For You, Daddy!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Silver Threads Among The Gold







This song is one of many Daddy sang when he played the guitar. It is also a piece I learned to play on the piano when I was 8.



Of all the YouTube offerings, I chose this one because the scratchy vinyl took me back to my childhood and our well preserved gramophone.


This post has nothing to do with that song, but towards the end (of this post), I have used the words ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ because they mean something in this post.



Let’s go for the gold … and silver, shall we?



D’ya remember I ended my last post,

Thank You

with this, um, cliffhanger?


The ‘All of you’ at the bottom of the sheet are not, um, any of you who happen to read this post.


So who am I speaking to?


What kind of lame#ss jerk would I be if I didn’t keep you hanging until my next post by answering your question with one of my own?



So we are now at the aforementioned “next post” and here’s what the … oooh, secrecy was all about.



From the day Mum fell, through her hospitalisation and recovery at home, I kept our family and friends abreast of Mum’s condition with newsletters via e-mail. I may not have a Facebook account or one on any social medium, but I’ll be d#mned if I can’t be in people’s faces with the goings on in my life. 😉



The following text in brown is an excerpt from the last newsletter I sent out to my family and friends; when Mum was well and truly all grown up. I mean, when she kicked her walking cane to the curb and began speeding along on her own steam.



For you. And you. And you.: I mean, All of you.   

A message for y'all!

A message for y’all!





From Her Heart: Not just the bottom, but her whole heart.

With gratitude and appreciation.




This second attempt is a more clear shot of the scroll that Mum’s holding in the first picture. I’m still pants at taking photographs, and I did not realise I needed to be closer to Mum for you to read, um, my artwork. Look at the camera flash in the mirror? I’m not even amateur level. Oh, and how about my matchstick arms going all selfie and photobomb-ing this shot? L-o-s-e-r! That’s me. At photography. Only. 😉



Oh, you don’t see your name on that list? Actually, those three people are none of you reading this newsletter. Nope, not even you, Chris, or mJ. Well, you’re mJ, not MJ. Those are other friends of mine and I had requested Mum to thank them for something else altogether. All of you reading this are the All of you mentioned at the bottom of the scroll.



Nah uh. Not so quick with the sulks. Just because you’re at the bottom doesn’t mean you are the least important. All of you have been mentioned in silver and gold. Those shades were by design, not coincidence, me lovelies.



Uh oh. I’m busted? I used the colours silver and gold for All of you, but I don’t like silver and gold jewellery? Um.  Yeah. You’re right. Kinda.



Being an oddball in the family for as long as I can remember, I’ve never been fond of gold (jewellery) even as a child. I took to silver in a big way in my teens. But I stopped purchasing precious or semi-precious metal and stones in 2000-ish. Um, because I jumped the tree hugging bandwagon and tried to do my bit by not bling-ing out at the cost of bleeding the bowels of Mother Earth.



A few years later, I got worse when I Blood Diamond-ed ( my thinking.



And now I’m beyond redemption with my marketisation of society* mania conviction.



*What Isn’t for Sale? by Michael J. Sandel, Harvard Professor



So yes, I may not buy precious metals anymore and I seldom use what little I have, but don’t let that take away from the fact that I consider All of you precious, k?



Your support – in person to those who could and the rest via other means – has helped Mum on her journey back to independence. It wasn’t easy for her, it wasn’t easy for me. A lot of times, it was downright exhausting for her physically and exhausting mentally for me. With prayer, and support from a lot of wonderful people including your lovely selves, Mum is … on the loose again! Ha ha!




Mirror, Mirror

 Me, Sis-in-law, Mum and Big Sis






It is Earth Day ( this month. Tuesday, April 22, to be precise.


You know the scroll that Mum’s holding in the very first photograph? I’ve written  the ‘Thank You’ message on the reverse, blank side of an old calendar sheet.

Did you baulk at the table fan in the last photograph? No? Well, it is 39 years (g)old. Now please baulk.



I’m notorious for squeezing the life out of my possessions and recycling whatever I can get my grubby ‘lil green paws on. 🙂






Quoting directly from the site:

100% of the profits from the sale of this limited edition T-shirt will benefit Earth Day Network.











Thank you, Ray Ferrer – Emotion on Canvas and

Stephanie Eusebi Nutrition & Wellness, for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked! and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, Kitchen Ventures, You’ve Been Hooked!, FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie” and  CLOUDS N CUPS, for liking my last post.




P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.



















Saturday, 1 March 2014

Thank You

Filed under: Family,Friends — by For you, Daddy! @ 12:30 am
Tags: , , , , ,







This picture was taken at Big Brother’s who lives 7 km away from our childhood home. We had gone to spend the day with Big Bro’s family as it was their church feast.



This photograph was taken on Sunday, 26 January 2014. At the time, Mum was still using her walking cane.


Which means, she was still not completely independent at the time.  


Which also means, I was still fairly deep in caregiver mode.  


Which eventually means, I used the colours for your names – Chris, Elvie and MJ – with scant thought.



After I saw the finished product, I realised I could have chosen the colours differently; appropriately, if you will. 



To rectify that earlier lapse, when replying to the comments you left after my last post, I have accordingly colour coded your text below.  



Chris, the colour purple comes to mind when I think of you because of the banner on your blog.



Elvie, your blog is a riot of bright shades, so I’ve chosen the closest colour that my Yahoo Compose* palette offers me.



MJ, you of leprechaun descent, need I say more?! 🙂



*WordPress does not accept any formatting that I do in Word. I have to format my posts in the Compose section of my Yahoo mail. So I draft my posts in Word, format them in Yahoo Mail and then post into WordPress. Three step tedium. And despite that 1-2-3 tango, WordPress does not allow all of the formatting I carefully select. Well, I get what I pay for, si



Mum, and my family for that matter, is quite used to me scribbling shout-outs like this. My family knows all my friends, so they were all curious about you, Elvie, because they assumed Chris and MJ were my guy pals they have met. I muttered something about you being my Filipina colleague from my Saudi Aramco days. Ha ha!



Then they asked what I was thanking you all for and why just the three of you. Because they knew that when I had sent out the newsletters with the news of Mum’s fall and later, her progress, all my friends and relatives had responded via e-mail or with calls and/or visits. I remember responding a little red faced with embarrassment for nearly being busted, but cannot remember what my exact lame response was. I just remember I didn’t accidentally blurt out about this blog. Whew.



Onto your kind comments and my trademark long winding replies. 





Every single story has a beginning at its end.



>Oh dear! So sorry to see this!

– Yeah, I was very sad for Mum the first few seconds when I realised she had a fracture because she lived such a full life until her fall.



>But, looks like she’s doing well all things considered.

– She is, Chris! She had a beautiful (= no unexpected hitches) recovery and she’s definitely got her mojo back now. Here’s proof.




All set for the stage!


This was taken on Sunday 16 February 2014,

the day of our chapel feast.

Mum participated in the group that sang

(and danced to) folk songs.

After nearly two decades

(looking after Daddy who had a stroke for 17 years

and then, till I returned home),

Mum resumed some of her former activities.

One of them is singing.



When Mum first rejoined this group of parishioners three years ago, she was the oldest. One of Mum’s friends, a former alto, who at 83, is older than Mum by a year, was inspired to join this year.

So this year, Mum gladly gave away her ‘Oldest Participant’ tiara to her pal (not in picture).



