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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Feeling Blessed

I got to the tauhuey stall a little late yesterday and my favourite seat was taken. The old lady at the tauhuey stall cleared the table in front of her and motioned me to sit there. Then, she sat down next to me and chatted with me. I felt so blessed that she had in some sense, "saved" me a seat.

So blessed.

Today, at lunch, the sugar cane juice lady saved me a seat in front of her stall, and stood guard over my bowl of tauhuey whilst I scooted off to queue for my braised duck rice. The queue was very long and it was the Boss of Chuan Kee Braised Duck on duty. I don't know him very well and he can be grumpy, so I went to queue up like a good girl should. He offered me extra chilli. I know this stall is quite strict about giving extra chilli so, I felt blessed that he offered. Unfortunately though, I was again in shutdown mode and nothing came out of my mouth to appreciate his gesture. I am a much nicer person when I can write instead of talk. Poor man! He will never know how much I like him and his crew.

So blessed.

Then, over lunch, BOTH the sugar cane ladies sat and chatted with me. I received an interesting education in eyebrow tattoo-ing. Best of all, I was very warmed by the chatter from the 2 gals.

So blessed.

When I got home and entered my bedroom, a subtle fragrance tickled my senses. I found a bowl of water with ylang ylang flowers floating inside. My helper had somehow gotten hold of fresh ylang ylang flowers and knowing how much I love fragrances, she had made me a surprise. It was a lovely surprise indeed!

So blessed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Glowing Stones

I have this thing for stones that glow. Imagine a Neanderthal woman come across a pretty stone. She picks it up and wears it around her neck. After 30 years of wear, the stone becomes polished and translucent. It glows with an inner light, like it has a soul. With 30 years of wear and the slow reveal of glow, one can imagine that the same stone would have taken on some sort of mystical quality. 

That is why the vendor at Chong Pang Market refused to touch my green agate 平安扣 below. She said that the stones absorb people's energy and become identified/bonded to the wearer. The more one wears it, the brighter it will glow.

Of course, I think that is all nonsense but I can understand how this type of thinking came about.

I am not sure why I am not attracted to sparkle. Diamonds sparkle like stars but I feel nothing when I look at a diamond, except "Wah! Why so expensive for such a small stone ah?" Diamonds aren't even that rare. The rarity is controlled by the diamond mines.

It is the subtle inner glow of the moonstone, the opal, the jadeite and the agate that mesmerises me. My helper thinks I am mad. She shrugged and said, "It is a stone. There are many stones like these in my village. You should buy gold. Also, you should not buy gold in Singapore. It is not pure. If you want, I get my relatives to bring some gold jewellery over for you."

I stared at her in horror. "No, no, no... errr... I don't want gold. I don't like to wear gold jewellery. I like stones that glow." My helper did not look convinced. Why wear stones that she can simply pick off the country paths near her house?"

Oh well... it is MY life. I like glowing stones worn on a leather thong. I wear it for fun and when I am waiting for something or someone, I can pick up the stone and stare into its glowing soul.

Brown agate carved into a leaf.

Green agate carved into a 平安扣. This was love at first sight. I picked it up and could not put it down. Some stones are like that. Their call is strong. Thank goodness agate is not pricey and I only paid $28 for this one.

I bought these to give away to little boys who share my love for glowing stones.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Vulnerable Narcissists

In the course of my work, I come across the occasional parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Thankfully, there are not many. So far, I have encountered 3. Each time, I discharged myself. Of all the personality disorders, sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists are the MOST resistant to change. This is because the people who suffer are not themselves. Those who suffer are their family members and their children. The NPD himself or herself has no motivation to change.

People like that feed on others' emotional energy. Their appetite for attention, admiration and love is insatiable. Instead of resourcing their children and spouses, they suck up emotional energy from their children and spouses. Emotional energy is the raw material people need to achieve in life. If you go to work and come back depleted because you had a bad day at work, you need someone at home to envelope you in a bubble of cosiness and warmth. That way, you go back to work the next day, ready to cope with a new day.

The Husband of an NPD wife goes home tired after work. His wife notes that he is devoid of emotional energy. She NEEDS to feed on his emotional energy. Since he is running on empty, she gets angry. She NEEDS to feed on his attention, admiration and love. A normal marriage is a 2 way street but if you are married to an NPD, you will end up going down their way, giving them attention, admiration and love, even if you are running on empty.

