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Thursday, August 29, 2019


I am so pleased with myself. I translated this song without any help from The Husband. Google Translate is really something! With enough time, I can probably teach myself to read and write in Chinese.

I think I am slowly learning to recognise some Chinese characters spontaneously too. This song is easy to grasp and still very poetic. Love it! I especially love the start where a person's absence is likened to experiencing a missing question to an existing answer, and to having eyes but without scenery to appreciate.

Perhaps, by the time I die, I will be literate in Chinese.

如果有眼睛 没有风景



长在皮肤的命理 心动轨迹
斗转星移 因为你

 这机缘 已算尽
这爱情 是注定




如果有眼睛 没有风景


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Small Kindnesses

The Indian workers approached me today and said, "Don't waste money to park your car outside the house. Go ahead and park inside your house and if you need to leave the house, just let us know and we will lay down a steel plate for you."

They said all this to me very kindly, with the light of warmth gently seeping from their eyes.

My heart is warmed by their kindness. They don't have to do this for me. The official agreement is that they lay down the steel plates every morning and every evening only.

The government is building covered drains in my neighbourhood. For weeks already, there have been construction works going on. Firstly, I was really impressed by the whole team of Indian workers assigned to my neighbourhood. They are quiet, serious and responsible. When work stops every day, they leave the work site neat and well organised. I respect competence and high quality work wherever I find it, and whomever provides it.

It does not matter how educated or uneducated a person is. The moment I discern pride in one's work and a regard for high quality, I give respect. Our helper M is like so. Because of this, I rarely gainsay M. I accord her respect because she shows pride in her work. One of the men at Chuan Kee Boneless Braised Duck (the tall, dark and skinny one) is like so, too. I love watching him at work, his every movement purposeful and precise. I once brought him my cast iron Le Creuset pot to fill with braised meats. He placed my pot in a large plastic bag, but not just anyhow. He made very sure that he placed the pot so precisely that when we picked up the bag, the pot would hang in its dead centre. Sometimes, I wonder if this man is part-Japanese. When I brought a friend to try his braised meats, she exclaimed at how sparkling clean and neat everything was inside the tiny space we call a hawker stall. Grumpy Alex is like so too. This is why grapes will grow and fruit for him, and his brownies are all cut precisely so. Kookii's boss is also someone like that. She throws away entire batches of pineapple tarts if they don't meet her product standards. These people are all dear to me because they possess a quality that commands my respect.

So it was, that after a few weeks, I grew to respect the team of Indian workers doing construction works outside my house. So it was too, that when the weather became so hot (my head ached unbearably) and I saw these Indian workers crowd together at the bottom of a drain, in the only shade possible along my street, I felt that I needed to do something.

I gave them iced Ribena.

In return, I suppose, they felt a need to return a small kindness to me.

I am grateful for these small and sincere kindnesses. Not having to queue at a hawker stall and being able to park inside my house for 4 days of construction works may seem like paltry privileges to some. To me, they represent heartwarming gestures from the heart.

What price can you put on that?

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Faraway Tree at Chong Pang

Going to Chong Pang Market every morning is like a journey of discovery. Do you know the thrill you get when you open a present? First, there is the thrill of anticipation when you wonder what is inside the wrapped gift. Second, there is the thrill of discovery when you reveal the gift to your own eyes. I have always enjoyed the PROCESS of receiving a gift much more than the actual gift. Once opened, the mystery is gone and the thrill is over.

Thanks to itinerant hawkers, going to Chong Pang Market every morning is exactly like the process of opening a gift.

Every day, itinerant hawkers set up tables along the walkways. Every day, these hawkers change. For those who have read Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series, you may understand how I feel. When you climb up the Faraway Tree, you get to enter a foreign land. These lands rotate away after a set period of time. You only have those few hours to experience the land before it moves away from the top of the Faraway Tree, to be replaced by a new land, with new surprises, and new excitement.

Daily, after my breakfast at Chong Pang, I am drawn to the walkways to browse these surprises. Doing so, I recapture the feelings I experienced in the Tasmanian Saturday market at Hobart, and the many street markets on different days in the different towns of France. Back in Singapore and Malaysia, I gravitated towards the pasar malams, only to find nondescript, boring wares, of lousy quality. Pasar malams are not worth the time it takes to walk through.

The Chong Pang Market's itinerant hawkers are different. They sell stuff that are of good quality and clever design, much like what one can find in Europe's open air markets.

