Freshly arrived on the shores of Singapore from Canada, LANA FED, tells us about her new love for potted plants for the indoors as well as the outdoors and feeling liberated at adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
In the absence of cats, I’ve become a crazy potted plant lady. When we finally moved into our permanent condo in Singapore, I started buying outdoor and indoor plants. I got yellow palms, dragon palms, iron trees, ficus, lime trees. I got monstera and bougainvilleas. Potted plants for indoors and outdoors. And, to make the scene prettier, I got them re-potted in white ceramic pots.
I liked the sound of the exotic names and I liked how I could take care of something and be in control. But my gardenia and my roses don’t look so well. Leaves are wilting, yellowing and dropping off. Maybe some of them won’t make it. Maybe I have put the indoor plants too close to the air-conditioner, or I water them too much or too little; or maybe they’re not that resilient. Either way, re-potting is a stress. Turns out potted plants take a while to adjust to a new environment.
It’s been two months since we left Canada and arrived in Singapore, but it’s taking me a while to adjust. We finally received our sea shipment. I have never been so excited about armchairs and pillows. But they are OUR armchairs and pillows. As much as living a hotel-like bare walled life has its appeal, there is something about familiarity that makes me feel secure.
On the other hand, I’ve found a new appreciation for the minimalist lifestyle. Turns out you CAN live with just four plates, four cups and one saucepan. You just wash them straight away. You can even host people. You just wash the plates before serving dessert. Or get disposable ones. And borrowing a wine glass is a decent excuse to meet neighbours. In fact, borrowing has become my new resource. Need a saree for celebrating Deepavali at school? Neighbours! Need a Santa hat for recording a music video for school? Neighbours! Need a tennis racket for a trial class? Friends! I am very grateful!
The past two months have shown me how little we really need. We had five suitcases with us, and received some basic things via an air shipment (bedding, kitchenware). Our family of four has been totally fine living with just those belongings.
Looking back, it’s incredible how much space we had and how we managed to fill it all up with THINGS. Basement, wardrobes, storage cabinets and cupboards, the shed, the garage … it seemed endless. Like a shrine to materialism. A temple of capitalism and hoarding.
I hope we change our habits. The minimalist lifestyle has been liberating. Our condo feels spacious precisely because we don’t have a mini trampoline next to the sofa, chests of toys, magnetic art easels, teepees and old side tables that don’t match anything but are in good condition, so why get rid of them?!
I did bring with me some completely non-essential items. Two bone-china coffee cups from my home town. Those special small things give me comfort. When the only constant is change, I find it is calming to have some of my favourite belongings.
Unfortunately, I failed to bring one of my daughter’s favourite belongings. Before leaving, she had packed a huge inconvenient soft toy called Gilbert in her suitcase. Of course, I removed it and left it behind. But she kept asking about it here. So when one day we saw an identical plushy, we got it and presented it to her. She examined the new Gilbert carefully.
“This is not my Gilbert,” she said, offended. “
What do you mean? Of course it is.”
“My Gilbert had some writing on the label; I marked him.”
“It just washed off.”
“My Gilbert had a different spot between the eyes – this is an imposter,” she declared definitively, disappointment settling on her shoulders.
Nevertheless, spotted Gilbert has a place on my daughter’s bed. She still calls it an imposter but hugs it at night. And just like that, by adopting the minimalist lifestyle, I hope we make space for the new, and come to love it, while cherishing the past.
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This article first appeared in the November 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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