Friday, November 30, 2012

Bungalow Dreams

The day has finally arrived. Tomorrow onwards, my house is going to be in shambles and rebuilt again with a quarter of my mum's life savings all in over a month. My mum is going to Aunt Sally's place, Harold will be putting up at his best friend's (Sean, his cocksucking buddy as I would always tease him) extra guest bedroom and yes, I have decided to stay over at Steve's nearly vacant bungalow. I actually told my mum that I intend to take out the thrash every morning into the porch and pretend that I am the new owner of the gigantic bungalow.

"Rich people don't take out the thrash every morning. That's why they have maids. Forget it, you can never be a rich person. You're too middle class in soul Harry," was my mum's reply.

Shit, I hate it when she's right.

So the entire morning I was busy packing my entire wardrobe into eight different duffel bags and luggages. But that was only three quarters of the entire wardrobe. So I had to unpack everything and re-pack the clothes that I would probably want to hear. Harold walked past by my room this morning and stopped in his tracks.

"What the hell is this? You're only going to stay over Steve's place for a month, you're not migrating for good," Harold said.

"Well unlike you I have to bring a lot more clothes than you probably would because I change my clothes everyday, cause you know... I bathe," I replied sarcastically.

He kicked the pile of clothes at the door and scurried off.

"Asshole!" I shouted from inside the room.

I was the last person to leave the house because I had to be home when the packers come to pack our cutleries and plates and stuff. The rest of the household items are going to be packed and donated to an orphanage that my mum used to volunteer at a couple of years ago. Yes, you read that right. Everything currently in my house is going to be given away as charity. The newly renovated house would be furnished with everything new; new beds, wardrobes, sofa, dining table, sound system, lamps etc. My mum takes the adage "charity starts at home" rather literally.

She is also not present when the packers are doing their job simply because she is a mild hoarder and I am not going to pull away a hysterical woman away from her collection of fridge magnets. I don't have the time for that. Or the strength.

Everything ended at around six in the afternoon just now and as I locked the door, I felt a sense of excitement and nervousness. Excited to see what my new house would turn out to be and nervous, because it is going to be one month with Steve, just the two of us (five, if you count the maids) in a big bungalow. I hope I don't get lost in there on the first night trying to navigate my way back to my room.

When I arrived at Steven's place this evening, he was amused that I unloaded eight bags out of the maxi cab.

"Hello Miss Kardashian," he laughed as he opened his gate (see? rich people open their own gates!) to welcome me in.

We took all of my bags into my room upstairs that he has graciously allowed me to bunk in for a month and the nothing short of amazing. I just can't bring myself to describe it.

"Oh don't worry. There is Wifi in the house, I'll give you the password later. And if you feel like eating anything, anything, just tell Bibik okay? She is a fantastic cook. (I wanted to ask which Bibik but I have a month to figure that one out) Yeah so everything that is in the house, is on the house. Oh and I need you downstairs after you've unpacked everything. I've downloaded the latest season of Modern Family. let's watch it together alright? And oh, remember to close the windows at night when you sleep?"

"Why?" I asked suspiciously. I looked outside of the window. Trees. Nothing but trees. I swallowed my saliva. I'm a wuss. There, I said it.

"Oh you know, things might come in at night," Steve said.

"What things?!" I asked, voice slightly shaking.

"You know, bats?" he replied.

I didn't know whether he was joking or serious so I just nodded. That was forty five minutes ago. I have finished unpacking my clothes and am typing this right now on my laptop, feet resting on the faux lamb wool carpet below me. Star just messaged me:

"How's the first night at your husband's place? And don't tell me Harry, he has liked you for the longest time, everybody knows that. <3 Have fun and don't get raped! Oh do you know that Melanie told me once that the same room you're going to be staying in is haunted? Have fun!"

Fucking bitch.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bamboo Whips

To cane or not to cane. Disciplining children has always been a topic of heated discussion between Mrs Dewey and my mother. Mr and Mrs Dewey hails from America, the land of opportunity (and opportunists), and have set foot on our sunny little island about seven years ago. Mr Dewey is an engineer in Peugeot and Mrs Dewey is a full time housewife. They have a seven year old girl Lily, and a four year old boy, Daniel.

My mum hates their guts, especially the two "devil spawns" (my mum's words, not mine) Lily and Daniel. My mum call them Lily Hillbilly and Daniel Spaniel, because according to my mum Lily will grow up to be one of those disgusting rednecks and Daniel would grow up to be

I'll be honest, I hate those kids too. I've never liked children anyways and these two kids are not making my hatred dissipate either. Oh they are the most obnoxious, rude and annoying kids you will ever meet, you have no idea. Lily doesn't speak she screams all the damn time and Daniel is this kid who just cries and wails and cries and wails like someone is dead but in actual fact, nothing. They have broken my mum's clay pot in the corridor three times and the last time they did it was yesterday and my mum screamed from behind the gate.

"Kaninabe Chaocibai!!!"

They obviously didn't understand a word of what my mother said and they just stood there with their smug annoying faces and you really feel like slapping hard across their faces.

"I am going to boil you both and make curry out of you two!" my mum screamed from inside the house.

"No you won't!" that damned Lily girl said in her thick American accent.

"One of these days I am going to throw that little bitch down the rubbish chute, you watch me," my mum snarled that night.

"Mum, language!" Harold said.

"Oh stop it you're not five anymore. If you did half of what those two devil spawn did in my house, you won't be alive today sitting in front of me," my mum said.

That's true though. My mum is the epitome of an Asian upbringing. The bamboo cane. Spilled water on the dinner table, whip. Homework not done, whip. Making too much noise in the room, whip. She has been whipping it back and forth way before Willow Smith made it mainstream.

"And you know what that Dewey lady gave me as a form of apology? Muffins! She think she's Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives. I haven't even touched those muffins. I shudder to think what she have put in there, you know she is a sneaky lady. A sound apology is if you smacked the shit out of your kids for being such brats," my mum said.

"Mum! I had three of those muffins just now!" Harold cried.

"Die, the first one to die," was my mum's reply.

Mrs Dewey, in short doesn't know how to discipline her kids. She talks to them, she doesn't even give them timeout or ground them, like normal caucasian mothers. She talks to them. "We need to treat them like adults, they will learn to listen," she would always tell my mother.

"Your son is four, what does he know about talking? His crying drowns your talking anyways," my mum sarcastically said last week when that Daniel kid threw a bowl of cereal and milk in front of our gate because he didn't want to have breakfast.

"Well, then you try again, you make them apologize, understand it's worth and the repercussions of their actions," she tried to explain to my mother. She did though, she said to her kid, "Say sorry to Aunty. Good boy, now do you really mean what you said?"

My mum gave a stupid look and grunted.

"What about caning? That'll teach him," my mum said that night.

In Between My Teeth

Gone are the days when all it takes for a man to look good is if he takes a nice good shower. Men nowadays are being assaulted, sometimes against their will, with a cacophony of products, treatments and lifestyles that encompasses and caters to a man's needs from head to toe.

Oh the list is endless. Pedicures, manicures, micro dermabrasion, vitamin C injections, botox, hair transplants, facials, abs enhancing weight loss programs, hair tonics, you have your waxes and your clays and your mousses and your gels, hair sprays, eye creams, collagen shots, "natural" tannings, eyebrow reshaping, body scrubs, spas and massages, yoga, pilates, three million brands and types of facial products, masks and many, many more.

