Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ice cream

I had ice-cream alone yesterday.


Ice-cream is a social food. Social foods are usually relatively expensive in comparison to its nutritional content or benefits, unhealthy and extravagant. That's why it takes the high-inducing company of others to put one's good sense at bay -- long enough to make a usually-considered-irrational decision to go for ice-cream, potato chips, popcorn, nachos, pao pao cha, chocolate, cakes, and other desserts/snacky food.

I had ice-cream alone yesterday because a new gelato shop in Novena Square caught my eye. I am a sucker for good gelato, and I have been disappointed with the gelato I have been getting in Singapore ever since my favourite shop in Bugis closed down. (Oh, Scoopz is not too a substitute.) So I had to try this new shop out.

The gelato shop attendant was a young boy of about 16. Very boyish, very cute smile.

I wondered how long this shop had been in Novena Square since I had never seen it before. As the obviously older woman in this setting, I did the aunty thing, pointed to the shop sign and asked the young lad, "How long have you been here?"

He looked stunned, took a moment, then replied, "Oh. I've only been here for a week." Then he grinned at me with his boyish eyes, boyband hair, and charming smile.

Die. I was flushed with embarrassment as I realised that the young lad had thought I was asking him about how long he had been working here.

The boy then mustered up whatever little pubescent muscle he had to scoop up a ball of my Ferrero Rocher gelato. (Tip: Good gelato shouldn't be that hard to scoop.)

Meanwhile, I pondered about how I could salvage the embarrassing situation and emerge with my dignity unscathed.

"Wah, this is hard work. No wonder they need a boy at this shop." I mentally remarked aloud.

Darn. I really need to stop my mouth sometimes.

Neh-mind. I just continued playing my Aunty role.

"You want cup or cone?" he blinked at me.

"Hm.. cone lah. Cup cannot eat, cone can eat right?" I auntily replied.

After a full agonising minute-and-a-half of digging and scooping, he handed me my gelato on a cone. I passed him a ten-dollar note and he returned my change with that same I'm-going-to-melt-you smile.

I held my head high and calmly walked away, but mentally, I was scurrying off as fast as I could respectably do so.

Nice boy, I thought. But it was the most inauthentic gelato by the way.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm Home

I'm home!!!

I thought I'd be afraid to return, that I would have problems reintergrating after being in the "bigger" world. But no, home will always be home. (=

I'm happy.

The 20-hour plane journey back was arduous though. I was sandwiched right in the middle of the plane between two families of four, and had a bad bout of watery and bubbly diarrhoea. The poor parents on both sides of me were so exhausted from caring for their young ones but I had to interrupt their sleep every half an hour to get out of my seat.

My surge of blissful happiness began when I boarded the SIA plane. The Straits' Times Sunday Times greeted me at the entrance of the plane. Oh... to see my local paper again.... There was a pro-family article featuring Dr Vivian Balakrishnan -- my favourite minister (he's a sensitive new age guy, very diplomatic and principled, good-looking too). I don't care if the Singapore government is perceived as paternalistic and propagandanistic -- all governments are for goodness' sake (just less visably than ours) -- but at least they promote good social values. I love my government and my country despite their flaws.

I had a great team stewards/stewardesses on my flight. It was so nice listening to them bantering with each other in their thick Singaporean accents. They spoke clearly without any pretentious attempt to fake another accent. They weren't the best looking of the SIA crew, but they had a genuine warmness about them that I've never experienced on any flight before.

My first meal in Singapore at 3AM on the night I returned -- prawned flavoured Maggi Mee with an egg.

My first drink: Milo.
The Milo I got in Berkeley was made in China and it's got a thin consistency unlike the Australian-made one that we can get in Singapore. Shiok!

My family, especially my sister, made sure everything was perfect for my return. The usually cluttered boot of the car was cleared for my luggage that weighed as much as its owner. My sister cleaned the house and changed my bedsheets. My Mum bought me a new bulky pillow. I had a wonderful sleep on my firm mattress with my solid pillow and shiokalicious bolster!

Right now, I'm still having extremely strong adverse reactions towards memories of my experiences between March and mid-May. My body reacts adversely and I get nauseous when seafood, rich food, restaurant food, American food is mentioned or brought before my eyes, or when I smell something that reminds me of International House or cooked oil.

I've been ill since the two days before my departure and am still a little under the weather, but the homely air and love is aiding my recuperation from my upset stomach and the psychological and emotional trauma of the last few months. There were so many times while I was in Berkeley when things were so awful I felt I couldn't live another day. I was on the verge of insanity and clung on desperately, tightly to anything that gave me motivation to survive even till the next day. I almost thought I'd never make it home.

But God has been good.