Thursday, 20 December 2012

Its all "Moh-Maya" Day!

(Another guest article by you know who!)

A Commercialization Opportunity Missed...
As I look at Doomsday, I feel a sense of Gloom. Not because the world is going to end. But because we could easily have used the occasion to bring the world economy out of recession. Every single festival, every single occasion is nowadays nicely packaged and leveraged by marketers around the world to make us spend more. Every major occasion adds tens of billions of dollars to the world economy. And as one country is teaching us, the best thing is to spend your way out of recession. Keynesian (?) economics at its best – so what if it’s being interpreted in a consumerist way rather than infrastructural way.
Here are 7 (considering our need for luck) ways we could have packaged this occasion…
1. “World Closing down sale – everything must Go!”. I have seen stores putting up that sign for years and still being there at the exact same spot. A ploy which works beautifully for all those inclined to get pleasure from someone’s perceived misery of going out of business.
2. “Christmas before Christmas Sales!” (For those who believe it will be an age for renewal and the second coming of Christ – so we will have two X’mas a year from now on)
3. “Blackest Friday” Sale! Considering what Black Friday does to consumers, imagine what Blackest would do! No need to wait for Cyber Monday!
4. "Get 2 for 1" on 21-12-12. All the 1’s and all the 2’s, let’s all have our purse strings loose! At this most depressing of news, let’s have retail therapy to get rid of the Blues!
5. Propheteering Day. To be pronounced as “Profiteering” – leveraging sentiments similar to the one in Point 2 above
6. “Sab Moh-Maya Hai” Sales (Moh and Maya are Hindi words for “Attraction” and “Illusion”, the phrase means everything is an illusion and takes us to the direction of “be detached” from worldly pleasures) : Why keep money in your pocket or bank, just spend it!
7. No Cash, only Credit Sale : The theory being everyone can spend on their credit cards since they would never need to pay anything to the banks ever . We all know how trigger happy we are when we shop on credit rather than hard cash!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Another One Bites the Lust?


Sin-gapore city just got its latest lust butt (hopefully the last one this year) in the form of high profile Mr. Speaker sir. (in importance, just next to the Dy PM, PM and President).

Singapore’s 2012 is like the spider’s delicate web ( rtc: cute but not so popular nursery rhyme, Three Elephants) trampolined by mammoth power and its perverted ways. The fragile but determined web, not breaking a thread from the abuse, manages to shake off the elephants (Palmer,Ng and Leong) , one by one.  Unlike the endearing ones in the nursery rhyme, they don’t get to go home for a happy nap, but get faced for their indelicate expressions of all possible functions. 

The most influential one, Mr Palmer killed a promising career with his little dirty dancing. It’s dismaying to see power so young and capable, falling to ruin by a weak will and heart. Mr Palmer’s calm disposition and that blend of warmth and confidence that was so clearly messaged in those pictures are not indicative of a pathetic soul. This one case of forbidden love has left me wondering about and doubting the sanctity of marriage.

If a well-educated, of gentle upbringing, public figure like Mr Palmer can get cheap thrill from an affair, then we it’s time we understand how difficult it is to eradicate such irrationality that breeds in those less fortunate souls, not nourished with education and sophistication. The three - Messrs. Palmer, Ng and Leong - clearly did not intend to make it one each for opposition, ruling party and bureaucracy. Their acts were completely irrational and seemingly impulsive. So it’s time we forgive our maids and construction workers for their fallout and absence of wisdom just like the three, to understand that it is safer, spiritually and physically to finish one relationship then court another, rather than having 'em all together.