The man of today is spoilt, and let's face it, sometimes gravely pressured with the endless array of products and treatments to make them look good. Nowadays men needs to be as picky with their "beauty regime" as their opposites. The right hair products for the right kind of hair, the correct facial wash that complements your skin type, the right type of underwear; the level of vanity and the need to look good has increased tremendously over the last two decades amongst menfolk.

The latest trend has caught up and is being practiced amongst a growing number of men is manscaping. It is a form of maintenance of the furry kind for our fellow brothers who are gifted by God with more active hair follicles on their bodies. I personally have not gone for any of these manscaping thing whatsoever because I am as furry as a baseball bat, so I have no hair on my body that is unruly enough to be scraped, waxed, yanked out, shaved, trimmed or shortened.

Steve however is a big manscaping fan. And rightfully so. Born to a Peranakan mother and an Irish father, Steve has followed his father's body hair type: all over. The only part of his body that is not covered with hair is his back (thankfully) but everywhere else needs a bit of professional trimming. And I must say that he looks great, with just the right amount of hair he looks very masculine and yet, for a lack of a better word, uncluttered.

"They wax my ass too," Steve said two days ago during dinner after his monthly manscaping session.

"Wow, thanks. I needed to hear that while I am having my dinner," I said, swallowing my roasted chicken and mashed potatoes.

"I mean, I'm a gay man and I open my legs pretty often so I need my ass to look welcoming all the time," Steve added.

Melanie laughed hoarsely across the table, her original male voice making an entry and she kept banging the table.

"Do you shave down there Steve? Harry?" Star asked.

"That is a very personal question Star," I replied.

"Oh please! I tell you everything!' Star raised her voice.

"Nobody asked you to," I replied again.

"Do you shave your pubes or not?!" Star shouted. Everyone in the restaurant looked at the four of us.

"Wow, that came out from nowhere," Steve said softly, his face getting red.

"Whatever it is boys, I am here to tell you that it is of paramount importance that you boys actually trim down there. Don't you ever, ever let it weed out down there. Once I gave a blowjob to this dude who I think have NEVER shaved since he reached puberty and I am telling you, I kept stopping halfway because I kept having his pubic hair stuck in between my teeth!" Star shared.

"Wow, okay. Wow.." I muttered softly, helpless.

"But the truth of the matter is, no matter how tough and challenging self-hygiene for men is over the past few years, all of it is nothing compared to getting a Brazilian wax like we women do," Melanie gloated, proud of the fact that she is a woman now and is honoured with the opportunity to have her man mad vagina yanked out of it's hair, each and every strand.

"When I first had my brazilian wax, the initial yank, everything went white," Melanie said.

"Which is the state I wish I was in right now," Steven smiled, sipping his drink.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To The Beat

"Oh dear, Rihanna spent Thanksgiving with Chris Brown. Does that mean that they are back together again?" Star said yesterday during dinner, scrolling intently on her Samsung Note 2.

"Why do you spend so much time on those rubbish celebrity gossip blogs?" Melanie complained, mouth full of sushi.

"What do you want me to read about? Articles on sexual dysphoria?" Star snarled.

"It's a tricky thing isn't it? Abusive relationships?" Steven opened the topic and put a sashimi in his mouth.

I am always amazed at people who eat raw living things. If not for the fact that they sell cooked deep fried options, I would never set foot in a Japanese restaurant. Star says it is stupid of me to not even try and eat sashimi. She says it is like shopping at Victoria Secret's and not trying on the Wonderbra at least once. "You are missing out on a lot of things," she always says.

"I have no tits, I'm not missing out on a lot," would be my reply.

"Oh this is interesting! Chris Brown is apparently going to have a concert in Brussels and you know what Rihanna fans did to the giant Chris Brown concert poster. They blew up the infamous picture of Rihanna all bruised and battered and plastered it over his poster," Star continued.

"That doesn't mean anything. Because at the end of the day, she is still with him. That's a biggest "Fuck you all" to her fans," I said.

"Why is she even back with him? A man who lays his hands on a woman should never be given a second chance," Melanie spat.

"Like I said, abusive relationships are tricky. 99 percent of women who are still continuing in an abusive relationship sees beyond the physical attacks. It is more emotional and psychological than you think," Steven shared.

"In Rihanna's case, love, literally heals all wounds," I joked.

Melanie wasn't too amused.

"Any guy who wants to lay his hands on me, it should only be on my ass cheeks," Star shrugged.

"Has it always got got be about sex with you Star?" Steven asked.

"Yes," Star replied sharply.

"If a guy lay his hands on me, I will beat the crap out of that motherfucker," Melanie said. And I believe her. Once in a drunken stupor, she got into a fist fight with this dude in a club at last year's new years party who was twice her size. And he fell on the ground. Melanie was wearing a ring with a metal rose head and the guy's nose bled. I believe that was Melvin at work. Melanie is like a tranny version of Jekyll and Hyde.

But the topic didn't just ended there. Star had another theory as to why Rihanna was beaten up in the first place.

"You know how there are some girls who become fucking annoying when they fight with their boyfriends? You know? Those "Slap me lah! Slap! Show me! I want to see you slap me! Come on! Why you just standing there? Scared? No guts is it? You're not a man! Slap me lah! Slap!" Those kinda girls," Star animatedly acted out.

The whole restaurant looked at our table. Steven had covered his face with his palms over his forehead and Melanie was pretending to look at her phone and I was the only person left on the table actually paying attention to whatever she just said.

"All I'm saying is, she must have a part to play in it. Furthermore she has a naturally high pitched annoying voice tone, even I would be compelled to slap the living crap out of her Bajan face," Star finished.

Steven texted me that very same night after the dinner asking me whether Star was ever in an abusive relationship, considering how lightly she sees the issue. Spanking doesn't count as an abusive relationship right?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

World's Most Emotionless

Singapore tops the world ranking as the most emotionless state in a Gallup poll cited by Bloomberg Businessweek. The poll also showed that almost 9 in 10 Singaporeans are working beyond their working hours. I want to know where was this survey made.

In a crematorium?

I absolutely disagree with the results of the poll. I think Singaporeans are far from being emotionless. I whole heartedly believe, with every single fibre of my being that we are a very emotive bunch of people.

Let's take Singaporeans and Facebook for example. My Facebook page for the past couple of years have been filled with anything but emotionless posts. I am apparently friends with pseudo human rights activists, religious proponents, social commentariats, anger management therapists, self-respecting xenophobics, undiscovered (and unelected) political scientists, soothsayers with every growing like, medicine man and vocal marxists amongst many others.

We Singaporeans emote a myriad of emotions, thoughts and opinions on millions of things thats is happening around the world and back at home. Most of the time it is not needed and banal really, but we still speak our minds and express our emotions with much vigor and tenacity like Kate Moss in a public toilet after every meal.

We as an emotive nation have fired a high ranking woman working in a government funded company in a matter of 24 hours because of a cheap ($50) remark she made about Malay weddings.

And we are emotionless?

Don't even get me started on emotional Singaporean girls on Facebook. Have they surveyed a female friend of mine who broke up with her boyfriend of three months and went on to post over twenty statuses, videos, and self-help posters about heartbreak in a short span of half an hour?

We are so emotional as a country that we pick fights with each other over seats in a train. If we are not busy fighting for our rights over a train seat, we are whipping out our phones and capturing images and videos of other people who are fighting for the coveted train seat.

And then we post these videos and images on Stomp which is our designated portal/rubbish chute of emotions. The amount of emotions that is coursing inside that website is enough to drown the Mahabharata and the Ramayana combined.

