Thursday, June 22, 2006

Of Bonsais and Mandarins

After a six-month hiatus from drawing and painting (and ironically having been enrolled in a Fine Arts College all this time), I picked up the pencil and brush again today.

It was cold, grey and wet outside, hence by virtue of the weather, I was confined indoors, for the second day running. I had been eyeing that green bonsai I had "gleaned", together with 4 little cacti in pretty teacups, when they were found dumped unceremoniously by the side of the front door. They had sat there in a carton, forlorn for days, before I took a good look at them and realised how pretty and healthy they were. So I rescued them and propped them on my window sill. Everyone who had visited the apartment since, have commented on how nice they were and the lovely cups they were sitting in.

So I decided to paint the bonsai. The leaves were waxy green, firm and succulent. The little black pebbles covering the soil and the single large smooth pebble perched on one side of the pot, completed its zen-ness. The white pot with its light muddy splotches set the green off beautifully.

I spent perhaps an hour and a half and only managed to finish the background and the two mandarins, which need to be touched up. They look too muddy right now, thanks to my penchant of mixing colours. I have to make them a more radiant orange to give them justice. I will have to finish the painting this Saturday afternoon. It felt good to paint again and to see the colours bleed into each other on the wet paper.

Oh and I hope the bonsai and cacti survive my anti-green fingers.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Two Mothers

Today my tears are for two mothers.

One of joy for a mother celebrating her 69th birthday.

Another of sadness for the passing of a mother before her 69th birthday.

Life and death.

Don't postpone life- live now.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Happy Birthday

2 birthday cakes, 1 surprise party. Pretty good considering I'm away from home and friends on my birthday this year. A pair of purple crystal earrings, a box of blush- both were things which I was thinking about getting for myself recently, but my sweet colleague who sits next to me, obviously read my mind. It was a bit uncanny!

I have not been keeping track of how many birthdays have passed, you are after all, only as old as you feel. And it's not how long you live, but how well you live life. So in these uncertain times, we have to live the best we can, make the most of our lives, be happy, make our days count for something.

When I am gone, I want to be remembered for being a person who loved life, made the most out of what was handed out to her, was a good friend, a decent daughter and someone who made a difference in other people's lives.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Tough Goes Shopping

Today is officially the first day of the uni mid-year vacations, end of semester 1 already. The last 4 months have just flown by, 2 more semesters of the same and I am done. It hardly seems real. When people ask me what I plan to do when I get my Masters, I answer plainly that I do not know. Well, I really don't. I don't know if I'm going to put it to use and get a second career, the whole point was I could if I wanted to, or if I were going back to the world that I used to know- which I currently still have 1 foot in, with the part-time work I do. I really have the best of both worlds and I don't want to have to choose, at least not now. That would be a worry for another day.

So today I went shopping. I haven't done intensive shopping the way I did today. Not that I bought a lot, I just went into many cute little shops, a fabulous weekend market, a huge shopping mall, basically a whole range of shopping options. I ended up buying a wrap-around dress which is all the rage here now. This one had retro prints and I can confirm that I have officially dropped a dress size to a 10 (even though I think I have put back a kg since the weather turned cold and I have been stuffing my face with biscuits, chips and chocs every night after dinner). I think the dress is quite flattering. I also bought a 3/4 sleeved tee shirt with indian prints in a lovely, soft cotton. Even though it's officially winter, I still wear my summer clothes because I layer them and the effect is rather trendy (like a red racer-back tank top over a long-sleeved black tee shirt worn with low-slung capri pants).

I walked until my feet ached and my back was sore. I think I am going to make myself a hot Milo and get into bed and just watch tv for the rest of the night now. Even a tough shopper has her limits...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

No Hot Water In The Winter

I stumbled out of bed on Sunday, in the knowledge that I couldn't really sleep in late because I had to catch the sun and do my laundry. So with bleary eyes, I put the kettle on to make the morning cuppa. The red light didn't come on, I couldn't believe that the second kettle in 4 weeks had died on me again. Sigh. I stuck a cup of water in the microwave instead. Nothing.

