Fabulous beef lasagna and fish & chips at Appetito stall, Alexandra Village Food Centre

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It was supposed to be just another quick drop-in at a random hawker centre recently for me and my partner for an early dinner. We were heading to Ikea Alexandra next to stock up on candles, and this place was just across the street. After walking around awhile wondering what to eat, we decided on this particular stall called Appetito.

The food took some time to come, but when it did, oh boy, were we pleasantly surprised by how good the food was. And considering the hawker centre prices, it was not just good but fabulous.

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Bert chose the Beef Lasagna. $7. Look how nice the presentation is with just a bit more effort. The plastic dish was nicer than the usual hawker centre plate with its pretty geometric design. The extra effort on a great visual from the stall owner was much appreciated.

Bert is an Italian who doesn’t normally eat Italian when we eat out here, because he says it normally sucks, or it’s overpriced or both. He prefers to cook his own Italian food, and goes for local fare or other dishes when we do eat out. That day however he decided to give the lasagna from this stall a try, since it was only $7 so not too depressing if it turned out terrible, and also because he hadn’t had lasagna for some time (it’s a labour-intensive and time-consuming dish that he tends to prepare only for special occasions).

He really liked this one, to his great surprise! He said its filling was delicious and rich, the beef sauce was really good and the portion was decent especially for the price. Who would have thought: it was a hawker centre stall that ended up making this Italian happy, and with a difficult dish like lasagna too, not some quick pasta dish. No mean feat.

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I chose the fish and chips (the fries came in a separate bowl which I didn’t photograph). I forgot how much it costed. I think the same vicinity as the lasagna. $6.50 or $6.80 or something like that.

I had never gotten such a nicely presented good ole’ fish and chips plate! I mean just look at the creativity and effort for this humble dish! Suddenly it’s not some humble dish but some ooh-la-la fancy thang; so pretty! With that artfully smeared tartar and mustard sauce and all, so cute; way beyond what is expected from hawker centre fare. For some reason I was just so moved by it, hand on heart. It’s so lovely when business owners put in such effort for their customers. And the fact that this is from a hawker stall, not a cafe or hotel restaurant or whatever, well I was just touched. Because, I don’t know, I guess in a way it could mean people like him believe people who may not be able to eat out in nice restaurants deserve nice things, too? *shrugs* Which would make the effort he put in on the food he serves such a lovely gesture, not just a work thing.

And Oh My God, it certainly tasted as good as it looked. The fish was so delicious. It was hardly breaded. It was all fish. I loved this so much. Damn I need to go back tomorrow.

 

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Downtown Line’s Little India Station

This greeted me when I exited the train at Little India station.

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The artwork and design on that wall and ceiling are pretty spectacular. I couldn’t help walking around in awe for a few minutes admiring it all, and snapping a few photos.

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I love it. At each of the different angles I saw it.

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It’s like topography, and a flock of birds, and there is whimsy and magic in it. And a Christmas winter wonderland that’s more Tron City than Narnia.

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For the first time ever I am going to Pink Dot on 1st July, because it is important I do so

I feel there is an urgency now to be there, and I cannot neglect to be part of it anymore. It’s funny that I’m finally going mainly because I am so annoyed by the behaviour of the anti-Pink Dot (and therefore anti-LGBT) people who had called for the removal of a banner for the Pink Dot event that is displayed at a mall, and even called for police involvement. What’s worse is that subsequently, The Advertising Standards Authority had asked the mall to remove the tagline “Supporting the Freedom to Love” from the banner.

Related links about that:

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That there are people who have a problem with the words “Supporting the Freedom to Love” just blows my mind! I mean, c’mon, really? Relating to it as a gay man, I just can’t imagine how rotten and decaying a heart needs to be, how possessed with seething hatred do you need to be, to have a problem with a man LOVING another man. Does your dirty mind immediately turn to sex, because you think that’s all we are all about, that that’s all being gay is all about? If that’s the case, not all gay men engage in anal sex by the way, and even if we do it is none of your business. And hey, women have anuses too, don’t they? How do you know if your straight sibling or parent or best friend or neighbour or teacher or that leader you look up to, engage in what you consider right or wrong in bed? You don’t, because it is none of your business. And you would never dream to ask them what they do or don’t do in bed, would you? And yet you consider us fair game, and you consider it perfectly normal and justified to associate us in terms of nothing but sex sex sex, as if we are animals who do not have feelings, who do not need emotional and romantic love and companionship, and who do not have interests and concerns and a life outside the ‘gay’ part of ourselves as human beings.

