Saturday, 25 February 2012

The comic value of the Oscars

The Academy Awards have annually been a laugh a minute for me. I can only think of the Ms Universe pageant as a close rival in the comedy stakes. The Oscars this year was by no means an exception, with predictability painted all over, akin to Joel's silica gel collection. There was of course, the usual pre-event speculation in the entertainment columns of most newspapers suggesting who might be a winner for the best actor and actress awards. I questioned the rationale for that. It was obvious that the cardinal rules that guaranteed a sure-win would be to portray a dead or dying dignitary ( think Helen Mirren in The Queen and Colin Firth in The King's Speech) or to portray a person with a disability ( think Dustin Hoffman in RainMan and Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot). And actresses have the additional route of opting to portray someone strong and feisty to effect the same outcome ( think Sandra Bullock in the Blind Side and Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovich).

As I write this blog entry, the best actor and actress awards have yet to be announced. My vote goes to the dashing Jean Dujardin for his role in The Artist ( just because he is so handsome) and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady because it's Meryl, whom I have always admired for her acting skills.

Over the weekend, there were the pre-event tips across social media that spun wisdom on everything from food to fashion. An example was "how to have a great Oscars home party - the best recipes to tantalize your Oscars night". People actually themed a home party around the Oscars and pretended that they were having canapés and champagne with the stars? It made my Tarts and Tartan-themed party during Hogmanay last year look like a kindergarten tea party.

Another expounded the "do's and don'ts" when walking the red carpet. I found it difficult to fathom how complicated it would be for one walking the red carpet to grin and wave daintily while stopping in front of the cameras to pose by arching the back, lifting that chin, putting one leg forward and placing a hand on the hip. I do that quite frequently at the Marble Slab ice cream parlor near my office, in the hope that the lady behind the counter gives me a larger portion of violet crumble, my favorite ice cream topping. Then, it also helped that I learnt the art of an oscar-worthy performance of welling my eyes in self-pity from Shrek's Puss in Boots. It came in handy from time to time when I was requested to submit my budgets at the office.

I watched the awards for the clothes. All that red carpet finery, most of which did not belong to the actresses, was what most people tuned in to the Oscars for. I enjoyed the Oscars fashion parade best. It possibly generated more buzz than the Oscars itself. This morning, I enjoyed watching the stars sashay, gush, and giggle for 2 hours as they strolled down the red carpet, some with gowns so massive they required their own red carpets. When the actresses showed off their frocks, they provided me with a strange sense of comfort to know that fashion stylists and designers, like some of my advertising agency art and creative directors, don't always get it right in spite of their claim to creative perfection.

This year, black and white colors ruled with a few hits and misses. There were two actresses who looked like they were going to fly off to the Tron Legacy 2 auditions. They were Judy Greer in a sequined black and gold number and Shailene Woodley with her Valentino couture skin-tight white gown. And Rose Byrne in her shiny black toga-styled Vivienne Westwood seemed to have just come from the auditions for The Sludge. George Clooney looked predictably gorgeous in his Armani suit and was so clever to accessorize with a gold-clad Stacy Kiebler who looked like a walking Oscar statuette beside him. That's telling the Academy like it is, George, " The Academy and it's cheap gold trinket can go stuff itself. I've got myself a life size walking and talking one."

Some actresses who chose to go with colors did it with style like Michelle Williams' classic Louis Vuitton Ferrari-red gown. It was expected of size 2 figures like hers to look flawless. And I always believed that if one do not have a size 2 figure, then one should carry a well-cut dress which shows off one's best assets. And example is Viola Davis' green Vera Wang bustier dress. I reckoned she needed a chisel and hammer to remove the sticky tape from her breasts later. And if one is size 22, like Melissa McCarthy, chiffon is best avoided. Her Marina Rinaldi number accentuated her massive frame and that sequined cinched waist just hollered, "Look! No waist!" it didn't help that her shoes were made by Atwood, " my best friend," she gushed. She claimed the shoes came inscribed with a note that said " to my best friend Melissa", I hoped it also said " Maximum load weight: 5 tonnes."

