Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cabined Cribbed Confined

She sits in her room all day long.

All night long as well come to think of it. With the curtains shut tight to block out any ray of sunshine. Snuggled deep inside the recesses of her She-Shed so to speak, the door to her room is securely locked; hardly opening except for the few microseconds she takes to rush to the loo. Even her meals are taken in the murky, musty confines of her bastille - at least I suspect that to be the case since she doesn't even sneak out for a bite.

Either she's secretly coming up with a nefarious plan to take over the world - or she clandestinely delivered her own love child. Then again she could just be counting the sparkly dots on the ceiling boards. Don't know which one I'm more worried about.

Since her door remains perpetually locked for reasons unbeknownst, I guess no one will ever know.

Paul : Ah, you're out of prison.
Paisley : Yes, I am. I see you got a haircut.
Paul : Actually I've already had three haircuts since you were incarcerated. Even had a permed afro once.
Paisley : Really!
Paul : Well you wouldn't know for sure, would you? 

Though I'll admit that I can never understand folks who set themselves up for self imprisonment. Do they really enjoy solitary confinement? Know it's quite hypocritical for me to say so but don't they ever see the need for some fresh air? Some blessed sunshine?

Paul : Are you still alive in there? 
Paisley : *grunt*
Paul : What? Are you crushed by a cabinet? 
Paisley : I'm alive. 
Paul : Just give fair warning if you're about to expire yeah. Don't wanna clean up the decaying corpse after. 

Cabined. Cribbed. Confined.

Indeed. The proverbial girl locked up in the tower. That's one of the tenants here in Netherfield, Pretty Paisley.

And then Pretty Paisley creeps out of her dark, dank cell and whines 'OMG I am so bored. There's nothing to do here.' Then starts to wonder why there's nowhere to go, nothing to see, nothing to do.

Hell yeah, when you've been hiding in the cave all day doing a Gollum! Now how do I answer such a question without a firm backhand?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Back to the Future

For the technophiles amongst us, it would be hard to imagine not living with snazzy tech gadgets always ready at our fingertips; from the trusty laptop to the ubiquitous smartphone. So much so that a day without it would be akin to missing a limb for some!

Not really the case for my technophobic father though. Not only has he stubbornly turned his back on the relentless march of progress, the Luddite steadfastly refuses to get a cellphone. So much the better to remain uncontactable, says he. Till several weeks ago when we finally managed - after various heated family debates and discussions - to force a cellphone into his hand. All with the aid of his ever doting grandchildren of course.

Make that tape it to his wrist since otherwise he might lose it.

Perhaps it's a familial trait.

Hello? Hello? Hello?
Dad, you pressed my number again!

Obviously I hadn't realized then what kinda fool's trap I was setting myself up for. See, my father who's basically a retired homebody doesn't have all that many contacts on the new phone - his crotchety peers are similarly archaic - which is why my number keeps coming up on the list.


Paul : Did you call me? 
Father : Maybe. 
Paul : That's the third time you rang. 
Father : Are you free? 
Paul : Not really. I'm at work. 
Father : Oh, then nothing.
Paul : Did you call for anything? 
Father : No, just trying it out. 
Paul : Anything wrong? 
Father : No, I just called to see if you're free. 
Paul : Oh. 

And that would be after three repeated rings that caused me to would drop everything and rush over breathlessly thinking that it was a some life threatening emergency. Few people actually call me on my cellphone so it automatically makes me think of broken limbs and ruptured spleens. Nothing good obviously so you can imagine my growing panic. Only to have him drop the call when I pick it up.

Maybe it's time I added my brother's number to his contact list.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Niece & Nephew

There are days I'll admit to missing my niece and nephew, the aforementioned Chatty Carmen who is growing up far from chatty these days due to a near pathological obsession with the technological wonders of the tablet and Rambling Raoul who oddly enough now rambles on all day long chattering utterly dispelling our initial fears during his stubbornly reticent rugrat years.

Used to have the Big Puddle separating us but nowadays it's more like the Big Pond since they are also schooling thousands of miles away on that other giant island Down Under. Internet messaging and Facetime can only get us so far - and I am notoriously brusque on telecommunication devices ever since I started work - which is why each time they are back, I try my best to obtain leave so as to spend some time with them.

There was even that memorable December last year when I dragged the kids unwillingly down the sweltering streets of Bangkok. With Charming Calvin trudging sluggishly even further down the line. Doubt he remembers it with such sweet nostalgia.

Nevertheless one of the brilliant highlights of the year.

And yes, I make my niece and nephew dress for dinner. 

Something I've always wanted for Calvin as well. Just like me, he also has a niece and nephew of comparable age. In fact his little nephew is practically the spitting image of Calvin himself though he would deny it vehemently!

Being oh-so-adorable, you would think he would be scrambling to spend time with them. However that doesn't seem to be the case as Calvin - oddly enough - doesn't find a need to be particularly close to them. Perhaps it could be the distance since the children have been under the care of his sister-in-law after his brother's untimely passing a year ago.

But what about when they are staying over for the school holidays? Or when we are over there on their side of the Big Puddle?

Paul : Maybe you should take the kids out for a day. Spend some time with them. 
Calvin : Too difficult. 
Paul : It's not that difficult. I do that all the time with my niece and nephew. Give your sister-in-law a break. 
Calvin : Too tiring. 
Paul : It's only half a day at most. 
Calvin : Too dangerous. 
Paul : Surely you can keep an eye out for two small kids!
Calvin : Too -
Paul : Are you going to come up with another lame excuse? 


Though I've spoken about it at length with him, I find it hard to comprehend this baffling detachment. Basically for the Borgias, these kids are their next generation, in line to watch over their lands and whatever evils lie beneath. In an older time and age in Confucian China, those two kids would undoubtedly have come directly under his care. Probably shipped right to his doorstep with sister-in-law in tow regardless of his wishes since he's the only other male sibling in the family.

Well maybe things will change this Christmas since his niece and nephew are coming here again for the holidays. Time to start nagging him about duty, responsibility etc.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Retro Feminists

With career options here - from timber plantations to oil & gas operations - decidedly favouring the men, suburban life in Miri remains very much the blissful ideal of the 1950s with the earnest husband out earning the bacon from 9-to-5 while the cheery stay-at-home wife supervises the mundane chores at home, organizes the groceries and ferries the squabbling rugrats around. Sounds almost quaintly archaic these days but it's all true. In fact all my coworkers have pretty much the same sweet deal.

Not to mention the ongoing affaires

Rather than honing whatever intellectual skills or hobbies that they have, the increasingly desperate housewives here prefer whiling their hours away shaping their razor-sharp nails at the exclusive salons - or canoodling with their dance teachers. Otherwise extremely promising activities but over here it seems to be slowly sapping them of their brainpower. 

What little there was of it originally. 

Before the raging feminists take up arms to defend their erstwhile sisters, let me present a usual everyday conversation with one of these marvellously manicured moms. 