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It’s funny and silly it has taken the spite of some anti-gay people to finally spur me to attend Pink Dot, but there you have it. Their action has backfired with at least one person. Because previously I wasn’t going, but now because of them I’m going. Because, you know the expression, “when push comes to shove“? Well for the first time in all my life of 43 years as a Singaporean gay person in Singapore, I feel I am being shoved, and now the seeds of trepidation are sown in me. I am now uneasy and apprehensive, but I also feel upset, and I’m dealing with that by making sure I am part of Pink Dot on 1st July.

What on earth is going to happen to us gay folks in Singapore in the years to come? Do I have to start thinking of migrating to another country, when all this time I have taken for granted that I will grow old quietly here with my partner of 23 years because this is where we belong, this is where I intend to live for the rest of my life? Not that I have the means to leave in the first place, but even if I do, why should I ever? It’s crazy I’m starting to think I might have to leave. Singapore is my country. And Singapore is where my family is too, so this is where my heart is. I’m not going anywhere.

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I’m a bit nervous, though, I have to admit. I know, it’s not like I’m doing anything dramatic or heroic, it’s just a little token gesture of showing up to show my support, and a way to finally express my thanks and gratitude to the organizers for bravely organizing Pink Dot all these years. 2017 is their 9th year.

It’s just that, firstly, I’m going not so much because I wanted to, not so much because I was planning to, but to make a point to the haterz and that annoys the crap out of me. Does it make sense to feel that way? I never went to a Pink Dot in previous years simply because I never wanted to and never felt I needed to. I don’t celebrate being gay, just like I don’t celebrate or rejoice being Malay or being Muslim, or feel the need to reaffirm my Malayness or Muslimness. These are just some of the things that make me who I am, so I just quietly and privately live my life as who I am, including as a Muslim, Malay and gay man. Oh whatever that means. Well you know what I mean. And I hate crowded events.

* Crowded *

Just thinking of them, or worse, thinking of attending them, gives me a headache. I’ve never even been to a concert before my whole life. I’d rather stay home and listen to the CD. When I say I like a singer, I mean I like their talent and music. I don’t care for their personal lives or gossip about them, and I don’t feel a need to see them in person. So, as much as I love Mariah Carey or Andrea Bocelli for instance, if somebody offers me free tickets, I’d say no thank you. As much as I love these two singers, enough to have almost all their CDs in their considerable discography, I still don’t love them enough to actually haul my ass to a crowded venue to watch them sing live.

I just can’t stand crowded places, period. I can block out the people around me in say, a crowded shopping mall, because I just zoom straight to the shops which have the stuff I’m there for, grab what I need and get the hell out. But to go to an event which I imagine will last a couple of hours? And not to mention in this case: while wearing something pink? PINK? Oh my God. Alright, fine, whatever.

* Alone *

It will most likely be awkward for me as I will be going alone. The one Singaporean gay friend I know to ask and who wants to go too will be away on a work trip on 1st July. So I will go alone, and I’m a bit nervous about that, truth be told. I don’t know what to expect in such an event. I’ve been to things like museums and art galleries and the cinema by myself many many times, and blissfully happy in my own company each time. But in a joyous busy-bee event filled with many happy shiny people, I’m sure I’m going to look like a loser being alone, looking uncomfortable and unhappy and with no one to talk to. Just sullenly stand there with my arms crossed, or pretending to be busy with my phone. In a pink shirt, no less. Pink! Shit.

* Pink *

Actually I don’t mind the colour all that much, come to think of it. And considering my favourite colour is purple, which had gotten me some teasing and ribbing, it’s really not my place to turn my nose up at pink.

* Identification required *

This too has riled me into wanting to attend Pink Dot, perhaps even more than the anti-banner people I mentioned earlier. The newly-installed restrictions sadly mean that foreigners are strictly not allowed to be present at all (which feels so incredibly mean to me because we want their tourism dollars and we want them to come and work here to contribute to the economy but we don’t allow them to support the freedom to love?), so checking the identification of attendees is a way of making sure only Singaporeans and Permanent Residents get past the checkpoint and barricades to gain access to the event. Yes, barricades.

Related links about this:

But surely anyone can see that it will also deter some local folks, gay or straight, from attending? Will our identification be registered and recorded in some way? That would scare off many people. Not only gays who need or choose to stay in the closet for whatever personal reason. What about other people like me, who choose to be open only to family members and friends, and not to casual acquaintances? What about civil servants, even if they are not gay but just big-hearted enough to want to go support a loved one like a family member or a friend, who could very well NEED that support? Wouldn’t having to show their Identity Card make some feel hesitant?  I think it’s reasonable to guess that some people will be put off from attending. And that’s just so damn heartless.

