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Archive for September, 2010

…when you have so very much to do on so little time and sanity…

A very stressed out Buddha burst into my office at 10-ish this morning and showed me a text message on his mobile from his wife that said:

Happy 15th wedding anniversary

Oops.

*

A client dropped in to see me around lunch to pass me some medical receipts.

We sat together in one of the conference rooms and had a nice chat over a cup of coffee. But I kept getting the feeling that he was looking at me quite oddly throughout the meeting.

It was only after I sent him to the lift lobby and on the way down to my office that I realised the reason why he was looking at me funny: I had carelessly put my fringe up with a paper clip while at my desk this morning and forgot to take it off before going up to the meeting.

Oops.

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canonical babbling

Who can say what babies do with their agony and shock? Not they temselves. (Baby talk: isn’t it a stitch?) They put it all no place anyone can really see. They are like a different race, a different species: They seem not to experience pain the way we do. Yeah, that’s it: their nervous systems are not as fully formed, and they just don’t experience pain the way we do. A tune to keep one humming through the war.
~ Lorrie Moore in People Like That Are The Only People Here

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It was storming.

I made my way to the underground train station and found a platform full of disgruntled commuters and a long wait due probably to the storm triggering off some electric glitch. I stared nervously into the darkness of the tracks and wondered whether Lion has roused from his afternoon nap, hungry for his evening feed. In my mind, I saw my harried parents, the bouncing Peanut, and Lion determinedly bawling his head off.

I whipped out my phone and dialed the taxi call centre, impatiently got through it’s electronic phone system, only to be told that all of our taxis in the area are fully booked please try again later goodbye.

I wanted to cry, but there was naught to do but wait. In my mind, Lion’s face got redder and redder and his cry more and more insistent, shaking his little fists stubbornly. I tried to calm myself down by reminding myself that The Other Half would probably have gotten back by now and would be chipping in on the child-minding.

The train arrived.

I elbowed my way on and made myself as small as possible with my book. When the train finally reached my stop and disgorged me onto the platform to a very much darkened sky, I did all that I could to maintain my composure and not break out into a quick sprint home. I only managed as far as the lift landing upstairs and ran the rest of the way up two floors to my parents’ place on the top floor, two steps at a time.

There was no angry crying or harried parents or for that matter, The Other Half. Instead, I found The Frenchman reading to Peanut, Sis1 bouncing a smiley Lion, and the Parents setting up for dinner.

But where was The Other Half? Wasn’t he supposed to be home with the kids by now?

He called, said Sis1, and mumbled something about Laurent Bernard, then hang up. We don’t know where he is.

Annoyed, I called The Other Half.

He picked up and said, I know it’s not your birthday today…

Turns out that he had neglected his child minding duties to scour the neighbourhood for a birthday cake to surprise me with only to realise that he was an entire week too early.

*facepalm*

After an entire day of rain and court and public transport aggravation, that just made me laugh like hell.

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today

I left the office this morning to the High Court all ready to give my opponent a bloody nose while defending his discovery application for what had been a highly contested matter.

We were number 3 on the list. Number 1 was some seriously contested application which went on forever.

My opponent and I sat together and made small talk for 1.5 hours. We talked about Catholicism, about organised religion, about practicing the law back in the old days, about children and growing old and building a home, about grandchildren and retiring and how hard life is these days, about our respective clients and how unfortunate it all was. Then we ran out of things to say.

Then, after a pause, he looked at me and said, “You know, this is going nowhere. I have something more important to attend to. I tell you what, why don’t you mention on my behalf and withdraw my application with no orders as to costs?”

I agreed and he left.

Then I went up to number 2 in the queue and asked them whether they were contesting with a view of jumping in ahead of them. I was told by one of them, “Well, I came all ready to contest but while we were waiting, we talked things over and so we have come to some kind of compromise consent so we’ll be really quick.”

Talk about attrition.

I came back to the office close to lunch, sat at my desk and wrote him an offer based on the numbers I had had in my file for months but did nothing about because I was annoyed by him and wanted to make him work for the money. It just suddenly doesn’t seem like there was any point in holding back now that I suddenly know so much about him and now that he had withdrawn the application.

*

I was alighting from a cab in front of the Subordinate Courts in the afternoon when I saw a little girl, just slightly bigger than Peanut, crying and crying and calling out “Mummy Mummy Mummy”, trailing a man whom I assume to be her father, down the steps of the Court. The man made no attempt to comfort her, only shrugging nonchalantly while making his way down the steps.

