... and oh so true

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

U2 ... rattle and hum

I should've known better but got complacent. Dragging my feet as I did, I just never expected that I would be ambushed by my parents. Progressive Asian Parents, at that.

The well-worn routine was that I would call home once a week or fortnight. My folks and I would have a very loud and lively conversation (which has gotten me banned from the living room because Ste finds the decibels deafening) lasting at least an hour each time. The amount of fodder for discussion/contemplation/outright gossip is directly proportional to the size of one's extended family ... and heck, I'm genuinely interested in what the expanding nephew and niece community back home is up to.

At the close of one particularly energetic and satisfying call late last year, as we were preparing to hang up, I was caught like a deer in the headlights -

"Ok Girl, so don't forget to drink a lot of water and get enough rest ok?"

"Ya Mom, don't worry. I'll call again next week awright?"

"Ok! Love you!"

A beat.

"... er ... yeah, ok BYE!" (click)

It was a concerted, strategic, parental ambush. And soon after, Dad was up to the same fuzzy business.

I love my parents dearly, even more now than when I was younger because I understand them and myself much better now. The obnoxious, snotty, teenage twat in me still surfaces occasionally, but for the most part I'd like to think that I've come into my own.

But, while managing to ramble on in my signature way about nearly everything else ("Ma, are you sure those HRT pills are a good idea? Is the Aunty at Ghim Moh selling any new t-shirts? Did you and the girls play mahjong last weekend?"), I always missed the most important thing. By a mile.

Then what's the problem? Not the words ... Ste and I text/coo them to each other at least 10 times a day (I know, I know, too much information) ... I sign off my emails to good friends with "love" ... what's the deal with telling my parents?

Alamak, WHO KNOWS man.

Whatever the case, I've overcome this self-restraint somewhat these past few weeks and guess what, I'm beginning to get the hang of it! No more weird pause, no more non-committal "ya, ya me too", the shackles of self-restraint have been shattered, hallelujah.

Sigh. So it seems like parents still know best.

"Mom, Dad, LOVE YOU!" (logout)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

That nibbling bug

It surfaces when you've been away for a while and yet isn't quite homesickness. The feeling, an undiscernable drip drip drip, eventually forms a mysterious mass of mysterious hankering. Barely ten years ago, I would have scoffed and clucked at the thought of anyone being so cheenah.

But Life boomerangs back ever so often and now I am trying to reconnect with my image of 'Chinese roots'. This is mostly funny because I am Singaporean first and have never been within a hair's breadth of China.

Nonetheless the first signs emerged during Chinese New Year 2 years ago. I returned to London from Singapore a month before, laden with fists full of hong baos. Stefan was coerced into the Make-the-Red-Lantern project. The final folded and stapled product bobbed about proudly in his dorm room window.

Meanwhile I had also volunteered for the Lunar New Year line up, an annual event, at Goodenough College. It was a great group of ladies - Teresa and Cindy were from Taiwan, Tomoko from Japan and Yu Fang from South Africa. Following 3 weeks of rehearsals, requests to the Taiwanese Consulate to borrow the costumes and plenty of laughter, the Lantern and Ribbon Dance was born. Heck, WE were all the authenticity that was needed!

I have since been married in a kua and 2 cheong sams (civil wedding and dinner Singapore), commenced research on Chinese foreign policy and enrolled in a Mandarin refresher course of my own volition. The thought resides somewhere in my head, that I must impart the language to my -currently imaginary- children.

The madding crowds kept me away from visits to Chinatown with my Mom in Singapore. Here, I intentionally jump into the fray, risking injury from boney old ladies in hairnets, Beijing Chinese uhr-uhr-uhr-ing at me and the startling blasts of firecrackers.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A little shock value

Esther will recall our rather brief encounter with Tony -we're on a FNB of course- after our chat over Max Brenner's hot chocolate with the wedding photographers, Ben and Lynelle.

The IOC meeting at Suntec wrapped up at the same time and the well-heeled international delegates -who contrasted somewhat with the casually muled pair that we were- streamed through the mall.