Paul : Are you here for the surgery today? 
Lady : I think so. 
Paul : What will they be doing? 
Lady : I don't know. Ask my husband. 
Paul : You don't know what surgery will be done? 
Lady : Not sure. Ask my husband. 
Paul : Do you want to know what surgery you'll be doing?
Lady : No. My husband says it's alright. 
Paul : Do you have any medical problems prior to surgery? Any admissions to the hospital before? 
Lady : Not sure. Ask my husband. 
Paul : Any surgeries done before? 
Lady : Not sure. Ask my husband.
Paul : Any allergies? 
Lady : Not sure. Ask -
Paul : Your husband. Yes, I figured that. 

Imagine my growing exasperation as I tried my best to restrain myself from shaking what remained of her rapidly diminishing brain loose. Fortunately my nurses know me well enough to hold me back when I'm close to throttling tiresome simpletons. 

Obviously she didn't come in for an urgent lobotomy since that antiquated procedure was probably carried out on her wedding night when she voluntarily signed over her freedom. How else to explain the severe lack of intellectual capability? I don't know how anyone with a rational, competent mind could allow someone else - even someone so dear - to have so much power and authority over themselves. What happened to their own autonomy? Leaves these subservient women barely more than negligible chattel forever shackled to the whims of their husbands. 

Let a mere man hold that much authority over myself? It's already the 20th century. 

Does she ever, ever form an opinion of her own outside of the home? 

Wouldn't surprise me if some day not very in the future, her ever-loving husband schedules a made-up surgery with consent conveniently signed just to get rid of his dimwitted spouse for a newer model. 

Yes, that was intentionally mean

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Secret of the Borgias

Family. Honour. Tradition.

Those were the words he lived for. His father had done the same; and so had his father before him. Ever since his ancient forebears had first set foot on the fortgotten island and offered to shoulder the heavy burden, that sacred duty had bound the Borgia family to their demesne lands. As a reminder to all who might shirk their responsibilities, the family crest imprinted above the fireplace even had the motto 'Leave Not The House Unguarded' emblazoned as a faint warning across the familiar shield and pitchfork. 

Advice he had repeatedly recounted to his children as the patriarch of the Borgias, though he feared their dedication to the noble cause was not as steady and unfaltering as his own. Did they even know what lay beneath the lust fertile beauty of their farmlands? Did they even understand the importance of remaining always at home as the eternal guardians? Though he had hinted more than once on what might happen if they left, his children still didn't understand fully. 

What lay beneath...

Even the chilling rumination had him shuddering though he had been sure to have the metal gates securely locked tight and double checked - as he had done every night for the past few decades after he had taken on the role of guardian. 

A job that seemed to get more difficult every year. Even now he occasionally felt the ominous rumble when the monstrous evils below made another hopefully futile attempt to break out into this world. 

But the hellish creatures were getting ever more inventive each year; finding the little nooks and crannies in between the worlds that would be just enough for them to slip through unbidden. Fearing the same, his wife had boarded up all their mirrors at his behest. After the last appalling incident, they certainly couldn't risk another demonic outbreak.

At least this is what I assume is happening over at the Borgias.

For a very long time, the reluctance of his family members to leave their land even for the briefest of moments has puzzled me endlessly. Surely there's nothing all that precious in the impregnable Forteresse de Borgia?

Till the other day when it dawned on me suddenly that they must have been guarding something. Since boundless treasures of gold, gems and gee gaws didn't seem to be all that probable, the only other reason should be something far more sinister.

Calvin : You sure those doors will hold them, papa?
Father : It must, my child. For all our sakes, it must.

Like the portal to another hellish dimension. Perhaps their family home was built on the nexus of magical ley lines of which they are the eternal guardians.

Paul : So is it true?
Calvin : No. 
Paul : Well I expected you to deny it vehemently of course. 
Calvin : No!
Paul : That's what the true guardians are supposed to say! 
Calvin : No!
Paul : You can tell me! I can keep a secret. 
Calvin : There's nothing to tell. 
Paul : It explains the mirrors!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Peranakan Memoirs

As much as I've grown to love the simple bucolic life over here on this side of the Big Puddle, it's hard not to miss certain aspects of our life before. The varieties of food available at all hours of the day for one thing.

For another that would be a bit of personality in the city. Coming from a heritage city that boasts of several centuries of history, this town here seems almost ludicrously new. Compared to the seasoned grande dame of Malacca, the town of Miri seems almost like a callow ingenue. Hardly any of the buildings here are very much older than fifty years at the most so it's hard not to stifle a smirk whenever the locals here talk about the glory days of yore.

Wonder if they know that my own alma mater was established several decades before the town had even gained a road to its name.

Hmm... when do I tell her that I might be gay?

Yes, I miss the weekends browsing through the little antique stores, rifling through everyone else's junk hopefully to find my own treasure. Picking through dozens of chipped ceramic Peranakan tiles to find the perfect one - with an eye towards making a coaster. Digging through piles of serveware just to piece together a passably reasonable porcelain tea set.

Over here anything vaguely antique would have to be made slightly more than a decade ago.

Being here has certainly given me more of an appreciation for what I left behind which is why my last few days here have been spent sketching up a storm. Not only am I researching various materials about the Straits Eclectic shophouses back home, I've also started looking up designs of traditional costumes such as the nyonya kebaya.

All of which has given my inspiration and ideas for Christmas which is coincidentally not too far off. Perhaps little hanging beaded shoes for the tree? Or maybe several colourful kebaya clad ladies adorning the tree?

Or maybe I should make an entire diorama of a Straits Eclectic shophouse?

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Molestation Theory

I'm not a narcissist.

Most especially when it comes to my looks. Though my unprepossessing troll-like features rarely causes mirrors to break into pieces these days, I do know that I'm hardly the best looking fellow in the room, not unless the place is utterly deserted. Which sufficiently explains why unexpected compliments on my looks seem to trigger a deep-seated suspicion of the hapless benefactor and their hidden intent.

I've seen some really handsome Adonises, even dated a couple, and I can easily confirm I'm nowhere near the same plane of existence. Oh those supremely godly beings worthy of daily Instagram worship! Well at least when it comes to superficial beauty.

So when I do get the rare admirer, I find myself utterly non-plussed. You see, I decided to frequent a hairdresser a bit closer to where I work as a matter of convenience. Nothing like just running down for a quick haircut without muss or fuss.

Was he gay? I never really thought about it. After all whatever I sussed out with my broken gay-dar would probably be biased by the fact that he is a mildly fey hairdresser. Stereotypical, right?

First time it happened, I chalked it down to a figment of my overactive imagination. Second time, I wondered whether it was his own novel barber chairside manner. By the third, I didn't think it was shared delusion anymore. In fact, it bore close resemblance to the premise of bad gay porn.

