Soaking In Gratitude

xixi

A knock echoed through my empty apartment one unassuming Tuesday afternoon and a raspy voice followed after. “Kuai di!” he bellowed and I tottered towards the door, expecting to receive yet another parcel — the result of cheapass China products and too efficient online shopping.

Receiving mail is one of the greatest joys in this tech-savvy era, but when you receive 20 tightly wrapped parcels in the short span of a week, it can turn into the biggest pain in the ass. This time, instead of brown cardboard boxes mummified in too much cellophane tape, it was a Styrofoam box.

Attacking it with skilled finesse — something I have mastered over the months of opening countless parcels, it revealed bubble wrap. A layer of bubble wrap so thick it completely concealed what it meant to hold. 2 ice packs fell out. I lost my mind. What the heck did I buy?

After layers of peeling, it revealed a 1.5 feet long (think in terms of Subway sandwich lengths) pumpkin tartlet. From who? A friend I happened to meet up with while visiting Beijing. Why? Because she bought it for me once and I couldn’t stop complimenting it. It sat there, in that huge Styrofoam box, smothered in bubble wrap and ice packs, still cool to the touch. So cool it burned a fiery hole in my heart.

I haven’t met many people after moving to Shanghai. I’m a firm believer that socialising takes too much effort and I’m not the kind to build relationships I don’t see lasting the dissuasion of time. Exchange students? Not my type. The locals however, surprise me. Generous, companionable and down to earth, they have found an incomprehensible way of wriggling into the depths of my heart. They are the kind that grow on you. The kind you never expect to root in the depths of your soul and flourish into something larger than love itself.

Chronicles of a Kitty Seeking Fanatic

imageThe title contains a factual error, because I do not seek a mouthless kitty that looks as though it’s been electrocuted and neither am I a kitty fan. However, having a title that reads “Chronicles of a kitty seeking fanatic’s disinterested +1” might seem a bit of a mouthful so I decided to settle on the erroneous title anyway.

I will attempt to chronicle my experience in queueing up for the limited edition “Singing Bones” Hello Kitty available at all McDonald’s outlets starting 12am (if it happens to be 24/7) this Thursday morning.

1115pm: Decided that since we’re stuck doing nothing and inspiration is not coming, perhaps a site survey of nearby McDonald’s might sound like a good idea. Especially since my brother made a pact to collect the entire set of Hello Kitties for his fiancé.

1120pm: Even before reaching the traffic light that’s closest to the McDees located at the Pasir Ris Sport’s Complex, cars with hazard lights on have already lined up till the bus stop opposite Downtown East. Why? They’re queuing at the drive through to get their kitty. Brilliant move, waste of petrol.

1130pm: Parked the car and decided to try our luck at the physical store anyway. Realised it looks like the entrance to a concert at the Indoor Stadium. We were told coupons have already been given out, and that if you would like to wait (in the hopes that someone would buy less than the limit of 4 kitties), feel free to do so. We left.

1136pm: Picked a friend who wanted to join us, headed over to (outlet name concealed so nobody will know who we got kitty from), convinced that because it is inaccessible and has no residential areas nearby, we stand a chance.

1138pm: Queues look longer than when freebies are being given out. Thankful for the relatively cool weather.

1140pm: Coupons given out! Crowd seems to be dispersing and disappointed faces whip out their phones to capture a sign that states “Hello Kitty sold out” — we’re assuming it’s a form of proof to angry girlfriends, and for boyfriends to proof their sincerity. We didn’t get a coupon. But managed to secure a spot as the first people to get a non-couponed kitty while everyone was snapping photos and heading home. Score.

1145pm: The wait is boring, we make small talk with others in the queue with us. Senior couple behind us hopes to buy 4 kitties for their daughters. Cute.

12am: Release the kitty! Queue isn’t moving, all I want is my Mcspicy really.

1230am: People are carrying bags and bags of kitties, will you guys sell them?

1235am: Just for fun, whipped out my iPad and scribbled “WTB @ $25”. Proceeded to put said iPad on my head and wait for offers. No offers, just weird looks. Consider STOMPing myself to get a $50 remuneration.

1245am: Transaction spotted! Old uncle selling kitties for $50! Supposedly a fair price since he queued for 3 hours. Too free?

115am: We’re near the end. The situation is tense. Wait, did someone say no more kitties? What about those with a coupon? I hear someone’s voice breaking. She’s crying. Over a mouthless kitty. Lord help humanity.

117am: “We’re sorry no more kitties, only those with coupons have kitties. 7 coupons? Last 7 kitties left.” We wait patiently. Meals are dispensed without kitties (hallelujah McSpicy!), but hold on a minute. Didn’t you say no more kitties? Where did that one come from? Don’t think you put in paper bag we don’t know ok!

130am: Request to chat with the manager after I am settled with my McSpicy — I honestly just wanna know what he thinks of this horrific kitty queueing frenzy and the magic behind conjuring up kitties when they supposedly have none left.