Then, where is the thrill you say! The thrill is in injecting your relationship with your spouse with dollops of romance every day. One, remembering to do something that makes him or her happier, more comfortable, more satisfied. Its a bigger challenge to keep relationships fresh day after day for decades on end. There in lies the thrill we should pursue. The easy way is by trial and error - and that is where many have erred.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

"Smart" road to Honesty

My dear wife asked me to write a guest article on her excellent blog. “On what”, I asked.. my writing skills not exactly being legendary. “Oh, on something you are very familiar with”. That was a very enlightening answer from my chandni and roshni rolled into one. Apart from my job, I spend all my time with her and our adorable daughter. And I zealously guard our privacy so would not write about those hours for sure! So my job? Can’t do that either. I am also very familiar with my own handsome visage but I doubt people would be interested in reading about how well the mirror responds every single day to “Mirror Mirror on the wall”. I mean, heck, we are in an age where narcissism is frowned upon never mind the billion of self-photos uploaded on facebook by the masses and the classes. Or to paraphrase a famous son-in-law with a penchant for fruity descriptions of the hoi polloi, "by every aam aadmi (and badnaam aadmi) in Ban Anna republics". Well, hey hey hey, there is something in that! How about writing on technology and the transparency it is creating?
So here we go! This is her blog, I am just "guest writing". Trust me, its not her who is ghost writing my guest writing :-)
A fellow writer (a much more famous and richer one of course - I gave him a headstart) philosophized that the “The World is Flat” a few years ago. I will amend that to “The World is in a Flat (Screen)”. Thanks to social media and smart devices, we have the capacity to know everything about anything that is going on in anyone’s life. Where was John Doe one hour ago? Check facebook – I mean what kind of an unsocial person would not have uploaded what he or she was doing every minute of his or her life? Where was Mary Jane last night? Check out the photos from the resto-pub last night – and you thought she didn’t drink? The pose in that picture on her BFFs wall post where she is trying to walk on her hands while balancing a stool on her stilettos is clearly not something I have ever attempted as a teetotaler. We know which food Geeta and her pretty neighbor Rita like, which spa they go to, which brands they want to get their hands on – everything is on their “Likes”. 
There is a clear list of people who will benefit from this explosion of transparency......am listing here in order of the “fear factor”…
1.     Spouses : Never mind what your spouse said about the business dinner last night. Just check her or his colleagues and friends facebook pages. Whoa! That business dinner had just 3 people? She and her two “hungry wolf” (and I am not referring to the food) colleagues? Ah yes, people tend to squeeze in a lot closer while taking those  ”hey, we were here and had a good time” snaps. Nothing wrong in their intentions, the camera angle is not good enough! And, by the way, check the text messages. Almost everything has closure on text nowadays. One cannot be having dinner without a “hey thanks, lets meet tomorrow to conclude that discussion on the deal”.  So if you find a “hey, had a lovely time, lets do this again” from a Tina for your Tony – well, someone has been mixing pleasure with business.
2.     Parents: I know your kids will never accept your invites to be friends on facebook. But its ok, they will accept friends requests from complete strangers. So think of a cool 21st century name and you would be tracking all their moves in no time. Yes, the hostel gates do close at 10pm. So the camera times showing 2am on the facebook picture taken outside the nightclub must be wrong. Of course! Not just facebook, you could easily see on your own computer what your child is interested in. What were you doing on the computer so late, son? Research for my assignment dad! Yep, that ties in wonderfully with the internet history recorded on the browser which shows 1 hour each spent on “interesting” websites.
3.     The tax man! Hey, how on earth do you spend 10 times what you earn on on travel, shopping and eating out? "Lucci, yeh Gucci kaise khareeda?" Yes, Lucci here will rhyme with Gucci, and not be pronounced as Lucy. What? Mind my language? Take out all the F words from your facebook posts first (Yes, Fendi and Ferragamo too!), Rascala! (It IS  Rajnikanth's birthday today ain't it)
4.     Detectives, Future spouses, future in-laws, future outlaws (and current ones), employers….this list can go and on and I can fill in reams of digital space – but hey – you got the message - right? Besides, a Blog cannot be too long – or so I understand.

So let me come straight to the point –
Technology has the power to keep us honest, because it does not give us room to lie. Because technology makes everything and everyone so easy and simple to track. Remember your (Digital) footprints are everywhere!
Yours honestly,
The "EmJay" in "AarCeeEmJay".

