Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Spirit of Adventure

No I just borrowed the name. The Up post will have to wait. And YES O HAI I IZ BACK FROM HIATUZ I CAN HAZ PAGEVIEWZ?

I just thought I should blog about this fantastic evening. It's not actually fantastic, for the most part, but the absolutely positive feelings I'm floating about in right now just leads me to describe it as such.

It started when I was watching Pushing Daisies at 3.30pm. My aunt IMed and asked if I wanted to go out. I said yes I would like to go to Vivo, which is the nearest mall to my place, but I also had an almost unrelated itch to go there.

So alright we set 4.30 as the time to meet at the carpark downstairs (oh yes my aunt and my family have units in the same condo. Convenient, since we're practically stuck together since forever). While strolling over to her car I saw her walking in and out and around the car and was immediately hit with a very strong "Something's very wrong" aura. True enough, her car refused to start, but not just that, everytime she turned the ignition, a horrible rattle crackled out of her engine area, as if some metallic lizard got it's tail wound in the gears. And now we shall pause to fleetingly entertain that possibility.

Okay. Freaky wasn't it?

I smart-guessed that it wasn't a flat battery like my aunt thought. It had every indication of one - dim headlights and flickering dashboard - but the engine rattle somehow put that thought out of my head. So calls were made and we went upstairs to her unit and I did the usual IT support routine. Oh no I'm not resentful or tired of it. I actually like to be of use, sometimes. While I was watching abit of Bleach, the tow guy reached and she went down. I got a call soon instructing me to shut off everything, lock up and bring her purse down. The guy had come and deemed it to be an exhausted, and not flat battery, and simply jumpstarted the car back to life. He'd told my aunt that a slow drive to Vivo City should be sufficient to recharge it, a statement I quite rightly doubted when she told me, but if you threatened to slowly buzzsaw me in half from groin up you would end up having to do it because I don't know about car intestines for shit, so I just accepted it lor.

As we settled into our parking lot at Vivo I told my aunt we should try restarting it then to see whether it really worked, but she saw no point to it, and I quite strangely saw little point in pushing my suggestion. But it's probably better that we didn't do so, even though we should have, because I do think that if we have the result would not have allowed us to have as good an evening as what followed. Blissfully unbothered about the state of a car essentially brought back from the (temporary) dead, we headed straight for Akashi, a Japanese restaurant stuck in my head forever because when the first branch opened at Citylink my aunt ordered ootoro, the quintessentially Japanese fatty tuna belly, and brought the bill from what should have been just over a hundred to a ball-shrinking $300+.

Akashi did not open with the aim of being a budget restaurant for desperadoes to get their Jap fix, I'll say that first. I think it is just about the best upper-middle class restaurant to go to. It will not come cheap, but you won't walk away feeling unsatisfied. The salmon sashimi was 5 slices of centimetre-thick springy softness, its natural fresh taste amplified by soya sauce. The seaweed wrapping and fried skin of the salmon skin makimono (rolled-sliced sushi) was unbelievably crunchy. The broiled seabream head... well I can't speak much for it because it's not really to my taste, being cooked in sweet gingery sauce, but it was well-done, I can at least say. And the yaki-niku I ordered. Oh my frigediricking God.

Loads of onions, and not just to cover up for lack of beef strips, swimming in a huge load of sauce, with a side of shredded salad. Only in one other place have I had something as heavenly as this, and it wasn't in Japan. It was at SIM, at the Japanese stall before the fucking idiots calling themselves management did not renew their contract and they moved to who knows where (no it's not Akashi la. Close but different). And that was like what, $3.50. We paid about 20 bucks for this order, though granted it had good miso soup (always with that slightly burnt taste), watermelon, pickles, some black pepper salmon ball thingy, and rice. It was utterly fantastic re-living the wonderful memories I had with my friends eating that yakiniku.

I'm sentimental. Suck it.

