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Posts tagged ‘Singapore’

Our Parents Seemed Old-Fashioned, So What About Us?

I look around, perceiving the changes I have witnessed and experienced over the near 50-year span of my life and I realize that some I have embraced, some to which I have been a catalyst, some of which I have been critical, some to which I am indifferent.  I look back and I think of myself, my sisters, cousins, friends at the time I was in my childhood youth and I remember us thinking and saying to my parents things like, “You’re so old-fashioned!”

Now looking back through the 60’s and 70’s which were my decades growing up in Singapore, while both my parents were really people of innovative minds, embraced new music trends, loved the ingenuity and advancements in electronics, and my mother with fashion and beauty trends, they also introduced us to much of what were their classics in the movie, music and literary industries, while of course never hesitating to make fun of what they perceived as ridiculous in some modern concepts of my youth.

Yet even in the balance, we managed to find some instances to focus on the generational gaps and situations in which to let them know we thought of them as old-fashioned in certain aspects of social mentalities, cultural traditions and even moral values.

So what is it that makes the youth label the older generation as old-fashioned or just plain old? I mean those of us now in our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s—do we even feel old? Do we feel the same in age when we connect with our younger adult friends? Do we feel like no time has passed or do we feel the actual span of time?

Even today when I listen to or watch some “classics” from my childhood all the way growing up, I can perceive the “old-fashioned” element in having moved along with the times and wonder what we were thinking! Have we just seen too much? Been through too much? Heard too much? Have we just grown up? Grown old? Well that would be a limited view to come so simplistically to this conclusion.  And yet, the times in which I feel even marginally “old-fashioned” is when I see and hear what is considered acceptable today; views expressed, beliefs embraced, values warped, morals and ethics askew to what I had been taught and to what steers my own internal GPS.

But after I retort in indignation, just short of the “…back in my day…” bit, I pause, reflect and smile at the cosmic humor of life at its best and think back to my parents’ generation and realize, this is what they felt too.  It was never about being old-fashioned, it was always about having lived so much longer than our younger counterparts, seen all the changes that had taken place through our own generation, remember in fondness how we enjoyed the highlights -“back in the day”, what we believed in, what we had learned, and then realizing that they too will experience this moment all in their own good time.

The beauty of it all, whatever the results that the winds of change may bring along with them, the good and the bad, the highs and the lows—is to really stand in the moment and behold this irony in amusement.  It’s the cosmic flow of our life-cycles—maybe what was then was then and what will be will be, but time is circular and everything will eventually come back in full circle. Events may be different, circumstances and experiences will differ too, but we always will get to realize something vitally significant to us to link back to our generations past and connect with them on some profound level. Keep your perspectives open, appreciate the ironies in humor—it makes the ride a lot more fun!

**Note: These are just a few perspectives. I have more, as should we all.

Some of my "classics" growing up in Singapore (circa 1970s). Clockwise from top left: Much frequented Orchard Road; Singapore Hilton and Ming Court hotels; poster at many civil buildings during the male "long hair" ban; traditional classic dish Nasi Lemak.

More of my classics (circa 1970s). Clockwise from top left: Popular local celebrity artist Anita Sarawak; view of Change Alley, popular shopping area (named after the many money changers preferred foreign exchange rates); harbor view of downtown Collyer Quay; govt. campaign poster on family planning.

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A Layered Dish Is More Than It Is

When I was growing up in Singapore, I was constantly exposed to the explosion of cultural flavors in this bustling multi-cultural country.  My family, like all Singaporeans loved to cook and loved food.  If you’ve ever been there or maybe watched Anthony Bourdain’s culinary travels to the region, you will know exactly what I mean. Being subjected to the wide varieties of cuisines from all the cultures that reside there and her own authentic cuisine which could comprise of any combination of the cultures, along with the influences from her recent colonial British past, I guess I was encouraged to embrace food of all flavors along with their enticingly odd textures and sometimes even questionable aromas.  I mean the notorious stinky fruit Durian could only be a heavenly scent to a native-born Singaporean!

So since facets of my own cultural heritage is ingrained, you could call me a foodie. Food being still today Singapore’s favorite past-time, here is a nation of foodies that existed long before the term was even created.  Which brings me to my point, experiencing food on a multi-dimensional level need not be exclusively part of your cultural background, it can fortunately be learned and acquired.

Whether you are a professed foodie or better described, an epicurean or whether you are someone to whom food is a source of nutritional necessity, you will come to be able to elevate your own food experience into something phenomenal to your senses.

Conscious eating is more than just eating slowly, chewing your food and digesting well.  There’s something more to this being in harmony of mind, body and spirit.  When we use our palates to the utmost advantage and connect with our visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and kinesthetic senses, we also gain a heightened sense of taste, smell and texture beyond the tangible acts.  By practicing the art of distinctively understanding the uniqueness of each food and adding these sensorial layers, you will actually come away with an entirely new experience of the foods you eat.

In other words, say you’re about to enjoy a spicy dish of Lamb Vindaloo. If you’re not a fan of Indian cuisine, just play along. How would you make this come alive from your plate to your palate and in the process liven up all your senses?  When you savor every morsel how do you do it?  Does the steam emanating carry with it a whiff of spices? Can you smell the pungent heat from the chilli? Does the deeply vibrant color make you salivate? Will it trigger other memories for you? When you taste it, do you first feel the temperature? Do you taste the tangy lime? Or maybe with it, you taste the sweetness in the fragrance. Is the meat tender? Firm? Is it falling apart and melting in your mouth? Now what if you added a side of rice to it? When you combine the components can you feel the textural difference on your tongue? Are some of the components to the curry still sizzling in your ear? Does the sound of this add to the heat of the chilli? Does the heat make you sweat? Now wash that down with a swish of that cold, bitter, foamy, golden and perhaps fruity beer!

You have now re-created a past experience or perhaps you have just created a new one by adding other perspectives.  Remember to do this with any food that you enjoy– like the decadence of a molten chocolate cake, a colorful salad or your favorite soup. Remember to behold the colors and textures, the aromas, the steam, the frost, the sounds associated and the kinesthetic feelings you get with the whole experience. And when you taste, add sensory dimensions, layer them, make them distinct, enjoy the combinations and what they imbue on their own. Cheers to your next meal!