#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.

#20 Being sneaky

Dear readers, I regret to inform you that the day I’ve feared the most has arrived. No, not the apocalypse. Something far more frightening. Something I never anticipated. Something that would mark this date as a day of infamy (Sorry, I’m watching Pearl Harbor while writing this post).

My Singaporean Mom has discovered how to use the Internet. Shock! Horror! Panic!

Thanks to Google Search and search engine optimization, my Singaporean Mom has discovered this blog. *cue dramatic music*

It all started at lunch, while I was enjoying my honeycomb affogato peacefully and minding my own business as I usually do. “By the way,” my Singaporean Mom said rather casually, as she picked out a bit of honeycomb crumble from my dessert (“Let me tau chiak a bit!”), “I found your blog you know. I read that post on Ninja Boasting and ahem, I know who you’re referring to!”

And then she proceeded to clap her hands with glee as I tried not to choke on the little honeycomb bits in my dessert.

“How on earth did you find my blog?” I sputtered, as my heart raced and rapid thoughts sped through my mind. (First thought: whip out phone and warn the troops! aka my siblings)

“Oh, the server was down at the office and I was bored, so I Googled all your names (in reference to my siblings and I),” she said nonchalantly, as though she were talking about getting a pedicure and not something that would quite possibly ruin my life. “Did you know that there are dozens of Glenn Tans but only one Genna Tan? That’s how I found you.”

Thanks, Google. Really.

(Credit: Gadgeteria.com)

You guys need to understand that I got a big shock because:

1) Who would ever expect their parents to Google your name or find you on Facebook? When my Singaporean Dad is online, he’s usually on Bloomberg or Googling things like “Lip trainer Patakara”.

and

2) My Singaporean Mom is not the most tech-savvy person around. One time, my sister set the screen saver on her computer to a rolling marquee reading “THIS COMPUTER WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 10 SECONDS. DO NOT STAND CLOSE. 10….9….” and my Singaporean Mom freaked out and ran out of the room in terror, shouting, “I didn’t touch anything! I didn’t do anything!”. Needless to say, she was not amused when she found out that it was a joke.

Also, my parents seem to think that posting your information (or *gasp* photos) on the Internet is the worst thing ever. Kind of like how, in Secondary School, it was practically horrifying to have your mobile number scribbled on the walls of the Cineleisure toilets. My Singaporean Mom once mentioned that we’d better be careful not to offend anyone, or we might end up having our “photo posted on Facebook”, like it was the most unimaginable thing ever.

Anyway, my point is, Singaporean parents are sneaky. Just when you think that they’ll never find you on Facebook, you’ll wake up one morning to check your Blackberry, only to find a Facebook friend request from your Singaporean Mom (and sadly, not a Shopbop coupon as you had hoped). So siblings, friends, comrades – please be warned of the ninja-like sleuth skills that your Singaporean parents have, and never, ever underestimate them. I really wouldn’t be surprised if one fine day, they showed up at Zouk or Butter Factory, ready to do a few jager bombs and talk about how they found you on Foursquare like a ninja.

#19 Sharing embarrassing childhood stories

Ahh… we’ve all been there. You know, that uncomfortable moment when your Singaporean Mom decides to share an embarrassing childhood anecdote with your friends/relatives/frenemies, much to your chagrin. And I’m not referring to cutesy stories like writing a note to the tooth fairy (because you thought she was real) either. I’m talking about the downright embarrassing incidents that you want to bury deep down in the recesses of your mind (along with memories of getting your wisdom teeth extracted or getting your BCG injection), such as getting your head stuck in a chair and bawling your eyes out because you thought you’d have to walk around like that forever (I was just trying to see if the grooves were big enough to fit my head okay. Don’t judge.) Or worse, when your Singaporean Mom whips out a baby photo of you in the buff before passing it around nonchalantly like a bag of prawn crackers, as you sit there feeling extremely affronted at her complete disregard for your privacy (Not cool, Mom. Not cool at all.)