135am: Manager has great service attitude. I think he should switch jobs and become a PR instead. I’m impressed! He asked if we really wanted a kitty, but desperate woman sitting next to us screams ” IF THEY GET IT I WANT ONE TOO!”. We reject politely, saying that if we get a kitty now, we’d be starting a war. I’m happy with my Mcspicy anyway.

145am: Everyone says we should get the kitty from the manager. I buy Mcwings and proceed to whisper in the manager’s ear while pulling serviettes out from the brown box “If there are extra kittes, you know where I am.” I think I may have sounded too breathy. Manager says ok.

230am: We’re done with the food. Manager is missing. We insist on collecting our kitty when the lady next to us leaves (in case she reports us for coercing the manager into giving us a kitty.)

235am: I head to the counter unabashedly. “Your manager said he will give us a kitty when the rest of the people leave. Can I have the kitty now?” Manager is taking a smoke break, staff heads out to find him.

240am: SCORE, we get one kitty for $4.60. It looks ugly. Even the box is black. We carry it back with us in a paper bag.

3am: I am back to work, inspiration finds me. I wonder if the kitty blesses me. Nah, I think it’s the nuggets and fries that’s fuelling my brain cells.

330am: Brother texts to say the sister-in-law is at Funan queuing up for kitties. They only open at 7am. Insanity takes human form in girls who have a kitty obsession.

2pm: Receive text from school musical committee saying we should sell kitties for 90k to raise funds for our musical. Realise kitties are being sold at $1000 now.

230pm: I lose faith in humanity.

Back to Basics

A few months ago, my life spiralled out of control. And as quickly as I rose to what some people may consider the pinnacle of academic success, it took me just as fast to tumble back down. But I am glad to announce that I’m back in school. 🙂

These few months have really been a journey for me. Law School drop out (LSD) turned amateur writer, I had to pick myself up and brush off the dust from my mighty fall, apply for various jobs and finally walk out of the nights I would spend burning mindlessly through readings I did not understand and days in which I would end drowning in my own tears. Its not easy walking out of your comfort zone (when has it ever been?), definitely not easy having to pursue your passion when your skills don’t back you up, and worst of all (applies to me only lah), having to experience a change of environment over and over again.

PicMonkey Collage

Its my second day at school, and although I’m not quite close to being happy again, I think I will be soon. I can feel opportunities bashfully hiding in corners of my lecture halls, and seedlings of comfort eagerly awaiting blossom. I cannot say I feel right here, but I think I will feel that way soon. At least I hope I will—and that’s a great start.

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P.S: I’m the new food writer for Poached Magazine, so show me some love when you spot my reviews!

Risk Everything

Its annoying how I only seem to be able to recall what I wanted to write about after I shut down the computer, therefore resulting in my dark room being illuminated by a spot of light originating from my phone screen.

Today, while meeting a friend to pass him a portable charger meant for Bo to use in camp, I came across a scene that made me feel like we were all growing up too fast. For once, I turned up early for the appointment and thus had the opportunity of seeing the entire family tumbling out of a silver car only to spend a few more moments with the tanned boy who was about to return to Tekong island for a week. But what surprised me was that besides family, someone else stumbled out of the car looking a little less cheery than her normal disposition. Then it struck me. Wait. Did his girlfriend just step out of the same car his entire family was in? What happened to relationships being kept a secret from the prying eyes of nosy parents? What happened to parents finding out about a budding love story being its greatest kryptonite? Have I been out of this dating arena for way too long and thus not being informed regarding the change in dating protocols?

I used to think that love in high school was an idealistic but unrealistic dream. I admit it is a little too cynical for a child only 18 years young, but heck. What are you supposed to think of relationships when the ones around you only lasted weeks at length? A friend and I used to describe the dating patterns in school using the analogy of a football championship. Its basically a mass exchange between the competing teams. Well in this case, players. You play, you ditch, you swap. I must admit though, whether true love or fleeting love, the mere idea of being submerged inside it is amazing. The nights you spend on the phone contented listening to the sound of silence that puts a tangible distance between you and the one you love, the lubdubdub of your heart which you’re convinced is a special melody only played when you know the one you seek is within sight or thought, the eternal promises fiercely whispered to overcome all odds and be in love forever, that is not something mere mortals like us can resist. But what I witnessed today was more than the euphoria or the surge of adrenaline one experiences when a lover utters the three words we all long to hear.

In fact, there was no hand holding, snogging or even a word exchanged between them. Yet during the short moments I spent with them, I could barely look anyone in the eye before I awkwardly said goodbye and scrambled away. Perhaps it was how there was no hiding, no awkwardness between them that made me feel like I had walked into an intricately woven web and upset its delicate balance. And then as I walked away, I thought to myself; she’s not just his girl, she’s family.

I don’t know when it’ll be my turn to meet the family of a certain boy whom I’ll be able to call mine. To me, love remains at the stage where my parents should be kept in the dark and milestones were celebrated in weeks, not years. But the few seconds I spent with that family today really made me realise that as we grow up, the way we love changes too. Instead of playing a game of swap or merry go round, we’re looking for someone who keeps us grounded and as cliche as it sounds, someone to spend the rest of our lives with.

And that, is a very frightening thought.