Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alarm Clocks

I don't claim that our cat is smart. I actually think she's quite stupid. She's scared of cars driving up our street...when she's on the third floor balcony. She plays with anything that she can bat and then chase - for example a twist tie, or a paper clip. She always begs for bananas and tofu, but she doesn't like them. She's super cute, super sweet, but she's not smart.

Somehow, though, she figured out that alarm clocks wake us up. While I still can't figure out why she would want to wake us up on weekend mornings (since we usually get up, get out of bed, and she goes straight back to sleep...), she does. Yesterday morning and this morning, she was actually quite creative. On Matt's side of the bed she tried to bite the cord out of the back of the alarm clock - making lots of noise with each attempt. On my side of the bed, she tried to bite the buttons off the top of the alarm clock.

It does indeed make noise and wake us up, but what she doesn't understand is that alarms wake us up when we tell them too - not just for no reason. She needs to better communicate her reason for why we should get out of bed before we'll listen to a Kitty-induced alarm clock.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Racial Harmony? II

I just went to name this blog posting "Racial Harmony?" but the name auto filled...which means that I have titled another blog posting with this name. Turns out it was over two years ago, and though the content is actually different, the point is the same.

Right now I have a brother and a mother in Singapore. I have been sick basically since my brother arrived nearly two weeks ago, and certainly the whole time my mom has been here, but I felt about 75% yesterday, and I had taken the day off from we went out.

We were walking across Bukit Timah Rd., near my house, going to the bus stop to catch a bus to the best claypot chicken rice in town. It looked as though we were three tourists walking towards Little India. A Chinese guy stopped us and said, "watch your bags in front of you. I had two bags taken. Pick pocket. Those Indian people..." Um...okay.

Then, we took a taxi from Dempsey Hill (after a pleasant walk in the Botanic Gardens and Orchid Garden and a nice drink at a shi shi cafe) back to my place. The uncle (or taxi driver...), who happened to be Indian (relevant) was driving a way that I don't usually go. After the second weird road choice, I asked him, "uncle, which way you go?" "I am driving down River Valley so you don't get two ERP charges on Orchard Rd - I'm not like the Chinese guys who try to cheat you out of your money." (ERP is a fee you pay to drive on certain - most - roads at certain times of the day). Then he went on for a few minutes about how Chinese try to take your money, but Indians are honest people. All of them, I'm sure.

Finally - literally on the same day - my mom and I were in a taxi on the way home from book club (with the author of the book we read!), and the driver was TERRIBLE. He was speeding up when everyone in front of us was stopped. He was so jerky that I was holding on, thought I was going to throw up, and was not able to have a conversation. It was one of the worst drivers I have had. Finally, after about 12 minutes, we had to turn, and a truck sort of went into our lane during the turn. The guy said "Indians are such bad drivers." And then he super sped off at unreasonable speeds of starting and stopping with apparently no clue that Chinese men could also be terrible drivers.

Singapore is an example of racial harmony...if racial harmony means that you don't publicly talk about anything "racy" and there are no race riots (or at least haven't been for at least 40 years). Yeah. Perfect. Harmony.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Funny Numbers

My body hasn't changed so much since I was about 15 years old. I'm always about the same size and weight. I think I weighed more in high school, but that was mostly because I was more muscular. My clothes from when I was 15 still fit (well not now, but in general). I know how much I'm supposed to weigh.

Weight while pregnant is a horrible thing. When you have spent your entire life "making sure you don't get fat" or making sure you don't gain too much weight, it's quite painful to know that you're getting bigger, and you're supposed to. I usually don't weigh myself too often. I have never owned a scale. I always just assume I'm the same. Now - each time I go to the doctor, which is once a month, the first thing I do (actually second - the first is to pee on some stick) is get weighed. The good news is that I'm getting weighed in kilograms, so I kind of think it doesn't really count. I know how many kilos I have gained (seven), but I try not to do the conversion too often, so I think of it all as just play numbers - kind of like money in Monopoly, or Indonesia, or buying gas in Canada (that always got me, because you have to somehow convert money, liters, plus kilometers to make any sense of it at all). I just choose to think it's all fake, and then it doesn't worry me too much.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dangerous Mangoes

Matt and I met a friend in Little India for dinner. It's mango season in India (which you would know if you're friends with my brother on facebook...), which means that there are also lots of beautiful and sweet mangoes in Little India. I stopped by Buffalo Rd on my way to the restaurant to stock up on a variety of Indian mangoes. They felt perfectly firm and smelled like heaven.

