Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You've Got Mail

We asked W to put a letter in the mailbox as we were strolling down the street to a restaurant for lunch in Boston this summer.  He looked at me and asked in all seriousness, " What does it look like?"  I wasn't surprised that he didn't know.  Not only is he a TCK, and had not lived in the US for a long time but in this day & age, how often do we even mail letters the old-fashioned way, especially the younger generation?

I had always enjoyed receiving & writing letters from young.  Letters to my grandparents, postcards from abroad, pen pals....every time the postman came, I would eagerly look for mail for me.  It was our way of keeping connected across long distances.

Over the last 20 years, my letter writing has dwindled to close to Zero as we now use email/text/Facebook/Skype/Whatsapp to keep in touch.  But somehow, I feel that even though we are so connected, we are more disconnected from each other than before.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Country Living

I've been spending time with my parents in their new home, across the Straits of Johor.  It's a spanking new development located on the Eastern coast of Johor in Malaysia so close to Singapore that you can actually see the country from the waterfront boardwalk which is part of the community.  Marshland forms a part of the landscape of this ambitious development.  Hard to believe that swampland can be beautiful, but it actually is....

Today I just saw a sea otter swimming along the coastline then scamper onto shore & into the mangrove swamp.  A monitor lizard almost came into the house as it chased its prey (the largest gecko I've ever seen!!!), which did come in, scaring me to bits (I have herpetophobia - thanks Google!).  To be honest, I can do without the latter kind of wildlife!

The town nearby reminds me of the city I was born in...especially the shop houses with hawker stalls selling delicious local foods!  The difference between Johor Baru & Singapore is quite astounding, really, given the fact that only a narrow strip of water separates the two.  It's hard to find the rustic feel of country living in the rather artificial environment that is Singapore.

Yesterday, my folks brought me to eat seafood at a restaurant located on Orang Asli land on the waterfront.  Certainly not a five star restaurant.  It is located on stilts above the water, with a rather rickety bridge that leads to it from the "mainland".  Planks of dubious strength make up the bridge, but the food! the food!  Fresh crabs & fish & prawns & clams!  From the restaurant, one can see the farming areas where the seafood is cultivated by the Orang Asli.  The restaurant is run by ethnically Chinese Malaysians.  This symbiotic relationship between the two groups makes good business sense, as evidenced by the healthy crowd of customers present in the restaurant even at the odd hour of 3 pm.

Seafood is farmed by the Orang Asli (above)

Orang Asli homes on stilts by the water

Monday, September 02, 2013

A Quarter Century

We last reunited 5 years ago.  My classmates from Medical School got together again a couple of nights ago to celebrate our 25th year post-graduation.

It was a good turn out: about 2/3 of the class showed up.  I think I did pretty well in recognizing people... better than 5 years ago anyway!  We've become older/greyer/fatter/slimmer/aesthetically enhanced/more wrinkled.  But when I say hello and chat, I see the same people I went to school with.  Personalities remain the same despite the additional prefixes and suffixes in their names.

Two have passed on, reminding us to seize the day.   We saw a slideshow comprising of old photos from our days as students, and photos of us now, with our families; so happy to see the smiling faces of my peers and their loved ones.

Our class may not have been the most distinguished nor the most intellectual, and it certainly has had its share of oddballs, and infamy.  But we are certainly an interesting lot.

Here's to 25 more years!