I had lunch at a relatively new restaurant in Honkong recently. For less than the price of a ticket to Disneyland, I had a very wonderful and amazing experience at Arcane Restaurant.
Arcane was not difficult to find. Just a street off the main road in Central.
I had the 3-course lunch set. First out the starter: Custard like yolk in a hardboiled egg on top of a cabbage drizzled with this creamy slightly sweet sauce. And a hint of vinegar somewhere in this concoction. I tell you, that slight vinegar taste hit me from out of nowhere and literally zinged my taste buds. My plate was clean when they took it away.
For my main course, I chose snapper over beef. I am not really a beef person. Well, the fish was certainly quite firm yet tender, the taste very subtle and highlighted with the Chef’s special sauce that had nuts and berries mixed in there somewhere. Again, the sauce in my mouth was amazing. It certainly enlivened that fish dish. I would say that the fish was perfect as the instrument to deliver those interesting sauces to my palate.
And finally, dessert. Vanilla pannacotta with peach and some sort of wafer like thing on top drizzled with a very light syrup. When the chef asked me how it was, I was speechless. I did not know how to describe the heady mix of flavours in my mouth! First there was the slight blandness of the pannacotta which was punctuated with the strong flavour of the peach but tempered by the syrup. And finally topped off by this extremely mouth melting chocolate like nut/wafer – I don’t know! It was heavenly.
Definitely coming back. I would love to discover more of Chef Shane’s surprises.
This is good honest food. None of the smoke and mirrors of some cuisine.
Several months back, after watching Japanese movies daily and taking a peek at their culture through the movies i watched, i enrolled in Nihongo classes. And because of the pandemic, my alma mater opened up their Japanese course online.
I am very much a beginner but my 日本人business associates are very impressed. Takes so little to impress them, i find. And just those simple sentences in Japanese that I intersperse in my communication with them has created a new level of relationship which i find quite fulfilling. Since i have not been able to travel to other countries for more than a year now, these interactions with foreign people have filled that hole in my life.
I get to speak a foreign language and learn more about regular life in Japan. It has been very enlightening so much so that I told O when next we travel, we forego the small towns of Europe for the small towns of Japan.
That I am looking forward to. I can communicate with them, the food is great, public transport is very efficient and the weather is nice too!
From Jdrama to being a Japaphile. I wonder what next?
In the end I had to remember that my children are adults now and that as long as their choices were sound, then i have to step back.
I did that with first born. Now second born wants to study in Japan. I wanted him to enroll at one of the premier universities in Tokyo. He was ok with a technical school in Kyoto. First because he doesn’t like Tokyo. Second because the technical school had good reviews and fit his requirements. And why did i want him to go to this university? Simply because of the prestige. And the people he could meet while in that university. Shallow i know.
So what really was important? That he could be fluent in Nihonggo. That he could immerse himself in the Japanese culture. And his choice could deliver those 2 requirements. So in the end, I let him be. His undergraduate university is prestige enough for me. No need to add another.
This is how it should be as a parent.
What i loathed ever since i could remember is what i have become today.
I have always been disgusted with women characters in movies and tv shows who are so emotional, and who act so stupidly because of being overwhelmed by their emotions. Sometimes i would stop watching the show because of the disgust i felt. Most often their actions would totally turn me off towards the movie in general.
But after the ME course, i realized that deep down i was that person and that i had covered it up by being logical and rational. But it was this conflict between my emotional self and my logical self that was bringing so much angst in my life.
Since i now recognized what my base personality was, i decided to manage it rather than keep it hidden. Over the past few years after finishing ME, i decided not to ignore my feelings. In time i became more attuned to my gut feels. I listened to my emotions before i made my final decision. And in time, i find that the conflict between my left and right brain has lessened.
Today i can safely say that i am squarely in the corner of emotions. I let how i feel lead me to the directions i take. But the difference is i am aware of the shortcoming of being too emotional and years of being logical has served me well. Today i follow my emotions but i never forget to balance it with logic and pragmatism.
And today, i am content with how it has turned out. I understand those characters who do stupid things because of emotions. I still think they are stupid but i am no longer disgusted. Now i understand them.
I have never been a fan of anime and so Japanese movies and TV shows were never been in my line of sight. Until we bought a large TV and to bond with my boys, I asked them to choose any movie and I would watch with them. As long as it wasn’t anime or horror (totally not into horror). They chose Rurouni Kenshin. And that was it. I was hooked. Amazing swordfight choreography, so elegant so passionate.
And that was the start of my fascination. First was the actor who portrayed Kenshin, Satoh Takeru. I didn’t find him cute at first but his looks kind of grows on you. After watching the rest of the Kenshin movies, he definitely became cuter. And i moved on to his other movies. Alone this time, without my boys. I started with Ajin. Yup, still good. Continued on with If Cats Disappeared from the World. Oh my, that was so different from the usual hollywood movie. So moving and so tenderly acted. And because of that Genki Kawamura came into view. Another author whose books I have to read. And Satoh Takeru delivered. I cried gentle tears.
Next on the list was 8-Year Engagement. Now, i am firmly his fan. Another stellar performance. So different from Kenshin or Ajin or the postman. He is good! And i think i finished a box of tissues.
Then there was KoiTsuDo – he can do comedy! That was a totally enjoyable series, I watched it thrice. Then Bitter Blood, another comedy. Still cute Satoh.
And from there I discovered other movies like My Tomorrow Your Yesterday, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas… the list goes on.
Beyond K-drama is J-drama and while the former was the first to call me, it is the latter that has captured my head and heart. The difference between flirtation and love.
I did it. I was finally able to put Prof. Cecille’s advice to count to 3 when faced with a stressful situation.