Bottom lines:

We are never too old to do things – old or new


We’re never too old to be exemplary citizens.  




>And what a beautiful mommy she is too…

– *blush* Thank you. I think my mummy is very pretty, too. And I’m so glad I don’t look anything like her because I’d positively die with all the comments she gets about her looks! Oh, don’t get me wrong – I love attention!



When I was younger, I basked in praise over my academic and later, professional achievements. Today I want to be recognised for other traits of mine. I’d rather people comment on my kindness, my trustworthiness or my humour; not something as fleeting and superficial as skin deep traits. Fortunately, Mum’s a lovely person as well.




– I’m a bit shy hugging someone I don’t know well, but you come across as a good person, Chris. Oh, and you’re such a cool mummy to have, too. So here ((hug)).





MY WORLD IS A KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR! Paintings of my life’s journey, experiences, cherished memories, emotions, thought, ideas and other interesting stuffs.



>I hope Mumpty Dumpty recovers and back to normal soon.

– Mum’s no longer cracked! *grin* Her X-ray a month after her surgery showed a very faint shadow at the fracture site.



>Praying for you mommy !

– Salamat po, Elvie! I believe in the power of prayer, so yours were among all those that put Mum on the smooth road to recovery. 

Oh, more thing, Elvie – Happy Birthday to you!  
When I went looking for an image to wish you,
as soon as I saw this pic, I thought,
“Elvie bakes, and her doggies take the cake!”
I know your day will be filled with
sweet people, sweet pets and sweet things to eat!
Have an extra slice for me! 🙂





MJ Monaghan

“It’s like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten.”



>Hey, my friend. It’s been too long since I’ve been commenting on blogs.

– I know! (Screeched like Monica in ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’)



I kid. Since you last stopped by, you and your family, have been through the geographical and emotional wringer.



>So very sorry to hear about your mum. Hope she mends quickly and remains in good spirits. May God be with her.

 – And He was! God, I mean. I genuinely believe He designed her complication free recovery and that’s why Mum mended quickly and remained in good spirits throughout. 🙂



>I also hope your life has been churning along nicely

– Churning. An appropriate word.



Renovations of the foyer, living and dining rooms began in September last year. (Preps for the same began a month earlier because we have a 189 year old home.)



Mum fell in November. With our interlude in hospital, work at home got interrupted and ended eventually on 16 December, a day before the first of family arrived for Christmas.



Having recovered from re-settling into those three front rooms, the master bedroom has begun being bludgeoned today. Estimated time to completion: nearly 2 months. Joy.



>and that you are well and healthy.

– Not surprisingly, I am! Not surprisingly because I’m very strict with my meal and rest times. And God has orchestrated the rest of my wellness.



>See you in February!!

– Well, you did see me in February, MJ. But not here; on my blog, I mean.  



I know I said this in my last post:


>Blogs, my own and yours that I read, will continue to sit on the back burner for the next three months i.e. until February 2014. That’s when Mum is expected to function absolutely normally on her awesome ownsome.  



I couldn’t post here on the 1st of February because Mum stopped using the cane that day as per her surgeon’s advice. But I still had to shadow Mum everywhere for almost all of last month. (That’s why I pointed out my headless self in the second photograph above.)



The transition to hands free mobility was expectedly filled with trepidation and protests. So the first two weeks I followed Mum around the house because we have single and twin steps between almost all our rooms. Mum has an arthritic right knee and after three months of comparative inactivity of her right knee joint (Mum fractured her right femur), she’d forgotten how to bend her knee and lift her foot high enough to get onto or over a step. When she didn’t do that, she stumbled. So I have had to constantly remind her to lift her right foot when required.



I had warned Mum not to get used to me accompanying her everywhere outdoors and that I would tail her for one month only while she learned the ropes again. It took Mum nearly three weeks to remember “the rules” without being prompted by my growls. Now she’s truly flying free –  indoors and out – without me in her wake. 🙂  



Back to the three of you. In all likelihood, you could not read that sheet of paper clearly in the first photograph because I forgot to save a copy of the original, full resolution image for this post. So here’s a full res close-up that I had taken in case the text was too fine in the early photograph. Good move, Kate! Um, yes, I talk to myself sometimes. 😉





From my mummy’s heart and mine to yours –








The ‘All of you’ at the bottom of the sheet are not, um, any of you who happen to read this post.


So who am I speaking to?


What kind of lame#ss jerk would I be if I didn’t keep you hanging until my next post by answering your question with one of my own?




Thank you, Tanner Hawryluk , and, for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you,  Misslisted, FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie” and MJ Monaghan, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, MJ Monaghan, for liking my last post.




P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.











Thursday, 1 August 2013

And The Mountains Echoed




So you know that in June, Mum and I went away for a break. Over three weeks, we visited family in two cities and holidayed with friends in two mountain towns.



We travelled over hills




And rolled across dales.




We watched Liam work his magic with homeless boys

This ‘flow chart’ is what changes a child’s life.
Liam believes, not just in second chances,
but in giving a chlld
seventy times seven chances.




 And gaped at Godbaby twist and not shout during her Capoeira workouts.

Godbaby: Après change of hairstyle




Mum hung out with her girls

L–>R: Godbaby, Mum, Big Sis
Godbaby: Pre-change of hair style




And we huddled around two ageing relatives whose photographs I have chosen not to share in a public space in an effort to afford them dignity that has fallen victim to the ravages of ageing.



I am aware that this is the fate of some of us when we approach certain chronological milestones, and it makes me incredibly sad to see how helpless some unfortunate people are against physical decline that technology has not conquered yet.



This trip was no holiday per se, for me. As I wrote to a friend on return:  



Our trip was a good diversion from routine, although not entirely a relaxed break for me. Mum, 82, is very independent, but since we were in new-to-her-at-this-age places and she does not voice her preferences/displeasures as loudly as I do, I had to constantly think of where she’d need physical assistance and I had to ensure her meals/snacks were on time. Like me, Mother eats every two to three hours. Like me, too, she begins to wilt when she gets hungry. Unlike me, she doesn’t turn cranky. You know what I’m talking about. Yup, I’m still the same. 😉



Before we left, I didn’t think of this trip as a break for me, so I wasn’t disappointed to not get to do what I wanted to at all times. I’m just very happy for Mum because the change of scene was a good boost for her already active life. .  



But I was away from routine and that made a few things come to light, especially when we were ensconced at Liam’s in the mountains. I’ll list three of them below. 




I. I realised I did not need that break. Because I wasn’t tired.  


Before we left, I had looked forward to getting away because I had not been on a holiday in 14 months. (Extra long weekends to neighbouring states do not count.) I wasn’t exactly tired before I went on the trip, but I did not realise how tired I was not until the third leg of the trip.



Before we left, I was looking forward to ‘unwinding’ and feeling ‘refreshed’ on the trip.



And nothing happened.



I then realised that it was because I wasn’t tired.



And I wasn’t tired because I plan, prioritise and pace all the activities I can when I’m at home.



I literally pencil in simple chats over coffee (for her) and green tea (for me) with BFF Two at my place or hers even though we meet at least once a week.



I feel nothing when I have to cancel plans to catch a movie or a play with friends when another friend calls and desperately needs a pair of ears for her woes.  



I am strict about when my personal contacts can call me for non-urgent matters. Before 8 a.m. and not after 8 p.m. Emergencies excepted. (It’s lights out at my casa at 9.30 p.m. and I wake up at 5.30 a.m.)



