Wednesday, July 19, 2006

longest 10 minutes

paranoid, not really.
just careful, you know?
yeah, isn't that how each girl should be?
absolutely! or else who'd we have to blame?
ourselves of course.

there are times in a girl's life when she feels threatened walking home on her own and wonders if she's losing her mind. when she has a visual of herself violently knocking the side of her head trying to knock some sense into herself, "don't be paranoid."

but hey, this is Singapore, it's safe and thankfully, there are lights everywhere.

so it's 0100, i've gone home later than that before.

i pay the bill, i walk out of the restaurant, take a look around to see who's lurking, cross the road and start on my way back to the hotel. the road i take is a very quiet one. many trees, many shadows. i walk past a megamall that's a quiet shell of its day personality. i walk briskly, and my ears are perked up. i pick up footsteps behind me, i think nothing of it. after quite a distance, the footsteps are coming closer. still, i think nothing of it, two people can come from two different places and have the same destination in mind, right in the same moment.

but it's just not okay anymore when the faster you walk, the faster those echoing footsteps are.

i walk in the light, i come to a junction at the bottom of the slope. ahead is a pathway which is lovely in the day, shaded by low trees. but now, it's just too dark for my comfort. i decide i'd cross the road where the pathway is brightly lit and unobstructed by trees. to get to the hotel, i am crossing the road a little too early. at the side of my eye, i can actually see the man in a red polo shirt and jeans and his body language is strange, it is unsure, hesitant - worse, his footsteps slow down when i cross the road. is she going to enter that serviced apartments?

when it's obvious i have no such intention though i sure as hell make it look like i am heading that way, his footsteps hasten again.

ok, at this point of time, it just gets bloody hell creepy.

sometimes you think you are being followed, but you are able to ascertain very quickly that you are not and feel absolutely nothing thereafter. after 5-7 minutes, you're still unsure? chances are, you are right, you are being followed.

i enter a small road towards the hotel which leads to a dead end. i walk up the slope briskly and he walks faster than ever. i avoid the pathway altogether and walk on the road itself, it's so brightly lit by rows of lamp posts on either sides of the road.

the narrowing gap between us just makes my hair stand on end.

i tell myself, maybe Dali, just maybe, he's a hotel patron too. and you know what, if you are, muthafucka, it's not FUNNY scaring someone like that.

i walk faster up the slope, enter the hotel, glance over at the concierge, smile at the receptionist then find myself horrified that this stranger walks into the hotel. he asks the concierge something inaudible.

i head quickly to the elevators and hope i do not have to share a lift with him. the elevator door opens, i step inside and try to close the doors with one tap.

and then he appears.

a short tanned man with wavy hair and large glasses. late 20s - early 30s. long lashes, bushy eyebrows, shifty eyes. oh, and luscious lips. cant forget that.

now, i simply CANNOT enter a lift, OBVIOUSLY look at this guy and close the doors on him, what if he really is a guest of the hotel?

i hit open and the doors retract back to welcome him into the elevator capsule. happily for me, it's the see through elevator that all of the world can look into.

i smile and ask, "which floor?"

he hesitates.

i think, "what the fuck?" and i hope to God for his sake that he really stays here or i'm whacking the back of his head with my bag.

it's almost like he doesn't know what floor he stays on. he looks at all available floors, scans all the floors quickly, lands his eyes on the top row and says, "twelve. twelve." like it's a fucking relief he got his mojo back.

and i start thinking, "great Dali, great risk you're taking allowing this freak into the lift with you when there are three other lifts."

but instead, i say "ok", hit twelve and stay by the door. he walks in to the back of the elevator where the glass windows are. both of us have our arms crossed. i pretend i am relaxed.

i feel his eyes on me, he's watching me.

"are you afraid?"

and i'm thinking "WHAT THE FUCK?!"

the fucker smiles.

"excuse me?" i ask.
"are you afraid?" he repeats.
i pretend i haven't a clue and raise my eyebrows questioningly.
"are you afraid because i am following you?"
"i am not afraid, goodness, no!" and start laughing it off dismissively like i never thought he was following me in the first place. i am pretty sure i had not been obvious except for walking briskly and looking out for traffic.

ding. it's my floor, i say goodnight and leave the elevator. i hope he picked 12 because he's really staying on that floor, not that he was observing which floor i'd get off on or choose the floor after mine and run down the stairs quickly to my floor.

the poseur speaks

we are now back in Singapore, Ravi has lost 2kg more and i have gained 1kg. congratulations to Ravi on both occasions.

our booking at the Rendezvous Hotel fell through 2 days before we were to arrive. how a confirmed hotel booking turns into a "Sorry, we are overbooked" is beyond me. not sure if the blame lies with the hotel or the 3rd party who was arranging everything for us. this 3rd party then rebooked us at the Elizabeth Hotel. it's an okay hotel, mediocre. the bed is nice and warm, the air-con control is out of whack, the newspaper went missing one morning - and the worst - the bathroom isn't exactly clean and i cannot live with this.

