Monday, September 28, 2009

The little shop of random things

I stepped in and at once, recoiled. Something was not right. Why were the shelves half-empty and what were these boxes doing on the floor?

"Hi, are you renovating?" I found the lady and asked.

"No..." She smiled sadly.

"You are relocating??!! Nooooooooooo!" I was shocked. Where were they going? I started thinking of just how far would I travel for this shop. Choa Chu Kang? Bishan? Yio Chu Kang? Ang Mo Kio?

"No..." She gave me another sad smile.

"Oh. My. Goodness. You're closing down????????????" I could not believe it.


"But why???????"

"Curren contract end oredi. Rent too high lah... cannot oredi. What to do?"

"But... but you sell... like... everything!"

She smiled at me and then turned to answer the phone. It was probably another aghast customer calling to check if the horrible news was really true.

As for me, I was stunned. This nameless shop had been my haunt for many many years now. It really was nameless. Even though they gave you a receipt, it only said 'THANK YOU' at the top. Oh wait, it just struck me that maybe that was the name of the shop! THANK YOU! If you don't believe me, check out the picture of their last receipt to me.

It was one of those tiny shops that sell random things. Things that I never knew existed. Things that were actually amazing inventions. Things that came with some hilarious instructions. Sample this (I had blogged about this here):

Special Function
This glove is made from high quality microfiber nylon No smell, No harm for the body. It Can get rid of the dirt which attached on the skin, strengthen our body and cosmetics.Even more,it Can Refresh the cell.strengthen the circling of blood therefore makes the skin smooth,gentle,and soft
YiFan bath glove comfortable and convenient

Using Method
You Shoud put some soap on your body body before use the bath towel The glove can Suck a little water when it comes across water. this can strengthen the function of cleaning dirt. It suit for all kinds of soaps and other products which can protect the skin.

And more here:

I had bought the first pair of my amazing bathing gloves from this shop. Following which, I was flooded with orders from relatives and friends (yes, even guys!) and subsequently bought at least 12 more pairs. I had bought my amazing mirror cleaner from this shop. I had bought my amazing facial sponge from this shop. I had bought my amazing four-in-one pedicure set from this shop. I had included this shop as one of the landmark places in the Singapore tour for my parents and in-laws. Every time I'd be early for badminton, I'd pop by the shop and see if they had anything new for me. They always did.

She put the phone down and turned back to me, jolting me out of my thoughts.

"Last two days. Clearance sale. 30% off. Until tomorrow onni. Tomorrow close down oredi." She smiled.

And I was there the next day. On its last day. To celebrate its existence and mourn its closing down.

There wasn't much left to buy; I just roamed around the shop, looking at the half-empty shelves, remembering all the times the shop and its little trinkets had surprised me.

Thank you, 'THANK YOU'.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tag utha insaan

So Dil Se has presented me with the honest scrap award, and tagged me with the honest tag.

Here are the rules:
“This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog’s content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”

a) Show off your honesty (and modesty) by thanking the person who gave you the award and link to their post.

b) List 10 honest things about yourself, please no cheating here!! that's the fun part.

c) Select 7 other bloggers you think deserve this award and pass it on to them.

d) Notify the bloggers about the award and invite them to be the honest ones next!!

a) Thank you, Dil se. Dil se! :)

b) Ahem... here goes.


1. Sometimes I am so anal about discipline and punctuality that I think I scare people (and myself too) a little bit.

2. I am ashamed at my poor knowledge of the Chinese language after being in this country for 11 years.

3. There's a huge difference between the person I was when I first started blogging and the person I am now. Over the years, I think I have become slightly (yes, only slightly) more mature and cynical.

4. I spend a lot of time thinking about the good things about life and celebrating them. And that's not just because I am generally a happy person. The other reason is that I am terrified that some day, without my own knowledge, I might reach the 'point of no return'. (The 'point of no return' is this horrible place in life you may end up at, where you dislike everyone and everything, and you trust no one and nothing, and you think the whole world is out to get you.)

5. I can't drive. I mean, I can drive, but I have come to terms with the fact that I shouldn't. I just don't have a knack for it. Sample this childhood incident. The fact that I caused Viv and me to be flung off a jet-ski into the middle of the South China sea doesn't help my confidence either.

6. There is this person I know who dislikes me very much but religiously follows this blog. I don't know why.

7. I love Bollywood, but I wish they'd get a little sensible. Things are definitely much better than before, but every now and then, there will be a movie which will make me thunk my head on the walls of the movie theatre. I'm always up to defend Bollywood, but sometimes I just don't know how to, and end up sounding silly.

