Monthly Archives: September 2010

#22 Force Feeding

My Singaporean Mom excels at many things, from running a business to ensuring that we didn’t fail our Chinese O Levels to making just about anything look chic (I’m not kidding about this. She can totally rock an old, ratty tee better than anyone else. One time, she came to visit me while I was in college and she promptly decided to vacuum the entire house after proclaiming that the place was “like a rat’s nest”. She threw on one of my Singaporean Dad’s old T-shirts (the one that says “Smile and the world smiles with you… Fart and you stand alone.”), tied a little shirt knot a la Kristen Stewart and proceeded to zip around the house with our power vacuum. ) Anyway, I digress. If there is one thing that my Singaporean Mom is especially good at, it’s force feeding.

So what exactly is force feeding, you may ask. Is it making you eat your vegetables? Clean your plate so that there’s not even a grain of rice left? Close, but no. Force feeding is when your Singaporean Mom dumps a whole pile of food onto your plate and expects you to eat it up, even if you’re almost comatose from all the food you’ve already eaten. Force feeding often occurs at Chinese restaurants/Nasi Padang feasts, when there are many different dishes on the lazy Susan. Singaporean Moms are especially adept at spooning food onto your plate, and then giving you the evil eye until you finish up everything. Be warned – do not fight the Singaporean Mom’s powers of force feeding, even if you have rice coming out of your nose. She will just dump even  more food onto your plate and say, “Finish this up so they can take the plate away!”

If you are a guy, it is highly likely that you will be more susceptible to the Singaporean Mom’s powers of Force Feeding. I can usually get away by prodding my food with my chopsticks and feigning a “But I’m sooooo full!” whenever my Singaporean Mom tries to pull a ninja move on me, but guys hardly ever get away with it (Unless she thinks your fat, in which case she will probably say, “AiYOH! How many bowls of rice have you eaten?!”).

Rest assured that whenever there are those last few pieces of siew yoke or steamed prawns lying on the table, she will taichi it over to the nearest young and able-bodied man on the table. If there are none, she will put it all on my Singaporean Dad’s plate instead, to which he will say “Slowly, slowly! Don’t get so excited. Aiyo why are ladies always so excitable har?”

The Singaporean Mom’s merciless ability to force feed you with bowls and bowls of braised ee fu noodles is one that is feared by many. But fear not, loyal readers, for I have cleverly devised a solution to deflect my Singaporean Mom’s force feeding prowess. After years of experience and training, I have come to realise that there are several fool-proof ways to escape the wrath of your Singaporean Mom’s chopsticks.

(Credit: Hardwarezone)

The first is called the Moan and Mumble, whereby you put on your best grimace, act like you’re in great discomfort and mumble something about “needing to lao sai”. The trouble with this tactic, however, is that you need to have a track record of eating like a bird. Obviously if you’re known as the resident greedy guts, you will lack the credibility needed to effectively execute this technique. However, this can be counteracted if you’re also known for having a sensitive stomach that always gives you digestion problems.

The second tactic is called the Nibble and Poke, where you basically take small bites of the food that is already on your plate so as to prevent your plate from looking empty. An empty plate, if you don’t already know, is like an open target for a Singaporean Mom. The key is to leave your plate moderately empty, so that you look like you’re still working on your meal. If you’re too full to even taken another bite, you can try hiding some food under a big mushroom/lettuce leaf. However, I wold advise caution when doing so, as the Singaporean Mom has sharp eyes that will catch any tomfoolery. One time, I tried hiding my sashimi (raw fish, yuck!) under a cabbage leaf while my Singaporean Mom was talking to some guests, but she totally called me out on it and said, “Don’t think I didn’t notice you hiding your sashimi har…I can see you in the corner of my eye ok!” Scary.

#21 Staring

Singaporeans love to stare at people, places and problems. In fact, Singaporeans are so open about staring that it is not uncommon to hear someone say, “kua si mi?” (which essentially means, what are you looking at you biznatch?).

