Cafés & Conversations

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Close to two months ago (...oops), I spent a lovely Saturday catching up with two of my good friends over coffee and food, separately. These two people are very special and mean a lot to me, and the friendships I share with them both has pretty interesting backstories. While I don't normally go out with either of them, the absence of school as a common platform for us to meet and have a conversation necessitated the arrangement of meetings. 

To me, deliberately planning meet-ups like these to keep a friendship going is a significant milestone. It takes effort on both parties, with a shared understanding that the bond is a worthy "investment", and I'm so glad and incredibly thankful to have people like that in my life. Of course, while emotional connections shouldn't be calculated in such a manner, realistically we truly can't keep in touch with every single one of our acquaintances. Thank you to everyone who has stayed thus far. 

For Mudassar and I, we have never met outside of school before (well, not counting all the various Habitat for Humanity clean-up sessions, which was where we first met!) and I was a tad apprehensive about how that afternoon was going to play out. I later learnt that this concern was a shared one (he was feeling the same way), and thankfully for the both of us, our worries proved unfounded. We met at Farrer Park MRT station before making our way to Bravery Cafe, a place neither of us have been to before. I found it on the Internet while googling "halal cafes". 

"There is no door to this cafe," online reviews proclaimed - but we took the plunge anyway. 

It was quite a distance from our meeting point, but the walk there was a comfortable one. Led by Muddy's trusty Google Maps, we took in new sights and sounds, mostly from the adjacent Little India area. We laughed about me spelling out "H-O-R-N-E" Road - which was our destination, and kept a look out for each other on the unpredictable road lanes. 

When we reached the cafe, the anonymous online commenters were right - there was no door. "Go for gold," read the establishment's Instagram profile description. We did, and I fell in love immediately with the interior. 

Muddy ordered Moroccan Jewels ($14.50), as pictured above. Essentially lamb chops served with cous cous, apricot, pomegranate seeds, and mint yoghurt. The dish was beautifully plated (especially for a cafe's standards!), and I thought that their menu offers a good balance of standard cafe fare and slightly more exotic dishes like this one. 

He laughed when I couldn't identify pomegranate seeds (yes - unfortunately, I've never eaten the fruit before), and it made me so happy that he enjoyed his dish so much, from how it looked to how it tasted! I mean, not to claim credit but hey, I found the cafe... as recommended by ladyironchef heh heh. 

I opted for a safer option of a Chicken Avocado Ciabatta ($12.50), of chicken breast, onion, tomato, avocado, wild rocket and mozzarella sandwiched between two ciabatta bread slices. It was served with freshly-fried fries which I enjoyed more than the supposed star of the show. 

The Lavender Latte ($5.50) I ordered was a tad too perfume-y for my liking, but it was still refreshingly fragrant and I would choose it over a normal latte. 

We spent a couple of hours in this beautiful place, and having the luxury of time to talk to Muddy felt amazing. In school, we've always had to rush through our conversations along the corridor, in the canteen, and whatever other places I bump into him. Here, we had a genuine exchange of our honest thoughts, of our worries, and of our views and perspectives. Walls, I believe, were broken down. 

I consider myself immensely lucky to have found a friend in him, who offers so much insight all the time without even having to try hard. Thank you for being you, and I hope that you know that I value our friendship so very much. 

Later that day, I met up with the friend I've known for the longest, at Lola's Cafe at Kovan. This place probably needs no introduction, and I won't bother with "reviewing" the food here - it's popular enough. 

My friendship with Reuben is a funny one, and goes way, way back. Those who know the both of us will know that we were nursery classmates, as were our older siblings. Truth be told, our friendship wasn't exactly maintained the entirety of these fifteen years, although that would definitely have made for a better story. While we didn't end up together in kindergarten (I opted for the afternoon session because I wanted to watch Sesame Street on TV, while he was an early bird), our mums kept in contact, and I would always hear updates about his life. Be it his stint in China, or the reasons behind the move, I would be in the know. 

Interesting to note would be how we were both chosen to be emcees for the kindergarten's graduation concert, but because he was asked to be it first (blame it on my afternoon session!), he took the English-speaking role and I didn't feel comfortable or confident enough about my Mandarin standards... so I rejected my teacher's request. Again, hosting the concert together would have made for a cooler story. 

Fast-forward a couple of years on, when we were both in our respective Raffles schools. Our friendship rekindled over Facebook, and meeting on bus 132 on the way home. 

Now, we maintain a connection over our similar childhood experiences, as well as a genuine friendship that has only become stronger over the years we spent in junior college. Every time we meet, we'd reminisce, and that Saturday proved no different. Over fried chicken wings and pasta at Lola's, we laughed over past missed opportunities and a shared uncertainty about the future. 

The conversation we had was great. It was so open, and free of judgement. I was able to speak my mind despite our basic differences in beliefs. We delved into both serious and light-hearted topics, and even moved over to a nearby hawker centre to continue our chat late into the night (by the time we decided to leave, we were one of the only ones left there, and most if not all of the stores had their shutters down already). It truly didn't feel like there ever was a gap/ chasm-thing of sorts in our friendship. 

Thank you for being a constant over the last fifteen years (let's just pretend that was the way it is heh heh), and I'm very appreciative of your wisdom and always-logical train of thought. Here's to another fifteen years - and beyond! I have full faith that you will do incredibly well in whatever you pursue eventually (and so does my mum, she's seriously your biggest supporter). 

I headed home that day with my heart full. Even writing about this day almost two months later leaves me feeling so happy, blessed and just seriously super thankful for friends like Reuben and Mudassar. By far, one of the best days of the year. 

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