8. In spite of a cricket-heavy childhood and a cricket-player husband, I still don't know ALL the rules of cricket. :/ I still laugh in my head when I hear or read the term 'leg bye'. I imagine the umpire raising his leg and waving goodbye with it.

9. It was only last year that I found out that something I had been using in every other email was totally wrong. 'With regards to your query' should be 'With regard to your query'. ('Regards' refers to 'feelings of esteem or affection' and unless we're expressing those feelings towards the query, the correct term to use is 'regard'). Oooh. Embarrassing, but at least I found out! Phew.

10. I know I ruffle a few feathers whenever I diss Singapore, but I live here and this is my home too. I love both Singapore and India (for very different reasons) and I believe I have every right to diss Singapore the way I diss India.


c&d) As is my rule, I tag all the bewdas who have been neglecting their blogs for a month or more. Tag utha, (lazy) insaan! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Double role

So I am walking towards my bus-stop after work when this dude in pointy boots, standing outside this line of eating places, looks me up and down and says in the most annoying desi-road-romeo manner, "Helllllooooobeautiful...!"

Now this kind of thing just doesn't happen here so for a brief moment I stop in my tracks, very very confused. The radio station located in my head is playing "It happens only in India!" (including the 'tadang-tang' music that follows right after). And just when I am contemplating whether to ignore him or give him a dirty look (I've been in Singapore so long I have forgotten how to deal with these morons), he suddenly remembers that he's actually a waiter and is not supposed to do this to potential customers. His facial expression instantly changes, and he suddenly goes all polite and earnest on me, as if it's the first time he's speaking to me.

"Hi ma'am, set dinner for you?"

What the..?! :/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sole proprietor

Q: What's the best way to make each pair of shoes last longer?

A: Buy manymanymanymanymanymanymany pairs of shoes! :D

Friday, September 18, 2009

Better left unsaid

So I caught sight of this ad at the bus stop and took a picture with my phone. This company New Moon likes to pay school toppers (carefully picked, one from each racial group) to declare that they got their marks by taking essence of chicken. But that's not the odd part. Neither is it the fact that they have not found any more agreeable essence-drinking toppers since 2004.

What struck me as odd were the words "From left" just below the names of the kids. What the heck is that? What is the need to label so explicitly?? Trying too hard not to be racist, to the point of getting annoying? Did the ad people really think people would look at the ad and wonder which one is Foo Xiang Peng and which one is Ashish Kumar?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Small wonder

Presenting baby Aish's first public recording... I recorded this on my phone when she was wishing her "moshaaaa". :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

(Under)Cover drive

So the email thread was titled 'Rani Mukherjee's new movie'.

However, neither was it about 'Dil bole hadippa' nor are we all that interested in Rani Mukherjee's career to have 299 emails on that subject. The email was actually to plan the details of Viv's birthday surprise. I had named the thread so in order to ensure that Viv would take absolutely no interest in it if he was standing behind me when I was on the computer, and happened to catch the subject line of the email.

This year, we had had some pretty good surprises for all gang members. It started early in the year with Pizzadude's F.R.I.E.N.D.S themed surprise party, followed by mine where they surprised me with a Bollywood themed party, complete with an item number 'Dard-e-disco' they had been rehearsing right under my nose! Sumanth's birthday was next, and we blindfolded him and took him to a go-karting place (he, like Viv, is mad about go-karting). Following that was Shub's birthday, where we stole her house keys, broke into her house (is it still called 'breaking in' if you use the keys, albeit stolen ones?) and cooked her an entire spread of International cuisine and then hid in the bathroom for her to come home and discover us. Looks like she got too distracted by the food and was unable to locate us, while four of us, crammed into a tiny bathroom, finally got too restless and pressed the flush lever. Needless to say, she discovered us immediately.

So finally, when the only birthday left this year was Viv's, we decided that old age was catching up with us and we were out of energy and ideas to continue the surprises next year. So Viv's birthday was to be the crescendo of all surprises this year.

So we decided to kidnap him.

We had the perfect personnel in place. Sumanth had the driver's license and all the required research on car rentals. Shub had found the perfect accommodation to hold him hostage. Pizzadude was the official route planner for the getaway. And my job was to get Viv's visa done, pack everything he would need during the trip and generally keep him from suspecting that something was happening right under his nose.