Have they surveyed the wet markets in the morning and document the endless bickering (and sometimes pleading) between Singaporeans and stall owners? Or the discounted section at Metro with middle aged women clawing each other's eyes out for a measly $9.90 wristlet?

"Or they can just spend one day in your house with your mother. To say that they are in for an emotional roller coaster is to put it mildly," Melanie said over lunch today.

"It's true though. I work beyond my working hours almost weekly," Star said, eyes scanning the web article on my iPhone.

"You're not doing anything work related on those "extra" hours at work, I know you," I said.

"I will drown this phone in my blackcurrant drink, don't!" Star snapped.

"Who topped the survey for the world's most emotional state then, which is you ask me, is not a good thing either," Steven asked, biting into his chicken avocado ciabatta sandwich.

"The Philippines," I replied.

"No way," Melanie rolled her eyes.

"It's true though. Filipinos are very emotional. And easily excited too. Have you seen the YouTube video of the dudes totally losing their shit when Miss Philippines got into the Top 15 at the Miss Universe pageant in 2010? I was watching it on YouTube with the speakers on and my speakers nearly exploded," I said.

"I'm on it," Melanie said, loading the aforementioned video on YouTube from her phone.

Star and Steven sat beside her and as soon as the dudes in the videos started screaming, Star said, "Okay Harry, you said they lost their shit, you didn't say how much!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Switching It Up

One of the biggest stories to hit our ridiculously humid, foreigner infested land is a rather controversial (hilarious, really) news of a baby mix up from Kandang Kerbau Hospital. You know, the hospital that hold the Guinness World Book of Records for highest number of deliveries recorded in a year, or something like that. I don't know what it was really, I hate kids.

So as usual, the trending news on Facebook for the past 48 hours have been about the baby mix up and people are pointing fingers at the hospital administration and it's negligence. The babies have been returned to the correct mothers and it's rightful vagina but people are still talking about it as though it was their vagina that went through 18 hours of contractions.

This incident somewhat made me think about the possibility of it happening in my family. What if I belonged to another set of parents and have been mixed up as a baby, being raised by my current set of parents unknowingly? And then I think of how I inherited my mum's OCD and how I went through my growing up years with literally thousands of, "You look exactly like your father!"; I am far from being a mixed up baby. Damn it, I would kill to be mixed up at birth and end up with say, Steve's parents.

"I won't be able to handle your mother though. I can't imagine growing up with a woman like your mother," Steve said yesterday afternoon over dinner at Marché.

"Why? You'd grow up to be just like me," I said.

"Exactly," Melanie replied, sipping her mushroom soup.

"What is that supposed to mean?" I raised my voice, defensively.

"Nothing! Did I say anything? I didn't!" Melanie defensively replied back.

"I say this from the bottom of my heart. Your mum is the best Harry, she really is. But I don't think I can handle that much character and sassiness all under the same roy. I can't imagine how I would grow up to be like," Steven said, smiling.

"Like Harry," Melanie answered.

"Mel stop it! At least I grew up from a baby boy to a young male and to a man. I can't say the same thing about you," I replied.

"See? Just like his mother, full of character and sassiness, with a capital A-S-S," Melanie sweetly said. I threw my napkin at her.

"What I cannot understand is how come the babies can be mixed up in the first place?" Star suddenly said, totally off topic.

Star has a tendency of doing this. Unlike most women, she is unable to mentally multi task. When she is thinking about something, a topic for example, her brains cannot process any other foreign or new thoughts, ideas or topics until she is down self-processing the one currently in her head. So what you get is a spaced out girl who more than often babble away about something that is totally deviated from the topic at hand or have been concluded minutes ago. That is Star for you.

"I'm sorry?" Steven asked.

"What I can't understand is how come the babies can be mixed up in the first place. Unless of course it is Chinese babies. Chinese babies all look the same, you can't tell them apart. It's impossible," Star said, biting her tuna sandwich.

All the three of us looked at her.

"What?" Star innocently asked. "You know it's true!" she continued.

"That is very, very racist," Melanie said, a pained expression on her face.

"And very, very true," Star said, tilting her head and raising her shoulders.

Ah, what would I do without them?

Stripey Prom Clown

You know how Facebook has a way of momentarily turning your life upside down with nothing but just an old picture of you during prom? Well, my life was momentarily turned upside down last week when an ex secondary school mate uploaded an old photo of me during prom some eight years ago. He tagged 24 other people and the incriminating photo was uploaded with the caption: "Look what I found!"

There are some things in this world that are better off lost and perished. Like Nicki Minaj, Crocs, the entire Kardashian clan and that damned prom photo. This is not some past regression that made me unable to accept my past. With every mistake, comes a lesson. That much I accept. But I can't accept the getup that I was in during prom. I just...can't.

Each and every one of us have gone through the painful and scarring years of adolescence but not everyone looked like a clown during prom. I was like the male version of carrie with the same emotional state, only with worst clothes. I was fat and much better off splashed with pigs blood like Carrie. I may be utterly exaggerating but that was prom to me. I wore this hideous striped shirt and almost matching striped pants (the horror!) and I looked like a discounted set of curtains in Carrefour. Oh but that is not all. I wore white shoes that Barry Manilow would set fire on and a belt with a blingy (go on, judge me) buckle.

Talking about it now is enough to send shivers down my spine and that is possibly the ONLY "What the hell were you thinking?!" moment that I have in my life. For years after that horrific episode, I would be seen buying men's fashion magazine from GQ to Men's Folio and it has somewhat become a reading material for me. I read everything that is required for a man to look good and socially accepted. I vouched from that day onwards that I would never, ever be caught on camera or seen in public for that matter wearing anything that would arouse the feeling of shame and disgust if I ever look back at it in the future.

And as if life couldn't get anymore unfair, the conversation that I had with Steve, Star and Melanie yesterday afternoon made me feel worse that I was last week looking at that damn prom photo. We were having a conversation about prom and how awful we looked back then but apparently I am alone in the "What the hell were you thinking?!" category. Star showed us a photo of her during prom back when she was in the States and she looked...the same.

"You looked the same. Better make up now of course, but you looked the same. You've had the same tits since you were 16," Steven said, staring at the picture.

"Girls enter puberty much earlier than boys. It's normal," Star shrugged.

"Yeah, but the other girls didn't have tits like yours," I added.

"That's because no boys touched their breasts," Melanie joked.

"Shut up Mel, you didn't even go to prom," Star snapped.

"That is because I wanted to wear a gown for prom. And I can't bear to go to prom and NOT win the prom queen title," Melanie said.

"Oh dear god, don't remind me," Steve exhaled loudly, rubbing his temples.

"What did you wore for your prom Stevieboy?" I asked.

Steve took out his phone and logged in on Facebook, scrolled for a couple of minutes and handed to me his phone. I looked at the screen and my jaws dropped. he looked like Keanu Reeves twenty five years ago, hair coiffed perfectly and he had a sash over his suit that read: "Prom King".

"You were Prom King," I said matter-of-factly. My heart stopped beating.

"And he wore a Gucci suit. And all the girls were all over him but he only had eyes for the guest DJ and I know this for a fact because we were from the same school and he told me everything. And he was caught in the school toilet later in the evening french kissing the much, much older DJ," Melanie shared.

I wanted to cry. Not because I wasn't prom king or because I wore a Gucci suit but because of the choices that I have made for my own prom. Choices that I couldn't change now. All I have now is a horror of a memory and a company of a girl who looks as fantastic as she was when she was sixteen, a Gucci wearing Prom King and a transsexual who skipped prom altogether because she stood by her beliefs.