Until this day, my Singaporean Mom hasn’t forgotten about the time I refused to go on stage during my ballet recital because the announcer called me “Geena”. Or the time my sister and I got on a major sugar high at my cousin’s house, and insisted on wearing her bra as a helmet while bouncing on the bed and shouting “We want SUGAR! MOAR sugar!” (A word of advice to parents: Never give your kids sugar before bedtime. Ever.) Or the time I ate a plate of chicken rice, blacked out from food poisoning and had to be saved by the Chicken Rice uncle (Okay okay, this actually happened quite recently and not during my childhood days. What can I say? I have a sensitive stomach.). Anyway my point is, Singaporean Moms derive great pleasure from sharing embarrassing stories with everyone, as long as it’s not about themselves.

Although come to think of it, it’s not just Singaporean Moms who love to do this. I mean, how many times have you brought up that story about your classmate who peed in her uniform and told the teacher that her water bottle was leaking? Or the one about how so and so crapped in her PE shorts and pretended it was a mud stain? Childhood stories like those will haunt you forever.  Trust me, even when you become a high-flying banker or executive at some multi-national firm, your schoolmates will probably always remember you as (insert name here), The Girl Who Peed in Her Shorts in Primary One. So kiddos, the moral of the story is to always keep your bladder and bowels under control. And never lie. Because if the stench doesn’t give you away, your guilty face and shifty eyes will.

And now, because I have run out of things to write about for this post, I shall attempt to distract you with a few (non-embarrassing) childhood photos that I dug up.

Me, age 1. Cross-eyed and bratty.

My Mommy and I. How crazy is it that those baggy pants are back in fashion eh?

My family, circa 1988. I like how everyone is pretending to blow out the candles but my Dad and I look clearly unimpressed by the festivities.

My sister and I.

At first I didn’t recognise myself because I thought this was just a photo of a fat boy. Then I looked closer and saw the cross-eyed grin, and realised it was myself. Boy am I glad that my hair grew out.

#18 Comparing

Just like complaining (See #4) , Singaporeans are fond of comparing many things – grades, how big your house is, how skinny/pretty/talented your daughter is and even who got the better deal on those Wacoal girdles at Robinsons. You name it and we’ll compare it.

Singaporean parents are notorious for their need to compare their children with those of their friends. Most of the time, they are a walking contradiction because they will talk about how you’re a prodigy child in front of their friends/relatives/random strangers who happen to be trapped in the same space as them, and then force you to play the piano for aforementioned people. However, before you start feeling like a rockstar, be warned that Comparing isn’t all peachy keen. Often times, comparing can be used against you to deflate your ego and keep your pride in check. Take Singaporean Parents who compare their kid’s academic achievements to those of their friends’ children, for instance. Nevermind if you got an A- on that killer Chemistry exam, it’s not good enough if you didn’t beat Aunty so-and-so’s son. And Aunty so-and-so’s son/daughter will always get straight A’s, so you can count on feeling grossly inadequate for the rest of your academic career. Singaporeans students of the world, holla if you know I’m talking about.

Comparing can also be used by Singaporean parents as a sneaky and underhanded tactic to guilt-trip you into doing something. There are three stages to accomplishing this:

Stage 1: Confrontation

This usually happens after you schlunk up to your Singaporean Mom with your latest Chinese test in hand, as you rapidly rehearse your excuses as to why your (evil) lao shi wrote a big red  “不及格 !” (aka “you suck at this so please rethink any dreams of being a Chinese tutor stat”) on your paper (even if your Singaporean Mom doesn’t read much Chinese, the big red characters are a dead giveaway). The confrontation usually occurs when your Singaporean Mom accuses you of a) not doing your Chinese homework  b) sleeping during Chinese tuition  or c) both. Affronted, you will then probably state that a) you do your Chinese homework all the time (and fail to mention that you copied most of the answers from the answer key at the back of the book) and b) you never sleep during Chinese tuition and in fact, your Chinese tutor is the one who gets to snooze while you attempt to wade through fifty pages of Journey-freaking-to-the-West (Hello, Sun Wukong? Sienna Miller called. She wants her genie pants back.)

Stage 2: Comparing

This is when your Singaporean Mom will start to rant about how Aunty so-and-so’s daughter scored an A for her Higher Chinese paper even though she doesn’t have any extra lessons. And how she’s a prefect. She will then go on to wax lyrical about aforementioned freaksho- Oops, I mean daughter –  and then sigh in a manner resembling that of someone carrying the world on her shoulders. “If you just learnt to apply yourself more, you could be like Aunty so-and-so’s daughter you know,” your Singaporean Mom will say, as you hang your head in shame. “Did you know that she also plays the flute and is a dancer?” At this point, you will probably feel like shriveling up into ball, humiliated and guilty about your Chinese-learning inadequacies.