In fact, the event fashion critiques were not any better. Honestly, can someone explain how Kelly Osbourne with her copper colored hair and raccoon eyes could get on the panel of Fashion Police? She made her equally raccoon-eyed, straggly-haired dad look like Brad Pitt after co-hosting the kids' sleep-in with Kate Gosling.

So you see? What a laugh. The live telecast of the 84th Academy Awards was a great way to start my otherwise boring Monday morning.

Postscript: As expected, Jean Dujardin and Meryl Streep did win the best actor and actress awards respectively.

Friday, 24 February 2012

I am proud to be part of this company today

It's a moment of pride for me today when the company announced a stellar performance in the FY2011 annual results. During the analysts' briefing this morning, I hung on to every word from the Regional CFO's address. Now, I am not "numerical". I still add and subtract with my fingers, and did not realize there was a difference between a scientific calculator and a regular one. Yet, I mentally processed every number reported and closed my eyes in satisfaction when the Regional CEO mentioned that one of the contributions to the sterling performance was attributed to the launch of a specific product last year with a strong marketing plan.

My team and I had a part to play with that plan, and it gave me a lot of satisfaction to know that the long days, late nights, some exasperated moments, the laughter and tears throughout that period from strategy to implementation was all well worth it.

In the last 2 years, I have had many rough moments in the company when I sometimes questioned if I was just an insufferable "Ditzoid", destined to peddle "fluff" around technically sophisticated products and label the effort as "Marketing Communications". I sometimes felt like the unimportant and best forgotten "step-sister" of the sales process, best to be wheeled out only to add some color, copy and pretty images to the advertising and the brochureware.

However, as I was managing the press to announce these results today, it filled me with immense pride to be in this company as part of a team that had contributed to the great results. Gradually, my ridiculous self-doubts dissipated.

After a sleepless night and a grueling 13-hour day dedicated to the results announcement, I came home from work to a couple of bright-eyed and cheery people waiting to finally spend some quality time with me. I resolved to take David and Joel out for ice-cream to celebrate a successful 2011, knowing that they too had to put up with my mental absenteeism and often cranky disposition in the last couple of weeks as we prepared to announce these results.

Postscript: Apart from the fabulous A-Team, I dedicate this blog entry to 3 friends, RN, AM and PH who have made this success possible. It was humbling to be in the trenches with you guys.

Monday, 20 February 2012

I am not a sociopath

I have just been reminded that the Royal Caribbean cruise vacation I bought Mom and Dad, sailed today. Joy. If anything, I truly felt the excitement for them....and I am excited for myself. With my parents away all week that can only mean 1) less nagging via text messages from Mom, 2) no probability of Mom showing up at our home unannounced to a half-naked David attempting to hide his nipples with his fingers whilst opening the door, 3) no probability of Mom and Dad questioning why I have starved their beloved and only grandson when all I had done was to accidentally finish his bar of chocolate in the fridge and 4) no probability of having a row with them over my third rate parenting just because I had grounded their beloved and only grandson for doing something stupid.

Some months back, Mom and Dad had suggested that we organize a family vacation. So I bought them a cruise vacation, without me. The thought of spending a week with the "Addam's Family" in a vessel that has no "exits" was rather nauseating.

With Dad's limited mobility, a cruise was the best vacation option that offered him all the trappings of a luxurious holiday, from fine restaurants, a movie theatre, staged performances, a casino, a gym, a swimming pool and various sporting activities like rock climbing. As rock climbing, swimming and gym do very little to excite my rather adventurous Dad in a wheel chair, I thought a marathon meal-round-the-clock type of activity might. And the lady at the tour desk had promised me that Dad would be delighted by the scrumptious food available all day at the different dining rooms on board the ship. So that's Dad taken care of.

Then there's granny. Last I heard, she was not into swimming and rock climbing too. Her favorite sport is mahjong. The lady at the tour desk did mention mahjong when I asked if there were more challenging sporting activities other than rock climbing. She also mentioned casino. Granny's eyes lighted up like the neon signs at Las Vegas when she heard that the casino in the ship was world-class. Well, at least with 2 adventurous old folks to look after, Mom would know where to find one. No one's going to get lost on this ship.

