Still unpacking

Been at the new flat for over a week now and I'm still unpacking. First I did clothes and the kitchen (although the kitchen remains only half-unpacked while we try to deodorise some cupboards), then work and related items, and this week I'll finally start to excavate some boxes that have been sealed since I moved to London.

Not everything can come out at once because I still need to buy some shelves and side tables. I'm tired of furniture shopping --- which is often more like furniture window shopping, since everything's so freaking expensive --- but if nothing else I still need to get lights for the bedroom. Last night I wanted to read a (dead tree) book before sleeping and resorted to using the Flashlight app on my iPhone for proper illumination.

A contractor's gonna come in and do some fixing up here and there, so it'll be a little while before the place is entirely shipshape. In the process of researching, I've discovered the rather helpful Renotalk forums and even ventured (just once!) into the bowels of IMM. Who knew there was so much to be learned about cove lighting and LEDs ...




Adulthood, again

A few months ago, I signed my name on a mortgage loan for a flat, and last Friday all the paperwork was finally wrapped up and I collected my keys. I'm a home-owner again, with a pretty scary-sounding amount on my loan papers, but when you consider how much scarier Singapore rentals have gone up in the last two years, a loan ain't so bad.

The flat is in Toa Payoh, making it the fifth "old" HDB flat I'll have lived in ("old" meaning they've been around since at least the 1980s, if not the 1970s). As a friend said in email last week, "I admire the way you only seem to live in housing estates that have some character/history." I told him it's more that I have a low tolerance for commuting distances from town, where most of my work commitments and social plans happen, and most of the affordable housing options within my tolerance level happen to be in those estates built in the HDB's early burst of public housing planning, right after the frantic desperation of the 1960s. Fortunately for me, this means they also happen to be estates with larger flats, better amenities for residents and more developed, even entrenched communities.

Last week, I also drove a car again for the first time in at least five years, possibly eight. My brother says I pretty much slid behind the wheel, adjusted the seat and mirrors, and knew what to do. I've had a driving license since I was 18 and eschewed car ownership the past few years because I always crowed that taxi fares were cheap enough when I needed to get around in a hurry. But since I got back from London last year, I've felt that the things I need to do now, for work and in personal life, are stretching me out a lot more, and there's been more than one day when I've sorely felt that having a car would be handy. I can't afford one right now, but at least having refreshed my driving skills, I can borrow the family car or rent a car when I need it.

My junior college class got together for a reunion recently, and as we dawdled over nasi briyani, chocolate cake and nonya kueh, it felt at moments like we were still the same people we had been at 18 again, only now accoutred with partners and spouses, mortgages, children (in some cases) and increasingly unreliable memories. Most days I still feel like a bit of a teenager, maybe because I don't have children and don't work in a typical office environment. But on days when I'm getting used to new house keys and temporarily adding a car key to the bunch --- maybe not so much.

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