Staring is often done in public places, such as in the train or at your local hawker centre. The person/thing/situation that is being stared at is usually 1) something unusual, like a flood-water swimming pool outside the Hermes shop on Orchard Road, 2) a scantily-clad woman parading inside the train station or, 3) a scantily-clad auntie with too much junk in her trunk.

In some cases, staring also occurs when Singaporeans chance upon the occasional aspiring fashionista who decides that it is perfectly sane to prance around in the sweltering heat in furry boots and a leather jacket. My Singaporean Mom once encountered a woman who wore a leather jacket while she was having a durian feast out in the heat. If your own Singaporean Mom hasn’t told you this, let me give you a little nugget of wisdom. Durians are heaty fruits, and may cause giddiness or overheating when eaten in excess. In extreme cases, like aforementioned leather-clad woman, you may even faint in front of all the other durian-eating patrons and then, people will really stare at you.

There are two types of staring that Singaporeans tend to engage in. The first type is when you dare to stare, also known as Loud and Proud Staring (or LAP Staring). This is often done when something out of the ordinary occurs, such as when you see a Caucasian expat speaking perfect Singlish. LAP Staring also occurs when there are commotions, celebrities and controversies. In cases like these, Singaporeans are not afraid to stare openly because it is not impolite to do so.

The second type of staring is Sneaky Staring, where Singaporeans try to steal furtive glances at an object of interest without being detected. This usually occurs when you see someone walking on the street in her underpants, or encounter a teenage couple canoodling on the train.  Often times, Sneaky Staring may even turn into LAP Staring when one gets too carried away. One time, a dodgy man on the train kept staring at some lady’s boobs in a rather surreptitious manner, until she glared at him and said menacingly, “What are you staring at huh? See what see!” Aforementioned shifty-eyed man then averted his gaze quickly and gave a nervous giggle, as all eyes shifted to him.

Sneaky Staring also occurs when you know you shouldn’t stare at something, but can’t help doing so because it’s just so in your face. Case in point: When you’re talking to someone with a big pimple on his forehead, and you end up Sneaky Staring at the zit despite your efforts to avoid looking at it in all its pimply glory.

Speaking of which, don’t you just hate it when you have a giant pimple on your forehead (that you tried desperately to cover up with BB cream) and someone tells you, “Eh! You have a big pimple on your forehead”? Why yes, it may be hard for you to believe, but I actually do know about the giant pimple between my eyebrows. And yes, I am completely aware that it makes me look like I have a third eye. Pfft.

Stuff I Like About Singapore

I was going to be all patriotic and post this on National Day, but I got distracted by my McDelivery order (Spicy Chicken McNuggets and Chipotle Shaker Fries hyallooooo who wouldn’t be distracted?). Anyway, seeing as how Singapore’s birthday was not too long ago, I decided to draw up a list of the top 10 things I like about Singapore.

Genna’s Top 10 List

10. Air-conditioned underpasses and walkways

As my wise Singaporean Dad once said, Singapore would be perfect if they could build a temperature-controlled dome around it to ensure cool and breezy weather all year round. Seeing as how this is practically impossible (and expensive too, I would imagine), I am supremely grateful to the genius who thought about building air-conditioned underpasses and walkways to connect different malls together. How awesome is it that we can get from one end of Orchard Road to the other without having to step out in the sweltering heat? Extra points too, for the various snack stores and shops that make your walk seem a lot faster.

(Source: The Simpsons Movie)

9. The Singapore Skyline at night

Even though I pass by this every morning on the way to work, it looks much nicer at night.

(Source: Wikipedia)

8. Changi airport

Okay, where else in the world can you jump on a trampoline, go down a giant slide and then have some kaya toast and milk tea while waiting to board a flight? I don’t know about you guys, but I think Singapore’s airport is awesome.

