My best thoughts of the week, collected and presented to you for your Sunday reading. This week: new neighbours, food, my brother, adults on scooters and Instagram’s identity crisis.
You either love them, hate them, or don’t even know them. We recently moved from our charming flat in the west to an equally charming apartment in the south. Nestled in between the city and suburbia, our new apartment is tucked away on a cul-de-sac with a small-scale forest as our backyard. It’s a perfect little place and we love it very much, but it’s who and what’s outside the flat that gets me even more intrigued. Who do we share this building with? What are their lives like? Do we have a friendly neighbourhood cat? Where is the nearest place to go for late-night snacks?
As newbies to the area, we are still learning the ins, outs, quirks and qualms of our new locale. For instance, I know that I will never be left short on detergent when I’m doing my washing in the communal laundry room. Someone sneakily hides their powder and fabric softener behind the corner dryer, and I don’t love this about myself, but I do take a few spoonfuls out of theirs when I misjudge the remainders of mine. I also learnt that I hate drummers. After a few weeks of moving in, our next-door neighbour, Hans, decided to take up the drums and has been learning the same rudiment over and over again. Sometimes it’s at 9 am, other times at 10 pm – he keeps us on our toes. Every morning, Margareta, an older woman on the top floor, takes her adorable sausage dog out for a walk. And every morning, at the exact same time, I coincidentally take the trash out and stage an accidental bump-in so I can pat her dog. We have a pizzeria down the road that we know makes the most delicious, and cheapest, Margherita pizzas. There’s also construction in the underground where blasts of dynamite frequently rumbles the apartment and makes you Google about correlations between death rates and tunnel detonators in Sweden. Down the street lives a fat black and ginger cat that rolls over for belly rubs as soon as you step towards her. There are New Yorkers upstairs, squirrels in the trees, patchwork potholes all over the road, the loveliest floral shop nearby and a convenience store that stocks Bundaberg Ginger Beer! I love our quirky and quaint neighbourhood and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Except for maybe Hans. Please, lose that drum kit ASAP.
I grew up in a family of great female cooks. My mother’s bloodline is Anglo-Indian, but through marriage, our culinary heritage extends across the globe. Every Sunday, we operated a BYO buffet service at my Nana and Papa’s house where the kitchen bench top transformed into an international gustation. This meant crab curry sat next to baklava, lasagnas by the mango pickle and greek salads next to chicken biryanis. Anytime you walked into the house, my Nana would be stationed at the stove, serving up chilli bhajis and rolled chapatis with muscle memory. At best, there would be around 30 of us in that old Queenslander house at once. We had a small 6-seater table with a few surrounding chairs, so kids always ate at the table first, and the adults would graciously follow after. In our household, more was more. Second helpings were a standard procedure and third helpings were common decency. We never gobbled our food down in urgency but rather treated this shared meal as a beloved weekly ritual. Every ingredient and spice was savoured separately and holistically. We sucked the marrow out of the bones, ate with our hands and licked our fingers afterwards. When 5pm came, everyone would leave with plastic takeaway containers, shared recipes and extremely full bellies.
I was naturally skinny and scrawny as a kid but I ate like a horse. My aunty and uncles loved saying “You eat so much but you’re so tiny! Where do you put it all?’ To which I would do my famous reply of “It goes in here and out there” and I’d wiggle my bum whilst everyone laughed at my cheekiness. When I hit 16, my metabolism stopped taking one for the team and the years of growing up on rice and curries began to catch up with me. As my hips got wider and my thighs got thicker, the body dysmorphia grew too. I resented my love for food and tried foolish tricks and fads to curb my appetite, or at the very least, expel it afterwards. It wasn’t until after I moved back to Australia in 2020 that I began a new relationship with food. I got genuine enjoyment learning how to properly nourish my body and balance out the foods I put in my gut. I geeked out on the mentality of eating and the act of substituting in cooking. Salads, prawn laksas, carrot cakes and burgers; you name it, I’ll make it. I learnt how deliciously good it felt to make a good meal and then feed it to yourself and those around you. When you bring love into the kitchen, well then, now you’re really cooking. I look back on those Sundays with such fondness and nostalgia now. Our appetites were always encouraged and our bellies were always satisfied. Our love for food wasn’t just limited to the meals themselves but rather to the women cooking them. In my opinion, we were raised on the best by the best.
Last month my brother came to visit and it made me so happy. When the week was over and he left, I was very depressed. I cried the night before, the day of and the morning after…and for two more days after that. The hardest part of living abroad is the people you leave behind. Harder than that is when those people visit, only to leave again. They remind you what it’s like to live back in their company, and to me, life is always better when Jordan is around. What a joy it was to show him Stockholm, introduce him to David and share what my life is like with both. A corny cliche, but my brother is my best friend. My brother is extremely confident in himself, and as an extension of this superpower, he also inspires this same confidence in you. We share the same humour, the same values and the same love for big, existential conversations. He’s the most successful and silliest person I know and I will pine for him until I next see him again.
Adults on scooters.
I am a hypocrite. I used to pass judgment with real defiance and repugnance about adults on scooters – specifically men in suits. At first, it was just the odd one here and there; riding through the inner city to their corporate jobs in polished trousers and button-downs. But soon the popularity of the scooter rapidly grew, overtaking the common bicycle. It was nonsensical to me why a mature grown-up’s preferred method of travelling was the same things that we skidded around on and got ankle burns from. I mean, imagine going on a date, coming to the end of the night and when you part ways, they unlock their child toy and scoot off. Urgh. I carried this distaste with me for a few years until I tipsily (I do not condone this behaviour) got on one at the end of a night out. Albeit being extremely uncoordinated in all other aspects of my life, I excelled at electric scootering. I zoomed my way up and down Brisbane city on full acceleration grinning the whole time. It was my dirty scooter secret. In 2021, I moved to Stockholm, which unbeknownst to me, is scooter central! Within 24 hours of landing, I was ‘voing’, ‘bolting’ and ‘linking’ my way around town for just pure thrills. How liberating to love something that’s so dangerously dumb.
So yes, I will eat my words and my sanctimony and admit that there is absolutely nothing wrong with adults on scooters. Now, I openly advocate for them. Wind blowing in my hair, throttle on full speed, body relaxed and legs firmly placed doing absolutely nothing. 30-minute walk? I’ll see you there in 5. 1-hour train ride? Not me, I’m 20-minutes ahead of you in the fast lane. Wait, what’s that? Push scooters? Fuck, no. I won’t be caught dead on one of those.
Instagram’s identity crisis.
There was a reason I never downloaded TikTok and that is because I have no self-control. I am a very moreish person, so when you give me content on a loop, I will happily hand my brain cells over to it. That reason has now become redundant because TikTok has infiltrated Instagram. The app is going through an identity crisis, and like millions of other users, I am outraged about it. Gone are the good days of familiar faces and still-imagery. Now it’s a congested algorithm of ads, sponsored content and suggested posts. Engaged in dysfunctional, mindless scrolling, hours of my day are dwindled due to meaningless content that I have no affiliation or interest in. Is our zeitgeist of lip-syncing to lyrics and trying hair filters really the best we can do? Dumb and fleeting content is sometimes the exact serotonin hit that our brain needs, and if not to make us think or be moved, then at least let it be funny. Bring back the narrative and personality; give me something to connect to. Just please, oh please, let me see my loved one’s cute pics again. But keep feeding me the random puppy and piglet videos – those are very much warranted.