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Archive for the 'Food' Category

The Big Weekend

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

There is a lot happening this weekend.  Dozens of parties, a whole slew of student-run activities (SEA Night, Fiesta 2007 etc. etc.), people visiting, free trips, plans to catch meals together.


There’s also been a very elevated incidence of baked goods from Rosie’s, and chocolate.  All the benefits of thesis-induced starvation are quickly becoming a distant memory.

I’m not complaining.  If only I had the motivation to also study for the Ec midterm I have next week.

Back to our regular programming

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

I’m so hungry right now.  This morning after I finally dragged myself out of bed I hurried to write a (horrendous) response paper on Nietzsche’s The Use and Abuse of History, which took long enough that when I finally made it to the seminar room Prof C had already finished talking about it.  Gah.  This after I spent hours reading tiny print on Mexican buses…  why does this happen so often?  Anyhow, my tummy was rumbling all through class, and I am just biding my time until dinner is served in 15 minutes – at about 4.30pm they usually put the first batch of food out.

Speaking of food, last night I came back to find, at 1.30am, a huge selection remaining at Brain Break, which is unusual.  This selection included my favorite bread (club wheat), peanut butter and my preferred jam (strawberry).  Plus there were actual whole chicken quarters in gravy from some kosher event, so I microwaved one of those and devoured that too 🙂

In happy news, I came back to find a big wad of cash in an unmarked envelope on my desk, buried under the pile of papers I evacuated from my KIV folder right before I left for Mexico.  Yay!

And right now, it’s snowing?!?  Of course.  After all, it’s April in Cambridge, and it was 70F yesterday.  Naturally.

I can’t wait to type up my Fall 07/08 style report.  I finally got caught up on all the shows I missed while thesis-writing.  Thumbs up for video podcasts! 🙂

Oaxaca City, Day 3

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

I am proud of myself for getting out of bed this morning before 5.30am in order to make the first bus out of Mexico City to Oaxaca City.  Although truth be told that was probably the worst four hours of sleep I have ever experienced…  so many people banging in and out of the room and talking at all hours.  And why are the overhead lights so obnoxious?  You would think that hostels would quickly learn to install smaller floor lamp type lighting so that new arrivals at 3am do not awaken the entire room.  And to oil the horrifically noisy door hinges!?!

The bus ride here took about seven hours, during which I slept, ate some freshly baked cheesecake I bought at the TAPU terminal, finished reading Arundhati Roy´s heartbreaking The Cost of Living, listened to my iPod and started on Nietzsche´s The Use and Abuse of History, assigned for my theory class.  I did not have very much time in Oaxaca, so I spent all of it shopping for the things I came here to buy.  Mexican chocolate, mezcal–another agave cactus-derived fermented drink like tequila but this one uniquely from Oaxaca state, handicrafts, especially hand-woven textiles–some of which are gorgeous but far too expensive for me.

I just got back from my main meal of the day–not counting the spicy soft white cheese, freshly-cut pineappe and papaya, and tirimisu-type cake I bought at various local markets.  I went to the buffet and cultural show at the upscale Camino Real Oaxaca hotel.  The food was alright, at least I got to try both the local hot chocolate and various kinds of moles.  The interesting cultural show–nine different traditional dances presented with different costumes–was a reenactment of a big local festival in July when all the peoples of Oaxaca state come together and celebrate their culture.  I forget the name of the festival right now.  Details when the pictures make the upload.

So tired already.  Must go to bed.  And then tomorrow another early bus to Puebla, enroute back to Mexico City.

PS: I want a pair of those lovely straw sandals the men wore for the second dance!

First day of the final Spring Break

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Today I woke up feeling incredibly wobbly and with a steady headache, and found my room completely trashed.  Very collegiate, no?

 Done! (22 Mar 2007)

Except this wasn’t a hangover of the partying sort.  This was the thesis hangover.  After a week of not really sleeping, two weeks of not really eating, and a month of not really relaxing, it’s really no wonder that I slept for 17 hours straight and woke up feeling only partly revived.  I weighed myself this morning and was pretty shocked to see how much weight I’ve lost recently, which only confirms what I recognise (unprecedented for me) to be a thesis-induced skeletal look.  Very runway 🙂  I think my complexion for the past week would be best described as “death-mask”.

