Immersing in bed rest
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

We are back from Singapore. That trip kicked off my birthday celebrations. My husband Loy and I stayed with his son Paton and his wife April, and we had the time of our lives. This is my third trip to Singapore in recent years. The first trip was to attend a conference around four years ago. One of my friends here told me to go to the Indian mall. I didn’t make it that time. Last year, we went to celebrate the Chinese New Year; I found out then the name of the mall was Mustafa. It was a brief visit.

This time I wasn’t keen on going but Loy was. He bought himself a short-sleeved collarless white shirt that he liked very much and he wanted to buy himself two more. Paton and April were working so they got us a Grab taxi to take us to Mustafa and then to bring us home. On our own, unescorted, we got lost and realized how big Mustafa was. They had everything from cosmetics to all sorts of medicines that you might want to use for Ayurveda — everything from spirulina to black sesame to various exotic vitamins. I was overwhelmed by the range of cosmetics and also the number of people who were apparently buying wholesale.

I wasn’t too impressed by their collection of saris but only because I was not in the market for them. Instead I bought myself three male shirts that are tunic length, collarless; I look totally oriental when I wear them. At another shopping trip I found three bamboo dragonflies that I now wear in my hair as chopsticks.

The best night was our last when Cris and Cel Fernandez, friends of Paton and April, joined us for dinner and brought Baked Alaska. April outdid herself cooking a tomahawk steak, an invented salmon dish, and another vegetable dish of cabbage, eggplant and cheese, which was totally delicious.  April is an excellent self-made chef. All the meals that she prepared herself beat everything we ate elsewhere.

 We returned on Monday, Aug. 5, totally tired. We fell into bed hardly getting up until Wednesday, when I had to focus on a speech I gave in Alabang. In my 33 years in advertising, I gave many speeches, some harder than others. The best speech I think was the one in the University of the Philippines where I explained the way I teach writing. I enjoyed that. Next speech I remember was one I made with Margie Holmes. She talked about sex when you get old and she had the audience swooning. I was relieved I had spoken ahead of her.

This speech was well received, it seemed. But it was in Alabang and the traffic was terrible going home. It took us three hours to go from Alabang to Mandaluyong. Loy and I nearly dropped dead from exhaustion. That’s why I didn’t have a column last Sunday. We took another whole day of bed rest.  And continued into the night.

 On Saturday, we had lunch with my children and grandchildren at the Ponte Rialto, inside Venice Grand Canal Mall. Once upon a time when I was teaching at Enderun they were building that mall. But I haven’t been back to McKinley Hill ever since. What can I say?

The mall blew my 75-year-old mind! Those gondolas being rowed by gondoliers in striped T-shirts. I expected them to burst into song. Those people who looked like mannequins wearing costumes and masks standing at intervals in the mall.  The very loud music. My husband and I were totally confused.  But the steak and salad we ordered was very good. Also the lychee martini I ordered, which was served in a tulip champagne glass and had no lychee in it. I mean, who would order a lychee martini for lunch? I guess only me?

But being in McKinley Hill gave us the opportunity to stop by Pimbrera sa Barasoain (sa Forbes Park) and stock up on food for home, which we ate on Sunday. But we never felt fully rested. On Sunday I didn’t feel well. I was dizzy every time I moved my head. So we went to Mass then stayed in bed the whole day. We did the same the next two days. I don’t know where this overwhelming exhaustion comes from.

Yesterday we were well enough to have a reunion with some of my closest writing students at the Old Swiss Inn in Olympia. I used to teach there. Well, so much has changed.  The function rooms are lovely. The food is delicious. It’s another deli where you can buy take-home food. We had another wonderful time.

 And today, Thursday, a week exactly from my birthday, we had lunch with my high school classmates. Another wonderful time.

I declare my birthday mini-celebrations over. I am back to writing my column again... after tomorrow’s scheduled bed rest.

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