In fact, it’s so amazing that even students go there to study, and families go there for Sunday lunch. And oh yeah, the Singapore Airlines lounge is the bomb. Free ice cream + a chef who whips up a plate of popiah at your request being the main reasons why.

7. Far East Plaza

Cool shops, cheap pedicures and Shihlin Taiwan chicken. ‘Nuff said.

(Source: StreetDirectory.com)

6. Our public transport system

I know that there have been a lot of complaints about how overcrowded the train gets during peak hours, but you have to admit that the public transport system here is still much better than some other countries. I don’t know about you, but I like getting on the train without having to fend off hobos. Sure, you may occasionally get shoved into a corner by a fat, sweaty man with spectacular moobs on the MRT, but the chances of you getting accosted by a crazy man shouting, “The end is near! The rising has begun!” (like a Death Eater, no less) are very slim.

5. How everything is in relatively close proximity

According to Wikipedia, Singapore is 274.2 square miles. That’s about the size of San Francisco, but unlike the Bay Area, we can’t really drive up to Napa or down to LA. If anything, the only place Singaporeans would go on a drive to is Malaysia. And it wouldn’t be for a road trip, it would be to get toilet paper and petrol.

Despite all of this, living on a small island still has its perks. Besides the fact that it only takes about 20 minutes to get from the city to the airport, the nearest mall/McDonald’s/hawker centre is never more than 10 minutes away.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that a flight to a neighbouring country doesn’t take more than two hours or so. In Singapore, we don’t have drive up to the Hamptons or to the countryside for the weekend. We can just hop on a budget airplane and jet off to Bangkok/Bali/Phuket.

4. Our taxis

Okay, okay I know many of you are thinking, “Wtfbbq, is she kurazaaay?”. Yes, I have encountered the occasional grouchy, abrasive and rude taxi uncle who drives like he’s in Gran Turismo (sans the Nissan GT-R and with a Toyota Crown instead). And sure, CBD and peak hour surcharges kind of suck sometimes. But I have to say, at least the chances of you getting abducted/murdered/cheated by your taxi driver are really almost zero to none. Getting scolded by the taxi driver for bringing durians into the taxi? Sure. But getting into a cab with a crazy driver who looks like he could snap any moment and kill you for telling him to turn down the air-conditioner? Probably not.

3. Hawker centres

When I was away in college, the only food we could get at 3am was from Denny’s, iHop, Jack in the Box or the dodgy hole-in-the-wall burrito place in San Jose. Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got back to Singapore at 2am in the morning was get a plate of ork luak from Newton Food Centre. Oh Singapore, I love thee for your numerous hawker centres that are open until the wee hours of the morning.

2. Bak chor mee (BCM)

I love bak chor mee with fiery passion. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s basically flavoured yellow egg noodles with bits of pork and mushrooms sprinkled all over. I don’t know if it’s the salty-spicy aroma that wafts up from your bowl of freshly cooked bak chor mee, or the supple meatballs that complement the springy egg noodles so well, but that stuff is addictive. Every Sunday (well, almost), the BCM crew (aka my siblings and cousin) make our pilgrimage to our usual bak chor mee store to pay homage to Noi’s Mushroom Mince Meat Noodles, the Mecca of all bak chor mee stores.

Okay I’m going to stop talking about BCM now, lest you think I’m mad. Here’s a photo instead.

1. My home

I was going to write about how 24-hour McDelivery (right up to your doorstep, anytime, anywhere suckaaaaz) is one of the top things I like about Singapore, but decided not to in case you think I’m a greedy girl who just wants to bum around in air-conditioned comfort after a day of exploring at Far East Plaza. So yes, on to the top thing I like about Singapore – my home.

I grew up in Singapore and this is where my family, best friends and memories are. Sure, the system is not always perfect. And while some  may choose to complain about things around here, or make plans to migrate to another country, I think I can safely say that Singapore is home to me and probably will be for a long, long time.

Okay, you can cue the corny National Day song now.