Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turkey Dinners

Last week was a great time where friends came over to our house for dinner. An old colleague based in Canada was here for the week so we hosted three days of turkey based food. Some other friends came over as well and we cooked the turkey which we had in the freezer since Thanksgiving. In the first day, the food was traditional baked turkey de- boned with the usual gravy, corn and mash potatoes. The next day was gumbo with turkey and sausage mixed with the okra stew and the last day was turkey and noodle soup with spring rolls and rice. For dessert, our friends brought yogurt ice cream, chocolate and cookies cake and, on the last day, baked mandarin orange cake. It was a fun filled time where we exchanged notes on our recent Christmas vacation, shared gossip and talked about new things.

On the second day, the topic was tablet PCs and I demonstrated the Archos 70 – watching YouTube videos and surfing the Internet. The third and last day was karaoke day where we sang songs, looked at pictures of our friend’s vacation and talked about all sorts of topics like the plunging dollar currency and ways to preserve one’s income. Good food and conversation, new gadgets and sharing experiences are always the ingredients of a good get together. Often times we also reminiscence about our fun times in Singapore where we had the same ingredients but with our other dear friends who we have left behind in Singapore. Those days were such fun and one should have a song like I left my heart in Singapore because it was such a joyous time. Now we are left with the old memories in YouTube to remember them.

Continuing our dinners is a great way to connect to the new environment and cement relations with new friends as well as maintain our old connections. Good food and conversation is always the best mix. Unfortunately, none of the guest drinks liquor except me so I would start with wine or cocktails before they arrive. The dinners where held for three consecutive days because our dear friend from Canada may not be back for some time due to a new assignment. So we tried to linger and enjoy her presence in case we would not see here again after a long period. But it was a bit taxing for me because I slept late and still watched the videos borrowed from the library or read the books and magazines or surfed the Internet after dinner. I have not been sleeping well this week due to the pressures at the office and I had a short nap on the last night while my friends where singing karaoke songs.

The project is not going as expected with issues on the software and the contractors we were working with. Delays, technical problems, resource and scheduling constraints have been sapping my energy. Sometimes it feels like I am only the one working on the project. I guess it’s a different way of working here without the intensity and focus like in Asia. It is slower moving environment, gentle and respectful when working here which is good, too. One has to switch intensity and focus and adapt to the good old Southern culture. There are a lot of things on my mind I guess with the weather not cooperating as well. The heavy snow affected our schedule and my usual dose of borrowing a lot of books, magazines and DVDs are not helping. I guess the concern on my mom’s operation to remove abscess in her liver is not helping my mental state. Being a worrier has triggered all sorts of thoughts in my mind (i.e. money, health problems and so on).

But dinners with friends are always good, keeping one connected and down to earth; away from the churning mind and useless thoughts. It slows down the mind and opens one’s eyes to the present moment. It’s the secret to keeping sane. Unfortunately the mind revolts from the peace and tranquility and during the weekend one gets back into the mental treadmill. I finished Trevor Paglen’s ‘Blank Spots on the Map’, Heritage Sites in China (picture book), Hemingway’s Michigan (picture book), and couple of magazines (Wired, Consumer Report, Town and Country, Newsweek, Home and Garden) and watched DVDs (The Snow and the Tiger, The Rules of The Game, My Beautiful Washing Machine, My Favorite Season, Triange) as well as surfed the Internet using the tablet. The churning mind often results in dark thoughts and indulgences which one should avoid. The answer is to reduce the mind’s activity by doing less, being with friends and focusing on a single activity.

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