Never Been on the Singapore Flyer

Somehow when something is so near and available you feel no urgency to use it. Also I have situational claustrophobia, so when this attraction first emerged I had fear let alone a desire to try it. There were incidents of people getting stuck in the capsules for hours as the flyer faces initial teething issues. That definitely put me off the idea even more.

I managed to learn how to not let my claustrophobia escalate into a full blown panic attack since. Mentally exhausting, but not as debilitating now.

The flyer has been open since 2008, so I’ve had 14 years to do this.

Well, if I ever got free tickets and a private cabin, I might challenge myself. (Big hint sent)

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My Eldest Cousin M

Been thinking a lot about my cousin M lately. To be accurate, he’s never left my mind.

After he passed away in his sleep in 1995 (he was only 37 years old and it was attributed to an epileptic fit) he would appear in my dreams often.

Usually when I was stressed out he would always appear as my protector and the nightmare would turn into a pleasant dream.

I feel a bit sad that my younger cousins didn’t get to know him better. When he was still his cheerful self and not too afflicted by the trials and harshness of a society, that I feel, didn’t give him enough support or credit. I would love to hear more about their experiences with him one day, but mostly when I ask they don’t seem to remember him as much.

I feel like cousin M is my kindred spirit, although he’s 12 years and 10 months my senior.

I never realised he was deaf till I was in my twenties. Back then no one talked openly about disabilities and he didn’t even have a hearing aid. And he lip read so well.

My youngest cousin G is 27 years younger and she could have introduced him to sign language and the deaf community or if he desired, options like cochlear implants or good quality hearing aids. He would have been her best friend for sure, if not for the huge age gap.

My mum said he was a brilliant kid, but sadly after contracting meningitis at age 12, he had a high fever and it left him with various medical issues, including the deafness. He also suffered from epilepsy and wore coke bottle thick glasses.

I always felt so bad for him as he was obviously super intelligent, but back then there wasn’t enough support for him to pursue his higher education. I feel like that was a huge loss of potential. I also felt he was ostracised and he was definitely overqualified for the factory job he did and could not fully utilise that mind of his.

Naturally he would be enraged, depressed and towards the end, developed paranoia (undiagnosed), as evidenced in his remarkably written journals.

He truly inspires me to be a better writer as it may be in the genes. He’s my double cousin after all and I’m proud of that fact.

His parents are first cousins, which was common back in the day so that the wealth stays in the family and also because we are a pretty ethnocentric community.

I didn’t know this till I was in my late teens too. I didn’t know that my uncle would have been my uncle whether he married my aunt or not. Uncle P was my grandfather’s sister’s son. Medical issues naturally result with the smaller gene pool.

I was always so fond of M Annah (Annah means big brother and all my cousin brothers are the brothers I never had but longed for) and he very much doted on me. I’m just so grateful for him in my life.

Once he even gave me what seemed like his whole stamp collection when he knew I was into collecting stamps. He was very generous indeed.

He liked to tease me whenever I came over, but in a very gentle sweet way, like asking me if I came by plane or by bus, and when I would say “Nooo” he would ask did you drive? using hand gestures to show the driving motion. He made me giggle. And it was our usual routine.

I loved playing board games with him when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Carrom, 7 Diamonds and so forth. He was extremely patient with me and probably let me win.

I will never forget the time I asked him to carry me and he lifted me and spun me around high up. So fast that the spinning ceiling fan above me stood still. He was so tall. The tallest amongst all the cousins. It was so fun and I didn’t want him to stop, but his mother scolded him, worried he’d drop me and sadly my ride ended. “M! Put her down” she cried “Don’t stop” I said in my 4 year old heart.

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Typical Childhood in the 1950’s (Uncle A’s perspective), with a Preamble About Recording Stories

I’m noting down family details and it’s all these little stories and varying perspectives that may come in useful for a story about a typical Singaporean family that have their ancestral roots in Sri Lanka, specifically Jaffna.