A situation involving my alma mater has polarized the local community. And I have taken sides. I saw a post from the other side. My heart beat faster, I did not feel so good. I did not read the post. I logged out. I went to my go to gossip page to clear my mind. I reclaimed my equilibrium. Then I went back to the page of the post in question. I was a bit apprehensive on how it would affect me. I started reading, it wasn’t so bad. I was able to see through the double speak and even admired how the other party made their decision sound palatable. But my position is unchanged.
And because I was calm when I read it, I was able to clearly harness my learned intelligence rather than the primitive base intelligence. I was able to look at it with clearer eyes and not be overly affected.
Now I understand the point of mastering one’s self before mastering one’s enterprise.
I spent the past week in the company of people from middle America. Conservative Trump supporters with hearts of gold. Company I am not familiar with.
I am a liberal. Not die hard but I lean towards that. The past week though, in the company of conservatives, I saw a different America. I saw an America that was willing to die for their country. An America that was wary of anything beyond black, white and grey. An America that is respectful of authorities. An America that is unfamiliar with most of the world.
I enjoyed their company. Simple needs. Simple wants. Enjoying nature, enjoying their brand of humor, enjoying their music, their repartees, their gripes. No affectations and no double entendres. It was refreshing.
And I realize that I am like them too in their basic desires. And you realize that people are beyond labels. And you realize that the liberal media is doing them a disservice by looking down at them and criticizing their choices. Isn’t that what being a liberal is after all? Allowing people their choices, not ramming down a decision down anyone’s throats?
It is a polarizing world.
The other day, a familiar face smiled at me at a school activity of my son. I smiled back not recognizing him. Then he said that his son Mike, our former scholar was now in Manila. I immediately put a surname to his son. Gosh that was so long ago. I smiled and made a guess as to his grade level. I was off by 2 years. So now our former scholar has graduated college and is now an accountant. Amazing. His dad called his wife and pointed me out to her. Short chitchat. They were picking up their younger daughter who is a classmate of my son. I thought that if they no longer applied for a scholarship then that must mean that their business is now doing ok.
I remember the circumstance of the scholarship application. It made me happy that our Second Wind Program has indeed given them a second wind in this marathon called life. I was buoyed by the fact that our small help had eased their problems a little. That happiness suffused my whole being and put a smile to my face everytime I think of the encounter. Two days hence, I still feel lighthearted.
Those incidents are the reason we continue on with our Program despite minimal cooperation from the school. I have to prepare the application forms, put up the posters/notices for the program (do the marketing) and interview the very few applicants. Four years ago, I almost stopped the program owing to the lackadaisical response from the school but I am glad we continued. If only for moments like those, I am glad that we are making a difference.
The hairdresser commented how my hair is so straight and that a lot of women really aspire to have straight hair.
Funny, but for the better part of my life I have always looked with envy at people with natural curls or with more body in their hair. I used to have my hair permed every 3 or 4 months. I don’t know what happened but 10 or so years ago, I finally decided – to hell with it. It is just too time consuming to have a perm. And so I stopped. I embraced my straight fine hair and I guess now that it’s chemical free, my hair looks healthier.
And my full lips, how I hated that all through high school and college. That was the time of thin lips. Until Angelina Jolie came into the scene and suddenly my full lips was “in”. And there is my round face, which now in my 4th decade, makes me look younger with the extra fat on my cheeks.
Funny indeed how acceptance has made my life more serene and stress free. It is true that we become more free in our 40s onwards. Because that is the time when most people are finally accepting of how they are, perceived warts and all.
And I used to rue how I look. Well it really tickles my funny bones when people say I am pretty.
I love dancing. I love flamenco. Technically I know I am good but sadly, I don’t quite have that passion yet. I have seen many flamenco shows both actual and in videos. I know it is a passionate dance but I understood for the first time what the dance is all about.
In Seville a few months back, i watched a tablao performance of flamenco in Casa del Memoria. Not the balletic flamenco of Sara Baras. Not the explosive flamenco of Maria Pages. But the the passionate flamenco that comes from the soul, the flamenco that has duende.
It was absolutely so frenetic, so passionate, so hot. I was horny watching her dance. I imagined her naked and writhing in bed. And the man – he was smouldering and so full of vitality. You imagine how the lovemaking would be like. You imagine splayed legs and thrusting hips and tongue all over. Hot and heavy.
Coupled with the wine, it made me heady. Good thing I was with O. If it were another I might have agreed to a one night stand. *wink*
And I thought about it. Could I do that? Could I dance with abandon? Could I shed my inhibitions? Yet, that is the part of me that I try to bury in order to succeed in this life. I am afraid to let go. I am afraid of the consequences.
Yesterday was networking time; catching up with old acquaintances and making new acquaintances. It was fun, heady and interesting. But by mid afternoon, my head was starting to throb, my face starting to tire from all the smiling and being animated.
Dinnertime was spent alone. Despite the lousy tenderloin and wine, I thoroughly enjoyed the solitude as I took stock of the day. It rained hard in the middle of my dinner, but I was not worried. And by the time I had finished, there was only a slight drizzle. It was a nice walk back to the hotel.
I enjoy meeting new people and exchanging ideas. Starting a conversation is never a problem for me. Approaching strangers at a party is also not a problem. I truly enjoy getting to know people. But at the end of the day such interactions sap my strength and I need the comfort of solitude to replenish my energy. Alone in my hotel room, I watched the news and stared at the ceiling. I slept relatively early at 10.30 and woke up around 6.30 feeling refreshed despite the lumpy bed and pillow. I was amazed at how energetic I felt.
It is true, I am an introvert. Being alone with my thoughts feeds my soul.