Thanks to the seemingly endless supply of fancy food at HUCE, my diet the past few weeks has been a combination of: (a) nothing, (b) horrendous junk food, or (c) very rich fancy food.  Which may explain the frequent nausea.  An illustrative food diary:

Wed 3am-6pm: four Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  Endless litres of water.  Jelly beans.
Wed 6pm-9pm: dried figs, rabbit paté on crackers, and some hard cheese.  Nausea.
Wed 10pm-11pm: spicy Doritos.
Thu 3am-8am: nothing.  Many litres of water.
Thu 8am-10am: chocolate butter croissant, iced lemon tea.  More nausea.

Trashed (22 Mar 2007) 

Meanwhile, my room…  woah.  I don’t think it’s ever been this trashed before.  When I finally woke up at 7am this morning I was startled enough to take a few pictures to record the damage.  (Laurel, this reminds me of your blog post from the day after you finished your dissertation.)

Which reminds me, I should get back to tidying.

The “Club Culture” Party pictures!

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007


(9 Feb 2007)

At long last I’ve gone through them and thrown a bunch of them onto Flickr…  although I haven’t labelled or captioned any of them.  I’m sad that I didn’t take more pictures at the CNY potluck dinner.  Oh well.

There should be a lot to say, but blogging seems a real luxury right now.  I had two thesis-related meetings today; wow do I have a lot of work left to do.  On an unrelated note, I hate being stranded away from my dining hall and missing mealtimes.  Prior to dinner at 5pm I had a banana, a serving of Lay’s potato chips, a slice of choco-banana bread (someone baked a loaf for HUCE!) and a milky mug of tea…  which was still probably about 800 KCal, but nonetheless didn’t feel very substantial.


PS: I cannot wait to throw more parties!!  Also, I’m excited to have my cousins visit in April!! *waves* 🙂

Happy CNY!

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

It’s the Year of the Pig, apparently.

My day started with an emergency admissions tour, which overran and made me a bit late for lunch, which lasted three hours, and then barely two hours of thesis dataset building before it was time to spend the rest of the night eating pineapple tarts and drinking green tea.

I’m glad Xue decided to hold a dinner party – if not the rest of us thesis-trapped seniors would never have bothered.  There was yu sheng and everything, not to mention oodles of miscellaneous comfort food like roti prata and mee goreng.  I even brought home a tub of fried rice and roast chicken.  And the company was quite select as well.  A fun time all round.

I wish my dataset was more revealing…  gah.

The day after Valentine’s, and the big snowstorm

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Something I meant to write yesterday but put off in the rush to get a whole bunch of things done:

One of the many exceptional perks of working with/at HUCE is the fact that the space is frequently used for fancy faculty dinners and receptions for guest speakers.  What that means is that there is a steady influx of fancy finger food platters catered by the exceptional Formaggio Kitchen.  The thing is that professors and distinguished guests at events like these don’t usually spend much time sampling the fine cheeses, home-made paté and antipasto served.  Instead, they prefer to network, maintain their low-cholesterol diets and preserve their fresh breaths, all in the secure knowledge that a similarly delectable catered dinner will be served in a little bit (I forget the caterer HUCE uses).  What this ultimately means is that shortly after these events there is usually a plenitude of artisanal brie, fresh fruit, parma proscuitto, sliced baguettes, sweet pickled onions and whole grain mustard all laid out beautifully and left for the hungry (grad) students still lurking after hours.

Yum 🙂

PS: If you’re ever in need of speciality/gourmet deli products or catering in the Cambridge, MA area, I highly recommend Formaggio Kitchen (based on my familiarity with about half their exquisite speciality platters).

The weather was magnificent today.  Bright and hard edged with a refreshing chill.  What can be better than trenchcoat weather?  I guess perhaps beach weather – as we were walking out of class Prof G told me she was heading back to her apartment to pick up her bags and catch a flight to Puerto Rico for the long weekend ahead.  Although I only managed to say it in French to her at the time – Buon Viaggio!

I’m finally seeing some progress on the empirical end of my thesis, which is really good considering that I’ve essentially abandoned the qualitative part (gathering electronic dust in draft form) while working on getting data this past 9 days.  Which also means I should get back to work on that.

I received a surprise call from London today, which was pleasant.  I got to say pretty much all the things I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t had much a chance to given the swirl of events.  Having a semi-personal yet business-y phone conversation with someone you’ve never met is always going to be a touch strange though, given how difficult it is to guage the other person’s reactions, especially over the slight transmission delay.  I pray it went well, and came off favorably.

Back to the dataset.

PPS: Today was my first section meeting for Ec1010b, and it was held in a building I walk by all the time but never knew was a Harvard academic building.  Turns out the very nice space also houses the oh-so-niche Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies!  I’d heard recently that it’s the smallest concentration in the college – the department website lists a grand total of seven current undergraduate concentrators!