I am very strict with myself and the time I spend on line.



Writing personal mails tops my list of priorities. If I find myself interested in a new article or site, I squelch the slight twinge of disappointment that I could not ‘flip through’ some of my daily reads, which are primarily online newspapers.



I’ve RSSed a little over a dozen* blogs. At first, it was awfully hard for me to refrain from commenting on new blogs or even the ones I read regularly. I know how much I like receiving a ‘Like’ or a ‘Comment’ on my blog, but that’s not good enough to spur me to do the same on everyone else’s I read when I’m crunched for time.



I am just as strict with my time for myself as I am with others, be it in person or cyberspace. 



“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” ~ M.K. Gandhi  


*You want to scoff at the miniscule number of blogs I’ve RSSed? I’ll give you more fodder, friends! I do not have an account with any networking site**. Oh, dear. I’ll give you a few minutes to recover from that anticlimactic truth.



**I have access to Big Sis and BFF One’s Facebook accounts. The only time I stroll around there is with Mum by my side so that she can catch up with our relatives/family friends and my school era friends, respectively, around the world. (BFF Two lives in China and therefore, does not have access to Facebook. In any case, she’s like me; prefers deeper interaction with a small group of personal contacts.)



Five years ago, when I returned to live with Mum, people around me here slowly became acquainted with my unflinching firmness that they were not familiar with because I had left when I was a teenager. My rigidness was teased gently by most and I smiled sweetly in response. But stood my ground. I was ridiculed by a few, seethed inwardly in their presence and railed against them to my Core Four (i.e. the four people – a mix of family and friends – I am closest to). But I did not budge.



My body, my life, my rules. Period.



Five years on and I’m revelling in the results. I am not tired nor do I tear my hair at the end of the day. Or even at the end of 14 month holiday drought. 🙂




II. I stayed true to my intention of switching to ‘Unplug mode’ and I was okay. I was more than okay; I was absolutely fine being completely immersed in the real world. ^_^ 




I checked mail three times in the twenty days we were away. I had access to a computer everywhere we went, but I just did not feel like checking my e-mail.



I did keep track of my Core Four once a day with whoever’s Crackberry or Smartphone was at hand. But those were not my customary prolonged exchanges. Via a common message, I reached out to check that they were okay and to brief them on the highlights of our day.



Each of the three times, I wrote mails to my friends who were hurting in some way or who were celebrating a birthday that day.



Here’s an excerpt from a birthday mail I wrote to a friend: 



Mum and I are still in [the name of the state we were in at the time]. In fact, this is the first time I’ve checked my mail in 8 whole days. I know! If it wasn’t your birthday, Friend, I wouldn’t have even logged in today. I am enjoying NOT writing as much as I enjoy writing my regular reams!  




III. Before I returned home, I had a pretty detailed plan of what I would have liked my life to be like here after being away a few decades. Some things fell into place. Some did not. Actually, some of the big ones did not. I was angry, frustrated and …. angry. Yes, I know I’ve repeated ‘angry’. That’s because I was angry a lot.  



Three years later, I realised the anger was harming me, first of all, and only me for the most part. Thank goodness, I’m a narcissist. I decided to stop being angry because I do not like pain.



When I calmed down, I began to think of other options to fulfil my potential. And options came my way. Not always the ones or the way I had imagined, but they were options nonetheless.



I tentatively dipped my toes, loved how refreshed my soul felt and dove right in. And I’ve been doing swimmingly ever since. Hallelujah!




I am telling this without a sigh

Not ages and ages hence, but now   

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –   

I took the one not imagined by,   

And that has made all the difference.


Dear Robert Frost, thank you for inspiring me with your ‘The Road Not Taken’.

Also, I’m dreadfully sorry I’ve plagiarised and spifflicated your venerable lines.  




Liam, friend of our family, is a Salesian priest. Recently, he was transferred to a mountainous part of the country where he heads a shelter for homeless boys. His institution also has a fruit and vegetable farm, a chicken farm and a piggery on the same sprawling property.



While each of the four places Mum and I visited on this holiday is special to me, I will share my favourite moments from when those mountains spoke to me. 



1. Feeding the pigs. I used to feed the pigs a snack every day. I’d gather all the ripened apples from the ground in a pail and toss them to the pigs. Oh, I was so very tempted to hand feed them, but warnings from the elders and common sense got in the way of my fun. 😉 



I called the littlest pig, Babe. Babe was one greedy, little piggy. 



Being the lightest on his little pinkish tinged feet, with shocking speed one day, he grabbed the first apple I threw in. Then he grabbed the second apple as well … with the first still in his mouth! Not satisfied with two apples stuffed in his mouth, he darted between the big pigs and lunged at the third one! What a pig pet!



“Babe!” I admonished. “This is exactly how you will land up on a dining table, roasted to golden perfection with that d#mned apple in your gob.” Warning in vain, for sure.  



2. Playing with a glow worm. One patch of the massive grounds had openings in the mountain walls. Those ‘caves’, as I called them, were filled with glow worms. Then Liam picked one up and asked if I wanted to hold it. I froze while the thing wiggled in my hand. Gradually, I began to, um, thaw and I think I managed to stroke it, too. Aww. 



Watching all those glow worms was a treat. Playing with one made me want to flicker, too. I declared that they flickered because they were happy. So was I.  



3. Seeing thousands of newly sprouted wild saplings. One late afternoon, Liam, a colleague of his and I went trekking to the summit of the lowest mountain in the neighbourhood. I opted for the unbeaten, rough slope. I had trekked in that region a few years ago in summer and I knew those grounds are dry and barren at certain times of the year. 



I was shocked and delighted to see how much lies asleep until the rains come and wake them up! I rarely get to see newly sprouted plants. Seeing a huge carpet of them was pure joy. Like the glow worms, I insisted the sprouts were happy (to wake up).  



4. The view from the edge of a cliff. Not too early one morning, Liam took a group of his visiting colleagues, Mum and me for a drive around some of the scenic spots. He took us higher up the mountains towards a dead end. More of a dead drop, if you ask me. He had said the view of the valley below and the smaller peaks that stretched almost into the horizon, was a beautiful one. 



But when we got there to the edge, it was very foggy. Clouds of mist swirled around us and we barely saw land anywhere ahead of us; mostly fog.  



And that’s exactly why I enjoyed that moment. 




I love the mountains, I love the mist.

I had both there.

That magical moment up in the mountains

was my most favourite moment

of all the other non-family/friends times

I spent on this holiday.





::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  :: ::     CONGRATULATIONS   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::


Fresh off the press! Fresh off the press! The Hook got Freshly Pressed!


Here’s the article:


An Open Letter To Ellen DeGeneres


Hook, what I’m most excited about you getting Freshly Pressed is, that this, getting Freshly Pressed, was one of your many little dreams. And it gone done come true! Woo flippin’ hoo!


You’re next, Hook And Family’s Other Dreams! 


Thank you, Shogun 360°, Iaconis and JIMMY 2 HATSfor signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!  and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, Shogun 360° Marketing, You’ve Been Hooked! Dog Leader Mysteries and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for liking my last post.


Thank you, WordsFallFromMyEyes, for liking and commenting on my post titled ‘Loves’ Labours Not Lost’. 




P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.


I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!  







Monday, 1 July 2013

Comment Ça Va?



Bien, I hope, mes amies?



(For those who do not understand French:

Comment ça va? = How’s it going?

