Roia, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Roia, the newly-opened French fine-dining restaurant is housed in the former residence of colonial-era assistant director of the Botanical Gardens. (The Gardens is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.)

Roia is helmed by a 33-year-old chef who is the recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite Agricole.

The menu delves into classic French culinary techniques, weaving a narrative rooted in a distinct sense of location. Emphasizing the botanical richness of the Botanic Gardens, the chef – who has worked all over the world – selectively gathers essential herbs and flowers to create a gastronomic experience that reflects the unique surroundings.

Some notable dishes:

Australian Avocado, Green Apple, Mango Sorbet

Hokkaido Scallop, Yoghurt, Finger Lime

Confit Egg Yolk, Girolle, Mushroom Velouté (A generous amount of Périgord truffle was shaved onto the dish before serving)

My favorite dish: Maison Burgaud Challandais Duck, Kinjiso Spinach, Orange Jus

Charentais Melon, Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

Sea Salt Caramel, Jaggery Tart
Strawberry Pate de Fruit

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A Constant Ache

I woke up to the familiar aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air, mingling with the comforting scent of toast browning in the oven. It was an aroma that always reminded me of home, of warmth, and of love. The enticing smells drew me out of bed, urging me to make my way to the kitchen.

As I entered the room, my heart skipped a beat. I found an array of spreads meticulously laid out before me. Butter, jam, and the dark and savory spread of Vegemite.

Memories flooded my mind, reminding me of lazy mornings spent with you, sharing laughter and stories over a leisurely breakfast.

I couldn’t help but smile, relishing in the warmth that these simple gestures brought to my heart.

Lost in reverie, I approached the window, my gaze drawn to the breathtaking sight outside. The Opera House stood gracefully, overlooking the shimmering expanse of blue waters. The morning sun painted the scene with gentle hues, casting a magical glow over the surroundings. It was a picture-perfect moment, a snapshot of a cherished memory.

I turned my gaze, and there you were, seated across from me, your radiant smile illuminating the room. You held your coffee cup with both hands, as you always did, your presence exuding warmth and tenderness. A feeling of utter bliss and contentment washed over me, as if all was right with the world. In that ephemeral moment, I knew it was going to be a great day, just like the ones we had shared in the past. Indeed, it had been a great life, filled with happiness and love.

But in the blink of an eye, you vanished, replaced by an empty chair. The smells of coffee and toast faded away, leaving only the bitter taste of loss in my mouth. I felt my heart sink, and a wave of grief washed over me.

I stood there for a long time, staring at the empty chair. I could still see you there, your smile, your eyes, your aura. But it was all just a memory. You were gone, and I would never see you again.

I turned away from the window and walked back to the kitchen. I picked up the coffee cup and took a sip. It was cold and bitter, just like the taste of loss in my heart.

I sat down at the table and stared at the spreads. I didn’t feel like eating. I just wanted to go back to that moment, when we were together, happy and in love. But I knew that was impossible.

So, I sat there, alone with my memories, and I cried.

The smell of coffee and toast still lingered in the air, but it no longer brought me comfort. It only reminded me of what I had lost.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew that I would never forget you.

The person who had brought so much joy and light into my life was no longer there. It had been decades since you were taken away, yet the pain of your absence remained as fresh and poignant as if it were yesterday.

How many times must I relive this dream, this bittersweet fantasy that taunts me with the ephemeral taste of happiness? Each time, as the morning sun filters through the window, I find myself transported back to that beloved breakfast table. I reach out, hoping to touch your hand, to feel your presence once again. But it’s all in vain.

As the years pass, the longing within me grows stronger. I yearn for your laughter, your gentle touch, and the sound of your voice. The memories of our shared moments are like fragile threads, woven into the fabric of my being, keeping you alive in my heart. But sometimes, it feels like an unbearable weight, a constant ache that refuses to fade. Life has moved on, the world has continued to spin, and yet my love for you persists, unwavering and unyielding. It is a love that transcends time and space, defying the boundaries of mortality.

In the quiet moments of the night, when darkness envelops me like a heavy shroud, I find myself searching for traces of you. I seek solace in the memories we shared, clinging to them as if they were tangible, desperately trying to keep your spirit alive within me. But the emptiness that accompanies the realization of your absence is a haunting reminder of the void in my life.

I search for solace in the everyday rituals, hoping to find traces of you in the simplest of things. The aroma of coffee grounds, the warmth of a freshly toasted slice of bread, they all serve as fleeting reminders of a time when our lives were intertwined. Yet, they also serve as painful reminders of what I have lost, of the void that remains.

