A sibling relationship is a bit more complicated than that of a parent-child relationship.
For a typical (not messed up) parent-child relationship, it’s a straightforward kind of love. You know your parents will love you no matter what, and in a way it’s a selfish kind of love because you expect them to care and give endlessly.
But for a sibling relationship, you actually kind of have to work at it. You’re connected by flesh and blood, and obviously you love each other, but it’s still a relationship you need to build, especially if you are close in age.
My younger brother and I are just about a year and a half apart.
I remember when were were kids, we were joined at the hip. Wherever I went, my brother tottered along, even when I called him names and pushed him away. We played dolls and clogged drains with mud together. I taught him how to do a cartwheel and roller-blade. We made sandcastles together after he peed on it to make the sand stick. He helped me eat the vegetables and fruits I sneaked onto his plate when my mother wasn’t looking.
And then that kind of changed as we grew older, and I jumped higher and higher up the grade in primary school. I had my own cronies to hang out with now, a tight group of friends that left no room for my sibling. He formed his own group of friends too, and we drifted apart socially.
We still loved each other, of course. But we just didn’t have that open relationship anymore, and we barely hung out with each other. And one day I found that I just didn’t know much about my brother. I didn’t know what he was thinking, what he was feeling. I didn’t know about his tastes and hobbies, except that he was watched films voraciously and was obsessed with Audis. All I knew for sure that we were different; I was fire, he was water. I missed those days when we were innocent kids just playing side-by-side and getting into trouble together. But now, we are adults. We live a nation apart, and although we share a brother-sister love, that’s about the only bond we have in our relationship.
So, when brother texted me that he would be visiting by himself for three days, I wanted to make it meaningful. I wanted to bond. Probably not back to the kiddie friendship we had before, but I wanted to hold his hand and bring him to a different stage.
But how? I’m the kind who wants to talk things out, honestly and openly. My brother is reserved and tacit. I definitely didn’t want to force my style of “bonding” upon him.
Sunday was spent with a mutual friend, just frolicking around Little Tokyo and having a jolly ol’ time. That was a lot like our childhood days—simple fun and laughter, little more.
Monday night, I took my brother to Yogurtland because he had always wanted to try their stuff. Our plan was to go for a late hour night at a jazz club after, but we were both tired so we ended up holing up at home watching “Despicable Me” over pork dumplings, kimchi, cheese raviolis, chocolate popcorn and a shitload of Twizzlers (from Halloween candy sale).
It was super fun and relaxing. We were both laughing out loud, bits of pork and Twizzlers spittle shooting out of our mouths. Little conversation, just a shared love for laughter and food. Very much like the stage we’ve been in since we “grew up.”
Tuesday morning, I took him to Mt. Hollywood, and that is when we reached another stage in our relationship.
As we huffed and puffed our way up, with nothing to do except hike, we got to talk. A lot. And this time, it wasn’t just me babbling away. He talked a lot too, and I got to understand my brother in deeper levels.
It also made me realize how much my brother has grown. Even if he doesn’t verbalize them often, he has mature and developed thoughts. Even if he doesn’t express it overtly, he has deep and empathetic feelings. He’s a real fine young man now, and I’m incredibly proud to be his big sister.
And now, he’s gone. Back to DC. Just when I felt like we were reaching the “conversation and understanding” stage. Oh well. I have an evil plot to coax him to move to Southern California. Heh heh heh.
One thing that Los Angeles definitely impressed my brother was the food. I just need to constantly email him updates on all the wonderful food I’m eating, and hope that it somehow hooks him to cross over to La-La Land. Starting now.
There was a restaurant I recently visited that reminded me a lot like my brother and me. It’s called Naya, and it’s an Indian-Californian restaurant incorporating a yin and yang theme to its interior design that is just so super cool. You can guess who is the yin and who is the yang between my brother and me.
It’s located in Silver Lake along Sunset Boulevard, and you’ll notice it right away. Its architecture by Kritstofer Keith isn’t glitzy or bright, but it is certainly unusual and interesting. The wall looks lush like an Arabian tapestry yet faded like an Ancient Wonder construction. The lantern looks like it belongs in a gothic castle or a haunted mansion.
I was here to review the place for my internship, and brought along a partner-in-crime of gluttony, Eva, who also happens to be a blogger (I convinced her to do it! ME! All me!):
You walk in, and you’re greeted by a pleasant hostess who asks you to choose your mood of the day: yin or yang? Ottoman dungeon-like lounge, or sultan’s harem-like dining room?
The lounge seriously looks so badass cool.
It’s got these high intricately carved archways, and the atmosphere is dark and sinister, but in an entertaining, thrilling videogame way.
The stools and tables are low, so you kind of eat and drink hunched like a nomad. Or maybe a runaway gladiator. Or a villain in disguise. Or a dragon-slayer on mission. You get the idea.
We ended up choosing the harem formal dining room because it possibly had better lighting.
It did not, but boy was it pretty.
Luscious, gossamer draperies hang from ceiling to well-polished floor, and the whole room just glows in peach and plum glimmers.
There are posh white leather booths with elaborate embroidery, surrounded by laced dossers. It’s the perfect date sitting; in fact, when Eva and I entered a couple was cuddling in one of those booths.
Elongated lanterns encircled by fabric hang low and dim. Candles flicker seductively from every table in every corner.
It’s a scene right out of an Arabian Wonderland. Actually, Naya is Indian cuisine, but the design really made me imagine Aladdin and a Thousand Arabian Nights.
The only minor problem was a food blogger one: the light was incredibly dim and I was forced to use flash, which pained my heart. But the food nursed it back to pumping vitality.
Let’s start off with a salad. But not a typical lettuce salad; this one was made of sprouts and chips:
Raw mung bean sprouts, tortilla chips, chickpeas and potatoes with sweetened yogurt and pomegranate chutney.
How pretty is that? It was a hefty, juicy disk of crunch, lots of punchy flavor from the crisp sprout and fried tortilla chips. The only complaint I had was that it was more chips salad than sprouts salad; I could have used more sprouts in there.
Second up, Pea and Fenugreek Curry:
This bowl was super rich and creamy from mellow coconut milk, chockfull of brilliant green peas and herby, moss-like fenugreek. Each mouthful was like silk—very delicious silk.
To mop up the rich curry, we needed a carby utensil, so we ordered plain naan for dipping.
One of the BEST naan I’ve ever had—incredible, ethereal multiple-layer of golden-baked bread. The outside was nice and crispy and toasted, while the inside was hot, airy pocket of savory, buttery steam. Hell freaking yes.
But we hadn’t even gotten to our entrees yet!
Lovely. The basmati was like bead-sized feather; it was so fluffy and light. It was just slightly flavored with spices and herbs, enough to bring the natural sweetness and fragrance out of the rice.
The hen was perfectly spiced, slightly charred with tender flesh, though it wasn’t as juicy as I would have liked. The cream cheese was so rich it tasted like butter to me.
Incredible. The baby eggplant was cooked until it was succulent and flavor-soaked. The sauce was mildly spiced, rich and gorgeous.
But the star was definitely the risotto, which tasted curiously like egg yolks. If I were in a molecular gastronomy restaurant, I would have thought the risotto rice was chemically made from cooked egg yolks. It was just so creamy, probably because the rice wasn’t Arborio but basmati.
And that, my friends, concludes the deliriously wonderful Arabian night story at Naya. Though my eating expenditure in Los Angeles is still ongoing for as long as I still have a working stomach.
Take that, little brother. How can you say no to L.A. now?
Question of the Day: So…the Ottoman Empire lounge, or the Arabian Night dining room? Which dining venue fits your personality and mood?