Bien = Well/Fine/Good.

Mes amies  = My friends. )



What’s with the jingle-jangled English-French?



Well. It’s Canada Day today. So ‘Happy Canada Day!‘ to my handful of Canuck readers!



Is that why I bilingual-ed ?



Um, no.



Okay. I am too lazy to pretend much longer, so I’ll spit it out – this post is based on a reader’s comment, and I tried to hint at that in the title.



“Huh”, you say?



Right. I’ll explain.



As mentioned in my last post,

Listen to Your Heart

I was away on a 3-week holiday with Mum. Since I got back a week ago, I haven’t been in the right frame of mind to work on the topic that I had slotted for this month’s post.



I like to enjoy everything I do, my routine activities included. I do not like stressing myself out in any which way and I don’t like giving whoever or whatever less than my best. Hence, I’ve mastered the cunning wonderful art of pacing myself and prioritising.



Since I wasn’t in a mood to cobble together a regular post


Since I owed The Hook a reply to the comment he had left on my previous post

Two birds + One stone — Bam! —> This post!

Comment ça va indeed! 😉



Thank you, Hook, for bailing me out letting me reply to your earlier comment in this post. Take a bow:




You’ve Been Hooked!  

Observations from the trenches….




The Book of Terrible

Shining a Light on Mankind’s missteps…




The Hook and I have a few things in common. One of them – we love dogs. So does Bestie Boy.




Yes, this … this … is my friend.
And that’s the family pet.




Bestie Boy attended a doggie event over a recent weekend. Here’s an excerpt of his experience.



Bestie Boy: The annual Dog Club garden party was one of the weirdest ‘little [Name Of His Country]‘ events I’ve ever been to!  Literally hundreds of dogs running about sniffing each other’s ars#s and gobbling sausages and cake … what better way to spend a Sunday?



Fortunately, my other friend, The Hook, is tame and well behaved.



Hark! Check out ze cutie!




Meet The Hook’s doggie.
Call her Chelsea. She’ll respond to you.




Get this! Chelsea speaks! Like, for realsies, people! Check out her bow wows here:



Two Guest Posts For The Price of One!



Back to The Hook.



Chelsea’s Handler had a medical crisis in the family recently and he has written an uncommon, practical list of battle acquired tips after his too-close-for-comfort encounter.



If you happen to be in the same unfortunate boat, I recommend you head over to

The !ndie Chicks

and read:

The Hook’s Guide To Being A Medical Wing-man



Now, onto the comment and response.



Hook’s Original Comment

Kate, Thank you for the musical therapy, the journey through time, and for just being you. Be well, my friend. We’ll talk soon. The Hook.



My Response

>Thank you for the musical therapy,

– You’re welcome, Hook!


It is fitting that you use the word ‘therapy’. I thought of an article I had read that explained the science behind the therapy of music. Title, link and a key quote next.

Why Your Brain Craves Music

“When we’re listening to music, the most advanced areas of the brain tie in to the most ancient.”


>the journey through time,

– I’m glad that you enjoyed your flashback. I felt good, too, going back two decades while working on that post.  


I was quite a big Roxette fan(atic). Aped Marie Fredriksson’s moves, outfits and hairdos. I stopped at bleaching my spikes blonde though.


>and for just being you.

– Well, yes, I can be nice for the most part. Just make sure you don’t catch me when I’m hungry or angry. 😉


>Be well, my friend.

– I was, Hook. Still am.


>We’ll talk soon.

– We certainly did! Thanks for putting up with the outta sight chatter, too, especially when you and the family were embroiled in:

The Past is Behind Us. The Future is Out of Reach. So Live for Today.


>Glad to hear you and Mum had fun.

– The fun bits were guaranteed, so to speak, but that our travels across 4 small towns/cities were mishap free is something I am very grateful for. 


 I’ll spare you yet another 1,000 words and let Mum’s smile say it all. 




Still smiling when we landed a rustic town after a 14 hour train ride.

Oh, look! By responding to a comment here, I’ve managed to cobble together a decent post!



A novel concept? Not likely.

Convenient? Most definitely.

Cunning? Um, comment ça va, mes amies?




Thank you, ArchangelTravel and GLENN FOLKES, for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!  and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked! and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for liking my last post.




P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.


I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!  

Friday, 1 February 2013

Love Is All Around Me



It is Valentine’s Day later this month. I am single, and I am not cynical about that crazy little thing called love.



Below, I will share excerpts of my correspondence from last year with two friends – BFF Two and Tina, and I will conclude with an excerpt from a newsletter I sent out (to my personal contacts) two years ago. My views on Valentine’s Day mentioned in all the excerpts, remain steadfast. Like true love. 🙂



This first excerpt is between BFF Two in China and myself two years ago.  





 BFF Two and me, trying to figure out how to get the grapes on the trellis above us.        Turpan, Xinjiang Province, PRC.

BFF Two and me, trying to figure out how to get the grapes on the trellis above us. Turpan, Xinjiang Province, PRC.




BFF Two’s text is in her favourite lilac (or the closest I can get to it) and my text in brown.





SUBJECT: Happy V-Day!



Or as you used to call it – ‘Singles Day’. Ha ha! To us, single people, cheers for having the strength to listen to our inner voice, for not compromising on what’s important to us and for remaining single by choice. And for our ability to be happy for those who experience romantic love.



Nothing decided yet for today. I asked Jake* if he’d like to go out. Don’t know yet if his schedule will permit it.



*Jake is my friend. He is a Human Rights lawyer (sigh!) with an international organisation, and therefore, has to travel overseas … a little too often for my liking. >< Boyfriend? Nope. Jake is gay. 



Later this evening, I will get chocolate pastries for Mum and Papa Saluzinho**.



**Papa Saluzinho and his family live directly across my home. I like all of them very much. Papa Saluzinho is 69, lost his vision completely 10 years ago, lost his wife, Mama Amalia, 3 years ago and their only daughter, Eva, 6 years ago. Eva was 31 and died in an accident. I drop in at Papa Saluzinho’s for a chat every day. The handful of times I’ve gone more than three days in a row without making a nuisance of myself visiting him, he’s got his son to e-mail me a reminder ….  from across the street! Aww.



Papa Saluzinho has a great sense of humour. His only son, Dave, takes care of him now. I call him Papa and (used to call) his wife Mama because growing up, I heard Dave and Eva call them that. That’s how I think of them, too.



Enjoy your day, BFF Two. One day, one sweet day, it will happen for you and me. Until then, be proud of your single status. I’m proud to count you as my friend.






The Caco-phony

BFF Two (fake) jamming with Dave and creating a hair-raising ruckus with Dave’s one-time Hallowe’en wig.




Dear Kate,


I logged on to write to you and wish you ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’. And there was your mail!



Yeah, our inner voices are very strong. I think most of the people must be wondering why those two bloody women (you and I) are still so happy, possibly even happier than some of them, even though we don’t have boyfriends. Ha ha!



We are happy even without boyfriends because we have not settled for just any boy to keep society happy. We are blessed that we don’t have any pressure from our closest family members and closest friends. I know many people tell us that we are too strict with our criteria for a boyfriend, but really, Kate, like you, I just cannot think of compromising on things that are important to me. We make choices that don’t have to include men as romantic partners and we have learned that life as single persons is no less enjoyable. Cheers to us!! 



But I also wish that people in love with a partner enjoy Valentine’s Day today.