Really it had me getting just a little bit concerned! Is it really all that usual to spend all that time washing my hair at the sink? No doubt the time he spends playing with my cropped hair has to be almost twice the time he spent cutting it.

Umm. Did you just flick my nipple? 

And that still wouldn't explain the curious need to unbutton my shirt halfway down my chest. Really, I might as well just remove it. When you wipe my chest with a piece of cloth, that's cleaning. When you wipe my chest without even the veiled pretence of a washcloth, that's bordering on inappropriate groping.

Then today I could have sworn I felt an oddly predatory nipple flick. Hmm. Turns out the molestation theory wasn't just a theory anymore. Followed by the oddest proposition I've ever gotten.

Hairdresser : Are you rushing for time? 
Paul : Not really. 
Hairdresser : You know I also give some really good massages.
Paul : You do?
Hairdresser : You should try them out.
Paul : What? Like right now?
Hairdresser : Sure, why not? Just take off your shirt. 

There was a raised eyebrow at that. Since he was gesturing to what seemed like the appropriately dark-lit backroom, I felt just a bit... apprehensive over the invitation. Sounded almost like an indecent proposal, albeit a really bumbling attempt at one!

Fortunately the hairdresser didn't seem to have his shearing scissors close by so I judged it a good time to make a speedy getaway. Mumbled a farewell, dumped the cash and flew out of there faster than he could even repeat his come-on.

At least I think it was. Was it?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Birthday Insurance

No matter how simple it may be, I've always had a birthday cake. Think of it as a family tradition if you will, something we've actually tried our best to impress upon the next generation since we don't ever miss my niece and nephew's birthday celebrations ever. There's always a sweet slice of cake with a row of candles to blow at the very least.

And thoughtful birthday gifts all wrapped up with perfectly matching cards and bows waiting on the table.

For us, it's a given.

These days I'm starting to understand that the Sweet Sixteen Birthday Bash isn't quite the norm for everyone. In fact millenial birthdays don't even involve gifts at all, with a last-minute birthday cake mashed together as a careless afterthought.

Now who wouldn't want a piece of that? 

Undoubtedly when it comes to memorable birthday stories, Charming Calvin always has one that takes the cake. Figuratively - since there's never a literal cake usually. Understated simplicity seems to be the case for his family with very little more than a firm handshake and a dour congratulations for successfully making it that far in life.

Just like the day he had this year. Since Calvin already knew about the surprise party we had planned, there wasn't much he expected from home. Especially not after the grim reception he had last year.

Madame : Calvin? 
Calvin : You called me? 
Madame : Happy Birthday.
Calvin : Thank you.
Madame : Here's your insurance.
Calvin : Thank you.
Madame : Live long and prosper.

Really. Call it the birthday insurance. Guess it does ensure that you survive to celebrate the next!

Ever the practical sort, our Madame Borgia, but at least there was a modest token of remembrance this year. I assume there'll be a prettily worded Hallmark card next year!

Fortunately he has me to run out to get a cake and candles. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Comme Ci Comme Ça

After the chic elegance of Paris, it wouldn't have surprised me that any other city would have looked just a trifle shabby.

Quite unhappily for Brussels which turned out to be our very next stop for the tour. After the grand boulevards of Haussman's Paris that was displayed to great advantage by the bright sunny week that we had, the dreary, graffiti-riddled environs of Brussels certainly made the disparity even more stark. Added to the gloomy clouds ponderously hanging above the Belgian city, Brussels could be compared to the bedraggled housemaid shuffling lackadaisically onto the stage - such a vast difference in relation to the dazzlingly stylish ma belle called Paris.

Even the haggard cityfolk trudging around in Brussels seemed to be missing the unmistakably French chic that characterized the Parisiennes.

Had Brussels changed that much from what I remembered from my last Grand Tour?

Well, that's what we all thought at first.

Never fully trust first impressions though. Sure the threatening rainclouds remained, as did the dilapidated storefronts - but we managed to see past all that ramshackle urban decay for what it had to offer.

Which is glorious food. Remember my earlier disdain for fine, dainty French dining? Flaunt all the Michelin stars you want but all I really need is something hearty, home-cooked soul food - which is why I felt right at home eating in Brussels. Large portions of steaming hot mussels. Trays of fresh oysters and fried calamari. Heaving plates of sizeable sausages and mashed potatoes.

And the awesome Trappist beer.

That's all in one meal.

Who could forget the chocolates!

If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, well I haven't even mentioned the chocolates yet. There are some who claim that Brussels came up with chocolates to counter their horribly inclement weather - and if that's the reason, then it can rain gloom all day long since Belgian chocolates, from Neuhaus to Wittamer are all simply to-die-for.

In fact I gobbled up so much chocolates in a day I almost expired from a sugar-coma. Surprisingly I learned painfully that it isn't all that hard to get an overdose of rich, delicious chocolate!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

C'est Si Bon

Guess my friends were correct; this trip has turned out vastly different from my last - credit invariably due to the company present. Even though I was practically delirious with fever on the first day, having Charming Calvin and my mother certainly helped perk my spirits up. After all if I'd taken to the sickbed on arrival, I doubt the two of them - highly unadventurous souls they are - would even bother stepping out of the hotel.

Don't know if Calvin would concur. Perhaps his first experience of Paris could be quite as miserable as my last, especially since he frequently gets left quite.... far behind as I dash off to the next destination. After all the boy has never been known for his excessive speed.

What? You're where? 

Adoringly cooing lovers might walk hand in hand along the Seine but Calvin certainly remembers his flagging trudge down the Left Bank quite differently - especially since I had to be at least two bus stops ahead in stride, which precludes any sort of romantic hand holding activities. So many things to see, so many things to do!

And that wasn't even the challenging climb up hilly Montmartre yet.

So you can imagine my consternation when he blithely made this innocent comment.

Calvin : We should cover more places! Why aren't we going to this museum? This park? 
Paul : You know the reason why!
Calvin : But why!
Paul : You're not moving fast enough.
Calvin : Oh. 
Paul : Yes. 
Calvin : You walk too fast! You're practically running. 
Paul : I am strolling. I barely break a sweat. 
Calvin : You're an alien. 

Even my aging mother - with what I suspect is a bad knee though she fervently denies it - overtakes the dawdling fellow. As usual, I blame the pathetically slow snail's pace sadly glorified on this side of the Big Puddle.

Which is fine by me actually. Let's take our time enjoying the sights and smelling the ubiquitous French lavender sachets. After the success of this trip, I doubt it would be our last time there so Paris, we shall come by again.

Even if it's just to eat the delicious croissant au beurre.

Yes, it's all good. C'est si bon!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Champs Elysées

I have developed a new mantra for dressing well.

Dress as if you're strolling down the streets of Paris.

Surely you'll never go wrong that way! After all the city of Paris wears a merit-worthy crown as unrivalled queen of the fashion world with trendy boutiques and appointment-only ateliers lining the city boulevards offering the latest in haute couture - which the stylish Parisiennes are only too quick to acquire. And then skillfully display on the cobblestoned streets that double as their very own easily accessible catwalk.