Then there's Mom. Mom's idea of a vacation is to wheel Dad into every restaurant and join him in his "foodathons". The luxurious spa and beauty facilities offered in the ship do little to excite her. Food does. And the best thing about cruise dinners is that the dinner service comes complete with nightly staged performances. Mom loves that. She would sit at her table, mesmerized by the music, the costumes and the dancers. I am quite sure that secretly, she wished she was a glittering bustier-clad dancer with 5-inched heels and feathers in her hair.

So I am happy that I have sent them all off on their cruise vacation and even happier that I haven't joined them. I can't possibly think of a worse nightmare than to be stuck in a ship with my parents, granny, uncle and aunt, David and Joel, and with no where to run. How claustrophobic! I am not a sociopath but really, some space would be great. My idea of a great vacation is at a secluded beach surrounded with just the warm tropical breeze, rolling waves and miles of powdery soft sand. From time to time, I might tolerate 1 or 2 vendors selling me a sarong and possibly David singing with his ear phones on or even, Joel pestering me for money to buy a paragliding session.

However, on the whole, I would love a vacation with as little people around me as possible. After all, isn't a vacation meant to allow one to recoup and recharge in the environment of relative peace and quiet? That's why I didn't quite enjoy Siem Reap with the hordes of tourists descending upon the temple ruins and the cheap margarita bars everyday.

At this juncture, I would like to affirm that I am not a sociopath. I just appreciate a lot of space around myself. A mental picture of bliss to me, is hovering above the Iguazu Falls with just my co-pilot ( preferably a handsome one) and myself in a helicopter, or walking across the hills in the Scottish highlands with David and Joel... preferably with my blackberry in tow.

I hope the family are having a great time with the Royal Caribbean. Maybe when I am less selfish with space, I might join them some day and you might spot David and I camped out in a wee corner of the ship, far from the maddening crowd, each nursing a colorful alcoholic drink dressed with a fancy mini umbrella and a small signage strapped across our backs that read "I am an Ogre. Get out of my swamp."

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Still maneuvering changes

I had probably one of the most difficult weeks ever at the office last week. And I do not think it would get any easier in the next few weeks, but I know that every step of the way, I draw strength from my experience, my skills, my team, my family and the conviction to always "do the right thing in the right way".

The air of uncertainty exacerbated by the management changes at the office had been unsettling. When I first read the proverbial writing on the wall last November, I was driven to put my head down, put the metal on the pedal and get the work done. That was probably the only thing I could do at that time to manage the situation and get the girls at the office to focus on the road ahead. Then when the management changes were implemented a couple of weeks ago, the reality hit home very hard. There was a new world order in the office and I had to work within the constraints of that new order. Being away on vacation for a week at Siem Reap did not help but it gave me some time to mentally and emotionally cut my ties with what I had come to be familiar with and embrace the new situation.

A couple of years ago at the last job, we were put through a "response-ability" training as part of management development. It was conducted by that genius Paul Stoltz from Peak Learning. It was possibly the best investment the company had made after my green belt six sigma certification I had received at American Express. That "response-ability" skills came in handy for what I am currently experiencing at work. They were invaluable in helping me to adapt to the new management style, work at my goals and steer my team towards achieving our targets and objectives.

The girls at the office had been a wonderful source of support. I imagined that they must have felt so unsettled with these management changes, yet they put their heart and soul into each task that they were managing and supported each other through the daily juggling of work stress and management changes.

As for myself, I viewed the management changes as an opportunity to step up to the plate and "do the right things in the right way" with my skills and experience. It was also a test of my resilience and adaptability to change. Years of experience and Paul Stoltz's training taught me that when I come face to face with a bump on the road, I should always find another way to get to my destination.

I noticed that I have become quite vocal at senior management meetings. It was my way of governing my work with openness and honesty irregardless of the management changes. I wanted them to know that what they see is what they get, and that I am a consummate professional, passionate about driving the business in the right direction.

