What’s with Asians and MIXING the strangest things to eat? Or eating flowers? Having tea made from the weirdest ingredients?

The day I landed in Singapore, my relative offered me aloe vera juice that I gulped in out of courtesy, stifling the tears back in. Few days later, on campus, I tasted the weirdest, sourest lime juice I had ever tasted, so different that I went to the stall guy and asked him if it was vegetarian (I know, I know, but I was just 17 and paranoid – I had just seen a ‘vegetarian’ stall selling pork). Soon, I saw that people had cucumber + aloe vera juice, and that fruits called honey dew, dragon fruit, DURIAN and longan existed. That people have juice made from celery, while all juices I had had till then were made of the traditional apple/mango/orange/carrot/grapes. And then there was bubble tea - never mind the jelly-shaped things that float into your mouth as you sip the juice through a thick straw, the juice itself was probably made from ginseng. Soon, I had grown used to chrysanthemum tea, jasmine tea, and horrors, until a friend recently gifted a box, got to know that there was something called Turkish Delight where the chocolate was stuffed with rose (I nearly lost my appetite for chocolate, I tell you – and that means that Turkish Delight had tasted terrible). And just a couple of months back, I ate fungus – not even mushroom, mind you, but bamboo shoots with fungus. Braved fungus once more yesterday, and survived.

And today, I have braved myself to a challenge and made myself a cup of hot green tea. It looks a muddy light green and I’m doing everything to not drink it though I brought it upon myself. I took one sip gingerly and it tasted like I was chewing leaf. LEAF.

Singapore is a foodie’s paradise, and for a vegetarian not too keen on trying new things, it’s nearly hell. But well, I have braced myself for the challenges and have learnt how to eat things I am just too sure will bring tears to my eyes.

Well, it’s 31 December and while everyone in the office is sending each other thank you notes for the year that it has been, I should probably thank this weird city I have lived in for 4 1/2 years, in whose honour I have dedicated dozens of posts in this blog, for making me steely, giving me courage and confidence, and most of all, to take things in my stride and laugh at one and many a thing.

Happy 2009, everybody! May this year be healthy, peaceful, prosperous (with all signs of the credit crunch disappearing) and joyous!

Kaise Mujhe was the most beautiful thing in the movie - my love for the song has only gone up exponentially since watching the movie. Brilliance from all angles - A R Rahman, Benny Dayal, Shreya Ghoshal, Aamir Khan, Asin and even the guys behind the movie for giving it the whole out-of-the-earth-floating feel. Just closing my eyes to the song and remembering flashes of the song from the movie chokes me - hardly any other moment in the movie touched me so. So beautiful, so poignant, so moving, so sincere and genuine... oh, 'if music be the food of love, play on', for life without music is ill-spent.
... amma's important update to me for the day was the new Rahman song she had seen on TV - 'jiya se jiya', how Rahman was awesome, the beats, brilliant and the song, rocking!
It’s been ages since I sat down and typed anything sensible in my blog – I must say I’m getting really depressed with the quality of all the writing I’ve been churning out lately; they all just go to show the state of mind I have been in all these days – confused, aimless, happy at times and unhappy quite often too – and one look at the archives of the blog was enough to irritate me into consciousness.

The blog was started when I was new and wide-eyed in Singapore, and those were days when I had something to write about everyday. I am stunned at how these days I hardly make a joyous note of the insignificant things in my life that brighten my day. Guess working does that to people, and I hate it. Working has made me busy, uninspired, mechanical, and don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with my job itself, I love it for all its nice and makes-you-want-to-break-something moments, it’s equally rewarding – but working itself, has changed me. I’m no longer carefree, I realized, and I don’t like that at all. So, well, I decided to spend some good time writing about all the insignificant but momentous things that have been going on in my life these six months of working (gosh, it’s really been that long??).

Graduating. It was joyous, but really felt like I was leaving something of my life behind. Irresponsibility, innocence, the freedom to commit mistakes, starry-eyed-ness about pretty much everything. Campus walks, project-cursing, the benches. And sigh, even exams.

The house. It’s a simple, lovely house where the landlord has generously left behind his stuff that we have conveniently gotten used to using for ourselves. The room I took has a bookcase. Pretty much why I took the room even though it’s small and hardly has a cupboard and didn’t even have a mirror when I moved in. But the bookcase, wooden, light brown, mounted on the wall, really tempted me and I knew I should have it filled. I’m well on my way! (Ignore the fact that it's the bookcase that has to hold anything that won't fit in my silly wardrobe that can ONLY hold my clothes on hangers!) Look at the books! Making way for more..

The work. I have been enjoying, much to my surprise. It’s fun to learn new things, and sometimes it’s good to do things well for that rare element of praise that comes your way. I know – I have to grow up, but heck, I’ve just been working 6 months. Only thing I don’t like as yet is the loss of being/thinking irresponsibly, of having to think twice before narrating your weekend screw-up with the danger that your colleagues think you’ve lost it looming heavily around, and finally, the horrible branding of ‘cute’ on you. While it feels nice to be the youngest in the team, sometimes I feel childish and like I know nothing. Not to say of the millions of times you feel like an idiot for having to ask how to reply to an email or handle a situation. Well, you gotta learn!

Movies, music. So many to even remember and list since I started working. Why, I watched a movie on my first day of work too! Kung Fu Panda. Hilarious. Been enjoying all the best animation, the latest being Bolt – totally worth your time!
Music has been keeping life together as strongly as ever. Even during the fifteen minutes I have in the morning between my shower and leaving for work, I switch the computer on for a loop of the one song that totally fits the mood of the morning. The favourites have been Jashn-e-Bahaara, Iravu Nilavu, Taxi Taxi, Tu Bole Main Boloon, Manmohini Morey, and recently, Guzaarish and Kaise Mujhe. The CD collection is growing, thanks to my proud contributions from my salary. Yuvvraaj kinda disappointed me as I could not find his usual brilliance – and I thought Ghajini was another disappointment until I got hooked to most of the songs. Waiting for the movie to release – should be worth a watch.

There was a karaoke session in between too. Three hours of non-stop fun, where my friends were treated not just to songs they knew but even ‘Engeyum eppodhum’ from Ninaithale
Inikkum, ‘Oru maalai’, and to my utter delight, ‘Pudhu Vellai Mazhai’ and songs from ABBA too! While my throat ached with the sudden overuse for singing, I realized with horror that probably the only sruthi I could sing in these days would be naalarai kattai. At this rate I’ll end up like DK Pattamaal. Shit.

Otherwise… there have been some travel trips. One to Batam, Indonesia for voluntary work, another to Bintan, Indonesia that had the most beautiful beaches I'd seen (the photo - there's the beach, the music and a book - ice cream was the only essential thing missing!). There was also a short trip home during which all that happened was rain, rain and rain like it was the end of the world. It was great fun with my sister’s baby boy and watching his antics and carrying him to various corners in the house and showing him ‘apple’, ‘rat’ and ‘bananas’ off the huge picture of Ganesha in the living room. Miss the boy terribly.

Life still seems to be a dream, like I am living someone else’s life and not mine. Isn’t that a horrible wake-up call? I mentally make a note to start off with various things like continuing my German, learning to swim and paint, but things don’t seem to stick. Maybe it’s time for my first new year resolution! Well, I’ll make it later :D