Have to dress for the fall!

Nothing wildly frou frou. Nothing far too risqué. All the Parisiennes need are the essentials in the staple blacks and blues; not to mention the ubiquitous scarf. Never has so little been so shrewdly - so effortlessly - put together in a simple yet amazingly polished ensemble.

A point of envy even on my last whirlwind trip - but even more so this time that I have the time and luxury of watching the oh-so-chic Parisiennes stroll by from my corner seat at the neighbourhood cafe. Almost all perfectly dressed from head to toe as they sauntered with such Gallic insouciance to work. Certainly no one scampering around in hastily thrown together tees and shorts. Definitely no sweaty gym trainers around. Hardly a single shabby flip flop to be found.

Apparently the one way to recognize a visiting tourist would be to note the frumpy clothes they are wearing. Doesn't surprise me at all since it would be almost impossible to match the impeccably dressed Parisiennes!

Makes everyone else in the world seem just a trifle shabby.

They try but they will never succeed, the poor fools.

Doubt the mainland Chinese folk could even succeed - though it certainly doesn't stop the extremely determined arrivistes from trying.

Showing telling signs of the changing times, it would be hard to visit a single French atelier without finding at least a handful of Chinese citizens, all caught up with the Paris Syndrome, squabbling loudly outside in a rowdy line waiting to go in. Even along the glittering fashion boulevards of Champs Elysees and Boulevard St Germain, you can find strident Chinese matrons snapping up vibrant Hermès scarves and splashy Louis Vuitton handbags as if the items were going on a fire sale.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Paris Sera Toujours Paris

Second time around I can finally see a little of the indefinable magic that others see in the lovely city of Paris. Having that morning coffee along with the delicious croissant au beurre in a teeming corner café while watching the impossibly stylish Parisiennes rush off to work. Taking a slow stroll down sun-dappled boulevards full of chic boutiques showcasing the latest in haute couture, specialist stores full of eccentric oddities and ... oh the wonderful boulangeries filled to the brim with buttery breads.

And the ever tempting chouquettes.

Yes, all terribly stereotypical - just short of the typical black beret and the silky black mustache. Maybe even the oddly provoking French mime. But surely a quintessentially Parisian experience not to be missed.

All the terrible fears I had before seemed but a memory as I found this trip far more enchanting.

As the autumn days went by, all our endless worries about muggers and murderers faded away slowly but surely. Maybe a niggling disquiet at the back of our mind whenever we dashed down the admittedly dingy steps of the Metropolitain - cautiously keeping an eye out for the ubiquitous felons - but the ever present dangers didn't seem very different from any other large cosmopolitan city. Thankfully the snatch thieves remained at a safe distance from us. Then again it might have been near impossible to slip a hand into my bag when I'm practically sprinting to my destination.

Though my brother had warned of shabby treatment from the infamously haughty locals, we seemed to have nothing but the loveliest reception wherever we went. Utterly prepared to stare coldly down my nose at anyone who dared cross me but even the most uppity maître d'hôtel at their exclusive restaurants warmed up fast enough after a friendly bonjour or two. The chic young assistants at the ateliers were only far too ready to display their beautifully made ( and terribly pricey ) merchandise.

Sure the immaculately dressed girls at the neighbourhood boulangerie were a tad dismissive on our first day but on our second visit, they seemed so absolutely attentive and charming that I wondered if I'd feverishly imagined their pretentious impertinence the day before. Possibly the result of my drugged, dishevelled self when I initially arrived. Their chouquettes certainly brightened my day after.

Perhaps times have changed.

Ah the lovely cafes. 

Though of course my thoughts when it comes to fine French dining remain the same as always...comme ci comme ça! Don't get me wrong though, I find it all utterly exquisite! Magnifique! Almost parfait! But given a choice, I would still head for something heartier. Tastes differ I guess.

But when it comes to their boulangeries and pâtisseries, it's probably safe to say that the French have little reason to worry since they are simply without peer. From their deliciously lush St. Honoré to the creamy Religieuse, from the sweet Madeleines to the humble French baguette, oh yummy. Even the simplest croissant from the neighbourhood boulangerie tastes like a sheer bite of heaven.

I'm sure I mentioned the heavenly chouquettes, right?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Sous Le Ciel De Paris

Though I might be a somewhat seasoned traveler, I would never lay claim to be a great traveler. Absolutely, positively the lousiest in fact. Plagued with mysterious aches and pains along with the ever-present insomnia during my flights, it's not that hard to imagine the sallow, bleary-eyed, dishevelled zombie who stumbled out at Aéroport de Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle was in fact moi.

Even the surprisingly radiant autumn sunlight that trickled over the steps to greet me at the airport failed to brighten my spirits. Indeed I felt the need to raise my sunglasses and rush back to the hotel to shut myself up in the suitably darkened room. Was that a touch of the flu?

Obviously all that misery was bringing back shades of deja vu from my last trip there. Back then it was all wretched days filled with cold crêpes and dirty pavements.

Perhaps it was the brief nap at the hotel. Perhaps it was the delicious croissants au beurre. Perhaps it was just the crisp autumn breeze.

But all it took was a couple of hours back in the hotel to give me some bounce in my step. At least enough to happily trip down the stairs to the magnificent Palais Garnier which lay barely a stone's throw away. Or in Paris, that would probably mean less than a ubiquitous Metro stop away.

Paris. Bah. 

Bound and determined to make new memories of the wonderful City of Lights! Heard so many endless raves about the place that I knew it deserved a second chance without the sad bias of emotional baggage.

And it's certainly different this time.

Perhaps it was the company. Perhaps it was age. Perhaps it was a healthier bank account. But even the dreary Passage du Choiseul looked almost enchanting despite its dilapidated state.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Mooncake Commandment

Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them!

However that doesn't seem to be all Madame Borgia found as she made the triumphant ascension up the hills of Lambir deep in the recesses of their family estate. Since her son's slow recovery due in part to the sanctity of her blessed low-fat, low-sugar, heart-healthy meals, she has reaffirmed her unshakeable faith in ascetic health foods.

Apparently prior to making the climb, she had stumbled upon a burning hearth whereupon she received several deliciously sinful mooncakes full of devilish lard and wicked cholesterol. With the autumn season upon us - and her son in dire perpetual need of nourishment, Madame Borgia half considered leaving it on the family table as the lure of temptation.

But lo and behold as she approached the table, she heard the admonishing call adjuring her to make a hike up to the nearby hills instead. Where the Commandments of Healthy Eating were wondrously thrust upon her from the high heavens.

Calvin : Surely we can have one mooncake!
Benedicta : No! Mother said no!
Calvin : Not a single one?
Benedicta : We cannot challenge the Commandments!
Calvin : But she placed the mooncake on the table!
Benedicta : As a test! Don't fall for her tricks!
Paul : Gosh just come get some at my place.