At the end of the day, like I had mentioned in my previous blog entry, I have no apologies for my brutal honesty. Over the years, I have been climbing the corporate ladder at a pace of 240km per hour, sometimes trampling over my fellow colleagues, my friends and my family in the process. At the age of 42, I have realigned my priorities and I definitely no longer have anything to prove. However, I am grateful that everyday, I am doing what I love tremendously.

Getting paid for it is a bonus. Being surrounded by a great team and a wonderful family is a blessing.

Postscript : When David read this blog entry, he said to me, "every company you have been at, you've always had a mentor. It's your turn to be one now". I love David for being my best friend.

Friday, 17 February 2012

This is not a food blog

"No, sorry, we are not THAT Crazy Angmo who owned a western food stall in Bishan". "No, The Crazy Angmo has not reopened for business."

I would like to emphasize that this is not a food blog.

These are just some of my replies to some messages that I had been receiving via Facebook from strangers as well as friends who had asked if we were the same people behind The Crazy Angmo. The Crazy Angmo, incidentally, was the name of a western food stall that was located at Bishan, but had closed down since. For a start, The Crazy Angmo was owned by an Australian named Paul Crinis. My crazy angmo is a Scot. "Same same but different," I replied to one of these messages.

In fact, I had not realized there was indeed another " Crazy Angmo". A quick search on google after the first message from a stranger appeared in my inbox confirmed this. Thankfully, the photos of the other "Crazy Angmo" depicted someone skinnier, fairly pastier, dark haired and definitely bore no resemblance to mine. That Crazy Angmo was Paul Crinis, formerly a tennis coach who had worked in Singapore.

For what it's worth, Paul Crinis had decided then, that beyond his talent as a tennis player, he had wanted to share his Australian culinary delights with Singaporeans by setting up a western food stall in the heartlands. Yes, he was crazy enough. Any semblance of western food to my fellow Singaporeans is Chicken Chop, much like Sweet and Sour Pork is to our Western friends. Today, I am still trying to figure out which part of the chicken is its chops.

David and I did toy with the idea of setting up a "healthier food deli" a long time ago. Now, that would have been crazy. For one, David and I cannot bear testament to the food we would have served. A healthy drink to us, is a Vodka Orange for whatever vitamin C it had with the inclusion of the orange. If David and I were to set up a Western food stall, we would have ended up eating everything that we could have sold for the day instead. Or worse, we might be hauled away and locked up by the food health authority for serving Haggis. So we canned that crazy idea.

Nevertheless, while pouring through various food blogs that had done reviews of The Crazy Angmo then, I came across mentions of many equally crazy angmos who had also set up food stalls in the heartlands too. One sold German sausages, one sold French food, another sold pizza and pasta, and yet another sold Belgian waffles. I am not sure if these stalls are still around but Botak Jones definitely is. I don't think anyone can be crazier than Botak Jones' owner Bernie Utchenick. I have known Bernie since he had opened a jazz bar at Boat Quay years ago. It was a frequent hangout for my friend and ex-boss LJ and I who had spent many wonderful nights dancing to the beautiful music played by O.D. and his band. Then Bernie opened a restaurant at East Coast Park which was yet again another frequent hangout for my rugby team mates and I. I know Bernie had as many failed businesses as he had successful ones and I applaud him for his "crazy" courage. I am so glad for Bernie, that Botak Jones has mushroomed into many outlets dotted across our little island and Bernie has also finally become a Singaporean. Not quite a crazy angmo after all.

When I started this blog, I searched in my mind for a blog name that attempted a near accurate description of who I was as the writer. And because the blog was about my observations of the comedy that surrounded my life, that near accurate description, I felt, had to include David.

If you had read my first blog entry, you would have remembered that the phrase "crazy angmo" was coined by the neighbors when little old ladies or children within the estate pointed to an unfamiliar sight of a pasty-white, burly blonde bloke that is my husband and calls out "chee sin angmo" or "crazy angmo". This was not confined to the heartlands, I can assure you. When we were living in a townhouse sharing a swimming pool within the estate, nosy kids literally pressed their noses against their windows while staring at David floating in the bird-bath sized pool looking like a polar bear exhibit. They would continue to do so until their mothers yanked them by the ears from behind the curtains, muttering "chee sin angmo".