It is like being married to an emotional vampire.

The NPD's self-centredness is so extreme that she can ONLY see her own needs. She is completely blind to her husband's need for emotional resources. She is completely unable to resource her children emotionally too. This emotional vampire also feeds off her children's emotional energy.

At her core, the NPD mother and wife has very low self esteem. This explains why she needs a constant supply of admiration, love and attention from others. At her core, her self esteem is so low that she needs constant affirmation.

Of all the NPD subtypes, the scariest type is the Vulnerable Narcissist. The VN often looks gentle, timid and non-threatening. If you are not her husband or her child, you will not know that this person can fly into uncontrollable narcissistic rages (when she is denied her supply of attention, admiration and love). Normal folks feel hangry when they are hungry for food. The NPD feels rage when they are starving for attention, admiration and love. The VN's favourite strategy is to play the victim. Yet, she is a victim that inflicts immense emotional pain on other family members, all whilst accusing them of hurting her.

I know that I have used She to depict the VN. However, not all VNs are female. There are male VNs too. Simply, my clients are mostly female. Hence, all those I have encountered are female.

The moment I observe family dynamics that form a pattern held in place by a VN mama, the case is hopeless. I have to discharge myself because the VN is not interested in changing. You might as well ask a tiger to stop feeding on meat. The VN needs to feed off the emotional resources from those around her. By definition, a mother and a wife plays the role of resourcing children and husband.

It pains me each time to discharge myself because I know how much the other family members will suffer. Do you suppose medical doctors feel the same way when they are unable to save a life?

To some extent, I comfort myself with the thought that God uses pain and suffering to mould his instruments. After all, I used to be made to eat vomit and often had blood dripping down my legs from being caned. Though I often asked God, "Why me? Can it not be me?" I now understand that if I had not suffered, I would not be the Dr. Pet of today. I might be less effective, less able to carry out the tasks God assigned to me. So, I have come to an acceptance of my own past sufferings. In fact, I am grateful for every ounce of pain my life.

I did not die. I got stronger.

It is hard to be grateful when I see a VN mom inflict pain on her family. God's ways are not mine, however. I, too, failed to understand His purpose for my own pain. When I see it happen to other children, my every instinct is to go in and protect the little ones. I have never forgotten how it feels to be a child trapped in an abusive situation.

Yet, I know it is not my role. God has a plan. I can only trust.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ode to Grumpy

No, this is not really an ode. An ode is a lyrical poem written in praise of something or someone. Grumpy is more likely to write a lyrical poem than Petunia. Petunia writes prose. However, this prose post is meant to say SOME nice things about Grumpy.

Grumpy's unwanted radishes.

Petunia's radish stew.

Grumpy ungraciously refused to accept my little gift offerings of elderflower cordial ("Cannot appreciate," growled Grumpy), tauhuey ("Next time, don't bring," he said), bubur hitam ("Your one not nice," he hinted). I tried to invite Grumpy to lunch. A terse, "No," blinked into my phone. Then, I offered him seeds. "Don't want," came the next terse reply. I asked if he wanted to come see my garden. "Don't feel like," he said.

He has the manners of a Neanderthal.

This said, Grumpy can be charming if he wants to be. I brought my favourite little autistic boy to view Grumpy's garden. Like any well brought up young person, my favourite little autistic boy offered Grumpy a box of chocolates. Grumpy said kindly, "Oh! I like chocolates very much! So, thank you very much." 

There is SOME humanity inside of that man. It just does not appear when it normally should.

Anyway, Grumpy is responsible for giving me half my garden. He gave me a blackberry plant, goji berry plants, mani cai, buah cherry, purslane, bok choy seeds in the millions. I regret being too paiseh to take his beautiful black tomatoes (which I knew would so much please The Husband).  I will always be thankful that I was not too paiseh to cart home 5 fig trees (which The Husband loves so much) from Grumpy's garden. This week, I was beneficiary of his snail bitten radishes. I carted home a delicious armful.

Thank you Grumpy! You are a nice Neanderthal.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Disappearing Ink and Pretty Shoes!

