Wow *blows dust*. It’s been a minute since I’ve been here. A lot has happened since then. Not gonna go into details but just some highlights, yes?
I spend a lot of time alone but happily so. You see, I am an extrovert to an extent but I also love my solitude. Even though I have several gangs, I would still disappear for days and re-emerge for important meet-ups or parties. Some of you may know that I’ve gotten engaged with a man that I really, really love. The engagement was simple but most importantly, real. There wasn’t any orchestra or rose petal rain from a helicopter, there wasn’t any dramatized element to it. We were in Singapore, in our hotel room after breakfast when he popped the question. I have not showered, in my favourite grey sweater, he went down on both his knees, hands trembling (he was so nervous) and told me that I made him very, very happy and would I do him the honours to be his wife. I was floored and I said YES. Yes to marrying you, Michael Grudziecki. Yes to marrying you. I sobbed and laughed simultaneously. There isn’t even a picture or a video of the whole thing, but it still lingers in my mind. It’s the kind of memory that will always glow, the one that you can pull up and wrap around when life is slow. To me, it was perfect. I will also be moving to Germany end of this year. I am absolutely excited about hauling my belongings across the world and start anew. To be honest, this place is frustrating. While I am a happy soul, my city confuses me, mainly the people existing on it. It is a frustrating city to live in. I am not complaining, there is no such thing as a perfect place and there are many, many things that I love about this city too. Everything came to me this week and by the end of it, I was absolutely overwhelmed by how underwhelmed I was with people who often seemed to be placed in my life to taunt me. I couldn’t face this city so I cancelled all my weekend plans for a solitary one instead. Time alone to move slow is exactly what I need. Jean Paul Sartre was right in No Exit when he asserted that hell is indeed, other people. The only FOMO I was experiencing on Friday night was fear of missing out on time away from everyone. Dinners, the city, the restaurants, the bars will always be there on rotation but time alone is hard to squeeze in.
365 days ago, right around this time, I was at the restaurant below my apartment, having dinner for the first time with my now boyfriend, Michael Grudziecki. It was one of those perfect night where the wine was flowing and conversations went on for hours. I didn’t want the night to end so I invited him to my home and we ended up talking until it was very, very late. He left the next morning to catch a flight to Thailand. I was sad because I thought that was it, it has to end there, no? But I found myself packing a suitcase 4 days later to meet him in Bangkok and it was lovely. We parted ways at the airport and promised to keep in touch. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. Speaking from experience, that is just what men say to be polite. I expected nothing. But somehow, things are different with this man. We had our very first FaceTime the next day. And we started sending emails which now evolved to love letters. We have datenight on Fridays – where we actually dress up and meet via FaceTime. I traveled to Munich and we went on a road trip to Marianske Laszne, Prague, Wroclaw and Berlin. I met his family and I hope they like me. 5 months later, he came to Malaysia and we traveled to Malacca, Penang, Vietnam and Hong Kong. He met my family and they love him. My mother now refers to him as “my son”. Now, I’d love to sit here and blab on about how my perfect relationship with my perfect boyfriend is in my perfect life. I’ve seen many girls raise their boyfriends to Disney prince level. We are sold such picture perfect representation, which isn’t reality and it creates a haze. I find love hard. But that sentiment is typically fueled often by my menstrual cycle, a monthly phase in my life where all men are toxic. Ridiculous, I know. But I am a woman and while we are so many wonderful things, we are all surely ridiculous. It makes us far more interesting than men, but it it also is never a smooth ride. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing negative to say about Michael, quite the contrary, he is a remarkable man and one I am honoured to call my boyfriend. But we have had our problems. Just last week, we argued about a lamp and things got weird for two days. So to sit here and write about how we made it to month 12, feels like a triumph in one way or another. Anyways, so yes the road of love can be tumultuous, for me at least. I might be hard to love. I might make love too hard. I don’t know. But I will say this, this is what I’ve learned this year: he is he and you are you. I simply decided to let the expectations, the plans and the infinite what ifs to unravel and instead to love with ease. Life is manic but love should be calm.
To Michael: Happy 1 Year! Let’s try making it to 20. I love you!