Ever the avid prophetess, Madame Borgia certainly couldn't keep such beneficial instruction only to herself and hastily hurried down to share the Good News. It wasn't exactly easy to spread the news. Since I'll admit Charming Calvin the disbeliever wasn't exactly enthused with what he heard.

Madame : I found some mooncake along my travels.
Calvin : Alright. You called just to tell me this?
Madame : But you can't have it.
Calvin : What?
Madame : Yes, it's far too sweet.
Calvin : What?
Madame : The Commandments said so. Sorry. 

Seriously how would you contend with that pronouncement? Can't fight the Commandments after all.

Monday, September 21, 2015

What Remains of Our Love

Perhaps a rephrase since I'm wondering more about what remains of the love I once had for Paris. Or if I even had all that much amour for that glittering City of Lights.

Time was all I could dream about was walking by the banks of the Seine hand-in-hand with my lover while feeding each other sweet chouquettes. Of course having an awful break-up right before my first trip there dashed any such sickly sentimental fantasies of mine. Arriving in the wretched tail end of storm at the Gare du Nord with my burdensome luggage only to be greeted with dismal grey nondescript office buildings rather than the elegant splendour of a Haussman Paris. Perhaps a little coloured by my troubled emotions. So what little I could recall about my brief time in Paris were dreary rainy evenings tromping through the crooked cobblestoned walks of Montmartre while giving clingy couples the dirty eyed little stare.

And staying as far as possible from any would-be snatch thieves that infamously abound in the dark alleys of Paris.

Seriously? Midnight strolls in Paris would have been one mugging after the next. 

Not exactly the kinda cheery stuff you write home about.  

So with our annual trip coming up soon enough, I have been trying to work up some enthusiasm - or at least present a passably ecstatic expression when the subject matter comes up. After all Charming Calvin - who is far more of a Francophile than I could ever be - has probably fancied himself donning a chic beret on the way out to purchase a fresh baguette at the neighbourhood boulangerie.

Me, I've actually had to refrain from kicking the irresponsible pet owners who frequently allow their animal friends to litter the sidewalks of Paris. The infamous les crottes de chien.

Paul : Paris. Yay. 
Calvin : You're still dreading it?
Paul : Never did see the fascination. Perhaps this time I will. 
Calvin : Surely it's not that bad? Lots of people dream of seeing Paris. 
Paul : *cough* Addlepated fools.
Calvin : What?
Paul : Paris. Yay.

And no, the fast falling value of our money doesn't help lift my flagging spirits in the least. Guess I will always wonder - 'Que reste-t-il de nos amours?'

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Health is Wealth

Eat wise, 
Drop a size.

Catchy? No? Well if not, it's back to the drawing board I guess.

Ever since Charming Calvin returned to this side of the pond only to discover the cause of his uncertain health, his tenacious mother Madame Borgia has actively dedicated herself to a holy corrective crusade solely to rehabilitate her son's ailing self - from ridding the Forteresse de Borgia of all wicked portents of ill health to planning out every mundane minutiae of his daily life.

Which evidently includes his regular meals as well.

If before, Madame Borgia was already wildly obsessed with the sanctity of her low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt, low-taste dishes, now it's practically an organized religion. Where her Holy Book apparently starts out saying 'Let There be Steamed Vegetables'.

All very good for her son Charming Calvin of course - who is entrusted with a precious bento box of all-natural organic goodness every morning as he heads off to work.

Obviously though she forgot all about the Fuzhou son-in-law - part of a single-mindedly money-obsessed clan who sees business opportunities in the veriest little item. Though I wouldn't touch the greens with a ten foot pole, I can certainly see the wealth possibilities here. Since Madame Borgia already has to slave over the stove every morning for Calvin, she might as well make an extra buck - or ten - from it.

Paul : She makes you lunch everyday? 
Calvin : Yes. 
Paul : A packed lunch only for you?
Calvin : Yes. 

Paul : And it's a varied menu from noodles to sandwiches to rice? 
Calvin : Yes. 
Paul : If she made more, we could sell it. 
Calvin : What.
Paul : We could call it Calvin's Healthy Lunches! We could have specific pick-up points in the city. For an added price - and minimum number of orders, we could even deliver. 
Calvin : What.

A winning idea for all the health-conscious freaks, no?

Seems like everyone's a fan of Calvin's Healthy Lunches!

Since everyone I know is already on some kinda endless detox fest, why not sell them lunch as well? Half the calories, twice the taste? And it's all purely organic from a locally sourced farm - thanks to the peasants on the Forteresse de Borgia lands. I can already see the various ways we could pitch this idea to the eager customers. Already half my nurses would be lining up to try since - despite having the figures of a metal wire figure - they seem to be on a perpetual diet fad.

So would you buy a Healthy Lunch too?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Millenium Birthdays

"Birthdays won't be birthdays without presents!"

A little paraphrasing there but Amy March certainly wouldn't be pleased to find out how much birthday parties have changed since her time. At least the way the Millennials celebrate it!

Perhaps a bit of blanket generalization going on here but after attending a handful of Millennial birthday parties this month, I've found that to be grievously true. Though their brimming enthusiasm for parties hasn't abated in the slightest, the Millennials seem to have conveniently misplaced the seemingly outmoded practice of gift-giving.

Something I started to wonder after the third party I attended - only to find that apparently presents were strictly prohibited at birthdays.

Paul : So where do the presents go? Is there a table? 
Mabel : Oh wow, you brought me a gift!
Paul : It is a birthday party, isn't it?
Mabel : Think yours is the only one. 
Paul : What?
Mabel : And the gift is wrapped with a matching bow!
Paul : You seriously expected me to toss it in a plastic bag? 

Evidently that would still be better than what everyone else brought.

Which is precisely nothing.

And there I was agonizing over getting the perfect trinket for Marvellous Mabel to celebrate her birthday. Worrying whether the wrapping paper and ribbon would match the theme of the party. Tearing my hair out over the proper wording on the birthday card.

Turns out I needn't have bothered.

It doesn't have to be big.

Apparently no one else bothers about such social niceties anymore; not a single shame-faced guest at the party miserably hiding the fact that he/she came pathetically empty-handed. Really, has it become passé to purchase presents for birthday parties? Perhaps I missed a mind-boggling memo that got tweeted by the Millennials barring gift-giving as an outdated social custom?

Right around this time, many would start tossing out lame excuses for not getting gifts. Believe me when I say the guests can't use abject poverty as a valid reason since most of them have starting wages far higher than I did when I first started out. Lest we forget, a gift doesn't necessarily have to be purchased at a store either.

Did the Millennials never learn that it's so déclassé to come to a birthday party without a gift in hand?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Ladies & Gentlemen

The autumn party has come and gone.

Though admittedly most of the ton decided to frolic in the city for the weekend, quite a few had chosen to remain in the country. Certainly enough ladies and gentlemen for a convivial evening of fun and games.