So, I gave birth to "the crazy angmo and his angry wife" as a snazzy way to capture the comedic life of the Ash Family. I want to re-emphasize that it is not a food blog.

Anyhow, with all the research I did about the crazy angmos who had opened their food stalls in the heartlands, I made a mental note to find an angmo food stall personally run by a fellow crazy angmo to have dinner at.

However, don't ask me to write a food review, as this clearly isn't a food blog.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

No apologies for my brutal honesty

I Should Tone It Down?

A few years ago, 2 of my ex-bosses met and I introduced them to each other. One of them said to the other, "You will need to get used to Jo's brutal honesty.". Family and friends close to me know me for the upfront and straight-forward character that defines me. Over the years, many have advised that I should "tone down" my personality. It's like asking me to get neutered. Recently, someone offered a helpful advice, requesting me to "tone it down" and tamper what I described for better want of words, "my exuberance". They might as well have asked Joel to get a sex change, or gotten David to remove his testicles.. with a fork.

I Demand Honesty

It took me a couple of days to mull over the advice, finally concluding that I am what I am, with no apologies. However, I owed it to myself and to the people around me who have to put up with my brutal honesty, to explain why rules of engagement with me must always be defined by complete transparency and openness.

A Lesson In Brutal Honesty

When I was 8 years old, in 1978, while being tutored by my Mandarin tutor at home, a gang of men barged into the home. Mum and I almost had a heart attack and they told us to be calmed as Dad was joining us soon. They bellowed that they were from the Internal Security Department (ISD) and proceeded to ransack our home while my tutor comforted my sobbing Mum and me.

When Dad finally arrived, accompanied by more ISD chaps, he was in handcuffs. Mom was sobbing uncontrollably by now and when I wanted to run to Dad, the men prevented me from doing so. I shouted at them, " This is not right. He is not a criminal. You only handcuff a criminal.". I was only 8 years old then. At that point, I thought I spoke more sense than all the adults in that house. No one could provide answers. So I had decided to take control of the situation in the only way I knew, to question what I thought was not right.

Dad was detained for a few months, without trial, under the Internal Security Act ( ISA). His crime? For being part of a civil rights society formed amongst a bunch of friends, committed to free speech and thought. - ( For more information about Function 8, see ).

During my weekly visits to Dad, beyond the blue gates at Thomson Road, I looked at the ISD chaps with disdain. And I will snarl at them, telling them to "take care of my father or else...". I abhorred the smirk on their smug faces that reminded me of clipboard-toting civil servants I see today. In particular, I can't stand the ones who leave me with a parking ticket that glaringly declares how much more fun their meaningless day was now that they had spoiled someone else's by issuing a fine just because my meeting couldn't finish in the time limit stated on that parking coupon.

A year after Dad's release, he was invited to a "friend's" home for a housewarming party. The minute I stepped into their home, and upon recognizing the host as the man who arrested my Dad, I told him, the host of that party, to go screw himself. I was 10 years old then. And I took control of the situation in the only way I knew. I had to be brutally honest. I couldn't be in the same room with my father's captors.

Standing By My Beliefs

I liked to think that over the years, I stood by what I believed in, and I will continue to stand up to what I feel is not right. I couldn't associate with anyone that thought otherwise. As I grew up, those that crossed my path, beyond the "brown-nosers" like the ISD chaps, were the sycophantic and hypocritical "bible-bashers" who knocked my head with prescribed notions of values.

I stood up to my ex-husband and our families. And sadly, I had to stand up to friends who chose to take his side.

I got married way too young and realized too soon that it was a mistake. Mum said that I had to " make the bed I slept in", insisting that true to her Catholic values,I had to be in it for life. I didnt. I chose to part ways as amicably as I could but in disappointment, Mum and Dad cut me off for a few years. That hurt for a long time. However, in brutal honesty, I told them that it was my life, I made a mistake, and it was my responsibility to clean it up, with or without them. That was how I took control of the situation, in the only way I knew how to.