There really isn’t anything more enticing to me than love. We as women, especially, seem to relish this topic, over coffee or 2 glasses of wine. If you are in love, know that it is a good thing – it is probably the best thing that can happen to anyone. Just be careful not to let anyone make it light or small for you. I’ve learned that there are two kinds of love. First would be the arrogant, mean and egotistical that uses love for self-importance. The ugly and debilitating kind. I’ve dragged myself through toxic relationships many times before. And the second would be a flood of everything good – kindness and compassion and consideration and respect. The recognition of the other person as valuable and great. It will release in you strength and courage and goodness that you never knew you had. Love – if you have it, be grateful for all the glory that comes with it. If you love someone, there is really no harm in saying so. Sometimes, what you feel the other person might not for some reason or another but always, always remember that it does not make your feeling less valuable or good. I know your feeling because I have it too and I am really happy you have it. Don’t ever worry about losing because nothing good gets away. I read this somewhere and I held and highlight it high. Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
I am lucky enough to experience almost the entire realm of Skinsaikel products. Skincare, I suppose, was never a passion of mine. I could never stick to a routine because I find it rather tedious and a time consuming endeavor, especially when I’m in a morning rush or a tired night. However, at 33 my skin’s texture has changed. It is coarser and far more dry. I also suffer from having combination skin – greasy as doughnut in some areas, dry and flaky like a desert in others and of course the occasional volcanic blemish. We as women collapse when our skin disobeys us. It’s been 4 weeks since I began my Skinsaikel regime. I perform it day and night with army discipline. My face is more dewy, more supple; the few lines that I do have are less pronounced and seem to have become more shallow. Honestly, I can’t believe it took me so long to find and use these products. And that’s the truth. I’m not being paid, why would I lie to you?
My skin is far more dry this time of year with the unbearable heat and the dust doing a lot of damage to the skin, but I refuse to deny myself these grand pleasures – which makes these products solid essentials for me. The steps go as follows: cleansing, toning, followed by moisturiser and concluding in the standard eye cream. Together, they create a calming blanket of layers. Once a week I will exfoliate and use the mask which smells heavenly. The results I’ve seen thus far are definitely keeping me diligent.
The Gentle Cleanser is soap free. A modest amount circled over the face is enough to remove all the dirt and excessive make-up accumulated throughout the day. I like to use my Konjac sponge from Sephora to really scrub all the impurities away. It leaves my skin glowing too. It’s a long lasting product which makes it worth the price. The Vitalising Antioxidant Mist is, for lack of a better word; WONDERFUL. It also doubles as a toner and it smells refreshing. If you were to only buy one product from this post, I would undoubtedly recommend this toner/face mist. The Gentle Moisturizer and Youthful Eye Cream are light, but also, hydrating. It smooths onto the face wonderfully. They make for an incredible (hydrating) duo. It works like magic, I promise. The 1 Minute Facial + Exfoliant is a formula of both AHA and BHA, the two components to help remove dead skin layers and enhance skin turnover. The Radiant Antioxidant Mask is a personal weekly pleasure. A humble amount of this all over my face is a soothing relief; my skin relaxes.
I adore Skinsaikel, they are down-to-earth, environmentally friendly (100% vegan-friendly, cruelty free, free from parabens, sulphates, synthetic colours or fragrance, and other evil ingredients) and ultimately, their products proved effective for me.
As a 33-year-old. I still don’t know much, but what I’m about to tell you, these simple things, these I know to be true. Not because someone told me, not from a book I read, but life forced them on me. Some were liberating, others are painful to learn, but most of all, I am happy to discover these personal truths that I can call my own and share with you.
You only have yourself in this world. Your family, friends are your trampoline to bounce you up, but you have to use your own power to get back from whatever or whoever made you fall. Wine doesn’t work, dwelling makes things worse and being angry is a wasted emotion amongst all the beautiful feelings that you can feel.
Being nice is a good thing. But be careful to not let ungrateful people stab you in the back, the feeling is horrible, especially if it involves someone you love. They have their own sick ways to make you feel so fucking guilty and you will get sucked into the same game, the same vicious cycle EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is a lesson that I had to learn over and over for as long as I can remember. There are always people who will take you for granted. But remember, it is your right, your decision to be in control of your space, time and energy. Your happiness should be your first priority. You owe them nothing! In fact, they can banish to whatever sad abyss that compelled them to wrong you in the first place.
