Thoughts On Independent Living


Much has changed from one year ago. That is how long the maid has been here. She had taken over most of the housekeeping and cooking chores. Over the months, we have an unwritten list of daily tasks that she is to get done. She does not need much prompting. This apartment is now spick and span except for the mess that I created on my workspace and the sofa beside me.

I am by nature a disorganised person. My things are strewn all over the place. Tidying is futile. They will become a jumble again in no time. Still, I can find something that I need from under a pile of papers and books. I thrive in such chaos. Tidy up everything and I will have a hard time looking for the items that I want. The maid knows it and leave that heap be.

She may be a good housekeeper but her cooking skills leave much to be desired. I am not complaining though. For the remuneration that she is getting, I do not expect her to cook like a chef. She needs to be guided every step of the way from the cutting of the ingredients to the amount of seasoning to use. She has improved from when she first came but still likes to add more salt and other seasonings than necessary.


The heavy rain woke me up this morning. The clock showed 9.25am. It was time to get up anyway. I decided to skip breakfast and got her to prepare lunch. Rummaging through the fridge, we came up with the remaining of the okra that was bought two weeks ago, a bundle of kangkung and a piece of belly pork from the freezer. The menu for the day would be stir-fried kangkung with okra and stir-fried pork in turmeric.

She got all the ingredients ready and arranged them nicely on the kitchen counter. I would usually tell her what I wanted and she would cook it with her own ingenuity and from what I had instructed her previous times. Today was one day I would stay in the kitchen and watch her cook from the beginning till the end.

When she was cutting the onions I wondered how I was going to manage my meals when she leaves for home in one year’s time. Her culinary quotient may be lacking but I have had the benefit of eating home-cooked food since she came. I thought about how long it was going to take me to finish cutting the onions which took her less than one minute.


Living independently by myself is one aspiration I have had for a long time. I thought I could manage. I can, to a certain extent. The kitchen counter height was built to suit my requirements. An unkempt apartment is the least of my worries. There is a washing machine for my laundry although I dislike hanging and collecting them. Washing dishes and cooking utensils is not a big problem.

The one major obstacle to living alone is my meals. My lack of hand dexterity impedes my ability to cook anything but the simplest dishes that needs little preparation. Eating catered food everyday is out of the question as I am on a strict diet. As I ran those thoughts through my mind, I began to appreciate how much she had assuaged my disabilities.

I can get another maid when she leaves but that is not what I have in mind. I genuinely want to see how far I can make it living with minimal assistance. For the tasks that I cannot perform like changing bed sheets and other more laborious chores, I can get someone to come and do it on a fortnightly basis. This needs plenty of planning. I should start taking over the cooking from her soon if I want be to well prepared before she departs. I wonder if I can cook better tasting food than her.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

17 thoughts on “Thoughts On Independent Living”

  1. yeah agree with marita that it’s nice to be able to see your workstation. remember once i blog on ‘my work-space’? i was hoping to see a few others blog on thier work-space too. you should give us a close up look of your workstation, peter, and explain what gadgets you have.

    peter, don’t worry. i’m sure if you set your heart on it and really want to, you will manage to cook for yourself. taking a long time to do it doesn’t matter. after all, there’s no rush, right? it’s when you feel the strain of it (taking long time)… pain or tiredness, then you should worry.

    well i’m sure with your determination, strong will and high spirit, somehow or other you will manage independant living nicely.

  2. No you without the shirt lah 🙂 hehe
    Well you know what …When you make that trip to OZ ,,, you can be the chef at the barbie,,,:)
    Btw if u burn the snags we’ll still eat them hehe.

    cheerz n tcz

  3. Lucia,
    There is nothing interesting about my work space except the bits and pieces of paper strewn all over it. I am not a gadget man. You will not see any canggih stuff there.

    I would like to think I can manage to live alone perfectly well but I have to give in to the fact that there may be dangers, especially when handling hot food. This thought of mine needs careful consideration.

    Sweetspirit,
    You will eat them even if they taste like charcoal?

  4. i love the set up of your place. i admire your determination! i am sure you will be able to accomplish your goals.

    i am sure it will be hard, especially all the little things that we all take for granted! but i am confident from what i have read about you that you wil be able to do it! much love! my thoughts are with you!

  5. Sweetspirit,
    I like barbecue but I do not like what I smell of afterwards.

    Dee,
    It is the little things I am more worried about, like picking up small ojects from the floor or retrieving things from places I can hardly reach. I need a Capuchin monkey!

  6. Peter
    I am sure you can achieve your goals.
    I have been following your blog for sometime.
    You write beautifully. Keep it up
    Some of your entries are so touching and heartfeeling.
    Stay strong and may god bless you and Wuan

  7. ha ha ha…… where can we get you a capuchin monkey? i know what you mean. i worry about that too! best thing about monkeys is that they work for peanuts! LOL

  8. Kim,
    Like all major projects, there are teething problems. My living alone independently has its own set of unique problems that needs to be addressed. I will have to look at it one by one to iron out the creases. Thank you for your compliments and confidence in me.

    Dee,
    I do not think this monkey will work for peanuts. After all, he will be performing specialised tasks. Specialists need to be paid a specialists’ remuneration. I will throw in a bunch of bananas every now and then.

  9. “I am by nature a disorganised person. My things are strewn all over the place. Tidying is futile. They will become a jumble again in no time.”

    what? you’re kiddin’ your readers right? your workplace looks so tidy! (unlike yours sincerely) btw, can you get a shot of your room, and display it for the whole world to see? 😛

  10. Dave,
    My PC table is unkempt. You cannot see the mess because it is a wide shot. Do not want to embarass myself too much. Why do you want to see how my bedroom looks like? I have regular furniture there – bed, mattress, wardrobe. Nothing out of the ordinary. There is no unusual equipment inside. I can manage well enough as it is.

  11. Hi Peter
    I am now an addict to your weblog. Been returning to check for latest entry. Looking at the positive side, I know you will have plenty of good tunes to sing next year. I know the Lord will take good care of you. Life is a lot different when you walk with Christ. My motto –
    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

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