Highlight of the day was of course the rollicking farce that was Ladies & Gentlemen - a seemingly genteel Victorian game of manners which turned out to be quite the opposite as the Ladies turned into nagging shrews while the Gentlemen transformed into boorish tyrants. Game players are assigned to partners as couples - with the husbands heading off to work in the City while the wives spend their pin-money on frocks and feathers.

Obviously all ready to head to the glamourous ball of the social season. The most well bedecked lady is pronounced the belle of the ball and the rest of her rivals would scurry home to their manors to plot delicious revenge.

Perhaps some pin-money for a bit of fluff, m'dear?

Since we already had couples in the room, we decided to switch it up a bit and split everyone up into random pairings which led to quite a lot of hilarious commotion. Charming Calvin found himself matched with Fabulous Felix in an odd pairing of flighty wife / long-suffering husband.

Without a doubt though, there were the usual hysterical termagant wife / suffering henpecked husband pairing as well.

Wife : Are you even working? How can you afford to buy me the dress I want? 
Husband : I'm trying my best! It's hard. 
Wife : Don't whine. Just get to work and make me some money!

Not all the couples were so stereotypical though. Ever the Renaissance man, Sober Sam who espoused a terrifically independent woman found himself wishing he'd gone for someone far more submissive instead.

Sam : Get yourself a dress, woman. 
Wife : It's not worth it. I'll get myself a dress later.  
Sam : Just buy that dress already! I can afford it. 
Wife : Don't waste your money. There are better deals later. 
Sam : I'll get you the dress! You just wear it, dammit!

I was the wife of course. Rather than being typecast as the typical tai-tai, Kitty Kat took the role of my husband. Turns out we made quite the perfect pairing since Kat made quite the killing at the stock markets while I soused out the best bargains at the boutiques - while besmirching the reputations of the other ladies with pointed insults.

Which gains gossip points by the way.

Though I did sometimes slander them just for the fun of it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Nag

Parents are known to nag. That's almost a given.

Back then, it seemed as if everything we did - or more precisely didn't do - would be followed by an entire period of agonizing nagging from either one of our critical parents. However with growing age and maturity, I'll admit there's a perverse sense of nostalgia attached to that former highly annoying parental propensity.

Though I seriously doubt the other tenants at Netherfield would agree.

With our annual Mid-Autumn soiree coming up, there are several essential tasks to sort out from the caterers to the decorations. Contrary to what others might think, we don't exactly source out the entire social event to the party planners here - since there are sadly few on this side of the Big Puddle. Besides, the decorators here have deplorable taste and I wouldn't even trust them to style the storeroom belowstairs.

So we usually do it all on our own. Very Martha Stewart Arts and Crafts 101 with simple everydau items at hand like the ubiquitous craft paper and scissors.

Not to mention a little bit of help which is unfortunately not all that forthcoming. Years of experience have taught me - quite painfully I might add - that the tenants don't place as much importance on the event details as I do. Whether the party decorations match or if the ordered dishes are enough to cater for all our guests doesn't seem to bother them quite as much.

Paul : Dammit I told Felix that the tablecloth should be in a shade of olive. OLIVE!
Paisley : Does it matter terribly?
Paul : Hush! You already botched up the invitations!

Yes, I'm a wildly controlling, micro-managing bitch. Something I've generally learned to live with which is why I only delegate the simplest of tasks to them.

Paul : I'll hire the caterer, set out the invitations and handle the decorations. 
Paisley : Alright. 
Paul : You are Felix are in charge of the chandelier. Just decorate the chandelier. 
Paisley : Okay. 
Felix : No problem. 
Paul : Get it done before the party. 

Well at least that's what they say. Exactly two days later after I've already interviewed the caterers, picked my favourite and gone through several menus, I look up and see the barren chandelier with nary a shiny bauble in sight. Perhaps a friendly reminder?

Paul : Don't forget the chandelier yeah. 
Felix : Don't worry.

This of course goes on for several days as I keep myself busy with the party preparations. Two days before the party when I've spent several days going through pinterest boards and youtube videos to find DIY decor for paper flowers and lanterns - and experimenting with several intriguing choices, I walk by again and notice that there's nothing all that different about the chandelier.

Paul : It's two days more, yeah. Don't forget to do up the chandelier. 
Paisley : So done. Don't worry. 

Really? Is it any wonder that parents start nagging? What choice do I have with the dates coming so close?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Autumn Is Coming

Admittedly it has been a while since we've had our regular soirees here in Netherfield. With the ongoing renovations over at the new demesne Hartfield to watch over and the building materials needed such as furniture and electrical items spilling over, Netherfield hasn't exactly been the proper place to host guests of any sort. Moving boxes fill up part of the house with the new - wallpaper, lamps and chandeliers - and the old - clothes and knick knacks - all mixing together in a disordered jumble.

Moreover it seems to be impossible to have an entire weekend where all three of us tenants are around. With the price of oil on a perpetual freefall, Fabulous Felix seems to be jetting around trying to solve all the ensuing problems - while at the same time balancing the demands of a new relationship.

What about the third, you say? Well, Pretty Paisley has been around even less than he has. Even when she is physically present on the estate, she seems to pull the oddest working hours in town, creeping home way past midnight with her sassy slingbacks in hand.

Yes, I do have my suspicions despite all her fervent denials.

Paisley : Did someone say a party? What shall I wear?
Felix : Ooh drinks.
Paul : Isn't anyone considering the caterers and the cleaners? 

So pulling together a party hasn't been topmost on my mind, till just the other day when Charming Calvin made a mention of it. Ever since he's back, there has been little chance for him to meet all my friends in one gathering which had him wondering. Obviously the bucolic country air - and the sheer monotony of it all - has suddenly turned him into a social butterfly.

Calvin : It has been a while since you've had a social. 
Paul : Haven't had the time. Nor the inclination. 
Calvin : Well I'm around this time at least. 
Paul : You sure you'll even lend a hand? 
Calvin : I'll try. 
Paul : I doubt that. 
Calvin : At least it won't be worse than the miserable potluck the other day.
Paul : Ouch. 
Calvin : At the very least, please cater. We aren't that common. 

That's the Borgias for you by the way.

Since my far-too-obliging caterers were all too deliriously happy to help - and surprisingly eager to give a sizeable discount, how could I possibly say no? Took only moments for us to work out a proper menu for the chosen clique that's coming by. Providentially the time coincides quite well with the coming autumn so all we had to do was come up with a fall foliage theme to match, all bright vibrant yellows, oranges and reds.

With the season upon us, quite a number of our acquaintances are back in the city leaving the countryside quite bare. By some fortuitous chance, both Fabulous Felix and Pretty Paisley find themselves in the vicinity for this short span of time - so what few friends left behind, we have brought together for our coming soiree to wine and dine together.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Art of the Decline

Since my painfully forthright opinions are always clearly spelled out for everyone within hearing range - and apparently I have little to no reservations according to my friends, it isn't that hard to know what I'm thinking. Growing old has some of its perks - and flatly saying no has to be one of them.

