Thursday, July 27, 2006

Our kids, our priorities

It was the Slim Lady's birthday. As I got up from bed, the first thing I did was to place her present on the breakfast table. I always leave for work before her, and I want to surprise her with the present when she walks into the kitchen.

Told myself I'd get her some roses on the way back in the evening. Had planned to visit Ikea with Victor for the succulent and tasty fried chicken wings for lunch. Then I received a call from my mum at noon, telling me that Junior has swallowed a fish bone. Junior, who was initially calm, told me over the phone that he could feel the bone lodged in his throat. A flurry of calls to my wife and several trips to the men in white later, first to a GP, then the specialist at KK who then referred my boy to CGH, my traumatized and crying baby was all spent and tired, but nevertheless still complaining about the fish bone and pain in his throat. The doctors couldn't see a thing, nor was there anything in the x-ray. I asked my wife if it could be "psychological". The doc said that it's possible what my junior was feeling was the "scarring", having already swallowed the bone.

At about 4pm, the Slim Lady text-messaged me to say that Junior was happily and hungrily chomping on plate of maggie noodle, all pain forgotten. When it was time to knock off, I drove home in double quick time to see my baby. And happily forgot about the flowers, as I did the chickens at Ikea. But guess what? The birthday girl wasn't mad one bit.

Isn't it awesome how our priorities change when it comes to kids?

Category: Family

Sunday, July 23, 2006

From a distance ......

"Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace..."
- John Lennon, Imagine

"From a disance you look like my friend,
Even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for."
- Cliff Richard, From A Distance

"If all the people around the world
They had a mind like yours
We'd have no fighting and no wars
There would be lasting peace on Earth."
- MLTR, Sleeping Child

The world's greatest musicians could write moving music pertaining to world peace, and songs about harmony and goodwill among mankind. But alas, their talents are wasted on our world's leaders. We're living in a trying time. It's a world of chaos. A world fraught with suffering and pain.....

Category: Musings

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Her Daddy, my Mummy

Everything was so lovey-dovey back then. And terms of endearments punctuated our every sentence.

"Honey, dinner is served."

"Darling, could you pass me the towel?"

"You're such a sweetie dear!"

Since the arrival of the first "stork" fourteen years ago, such endearments seem to have all but disappeared.

These days, if it's not "ooi, move aside you're blocking the TV!", than it's more often then not, "Daddy, please fetch your boy to the tournament tomorrow." By the way, if, for some reasons, you haven't got the drift, that's my wife speaking.

I admit it was kinda cute when it first started. But it was meant to be a joke, and supposed to be just a passing phase. We see it on TV all the time - spouses calling each other "Daddy" and "Mummy", more so if we were to use Mandarin - "老爸" (Daddy) and "老妈" (Mummy).

But the cuteness has since worn off many Christmases ago. In fact, I'm beginning to find it downright embarrassing when my wife uses the "D" word on me within the earshot of strangers in public. It's "sick", like the way some folks do when they address their pets as their "baby".

But never mind the pets. Though I've tried to refrain from calling my wife "mummy" and has met with some degree of success, the Slim Lady is finding it quite an uphill chore to stop using the "D" word. After all, old habits, as we know, die hard. What's gonna happen when our kids grow up and have kids of their own? Are we going to address each other as "Ah Kong" (Granddad) and "Ah Mah" (Grandma)? I shudder.

Category: Musings

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A world in isolation

When SONY invented its first WALKMAN in 1979, it totally revolutionised the way we listen to music. But something else happened - the way we relate to each other. Almost overnight, you saw people, the young and the not so young, on the streets, on public buses and subways, with their ears hooked firmly onto their WALKMAN, most in total oblivion of their surrounding. Everyone is a stranger living in their own private world, and every stranger seemed to have a WALKMAN in their possession.

At home, you found kids hooking on their music, during mealtime, and study time, much to the consternation of most parents. Everyone was isolated. Accidents on the road went up because people cared more for their music than their lives. There was no hope for the human race.