After a great dinner at a great North Indian restaurant, I thought about how those mangoes in my bag wanted to be eaten, and I wanted to help. The restaurant is quite low key - you go up and order and take most of the stuff back to the tables yourself. You get your own cutlery, cups, and there are pitchers of water on the table. The restaurant, however, only has forks and spoons. Those would not allow me to cut my mango. I went up to ask the man behind the counter for a knife.

"Can I please have a knife?"
"Why? Can I please have a knife - one like the table cutlery - doesn't have to be anything special."
"Maam - if I give you a knife, you might go kill someone! I can't give you a knife!"
"I just want to cut a mango - I don't know if it's okay to bring in outside food, but I just want a knife to cut a mango."
"Maam - I cannot give you a knife. That is dangerous. I will cut your mango for you. Please bring it to me."

And he did and then he brought it to us in a beautiful dish at our table. Oy. I'm a pregnant lady in my yoga clothes...really dangerous looking...

In other news, Orchard Rd flooded yesterday. The headline in the paper wasn't that Orchard Rd flooded. It was that the utility board is probing into why it happened. In Singapore it all has to be someone's fault. Default is that everything works perfectly. When something goes wrong, then that means that someone isn't doing their job. Interesting.

In yet other news, Matt and I have been sick all week. Today we finally felt a bit better, but we're still totally wiped out, stuffy, coughy and just a mess. Jer's biking through Bali, possibly also super sick, but I haven't heard a word from him all week...Our goal is to feel better tomorrow.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saigon...while pregnant

Traveling while pregnant is a whole different experience. You get special treatment. You're part of this new club of pregnant ladies and moms, even as far away as Vietnam. I got four unsolicited tummy pats in the market alone, and at least six people told me, "I think boy." (I have one friend, Rachel, who believes it's a girl, but so far I have about 30 people who think it's a boy). I got asked how many months old is baby at least five times a day. A woman who was eight months pregnant and trying to sell stuff to tourists even offered me her seat for a few minutes! It was just totally different. Not only did people treat me differently, I also felt different. I love sitting down. My ankles look like someone else's. I only have choice of wearing two different shorts and three different tank tops. I'm hungry all the time, and I love sleeping. I think I'm entering the uncomfortable third trimester soon...but anyway...

After a not-so-crabby Jer arrived in Singapore late on Wednesday night, we flew off to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City on Friday morning. We arrived just in time for breakfast and slurped down some yummy pho (noodles in soup - see photo of slurping). We spent the rest of the day walking and walking. We went to the market and got some great things for our house. We went to the war remnant museum and saw horrible stuff that Americans did to Vietnamese. We ate. We ate. We walked. We sweat. It was great. We got a feel for different parts of the city and exhausted ourselves completely. Unfortunately in the afternoon on the first day, Matt noted that he had a sore throat, and I realised I had the same thing. By that night I was feeling pretty bad, and Matt also had a completely stuffy head.

Luckily, day two required very little moving (by our own energy, at least). After a yummy breakfast, we got on a mini-bus and headed to the most bizarre and beautiful temple I have ever been. It is the main temple of the Cao Dai people, apparently numbering something like 2 million in Vietnam. It was super intricate and bright. The Cao Dai religion believes in Buddha, Jesus...and their three saints are Sun Yat-sen, Victor Hugo (yup, the guy who wrote Les Mis) and Nguyen Binh Khiem (a Vietnamese Poet). We attended their noon service, and it was really beautiful - everyone who went was dressed in either white or a special coloured robe, and the music was unlike anything I have ever heard.

Post the temple, we moved on to the Cu Chi tunnels, which I had visited the last time I was in HCMC, in November, 2007. People from Cu Chi (in the south), who aligned with the north during the Vietnam War (or the American War, as they call it) built these tunnels in which to hide during the terrible times of the late 60s and 70s. We learned that they actually built them when they were fighting the French in the 40s.