Time has a peculiar way of both healing and tormenting, and I find myself caught in its relentless grip. The years have transformed me, leaving behind the physical markers of age and the imprints of sorrow etched upon my soul. My body is always tired and my heart is always heavy. Deep within me, my longing for you remains unchanged, an unwavering ache that refuses to dissipate.

I wonder if you can hear the echoes of my silent yearning, if the universe holds onto our unfulfilled dreams and unspoken words. In the depths of my heart, I still hold onto the hope that one day, the universe will conspire to reunite us, to grant me a single moment in which I can gaze into your eyes and find solace.

Yes, I long for the day when our souls shall reunite, when the ethereal threads that bind us shall intertwine once again. Until then, I hold onto the fragments of our past, cherishing them like precious treasures. They are the remnants of a life that was, a life filled with love that transcended the boundaries of this earthly realm.

But until that day arrives, I continue to wake up to the smell of coffee brewing, of toast in the oven. It’s the smell of our safe haven, of our sanctuary, of love, and of a life I once knew. And in those quiet moments, as I sit at the table, alone yet surrounded by memories, I close my eyes and imagine that you are there, seated across from me, holding your coffee cup with both hands, smiling sweetly. And for a fleeting second, I find respite in the depths of my longing.

My beloved, let the stars bear witness to the depth of my love for you. Across a thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes, I shall tirelessly seek your presence, for you are the missing piece of my soul. This is my sacred vow, a promise etched in the tapestry of our destinies, that I will never rest until I hold you in my arms once more. With all the passion in my heart, I pledge this to you, my eternal love.

This profound commitment shall forever burn within me, an unbreakable vow that binds my heart to yours.

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Fukushima Water, OK?

In August, Japan initiated the gradual release of over a million tons of treated radioactive water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.

It is expected to take decades to release all of the water at the plant, which was devastated in 2011 by a tsunami generated by the powerful Tohoku earthquake. Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company), which operates the facility, and the International Atomic Energy Agency both claim the radiation to be released will be of such low concentrations that it will have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.

That may turn out to be true, if everything goes according to Tepco’s plans, consistently and without major mishap, for at least the next 30 years. Only time will tell.

The thing is, the Japanese government and Tepco made the decision to release the water after a process that has been neither fully transparent nor adequately inclusive of important stakeholders, both in Japan and abroad. This plants the seeds for what could be decades of mistrust and contention.

China immediately banned seafood from Japan, more a political move than anything else. This from a country that’s poisoning its own people with lethal milk powder, fake rice made from plastic and fake eggs.

I have good feelings about Japan. I hope this doesn’t change my mind about the country. I hope this doesn’t give me another heartache.

Read this.

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Embrace Your Inner Hermit: Savor the Solitude of Solo Travel!

In a recent survey, it turns out that about half of the British adults who were asked really, really look forward to their holidays. Like, they seriously live for them! And get this, around a third of the folks are stuck doing jobs they’re not exactly fans of, they grin and bear it, all so they can save up for a vacation – you know, a temporary escape from the daily grind and all the job-related gloominess. But wait, it gets even more interesting: another third of the bunch actually mentioned that among all the not-so-great stuff about Covid, one of the things they missed the most was not being able to jet off somewhere far away. Can you believe it?

Going away, I am sure, can be therapeutic for many.

At one time, I thought going away with people I know, friends, would be a lot more fun – and more therapeutic.

Ha, you could have knocked me over with a feather!

I once made the mistake of traveling with friends, and during one short trip to Nepal a long long time ago, not a single day passed when I didn’t wish I could just abandon the whole foolish idea and make my way back home. Yes, jump ship and head home. Hightail to the nearest airport and jet back pronto! There wasn’t a day when I didn’t long for the trip to end so I could return to the routine of everyday life, which, while perhaps mundane, was at least predictable.