Twenty-seven years on, the advancement in technology never seems to let up, and we mere mortals seem unable to keep up. There is no question that technology has improved the quality of our lives. We have more gadgets to keep us entertained, and the advancement in medical science has made us live longer.

While it's true that technology "connects" people (think mobile phone), it's also true that walls have been built isolating mankind (think the great "Digital Divide") because of technology. And if what I've read in the news is any indication, we'd better brace ourselves for more isolation.

I'm talking about Mobile-TV, which enable you to watch TV programmes on the go, of course. Already a hit in Japan and South Korea, it was reported recently that the three telcos here are looking into ways to offer their mobile-phone users Mobile-TV subscriptions. Soon, we would see our kids retreating into their room with their Mobile-TV, instead of interacting with family members in the living room. And skivers at work would be able to have a "sneak preview view" of their day time soup opera in the office.

When people get isolated, communications break down. I don't know if it's just me, but have you noticed how the behaviour of our kids degenerated through the years in Singapore? Youngsters of today don't seem to have much respect for the elderly. Yes, this is true even of my kids. And we read about how students, yes even the undergrads refusing to give up their seats to the elderly or the physically disabled. Everyone seems to have become selfish and self-centred. And that very invention - the WALKMAN - is the epitome of selfishness. You could even say that it's anti-social. No? Who else could you share the music with?

Welcome to the world in solitude. But what price technology?

Category: Musings

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The One

Every once in a while, my mum would quip that one among her children would take after her passion for cooking. My elder sis is single and staying with mum. My kid brother waits to be served at the dining table. Though my younger sister is married and a housewife, she cooks simply - and horribly (pity my bro-in-law and my niece).

I must be The One :P

I guess it's a matter of personal interest. I've always loved cooking, just don't ask me to wash up. I'm the one who's always asking my mum how she cooks this and that, what ingredient to buy and how to cook it. Yes, you can say I'm the kid with the passion for cooking (and eating), unlike my siblings, whose passion is simply to eat.

Thanks to my mum, I've learned to whip out a mean pot of laksa, curry, pumpkin noodle, and yes simple dishes like sesame oil chicken and fried fish, and more elaborate ones like popiah and steamboat, just to name a few.

Just the other day, the Slim Lady told me that she's not tasted my glutinous for a long time. Yeah, the last I cooked this dish was years ago. And I remembered how my colleagues were raving and ranting about how good it tasted. No, I'm not blowing my trumpet. Just take a look a the pics.

Doesn't it look yummy? You salivating, yet? Hahaha...

Okay, so the pork was a little tough, but the dish really tasted as good as it looked. Generous amount of mushrooms and dried shrimps, topped with fried shallots and spring onion. You would never get this from the foodstalls.

The Slim Lady luurrrves it; but I ate just a little, with enough to spare for my colleagues on Monday (I hope). I can't explain this, but somehow, the cook always has no appetite for the food he/she whips out. Strange but true. My mum used to express the same sentiments...

Anyway, if you wanna try out the dish yourself, here are the ingredients:


  • Half kilo of glutinous rice (soaked in water for half hour)
  • Dried mushrooms (soaked in water for half hour, than cut into shredded size)
  • Dried Shrimp (soaked in water for half hour)
  • Pork
  • Spring onion
  • Shallot
  • Dark sauce
  • Salts
  • MSG (optional)


  1. Drain dried shrimps and throw into the wok. Stir until fragrant. Then throw in the mushrooms and stir. Followed by the pork. Stir. Add 2 tablespoon dark sauce. Stir. Dish out and put aside.
  2. Drain rice and throw into wok. Stir fry. Add 2 tablespoon dark sauce. Stir fry.
  3. Add ingredients No 1 (not all of it; set aside 1/3 for later use). Stir fry. Add salts and MSG (optional). Stir fry. Remove the rice from the wok.
  4. Divide the rice and place it into two big bowls. Microwave each bowl for 24 minutes (stirring the rice at every 12 minutes interval).
  5. When cooked, sprinkle the glutinous rice with the 1/3 of ingredients that was placed aside earlier. Then sprinkle fried shallot and spring onion. Ready to serve.