A pair of shoes hawks at $10 and is the most comfortable pair I have ever owned. When I bought it, I thought it might fall apart after a week, like Rubi's shoes tend to do. To my surprise, I wear it daily and it is still robust after 4 months! I just bought a new pair of shoes at $8. If this continues, I shall be the Imelda Marcos of cheap shoes.

There are hawkers selling jadeite bangles, Tibetan vine bracelets, Baltic amber necklaces, bottle corks, foot reflexology tubs, potpourri. The range of goods is amazing and the best thing is that there are always refreshing new things to discover. Walking past these stalls gives me a series of pops of joy.

- Oooh! Look at this!
- Oooooh! That thing is for what?
- My! This is so clever!

Chong Pang Market is like a magic wonderland in the mornings.

Wears well and washes well. This is the first pair of sneakers that has not given me blisters from the first day. It cost all of $10!

These Minnie Mouse shoes wash well and wear well. This pair was a rather more expensive $22 but it too did not give me blisters.

This pair is only $8! Amazingly, it is made of silicon! I have not worn them at all, yet, because the other 2 pairs still serve me well. I grabbed them because I have never seen silicon shoes being retailed anywhere. I was also afraid that given the itinerant nature of the hawker, I would never see these same shoes again!

These retailed at $10 for 3 pairs. They have replaced all the yellow washing sponges in the house. Bathrooms, dishes and even Milo are being scrubbed with these silicon gloves. They last forever and clean much better than the normal yellow washing sponges. Best of all, they dry fast and are easy to disinfect. We used to microwave the yellow sponges every night. These gloves  do not require microwaving at all. We just wash and dry. Best of all, Milo, our dog now enjoys bathing. He loves the massage provided by these silicon gloves when we scrub him with them.

This is an iPad stand. It makes watching Chinese drama off the iPad so easy because it props up the iPad beautifully on the bed.

These socks retail at $10 for 3 pairs. There are clever features on them. There are silicon antislip buds. There is a nice pad for the balls of the feet where holes tend to form in socks. There are even girly looking lacy socks that make one's toes feel all feminine!

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!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Contemporary Chinese Design

The Awfully Chocolate mooncakes did not disappoint. They tasted divine. I gave one box away to a beloved friend and she too liked the taste profiles developed into the chocolate mooncakes. The mooncakes came in a beautiful box that I have re-purposed as my knitting box.

I need another box for my embroidery paraphernalia so I shall be ordering another box of these mooncakes. The mooncakes are exquisite small mouthfuls. The box is quiet elegance to last the rest of the year, until 2020's mid-Autumn Festival when there will be a new box design. I hope.

The box design is clean, contemporary, with one classy Chinese character etched onto the wood, spelling "gift." Holding the box already makes me feel like a Chinese princess from one of those period romance dramas. See pictures below for the set designs from Princess Silver. When I grow up, I want to renovate a house to look like so!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Cheese Board

Brie and Manchego Cheese Board

Eating cheese boards out is horribly expensive. So, I made my own at a fraction of the cost. It went down well with everyone. On days too hot to cook nor to eat a heavy meal, this will become my Go To dish.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Mooncake a Day...

.... needs to be cycled away!

Since forever, I have hated mooncakes. You know, those traditional ones with the baked skins and lotus paste and egg yolks? I find those too sweet, too cloying, too rich. Then one day, I discovered I was allergic to gluten and had every excuse to NOT eat them.

Then, I discovered mini snowskin mooncakes with their amazing flavours of fruit puree and fake yolks made also of fruit puree. The mini snowskin mooncakes are smaller too. So, it is like having a small cake after a meal. I also love the colours! Those with dual tone snowskins are especially pretty!

So, I have stocked up on Sheng Kee Hong Kong Dessert's snowskin combo, AND I have ordered Awfully Chocolate's truffle mooncakes. Miam! For the Goodwood Park ones, I will wait till they set up shop at Causeway Point's mooncake fair on 30 August 2019. Then, I will go for the mango pomelo and the kiwi dragonfruit flavours.

Once a year, let me indulge. I will just cycle more.

Goodwood Park's blue pea mooncake.

Goodwood Park's kiwi dragonfruit and manuka honey mooncake.

Sheng Kee Hong Kong Dessert's snowskin combo.