Most men are a waste of time. They are mean or controlling or lying or just lousy in a way you can’t quite define, but can feel in your uncertain dissatisfaction with them. But then, there are good ones – they are few and far between. You will only come across one or two in your lifetime, but they will be shockingly and perfectly great. You will finally have faith in something your married friends have bored you with for the longest time. I might have found one and I might just marry him.
Great friends are hard to come by. They will tell you when your mascara runs or when you have lipstick on your teeth. They are the ones who will call you from time to time instead of just texting. They will greatly despise all the men that mistreated you and defend you until their voice are hoarse. They will turn up on your doorstep unannounced. Turn their couch into a bed for you. You might not talk or meet for months, but when you do, it’s as if time had not passed at all. They will ask for favours the same casual way they’d ask their family. They will get really mad at you but will also forgive you. They will be the most important people you know in your life and I am lucky enough to have friends like this.
I wonder. I’m wondering what my priorities should be throughout the next two sweet years short of 35. Wondering will I ever settle down with a good man. Wondering if I want to have children. Wondering about coffee, the three Americanos I shouldn’t have everyday. Wondering about clean eating and if should jump on that bandwagon. Wondering about vaping, is it really not as bad as cigarettes? Wondering about living in Germany and will I ever master the language. Wondering about my brother, whom I love, but also irritates me. Wondering about one of my sisters, wondering why is she the way she is. Wondering about Instagram, wondering if I love or hate the little app I scroll through every day. Wondering about my hair, thinking about going darker, thinking about how messy it is most days. Wondering about these eyebrows of mine, last night I assertively decided that they aren’t great at all. Should I do something about them, do I care about my eyebrows at all? Wondering about how short my lashes are and that I am actually envious of my boyfriend’s long & full lashes, they are far greater than mine. Wondering what my friends in London, Rotterdam, Madrid and beyond are doing right now. Wondering if they miss me. Wondering if one friend is irritated that I’m taking too damn long to reply her letter. Wondering about all the big words that I don’t understand in this new book I’m reading. Wondering why I don’t like going out. Wondering if I’m far duller now than before. Wondering will I ever be rich. Wondering what will I do in the next years. Wondering why some people are cosmically placed in my life just to taunt me. Wondering why people can’t just respect my space. Wondering why I wonder too much. Wondering about things I’m wondering. Even the word wondering has me wondering.
As some of you may know, I am taking Echopunya in a series of new direction. My main focus will still be my personal diary/writing, but I am aiming to incorporate new lifestyle topics to create a more rounded and interesting Echopunya. So say hello to my new first segment – food. I love food as much as the next person, but what I really love is quality food. Remember, what you put in your body is by far the most important thing you do everyday.
Last Saturday was a day well spent. There was an abundance of three very important things – good friends, quality food and laughter. We decided to have our get-together at Harumi 23, a chic Japanese restaurant at a charming new township in Desa Park City – Arkadia. You see, I love Japanese food. I still obsessively think about the grilled scallop I had at a restaurant near Lake Akan in Hokkaido. It counts as one of the best moment in my life.
Harumi 23 is by far one of the best Japanese restaurants I’ve been to in KL. Ingredients are air-flown from the famous Tsukiji Market in Tokyo twice a week.
We started off with the Harumi Dobinmushi – the broth is infused with fresh mushrooms and prawns. You can choose to have it with a few drops of lemon juice or as is. I loved it from the first sip, it went straight to my heart.
Tea has great cultural significance in Japan. The traditional tea ceremony is considered one of Japan’s highest forms of art. We had a bowl of the Ceremony Uji Matcha to share. It is green tea in its purest form – strong and bitter.
Shared a Chef’s Selection (Omakase) Sashimi Moriawase and Mentai Tamago that just melts in my mouth. It’s divine!
Mentai King Prawn that I still dream about.
Japanese Curry that is super hearty. I had it with salad because I’m a loon and you know, balance.
Mentaiko Spaghetti that I wish I can have every day.
They also serve a wide range of alcoholic beverages. This above is the Plum Wine on the rocks.
I was surprised to know that Harumi 23 serves 3rd wave coffee. If it sounds strange to you, it simply means that the coffee has a lighter roast profile and of premium quality coffee beans.
