Sunday, June 22, 2008

The reverse is also true

Friends used to complain to me about the racist attitudes of Australians, Americans and the British towards them, the Asian Other.

I used to shrug and tell them that all countries will have a certain proportion of people with racist attitudes and they would smugly tell me that "no, Singapore is not like that". I used to try and explain that they, as well educated Chinese Singaporeans, were unlikely to suffer from racism as they were usually the ones being racist to others but I never felt that the message got through to them.

Recently, I went to one of the many Crystal Jade branches with an Indian friend, M, who has an especial fondness for century egg porridge. Throughout our entire meal, the waitress serving us spoke to me in Mandarin and seemed reluctant to even speak to him or look him in the eye. I was offended on M's behalf but M didn't say much about it, possibly because he's used to the treatment.

Another sadder tale, is that of an Aussie friend of mine, whose Singaporean girlfriend's family disapproved of their relationship to the point where it tore them both apart. They could not, would not accept that she was dating a non Chinese boy and the relationship didn't survive the disapproval.

Where there are narrow minded, xenophobic people, racism will exist. This post by a well known local blogger highlights the situation in Singapore rather aptly beneath the angry words and tone.

Singapore is not exempt from racism just because we have public holidays for several races and religious faiths.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Food and love

I came to the food blogging scene late, just as I learned to cook and bake late. In my childhood and throughout my teens, the kitchen was always a foreign land to me. I didn't even know where the salt and pepper was kept, much less the pots and pans.

I learned to cook when I moved away from home and I learned to bake when a flatmate moved out and left me all her baking equipment. Having picked up these skills, I turned to the Internet for recipes to try out and stumbled into the world of food blogs.

My favourite food blogs all have several things in common; they are well written, their recipes work and they have an understanding of the deep connection between food, life and love.

This post from a blog that I've mentioned before, moved me deeply. And reminded me of the Boy and 'our' restaurant, a little place tucked behind the park that served gorgeous steaks and live jazz. I hesitate to even blog the name here, it's such a little place that I don't really want to see it overrun.

The first time he took me there, I fell in love with the place. Small, cosy and best of all, a live jazz band every week. The steaks were good and the desserts, gooey and delicious.

The last time we were there, the week before I left for Adelaide, we were seated next to an elderly couple. While waiting for the wait staff to take our orders, we somehow fell into conversation with them. The man, ruddy cheeked and cheerful, told us they'd come from a tiny town along the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

He and Boy traded jokes, laughed about women and his wife nodded and smiled indulgently at them, two boys having a bit of fun. Somehow, we all became two happy couples, chatting, sharing jokes.

Along the way, it came out that they'd been married for fifty years. Fifty! They'd raised 5 children and had 11 grandchildren and yet, they were out here, on a date, having fun and laughing. Boy and I looked at each other and knew we were both thinking the same thing.

It was near the end for us and we knew it. I'd be returning to Singapore soon, so painfully soon. He had to stay in Australia and neither of us saw a long distance relationship as an option. The difference was stark, the longevity of their marriage beside our happy but short lived relationship. I looked around at the little restaurant where we'd spent many happy evenings and knew that I'd never be able to come back. Not alone and definitely not with someone else.

I ate slowly that night. Relishing the steak, the place, the music and the moment. Knowing it was probably our last time there. Enjoying the banter between Boy and the old man. I tried to hold on as tightly as I could, to the memory of that evening and the memories we'd created in that place and hoped that the memories would last me a lifetime without Boy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I miss Boy.

Everywhere I turn, everything I see....just reminds me of him. I realise that the day will come when I'll be able to move forward but right heart is just so full of missing him that I can't see straight sometimes.

I can't help it. He lit my life up with a kind of technicolour sparkle and I miss living life that way.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm so glad that I deliberately planned to start work next month just so I could fit in a road trip to Adelaide with a bunch of friends. It turned out to be an incredible amount of fun. We talked, listened to music, bickered and snoozed in the car through the long drives and just generally cozied up to each other.

We drove overnight from Melbourne to Adelaide in an 8 seater Tarago so we all drove a couple of hours each then went straight to the German village of Hahndorf for a seriously meaty German lunch. That lunch.....lets just say that I literally gag at the thought of a bratwurst right now. I think that I ate enough smoked pork and sauerkraut to last me years. But we had fun wandering around the village and managed to fit in one wine tasting at the Bridgewater Mill before heading back to Adelaide city.

The second day was ALL ABOUT THE WINE. Sunny, beautiful and deliciously boozy Barossa Valley just begs to be explored and tried. Seriously, if you harbour any pretensions of being an oenophile, you must go there to try their wines. The cheese poem posted earlier was taken on that day, at a small village in the Barossa where we stopped to buy cheese for lunch. Funny how a simple lunch of fresh tomatoes, rye bread, ham and cheese can taste so good when eaten with friends sitting around a groundsheet in some out of the way park. It was just so gorgeously fresh and delicious.

The third day, we went camping in a national park. One of my friends, B, a camping virgin was totally wide eyed and shocked the entire drive into the national park. One of the guys had spent the entire trip telling her that she'd have to pee in the Margaret river and she was really afraid that there wouldn't be any proper toilets(there were). Her exclamations of joy and excitement when she saw the bathrooms were a riot. I've never seen anyone else get so worked up about seeing the toilet sign and I don't think I ever will again.

This was a sort of 'Goodbye beautiful Australia, I'll come back someday' trip for me. We passed the 12 Apostles on the way back and I waved to that long lovely stretch of coastline that I never tire of seeing. I don't think I'll forget it, the wildness of the bush and country, the cool stretches of blue sky, beach and sea and most of all, that sharp tang of eucalyptus.

I don't know if I'll get so immured in the dirt, sounds and smells of the city that I'll forget to come back. But I'll try to remember how good it was, how my heart lifts at the sight of open spaces...and how even city girls like me could wind up loving the country.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Yesterday, I said goodbye to the city I fell in love with, fell in love in and had my heart broken in.

Yesterday I sat in my favourite cafe with Boy, wearing my cuddly cashmere coat, eating focaccia surrounded by happy gourmands and people out to do their Saturday morning grocery shopping at the Victoria Market.

Yesterday, I cleaned out my apartment, the apartment where I'd thrown countless parties, cried in, learned to bake and cook and love in.

Yesterday I left Melbourne.....boarded a Qantas flight and flew over the desert and bush, back to Singapore. over.

I'm back...but I'm not sure if I'm home.

Taken in a South Australian cheese shop