In fact Charming Calvin seems to excel in the categorical no - just like the famed Grumpy Cat himself - though he obviously only uses that particular technique on me. Saying no to everyone else - which includes his formidable mother - is something he has yet to master however.

But the art of the polite decline is an acquired skill I assume we shall soon have to impart on the clearly unschooled debutantes in town. Especially since it's clear they show very little tact in declining an invitation.

Suitor : Are you around this weekend? 
Debutante : Yes. Don't have anything planned. 
Suitor : Could I take you out on a date? 
Debutante : Oh ...

( three minutes later )

Debutante : Oh...

( three days later )

Debutante : .Oh ..

And so the awkward silence continues till the dreaded date aforementioned has already long passed.

Suitor : Oh dear, I can clearly see that you're quite indisposed at the moment. 

Really like the song says, all I heard was crickets. Picture the crestfallen suitor standing by the public telephone anxiously watching the clock ticking. Maybe even with the rain pouring. Leaving him wondering if something untoward has happened.

Or whether he has just being friendzoned.

Which brings back awful, awful memories of watching my straight brethren schoolmates bravely attempting - and miserably failing - to court the curiously uncommunicative girls back in high school. The lady doth protest not at all, methinks! Think I speak for most men when I say fumbling an invitation and getting immediately shot down would be preferable to ... getting absolutely no reply at all.

Left hanging miserably in the wind.

Is it so difficult to say no? After the gentleman has foolhardily left his heart on the line, I find it quite inexcusable to leave such an overture unanswered. Perhaps an immediate refusal would leave a little chill in the relationship for a little while but at least there's that glimmer of hope for a subsequent resumption in relations.

However if you leave that question forever unanswered...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Venus Syndrome

As someone hailing from an all-boys school, it wouldn't surprise anyone to know that we all used to think of the girls behind convent walls as exotic aliens hailing from another planet. While my straight brethren were all too keen to delve into their feminine mysteries, I preferred to do my clinical observations from afar. Far safer sometimes I should think.

Accordingly the passage of time with numerous platonic intimacies and workplace relationships has certainly served to open my eyes when it comes to the undeniable vagaries of womanhood ... but I'll admit they can still frequently confound me. 

Even more so when one of the duennas told me of her experiences entering the marriage mart.

Mabel : I've been trying to date this guy actually but he doesn't seem to get my hints.
Paul : You do know men can be utterly obtuse most of the time, right? 
Mabel : But I spelled it out clearly. In fact I told him to come here since there were plenty of work opportunities here. 
Paul : That sounds as if you just offered him a job.
Mabel : But it's implied that I am here!
Paul : No, it's implied that you just offered him a job. 
Mabel : But I was flirting!
Paul : You basically handed him a job application. 

Obviously Marvellous Mabel speaks perfect Venusian.

Though it has become quite apparent that none of the boys she likes can understand a single word of her unfamiliar language full of inferences and insinuations. From time to time, women tend to forget that the men really are from Mars - and they don't take subtle hints all that well. Stereotypically straight men would simply take the spoken words literally at face value without reading further into the hidden implications thereafter. 

Spell it out seriously. In bright neon signs if possible. 

Mabel : Oh, he's holding my hand! Does he like me? Is he dancing with me because he likes me or because his parents have approved of me? What will this mean? Will he ask me out tomorrow? What will I wear? Hope I don't stain my dress. Is he a good man? Maybe I should ask around.
Beau : I'm hungry. When's dinner?  

Accustomed to the cruel, intricate female politics at play in the Domicile for Dogmatic Duennas, Mabel clearly assumes that all men play the same highly complex games. Apparently forgetting that the common man is assuredly simple with clearly defined wants and needs, and blindingly obvious likes and dislikes, which he probably has no qualms about articulating. 

So in a bid to translate to Martian what she was thinking we all decided to write out an invitation for her much abused new beau. 

Mabel : Don't make it too obvious!
Paul : Short of showing up at his doorstep brazenly dressed in a thong and raincoat, everything else might sail past his head. 
Mabel : Really?
Paul : Yes, really. How about asking him out for the party this weekend? 
Mabel : Isn't that far too obvious? 
Paul : It's a party. 
Mabel : But what if he thinks that it -
Paul : He thinks it's a party. 
Mabel : But what if he thinks that it -
Paul : He will think it's a party. And that's it. 

Really. It's simple. Don't read so much into it. The boys don't. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Unworthy Opponent

Let's admit that there's just not that much to do during lazy summer weekends on this side of the Big Puddle. Though the proud little town lays claims to the exalted title of a city, there's really not much on offer when it comes to family fun and social recreation - which is how we all fell into the board gaming hobby by default. Ever since that fateful moment when our gaming fellowship came together, it has been a wild non-stop board game adventure one after the next.

Which is how I like it. For me, playing games is more about the friendly camaraderie than it is about cut-throat victories - hence my long avowed love for convivial cooperative games rather than the cruel, conniving double-crossing bloodbaths much beloved by the likes of Diffident Dan and Mad Madison.

Since he has returned, Charming Calvin has yet to make up his mind on this curious new hobby of ours. Apparently our seemingly antisocial fellow isn't much into cards and board games but we all managed to talk him into trying out a game or two.

Paul : So what did you think?
Calvin : It's an okay game. 
Paul : You like it then?
Calvin : I'm not a natural player. 
Paul : Natural player? 
Calvin : Yeah, I need time to absorb the intricacies of the game, to appreciate the strategies needed to win, to analyze the entire concept. 
Paul : It's a simple card game. It's not all about the winning.
Calvin : But I have to know all that. If not, I would be an unworthy opponent.
Paul : Unworthy?
Calvin : Yes, I might not be worthy of your time and skill as a player. 
Paul : WTF.

Talk about a mind-blowing epiphany since that particularly sage comment certainly explains much about Charming Calvin! And Diffident Dan! Could this be another peculiarly inexplicable foible to differentiate us from our more serious-minded Chinese-educated comrades?

Master : All these unworthy opponents dare to even show their face on the same street?!

Truly. Despite his whimpering claims otherwise, Diffident Dan also takes games quite intensely - almost as if his life might depend on the precarious outcome. At least now we know the real reason behind his befuddling stratagems. Not from a crazed single-minded desire to win but a desperate need to thoroughly redeem themselves in the eyes of their disgruntled companions!

Paul : You mean if you lose, we will all yell  Dishonour on You! Dishonour on Your Family! Dishonour on Your Cow!
Calvin : Yes. Much dishonour. 
Paul : No one does that. Well maybe Sober Sam. But it's just a game. 
Calvin : It's not just a game.  

They simply cannot be seen as an unworthy opponent! The shame! The humiliation! The dishonour!

