Friday, July 10, 2015

Home away from home

Last week, we met our ex-flatmate for dinner. Though I'd thought he'd be happy to be rid of us and start living his single bachelor life again, it did seem like he had missed us, especially Xena. He used to constantly tease Xena that after we moved back, he'd also move in with us and take over her Elsa room, and she'd freak out and I'd have a hard time convincing her that he was just kidding.

Even though we'd lived there only for two months, it had been great. Xena and I were reminiscing about it the other day and thinking about the things that used to be so different there compared to our place.

Beach and bikes
Our place is about a 15-minute walk away from the beach and I've always thought of it as such a privilege. Okay, this dude's place was literally 60 seconds from the beach! There was a bridge right behind his block and you just had to cross it to reach the beach. Xena and I used to walk over in the evenings and stroll or ride a bike, enjoying the sights and sounds.

The bike rental places actually rented out tiny bikes with trainer wheels so it was great. 

On two occasions, Viv and I also rented bikes (Xena sat on a child seat on Viv's bike) and rode almost 20 km, past beautiful sights from the Singapore Flyer to Marina Bay Sands to Marina Barrage.

The breeeeeeze
Maybe it was the 17th floor that he lived on, maybe it was the proximity to the beach, but his place had the most uh-mazing breeze ever! You had to actually keep the living room windows closed otherwise the pictures would just fly off the walls. But he had this balcony that you could enjoy the breeze from, and Xena and I spent countless hours there, talking and reading books.

My vertical marathons
While I was there, I badly missed my gym, and even though the beach was barely a minute away, I couldn't go for a long walk because it was too hot (the Sun is my Achilles' heel). One day, Viv suggested that I could consider climbing stairs as an alternate activity. I smacked my head for not having thought of it earlier. So I started to climb the 17 floors every morning after packing father and daughter off. At first, it used to take me 4 minutes and 45 seconds, but after a few days, I'd shaved it down to 3 minutes and 1 second. Along the way, I'd meet people about to get into the lifts who'd wave at me and cheer me on, "Go go go! You can do it!" It was hilarious. I'd thank them rather breathlessly and march on.

Fruits fruits fruits
There was a supermarket and several fruit stalls just minutes from his place, so we ended up having a lot of fruits during the two months there. Xena, dear picky Xena, actually opened up to fruits such as cherries and mangoes which she'd never liked before. I used to buy these amazing Thai honey rainbow mangoes, which were super sweet and yummy. Though our flatmate didn't cook much (he worked till late in the weekdays and played cricket during the weekends), his fridge was always stocked with fruits. I started adding on to the collection and between the two of us, we'd literally opened a fruit market in his house. He even convinced Xena to taste a durian!

The nosy concerned elderly
After school, on the way back from the bus stop, we would pass these benches along the way, mostly occupied by elderly folks. They were extremely friendly and would often talk to us, sometimes asking very weird questions. On at least three occasions, I was asked to have a second kid by a random elderly stranger I'd met 20 seconds ago. But they were so cute, it was hard to take offense. I didn't want to freak them out with what I tell regular people who ask me why I don't want a second kid (I stoically say, "I prefer to be an alive mother of one rather than a dead mother of two." I wasn't kidding. My doctor had told me that to my face.) So I would just tell them, "Cannot lah, Aunty/Uncle. One is too much work oredi." I remember this one very old lady who instantly provided me with the solution, "No lah! You wait till this one six, then you have second one then this one help you take care of that one." Oh. All right then. That settles it. Bye bye.

One of the benches where we had these conversations

TV time
So his place had a TV, and because a switched-on TV was so new to Xena, she was fascinated. When Viv was away in the US, on match-free weekends, I'd feel like a busy mother tending to her three hungry children - Xena, Blueberry and our flatmate. He had an on-demand channel for cartoons, so he'd sit with her and explain what was going on, while I'd make breakfast for them. There was a window between the living room and kitchen, and I'd peek now and then to see what was going on. Soon, he came to the kitchen and said with a worried expression, "Xena doesn't like TV? She watches for 2 minutes and then wanders off, you know." I smiled and said, "Yes. And that is a good thing." In a way, I was glad to have that brief exposure to TV because some friends had warned me that because of our very strict no-TV policy, she'd go completely crazy over it when she finally did encounter it. But to my relief, she didn't seem to like it that much. They'd be channel-flipping and she'd say, "Uncle, why are these aunties (the saas-bahu soaps) always crying? I don't like it." After breakfast, he'd continue watching and I'd give Xena the option, "Shall we do some craft or read a book, or you want to watch TV?" She'd never pick TV and I'd breathe a sigh of relief.

The weekend chai
Ah, I've left the most senti one for the last. Though our flatmate didn't cook much, he did like to have chai in the weekends. On most weekends, he was out of the house before I woke up - either for a match, or for biking or something else. But no matter how early he left, he'd make chai for everyone and leave Viv's and mine on the table. (I'd touch the cup and like a murder investigator, deduce from the temperature, "Wow. I think he left at 6:30 today!") I'm not a regular tea-drinker (I only love it when I have company), but it is so heartwarming to wake up and see that your bacha has made chai for you before leaving. Even Viv is not a chai fan, but we'd sit and drink it together and talk about what a nice chap we were staying with.

This is the last chai he'd made for us before we moved out. I had to get a picture of this.


Arun said...


V said...

Just writing to remind you: Even though I may not comment often, I still read every post :)

shell said...

Nice:) But where are pics of the redone place?

Prithi Shetty said...

Tea is best when someone else makes it fo rus :)
Please add a FB like button for your posts.
I read every post but dont have anything to comment.

mad hatter said...

so heartwarming, and Xena looks so lovely and grown up on the bench :) also, heh, durian is a fruit!? i only thought of it as an odd name for a furniture brand...

CookieCrumbs Inc. said...

he sounds like a sweetheart :)

Also, SEVENTEEN FLOORS, my God, woman :O

Sayesha said...


Thank you for the (silent) support. :)

I can't post pics until we are done with all the housewarming parties! :P Some readers are invitees and I want them to see everything in 3D first. :D

Hahaha, everyone tells me that. But I think I love making tea more than having it. :P You and I would make a cool chai-combo. :D

mad hatter,
Thanks. Haha yes, if you say 'durian' in Singapore, no one will think of the furniture company! :D

CookieCrumbs Inc.,
Yeah he is a total sweetheart. :)
PS: Actually 17 floors is not too bad. At least not as bad as I'd expected it to be. I thought I'd have to sit down midway to catch my breath, but it was okay. :)

Art said...

waiting to see the completed work... especially Xena's room :)

And 17 floors wow!!!

I love the tea which my husband makes.. and I get to drink that only on weekends.. but after that I don't like the tea which I make...

Sayesha said...

I took your suggestion and added the FB like button. Thank you! :D

Haha lucky you! :D
PS: Yes, I'll post pics as soon as the last of the housewarming parties is done. :)