When an indaba threatens to push you to the edge of sanity like when your boss suddenly doesn’t make sense or the tape recorder you need at that precise minute decides not to work, there’s no point in stressing over it. Being a new year, I’ve re-learnt, when I woke up one fine morning during my Christmas holiday, that it’ll do me some good to turn to my stress busters instead of agonise over it. A stress buster dovetailed with letting the indaba hang for a while most certainly means a less taxed mind and better health.
One of my former students revealed in Facebook that her sure-fire stress buster is a plate of scrumptious fried hito (Tagalog word for catfish) dipped in bagoong (Tagalog word for shrimp paste). A friend of mine’s stress buster is running or singing her heart out while another gal-pal goes for a couple of glasses of her favourite poison in a hotel lounge.
Going for a hot stone massage is one of my stress busters but getting one during a week day after work isn’t really going to be a relaxing experience. Consider the massive traffic snarls from Bekasi to Cikarang and that’s more than enough to seek an alternative stress buster. There’s always the trusted foot reflexology session yet sometimes it still doesn’t seem to do the trick. And that’s when I turn to my sweet stress busters. Starbucks is one my watering holes and, thank the universe for such small graces, the one I run to is about a 10-15 cab-ride / 20+ angkot-ride from where I live. Sitting down to a nice hot chocolate drink with whipped cream drizzled with caramel and a chocolate cupcake (reminiscent of the cupcake of all cupcakes, Georgetown cupcake) is truly blissful. The calories might send skinny models and Victoria Beckham –lookalikes into a frenzy but, right now, after decades of a body-image problem, I’m at home with a J Lo – butt and Kim Kardashian – hips.
If not Starbucks, I run for succour to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I wonder if they’ll still have that new cake that settled finely on my sweet palate –banana meringue cake – that was the cake of the month January. The sweet fruity taste, for me, was almost like a caffeine-kick to my lackadaisical day. A slice of A Chocolate of a Thousand Leaves will definitely do the trick if it’s no longer available.
The last two things on my list of stress busters are Milo Dinosaur and a bowl of longgan and almond bean curd on shaved ice. The first, Milo Dinosaur (something I picked up from Singapore), puts a nice spin to the ho-hum cold Milo drink. On top of the cold Milo in a very large glass mug is a heap, or two, of Milo for you to eat while drinking Milo. Talk about savouring twice the Milo goodness! The second one is somewhat a concession for the other very sweet chocolaty stress busters when the guilt feelings are getting little too loud to ignore. It took a while for the taste of longgan to grow on me being a banana-apple-and-occasional Mandarin orange person but when I bit into the little juicy round “balls”, I was hooked. There’s no whipped cream or saccharine – sweet drizzles of caramel or chocolate sauce – so feelings of guilt are nowhere in sight ergo stress is banished.
[Photography by Alvin Tismo & Liana Garcellano]