Something lost, something gained…

Monday, February 5th, 2007

A rather eventful, hectic sort of day.  Mainly it seemed hectic because I constantly wanted to just lie down and relax.  Right from the moment I dragged myself out bed at 6.15am, to turn off my alarm.  The interviews turned out successfully, judging by the outcome… at least for me.  That’s good news, I know, to have a solid, competitive and compensated summer internship offer with a top outfit in a great location.  If only the elation could be enjoyed unalloyed by thoughts of March and August, untempered by a mixed result, unaffected by the want to go to bed.  I’m also vaguely miffed at having missed the celebratory lunch.

It helped to sit in Nathan’s massage chair for about twenty minutes, although later at Lodge the sensation came back to haunt me in an unpleasant fashion against the hard, straight seat backs.  Lodge meeting tonight was…  something quite new.  The experience of having to push through that endless, narrow corridor-catwalk jammed full of bejewelled, tuxedoed officers (average age: 45) from other lodges was quite intimidating and discomfitting.  Then the prodigious feat of memory and protocol displayed by R.W. T. was breathtaking (not that Lodge isn’t usually impressive that way).  Finally, the banquet that followed was far fancier than previous events.  It reminded me of the European leg of world tour, what with the enormous platters of cheese, fruit and cold cuts interspersed with serving stations for whiskey, cocktails, wine, juice and soda.  My personal favorites were the circulating trays of beef Wellington hors d’oeuvres and bacon-wrapped scallops (yum!).  And after an hour, just as everyone was getting seated, I ran away to avoid the tedium of a two-hour long meal (especially since I was already stuffed)…  but not before lingering to hear the jazz duo (double bass and keyboard) play Antonio Carlos Jobim’s sublime Wave.

I did no thesis work today 🙁

PS: I still *heart* cold winters, but only with the assurance of heated interior spaces and the promise of warmer days ahead.

Food coma… complete.

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I’m fairly annoyed by having been knocked out by dinner for the last couple of hours. But what can you do when you haven’t really eaten a real meal in days* (and dropped two pounds as a result), and then the dining hall insists on serving utterly irresistible offerings like spinach with fresh garlic, grilled salmon with lemon butter, meatballs and best of all, chicken and sausage jambalaya? I *heart* jambalaya. And I was starving too. Ugh, ate way too much.

* The lack of real food recently is mostly due to a combination of bad habits – sleeping through meals, being too lazy to walk the three minutes to a neighboring dining hall (ours is closed for the week), and working through mealtimes.

I’m heading to NYC tomorrow, which will be very fun, and probably very foolish. What am I doing leaving my thesis work??

And today my academic advisor gave me some good news, and some great news. The great news is that something else I was concerned about is not relevant any more. The good news is I now have a bunch of leads for ways to make my thesis more rigorous… it seems to involve reading and referencing highly theoretical and empirical work, the kind where authors use common words in completely unfamiliar new ways. Like “vector”, and “policy image”, “surface” and “punctuated equilibrium”. In a way this makes me feel like I’m starting from scratch with reading, since all these papers are much less mass-audience-economist-time-magazine-like than the current pitch of my (few) thesis pages.

“Could you spell ‘Boserup‘?” – ‘click’

Back to work.

Home for the holidays

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone! And a happy new year too 🙂

It’s nice to be home, the interminable torrential rains notwithstanding. I have never before heard of flash floods in well-drained Singapore. Floods!! At least they haven’t threatened any lives or homes yet.

I’ve made my way very quickly through my crave-list of local food. In the mere three days since I’ve been home, I’ve feasted (in moderation!) on well over a dozen varieties of hawker fare. Yum yum yum.

I wish I felt more secure about the direction my thesis is heading in. And I wish I had more time to do research and ruminate. Oooh, I can feel little knots of anxiety and twinges of panic beginning at the very thought of thesis. *shudder* On the upside, I’ve read a bit and written a bit, so the time hasn’t been a complete wash, at any rate.

I had a bizarre little dream during an earlier nap, where for some inexplicable reason I was tranferring to Yale for my senior year. On the bus over from Harvard with all the other ex-Harvardians who were transferring, I was almost successful in rationalizing this choice, but once we arrived at Yale’s campus and I suddenly realized I would never be part of Harvard’s Class of 2007, I was filled with such violent grief that I woke up. Strange, no? And of course I spent about five minutes pondering the implications of that dream-experience, through the lens of the “identity-prescription” literature we’ve been covering in my cultural economics class. That class is now completely finished with, since I chose to take the final exam on the last day of classes before the break.