Monday, September 11, 2006

Fishy Foo and other tales from the Faa East


I’ve been meaning to write this one so long that I don’t know how to begin it anymore. It’s a compilation of scraps written between meals and uncomfortable flights.

First off. I’ve realised I write like a fucking dumper truck. Laboured. Sludgy. Dense. And full of shit.

Nearly fifteen days of being away from Shout has cured me of my obsessiveness. I think. [Then again, maybe not, judging by the length of this dump session]. In the first few hours of my vacation I was aghast at how I couldn’t think out of the blog. I experienced everything like it was a post – in third person. “Now she’s walking down Chinatown…”, “She loves tapioca jelly…” [No, she does NOT really.] And suchlike serious twistedness.

But then
again, I’ve always needed a witness [take note, NOT companion] to my vacations to truly enjoy them. Like a pole dancer. Or a stripper. Or a teppanyaki chef. Or… I’llshutupnowcauseyoubasicallygetthedrift.

So. It goes.

Singapore

Everything’s like a revelation. I haven’t seen such blue green water. I haven’t seen such an under-populated airport. Heck, I haven’t seen such a clean airport! I haven’t seen so many non-Indians. I haven’t seen such pretty roads. I haven’t. I haven’t. I haven’t gaped and gawked like this in a long time. [Slap her, she’s Indian]

That’s what happens when you step out of your country for the first [technically second, if Nepal be foreign enough] time in your life.

S and N are darlings. They take me around. Everywhere. In fact they also introduce me to my ‘fan’. Ahem. Yes. I had [operative – ‘HAD’] a fan. Once upon a time. J. [My my aren’t I so farkin’ International, one?]

Ok. So a bit about J. He’s sulky. Moody. Argumentative. And he’s genuinely nice. [All] fact[s] verified by S, who’s his boss. He also exhibits a keen interest and blossoming talent for charting blueprints of extreme ways of destroying Hello Kitty [I hope he’ll post some on his site]. And, he’s Cancerian to boot. Yay.

Oh AND. J also thinks that America is at the centre of the Universe.

J: OMG you haven’t seen HEAT!?????
H: errrr. Ummm. No.
J: OMG and you’re in films?????!!!!!
H: (stony silence, single eyebrow raised to show mild displeasure… but it goes unnoticed)
J: OMG SHE HASN’T SEEN HEAT. And it’s like the BIGGEST thing that happened to America!!!!!!!!!!
H: (singular eyebrow climbs higher and higher. thinks: ok… charming, but that’s enough J bwoy)
J: (goes on and on and on OMGing)

After which we come to The Westside Story… and it starts again. [OMG YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE WESTSIDE STORY?????!!!!!!!!]

By the way J, I DO know the Westside Story story… and y’know why? Because we have an Indian Bollywood remake of it. So there.

[But J’s sweet. I like him. And J, if you’re reading this, then I promise the cycle-rickshaw ride in Jaipur, with authentic Hindi music, ok?]

Back to H in Singapura. I walk and walk and walk. And eat and eat and eat.

From Hawker stall to hawker stall I systematically demolish all forms of sea-fauna in and around Singi. From pre-breakfast, breakfast, post-breakfast to pre-lunch, lunch, post-lunch and so on till the post-midnight binge, I plod on relentlessly like a bastard-on-ecstasy.



AND THEN.

The BEST bloody thing that could happen, happens to me.

I see a WOMAD poster. I SEE MANY!

I mean, how lucky am I? WOMAD starts on the 25th. Yay.

Cut to:
WOMAD’s awesome. Farking FARRR[rah rah rah rah rah rah rah]KING awe-blardy-some.

Radio Mundial, I have decided, officially rocks. I am so going to buy their music. BUT. What’s cooler still is that I’ve actually worn out a pair of brand new sandals in one evening. It’s like this fairytale that I’ve always been fascinated by:

Fairy tale – 100 princesses wear out their shoes every night. The king tires of getting 100 new pairs made each day, so he publishes a notice through his kingdom that anybody who’s able to find out what they do with their shoes, can marry the princess he chooses. Man with invisible cloak follows them and realises they go dancing every night with a hundred princes. [Eventually Man-with-invisible-cloak chooses the youngest princess. Paedophile bastard. But that’s an aside.]

So my heels now bear the scars of a WOMAD night. Yay.

S has also bought me a cool black WOMAD t-shirt. Made me choke up. The first time I saw G he was in a black WOMAD t-shirt. I’ve had this terrific feeling throughout that I’d run into him somehow. KL’s just a hop away, na?

But I didn’t.