Traveling with someone means stuck with someone 24×7; now, I have realized that I don’t enjoy that at all. Not one bit. There must be moments when personal space is provided for. Enforced proximity can break relationships. Even at home with your spouse, you are not stuck with each other 24×7 – in fact, most days I meet my wife only when we are both home at night – but on the road, you could be in the company of a very highly-opinionated and stubborn kvetch, a grandiose narcissist high in extroversion and low in agreeableness, who expects others to share his similar likes and dislikes, or who thinks he has a great sense of humor, and so he tortures everyone with his lame one-liners. Worse when his ugly prat of a girlfriend, who’s a world-class nut case with verbal diarrhea – (spouting random shit like: “I don’t drink from plastic cups” or “I am a vegan” or “I am a pescatarian” or “I am a vegetarian” – make up your mind, bitch! – or “people who consume shark fin soup are monsters” or “I hate people who eat meat” ad nauseam) – tags along. (Cringe! Eyeroll!) This obnoxious Karen should be hanged, drawn and quartered, cremated, pulverized and ashes flushed down the toilet.

How much fun can traveling with these retards be? What fucking therapy? Most people forget to pack their manners when they travel or forget to be sensitive to the needs of their traveling companions! At least eight hours a day together, only to separate to go sleep in our own hotel rooms at night. Indeed, how much fun is that? Trust me, it could be the worst nightmare of your already fucked-up life. It gets really horrible if your companions and you have different traveling styles – you go for high-end, they are all about cheap and budget.  You want Michelin-starred restaurants, they only eat at fast-food chains. You fly first class, they do budget airlines. You stay only at luxurious suites but they are happy with backpacker-type lodging with no ensuite toilets. You go for chauffeur-driven limousines but they will only use the trains, even though it means lugging several pieces of heavy luggage up and down train stations!

No wonder many depart as friends and return as enemies.

I have come to the conclusion that traveling alone is the best. Expedia, in a recent survey of more than 12,000 travelers, found that 38% of them primarily value relaxation, and 37% are searching for “contentment and mental well-being.” No vacationers – unless they are masochistic – are looking for an increase in their stress and aggravation. So, embrace the solo adventure because your best travel buddy is you!

But having said that, we must all understand that there is no location far enough to escape from yourself.

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Confirmed Croaked!

One of the greatest warmongers in the world!

Heinz Alfred Kissinger, a figure synonymous with moral bankruptcy, orchestrated a heinous chapter in US history by spearheading the indiscriminate three-year long carpet-bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. This ruthless secret campaign claimed the lives of at least 150,000 innocent civilians and played a pivotal role in paving the way for the barbaric Khmer Rouge regime.

Kissinger also sanctioned dropping two million tons of bombs on Laos. Unexploded ordnance from that campaign continues to claim lives today.

Kissinger also incited and enabled Indonesia’s genocide in East Timor which resulted in a brutal occupation and the killing of around 200,000 people.

Kissinger’s nefarious influence extended beyond Southeast Asia, as he actively guided the US government in subverting a democratically elected government in Chile, setting the stage for a reprehensible military coup. His counsel also led to the arming of Pakistan’s tyrannical dictator, whose regime callously slaughtered at least 200,000 inhabitants of present-day Bangladesh.

In a chilling display of callousness, Kissinger, in 1976, provided unwavering support to right-wing military leaders in Argentina, urging them to expedite their oppressive actions with the chilling words, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.” The consequence was a ghastly era marked by widespread human rights abuses, where tens of thousands of individuals endured torture, assassination, or the sinister act of being “disappeared.”

Despite being an architect of war and suffering, Kissinger shockingly shared in the accolades of a Nobel Peace Prize. This disturbing irony reached new heights when he found an ally in then-President Trump, who, with alarming obliviousness, praised Kissinger’s “immense talent,” further highlighting the moral bankruptcy that seems to be a recurring theme in Kissinger’s legacy.

Despite being a Jew himself, Kissinger once told Nixon “If they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.” This was when Jews were persecuted in the USSR.

Kissinger was also instrumental in Turkiye’s invasion of Greece and Cyprus.

There are also other atrocities he was complicit in.

If this post won’t stimulate you out of your somnolance to realize that Kissinger was no saint, but a war criminal and a diabolical war-mongering Nazi with oceans of blood on his hands, then you have no hope of being able to ever understand anything.

Kissinger croaked on Wednesday. I have no doubt Lucifer in hell knows what to do with him.

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You Found What?!

What have you found?

A pair of jeans?

From 1966 to 1977, a parachurch organization launched an evangelical campaign named “I Found It!” Ten different types of media were used. Remember, this was before the Internet. Every other day, people saw the message “I Found It!” staring in their faces. Those three words were everywhere you can imagine them to be possibly on – in the newspapers, on billboards, on posters in coffee shops, on bumper stickers stuck to cars, etc; it was impossible not to notice the slogan.

