Proof of Life

There are days I just want to prove to myself that I can grow things – whether it is from kitchen scraps or a greenhouse, there is always that nagging sensation that my grandmother is looking down sternly upon me and making sure I don’t kill the plant. Living in Germany is expensive in terms of filling your home with plants, so I live by what a friend advised many years ago: buy small and be patient. This attitude has also fostered my love for gardening, because it has encouraged me to try my hand at growing plants from seeds…

The Secret Admirer

Life is full of surprises, some good, some bad, and the trick to enjoying it all in spite of the outcome is acceptance. I met an old friend for dinner last night and had a marvellous time catching up. Family and careers prevent us from meeting more often, so when we do, we definitely make the most of it. The greatest blessing of having such friendships that span almost 30 years, is that we know each other’s backgrounds, culture, family quirks, values and everything that has happened in our professional lives. There is a genuine interest in the professional as…

The Heatwave Returns

I am not one to go into a dissertation on climate change and environmental lobbying, but the recent drastic weather changes here in Europe are cause for concern. One moment we have scorching dry heat sweeping over the continent skyrocketing into the 40s (centigrade), the next moment we have a cold wave that drags the temperatures down 20c overnight and we are back in sweaters. The past week was a comfortable ride in the high 20s and low 30s, but yesterday wiped the slate clean and it’s nothing but mid-30s for the rest of the week. This is when I…

Banana Homesickness

There are things in Asia that one simply cannot find here in Germany, and one of them is decent bananas. Before you go into a tirade about European banana pride, let me remind everyone that bananas are not native to Europe, are all imported from Asia, Latin America or Africa, and the imported bananas must comply with the EU standards and guidelines. Ironically, many of the banana exporting countries are also referred to as banana republics, a derogatory term to describe a developing country with continuous political instability and limited resources to export. This has nothing, absolutely nothing to do…

Hard Lessons of Frugality

Aside from building a brand new life alone after the divorce, one of the most difficult lessons (rather, on-going challenges) is frugality. This is such an alien concept to me because I grew up as a privileged expat child who never had to worry about the cost of things. I learned to indulge in the finer things in life from an early age, as most expat children do, because Daddy could always afford it or the company paid for it. Saving up for something was never in my cards, because if my parents wouldn’t get it for me, grandmother would,…

Distance, Serenity, and Silence

You must be wondering what the photograph of the young woman has to do with the title. Well, grab a cup of coffee and I will tell you a story… It all began last December when my daughter decided to take a semester off from her studies in Florence and come live with me to heal. Our journey as housemates has not been easy, and we both recognised the fact that the three years of living apart has changed us both tremendously. Neither of us are used to anyone encroaching on our space and upsetting the balance anymore. We are…

Dandelions… What A Revelation!

This is dedicated to three people, whom I know spend a lot of time in open fields and nature, and encounter a lot of dandelions! To JH and SBK in the UK, and HL in The Netherlands, this one is for you! While looking for new and interesting ways to expand my culinary horizons, I stumbled on a ton of dandelion recipes. Ever since I was a child and read the nature magazines my parents subscribed me to, I knew that dandelions were edible. It is one of things that you learn early on and store the information very far…