Stage 3: Consideration

Once you’ve gotten past the guilt stage, you will then probably dig out your Chinese textbook with steely resolve and attempt to read about 小明 and his escapades (小明 goes to the park on a windy day! 小明 helps an old lady cross the road! 小明 catches an impostor parading as a blind man! Exciting stuff.) Although you will proceed to try and finish all your homework and reading before the next lesson, you will most likely end up throwing in the towel after the second hour (At this point, 小明 will probably be cruising around on his 脚踏车, looking for stray kittens or something.) This will then lead to you falling behind in Chinese class and your lao shi will pick on you and write big red words on your next test (which you will most probably do shamefully bad in).

Besides comparing grades, Singaporeans also love to compare how skinny they are. This is often done in a sneaky, ninja-like way (I would totally call it Ninja Comparing, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Ninja Boasting, doncha think?) More often than not, Singaporean women will loudly proclaim that they are fat. Now this wouldn’t be as annoying if they actually were grossly obese like Gilbert Grape’s mom, but this often not the case. The thing is, most of these Singaporean women usually weigh about as much as a sack of potatoes… and they know it. So why proclaim that they are going on a diet because they are morbidly obese then, you may ask. Ah, young Padawan, there is so much for you to learn! This is merely a clever ninja tactic to rub it in your face and get you to admit that they’re skinny as sin, as you sit there eating your Old Chang Kee curry puff in bitter resentment.

Other things that Singaporeans love to compare include good deals. This can be anything from scoring a pair of $79 airplane tickets to Bangkok to getting a pair of Louboutins for 20% off. This form of comparing usually leads to an immediate need to one-up the other party, and this can be done by stating your latest best buy or acting like you can’t be bothered with their trivial purchases (when deep down, you really wish you had gotten to those Loubies before her).

P.S Sorry for the lack of updates! Work and kickboxing has been taking up most of my day, and I have also recently re-discovered the awesomeness that is My Soju (Korean dramas ftw).

#17 Being fair

Singaporeans love being fair, and by fair I mean having pale skin that would give Voldemort a run for his money. Singapore is probably the only tropical island-nation in the world where the only people who like going to the beach to bask in the sun are foreigners and tourists. I mean look at Hawaii. Hawaii is an island. And people from Hawaii love being tanned. They also love spam musubis and going to the beach. This is not the case with Singaporeans.

If this were California or Hawaii, people would probably think you were crazy for wanting to stay out of the sun. One time when it was really sunny, one of my professors in college decided to have class on the well-manicured lawn outside the classroom and everyone thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Things like that probably wouldn’t fly with Singaporeans.

Singaporeans avoid the sun like the plague. It is for this reason that aside from being fair, Singaporeans also love foldable umbrellas, especially if they have Hello Kitty’s face plastered on them. Singaporeans use umbrellas pretty much all the time – to stay dry from the rain, as a shield against the sun and in some cases, to poke the irritating fat man who thinks that it’s socially acceptable to shove himself into the already-full train compartment during rush hour, and in the process invading your space with his spectacular moobs (Dear Wacoal, please start making man bras).

Exhibit A: Fat and inconsiderate man shoving his way into the crowded train. (Okay okay, I know I’m no Picasso. I took fiction writing instead of studio art for my Fine Arts requirement in college for a reason. I think the last time I actually drew a whole bunch of cartoon people was during my Primary 6 Art exam, where we had to draw “Singapore in 2020”.)

Anyway, back to being fair. I have this terrible habit of going off topic. Sometimes when I’m typing out a press release on slimming socks or something, I suddenly wonder what the fattest person in world looks like and then I have to Google it and then I get really disturbed by all the images that come up on Google Images and then I just have to show people the images and I end up losing my train of thought. Oh yeah, and this usually distracts aforementioned people from whatever they were doing, pre-Fattest Man in the World photo. Oops sorry, I just went off topic again.