Of course no one would be interested in a pure success story (blowing one’s own trumpet, vanity project) as the field is saturated there.

I also don’t like the idea of books with a ghost writer. I need to have control of my own tale. But the conflict is that it has to be presented unvarnished. Not just the palatable stuff which wouldn’t be as honest or captivating.

The trick is how to not hurt anyone’s feelings (this might be inevitable for a worthy story). Also how to get to those secret true stories, as in my life, it has been proven again and again, that truth is stranger than fiction.

What follows is what my uncle shared with me today.

A glimpse of the old home

His was a 1950’s childhood. He would wake up when the others woke up. He didn’t have an alarm clock and the noise everyone made was enough to rouse him. He slept in the hall, while his cousins slept on the verandah. Upon waking he would roll up his thin mattress which was covered with a bedsheet and put it away.

Breakfast was coffee and you would help yourself. He would fill up his glass from a big kettle of coffee prepared by his mum (my maternal grandma). Sometimes he would have a soft boiled egg with pepper and salt plus a slice of bread. When I asked if it was toasted he laughed reminding me there was no toaster then. Well at least they did not own one.

It took him 15 minutes to walk to school. Each brother went at their own pace and at their own time, bumping into their friends and chatting along the way.

Often, my uncle and his friends would kick an empty can found on the road (no anti littering campaign then) like a football all the way to school. They often took a short cut through a Muslim cemetery. (I had asked whether he and his brother went together as they both were studying at the same school and he said no, they didn’t specifically wait for each other and went independently)

Back then it was a different system. Primary school at McNair was standard 1 (equivalent to primary 1 and 2 today) Then it was standard 2 to 5 at Rangoon road primary school. It was 7 years of primary school.

Source: National Library Board

At recess my uncle spent the 20 cents pocket money he got, this way: 5 or 10 cents for a plate of Mee Siam or Mee Goreng. 5 or 10 cents for a fizzy drink like Sarsi, Red Lion brand Orange soda and Sinalco. It was just 2 cents for an ice ball and it would be shared with a friend. The ice ball man would slice it into half so in the end it cost him just 1 cent for his share.

Under British Colonial rule, Uncle A sang both ‘God Save the King’ in primary school then ‘God Save the Queen’ from 1952 onwards.

He has a very strict teacher in Primary 4. Percy Procter who was of Indian ethnicity and a very good pianist. Just one spelling mistake and my uncle would get pinched or carried by collar off the ground and dropped. I was quite horrified, but not surprised by that abuse. It took place in my primary school as well, two decades later in the 70’s. Thank goodness for better protection for children these days.

My uncle would often ponteng (skip) Tamil class because it was held in the afternoon after school. Children from other schools would join in as there were not enough Tamil Teachers or students so they had to pool students from different schools. He added that he got scolded by his father as he didn’t do well in Tamil.

My uncle said children would get into trouble for being mischievous and getting into fights. Not fist fights, but just pushing and shoving each other.

He had hardly any homework. He would rush home to change immediately and then go out to play with the children in the neighbourhood. They would all run back home by 5pm to not incur the wrath of their strict fathers.

Some of the stories overlap with my mum’s who is three plus years his junior, but I always learn some new facts from each sibling.

They had Pal Appam (fermented pancakes with coconut milk) on the weekends made by my grandma. I know it’s one of their favourites as they always speak fondly about this breakfast item.

After his father’s death he was forced to become more responsible and could no longer be carefree. He had to contribute to the family.

He gave his full teaching paycheck of $300 to his mother (that was highly commendable and selfless in my opinion), but kept what he earned from tutoring for himself. (Made $200 from just 2-3 pupils)

Soon after he bought a second hand motorcycle for $200.

Then he got his first car, a second hand Borgward Isabella for $500 (at that time a new car cost $4k). It was my first time hearing this brand of car mentioned. A wiki search reveals that it was manufactured in Bremen, Germany from 1954-1962. My uncle selected an open top convertible car. This is one fact I have always known about my uncle – his love of cars.

