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I spent most of December 2016 in Jakarta… long days, late nights but thoroughly worth the time investment. At that point, I thought my job was done and didn’t expect to return until a new project began.
However thanks to some creative re-allocation of who does what, I’m delighted to be back -even if it is just a quick trip!
I’m looking forward to returning to my favourite serviced apartment tonight, catching up with friends mid-week…
Then hopping on another plane to Singapore to check-in on company related matters, re-stock on interesting whiskies, hopefully catch-up with even more friends… mayhap a business meeting too if can swing it!
In short, I’m delighted to be back in the air, doing what I enjoy and hope this trip leads to even more such opportunities…
There I was with an old friend and his partner, my partner and his old friends – who just so happened to know each other.
It is a small world like that.
My partner was in Kolkata to perform in a play.
I was in Kolkata to meet with my client and conduct focus group discussions with their team.
It wasn’t an accident we were in Kolkata at the same time. One commitment sparked another and thankfully nothing got in the way.
So that Sunday evening, we came out after the play to meet our friends, enjoying the slight nip in the air…
I could not have been happier.
For me, Bengali is one of those languages that I do not speak but I was immersed in enough consider it a familiar friend. It is the sound of one of my many past homes… the home where I lived in the 90s as a student in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi.
And Bengali food is something that once upon a time was what would constitute a regular home cooked meal.
The setting? A piece of history.
While the Tollygunge club was officially founded in 1895, the Club House was built even earlier and is now over 220 years old. What was once home to Tipu Sultan’s son and a member of the East India Company now is where our friends come out to enjoy their day or night.
Rather than be a stuffy relic, ‘Tolly’ is where families and friends go to entertain and be entertained, relax and re-invigorate…
It is a nice reminder that things do change… yet also retain elements of days gone by.
It was also a time to reflect…
Looking at a friend I’ve known for more than 20 years, it was clear that I’m not the same person I was back in early 1995 when we first met.
However I would not be the person I am today without all the ups and downs, rights and lefts that occurred in between.
So though Bengal is no longer a core element of my everyday today in a way that it was living in a Bengali home in a Bengali colony, hearing Bengali, eating Bong khanna, listening to Bengali music… these experiences are all intrinsically part of me, not just my past but indelibly part of who I will always be.
And for that I am thankful. It was indeed a ‘Tolly’ good evening!
Everyday Asia has been quiet for an understandable reason – I’ve been pre-occupied with a project in Indonesia for a couple of months. When not in Indonesia, I have either been in Singapore or Mumbai or somewhere in between.
There has been lots of activities and not much “down time.”
Even weekends have been packed with things like Whisky Live in Singapore or cramming four social events into a single evening home in Mumbai.
Until the long weekend. In Jakarta.
Naturally I had delusions of being able to go on adventures outside of Jakarta… maybe Yogyakarta and Borobudur or other places…
Naturally I also did not book anything in advance… So by the time I tried to fix on a plan, most places that looked reasonable were full.
I’m coming back!!! To say that I missed being in Jakarta is putting it rather mildly…
After a nearly two year hiatus, I finally have another project back in Indonesia. (insert image of mad happy dancing)
Can’t wait to be re-united with the guys and dig into the work!
No wasting time apartment hunting – chose a serviced apartment walking (hopefully not stumbling!) distance from the project office in Kuningan. Almost booked at my last Jakarta ‘stay-cation‘ spot, however bagged a slightly better deal nearby.
I also can’t wait to see a couple crazy friends… earlier trips resulted in an ad voice over (“Can you drop the Indian accent!“), overnight drive just for 1am dinner at a hill station, joined family time in Bandung and a slightly random road trip in Java.
And the food – OMG!! There will be feasting fit into all the focused work…
In June I was in my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is always good to be back and there were so many special reconnects.
One evening in particular reminded me how blessed we were to grow up in a place bursting with musical talent.
I looked around the room at familiar friends… folks I grew up… folks with many shared experiences… folks whose lives have gone through many twists and turns… folks whose hearts have been broken, mended…. folks who faced trials and many triumphs… folks who still turn to share with each other life through music…. relationships that span several decades.
After all, we were there to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday. Six fabulous decades of merriment, mischief and more. (more…)
Don’t laugh but I love taking taxis in Singapore. There are always such friendly interesting exchanges. In the space of a 10 – 15 minute ride you get a glimpse into each others lives.
One morning on a recent trip to Singapore, my friend suggested ALMOST had time to take the bus. Yes it would have saved money however it was cutting it a bit tight with timing and more importantly, I would miss one of the stories.
That day I had a woman driver, divorcee of three children just a year older than I. We began our chat talking about the weather – she shared how it had been raining more than usual yet today was sunny. I noted that I’d heard about the unusual rains however had just came from Mumbai the previous night so joked that I decided to bring a little sunshine for my Singapore friends.
That lead to questions about how I’m living in India. Then various other topics. When it was established I have a significant other and that’s a big part of my living in India, next natural question was “Do you have kids?” To which I responded no… She embraced my choice, sharing it certainly hasn’t been easy raising three kids on her own.
Yet we both agreed no regrets on either side.
Any other locations where you look forward to a cab ride into someone’s life?
PS I was just in Singapore for a week long marriage marathon for a friend’s daughter. Lots of tales to tell there but in the interim thought would share this post drafted during an earlier trip.
Related Singapore posts:
A terrible horrible thing happened in Orlando this summer. That 50 people lost their lives and many others were injured in a shooting at a gay nightclub is beyond a tragedy. However the outrage and condemnation of the attack was a small sliver of shinning light in a very dark moment.
As I walked through the heart of Toronto’s financial district in June, everywhere were signs of support for pride month. The aftermath of Orlando brought an enhanced push to the usual preparations for pride. (more…)
Not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been a bit pre-occupied the last while.
Lots happening behind the curtain with the upshot that in just a few hours I will be on a plane from Mumbai to London… enjoy the weekend there catching up with my partner, seeing him perform, hopefully meet a few friends!
Then hop on another plane to Toronto. Hope and pray everything goes smoothly with my Indian visa submission.
Hop on another plane to Winnipeg to spend some much needed time with family and friends.
Then hop on yet another plane back to Toronto where my sincere wish is that a lovely new visa will be ready and waiting for me. Pretty please!
And then, yes you got it… hop on another plane back to London then home to Mumbai.
Won’t bore you with the details but this is a big change for me. Til now I’ve been terribly spoilt in the visa department. With a flourish of a pen all that changed. So now… my fate is in the hands of some random stranger. Just as it is for many people. Wish me well!!
When running up the steps for a meeting in Hauz Khas village in Delhi… was arrested by the sight of this mural on the staircase wall…
From office art in Mumbai to stairwell murals in Delhi, any everyday art make you stop and stare?
Other Sunday Snaps:
Every once and a while, it is nice to hear of another fellow Canadian’s perspective on living far away from the land of our birth…
Here is what Jason Mueller, owner of Jacoropes in Costa Rica has to say:
As a Canadian, of course, I am proud. I think most people are proud of where they come from no matter what country you call your native land, from Canada to India. People seem to have an attachment to their home land that they can’t kick no matter how far away you are from home. I have talked to a lot of people who are on some amazing adventure half way across the globe in a picturesque scene and when I ask the question if they miss home the answer always seems to be yes for the most part. Most of the time the answer is “I miss my family and friends.” When I ever I go on a trip I am always happy to be back home and I think that I am definitely lucky to be Canadian. It is true that Canada is a privileged County. (more…)