Besides umbrellas, Singaporeans are also big fans of whitening creams, lotions and miracle essence water. Nevermind that there’s fermented sake yeast or sulphuric acid in that $200 bottle of SK II whitening cream. As long as you slap Gong Li or Fann Wong’s face on it and label the product as the “no #1 best-seller in Japan”, Singaporeans will buy it. And in questionably large quantities too. (One time I saw a woman buying a huge carton of whitening milk at Isetan. I guess she was going to make a little wading pool of whitening milk to splash about in.)

Singaporeans may even take it one step further and use a Darth Vadar-like visor to block out any sneaky rays of sunshine that threaten to give them a tan. My Singaporean Mom has one of these visors for when we drive up to Malaysia, and she likes to watch Korean Dramas on her portable DVD player while looking like RoboCop. Occasionally, she’ll furrow her eyebrows in disapproval over what Young Jae did to Han Ji-Eun, and then pop open the visor to eat some almonds. I imagine that is what Darth Vadar would look like on a day off from ruling the Empire, if he had big hair, manicured nails and a penchant for Korean dramas with a plucky heroine.

Exhibit B: RoboCop visor

Many makeup and skin care companies have zeroed in on the fact that Singaporean women are self-conscious about not being pale enough, and have resorted to shameless hard-sell sales techniques (aka first implying that you look about as attractive as the Gingerbread man, and then positioning some miracle whitening water with soya bean essence as the answer to your prayers).

One time I was lurking about at Watsons while waiting for my sister to pick me up, and one of the sales ladies (you know the sort – caked on foundation that is three shades lighter than their skin tone, bright red lipstick, beady eyes and a complete lack of tact) popped up behind me before I could escape. “Xiao mei mei, ni yao try wo men de miracle whitening essence ma?” she said, as she waved over to a shelf of mysterious red bottles. “Your skin velly black, not nice!” (For non-Singaporeans, this essentially means “Look sister, you hella need some whitening potion stat. Because I think I see some brown in your skin there, and if you’re not careful, you might end up looking like a gnome and no one will marry you. Ever.”) After which, she proceeded to invade my personal space by brandishing aforementioned bottle of whitening essence in my face and talking really loudly.

At that point, I tried to escape because loud and pushy people make me nervous, but I was holding a faulty umbrella (which had popped open in the train earlier, causing the people around me to give me dirty looks) that sprung open just as I was about to inch my way out of the store. And that’s not even the worst part because when my unruly umbrella sprung open, it knocked down an entire Christmas display of Fererro Rocher. So for a good five seconds, all I saw was an avalanche of little golden chocolate balls (which in any other situation would have been amazing, but clearly not when I was the one who caused it). Anyway, I’m so not going back to that Watsons outlet (and I’m not going to mention which one it was in case someone rats me out).

P.S Sorry for the lack of updates! Please accept this drawing of a happy tiger as a peace offering.

I tried to make the drawing more realistic by adding in a pinkish red tongue and pointy teeth, but he ended up looking like the Joker so I had to erase it. Sorry he’s kind of wobbly-looking… it’s the best I could do without a mouse.

#16 Boasting

Singaporeans have mastered the art of boasting without looking like they’re blatantly showing off. Whether it’s your neighbour’s new car or your freakishly smart cousin who scored 10 As for O Levels, you can bet that you’ll know more about it than you actually want to know. Often times, Singaporeans will try to make it seem like they are complaining about something, when in actual fact, they just want to gloat. This is called ninja boasting.

(Credit: Fundraw)

Typically, when Singaporeans engage in ninja boasting, they will first attempt to get your attention and evoke sympathy from you by complaining about something (i.e. “I’m so fat!”). Do not be fooled by their ruse. They will then expect you to reply with a feel good comment like, “Aiyah, at least you’re very smart lah.” or “No lah, the Fann Wong diet pill worked! You’re not pui anymore.”

One time my Singaporean Mom had her friends over for shabu shabu, and one of the aunties started talking about her high-flying banker daughter. “Aiyoooooh, I don’t know why she wants to leave her job and retire you know,” aforementioned auntie said, as she picked at her udon with a great show of despair. “Her bosses all like her so much. Haiyoh, what am I to do har? But of course, she’s earned enough to retire in a few years lah. She’s so young too you know! Only in her late 20s. Can you imagine?”

Ninja boasting is a very complex and tricky skill that only the most seasoned pros are able to execute effectively. In fact, if not done properly, it can make you look very tacky or haolian (colloquial term for arrogant or proud).