Bon Appetite.

Category: Food

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Language barrier. Are we barking up the wrong tree?

I once blogged about the language barrier between my mum and the medical staff of a hospital and opined that this barrier is the result of the "No Dialect" policy implemented by our gahmen in the 70s. If you have been following the news lately, you would have heard about the recent case of a doctor at the Polyclinic who caused the death of an elderly woman with a wrong dosage of medication. The doctor apparently speaks no dialect.

The case has open a floodgate of letters to the forum, with many ST readers complaining that their elderly parents and grandparents have had similar problem communicating with non-dialect speaking doctors at the Polyclinic. One of the two public health clusters, the National Healthcare Group (NHG), in its attempt at damage-control, revealed that it conducts regular courses on Mandarin and Malay (to their medical stuff). Mandarin and Malay? How is this addressing the issue, when many of the elders speak no mother-tongues but their own dialects? My mum, like many people her age, can't speak Mandarin. It seems to me that the NHG is barking up the wrong tree. But of course, providing dialect courses (which should be the obvious solution) to the medical staff would be going against the policy of the gahmen's "Speak Mandarin Campaign".

I have problem understanding the "Speaking Mandarin" policy. I'm not quite sure the rationale behind this policy (I was only a child back then). Was it to prepare us to take on the Dragon? Or was it to gel the Chinese of different dialect groups in Singapore. If it's the latter, then perhaps we should take a leaf from the Taiwanese on how they manage their language policy. Predominantly, they are Hokkien. They speak flawless Mandarin, and yet are conversant in their own dialects from kids to 92. And we do not see the various dialect clans breaking up and feuding. What did the Taiwanese do that we didn't?

We're so used to hearing foreign dignitaries and diplomats telling our leaders that "we want to learn from Singapore how you manage this or that". Perhaps it's time we return the compliment?

Category: Policies

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Measure of a man

Okay, so I'm not the manliest of men. I cried watching "I Not Stupid, too"; I pants like a dog climbing up all eight floors of my flat; I cringe on my seat, eyes half-closing with fear while watching horror movies. I like to bitch complain about life. And I'm afraid of darkness. Can the Real Man please stand up?

How does one measures manliness? Or "womanliness"?

Does a man who dons pink any less manly then a man who dons black? Does a man who knits and bakes less of a man than one who hikes and mountain-climbs? For that matter, does a woman who wears pants and works at a shipyard any less lady than one who dons a mini-skirt, sitting pretty in the office, all dolled-up?

Is a man a "sissy" if he plays no sport? And during this World Cup season, do you consider a man who does not follow the matches less of a man than one who stays up all night to keep tab of the scores?

I'm a man. I enjoy cooking (but hate the washing up) and baking (though not as often as my blogofriend Evan). I collect Precious Moments figurines, some of which are displayed on my office desk. I don't drink, and I don't smoke. I'm not into sports. Now, am I considered a lesser man than the guy sitting in the next cubicle in the office? Absolutely not.

Stereotyping - we're all guilty of it, and, much as we hate to admit, have been victims of it at one time or the other.

I once went shopping for fighting fish (now, you'd agree that's quite a man thing to do, ya? heheh) and was looking for a container, available in either green or pink to house the fish. When I opted for the pink, my female colleague expressed surprise and equipped "only girls choose pink"! I always find such stereotyped statements exasperating!

Another incident. My former boss, upon seeing the Precious Moments figures on my desk, commented that my cubicle looked kinda "feminine". I joked that I'd better put up some posters of bulldozers and aircraft fighters to better reflect my "masculinity". That would make me a real man, wouldn't it?

This habit of typecasting is not just confined to the guys. Girls I know have also been victims of stereotyping. "For goodness sake! God made you a woman. Why must you cut your hair so short? Even shorter than the guys!" A colleague of mine suffered this humiliation when she arrived at the office one day.