Bangkok

It’s so good to see the sibling after months. Typically, she showers me with hugs and kisses and the next moment she’s shrieking her head off because I put my ‘dirty’ stuff on her bed. Ahhh. Welcome home. [If Royal Orchid Sheraton be home enough].

This is the best birthday present I’ve received – this trip’s been sponsored by her. [Yes, I’m beaming with pride, My sistah catwoman. Rah rah, go sister!]

Thailand is so pretty. But it’s so not-English-speaking. This is the first time I take my head out of my English-speaking arse and take cognisance of the fact that the world’s larger and much much more diverse than I thought.

My cappuccino comes black, topped with cream and lemon rind [yessss, lemon rind]. I detest cream in any form, but sweetened whipped cream and lemon rind I discover taste blardy awesome on coffee.

Once again, most of my meanderings in Bangkok are intervals between delirious eating sessions. Crab, steamed fish dumplings, VIBGYOR curries, assorted seafood soups, coconut water, jackfruit and dried out squid snacks.

My stomach rebels at some point and I’m sternly told not to eat street-food.

I am also absolutely blown by the beauty of Grand Palace. I mean I hate doing touristy things like staring at buildings and marvelling at architecture… but this is simply dazzling. The colours. The gold. I don’t understand how anyone can feel spiritual in a space that is so full of the most remarkable handiwork in gold.

I need more time in Thailand.

Shenzhen

Mainland China.

I am utterly at sea. I-cannot-understand-them-cannot-understand-me. I’m tempted to switch to Hindi. S has to call up friend-in-Shanghai to order my dessert [which turns out to be tapioca jelly].

Everything is fancy buildings and pretty roads, and S actually calls it hick-town. Wow. Then Delhi, my boy is Ruralia Exotica.

I also note a fascination with Tralfamadorian architecture. “Respect bitch!” S cries, propping up my right arm as we pass one such building. “Hail Galactica”, he pinches my arm for me to repeat after him.

Here I have the most divine; and I repeat, MOST DIVINE prawn dumplings. I have never and probably never will have dumplings as delicate as these. Sigh.

Hong Kong

I don’t know why but this part of my post must start like this. It isn’t even about HK.

I HATE tightwads. I can’t effing stand men and women who have a perennial case of wallet constipation.

Of late I seem to only meet men who behave like there’s a mob gunning for their wallets. It’s offensive. It’s pathetic. And it shows a lack of breeding. I couldn’t care a rat’s arse about your money. I don’t like random people paying for me; I don’t allow it. But at least have the fucking courtesy to offer, punk. I will refuse. But offer. It’s basic decency. All women aren’t genetically wired to feed off your pathetic earnings, schmuck.

I’m at the airport. Waiting to board a flight back to Bangkok. And all of this is suddenly bothering me to a point of tears. I think it’s because of the family I see in the waiting lounge. They were with me on the flight from Bangkok to HK two days ago. Familiar faces that are suddenly reassuring here. The man is in his fifties perhaps. He’s American. And his wife is in her late twenties. She’s a demure Thai girl with the cutest baby girl attached to her hips. The boy, who’s about eight is running around, and his father’s trying to keep pace with him. Our eyes meet. He smiles and I smile back. For a moment I almost see a flash of familiar grey-green eyes. And before I know it, I’m sobbing uncontrollably and shamelessly in a fucking steel and plastic waiting lounge. I want to believe it’s because I’m desperately tired.

But I suspect it’s the unexpected memory of what a friend said to me recently about a certain someone, a Vietnamese girl and a dozen half-Indian children.

I’d laughed then. But now it wells up like acid vomit.

It hurts like crazy.

Singapore

To recap [morbid memory vomit apart], HK was a blast. One night at Lamma Island and the next was spent first at Ned Kelly's firing up our ears with Good Time Dixieland Jazz, with Colin Aitchison & The China Coast Jazzmen, and then roaming Lan Kwai Fong which in S’s words is Ghetto Fabulous at its fabulous best. It truly was. N’s friends K&M were super fun. Carefree Canadian musicians who practically hugged us all the way to the airport.

And back here in Singi, to another exquisite meal sponsored by my rich-&-generous uncle. Cod. Sea Bass. ABALONE [woo hooooo!]. More fish. Squid. Some other tentacly-thing, clam, fish, prawns, more fish. And tapioca jelly dessert [gak. Could’ve done without that].

An inspiring lunch of salmon, tuna, cod and prawn sashimi. [Gawsh! Can you not bother slicing it? just gimme the fish WHOLE].

Inspired Interlude ditty:
I LOVE fish.
Baked.
Sautéed.
Fried or
Grilled.
Boiled.
Broiled.
Poached
Or roast.
Heck I even
like it Raw.
Haul them in
just gimme MORE!

