An Inauspicious Beginning To The New Decade
I’m now entering my fifth year of keeping this blog and it has seen me in some strange and embarrassing predicaments. You can go back and read almost any post written about us being anywhere in the world and there is a pretty decent chance I’ve put my foot in it at some point. This one is about a day when those type of incidents seemed to occur one after another, it just happened to be the first day of the year and a new decade. I’m mainly writing this for my own benefit so I can hopefully one day in the future look back on 01/01/2020 and laugh.
We are hardly ever home for the entire holiday period so the past few weeks have consisted of seemingly endless parties, dinners, and functions with friends, family, and colleagues, as well as showing visiting family members around, and after a while it all gets a bit draining. I’m not a big fan of crowds or house parties, especially when I don’t know a whole lot of people, particularly in Singapore where most people only talk about their work. If you don’t have a mutual interest, it’s hard to interact with anyone and it’s borderline impossible for me to join a conversation on a topic I know nothing about. For New Year’s Eve, some of Anna’s friends and colleagues had booked a suite at the Fullerton Hotel in Boat Quay and we had a great night of just eating, drinking, and listening to bad music. Now we just had one more day of festivities to go and then it would all be over for another year.
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Considering that we had arrived back home from our New Year’s Eve celebration at about 3:00am, we were in surprisingly good shape when we woke up. One of Anna’s best friends, Roshini Prakash, is from a quite well to do Indian family here in Singapore and they have a tradition where they always throw an enormous party at their house on New Year’s Day. Nobody really makes plans for New Year’s Day except to sit on the couch and watch TV all day so I thought it was odd, but apparently this party happens every year, I’m just never around for it or I have friends in town. Anna’s dad had also booked a restaurant for dinner at 5:00pm that afternoon before some of Anna’s visiting relatives leave town. We’ve tried multiple times to explain to him that nobody under the age of 85 eats dinner at 5:00pm, but that is the exact appeal to him — The restaurant is empty at that time. So, to end the festive season all I had to do was survive yet another party and an obscenely early family dinner and it would be all finished. It seemed simple enough.
I was finishing a cup of coffee while watching the basketball, but soon it was time to leave for Roshini’s party so I went to the bathroom to use the toilet and then have a shower. Not long after I had sat down to go about my business, our cleaner unexpectedly showed up. She usually cleans our house on a Wednesday, we just assumed she wouldn’t come on New Year’s Day, but I guess we were wrong. The first part of our cleaner’s routine is to go into our bathroom to get our washing basket, but this was probably the worst possible time for her to do so, so Anna started talking to her, stalling her long enough for me to finish up, flush, and then get in the shower so she could hear the water running, thus allowing her to know there was someone in there while also maintaining my dignity. Crisis averted.
Soon we were on our way to the party and I knew this was going to be a rather large event, as I had been to this house before and they have pet toucans! I’m not kidding, this is a portion of their backyard:
They used to have cranes as pets as well, but they got old and both died recently. Anyway, I had clearly underestimated the sheer magnitude of this party — The entire front yard had been professionally converted into a canvas pavilion for the day with fans installed in its roof. They had also hired chefs to set up tables and stalls making different dishes like in a hawker centre, as well as waiters and bar staff. On top of this there was an ice-cream cart and Roshini told us that they had even hired someone to professionally tie the saris for her, her three sisters, and their mother. There were well over 100 people in attendance, both inside the house and out, and I decided to grab some food from one of the many stalls set up out the front, particularly the squid curry. Anna and I found a seat in another part of the house to eat, me soon returning for more curried squid, before going upstairs to chat with Roshini and some other friends, as well as take a bit of a break. You know I’ desperate for a seat when I opt to sit in a room full of infants watching Paw Patrol at full volume. I’m just glad I hadn’t done my hair, instead wearing a cap as usual, otherwise all of the kids might’ve thought I was Ryder from the show, we do look kind of similar.
