Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Singaporean mum on the loose

A friend invited me to join in the "Yes I'm Singaporean!" Blog Contest. You're supposed to blog about what makes you a Singaporean and how people can pick you out from an international crowd from your Uniquely Singaporean qualities.

At first, I wasn't very keen. Too much effort lah. Then I saw the top prize was an iPod Touch, engraved with your name some more. Wah say, then I'll give it a go, man! That should immediately tell you that I'm a classic Singaporean. Very ngian for free gift one. As long as doesn't entail giving my phone number, having to buy multiple boxes of biscuits or attend very pressurising talk by scary salespeople on time-share apartments.

Actually, my blog is on kids and education, so I have a slight dilemma - I have to somehow make my entry relevant to my blog. No sweat - one of the all-time unique Singaporean icons is the Singaporean mum. And here are ten reasons why I'm your candidate:

1) I'm a regular fixture at Popular Bookstore. My Popular discount card has seen more wear than Phua Chu Kang's yellow boots. When the twice-yearly 20% discount for members events come around, my kids sure bin che che* because they can count on me lugging home fresh armloads of torture implements aka assessment books.

2) I always grumble about the Singapore education system but if any foreigner tries to criticise it, I will defend it to death and point out all the flaws in theirs. "Ei, my kids can calculate how many books Ali has transferred from Library A to B! Yours can't even add!!" Don't play play.

3) You're not a true Singaporean if you're not a foodie. In fact, that's one of the main reasons we won't be migrating anytime soon. Sure, Paris has the Eiffel Tower and LA has Disneyland but only Singapore got Beach Road Prawn Mee, Hill Street Char Guay Teow and Bedok Corner Ayam Penyet. No fight lah.

4) I'm always on the phone to one of these parties - the school, the Chinese tuition teacher, either of the two piano teachers, the ballet teacher or one of the two school bus drivers. At any moment in time, you're likely to find me wildly gesticulating, frantically trying to coordinate schedules that are as fickle as the stock market. Adoi. Macam worse than a company secretary.

5) Call me kiasu but I love a bargain. Nothing irks me more than seeing something on sale that I just bought at full price last week. I have inadvertently become one of those coupon aunties. 1-for-1 coffee, 20% storewide discounts, $5 vouchers, free ice-cream with purchase - I have them all. In fact, many of them have have long expired but I'd forgotten to discard them. If you encounter a woman at the cashier accidentally releasing a confetti of coupons as she was removing her purse from her bag, that was probably me.

6) Singaporeans are obsessed with '3-in-1's. It's just the thought of having one item do three things at the same time - gives the illusion of efficiency. I wash my hair with 3-in-1 shampoo, beautify my complexion with 3-in-1 moisturiser and kickstart every morning with 3-in-1 coffee. Out of curiosity, I googled '3-in-1 Singapore' and I found 3-in-1 milo, 3-in-1 instant cereal, 3-in-1 warning system, 3-in-1 family centre, 3-in-1 rocker/feeding chair (possibly comes with baby too), and 3-in-1 breakfast maker, which is apparently a toaster oven cum food steamer cum frying pan. Wah, maybe it can fry your eggs and make toast at the same time. And if you thought that was impressive, check this out!

7) All Singaporeans know their acronyms - ECP, PIE, COE, CPF, HDB, MRT, PAP, GST, the list goes on. But the ones that plague my life are all kids and education related - MOE, GEP, HOD, DSA, IP, ERP (this refers to an English project even more dreaded than the gantry toll of the same name), CCA, CIP and my nightmare of 2009 - PSLE. Kenneth and I think there must be a gahmen department whose sole job is to think up acronyms for new services/entities to confuse foreigners. If you lia bo kiu** any of these acronyms, then you're most likely not a parent or not a Singaporean or both.

8) The typical Singaporean parent hurls cliches at their kids as if their grades depended on it. I am no exception. "If you don't study hard, you will grow up to be a garbage collector!" "You think money grow on trees ah?" "You're not leaving the table till you finish your food." "If your friend jumps, you also jump izzit??" But I also have a couple of originals: "I smack you all the way to China then you know." and "Did you leave your brain in the school canteen?"

9) During exam time, I get very gancheong and become an instant insomniac, wondering if I should have insisted on intensive tuition/started revisions earlier/moved to Australia. In the morning, I give them Brands' Essence of Chicken as a token of my motherly concern. Ironic since I'm the one who's a zombie and they had blissfully slept through the night.

10) Many Singaporeans can claim to be bilingual or even trilingual. I lagi best. I one shot can use three languages in less than ten words: "One plate char guay teow mai ham, makan here."

So that's me - the quintessential, hot-blooded Singaporean mum. I complain a lot but am too comfortable to do anything about it. I hope I've proven that I'm Uniquely Singaporean enough to be worthy of the iPod Touch. If not, I'll just have to cut more coupons. And meanwhile, if you're looking for me, I'll be at the Popular Expo sale, KLKK***.

*"face green green"
**literally "catch no ball"

***kia lai kia ke

Shameless self-promotion: If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like Ode to Teachers 2 and The Scrabble Fiasco.


eunice said...

OMG!!! This is soooooo farney!!! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Also, can identify with what you wrote esp the foodie bit and the cliches. I hope you win. You have my vote,man!

Btw, I realise that you can take the girl out of Sin but you can't take the Singaporeaness out of her (referring to meself)

Alcovelet said...

I managed to type this after rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically!! I so see what you wrote in all of us! We complain all the time and yet, we're pa buay chao (can't beat us away). Maybe they put something in our teh c (siew tai, pls). Woman, you're gonna get your Ipod!!

bACk in GERMANY said...

hi Mon!
Am so tickled by your "I smack you all the way to China". Really don't play play with you man!
Aiyoh coupon auntie, i'm sure your next post will be done from an iPod!

monlim said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence ladies, I'm very encouraged! But I'm not counting my ayam before it's hatched...

petite fleur said...

This has to be my favorite post so far. Even tho I'm far away from Singapore, I can still identify with what you have said.

Hope you win the iPod Touch....

Lilian said...

Sure win one lah...but must deduct marks for not using Donch Pray Pray the PCK way.

Domestic Goddess said...

Hahaha! This is so hilarious! I will be showing this off to overseas friends so they know Singaporeans a little better.

joh ju said...

hahaaha! so can die!

clearly, you eat finish too free. think so much. some more got time to write down! wah seh!

NYMacMom w 3 said...

Love it n made me realized I am not Singaporean but a PR (50% count?!?).. The real question is, did u win?!?
xoxo, Sarah

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