Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chewing Gum of the Orientals

One day not long ago, my daughter came back from the supermarket with a bunch of snacks. There were her usual potato chips and then I saw this.

Ken-Ken, prepared cuttlefish. I used to love this snack when I was a kid. I ate a lot of it, as much as I could afford. It has this stinky smell and taste and is extremely addictive. It's also a little spicy. When was the last time I ate it? Probably decades ago.

It's chewy and gives your jaw a really good workout. "Fortunately" each packet only has a miserly amount of cuttlefish so you won't hurt your jaws. I immediately asked my daughter to let me have it and she actually said yes. I gobbled it down and since then have gone and bought a few more packets. I even ate the one I bought for my daughter! Twice. What did I tell you? It's addictive. Maybe it's the msg?

Oh, one thing I forgot about this snack. Your mouth smells afterwards.

When I was a kid, one of my cousins told me she worked at Ken-Ken and her job was to put the cuttlefish into the packaging. Back then I thought it was such a cool job. (because I thought you could eat all the cuttlefish you wanted) I wonder what happened to that cousin?

I've never noticed this on the packaging until now. It actually says "chewing gum of the Orientals". You may or may not know this but chewing gum is banned in Singapore. The ban came into force in 1992. The reason for the ban? It was a freaking nuisance. Other than littering, gum had been used by vandals to stick on the train door sensors. I remember when the ban was introduced there was a big hooha. But honestly, I was happy. I've stepped on gum so many times I was glad to see it banned. Plus I'm not a fan of chewing gum because it always tastes sickly sweet. Currently chewing gum for therapeutic purposes can be bought in Singapore but I have no idea how it can be obtained. Do I need a prescription? 

Both my kids have tried gum before but they don't care for it. Yes, you can live without gum. Anyway, we'll always have chewing gum of the Orientals.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Syonan Outrage

via NLB
On February 15, Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies, a revamped permanent exhibition of World War II memories was opened on the exact same date the Japanese surrendered its occupation of Singapore. What pissed some people off was the new name chosen for the exhibition: Syonan.

The World War II exhibition is not new. Originally it was called "Memories at Old Ford Factory" which held an archive of memories about Singapore's wartime occupation by the Japanese. After a year long revamp, it reopened with I guess a more "exciting" experience of artefacts and memories of that dark period in Singapore history. The location of the exhibition is rather significant. It was the same Old Ford Motor Factory where the Japanese signed the surrender documents.

Anyway, the grief over the new name Syonan was because during the Japanese occupation, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to. During the 2 1/2 years, many people were massacred. The National Library Board (NLB) which picked the name said that it "decided that no other name captured the time and all that it stood for" despite being aware it "could evoke strong emotions". They were right!

Addressing the outrage over the chosen name, the prime minister said that "We cannot erase our history or bury the past. The exhibition is a reminder of a traumatic period in our history and the suffering our pioneers experienced when Singapore lost its freedom and even its name."

Speaking to reporters later, Dr Yaacob noted that this was not the first time the name “Syonan” had been used in an exhibition. “In 1992, on the 50th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, we held an exhibition at the National Museum titled When Singapore was Syonan-to,” he said.

You know "when Singapore was Syonan-to" and "Syonan Gallery" are really not the same, Dr Yaacob!

On Friday, in a change of heart or perhaps they were sick of the complaints, it was announced that the exhibition has been renamed Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies out of respect for the people who suffered under the Japanese Occupation.

Thank goodness common sense prevailed! Sayonara Syonan. Isn't it nice when the government admits its mistake and rectifies it immediately?

For me, my outrage had more to do with my lack of education in Singapore history. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this but up until the Syonan gallery name public outcry, I've never even heard of the name Syonan. I'm not kidding.

I studied Singapore history in primary school. A very romanticized version of how Singapore was founded by Sang Nila Utama. Back then we were called Temasek. Sang Nila Utama from Palembang landed on our island and saw a lion and he named our island Singapura which means Lion City. We also studied about Singapore under colonial rule and also a romanticized version of how Sir Stamford Raffles founded modern Singapore. I think we covered the Japanese occupation when I was 11 and 12 years old. However, some fools at MOE (Ministry of Education) decided it would be a great idea to teach history and geography of Singapore in the mother tongue. In my case, it was Chinese and I probably slept through the once a week lesson. Honestly I doubt my Chinese language teacher covered anything on the Japanese occupation. She was pro Communism and often spent her time telling us how great Communism was. I know it sounds strange to say the word "communist" and "communism" but back then in the old days (yes, I'm very old) such things existed in Singapore. My teacher also warned us not to tell anyone she talked to us about communism because she said she could get arrested. I wonder what happened to Mrs Lim?