Who decides girls should have long flowing hair and boys shouldn't wear pink anyway? Who says men should not shed tears (any wonder why we men bite the dust earlier then the girls)? And girls should act like princesses? Social norms? Or some unwritten rules by we mere mortals? Sometimes, I'd like to be like Victor, taking a contrarian stance, and be a non-conformist. This is not to say that Vic acts like a princess, nor keep long flowing hair, not that he could. At our age, it's lucky that we've got hair, even if some of us are suffering from a reclining receding hairline. Haha.

We're all God's creatures - big and small, beautiful and not so beautiful. And God made us to be DIFFERENT. People should recognise this fact, and the earlier they do and accept the way some people are, a happier place this earth would be. Period. (Now, that's a woman thing, I know :P)

Category: Musings

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Once bitten, never shy

One would have fought shy of entering into any sort of partnership with a business partner who's not trustworthy. Despite the many hiccups we have with our neighbors up north, it seems that talks are underway for a fast train rail link that promises to take us from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, and vice versa, in just over two hours. Though the venture makes business sense, considering the sheer volume of human traffic traveling between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we may well be giving ourselves more headaches if dispute arises. This is especially so when the venture involves land needed for the rail tracks. When we talk about land, it always has something to do with "sovereignty". Dr M has remarked, with reference to Singapore, that there are many ways to "skin a cat". Why give Dr M another opportunity to do so, even if a cat is said to have nine lives?

Category: Gahman

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mum rules, just ask Dad

Lucky the wives, the world is filled with good husbands. Just look around you.

You need not go very far. Take my colleagues for instance. Victor and I were at Leng Kee today, with our colleague Alex who was shopping around for a car. While checking out a particular model (the car, not the Sales Executive), the subject of our conversation inevitably fell on the choice of our cars and the colours.

Victor would have very likely bought a Toyota Wish if not for the "divine" intervention of his significant other who preferred the Renault Scenic. And what Victor's significant other wants, she always gets.

Alex was eyeing at the Mitsubishi Lancer. But his other half thinks the "roof" of the car is too low, and much prefers one with a higher "ceiling" like the Renault Megane. It seems almost certain that she'll get her wish (not the Toyota Wish that Victor so desires, though). Hahaha....

As for me, I much prefer the sporty black Lancer, as opposed to the chosen warm silver, the colour that I've often joked as "uncle colour". But the Slim Lady had made it known, loud and clear, that the colour black was a no go, having always considered black as bad luck. She was just being superstitious, and dumb. I wanted to ask her if she'd wish to dye her black hair blonde? Then I'll refer to her as the "Dumb Blonde" instead of the "Slim Lady" in my blog. (You're right, the Slim Lady has NEVER ever read my blog, nor does she know of its existence. My head will roll if she does...)

So, you see, we men always play the good husbands, while the women just rules. No questions about it. If this sounds sexist to you, I make no apologies for it. Me, an MCP? No, that's not true. If it's true, then pigs can fly, too :P

Category: Musings

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The bowls that cracked ....

Well-meaning friends have told me that in-laws get along best if they are not living together. No, not the men and their mothers-in-law. Generally, it's more about women who marry into their husbands' and stay with their mothers-in-law. It's not enough that the wife and the mother have to share the same kitchen. They also share the same man - the husband and the son. And the same kids - the sons and the grandsons. And that poor man, the husband and the son, is often torn between the two women of his life.

A modern, educated working woman living under the same roof with a "wise" and elderly woman who has apparently consumed more salts then the former. Both with different sets of value, and different life perspectives. Any wonder that they clash? And do so they would, for they are like two china bowls, in close proximity to each other. A little bit of rocking, and both bowls develop deep cracks. And it becomes too late to mend....

But look how close they've become when they stay far from each other and the wife visits the mother-in-law every other week. The irony of it all ...

Category: Family