Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kare-kare at home tonight

Tonight I actually stayed home for a change and prepared dinner for my friend Triccie, who's here from Singapore and an old friend I've known too long and seen too little of in the past years. Because we've all had extremely busy lives (she has a pretty high-powered job in Singapore), we've only been able to catch up rarely, and always by squeezing in a few precious hours in between meetings and trips. But then, again, what else is new? That's the whole story of our Travelife with friends living and working around the world, and even with some friends in Manila; it's always a matter of too little time and too few chances.


The last time I saw Triccie was for dinner in Singapore last year, when I stopped over for a night after getting off the Eastern & Oriental Express from Bangkok to Singapore. She'd rang me in the afternoon at my hotel and asked me what I wanted to eat. I only had one night and frankly I was tired of fancy food after four days of sterling silver service and four-course lunches and dinners.

"Let's go and have chicken rice," I said. And she responded, half-amused and half-shocked: "Chicken rice? You can have anything you want and there are so many nice places in Singapore -- and you want chicken rice?"

Yes, I did, and adamantly so. All I wanted was comfort food. I could have fancy meals in any other city, and Tokyo was Ground Central to some of the best dining experiences in the world. But I'd never had a good chicken rice in Manila or Tokyo, or almost anywhere else, and I loved the chicken rice at Chatterbox at the Marina Mandarin along Orchard Road.


This time, Triccie called me from Singapore last week on my mobile to discuss something and to tell me she was coming to Manila this week. "I'm so glad I caught you now," she began, very typically and without much of a hello. "I called your house and they said you'd just left, so I know you're in the car on your way to work. You're a captive audience for what I have to say..."

And earlier this afternoon, I texted her to ask her what she wanted to have for dinner. It was my turn to show her a good time and I was happy to take her anywhere. "Let's do Filipino," she said. "I'd say Japanese, but you eat too much of that already."


I thought of reserving a table at one of my favorite Filipino restaurants; but when the rains began, I decided it was best to serve kare-kare, crispy lapu-lapu and pinakbet at home, with sans rival for dessert. It turned out to be the best choice as we had an incredibly fun and relaxing time reminiscing about college days and so many experiences together.

"You're the only person I know who drove to school with her rear-view mirror facing her," Triccie told me. "I remember once I got into your car and I asked you why your mirror was facing the wrong way -- and you said it was so you could check your lipstick. It's a real wonder we never got into an accident." I burst out laughing at the recollection.

Dinner was just full of laughter and other recollections about growing up together in a really safe and fun environment with few difficult choices to make. And before we knew it, it was getting too late. Triccie had a 730 am meeting and I had a couple of stories I still had to edit tonight.


"Come visit me in Singapore," she said. I nodded. "I'm off to Sri Lanka in early April and the stopover will either be Singapore or Bangkok," I told her. "If I make it Sing, I'll definitely let you know."

"Bangkok's nice too," she said, after considering my two choices. Again I nodded and said, "Yes, and if it's Bangkok, then I'm making a detour for Chiva Som."


And, of course, what blog entry of late would be complete without another tale about J and his one thousand texts? Lots of people are quite interested in the next text saga. Well, from the other side of the world, J woke me up with a text this morning from another exotic location too difficult to find on a world map. "Hey there. I have BBM but I don't know for how long..." it began. "And you'll never guess what was next to me earlier today."

The object J was referring to was actually quite interesting, so over the course of the morning we discussed this quite a bit -- thank goodness for BBM and its free messaging. Then I texted: "I would so love to put this in my blog -- a story about J texting next to XXX."

"Don't you dare." He texted back. He's actually been quite a good sport about his cameo appearances in this blog; and he's even ventured to teasingly suggest captions and topics when he's been in the mood. But lately he's made me promise to go easy on the details lest people start realizing he's not just a fictional Blackberry character, after all.

Except for one or two stories that point just a little bit in his direction, I thought I was being pretty circumspect about him. "Am I that good at describing you?" I teased him.

"Yes. You may as well put my real name," he shot back. He was thousands of miles away, but that BBM reply came in under two minutes. Fortunately, there was a smiley face after his reply so I'm guessing he's not too displeased by it all.


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