Wednesday, July 27, 2005


My son's tuition teacher (GORGEOUS woman in her 40s, looks 22, has 3 kids including 2 teenagers) soundly chastised me for not speaking Mandarin to my children.

Gorgeous Tuition Teacher: “你应该跟他们讲!”
Me: "Huh?! Jialat! 我的华语每次讲错的。。。"
Georgeous Tuition Teacher: "You must try!"
Me: "They will fail!" (read: "I pay you for what?!")

End of conversation. I pay the Georgeous Tuition Teacher.

I would dearly love to speak Mandarin. I was a good student you know. I tried very hard you know. But in my household my parents spoke English (to us) and Teochew (to each other when they were complaining about us). We played Beatles and Abba in our cassette tape recorders, not Fei Yu Qing or what's that lewlian lewlian lewlian guy's name? Anyway, what I mean to say is that my bro and I did not have an ice-cube's chance in hell of learning Mandarin.

I only started having Chinese tuition when I was in primary 3. My tuition teacher was a Taiwanese lady, lovely, but the lessons were so booooorrrrrinnnnngggg ... I sat through every Wednesday and Friday just so I could go and play with her daughter after that.

My Chinese aural test marks from P1 to Sec4 was a fabulous row of F's, except for the D I got in Primary 5 that totally ruined the landscape.

(This is why my kids are having tuition at 6 and 4 years of age, so that they hopefully won't get a row of F but maybe B's or C's. I can live with that)

Anyway, my whole point really was that every time I speak Mandarin I feel like a Singaporean. Especially with the lehs and the lahs and the hors. I used to love travelling with my friend Grace, the 6" tall editor of Nuyou, who is effectively bilingual. We would speak Mandarin in the cabs and restaurants of Paris: ”臭男人!" (referring to the taxi driver who would take us up every rue and boulevard to get to one spot 50 yards away) “很难吃!” (referring to the half-cooked lamb served at some chichi restaurant)

So thanks to Grace I practised my vocabulary of Mandarin complaints. I could open a complaints department.

So even today, when I do speak Mandarin to make people laugh, I am reminded of the fact that Singaporeans have a very crude patois of Mandarin that always spells home.

Ondine was just commenting yesterday about her friend's American fiance who loves our new National Day song. I have yet to meet a Singaporean who loves our new National Day song.

To be honest I have not heard it but the complaints range from "Wah lau who is that charbor on the MTV? Her face make me want to slap her." (from my bitchy gay friend who is on Atkins, which is turning up his Bitchery Level to 15 out of a possible 10), to Packrat's rant about the DANCE: "It's the dance that they created for it. Reminiscent of the great Singapore workout, it is officially called, and I kid you not, Dance No. 40 (which comes with it's own instructional video). So much mocking to do, so little time/bandwidth."

(I fear to say it but I'm gonna: my mother did the Great Singapore Workout in her bedroom for many many many many years. She was in great shape -- except she died of cancer 2 years ago. But she was beautiful to the last)

I feel proud when tourists come to Singapore and join in our parades! I love it when they stop me at the traffic lights and ask what must-see part of Singapore they must go to before they head back to the airport.

I love the way my to-be-sister-in-law, who is a strawberry blonde from Melbourne, looks in the turquoise kebaya I gave her before she and my bro returned to Melly.

I feel proud that we have Singaporeans in Hollywood (Nixon Fong who's in all those bank advertisements drawing animated geckos, who did the animated opening for the IOC recently). I feel proud when my friends abroad ask me for recipes for laksa, hokkien mee and chicken rice which they tried while they were here.

I think our government is for the most part, wise and kind. Just talking to my maid yesterday made me realise you may have a country with so many resources like the Philippines, but with poor and corrupt government you have nothing. Can you imagine if your husband was shot and killed on the street, and your village code of conduct is that the police close one eye if the murderer pays off the family of the murdered?

I believe God loves Singapore. We may be going through some growing pains (40 is always a tough one to face, haha) and we may make mistakes along the way, but we have been spared so many of the disasters of our neighbouring countries that it makes me wonder if it's all a coincidence or has Singapore been lifted up for such a time as this?

I believe this country is and will be more and more a shining beacon in Southeast Asia. We will have the will and the means to help those countries around us.

That's how I feel about WMD's role in this — we Singaporean women have so much to be thankful for. We have a safe country, we have no lack of work, our children don't have to be sold off or sent to work in a factory or overseas in goodness-knows-what places. So just looking at our neighbours and the troubles they go through, we have the means to help them. We only need to activate the will.

So bring on the cheesy dance, the corny lyrics, the flypast (which I LURVE!), the fireworks, the procession, the mistake-making commentators!



Blogger vandice said...

No such thing as Tuition teacher. Its TUTOR ok?

I must admit an aversion to Chinese when I was young. But I've been trying to pick up the language recently. In fact, my Chinese actually improved Stateside, mixing with all them Taiwanese and PRCs... Think as I get older, I'm going back to my roots. I'm proud of my heritage as a yellow-skinned person I guess.

我也爱新加玻 leh...

12:11 AM

Blogger threez said...

Eh, paiseh ...

BUT I qualify, "TUITION TEACHER" is a Singaporeanism next to "VOID DECK" and all acronyms: "ECP' "AYE" "MCYS" "MICA" "STB" "KJE", and also, "YAKUN" (which I'm told now means "kaya toast" no matter what brand, eg "Let's go get some Yakun at Mac's.")

Just another thing to love about our land!

4:19 PM

Blogger ming said...

got picture? got to see this pretty tuition teacher

12:45 AM

Blogger Faith said...

The "lewlian lewlian lewlian guy" is the rather handsome Feixiang ;-)

12:26 AM

Blogger mugster said...

I hate to say this, but Sg's success isn't because of coincidence nor divine intervention, but due to careful planning and the hard work of its people. There are larger, more blessed with natural countries which are majority Christian and Catholic but have experienced extreme strife.

12:12 AM


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