Fuck me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Potatoes From America

For me, grocery shopping is as therapeutic as other forms of shopping. There is something quietly calming about seeing rows and rows of fruits and vegetables neatly arranged side by side on the display shelves. In supermarkets, the oceanic array of food products is enough to put me in a reading frenzy. Trolley in front, you can find me walking down the aisles slowly, eyes intent on the shelves, reading the packaging and quietly marveling at the fact that there is over 18 types of energy bars, and we are only talking about one brand of food item.

"You don't need an apple and cinnamon flavoured energy bar Harry, put it back," my mum told me two weeks ago when we were out in Cold Storage for our routine grocery shopping.

"But I am always feeling lethargic and tired by noon," I reasoned.

"How about eating breakfast in the morning for a start?" my mum sarcastically replied.

"Is this you or is this the menopause talking?" I asked.

My mum threw the energy bar at my face.

"Wake up early tomorrow and follow me to the wet market. I want to get fresh poultry and vegetables," my mum said, pushing the trolley away.

"Why can't you just get it here?" I complained.

"I said fresh," my mum curtly said.

"But Cold Storage IS the fresh food people! That is their tagline," I joked.

My mum stared at me.


So the next day at 7:30 in the morning, my mum and I was up and about and walking around the wet market, much to my annoyance. I was also feeling slightly terrified inside. This is because my mum has a habit of getting into heated verbal arguments with butchers, fishmongers, vegetables and fruit sellers. And dried provision shop owners too if I may add. That is possibly the only typical middled aged woman attribute that she has, but exercised in the wet market with absolute ferocity.

After buying fish, prawns, squids and chicken, we arrived at the vegetable shop. My mum asked the old man manning the shop for 1 kilograms of potatoes. So after he had weighed the potatoes and was putting them inside a plastic bag, my mum held out two $2 dollar notes.

"Six dollars," the uncle said.

"How come? Last week I buy one kilo of potatoes only four dollars. How come so expensive today?" my mum retaliated.

She didn't buy any potatoes last week by the way. It's an age old trick in the book when bargaining for things.

"Last week, last week. This week potatoes expensive already. This one from USA," the uncle explained, rather rudely.

"Don't know which farm you take, you say USA. You know USA where or not uncle?" my mum raised her voice.

"America lah!" the uncle shouted back.

"Are you seriously going to argue with the uncle over two bucks? Everybody is looking!" I said from behind her and handing the uncle another $2 note.

"Don't give him chance. He will con you! I have seen potatoes from USA, these are not from USA! Liar!" my mum spat at the uncle.

"Oi! You possessed or what? Can stop it or not? People are staring!" I hushed her.

"Stare at me then! I pretty what!"

Yeap, that is definitely menopause. And yes, that ALWAYS happens. Sometimes when I go grocery shopping with her, I feel like I am in a reality program where I am being tested to the limits by the shenanigans that my mum put out in full display to the public.

"And why do you need one kilo of potatoes anyways?" I asked, hauling the plastic bag filled with potatoes inside the shopping trolley.

"Six dollars? Ridiculous!" was my mum's reply.

"You are still bothered about the extra two bucks? Didn't I pay for it? It's only two bucks for god's sake, stop it mum!" I said, annoyed.

"Two bucks can get anything you want from Daiso!"

God help me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali Competitive Eater

My neighbour Arjun is a first generation Singaporean. His parents come from Pune, North India to our shores 30 years ago before this country was an incubus of foreign talent and known as Little China; dad is a computer engineer (as typical as it gets) and mum works in a bank. Every Deepavali, or Diwali as the Northern Indians call it, his parents would invite everybody from back home to their humble abode (apparently it is cheaper for them to come to Singapore than them going there).

So for the past 26 years, over 20 odd family members from Pune, India from both father and mother's side, would be present to celebrate the Festival Of Light with them. A little short holiday for them, and I am sure it is a novelty for them to celebrate Diwali elsewhere instead of India. Besides, they still have the time to celebrate Diwali back home; in India, it is celebrated for weeks. Along with the family members, friends, colleagues, society members in the Marathi Association in Singapore would also be present. It is one whole day of thumping music and a cacophony of scents ranging from curries to freshly baked naan. My family, or me especially don't mind it at all. It is only once a year and Chinese funerals and Malay weddings make as much or more noise than my ears could take so this is really just my part in practicing racial tolerance (truth is I fucking enjoy the Bollywood music cranked up for the entire day).

And every year for the past 26 years, my family have always been invited to come over their place and celebrate Diwali with them. We enjoy it thoroughly and it has somewhat become a family tradition for us to be in their house and mingle around with their family members and friends and being given food to bring back home at the end of the day in quantity that can last us for a week. This year was no different. Arjun came over the night before and told us to come early and savour the naan and mutton masala while it is still hot. My mum shook her head and said, "Okay we will Arjun."

"Why do you have to shake your head like an Indian when you talk to them?" my brother Harold asked, lying down on the sofa in the living room.

"No I don't. Do I? I don't notice such things!" my mum said.

"Whatever you say," Harold answered, shaking his head and mimicking my mother.

That night, Arjun also texted me to ask Steve, Star and Melanie along for the Diwali celebration the next day. As luck would have it, Arjun is a computer engineer like dad, and he is working as a technical officer in Star's company and yes, he has a crush on Star and sometimes, he hangs around with us for coffee. It's a win-win situation for him. He gets to spend more time ogling at Star and is in my company so he won't be awkward. Besides, he stays in the house beside mine, so we always have each other's company on the way back home.

"Why would you like someone like Star? Indian girls are one of the most beautiful girls in the world and you want her? That is like choosing Jenny McCarthy over Aishwarya Rai, before she was fat," I said when he confessed his liking for Star three weeks ago.

That didn't stop him from liking Star and so with his insistence, I have invited Steve, Melanie and Star herself to his house. Star, because he likes her, Melanie and Steven because, he wants her to feel comfortable at his place. "What about me?" I asked. He said I will be busy choosing the Bollywood tracks by the sound system to even bother. Well, that's true.

So at 11 am yesterday morning, Star, Melanie and Steven arrived at my door, fresh and hungry. I asked them to come to my place first before we all head next door and my mum was genuinely surprised when she opened the door.

"What are you all doing here? Sorry, we don't give alms!" my mother joked.

Steven was wearing this brocade long sleeved mandarin collared top (Etro, like he would settle for anything less), Melanie was looking ravishing in a tangerine chiffon sari with gold trimmings and Star was looking...demure in a light grey anarkali with black and gold embellishments, complete with a dupatta (scarf) over her shoulders.

"That is the most modest I have seen you in Star. And you all look like extras in a Bollywood music video. Come in," I said, opening the gate.

"Fuck you," Star whispered at the door, whispering because my mum was behind me.

"And....there goes your modesty," I replied.

"What time does the party start? From what I'm hearing right now, it has already started," Steve said.

The music had been blasting since 10 in the morning and the 20 odd family members have started to trickle in since morning from the hotel where they are staying at. The familiar smell of curry and freshly baked naan have been wafting in the air for a good four hours now.

"And today I just found out that I can just pronounce it as Diwali. Deepavali is too much of a syllable for me to bother pronouncing," Star joked.

"I am so hungry I will literally eat the buffet table itself. Then Arjun's family members can see my true colours. Wait, they are not going to stone me to death if they know I am not a biological female right?" Melanie asked, sitting down on my couch.