The easiest way to ninja boast is to disguise your bragging as complaining, as they are at opposite ends of the spectrum and will therefore make it seem less like you’re trying to rub it in your listeners’ faces, and more like you’re trying to share your plight with them. This is highly effective, as it gets the news across without making you seem like an arrogant prick. A note of caution, however – if overdone, this tactic may backfire and instead cause your listeners to roll their eyes at you. In a nutshell, skip the theatrics and save the drama for your mama.

Observe:

Correct Way of Ninja Boasting

I’ve been spending so much money! I just bought a new bag and last week I spent a bomb on Net-a-Porter.com. I need to stop shopping but I can’t stop!

Ninja Boasting Fail

Ohhhhh my god guess what? I just bought ANOTHER Prada bag for $2400! So cheap right? Plus I bought those Louboutins last week, and they were only $1000! They’re limited edition so I guess that’s why it was more expensive. Only 2 pairs in Singapore you know! I think I might buy another Miu Miu bag, just so I have a bag that I can throw around. You know, for days when I can’t be bothered to dress up. Miu Miu is quite affordable and cheap right?

Another tactic of ninja boasting involves somehow relating the conversation at hand to yourself. While this may seem narcissistic, it is a good way to blow your trumpet without looking like you’re trying too hard (nevermind if you are…nobody has to know). Of course, if you keep doing this, people might get fed up with you and tell you to shut it. Also note that when executing this tactic, you must make a somewhat relevant connection between the conversation and your personal brag-a-thon.

Hence,

Incorrect

Friend: I’m so full! I think we bought one too many sotong balls at Old Chang Kee.

You: Aiyohhhh, I can’t help buying so much food you know. I’m like the queen of all hawker centres you know! When I go there, I’m forced to buy from everyone because they all know me and beg me to buy from them you know!

Correct

Friend: I think we bought too many curry puffs.

You: Yeah, but I love Old Chang Kee! I go there all the time because I love curry puffs. In fact, all the curry puff uncles and aunties everywhere know me and love me!

When you encounter someone who habitually steals the conversation spotlight to yak away about themselves, it is best to ignore them or interrupt them with something random, and then change the subject while they are momentarily taken aback.

Example 1

Narcissistic friend: You know right, my Dad bought an Aston Martin. I don’t know why he bought another one when he already has a Ferarri and a Bentley. But he said that the Aston Martin was quite cheap so –

You: ADURRR!

Narcissistic friend: Eh?

You: Have you ever noticed that one of your chicken McNuggets is always in the shape of a boot?

Win!

Example 2

Narcissistic friend: I travelled all over Europe and bought three new Chanel bags and some shoes and –

You: BAHHHRIN!

Narcissistic friend: Eh?

You: You think I’ll get bloated if I eat another bag of Shilin Fried Chicken?

Win again!

Aside from ninja boasting, there is also outright boasting, which is just straight up in-your-face boasting (as it is so aptly titled). This is often used when you have scored a really good deal, such as when you manage to get that last 10-pack of panties from Giant for only $4.99, or a free blackhead remover sample kit from Watsons (which happens to be one of the best places on earth, but that is another story for another day).

#15 Fighting over the bill

When I moved back to Singapore from California, one of the things that I noticed about being back was that Singaporeans like to buy each other meals. Now, this doesn’t mean that we pay for each other’s food all the time, but in general, it really doesn’t have to be your birthday for someone to buy you lunch/dinner.

When someone offers to pay for lunch, the standard protocol is to say, “Noooo lah!” and then attempt to chuck your credit card/cash into the waiter’s hand before your lunch companion does so. This usually results in both parties spending a good five minutes arguing over the bill and a confused waiter who doesn’t know whose money to take (and is probably thinking “wtfbbq can these people shut up and pay already?”). Sometimes, Singaporeans who are more advanced in the art of Paying for the Bill resort to Sneaky Paying, a common tactic used by tai tais and Singaporean Moms.

