And on the second day, every dog was born

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.

We have a serious flu epidemic, and what’s with NEA spot checks that don’t include vacant premises?

I’m wondering a little why there isn’t more alarm over what must be a full blown flu epidemic. I’ll bet more than a million people have the flu, and many of them just haven’t seen a doctor about it yet. It must be really hard not to get the flu if you had to commute daily on an overcrowded bus or train.

So those tens of thousands they’ve counted at just the polyclinics? Tip of the flu iceberg. Naomi and I haven’t been well since mid-December, and Kai’s currently down with a bug as well. Several friends have also reported being sick all January, with the same deal: sore throat, cough, gets better, then nose goes haywire, post nasal drip causes another round of sore throat and cough. It’s never ending, and I swear I’ve been reinfected just waiting my turn in the two clinics I’ve alternated between these two months.

And who are these experts who say that “the flu strain has not become more severe since the pandemic in 2009”? Are they the same people who advocate checking for mosquito breeding by sending NEA agents door to door like they did this morning when Kai was sitting on his potty?

More than half of the units in my apartment block are vacant – deserted. And so when NEA mosquito agents come a-knocking and no one’s in, the empty apartments are automatically given a clean bill of health, I assume. I’ve asked the agents before: No one compels the owners to come and open up their premises for inspection. If you and your domestic helper aren’t home, you’re clear.

A neighbour in a landed property behind our condo has a disused swimming pool which appeared to be a cause for alarm last year when we contacted the NEA, who told us the house “belongs to two doctors, and they rear fish, and there are no mosquito larvae in the pool, we checked”.

I asked this morning’s NEA agent about the neighbour again, because they seemed to have pumped out most of the water from the pool, and from what I can see, there aren’t any fish any more, and all’s left is a stagnant pool of what’s probably rainwater. The NEA agent said, “Yeah, we know, they are two doctors. We checked before”.

So I asked, “Did you check again?”, prompting the answer, “Yeah, we check before”.

I didn’t have time to pursue the matter – Kai was getting antsy on his potty. There wasn’t any stagnant water in there either.

I’m sick of being sick, and it’s about time the authorities stopped saying it’s no big deal and get everyone to be slightly more alarmed about the situation. I have an almost two-year old toddler and we don’t want him to go through what he did with dengue or any other life-threatening communicable infection again.

New Year’s Nom

Over the New Year’s weekend, we:

Appreciated the greenery outside our window
Blanched lots of spinach
Braved some China-grown Buck Choy
Sharpened our dipping sauces with grated daikon
Sprinkled green onions into our dipping sauce
Boiled lots of cabbage in Shabu-Shabu
Hoped for a sweet new year with osechi
Enjoyed some really friggin expensive slices of beef