"Don't worry Melanie. In India, transvestism has been around since forever. Hijras if what they call them, and they are known to bring good luck and they will entertain and dance and give blessings at for example, baby showers, or any form of celebration whatsoever. So your presence is more than welcomed. The Indians are more forward than the rest of the world when it comes to transvestism. Don't worry honey," my mum smiled.

"I am not dancing around babies if that's what you are saying aunty," Melanie says, deadpan.

My mum laughed so hard she had to hold the dining table so that she didn't fall.

"You're right Harry, she is more funny as a woman," my mum told me, running her chest from too much laughing.

Harold, who we were all waiting for (because he spends way too much time styling is hair) finally went out of his room and shook hands with all my three friends and said, "Okay I am done. Shall we?"

Melanie looked at my brother and said, "My you have grown so much and so fast Harold!"

Harold smiled and I told Melanie to quit it because he likes woman with God given pussy, not a plastic surgeon.

The party was a blast. Melanie was a hit with Arjun's relatives, Arjun was busy hitting on Star. Steve was hit many times by a flying hand; he was sitting near the dancing area and I was busy hitting the play button of the Bollywood songs list.

"You look like a prettier version of Preity Zinta!" one of the ladies told Melanie.

"Don't insult Preity Zinta like that!" I shouted across the room. Everybody was laughing and dancing and everybody had fun; just like how one should be in a celebration. My mum was at the balcony chatting with the elder women in the family and marveling at the intricate bead work of their saris.

Melanie was eating curry like nobody's business. By the fifth serving, Star went to her and said, "You are going to die of curry contamination!"

"I have never tasted curry like this before! This is the best curry I have ever tasted in my life!" Melanie said, mouth full of rice and curry.

"But that doesn't mean you should eat like a competitive eater," Steve added.

"And you are supposed to bring them good luck! You're supposed to be busy blessing random babies," I joked.

"I don't see any babies around. I see curries, curries, curries everywhere!" Melanie said, almost choking on her food.

"You are a disgusting Hijra," Star said, pained look on her face.

The very same night Arjun texted me to say thank you for inviting Star and the gang along and that he really enjoyed himself. He even managed to ask Star out on a date next week.

"Why not? He is cute! He looks like one of those Bollywood pretty boys. His eyelashes are really long and I bet that is not the only long time about him, or so I've heard," Star said over the phone in a conference call with Melanie and Steve.

"I am not going to work tomorrow. I have been shitting like nobody's business since I got back," Melanie complained over the phone.

'That's what you get for being a pig," Steve said laughing.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Son Of A Tycoon

Earlier on in the day, Steven texted Star, Melanie and me asking us if we were free for brunch. Steven's idea of brunch is wearing something chic and slightly fancy, at a five star hotel. And my idea of brunch is wearing my pyjamas and whipping up a hearty homemade Aglio Olio. He sent a mass text message, "Brunch, 12 sharp? I've got something really important to share. I'll pick you guys up and brunch is on me. Please?"

Star: Are you getting a sex change too? Alright pick me up at 1130. Usual place. Wait, does this mean that I have to wear something fancy? Urgh, I have yet to shower!
Melanie: Free brunch with Stevieboy? I'm in. 1145. Usual place.
Me: Since when did Steven become your designated driver girls?
Star: Since he owns a motherfucking Audi. Chao!

Two and a half hours later, the four of us were sitting in a posh nosh restaurant that sells 45 bucks salads, wearing fancy clothes, eating fancy food (raw tuna is shitty). I have no idea why some restaurants have a dress code because in this country, wearing a jacket only means that you are going to be sweating your pits off. If not for the fact that I am being transported from one place to the other in an air-conditioned Audi, I would have said no straightaway. But hey, free meal, free ride, I get to wear something nice and look good once in a while (at least I think I look good); no complaints there.

"Do I look nice in my new dress? I got it from Bebe at a sale!" Star asked, adjusting her shoulder straps.

"It's short. And sparkly. And half of your tits are showing so by standards, yes, you look nice," I replied on behalf of the other two, eyes scanning the menu.

"You are not even looking at me," Star said.

"Your dress is so sparkly I can see the shimmer and glimmer from the reflection on the table from where I am sitting right now," I answered.

"Bitch," Star whispered under her breath.

"I can hear that," I said, glancing up.

She did looked great. She has a fantastic body and isn't afraid of flaunting it. Side swept hair, pearl drop earrings and her favourite YSL tribute sandals completed her look. melanie on the other hand  was looking demure (I know right?) in a knee length peplum (all the rage now!) dress. Steven, sitting on my left looks like he belongs in a Prada advert. My idea of fancy brunch garb is tan brogues, white t-shirt and a plaid jacket. Anything more and I will feel like I am going up on stage to receive an award. The four of us looked like Sex and The City meets Queer Eye For the Straight Guy.

"So what is the important news you wanted to tell us Stevieboy?" Melanie asked.

Steven smiled.

"What is it?" Star asked, raising her eyebrows.

"I invited you all here for brunch because I want to share this piece of news only to the people closest to me. And you guys are the only friends that I am truly close to and I trust with my life," Steven shared.

"Aww, that's too sweet. Now continue!" Melanie blurted midway.

"So! About a week ago my father sat my mother down with me and read us through his will. He is not dying but you know, he decided to get the will drafted and signed just in case. In the will, it says that in his demise, a quarter of his assets, this includes shares, his properties, his businesses and it's accumulative profits bla bla bla will go to charity. Another quarter will go to my mother, not that she needs it, but you know my dad being my dad, every penny needs to be stretched to the last penny, and the remaining half would be under my name. My father rarely talks about money at home, in fact never but a week ago, after 25 years, I finally have an understanding of the magnitude of his wealth and monetary assets. And it is alot. Like...a lot," Steven spoke softly.

"How much are we talking about here? When the old man kicks the bucket, which I don't mean he will, but you much will you be getting?" Star asked, straightforward.

Steven smiled.

"You're killing me! Steven!" Melanie cried.

"About 75 million."

"What the fuck?!" Star screamed.

"Star!" I hushed.

"Oh my god Steven you are literally the real life Tony Stark!" Melanie said excitedly, her fake boobs heaving heavily.

"Mel, his father is not dead yet, don't be deplorable," I said.

"It's fine. And that is actually only the assets as of now. The profits that the restaurants and clubs will keep on making, I have a 25% share in it, until of course there is no one else left to run the business say in another 30, 40 years?" Steven shared.

"So on top of 75 million fucking dollars, you get monetary profits for the next 30, 40 years?" Star asked.

Steven nodded his head.

I gulped. There was a deafening silence. Half an hour ago, Star texted me: Does this mean that you will be a Tai Tai if you hook up with him?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cooking Pride

One of my biggest passions besides Indian Cinema and writing potentially damaging things about my loved ones on the internet is cooking. Growing up in a middle class family also means that both of my parents are always out at work, therefore I am delegated with the task of taking care of the house and feeding Harold. I don't enjoy the household chores part but the only saving grace, the jolt of colour in the dull monotony of chores is the cooking part.

At nine years old, I was already being taught how to cook rice and by the age of twelve, I was able to whip up a decent (eatable) meal. Every time when I watch Junior Masterchefs on television, I do nothing but openly scoff and say things like, "The only reason they can cook at such a young age is because they are from a middle class family with middle class parents. I could cook the same thing they are cooking at their age and nobody said I was gifted!"

"So full of resentment," Star rolled her eyes at me one evening, and then continued to be fixated on the television screen; some white kid was making prawn curry and sweating at the same time because the gravy was too spicy.

