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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Here is the self-explanatory picture of how our Monday’s been:

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This is a new first. I have never had to resort to drinking at my desk until today.

It’s really good though. Chocolate + Grappa really hits the spot. Champagne Truffle and I stood around my desk with one shot each. We sipped. We collectively sighed. We downed it, then we carried on. Our souls fortified, as the Russians would say.

I’m surprised I haven’t thought of this earlier.

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freckles

I was at the doctor’s on Tuesday evening for my tonsillitis when, at the end of the consultation, he leaned towards me, touched my cheek and said, “Oh, you have a pigmentation problem.”

I pulled back and replied, “You mean I have freckles?”

He said, “Yes…” like he wanted to prescribe me something or recommend me some treatment to achieve flawless, fair skin.

And I said, “Well, I don’t need anything done for that. It doesn’t bother me.”

He replied, “Oh, that’s great to hear that it doesn’t bother you.” He then packed me off with a course of antibiotics and NSAIDs for the tonsillitis [which incidentally only made it marginally better and my throat still hurts like crap today.]

*

I never get what’s with the obsession with flawless, fair skin. I get that my freckles happen when I go into the sun without sunblock. I get that I am supposed to be uber religious about sunblock and other whitening products. But surely there is more to life than touching up sunblock and makeup in the toilet intermittently through the day. As it is, I don’t really like hanging out in toilets unless absolutely necessary and most of my days, I even forget to touch up lipstick after lunch.

To be honest, the only time my freckles ever bothered me was when I am at my beautician’s. But then I think my beautician has also given up on trying to recommend me stuff to lighten my “pigmentation”.

The other time when I felt self-conscious about my freckles was during my Advocacy assessment while I was taking my bar exam. After viewing my video, my assessor told me, “You remind me of Lucy Liu. Without the whip.” I still run into him in the bar room now and then but I don’t believe he remembers that rather socially awkward moment all those years back.

So to all of that brouhaha about flawless, fair skin, I say SCREW YOU. I will walk around the zoo and jump into pools in the blazing hot sun without touching up sunblock and I will not let you get me down.

I apparently will repent in my old age but oh well, when I get there.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of my very unglam and un-made-up face against the very glam interior of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg just so you can assess my “pigmentation problem” for yourself:

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on beauty and stupidity

From Nevsky Prospekt by Nikolay Gogol:

Stupidity, however, can be particularly appealing in a pretty wife. At least, I know of many husbands who are delighted by their wives’ stupidity and see evidence in it of childlike innocence. Beauty can work perfect miracles. Instead of inspiring revulsion, all spiritual defects in a beautiful woman become unusually attractive: even vice can be attractive in them. But should beauty fade, then a woman needs to be twenty times cleverer than her husband to inspire, if not love, at least respect.

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I received an incredibly strange phonecall at work before lunch today that went like this:

Me: [In my usual office phone voice i.e. tentative in case I need to pretend I’m not me should the call turn out to be from a random nutjob] Hello.

She: Hello, is this [JoMelChaton]?

Me: Yes?

She: Thanks. [hangs up]

What was that about?!

I turned back and noted with relief that my secretary had stacked my window sill full of files so that no one can see my back from my window. In case of snipers, you know.

I then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon quizzing everyone who returned my calls from the morning whether their staff had called me earlier and had that strange conversation with me. All of them neither confirmed nor deny the act on behalf of their employees.

I haven’t left the office since I got in at about 9:30am. Will I be killed when I step out in the evening? Is my phone bugged? Does this mean that I can’t have any silly conversations on my office phone henceforth?

The mind boggles.

*

In other news, Putin turns 60. I celebrated by contributing to the Russian economy by buying some amber jewellery and books at the Hermitage Museum Shop.

Still looking good, Sir.

*

And a completely random gift from my lovely secretary in the middle of October for children’s day? her visit to the dentist? Lord knows! But it’s fluffy, it has feathers, it writes and it is so darn cute:

Merry Christmas, one and all!

*

I am so disinterested in life today. Can you tell?

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a long walk

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I took a walk back from Court today under the greying skies of the approaching evening.

Past Hong Lim Park, I remembered walking back from Court at the end of last month after a trial with The Buddha and a few other people and running into the children from a day care centre playing games in the open field in the hot evening sun. I imagined the children’s laughter while I walked past the empty field today alone. I rue that the children were not out today to provide the city with a little bit of cheer.

I pondered the distance to the High Court from where I was and remembered a judge who used to be in practice telling me and a few other people how he used to walk everywhere in the city, to meetings, to the two courts, back to the office, probably tracing the exact route I was taking since we used to work in the same office together.

A cold breeze kissed my cheek as I approached the river. I held my files closer to my chest. Walking towards me were two girls leaving the mosque at the bottom of my building.

