Monday, February 15, 2010

Gong xi fa cai, pardner

Who says the Chinese New Year routine has to be the same every year?

This year we went to one of our favorite Chinese seafood restaurants for the reunion dinner. Normally, this place is better than most, and there are few people dining there. The manager runs around an extra mile or two until his white dress shirt is plastered to his body with sweat, and we return now and then.

But on the eve of CNY the place was packed. I'll bet they had way more bodies in there than the fire code permits as they tried to make a killing on their big night. As a result, the food was slow in coming out, and the portions seemed smaller. While the health conscious few recommend eating until you are only 80% full, that won't fly with our party. Most of our group like to eat until they are 180% full. So we left with room to spare.

We took a walk outside to a replica of a Mississippi riverboat, complete with big red paddle wheel astern, which is permanently moored to the dock. In the past we had assumed it was a floating restaurant with karaoke rooms. Turns out it is a Tex-Mex restaurant, serving baby-back ribs, quesadillas, and fajitas (kind of like a Mexican popiah). On weekends a woman sings lounge music accompanied by a pianist. We just ordered ice cream - a lot of ice cream.

And then there came the big break with tradition. My brother-in-law, Ah Tong, ordered a chicken chop "fried like Kentucky." This was the first time in twelve years that I ever saw him eat Western food. In fact, I have seen him walk out of Chinese restaurants without eating because the food wasn't Chinese enough for his taste! And he liked it! There is a glimmer of hope that we might actually go back there sometime for a family meal.

The next day as we assembled for the annual round of family visits Tong was wearing a pair of jeans. I haven't seen him wear long pants since his wedding. And Ah Ma was also wearing a pair of jeans - another first!

I always thought that CNY was the same old same old every year. At least I had that impression after eleven go rounds. But even a very traditional family on a very traditional occasion can surprise you. I can't wait to see what happens next year!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Or maybe I wasn't wrong about SingPost

SingPost has announced that it will stop collecting and delivering mail on Saturdays, beginning in May. While the move is not terribly disruptive, it could be a sign of things to come. Will they soon cut back to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule?

It would also help if their boxes were more accessible. I stumbled on this one in the Kaki Bukit area, largely hidden in the shrubbery. A team of commandos would have trouble posting a letter here!