Wind in our hair

Today, H and I tried out a new scooter-sharing system. It’s like every car-sharing system we have in Berlin but with an electric scooter. Eco-friendly.

It was ridiculously fun. The wind in our hair, weaving in and out of traffic, being able to watch out for traffic for him (because the view of the traffic behind is better when you’re sitting at the back).

I had to constantly remind him though, that we were slower than the cars, ergo slowest lane please, and that we were too quick, so no bike lanes.

And we got to park right in front of the door, without worrying about finding a parking lot.

The app also worked tremendously well and quick. We were both really impressed. And happy.

Travelling seemed so much more fun today.

Past tense

I lost my aunt today.

She was a joy to visit and call, because she was always full of optimism, full of joy and she was the most understanding and supportive aunt.

She had been battling her illness for a while, which makes grieving a little easier. But the use of past tense is unnerving. I do think she is in a better place now.

H, bless his heart, let me talk on and on about her while he’s away and exhausted from the day. But she was the best aunt.

I remember telling her about H, when he hadn’t met the family yet. She would come excitedly into my room, giggle and ask me to show her a picture of him. Then dizzy with excitement, she would tell me her impression of him – all of which were naturally positive comments.

She would ask a few questions about him as a person and about his family. Then she would quickly say that it’s important to know that one is a good person, and would be a good partner. And from my answers, she knew that I had found the right partner.

When I was moving to Germany, she told me not to worry, and that my parents just want me to be happy, and simply advised me to call home regularly.

When I moved to Germany, she asked if the environment was great, if I got used to the weather, if work was hard to find.

When I found a job, she was happy to hear that I had settled in. She had already started losing weight and energy by then, but she would tell me that hearing from me made her day.

When we visited in April, she was low on energy but she refused to let us leave. She happily told stories, waited for them to be translated for H, waited for me to translate H’s answers. We had planned to stay for an hour, but we stayed for hours more.

When it got so much worse a few weeks ago, I made her a video of me just saying hi from the bathroom stall at work. She insisted on her son taking a video and sending it back. She didn’t have the energy anymore to sit up or hold a phone. Her eyes were barely open, and she looked completely different. But in the short video, she managed to squeeze in the fact that she was delighted to see me and hear from me.

I’m extremely far away from home, and I won’t make it to the funeral. But I hope she knows that I’ll miss her very much.

French Actress

As the radio talked about the possibility of living on mars, I spoke to H about my skepticism towards it – because as humans, I feel that we are killing our earth and now possibly disrupting the equilibrium of another planet to save ourselves.

Then I went on to the topic of wondering if the human race will be completely wiped out one day. H thinks we wouldn’t, because we’re not dinosaurs.

I suddenly thought of epidemic possibilities, and wanted to make inferences to the film Contagion.

I: You know, the film with the famous french actress?

H: Errr…

I: Name me a few french actresses.

H: Brigitte Bardot

I: Nope

H: Sophie Marceau

I: Nope. She’s the one with the famous partner and they did a lot of films together.

H: Catherine Deneuve.

I: Nope, the one with the famous partner.

H: Oh! Astérix and Obélix.

I laughed till I cried.

The New Romance

Today I learnt something new: Many romanticize the idea of needing someone, as though one would wilt without the other. But this idea of dependency, I’ve grown to despise.

I’ve accomplished many things without my husband, while he watches on from afar. I think he hates the idea of dependency too. I have a great sense of achievement when things get completed, and I completed them, and hopefully I did a great job.

But the new romance is the idea that I don’t need my husband. It isn’t life or death that he has to be physically by my side all the time. It’s just that if I could choose, I would have him by my side. I would definitely prefer to share all my ups and downs with this man. If he isn’t there, it’s a pity and life sucks but I’ll get on with it. If he is, life rocks.

So I don’t think I’ll say “awww” at the sentence “I need you”. I miss you is great. I love you is better. I want to be with you is perfectly active.

I need you is just slightly pathetic. Isn’t it?

Time travel

Upon waking up after falling asleep on the couch, H and I shared this conversation.

I: Did I sleep long?

H: About 20 minutes maybe. What time is it?

I: 5 minutes to 2am.

H: Oh! That’s late.

I: No wait, 5 mins to 3am.

Thanks for robbing us an hour of sleep, daylight savings.

(But the truth is I’m thrilled to have an hour extra of daylight after work! :))

My Singaporean Salute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

I rave about this country I’m in. Germany is wonderful. I’ve great options here, I enjoy what I’m doing at work, the quality of life is amazing.

But above all, I enjoy telling people about Singapore. Or at least Singapore has made a name for itself – it’s Asian without being backward, successful without being corrupt, well structured without being boring, and a big city without the lack of green.

And I enjoy it. I find it extremely thrilling to tell people about the country I’m from. I call Berlin my home now, but Heimat is a different thing. Singapore is my Heimat.

I complain that living in Singapore is stressful and there are too many changes to feel nostalgic. But the moment our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew died, the pride I have of my country rose.

