Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You really should, you know

One of the best vadai dishes I’ve ever eaten comes from right across the road from my office. The vadai, only made at breakfast, is always hot, soft and fluffy and filled with the tang of green chillies and coriander.

The uncle, who wears pearl earrings like a pirate of days long gone, does spicy coconut chutney that makes the vadai sing. It’s a breakfast to end all breakfasts.

I’m always amused by how the Chinese in Singapore say they “don’t know how” to eat something which is unfamiliar or distasteful to them. When I carried my silver plate of vadai and chutney over to the drinks stall to order iced tea, the stallholder leaned over to study my food and said, “I don’t know how to eat vadai with the sauce.”

“Really? It’s very good,” I promised.

He shrugged. “I don’t know how to eat thosai either,” he said.

“You don’t like it?” I asked.

“No, no!” He was quick to reassure me. “I just don’t know HOW to eat it.

Duuuude. You just put it in your mouth and chew, I always feel like saying. Eating is the same the world over, you know.

I don’t know whether the expression is meant to be inoffensive, but I always feel like it’s an uncomfortable way for people to say that they haven’t really made an effort with someone else’s culture – the same way people always ask me if I “speak Indian”. If you haven’t taken the trouble to learn that “Indian” is not a language by now (especially given the country you’re in), I’m not sure you deserve an answer.

I’d rather they just said outright that they didn’t like it, because “I don’t know how” just makes me cringe.

Maybe it's karma for feeling this way, but after I took these photos, my ring promptly broke. It was one of my favourite rings ever and there may never be a replacement.

If we could all observe a moment: RIP, you winged beauty, may your blue stoniness shine on in the hearts of the hoi polloi forever. (Please say "winged" with two syllables, like wing-uhd. Thank you.)

Blouse: Stall at Marine Parade. Denim leggings: New Look. Satchel: Vintage, Lucky Plaza.

Shoes: Dr Martens. Chain and pendant: Pakistan. Bracelet: Pandora. Winged Ring: Toy and comic convention.

After work, I strolled around the housing estate while waiting for my dinner date to arrive. It felt like something was missing from my life, but I didn’t know what until I saw the old school Walls ice cream man on the corner.

I got myself a one dollar chocolate ice-cream sandwich, basically a thick, thrillingly cold slab of ice-cream between two rectangular wafers; Eskimo pie Singapore-style.

The sun set around me as I sat on the stone bund by the side of the road and nibbled it slowly, watching people swinging their bags and happily heading for home.

It may have been the most wonderful ice-cream I’ve ever eaten.

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