Separate pots

Cosmopolitan or bust
Today’s Special: Melting Pot

I’m thinking that if we must remain cosmopolitan, then we’d better do away with the damn Hua Yu Cool campaigns, or at least, match that with Bahasa Bagus and Tamil Terrific campaigns. Else we’re quite damned to becoming a mostly Chinese chauvinistic society with no respect for our cosmopolitan heritage.

I say ‘cosmopolitan heritage’ because there was a time when the entire country seemed to speak better English than the Good that they are trying to get the populace to speak, when no one batted as much of an eyelid when a troubled English boy sought refuge in a local Malay family to grow up and become the doyen of local radio announcers; when there wasn’t so much of a cultural cringe when the brands and dialects of Chinese spoken on mediums such as Rediffusion could be and were relied on by many; when we weren’t asked to Pinyinize our Chinese names for ourselves as well as for places; and when local Chinese television didn’t start to try to sound like Taiwanese or Mainland Chinese just because they thought they were the real deal.

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If you were to sup at the Al-Ameen ‘Restaurant’ on Upper Bukit Timah, you’ll be reminded on how much of a melting pot this city is, and how you just have to love an eatery with an Arab-Muslim name that serves Thai-Muslim dishes alongside bastardised specials like Nasi Goreng USA, meat dishes like Bistik (beef steak), and something called ‘Mee Meditarian’, which, as I guess from the photograph featuring tomatoes, mushroom and capsicum, is a Mediterranean-inspired noodle dish.

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The beverages, though, are just rubbish:

All manner of Milo is served. Or rather, a tin of Milo is upturned into half a tumbler of iced-water and condensed milk and given a name like Milo King Kong or Milo Dinosaur.

At the next table, two young Indians are sipping their beverages, coughing as they accidentally inhale a teaspoon of powdered Milo, before continuing their conversation about how nowadays where got Ah Long come into the housing estate and spray paint, you got see or not? It’s the bloody banks who are the real Ah Long, I tell you. One day late never pay your loan, confirm sure call you, I tell you…

Across, two Chinese men and a girl, probably in their twenties, are sitting, glum-faced, twiddling their car keys before muttering something that sounds like what you want to eat? in Singaporean Mandarin.

Behind, you hear conversations in Malay amid the sudden din of small capacity motorcycles.

Is it just you or do quite a few people your age and older also think that there was a time you all got along better, even if racial stereotypes were stronger?

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26 thoughts on “Separate pots”

  1. That Al-Ameen place is amazing. It just keeps growing and growing, from one stall lot to two, to more, and now they occupy almost the whole block…

    Actually, I quite like the Milo Dinosaur.

  2. That Al-Ameen place is amazing. It just keeps growing and growing, from one stall lot to two, to more, and now they occupy almost the whole block…

    Actually, I quite like the Milo Dinosaur.

  3. tsktsk. AL Ameen sucks la….Al Azhar better.. a few stalls away..

    Signing off,
    Barney
    Your frenly gay dino guru makan

  4. tsktsk. AL Ameen sucks la….Al Azhar better.. a few stalls away..

    Signing off,
    Barney
    Your frenly gay dino guru makan

  5. i haven’t been in singapore for a while so i have no idea about this hua yu cool o whatever campaign! in fact the name itself is quite retarded. but in the years that i’ve been away, everytime i go back, i get so irritated whenever i realise that NO ONE can speak proper english anymore. i can’t believe singlish is even allowed in restaurants especially when the waitress comes up and says, what you want? so cosmopolitan is just a dream if none of these kids can string a proper english together without making 47 grammer mistakes.

  6. i haven’t been in singapore for a while so i have no idea about this hua yu cool o whatever campaign! in fact the name itself is quite retarded. but in the years that i’ve been away, everytime i go back, i get so irritated whenever i realise that NO ONE can speak proper english anymore. i can’t believe singlish is even allowed in restaurants especially when the waitress comes up and says, what you want? so cosmopolitan is just a dream if none of these kids can string a proper english together without making 47 grammer mistakes.