My youngest aunty failed her driving test twice but passed immediately once her brother (Uncle A) taught her. Back then you could just place a Learner’s L plate on your car and conduct lessons. He taught her on his Austin Mini. (A car manufactured in 1962 by the UK based British Motor Corporation)

At home he didn’t watch much tv, but played Carrom, 7 diamonds and monopoly at night. Besides that he would play football with his own kakis (friends) rather than his siblings.

Back then they used to go freely in and out of neighbourhood homes. It was no problem. On all the festivals like Deepavali and Chinese New Year there was free exchange of festival foods and sweet meats. Very much open door and not like how it is now where we all live in silos and more privately.

My eldest cousin and the number one grandchild M broke the fence in order to play Carrom with his friend next door with the board placed through the fence. The fence would be patched up only to be ripped apart again.

Our grandfather was very doting on his first and only grandchild he was alive for. The remaining 10 of us came after he passed.

I’ve never experienced having the adoration of a grandpa, which is why I am so happy to see my nieces being doted on by theirs (who happens to be the Uncle A of this story). He would move heaven and earth for them, and it just warms my heart.

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My Blog is a Work in Progress

It’s never the finished product, but more like a dairy entry. A diary entry that I can rework easily.

I keep editing as I discover embarrassing errors (mostly due to autocorrect), and new information, especially for my biographical posts.

I find it easier to type in my thoughts than write with ink on paper. I require the speed, and pen on paper is just too slow for my racing thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually prefer the old art of writing and will never consider it inferior in any way. But just for the purpose of jotting down thoughts as they appear, typing works best for me. The ability to edit is a great bonus too.

The slow form – pen on paper, I find more meditative. I still do this regularly into my favourite kind of journal – a moleskine.

My hope is that a publisher will be interested in a story about a third generation Singaporean Ceylonese person who doesn’t have any accolades or a success story to promote, but rather a more relatable one about loss and fear. And also familial love.

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Typical Day in the Life of My Mum in the early 1960’s

She couldn’t recall exactly what time she woke up, but it was to the crowing of the neighbourhood roosters and not an alarm clock. They were extremely loud she said.

She ironed her uniform the day before. Once adorned, she combed her hair neatly into two plaits.

Breakfast was just kopi (local coffee with condensed milk) made by her brother in law (my Uncle P) who prepared it for everyone and left it in a big aluminium kettle. She recalled it was really tasty, as my Uncle P got the coffee powder from a nearby coffeeshop and prepared it well.

Her elder brothers, my uncles M and A walked to Beatty Secondary School while she walked in the opposite direction.

It was a 5 minute walk to the bus stop and she had a direct bus to Cedar Girls’ Secondary School. It was a 20 minute journey due to the many stops and she carried a trunk like school bag which was the norm then.

The principal was strict and all the girls were made to wear petticoats under their skirts. There would be checks conducted by prefects to ensure this, but back then girls were very compliant.

At the tuck shop my mum’s favourite was Mee Siam, but there was also Mee Rebus and porridge. Fizzy drinks were sold too and she liked F&N Cherry. She thinks she might have gotten 20 cents as pocket money from her mother. Bus fare was 5 cents and she was given a small paper ticket by the bus conductor.

With any extra money left over, she would buy kana (preserved prunes) for her nephew and niece. Back then you could even buy things for just 1 cent. They used 1 cent coins which are not in use anymore today. (The smallest currency now is 5 cents.)

As she walked home, her niece and nephew would call out and run excitedly towards her. Besides kana she would also buy tiny hard boiled sweets and bubble gum.

Lunch at home was delicious and prepared by my grandma. Usually it was steamed rice with two vegetables and a dhal or fried potatoes. The dishes included a tomato onion curry, a brinjal dish (boiled with onions mashed and cooked with coconut milk). On Fridays when they were vegetarian there was sambar (dhal), fried brinjal slices, appalam (papadum) and such. Fried Mutton was only for special occasions as meat was expensive.