never thought we'd do this but seeing how every other hotel is fully booked and is unable to accommodate us for 24 more nights, i actually ventured into Hotel 81 Bugis. and you know what, it's clean, it's modern, it's new at 1 month old, the particular room i viewed is spacious.

i am a convert.

we will now stay at Hotel 81 and chuck all nasty associations aside. i am no longer a poseur.

a few observations on being back in Singapore
1. i knew i loved rain, but i never knew how much i could miss it
2. never realised how clean Singapore cars are
3. observed how green in Singapore is uber green and exquisitely beautiful
4. stray cats and dogs here have it good most of the time
5. i love Singaporeans, i don't care what people say about Singaporeans and queuing cos at least you queue here

when i was at our first shopping spree in Dubai, i naively queued outside the fitting room when everyone walked past me and stole all available rooms. lesson was learnt quickly. same story with toilet cubicles.

and then, i was at this particular mall and saw three ladies standing outside the fitting room. incredulous, i raised my eyebrows and asked "Are you ... queuing?" and lo and behold, they were! so again, naively, i queued.

maximum number of pieces allowed per fitting - 4
number of ladies waiting outside fitting room - 3
actual number of ladies to be fitted - 2 (one accompanied by her mama)
number of minutes Dali stood outside fitting room huffing for her 3 pieces - 15

see, the chick with her mama had 5 pieces of clothing in her hands, that's ONE whole garment more than the maximum allowed. chick's mama gets INGENIOUS idea of playing round the rule and told salesgirl, "i go in too" then promptly instructs chick to choose 3 more pieces for herself to try in the fitting room. now, why couldn't she just say "i go in too", going in and letting her precious daughter try ONE more garment?

no, she went the extra mile. THREE more pieces. that's removing one top, buttoning up the second, admiring self in mirror, mother scrutinizing top on self and wow, before you know it, you're into the next piece 3 minutes later, spending 25 minutes in the bloody fitting room.

Singaporeans are NOT kiasu, their reign is over.

AND THEN, and then, this lady pops her head out of the fitting room, reaches for bag beside salesgirl, FISHES OUT FOUR PIECES MORE and brings them into her cubicle.

now, does 4 + 4 not = 8?
4, 4 does not = 4
another 4 after 4 is 8
eight, OK? EIGHT. EE-EYE-GEE-ECH-TEE, EIGHT, you dyslexic shit.

this, is a Dubaiite's concept of queuing. i do not know if this has anything to do with the fact that every second lady in the fitting room is Indian and people queued in India only if you were ordering in McDonald's, and if the local Emiratis simply followed suit to survive in War of the Fittings.


local Emiratis are just a rude bunch of thoughtless people who couldn't care less, or pretend to not care less. having been in India, and afflicted by the IQueueNauts 85% of the time, i believe the bad experiences i've had in Dubai can be credited to the same 85% of black sheeps roaming the malls.

Emiratis have been extremely polite and charming so far.

i distinctly remember a similarly painful experience in a KLCC toilet and do not want to revisit that moment.

i've confirmed my findings with a fellow Indian friend and he says, it's a dog-eat-dog world to which i replied, "only if you're a dog."

we have evolved, you know? we no longer pick fleas out of each other's hairy backs or lick our balls with our hind foot pointing to the sky as if saying, "look, God, balls!"

so next time you're in a Dubai mall and see a very cross lookin lady with one leg over the other, bent over and swearing in unfamiliar Hokkien swear words - that's me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

nutella in small packets please

you know you've found the pot of gold at the end of the Emirati rainbow when you're told that it might be better for you to "shop the other end because you're too small for the super sized clothes".

it's a day to celebrate when you're kicked out of a super sized department. it's a day to go out, have a 3kg dark chocolate fudge cake, 12oz rib eye steak, strawberry milkshake and scones.

of course it didn't help that i could fit into size 16 pants nicely at the thighs, but am able to collect water in the space around the waist area for an entire season of drought here. i have monumental thighs.

have more pics for ya, but quit salivating, blogspot isn't liberal with mercy today, i am unable to post pics again. someone says it's Internet Explorer, and if it is Internet Explorer, then i can't wait to get my Mac back.