I think I hit jackpot this morning at Chong Pang market. I found these beautifully embroidered shoes! They are soft, comfy and ever so pretty! The same vendor retailed writing practice books for kids. Each word in the books was etched onto the page. Little children simply follow the etched lines with a pen. Then pen has disappearing ink, and comes with an attachment to guide the placement of little fingers. I have included the vendor's name card below. Parents who wish to buy the writing books can just call them up.

I was also mesmerised by the calligraphy practice sheet. You wet a brush and write on the paper. Black ink appears from the tip of your brush. Once the water dries, the black ink disappears! How cool is that?!

I also discovered today that the Chong Pang hawkers have demoted me. When I started buying from them, I was 大姐.

Then, I became .

Today, I got called 妹妹.

See! What did I tell you!? Even hawkers look down on me! Well, at least they are not calling me "Oi!"

Why does The Husband get called 老板 and I get called 妹妹. At the very least I should be called 大娘 no?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wild Honey 2

It is hard to describe the appeal that Wild Honey at Mandarin Gallery has for me. Of course, at the start, I went there for the food. Wild Honey has lots of gluten free options. Lately, I was alerted to their newest gluten free pancakes, made of coconut flour. 

Perhaps too, it is the comfortable armchairs and the way the magical morning light comes through the glass windows. Or, maybe, it is how Fanny and Cindy remember that I eat gluten free. These 2 have never let me go away unhappy. Over time, I have found out about their children, their families and their challenges as S pass holders.

Going to Wild Honey is like going to someone's house for breakfast.

I have not been in a while. So, this week, I took some time off and went there with my Kindle. I found a nice big single armchair to sink into and curl up in. Then, I shut out the rest of the world. I enjoyed my mint tea, my salmon sandwich and my book.

I had a long-ish talk with Fanny about her baby too!

The thing is, between the 2 Wild Honeys, only the outlet at Mandarin Gallery feels so welcoming. The one at Scotts has always felt a lot colder.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Warning: This is going to be a soppy, sappy post. If you don't want to join me in my emo-emo session, then you should stop reading now.

Bible Study
In bible study this week, we read Acts 5. In this chapter of the bible, Peter and the other Apostles performed miracle healings and cast out demons. My bible study worksheet asked the question, "What were the various responses by the people?"

The bible says that people reacted as follows: 
- 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 
- 15 ... people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

"Wow!" I thought to myself. That is more than respect, that is awe. If the Apostles were on a quest to gain maximum social status (which they weren't), then they had succeeded beyond their wildest dreams! These days, fans spy on, mob and video their favourite idols with impunity. In contrast, the people then were so respectful of the Apostles that they only dared to disturb Peter's shadow for their purposes.

With some imagination, and some knowledge of the historical context, we know that many of the apostles did not start out in Hebrew society as high status individuals. At least 4 of them were fishermen (that is like roadsweeper or hawker assistant in our modern context). Yet, they were so respected. They went from nothing to something.

The next question in my worksheet asked, "What has been your response as you see God at work?" The immediate thought that came to my mind was, "Oh man! I wanna be Peter. I wanna be God's instrument. I wanna be used by God." 

The next thought then was, "Oops! Peter might have died by crucifixion. Gulp!"

2 Mothers
Just before my bible study discussion, I received a text from a Mother I am coaching. It mentioned, "U are seriously godsent to many many parents." See picture above. I glossed over that message because I was rushing to finish my bible study HW.

I spent this morning in a flurry of activity. I organised lunch and dinner prep, and baked a cake before 8am. Then, I spent 3 hrs coaching a parent. I grabbed lunch and fell asleep. Coaching is mentally very taxing for me. I awoke bleary eyed to another message from another Mother I am coaching. It read, "I am so grateful for God's Grace in leading me to you." See picture below.

From Nothing
Blog readers know that I am autistic. My childhood was traumatic because my parents did not understand the condition. They used very very harsh punitive measures on me. I do not wish my childhood on even my worst enemy. One of the worst punishments I endured was to be made to eat vomit. Embarking on life as a young adult, I had to learn social skills. 

Again and again, I asked God, "Why did you make me so high IQ? Could you not have made me averagely intelligent but given me also an average measure of social skills? I don't want to be different. I don't want to be weird."

"God... if it is ok... I REALLY don't want to be me."