Years of single parent-hood, and life without Mum and Dad, had honed that same conviction to stand up to what's not right. Thankfully, many years after, remarried and with Mum and Dad back in our lives, I have never stopped standing up for what I believed in.

Today, at work, at home and amongst friends, I am the same. Someone said to me this afternoon," Jo, we are looking to you to make lots of noise about this." To which I replied " happy to do it if you can convince me the noise I make wouldn't be empty and without substance." Yes, I have registered the horror on the faces around the table, but I couldn't walk away with the lie over my head that something will work when clearly, it hadn't convinced me so. And I hoped they appreciated the truth.

I am not in the habit of ruffling feathers and I am not a gun-wielding, hair-shaving lunatic activist either. But I take no prisoners when I believe in doing the right thing.

So, don't mind my brutal honesty. I won't apologise for it.

Monday, 13 February 2012

I have already got a Valentine

I dislike Valentine's Day and all the saccharinely sweet trappings that come with it from flowers, candle-lit dinners, heart-shaped balloons and cheesy cards.

It has been almost 11 years of marriage and 14 years of best-friendship and I counted 5 occasions that he's sent me flowers. 3 of these were to say he's sorry for something stupid that he's done or said.

Don't get me wrong. I am not whining again. Flowers are just not my thing. I do love tulips, so David had 1 tattooed on my ankle instead. Then years ago, I had asked him to buy me a sunflower tattoo to add to my repertoire of "non-wilting" flowers, this time on my thigh. And because my sunflower tattoo looked quite lonely - or the canvas was too large - he then bought me a dragonfly tattoo to keep it company. 5 tattoos later, and almost running out of space, I had decided that I would prefer a fabulous home-cooked dinner whether or not it was Valentine's day.

Then I remembered the first dinner that he had cooked for me. It was a chicken pie. The crust however didn't turn out right, so he proudly presented me with a plate of his gourmet chicken stew instead. My first thoughts as I remembered, was that the bloke was oddly creative. He had done whatever he could under the circumstance to ensure that I got fed. Truly a man after my heart.

He hasn't stopped since. Today, he prepares my breakfast everyday. He butters my toast, brews my coffee, sometimes drawing a heart shape on the foam, pours my juice and prepares my pills for me every morning.

When I need a durian fix, much as he hates the smell of the fruit, he would gamely drive me to a durian fruit stall at Geylang, pick out the best and the biggest durian, then sit there to watch me polish off the entire fruit myself while he happily munch on a slice of pineapple.... the smells notwithstanding.

Everyday without fail he would tell me he loves me "up to the sky and back", whether I am in a bad mood or not.

So while most of the world is celebrating Valentine's day, I am truly grateful that my Valentine's day has never stopped the day I married David.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Let local fare be simply just that

I gritted my teeth and barely held back a loud groan as I turned the pages of the newspapers this morning. My palm oozed perspiration and I was overcome with a sense of nausea. No, the stock market didn't crash again and no, I wasn't reading the sidebar advertising the latest Spring/Summer collection of some branded bags.

I was reading the Lifestyle section of the Sunday Times, glossing the food reviews of some local dishes at restaurants that had taken a fusion twist. "Local Fare Goes Mod", it says. Honestly, it should have been titled "Local Fare Gets Mocked".

Laksa clam chowder served in bread bowl with a drizzle of truffle oil ($14), chilli crab linguini served with soft shell crab ($25), and check out the piece de resistance, bak chor mee pasta ($13.90). What in the wee man's name is this abomination, bak chor mee pasta?

I was stupefied by the increasing number of restaurants serving such "haute cuisine inspired by tradition", and even more flabbergasted by the prices accorded to these dishes. For example, a chilean sea bass with chin cha lok (fermented shrimp) salsa sets one back at a whopping $35. I was insulted.

I grew up in Singapore enjoying local fare for what it was. It's delicious simplicity that was cheap, not always nutritious, but easily accessible. Most importantly, every bite I took of these dishes were steeped in the comforts of my childhood memories full of great times and good fun.

