My Beautiful Strangers

So there I was puttering in the house when the playlist, that I always set at random, choose Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger. Suddenly my mind is transported back to Summer of 99… ๐Ÿ™‚

Back then I was graduate student living a stress free (yeah right!) life in Boston. My best mates were Rob and Matt. All of us were in the same COM class of ’00 though Matt was in Production like me and Rob was in TV Management. In the first semester we share a fair amount of classes together and we just clicked. Soon the three of us would hang out everywhere together.

Between internship and the already paid rent I decided to stay during the summer instead of going home. Matt and Rob were also staying in town. So of course we spend even more time hanging out together. Of the three of us, Rob is the only one with a proper paying job, that’s how he supports himself through school. Thus he’s the one with a car and during that summer he decided to bought a new car. I don’t for the live of me remember what the car was, all I remember was that it was an SUV, black, with only 2 doors cuz he said 4 doors are for families. Whatever. It means Matt and I were always fighting to ride shotgun. He likes that. Evil!

Rob’s job involved him going out-of-town for a couple of weeks or so, then stay in town for a few. He’s in union too so it was a very well paid job compared to the rest of us (yeah so say the trust fund baby with the monkey servant and elephant showers – ok that’s an inside jokes ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now that he has a car, whenever he’s in town he likes to pack us up and go somewhere. So off we go. Sometimes we just go to chill out around Boston, sometimes we go further like to New York or to the Cape. He’d lug us there, took us to his favourite place to have clam chowder then we’d hit the beach.

It was during one of these sunset session at the Cape that we really opened up to one another. This sounds really clichรฉ but we talked about our hopes, our dreams, our fears. We have another year of school then off to the real world we go. Matt and Rob (no, they’re not a couple) were planning to move to NYC and I was not sure where to go. I don’t want to go home just yet, I want to go to LA but neither of them wants to go there. Rob because his job’s HQ is in NY so if he wants to move to management it makes more sense to be there rather than somewhere else. Matt, well he’s from the NY State so it’s like going home for him. They were trying to persuade me to come with them, pointing out the benefit of being in the Big Apple, “We could live together like Friends!” Err… as much as I love you guys, I really don’t want to live with you. No thank you.

As the moon rose, the sea gets really dark. I suddenly quipped, “To think, my family is on the other side of the ocean…” and it hits me, sooner or later this is just going to be a memory. I am going home eventually. I am going to miss my two best friends very much. We joked that I should get married to Rob (cuz Matt already have a girlfriend somewhere) to get a green card then split immediately. Haha! Now that would be really funny. My parents would kill me for a start…

What has this got to do with Beautiful Strangers? Well, it was in Austin Powers, a movie that came out that summer, that we watched together and have a good laugh. It was on the radio during our trips, alternating with Ricky Martin and J-Lo. So yeah, here we are more than a decade later. I’m firmly at home and those two are firmly at NY. I kinda lost touch with Matt, last I heard he’s doing just fine. I hope so. Rob updates his fb every now and then so I know he’s definitely doing good.

Here’s to my beautiful strangers, may you stay well and beautiful. Cheers!

The Beautiful Strangers in Boston


The Glorious Dinner Date

I was feeling a bit melancholy and missing all these places when a friend asked where would I go for dinner if I could go anywhere in the world. Well, for me just dinner wouldn’t cut it. I need the whole 3 meals plus the 2 snacks in between ๐Ÿ˜‰ย This is what I came up with based from habits and experience.

For breakfast I would like to go back to Boston, US and have a lazy brunch at the ย neighbourhood cafe when I used to live in Corey Road. It’s actually about a couple of blocks away, I’d have to cross Comm Ave and get to the other side. It’s a very unpretentious place but it’s almost always busy in the mornings. Prove that the food is quite good. Or maybe the student ghetto are just happy to get some warm food in their tummy. ย I’d have omelette filled with feta cheese and spinach, plus potatoes, OJ and white coffee. ย I go there with almost always with Bernardito;he’s the only one who woke up chirpy enough to go for breakfast. Sometimes the rest of the house, Ahad, Solivia and Juanan would come to. I enjoyed those moments. We don’t always got a chance to talk to each other beyond the good morning and good night so those Sunday morning were our chance to catch up. Now, my former roommates have disbanded, some go back to their countries, others still in the States but none live in the Corey Road flat anymore. ย I’d like to bring my husband to recreate those relaxing morning.

Somewhere in West Java...

For lunch I’d like to go somewhere in West Java, where we can have a Sundanese lunch on a saung overlooking the rice fields and mountains. The menu would consist of fried and grilled Gurame, fresh vegetables, yummy sambal, tasty rice and fresh coconut water. My mom came from West Java, as such she prefers Sundanese food over others. Luckily my dad is also a fan. Growing up I’ve spent many lunches eating Sundanese food. We don’t always have it in the middle of a paddy field, actually more often than not we’d be in a restaurant in the city. But the food is the same. The argument over menu, the race for the fittest – I have 4 siblings so there were 6 of us fighting for the same fish. We still do even now actually. It’s fun ๐Ÿ˜€ I’d love to have this lunch with my own family so afterwards my kids can play in the field.

The sea is on the other side...

Then finally dinner with my big family, my parents, siblings, nephew and nieces. I think today I’d like to go to Jimbaran, Bali. Having fresh seafood while listening to the waves is just pure delight. There’s just something magical about having lobster on the beach… together with other hungry tourists. Something that’s actually very doable, just a logistical ‘nightmare’ to organise.

Phew! That would be a glorious day indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

How about you? Where would you go?

Of Round Table Dinners

Enter students...

A friend was writing about bringing wine to a gathering and not sure why, but suddenly it reminds me of my uni days.

Back in ole Blighty, I used to share a pint cider until my friend moved up to lager and the other one took a fancy to Guinness. There I was at the Met, nursing half a pint of cider forever while my former ‘drinking buddy’ is on only he, the barman, and God knows how many pint of whatever.

and that's what a pint looks like...

Shortly after, another friend introduced me to Bailey’s. Sweet, smooth Bailey’s. Double shot with ice courtesy of the trusty Old Bar and their selection of after exam specials, desperately trying not to rehash the papers we just sat. We didn’t do too badly though my friend did better.

"I hereby declare I am of legal age..."

Then I moved to the States. There, they don’t do lager but this piss coloured, and probably tasted as well, liquid called beer. Smells foul. But being older students, my friends don’t do beer. They do wine! I can not tell the difference between a Merlot and a Chablis to save my life but I do hang around them enough to know that Rose is not just a type of flower.

I don’t know whether it is the libation of choice or the age but the wine set definitely mellower than the lager/Bailey set.

No wine by the looks of it. Is that why Rob looks unhappy?

Brandon would tuck into his steak and taste the reds appreciatively. Fred and Rob would be twirling their goblets while discussing the merit of various years they’ve tasted and bought and pour some more. Where was I? Usually nibbling on cheese, cracker, grapes (the actual fruit) with a glass of water. Or just happily eating my dinner while listening to dinner chatter.

The lager set were bouncy (as in bopping up and down the clubs) happy people. The wine set were chilled out happy people. I don’t miss the drinks but I sure miss the people. I miss them. I miss the camaraderie of hanging out, lounging after a good dinner talking about this and that and when the clock strikes 12, we turned into pumpkin and start talking about God and existentialism, sprouting all kinds of communication theories and ideologies. Hello there Marx, Stuttgart, Truffault, Chomsky, Weaver, the burning bed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for good measure.

Under the influence even cleaning up is fun!

Oh! How I miss those days.

Well, one of these days I’ll see them again. Sooner rather than later. I hope.