Saving race

Racial Harmony Day
"My mother was a spider and my father was a clown"

Because it has always been our government’s policy to pay attention to matters of race and ethnicity, our identity cards and government records require that we be classified under different “races”.

Both my parents are Chinese, so there doesn’t seem to be anything complicated about that, even if you’re not comfortable with the notion of “race”. But when you have children of mixed parentage, that’s when it starts to become funny.

On Wednesday, an intern from The Straits Times called and stuttered his way for five minutes trying to explain to me that the ICA had changed the “by default the child’s race shall be that of the father’s” rule, and that from next year, parents were “free to choose their child’s race”.

I thanked the intern for this piece of information, upon which he stammered his way for another five minutes explaining that he needed me to answer a few questions for a story his supervisor/journalist was writing for Thursday’s Straits Times.

So I explained a little about how I had no interest in “changing Kai’s race”, because there’s not enough space in that field to put “Chinese-Japanese-Taiwanese-Dutch”.

But maybe Beatrice and Mark Richmond have a different perspective. Their son Sol is classified “English”, because the ICA of the day considered Grandpa Brian’s “race”, “English”.

And of course, we should have every confidence that the new scheme has been really well thought out and precludes the possibility of parents rorting the system for their child to obtain State benefits from Sinda and Mendaki, and that there won’t be a surge in the number of Malay-Indian children.

Best lazy Sunday ever

Kai, snug on Papa's chest
Kai, snug on Papa's chest

It’s mid afternoon and I’m sleepy, and before I know it, I’ve put my head down for a nap. Naomi pats Kai for a bit, and puts him down next to me, where he falls asleep in two seconds, and while drifting into sleep, I can hear Naomi’s breathing enough to know that she’s also catching forty winks, and I can hear Kai’s quick little snores, and I can hear my own breath against our bedsheets. It’s the best nap ever, knowing I’ll wake up to a dream.

Christmas Chocolate Giveaway

The brown stuff comes from the tap and not anywhere else, ok?

OK, not exactly chocolate, but Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook.

Five of them, in fact. And to qualify for a chance at getting one of these books absolutely gratis, all you have to do is leave a comment (remember to put your email in the email box so I can contact you – don’t worry, it isn’t visible to everyone) about how much you would love a copy of Harcourt-Cooze’s cookbook, starting with “I must have Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook and catch Willie’s Perfect Chocolate Christmas on Discovery Travel & Living (Starhub Ch16) at 9pm, Dec 23″…

I will pick the the best comments every three days till Dec 31! If you’ve left a comment and haven’t won after three days, simply try again (with a new, different, comment) Sounds simple enough – so get cracking!

If you’re so inclined as to cook (more than just chocolate stuff) and/or watch people cook Christmas dinners – you might also want to catch the original domestic goddess Nigella Lawson’s Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen 2, also on Discovery Travel & Living, every Monday beginning Dec 14 at 7pm.

A first Christmas

Our Christmas tree is finally up, with a mix of home-made and store-bought trimmings. It’s our first Christmas tree because we thought it’d be nice for our new family to have one. The butterflies and snowflakes were be-glittered by Naomi. The pretty bows were tied by Naomi too. Heck, she did everything. I just helped put the lights on.

The cookie bakery is also in full swing, or rather, as much of a full swing as Kai and work will allow it to be. And while Naomi bakes, I’m either at my desk or looking after Kai or looking for windows and glass surfaces to graffiti with the liquid chalk pens which Naomi bought last week.

Well, let’s just say she’s got some idea now about how I first told her that liquid chalk was the devil’s chalk. Once you wield a liquid chalk marker, you have this terrible urge to write, sketch and paint windows. Especially if you are absolutely lacking in the skill to write, sketch and paint. I have a window pane I have decorated with a caricature of Santa Claus (as opposed to a realistic portrayal of Santa Claus) which looks nothing like Santa Claus and more like either the Merchant of Venice or the Jew of Malta.

Oh wait, it is Hanukkah this week isn’t it? OK, I’m telling Naomi I’m not erasing that pane.

A really bad restaurant

I seldom find a restaurant or food vendor that riles me up so much that I want to blog and say bad things about them.

But it looks like we found one last night – it’s called ‘Grill-Out‘, and it’s on the 7th floor of the confusingly laid-out Orchard Central. But before I proceed with the rest of the condemnation, I would like to commend the wait staff of the establishment for really trying their best. The shit was really beyond their control. So, if you’re the owner / HR manager of another establishment, when staff of Grill-Out come looking for jobs, hire them, ok? (It should be soon too).