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Samosa and masala chai in Singaporean rains




First round of our samosa lunch


Equatorial winter is anything but cold, but the recent spells of rain in Singapore has made its cafes and food courts warm, cosy places to be at. Yesterday,I chanced upon this rare season and decided to hijack hubby from work for a quick, hassle-free lunch session at the food court in Vivocity. 

Happy hungry hubby tagged along. Now, the boring Indians in us just went straight to Atithi, an Indian stall. The food was looking fresh from its kitchen backstage but our first order query, as usual, was on the samosas. They are on the menu but somewhat rarely make it in eatable form, just like forbidden Atithis (Atithi in Hindi means guest).The guy from the kitchen did a happy nod.So the greasy munchies finally made it and what better day than on a rainy gloomy afternoon. We forgot lunch and ordered the Indian vegetarian patties with some masala chai. Ah!

The samosas were  just right brown and hot, straight from the karai (indian wok) with no signs of bacteria generating capacity which is usually the case with stale ones. Our quick samosa lunch was a hit and Atithi, I think you should start making the stuff more often, what with this little ‘winter’ planning to guest on the equator for just a little bit longer.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Gold Class Gone Bronze!


Since we didn’t get the usual tickets to SKYFALL, we decided to once in a while indulge ourselves with some Gold Class experience. SKYFALL was ok if not better that its Bond predecessors. The Gold experience though was more like fast class service, so ridiculing to their company’s exotic promotional boasts.

Let me elaborate:

"A cluster of 4 Gold Class Cinemas - the ultimate in luxury movie viewing with a private lounge and plush electronic recliner seats comparable to First Class airline seats"

Oh please! The electronic recliner was alright, but please don’t compare it to a first class airline seat. My economy seat is a better place with better access to super class services (we’re talking Singapore Airlines, probably the benchmark in service. And maybe its better to watch movies on SIA flights!)

The movie viewing was far a thousand miles from luxury.Since we missed the pre-movie session; and with intention to not disturb the others viewing the movie with our food orders, we took our humble subway sandwiches to quietly munch through the crumbling SKYFALL. We and the rest in the hall were not that lucky. The sandwiches got Madame X to our private lounge and with M like authority she told that we can’t have outside food. Like sophisticated, educated people, we obeyed. What came next got our goat. She asked for the food and made us look like two idiots, who mugged our parents first thing in the morning, bunked school to get forbidden pleasure in some stupid corner with a stupid price tag. She almost confiscated Subway in footlong size. Then, I verbally punch her with,”hey, we’re civilized people, we’re NOT having the damned sandwiches.” She left without Subway in a wayward way. That’s so not Gold class baby.

When you charge so much for the “experience”, you should be flexible, intelligent and sensitive enough to tweak protocols. Or at least not expect to be blessed with sandwiches in return for giving people a chance to enjoy a Gold class $39 a piece experience!


"GV VivoCity sets a new benchmark for multiplexes in Singapore by introducing a sophisticated club ambience, with a 5-star food and beverage menu available (including a top wine list) and a private dining room"

Maybe, the menu’s paper quality was 5-star. Food, I think, was of decent 2-star standard, with the turmeric rice as half cooked as the one you get for less than a quarter of a dollar in a stop by snack shop in some developing country.

"The Gold Class cinema seats are all equipped with call buttons for faster and more discreet service. A new level of concierge-style service, hitherto unseen in Singapore cinemas, will be enjoyed by patrons from the moment they arrive all the way through their patronage experience"

With our sandwiches, safe in my bag, we decided to appease our hungry tummies. But the call buttons decided to brood with Madame X and just went red, with no one to give us the “faster and more discreet service.” After much call button effort that went to the drains of Madame X’s pool of bitterness, my husband went out and made it as discreet as possible to order the food. So much for concierge-style service. 10 minutes after red button and nobody in sight! Catch that happening on a First Class flight - and I am talking ANY airline here! The ultimate premium Self service-GV Gold class style!

Now, we should have gone through the reviews before booking our tickets. And Madame X, accompanied by the whole management, needs to get on a Singapore Airlines First class flight to know exactly what first class service (recliner included) feels like.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Unflappable Yap and the Honey Trap


Why is Madame Yap so cool?

