Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bisimillah Oh Yum Briyani

I don't really like briyani (biryani? briyani?) all that much, but when a friend suggested that we check out this way kewl briyani place at Dunlop Street, I told myself we have to try new things and said lets go.

And what a lovely experience it was. The mutton briyani is eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head-toe-curlingly delicious. And the rice is so, so soft. I was rather quiet during the meal because the food was just. so. good. I don't think I've had such an aneurysm over Indian food since Mumbai.

The only thing I found a little disconcerting about the place is that it's got a lot more Chinese people dining in it than one would expect to find in a tiny little cafe somewhere in Little India. Both times I went, there were more Chinese diners than diners of other races. How unusual.

During my second visit, 2 guys sat at the next table. One was clearly there in his capacity as a food blogger. Ever since the phone companies started installing camera in their mobile phones, I've gotten used to people pausing to take photographs of their food before they start eating. Like the way people used to pause to say a prayer of thanks to God before they started eating. But now, they pause to take a photo of the food.

Anyway. After the initial pausing and snapping, I couldn't help but notice one of the guys start to deconstruct his briyani. He pushed the food all over the plate, dissected various chunks of mutton, pulled some of the mutton flesh apart, all the while taking photo after photo. I was a little bit torn up just watching him. The food which had been so well prepared, and which had arrived steaming hot at the table was getting stone cold. The soft fatty bits of mutton were starting to congeal. As I watched, his face and the camera (a point and shoot) got closer and closer to the food, until it started to remind me of the way we used to do dissections in junior college, our faces barely 2 inches away from the wax tray with the ex-cockroach scattered and pinned all over it.

Actually, he looked like he was conducting a mutton autopsy, with all that separating and scraping and photographing. Like the parents and family of the goat had asked him to put their minds at rest by determining the cause of death. And whether he could help them trace the perp.

Have you ever had one of those moments when it would be really really awkward to burst out laughing but you burst out laughing anyway, and then try to pretend it was a coughing fit? Yeah. I know all about that. The poor guy was so close to me that I could've reached out and touched him on the shoulder. Instead, I just spluttered and coughed into my lassi.

Their sweet lassi is pretty good too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Things we would like you to remember, when you are engulfed in flames

I've shamelessly borrowed this title from a great book by David Sedaris, but it summarises perfectly the current situation in our office re fire extinguishers and fire safety materials.

Owing to a rather enlightening lecture I once attended on fire safety procedures, I am now the happy proprietor of a not-so-small quantity of fire safety materials, including some 6 fire blankets and 2 premium quality fire extinguishers, selected for their lasting quality and multi-faceted usefulness.

It was quite a surprise to me, and to all attendees of that lecture, to be informed that not all fire extinguishers can be sprayed on the skin. Or at least, skin that is not wishing to become corroded by the fire-extinguishing material. It is generally undesirable for the owner of the skin to find that, having extinguished the flames, the fire extinguishing material should linger and proceed to dissolve the clothes and skin.

Or maybe that was just the selling line of the lecturer. The non-skin dissolving fire extinguishers were much, much more expensive than the corroders.

So anyway, our office now has a total of 4 fire extinguishers, 3 of which are allegedly corrosive (I've not actually fact-checked this) and the 4th, which sits in my office, not so corrosive although it would probably function as an efficient makeup remover. Staff have been informed that should there be a fire and should their clothes and skin be enflamed, they would do well to attend at my office for extinguishing assistance rather than to avail themselves of the 3 other extinguishers.

Of course this message to the staff would not be complete without one of the lawyers joking that, should anyone anticipate that they will be engulfed in flames, they should take the liberty of hosing themselves down with my fire extinguisher in advance. Which is exactly what the fire safety lecturer had said. Apply liberally on the skin before going out into the flames.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Excuse me what happened to your wallet

At a particular stage in everyone's relationship with their parent(s), I'm sure there's a defining moment when you feel the balance of power shifting from parent to child. When the child becomes the one to call the shots instead of the parent. When the parent starts to regard the child as a grown up. When the parent reluctantly, but proudly, acknowledges that the child is ready to join the ranks of an adult.

Yeah. I think I had that moment with my mom when I got married. From there, it was pretty much downhill. The balance of power shifted right back to the parent after the wedding Ang Pows were opened. Or rather, there was another paradigm shift in our relationship, when my mother decided that she no longer needed to bring her wallet when we went out together. Why? Well because there's her wallet, walking right next to her. The wallet even pushes the trolley for her at the supermarket now. In fact, the only thing her wallet needs at this point is a driving licence.