* I still want to go *

I’m still going. I will be there, God willing. Pink shirt, crowds and noise, being awkward and alone. Barricades! Manned by security personnel! Having to show my photo identification to them and perhaps judgmental eyes. Whatever, whatever. I still want to go.

When push comes to shove.

I have been shoved into going, so go I will. It’s the absolute, absolute least I can do. For the community, for myself. And not to be dramatic, but really it’s for the country as well when you think about it, for us Singaporeans as a whole nation, regardless of race, language or religion. I have no choice but to take this first step. I owe it to everyone including myself. It’s like a duty, I see it that way.

How to examine your balls

A friend sent me this video via WhatsApp. I love it. Cute, informative, and a very important public service announcement. Nadia Heng, a TV host and Miss Malaysia beauty queen no less, gamely teaches how to examine testicles. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do on and off for the longest time, and FINALLY there’s a proper tutorial. Now that I have finally come across material that so helpfully shows me how to actually carry out the examination, I feel some confidence to do it.

I have never done it before, to be honest. That’s probably crazy and highly irresponsible. Especially when I already know, like so many other guys do I’m sure, that it’s something we guys are supposed to do regularly, like women should with their breasts examination. I have put it off because frankly, I already squirm and feel pain at the mere thought of squeezing my boys. (I came across women who refer to their boobs as their girls. So yeah I’m calling my balls my boys.)

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But now I feel like I’ve been quite a neglectful father, now that I think about it. I suddenly realise I’ve never really thought of them much, have I? I’ve never really touched them (I mean affectionately, not incestuously, eeww.) I’ve never really appreciated them. Never patted them for a job well done in doing their part keeping my body running well. I’m not sure I would have hugged them even if I could and was limber enough. I was so selfish. And to think they were right there by the organ with the crowning glory, the star of the family! Just a step back, just shyly hanging around in the shadow of the one who got all the attention. I’ve been such a shitty father to my boys.

Well, no more. From tonight onwards I’m going to visit and say hi. No more just absentmindedly acknowledging them with a scratch when they itch, but actually engage them with the attention they deserve. I will pay closer attention, and affection, to them with monthly chats (If I don’t feel weird talking to my cats, I don’t see why I should feel shy around them). It won’t be all roses at first. It will be awkward, because oh God to be honest I’m still squirmish at the thought of fondling them, but I know I’m just chicken at the thought of pain. But I must be brave. My boys deserve the relationship and affection they have starved for for decades! I must make amends and be responsible for the sake of all our health. Better late than never. I guess I have a New Year resolution after all.

Baby steps. A gentle handshake to start with, so as not to make them nervous and shrink back from my touch. There’s no need to suffocate them with dramatic tight bear hugs either, God knows they must already resent me with the huggy boxer-briefs of stretchy synthetic material I like to wear. I will be gentle with them.

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Much thanks to Nadia and Creative Walk, the production team behind the video.

Please pass it on. If nothing else, it’s a fun and funny video that will put a smile on the face of the person (man or woman) you pass it to. But of course it’s much more than that, and that’s what makes this video so valuable and well done: it’s an important and useful message (with clear instructions) cutely wrapped in a little presentation that’s entertaining to watch.

Indoor Walking Exercise Video

I’ve been using one of those fitness trackers in the form of a wrist band for a few weeks now. For the pedometer function, my target number of steps is now 15000.

Yesterday I was so busy that by around 9pm or so I was just too plain exhausted to go out for a quick walk. I needed just less than 3000 steps to hit the target, and in instances like these I normally just put on my running shoes for a quick jog or brisk walk.

Good ole’ Youtube comes to the rescue, as usual. I just thought I’d try my luck Googling ‘indoor walking youtube’, and this nice lady Jessica Smith’s indoor exercise routine above comes up. So cool I now have something to turn to on rainy days as well.

Her routine is so easy and pleasant to follow. I would recommend it to absolute beginners and also those who are too shy to exercise outside. There are options peppered at some parts to jazz it up to make it a bit harder, as well as guidance on how to make it easier on the joints, if that’s what you need instead.

And how adorable is that chill dog in the video. I think her name is Peanut.

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Blackie keeping me company while I exercise.

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Done for the day! Thank you, Ms. Jessica Smith!

By the way, this is the first time I’m doing a post on my tablet, which is such a slow and difficult pain in the ass especially attaching images, oh my God. So it’s probably the last time.

Baby’s full moon (满月 or “man yue”)

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A friend of ours showed up at our front door to give us some cakes as part of the Full Moon Celebration of his baby. He couldn’t even come in for a quick coffee as he was busy making deliveries of the cakes to many other friends and relatives.

