out or panicking. If I make the mistake of going back to the bedroom, she will persistently wake me up every hour or earlier. Then I get no sleep. I can fall back asleep quite easily, but I like to be warm. A good set of PJs would ensure that.

I usually shop at Uniqlo or Muji for PJs. Those are set at a decent pricing versus quality. Marks & Spencer keeps coming up with ugly and floral patterns that I cannot deal with. I like my sleeping clothes in plain monotones. Uniqlo does offer those, alongside its ugly ajumma versions. Muji still has the easiest-on-the-eye designs. I can re-purpose tanks and long-sleeved tops for sleepwear, but I'd have to purchase sleeping pants separately. Those require a different level of comfort compared to work pants or Lululemon joggers. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Labneh at Beirut Grill


Stopped by Beirut Grill after gym for a light and clean lunch. We sat outdoors. At lunch, this side of Bussorah Street isn't in direct sunlight. There're also plenty of fans cooling the outdoor tables. I was already sweaty from the workout, might as well not freeze in air conditioning. I prefer sitting outdoors nowadays anyway. 

I love the restaurant's brunch bowlsfalafel and grilled halloumi, hummus, tabbouleh, kale, purple cabbage, et cetera make for a hearty meal. You could also opt to have protein of Impossible Kofta or real meats of grilled chicken, kofta of chicken or lamb too. I usually never bother with the real meats.

However today, I didn't want a brunch bowl and its flavors. I just wanted hummus and labneh with pita. I like the restaurant's pita — generous, big, fluffy and happy, unlike those miserable little ones at the Greek restaurants in town which lean crisp, very flat and tiny. Beirut Grill serves one of the best labneh (not to be confused with tzatziki) in town, along with its moutabal and baba ghanoush. It's very hard to find good labneh in Singapore. I tend to prefer Middle Eastern hummus compared to Greek hummus. Without the additional tahini or fava beans, it's more watery and less rich. 

The man opted for lentil soup, and a spinach and feta pide. Of course he took some of the pita and the dips too. He loves labneh and hummus and such. He was very happy with all his carbs and spices. We had time before the restaurant closed at 2.30pm. A coffee was in order. Much needed. Lovely. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

"No Politics, Just Make Money."


Read 'Detective Dog' by Gish Jen published in The New Yorker on November 15, 2021, and shuddered. It's very well-written, and the narrative is chilling. The opening lines of this short short are what many of us think of China now. It's a country I don't even want to step into when travel opens up, not even for charity missions. I might have to end up dealing with administrative headaches and disasters that even my worst nightmares can't foreshadow.

This story follows a stereotypical life of Chinese immigrants to Canada and America, and how they only care about 'making money'. It also mentions about how locals perceive them as buying up all the properties and jacking up real estate prices. Chinese immigrants are never 'accepted' into the local community as 'locals'.

“No politics, just make money,” Betty’s mother, Tina, liked to say. And when it came to China: “See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. Do you hear me?”  “I hear nothing,” Betty had wanted to say sometimes. Or, well, many times, really. But instead she’d said nothing and, as directed, made a lot of money. After all, she was the good daughter. 

However, Chinese immigrants don't like to be termed as 'immigrants' either. They are non-white, but they're certainly not underprivileged and by all standards, they're wealthy. In this story, there's a line, which I believe resonates with many people in different ways — "We are not people of color, Robert, we are rich."

The Chinese transplants couldn't show that they care about the Hong Kong protests or umbrellas of any sort. It touches on the generation gap between the 'money making' first generation immigrants and the ideals of their children. Author Gish Jen belongs to the generation which would prefer children to focus on getting an education and a job, not to be engaged in a conversation about protest banners, morgues, and politics. It's a very simple equation for the common folks — earning and having money = life and living, assets and power / politics = jail, disappearances and often, death. 

Protagonist Betty and husband Quentin face off with their two sons, biological kid 17 y.o. Theo over college and life's philosophies, and adopted boy 9 y.o. Robert about 'upgrading the family dog' and being paid to make his own bed, to brush his teeth and such, and to "support black people". Theo, was more 'rebellious' in their eyes since he was questioning everything and 'being difficult' because he didn't accept their proposed plans for his future. 

She didn’t know how to tell Theo that when a son yelled at a mother the mother cried for a week. She kept that inside, though she was sure that Robert knew anyway. Never mind that he was the adopted child—Robert would shoot her that quick look of his, like a flash of light in the dark that could only be a signal. He understood her, while all Theo understood was his opinion of his family.

“I hate you,” he would say, for example. “I hate your values and your way of life, and I do not respect you. What have you ever done but look the other way no matter what was going on? Did you ever tell the truth? Did you ever speak up? No matter who was being killed and who was being jailed? You know what the word is for people like you? The word is ‘complicit.’ I bet you don’t care about the Uyghurs, either.”

Then, thanks to Covid lockdowns and plenty of time on hand, Theo picked up online poker. He was supposedly "no good at Math". He won some games, lost some, rode on beginner's luck and rolled in the dough. He bought a car. Two days later, he made his bed and left the home, and his family. He didn't even care about school anymore. 

Then Robert got an extra-credit assignment for school — to tell a mystery to a pet, and involve the parents' in this effort. So he named his new imaginary dog 'Detective Dog' and made Betty tell him a mystery in order for him and Detective Dog to solve it. She told him the story of his missing Aunt. Betty has an older sister, Bobby, who has presumably disappeared because of her involvement in politics, and that she could be a dissident. This is the missing Bobby that no one in the family talks about, till now. Of course we learn who Robert is, and why Betty adopted him. 

The talk of boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing (starting on February 4) for human rights abuse is still just talk. There's this whole issue of Uighurs that China is insistent on, and the world seems hapless against their questionable course of action. Peng Shuai is just another name that spoke up, and failed when China blatantly ignores #MeToo incidents. The world is trying not to let it go, but HOW? China has acquired an unsavory reputation of willfully disappearing people when they've committed 'crimes' that the state deems as deeds against national propaganda'. If you don't fit the national narrative and speak out, you are taken away and you disappear from everyone and the life you know. 

“Why do you always call me Robert?” he asked, his nose flat and distorted. “Why do you never call me Bobby?”

If she wasn’t crying, she might have been able to answer.

“Is it because you promised my mother?” he asked. He was still holding up the glass.

“She was the best of us,” Betty managed. “The smartest and the bravest.”

“Was.” Robert put down the magnifying glass, pulled at his shirt sleeve, and wiped his eyes on the stretched-out material.

“We don’t actually know,” she said. “We may never know.” She tried to hug him but he struggled away.

“My name is not Detective Dog,” he said, his nose in his shirt.

“No,” she said. And, trying to be playful, she said, “To begin with, you are a boy, not a dog.”

“My name is Bobby Koo,” he said.

“She was trying to protect you.”

“Maybe Uncle Arnie will tell us where she is.”

She tried again to hug him but hugged his shirt more than his small body. “And maybe Theo will come back,” she said.

“The Chinese government likes to know all your family members,” he said.

“Yes. And here you are safe. So it worked. But she loved true facts, you know. She spoke up. She wasn’t like me.”

“You speak up, too,” Robert said.

But Betty shook her head no. “Not like Bobby. She was the best of us. And you,” she said, “you, Detective Dog, are her son.”