Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, 24 Dec - On Christmas Eve

After five frenetic days, I finally slowed things down on Monday, but just slightly. The fog had cleared on this Christmas Eve morning, as I started the day late, lingering around, partaking in some of the beef casserole which HM was preparing in advance for our big dinner later on.

We then went out after lunch for some grocery shopping, followed by a stop at the Starbucks next to Tower Bridge, where I had another cup of chai latte. It was a drink to which I was introduced only this past year in London, and copious amounts had passed through my system since. I recall saying to friends back home, as I was about to leave for this trip, that I’d be eagerly looking forward to another cup of chai latte.

“Don’t they serve chai lattes in Singapore too?” asked one of them.

“To be honest, I don’t really know,” I replied.

For it was only then that I realized that I never even looked out for this drink when visiting the local Starbucks joints, settling back instead for my usual double lattes or mocha frappuccino. The chai latte has become for me, curiously enough, an entirely London drink, best consumed with friends.

HM soon returned to the apartment to continue preparations for the dinner, while I headed to High Street Kensington to meet Russia, whose office was located nearby. We then took the Tube to Hyde Park, to the Winter Wonderland Christmas market. It looked lovely, with an ice rink, ferris wheel, and lots of happy people. The only thing missing was snow. Indeed, yesterday turned out to be one of the mildest day since I arrived in London.

I had wanted to try ice skating, but there were no tickets available. Russia and I then headed up the ferris wheel, getting a good view of the city. This ain’t no London Eye, but the experience was pleasant nonetheless. I was conscious that a scrumptious feast was awaiting me back home, but greedy pig that I am, I couldn’t resist sharing a few dishes with her – rum balls, a wurst, fried potatoes, and poffertjes, a type of delicious Dutch pancakes.

Doubling back to Shad Thames, I joined the many commuters returning home this Christmas Eve evening, and reached “home” just after eight pm, in time to join HM, SSG,GNK+1, his Other Half, plus another friend of SSG’s in a most lovely and filling Christmas dinner.

We pulled Christmas crackers, played yuletide music, carved the turkey, imbibed the wine, exchanged presents, and generally had a good time, although at one point I felt as if I was really about to burst. We ended by just slouching around the sofa watching Love Actually on DVD. I can, and have critiqued it on a sociological level. But this wasn’t time to play Scrooge. It’s a very touching film, and it made me think of certain other thoughts as well...

I know I’ve had a very good time this past week. I felt right from Day One that I didn’t wish to return to Singapore. But I know I have to. That is where my life is, right now. London represents so many things for me. It is a metaphor for feasting, for friendship, for fantasy. London will continue to be in my future. But London is also now part of my past. There are things awaiting me in Singapore, which I treasure greatly. I shall be back soon.


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