So you and Jake are going out today? Cool! Is his boyfriend out of town again? Good for you! 😉 



Chocolate surprises for Mum and Papa Saluzinho. Cool, Kate! Give them both and Dave a hug for me. 🙂  



I am proud of being single and I am proud to count you as my friend, too, Kate. Enjoy your day, too.


BFF Two 





The next excerpt is with my friend in Toronto, who I call Tinamisu and a few other nicknames. Her name’s Tina, she’s of Italian origin and I like her as much as I like TiRamisu. She’s just so good natured with my um, name calling.





Tinsicle Takes On Tuscany




This exchange was during this recently past Christmas week. Tinamisu’s text in her favourite blue and mine in brown.



Me: I am happy to be home for Christmas this year, Te-yo. Not just because I have my nearest and dearest ones around me. It also means someone else not-necessarily-near, but just-as-dear isn’t struggling alone somewhere because guess where I would be otherwise? I am so very grateful that Mum and the rest of my immediate family understand that I have to ditch them at special times like this because I simply cannot wish everyone ‘Merry Christmas’ when I know that someone I care about is alone and sad at this time of the year.  




My Pepper and Latte

Some of my near and dear, um, wear fur! 🙂




Tinamisu: Just wanted to say I’m really happy that you got to be home this year for Christmas, Kate! I know very well that family, tradition, helping others and of course, food* are very important to you.  And when you can enjoy all of these in one place, all the better!



Me: You betcha, T-Ice! If I could have my way, I’d make sure we all live together in one big, beautiful place. We already do? It’s called Planet Earth? Oh. 😉 



*Have you noticed that T-Not-a-pain included ‘food’ up there in the list of things that are important to me? Will talk about this, um, other love of mine in my next post.   





This last excerpt is from my newsletter to my personal e-mail contacts on Valentine’s Day two years ago.



The Subject of that newsletter (via e-mail) was the same at the title of this post – Love Is All Around Me.



In that newsletter, I shared stories and photographs of some of the people (geographically and emotionally) closest to me:


Papa Saluzinho

My 5-year old neighbour, Cahill

My favourite in-state cousin, Henry


Mum’s (now) 92-year old bestie, Auntie Alicia  




90 Not Out

Auntie Alicia’s 90th Birthday Dinner

On the left:  Auntie Alicia with her granddaughter

On the right:  My folks

In all our excitement, we i.e. my family, forgot to take a photograph with Auntie Alicia that night, so I merged two shots (above) and sent it as part of my newsletter.





This was the conclusion of that newsletter. True to style, it’s a long winding road to the end. 🙂





So there. Those are some of the people who put a smile on my face every time we meet, and who I am completely myself with because, like you all, they accept me for who I am, dazzling personality hideous warts and all. 



I deliberately chose to send this edition out today i.e. Valentine’s Day because it’s about some of the important people in my life. Also, I’m not a cynic about my single status; therefore, I do not scoff at all the pink and red hued stuff around me. I also do not delude myself by wishing my other single friends, “Happy Singles Day!” or some such thing that has caught on recently. Want to celebrate your single-ness? Get yourselves your own day, I say; do not hijack this one. Hoping to go there and do that*, I am happy for those blessed to have a spouse or significant other.



*Note to self: Please make sure you do not marry an adrenaline junkie like James Franco’s character in ‘127 Hours‘.  Sitting in your seat, you barely survived watching that part and that other part. Whew!



Changing gears.



I thought of all of you when I read this recently. This applies not just to the people I’ve talked about in this newsletter or the ones who live here in my city, state or in the country, but also to all of you, my dear kith and kin scattered around this big, wide world:  



Heart Song

This image is from






Each one of you contributes to the song that is my life. From some, I get the chorus, from some a verse, some a line and a few contribute a (musical) note, but every single one of you is vital. Thank you for filling my life with music. 




Heart Beat

This image is from






And you, dear e-Friends, provide infrequent, but regular beats to the song of my life. Thank you.



Love is all around me,

And so the feeling grows.



I, um, borrowed the title of this post and the two lines above from the following song:






::  ::   ::   ::  ::  ::  ::     BLOG BUDDY BIRTHDAYS  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   :: 


I hope I’m not ruining surprises for anyone with these very early wishes to two of my blog buddies.



1.  At first, I found a nice Canadian style wish, but I did not get a response from the blogger whose site that personal photograph is on. Then I saw this one.


Happy Birthday, Hook!

This image is from



I do not know what you look like and I do not know if there’s any truth to the statement, but I do know that you are a good sport (and a great husband, father, son and son-in-law!)


This year, with your book, ‘The Bellman Chronicles’ (, and with whatever else your heart desires, I hope you get things that are important, not urgent. What does that mean? Buried in the following article is what I’m on about. Not exactly what those words mean in the article, but for your life in general.


How to master your time


Oh, since you like lists, here’s one; especially for your birthday.


The 35 Dumbest Things Ever Said On The Internet


You’re welcome! 😉

Oh, and Happy  Birthday, Hook!! I hope you have as lovely a day as is possible on the 25th!




2. None of the, um, fun things in this picture come to mind when I think of you.


MJ's Birthday Wish

This image is from



Which is EXACTLY why I chose it for you! Ha ha!


It’s been a while since I enjoyed your posts at, but I know that that silence is for a very good reason. I’m also happy that your extended family and new(ish) co-workers are now enjoying your warmth and humour in person. I hope you and YLB (and Duke, of course!) are doing well in Nebraska. 


Breithlá  shona duit, MJ! May your Irish eyes keep smiling all day long on the 28th!


Thank you, A Clown on Fire,  for signing up to follow my posts.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked! and Moolta, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 






Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Gossip Girl



Meet BFF Two AKA Gossip Girl.



This is my favourite photo of BFF Two. It captures her personality perfectly. Mostly smiling, enjoying simple moments and not afraid of being silly.


It is BFF Two’s birthday on the 20th of July, so this is my (unbeknownst) tribute to her.


BFF is one of Bestie Boy’s friends. I did not like her when I met her the first two times at Nameless Bar, the expat watering hole in the (Chinese) city I lived in. I thought she was what I call a typical “Chinese” girl. One who is unduly friendly with foreigners for the sake of our foreignness more than for who we are as individuals. 


The second time we met at Nameless Bar, I softened my stance towards her a little because I noticed she had snubbed Tomcat*. And Bestie Boy had reiterated that she was smart. So I agreed to meet her when she invited me to dinner a few months later.

*Tomcat is what I called my Other Foreign National, short time …whew ex-flattie in China, to his face. He was a good looking, charming lad in his late 20s with an insatiable appetite for women. I lived with him for 6 weeks and when I was offered my own flat as part of my promotion, I bolted. But alas, I was only 3 buildings down from the long arm of the law(less). Well, he was Tomcat and I was Bobcat. When hiss and spit didn’t work, my claws came out. Freak!


It took me nearly 6 months to believe that BFF Two was really a friendly person. I think it was because my first impression of her wasn’t favourable. I quickly discovered that BFF Two was smart, quick and efficient with any help I needed. Even when I didn’t need it.


For a long time, I refused to let her help me with simple stuff like enquiring about routes and fares for my trips. (It’s hard to find English speaking Chinese people in the service industry.) Once I allowed her to help and found out how good she was, I turned lazy and began making the most elementary requests.


“BFF Two, could you please pick up some dried medlar berries for me from the supermarket near you?”


