Mountain Dew in Mountain View

This evening I took a Lyft down to Mountain View from Menlo Park. Sat in the back of a car, idly reading through my RSS feed, I grew more and more nauseous as we negotiated the rush hour traffic. In retrospect, what I should have done is taken the bus from the campus down to the Caltrain station, and then taken the train from Palo Alto to Mountain View – it would have not taken any longer, and cost about a fifth of the price. But I’m sometimes a slow learner.

I was meeting Miranda, a friend from our Hong Kong days who now lives in California; we caught up over felafels and I jabbered at her for the best part of two hours, tamping down my desire to vomit by chugging ginger beer. Again, a missed opportunity. If I was drinking fizzy drinks, it should have been a Mountain Dew in Mountain View. Again, I’m a really slow learner. If I was hopped up on high-caffeine HFCS-laced soda, would I be that much better? Some things you can only be sure if you expose them to empirical verification.*

Anyway, Miranda was quite tolerant of my jive-talking jibber-jabber, and after we’d eaten we strolled the civilised main street of Mountain View, which includes a bookshop stacked high with copies of Chaos Monkeys. (Mountain View is the home of Google, and perhaps the thinking is that the sans-serifed army of Googlers would be keen to read a book dishing the dirt on the brogrammers of Palo Alto.) We wandered up and down some more, and I continued to declaim my epiphany that most people think you’re better than you think you are (and conversely, people also think less of you than you think of yourself) in between wondering where to feast on gelato or chocolate cake. In the end, I had a second dinner of mozzarella and tomatoes, the third salad I’d eaten today.

That’s because I’ve turned a corner, turned my back on the high protein, high calorie meals I’ve been eating. No longer will I stuff myself full of subsidised scrambled eggs and deep fried pucks of vegetable protein. No, I’ll have healthy lunches of leaves and breakfasts of fruit … and then stuff my face mid-afternoon full of cupcakes. It’s a good life if you don’t weaken.

This evening, when I got back to the hotel, my knees inexplicably sore and tired, I sat for half an hour and declaimed the first chapter of Sarong Party Girls into my phone, so my daughter can have it as a bedtime story. However, a middle aged man incorrectly pronouncing Singlish is unlikely to be an astute choice for bedtime reading, even if it didn’t have Sarong Party Girls’ plot. (The plot of which is not quite what the blurb suggests, as a Singlish Emma. At the end, as Jazzy, the narrator achieves a cruel clarity about her existence and status in her social circle, she doesn’t suddenly realise the good husband has been staring her in the face all along. All men are bastards, and some women too, although for the most part every woman’s status in the story is as a victim of some sort. The book stays compulsive to the end, and even loose ends like Keith, the gay man who is seen at a single KTV parlour and never again, may be true depictions of the transient nature of ang mohs filtering through Singapore. The lapses out of Singlish are quite forgivable when they allow the relation of bleak truths like

Every single person was being damn action, as if they were having a number one time. But if you looked closely, you could see that actually, this one is all for show. Even though the mouth is smiling, the eyes are quite sad. The ones who were hooking up didn’t look tender or passionate. It was a manic desperation; the fear of being alone, of going home alone.

Do SPGs use semi-colons?

Anyway, enough of such complications. It’s time I was asleep. I only had three hours last night, and I feel quite drained.

* Then again, any good student of the philosophy of science will point out that the veracity of observation is something that can only ever be guaranteed in some branches of pure mathematics, even if we don’t accept the Popperian view that experiments are done to falsify theories, or whatever interpretation of Kuhnian scientific paradigms you want to play with.

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