When I was little, Mum and granny used to take me to the wet market at Upper Serangoon Road in a trishaw. I was wedged between them and their basket of vegetables and fish at their feet, in the trishaw. They'd then drop me off at a dingy coffee shop for a bowl of bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) costing a few cents then, while they went off to buy more meats and vegetables at the wet market. Today, I still visit the same bak chor mee stall although he's moved to a better and brighter premise. A bowl of bak chor mee costs me $4 today, but I swear every time I slurp on every strand of those noodles, I can still smell the vegetables and fish in Mum's and granny's basket, and I can feel the balmy breeze brushing against my face as I ride in that trishaw.

Singaporeans are a discerning lot who are very protective of their traditional local fare. A testament to this was a cross-border spat between Malaysians and Singaporeans last year or so, not about land or water, but about food. Did chicken rice, nasi lemak, chilli crab originate from Singapore or Malaysia? Remember the press headlines when that spat surfaced?

So I have to thank Hedy Khoo who writes the weekly Hed Chef column in The New Paper. Today, she showcased granny's chicken curry recipe. It's a very simple chicken curry that's filled with so much of granny's passion for cooking. So much love goes into it whenever she whips up the dish. And for me, the dish pays homage to the memories of my childhood with granny, when she dragged me from home to home of friends to play mahjong, when she cooked for me, when she cut my hair, when she waited for me to come home from school and yes, when she brought me out for a delicious bowl of bak chor mee during our trip to the wet market.

My childhood was unpretentious and simple. I hope our Singaporean local fare will remain the same.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Home is best

Oh how I love to be home. The Siem Reap trip was great but home's best.

While David is having the post-holiday blues now as I write this, I am just ecstatic to be home.

On looking back, I think I may have pushed the envelop a little more than I should with David. He did deserve a wonderful holiday, but he ended up with what I can possibly describe as the worst travel partner.

At home, he gets pushed down my list of priorities unintentionally on almost a daily basis. And on this trip, the alone time didn't spare him either as he played second fiddle to my blackberry.

The Siem Reap trip was organized with the intention for us to have some restful, together time. We seldom have holidays, because we just don't have the time and I do detest holidays. So, this trip was planned since last November and I knew David was counting down the days since then.

However, I was on my blackberry throughout the trip, barking Nazi orders and generally thinking about work. While David was happily taking photographs of the temple ruins and tracing his finger around the carvings as he gasped in awe, I was writing my emails on my blackberry while leaning against a statue.

When he wanted to visit the land-mine museum some 30km away, I'd rather sit at a bar preferably with wifi access and cheap cocktails.

When he was cooling off in the pool enjoying a piña colada, I was on my deck chair clearing my emails.

When we arrived home from the airport, I was more excited about seeing Joel and the dogs, not necessarily in that order, while he trudged behind with the baggage.

When he wanted to sit by me and show me the photographs that he took in Siem Reap, I'd rather write my blog.

However, I know I am home. And I love to be home.

I know I am home when David walks into a conversation between Joel and I, and suddenly smothers Joel with his well-worn socks while laughing out loud... to Joel's utter disgust.

I know I am home when our helper, Evelyn, goes through David's luggage and can't tell the difference between the clothes to be laundered and the clean ones.

I know I am home when I see Joel and David glued intently on the TV, with hands firmly gripping the PS3 controls while playing a game and giving each other instructions on which "enemy" to shoot next.

I know I am home when the dogs sit quietly in an organized row staring at me as I eat my dinner, with eyes following every movement of my fork from the plate to my mouth.

I know I am home when Evelyn discusses the next day's dinner menu with me, while complaining about the price of fish at the market and at the same time, hollering at Joel to finish his vegetables.

As I lay in my own comfy bed, travel weary, but surrounded by David, Joel, Evelyn and the dogs, I feel so grateful to be home.

So I thought that with this blog entry, I'd give David his time, and show off some of the beautiful photos he had taken at Siem Reap. These photos were taken, while I was on my blackberry.