Pressurised choices

Except probably for introverts with a steady job and without underlying health conditions in a comfortable lock down arrangement, this has not been an easy year.

My lock down experience has been both healing and growing. Crazy homesick for Yangon, separated from loved ones and physically alone, fending for myself here in London. With a ton of walking; so the new HAIM album is literally my quarantine summer anthem this year.

All this time in hand and a dearth of distractions make for a perfect storm for self-reflection … and overthinking of my life choices dating back to my college graduation year. Down the rabbit hole of the Quarantine Subconscious, I wake up at 5am these days when I’d rather stay asleep with questions like:

  • Is impact investing a hoax? Is climate-financing the new green washing? Is it too late? If so, should I be caring more about money?
  • Should I cut some slack with boys, or am I right to protect myself? Did I fold too soon when I could have just checked? Would I care without quarantine?
  • Would I have been happier as a suburban mom in the American South vs. my lonely quarantine existence in London with an expired Schengen visa?
  • How would my life be different if I had taken the offer to work for a hospital chain or a Fintech company close to family in Myanmar?
  • Have I been living my best life? Have I been true to myself?
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Twenty Two

Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.

— Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life

My earliest food memory is the rainbow-colored nian gao from my grandfather.

Like many Chinese grandpas in downtown Yangon, he likes to go on a walk in the mornings. On his way back, he buys me these brightly colored, multi-layered Chinese rice cakes from a neighborhood street vendor in Chinatown, which is where I have spent a good portion of my childhood.

With a little linguistic twists and turns, the Chinese characters that make up the words “nian” and “gao” signify a more prosperous year or a better future outlook. This summarizes how my grandpa treats me: he calls me by my Chinese name “Precious Child” and after his morning walks, he hands me over “prosperity” disguised in the form of rice cakes.

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