I grew up in a safe environment. Because English is my native language, it’s easy to go everywhere and learn new languages. I never worried about carrying too much valuables around, leaving my bags open, travelling around alone at night. My country grew and prospered because of the man’s vision. He brought us to this standard, and his sense of protection for this country is admirable.

I don’t strive to be a politician, so I don’t expect to fight as much as he did for our country. But I will tell my future kids about him. And I will strive to love my husband, the way he proudly and strongly loved his wife.

“Growing Up” in Germany

Sometimes I feel like Germany has moulded me in the past year and a half, although early mid-twenties hardly ever counted as the impressionable years. But indeed, the impressions are imprinted on me.

Right as I’m saying this, I’m struggling slightly to type quickly and accurately on my good old macbook. I’ve gotten used to the German keyboard since starting work.

I’ve become more careful with my manners. Back home, we don’t show appreciation or give thanks as much as the Germans. Now it becomes more natural to say that “I’m looking forward to it!” when arranging a meet-up with a friend. Or to say “it’s so nice to have met you!”

I’m also in the midst of creating a new habit. I’ve started trying to use people’s names when speaking. It could be a personal habit or an asian thing, but I’ve never been comfortable using people’s names. This is especially so for the older generation (I never call my aunties and uncles by their first names in Asia), but it also applies to the younger generation. But lately it’s becoming easier to say, “How’s it going, (name)?” and “(name), thank you for your help!”

I’ve learnt to look out for quality over quantity when purchasing, because Germans buy things with the aim of keeping it for a long time. I used to buy tons of flats for $20, so that I could switch among them, but the reason why I end up switching so much is because none of them last a season! I’ve become a little less stingy while shopping.

Most importantly, having the German language all around me, hearing it and speaking it all day isn’t as exhausting as it used to be. In the past, a two hour intense conversion in German is enough to kill me for the rest of the day. Now it’s like meh.

It’s interesting to be a foreigner and not really feel like one anymore. 🙂

Start-Up Snob

Apparently, since I started working this month, I’ve not only my ability to type normally on my macbook, with the regular international keyboard (I work on a German keyboard at work), I’ve also grown really fond with the start-up culture, and thereby becoming a snob.

My previous full-time employment was at a large company with over 15,000 employees worldwide, with a brand name everybody knows. My current company is officially about 2.5 years old and is projected to break even this summer. It’s very strange, very amusing but very fascinating. I thoroughly enjoy seeing increasing success just within these three weeks of being there!

H works at a huge company, so they have a budget for everything. While currently enjoying his two weeks off from accumulated overtime (Start-uppers be laughing at this), he told me about his dinner event with his department that would take place tonight.

H: So we can’t have dinner together tonight.

I: Oh ok. Hmm I feel like we haven’t cooked for a while. I miss cooking.

H: We’ll be cooking tonight.

I: Really? At a colleague’s place?

H: No, at a cooking studio.

I: (snortles) Big companies.

Am I right?!

2014

Here we are – 2015. This time last year, I’d never have imagined that I’d be curled up on the sofa in the Berlin apartment, alone, but with a wedding ring on my finger, home after a day’s work – all that a year later.

2014 was quite a big year. I started it off in Germany and ended it off in Germany. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived in another country. I suppose the semester in France now seems like such a baby step.

I did a fair bit of travelling in the last years. The number of countries, however, is starting to dwindle. 2014 saw me through Wittensee, Hamburg, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Nürnberg, Braunschweig. It also saw me through Manchester for a short weekend trip with a bureaucratic purpose, and Singapore for the summer, also partly for bureaucratic purposes.

I spent the good first half of the year going to language school, working at the cafe, freelance editing and job searching. I had my first assessment center experience. I made and lost friends. I struggled further with the language. I struggled keeping in contact with my family. I struggled finding my purpose here but I enjoyed life a lot.

Things took a surprise turn, when H proposed. It remains my happiest moment, and I can perfectly recreate that memory in my head, as we laid on the grass and enjoyed the sun, content.

I helped him move to Stuttgart shortly before we returned to Singapore to visit family and friends – the people I love and miss so much! H went back to Germany as I stayed on to miss the real World Cup fever, and did a short-term merchandising role at supermarkets. Developed a newfound respect for them.

Then I came back to Germany and shuffled between Stuttgart and Berlin. Finally, we married at the civil registry office, and what we had no expectations for, turned out to be amazing. H then went on to India and had an adventure, while I learnt to live with someone I didn’t know – what an experience that was. And when he returned, we returned to being newly weds.

I spent Christmas being ill, but was well enough to feast and unwrap presents happily on the eve. We also had an amazing New Year’s Eve – one that I truly thoroughly enjoyed, without having to ask H to translate everything that’s happening, one where I stopped feeling like a guest to this land.

2015 brings new challenges, but I’m excited for them.

Thank you 2014. You’ve been amazing.

The Happily Married Man

There’s something about a man who’s happy to tell people that he’s married.

And that his lovely wife is at home waiting for him.

And that despite countless tantrums and frustrations,

he still thinks it’s the best decision ever.

My heart is dancing.