  7. (Pardon me, THIS is the FINAL version…I was probably too worked up writing my comments…)

    I beg to differ on hearing your sweeping statement, gilda! I, for one, DO speak proper Queen’s English WITHOUT a fake accent. Mr Miyagi, allow me to presume, would be another exception to your unfair stereotype.

    Again, allow me to shock you with another FACT: I also speak impeccable Mandarin and fairly good Cantonese, and am unabashedly PROUD of it. Allow me to stress the FACT that unlike many Singaporeans (Mr Miyagi inclusive) I DON’T SEE ANYTHING SO SHAMEFUL ABOUT SPEAKING FLUENT MANDARIN (whether it’s localised or decorated with the northerner’s slang or taiwanese twang).

    Whoever says you have to HATE Mandarin (and ABHOR uttering even a word of it) or speak it BADLY in order to be cosmopolitan, whoever dictates you have to EMBRACE your lingua franca like it’s your ONLY passport to finesse and sophistication, whoever thinks POWDERFUL ENGLAND and TOKKONG CHINA are mutually EXCLUSIVE…

    YOU are precisely the reason(s) why the huayu COOL campaign has been created in the first place. Thanks to YOU, for being the only yellow-skinned homosapiens in the globe to think huayu is UNCOOL. That’s why we have to come up with such an idiotic brainwasher to make YOU think otherwise.

    Get it? YOU pseudo-angmohs out there!

  8. (Pardon me, THIS is the FINAL version…I was probably too worked up writing my comments…)

    I beg to differ on hearing your sweeping statement, gilda! I, for one, DO speak proper Queen’s English WITHOUT a fake accent. Mr Miyagi, allow me to presume, would be another exception to your unfair stereotype.

    Again, allow me to shock you with another FACT: I also speak impeccable Mandarin and fairly good Cantonese, and am unabashedly PROUD of it. Allow me to stress the FACT that unlike many Singaporeans (Mr Miyagi inclusive) I DON’T SEE ANYTHING SO SHAMEFUL ABOUT SPEAKING FLUENT MANDARIN (whether it’s localised or decorated with the northerner’s slang or taiwanese twang).

    Whoever says you have to HATE Mandarin (and ABHOR uttering even a word of it) or speak it BADLY in order to be cosmopolitan, whoever dictates you have to EMBRACE your lingua franca like it’s your ONLY passport to finesse and sophistication, whoever thinks POWDERFUL ENGLAND and TOKKONG CHINA are mutually EXCLUSIVE…

    YOU are precisely the reason(s) why the huayu COOL campaign has been created in the first place. Thanks to YOU, for being the only yellow-skinned homosapiens in the globe to think huayu is UNCOOL. That’s why we have to come up with such an idiotic brainwasher to make YOU think otherwise.

    Get it? YOU pseudo-angmohs out there!

  9. Yes please, Mr Miyagi. I reckoned you would do so without asking anyway. Sorry about that. My laptop is as erratic as my temperament!

    You should perhaps come up with a self-deleting function, for repetitive messages. Hehe…

  10. Yes please, Mr Miyagi. I reckoned you would do so without asking anyway. Sorry about that. My laptop is as erratic as my temperament!

    You should perhaps come up with a self-deleting function, for repetitive messages. Hehe…

  11. Pardon me for thinking aloud AGAIN…

    There is no FARCKING need for Bahasa Bagus or Tamil Terrific, I beseech you, because the Malays already speak Melayu well and the non-Hindus already speak Tamil fluently! (In fact I know of a handful of Indians who can speak Tamil, Hindi and Punjabi well!) Some of our non-Chinese friends even speak better Mandarin (and other dialects, for that matter) than their pseudowestern counterparts.

  12. Pardon me for thinking aloud AGAIN…

    There is no FARCKING need for Bahasa Bagus or Tamil Terrific, I beseech you, because the Malays already speak Melayu well and the non-Hindus already speak Tamil fluently! (In fact I know of a handful of Indians who can speak Tamil, Hindi and Punjabi well!) Some of our non-Chinese friends even speak better Mandarin (and other dialects, for that matter) than their pseudowestern counterparts.