And finally, my final dinner in Singi. Yay. [all of this is interspersed of course with some arsey touristy things like posing with the puking lion – Merlion, and walking through the Esplanade, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay (I loved CQ & BQ) etc.… ya da ya da].

Friends D & A take me to Village, which is a choose-what-you-want-food-court. I must’ve looked like a starved destitute because previously-unnoticed-fellow-diner comes up to me and very kindly suggests: H, why don’t you order what you want for yourself and for me… that way you can eat two things.

I am shameless enough to accept his offer without even a courtesy refusal. In fact I don’t even flinch.

So smoked salmon rosti it is for me, and ummmm let’s see, grilled sea bass for you. And wait; let’s get pizza too. Make that extra shrimp and cheese please.

After that it’s hazelnut ice-cream and a chocolate ball [not very Eastern, but seriously, I can’t have anymore tapioca jelly]. By now the others have stopped eating. They’re watching on with fascination. I smile and continue. I almost consider another helping of dessert, but I think it’s a good idea to stop. I don’t know these people. They might think poorly of me. Worse still, they might think poorly of D & A. So I stop. Reluctantly.

India

Back home. Eleven days of no sleep later, I am irritable. I’ve caught the flu suddenly. I’ve missed someone desperately after a long long time. The sibling’s left and we hardly had time together. I don’t feel like talking to anybody at all. But I do. With all sorts of friends and family, to say I am back. And I laugh and chatter to express the excitement of all things done in the last eleven days. But I am numb. Like the coagulated phlegm that sits and just sits in my sinuses.

Oh. And I didn’t break my alcohol fast. The food was all the stimulation I needed – sex-drugs-absinthe all rolled in one, with a generous dab of fish sauce.

Surprisingly, I haven’t put on weight. Yay yay YAY!


20 comments:

Lizza said...

First off, you do not write like a fucking dumper truck. Intense, yes. Shitfully so, nope.

Second, I am ashamed to say that I've never even heard of WOMAD. I need to look it up. Vagina Monologues, yes. WOMAD, no. I even have a Vagina Monologues cap. I'm such a pathetic dumbass most of the time.

Third, I love that fairy tale. I know, it's sappy and ridiculous. But I love sappy and ridiculous things sometimes.

Fourth, random moments of breakdown happen to the best and worst of us. What sets them off can be the most unexpected things. It's embarrassing and it can hurt like hell, but it happens.

Fifth, many men are boors. But many are gentlemen too. Sometimes though, I like it more if a guy doesn't offer to pay for anything. Depends on the circumstances and on who the guy is, of course.

Sixth, I hate you for eating all that wonderful food and not gaining an ounce.

Seventh, thanks for a wonderful post.

NanNan said...

So, if you're a dump truck, then I'm a crap addict-----but I sure did enjoy glimpses of your "trip"--glad you didn't break your fast--- usually leads to regret--- now I'm going back to read again-- i'm a slow learner---- and I love these aaacchhhh feasts---

n.g. said...

i miss singapore. sometimes. all of it. i miss orchard road, cq, bq, raffles place, the coffee shops, the mama shops, the 7/11s where'd i'd buy lucky strikes. i even miss the damn SPGs who'd slide up to you at carnegie's.

OMG YOU HAVENT SEEN HEAT????

Prat said...

I miss dim sum and yuen yeung. Who else would put tea and coffee together and get away with it?
Oh, and fitting in smaller clothes.
And tai chi in random architecturally awesome parks with senior citizen junta playing the awesomest sweet sounding music. yesyesimisshongkong.
And the dim sum.

Anonymous said...

S - From Shenzhen enroute to Guangzhou.

Finally got to see this long awaited posting, as usual an interesting read.

J-Bwoy enquired about you.

J.E I am a U.S MARINE !!! says hi from Base Okinawa

N sends luv.

I gotta read over teh posting again to come up with something witty.

for now


"when the Saints come marching in"

H said...

Lizza:
1.) You're making me blush. grinnnn.
2.) Perhaps WOMAD is a big deal in my head. Not many people seem to have heard of it, save for those who live/have lived in Singi/ KL. It has associations that are of gargantuan proportions in my life, though. so. Pathetic dumbass is something that I would not associate with you lah!
3.)I knooooow. me too. errrr are you virgo by any chance? or cancerian perhaps?
4.)Yes. i was embarassed then. but too tired to care.
5.) I know what you mean, and yes. It's exactly as you say, depends on the person and the circumstances. But those that I 'like', I like them to at least be courteous enough to offer. because most likely I like them BECAUSE they're not Alpha males. oh well... whatever.
6.) I know, I hate me-of-ten-days-ago right now, just as much as you do. Those Shenzhen dumplings were really good.
7.) thankeeyoo for reading. :-)

NanNannnnn!:
You darling you! Yes, at no point did I really feel like breaking it. In fact I was democratic enough to tell myself that I was ABSOLUTELY free to glug down any amount of alcohol whenever i chose to. And now, I can proudly say I have learnt an important tip in parenting: when the choice is truly open, you can rely on the choosee [whatever] to make the safer choice. no no. that sounded all wrong and subversively tyrannical. but you know what I mean right?