But in truth, the joy of cooking is nothing compared to the joy I get when I see my loved ones enjoying the food that I cooked to the very last bite. I cannot explain this in words, only those who cook can understand the warm tingling sensation inside. This is also why I find women who can cook a tad bit more special than those who refuse to. Like my second cousin Kate, who has this warped feminist perception towards women and cooking. In short, we don't see eye to eye.

"Why must we women learn how to cook? So that when we get married, we will slave in the kitchen? Hell no!" she butted in between the conversation between Harold and me at a family gathering a couple of days ago. We were talking about how Harold finds women who can cook really sexy.

"Do you know that it is bad manners to barge in a conversation without asking for permission?" Harold spat; he does not like her any much more than I do.

"And besides, who ever talked about slaving in the kitchen? And what is so bad about cooking for your husband and children?" I rebutted.

"It is degrading and disrespectful towards a woman's self worth. We are so much more than being in the kitchen for hours whipping up dishes after dishes day after day, months after months, years after years, until we die. And we achieve nothing in life while doing it!" Kate spat back.

"Kate, what is so degrading about feeding our family? That is a gift, to able to provide sustenance for your family members, your husband and children. That is not something all men can boast of doing. How is it degrading? If anything else, it is empowering, limitless empowerment if I may add," I rebutted again.

"Well I just believe in equality between the two genders, and cooking is but just a sorry excuse to demote womenfolk in the equality game," Kate relentlessly tried to prove her point.

"Of course women and men are not equal! Not all men can go to work and have a full time job, go back home to finish up the household chores and still cook for the family to eat by dinner time. So yes, women and men are not equal and definitely are not in the same league. When did I say they were?" I said, calmly this time. Smiling sweetly in fact.

Awkward silence.

"Kate, if you are a shitty cook, just be honest about it, we won't judge you. But don't try to win an argument with Harry, that's just plain stupid," Harold laughed.

"Whatever," Kate muttered and walked away, face red with anger.

"Can your girlfriend cook Harold?" I asked when Kate left.

"I don't think so. But she makes up for her lack of coking skills in other departments, if you know what I mean," Harold winked.

"You are a filthy pig," I said, throwing the tissue paper box at his face.

"What did you boys say to Kate? She said to me that you boys bullied her!" my mum asked worriedly, walking towards us.

"She said she doesn't find the idea of cooking the least bit interesting and won't even try to learn cooking. She says it is degrading," I explained.

"What is she going to feed her family then? Her fake eyelashes eh? Stupid girl," my mum scowled.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meet The Parents, Later.

My mum, as far as I know it, is one of the most understanding and open minded mothers I know (and trust me, I've known quite a fair bit of mothers). My mum is a big proponent of "trust" and "knowing your limits". Very, very fierce when we were growing up but the moment I turned 14, never once I felt that my self worth and privacy was being compromised or infringed by my mother. She trusted me and she made me understand my limits and in turn, I grew up to be a responsible, fairly well behaved kid and I understood the value of trust.

My limits were simple: You can do anything you want, as long as it does not bring shame to your family. I wouldn't say say that I am a good son, but I never gave her any reason to worry. And I think that is the best thing you can give your parents while growing up, don't you think so? A peace of mind is priceless and much less tedious to attain than say, good grades. Besides, tell me how Pythagoras Theorem helped you to get laid?

Alright, I am digressing into the usual territory but my point is, my mum's understanding, and open mindedness is something that I truly appreciate and it is present in my formative years from pre teen, to an adult now. Which is why I am dumbfounded when my mum flipped out at Harold when he decided to bring his girlfriend of six months back home for dinner to meet the family.

"Aren't you too young to have a girlfriend?" my mum raised her voice when Harold told her the news a couple of weeks back.

"Mum, he is 21. Stop it. In some countries, at that age he could already be a father of four," I said in his defense.

"Or if I am a mat rep and my wife is a minah, " Harold joked.

We both laughed. My mum however wasn't the very least amused.

"Where did you pick her up?" my mum asked, face stern.

"Get to know. Not pick up. She is not a piece of clothing you pick up in a departmental store," Harold corrected her.

"Oh? Defending her already? You chose a girl over your own mother?" my mum sniffed.

"Oh my god," I said, covering my face with both of my palms.

"I am the one who gave birth to you, who brought you into this world and yet you pick a girl you barely know over me?" my mum continued, not missing a beat.

"Mum, stop it! Where is this drama coming from?!" Harold said, exasperated.

"It's in there all along," I said, face still covered.

"I have not even brought the girl home and you are already reacting like this. How is any of your sons going to get married with this kind of attitude from you? And then you complain when we don't bring girls back and bemoan over and over again about how you are not lucky enough to see your sons getting married and being a grandmother," Harold said.

"That is very true. I brought two, two girls home, and yet she wasn't the very least happy," I chipped in.

"Shut up Harry! One of them is not even a real girl!" my mum chided me, fork pointing in my direction. "Is she a virgin?" my mum asked.

Harold chocked on his grape juice.

A "yes" reply would be followed by a "How do you know? You have slept with her already haven't you?" and a "no" reply would be followed by a "How do you know? You have slept with her already haven't you?" Smart woman.

"I'm not bringing her home okay? Happy?" Harold said, giving up.

"I didn't say anything. It is your decision," my mum said, a tinge of relief in her voice.

"I'm just going to elope somewhere one of these days and get married and you won't even know about it," Harold threatened.

"You wouldn't dare honey," my mum said sweetly, smiling and clearing the table away.

A Painful Swallow

At four thirty in the morning just now, I received a rather distressing phone call from Melanie. I know, nobody answers phone calls at four in the morning and I didn't either, at least for the first four phone calls. By the fifth consecutive phone call, I sleepily figured out that it must be a life and death situation, though it probably would be Melanie the one causing the death of some poor customer. That didn't stop me from being furious though and so I picked up the fifth phone call halfway and before Melanie could say anything, I slurred angrily (go figure, try it yourself), "What is it Mel, what the f**k do you want?"

"I'm dying..." Melanie groaned through the phone, her original deep male voice making a special appearance.

See? It is about life and death with Melanie, always. Jokes aside, that did woke me up a little.

"Why, what is wrong?" I said, scratching my eyes.

"I don't know... Come here quick. I can't move, I am practically bedridden!" she cried.

"Fine, I'll reach your place in half an hour. Wait for me," I said sleepily.

"No! Come faster than that!" she shouted on the phone.

"My father owns the taxi company in Singapore is it?" I said, pressing the familiar red button and tossing it on the bed. I grabbed my towel for a quick shower and reached her place in slightly more than forty minutes. Lucky for me, Melanie had given me a duplicate set of her house keys, "in case I am drunk beyond comprehension and lying outside a club like a scene in CSI". I made my way into the house rather noisily, sleepy mostly, but also to let her know that I have reached.

"You said half an hour! It's been over forty minutes!" she screamed from her room.

I opened the room door and Melanie was lying on her bed, in a foetal position and groaning loudly. In her biologically male voice. Her hands were clutching her stomach and she was breaking out in cold sweat, face pale; the palest I have seen her in.

"Shut up Mel, you're going to wake up all the neighbours. It's not even five o'clock in the morning," I told her, putting down my sling bag on her vanity table.

"You heartless piece of shit, I'm dying!" she wailed again in that deep male voice. I need to get used to this, I told myself.

"You're not going to die yet. God is not ready yet to fully recognise your new face," I joked, sitting down beside her on the bed. "Did you eat anything before this?" I asked her.

"No I was from this escort job and you wouldn't want to know what I ate, or swallowed before this," she said.