At times, I did not ask God. I bargained with him and entreated him, "God, can I give up some of my smarts in return for the ability to make people like me? God, please... just make me a little bit less weird and a little bit more normal."

In my own little head, I have always felt like a failure. My life is cursed to supporting roles. My husband achieves. My children achieve. My role is to help them achieve. No doubt, I am good at helping people achieve. Nonetheless, I don't have the starring role. I am the "kalefe".

Even hawkers looked down on me. See HERE

To Something
Then now, in the autumn of my life, God revealed to me a purpose. In the light of this purpose, all my childhood pain made sense. In the light of this purpose, all my suffering made sense. In the light of this purpose, my flaws (autism) became immense strengths.

I have a niche, a place, a role in this world that frankly inspires awe in myself, not because I am anything great but because I have no bloody idea, how I could have ended up here, if not for Him. You see, I was nothing to me. He made me into something worthy and precious to Him.

On top of that, I think I whined and complained about not wanting to be me, every step of the way.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Room For Dissenting Views

I cannot help but view some recent and not so recent developments in the domain of Dialogue and Dissent (NOT talking about Yale-NUS... referring ONLY to generic Dialogue and Dissent in public and online spaces within Singapore) with some small concern.

Muffling Dissent
- various lawsuits (Roy Ngerng, Terry Xu)
- Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods against Thum Ping Tjin
- Yale-NUS vs Alfian Sa'at vs Govt

Weakened Bonds Between People And MPs
This refers to the GRC. In LKY's heyday, people voted in the MP they wanted. Now, MPs come along in packages. If I vote Ong Ye Kung (a good Minister of Education) and Khaw Boon Wan (a fabulous Minister of Transport), I get Lim Wee Kiak, Vikram Nair and Amrin Amir for free.

From the perspective of a motivation psychologist, it is clear to me that Lim Wee Kiak, Vikram Nair and Amrin Amir have a higher incentive to...

- discern the mentality and viewpoints of Ong Ye Kung &/or Khaw Boon Wan
- support the mentality and viewpoints of Ong Ye Kung &/or Khaw Boon Wan
- represent the mentality and viewpoints of Ong Ye Kung &/or Khaw Boon Wan

... than

- discern the mentality and viewpoints of voters
- support the mentality and viewpoints of voters
- represent the mentality and viewpoints of voters

Consider now that both Khaw Boon Wan and Ong Ye Kung both depend on Lee Hsien Loong for their political promotion and advancement, then both are inclined to...

- discern the mentality and viewpoints of Lee Hsien Loong
- support the mentality and viewpoints of Lee Hsien Loong
- represent the mentality and viewpoints of Lee Hsien Loong

When the GRC system was introduced, Petunia kept her silence because she thought, "Oh well... there are non-politicians such as Roy, Thum Ping Tjin, Kirsten Han and Terry Xu who will speak what people think (true or untrue). Once they hear our pain, the government will have the integrity to try its best to improve."

I did notice that enhancements to CPF were made after all that hooha raised by Roy Ngerng, even though he did it in such a clumsy and unrefined manner. I did notice that MOE did move to make the bold changes since 2011, after many parent bloggers dissented with MOE practices.

I note now with dismay that...
- the government comes down hard on people who speak the pain of Singaporeans and
- MPs (under the GRC system) represent the views of the PAP more than their voters (c.f., Lee Bee Wah's si gui kia perspective)

If MPs are not incentivised to speak for voters and citizens (such as Roy Ngerng and Thum Ping Tjin) are taken to task for speaking up, then who will dare engage the government in robust dialogue? Or, does the government believe itself capable of knowing without hearing/listening? Clearly, in the years 2005 to 2016, the government was not sensitive to Singaporeans' pain points - stressful education, overwhelmed transport system, HDB flats as depreciating assets, constipated CPF, unfettered immigration. It took non-PAP folks like Roy Ngerng, Gerald Giam, Sylvia Lim, Kirsten Han to raise issues important to Singaporeans.

These issues were NOT raised by PAP MPs. Indeed, these issues were so far under the radar of PAP MPs that the PAP MPs got the shock of their lives in the 2011 elections (with more than one PAP man crying real tears on national TV).