NG: And you left out the BESTEST part... the absobluminlutely fantastic delightful accent! I Laaaaav the Singaporean accent. rah rah rah rah rah! Noh. rephrase. Lah lah lah lah lah.

Prat: I ate a very disastrous chicken wrap at ebeneezers. gharsley. But the fish dumplings and soft-shell crab wrap were amazing. gosh, I could drool an ocean right now!

Sssssssssssssss: tell J-bwoy that his mean-boy retort about the brazilian was errrr ummmm... ahem. spank spank. JI Joe's in Okinawa? Say hullo back. I'm waiting for more stories about his Plan-B nights. lots of love to little N-ightingale. yes yes, take your time... i understand. GRIN.
"i want to beeeee in that number... [raspy hoarse raspy]"

B diddy said...

I haven't seen Heat or West Side Story either, I've seen the Incredibles though.

houseband00 said...

Welcome back, H!

You're sorely missed.

=)

H said...

B Diddy: I suspect you have a lot more Indian blood than you know... ummm. tried that gene-determining thing yet? The incredibles is an exquisite piece of work i say. go bwoy!!

HBeeeeeeee! well you're being sorely missed too. In fact am unable to post a comment on your site. By the way, I hear that Filipino bands are the best. So everytime someone said that to me in Singi/ HK, I thought of you.

NanNan said...

Yes, HB, we have not deserted you, but comments are not getting through-- guess I won't be going for the Beta Version!!! Sorry, H- no, I'm not!!

houseband00 said...

H and Nan,

Switching to Beta is quite ok, really. If you're hesitant to switch, why not try leaving comments using the "other" option instead of the "blogger" one?

Hey H, you should've gone to Manila. You'd love the band scene and you'd meet D and the rest of the cast. =)

That goes for you, too, Nan. =)

H said...

errr. what exactly is beta?

shall try that option HB. yeah. that would've been cool. I had actually thought of it. but I had only ten days. hmm. well So i guess I see D and the rest of the cast in India. :-)

houseband00 said...

Hi H,

I hope that wasn't rhetorical because I will answer. =)

"Beta" means that this "new" Blogger thing still in the testing stage to work out any snags.

India seems like such a wonderful place to visit. I just saw "Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World" recently and I was impressed by the mix of modernity and tradition. Although, more impressive was the Indian actress. I think her name is Sheetal Sheth or Seth. I would like to visit your country soon.

H said...

Seriously?

COOOOOL! you have to have to have to let me know when you're coming. And bringing D along is an imperative.

houseband00 said...

I'll check the prices. I might be coming from Vietnam. D and I will be spending Christmas there. I'm still considering Angkor Wat, though.

I will let you know, H! =)

H said...

great!!!

this sounds like fun. Hey NanNan, consider a blog meet here in Delhi?

houseband00 said...

Yeah! C'mon, Nan! =)

And yeah Nan, what culprit thingy?

NanNan said...

Meeting in Delhi-- sounds like a movie--who knows?? I used to think in terms of never, but never again, anything's possible---Nova Scotia's nice -- ;)

Prometheus said...

This moment marks the first arrival of Prometheus 'pon this blog. He has been called various terms of endearment like 'jerk', 'crapweasel', and 'ewww'. So he is coming to terms with the term 'Cheeky Bwoy' and hopes it doesn't refer to his gluteus maximus.

He is terribly jealous of H for travelling to all these nice places and for having devoured those prawn. He is also trying to understand how a trucking fumper duck writes, to be sure whether H writes like that or not.

Prometheus' monster-in-the-head says 'ohaiyo gozaimasu' to H's monster. Prometheus will trod here again, soon.

H said...

Destination Delhi sounds like a good idea. In fact all ye who enter here [grammatical errors overlooked] please be welcome. The tea will be steaming and Earl Grey, I promise.

Prometheus, cheeky bwoy, welcome! H too is terribly jealous of the H of several days ago. If only, like cows we had a special bag for cud to be chewed on later.

Ahhhh fellow monster-head! 'tis such a pleasure. 'Ohaiyo Gozaimasu', says bloody toungue twisted monster-in-my-head, back. Prometheus is awaited with much pleasure in these parts, being as he is monster-headed-two.