Esther and I hung around in eager anticipation, hoping for a free glimpse of a luminary. We were not disappointed. Tony strode by and raised his hand in a half-wave at Us, the gawking General Public. I stood there, gobsmacked by celebrity charity, and Esther chided me for not waving back.

Less impressive and endearing by far was Jacques, who whizzed by in a scrum of security staff. Perhaps it made him feel loved.

Note: this photo is from a different event, in early 2005.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This has been my bedtime reading since December. It's taking me a while to get through because -as a student researcher- entire days are spent reading and I'm often burnt out by the time dusk rolls along.

For better or worse, the book itself is emotionally exacting as we follow Dallaire on his tour of duty in Rwanda, in the build-up to and period of the 1994 genocide (I'm only midway through the book). My first attempts to understand -though can anyone really- what happened were through the films 'Sometimes in April' and 'Hotel Rwanda' and from following the coverage on the 10th anniversary observance campaigns in 2004.

Not having visited the country, most of what I think/feel about it has been inspired by Rwandan friends Liliane and Epiphanie, who have bravely chosen to invest themselves in the country's reconstruction and the community's recovery.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Oh you talented friends
With those wonderfully skilled hands
Creating wearable works of art
-I wouldn't know where to start!-

Thanks for the beautiful earrings, Meiping
... and sorry for the godawful verse!

This sure beats my bao

Prehistoric men were hunter-gatherers. In this day and age, the household heroics for sustenance have taken a decidedly different slant. They are forged by upright (versus hunched with knuckles dragging on the ground), tamed and domestic(ated) males such as Ste, who at the drop of a chef's hat, will whip up a mouthwatering apple pie in the peak of summer, Christmas cookies for the yuletide ... and who in the last month has taken to the dirty affair of baking bread.

I am not a huge fan of bread, but -apart from Tiger Balm- there's probably nothing more comforting and settling than the wafting aroma of a fresh loaf in the oven. Eau de Pain. As with most things in life however, the road to confection perfection is often lumpy. Ste's first attempt at Swiss Sunday Bread (zuepfe) in December was not quite the rousing success he had hoped for. The yeast that was procured from the bakery up Camden Passage malfunctioned and left the enormous mass of dough as unappealingly flat as it was before it was baked. Deflated and very brown.

That evening, we shamelessly presented our unconventional offering at Julie and Ramesh's Christmas pot luck party (where we later surprised Michelle with a chocolate cake that was howling under the weight of 30 blazing candles). I regularly offend friends and acquaintances alike with my unique culinary experiments, so thought nothing of it. A Muslim friend chuckled to us later - he had almost panicked because the bread looked like a suckling pig. We apologised profusely, because it did.

With his admirable never-say-die attitude -and armed with Swiss yeast purchased from Migros at Zurich Airport- in the weeks since Christmas, Ste has since perfected the recipe and the braiding.

Viva la Schweizer hefe!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Faces to the names

Current contributers to this blog are Charmaine -featured here in a self-promo rah rah poster for the mini-marathon (10 click only lah) we ran in December 2003-

and Michelle -seen here with Ste at my old flat (Wynford Road) in 2004.

Mareike, intrepid study/lunch/coffee/dinner buddy, hasn't yet contributed ... but has signed in, which is a GOOD FIRST STEP :) I should add that this photo of us 2 in the LSE library was completely her idea.

To her credit though, an absolutely mindblowingly fantastic idea of hers was the painting (photo in yesterday's post), a composite painting done by all our guests at the wedding dinner reception in Bern, September 2005. Ste and I were utterly bowled over.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Bad poetry for a good year

There once was a young man from Bern
Who'd never seen an equatorial fern
Summer all year long
Sounded terribly wrong
Till someone made him learn.

There once was a young woman from Singapore
Who nearly always observed the law
When out of the blue
As fresh as spring dew
Her hero proffered his paw.

Now the two go forth together
As advised, mindful of the weather
Always grateful for the sun
And rain - hopefully none!
For brollies give little pleasure.

Thank you for having been a part of our 2005,
best wishes and kisses for 2006!