My mum used to help in the kitchen grinding the onions and chilli on the ammi kalu (stone pestle). She said it was good exercise for her arms and she enjoyed it. In those days there were no blenders. Somehow this slow artful preparation created more delicious dishes.

My mother’s mum (my grandma) would make lovely milky tea in a kettle and they would dunk Marie biscuits into their cups of tea. Tea time was usually at 5pm. (A British custom became our own and part of our culture). For dinner she would sometimes make thosai and that was late at 8pm.

They did not have much homework then. Often the tv would be on, the person in charge being the first grandchild M. So everyone would watch his shows which included, Lassi, Mr Ed the talking horse, cartoons like Popeye, Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry and Tweetie Bird.

When they got a chance my eldest and youngest aunts were hooked on Peyton Place. But youngest aunt told me that my eldest cousin (first grandchild) would throw a terrible tantrum if they did not let him watch his show so often they missed quite a bit of their Peyton Place show.

Baths were cold ones. They scooped up water with a small pail from a huge clay vessel. Only a sick child would be allowed a hot bath and for that my grandma would boil water in a kettle. (No heater back then.)

At about 10pm my grandma and her two younger girls (my mum and youngest aunt) would roll out their rubber mattresses and sleep beside each other on the floor in one of the rooms. The boys probably took the other room while my eldest aunt who was married had a room of her own with her husband and kids.

They only had to pay $15 a month or less for rent. This was a benefit for civil servants.

My mum also recalled hawkers in the back lane. They had to bring their own cups or bowls to buy anything. (So eco friendly) She eagerly anticipated the tau huay man. She liked the soya bean curd and her eldest nephew loved the soya bean drink.

During the hungry ghost month period there were wayangs (Chinese Opera) set up in the open fields nearby. My mum looked forward to buying kachang puteh (various nuts) and ice cream with her siblings. They would hand their used exercise books to the kachang puteh pan for a free cone of nuts. It’s quite fascinating to think that once you have the nuts you could peruse someone’s math homework for instance.

What a colourful childhood and teenhood indeed.

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#12. Simple Joys: Having the Option to Not Wear a Mask Indoors

I do it when I feel comfortable enough and usually when it’s not too crowded. But yes I so do enjoy having that freedom.

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#11. Simple Joys: Pretty Things at ION & More Space on the higher floors

I managed to get some peace and eye candy even on a busy weekend. Trying to be grateful for every little thing as I believe it helps in elevating our mood.

I can’t afford a thing at Valentino, but I do love the pink.

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#98: Exciting, Ever Evolving Food Scene

I do love dry Laksa, so I was exited to spot the opening of this new dining place at Vivo.

I haven’t reached 100 on my 100 Reasons to Be Happy in Singapore, but just found my number 98/100.

Started this list way back in May 2010. So some entries may appear dated? You can check it out here.

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#10. Simple Joys: Even Greater Ease to Check Out Library Books Using my Phone App

Love not having to queue and borrowing books by scanning the bar codes through my library App. Currently for only those books with a particular sticker, but I’m sure the efficient librarians will cover more books soon.

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Family Ties: Aunts, Uncles & Cousins

I recently asked my uncle how he felt when his son was just born. “Were you nervous being a father now? Nervous about having to carry a baby.” He said not really, and then I realised my baby cousin (I was a super excited 7 year old when he was born) is not his first or my aunt’s first baby.

Technically yes, but in reality no.

Back then, aunts and uncles, especially if they had older siblings with kids, often babysat their nieces and nephews.

Often too it wasn’t a nuclear family structure, but a whole village (extended family plus more) under one roof.

My mum was very attached to my two older cousins before I was even conceived. My aunty C to her elder sister’s children too. The bond is so strong. So in actuality my aunt already ‘had’ 2 babies and my uncle 3.