Now that it’s all over the place, curious me wants to know why and how Madame Yap Yen Yen is so cool about her husband’s straying ways.

Is she really that na├»ve to disregard the dirty spectacle put up by Ng and Sue? All that naughty stuff they did together behind her back doesn’t seem to move even the slightest hair from her ‘unbending’ head. And even the court, so unforgiving in its proceedings and cross-examinations apparently failed to make Yap see that dirty side of a man she has been putting up with. The embarrassing publicity which started back in January has left her unaffected and like Sue - the girl who made this scandal so sensational - she seems to be getting used to it now. No one can miss the sight of those locked hands, and there she was, seemingly looking forward to deal with another awkward court show. 
With my husband,no matter what : Madame Yap and hubby on a recent date to court
Pic taken from Yahoo.com 
Cool and faithful Yap seemed to be more concerned about her husband’s questioned professional integrity than the clues that clearly indicated that he was cheating in the marriage. Dear, didn't she get utterly shocked, angry and saddened by those "now mushy, now lurid" detailing of intense encounters and conversations between Ms Sue and her husband? I would want to assume that she’s one strong woman who has managed to make friends with the skeletons a long time back. But, then again, it can be pretty straining dealing with them every day of your life - right in the glare of an unforgetting (and sometimes voyeuristic) public and an unforgiving probing prosecution.

All said, if indeed her show of support and solidarity is genuine and not just for the cameras, then God will surely assign her to heaven for being such a faithful wife to an unfaithful husband. She clearly has not just grasped, but full-on embraced the concept of forgiving those who erred against her. 

And there in heaven, as we can expect, (if we overlook America's recent transgressions in another part of Asia) we can expect her to be in the company of similarly evolved spirits like a certain Mrs. Clinton. A certain  Elin Nordegren's approach didn't prove to be par for this course of after-life.

 For those who are not familiar with the scandal, you can go to 
 http://news.insing.com/tabloid/ng-boon-gay-confesses-to-affair/id-34653f00

Monday, 26 November 2012

Asian Integration : Diwali 2012@Little India




Psychedelic "Diya's" : Neon Streaming Serangoon Road..


This year's Diwali had neon blue avatar lights flooding Serangoon street  in Little India. Pedestrians, most of them local, with their unaffected haste to get past the street, are probably used to the Diwali 'illuminations'.


Soaking in the lights....

Diwali, a very loud affair in India, is subtle but observed with much zest as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya in Singapore. What starts the celebration is the month long bazaar which umbrellas stalls of necessities and intricacies of the festival like  jewellery, clothes, scented flowers, candles and delicacies. I even saw carpets being hung with hope of being taken home. Seriously, in that stirring air of things, carpet patience is the last thing I want to have. Everything else is so "Diwali Mela" - its enchanting!

Vibrant Colors to go with a Vibrant Festival of Lights!

Diwali in Singapore, delicate as it is, has become a major identity for Indians living here. I was amused when the Chinese cab driver, hearing me speak in Hindi on the phone, enthusiastically wished me a very happy Deepawali (more people here pronounce the longer version rather than saying Diwali). Awww! Asian Integration at its Best! What Diwali does for National Integration in India (with most religions and regions joining in the festivity), it does for Asian Integration in Singapore.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Au Revoir Yash Chopra


Yash Chopra, a name that never got old fashioned for any of the many generations that came and went. From Deewar to Dil To Pagal Hain, his movies are ageless treats the whole family could watch and enjoy. 
Yash Chopra was the zest we saw in Shah Rukh’s romantic adventures. His larger than life sets made mundane lives want to dream. His Swiss getaways chilled our mad summers. I remember bunking dreary college to watch Dil to Pagal Hain and what a well spent day it was! Sad, sappy Veer Zaara made me cry and I thanked Shah Rukh’s parents for not leaving British India after partition. Lamhe makes me wish Sridevi married Anil and not his brother. I doubt Jaya Bachchan ever dared to watch Silsila - She would have choked in the flame from the smoldering chemistry that almost burnt the tree. If Deewar didn’t make B big, wonder what did.