I was later told by the security staff that she was crying because her mother was just taken to the lock ups.

I think about my own little girl, her happy smile, calling out to me when I get home in the evening.

My heart near broke.

*

When I got out of the taxi on my way back to Court, the air was filled with the engine sounds of F1 cars doing their practice session.

I thought about The Other Half and how excited we were together when F1 first came to Singapore, how we walked along the river to get as close as we could, with Peanut still in situ and it made me smile.

*

My fifty-dollar mini fridge at the bottom of my desk which I stashed packets of expressed milk in has died. It was quietly humming when I left the office and suddenly the humming just stopped. I took the packets of milk to the fridge in the pantry, absentmindedly filling my bottle with fresh drinking water then wondering why I did that since the day was ending.

Returning to my desk, Cornflakes and JT left for the day after bidding me goodbye. All is quiet out.

I think about the little girl and hope that she’d get to see her mother again really soon.

It’s been a really long day.

I will now leave, go home and gather my kids into my arms for a huge hug.

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Happy Mid Autumn Festival 🙂

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Someone asked me the most unbelievably classic question in Court this afternoon:

Are there any Indian lawyers working in your firm?

I told him to go ahead and roll a die.

*

In other news, I met him in Court today plying his trade, except that he appeared to be bandied about like a trophy by one of my ex-friends, much to my disgust but oh well, that’s another story for another time.

We exchanged some pleasantries, then the ebb and flow of the chaos that is my work parted us and the next thing we said to each other was goodbye.

I’m still in a bit of a shock, but my heart was warmed knowing that someone out there is a better person than most.

Here’s one up for humanity.

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how to fit in

One afternoon, in the middle of a particularly boring grammar lesson, my seventh-grade English teacher set aside her book and took nominations for the best sone on WKIX, our local Top 40 radio station. It was her way of getting the circulation back into our arms, and it worked like a charm. For the first time that year, all hands were in the air, not just at head level but well above it, and waving, as if they held flags. There was no “right answer” to a question of personal taste, or so I thought until she eventually called on me, and I announced that “Indiana Wants Me” was not only the best song in the Top 40 but possibly the best song ever. The phrase “in the history of all time” may have been used, but what I remember is not my recommendation so much as the silence that followed it, an absence of agreement I can only describe as deafening.

The person in front of me, a guy named Teetsil, turned around in his seat. ” ‘Indiana Wants Me’?”
“Now, now,” the teacher said, “to each his own.”
Teetsil said that was fine or whatever. “But ‘Indiana Wants me’? He’s got to be kidding.”

I wasn’t close friends with Teetsil, no one was, but on hearing his disapproval, I decided that maybe my choice wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I thought I’d enjoyed it as a grim little narrative, the confession of a man who was wanted for murder in the exotic Midwest. The singer’s voice was tinged with regret, more country than pop, and that, too, I liked, or thought I had. At the end of the song, the authorities pulled up, and you could hear them in the background shouting into their megaphones: “This is the police. You are surrounded. Give yourself up.” It was, I thought, a classy touch.

The first time I heard it, I was hooked, and then I bought the 45 and played it over and over again. The song satisfied me on every level, but if nobody else liked it, I guessed that I didn’t, either.

“What I meant,” I said, “is that I don’t like ‘Indiana Wants Me.’ My sister does, she plays it all the time, but me, I can’t stand it.”
“Then what do you like?” the teacher asked, and I saw the same expression our cat had when torturing a mole.

I looked at Teetsil, who’d named something by the Rolling Stones, adn then at the girl across the aisle who liked the Carpenters.

“Everything,” I announced, “I like everything.”
“Everything but ‘Indiana Wants Me’?”
“Yes,” I said. “Everything but that.”

That evening, alone in my room, I found that I was too ashamed to listen to my record, or even to look at it, really. It reminded me of my wretched eagerness to please, and would now have to be banished, hidden in the closet and then thrown away. This was a loss but not a total one, as at least I had learned a lesson. From this point on, whenever someone asked my opinion, I would turn the question around, and then proceed accordingly. If the person i was with loved game shows and Deep Purple, then so would I, and if I was caught contradicting myself — watching or listening to something I’d sworn to have hated — I would claim to be doing research, or to be enjoying the thing for its very badness. You could do this, I learned, and people would forgive you, consider you interesting, even. The downside was that it led to crummy gifts: Mitch Miller records, heads made from coconuts, campy stuff thought to be “a hoot,” or, if it was extra lame, “a hoot and a half.”

~ David Sedaris in Children Playing Before A Statue of Hercules

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