My uncle A, related to me how I would arrive in a bundle on weekdays to my grandma’s house where they all lived and he would push me on the swing when I couldn’t sleep and would feed me too. Those stories warm my heart.

Bliss of my Grandmother’s House Where Everyone Grew Up

My 3 uncles and youngest aunty figured strongly in my childhood memories as the ones who carried me to see the airplanes in the sky, cuddled me, fed me chocolates and enticed me to go on walks to the nearby shop.

My two elder cousins 13 and 7 years older, doted on me too, so I was very lucky to be so loved. I know I loved them, learnt from them and tried to copy what they did.

I just strongly felt so adored when I was at my grandmother’s house. The minute I entered I was made to feel like a celebrity. My youngest uncle would call out “the kutties (little ones) are here” excitedly in reference to me and my sister. He was so warm and most of us cousins have fond memories.

I totally feel that way about the little ones in my family in turn. Starting with my 6 baby cousins (those 5-15 years younger than me) and now my cousins’ children. (There were many children in between too in my extended family.) I am their biggest fan and they will always be on my pedestal.

Prior to my existence, my mum was very attached to my two older cousins. When I was old enough, she always told me how good they were. How smart M was and how obedient R was.

In my family cousins are very special indeed. Especially with the ‘Two is Enough Campaign’ in Singapore in the 1970’s, it would have been lonely without them.

I will always consider my cousin M as my first baby. I was fascinated as she gripped the finger if 5 year old me tightly and turned her head to look at me. I was transfixed and in love. I was over the moon at the birth of each of my baby cousins. Some people are animal people but I’m very much a baby person.

So I have been particularly drawn to the depictions of the British Royals mainly because they reflect my own big Ceylonese Singaporean family. How close they all are, how cousins were built in playmates and the glue of course being the matriarch, the grandmother.

This is in contrast to my partner and friends who only saw their cousins once or twice a year during Chinese New Year for instance. I think that’s sad.

But having said that, there is only one cousin I know from my father’s side of the family and there are many more in Sri Lanka I haven’t met and to be honest have no desire to as they are strangers to me.

It is really critical how close you are in childhood. It determines your future relationship. It’s why I’m so delighted to see my little nieces having a super close bond with their cousins who happen to be their neighbours as well. I love seeing them all so happy and am so grateful for them.

They might have their own friends later, but no one else will be like their cousin and have those shared family memories.

Yes as the saying goes “It takes a village” and I just love that.

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Ocean Liner Stories from the Past

Had a chat with both my Uncle A and Aunt S since they happened to be there at the same time. They are siblings 7.5 years apart, but the age gap seems to be negligible.

Wanted to gain more insight into what it was like to take an ocean liner back then. So having them both there was an invaluable opportunity.

My uncle said the Ocean Liner (Asiana) was spartan compared to cruise ships now. But my aunty (Oceana) claimed that there was a swimming pool on it and even entertainment, which surprised me. There were two different Ocean Liners but I believe the facilities were similar. (I’m waiting for my relatives to correct me and I’ll keep updating my historical posts in an effort to be accurate.)

Life was truly slow paced then, but definitely had more of a romantic quality with long sea journeys and letters sent back home – ink on thin blue paper. Probably took ages to arrive too and I was transported back in time seeing a young Queen Elizabeth stamp affixed.

A young Queen Elizabeth II on the Ceylon stamp
Beautiful penmenship. Pity children don’t learn cursive these days.

Quite a valuable document that my uncle kept for 62 years. He kindly made a photocopy for me when I told him to keep the original carefully. Although he was generous for me to handle the original I was reluctant too. The paper is so fragile. Remarkable if you think about it. He wrote it to his siblings back home when he was 17, but had the presence of mind to keep the letter once he returned home.

My mum read it for the first time today and was very keen to. She was 14 years old back then, and just starting secondary school. Perhaps in the chaos of everyday life and their father’s sudden demise, she wasn’t shown the letter then.

