>I can haz social life (the remix…sorta)

>[I ended up adding some sections to this post, after publishing it yesterday. My bad.]

Wow, this is the first time one of my Facebook status updates has morphed into an entire blogpost. I’m feeling a bit like the undead (a few of our favourite things…) because I suddenly had a hyperactive social life last weekend, just before an intense Monday as convenor of the Asian Australian Forum.

Saturday 2 October delivered a hugely fun time at the Brunswick home of Owen Leong and Amadeo Marquez-Perez, the best hosts ever. Truly, EVER. The food was divine and plentiful, the camaraderie unmatched, and I met some witty + wonderful people. The premise of the get-together was to see our Foxy Dr Willing, who was on her way home via Melbourne after a magical jaunt around North America. I also got to catch up with two good buddies, Tom Cho and Jen Kwok, of whom I never see enough even though we all live in Melbourne. Jen has the honour of freaking me out for about 5 mins when he observed that I looked very calm considering I had a major event planned for the Monday; up until that point, I wasn’t worried about the forum at all. Luckily, the gorgeous spring day and fine company worked its magic and I forgot all about being angsty.

After scarfing down part of a 28-egg tortilla, as many aromatic meatballs as I could fit in, some zesty + scrumptious cous cous, excellent spicy garlic prawns and anything else they put before me, I could’ve justifiably flaked out in front of the (tragic) Grand Final. But, no, there were cool, politically sympatico peeps to talk to, which was way more fun and satisfying. In the social mix were HamCar’s crew, and it was a real joy to meet them all after hearing about (and seeing) them in various other media. You gotta love a bunch who will attend a zombie shuffle en famille!

We didn’t pry ourselves away until late afternoon, and the kids had had a full-on excellent time as part of the little tribe. I’m just starting to realise how much of an impact ‘kid-friendliness’ has on an event vibe. Touting a baby around town isn’t such a big deal, and they’re eminently portable when they’re really young. It’s when E. hit about 2.5-3 years that I found myself planning on her amusement as much as our own. This narrowed options a lot, especially when scheduling for windows of well-fed, sleeping babyness from little G. in his earlier days.

All that tangential waffle to get to this point:

The atmosphere of the get-together was totally accepting and easy-going. Our hosts and all the other guests were well attuned to (and very patient about) demands from our little ones; they were more patient than I would’ve been, truth be told.

Along with the pixel-storm of post-lunch pics posted on Fb, I’ll always have my Lego stormtrooper watch with which to remember that day (thanks, Indi!).

Delectable meatballs, tortilla, salads…it was a very full kitchen bench!

Sunday 3 October was a major yumcha feast at the Gold Leaf Restaurant in Springvale, with extended family. While all yumchas exist on a continuum of ‘Good’, this was a particularly good spread in terms of variety and freshness. The restaurant is a great yumcha spot and never disappoints.

I love that yumcha works on the principle of “the more, the merrier” – going to yumcha as a table of 2 is just asking for disappointment. Most servings are 2 or 3 items per plate, and having about 6+ means you get to sample a lot of things rather than having to finish a whole plate of anything. The most difficult yumcha companions are those who are under the delusion that they can be healthy AND eat yumcha properly. I’m sorry to say it can’t be done at most places; I could eat a low GI meal at yumcha, but it certainly isn’t low fat! Lard is a constant companion in the tastiest yumcha (especially those perfectly flaky egg tarts, and even in those seemingly ‘better for you’ steamed dishes). It’s a fact of life I’m happy to live with.

Even after clearing the table of many, many delicacies (and the calamari and hum swei kok were especially delicious that day), we had to waddle downstairs for our requisite bubble tea. Some habits are hard to break.

Part of our yumcha feast – we always have hum swei kok,
chee cheong fun (char siew + prawn) and pork spare-ribs

I had included Monday 4 October’s Asian Australian Forum + launch write-up here, but have moved it on to another post for the sake of convenient email ‘pointing’ later on for the events’ participants. Surprisingly, they may not want to read about my social eating adventures around town.

It was a fantastic weekend. When circumstances converge to create such an enriching and stimulating couple of days, I’m very grateful, and it makes me feel more like I belong in Melbourne. Even after six years here, I still feel like I’m ‘arriving’ in the city. I have started saying that I’m ‘from Melbourne’ (rather than ‘living in Melbourne’), so the mind-shift from Brisbane has definitely taken place. The hardest thing about feeling at home in a new city is finding the comfort of accepting, generous, savvy companions. This weekend offered them in spades.

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