Singapore at Christmastime
The Esplanade, art hub of Singapore
I have always found it a pleasure to visit The Lion City.
Broad highways, flanked on both sides with well-pruned trees, greet you after you clear customs at the Causeway. The cleanliness and orderliness of the place is a welcome change from the vehicle-jammed streets and haphazardness of JB.
Christmas, being one of the peak seasons for visiting the city, the malls and MRT stations were jam packed with people- locals, foreigners, all caught up in one collective last minute, frantic shopping frenzy.
On Christmas Eve, after a long hard day of prowling the shopping malls on Orchard Road (in heels *gasps!!!*) I ended up buying a pair of flats so my poor, hurting feet could rest and I wouldn’t have to limp pitifully along the street just to enjoy the festivities and lights.
My new pair of shoes. =D
The pedestrian pavements were teeming with Christmas revellers like myself and my family. Luckily, the Singapore government was far-sighted enough to cordon off a portion of the road at Orchard for people to walk on hence lessening the sardine can-like situation on the usual walkways.
The night air was hot. Humid. Stagnant. But nevertheless filled with unmistakable Christmas cheer.
With sweat trickling down my back and forehead, I secretly yearned for the crisp, chilly air- the kind you can see your breath in when you speak- of Glasgow in December. Christmas tree at my grandaunt's place
It occurred to me as I walked down Orchard Road, what a stark contrast the packed and lively streets of Singapore on Christmas Day is compared to the near deserted city of Christmas Day in Glasgow.
Christmas after all, is family time for Westerners and most shops close on Christmas Day itself and people stay at home to spend quality time with their loved ones.
At Orchard, there was energy pulsating in the air. I watched youngsters chase each other, pushing through the crowd to spray each other with aerosol cans of “Snow Spray”, a frothy, foam-like substance that looked to me more like soap suds than real snow.
I observed rather untraditionally garbed Christmas carolers in earth-colored garments (some national costume perhaps?) singing to the familiar lilting tune of “Silent Night” but in their own language, an exotic tongue that I am unfamiliar with.
I admired the Christmas floats...
...and read in amusement the translations of idioms (direct translation from Chinese, I surmised) on the floats.
Beware of christmas?!
I also listened to the em-cee on the make shift stage speak in dual languages- English and Mandarin, introducing a local pop singer, conveying Christmas wishes to everyone, cracking jokes.
I realized, it was the first time I've ever spent Christmas Eve in Singapore.
On Christmas Day itself, my family and I had an unconventional Christmas brunch at one of those spotlessly clean hawker centers in Bedok, an area East of Singapore.
We had lots of local Teochew fair, my mum being the expert in what to order as she used to visit her aunty often in Singapore when she was doing her teacher's training in JB.
Warning: Do not continue reading if you are hungry. =D
Tau sua- My favourite hawker fare in Spore. A must have if you have a sweet tooth like me! It's a dessert consisting basically of split green beans in a clear potato flour-based soup, served warm with yau char koey. Kua chap- Basically rice flour sheets in a soy sauce garlic gravy with a side dish of braised egg, tofu, fish cake and pig intestines. It tastes better than I've described it, honestly!
Sui kueh- which literally means water cake because the texture is as fine and smooth as water. Served with choy po (pickled, chinese raddish) and sambal. Delicious!
Singapore laksa- It's like curry laksa, but the gravy is thicker and milkier. The noodles used is also different. I didn't like it but my brother thought it was good.
Kue Kak- You can find this dish in Malaysia as well. Basically fried radish cake with eggs garnished with spring onions and served with sambal. This is the white variety. Very good, but oily... I think they allow the hawkers to use pig lat in Singapore. Sinful! Lor Mee- Something like Lam Mee but tastier. They use the thick yellow noodles and also contains fish cake, tofu, boiled egg and other assorted fried liu.
A variety of kueh. Top pix is chai kueh which contains stuffings of vegetables mostly white raddish. Bottom pix is kueh stuffed with glutinous rice. The pink one contains addtional mushrooms and meat while the white one contains groundnuts. Not a big fan of these kind of kuehs, I was told the white one is tastier.
Hehe, made you salivate didn't I?
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. With good food, good shopping and quality family time.
