Well that was fun.
Although being overseas has its problems, and being apart from the Lovely Wife is one of my least favourite things, having the opportunity to live and work in another country and culture – albeit for a short time – is one of the most interesting things I think you can get to do. I had an eye opening experience back in 2000 when I had the opportunity to work in our Japan office, which is still one of the most fondly remembered periods of my life (especially so as I met the Lovely Wife the weekend I returned, with timing I still find hard to believe). The recent much shorter sojourn in Singapore and Beijing may well rise to mythic status in my memory and certainly I am starting to miss things already, and not just the people. It does not matter where you are, or how beautiful a place is, it is the people that I think really forge your lasting impressions. In this case, a fine, welcoming and enthusiastic crowd who it was a pleasure to interact with. Generally I find Asia a stimulating place as there is a real feeling of opportunity, even in places where the place you are starting from may seem very low; I wish sometimes I could see such get up and go back in my own country, but too often I see almost a forlorn acceptance of the situation and if any energy is expended it seems to be in the form of bemoaning the lot you have been dealt with. My parents expected me to work my way into a better place (a task I find instinctively difficult as in my estimation I am at heart of an inherently lazy disposition given half the chance) and there is no point in life dealing you good cards if you do not use them boldly. I have come back with a little bit of a spring in my step and a reminder to look for opportunities. Sometimes I need these reminders.
I’ll miss the food also. I do not think I have eaten so well and relatively healthily for some time. It did provide me with some amusement that everyone seemed convinced that I might struggle with hotter dishes, and it took some convincing to point out I wanted some extra chili, please, not less. In the end despite tempting fate several times on the heat side I did not come across anything hotter that the Chicken Jalfrezi at the Indian restaurant around the corner from home which I do like when I am actually eating it but comes back to haunt me later. I had no such problems in the last month. I cannot really replicate some of the things I liked out there – you rarely can – due to lack of access to some ingredients. However one thing I do want to try and replicate is a sensible attitude toward portion size. Looking at the mounds of food that I have again experienced now that I am back – including in my own kitchen, I still have a tendency to over cater – and think about what and how much I was eating in Singapore, for example, I do not recall to ever feeling anything other than pleasantly and not overly full on considerably less. Yes, partly that is the kind of food, and in that kind of hot, muggy climate you do feel less hungry, but it is another principle that I have forgotten/never got quite a hold on, and really should.
So I’ll miss the place (don’t start me raving about the Botanic gardens in Singapore – loved them), the people and the food; but the positive memories are something I’d like to relive here from now on.