I’m going to Basilico after this Circuit Breaker

I don’t know why but I’ve been craving for a pasta that our Filipino tenant once prepared and shared with me and my sister when we were like 7 or 8? I don’t know what he put in there but I remembered it to be lightly seasoned (with olive oil/vinegar?) pasta with tomatoes, served rather cold.

While I was googling pasta salad, I realise I really miss Italian food. Basilico Italian buffet was a memorable experience. Fresh pasta and pizza, great desserts, endless Parma ham + sweet rock melon.. and friendly service! I want to go back there after COVID-19, which I hope can settle soon. This virus is unsettling… and reading about the after-effects of COVID-19 (even after one recovers) and the difficulty in creating a vaccine for it isn’t helping much.

Sorry this post is so superficial… it’s just one of those midnight cravings 😦

Circuit Breaker – Round Two!

With the end of our 2nd week of the circuit breaker yesterday, our Prime Minister announced the extension of our circuit breaker (aka semi lockdown) till 1 June 2020 – Round Two! Actually when the government announced the need for a circuit breaker earlier, I kind of imagined myself in a war, where our movements are restricted and we would have “curfews” to observe. Of course, a real war is definitely more serious but here, we are dealing with an invisible war where the enemy (aka COVID-19 virus) cannot be seen.

So to me, we should take it seriously like in a physical war. To be honest, I’m just thankful we are still able to head out to buy food and head to the park for exercise any time we want, albeit with a mask and ensuring we are far away from others. If we were in a real war, who knows whether we would have food, and our movements will certainly be more restricted.

This war against COVID-19 has certainly been unprecedented. Even SIA said this is the biggest challenge since its existence. Many people have lost their jobs within these four months of crisis as we stop movements of people and even as other countries stop movements of people into our country too. The circuit breakers have resulted in many non-essential shops closing. Closure = no money. With Singapore being such an open economy, it was simply unimaginable that our government made a move to close off our grounds to foreigners. But it was important to get the health of the country back again. The maxim – “Health is wealth” has never been so real.

Interestingly, COVID-19 has brought out the worst and the best of people. In a crisis, we see ourselves stripped to the barest. It is sobering. We also see what are truly essential in our lives – healthcare (Hospitals, clinics, pharmacies), supermarkets, food (not cakes, chocolates, bubble tea!), government services (e.g. social assistance, security), transport, sanitation and hygiene services, optical shops (surprisingly), hardware stores (for DIY repairs, screws etc), telecommunications and IT.

What’s surprising is that these things are actually not essential: school, tuition, shopping centres, clothes shops, furniture shops, electronics stores, hairdressing (shocking!!).

Puts things into perspective, doesn’t COVID-19? Things that we always think we need are really not so much of a need in the end when it comes to survival.

Let’s just say COVID-19 is a wake-up call to many of us.. and certainly an eventful way to start 2020.

Things I want to eat when I’m recovering from a cold

Don’t ask me how but I was down with another round of cough and runny nose recently. It is really not an ideal time to be unwell when COVID-19 is happening.

So I had to restrict the things I eat.. no iced yuan yang. No salads. No bubble tea. No ice cream.

What I really want to eat during this period of restriction are these:

FRIED CHICKEN AND MATCHA ICE CREAM IN MY FRIDGE!!

I have been saving the Chateraise matcha ice cream which we got during Chinese New Year till now. But because of my cough which I got in February and recently, I couldn’t eat it and it beckons me every day.

I am on the road to recovery for my cough. So, control control control!!

Taking a break during COVID-19

It was a much-needed break – a few days away from work while DR also takes a break before he moves to his new workplace. I was finally recovering from my weeks-long cough and runny nose. We initially had plans to head to JB but with the COVID-19 situation, it really isn’t a good idea to travel and go through additional checks at the checkpoints or in the worst case scenario, see a doctor in a foreign country should we feel unwell or catch a virus.