It was probably read by my eldest aunty and her husband. They took care of the family. My mum said her brother in law was very kind and caring, echoing the sentiments of many of the relatives who knew him.

Back then nobody discussed anything like we do these days. They just were too busy with all the household chores and life.

But I guess it makes sense as she said that when she was growing up, children were often sent away when guests came. A lot was kept from them, so I think they got used to that kind of existence. Being kept in the dark. I think it’s super unhealthy, but yeah those were repressed times.

It’s also makes sense that they wanted to shield the children from any of the ugliness of life. Yes I would have liked my childhood to remain pristine with that glow through rose tinted glasses. 

In contrast I truly admire how open my cousin is with his children. If it’s age appropriate he doesn’t keep it from them. As they result they grow up with so much self assurance. Your parents trusting you, gives you the strongest feeling of confidence and security. But that’s the new generation and they know a lot more based on their own experiences and read up on the latest in child psychology and development. We improve with every generation and new discoveries I guess.

I so wish I could be shown that I’m being trusted. It’s a quality I appreciate so much about my dad. That he trusted me and needed me, the way my uncle describes that his dad was with his eldest daughter. I miss that terribly. By needing me that way he was my anchor. All of us need to feel wanted and that gives us value.

To be fair, even though my dad was very open, I’m not too sure about his side of the family who seem much more repressed in terms of emotion. On deeper reflection I think it was unique only to him. He was the anomaly. And I was blessed by that. 

I feel honoured now that I get to be the vessel for all this information from my uncle and aunt. My uncle even gave me the assurance that I could share all of it. I’m sure my cousins would appreciate the information too. 

My youngest aunty of course didn’t read the letter either as she was only 10 and in Sri Lanka with her parents and my uncle. She poured over it too giggling and commenting that my uncle sounded very formal indeed. She was impressed that he included interesting minute details like the speed of the vessel. 

As the youngest she was taken by my grandparents to continue her primary schooling in Sri Lanka for 2 months.

She related (and as confirmed by written details in my uncle’s letter) that the Ocean Liner didn’t stop at the harbour in Colombo. They had to take another boat to land. They were greeted by relatives at Columbo and stayed a night at a relative’s house. The day after they took an overnight train to Jaffna. 

My aunty said that was the only time she had a chance to get close to her father as she fell asleep on his lap. She said a whole hoard of relatives came to hug them all and she found it very frightening. In just that last month of her father’s life she became closer to him than her mum. My uncle added that his father was softer with the girls. And the sisters always said their mother favoured the boys.

My uncle went on to relate that his father’s mother (my great grandmother) was originally living in a mud house. Her name was Vairamuthu. I said how come it sounds so masculine and my aunty said it means diamond pearl. Literally. 

My grandfather sent back money for his mum to build a brick house in place of the mud one. His mother lived in it with his sister. The son of his sister went on to marry his daughter. First cousins marrying was more common then I think. 

Besides this retirement and sadly last trip, Grandfather went back to Ceylon soon after his marriage on 13 nov 1933.

My grandmother, eldest Aunt P and eldest Uncle M went back to Sri Lanka in 1940 before war. My grabdfather thought they would be safer there. How ever my grandmother didn’t like it there so came back and my uncle was then born in Singapore in 1942. Imagine if he didn’t exist because my grandmother decided to stay on in Sri Lanka. My mum and me and all my cousins would probably not exist then. It’s incredible to think about. 

My uncle A said that his eldest brother used to fall ill all the time. He was very sickly and had great difficulty putting on weight. Why didn’t I get those genes, I lamented. 

I am an open book and if you ask me I will tell, even if it’s something I’m sensitive about and I hate being misjudged. I can be an over sharer too even more so after my father’s death and the cancer diagnosis. I often feel embarrassed about how much I overshare especially if the response is just shocked silence.