One time, we were having dinner and my Singaporean Mom bumped into an old friend a couple of tables away (My Singaporean Mom bumps into people all the time. She’s popular like that.) As we moved on to dessert, my Singaporean Mom motioned for the waiter to come over, and then pressed her credit card into his palm, telling him (rather forcefully, if I do say so myself) to charge her friend’s bill to her card. The waiter looked at her blankly and then shuffled away slowly. My Singaporean Mom, upon seeing that her friend was about to leave, started to get edgy and marched up to the counter pay before her friend found out about her attempt to pay for dinner. The number one rule of Sneaky Paying is to never let the person whom you are paying for know that you are about to pay for him/her. It’s like saying, “Hey look! You got a surprise mystery present! Maybe it’s a cookie! Oh wait… actually, I got it for you. And it’s not a cookie.”

You see, arguing over the bill really isn’t only about being generous…it’s about having face. The thing with Singaporeans (and Asian people in general), is that they’re all about saving face. They are also really competitive, so they probably won’t back down when you say, “No no, I pay! I pay!” and will instead, push, shove and claw until they get ahold of the bill in their deathlike grip. My Singaporean Mom likes to stick her card into the bill holder and snap it shut, before pressing it into some unsuspecting waiter’s hands and telling him to go quickly, very much in a manner resembling how Gandalf told Frodo to make haste on his journey to Mordor. Except instead of entrusting a cursed ring into the waiter’s hands, it’s a credit card and the bill. Anyway, my point is – Singaporean Moms are hardcore about paying the bill, and you will never win in the battle of Who Pays the Bill.

Be warned, however, that you should never immediately say, “Okay, cool!” when someone offers to pay for the bill. You must always put up a fight, or at least attempt to shove some money into his/her palm. Otherwise, you will lose face and be labelled as being kiam (Hokkien term for cheapskate/stingy/salty, depending on the context).

#14 Kitten heels

(Source: Fashion Industry Network)

For reasons beyond me, a great number of Singaporean women love kitten heels. Yes, I’m talking about those ridiculous 1 cm heels that seem to be a staple in virtually every Singaporean Office Lady’s closet.

I’m not going to lie – I hate kitten heels with fiery passion. The worst kind are the ones with 1 cm nodule-like stumps that have no business being stuck to the heel of a perfectly good pair of flats. You know, I tried to give them a chance. I really did. On the first day of work, I decided that it was time to grow up and therefore I should no longer parade around in flats, so I went out and got a pair of, yes, kitten heels. They were a somewhat innocuous pair – black, basic and had a 1 inch heel that looked like an upturned triangle. I mean, I figured that with my complete lack of grace, kitten heels might even be a good thing for me. I wouldn’t have to totter around Raffles Place looking like Hagrid in peep toe pumps (obviously I have far less facial hair than him, but you get my drift), and risk accidentally tripping and causing a domino effect in the MRT station (I guess all those ballet classes my Singaporean Mom made me take when I was younger didn’t help much).

Anyway, back to my experience with kitten heels. I wore them on the second day of work, and as I walked through the train station, I started to notice the annoying click-clack sound that they made. The sound grew more and more apparent, and then I looked around and realized there were kitten heels all around me. There they were, in black patent, on the Singaporean Office Lady walking in front of me. And there they were on the heels of the grossly overweight Singaporean Office Lady who had accidentally stepped on my own kitten heel-clad feet in her haste to go to Mr. Bean (the soya bean store that sells awesome peanut pancakes). And what was that sound I heard? More kitten heels(!!!)… on the feet of the rest of the Singaporean Office Ladies walking around me. Kitten heels… they were taking over the world! You know that scene in Sex and the City where Carrie tries on a wedding dress and she’s all fine and dandy one moment and then suddenly, she’s having a major meltdown and screaming for someone to get the dress off because she feels like she’s suffocating? It was totally like that, except I felt like my feet were screaming out at me to get them out of my offending kitten heels (Why yes, I do know I’m weird, thank you very much. I don’t like painting my fingernails because I feel like they’re being suffocated. How’s that for weird eh?) The moment I got home, I kicked the offending kitten heels off and plunked down onto my couch, silently contemplating the traitorous deed I had just committed. As they sat there on my bedroom floor, silently judging me for buying them in the first place,  I hung my head in shame and vowed never to wear them again. They now sit at the back of my closet, a silent reminder of a moment that marked an aberration of my character.