So domestic tourism and relaxation it was… I managed to catch “Parasite” which both DR and I felt was a bit meh after all the Oscar hype about it. I think if you analyse the movie further, one may appreciate and enjoy it. I conclude that DR and I are just the blockbuster-kind-of-movie goer where we go for the pow-wow effects. Hehe..

During these few days of break, we did many things while little E was in school. Went to Ikea, got an armchair and lots of interior design inspiration. We finally tried the Korean BBQ at the coffeeshop near my our house. Went to Jewel and tried Shake Shack (It was good but NZ’s Fergburger wins for me because it came with a gorgeous view and air). The icing on the top of the cake was the free parking we got at Jewel!!

A picture for the record. Finally tried Shake Shack!
Thick patties stuffed with cheese.

During those days of break, we also bought a new customised sofa because we suspect our old five-year-old sofa is being attacked by some form of termites 😨. Finally got to counting and banking little E’s angbao money. Bought new shoes. Cut my hair. Trimmed my brows. Slept.

Sometimes, you don’t need to travel overseas when you go on leave. Being in Singapore can be as comforting and fulfilling. Now is the time to engage in more domestic tourism! Speaking of which, there’s now free three-hour parking at Jewel with just $10 spent every day. This initiative just started from 14 February so as Singaporeans, we should really head there and support the businesses over there.

Free parking at Jewel Changi Airport! Go walk around and engage in some domestic tourism 🙂

Milestones in 2019

2019 has been arguably one of my best years with many milestones…

1) Learnt driving and passed on my second test attempt.

2) Celebrated little E’s first birthday.

3) Got a car (totally not our personality to do so… but we did it.)

4) Launched something that I’ve been working on for the past couple of years at work.

5) Little E starts pre-school.

All these milestones were met, because I had people supporting me along the way. There were encouragements, comfort and practical help given when I was in the process of going through these milestones. For that, I’m thankful.

When church leaders fall

Church leaders… we expect them to be like Christ. To love. All the time. To smile. To be friendly. And yes, in the Bible, it says that teachers in the church will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). So there is a level of standards expected.

However in 2019, two pieces of news which showed the “failure” of church leaders gripped me – Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson renouncing their faith publicly. The former used to write how he “kissed dating goodbye”, which was at one point of our time, religiously followed in our youth ministry and was the senior pastor of a church in US. The latter was a prominent worship leader who has written many worship songs we now sing.

Also this year, the picture of a visibly leaner Kong Hee who used to be the senior pastor of City Harvest Church, being released from jail also saddened me.

I ask myself why do I feel so bad about these church leaders falling away? I’ve read responses online. Some people are disappointed. Some feel betrayed. Then I realise many times, we place too much trust and “faith” in leaders and what they espouse, we fail to see our God. We trust in men, not in our Lord Almighty. We trust in their books but not the Bible.

We should never hold our leaders on the pedestal. The only one on the throne is God. Our leaders are human. Instead, we should pray for them. Humans can fail.. and when our leaders fail, do we choose to judge or should we as fellow brothers and sisters, lift them up in prayers and also ask the Lord to heal them, including those who have been hurt because of them?

I’m not advocating for church leaders to not be held accountable because they are “human”. But I’m focusing on the response that we should have as members of the church. May our souls be loving, merciful and gentle, should our church leaders “fail”.

Authentic Taiwanese mee sua in Singapore? Yes, at “Eat Three Bowls”!

Yesterday was a chilly day in office and we were craving for something warm. So a few of my colleagues and I trooped to “Eat Three Bowls” for our fix of mee sua and bubble tea. Eating there brings me back to Taiwan… their mee sua comes with oysters and generous servings of intestines – like how Taiwanese mee sua should be! The bubble tea was good. I will try their oolong milk tea next time.

My colleague trying to hide her face while I take the picture of 4 huge cups of bubble tea!

After lunch, we went down the street to check out Mother Dough to get some awesome bakes!