Identified flying objects...at a wedding!?
Yesterday, I attended a wedding of one of my IMU batchmates in Sitiawan. 2 other friends and me rushed down from KL on the same day to attend it. The whole journey took about 3 and a half hours, which seemed to me like forever. We arrived at about 7.30 pm, slighty late due to the unfamiliar outskirt roads and a slight but persistent drizzle. I was feeling rather dizzy from being cooped up in the car for so long with no breaks and also from hunger pangs due to an early lunch. The banquet was already in full swing with the bride (my friend) and groom on the stage when me and my friends walked in. It was a huge, traditional Chinese wedding and I estimated that there were at least 100 tables. By traditional Chinese, I meant that it was the kind of wedding where you have to shout over the festivities to talk to the person next to you. There were the usual prolonged, ear-piercing toasts of "YAMMM SENGGGGG", out-of-tune renditions of Chinese oldies and red tablecloths on the tables. What I found unique about this wedding was there were plastic doggy bags placed discreetly on the table for you to ta pau any leftovers that your prudent soul cannot bear to waste. However, according to a friend this is common practice at small town weddings. Everything was going on smoothly and I was trying to talk to my friends, shouting to be heard over the discordant voice of the "wedding singer" (for the lack of a better term) belting out, "Lao shu ai ta mi" (direct translation is Mice Loves Rice, I think) a popular Chinese song where the lyrics compare a mice's love for rice to love for a girl. Don't ask me why the comparison made is so strange OK. But to be fair, I think it's kinda cute- that song but the singer's voice left much to be desired.Anyway, I was yakking away (on the top of my voice) quite happily when suddenly, out of nowhere, gravy came flying through the air and splattered nicely on my face and new top!!! %#&$@!!! The uncle sitting directly in front of me in his eagerness to turn the half eaten steamed fish over, lost control of his utensils and dropped Mr. Half-eaten fish down quite hard on the metal platter causing the oily, soy-sauce based fish gravy to splatter all over...
And I just had to have the luck to be right smack in the middle of the projectile range of the flying gravy!!Stunned, all I could do was glare daggers at that uncle through dangerously narrowed eyes. If looks could kill, he would have definitely dropped dead on the spot, no doubt about it! Regaining composure, I resignedly got up and headed to the toilet to see what damage control could be done. Unfortunately, the toilet was out of water and I had to resort to dabbing tissues soaked with mineral water at the stubborn oil stains.Trying to console myself, I thought that luckily, my top was dark maroon in colour and the stains were not that obvious. I headed back to the table and sat down and inclined my head regally in a forgiving nod to the uncle who looked at me and smiled in sheepish apology. I smelt faintly of the
fishy tangy scent of the sea. Nevertheless, I focused my attention on my friend and her husband who were on stage once again. The emcee handed them a bottle of champagne to open. The radiant couple shook the bottle in graceful unison. I watched them happily, admiring how beautiful my friend looked and glad for her that she was marrying THE (HER) ONE. *WOOSH* a frothy spray of champagne emerged from the bottle as the cork popped and flew in an arch through the air...
...and hit me right smack in the middle of my forehead...HARD...*OUCH*!!!!
For a moment -the second time in 5 minutes- I literally didn't know what had hit me!
It happened so fast that even most of my table companions didn't notice what had happened. But those who did burst out laughing at my expense. *sigh*
After the wedding, relating the incident to a few friends, most said "Hey, perhaps it's lucky to get hit by a flying champagne cork and flying gravy...at a wedding!"
Yeah yeah, lucky!!! My forehead still hurts where that dratted cork hit OK, but at least, the stains on my top have been successfully removed by Breeze Colour and no permanent head damage has been done to me, I think? ha ha
Small blessings to be thankful for I suppose. =D
"I do, I do...Do I??"
" My love is like a red, red rose..."
Getting hitched- a subject I initially said I wouldn't blog about for fear of appearing *cough cough* desperate, heh, and we definitely wouldn’t want that...=D However, after toying with the idea a bit in my overactive brain at night before drifting off to the land of dreams, I decided that blogging about it could be interesting and challenging.