It was so very sweet of him to include Bert and myself. It was our first personal encounter with this tradition. According to Chinese Culture at about.com:

The first important event for the newly born baby is the one-month celebration. In Buddhist or Taoist families, on the morning of the baby’s 30th day, sacrifices are offered to the gods so that the gods will protect the baby in his subsequent life. Ancestors are also virtually informed of the arrival of the new member in the family. According to the customs, relatives and friends receive gifts from the child’s parents. Types of gifts vary from place to place, but eggs dyed red are usually a must both in town and the countryside. Red eggs are chosen as gifts probably because they are the symbol of changing process of life and their round shape is the symbol of harmonious and happy life. They are made red because red color is a sign of happiness in Chinese culture. Besides eggs, food like cakes, chickens and hams are often used as gifts. As people do in the Spring Festival, gifts given are always in even number.

Check out the box. How delightfully cute is that.

 

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Related: I came across the Chinese name of the custom in the title at Singapore Motherhood.

Hiatus

This is rather personal, and I’ve wondered whether to write about it. But oh well, that’s the beauty of being anonymous(ish), you can wear your heart on your sleeve and write really personal stuff. And besides this is supposed to serve as a diary of sorts.

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I will have to take an indefinite break from writing here. Since a month or so ago, I’ve taken on a second job to address my current financial situation. Nothing dire or desperate, for now, but it’s best I’ve rolled up my sleeves higher and got to work to start to fix it before it gets to that stage. There are also two or three things I want to do or buy so I want to save up for that as well.

It’s kinda hard, to be honest. And it’s fucking depressing to be in this situation at this stage of my life. Not cute or funny in your twenties, so yeah, depressing and downright scary in your forties.

But when I feel a tad too whiny, I try to correct my attitude by telling myself that I’ve committed a crime (quite apt actually to think of it that way, not planning for financial stability for your future as a crime) and the judge has punished me to two years of hard labour. And I feel a bit better. As far as hard labour goes, my second job is easy.

And a funny coincidence: someone asked me what I thought of the shitty food they serve at the cafeteria there. I politely lied, “It’s okay.”, but inside I was thinking, “I‘ve never been to prison before, but I imagine this is what prison food looks and tastes like.

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Between that and my regular job, and a sick cat I still have to attend to on a daily basis with medicine and feedings via a syringe (because she’s just not eating on her own, poor thing), and other cats (mah babies!) regular housekeeping (because I’m a bit of a neat freak), regular exercise to keep healthy (I try), and some other even more boring-sounding things (but I want/have to do them anyway) there is just no time to write. Priorities.

It makes me sad because this space is the only writing I do, a hobby I’m fond of. But I’m just too exhausted all the time. I sit my ass in front of the computer and within minutes my eyelids start to get heavy. So sleepy, so very tired.

More than the writing I’ll definitely miss regularly going through the blogs I follow. All the wonderful photography, poetry, reviews and and other stuff I’ve had the privilege to enjoy these past few years. I’ll try to drop by every so often.

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Not to be a drama queen or anything *laughs*, but I just have this song going on in my head now. It’s my favourite MIchelle Branch song, too. I’ve always loved it.

Lunch highlights: Onions and bread

I absolutely love the whole onions Bert just threw in the oven together with the fish and potato wedges he prepared for lunch a few days ago. So great how such a simple and ordinary ingredient could taste so good, cooked so simply with just a bit of olive oil and salt. Uncomplicated and unembellished.

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Served with lovely homemade bread.

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He’s going through another make-our-own-bread phase, one I happily welcome with open arms (and a wide open mouth). So good and satisfying just smeared with some butter or dipped into olive oil. A nice kind of bread for bruschetta, too.

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Christians who choose not to eat pork

I’ve long known that, like Muslims, Jews don’t eat pork. Well, not all, apparently. From articles like this one and this one I recently learnt that some do and some don’t.

This is the first time time though that I’ve heard of Christians who don’t, either. It’s truly fascinating.

When I first saw the video on a friend’s Facebook, I was really surprised. And the first thing I did was to turn to my Catholic partner of more than twenty years and asked him incredulously, “Did you know there are Christians who don’t eat pork?” and he replied he never heard of Christians not eating pork either. So, yeah, it’s definitely something interesting to learn.

A quick Google search to check out who Joel Osteen is garnered the info that he is “an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas.”

So I guess that’s a Texan accent? Sexy. Not to be disrespectful to a pastor or anything, but ah do love that drawl.