Life's been pretty busy lately - as if a daughter graduating and departing for her gap year doing community service in Panama wasn't enough, we have also decided to pack up camp in London after 11 wonderful years in this amazing city... which meant lots of work and big tears all around, but also exciting times ahead!
It's exactly a week ago that we touched down in our new home, Singapore, but we haven't found a place to live yet, so the weeks with all but random opportunities of connecting to the internet, but more importantly, the months without kitchen, recipe books, notebook, sharp knives, etc are not yet over. What's more, I ended my days in London by auctioning off pretty much all my food stuff (in excess of 150 different spices and other specialties) to my deserving and grateful friends under the influence of copious amounts of bubbly, so it'll take me a while until I have stocked up again. The very positive flipside is that I'll get to explore all the wonderful markets, food halls and specialty shops that Singapore has to offer, plus, it forced me to throw away a few items in my cupboards that to my horror had been well past their best-by date.
Starting from scratch should be fun and exciting, and as soon as I have sorted out the bare necessities (school & transport for the boys, flat, telephone, internet connection, etc), i will have time to devote to this blog again... and I hope it'll receive a bit of facelift in due course and a new slant in terms of content as well, seeing all the wonderful experiences and travelling to be had on my doorstep.
First impressions of Singapore?
I'd be lying if I said it was plain sailing. I've had my ups and downs, to put it mildly, a bit more accurately, it was an emotional roller coaster. Nothing to do with the place itself, although perhaps with the temporary accommodation we're in: mild pneumonia due to the indomitable air conditioning, restless nights due to the noise levels (also attributable to the AC), the lack of equipment in a kitchen measuring 2 square meters with a fridge that likes to compete with the AC in the "Orchard Park Suites has got really annoying sounds" competition (husband slapping it in hope of silencing it as I type), resorting to the inhouse launderette (@ probably 55C and 80% humidity) for your family's laundry needs, et cetera, et cetera.
And then the fact that everything is a struggle. If you're not used to living in an equatorial climate and don't know the city at all, even going out to find the bare essentials can be a chore. Add to that the fact that apart from your own adaptation process (climate, culture, mild anxiety attacks over not having a place to live or a school for the children), you have to cushion off your kids', then it becomes obvious that every excursion outside the perimeter of the hotel (may I add that I am ALONE with the kids, as husband is already putting his feet up in his high-powered job at a big local bank) is an effort beyond belief. And with all of that you always have it in the back of your head that this is NOT a vacation (under which circumstances you probably laugh many a situation off with a shrug and a funny picture for the photo album) and you wonder whether you will EVER get used to it and make your new life here work.
With the first comment from my 6-year old "why does everybody look so Chinese here?" and the second "I don't like Chinese food" (granted, this was due to a traumatising experience in a pan-Asian restaurant with his kindergarten group), the forgiveable response of a caring parent is pure panic. What have I done? What have I done to expose my children to a climate, a culture and food that they're not familiar with, why did I have to leave a big and reliable support network behind (and now struggle to even have a quiet meal due to lack of trusted babysitters), why did I give up my studies, my practice that was just starting to flourish, my beloved catering gigs, why, why, why???
Slowly, but surely I have some answers. Slowly, but surely, I feel that I have arrived. Little steps, but still: finding that the boys will be at a school that is wonderful not only in terms of facilities, but also has a lively and lovely community, surviving my first excursion alone with the kids (Jurong Bird Park) - meaning a full day OUTSIDE, not skipping from one climatised shopping mall to the next -, viewing some apartments and realising that for the budget we have, we can find a more than adequate space, even with a kitchen that is workable for a passionate cook, experiencing the locals as incredibly friendly and helpful people even if their language/accent is sometimes hard to understand, finding that no matter where you go, you can have wonderful food experiences even without much research, even in the areas most prone to host tourist trap after tourist trap...
and after a week I can now safely say "I'm loving it" and I am looking forward to a wonderful time here. I hope that I will be able to share some of my learning curve, some of my culinary and cultural experiences with you over time... I don't proclaim to be an expert in any way, it'll be the novice's perspective on all things Asian, but some of you might enjoy just that or laugh with me as I inevitably make a fool of myself...
Singapore, Asia, here I come!