My friend and collaborator Jasmine Teo’s directoral debut is also the first musical to be staged at a brand new venue – The Henderson Project – which is actually the office and rehearsal space for Dream Academy Productions, the company behind The Dim Sum Dollies and Kumar’s Amazing Race.
It stars the amazingly talented duo Linden Furnell and Mina Kaye. Watch:
This evening we took a break from eating junk food and took Naomi’s visiting cousin out to a chili crab dinner at Long Beach Dempsey. Good thing we got there early, because a little after we got there, a queue formed with several dozen families, tired from visiting and being visited, looking to get a quick crab meal as well.
At the table next to us in the “outdoor area without shelter (sans umbrella)” was a Japanese family who were convinced to order the traditionalyu sheng raw fish salad. The dish arrived, and the funniest thing was that they were given instructions on how to partake of the dish by a Filipino waiter (purst, you tuss eberyting as high as you cahn with the chupstick), who also recited English translations of the Chinese idioms/proverbs/sayings/nonsense rhymes that accompany the tossing of the salad.
The second day of the New Year is when married daughters return to their birth family’s home and spend time there. We learned of this tradition only after we got married, because previously, both Naomi’s and my family were always pretty sketchy and inconsistent with customs. We still can’t remember for sure how many oranges we’re supposed to bring when visiting, and how many we’re supposed to leave a house with.
I suspect mandarin orange farmers were the ones who came up with the give 4 take 2 back custom, cos if you did the math and did what accountants call a “contra”, a give 2 take 2 back custom would kill the orange growers’ orange rice bowl.
Sometimes we get saboed by our families, when they suddenly come up with customs we’ve never previously observed. I remember vaguely when we were in secondary school, and my parents came home with this new fangled grated carrot and radish salad with crackers and slivers of raw fish and declared we had to eat that for good luck after tossing the salad everywhere on the table.
Sometimes we argue over what customs are what, and actually resort to googling or wikipeding what to wear and what to do so we don’t offend whatever gods it is that our families have subscribed to for the New Year.
This year’s googling/wikipeding taught me that some Chinese also believe that the 2nd day of the New Year is also the birthday of all dogs. Apparently it is when these same Chinese treat dogs extra kindly, feed them well, and try not to eat them.
Also, I found out why firecrackers were banned in Singapore – in 1970, 6 people were killed and 68 injured, leading to a partial ban. In 1972, a total ban was implemented when 2 more people were killed by explosions and 2 policemen were attacked when trying to prevent people setting off crackers.
The ban has been in place with the exception of publicly sanctioned setting off of crackers. Apparently, pro-private-firecrackers’ claim that “Firecrackers Don’t Kill People. People Kill People” fell on deaf ears.
I think it was my brother who said to me one Chinese New Year: “Why do people bother to wear dress shoes with their New Year clothes? All you do is dress up, go visiting, and take off your footwear when you go inside someone’s house. Why bother?”
So I challenge you to wear slippers or sandals or even go commando with your footwear (that means barefoot lah) when in the morrow you dress up and visit your relatives’ and friends’ homes.
They won’t notice, and you’ll go away feeling like you’ve been the rebel and bucked tradition a little bit.
It’s been as busy as we’ve expected this Chinese New Year, and with Kai nursing a new cold (how many do babies get in their first year?), we were expecting even less sleep than usual, and we were right.
That’s not to say we haven’t been enjoying time with our families and relatives jetting in from all parts of Asia.
Our sister-in-law from Shanghai tells us that the only thing about coming to Singapore for the CNY holidays is that when you want to do a spot of shopping on the first or second day of CNY, you’re probably going to be limited to Mustafa’s or a few other smallish shops.
I said that was because Singapore is becoming more like China, as more and more companies seem to be observing more “Chinese traditions” as a result of employing more (Mainland) Chinese workers.
But I’ve now been told that by our good sister-in-law that that’s bunk, and that in Shanghai, most of the shops are open throughout the New Year.
Kai, Naomi and me wish everyone a New Year of peace, joy and happiness. To help yourself along the way, don’t drink and drive, don’t overeat, and don’t gamble away your Ang Pows at the 500 tables open tomorrow at the RWS casino.
We had to go out to Paragon today because Kai had to see the doctor to get some medication for his cold.
We’re all a bit under the weather, but we managed to soldier on because Paragon’s common areas didn’t play that infernal racket known as Chinese New Year music. The individual shops and the supermarket were another matter. We had instantaneous severe migraine to add to our flu the moment we stepped in to pick up groceries for dinner.
President Obama, I give you the solution to the war in Afghanistan: just send your humvees and choppers into the mountains blaring this the music they play in hell, and I guarantee you, the Taliban will be flushed from their caves, surrendering in shock and awe.
We’ve lo hei’d three times this Chinese New Year, which isn’t a lot, but there’s only so much raw fish and crackers you can manage. Especially when there are pregnant women in the family.
Still it’s great to be able to make a mess at the dinner table and say we’re conforming with tradition even though we know the practice was invented by a Chinese restaurant chef who didn’t know what to do with leftover slivers of raw fish, crackers and some condiments, and he’d run out of gas and electricity, so he wasn’t able to cook them. Or something.
I didn’t ask my dad about this, but he seemed very into the lohei this year, looking as though he was concentrating on the task at hand (and chopsticks), even though this tossing fish and sundry all over the table business comes more naturally to him because he has Parkinson’s.
No, I’m not on blogging hiatus or anything like that. I thought I’d better blog a bit so that I’ll meet whatever blogging criteria put up by the Association of Singapore Bloggers or whatever it is they’re called.
Because I might want to join up before they implode.
It’s just that it’s been an unbelievably busy fortnight of CNY obligations. Naomi and I have just only recently been able to put our feet up and relax for a couple of hours.