But life is way too short for secrets and repressed emotions. I think that’s what I appreciate about my partner. He never keeps anything from me. Neither of us could be with someone whom we felt was repressed. Repressed in the sense that even after spending years with that person you don’t know them any better because they don’t reveal their emotions.

I don’t believe in anything being too shameful to reveal. In fact it makes for a more colourful history. Who wants to hear about a pristine history anyway. You can’t learn anything from that and I believe no one has that. Its what made Nobel and Booker prize winning author V S Naipaul so revered as a writer.

The biographical, A House for Mr Biswas was presented with brutal honesty, warts and all. A marvel I want to reread and relish as I’m very much into biography right now and hope to write my own.

And if I do, I won’t shy away from my own shortcomings as unflattering as they may be.

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Atas Mall with Fresh Orchid Displays

B pointed out that the orchids at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands are real and if they are replaced regularly must be super expensive.

Fresh Orchids
I wonder if Kendall Jenner has ever come here

Me and my cousin D love coming to TWG. The outlet here looks nice but alas the long queue.

Hermes window display
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#9. Simple Joys: Wide Walkways & High Ceilings

Because most malls in Singapore are so cramped with narrow walkways I appreciate something like this at the ‘atas’ (Singlish for high class/ snooty) mall The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

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Evolution of my Blog

When I first started out blogging actively and regularly in 2010, it was mostly superficial posts on celebs, food and touristy things. It made life exciting. Being a tourist in your own country. These are often my more cheerful posts.

I also included my struggles of being in toxic workplaces. Not so cheerful.

The cancer diagnosis in 2016 and the recurrence in 2017 naturally drew me into discussing this new hurdle. I was keen to reach out to others going through the same struggles.

Then came covid in 2020 so naturally I had to cover my feelings about the pandemic.

This year 2022, especially, now that I’m past 50, I’ve started to explore topics related to aging.

I’m also keen on biographical, family history type content where I interview my family members and even throw those probing questions back at myself.

I’ve covered mental health – grief, trauma and abuse in an effort to heal as well as to normalise talking about critical topics that should not be stigmatised.

The posts I enjoy the most are my travel posts as they enable me to relive the joys of my little adventures and explorations.

Actually, I just love blogging, journaling and writing, so it is all a joy to me.

Connecting with other bloggers online is tremendously fulfilling as well. For this reclusive introvert is then able to have friends without actually meeting physically. Brain to brain, heart to heart connections, can be pretty great.

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Were there Tasks You Hated Doing as a Child?

I’m asking myself questions and often I go off on a tangent, but that’s my purpose. My method of jogging my memory before it all fades.

For me, as I was not made to do any chores, it was mostly math. I truly disliked math homework. Somehow my brain had to work so much harder when there were numbers involved. It didn’t appeal to me and didn’t come naturally to me the way words do.

I hated doing math corrections and re corrections as primary school kid with overly strict teachers.

I did feel a sense of pride when I got an A1 in the subject for O levels thanks to my own Papa’s untiring efforts. The best way he taught was fractions using Cadbury chocolate. And yes we ate the teaching devices.

I also hated second language and any homework related to it. The majority of Tamil teachers were abusive and poked fun at us for not being competent and having in their view, weird accents. If they did what they did today they would have criminal records. That’s all I will say right now about the abuse as it’s an unpleasant draining thing to write about and basically relive. Being a witness to abuse was horrible too. My heart aches for my classmates who were boys who got it the worst.

It was definitely not so much the language which can be complex and beautiful, but the teachers who made us feel fear and shame.

This is because when it was taught (language of instruction) as part of Sunday religious class we enjoyed it. The teachers were caring and praised us for good penmenship. They also let us play and have fun and it wasn’t regimental.

I find that schools never reward kind teachers and all the politics makes these brilliant wonderful souls leave the profession. Children then were left in the charge of many devilish ones who didn’t truly love children and were in fact sadistic.

