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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Embroidery Box

Even though I did not like the getai performance, I did take away a lesson from 2019's Hungry Ghosts Festival. I understood that I need to up my game for embroidery. Next project: to embroider bamboo onto a quilt cover.

Good thing I now have a sexy embroidery box!

Getai: Not My Thing

I was very excited about the getai performance but it was not what I expected. I have been diligently listening to Chinese songs but there weren't any songs that I recognised. In fact, the songs were mostly in Hokkien and the tunes were not what I was used to. The crowd was mostly grey haired. At first, I was determined to give it a chance. I really wanted to stay and see if there would be any songs that I liked.

What was unbearable was the loudness. The speakers were so very loud that even though I covered my ears it was still an onslaught of sensory stimulus. I stayed for about 15 minutes, and my heart rate went through the roof and it stayed high for about an hour after I got home.

A friend well-educated in Chinese culture and language explained that getai is not meant to be very refined Chinese culture. Still, what I saw was still better than some of the stand up comedy on Netflix. It is a pity I don't understand Hokkien. The old truism is true. The more you learn, the more you realise you don't know stuff. I am trying my darndest to learn Chinese and now I realise that there is also Hokkien that I don't know.

It is daunting to even come to grips with sub-cultures WITHIN Singapore, let alone the rest of the world.

I won't do a getai again. Still, it was worth it to go see it once.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Heartachingly Beautiful

How could I have been so blind!?

I have lived for years in Singapore and never paid attention to the Hungry Ghost Festival and the depth of meaning it has for people I buy food from every day! I was so bewitched by the draperies that I spent another 30 minutes today admiring as many bits as I could up close. I take back what I said yesterday. Parts of these draperies are really impressive. I will post close-ups of some parts and THEN, I will post my own work. Readers can then go ahead and LAUGH at my work.

I love the gradated shading.

This part was very high up. Even though I climbed on a chair, I could not achieve a true close-up. This was really my favourite part. I love the vibrant colours on the bird of paradise.

Flower close-up.

This other bit is my other favourite. I love the slight tinge of grey on the stork.

Such a majestic dragon, don't you think?

Now, guess who made this piece of junk?

I still cannot believe that I got to touch and feel and photograph all this embroidery for free! Isn't this what museum fees are for? These folks at Chong Pang are so amazing!! The thing is this. The folks at Chong Pang don't think they are amazing. I appear to be the only crazy woman to be fascinated by all of them. 

The man who put up the display is very old. He is so old that his face looks like a dried fig. He even has rheumy eyes. The men who helped him to put up the display are younger, but they are STILL old. There were no young men around to help. Will knowledge of these traditional practices slowly pass into the mists of time? I tried to ask these younger old men about the significance of each display. They too did not know. They simply said that this is what they do.

I have so many questions and no one to answer them. 

I wonder if such lore is documented in books. Even if they were, it would have to be Chinese books, and I cannot read Chinese! Oh! It is such a liability to not be able to read Chinese at all! I envy all of you who can read Chinese and I am glad that I made my children learn Chinese. It isn't just that China is an emerging power. There truly is so much that is fascinating about Chinese culture and history. I am only able to access low brow Chinese romance drama series, and even then, I need English subtitles. The higher level cultural stuff is all inaccessible to me because I am illiterate in Chinese.

The dried fig-like old man looked at me with his rheumy eyes and asked if I could print a photo of his display for him. You bet I will. I will print TWO kick ass big photos for him!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Unconditional Love

This appeared in my Facebook feed today and for some reason, it made me cry. Not just tear a little. I blubbered and then had to blow my nose.

I think that deep inside each one of us, no matter how rich, powerful or successful, there exists a core of vulnerability. Inside, we all know that we are flawed. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to look perfect, look wealthy, look kind, look charitable, look strong. Deep inside, we are all the same. We see our own imperfections and we wonder that if others knew how ugly we look on the inside, whether they would love us or not.

There is a name for this type of love: unconditional love, and it is one of the world's greatest resources for fuelling the greatest achievements, the greatest effort, and the most impossible goals.

God's Love
When the going gets tough, God's love gets me going. We all know that God sees everything, and God knows everything. No one can hide anything from God. Yet, God loves me despite all the icky things I know go on inside my heart, sometimes. For someone who is autistic and have suffered social rejection time and again, this love is experienced as a privilege.