I’ve been playing about with this post a bit. Getting opinions, tinkering with the context, rephrasing sentences, substituting words here and there to best express what I want to say. Maybe I am just a perfectionist when it comes to writing, but I guess, I hope, this justifies my long hours as a faceless being on the Internet. At least, I have something to show for it other than panda eyes and a grouchy face yea? *nods self-consolingly*
So, since we are on the topic of marriage, I must admit, I sometimes wonder, “WHY, OH WHY DO PEOPLE GET MARRIED?!!”
The very QUESTION that lies at the sacred heart of holy matrimony. A rather frequently wondered about question for most single people I know. It also especially surfaces in moments of despair, confusion, loneliness and PMS-induce emo moments.
By single, I also mean people who think they have found that special someone a.k.a., “THE ONE” but have not tied the knot yet, but more on that later.
THE QUESTION, a subject of many yum cha sessions, e-mail and MSN conversations, (esp now that most of us- I, am approaching my mid-twenties...aHHHHhhhh!!*sobs*) and is usually triggered by the news that so-and-so is getting married.
But I’ve noticed, most discussions always end without a universally agreed upon answer. An answer to a seemingly simple question remains elusive. Perhaps, in what many would consider the biggest gamble of life, “WHY DO PEOPLE JUMP ON THE MARRIAGE BANDWAGON?”, is the ultimate trick question.
Oh, there are of course, as there always is, “popular” answers.
When it’s the correct time, is one. So, when is the “the correct time” really? When you have reached a certain age? Many Malaysians see 30 as the cut off point where either you settle down or die a lonely death *gasps!* What do you do if you have reached the big 3-0 and have not met THE ONE? Do you simply settle for anyone, the next best thing that comes along? Decide to marry your best friend ala My Best Friend’s Wedding? Settle for aunty so-and-so's son/daughter that your mum introduces in a matchmaking session and whom you don't particularly fancy?
IMHO, this is a sad, sad reason to get married. Getting married for the sake of showing off a diamond solitaire/wedding band to the world to prove that: since everyone is doing it, I must do it too, is not only pointless- it is throwing your whole life away.
What about getting married for the company? In fact, this was my candid answer when I was asked THE QUESTION:
“I think people get married for the company, women especially get lonely easily.”
To which a guy friend replied:
"Guys may be practical beings, but they want to love, and be loved too!!!"
Awww...and here I was thinking that the main reason most guys want to settle down is, putting it delicately, "legal procreation" and crudely "free rightful sex, anytime, anywhere." *grin*
As age catches up and you increasingly become privy to the stark realities of life, your teenage fantasies that your sexy, voluptuous manga Babe or Sir Lancelot, knight in shining armour lookalikes will one day fall from heaven into you lap or to sweep you off your feet starts to dull and fade.
In a very real sense, you outgrow them. You begin to realize that exciting but trivial things matter, but it does not matter for long. The thrill of extravagant gestures, huge bouquets of flowers, pricey gifts, having a drop dead gorgeous guy/girl by your side take a back seat to stability and someone being there when you need them the most.
A more stable but possibly less exciting? company is something you desire. You start looking for someone whom you can imagine yourelf growing old with. You look for people that you like to spend time with. People who have common interests, common values. Lancelot takes the form of that nice guy you meet at a friend’s party, manga Babe takes the form of that sweet ex-colleague/friend’s sister/ next door neighbour. Perhaps a more stable kind of relationship, but one that might just stand the test of time.
As we move further into the 21st century, of female emancipation and increasing female dominance, do people, girls in particular still get married to have better pooled finances, for a more secure life, one that can guarantee you and your children will be well cared for, financially, at least? Many girls would, I know. And it is not wrong at all and if the guy is willing and capable, very good!
However, I sincerely hope that the guy you settle down with mainly because of his financial capabilities one day dosen't suddenly decide that he has had enough of supporting you, has a change of heart or makes you feel like you owe him something just because he is paying for the house you stay in, the clothes that keep you warm, the food that gives you sustenance and a good education for the children you have together.
I think, holding out your hand to ask for money, even from someone close to you is one of the toughest things to do. But then again, it's SO hard to predict, whether what he says at the start of marriage or during courtship are sweet promises that will be kept till death do you part or merely just sweet nothings.
A gamble! Marriage is such a gamble!!
