I’ve been meaning to use my blog as a diary for a while, but this may count as its first diary entry.
From the depths of the MRT station to daylight is a walk of two, maybe three minutes. I turn right after letting the gantry read my card, get escalated up a level, turn right again and follow an up-sloping, left-curving tunnel to the next escalator, and get raised to street level. Today, everyone stops here – beyond this shelter, under a sunny morning sky, rain is falling, the warm sort that is heavier than a drizzle and much more irritating. I have an umbrella, a really compact one bought in Taiwan (from a street vendor whose boast that Taiwan makes the best collapsible compact umbrellas impressed me). I take it from my bag, unsheathe it, telescope out its handle and push it open. Or struggle to. Somehow the supporting struts that normally spread out the umbrella’s shade – intricate lengths of metal lined with tough white plastic – won’t straighten. I push harder. And realise that one of the struts had tore through and become snagged in the fabric of the umbrella shade. The umbrella wouldn’t fully spread and therefore lock, but if I keep it from collapsing by pushing it open all the while, it is serviceable.
When I get to my workplace, the irritating aspect of the rain is forgotten; instead, I am grateful it is not heavier.
I am taking a two-day course on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (based on a book by Stephen Covey). The course is facilitated by two colleagues. I find that the most engaging part of the course is the video clips featuring Covey. Covey has a gravelly voice that sounds as if he is about to break out in a horrendous cough at any moment, a bald pate atop earnest eyes and an expressive smile that often unexpectedly turns into a gleeful grin. Think he is quite a presence on video. (This link leads to a YouTube search of Stephen Covey – quite a nice sample.)
I have lunch with two colleagues at Pasta de Waraku – a strange chimera featuring a Japanese take on pasta, pizza and gratin. Waraku, which also has a more traditional Japanese outlet in the same mall, reminds of the house of food that tempts Hansel and Gretel. The most amazing and appetising facsimiles of actual dishes deck the spot-lit windows. It is as if one is already choosing one’s dish from outside the restaurant and just has to go in to order. I have the squid ink pasta (that’s the dish on the top left in the picture at the link above), and my colleagues and I share a scallop and prawn pizza. The squid ink pasta stains terribly, of course – I have to be very careful not to splash the gravy – but chopped tomatoes blunt its fishiness, and the outcome is an unremarkable dish. The pizza has crust thinner than wafer, and perhaps because of that, the cheese baked onto it is light and tangy and creamy, not rich or cloying at all. My colleagues and I end the meal by agreeing to share two pizzas next time.
I end the day with a shopping spree. With $30 of Kinokuniya vouchers and seduced by the 20% discount, I none too remorsefully bust my budget and buy three books: Ram Charan’s Know-how, Lawrence Block’s Hit Parade and Peter Mayle’s One Year in Provence.