The Husband's Love
When I discovered I am autistic, I cried for 2 days. I know right! I am such an "humbao". I was even afraid to tell The Husband. When I finally did, he shrugged and said, "Nothing changes. You have always been you." That was all he said, simply and tersely.

I must confess that I haven't been an easy wife to live with. You know you aren't easy to live with when, in response to your decision to quit your job and stay at home, your husband says, "No, no, no. You must find something part-time to do. Else, I will come home to a caged tigress and I will get mauled to shreds."

It cannot have been easy to live through my meltdowns. For any family member who has experienced a full blown autistic meltdown, you know the violence of it. For others who have never experienced a full blown autistic meltdown, note that a normally soft spoken and gentle person can quite literally turn into a biting and clawing wild animal. Thankfully, I have learnt to run away from situations and people which might trigger me. I run early enough that my meltdowns are now truly few and far between.

Then too, The Husband cannot rely on me to be that consummate hostess that he sometimes needs to stand by his side. I am apt to NOT make eye contact when I should and to make eye contact when I should not. It is VERY hard to make friends when you cannot manage to make eye contact at the right time, you know. I am apt to say completely inappropriate things, or to be overly blunt, or to yawn at the wrong time, or laugh inappropriately. Of course, I have learnt from each painful experience, and I am much more socially competent now. Still, The Husband has paid the price in my social ineptitude. I can be a rather embarrassing wife.

Just last night, just as we were about to sleep, I murmured, "Don't you feel that you love me more BECAUSE I ________________ (this part is censored). The Husband's quick riposte was, "No! I love you DESPITE that you ________________ (this part is censored)."

We Love Milo
Milo is our dog. He was born crooked. He has lopsided ears, a crooked spine and even a crooked tail. He is short furred but he sheds like a pepper shaker. It is amazing how much fur this dog sheds. He barks inappropriately and loves to stick his nose up people's crotches. He chews up my figs, digs up my soil, and is apt to steal juicy cuts of tenderloin steak from off the countertop if we are not careful. In all, he is a most unsatisfactory dog. I often view videos of intelligent dogs who can fetch beer from the fridge or even walk to heel. My dog is not even smart enough to move his dog bed to where he wants to lie down. He has no idea how to walk to heel, and if possible, he won't even let people near our fridge.

We love him, our stupid, crooked dog.

The Way To Get Real Friends
Then, it occurred to me today that the truest way to get real friends is to NOT put one's best foot forwards. There are people who avoid me when they know that I am autistic. I suppose they cannot deal with it. Others would not bother with me knowing that I lived in a Marsiling HDB flat. The best way to find REAL friends is to tell them that you're a piece of shit. If they stick around, then they’re worth your time.

If not, move on and do not look back.

Hungry Ghosts Festival

Just when I was getting bored and used to Chong Pang Market, it has sprung another charming and exotic surprise on me. When I got there at 6.30 am this morning, I saw the stage all dressed up in heavily embroidered red brocade. Thankfully, at that hour of the morning, there are very few people around. So, I went up to the fabrics to touch and feel and stare to my heart's content. The needle work is not as fine as Guo Pei's HERE. Some parts were simply cloth sewn on, like a collage. Other parts were patches of pre-made needlework mounted onto the fabric, instead of embroidered directly on it.

Still, the whole thing would have required a lot of work and beats my own crude and unskilled embroidery work anytime.

Apparently, the Chong Pang Wet Market Association is holding an auction to celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival tomorrow night. The night after tomorrow, there will be a getai performance. I am thrilled to bits because I have never ever been to a getai performance. So, this will be my first time! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Pleasures of Northpoint City

The weather is much too hot for Chong Pang, with its poor ventilation. On days like these, the whole place pulses hot air. I have taken refuge in Northpoint City, which is airconditioned.

Apart from airconditioning, and the obvious pleasure of investing in Fraser's Centrepoint Trust, Northpoint City also offers other delights. Right next to the mall is Blk 925 Yishun Central. Go there for the best chicken rice in Yishun. The chicken rice stall in Chong Pang Market has not managed to capture my heart, since it could not capture my tastebuds. The kopi tiam at Blk 925 is also a lot less hot and smelly than Chong Pang Market.