I remembered another grey day walking in a different city, wandering into a church at a street corner and noticing a woman in a suit hurriedly stepping in after me. She hastily covered her head with a shawl extracted from her work bag, crossed herself, then proceeded to one of the numerous portraits of a Saint and started to pray.

I imagined working and walking in that city, popping into one of the churches in a street corner for a quiet moment within the amazing architecture and art work on a bad day: To sit in the pew feeling the presence of a greater being rendering your own personal troubles of the day small and insipid, to be cleansed, to step out back into real life ready to face the world again, the world that had sat heavily on your shoulders before you entered the warm intimacy of the church.

Sadly, there is no cleansing to be found in street corners here. But there is thankfully still that walk on a grey day, the cold wind in my face, the memories and my imagination.

I walked up the steps of my building, feeling slightly better than when I started on the long walk back. I entered my office, crossed myself at my little statuette of Jesus sitting on my shelf, sat down at my seat, and carried on.

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My ex-boyfriend has returned back on the radar, with a new job (I surmise), a new mobile number (or just one I am no longer familiar with), and a whole new name (!!).

He manifested himself in two text messages. I replied to the first, thought for a couple of days over the second and then past the window for a polite response, elected not to respond at all. Or maybe I was so flabbergasted that I never did get around to formulating a coherent reply.

While moving out of our family home at the end of last year, I read through all of the letters he had written me in the months we were apart, in the months leading up to the eventual separation. I read them through from start to end then discarded them, maybe because I needed to put that part of my life behind me now that I am no longer angry anymore. I no longer feel the urge to call him at random times to tell him how he had sent me a cow stuffed toy thinking that it was a hippo on Valentines’ Day all those years ago.

I am all grown up, I speak and write for a living, and I still can’t find the appropriate words to say I really don’t think we can be friends anymore so please stop calling me. All I can do is remain in my silence and hope that my silence will mercifully deliver the thought I cannot bring myself to string the words with.

I am either incredibly thoughtful (of his feelings) or incredibly wimpy.

*

Incidentally, the only card I had kept from the whole lot of correspondence from my childhood is a birthday card from Jeffrey. I used to carry it around with me to remind me that there is at least one good person on earth. I have been meaning to show it to him but it slips my mind and remains in a box of my belongings salvaged from my family home.

Jeffrey had sent me the card in the middle of August one year in our teenage years. He had written in the card that he could not actually remember when my birthday was but figured that it was either the 3rd, 4th or 5th of August, September or October.

I love that card. It warms my heart and makes me laugh like hell. I may not understand the confusion, but I certainly do recognise a nice thought.

*

My kids are at a point when they fight and bicker constantly. The problem is that one of them speaks proper words and the other speaks gibberish. A typical conversation would be as follows:

He: asdliujgernmk
She: (not understanding him) No! It is like that! (asserts her position)
He: asdliujgernmk
She: (thinking she has been insulted) No! I tell you, it’s like that! (asserts her position louder)
He: asdliujgernmk
She: Argh!!! (asserts her position louder still)

Eventually, either she will lunge at him or he will lunge at her. In any case, either or both of them will be punished, depending on whether we could figure out what on earth was being said or what on earth was going on.

*

One day, I said to Peanut Stop behaving like a Russian!

The thing about Russians is that they would stop and try to answer your queries in Russian. When you don’t understand, they sigh and proceed to repeat themselves, slower and louder, in Russian. And when you still don’t understand, they give you a withering look and walk away.

So maybe the Russians are helpful. They are just misunderstood.

*

I told a practice trainee that Justice is a completely subjective concept. Justice is what you feel is just in your heart. So it is better to just settle disputes because when parties reach an agreement, in their respective hearts, it would be an agreement which answers each of their subjective requirements and that is maybe the only way Justice is served.

But sometimes, just sometimes, even when you extend the olive branch, someone will still want to hit you over the head with it, spit in your face, then try to bury you where you stand.

Only then is it time to fight.

*

That’s life, isn’t it? Just because you assert your position loudly doesn’t make you right. It doesn’t even guarantee that you will be understood at all.

So that renders the ensuing fisticuffs completely pointless if all anybody ever wants is to be understood and getting into a fight about it does not solve the problem, right? It is always better to just walk away intact.

*

So maybe I am not incredibly thoughtful or incredibly wimpy.

Maybe I am just trying to find the middle path to get through life by avoiding most unnecessary fisticuffs.

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on democracy

“One man is unequal to another from the very beginning, and there is nothing you can do about it. The democratic principle infringes the rights of those who are more intelligent, more talented, and harder working; it places them in a position of dependence on the foolish will of the stupid, talentless, and lazy, because society always contains more of the latter. Let our compatriots first learn to rid themselves of their swinish ways and earn the right to bear the title of citizen, and then we can start thinking about a parliament.”

~ Erast Fandorin to Varvara Andreevna in The Turkish Gambit by Boris Akunin

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