Here is my favorite Yash Chopra song......(courtesy the yrf channel on youtube)



His death just got us closer to those revered moments we felt watching his movies. I’m making a deal with my weekend schedule for some movie time with Yash Chopra. Let me soak myself in those crazy songs and moves; let me cry and laugh on lines and moments that make a 3 hour movie one wholesome experience. Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Kabhi Kabhi nahin par har Lamhe Dil will remain Pagal for Yash Chopra's movies. And always have enough Waqt for reruns and more reruns of the same without any Darr.

Au Revoir Yash Chopra. No Goodbyes, because we will see your films again and again!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

When Halloween met Puja......


 
Halloween has never been a part of my celebration culture. But I know that it's pretty popular in Singapore. All the fun horror greeting my eyes at the weekend stores tickled me, till I saw these women parading and looking gorgeously scary. Their annual Halloween costume flashed just one picture in my head....Heidi Klum, in her 2008 Indian goddess costume! Since then, no Halloween attire has been able to beat this one.
 


 
Now, a lot of people are not familiar with the blue Indian goddess that was Halloween-ed on Heidi. It wasn't Medusa, but the goddess Kali, the most powerful of all Hindu Gods, who reigns over and destroys evil that's represented by the heads of men strung around her the model’s stunning hip! What a deadly belt the beheaded men make! Heidi took the term drop dead gorgeous to a whole new level!




At first glance, I too, like everyone back home saw the religious taboo being worn by Heidi of the goddess who is worshiped as the protector of the good and destroyer of evil. But Klum looked so convincing in her Kali avatar, that every time I went back to Google pics, the images almost got me on my knees. Maybe it was the aura of two strong women empowering each other. I'm not sure if she meant banter of goddess Kali (that would be "Heidi-eous"). Maybe she just came across a Puja experience that happens around the same time....and subsequently grabbed the Halloween chance to feel and show the goddess' power.  And yes, I saw raw unadulterated POWER written all over her face and that blue heavy outfit she was wearing. Hopefully, she did not don this to get into the Most Powerful Women list for that year. I'm sure Ma Kali herself must have been amused by the avatar.

* All pics taken from Perezhilton.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Maid in Singapore


This is purely a work of fiction. Any resemblance to employers or maids (living or ... leaving or left!) is coincidental and purely unintentional.

Bio Data of an Experienced Maid....

First employer: Very rich. House too big and never left any food from table for us. I get bored with noodles.  My other helper complained about it to her friends in the neighbourhood. Believe me, I was quiet good little mouse in such complains -never gossip. I complete my contract. 2 years, you know. They want variety I think and that is why employer never renew. That was HongKong. I never thought getting another employer in same city so went home. How give reference of HK employer - no contact with me already!

Second employer: Old maam and her son. I don’t mind the old woman ,who never likes sharing utensils with her son. Son eat fish, meat and he also eat my head. He want me to work from 7am to 9pm. Just 10 hours of rest and sleep! I got sick when he would just shout at my afternoon naps and tell me to get up and find some dirt in the corners of the house. Don't know how dirt came, clean last month only! I got tired and left. Don’t know how long I last. I resting from all that tired house. Maybe one month.

Third employer: Old,dying maam. Very nice maam. The contract didn’t last even one month. Old, not well,died and they send me back. I never take such employers again.

Fourth Employer: Nice but not nice. Ma'am and sir nice. They had too many guests. Local guests on weekend made me sleep very late. My sir want all ingredients were ready for next day’s party. They made me clean the house only on guest come. Tiiired! Maam mom and sister, they come and stay for 2-3 months. Vegetarian, but too spicy. And so many dishes to make. Almost whole day at the kitchen. I thought the guests leave, they ask  tea.  I thought now that the mother and sister gone, sir mother arrived  same evening. She was ok. Not like the other. But didn’t want me in the kitchen. Imagine! It was My Kitchen. Mine! Mine! Mine! How to give my kitchen to strangers? I didn’t leave well. They renew my contract but I not happy. Too much work. Complete 2 years of old contract and 2 months of new.

