habib

“Let’s walk in the rain,” he said.

“it’ll be romantic,” he said.

WAS HE SERIOUS?! it was 10 degrees out but with the gusty wind and the spitting rain, i might as well have been in antarctica in sub-zero temperatures. naked. i hate winter. i hate the cold. but more than my hatred for winter and the cold, i hate that i cannot stylishly layer my clothes if my life depended on it.

“come on, it’ll be fun!” he prodded, with a subtle undertone implying that i was a grumpy old lady who would rather sit by the heater burying her nose in a book. which may or may not perfectly describe me on those days when i am totally oblivious to the mess around the house and the kiddo making it.

i admit. i kind of warmed up to the idea, cheesy as it was. even though we both knew he just wanted to avoid having to pay for parking at lonsdale street right outside A1 bakery where we were heading.

and so we did that corny thing that couples do in movies right before the relationship goes sour and legal actions are taken to cement the ugly breakup — walking hand in hand with the raindrops gently falling down on us in a very cinematic way.

except that i was f%cking freezing right to my cranial bone. i’m not even kidding. thus, the headscarf.

dandenong

whether it’s for a religious reason or tradition or simply for fashion, i actually kinda like wearing a headscarf. a lot. there’s something about it i can’t quite explain. a certain feeling of anonymity even though i’m already pretty invisible as it is. it’s like wearing sunnies — you can see them but they can’t see you. the stalker in me likes that very much.

but what i like most is how a piece of cloth can effectively keep your head warm, especially when you just had a shower and didn’t have enough time to dry your hair on your car’s heater which had been blasted to full, fogging up the windscreen and causing your driver husband to complain that he can’t see sh*t so you turn it off for safety’s sake and even though your hair’s not fully dry yet, you’re just kind of like, whatever. it’s not like we’re walking there anyway.

until, of course, he suggested exactly that.

also, there’s something sexy about it. although ‘sultry’ sounds more like it. ‘arabian nights’ comes a close second. either way, i had no idea how to tie that freaking thing around my neck without making me look like a peddler.

in the end, i’m proud to say i still managed to look like one. effortlessly.

dandenong

but damn do i look hot from the back! having said that, i reckon i also look smokin’ from a distance of 20 feet and you’re legally blind with nil to low standards of beauty.

on a side note, jeff got prescription glasses early this year and the moment he put it on, he exclaimed, “wow, i can see you clearly now!”

like, wtf does that mean?!

dandenong

so, anyway, we had breakfast for lunch at our favorite bakery. the usual — vegetarian pizza, spinach and cheese triangle, and cappuccino (not soy, please.) which we share because i’m not really into coffee but once in a while, i feel like partaking some of that aromatic beverage that melbourne’s famous for. which i regret as soon as hypoglycemia kicks in. i don’t know if it’s just me but coffee makes me not hungry for several hours but once the feeling kicks in, all of a sudden i’m on beast mode. ravaging everything on sight as if i hadn’t eaten for days.

but then again, sometimes i do that without coffee too so maybe i’m barking at the wrong tree.

A1 bakery, dandenong

here’s jeff staring into the love of his life. across from him, i was busy getting reacquainted with my camera which i hadn’t used in ages. didn’t realize how much i missed taking pictures until then. with the baby in day care and both hands free, i started clicking away. framing angles into stories about how the lebanese seem to love their pastries so much there’s more than a dozen kinds of them sitting prettily on the shelves. i don’t even know what they’re called or what they taste like. i’ve passed by them a hundred times but i never really felt the urge to sample one. i’m not really into sweets. a half-lie.

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made our way back to the plaza while admiring how beautiful dandenong was on that given afternoon. the weather was dismal. the kind that induces depression but we couldn’t see that. to us, the gray clouds looked happy. tires gleefully ran through the puddles on the street. jeff was excited at the thought of flying to the philippines in two days after i booked him and raven tickets early that morning.

i wasn’t going anywhere as i have to stay back and hustle so my general mood hovered between yes, i can finally have some me-time! *evil laugh* and omigod, i won’t be seeing my baby for almost 3 weeks! *ugly cry*

even my emotions were confused with my emotions.

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one of the perks of strolling into random alleyways in dandenong is finding little gems of a shop you wouldn’t have discovered had you not taken the time to get semi-lost. i mean, up until 4 months ago, i wouldn’t have known there was a book exchange at the dandenong hub, along with a fish shop and a shoe repair shop that also duplicates keys.

book exchange.

the term got me curious so one time, i finally popped in to ask the owner what that meant. an old man with graying hair whom i presumed was in his 60’s.

“you come here and buy a book,” he explained while ringing the cash register for this book i wanted to buy, “and if you’re finished reading it, you come back to return it and i’ll give you 50% of the price back.”

he added, “this is a very good book you got here. haven’t read it but the customer who just returned it spoke highly of it. she’s a lawyer. very intelligent woman. comes here every week.”

with an inflated ego and a theory that great minds gravitate to the same books, i thanked the man for ignoring the minimum eftpos payment on my $8 purchase and left the book shop with shantaram, this really thick book written by gregory david roberts, a former heroin addict turned robber turned prisoner turned jailbreaker turned australia’s most wanted turned fugitive turned bombay mafia street soldier turned full time writer.

if my credentials were anywhere near as interesting as that, damn right i’ll turn my life into a book as well! but i’m not really into drugs and robbery isn’t exactly my style so my personal stories are pretty boring as it is. i guess this blog will do for now.

he’s an exceptional writer, gregory. (yes, we’re on a first-name basis now.) i’m almost halfway into the book and sometimes, in the middle of reading it, the book exchange comes to mind and i wonder, if a book is really good, would you wanna bring it back it in?

i know i won’t.