27 July 2007


I forgot to mention this but the other night, I dreamt that someone, I'm not sure who, stabbed me in the chest (just below the sternum to be exact) with a pair of kraft scissors. I was in my togs swimming when suddenly I looked down to see a pair of spread out handles dangling out of my bleeding torso. I didn't feel pain because the blades were not in too deep. As I extracted the two blades, with my right hand (I'm left handed, but I tend to handle scissors with my right hand, long story) I was very careful not to squeeze the handles together as this would only have brought the blades together within my chest and caused more damage. However much as I tried, I failed in avoiding friction between the blades. When I did finally remove the pair of scissors from my chest, the blood oozed out of two 0.5 inch holes and the skin separating those two holes had been pinched and nearly ripped.

It was fascinating.

I used an online dictionary to decipher this dream by typing the words "scissors" and "stab" in the search box provided. Apparently I am overly suspicious and fear being betrayed. Also recently, an event has caused me to feel that people are 'stabbing me in the back (chest)'. The scissors denote the tendency I have for cutting people out of my life.
Putting the two metaphors together, it would appear that I may be consciously isolating myself from other people out of fear of getting hurt and that it is my suspicious nature that feeds this fear.

Who needs psychology when you have a dream book.

23 July 2007

Last Holiday

"Last Holiday", by Wayne Wang. Great heart warming film. Ah, if only to watch Chef Didier (aka Gérard Depardieu) stroll through the snowy morning markets in Karlovy Vary then suddenly lean towards Queen Latifah's right ear so that his prominent nose just about touches her cheek and to listen attentively as he whispers this secret truth in her ear:
"The Secret of life....is BUTTER."

YES! YES! Damn right!
I don't know about you but that was the climax of the film for me.

I had a lovely weekend and met up with a best friend at the James St market. We set in the interior courtyard and had a long D&M for 2.5 hours. I poured out my vices and my woes and she reciprocated. It was a long awaited reunion.

I love the James St market, particularly this kitchenware store called Wheel barrow. They have the most gorgeous cake stands. I love cake stands. I'm all for those suffocating English tea parties. I'd like to abandon myself to a decadent afternoon where we could all indulge in colored iced cakes and other pretty, sweet things that I would load onto my 4-tiered cake stand (which I don't have...yet) until it resembles something from Willie Wonka.
I want, I demand a cake stand for Xmas!!!
And then we could even have cucumber sandwiches. The last time I read about cucumber sandwiches was in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest".
I mean really, who eats cucumber sandwiches?
But you must, you must. I insist.

The Wheelbarrow. Everything in that store is so gorgeous that I want to be pregnant and baking. I want to have it all: the giant chromed pink toaster, the Laroussse gastronomique, the tiny chocolate colored silicon moulds, the long sorbet spoons, the sundae glasses, the cake stand...everything...
Is that asking for too much?

Saturday dinner saw me and Jason at the Blue Grotto in Rosalie. Nothing fancy but I warmed to their decor, particularly the lattice panels inside. Overall, crappy website but great food. And the serves were excellent, even Jason couldn't finish his meal. I felt as if I were back in that pretty chalet in the Black Forest on that fatal night where we were stuffed like geese by our hostess. We were so STUFFED that we just managed to crawl back in our attic room and slept like babies. Can you imagine being so STUFFED that the only thing you want to do is sleep? My body was so unco digesting all that food that I even dribbled my way to sleep. (That's me at my most glamorous.)
Anyway, Saturday was a little like that. What did it for me was the cheesy potato and leek gratin which melted in my mouth at every bite. I'll probably be coming back to the Blue Grotto.

So that was the last of my holiday before uni begins on Thursday.

Wonder what i'll learn...

15 July 2007

Growing up in Dakar Part II

These are just a few pics of my childhood.

Budding Little Thing

The woman in red is my mum. The little girl running on the beach is my older sister. And the beachbabe in the woman's tummy, well, that's me. I must be about 5 months.

Some early morning in the 70s. Just popped out. This is the clinic room and the woman in yellow is my mum. She's got her Ugly Betty frames on, as you can see. I dig the color yellow already! The box on the side table was probably a gift from visitors. I know what it is just by looking at it. It's filled with petits-fours from the Marquise cake shop, my favourite French patisserie in Dakar. My mum had a mammary infection when I was born and when she tried to breast feed me I could only draw blood (already the little vampire!) I guess that's why I'm crying. I want cake.

Early Childhood

This shot was probably taken at Tahiti beach. The topless little girl on the far right is me, probably eating a frozen yogurt. I know I'm 4 in this picture because my baby brother has now taken my place in the woman in red's tummy. The toubab on the far left is my uncle.

Here's me getting my hair in rastas by the maid Marie-Helene. She's lovely and smells like the oil she uses to moisturise her hair. I'm actually in France here. As a toddler, I was sent to France to live with my grandma for 2 years. Something about my health not being very good. I had colics and wanted to play during the night (you little vampire you!) When I was in France the only black person I knew was my beloved Marie-Helene. My grandma said that when we returned to Senegal, I called every stranger Marie-Helene. Funny me. When I finally saw my mum at 3, I didn't know who the hell she was. Apparently that was stressful for her.


Dakar. Kindy visit. My dad orchestrated this shot so he could send it to my grandmother. I asked him to take a shot of me with my friends. All the guys in the photos were my buddies so I'm beaming (far right). The teacher was nice: she didn't hit. No one forced me to use my right hand. It was all good.