The parachurch organization partnered with 200 churches and used the slogan to prepare the ground. The aim was to present Christianity to the population, but just before its culmination (in a mass rally), there was a small “hijack” of sorts. A local company selling jeans placed an ad teasing readers by saying “Yes, I Found It!” and then started to advertise its jeans.

Nevertheless, the parachurch organization claimed victory, by claiming that through the campaign, the gospel reached more than seventy thousand people and resulted in more than five thousand of them signing up for classes to know more about Christianity.

Sun Tzu says “Know your enemy, know yourself, a hundred battles, a hundred victories.”

If the parachurch organization had enough intel to work with, its campagn, costing tens of thousands of dollars, would not have ended in an anticlimactic whimper. Imagine how much more powerful the campaign’s impact would have been if people had not been distracted by the advert from the jeans company.

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Confirmed Croaked?

Tiagong that coprophagic protohominid, that chromosomally deviant caricature of vulvovaginal candidiasis, that putrescence mass, that walking vomit, that waste of flesh afflicted with cloacal exstrophy has croaked, around the last week of September/first week of October.

Heard it yesterday, greeted the hearsay with much jubilation.

Let the celebrations begin, if confirmed.

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Burning Brighter – Out Now!

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Master Guru of Snake Oil

Peter Drucker hated being called a “guru.” People used the word, he said, only because “charlatan” was too hard to spell.

I am also wary of people who prefix their names with “Master” or refer to themselves as “Master” something or other like “Master trainer” or “Master chef” or “Master tailor” etc.

I keep a wary eye on those egoistic pricks who refer to themselves as something “Master” like “Reiki Master,” or “Kung Fu Master” etc.

And I resist the urge to puke when I come across shitheads who refer to themselves as “Grand Master” this and “Grand Master” that. Those are the worst! “Grand” my  fat lardy ass!

Also, I think gullible and psychologically fragile mental weaklings who refer to their teachers or counselors as “masters” or “gurus” are stupid, clueless and vulnerable and have already been scammed or conned, often without even realizing that they have been scammed or conned.

Well, there’s a sucker born every minute, a quote believed to be said by P T Barnum, who was a master con man, oops!

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39th Wedding Anniversary

Thirty-nine years ago, at the tender ages of 27 and 26, we embarked on our journey into matrimony. It was a time of halcyon enchantment, where the cares of the world appeared distant and unreal. Those days, oh, how they shimmer like a dream, the era of our nascent love, steeped in the ethereal glow of wedded harmony – a scene plucked from the reels of some timeless romance. Those were the days when the world seemed to pause, as if in deference to our love. We were but fledgling lovers, cocooned in the embrace of marital enchantment – a story woven with the threads of a timeless romance.

But time has woven its threads, and today, my physical being bears the weight of countless pains, while my thoughts navigate through a labyrinth of endless worries. They say you are only ever as happy as your unhappiest child, and to that, I would add grandchild too! As responsible parents and grandparents, it’s hard to mentally detach from the lives of your brood or clan, kith and kin. On a daily basis, a cascade of anxieties courses through my mind, like whispers of a distant storm. In the midst of this tempest, amidst a changed world, weathered by the weight of a body wrecked with pain and relentless physical discomfort due to stenosis of my spinal canal and osteoarthritis of my left hip, I still find solace in the unwavering presence of my beloved wife.

No doubt she too has become a different person over the years; very quick to give as good as she gets. Every conversation risks being becoming an argument, very often due to no fault of hers. (I am the trigger.) Every encounter risks being yet another bout of exasperation on my part. (Oh, where is that soft-spoken doe-eyed girl I fell in love with eons ago?)

But despite that, the constancy of her support is my anchor, a testament to her unwavering acceptance of my quirks.

She has so much to carry on her narrow shoulders – the weight of the world, in fact! Yet, she stands beside me, a steadfast beacon of unwavering support, sharing my pain while embracing my idiosyncrasies, ill temper, impatience, irritability, grouchiness and cantankerousness with a gentle understanding and forebearance that soothes the tumult within.

In her company, I see the silhouette of those untroubled days, and I am reminded that love’s tapestry is woven not just with threads of bliss, but also the threads of shared burdens, of tender resilience, and enduring companionship.

Together, we share the burdens that life has bestowed upon us, drawing strength from the profound connection that has only deepened with time.

So on to yet another year of marital bliss!

Hopefully – fingers crossed – neither I nor my beloved wife gets taken away before the next anniversary!

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