The people who keep the city awake.

Chairs suspended in mid air, exotic blooms, watching the city as it awakens; there is nothing like having a good cup of coffee at Brother Baba Budan.

The wideness of the horizon has to be inside us, cannot be anywhere but inside us, otherwise what we speak about is geographic distances.

-Ella Maillart 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf

We attended a very special dinner last evening - one that was created as a physical representation of a cookbook that will be launched late April this year. In a charming space and over wholesome food, wine, desserts and conversations shared across the table, it was indeed, a Jovial Gathering :) 

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NOURISH, A cookbook of food stories & mood recipes by Elodie Bellegarde and Denise Hung will be out on the shelves in April 2014. For more details and sneak peeks, check out their Facebook page.

Bread is the simplest satisfaction to hunger and such a simple satisfaction is often the fruit of unseen labour. Similarly, in life, the answer to simple happiness is often attained over a long and extensive journey of searching and finding. More often than not, what appears to be simple, is usually profound.

There couldn’t have been a better way to begin our year - calmly and peacefully. Over some Chinese tea and snacks, we came to appreciate a slower kind of afternoon. May our year be filled with more of these.

The best cafe has got to be your own kitchen.

“The earth laughs in flowers.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Flowers are amazing gifts from nature. A room without any doesn’t feel out of the ordinary, but a room with just hints of them, instantly feels warmer and brighter. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t someone who often does floral arrangements. At times when you want to put something simple together, just little tea cups and used jam jars make for wonderful flower holders. 

Our annual gathering on the Eve of Christmas this year was even more special than the last because everyone from our immediate family came home to celebrate the occasion together :) Yesterday was also the first time in a long time that I’ve managed to spend a good whole day with my older sister who lives away from home. We decided to do something fun together, so we headed out to the florist and got some fresh carnations, hydrangeas and pompoms, hoping to be able to have some blooms to compliment the tea lights for the table settings.

We did these little arrangements over little conversations, revelations and a jazzy-bookstore mix of tunes. There couldn’t be a better way to have spent Christmas Eve :)

那五個畫面的秘密 (The Secrets of the Five Pictures) is an inspiring book that I’ve just finished reading. This was written by 李鼎, a Taiwanese film director/author, in a way that mimics one of his aspirational keynote speeches that revolves around the secrets behind five photographs taken at different points in his life. I would like to share two quotations that I feel, are inspiring angles to look at failure (without revealing any of the secrets).

Being human, we are afraid of failure, or in simpler words, afraid of losing. We are afraid to lose sight - not necessary the physical sense of sight - but the failure to see progress and results. To not see progress or results deems the purposes or dreams we pursue a complete failure. This causes us to lose sight of hope and belief, resulting in a world with the absence of light. However, it is often only in the darkest, that we might be able to find the brightest source of light(越黑的地方,就會看見什麼是白). So, to fail also allows you to see what you pursue, more clearly.

It is not just sight that we are afraid to lose, we are also afraid of losing comfort. Success is the symbol of comfort, and comfort brings about stagnancy. While stagnancy can be harmful for some, it can also lead others to pursue a higher level of success, which in turn places the comfort that we currently have, at stake. Pursuing dreams and goals is like mountaineering and pursing various dreams or higher goals is like going from one mountain to another higher mountain. However, you have to first descend before you can scale towards greater heights (從一個山頂到臨一個山頂必須先下山). Therefore, to fail is to allow us to take upon greater heights. 

To be able to see our goals and dreams and to take on them, we must first learn to embrace failure. 

The sound of jazz flows through the bedroom on a gloomy afternoon, bringing with it, the breath of Christmas and the warmth of a Kyoto cafe. This lovely jazz album from Song x Jazz is based on Toru Takemitsu's song book (武満徹ソングブック) and performed by Choro Club with various enchanting vocalists. It has arrived just in time for our annual Christmas gathering.

May we be carried away by these mesmerising lounge tunes while our souls heal over the last few weekends of the year. 

40歳のためのこれから術 (Giving Your 40s a Brand New Start) is a book by Matsuura Yataro (松浦彌太郎). I had seen this book several times at the bookstore and often pondered upon whether or not it was too early to be reading about the 40s. However, after finishing this read, I realised that there are some meaningful advices that I can start heeding even now.

It seems that life is one long journey divided into two halves - the first being before 40 and the second, after 40. As we begin our first half of the journey with nothing, we slowly accumulate whatever we can and perhaps without realizing at times, that we are giving lesser than we take. We also desire more, and eventually come to feel that we have too many things in life to care about. With this, it seems impossible to begin the second half of the journey fresh and light.

Perhaps we should start learning the etiquette of giving and giving more, rather than giving and taking because the lighter our baggages are, the further we can walk.

Just an ordinary everyday spent in Cafe 日々.

This Sunday morning was a little different from my usual. Instead of staying in bed till eleven (am truly always guilty of this), I got up early and met a friend of twelve years. We sat down at this cozy little joint, had breakfast and coffee and mused about our lives now and what the future holds for us.

I really look forward to us - our friendship and our journeys in the next ten years, the next next ten years, and many more tens to come.

I guess this is one of the pleasures of growing older :)

CAD Cafe
23 Haji Lane
Singapore 189216

Mornings in 浅草 in 2009 & 2010 were canvases of azure blue skies, a steadily growing Tokyo Sky Tree and familiar strangers performing their daily routines. The tranquility and sleepiness of this older side of the city worked like a charm on us on our short but memorable visits there.

浅草, may we meet again soon.

A story given to us from tens of centuries away.