As the name suggests, ‘Grill-Out’ is where you order steaks and chops. But whether you get them done to your liking really depends on whether your liking consists of tough, chewy Wagyu Ribeye slathered with black pepper sauce. Yes, they found a way to make wagyu tough and chewy.

Now, black pepper sauce and chewy beef wouldn’t be out of place at say, Jack’s Place or Swensen’s, but here’s the thing that sent me over the edge after Naomi’s mum ordered the $63 steak: they don’t serve plain water.

We was angry, the staff were apologetic.

They said that although they knew we weren’t the sort of customers who’d hog the tables and order plain water all night, there was nothing they could do about it because they are under pain of punishment if they were caught serving even a drop of plain water to a customer.

Not that there would’ve been any customer who’d be foolhardy enough to do that (hog the tables and order plain water all night), because in the al-fresco section (and great views this part of the restaurant has) of the establishment was a performing duo who cannot be described as a singing duo, because they were so off-key and off-rhythm, you’d have thought you were watching a Singapore Idol audition.

Thankfully for us, they took a long break between sets, so we could finish our dinner. To be fair, after we complained that we were eating wagyu jerky, the manager got the chef to get another portion of the same cut of wagyu ribeye, explaining to us that the piece that was selected was “near the end”, and so was “a bit tough”. They also took pains to serve a complimentary tiramisu, which was called a “marscapone mousse cake”.

In all, a horrible experience. Served me right anyway, thinking that just because a restaurant was several stories above Orchard Road, it was high end nosh.

Swing Out, Sister

From Wikipedia:

The name came from a 1945 movie starring Arthur Treacher, called Swing Out, Sister, and they claim they chose the name because it was the only thing the band could agree on, in that they all hated it.

After trying a while to come up with some sort of contest question/quiz, I’m resigned to the fact that there is nothing you cannot find out on the internet. So there will be no quiz/contest question for you to answer if you want a PAIR OF TICKETS TO SWING OUT SISTER’S ‘THE BREAKOUT CONCERT’.

All’s you have to do is leave your name, email and a comment below, and who I find has the bestest, most scintillating or downright dumbest comment will win the pair of tickets. You just have to start the comment with “I want to watch SWING OUT SISTER in SINGAPORE”…

(If you want to double your chances of winning a pair of tickets – or even possibly win two pairs, head on down to Pat Law’s for her version of this giveaway).

Swing Out Sister

In the blink of an eye

Now where did I put the shaver?

Kai turned 8 months old on Friday, and he’s developed new skills including a superhuman ability – teleportation.

You put him on the playmat and turn away for just a second to do something in the kitchen, and when you turn around he’s at the other end of the room. We are now trying to teach him to use his powers for good and not evil.

Gingerbread CSI

Christmas Cookies
Last year’s cookies

We’ve decided to stick to other, simpler shapes for this year’s Christmas cookies because our gingerbread men fell apart in various stages of the baking process, rendering them unrecognizable.

The cooling rack looks more like a crime scene.

Mad season

A waste of electricity by the way
A waste of electricity by the way

It’s December, and I am impossibly busy, not because there’s all that much work, but because a series of domestic calamities has put paid any notion of putting up our feet and having a break.

Naomi and I have been cruising along the past couple of months, becoming more and more the typical young Singaporean family – baby, mothers-in-law, maid in tow. Until the last fortnight – Naomi’s mum’s had to go to Taiwan for medical reasons, and my mum’s been crook with severe food poisoning, and last week, we sent our domestic helper back to her province because she no longer felt passionate about working for us.

So it’s just Kai and us. The compact family unit. And you know what? It’s not that bad.

Kai’s a really good baby and more or less follows the schedule we’ve set for him. I can imagine the number of parents saying how lucky we are. We know we are. And it’s priceless, being able to plan your day around your baby’s.

Only thing is, this week, Kai’s become aware of this thing called separation anxiety, and has been freaking out because it’s dawned on him that Mama and Papa are separate entities from him.

Part and parcel of a baby’s development, but not conducive for work or household errands. I’ve tried typing while cradling him. At 5 words a minute, I’m better off just paying full attention to him. It’s more fun too.

It’s been like that for Naomi too. Worse. She’s down with some flu/cold thing, and is exhausted. But being the fabulous mother and wonderful wife that she is, she’s getting over her illness by baking gingerbread men. Just so we usher in the mad and merry season.