It started with subtle hints, like she would allow me to pay for meals. Then suddenly, I was paying for all our meals together. And coffee too. Then one day, after loading up the trolley at the supermarket, she allowed me to push the trolley to the cashier and then promptly disappeared with The Son, ostensibly to amuse him or to take him to the toilet.

Now, I can't remember the last time I saw her wallet. All she brings with her when we head out is her car keys because I still can't drive. I'm lucky if there is even 20 cents in the coin pouch so that we can rent a trolley at the supermarket.

According to my girlfriends, I'm not alone. One of them recently went shopping for beauty products at Sephora with her mom and lo and behold when she got to the cashier's counter, there were a number of choice and rather pricey items in her basket that she never picked out. Another one asked a parent what he wanted for his birthday and was a little surprised when he picked out a rather expensive item. I guess at some point in the last decade or so, we crossed the line from adolescent to adult to paymaster. Or maybe the lines just got blurred so whilst we remained an adolescent adult, we also became a paymaster. I suspect that's a more accurate account of what really happened.

In other news, I got my health screening results, including the results of my eye test. Congratulations, my eyes can now fly a plane. Yay, me. The eye doctor's report threw me for a loop actually. It was written on the typical doctor's notepad, in the scrawly cursive that doctors always use, with squiggle at the bottom to pass as a signature. I realised that if I didn't look too hard at it, especially not with my newly discovered pilot's eyes, it looked exactly like one of my father's letters. My dad was a GP. He had terrible scrawly cursive handwriting. He used his doctor's writing pad for everything, even writing letters to his kids. The style, paragraphing and signature didn't change at all, even when what he wrote wasn't very nice. It even had the little rubber stamp at the bottom, underneath his signature. The paper had his name and clinic name printed at the top, and it was centralised. So now, when I see a doctor's report, a prescription or a doctor's referral note, I do a double take because it looks like yet another letter from my father. In keeping with his choice of stationery, what he wrote was also very succinct, pleasant or not. So it would be rare for us to get more than 3 sheets of paper, unless he was well and truly pissed off.

Coming back to the office and still holding my health screening results, I passed this poor young 20-something year old secretary, who looked up at me and said "Your dad called". Huh. I stared at her. "He said his name is Gerald", said she. I didn't have the heart to tell her that (a) he's dead; and (b) his name was not Gerald.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Saturday mornings with Flower

While it sounds all nice and organised to say that I have a little hair cut-and-colour package with a hairdresser in Parkway Parade, the problem is that actually getting my hair done there with the limited weekend time available is an amazing pain in the ass. Where are the child-friendly hairdressing salons when we need them. Where am I going to find a child-free 4 hours this weekend, I would like to know.

This is exactly the reason why I prefer to nip down to the neighbourhood hairdressing shop in my condo to get the easy-but-urgent stuff, like the haircuts, done but there's always hell to pay when Alfred, my tiny little hairdresser, finds out. Alfred, when I'm sitting down, comes up to one head taller than me. He's always dressed perfectly in tiny little black clothes, and with his alabaster skin, jet black hair and perfect little pixie-pretty features, he makes me feel like if I just slap him with the back of my hand, he could fly across the room, and the scream would be so tiny and so shrill that dogs for miles would be scratching their ears.

With my permanently broken gay-dar in hand, I stare at him and wonder if he could possibly be gay. I can't imagine a girl going out with him (so breakable! so delicate!) but I really can't imagine him with a guy (again, so breakable! so delicate!). Maybe he is just not meant to date. I'm almost completely certain that I outweigh him by at least 10 kilograms.

Anyway, Alfred sylphs and swoops around my messy head of hair, lifts up a few locks and then asks me point blank if I've been seeing anyone else, haircutwise. And when I say yes, there's all this gnashing of tiny little teeth as he bemoans the travesty of the other hairdresser's work, how horrible, and how wrong it must have looked for me, because only he knows my hair and only he knows what I need. I don't dare to mention that the other hairdresser does exactly the same thing when she's cutting my hair, I think he will probably be so mad that he will swoon dead away. And then where will we be.

It could be me, but how odd is it that I am being accused by a gay guy of being unfaithful to him. Especially when he is so small. If I sat on him, he would probably crumple like a toilet roll. Frankly, I suspect the real problem is that he is just thinner, prettier and hipper than me.