I laughed so hard, I had to cover my mouth with my palms in order not to wake up the neighbours. Melanie smiled weakly and chuckled feebly, still in pain. I helped her out of bed (she's actually heavier post op I began to realize) and called a cab. I literally carried her from the bedroom, out of the house and straight into the cab. She was still groaning in pain in her deep baritone voice, all the while wearing only hot shorts and a tight Mango t-shirt and the cab driver gave a very confused look, peering occasionally from the rear view mirror whenever Melanie groaned in pain.

It was mostly, "Oh my god!" and "F**k!" and one time she went, "Oh my god, f**k!" and I pinched her and said, "Shut up lah!" It was a very confusing ride for the cab driver, that is all I can say.

We reached the A&E and turns out it was just a case of severe food poisoning. She was on drip for a couple of hours and given the proper medicine, but because it's the A&E and everything was moving at a glacial pace, everything ended only at around noon. That is more than six hours in the hospital and I was very lucky I wore a hoodie over my shirt or I would freeze to death beside Melanie.

What caused the food poisoning was still unknown but it definitely wasn't what I thought it was. "It wasn't my first time Harry," Melanie snarled at me, right forearm attached to the drip.

When we left, Melanie could already walk and she looked like shit. The lady at the dispensary said, "You're so lucky to have a loving boyfriend. He waited for you all morning."

"He is sweet isn't he?" Melanie said, soft feminine voice on display after a whole morning of deep male grunting. I walked away, rolling my eyes and she smacked my butt on the way out of the dispensary and the lady at the counter giggled away like a schoolgirl.

Moral decay this one.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Work In Progress

By mid next month, I will have to find a place to stay for three months. The reason behind this is because my mum intends to renovate the entire house, and that too without informing me until yesterday over dinner. She is going to stay at Aunt Sally's place for the time being since Rick has gotten married and there is an extra room. Harold is going to stay at his best friend's place, which is honestly, like his second home. His best friend, Sean, and his mother treats Harold like family. Which leaves me to being the person without a place to stay for three months while the house is in shambles, undergoing a makeover.

"I called Steve and told him I would want only him to be the interior designer for our house renovation," my mum told me over dinner yesterday after dropping the last minute news about the three month homeless renovation story.

"And what did he say?" I asked.

"Oh he was more than happy to help. He even sounded more excited than I am! He said he would do anything, for Harry's sake. You sure you have nothing going on with him? I mean, whatever boys, I don't mind, he is rich, go for it I say," my mum replied.

"That is just morally wrong, on so many levels mum," I shook my head.

"He is coming over tomorrow morning to discuss about the renovation details at around ten. You both better be present and decide about the design of your own rooms. If it was up to me, I don't think you boys would like it," my mum said, clearing the dishes on the table away.

So this morning, Steve came over and the four of us had a discussion about the concept of the house and its design sensibilities, costs, budget, the whole thing.

"Well you know Steve, ever since aunty got divorced five years ago, aunty have been wanting to renovate this house and change things so that you know, aunty won't be reminded of the painful memories because this house was decorated and designed by both me and my ex husband. Aunty wants to move on and this renovation would help me a lot," my mum said, with a sad face.

"Oh god you are such a lying emotional blackmailer! The only reason why you want a renovation is because you have always wanted a walk in wardrobe for the longest time!" Harold outed her.

I laughed manically.

"Fine! I want a walk in wardrobe too using the space from the storeroom beside my master bedroom! You can do that right Steve?" my mum cooed. Harold rolled his eyes.

"Of course I can! How much is your budget aunty?" Steven asked, scribbling away in his notebook.

"Forty thousand? Is that enough?"

"What the hell? Since when did you have that much money to spend? Oh and you scoff at Rick's wedding a week ago? Who is the one NOT acting like a middle class person should here?" I asked condescendingly.

"I've been saving for years. And Steven is going to handle everything from start to finish. We just move out, and come back three months later to a new home. No hassle, no fuss. Thank you Steven!" my mum cooed again.

"Speaking of which, I have yet to find a place to rent for three months because SOMEONE told me only at the very last minute," I said.

"Oh you can stay at my place. I've got three empty fully furnished bedrooms and my parents are rarely in town anyways and I don't think they would mind. In fact I think they would love it if I have some company and guests in the house," Stave offered, with a twinkle in his eyes.

I told him I would think about the generous offer and my mum tested me later on in the afternoon that I am stupid for even thinking of considering the offer. "U cn ask him 2 gv us e red satin couch in his living rm! Pls! Or I won't do e laundry 4 u animre!"

Harold is right. My mum is a lying emotional blackmailer.

The Art Of Gifting

Christmas is only a month and a half away so let me take this opportunity to address the issue that is "The Art Of Gifting". I think it is an absolutely important skill that needs to be practiced and harnessed because let's face it: 99% of Singaporeans give shitty gifts. They do. And we need to stop spending (Wasting, really) our money by buying shitty gifts that is of little or no use for people that matter to us. It reflects bad on your taste (if you have any left in their eyes) and your common sense, in most occasions where gifting is considered part of the practice.

About a week ago, my Aunt Sally and her husband, who we call Uncle Brad celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. Aunt Sally is a fantastic gifted; she bought for her husband a Dunhill money clip and a limited edition John Varvatos cologne because a, Uncle Brad refuses to carry his wallet around when he goes out and he already has a cardholder and b, he has been using his Aramis cologne for the past twenty years and Aunt Sally says that it is starting to make her lose her sense of smell. The gifts bought is perfect for Uncle Brad, something classy AND something that he definitely would use.

It was a small family gathering and Aunt Sally cooked her legendary Beef Shepherd's Pie and Garlic Butter Prawns Linguine. Uncle Brad was ecstatic with his gifts and to say that Aunt Sally has raised the standard of gifting is to put it mildly. It was Uncle brad's turn to present his gift to his lovely wife and I could almost feel the tension in the room multiplying by ten; Aunt Sally is known to be absolutely critical and fussy, she is the difficult one, my mum is the bitch. Bless my grandparent's souls.

We were all sitting down around the living room and Aunt Sally opened her present; a big box covered in grey gift wrap with black ribbons. My Aunt Sally opened it and immediately screamed, "What the hell is this?!" My mum immediately muttered under her breath, "Uh oh."

It was a karaoke set: A disc player that already has 2000 songs stored inside, and two microphones.

"You don't like it?" Uncle Brad asked. Harold leaned over to snap a picture of the karaoke set to upload in Instagram. Pure comedy gold.

"Do I sing? Am I a singer? Do I look like Donna Summers?" Aunt Sally asked, raising both her eyebrows and her voice.

"That's my Instagram caption right there: Do I sing? Am I a singer? Do I look like Donna Summers?" Harold whispered as he sat back down beside me.

"Well you are always singing, in the showers, while cooking, hanging the laundry. I thought it would be a good idea to get you a karaoke box set and you can sing to your heart's content! Who knows, you may even win the singing competition at the community centre one of these days!" Uncle Brad joked.

"Brad, I will shove this microphone inside of you and I am not talking about your mouth!" Aunt Sally fumed.

Harold and I rolled on the floor laughing. Rick, their newly married son who was seated quietly all throughout suddenly burst out laughing, "Mum! Where did that come from?"

The point I am getting at is, the "Art Of Gifting" is a necessary life (and respect) changing skill. The rule of the thumb for me when buying a gift is, before buying it, always, always, always choose practicality/usage value above everything else. The best gifts are usually not the most pretty, the most expensive, the most romantic or the most value for money.