Next, to cool off, head into Northpoint City for Ben's Cookies, which started life in Oxford, England. Kids who studied in Oxford spread the love of Ben's Cookies amongst their friends here. As a result, Ben's Cookies has a sort of cult following amongst a certain group of youngsters who hang in the same circles as the Ivy Leaguers and the Oxbridge-ers. Myself, I don't eat these cookies. They are not gluten free.

Then, head downstairs to Basement 1 of Northpoint City, to Malaysia Chiak, to get a lovely bowl of Penang chendol. Chong Pang has very meh dessert hawkers. One stall is run by a PRC lady with absolutely zero pride in her work and equally zero respect for quality. The human tongue is an extremely sensitive organ. You cannot fool people's tastebuds. I took only 1 mouthful of her tang yuan and refused to eat anymore. The other stall is run by an old man who is very grumpy. His desserts are ok. Nothing to shout about.

There is guilin gao at B2 of Northpoint City too. The ladies there are already super friendly. No need to charm them! And the aircon... oh... compared to Chong Pang in this season of inhospitable heat, the airconditioning at Northpoint was such a relief!! I think I will only go to Chong Pang very early in the mornings or very late in the day or when it is raining!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Doorway to My Heart

The doorway that leads straight into Petunia's heart HAS to be food. If you can cook well, the door to my heart is wide open. No password required!

Early on, The Husband learnt not to interfere with what Petunia likes to eat. What Petunia wants to eat, Petunia gets to eat. This is chiefly because when Petunia is denied yummy food, The Husband's quality of life drops drastically. I morph from an affectionate and loving Golden Retriever, to a frosty Ice Queen. Icicles form on the ceiling of our bedroom. Frost flowers etch themselves onto the windows. The bed becomes an inhospitable place of cold winds, and freezing touch.

The only time The Husband has ever denied me food was when I was pregnant with The Daughter. I had a craving for strawberry ice cream at 3 am in the morning. The Husband stared at me with half crazed eyes and then went back to sleep. He was so tired that he barely noticed the wintry landscape that had descended all around him and his pregnant wife.

I suppose eating as a vice is much less of an evil than:
- gambling
- branded handbags
- branded shoes
- ladies' fashion

The Husband reasoned that there is only so much Petunia can eat. Since I can only fit in a child's portion of anything, there is no way I can eat him out of house and home. In contrast, an addiction to fashion and handbags can quite literally mean thousands of dollars spent on useless stuff.

So, for years, The Husband bit his tongue whenever I traipsed off to a nice cafe or restaurant every now and then, to sit with my book, stare at people walk past and eat nice food. For a time, I was a familiar presence at Wild Honey. Then, I had a spell of fascination with Paradise Dynasty. Later, it was Din Tai Fung. Luckily, these obsessions have seasons. After a few months of indulgence, I move onto the next place.

My favourite Norwegian breakfast at Wild Honey.

The Husband was overjoyed when I chose to explore the culinary delights in Chong Pang Market. More than once, he commented that it is possible to eat good food without spending a lot, and then he would look meaningfully at me. My obsession with Chong Pang has lasted quite a while already. Throughout, The Husband was most pleased.

It came as a rather nasty surprise to him when I discovered Putien at Northpoint City.

In response to me gushing about Putien's food, The Husband expounds his views on value for money... too expensive... big difference between Chong Pang and Putien. The Husband grumbled, "Just for that 1 Michelin star, I have to pay so much!"

Putien seaweed.

I am very ashamed to admit that inasmuch as big brands such as Chanel, Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta leave me cold, I am both shallow and superficial enough to find something very alluring about an eatery that has been conferred a Michelin anything at all. It almost seems like a sacred privilege to get up close and personal to anyone or anything which has the Michelin cachet! I think that if I could even touch Gordon Ramsay with the tip of a tiny toothpick, I would faint clean away! One day, when I am brave enough, I shall poke the boss of Chuan Kee Boneless Braised Duck with a toothpick, just to see what happens to me.

I just have to admit that the Michelin star (and Bib Gourmand) turns me into a shameless fan girl of sorts.

Oh Putien! Here I come! Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!