Awfully Chocolate's truffle mooncakes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Strange Romance

I am in the midst of watching 白发王妃 (Princess Silver). This is a Chinese romance drama set in some distant past of China. I was mesmerised by the beautiful sets, lovely hairpieces and beautiful clothes. I also liked that the drama series has zero sex scenes. Most of the period dramas on Netflix (The Outlander, Versailles, The Tudors) have a lot of explicit sex scenes. Chinese period romance dramas are nice in that they do really explore romance and only romance. They appeal to the Wannabe Princess in me, who does not wanna deal with the Birds and the Bees.

However, I am still trying to wrap my head around the particular style of romance that I am seeing in 白发王妃 (Princess Silver). I am not sure what to make of it and how to view it as romantic.

The story gets much better much later, after the 2 protagonists fall into a stable relationship. Once their relationship stabilises, they share a love that my poor dear husband now has to live up to. Heeheehee!

But... but... but... the beginning of their courtship is quite disturbing. It starts with the 9th Prince (younger bro of the 7th Prince) drugging The Beautiful Lady in order to get truthful answers to some of his questions about her background. Yes, it is normal to want to get to know a potential sister-in-law but to drug her?

It gets better. The 7th Prince (older bro of the 9th Prince) comes by in the nick of time and catches The Young Lady in his arms, just as she passes out. However, instead of helping her upstairs to her own sleeping quarters, this 7th Prince spirits her away and lays her onto a tiny little bamboo raft with a deaf boatman, a nice tea table with cushions and a beautiful tea set.

Ah! The tea set was lovely... but back to the story...

She wakes up and wants to go home. She walks off. I have no idea where she is trying to walk to because she is surrounded by water, in the middle of nowhere. I must say though that the scenery was very beautiful and I would imagine that if I were there with The Husband, we would think it is romantic too... but... but... but... if I got drugged and woke up on a tiny raft, to the face of a man who kidnapped me (no matter how handsome), I would have NO MOOD to look at the scenery!!

I would be in the water, swimming my darndest outta there!

Instead of swimming away, The Young Lady actually sits down to drink tea with her kidnapper!! Thus, a beautiful afternoon passes for both of them. When the time came to go home, the 7th Prince brings her to HIS manor, and practically coerces her to stay there. And she does! He gives her a beautiful bedroom, sets up guards all around her. She is not allowed to leave his manor because, for some reason, it would be unsafe for her to leave.

In effect, he is holding her prisoner, in a gilded cage.

Granted that his manor is HUGE and the living quarters allocated to The Young Lady looks to be about 2000 sq ft (and the rooms are so beautifully done up that my heart aches in my chest) but it is still a very creepy style of courtship.

I am still scratching my head wondering which part of this whole thing qualifies as romance. If anyone courted me like that,  I would be calling the police already, and saying in a whisper, "Hello! Hello! Helloooooo... I am held prisoner in a big house. I don't know where I am. There are guards at my door 24/7. The house belongs to a very handsome man with a face like a horse (Arif Rahman). He is fabulously rich and has royal connections but the crazy pervert is holding me prisoner. Please come save me!"

Perplexed, I asked The Husband if he would want his daughter to be courted like so. The Husband gave me this look of absolute horror: "No! Of course not!"

If anyone else reading this, has watched Princess Silver, and understands where the romance in this whole courtship process is, do please leave me a comment to explain.

I also notice that in these Chinese romance dramas, The Lady does a fair bit of fainting and falling and tripping. It always happens when the male lead is around to catch her lovingly in his arms. It makes me wonder why I have never ever fainted so gracefully, beautifully and romantically into The Husband's arms, and the last time I was thrown off my bike, landing with my face in (I kid you not) a pile of rotting dead leaves, The Husband was not there to catch me tenderly in his arms.

Instead, I received a nice scolding afterwards on bike safety. Definitely not romantic at all. Who would have thought that falling over, tripping like a klutz and fainting are effective seduction techniques? I must ask some PRC friends whether they have ever fainted into their husbands' arms.

Does vomiting on The Husband, and THEN fainting, count as romantic? I ask because I did that once.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Vegetarian Mix Bowl at Mega@Woodlands

Mega@Woodlands also has a delicious vegetarian mix stall. It is good enough that I ate it daily for 1 week, and only had to stop because I gave myself low blood pressure again, and fainted.

The crispy beancurd skin, cai poh, pineapples chunks and fresh cherry tomatoes make for a dish that is varied in texture and flavour.

You get to pick all sorts of toppings.

You get to pick 1 carb and 1 dish with sauce.