Where was I? Yes, I was trying to explain my ignorance.

My mother was a teenager during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore(1942 - 1945). Yes World War 2 people. She used to tell me stories about that period. And by the way, she never once uttered the word Syonan. To hide from the Japanese soldiers, she and her siblings would run to the hills to hide among the forestry. She also said that she had no rice to eat and had to eat a lot of tapioca. As a result, her legs swelled up. My mother told me a lot of half-truths and alternative facts during my childhood. But for some reason, I believed that eating a lot of tapioca would give me swollen legs. As such, I avoided tapioca as much as possible. My mother said that she had to get married during that period as being married offered her so called protection. Anyhoos, she was match made with my father and ended up having 9 children (I'm number 8). So the Japanese Occupation was in a way responsible for me being in existent. Irony.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Somebody's Baby

Do you know those guys who if you complain about a lack of romance, they'll say, "Oh, I'm not a romantic person." or "I don't know how to be romantic." Or any other lame excuses. You know what those guys really are? Lazy guys. I mean, who is born romantic? Romance comes down to work and effort.

I can't claim to be married to the most romantic guy in the world nor do I want to be. I mean who wants to be romanced all the time, rite? Whatever he lacks, hubs puts a lot of effort into gifts. It almost borders on manic but lets not go there.

So there I was on Valentine's Day morning just minding my own business, playing Candy Crush when hubs casually passed me a heart shaped container.

The Famous Amos container looks very familiar because a long time ago, hubs had rescued a similar container from the trash for me. I opened it and holy shit.

Look what crazy hubs bought me. A flower-flower dress. (He said since I am allergic to pollen the dress print is an alternative flower). You're probably thinking it's a regular dress. It's not.

In January we were shopping for Chinese New Year clothes at Mango when hubs spotted the dress he gifted me. He asked me to try it on which I did but I didn't bother to go to the fitting room. I simply put it over what I was wearing. Hubs was really really keen on the dress because it reminded him of the red maternity dress I used to wear.

Here's a very unfortunate photo of me in 1999 after I had just given birth to my daughter. Look how tiny she is! And that's my son holding a milk bottle. Anyway, that's the maternity dress I used to wear for decades. Yep, long after I was no longer pregnant because it was so comfortable. The dress was a hand-me-down from my mother's ex-colleague. I don't know if that woman bought the dress or if it was a hand-me-down for her as well. A year or two ago, I retired the dress because it had too many holes and I felt it had served its time.

The funny thing is at first hubs used to complain that I wore that red maternity dress all the time. When I stopped wearing it, he started to miss it and lobbied for it to make its appearance. So I wore it regularly again. When I told hubs the maternity dress was no longer wearable, he was really sad.

So back to Mango store. Imagine his excitement when he thought he had found a similar dress to replace the original maternity dress. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? What's wrong with this man right? Why does he like me in a dress that reminded him of the time when I was pregnant? Well, I did ask him and he said I always looked so comfortable in the dress and also the dress was red which is a colour I usually avoid and he believes I look good in red.

Anyway, I told hubs I didn't want to buy the dress because it was sleeveless and I don't like to wear sleeveless clothes anymore. Plus I thought the dress made me look fat. Thankfully, the dress was not on sale and hubs did not force me to buy it. Hubs has one rule for buying stuff. It has to be on sale.

I guess he must have really obsessed over the red Mango dress because the crazy man went back to the shop this week and bought the dress. It wasn't even on sale so the poor guy had to pay full price. Gosh, the poor bugger must love me so much! I think the dress is not bad really. I particularly like how it's so twirly. Hubs wanted to know why I'm so anti-sleeveless and I had to admit that it's because I don't shave. Sorry, TMI.  I've never ever shaved mostly because I'm afraid to use a razor on myself. Hubs said I should go ahead and wear the dress comfortably and not have to worry about my unshaven armpit. So alright then. Look out, world!

Today after waking up from a 4 hour late morning nap, I decided to take a few photos of me in the dress. Yes, don't adjust your monitor. I usually look puffy after waking up. And if you're wondering, yes I gained some girth having unwisely stopped exercising despite eating lots of bread from my bread making.

I had quite a bit of problem operating my camera to auto-snap. Dem Nikon.

You're probably wondering what I got hubs for Valentine's Day. Well, first of all, we don't do Valentine's Day anymore. So I wasn't expecting anything which means I didn't buy him any gift. But I did spend the entire day before Valentine's Day cleaning, vacuuming, mopping the living room and kitchen. So on Valentine's Day, hubs had a clean living room and kitchen. I mean if being on my knees, scrubbing, cleaning all day doesn't say love, I don't know what does.

And what did you get for Valentine's Day?
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