Dec 22, 2010

the motherland

where i've been since last thursday night, after a diverting couple of days passing through miscellaneous airports. but a total of 14 hours in assorted forms of transit = 14000 words of fieldnotes transcribed (on which, perhaps, more anon), so maybe that was a good thing. because it is the cool season here in the motherland, i only have the feeling of a post-it note (i.e., sticking to everything i touch) 18 out of every 24 hours. leather upholstery is not advised for these most moist and tropic climes. here is a preliminary report from the front.

  1. congratulations!: to isaac and hwa, my cool cousin and his cool wife. their nuptial chariot was a volkswagen bus tastefully festooned with satin ribbons, which should tell you something about how they roll. the obligatory multicourse wedding dinner was prosecuted at jing, an ultrafancy chinese restaurant co-owned by his new brother-in-law that looks out over the water at the sands, a new and massive casino-hotel. this small dinner couldn't have been further from the usual hundred table affair with the cold dishes entering a hangar-sized room borne aloft by a small army of unhappy-looking waitstaff wreathed in clouds of fog. the band was great and moved seamlessly from the air-conditioned salon to the open-air dining area outside; they did chinese oldies (teresa teng and her ilk) for the dignitaries inside, and jazz standards (of the ella and louis variety) for the unwashed masses without. i saw cousins i hadn't seen in over a decade, and one of them sang for us for the first time in years. it was nice.
  2. caffeine update: papa palheta, where i met minz and julian for coffee. it's a tiny shop on a sleepy stretch of bukit timah road just cityward of newton, with mostly outdoor seating. it roasts its own beans and you pay what you think the coffee's worth. the espresso drinks were good (5oz lattes, nothing but glass and ceramic = good sign), but the v60s were questionable. but these are minor quibbles because what are the odds of finding genuine coffee nerds and a halfway decent latte on my second day back?
  3. congratulations again!: wedding dinner number two for isaac and hwa, this time at raw kitchen bar, in the old firehouse on upper bukit timah road. i was glad to have worn my ironic shirt, for there were many hipsters, architects, and musicians in attendance, and also a whole barbecued pig from which much in the way of crisp and burnished skin was extracted. most people left around 11.30pm, and then we closed two hours later with a little bit of a hoedown and quite a bit of scotch. that was nice too.
  4. greetings, salutations: tytus, two year old son of randall and sharon, who tried without success to stab me with a plastic fork at lunch. well-met, no hard feelings, and i hope you enjoy the stuffed ernie, the stuffed hermit crab, the stuffed wiener dog, the stuffed shark, and the stuffed serpent. they are a little dusty but it's nothing a washing machine can't fix. 
  5. overconsumption: hyang to gol sounds like an exclamation or a directive but really it is a korean restaurant beloved of the korean embassy, at which minzhi now works. having been exposed to much korean food in the last year, she is now on a mission to share the love. yen, sulon, and julian came too, and there was both too much and not enough kimchi. because we were crass yokels, the management served us insulting bowls of rainbow sprinkle covered mango ice cream, followed by bowls of a subtle and pellucid ginger tea, each with a sliver of red date and a pine nut floating serenely within.

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