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Familiar Yet Different

It’s been four months since I have arrived back in Thailand. While I was gone, my dad has moved all of our belongings to the new house that we have purchased and renovated before my departure for an MBA. I have re-started my job at the same firm – though in a new working environment given the COVID-19 situation. Also, since we now have more space and stay at home more than before, I have also picked up a new interest – gardening. Things are very familiar to my life before France, but also very different in a lot of ways… may be it’s part of aging…

New house and new way of life

Moving from a small house closer to the heart of Bangkok to the more spacious one at the outskirt is quite refreshing. However, the refreshing part actually came with effort. The first few weeks of moving back were spent cleaning up the house and the area around it. As my dad was not a type of person who really cares about the surrounding areas around the house, I ended up taking care of the weeds around the house as well as designing and paying for the gardening service. Also, as my house is situated around the areas that (hypothetically) used to be a pond before, we ended up facing with heavy land subsidence, which needed to be fixed before any gardening can be done. Though quite pricey, I ended up with quite a nice garden that I’m very fond of.

I intend for my garden to be filled with things that I like – nice soothing smell, clean colors, and order amidst randomness. I ended up planting a lot of Thai / Indochina-native flowers that have cool and sweet smell like jasmine, gardenia, buddleja, and fiddlewood. Colorful flowers such as roses and hydrangea were also added to the mix. I think the roses and hydrangea were added as a timepiece for my bittersweet experience back in Europe – wake up Sea! … anyhow, the last groups are edibles like chili, lime, lemon and rosemary. I can’t wait for these new shrubs to finally mature and give me some refreshment every morning and evening.

As a result of my newfound fondness of gardening, my daily routine was changed significantly. Every morning, I would wake up to water my garden. Even at noon, at random, I would sometimes be picking off weeds from my garden. Late afternoon then would be my time to water my garden again if the day was very dry. At night, when jasmines start blossoming, it would be my time to pick them up and smell or add the flowers to my house.

As a part of my front lawn garden, I added a small shala for my yoga practice. At first, I imagine using this area for lunching / dining also, but Thai summer is just way too humid and warm for any outdoor activities. Therefore, these days, I only use them for my handstand practices. I hope to be able to use it after summer though.

Remote working

Remote working has become a new normal for all professional service firms since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. However, I only just started to experience it in March – my first month back at work. While the way content and intellectual challenges are still the same, the work-from-home condition actually creates quite a lot of difference.

While people are really looking forward to getting back on the road, a homely person like me actually likes it. I love the fact that I don’t have to spend much time being stuck on the road in Bangkok or on the plane. Not having to be in the office also means less time being wasted in random meetings / moving around. Casual dress code is also a major plus – I barely have to buy new clothes despite the very limited business wardrobe that I have at the moment.

However, I’m not sure how healthy physically and mentally is this for me. I notice that I also slowly falling back into my own hole of not meeting people and spending more time at home. Partly, I think it was because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I also think it is me being drawn closer and closer to my good old comfort zone. Not going to offices also means not going to gyms like I used to. I tried running outdoor around my village, but I double confirmed my hypothesis that Thai humidity and temperature are definitely not a good fit for my outdoor activities. I also miss the team and office activities where I can meet people. With Bangkok being hit by the third wave of COVID-19 and limited hope for vaccination anytime soon, I guess I will be stuck with this for a while – for better or worse.

Journey back to fitness

Handstand is back on agenda. I’m now on day 19 of the #handstandeverydamnday! (Or, the second season of it.) It started off with seeing my yoga teacher finishing her 90-day handstand challenge, and I suddenly thought that I really need to get back to it. Like my last weight-loss journey, this personal handstand challenge triggered another round of diet control and more religious physical activities (e.g., core work, yoga, and handstand).

The surprising thing about the body is that subconscious muscle memory. I have gained quite a lot last year as a result of depression and binge eating and drinking. I didn’t think that I could be doing a consistent handstand in such a short period of time. However, within less than two weeks, I managed to get back to my old personal best (20 seconds) and even managed to get a new PB at 30 seconds in less than three weeks. It was amazing because I wouldn’t have thought that I could get back to this in such a short period of time. I hope to be able to continue doing this and seeing improvements continuously – although I also know that there will be a dip at some point.

My next goal is to be much better at controlling my diet. Having access to food delivery service makes it very difficult to control my food intake. Back in Fontainebleau, it was very easy to control my intake since there is only Domino or eat out. However, now, all the “sinful” stuff is within a few touches on my iPhone. I have found one way to force myself to better control myself – which is to write down in my to-dos to “fast at breakfast/lunch / dinner”. However, I’m also not very disciplined at this over the weekend.

Struggling to find my style

I tried to continue painting, but roadblocks continue to emerge. I love seeing landscape painting and I would love to be able to paint a good one. I also love Jeanne Haines and Angela Fehr’s loose painting style. However, I just couldn’t really figure out how to paint my landscape subject without drawing lines first. To be honest, I struggle to paint a good painting even with lines…

Anyhow, I guess every failed painting is a learning experience. I have a lot of painting paper anyway – I should just paint. Is that right?

The haunting memory

Being back to crazy working life also means having less time for self-introspection. However, every once in a while I have time to really be with myself (especially when I’m half-drunk with wine), I would find myself thinking about the past mistake and not-so-good memory that is still unresolved. Last Friday, as I fell asleep being tipsy, I had a good dream about happily resolving my controversy with a person that I used to write about. To be honest, the rational side of me said that I should not think about this anymore since it was only me who have not moved on from this point, yet, I still don’t know why this continues to bother me until today.

There is a song that I guess I should listen to and internalize myself:

A wise person has once told me

When someone hurts you deeply,

Try picking up a stone, and

Hold and squeeze it

Squeeze it as hard as you can – till your whole hand is shaking

He then smiled and asked me “your hand hurts right?”

Nothing can hurt you as much as you hurt yourself

Think again: is your life yours or someone else’s?

Nothing can hurt you if you don’t take it to your heart

You’re hurt only because you take the burden yourself

(Credit: ก้อนหินก้อนนั้น by Rose Sirintip)

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