“BFF Two, could you please check if they have dried Sharon fruit (persimmons) in the open market?”  


“BFF Two, could you book our appointment at the spa, please?”


And then I’d grumble that she had robbed me of my independence.  Ha ha!


I call BFF Two the Gossip Girl because many a times, our conversation would start with me excitedly saying, “BFF Two, I want to gossip!”


When I first told my family and friends about this nickname for BFF Two, they were all baulked. “But you don’t gossip, Kate?” Well, no … But YES!


I love to gossip. I gossip a lot. Rip the poor person’s rep to shreds. B#tch about them like I live in a glass house. And you know what? It feels good!


There’s just one little clause when I embark on this mission impugnable. The person I blab to must NOT know the target of my vicious words. Since BFF Two and I didn’t work together and didn’t have the same circle of friends, she became my ideal gossip partner.


This is something I’m particular about with my friends and co-workers. At every place I’ve worked at, I have found at least two other allies who belonged to the boring lot in the office. We never discussed our colleagues’ personal lives with the others at work or even amongst ourselves.


So if I gossiped, why did I call her Gossip Girl? Let’s just say BFF Two was a quick learner.


BFF Two and I have a favourite hobby in common. We like boy watching. Let me tell you a little story about our ‘hobby’.


One summer, BFF Two and I visited Xinjiang, the northwestern most province in China.


Heaven is a place on earth!

 This is Tianchi Lake in Xinjiang. Tianchi = Heavenly Lake.


When planning our trip to Xinjiang, one of the many things I briefed BFF Two about myself was my penchant for ogling at guys.


“Not the pretty boys; nothing in the head”, I sneered. “You can have those, BFF Two”, I added generously. We even devised a code for delicious sightings.


The first episode was on the very first day of our trip. (I work fast, don’t I?)


We were puttering around in our dorm having just landed Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Our 2 American dorm mates came in for a bit.


As usual, I forced a perfunctory smile, said “Hi” and ignored them.


As usual, BFF Two smiled sweetly and began chatting with them. 


They left shortly to grab dinner or whatever. No sooner they left the room, I swerved to BFF Two and blurted, “I like the guy in the green tee.”


BFF Two, ignorant at that point of the meaninglessness of such words, got excited and said, “They’ve gone out for a short while. You can talk to him when he comes back soon.” 

(BFF Two’s favourite colour is lavender.)


That’s when BFF Two learned the most vital part of my manhunts.


“Are you mad? Why would I want to talk to him?”

“You said you like him!”

“I don’t even know him, BFF Two. And I don’t want to know him.”

“But, but, you, you..”

*rolled my eyes*


Thereafter, BFF Two never made that mistake again. So watch and drool only we did from that time on.


Guys, I really feel sorry for you lot. We, women, are a vexing species fo sho.


BFF Two visited my family a year and a half ago. She spent Christmas 2010 and New Year’s 2011 with us. 🙂


These are a few pictures of some of her happy times here.



Just arrived


BFF Two joined my family everywhere we went. This was her first visit to my country and I was very happy that she got to experience many new (and strange!) things.


At a relative’s silver wedding celebration.

                  Me                                    BFF Two                                        Big Sis



At a family friend’s wedding reception.


Like me, BFF Two loves dancing! After some initial shyness, she was relaxed enough to dance away. She loved the conga lines, The Birdie Dance and The Hokey Pokey.


BFF Two will be back next year to spend Christmas 2013 with us. Yaay!


Until then, the countdown has begun for Kate Spade Girl’s arrival for Christmas this year. 🙂


This image is from


Thank you,  The Book of TerribleCheerful Monk, and mj monaghan  for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, The Book of Terrible, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 


Friday, 15 June 2012

My Friend’s Friend

Do you know how most of you think I have a really great life and that I have fun all the time? Well, I do have a great life! I’m alive and what’s not great about that, huh?

So great – yes; fun all the time – far from it.

For those of you still not convinced, I’ll tell you a story. It’s actually a slice of my life from last year.

The title character is Bestie Boy’s friend. I will include excerpts of my correspondence with Bestie Boy. I must warn you that there is a bit of racist lingo tossed around. It is how Bestie Boy and I communicate because both of us cannot comprehend the notion of racism. We laugh at the absolute ridiculousness of racist language and that’s why Bestie Boy uses it fairly frequently only within his closest group of friends.

The main characters in this story are
Bestie Boy, Brit
Sajid, Kashmiri


Supporting roles:
Monique, Franco-Syrian
Steve, Brit

Sajid and Monique were Bestie Boy’s housemates at the university student house while they were pursuing their doctoral studies. Steve is Bestie Boy’s childhood friend who, like the rest of Bestie Boy’s family and close friends, was very fond of Sajid, too.

Sajid died in May 2011. A car crash victim on the notoriously dangerous roads of Kashmir.  Sajid’s birthday is four days from today i.e. 19 June. He was a mere 26 years when he passed away last year.

The following are bits and pieces of my mail to Bestie Boy as both of us dealt with the news. Bestie Boy’s text in his favourite green and mine, as always, in brown. Oh, later on, Sajid’s words are in orange. I chose that colour because I use similarly shaded saffron strands from Kashmir in my breakfast porridge. 

We still miss you, Saj.

(Editor’s Note: I do not have a Facebook account, but I have access to Bis Sis’ account because she is Friends with some of my friends.)  

Me: I read your first line and was confused. I thought you were joking, but I know that death is one of the things you don’t horse around with. When I saw the details in the link*, it began to make sense. Still, I hoped that it wasn’t the same Sajid, your friend Sajid, but when the page with the article opened up with his photograph, there was no chance of mistaken identity. I turned cold, and felt dizzy, sick. I read through the article and choked up. Next, I went to his Wall and scrolled a couple of pages down to get to when the news broke. Reading through each of those tearful posts was good because it made me cry.

*Bestie Boy had sent me the URL to the article about Sajid’s accident and demise that appeared in the Kashmir newspaper.

Me: Like you attempted, I, too, found it wasn’t easy to get on with life after I found out about Sajid’s death; not immediately, that is. Took me a whole day. On Friday,I was quiet through my breakfast and told Mum the news only at the lunch table. A few lines only because I choked up. She tried to ask some questions, but when she found I couldn’t talk, she let me eat.

Friday night, as expected, was rough. I woke up a little after 1.30 a.m. on Saturday. Came here, sat at my PC and just surfed my usual sites. Felt drowsy enough to crash again by 4.30 a.m. and was up at my usual 6 a.m. I decided to skip my(/our) usual favourite oats and pig in Sajid’s name. I needed something to feel good again. So I treated myself to my fave Sunday brekkie of egg fried sunny side up with brown bread and a thick layer of butter and cheese, and coffee with a hefty shot of Amarula. Thanks, Sajid!
I worked extra hard on my whole positive thinking drill and felt much better yesterday. I showed Mum your mail, the article and then, let her go through Sajid’s Wall. I still welled up a few times, and choked a few times when I deliberately went through his Wall several times yesterday, I feel for Siena (his girlfriend), too. Sh*t! God only knows her state.

Bestie Boy: I have very fond memories of Sajid, as do my family and friends who all met him and were swayed by his courteousness and genuine charm. The old rogue!

Me: Now calm down, Bestie Boy old chap, as Sajid would say. Judging by what the others have to say on his Wall, he made a good impression on every single one of them, too.  


