Monthly Archives: December 2013

#31 Speculating


Maybe it’s due to an innate need to always have an answer to everything, but Singaporeans like to speculate about things – anything from COE prices to when the next Reebonz mega sale will be.

My Singaporean Mom speculates a lot. Whenever we’re in a foreign country and we see other Asian people, she’ll look at them furtively, turn to us and say in an all-knowing fashion, “Must be (insert Asian ethnicity here). I know, I can hear one.”

In a bid to avoid being overheard, my Singaporean Mom devises code names to refer to the different types of Asians.

One time a Korean couple sat next to us while we were at a restaurant in Paris. As we heard them converse with each other, my Singaporean Mom’s ears pricked up as she furrowed her eyebrows and tried to deduce the ethnicity of aforementioned unsuspecting couple.

“Must be your TV show people,” she said with conviction, as she buttered a dinner roll. “I know one, I can tell immediately.”

“What? What TV show?” I asked, genuinely perplexed. Grey’s Anatomy? The Mindy Project? Glee?

“Aiyah, lu jin te!” (This basically means “You’re so thick.” in Hokkien. My Singaporean Mom doesn’t mince her words.) “Your drama shows lah! The one you watch every night. With the princess and chaebol.”

“What? My Korean dramas? What has that got to do with – ohhh…OK.”

“Yah, they are definitely your TV show people,” she said again, emphasizing the last part. “I can tell by the bi (nose).”

Speculating is not just limited to guessing the ethnicities of other Asian people. It can also include things like guessing why someone has put on so much weight (“Must be because her new job is so stressful. Or maybe she’s pregnant?”) or why so and so’s son married the girl his parents disapproved of (“She must know some of his secrets. Or maybe she put a spell on him! Wah, zha bor jin gao.”)


#30 Staring at other people’s food

Hello! I’m back, after a two year hiatus. I don’t know if anyone still reads this blog, or if people even read blogs anymore but here I am anyway.

I recently left my day job to start out on my own and my Singaporean Parents were kind of like “OK…so do you know what you’re doing?” and I was like “Um I think so, kinda, well at least I hope so.” and they were worried but I was even more worried because this is my future we’re talking about and I could very well end up starving and living out of my car (but let’s not hope not). Anyway long story cut short, I’m now working out of my sister’s office (I do copywriting projects and run lifestyle website – check it out!) and I’ve got more time to write so here I am.

Anyway, on to the subject of this post – I don’t know if it’s just me, but my Singaporean Parents have a habit of staring at other people’s food. Even if it’s just a regular bowl of curry. They’ll make a big show of it too – obvious glances, loud exclamations of “What’s that ah? Is it on the menu? Can we order it?” and all.

Once, we were at our favourite Thai cafe in San Francisco (King of Thai, a bit grubby but still good nonetheless) and my Singaporean Dad spotted a bunch of college kids eating at the next table.

“Wah, look at that bowl of curry! Is that curry? Or noodles? I think it’s curry noodles. Is it on the menu?” he said, as he pointed (very obviously) at one of the boys eating aforementioned curry noodles. “Very good to eat during Winter. Will keep you very warm you know!”

In the same breath, he then proceeded to point and ask, “Young boy, is that curry?” when it was so very obvious that it was a bowl of curry.


I’m not sure what makes other people’s food so alluring, but somehow when you see someone else heartily slurping up a bowl of bak chor mee, you’re like OK I wan’t a bowl too. Maybe it’s because food somehow looks better when someone else is having it? Or maybe deep down, we want what we can’t have? I don’t know, this is deep stuff to think about.