Once we got back, Matt and I were feeling like crap, and Jer was on his way to a cold as well. We relaxed, ate, and we walked around watching everyone watch the world cup. They absolutely love it. We taught our tour guide from Saturday what "spread" is in football.

Overall, a great, busy trip with excellent food, unbelievable coffee (only one per day, as to not mess up the fetus too much), and a return with three colds. Hopefully they're on their way out...Click here for more photos.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Flood

Every culture has a flood story. At least that's what I learned in my bible class at U of M in 1996. Our culture had ours yesterday.

All was fine and dandy yesterday morning as I put some laundry in, made a little fruit and yogurt and sat down to catch up with my college roommate and good friend on the phone. Somewhere after we had talked about boys, jobs, pregnancies and our other roommates, I realised that the corner of my rug was wet. Hmm. Could the cat have PEED on the rug? That would be really unlike her, but why else would it be wet? Actually that's way too much water to be cat pee. WAIT A MINUTE - OUR ENTIRE FLOOR IS COVERED IN A HALF INCH OF WATER!!!

The only way I noticed was that it brought chunks of cat hair/dirt from places like behind the refrigerator and bookshelves. If you walked, you literally splashed. It was not wet, it was flooded.

I quickly hung up the phone and woke Matt up. My brain didn't understand how we could actually get the water OUT of the apartment. We took all of our towels and tried to sop it up. We laid towels across the doorways (it was FLOWING out of the apartment into the hallway and also into our bathroom, through our bedroom (wood floor...oy). We picked up everything that was on the floor and tried to get as much as you can (in a 500 square foot apartment) out of the way. Then we remembered there was a drain under the sink. Unfortunately the floor is not shaped such that water would automatically flow to that drain - it seems to be a bit raised, which is maybe the dumbest part of our apartment that we didn't know - but we swept all the water that we could down that drain. We squeezed towels and laid them down again. We moved all of our furniture (even the fridge and washing machine! - that was Matt, I take no credit) and dried behind it. We turned on all air conditioners at full blast and our super powered fan at high speed, and we dried stuff. For two hours. This is not a fun activity for anyone. It was especially not fun on Saturday morning, pregnant. It's hard enough to bend over, but this was all on the floor. By the end I felt like a truck had hit me. Matt was a superstar. Now our apartment is in complete disarray, but things seem dry enough to put back in their spots today, and somehow, there is really no permanent damage. We're so super lucky. And - we don't have to sweep or mop this weekend.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Beating the System

Matt and I wanted to take our last trip before the baby (and before I'm too nervous to be in a random SE Asian city when I'm super pregnant). We asked our bosses, and we got 3.5 days off in July.

Matt was toying with the idea of staying for a few extra days to go diving, and I feel sufficiently guilty taking (four months, paid) maternity leave after only working for ten months that I feel like a knife goes into my stomach each time I ask for leave, so I wasn't willing to ask for a full week off. Because of these considerations, though, we didn't book the S$400 flights we saw to go to Lombok. We waited. I hate that - I always think that the price will go up - and Matt has Analysis Paralysis, so he is always happier to wait.

Finally, yesterday, Matt decided that he would only take the five day trip with me and skip out on the diving. We were ready to book.

We went to the Silk Air site to book the flights, and yup, it was still $400. Matt gave me the "told you so" smile. We went back to the first page to plug in "2" tickets, and when we went to purchase them, they were $950. WHAT?! Now I gave him the "told you so" look (no smile). We came up with a great plan. We would each get on our computers and get two separate tickets, since obviously if you buy two they're trying to rip you off, right?

We both get on, and I push submit first. When he hit submit, it told him that there are no tickets left at that fare. Sorry. Now it's $950. SHIT! We tried to beat the system, and we definitely didn't. We tried restarting the browser, new browsers, and we were going to try from work, from a different i.p. address to see if that would make a difference. Matt called Silk Air to see if there was anything they could do. "We were trying to beat your system, and we failed. Can you help us?" They did, though. They switched my ticket for free to the next week, and Matt was able to get a ticket for S$500, so we're going to Lombok, and it's not that expensive, but it's not as cheap as it could have been...