Fifth Employer: No agency, I got employer on my own. Not bad people.They did use-furniture business in the house. House was very dirty. I got dust and saw dust to welcome me on the door. Maam not good. Maam got child from one man, who was not there. Instead there was white man with maam. I had to work in Aunty home also. Aunty told me that maam was not a good girl. Since it was a shop house, no food, no water, no kitchen. They even ate the bread I buy for myself. After 3 weeks , I told my ma'am I wanted to quit. She said no. I got police. They solve my problem.

Sixth employer: They give me no food, only plain food. Not allow me to take anything from the fridge. I last 23 days and went agency.

Seventh employer: First time, got Sunday off every week. Sign contract for 400 dollar salary but they gave increase to 500 dollars starting second month only. Sign contract for 2 Sundays off, but they gave all Sundays off! And they also give 15 dollars allowance every Sunday to spend on non-veg because only vegetarian food in house. But too much work. 2 adults and 1 baby. No cars, no dogs. No taking the baby down to play (only ma'm and sir do that). So only house work - cannot even go down to gossip with other maids who go to take baby down or walk dog or wash car. And no ya, no yeah. Said their child needs to learn full words and sentences without any slangs. How to talk then? Every Sunday off, with 15 dollars not enough.

All I want is to work whenever I want, eat and cook whatever and whenever I want (and others to eat what I want to cook). To talk anything anytime. And have all Sundays off. No small kids, dogs or cars. Nice house but small house (easier to clean) but with my independent room. All washing in machine and all drying in dryer. And no need teach me, ya? I know everything!

You see maam, I am very easy . I know all the jobs. I do you favor by allowing you hire me. So you have dog, car, small baby? Yes ?!! Then I dunwan. Many people in line to interview me. Sorry. Dun mind.

Monday, 15 October 2012

My Book Fair Lady


With books and stationery in hand, I waved out at the girl at the counter. Since I hardly pay by cash, I asked the lady which card was preferred. Her blank look was enough to lead me to assume that she was a steal the organisers hurriedly got. They needed someone urgently to "man" the three day mini book fair. What they forgot to ask at the interview was about her proficiency in English. Or maybe they expected only Chinese speaking buyers. But then again, they couldn’t have been doing that! The book fair had three sections strictly devoted to English books - Children, Leisure and Recipe.
Anyway, what happened at the interview stage will be a mystery. What happened at the venue was simple - Poor girl and poor me had just vague, helpless smiles to exchange. My enthusiasm to investigate her on the Spanish dictionary wobbled off.
I quickly checked the counter when the lady exclaimed, “cash cash!’’, with her eyes wandering with the card, held in my loaded hand. The organisers could have spent some time and a few dollars on an "Only Cash" sign at the counter. She pointed to the Cold Storage ATM, which had a long queue of lunchers from the nearby offices. I thought, how sweet of her! If only she had insisted the organisers on having a card machine. Now, why I was I so hassled? This book fair was very close to my house, but cashless me had to go and surrender the carefully selected items. The lady took the stuff and we parted with her timid “tomorrow?..:-).” I have to admit she was nice.

I don’t blame the girl. She didn’t even know what she was doing. With no signs of literary empathy, the kind that you get from people at Popular and Kinokuniya, the lady and her colleague, in the midst of a rather quiet book fair, were laughing at some indigenous jokes. This made them look like they did the interview and got the job together. The rest of us were either puzzled, looking at a very old edition of the Spanish-English dictionary or just harried at the counter, with cards in hands.
 
An affair like a book fair should be taken seriously. Books will never go wrong but people, they need to be just as right! Get people with the right proficiency, gifted with some sly guts and social pretensions that will make a book fair sail and sell. Because, honestly, it’s really not enough to be sweet!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Steamboating on the Island


Steamboat or Chinese fondue, refers to several East Asian varieties of stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the centre of the dining table.  It is believed to have originated in Mongolia and got popular in China during the time of the Tang dynasty. Over a thousand years old, it was essentially a winter treat of stewed meat and vegetables.