They also serve iced white coffee (with or without alcohol)
Harumi 23 is the first Japanese restaurant I’ve been to that serves Japanese breakfast. It starts from 8AM to 11AM. We shared a serving of Strawberry & Banana Souffle Pancakes. This fluffy goodness tastes like a dream.
The Matcha Kakigori has a nice balance of sweet and bitter, exactly how I like my green tea.
Shibuya Honey Toast served with a very generous amount of vanilla ice cream.
This was taken right after our big feast at Harumi 23. I have to say, friends like Eunice and Ah Bok are really hard to come by. Life goes on, people come together and fall apart. Saying that, whenever things start to spiral downwards, trust your people. Yes, we all have them – your bestfriend(s), your family; those that have stuck with you through it all. And here we are, doing what we do best: getting drinks (and food) and giggling. And trust me, it is the simple things like this with the people you love that will pull you out of your bad/funk mood/sadness you might be feeling.
FG-02, Plaza Arkadia
Desa Park City
Tel: 03-271 09263
It’s been raining the whole day and I just clicked the ‘x’ on my work email tab commemorating that I am done with work for the day. I have Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso score playing on my speaker and I feel a tiny comfort sweep into my little space. It’s been a series of great days that culminate in a month I tied up into a box of memories to add up to my ever expanding collection. You see, I have always envisioned the various chapters of my life as lives in themselves, simply because when I look back, the spectrum of colour seems so much different to where I am right now. I am fiercely nostalgic to a point where I’m afraid this could be just an over-sentimentalization, but then again… I see my life as a story and no good story is ever boring. As you already know, back in November, I flew to Bangkok to meet a man and ended up falling in love. Last month, I traveled 9,682 kilometres to Eastern Europe to be with him for a whole month. At first, I was afraid that he would get exasperated after a while because, let’s face it – I am insane – and that I would end up on the street should we decide after a few days that we are not well suited. But that didn’t happen. If it’s anything, I fell even more in love with him. I felt so, so loved. We went on a road trip. We had so much fun. So here we are, in month 4 of 12 and I’m looking ahead, hoping that the love I feel doesn’t abandon, fail, betray or trick me as the days go by. Now, I’m not a fan of sugar-coating stories, we’ve had our disagreements and there are a few accounts that I’ve replied his texts with one-word answers. It’s terrible. I tend to forget that now, the things I do can affect not one, but two. And vice-versa. I’m learning how to be a good girlfriend, perhaps I never knew or I forgot. But I don’t really think about it too much because a pressure like that could break a relationship all in itself. I would like to believe that Michael loves me enough to look pass my fluctuating moods and melancholic episodes. For now, my craziness and his patience coalesce well enough for him to call me every night and for me to text him I love yous, I miss yous about 20,000 times a day. For now, I don’t need to think about forever. Knowing that we had yesterday, we have today and tomorrow is ours too, that’s all I need to feel happy and okay.
23 months is 700 days or so and that’s how long I’ve been running away from emotional commitment. I’ve been dodging it at all cost. I quite like the idea of sailing through the years single, with men for fun along the way. That makes me sound like a horrible person. But unexpectedly, at the height of my pessimism, negativity and doubts, I met Michael. On our second date, we had Thai dinner and talked about nothing that is now everything. We shared a hug at a street corner in Sukumvhit 11, he held my hand and did not let go for the next 3 days. But it wasn’t until we parted ways and I was waiting to board my flight back, I realised this man wasn’t simply for fun. I was half expecting him to stop texting me anyway. But he’s still here and here I am too, and I know it seems like I hopped from one man to the next and in a way I did but there was so much doubt and hesitation between. It’s not that I’m afraid of being alone, I didn’t date for two entire years to learn how to be alone but happily so. Michael was simply life happening when I’m looking the other way. I wasn’t searching for him. There is a serene rhythm in a space where our lives now intertwined. He is easy and he was easy to fall in love with despite my inner gloom and doubts towards relationship, I glide right into love with him. Wow, I’m in love. In love and shocked to even say that, to my Mom, to you and especially written down rather permanently here. So here’s what I’ve learned, love is like a breeze. You don’t go looking for it, you have to wait. And when it comes, it’s best to let it take you away. So, with my doubts simply as a shadow behind me and with a man better than any I’ve ever met, I say embrace the people that come your way. They very well could turn into perfection. You’ll never know if you say no.