Generally my teachers in secondary school (girls’ school) were a world apart and instilled a love of learning. So it really depends on your luck and when you were born. I think teachers these days have rules and laws to abide that are protective of children, as it should be. I will always advocate for more when it comes to the rights of children.

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Angelina at Marina Bay Sands: Another Too Expensive Place

Piping hot is always good
$8.50 for a flat white

Staff were struggling here. We didn’t order the tiny cakes that cost at least $17 before tax and opted for a large basket of piping hot French fries instead. Pretty good but you could get much more for $13.50 at McDonald’s. But yes we are paying for the ambience (and to cover the probably crazy rental costs here)

Mostly unsuspecting tourists here. The chairs were not that comfortable and were placed at an odd angle giving me a bit of a backache. I now understand the queue at the other fancy tea outlet TWG where you can get macarons for $2. More reasonable prices and fancier than this place.

Staff were struggling to fulfill orders and we were presented twice with orders not meant for us. Somehow service suffers when we are asked to place our own orders using a QR code. Increasingly so at most places.

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Din Tai Fung Marina Bay Sands for the First Time

The picture my partner took is deceptive – these were tiny
My poorly taken photo is more accurate
We prefer the Paradise groups’ version of spicy vinegrette dumplings and noodles
We had to queue up and heard a kid saying they wanted to be served by the robot (mechanised tray carrying thing)

We’ve been to the other outlets many times and actually we prefer the paradise group for Shanghainese type cuisine – Xiao Long Bao and handmade noodles. Our opinion was confirmed once again that the Paradise group’s offering is superior. Not as expensive, as portion sizes are more generous. We especially love the dense chewy spicy vinegrette noodles at the Lenu outlets.

Service at both places is pretty good with polite servers. Din Tang Fang here having a slight edge with a really friendly guy who served us cheerfully.

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Peranakan Meal at Pow Sing: Satisfying but Expensive

Decided to do a food post for a change. A lunch we had this month as my partner loves Peranakan food and anything that goes with steamed rice. He is not so into bread the way I am. Actually I do love rice, but I tend to overeat because it’s so good with the gravies and chilli. I often get into a food coma after (insulin spike) and am filled with regret.

Chap chye has a lovely sweetness
One of my favourite renditions of Ngor Hiang

Wow that sambal belachan with lime. Plus the sweet sauce that goes perfectly with the Ngor Hiang.

Love this sambal chilli so much
My partner’s fave is Ayam Buah Keluak

The portions seemed to be halved and prices doubled from two decades ago. The sad case of inflation post covid. He paid $70 for this meal.

And this sweet crispy squid

But I have to admit that quality remains. Pow Sing remains one of my favourite places for Peranakan food. The regulars will know. Only the original Serangoon Garden branch remains so they can’t be doing too well. Previously they expanded and even had a fancy outlet at Jewel. I hope they go strong for many more years but hopefully the prices don’t escalate.

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#8. Simple Joys – Nice Strangers

The ethnically Malay grab delivery guy who got into the lift with me was so cheerful and nice. “Which level?” Wanted to press the button for me. And he said thanks as he left. He did me a favour but he said thanks. Kind people. Grateful you exist.

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Bus Ride: Living Deliberately

Raindrops on the big glass panel.

The coolness of a drizzly morning.

Looking out I see teenaged joy. Two on a bike.

An old lady with a blue umbrella dragging her trolley on the way to get her groceries.

Bell chimes. Someone’s getting off at the next stop.

Grass patches, tree tops. Everything rain soaked.

Puddles of water shine on the tar. The bus twists and turns laboriously.

It’s quite nice. This.

The white noise of bus engine

The muted red brake lights on the ends of cars

The milk sky.

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#7. Simple Joys: Water feature inside a Mall

Love the blue. I’m a water sign after all.

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#6. Simple Joys: Beautiful Window Displays

Haven’t been to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands for a while and was drawn to this window display in particular. New sights are always refreshing. And I love the bubblegum shade of pink.

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