If Sarah was in Singapore, I would have bought more of these pastries but in the end, I only bought the baby sourdough baguette which came warm in a brown paper bag.

MmmmMm. It was a satisfying Tuesday lunch 🙂

Review of Black Mirror “Be Right Back”- Besides your CPF money, think about how you should manage your digital identity after you die

Watching dystopian “Black Mirror” often leaves me disconcerted. The episodes are intense and to me, emotionally draining. I often find myself imagining myself to be in the key character’s position as they unravel in the mis-steps of technology usage. I can imagine it so well because it talks about the perils of social media, biometrics, mobile phones – all of which are so pervasive in our everyday lives.

DR and I were just talking about the next type of entertainment little E will probably see in her future. Instead of TVs, it may be more common to see holographic shows – TV shows in 3D in all our homes. Well, holographic technology is not something new (we saw this in Everland, Seoul when we were there 4 years ago) but it could be more ubiquitous and take over 55-inch television sets in future.

So back to “Black Mirror”. Because it’s so emotionally draining, I’m quite selective about the episodes I watch. The first episode which Sarah introduced to me was quite a classic (“Nosedive”) but seriously, watching “Black Mirror” during maternity leave isn’t exactly the best idea because it’s just too unsettling and you know, having a new baby is actually already unsettling… anyway, I digress again! 🤣

Okay, now I’m officially back to talking about Black Mirror Season 2’s first episode – “Be Right Back”. It talks about a woman who attempts to reconnect with her late husband. To cope with her grief, the woman decided to try a service which allows people to “talk” to those who are no longer physically around. It first started with her chatting with a “bot”, which through machine learning using large amounts of data from her late husband’s digital footprint (social media, mobile phone content, videos) was able to re-create his husband’s quips and even actual voice. It eventually escalated into her getting a human-like bot, so that her late husband could do things like a normal “human”, albeit using this same technology.

At the end of it, she realises that her “husband” is just a shadow of her actual late husband, as it had no personality, relying merely on machine learning of social media content, with no intimate knowledge of other aspects of their lives. I’m not sure if technology will become so super sophisticated because current machine learning technologies that I’ve seen still requires a fair bit of human intervention to correct it (e.g. Google Translate).

Nonetheless, this episode makes me wonder about how we are going to manage our digital identities after we die as well. For example, what will happen to our Facebook account? Will we still look like we are “alive” and “around” because it exists in the digital sphere? I’m not sure if I would want that after I pass on. Or do I allow it to be “online”, just so that my loved ones can remember me? This is something that we need to think and talk about with her loved ones, besides thinking about who we should nominate for our CPF monies.

At the end of it, I also realise, we are humans. Technology will never be able to fully satisfy our need to connect with real human beings, to cope with one of the most intense emotions – grief.

Liberated on my 32nd!

I’m 32. Wow. And I feel so liberated because I only needed to respond to messages from those who matter to me when they wished me happy birthday. That’s because I recently made my birth date private on Facebook – only I can see it. Because of that, I wasn’t obliged to thank people who wished me happy birthday because Facebook “pressured” them to do so with a birthday notification.

So there, what a liberating day… clean FB wall and having people who really remembered wish me happy birthday. Thank you my family and friends, for being part of my life. I’m grateful.

As a mother, I’m most grateful to my own mother – for giving birth to me over 30 years ago. And for trying her very best to give me everything I needed and wanted. Such is the spirit that I wish to continue, although I’m not sure if I can do it as well as her. Was glad that Sarah, my mom and I all managed to lunch together at Basilico in both our birthday month (September) – to celebrate our mom!

I have another new blog!

I’ve decided to set up a another blog to document my journey of mummyhood. Check it out at http://www.mummyesteewrites.wordpress.com

See you there, if you are a fellow mummy!

P/S I’m still maintaining this blog (estherwritesat.wordpress.com) to jot down my personal thoughts on anything under the sun. It’s not the end 🙂

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