Descent into baloney we must fix

Boisterous bullfrogs wake me up earlier than usual. They’ve been going literally since three in the morning, went on for 30 minutes, stopped and started again at six, they haven’t stopped since. I am not in favor of killing them but I’d love to figure out a way to get them outta here. Yesterday, a chicken guy (he called himself that) came and took three of them away but they were immediately replaced by four others. As I said, they’re ‘bull’-proportioned and I tried to physically wrangle one of them away and he mauled me. That wasn’t so smart. I’mContinue reading “Descent into baloney we must fix”

On travelling while Covid

Familiar hubbub greets me, although today it feels a little awkward as it has been months since my last routine. Flight crew performs their usual and soothing benedictions while the plane taxis on the runway in snail speed, flanked by permanently idling planes on either side. The wings lift and comes alive, the wheels fold away and the pilot turns left for Singapore. Incheon sky and the West Sea down below look beautiful and peaceful. Obstacles that fate throws their way – as if in retribution for the sins for hope of earthly happiness – is perhaps omen for thingsContinue reading “On travelling while Covid”

On eating wholesome – sattvic diet (plus recipe)

If there is one thing that this Upside-Down-tragedy gave than took, it is my new found energy to peruse recipes I learned over the years and kick my hindside back to the stove. True, YouTube helped.  So did Jamie Oliver’s army of mignons that dominate search rankings for any food item you google. But it was also having spent so much time on the road when I surrendered control of what goes in my food to hotel cooks and airline catering and extended periods as an expat in cities where food supplies are outsourced to distant lands that always gaveContinue reading “On eating wholesome – sattvic diet (plus recipe)”

Watching In the mood for love on New Year’s eve

It is level 3 in Seoul which means restaurants are only open for take-out and entertainment is all but nil. So when I found out that movie theaters were open (with capacity limits) on New Year’s eve, that’s how I was going to spend the evening in this oddest of the odd years. I was afforded two choices – Wonder woman 1984 or (to my surprise) digitally-remastered, Wong Kar Wai’s In the mood for love. It made for trouble-free decision making. If you’re a reader of these pages but haven’t seen In the mood for love, you have definitely sufferedContinue reading “Watching In the mood for love on New Year’s eve”

Year of the Covid holiday gift ideas 

Holiday season 2020 It’s that time of the year when everyone including editors and contributors of magazines and newspapers dispense their seasonal wish-lists.  Normal’s proprietor is shamelessly no exception so I’m having a go at my own rendition but hopefully of a conscious kind appropriate in this time of anguish.  Frankly I wasn’t expecting to see this annual ritual in the pages of my go-to (enlightened?) newspapers and magazines this year, at least not so early in the season.  I just saw daily flashes of the US four week average infection exponentially upward at some 70%.  Are we doing elaborateContinue reading “Year of the Covid holiday gift ideas “

Cities, profit from this

As I write this story I glance down from my perch in Seoul. On this particularly crisp October morning I was enjoying a cup of Fall Blend on the terrace of a coworking café. Groups of young men dressed in the sharp, telltale style of consultants in their first year on the job (navy suit, white shirt, no tie, monk-strap shoes) pacing through rotating doors of the building; boisterous women in pairs in fashionable getups with just-so-right hemlines (below the knee but not quite calf-length) flashing their Galaxy phones toward contact tracing QR code reader; around me clusters of twoContinue reading “Cities, profit from this”

Loving (Kim Hwan-gi) in the time of pandemic 

The Pandemic reduced my mobility to a radius of inches, not hrs in flight time.  Greatest challenge I had to endure is the oppression of the mundane.  Groundhog Day in this uninspiring Punxsutawney urban living in Seoul (since lockdown in Singapore I left to Seoul, first to maternal comforts of three hot meals during 2-week quarantine and then hunkered down in a service apartment). Little did I foresee this hunkering down to become months-long hibernation. ‘This great pause needs to become the great recalibration’ I heard someone say.  Are you for real? ‘Relishing the day-to-day mundane’ is something we sayContinue reading “Loving (Kim Hwan-gi) in the time of pandemic “

K House

Way beyond Galle and past Ahangama and Matara in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka is K House, a secluded beach front property surrounded by lush Indian Ocean flora and open ocean views. It is where minimalist architecture of two villas effortlessly blend into nature and stand in comfortable distance to provide intimate privacy within. I was in Sri Lanka over an extended weekend to visit and talk-shop with the proprietors of four boutique hotels in Boosa, Galle and Ahangama but my real intent was to get to K House with as much weekend left to take in the architectureContinue reading “K House”

Yakumo Saryo – in cloud eight

My taxi ride is getting longer, going deeper into nondescript residential neighbourhood.  I pass by some oppressive modernist gymnasiums of 1960 Tokyo Olympics era … and then it keeps going again. Finally I’m dropped off curb side in front of a gated residence (again nondescript) and I wonder “is this going to be another sit and eat what I’ll give you” in an underwhelmingly minimalist restaurant. I walk up the steps through a small courtyard and greeted by Sugimoto-san, in perfectly bleached chef’s robe with a mild, forced smile. I’m here on a field trip of sorts to prepare for ourContinue reading “Yakumo Saryo – in cloud eight”

Belitung EcoBeach and surrounding islands

When Davide (pseudonym) first made an appearance in my office with an hour notice and announced he owned one-tenth of Belitung Island and that he’s wanting advice for developing that area as socially and environmentally responsible project, I only had two questions – first, where in the heck is Belitung (I’ve been in hospitality for 20 years in Asia and never heard of it) and second, ”ya that environmentally, socially… you and everybody else”. Then I forgot about it for months until he called me again when I was sitting in the back of bus in Singapore. Second time, IContinue reading “Belitung EcoBeach and surrounding islands”

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