After a completely satisfying meal (what did I tell you right) and copious amounts of burnt rice tea (the waitress, who like the rest of her colleagues was nice, knowledgeable, prompt, and most of all sincere, didn't get it when I asked for brown tea in Mandarin, but I realised shortly after that brown tea, or more correctly, Japanese tea with bits of burnt rice to give that lovely and kinda addictive nutty flavor, was their default tea. And that's saying alot because rice tea is rather expensive), sorry that was a long aside, our first stop was the Nat Geo store, which I can't help but think is much more of a museum than anything else. Honestly why would anyone by any sort of clothing from there at a very premium price? Well, insanely rich fans of Nat Geo maybe but is that really enough to sustain such a beautiful store? We proceeded from there to look for a thumbdrive and earphones. I'd only moments before recommended Sonic Gear Earpump to my aunt as we strolled through Best Denki when she mentioned she was looking for new earphones. It's what I've been recommending everybody asking me. Crossroads are still good but they're abit ex for the casual user and has an audiophilish kind of audio signature. Sonic Gear's signature suits modern music and ears accustomed to such music much better. Quite like vintage distortion versus modern distortion, my dear guitarist friends, whoever you may be. So my aunt got the Earpump Pro ($50) and I got the original Earpump ($30) for my mommy's upcoming birthday. Because really, there is a thin line between looking down on people's hearing and people who just aren't as bothered with hearing 2000Hz in all its resonating clarity as they are with comfort. A thin line, but one that definitely exists.

We then proceeded to the true aim of our hike across Vivo - Page One bookstore. Seeing nothing in the bestseller shelf (briefly tempted by the new novel from White Tiger author Aravind Adiga but I don't like hardcover. Anymore) I drifted to the magazine section to do my usual browse for gaming mags, but none of the relevant mags (which is to say only two or three) was interesting enough to make me pay $17, so I moved on down to the music section, from which I ended up picking two mags, one of which featured my second favorite guitarist Jimi Hendrix (first is Albert King) and the other of which featured Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck and "How THE YARDBIRDS changed rock forever", and both sporting juicy looking CDs, so after considering which one or the other to get I gave in to that nagging thought which essentially said "Fuck it get both." The CDs turned out to be just as juicy as they looked. Also, I floated down to the stationery section, and got myself a Uniball Jetstream Premier, a pen with promising ergonomics, excellent smoothness and a brilliant blue ink (and also a brilliant price tag of 10 bucks. Better work well and long dammit) when who should I meet but Singapore's favorite Hi There Kitty, Daphne! Just as I was about to make my mind up to pay, I was halted in my tracks by a beautiful hardcover book (I only don't like hardcover novels because I get so many of them) called The Advertising Concept Book, by Thames and Hudson. I was stuck for so long on whether to spend another $60 on it, until I went to look for my aunt who said "Don't, the price may go down later."

And so I saved myself 60 bucks. For now. And that's why you shouldn't shop alone. Try your best not to, at any rate.

We walk back to the car, time and money well spent, but not before I get myself a Coffee Bean Ulimate, which is essentially ice blended mocha on crack and a dash of speed. Try it sometime, but it's not for the caffeine-faint hearted.

"Well let's hope it works," my aunt said, turning the ignition.

Quite expectedly, the death rattle wasn't followed by a painful silence as my aunt swiftly swore. The next tow guy that came 40min later explained that it probably was a dead battery, but that new Borneo Motors cars can't just work on car-to-car jumping because the voltage was different and this to that may cause that to happen to this leading to that possibly making this that and that this an' cor blimey tha'll cost ye thousands, not hundreds, miss. I mean goodness how much shit can you come up with? I'm not calling bluff, I'm just saying why can't this world be a better place where everyone tells you the unshaded truth?

Oh I know. Because we're humans. 'Cause nothin' lasts forever in the cold November rain. Hard to be free as a bird now, these days. Honestly, everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the grave. And I'm about to break.

Good for you if you fully understood that. Or did you?

Anyway my aunt instructed him to tow the car away. Before that while we were waiting her iPhone ran low on battery, so she had to call... whoever again to change the contact number to mine.

So then we walk back up to take a cab back, but my aunt swears again after looking at the taxi queue. She must take cabs alot. Like, ALOT, because I take cabs half the time and I didn't even notice the atrocious queue at 11pm until she pointed it out, 75m away. So we change course for the bus stop, and my aunt didn't bring her EZ-link card and didn't have enough coins, but luckily I had just enough to combine with what she had (2 10c and 2 5c) to make $1.40.

And yes. SBS accepts 5c coins. How sweet.

On the way back I ask to see her iPhone because I've long suspected that the Maps uses cellular triangulation instead of GPS, and was wondering how to activate the GPS if possible. So I was playing around in her options, and was explaining to her about Internet tethering when...

We missed our bus stop. By two stops.

Luckily, the bus stops were near each other, so it wasn't that bad. My aunt was tired, but it felt like a carefree midnight stroll back to me.

And that is that. An evening that should have left me in emotions equating to the storm of the century but instead inspiring me to finally blog again with this long winded tale of misfortune. The moral of the story?

Always have jumper cables ready in your car. Always. You could be next.

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