Ready to (self) cook!*

It’s the self-cook aspect of steamboat that that makes it unique. In the modern world, the coal heated steamboat has been replaced by electric, gas and induction gas heaters.
In equatorial Singapore, the winter mood that goes well with 'steamboating' is created by the excess, sometimes severe cold, caused by air-conditioning in the restaurants and malls. So at JPOT, VivoCity mall, Singapore, we - a delighted bunch of five - bravely dived into the 'steamboat '. Bravely, for, three of us were first time steam boaters, and the two who invited us into the experience were (I guess) concerned about that fact.

United Colors of Condiments (and sauces)!*

The staff was polite, helping us to a table installed with four heaters. They showed no obvious signs of alarm at the sight of non-Chinese diners. Nor did they jolt on hearing that they were vegetarians, a very rare race in noodle land. God bless them. Clearly no Amy Cheongs there!
Bowls, each with soup and a corn piece that gave away lovely aroma, were brought and put on the table heaters to boil. As we browsed the menu, we happily found out that it had a good spread of vegetarian ingredients. When the food got on the table, we were amused at the sight of fresh green, fresh meat and raw noodles. All of them were to go into the boiling hot soups in the four bowls and create some kind of eatable potion.


Devour these quick!*
The next step was to go to the sauce section. We did our pick of different accompaniments; put them all in a small bowl to make a sauce that was to go with the main food. I thanked God for the divinely red, rich garlic and chilli sauce which I mixed with a dash of sesame oil, spring onion and coriander leaves. Heaven!
The happy hand that ...
holds the hand that...holds the spoon!
My dear husband, who's a fan of bland food, skipped the sauce ritual and jumped into the boiling experience. Happiness never left his face as he dipped raw veggies, seaweed and noodles into the hot bowl of soup that itself looked hungry for some action. I guess he felt like a magician, being able to cook on his own, in such a relaxed way; and multi-tasking it with lazy Sunday talk. He relished every bit of his steamboat. He didn't even spare the poor corn piece, with all its flavour gone into making of the soup stock!
My daughter was my steamboat angel who devoured a couple of lovely fish balls and noodles which she proudly ‘dived’ into the bowl.
Ours was a table with two sides. One side a contented picture  of a couple enjoying their normal steamboat of chops and prawns.  And, on the other, an almost vegetarian family munching away stewed kang kong and spinach leaves, emptying plates of  good old bean curd and sweet potato. All this, with glasses and glasses of cold barley water and happy talks on bucket lists of places to go and things to do, made one satisfied, grateful table.
The staff's etiquette was commendable. It feels good to know that I can always come back, maybe with a bunch of first time steamboaters (maybe vegetarians!) and be confident that the host restaurant and its food will be warm enough to guide them to yet another great experience!



* Photos taken from JPOT website

Monday, 8 October 2012

It's not always about the money, honey......


Now, now, Amy Cheong, not sure if the whole thing was rigged in your head! I would like to think it’s just an immature, insensitive (and clearly and unacceptably racial) outburst.

Racist comments have become the latest trend to cheap ‘stardom’. People can stoop so unbelievably low to get noticed.  Last year, it was an American from a known University doing this to Asians especially the Chinese. Now it’s one of us Asians doing it to ourselves!

With NTUC being so multiracial and neutral, the big body had to do what it had to do.  I assume her life got a bit like a void deck so she wanted some attention from the world and voila! The insensitive (and so so so immature) side of her got no one to make fun of but the Malays for making happiness out of 50 dollars!

In the same tone, it’s wrong to blame the parents, hubby or all Chinese for what Amy Cheong said. Don’t stoop to the level she momentarily did! I have some really wonderful Chinese friends, so it will be racially offensive, if you start judging them on the basis of Amy Cheong. She was, at that moment, just a "not so good" (that's being polite!) apple wanting to infest the world with these worms like thoughts (no offence to worms!). Awaken your worm repellents, be gracious and move on.

Cheers to the Malays who got so much with "50 dollars"; a lovely wedding and a jealous woman!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Parenting in Singapore : Kancheong style!


Why are Singaporean parents so kancheong about their kids?

