I’m old enough to say that I’ve been watching The Kumar Show for 16 years. Yep. That’s how long I’ve been a fan. He’s the most hilarious Singaporean I know. I first started watching Kumar when he used to perform at the Hard Rock Cafe on Monday nights. The show consisted of some singing and dancing, his standup comedy routine – and of course, that segment where he calls on the audience and makes fun of them. That segment we both dread and love.
I’m back home for a week. I can’t say I was particularly excited by the thought of coming home. My heart was filled with a mixture of dread and a wee bit of excitement. The latter mainly due to all the yummy food I’m going to eat. And man do we Singaporeans know how to eat.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that our Singaporean national identity is one of multiculturalism – one that is embracive and strengthened by its ability to adapt. As a culture, we cannot afford to build great walls because our economy is intertwined with the world economy. Singapore was founded on the premise of international trade. Even till today, we have one of the busiest ports in the world.
Growing up, I always loved the sound of Cantonese. To my ears, it sounded like people arguing in style. I admired the direct and no nonsense attitude that Cantonese speakers seem to have. Mess with me and I’ll scold you affectionately. Although Mandarin is the most widely spoken Chinese language in Singapore, those from the older generation still speak dialects like Hokkein and Cantonese. My Mandarin is passable, but I can’t understand a word of the multitude of Chinese dialects that are spoken by Singapore’s largest ethnic group.
Bah Kut Teh (meat bone tea) is one of those dishes that I often ate at the hawker centre growing up. It’s a pork rib soup slow cooked in a broth of herbs and spices. Despite the name, Bah Kut Teh has no tea in the soup and is a reference to the oolong tea which is ordinarily served alongside the soup. The older generations believed that it cancels out all the fat in the soup. Hmm… about that…
A love hate relationship.