You know, you have talked about his politeness, etc. a couple of times before. After I read the article about his accident (where his parents’ professions were mentioned), it made sense. In my experience in India, children of defence personnel, bureaucrats and old money are more refined than their counterparts, even if the latter are urban and more wealthy. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but it does reflect a certain class. The young scions of the wealthy today are largely loud and obnoxious. Heck, our young population the world over, is a loud, crass lot. The more money we have, the louder we get in public places. Unfortunately, all I hear is their desperate need for attention and lack of self worth.  

Writing to Bestie Boy and talking about Sajid’s shocking demise helped, but I was still restless. On Sajid’s Wall, I found a link to one of his friend’s blog posts about the accident. So I wrote to his friend, Faysal. That’s next.


20 May 2011

Dear Faysal,

I have a special request for you. I am not Sajid’s Facebook friend, or even a known friend. We have a friend in common. I would like to post the following on Sajid’s Wall, but not being a Friend, I am unable to do so. Could you please post it for me with the appropriate explanation/disclaimer?

Thank you for understanding.



I had never met Sajid. He did not know me personally. A few years ago, Sajid became friends with my friend when Sajid went to England to study at the same university in England. This was what my friend wrote to me when he first mentioned Sajid:

Sajid is a law student from Kashmir. He, along with French-Syrian Monique, is my favourite housemate, purely because he is the sweetest guy that God ever created. He is so Indian in the way he speaks, thinks, expresses himself. He says things like <adopting mock Indian accent>, ‘Mmm, yes, one would expect the needs of the students to be immediately recognised by the Union.’ or some such thing. Oh Kate, he is fantastic. Plus he reminds me of you, not just because you’re both brown and skinny, but because you both have high personal moral standards. He, too, is always trying to learn the good habits of others to replace his bad ones.

A year later, when Sajid had to return to Kashmir, this is what Bestie Boy wrote to me:

It’s official. I love Sajid [Surname]. He is a saintly man. He is also one of the most useless boys I’ve met, and can barely tie his own shoelaces without help from his mother (or me, who has increasingly been filling his mother’s shoes of late), but he has a heart of gold and when he leaves the UK, I will miss him dearly. He is in Ireland now visiting Steve after his Schengen visa application didn’t come through on time (he’d originally planned to go see Monique in gay Paris); then, a short stint in Edinburgh and he flies back to Srinagar on the 12th. I don’t want him to go. 😥  

My friend continued to write about Sajid frequently, and with fondness.

I am very realistic about death. I accept that it is indeterminable and inevitable. Still, when it happens to someone I know and care about, it hurts. Like heck. Although I never knew Sajid, I was still stunned when I learned the terrible news very early this morning. It’s taken me a few hours to compose my thoughts.


I am grateful for the happiness Sajid brought into my friend’s life which was evident in their Wall banter. I am also grateful to have known of Sajid for a short time because I read his Wall regularly. Initially, because I found him funny. Not long after, because Sajid was one of the people who inspired me to remain steadfast in my beliefs, particularly towards injustices and unfairness. He was one of the people who made it a little easier for me to swim against the sometimes overwhelming tide of public callousness and unethical practices.


To Sajid’s family members, along with my prayers during this, your darkest hour, I have the following Jewish saying for you:


God is closest to those with broken hearts.


And to all of you who were lucky enough to know him more than I got to, I’ll leave you with:


When you are sorrowful
look again in your heart,
and you shall see
that in truth you are
weeping for that which has been your delight.
~ Kahlil Gibran


Sajid – Requiescat in pace et in amore.


Faysal, thank you very much (in advance) for posting my tribute on Sajid’s Wall.


21 May 2011

Thank you VERY much, Faysal, for complying with my request. I just read Sajid’s Wall and your post on my behalf.


I wrote that tribute for the following people:


1. Sajid’s parents and sister. Their pain is … I am unable to fathom that sort of grief, much less find words for it. I hope that when their pain is dulled with the passage of time and they read all the heartfelt messages about their child here, they derive some solace from knowing that their son not only made a positive impact on the lives of the people who knew him, but also on those like me, who did not have the privilege of even meeting him.


2. My friend who is bleeding. I did not seek his permission to quote excerpts of his private mail to me. I hope that reading back on his own words, he will remember the good times he shared with Sajid and their group of friends. Maybe, just maybe, those happy memories will help him tide over this extremely rough patch.


3. All of Sajid’s friends. His sudden demise has been nothing less than shattering. I would suggest that, like me, all of you take courage in the fact that besides being a beautiful person, Sajid also worked towards goals he believed in; not wait, like many of us, for the right time or mood or the planets to align a certain way.


4. Myself. Although I had never met Sajid personally, hearing about him so often from my friend and laughing at their playful potshots at each other on their respective Walls, I broke down when I heard the news. So young, so full of potential, snuffed out suddenly. In addition to my usual arsenal of prayers, tears and talking to my family and closest friends, I needed to partake with the larger grieving party. It’s working. I feel a lot better now.


Oh, you did notice I left out Sajid’s name. Well, he’s more than just knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door, people, he’s rocking with ‘em winged ones within!


Thank you again for your time, Faysal. You have helped a lot of us deal with this crushing bit of reality. May God bless you.


Bestie Boy (x2)       Sajid       Monique              Monique’s friend       Steve


This was taken two years ago when they finished their respective exams. They treated themselves to high tea at the London Hilton. Bestie Boy is uncharacteristically tame in this shot and that naturally prompted Sajid to call him out with this comment when the picture went up on Facebook:


Sajid: Bestie Boy, stop it!!! Just because it’s the Hilton, doesn’t mean that you have to act all gentlemanly… 
Bestie Boy complied (well!) with that true-to-form pose that I have edited in at the bottom left corner. He was at an international event in a faraway foreign country representing England and look at how seriously he took that job. Or pretty much anything in life. Classic Bestie Boy.

Four days before Sajid met with that accident, this was the final exchange between Bestie Boy and Sajid on Sajid’s Wall:

Bestie Boy: Bloody chutney, you useless piece of fool, when is this damn wedding happening? I want in! Can you assure me there’ll be huge vats of warm ghee for me to drink? And a golden platter of chapatis to lie on? And a wall made of dhoklas? And a cauldron of your world-famous [Family Name]-Recipe kheema? If you can promise me these things, I will be there!

Sajid: Bestie Boy, you ‘MUTTON-go-YAY’! I promise you all this and more, you ‘pucking’ person with no personality, no ‘tcharisma’! That ‘damn’ wedding, as you so eloquently put it – and another one – is happening from the 27th to the 30th of May! You are …most cordially invited to both of them… Come along, old chum… Mother Kashmir is calling…

P.S.:  I will be visiting the ‘Mother Country’ between the 23rd and the 31st of July… Any chance of you gracing those lands, during those times, with your esteemed presence?

I read that several times and laughed heartily each time until Sajid died.

I’ve saved this exchange and still read it. Although devoid of the initial mirth, I still laugh because I am consoled by the fact that despite both, Bestie Boy and Sajid, jetsetting often to different parts of the globe, they kept in touch frequently and with the same warmth. They didn’t take their friendship for granted and that can be epitomised in this Nickelback song.


Thank you, orplesThe Book of Terriblemj monaghan and Elvierose  for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, orples and The Book of Terrible, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 


Friday, 1 June 2012

Kain Tayo!



Kain tayo  = “Let’s eat!” in Tagalog, the widely spoken language in the Philippines.