Oooohhhh... this was a premonition come true. The fuse had tripped and I had no power. I had been talking about this to C, at least 3 times this week, I don't know why I kept harping on it. Now it's happened. So I went to where I thought the fuse box was to have a look, there was a label which said "Power circuit" but it was hidden behind a wooden panel which was screwed tight to the wall.

Now I was desperate, I rang the loathesome agent and left a voicemail when he didn't pick up. Probably pretending he is in Queensland again. I sent him an SOS text message as well. In the land of the apathetic customer service, I actually got a response back after that. Having my expectations well managed by now, I was nothing short of gushing gratitude. And my lucky stars must have been shining down at me, it wasn't the loathesome, lazy agent who had rung back, it was his boss who had the phone that weekend and when he heard my situation, he said he would come over and take a look.

With my hopes up since I wasn't brushed off with a "I'll be buggered if I know what to do...", I waited. He actually turned up an hour later, with 2 small girls in tow. While I entertained the kids, he found the fuse box (which was not behind the labelled wooden panel as misrepresented) and when he opened it, we saw that it was all charred and the acrid smell filled the apartment. The fuse box had burnt out overnight! If there had been an electric fire, there would have been some trouble. Someone must have been looking over me that night.

The damage was beyond him, so he rang the electrician who then turned up 50 minutes later. Wow, a second good customer service experience. In the same day. This was really changing my extremely low impression of how inefficient and apathetic the level of customer service in this country is. He looked at the box, the burnt out fuses were at least 30 years old as they were a model I have never seen before, big and chunky. He scratched his head and muttered, "oh I don't know what to do about this...". That was not very confidence-inspiring. However with my luck up so far, I refused to let myself lose hope. He fiddled around with his little tools and then trotted off to get some spare parts. Well, he couldn't fix the whole problem but he could put in a bandaid solution just for that day. He would have to come back the following day with the proper parts. The temporary solution meant I could only use electricity sparingly, like one appliance at any one time so as not to overload the mini fuse. Well, that was better than nothing.

That night I exercised self-restraint and used the electric quota very discriminately. To my horror, I also discovered the hot water didn't come back on. It was back to basics, bathing out of a pail after boiling water in a kettle and mixing it with cold water in the pail, and taking a very quick and limited wipe down bath.

The following day, I got home at the appointed time to wait for the electrician to come and put in the permanent fix. The lucky stars stopped shining- I got a call from him to say he couldn't come because the agent was waiting for the landlord who is based in London to "authorise" the repairs. Authorise? Like he had a choice to NOT authorise when this was an essential and not a nice-to-have like a new plasma TV perhaps? We are talking electricity and hot water here. I told him I would have a word with the agent. I didn't have to go very far, the minute I told the agent it was a dire situation as I had no hot water and had been unable to take a hot shower in 2 days, he immediately said he would authorise the repairs and not wait. Thank God for his good sense and decisiveness. See, my expectations are so low now, when someone behaves in a manner which is only expected, I am profusely grateful. Of course, I gushed my thanks like someone who had just been given water after walking around a desert thirsty for days.

So the electrician came and replaced the ancient burnt box with the new fuses, the old ones had just slowly burnt themeselve out over time. But he seemed drunk or high on drugs or the final conclusion I came to, was he had some physical disability because he was swaying so hard on his feet, he was almost tripping over himself. I was worried he would put the wrong wire in and I would be an innocent victim of his mistake later on. But I didn't want to aggravate him by asking him what was wrong with him, besides his speech wasn't slurred, he was coherent, it was just that he was unsteady on his feet. Again, not very confidence-inspiring. But after 2.5 hours, he completed the job and left.

I have my electricity back, and have been able to make a cup of tea, cook myself some pasta and watch CSI. And I have my rubber gloves ready should I need to check out the fuse box anytime soon...