Master : You were utterly useless during that game. Unworthy of my time and skill, almost an insult to me. Go home before I cut you. 

Like really. Does anyone talk like that in real life? 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Date Shame

There is a distinct magical possibility concealed in every sparkling new date; always the tiniest glimmer of hope that this could be something special and yes, he could be the one.

At least that was how it went for romantic little me. So when I was desperately single, I shamelessly said yes to every possible blind date ever with very little discrimination! All gay bachelors, from seemingly unattainable princes to even the most remotely eligible paupers could fit into my admittedly low criteria. Even treacherous bridge trolls were welcome to apply so long as they bought me some dinner.

After all you just never know which slippery, slimy frog could turn into a handsome prince!

These days however the princesses I know are infinitely more fastidious, hell even the paupers are cautious. So fearful of the dating experience that they keep coming up with supremely lame excuses not to.

Rapunzel : No, no I am not looking for anything at the moment.

Really? Why not? Perhaps there is a hidden tower you need to clean out? Surely heading out on a romantic escapade with a sexy stranger would be far more interesting than staring out the tower windows.

Mulan : I don't need a man. I'm independent.

Really? Being all Miss Independent doesn't preclude wanting a man - or even a woman - by your side. Trust the itinerant matchmaker, there's some comfort in knowing there's someone patiently waiting by the hearth while you're out conquering the barbaric Huns. A man worth fighting for, perhaps?

Beauty : You want me to download Tindr? Oh no, there's no need. Someone will find me. 

Really? Not that many princes seeking brides in magical forests these days, honey. While you're fraternizing with forest animals in some faraway cottage surrounded by forbidden forests, how would you ever expect to find a human date? Short of having the fairy godfather knock the handsome hunk over the head unconscious and drag him back, you'll have to rely on other less aggressive devices. Sure, social apps like Tindr come with dozens of dastardly sexually rapacious wolves in tow but there's bound to be one or two semi-decent woodcutters, no?

Wait, did you swipe left or right for me? 

Take a cue from intrepid girls like Ariel who risked getting out of the familiar waters to find her man! Dating is just a simple part of the human experience so there's no shame in wanting to be a part of it. Creeps, cretins and cads aplenty out in the dating world but there'll be a learning process after all which would help in discerning the real prince amongst the wolves.

And come on, it's just a date!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Oui ou Non?

Oui ou non to Paris, belle mere!

Though we sent out the cautious invitation to his mother several weeks ago, the tight-lipped Madame Borgia has yet to return a favourable reply despite several urgent prompts. Doubtlessly she has been preoccupied with far more pressing matters such as Calvin's uncertain health whereby her noxious herbal potions come into play.

But with the passing days, even Charming Calvin - who has been improving - has found it a little peculiar that his mother speaks but little about the trip. Unusual for someone of her intrusive temperament to not even display the slightest curiousity about the travel preparations and the lodgings! Not even a single croissant au beurre has made an appearance on the spartan breakfast table to signal her growing enthusiasm!

When wearing a black béret charmingly askew to dinner failed to elicit any response from her, Calvin knew he had to speak. After all his last resort was the Gauloises and he didn't fancy smoking at all.

Calvin : So are you coming with us to Paris? 
Madame : Tell me about Paris. 
Calvin : Well, Paul and I intend to -
Madame : Paul?! You're travelling there with him? 
Calvin : Yes, Paul. 
Madame : And you intend to have me follow the likes of him? 
Calvin : Well, yes?
Madame : Never! Mon dieu! I would rather die than travel anywhere with that debauched sodomite! He has bewitched you!
Calvin : Now you tell us. 
Madame : Surely that deviant is the root cause of every accursed calamity that has befallen our once peaceful household!
Calvin : Oh. 
Madame : Pray with me Benedicta!
Benedicta : Yes, maman.
Calvin : You do know I'm still going with Paul? 
Madame : Oh mon dieu! Fetch me my smelling salts, Benedicta!
Benedicta : Yes, maman.

Benedicta : You can rest easy, mon frere. Maman isn't coming with you to Paris.
Calvin : Oh.
Paul : Umm... is it too early to break out the champagne?
Calvin : You're already holding the bottle.

To a certain extent that's what I clearly imagined happening in the Forteresse de Borgia - all theatrical hysterics and wailing reprisals. Maybe complete with fitting costumes -  perhaps a lacy French floral French mantilla for Madame? - and props all around.

Regrettably Charming Calvin says it is not so. Apparently her reaction to the proffered invitation was far more benign - at least according to her similarly taciturn son. Hmm. Though pressed, his sister Benedicta hasn't exactly been all that forthcoming either.

Madame : You guys go ahead. I don't think I shall go to Paris. 
Calvin : Alright. 
Madame : Nothing much for me to see after all. Museums and galleries aren't really my thing.
Calvin : Alright.

Is that at all believable? Far too prosaic I would think. Think I much prefer my dramatic version. Surely she drew the sign of the cross to ward off evil at the very least!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Engineers

Although quite a lot of my friends - and yes my boyfriend - commute to work in the engineering world, to me it might as well be an utterly foreign planet several light years away. Thoroughly cocooned in the incestuous medical world with coldly clinical wards, dank morgues and frenetic emergency centres almost 24/7, it is almost impossible for us to envision life in an entirely different sphere of work.

Till today when I had an eye-opening view into their lives.

Supposedly the engineering drones are left solely to themselves for the entirety of the day in the seeming solitude of their bland, uniform cubicles to handle their technical work, only partly alleviated by the occasional march to the conference rooms for a meeting of hive minds. Since achieving their key performance index doesn't include strict dress codes, apparently most of the drones come in whatever casual wear they deem fitting to their workstyle.

Engineer : Everyone dresses like this, really!
Paul : Of their own volition?
Engineer : Yes.
Paul : Were they recently robbed? 

Really. Espadrilles and capris aren't that uncommon. Even the occasional cropped top and khaki shorts can be found on site.

As I took an agonizingly slow, increasingly horrified look around the engineering world, suddenly an epiphany came to me and I realized why Mad Madison stubbornly persists on thinking that graphic baby tees and frayed shorts are the to-go wear for every social occasion. After that glimpse into her native world of the Engineergirls, could you blame her?

Madison : But I am dressed up!
Paul : Believe me, now I totally understand why you would think so!
Madison : What do you mean? 
Paul : Well you're the best dressed one here! You will hereafter get much less disapprobation for underdressing. 

With everyone else rocking collared tees and denim at work as the utmost in professional dressing, I can easily believe so! If that's their prescribed formal work wear, think of what these sartorial slobs would aspire to wear informally!

Seems like it's Casual Fridays all the week long at the engineering firms.

Apparently the medical world ( the legal beagles too? ) is probably the last bastion of proper dressing in the working world, apart from a couple of negligible nonconformists like Nervous Nancy and her hideous crocs. Trying to imagine the medical officers coming in off-the-shoulder tees, pink capris and slippers.... *shudder*