During my stint as Nurse Clinician with Aramco, Saudi Arabia, I befriended Fleur, my Filipina co-worker. 


Well over a decade on and oceans apart, we are still friends today. 🙂


I had spent a considerable amount of my time at Fleur’s. Why? Because she was an excellent cook! Duh. And I? Oh, I’m every good cook’s dream guest! Because I love good food, I am not afraid to try out things I have never eaten before and I am definitely not afraid to voice my opinion.


With Fleur and her group of friends, the words, “Kain tayo!”were tossed around a lot. Yes, I spent many happy hours around food with my friends. Filipino cuisine is not as hot/pungent as I have come to prefer, but it was tasty enough to eat on a regular basis. Pancit (noodles),  Lumpia (spring rolls), Adobo (a soya sauce-vinegar-garlic meat dish), Kare-Kare (oxtail peanut stew) and Longganisa (sweetish sausage) were eaten often enough by my friends to be considered staples. Which is why I grew to enjoy these preparations.


Having had such a wonderful gustatory experience with Filipino food in Saudi Arabia, it was only natural that I visit the country properly to enjoy the real deal.


Four years ago, I visited the Philippines on my own because Fleur and I could not coordinate our holidays. She was (and still is) with Aramco and I had long since left. I wasn’t too disappointed because I liked exploring a bit of her country on my own.  But the food? It was a letdown.


Sadly, “real” Filipino food did not live up to the fantasy experience I had envisioned and hoped for, or even what I had experienced with Fleur and friends.


Disclaimer: When I travel, I avoid international food chain outlets, and I avoid high end restaurants. I love street food and I patronise small and/or family run eateries for a more authentic or organic experience. So my experience below may come across as skewed.


Overall, I found the commercial fare in the Philippines very greasy, the portions small and not “meaty” enough. On the whole, there was nothing that blew me away. The warm, melded flavours were Asian in some ways, but there was, once again, that noticeable absence of spice and heat (pungency). I preferred the street snacks by far.


The tastiest ‘proper meal’ (i.e. in a restaurant) I ate was at a food court in a mall in Manila. It was my last lunch in the country, and after a mostly non-exciting experience with restaurant food, I went in for known favourites.


I ate Bihon Noodles (vermicelli-thin noodles) and Stir-Fried Squid (with the ink). I did not pay attention to the prices when ordering and chose from the array on display. Those turned out to be some of the cheapest options, but ironically, that meal was the most expensive I had had in my 2 weeks in the Philippines. That’s because that mall was none other than the largest in Asia and therefore, appropriately called The Mall of Asia.


Thank you, Elvie Rose, for permitting the use of this image. You can find more of Elvie Rose’s work at


Although I was disappointed with my overall eating experience in the Philippines, I did try out a whole lot of new dishes during my time there. The following put a smile on my food-fussy face. Not surprisingly, everything I liked was from the street hawkers. With the amount of time I have spent eating on the streets of Asia, my tummy has been galvanised. 🙂


1. Puto BongBong: Sweetened sticky rice, coloured a bright purple, that’s put in a small bamboo mould and pushed out to form a 10 in (25 cm) long roll. Topped with grated coconut and brown sugar. Served on a bit of banana leaf.


Thank you, Jeff Vergara, for permitting me the use of this image. You can find more of Jeff’s work at


2. Pinagte: A leafy veggie pie (local spinach?) cooked in a fish-based gravy and cut into big, soggy squares. And I ate that out of a plastic bag. 🙂 The texture reminded me of Spanakopita.


3. Piaya: A flattened pop-tart. Flaky pastry with ube (taro) and date filling. I tried the other fillings with mung beans and camote (a sweet potato-like root veggie), but liked the ube one best.


4. Puto: Tiny, steamed, rice cupcakes. These were a favourite that Fleur often cooked just for me. I had to be very strict with myself not to gorge on these in the Philippines so I could try other stuff. I had them just once. 😦


Thank you, Ghee, for permitting the use of this image. You can find more of Ghee’s work at


As always, I tried out a different item every opportunity I got. Here are some that were a first for me, and quite possibly I won’t ever go back for seconds.  All, but the first one (i.e Chicken Skin), were dipped in thick batter to bulk up the bits, and deep fried. 


1. Chicken Skin: These bits of pure chicken skin were cut up in pieces and were nicely crisp, but they had an overpowering chicken taste. I could almost taste the chickens scratching around in the yard!


2. Chicken Oesophagus: (Not!) These bits looked like pretzel sticks. They were equally firm and crunchy. The vendors called them “throat”. When I looked askance, they offered “neck”. Turns out they were bits of oesophagus. That’s what I thought until I contacted Sidney Snoeck to request the use of this image of his.


Thank you, Sidney Snoeck, for permitting me the use of this image. You can find more of Sidney’s work at :


This is not what I ate. I mean, what I ate did not look like this. They really looked liked broken bits of deep-fried pretzel sticks. I’ve chosen to include this image because I quite possibly ate the deep-fried version of ….  chicken intestines. Ack!


These are the grilled version. Sidney’s site (URL above) has a lot of, um, interesting stories.


3. Chicken “Nuggets”: This snack saddened me. I got 5 pieces for 10 PHP/15p/25¢. The first one I bit into was all batter and bone. So was the second. I thought I just got unlucky with those 2, but all the pieces I had were the same. Later, my volcano trek guide confirmed that that’s what chicken nuggets are. I felt very sorry for those who could not afford to buy real chicken nuggets because bony bits in batter is what street snack consumers knew of the popular meat(ish)-only snack.


4. Camote: Camote is a kind of white-fleshed tuber. Not too starchy like the potato, but a little smoother like the sweet potato. It’s just the tiniest bit sweet, too.


And I’ve saved the best of my Filipino foods for last!


Balut: Dude, I psyched myself about this well-known delicacy for months before I got there, but plucked up the courage to eat it …. only on my last night. What a wimpy (overgrown) kid!  


Balut is … deep breaths, everyone … boiled duck embryo.


The Day 16 one is for losers. 😉 I’m no loser, yo, so brave heart that I am, I went for the Day 19 one, which is recommended, because the embryo is better developed with the downiest of feathers in view.


Quack Pot


Quack Pot. That’s what Elmer Fudd calls me, but I’m talking about what’s in my right hand. You cannot see it very clearly. That’s a quack in a pot. Okay, in a shell. It’s a Balut, the boiled duck embryo. Of course, I ate it. And? I absolutely loved it!


The shell at the pointy end of the egg has to be gently broken and the broth, uh, amniotic fluid, is to be drunk. That heady fluid tasted like a strong crab broth. Slurp! I peeled off a little more of the shell and peered very briefly at the little duckie with its eyes wide shut, dismissed its little face from my mind, ignored the network of blood vessels all around it and bit right into it. Soft, smooth and savoury. There was no turning back now. What little trepidation I had left crumbled like the rest of the egg shell.


The white of the egg was a disappointment. It was hard. Oh, very hard and had none of the rich flavour of the developing yolk.


A real pity I summoned up the courage to eat this night snack on my last night in the Philippines.


Balut is a late evening snack and is sold by vendors on bicycles. I plucked up the courage to flag down the last vendor to walk into the street I shacked up for that night and the chicken that I was, I bought just one.


Well, I’ll just have to go back to the Philippines for more one day.


Thank you, The Book of Terrible , orples and mj monaghan, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, The Book of Terrible and orples, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 


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