someone told me to get used to Arabic food, but that's not true at all. it's hard to get good Arabic food, and if you want good Arabic food, you have to pay quite a bit. it's like being in India and paying USD25 for a small bowl of briyani. funny thing is, my preferred food here has been Chinese take-out cooked by Indians and pad thai at Hyatt. so it's really not true that one has to get used to couscous (which i hate) and shawarma which i absolutely loved back in Singapore anyway. if anything at all, every 2nd restaurant you see here is Indian - which is food paradise for Ravi and bad for my weight.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

like a bottomless well

i love weekends. if not for Ravi's constant availability to the P--- global network, we'd be able to sleep in till 12 or 1, something i did frequently as a teenager (oh my god, am i really not a teen anymore?). going back to sleep is just such a guilty pleasure i cannot accord myself.

weekend breakfasts are beginning to become a little bit of an OTT affair. first, there's bolognese/bolognaise, whichever you prefer, with super long strands of spaghetti and of all things, cocoa in boiling hot milk. and the sauce must be rich and full of minced beef, not the diluted kinds you feel cheated over at most places.

or like this morning, sunflower kernel/sesame wholemeal bread rolls with lavish servings of butter and cheese, eggs, baked beans, honey ham and tomato soup with butterbeans, potato cubes and carrots.

and then you end up as One with the Sofa, never moving your ass till after four in the afternoon.

we have been busy shopping, it's the DSS, the Dubai Summer Surprises - it's the Emirati version of the Great Singapore Sale and i only have this to say, THE DSS IS FAR SEXIER THAN THE GSS. for a variety of reasons. first, you have strange Mediterranean lookin men doing a funny dance on stage at the mall, i didn't quite understand the music, but the constant butt show offs across the stage was a plus.

and then, there are these Part Sales, whatever that means. these signs are everywhere. am i supposed to wait till they become Wholly Sales before i start purchasing like crazy? but i'm afraid that after weeks of waiting, that Part Sales ARE the actual sales, and by then, the DSS is over and everything is back to being almost unaffordable and i'm stuck with an wardrobeful of clothes with fluff and lint from repeated use and overwashing.
[picture missing here as blogspot's being a pain at the moment]

and of course, the number of (cool) free mugs we get for spending money is a +. i usually reject free gifts, but considering the fact that i unknowingly picked up the display set of the free gifts wanting to actually buy them - we graciously accepted 12 mugs. there are two mouths in this house, but hey, with all these mugs, we can multi-drink: tea, coffee, coke, juice, liquer, beer, wine.
[another picture missing due to inability to upload picture for the umpteeeeeenth time].

conclusion, despite risks of being ovenbaked and slightly dust sprinkled in the heat here, the DSS is far sexier than the GSS.
[picture of hazy skyline missing due to, well, you already know]

today, i was reading a magazine that accompanies the local newspapers. there was an article about 10 underrated virtues - one of which is Being Fair.

the cheek.

dare they ASK us to be fair.

what i really hate here is the fact that for some reason, 9 out of 10 people here do NOT get the concept of first-come-first-served. in fact, no need to queue! just shove your way to the front to order your fuckin' burger or push past the obviously-waiting-for-a-fitting-room-me to stand in FRONT of me then promptly walk into the first available room without the courtesy to offer it to me, me, WAITING ME. don't even get me started on toilet cubicles when your bladder is full and you are trying to maintain your dignity by NOT crossing and uncrossing your legs.

reminds me of the time when we vacationed in India - nobody bloody queued 85% of the time. people in ever other country i've been to QUEUE.

so, back to playing fair here, a particular hokkien swear word referring to the nether regions of the female human being echoes in my mind quite a fair bit. i bet they'd have difficulty even spelling The Word, you know, U before E and after E but not after the last E. both locals and expats do it, courtesy and basic chivalry is dead - it's all about ME, ME, ME, SERVING ME.

so you know what? don't try printing an article in a widely read magazine that we should Play Fair cos i do not appreciate baking in the desert heat waiting for a cab that is constantly stolen from us only 5 metres away. they aren't ignorant, they don't give two hoots.

so you learn quickly and do as the Romans do. scan the scene, and shove your way through if they look like a bunch of unappreciative, rude bastards.

i am passionate about cows. i love 'em. they're beautiful, gentile, (smelly) sweet bovine creatures. i love their leather, their moo-s, their beef, their milk, the cheese and butter.

but there's just something about the cows here. the lactose levels in the dairy products shoot through the roof - and send me running to the toilet a little too much.

had a really good piece of beef tonight at the Irish Village. at first i was astounded by how large the serving is.

and then i licked the plate clean.

and then i was still able to have a Baileys Cheesecake - this is the best cheesecake i have ever had in my entire life. the succinct, yes, succinct, flavour of Baileys just melts with the cheesecake on your tongue, and the crust, OH THE CRUST, it's the kind of orgasmic experience you'd have as a kid sucking on Farley's Rusks.
[again, am unable to upload delicious shots of Fillet of Beef and the Cheesecake - but do, do, imagine it in your mind and join me in kicking the wall because i am getting increasingly frustrated with blogspot here].