To create an effective birthday surprise, there has to be a fake one (though we have totally overdone this and I suspect it won't work with us anymore). So on his actual birthday, the usual suspects turned up early in the morning with a cake just before we were about to leave for work. We had also gotten him to solve some pictionary puzzles, the final clue of which led to a video we had done up for him.

And he thought that was that. Until three days after his birthday.

It started innocently enough. Viv and I took a morning walk to the beach on that fine Saturday morning. He was dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and floaters. He insisted on leaving his wallet behind, so I said I'll keep it in the safe, but what I actually did was quickly slip it into my bag along with a million other things he had no idea about. So we walked to Komalas where Shub, Sumanth and Pizzadude met us for breakfast. After breakfast, we started walking homeward, but stopped near a carpark. Suddenly we broke into the song, 'Aaja meri gaadi mein baith ja!' by Baba Sehgal, a song rather close to Viv's heart because it was shot where he used to live in Bombay as a kid.

Next, Sumanth opened the door of a sleek grey Mitsubishi and Viv's jaw dropped. We told him that Sumanth had borrowed it from a colleague and we could take it for a spin as Viv's special birthday surprise treat. Viv reminded us that he had cricket training at 10 am and we assured him that after the spin, we would drop him off at the cricket ground. So off we went, and it was only when we neared the Tuas checkpoint did Viv start fidgeting a bit. He pointed to where we could take a U-turn to go back. All of us ignored him, and Sumanth continued to drive straight ahead. When we actually got to the checkpoint counter, Viv's jaw dropped. "We missed the U-turn! We missed the U-turn! Where are we going??" He kept exclaiming. Sudden silence followed that. I actually have a 1-minute video of a speechless Viv with his left hand stretched out in shock.

We just kept grinning. It was then that he realised we were driving out of the country. Straight to Malaysia!

"But I don't have my passport!!" He said.

"That's what you think." said Sumanth, as I fished his passport from my overstuffed purse and passed it to the gaping Viv.

"But I have training at 10 am!"

"That has been taken care of." I said. "I have spoken to your captain and he is very supportive of you missing training today."

We were treated to a modern version of Dasavataaram, as the look of confused shock on Viv's face changed to displeasure and then anger and then back to confused shock and a mixture of other undescribable emotions.

"Don't get angry. We will bring you back for tomorrow's match!" I said feebly, now actually getting a little scared. Viv is not the kind of guy who generally gets angry, so when he does, it's quite scary.

Then I fished out his wallet and his driving license and passed them to him. (You can drive in Malaysia on an Indian license and the dude sure loves to drive.) I was running out of things that I could fish out of my purse that would change his mood. It took him about 10 minutes to fully recover from the shock, and finally come to terms with his early morning kidnapping. Once everything had sunk in and he had accepted the turn of events, he exclaimed, "Did you pack my clothes or am I supposed to stay in these clothes for two days??" That lightened the atmosphere considerably. Phew! All the madness of the last few days was finally worth it.

And what madness it had been!

Viv had recently come home after a major tournament and had told us that the next few weekends would be free of cricket. Based on that very unreliable information, we decided to go on that road trip we had always talked about, but never done anything about. The only difference was -- it was to be a surprise for Viv. So we booked the car and the hotel and planned everything else. We even got him to apply for the Malaysian visa, by telling him that we would plan a trip to Taman Negara sometime this year and everyone should have their visas ready so we could do anytime.

Then, a few days later, he dropped the bomb and told us that the weekend was actually not free. He had training on Saturday and a match on Sunday. SHEESH! Knowing how seriously he takes his cricket, we decided that it would be better if we didn't make him miss the training AND the match, but have him miss only the training. So I messaged his captain (I had his number stored from the the last birthday surprise I had planned for Viv) to let him know, because Viv was coordinating with everyone on the training timings and would look like a complete ass if he himself didn't turn up after coaxing "the boys" to do so. The captain didn't reply and I was freaking out wondering if I'd offended him by behaving like a bimbotic unsupportive wife. That night, I checked Viv's phone for the captain's number and found two numbers! I re-sent my message to the second number and within seconds, captain replied with his support. Phew.