Social Media and Political Power Too Concentrated
If Lee Hsien Loong is too successful in cementing his hold on all his Ministers and his MPs (since he controls Ministerial advancement and remuneration, and MPs look to their Ministers to get themselves voted in)...


... non-political folks are taken to task for speaking up, then who will surface Singaporeans' pain points in future?

Hear/Listen Out of Duty VS Hear/Listen To Survive as a Politician
Of course, the current narrative is that the PAP MPs run Meet the People sessions to hear these pain points. This is their responsibility. The fact still remains that the true pain points surfaced in the past decade and more, were NOT surfaced by PAP MPs. There is a difference when MPs (who report to an incumbent Minister within a GRC) are SUPPOSED to hear the people VS when they are EXTREMELY MOTIVATED to hear the people (because else they won't stay MP for long).

MPs who report to a Minister will toe the Ministry line and represent the views fed to them by civil servants, just like Indranee Rajah did HERE, simply because
(a) the Minister helming the Ministry will defend his/her Ministry AND
(b) the MPs need the help of Ministers appraisals of MPs, to stay as MPs.
In such a scenario, which MP would be so stupid as to very vigorously, passionately and pointedly debate any Ministry's policy.

MPs who report directly to voters will listen and represent voters more vigorously and pointedly, not only because it is their job to do so, but because they won't have a job if they don't.

I am not judging badly the motives of the MPs. We have good MPs. I am making comment on the incentive structure inherent in the GRC system.

MPs Don't Speak and Non-MPs Cannot Speak. Then How?
And now... and now... and now... when non-politicians try to speak up, there is a whole slew of measures in place to shut them up. Dissent and pain will then go underground, where pressure will build and explode, like in Hong Kong. Shutting people up does not prevent unrest. Shutting people up WILL LEAD TO unrest, because people are not heard and pain goes unaddressed.

Seriously, I laughed when I first read about Yale-NUS VS Alfian VS Govt. If there is enough pain in the populace, no one needs a university module to learn how to dissent. My 3 yr old, when upset, could dissent very effectively. I needed to teach him how to express dissent without hurting me. To teach him that, I did not punish him for dissenting. I showed him that when he dissented calmly and reasonably, I LISTENED.

The key is in allowing expression and then listening and hearing. There were times between 2005 and 2016 when I felt that the PAP government was deaf, and could only hear its own perspectives echoing from PAP MP to PAP MP in parliament, and beyond.

When I coach parents who have rebellious children, the root of the conflict always lies FIRST in the parent refusing to listen and hear the needs of their children. A certain parent may love his child so much that he badly wants his child to succeed in life. Hence, he/she decides to pile the child high with worksheets to ensure academic excellence. In his zeal to love his child in the only way he knows how, the parent misses out on the subtle signs of stress and pain (inattentiveness, inability to focus, poor quality work, emotional outbursts). Faced with emotional outbursts, the parent gets angry (justifiably so because when a child gets emotional, he or she says hurtful and untrue things) and punishes the child for being disrespectful. This has the effect of driving festering feelings underground. Children develop passive resistance. When children get old enough, parent-child conflicts get ever more violent.

This is such a pity because in almost every family I have coached, motives are very pure. The parent loves. The children want to do well to please the parent.

Similarly, the PAP wants to govern well and the populace wants to follow good leaders.

Shutting up an emotional child who speaks in a way that hurts the parent, does not remove the angst from the family. In my little family, we never let children's tears nor anger go unaddressed. As a mother, I have always tried to look past my children's anger at me, to find the pain point and address it. I know that my children love me and if they were not hurt, they would have no reason to be hurtful to me.

Similarly, much as many PAP MPs and Ministers think that they have enviable high status roles in society, there is many a successful hawker who would much prefer to be a hawker than an MP. Many people would much rather leave governing to government, and MP-ing to MPs. Unless there is pain, why rock the boat and talk too loudly? Shutting up a country's dissidents does not remove the country's angst, that is there in the first place.

So, yes... dear PAP folks, I know that as a political party, you want to stay in power. I know that you are trying your best to win the next elections with as wide a margin as you can. I know that you are trying to control media and info so that you do not look bad unnecessarily/gratuitiously. I know you are sensitive about fake news and feel justifiably aggrieved by fake news/accusations.