I cannot fully describe why I hate kitten heels, but they are stupid for the following reasons:

1. They fail to lengthen your legs and make cankles look less obvious. Unlike taller heels, kitten heels don’t give your feet a nice, graceful arch, and therefore do nothing for thunder thighs and calves. If anything, they will probably draw attention to cankles because everyone who walks by is going to take a look at those kitten heels and think, “Oh god, what a nasty pair of… wait wtf those cankles are way nastier!”.

2. Kitten heels don’t make you significantly taller, nor are they particularly comfortable. They’re like a crude mixture between a perfectly good pair of ballet flats and a pair of stiletto pumps. It’s like they couldn’t decide if they wanted to be sensible or hot, so they just slapped on a pitiful little stump of a heel and thought they were being very clever.

3. Kitten heels are like the wannabe groupies who try to copy the cool kids in school. Oh god, even the term kitten heels makes me cringe. It’s like kitten heels are trying to act cute, so they throw in the ‘kitten’ word to make themselves seem all cutesy and sweet.

In short, kitten heels are stupid shoes and no one should wear them. Ever. Okay I’m done ranting about my irrational hate for kitten heels. Sorry… had too much Haterade (like Gatorade, get it get it get it? Okay, maybe I’m the only one who finds this amusing. Sad face.) today.

Obviously my views do not speak for the majority of Singaporean women. As I mentioned before, the typical Singaporean woman (especially the Singaporean Office Lady) can’t get enough of kitten heels. This love for kitten heels has been perpetuated further by local shoe brand Charles and Keith, which has somehow managed to churn out every type of kitten heel imaginable, all for under $50 . Charles and Keith are like the bees knees around here. Singaporean Women flock to them regularly to get their dose of kitten heels, completely unaware that they are being blasphemous in the eyes of the mighty Shoe Gods.

P.S If you’re a hater like me, join the I Hate Kitten Heels Facebook group.

#13 Matchmaking

One of the greatest fears in any Singaporean Mom’s life is that their kid will end up single or worse, married to a gold digger/short man/someone who is not Asian. It is for this reason that Singaporean Moms have taken it upon themselves to engage in the arduous task of finding their precious offspring his or her pefect match. Forget about eHarmony or Match.com…your Singaporean Mom will use her snooping prowess to find you a legit match and screen him/her way better than any online dating site can. Unlike Craigslist Personals, it is virtually impossible to lie to a Singaporean Mom (those flaring nostrils will give you away in no time), so you can be sure that you won’t be meeting a 55-year-old balding man-nurse masquerading as a 30-year-old doctor with McDreamy-type looks. Take note, however (and this is a very big however), that your Singaporean Mom’s taste may differ largely from yours.

If you are a daughter, you will probably be matchmaked with one of your Singaporean Mom’s friend’s sons. Your Singaporean Mom will arrange a meeting with aforementioned friend and son, before not-so-subtly hinting to everyone that you are a domestic goddess, even if your track record in the kitchen includes an egg exploding in the microwave and a cheese cake that had the consistency of Blu-Tack. Also note that your Singaporean Mom will not approve of any guy who dresses shabbily, is majoring in anything to do with the Arts, or is taking a break from school/work because he is “still trying to figure out what to do with his life”. On the other hand, Singaporean Moms love guys who are doctors, lawyers or engineers. Extra points if he spends his weekends off from work tutoring disabled children or bringing his mom to her weekly mahjong game.

If you are a son, it is highly likely that your Singaporean Mom will hook you up with a pleasant but somewhat homely chick who knows how to bake a pandan chiffon cake with just a toaster oven. Do not be disappointed if your Singaporean Mom doesn’t set you up with a model – this is for your own good, and she will tell you that a hiao bor/vain pot will take your money and run away with an ang moh man. Your Singaporean Mom will also never, ever set you up with a girl who is not Asian (or in some cases, Singaporean). If you ever do bring home a girl who isn’t Asian, your Singaporean Mom will probably wail pitifully about how her one and only son has been bewitched by an ang moh temptress and that you might as well just kill her already. A note of caution – Do not ever tell your Singaporean Mom that she’s being rude/prejudiced because she gave your non-Chinese date a fork and spoon instead of chopsticks (while talking about her in Chinese, in front of her). She will loudly proclaim that she must have committed some heinous crime in her past life to have such an unfilial and ungrateful child, and then proceed to lecture you about how children back in the day were seen and not heard.

P.S That’s Mulan’s matchmaker, in case you don’t remember.