I see a picture in today’s Strait Times celebrating children’s day with a caption that made me smirnk (that’s a cross between a smirk and a wink). It’s this innocent word that had me study the space between the photograph and the caption. Kancheong! Clever spoof on the parenting ways of Singaporeans. I won’t comment on the picture though. I think it’s cute.

Whoever did it, did it well to top the word search on Google. The result said,
Kancheong- To be hurried, flustered, uptight. The MRT door heaven open yet, you so kan-cheong for whaaaat! {Heaven= Haven’t}


Super cute take on "Kancheong"!

So dear dear parents, your kids’ future is not the MRT. You’ve got to wait and not hassle the poor things to chase your dreams so hurriedly. School is already one big headache, so leave them alone. Parents! Leave them kids alone! All in all, you don't want them to be just another brick in the wall!

I hear mothers complaining about their toddlers not being able to speak well, that they cry a lot and are not able to concentrate or pay attention. Hello! Go ask your mother how articulate you were at 18 months and if she missed complaining about her angel’s ‘terrible 2’ phase in small talk with other parents.

Sometime back, I came across this article on the latest parenting trend in Singapore - kids attending two sessions of different schools every day. My daughter’s former classmate is one guinea pig to this experiment. It’s absurdly wrong and has led me to form an antonym for parental guidance. Parental Crime. Why is the Ministry of Education even allowing this? In Scandinavia, you would have probably lost your child to fostering.

The worst hit are those entering the primaries. Their childhood is tiresome, expensive and so so so so soooooooooo not worth it. I know two sisters, aged about six and nine, who were regulars at the playground. At one point, they suddenly disappeared. I asked their helper about them and she very sympathetically said, ''Too may classes lah. Swimming, then painting, then maths. After that, tiiiired.’’ I didn’t miss her long tired. She didn’t fail to add that the parents were too busy, so she has to transport the kids from one class to another and eventually take them to McDonald’s, bathe them and put them to sleep. What a waste of two wonderful, precious lives. Sometimes, I see the two come off from the school bus, allowing a couple of minutes of their busy schedule to gaze at the pool and playground, as if bidding goodbye to another day of their childhood.

After all the prescriptions you’ve made for your kids and their lives, it’ll be amazing if one day you ask them what they want to be. Don’t be surprise if they come up with, “You tell me Mummy, Daddy”. Or maybe, just maybe, the precocious and daring ones would come up with something that will stop us in our tracks..... “definitely not kancheong like you, Mummy Daddy”

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Gandhi Jayanti and Shillong...Love thy neighbourhood

 


A Khasi neigbourhood in Shillong

When I was in Shillong, all through the 90s, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday had a unique significance in my neighbourhood.
We had a compulsory cleaning drive, organized by the Rangbah shnong or locality head. This annual ritual was a must do for all the families residing in the locality.  
 

My mom was always our keen representative, with generous moral support from her kids. This annual spree made me realize how much easier cleaning just your house is. You can imagine the enormous effort involved in cleaning one whole locality, through its drains, roads and turns. Though challenging, the event had its fun part too.
When the spades and brooms were done with their cleaning march, the whole locality divided itself into comfort zones (neighbours, close friends). The participating members got treated to delicious snacks and drinks. The innocent treats were mostly prepared by families, who couldn't really go out and take on the roads and drains. No alcohol, thanks to the auspicious date being a dry day, but lots of loud music. It may sound like mundane fun, but in those days, community living and sharing was pretty special.
I vividly remember how green and clean the locality looked and felt towards the end of that day. What better way, to celebrate such an important event. The more I think about it, the more respect I have for all my neighbours and friends, who restrained themselves from a holiday picnic and happily plunged into a community cleaning mood.

Like most things in life, I look back with happy but anxious thoughts of what really happened in that one corner of Shillong yesterday. I’m sure a lot has changed, but sappy me would like to place the spades, the brooms, my mom, the neighbours and my friends in one comfort zone, just the way I saw them last, a decade ago. I can't say much about the drains and roads. A little bird told me, they just got beyond cleaning, with too many filthy rich doing the traffic filth!