  13. I beg to differ, holyhunk. The Malays now are terlalu atas to speak proper Bahasa Melayu, lah. I watch too much Suria, so much so I can imagine how the Malay youths of today are stammering when they’re asked questions in Malay and when they speak, mak oi! their twang are so Mat Salleh lah!!!

    Even I’ve gotta admit. 4 years in secondary school has caused my great Bahasa Melayu track record to rot in hell and I am so malu of this as I was a former student of Higher Malay at MOELC. So yeah, it’s time for the whole Malay community and government to wake up and realise that in 20 years time, if there’s no Bahasa Bagus movement to remedy the situation, orang Melayu cannot speak Melayu no more!

  14. I beg to differ, holyhunk. The Malays now are terlalu atas to speak proper Bahasa Melayu, lah. I watch too much Suria, so much so I can imagine how the Malay youths of today are stammering when they’re asked questions in Malay and when they speak, mak oi! their twang are so Mat Salleh lah!!!

    Even I’ve gotta admit. 4 years in secondary school has caused my great Bahasa Melayu track record to rot in hell and I am so malu of this as I was a former student of Higher Malay at MOELC. So yeah, it’s time for the whole Malay community and government to wake up and realise that in 20 years time, if there’s no Bahasa Bagus movement to remedy the situation, orang Melayu cannot speak Melayu no more!

  15. Thanks tea-tree, for momentarily taking away the nagging sense of crisis that I’ve always had for Chinese Singaporeans. Yes, all thanks to an innate tendency to exaggerate one’s own problems or issues, especially when no one else thinks they are a cause for concern.

    Let’s agree to disagree, ‘cos I’m still envious of the cohesiveness of the Malay community despite tea-tree’s plea for better Melayu, and I’m still pretty convinced as an Insider that the proficiency level of hua yu amongst cosmopolitan [chinese] SINGAPOREANS is in a deplorable state!

  16. Thanks tea-tree, for momentarily taking away the nagging sense of crisis that I’ve always had for Chinese Singaporeans. Yes, all thanks to an innate tendency to exaggerate one’s own problems or issues, especially when no one else thinks they are a cause for concern.

    Let’s agree to disagree, ‘cos I’m still envious of the cohesiveness of the Malay community despite tea-tree’s plea for better Melayu, and I’m still pretty convinced as an Insider that the proficiency level of hua yu amongst cosmopolitan [chinese] SINGAPOREANS is in a deplorable state!

  17. This is a must-share.

    As a fervent supporter of fine Japanese cuisine, I receive emails every now and then updating me on good deals. Here’s one of them:

    Thank you for supporting Rakuzen every time. I would like to inform that our BIG NEWS.

    1. Our monthly promotion.
    We have prepared so fresh SABA (Mackerel) for that. If you can’t eat low fish,I will recommend our grilled SABA on HO-BA Leaf. It’s DIY style and you can try to cook on the leaf with special MISO. Please try our SP SABA!!

    2. Finally we got our own HP!!
    So you will be able to check it out anytime!

    3. Did you get a party in our restaurant before?! With your customers, your Lover… or your best friends. We got a room for 4pax to 50pax. We’re waiting for your reservation!!!

    Nice Jap food,SASHIMI,TEMPURA will make you happy!!!

  18. This is a must-share.

    As a fervent supporter of fine Japanese cuisine, I receive emails every now and then updating me on good deals. Here’s one of them:

    Thank you for supporting Rakuzen every time. I would like to inform that our BIG NEWS.

    1. Our monthly promotion.
    We have prepared so fresh SABA (Mackerel) for that. If you can’t eat low fish,I will recommend our grilled SABA on HO-BA Leaf. It’s DIY style and you can try to cook on the leaf with special MISO. Please try our SP SABA!!

    2. Finally we got our own HP!!
    So you will be able to check it out anytime!

    3. Did you get a party in our restaurant before?! With your customers, your Lover… or your best friends. We got a room for 4pax to 50pax. We’re waiting for your reservation!!!

    Nice Jap food,SASHIMI,TEMPURA will make you happy!!!

  19. Pingback: DISQUS | gecko

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