February 11th, 2013

happy girl

First Chinese New Year away from home; worst Chinese New Year ever

Chinese Near Year's Eve was fun enough - I went to my Japanese friend Sachiyo's birthday party at this club near where I live called Queen of Hoxton. Before that we had dinner together at the first place that we could find which served food - and it happened to be Pizza Express. The pizza that I had with Mag 5 years ago tasted better in my memory than it did last night.

This other friend of ours was supposed to join us but there was some miscommunication and/or my text messages didn't get through to him, so he got tipsy by himself in the club while we had dinner ourselves. It was kind of funny. The temperature has plummeted again over the past week, and I stupidly went out in really thin, cheap tights from Primark because I figured that it was going to be hot in the club; better still, Sachiyo took off her tights because she was having difficulties walking in her heels and she braved the biting cold of the night with her legs bare. We stood in line outside the club, along with some of her other friends, positively freezing to a state of near-death, or something close to it. (I was seriously contemplating going out with bare legs; I wore my new Mango hi-lo skirt, first hi-lo skirt ever (because the difference between the high and low parts isn't that great and it looked pretty normal, so I bent my rule against this new "trend" and bought the skirt. Wei Chuen said it looked nice anyway so I kept it) and I didn't feel like ruining it by wearing tights, but thankfully, my common sense prevailed. Not that the tights were very helpful but I suppose they were better than nothing.)

I met this Korean lady last night. I thought she was just fresh out of undergrad in Edinburgh and I was absolutely stunned when she said that she'd worked for three years; even better, that she was thirty years old. Oh my god, I thought she was younger than me...and I thought I looked young. We had the same drink and we both agreed that the mojito was absolutely terrible. The bartenders were so flashy when making the drinks, doing tricks with the bottle of alcohol (rum?) and shit, but obviously they should invest that effort into making a mojito that actually tastes like a mojito. It was not sweet at all. It was like they forgot the sugar. It tasted like carbonated water with alcohol and a touch of mint. Ugh, it was terrible.

I also had my first Tiger beer in years. My friend ordered the wrong drink for me and the bitchy bartender looked even fiercer than me on my bad days when she saw the look of disgust on my face in response to the Tiger, so I just took it...and oh my god, I don't know why people drink this shit. In the first place, I prefer dark beer (what the hell is it called? I can never remember what is ale and what is lager) if I have to drink beer; in the second place, I pretty much only drink Hoegaarden anyway (or Stella...or if I'm in a British pub, a random beer that has an interesting name). I laugh at people that drink Tiger in London. Yet, it's kind of sad that I can no longer claim it as a Singapore drink. Thailand already has its own; why did they need to steal ours? Bleah.

What I really liked about the club was that it featured a few live bands - and I mean real bands, not lame cover bands. I didn't know who they were and they were indie bands and I didn't know any of the songs (obviously) but it was great. It was so much better than the usual trashy clubbing crap music that I can only tolerate when I'm a bit tipsy (for instance, the music at the club last weekend was so shit; it was almost as shit as the drinks that they served. I had the worst long island iced tea of all time). I was also really happy when the bands were finished and the DJ played some proper songs - like Oasis' "She's So Electric".

When the night was nearly over and I was waiting in line to collect my jackets, this random British guy in front of me turned to me and said, "I really like your style." I think he said something about how he wasn't trying to be lame or hitting on me or whatever which I couldn't really catch; at that point I was a bit tired so I just smiled and nodded. Then he said, "You really stand out from the crowd. Most people here try to stand out but they don't...but you do."

I couldn't resist it. I said, "That's because I'm Chinese, right?"

This is not related to the above incident and is just a random thought - I can't wait until I get the opportunity to play the racism card in a sticky situation. It should be fun.


Now on to Chinese New Year. The best part of my New Year was talking to my parents on Skype. The rest of it was ruined by, first, the absolutely miserable and cold and wet weather; and second, an unexpected disruption to the Piccadilly Line - which I was on.

I left my place pretty late for lunch because I was talking to my parents until about 15 to 1pm, and I told my friend at 1pm that I'd meet him at Leicester Square at like, half past. I was going to take the bus to Soho and walk to the tube station, but because it was raining and I didn't feel like walking to the bus stop in the rain, I got down to the tube station to get on the tube. What a huge mistake. Everything was fine and I was on schedule...until I changed to the Piccadilly Line and the train stopped at Russell Square station for a bit longer than usual. 30 seconds later, the driver announced over the PA that the train would stop there for some time because there was a person trapped on the train tracks at Hyde Park Corner.