I was sitting on a sofa for a while in the kids room, managing to drift in and out of a light nap, but when I awoke and started talking to Anna, Roshini, and Pat I noticed something wasn’t right; her bindi, the traditional decoration that Indian women wear on their foreheads, was a little off-centre for Roshini and this caused a bit of a predicament for me — Would it be culturally insensitive to tell an Indian woman that her head adornment isn’t quite in the right spot? I mean, I do consider her a friend, but is it crossing a line to point it out to her, especially at an enormous party thrown by her family at their house to which I was an invitee, no less? This conundrum gnawed at me for a few minutes, but things like this, objects that aren’t straight or properly centred, really tend to bug me so I decided to tell her. I was a little apprehensive at first when approaching the topic, but Roshini wasn’t getting any subtle hints so I just had to tell her outright. “Rosh, your thing on your head isn’t quite in the middle.” A look of shock washed over her face, leading me to believe I should’ve kept my mouth shut. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” she screamed. “It’s going to be like that in all of the photos!” I guess it is okay to tell them and Roshini kept peeling the bindi off and trying to get it centred, each time followed by a “How about now?” Every attempt, however, ultimately made it worse so in the end she asked me to peel it off and put it in the centre, a kind of strange request for the only white man in the room.
A bit after the sticker debacle was sorted I needed to go to the bathroom so I asked Rosh we’re it was and she pointed me in the direction of a woman’s bedroom that had an ensuite so I went in and locked the ensuite door. Almost immediately after the stream started, a man and a woman entered the room and were talking quite loudly. I figured they may have just come up to get something so I decided to play it cool and just wait for them to leave. However, that didn’t happen and I was beginning to worry that one of them may try to enter, but if I were to leave at this point they might think I was taking a shit in their room, much like the situation with the cleaner that morning at home. I finally decided the best course of action was to open the door, but not exit, just in case I walked in on something I’m not supposed to see. When I opened the door I saw the drape part of a sari fly up in the air, followed by a startled Indian woman frantically shrieking at the top of her voice, “Who is it, who is it, who is it, who is it?!?” I sheepishly replied, “It’s Tim” and was told that I could exit via the second door in the bathroom leading directly to the hallway, one that I didn’t think could be used due to the fact that there was a washing basket and other things in front of it. I snuck out that side entrance of the bathroom and discreetly took my original seat again.
After the second bathroom related incident for the day it was almost time to leave for our afternoon dinner on the other side of the country with Anna’s family so we went back down to say our goodbyes. I sat in an armchair before leaving and was approached by Roshini’s rather loud sister, Pavi, who was still laughing hysterically and felt the need to inform all remaining guests of how I almost walked in on her getting changed out of her sari from her own personal bathroom. She obviously felt a bit bad for me due to how innocently awkward the whole situation was and I guess we had just bonded for life at that moment over a situation of mutual fear and embarrassment. She gave me a hug goodbye and we were off.
We went to dinner with the family, but Anna and I weren’t hungry due to the fact that we had barely finished lunch. Dinner went without a hitch, excluding when Anna’s father walked out of a bathroom while looking in the opposite direction and bumped into a waitress, knocking a dish she was serving to another table out of her hands. It had been a strange beginning to the year and it was barely even dark when we arrived home so what better way to finish off a bizarre day than watching Don’t F**K with Cats, a documentary series about a guy who used to make videos of himself killing kittens online, and then moving on to far worse acts. To top off the night I started getting a stomachache and bloated up, constantly feeling the need to go to the toilet, but nothing happening. I guess it was a result of too much of the squid curry, but it also signalled an end to the perpetual celebrations that had plagued the past three weeks.
So I started a new decade with a day that included:
- Me almost getting walked in on by our cleaner while I was taking a dump
- Having an internal conflict over whether I should tell an Indian woman at her family’s party that her bindi wasn’t quite in the right spot
- Almost walking in on her sister getting dressed after being told to use the toilet in her bedroom
- Giving myself a stomachache by eating too much curry.
Not the best beginning, but it was great wrapping up 2019 with meeting up with Emily and Jamie, their kids, Marcus and Maya, and hanging out with Robin and Kat again. Next time you hear from me will be in mid-January when we return from a cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia to celebrate the 40th birthday of my oldest friend, the best man at our wedding, and I at his, Shane Worthington.
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