On Friday night, I met Pizzadude and passed him our luggage. I had been very careful about packing Viv's stuff, because our Virgo-man is so particular about everything that it's stressful just to pick out socks for him. After ticking off all items on a long checklist, I was done. To avoid the possibility of him coming home early on Friday and bumping into me frantically packing (Main maike chali jaungi tum dekhte rahiyo?), I told him I was working late (so he would also work late) and quickly got home, finished packing and passed the bag to Pizzadude. Sumanth had reminded me to pack shoes for Viv for the karting as he was most likely to wear floaters for the "walk to the beach". The tough part was to pack his stuff without him noticing that they had gone missing. So about a week before, I started pushing his brown shoes further and further into the shoe rack, a few inches each day, until they were no longer visible, otherwise he would have come home on Friday night, noticed the shoes were missing and raised a racket. It worked, and by the time the shoes actually disappeared on Friday night, he didn't miss them.

Back to the road. I assured him that his luggage was in the boot. He made a few calls to his teammates, we cleared immigration and drove on. Though he asked a few times, we didn't really tell him where exactly in Malaysia we were going. He was probably under the impression that we were off to Kuala Lumpur.

We had a whole bunch of CDs for the trip, and we even played songs off a thumbdrive (cool car, huh?). Sumanth and Viv took alternate turns on the wheel, while the rest of us just chilled.

We were playing some Kishore Kumar oldie on the way back and guess what we saw on the road? A vintage Citroen!

Pizzadude remarked that he wished he had learnt some Malay words so I decided to tell him the joke that a senior of mine had told me when I was a freshie.

Q: How did the Indian guy respond when the Malay guy said to him, "Terima Kasih!" ("Thank you!")?

A: "Tera baap Haridwaar!"

Pizzadude laughed and laughed until he could laugh no more, and then every now and then he thought of it and laughed again.

I love Malaysia. It's laid back and relaxed and often gives you the India feeling. And just like India, some signboards can be really funny.

This made me laugh out loud. Though 'wakaf' means 'small hut', when said with the right emotion, it can sound dangerously like something else.

One more signboard that had me laughing out loud. MAA-Assist!

And we saw the sequel on the way back. Jai Mata di!

We had lunch near the Highway Hotel. Note the tagline 'Now everyone can stay!'

On the way, he saw the signboards saying 'Sepang F1 circuit' and Viv said, "Hey, maybe we should go there first!" What he didn't know was... that was exactly our plan! We didn't say much but drove on, and soon enough he realised where we were going. From then on, the man just couldn't stop grinning...

...especially when we got here.

At Sepang, we took a tour of the National Automobile Museum.

Early history of F1

The only thing at the museum that interested me was this... that too because of the colour and nothing else!

One of the posters at the museum that caught my attention. How can safety ever be astonishing???

We spotted an iguana near our car!

After this, we took a tour of the Sepang F1 circuit.

Cars testing on the circuit

The F1 circuit

After taking crazy shots of ourselves on the winners' podium, and the circuit itself, we finally landed at the go-karting place.

The go-kart circuit

The guys couldn't wait! The track was actually built of the same material that actual F1 circuits are made of. They had 4-stroke engines and 2-stroke engines, and obviously the guys chose the very powerful, albeit expensive, 2-stroke ones.

The karts were so fast that every time I wanted to get a close-up shot of them driving, this is what I would get. :|

So finally I resorted to taking videos of the crazy karters.

After the 10-minute spin, they got out of their cards, and as Shub and I had predicted, after a brief 'Aankhon hi aankhon mein ishara ho gaya', were off for a second round. We knew that look. It means, 'One more, bro?'. They often give each other that look after finishing a jug of beer so we were quite used to it. Bro-mance was blooming. So they had another 10 minutes of what Viv calls the best go-kart experience of his life.

Spectators are present at their own risk?!

Soon, we were off again, this time actually to Kuala Lumpur. Can you spot the Petronas Towers?

We stayed at the Rainforest Bed and Breakfast place, which Shub had found and booked online. Good place, great location, awesome price.

We had dinner (part I) at this very nice organic food cafe, which I believe Pizzadude will soon blog about, and dinner (part II) comprised maggi mee goreng (YUMMY!) and roti canai. After that, we went to a drinks place and hung out, cracking nonsensical jokes as usual and playing dumb charades.

The next morning, we packed up and left at 7 am so we could get Viv to his 2-pm match. Impeccable planning got us to the ground exactly on time. Unfortunately, we lost the match (the opposition reached the target in the very last over), but Viv got two stumpings and one run-out so it wasn't too bad for me.

Over the whole weekend, the grin on his face was still intact about his multi-level birthday surprise.