I made a pretty bad joke to my friend about this - if this person had tried to kill him/herself, he/she was racist for disrupting Chinese New Year plans for the Chinese people on the Piccadilly Line who were trying to get to Leicester Square, like I was. Russell Square was 3 stops away from my destination, and it was so crowded that I had to walk up 175 steps of stairs because I couldn't be fucked waiting for the lift. After that, I didn't know where the hell I was at all. I walked towards Holborn and got to the nearest bus stop and hopped on the first bus headed for Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square; in the meantime, I told my friend to meet me at Charing Cross instead.

I was so hungry by then. It was something ridiculous like 2.30 already and I was in such a bad mood. The bus took a while to come and the traffic was so bad. Imagine how badly my mood took a turn for the worse when I got to Charing Cross and couldn't find my friend. He texted me to say that he was at the tickets machine, so I went down to the ticket concourse level (some old woman bumped into me while I was trying to orientate myself and didn't fucking apologise - I get that you're a grandma but please, have some fucking manners) but I didn't see him anywhere. I called him - but I couldn't get through. When he called me back, he was like, "I'm at the tickets machine. Where are you?" I nearly shouted into my phone, "I'M AT THE TICKETS MACHINE WHERE ARE YOU." He said that he'd come and look for me, but 2 minutes passed and I didn't see a familiar face; so I called again and once again, I couldn't get through because the phone networks here are so shit that the reception is immediately compromised the second you go underground. I had to wait another minute for him to call me back, during which time I was getting more and more pissed off. When I picked up his call he said, "Go south."

It took a lot of willpower on my part not to scream, "WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN. I HAVE NO SENSE OF DIRECTION. SPEAK TO ME IN A LANGUAGE THAT I CAN UNDERSTAND." Instead, I got out from a random exit, into the freezing cold and wet weather, and attempted to locate him. I had no idea where the hell I was; I couldn't even locate Trafalgar Square at first. When I finally saw the monument, I walked towards it for that was where he said he was facing...and finally, finally, I found him.

I ranted and raved for a while which he found pretty funny. We got to the nearest restaurant and sat down at an empty table; 30 seconds later, this bloody stupid waitress came and said that we couldn't do that because there might be a queue or the table might be reserved. Still in a foul mood, I snapped at her and said, "We came in and nobody attended to us." She was like, "All the waiters are very busy" blah blah blah in a stupid rude tone, and I was so close to leaving; but my friend sorted it out and pretty much robbed me of the chance to storm out of there. (Hmm, maybe I could've called her racist for ignoring me.) That was a pretty smart move on his part; there were barely any other cheap-ish restaurants nearby and it was cold and raining and I was hungry, so my storming out of there would have been extremely counter-productive.

Anyway, my Singaporean friend joined us a while later and I had a confusion between accents for a while. It's not that I fake an accent when I talk to non-Singaporeans here, but I definitely do try to speak slower and with a more standardised pronunciation of words because I find that people simply don't understand me when I speak normally. When I'm around Singaporeans though (which is pretty much never), my normal accent comes back and I feel natural again.

After sitting in the restaurant for about an hour, we went out to Trafalgar Square where there was a Chinese New Year carnival thing. The weather was so miserable. It was cold. It was raining. I didn't have an umbrella, but had the foresight to wear my coat with a hoodie. But I decided against wearing my cashmere jumper before I left the house because I was vain. Fuck, I should've worn that instead of the random Esprit pullover that I chose in the end. It was so, so, SO cold. To make everything worse, the carnival was pretty shit. I didn't really see what they had but there were stalls selling stuff, and from a distance I saw a sign that had £28 written on it - and that was when I knew the whole thing was crap. There wasn't even any proper food, just some crappy thing called "Oriental Noodle Bar". Really? You're gonna use the word 'oriental' in a Chinese New Year carnival? REALLY?

The whole purpose of hanging around the carnival was to wait for the fireworks which were due to start at 5 to 6. We had about an hour to kill and both Pret a Manger and Caffe Nero were full, so we went to Waterstones and waited it out. I ended up talking to my Singaporean friend about the 377A thing and finding a job in London, things like that. We're kind of in the same situation - we are both doing Masters that we can't use back home (me - LL.M. with human rights law specialism; him - international relations), and we both have someone waiting for us back home. Kind of sucks, really. In any case, it was really nice talking to a Singaporean again; in fact, when I met this Singaporean girl for coffee on Thursday, I felt so happy when I heard her say "lah".

That's not to say that I'm home sick (though I kind of am now because it's Chinese New Year); it's just nice to be myself once in a while. I'm too tired and sickly to fully develop this point so I'll just finish off with this entry.

So the fireworks were pretty anti-climatic. They lasted for 3 minutes, maybe. After that I walked in the rain to Westminster tube station...was freezing...came back feeling sick...fell asleep at 9.30 after dinner and was so tired...wanted to finish reading the last of the euthanasia/right to die case but ughhhh so tired now.

I shall wear my new dress to school on Tuesday in honour of Chinese New Year.