More toppings.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Guo Pei at The Asian Civilisations Museum

I laughed out loud when this appeared in my Facebook feed, advertising an online fashion boutique. Wow! They made Wilma Flintstone's dress in spandex, and some wild animal still managed to chew off a nice chunk out of the front hem. 

Now, this dress stands in stark contrast against the Wilma Flintstone spandex dress, does it not? This one is part of Guo Pei's very first haute couture exhibition in Beijing, entitled Legend of the Dragon. The Guo Pei exhibition at the Asian Civilisations fascinated me, not because I love clothes and fashion. I don't. If a t-shirt fits, I buy up the whole stock of my size in the shop so that I don't have to go shopping for t-shirts in the next 5 years. The Guo Pei exhibition fascinated me because it was a sort of summary of Chinese modern history.

Growing up, I associated all things Chinese with crudeness and low quality. My exposure to Chinese language movies came through TCS. Popular programs like Liang Popo irritated me with their crude humour. Even Little Nyonya had abysmal direction. I could not watch beyond the second episode. When China opened up, some lovely movies appeared like "Raise the Red Lantern" (大红灯笼高高挂) but most PRC productions looked meh. As a tourist in China, I came across mountains of cheap embroidered qipao. Gaudy. Yuck!

Then, this year, there was Yanxi Palace, with its opulent sets and embroidered costumes so exquisitely fine in workmanship that my breath caught in my throat, and my heart hurt in my chest. I later watched Deng Lun's Because of You, and drooled over the beautiful qipao the actresses were wearing. Ohhhh... I want a qipao like that! Actually, I cannot decide whether it was Deng Lun's handsome face that made my heart hurt in my chest or the qipao.

2019 is the year Petunia fell in love with Chinese culture and history. 2019 is the year where I contrasted stand up comedy (replete with references to private parts) streamed over Netflix with 大山 from China and fell in love with Chinese stand up comedy (intelligent and witty) instead. 2019 is the year I watched 白发王妃 and told myself that when I next renovate a home, I will channel the mood and designs of the elegant and spacious rooms from that drama series.

So, when I heard about Guo Pei's exihibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum, I dragged The Husband down to see it on National Day. 

Legend of the Dragon
Guo Pei's great grandparents were wealthy in Beijing. The Cultural Revolution persecuted such people. Art, beauty and refined living were destroyed along with the class systems. Guo Pei grew up hearing about art, beauty, colours, textures like they were fairy tales. In her childhood, every one dressed in shapeless black or dark blue Mao suits. Yellow was a forbidden colour because it was the colour that only the Emperor was allowed to wear.

So, Guo Pei went over the top in her first exhibition. It was heavy with opulent yellow. She designed clothes that possibly even the Empress would not wear. Every inch of fabric had gold beads and gold thread embroidery. It was too much for me. I did not find this collection tasteful. It was too jelak for me.

I loved this piece. Firstly, the lighting was so well done that no matter how you photograph the exhibit, the face of the mannequin disappears into the shadows and the costume appears to show a dragon in flight. 

1002 Nights Collection
In 2013, Guo Pei showcased her 1002 Nights collection. The Snow Queen dress (below), weighing all of 50 kgs, closed the show. It is a dress that projects power, magnificence, strength, dignity and majesty. Guo Pei matches the model to her designs. The model must herself reflect the design's vibes. The model for The Snow Queen was 87 year old Carmen dell'Orefice, because there are womanly qualities that youthful models simply cannot project.

The Blue and White Porcelain Dress
My favourite was the Blue and White Porcelain dress. It channelled the famous blue and white china  porcelain that China is so well known for. This dress sparkles! See the video below.

After going over the top to express decades of repressed love for beauty and opulence, Guo Pei came back to earth to make wearables. Ohhhh! I want a Guo Pei creation! I wanna make enough money to buy myself a Guo Pei one day! **Fingers Crossed**

The Cultural Revolution
The Cultural Revolution buried thousands of years of good taste, civility and discernment under thick layers of boorishness, vulgarity and crassness. It is good to see Chinese cultural refinement surface again. It is not just an issue of pride in one's culture. I truly derive joy from contemplating and touching beautiful things.

Don't get me wrong. Many of these beautiful things, I would never try to have in my house. I would have to dust them and maintain them. I wear the same t-shirt from Cotton On everyday and the last time I had to attend a dinner, I realised that I had no idea where my lipstick and eyeliner had gone to, and had to run and buy both at the last minute.

Yet, I enjoy touching and looking at beautiful things. I do. You know, a crow can have joy staring at a phoenix, without wanting to be a phoenix.