For me personally, the best gifts are those that the recipients would need and use rather frequently in their lives. And every time they use it, they would be reminded of you. And isn't that the whole point of gifting; for remembrance?

So the next time you want to buy a gift for someone, always remember to ask yourself whether the gift is going to be of any use or is it just going to collect dust inside someone's closet beside one of the One Direction boys (pun intended). And if the recipient you are intending to buy the gift for has everything already, treat him or her to a nice expensive dinner and ask them to shut the hell up. It beats having to receive a karaoke set box.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lisa From (French) Hell

"I hate office politics!" Star complained over coffee yesterday.

"You're sleeping with your boss. You're basically monopolizing the ruling power. So what politics are you talking about?" Melanie replied.

"Mel, you're a hairdresser. Politics to you is if someone ate the cheesecake you put in the fridge at the pantry without your permission," Star snapped.

"I see Starsky is amongst us today," Steven smiled.

Two months ago, we came up with Star's alter ego name when she is suffering from an incurable bitchy streak caused by this thing called The PMS. So whenever the time of the month is about to come and she starts taking this thrash-talking, absolutely sensitive persona, we call her Starsky.

"What actually happened?" I asked.

"Well my company just employed this new HR executive called Lisa. She is not exactly new. She was based in France where my company HQ is at. When they said someone from the French office was going to be in the Singapore branch, I imagined it to be a French girl but it turns out that this Lisa is of the "asian persuasion" species who actually grew up in Bedok. The reason why she couldn't continue working in France was because there was something wrong with her work permit or visa or something so she had to relocate here again after two years. This Lisa is one of the most pretentious person I have ever met in my entire life, and that is putting it mildly," Star said, swallowing her saliva, appalled.

"I knew that was coming, continue!" Melanie said, munching on her banana walnut muffin.

"As a daily routine, she goes around the cubicles and babble away about Paris and France for hours and hours no end. For two whole weeks, every single day and it is so fucking annoying. I couldn't take it anymore so three weeks ago, my colleague Diane bought youtiao and beancurd for breakfast at work and offered her some and you know what she said? "My stomach has been conditioned for the past two years to eat something that is very little on fats, haha. Only butter croissants for me dear." So I said, "Butter has trans fat. Lots of it!" from across the partition," Star regaled.

Melanie and Steve grunted in amusement.

"So me being me, I bought for the entire office butter croissants from Starbucks the very next day and I offered her some. You know what this little fucker said? 'The croissants in Singapore are not half as good as the ones in France, so I'll give this a pass."" Star continued.

"Oh. My. God. The butter croissants in Starbucks are handmade in France!" Steven said, eyes wide open in disbelief.

"Exactly, so I said to her, "That's funny. The butter croissants from Starbucks are hand made in France, using French butter...that has French trans fat." You should have seen her face," Star said.

Steven raised his palms and Star gave him a high five.

"So from that day onwards, she basically and naturally hated my guts and tried to find faultss with me, passing unnecessary comments to whatever I do, with a smile of course. The last straw came last week when I was reading the final book from the Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy and she saw it and said, verbatim, "I don't know why you're reading that thrash. Honestly, I find it desperate and cheap!"

Melanie gasped.

"So I said, "Well people buy desperate and cheap. This desperate and cheap thing sells, by the millions. That is a. And b, who asked for your opinion, honest or not and since when are you the benchmark for class?""

I raised my palm and Star gave me a high five.

"So you guys know what she did? She bought three thousand dollars worth of stationeries for "office supplies" according to her when we already have enough to last us for an entire year. The best part is, she went straight to the finance officer in our company with the reimbursement form claiming that she has given it to the accounts executive but she hasn't gotten back to her for one whole week, so she had to do it herself. guess who is the accounts executive?" Star asked, shaking her head.

"Bitch!" Melanie exclaimed.

"I so feel like I want to kick her pseudo French ass all the way back to Bedok. And you know what is the worst thing? This morning I received a company memo regarding the Christmas gift exchange programme for next month and guess who I am paired with for the gift exchange?" Star fumed.

"Get her a toilet bowl cleaner with a message, "You need this, for your mouth" or better, buy for her entire Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy. That'll put her in her place," I recommended.

Star squinted her eyes at me and gave me a smile that said, "I'll buy both." I winked and sipped my coffee.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Middle Class Wedding

The past weekend was my cousin Rick's wedding. He got married to Liz, his girlfriend of four years and if the scented wedding invitation card with their own personal emblem is an indication of the grandeur that is going to happen during the wedding itself, then they sure didn't disappoint.

It was a garden wedding and the venue was at the Botanic Gardens. They had two huge canopies and in the shelter were round tables with white tablecloths and lace skirtings, complete with rattan chairs and giant white bows. There were fresh flowers everywhere: Roses, lilies, tulips, orchids, carnations; everything was fresh and in white. And in abundance too. Beside the canopies were three rows of tables filled with at least five different types of cakes, eclairs, cupcakes, cheese fondue, chocolate fondue (complete with artisan breads and fresh flowers), fruit punch and a mind boggling array of hor d'oeuvres.

"Where is the real food?" my mum quipped, staring at the buffet table from afar.

"Mum, it's chic, get yourself together," I said.

"What kind of a middle class family can afford this kind of wedding? Since when did they become rich?!" my mum exclaimed as we were walking towards the venue.

"Stop it lah," my brother Harold said, getting annoyed.

There was also a carousel by the side of the buffet table for the kids to play at, generator included. The dress code was smart casual and my mum had put on a knee length white dress, grey pumps and hair up in a bun.

"How come you are wearing white? You are getting married too?" Harold joked when he saw my mum earlier that day.

"Garden wedding, I'm wearing grey pumps and I have to walk on grass, in the blithering heat!" my mum complained, tiptoeing to one of the canopies.

It was rather hot when we got there. I could feel beads of sweat forming at my back underneath my shirt and linen jacket by the time we got a table. Across us was Aunt Sally, the lady of the hour, entertaining guests. She wore a maroon sleeveless dress and a chunky bracelet and a statement necklace. She was also wearing a turban. Parisian chic if you ask me.

"Look at your aunt. She looks like Carmen Miranda, god this is embarassing," my mum whispered beside me as we sat down.

"Where are the fruits on her head?" I goaded.

"There, on the buffet table," my mum nonchalantly said.

I laughed out so hard everybody around us looked.

"Oi, stop it lah both of you," my brother hushed, clearly annoyed now.

"You guys help yourself to the food, I am going to check on your aunt and check the wedding dais," my mum said, putting down her LV Speedy on the table.

My brother rose and made his way to the buffet table and I asked him to get for me some food as well. Barely two minutes later, my mum came to our table, shaking and breathing hard.

"You have no idea how much they spent on this wedding. A quarter of a million dollars! Harry, when did they rose from the middle class? And so quick?! He bought for her a thirty thousand diamond ring from Tiffany's and the wedding gown is a Vera Wang!" my mum rattled on.

"Mum, he is an investment banker and she is an architect. They are hardly middle class. Middle class is fifty dollar void deck weddings ma. And also, you're so jealous right now right?" I asked.

"I am not! Your Aunt Sally is one of my favourite female siblings," my mum said.

"Aunt Sally is your ONLY female sibling what are you talking about?" I responded, amused.

"Harry, she looks ridiculous," my mum poured.

"She looks great, why can't you just be happy for her?" I advised.

"We are siblings. We are supposed to be judgmental, conniving and egoistical," my mum explained. "And I would hate to see her daughter in law look bad in a Vera Wang!" she continued.