I remember this. My dad insisted on taking a shot of the other kids. The two toubab girls sitting on my left were very catty towards me and they never played with me because I looked Asian. The girl with the strapless dress is espcially catty. Anyway, I didn't want them in the photo. To punish them. But my dad didn't listen and insisted on this photo with me in the center. It's obvious from the murderous gaze that I'm sending in his direction that I'm not impressed. I'm clutching at my shirt from sheer frustration while the two evil princesses are lapping it up.

School in Dakar

Grade One, Institution Notre Dame. This is my school in Dakar. It spans grade 1 to 12. My class, as you can see from this school photo is huge. There are actually in the vicinity of 50 students. The smart kids get to sit in the front and the trouble makers are relegated to the back seats. This system privileges wealthy families because some kids who come from nearby villages don't have sufficient breakfast nor enough sleep to be able to concentrate and the more they are sent to the back, the more their confidence dwindles while they don't get enough support and attention from the teacher to improve. This ingenious school is run by nuns. But the nuns are kinder. Lay teachers hit and humiliate students so that their self-esteem gets a 'big boost' from a very young age. Once, a girl wet herself and was publically mocked in the class. We were strictly asked to laugh at her while she was made to stand in her wet clothes in a bucket. It was weird.
I'm one of the few (and only asian) in the class. I'm in the front row wearing a white cardigan and sporting ugly mocassins. Contrary to the other years where the fear of punishment and humiliation motivate me to excel, I'm not top of my class during grade one, because I can't see the blackboard (this was remedied in the next year when I began wearing glasses). In the end of year rewards ceremony, I receive a "Little Miss something" book as a prize for coming fifth in my class. My mum is not happy and tells me that I should have come first. I remember looking down at my ugly mocassins and feeling that I don't deserve the "Little Miss something" book. Reading the book at home only depresses me.

Also See:
Growing Up in Dakar Part III
Growing Up in Dakar

9 July 2007

Growing up in Dakar

Yesterday I came across an amazing travel blog where the author worked with handicapped children in Senegal. She detailed her cultural experiences so well that I was happily transported to my childhood in Dakar. I was grateful that Karen would take the time to share her wonderful cultural experiences in Senegal and I welcomed this third party introspection into my childhood.

Karen's Travel Blog

For most people the thought of electricity cuts, water rationing, bug bites, food poisoning, rampant poverty, dusty unkept roads, overflowing sewers/garbage does not spell a happy childhood but for me, these things are inseperable from the magic of my early years. The person I once was, who took nothing for granted, is the person I admire today. After many years in Australia, with so much wealth surrounding me, I have grown to be very different from the frugal, empathic little girl that I once was. The wisdom of my youth has left me somewhat so that I have sadly grown to expect a certain level of comfort and to expect certain standards from my environment. Isn't that the way of the developed world? Still, though I know that this child still exists somewhere. I am reminded of my past frequently. I laugh everytime I see a water restriction ad in Brisbane. One of them advises: "Turn off the tap to save water while your brush your teeth." Well it's rather obvious, I think...

Here are some of my recollections from growing up in Dakar until the age of 9:

-the dirt and garbage littered streets - I thought Australia was amazingly clean when I first arrived here
-the never ending noisy constructions along our busy street
-daily walks to school past the unfortunate lepers
-maimed children wheeling themselves in tin carts
-children polishing shoes for a living
-the amount of people living on cardboards near the markets
-the stinky but exciting Marche Sandaga
-being spoken to in French, Wolof, Lebanese or basic English
-the mosquito bites that would leave me with no respite
-not showering for days due to water shortages
-watching the maids handwash our clothes and hearing that squishy soapy noise that as much as I tried I could not replicate, much to their amusement
-helping the maids sweep the floors with the reed broom
-getting whacked with the reed broom by a furious maid
-being frightened whenever the maid 'prepared' a live chicken for dinner
-learning traditional dance moves from Casamance with the locals
-playing awesome traditional games at school
-the friendly villagers outside my school gate who used to sell strange fruits that our parents forbade us to buy (for health/safety reasons) but which we ate all the same, like green mango with salt and chilli, the orange, pulpy 'mad' which is delicious and tangy especially with a little sugar and chilli, or the 'pain de singe' (monkey bread) powdered and served into a paper cone...
-the delicious Senegalese dishes: Domoda, Maffe (chicken/vegetables in peanut sauce served with rice), Yassa (fish or chicken in lemon sauce), fish pastels (fish filled pastries served with tomato paste and onion),Thiep Bou Dien (Senegal's national dish, tasty fried fish and rice served with a large array of vegetables including manioc and gombo, my favourites), couscous...
-Shelling and eating boiled peanuts
-Growing peanuts for fun
-Trying to wash my teeth with a plant called a soutiou (spelling?)
-Wearing a boubou and tying my brother to my back using a pagne.
-Singing the Senegalese lullaby, "Ayo Nene Touti" to my little brother.
-Listening to the maids recount legends and myths from their village.
-The resounding call to prayer and the "Allah w akbar" belting out of public speakers from the mosque minarets
-the elegant Senegalese men in their long white robes and fez
-the coquettish Senegalese women in their multicolored textiles and ample gold jewellery
-getting my hair done in rastas, as a toddler
-coconut vendors by the road on the way to the beach, buying coconuts and breaking a hole in the husk to drink the juice, then eating the tender pulp afterwards
-climbing rocks by the Atlantic sea
-climbing poles in the schoolyard
-climbing anything really....
-the array of pirogues lined up along the beaches
-swimming in the Atlantic ocean, among abundant seaweeds and pungent fish smells
-Losing consciousness and almost drowning in the Atlantic ocean and coming to after being rescued by Italian teenagers, only to watch my mum running frantically towards the beach. (scary memory that one)

How wonderful. I feel that I must write more on this subject very soon.