How did you spend your Valentine Day? It was on a Monday, not an ideal day to celebrate. So we celebrated ours on Sunday instead. In case if you are curious on what we did on Monday, the picture below says it all. Something is very wrong about this picture in so many dimensions, I know. But it is what it is.
This Valentine, one of the gifts I bought for Cynthia got her jumping up and down in pure happiness. It was a pleasant surprise, because I have not seen her so happily surprised at that euphoric magnitude. It was something simple, did not take me long to find. What took me a long time though was to think of what to get for her. Perhaps it is true that it is the thought that counts.
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No. Despite the common belief that Yusheng or Lo Hei comes from Hong Kong, this dish is as uniquely Singapore as it can be. I came from Hong Kong. I have not eaten something like this before. Certainly my family would flip if they see me standing, tossing food in mid air, inside a Chinese restaurant, during Chinese New Year.
Lo Hei is a cold dish with mixed vegetables. I had my first encounter this year inside a posh Indian restaurant with a majority of Indian colleagues and business associates. In view of the cultural difference, our Chinese hosts took the time to explain the steps in consuming this dish the Singapore way. I do not remember all the steps in details. All I remember was a full jar of oil emptied into the dish. One of the Indian balked. Me too. I think the oil signifies a smooth and easy life. Wow. That was a lot of oil.
Lo Hei is an auspicious dish. Tossing the dish with the ingredients high up in the air is part of the ritual. The higher, the better. In a business setting, I would presume that we do this in wish for a better career? As I was happily tossing the dish, I suddenly recalled that my boss’ boss and I were sharing the same dish, with a few others. I was unsure if it was OK to toss higher than my boss. So I quickly readjusted my enthusiasm and observed how high my boss’ boss tossed. Am I going crazy? Would you toss much higher than your bosses?
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Ever since I shared this observation with Cynthia, she has stopped eating prawns. You may skip this section if you are a prawn lover.
To me, prawns are underwater worms with a shell. Once the shell is removed – raw or cooked – the naked prawn looks like a worm. It is a lump of protein, which fortunately tastes pretty good – cooked or not. I am fine with this imagination. Cynthia is not.
Sea slugs are in essence snails without a shell. But no one eats marine slugs or freshwater slugs inside a restaurant. What we do have though is a land snail dish called escargot. I love this French dish.
We eat land snails (selected species of course) but we don’t eat sea slugs. We eat prawns but we don’t eat worms (except in some exotic cultures). I conclude that we prefer eating things that come with a shell.
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My friend R never stops trying to rally my emotion and call for my return to my ‘glorious day’ of being a cyclist. My response to him is always the same. I do not trust the drivers in Singapore. I do not even feel safe hiding inside an encrusted metal when I am driving here. What makes you think that I am willing to risk my life and share the road with fellow drivers, on a bicycle? One of our mutual friends accidentally entered into a highway and got himself into an incident. Another one got his shoulder dislocated on a hit-and-run incident. Really. Need I say more? Fortunate for me, although I have only got to learn cycling when I was in my twenties, I have had the most smashing experience cycling across UK doing at times 120km a day. After which, all I can say is that I can be happily ‘retired’, as far as cycling goes.
One day, I met R for lunch. He showed me a badly cracked smartphone and asked, “Guess what happened?” No idea. You dropped the phone, I responded.
A few days ago, R was cycling in the middle of the leftmost lane. Should cyclists stay on the far side of the road or should they occupy the entire road wide enough for buses and trucks? I do not know which is less dangerous. One car made a hard left turn from the middle lane, cut into R’s lane, and they collided. My friend seemed OK. And he is claiming S$5,000 from the driver. Because he has an expensive bicycle; he bicycle has some expensive gadgets; and he was carrying an expensive smartphone.
I do not know what level of damage his bicycle has endured. But I learn to stay away from expensive bicycles after hearing R’s story. This evening, at one junction, I saw a horde of expensive bicycles crawling towards me. I patiently gave way. If one was to cause a domino effect on them – however remote this could be – that would be one expensive bill to pay. Not only for the bicycles, but also the attached speedometers. Maybe GPS devices. Not to forget to mention the smartphones that cyclists carry when they cycle.