Slamming down people like Thum Ping Tjin, Terry Xu and Roy Ngerng does not remove the underlying angst. The angst merely goes into hiding, festers longer and in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years... WILL erupt. It took Hong Kong 22 years to erupt (from the time they had a political system that listened and heard through 2 decades wherein Beijing ignored or suppressed dissent).

Underneath their inexcusable excesses of speech, Thum Ping Tjin, Terry Xu and Roy Ngerng are cathartic mechanisms for Singaporean society to express pain. Come on... who do you know expresses pain in a moderate and sensible manner huh? When your wife is angry with you, she always speaks the truth sensibly and measuredly? Care should be taken to listen and hear, not slam and muffle.

If the ignoring and suppression of dissent worked, then monarchies would never have been overthrown and China would never have seen dynasty replace dynasty. In all such systems, all politicians (in those days, they were called courtiers and civil servants) looked towards the emperor and the emperor's direct reports for advancement. Xi Jin Ping's officials ALSO look towards Xi Jin Ping and Xi Jin Ping's direct reports for advancement. It is their job to represent and care for the people. However, their rice bowls lie with their bosses who all report to Xi.

Similarly, in Singapore, MPs look to Ministers look to PM. Under LKY, the MPs looked to the voters. I don't like this GRC system, but I thought it was ok as long as non-politicians could speak up without getting whacked. After all, I could understand that the PAP might feel threatened by opposition politicians or their own MPs who debate over enthusiastically. So, non-politicians who do not seek political power can say their piece without frightening the PAP.

But now, non-politicians also cannot speak up robustly, emotionally, passionately. Is this wise for the country in the long term?

An Appeal
So, as a fellow Singaporean, I hope that PAP cadres at every level can see beyond the PAP staying in power, to look long and hard at what these new laws, legislations etc mean for Singapore and Singaporeans. PAP men and women, you are Singaporean too. Your children and grandchildren will reap the long term results of decisions and strategies you embrace today, to stay in power.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Stone + Wood

For the first time in 3 months, I walked out into a cool morning with a bit of a nip in the air. The north east monsoon has started to blow. Thank goodness, because the heat has been unbearable since August. Such mornings are lovely for exploring Chong Pang Market. Roundabout 8am, the itinerant hawkers are open for business. 

It is like a whole new museum tour every morning, starting at 8am.

This morning, I hauled home...
- some keychains (because I need keychains)
- a hardwood chopping board (because the old one looks REALLY yucky).

Both are high quality stuff. The hardwood chopping board is the best I have ever owned, a sight better than the one I bought at Takashimaya for twice the price. Our knives barely even leave a mark on the wood.

The keychains are real, natural stone, with hand done carvings (not cheap plastic from out of a mould). I was quite taken by a pair of dragon and phoenix pendants and had wanted to buy them to repurpose into keychains. Unfortunately, the carvings were not fine work.

I was even treated to a performance of sorts when the itinerant hawker put my purchases into a bronze Tibetan singing bowl, and then made the bowl sing. She told me that it was to bless and purify my purchases.

My Chong Pang Market is really something, and now that cooler weather is here, I look forwards to visiting it every morning!

I have been looking for keychains for some time. So, these come at the right time.

Hardwood chopping boards with its own stand that can also store knives.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Oooooh! This review HERE popped up on my Facebook feed. I think it is a good thing to make The Husband bring me there! Firstly, it has a Michelin star and Petunia's legs turn to jelly at the mention of a Michelin star.

Secondly, the restaurant pledges to do the following if The Husband even dares to look at his mobile phone. “When we see people on their phone, we go up to them. It’s like, ‘Do you think your girlfriend is boring? Then we will talk to your girlfriend’,” van Oostenbrugge declared. So... if The Husband looks at his mobile phone, the following attractive man will come and talk to me!

This chef KNOWS he is more attractive with a Michelin star, than without. “Yes, chefs are sexy now,” [the journalist] mused. “I have always been sexy,” [Richard van Oostebrugge] responded immediately with a guffaw. 

"Was he sexier then, or now?" asked the journalist.

 “I think now. I had no Michelin stars back then,” Richard van Oostebrugge replied. 

This chef certainly has personality!!! AND he will practically ensure that The Husband pays attention to me. These Michelin thingies are useful indeed!