Finally, called me jaded or cynical, the reason for getting married that I think is the most idealistic, is because of the love, or finding THE ONE.
First of all, is there really THE ONE for everyone somewhere out there? Or is THE ONE a kind of vague, overated cliche that people just talk about, but never really ponder what it means?
Some views on THE ONE:
"THE ONE is not perfect, but with faults and failings. It would be silly to build castles in the air and imagine a Prince Charming, someone impossibly unattainable to come and sweep you off your feet."
"THE ONE cannot be pursued, because the more it is pursued, it cannot be found. If you pursue it, you will mix up the whole matching game that is already pre-destined."
"THE ONE dosen't meant a perfect match, ala chick flicks. To understand each other, to have empathy, to share similar values. We have all these in common with other people, but to a different extent. Sometimes, a certain someone will have a wonderful blend of all these things that make it, comfortable and belong."
"Intrinsically, you already know what you want in THE ONE. You will just have to meet that someone and you will have a sudden realization that hits you, that yes, that's THE ONE!"
* Disclaimer: Subjects were involved in a non-randomized and non-placebo controlled (n=5) mini-survey. Answers in no way reflect a general trend.
Well, as for moi, my definition of THE ONE is simple. Anyone can be THE ONE.
It depends on the degree of giving and taking, compromise and tolerance that you want to invest in that particular someone.
Granted, there are people out there who are more similar to you that most. But nobody is exactly like you and thinks exactly the way you do and reacts to situations indentically to as you as well. Hence, tolerance and compromise is the key. It would definitely be nice if you at least have common ground to work on, the usual things: similar values, similar interests, similar goals, some physical attraction. If not, the slope of compromise will be steep, difficult and suffocating. At least with some common ground, the compromise might come more naturally and might even be fun.
It's like that hobby you enjoy, you will squeeze time, find ways to compromise your busy schedule willingly in order for you to do it and not feel tired, but exhilarated instead.
Because you like doing it.
How much can you tolerate before you explode? =D
What I'm trying to say is, a good yardstick to measure whether the compromise and sacrifices are worth it is whether you're having fun giving and taking. Whether you are willing to sacrific, willing to give up certaing things. And that, is fundamentally, what I believe makes a relationship work and last. For Jimbo and Rose, they have found the fine balance.
As for love, I believe that love can be nurtured and comes naturally with increased understanding of each other. No, I do not believe in love at first sight. That, is a romanticized Hollywood notion. In relationships and marriage, it's about free will (or perceived Free Will as suggested by God's Debris by Scott Adams) in making a concious choice to make things work.
That being said, marriage is still such a big gamble.
It's a scary gamble and the stakes are unimaginably high. But I suppose, only with high risks, can the returns be truly great.
What are the odds?
- someone calls you just when you are thinking of that person?
- you call someone when that person was thinking about you?
- a person whom you think highly of, thinks highly of you too?
- when you need someone to listen and comfort you, that person materializes and says and does all the correct things without being told?
- your deepest desires, although unspoken, magically come true?
- cut, long-stemmed pink roses last for more than a week?
- chocolates have zero calories?
- you see two rainbows in a day?
Despite not being a math genius, economist, statistician or anything even close to it and considering the fact that I always hated the chapter on probability in Add Maths, I think I can still safely say that the odds of these events happening are rare and in some cases almost impossible.
Perhaps then, today was really my lucky day.
I saw a rainbow twice today.
7.30-ish am @ Shah Alam
6.00 pm @ Pantai Hillpark
Yes, I know the rainbow is not that visible in the second pix. =(
But I first spotted it when driving along Federal Highway back from my Yoga class, so I couldn't very well stop my car in the midst of traffic and snap a pix however much I like rainbows right?
By the time I reached home, the lightings had changed, and although the rainbow was still visible, it was faint, fading away! But trust me, it's there in the pix, just a wee short spectrum above the small attic like building, right smack in the middle of the pix. You can see it if you peer closely enough. *hypnotic charm swinging to and fro*
So, I guess, sometimes you do beat the odds. I wonder though when will fickle lady luck smile again?
I hope it's soon. Am already looking forward to chomping greedily on all those guilt-free zero calorie yummylicious chocs! =D