Thursday, September 27, 2007


Leonine, originally uploaded by maisnon.

The settling in has been really slow. Right now, I'm still unpacking clothes. This isn't a statement on how little I've done, but more on how many freakin' clothes I have. I'll admit, it's a bit of a problem. I like to think of myself as not materialistic (or, perhaps more accurately, not that materialistic.)

I am drawn to disparate things: I love modern design - the simple, spareness of it (oh, my love for IKEA could fill ... an IKEA-sized space), but I also love collage/mixed media/and juxtaposition.

Unpacking has been oddly joyful: finding all of the little treasures tucked away that you don't use on a daily basis. The fun, really, is in remembering how objects came into your possession. I have a pink "pashmina" (you know I'm too cheap for the real thing!) that I purchased in Barcelonal I bought it outside of the Sagrada Familia from a cart. Passing my hand over it, I smiled remembering the endless, sleepless train trip from Barcelona to Granada, and tromping around the Albaycin in my shawl.

I love buying clothing while traveling. There is a sweet moment of remembrance every time you wear the item. I have a tank top that reminds me of running through a rain shower in Costa Rica, and earrings that take me right back to Fort Kochi when they jingle.

I think I've made peace with my pseudo-packratish self. I don't need things, exactly, but I certainly enjoy them.

55 Fiction Friday: TrapperKeeper edition

Friday knows that writing is therapy.

The next line was printed in bold felt pen and underlined: "NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME!!!!!!!!!!!" A few small smudges at the bottom of the page suggested tears. She felt sympathy for her 13-year old self, and a sense of loss – she had much more control now, but would she ever feel things that deeply again?

Monday, September 24, 2007

wandering star

We'd just had a networking Happy Hour and, as always, I was struck by how accomplished and ambitious the people who surround me are. It had been an evening of animated conversation, business cards slipped across tables, and fast and furious Blackberry-ing.

The crowd thinned out and I sat and talked to two women. Oddly, I found myself talking about Tibetan refugees in India, and how Tibetan parents send their children through mountain passes, often by themselves, so that they can reach the Dalai Lama's schools in northern India. I thought about how bad things must be for you to risk sending your children through such a dangerous trek, and how much better you must think the possibilities are.

And then, sipping my over-priced imported beer, I thought about my life. Not about how easy I have it (and in the grand scheme of things, I really do), but how my drumbeat of "I want" is so preposterous. I have more than enough of the things that count, and a lot of things that are 'icing', too. Someone once said that happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have. And, at least briefly, I really get that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Overheard in the Mission

Corner of Valencia and 21st:

"Wait, so was it a nightmare for hipsters ... or were there a lot of hipsters?"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Candy, everybody wants

"Exotic", originally uploaded by maisnon.

Nothing is more boring on a blog than the apology/explanation for why the person hasn't been posting. It's one of the things (along with bitching about traffic, and writing about work) that I had hoped never to do. And yet....

I haven't been writing for the best reason of all. I've been incredibly, busily happy. Things are snap, crackle, and popping at work, and on the social scene. I've been gleefully marching around the city (note to self: invest in some non-ballet slipper, somebody-help-an-arch out shoes!), noshing at local eateries, and having small dogs gaze deep into my soul.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Here and Somewhere Else

Chinese Fishing Nets, originally uploaded by maisnon.

The other day, a new friend wanted me to explain my family's history to a small group as some sort of icebreaker. I balked, but not out of embarassment, or any ill will. I know that other people hear the tale, with its cast of characters comprised of countries and continents, and think my family cosmopolitan, or intriguing. I can understand that - my family members have been born into, learned and lost so many languages.

Non-desis look at "the brown" and think, "Indian", not realizing that that can also mean Fijian, Guyanese, Dutch, South African, Malaysian, etc. Even desis, it seems, expect a fairly linear progression from "there" to "here" (possibly with the obligatory stop in Merry Olde England.)

Like hair texture and parents, we always want what we don't have. I spent a good part of my childhood visiting my father's far-flung siblings, and I'm so lucky to have had that opportunity. But, what I wouldn't have given to grow up with my cousins, to feel a part of a larger family. I always felt like my little nuclear family group was the American branch, as isolated as a lunar colony.

I have a passive understanding of Malayalam. This means that I can, for the most part, understand spoken Malayalam, but I can't produce any. It requires some very deliberate effort for me to find the words. Also, while I will understand a conversation about cleaning the kitchen, I'll get completely lost if it is about something theoretical or abstract. I understand "house Malayalam." And, as I discovered while traveling south India last year, it's heavily tempered with Tamil.

I wonder what it would have been like to grow up around family: would my Malayalam be better? Would someone have insisted I speak it? (I once asked my mother why she never taught us Hindi (my father, the Malaysian, never learned it.) She said, 'For Heaven's sake, why would you want to know HINDI?!" Um, because it might be a little more useful than being able to understand you yelling at me to do the laundry in Malayalam??)

Writing this, I feel ungrateful - and I'm not. I'm glad that dim sum and pisang goreng are family food. When I recognize a word in Arabic, the mental translation is in French because I took Arabic lessons in French. I'm not ungrateful, but I am wistful.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Seaweed salad - closeup, originally uploaded by maisnon.

A few little threads are pulling together for me:

(1) The apartment is coming along ... slowly, slowly. I have an eat-in kitchen rather than a dining room. For some reason, this makes me want to have people over. I can nearly picture a guest sitting at the (non-existent) dinner table telling me a story, as I pull something out of the (not-yet-christened) oven.

(2) I just finished reading "You're Not You." First of all, RECOMMEND. Second, cooking plays a large part in it. I'm a big fan of the right level of description, and here we get Steinbeck-style description of food, rather than of locale.

(3) I think I'm sick of eating predominately from the Trader Joe's food group. Trader Joe's will always be my homie, but I want more. I miss the process: the washing, chopping, measuring, mixing, sauteing, roasting, etc. etc. I miss taking things from raw ingredients to plated items.

I used to be a very decent cook, and I think I could be again.