"This is my best birthday ever." He told us. Then he paused and said, "So far."

I gave him 'that look' and said, "Dude, don't you 'so-far' me, okay? This is it. We're all done. Exhausted. Out of ideas. Next year onwards, all of us will have only regular birthdays. Cut the cake, open the gifts, take us to dinner. Finito."

Yup, voluntary retirement it is. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. It's like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. If only they had known when to stop, the last few seasons wouldn't have gone crappy. We have done good these few years. It's time we pat ourselves on the back and retire from the scene. Look back and smile at the good times.

Maybe when all of us actually retire, we could set up a company called 'Surprise me!' and people will pay us to plan surprises (and some shocks like this and this) for their loved ones.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Singing a different tune

Hmm... why do I discover these hilarious videos after like a year or two? Many of you may have already seen this, but I came across it only recently.

Now all of us, at one point or the other, have pinched our noses and gone 'Ooooooonnnnnnnn' a la Himesbhai, but this dude's rendition is just impeccable.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Jokes aside

Sample birthday's boy's latest """joke""" (yes, all his jokes deserve triple double quotes).

Q: What song did Sayesha hear in the background when she was deciding whether or not to marry Viv?
A: Dunce pe chance maar le... O soniye!

If you're head-desking, be thankful -- you only hear these once a year. I hear a few every day.

Happy birthday, you dhakkan. May the """jokes""" and madness never stop! :)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

And this is how you bowl a maiden over!

Celebrations in the bar -- Singapore makes it to Division 5 in the World Cup League!

6 matches. 6 wins. 6 years to the World Cup.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Singing praises

So I rediscovered 'Teri deewani' from Kailash Kher's album Kailasa on Youtube and was amazed at how quickly I had dismissed it the first time I had heard it. Further research on what else he has been upto led me to his album 'Kailasa Chaandan mein', particularly the songs 'Teri yaad mein' and 'Chaandan mein' which have completely blown my mind and made me into a total zombie.

Picture this.

I wake up and as soon as I brush my teeth, I play the album. When I go to bathe, I actually pause it because otherwise I'm, you know, wasting and offending the song. It's only when the first burst of water hits me in the shower that I realise how ridiculous I am being. And yet I do the same thing the next morning. The album plays as I get ready for work, and I wait till the last possible second before shutting off the computer and leaving the house, till the bus driver is almost pounding on my door and saying, "Eh hello? You want to go to work or no?" As soon as I lock the house, I take out the ipod from my purse and play the album. I play it in the bus amidst all the cacophony and for the first time find it really silly and annoying that the buses have TVs. The kid who has been squashed against the window has said, "Excuse me" 37 times, but I am too lost in the song to notice him or give way so he can get off at his bus stop. Finally he pushes himself out, giving me the eye of shame for standing between him and his education.

I reach office and as soon as I turn on my computer, I go to and play the album. On loop. The whole day. I just put the earphones right next to my keyboard and turn up the volume all the way so I don't have to plug the earphones but I can still hear the song without disturbing others. Of course, once in a while, someone comes to talk to me and catches a bit of the song. Just yesterday, my teammate came over and as soon as she had uttered "Sayesha, do you have a minute?" Kailash Kher went "Aawo jiiii, aawo jiiii, aaaaawo jiiiiiii!" in a very hospitable manner, and I chuckled so hard at how relevant it was (if she knew Hindi) that I think I scared the poor girl.

After work, I shut down my computer and leave for home with the ipod back on. In the lift, just before I hit play, I try to remember where exactly I had left the song in the morning. Usually I guess correctly and the song resumes from the next word, making me grin so widely that the security guard in my office building gets nervous and gives me the, "Who are you? Wipe that grin off your face or.. or I'll open fire!" look, while I give him the "Dude I work here. And you don't have a gun. And you should totally listen to this song!" look.

The bus journey home is again musical, and sometimes I sing along in my head so loudly that people actually turn to stare, even though I swear not a single word left my lips. Power of music I tell you.

I come home and I play it till I am ready to sleep. On an unrelated note, two of my neighbours have moved out. On another unrelated note, Viv has moved out and checked into a hotel. (Okay this one is actually unrelated. He has gone for a tournament and is staying at the hotel with all the teams.)

And at night, just before I sleep, because I have heard the song a few hundred times in the day, it plays again in my head. Every note, every tone, every bit is clear as crystal as I drift off to sleep.

Whatever this is, I know it won't last, but I'm going to savour every moment till I have it.