|i could go on for 40 days and 40 nights about my blog title and bore you to bits and pieces with 10,000 different ideas i actually had for the name of this blog but because of the 500 characters limit that is imposed upon this mechanism which, by the way, is supposed to promote free speech, i shall shorten it to just two words basically describing what the hell this is all about and who this hell belongs to.|
Monday, October 13, 2008
i've always found that you can tell a lot about people by asking how they spend their Sundays. some people buy groceries. some spend it catching up over brunch. some try to recuperate from Saturday night parties while others are preparing for Sunday night parties. some wake up to breakfast in bed made by a loved one, while others wake up realizing that the one that they made love to has the face of breakfast in bed gone wrong. people like me though, simply find myself thinking up of ways to facilitate sleep in church.
Sunday mornings for me, have never really been my cup of tea. mainly because of church. 'it's only two hours every Sunday, can't you just make the effort?' my father would always lament. true, it's two hours. but time is relative as Einstein once said. two hours of doing things that i have absolutely no interest in other than trying my best to sleep. there was a period of time when i used to hideout in the church toilet, reading comics or playing with my Gameboy till the congregationg started to sing the benediction. unfortunately, my father found out about that one fine day and forced me to sit with him and mother from then on.
so i started to aim for excuses to not even set foot in church. before i went into the permanent night shifts, i would always roster myself for Sunday morning shifts. and this was technically done with the church's blessing even, what with the corporate prayers always mentioning 'people who have to work today, may God give them the strength and serenity to pull through a day's labour'. of course, this being a game of wits with my father, was never ever a bed of roses. eventually, father made the suggestion of attending EVENING services. and for a period of time, that meant going to work at 5am in the morning, finishing at 3.15pm, reaching home at 4.30pm and going to church again at 5pm.
these days, my father doesn't really harp over the fact that i make up flimsy excuses to skip church. maybe he has resigned to the fact that we'll be go different directions in the after life. or maybe he would rather hide the fact that he has a gay son who smokes, wears clothes that are a little to tight for Christianity, and has hair the colour of Satan. or maybe it's just me trying my best to sleep on the Sabbath in church.
after all, the Big Guy up there did declare the Sabbath as the day of rest, no?
as you might already know from previous blog posts, Sunday evenings are always entertaining dinners with the paternal family. there would be the occasional picnic at the Chinese Gardens where the only thing remotely Chinese are the Chinese people wandering around looking for anything that's remotely Chinese (give and take, there's a lone pagoda in the gardens that looks seriously infested with mosquitoes and a musty-smelling imperial gate that serves as an excuse for an oriental-inspired garden).
on more jazzed-up occasions, the family would head to random family-themed restaurants in the western vicinity of Singapore and pig out. when i think about it actually, we are quite possibly the reason why restaurants like these declare their dishes to be 'family favourites'. it fosters a sense of pseudo-kinship and many other random adjectives to describe a general being of closeness to one another.
either way, Sunday dinners in my life are mostly with the relatives, trying my very best to avoid their pesky reminders that as the eldest grandson, i ought to be the first in line to walk the marriage aisle and have little Jonathan Jrs. for my grandparents to entertain themselves with. this is also why Sundays are the only days when i am desperately looking for wine (the only accepted drink with alcoholic content within my paternal family's guarded morals) to help speed up the excruciating process.
we're not rich folks, my paternal family. thus the average Sunday evening dinner would be done at a random relatives place on a weekly rotational basis amongst the various relatives. for some reason, it's always the same type of food at the same relatives place. to begin with, there's my grandmother's place where my gruff, beer-guzzling grandfather would whip up traditional food like soup noodles. it's made up of soup and no surprises here, noodles. the soups is quite the fascinating chicken broth strewn with vegetables and weekday leftovers. it looks and tastes a bit like a culinary casulaty. i didn't have a word to describe this infernal creation when i was much younger. it wasn't until i started reading Dickens' Oliver Twist and discovered 'gruel' (albeit noodles instead of the usual rice or cereals or oats), when everything fell in place. many years down the road, the only reason why i still consume my grandfather's soup noodles i simply because he's the only other person in the family to ingest beer on quite a regular basis. that, and the fact that he has tattoos and once worked as a spirit medium to put my aunties and father through school. respect.
and then there's my father's eldest sister who has quite the interesting place in Bishan. they are what i've always found to be a bizarre family. father's a building contractor. mother's a Mandarin tutor who ensured that every single grandson in the family got at least a 'B' in their mother tongue studies (i got a B3 for my GCSE 'O' levels, thanks to her). son's currently serving his national service while the daughter's an architecture undergrad and the only one whom i can talk art and pop cultural references with.
it is evident from their home that they really like art. an avante-garde painting in the living depicts there people on a bench in some bizarre cubism form. kitsch tribal masks of a face sticking out a tongue, a face with its eyes closed and an indescribable face that prolly says 'i'm sorry for the face but i just had some noodle soup' (though in actual truth, all of those faces could possibly say that as well). a random vase. a random picture. a huge ass modernist mirror in the living room that seems to make the house just that little bigger. the food would usually be anything ranging from Thai to Korean to Japanese to local fare. i always feel like there's something going on at that place, just that i can't place my finger on what it is. metaphorical and literally speaking of course, because the art that they own looks really expensive and fragile.
and there's my favourite place belong to my Robert Kiyosaki of an Uncle where they would always serve up the same coconut rice with random dishes of fried finger foods. they live in this cramped three-roomed condominium apartment in the suburbs of Singapore which they got out of reason to close proximity to my grandparents. them grandparents served as convenient day care for my cousins who are currently primary schooling. it's a really intimate setting, what with the lush orangey lighting, nineteen degrees air-conditioning and uber-plush designer sofas.
since there are only five sofa seats in the entire house, most of the relatives will end up sitting on the chilly marble flooring. despite the entire place being really cosy and all, there's still this underground fight going on for seats that everyone does in true 'forbidden city' style of political assassination and espionage. once someone evacuates a seat, everyone suddenly moves in for the kill like ninjas in the dark of the orangey-lighting night. quite possibly because it's either your ass on the plush designer chair or plush designer floor. and like i always say, God made the buttocks with chairs in mind. if it were up to me, i would make chairs with buttocks in mind (hur hur!).
none the less, dinner at the condominium would always be filled with vivid stories of my pre-school cousins' (John and Grace) antics. John whom some of you might recall, was named after me. and it's through these stories that my Uncle of a Robert Kiyosaki's wife would tell, that i start to think that he's in a lot of ways like me when i was in primary school. he's whiny, he cries a lot, he gets bullied often, he has a bad haircut and he always has a gameboy or a book in tow. and he is crazy about High School Musical. i've always liked visiting their condominium because it's like reading an entire collection of Baby Blue comics, except that i do it under orangey-lighiting, chilly air-conditioning and my l33t ninja ass on chair.
and then well.... there's my place which nobody really enjoys. it's a cramped government-built housing apartment that is bordering on being sterile and aseptic, thanks to my mother's OCD for cleanliness. my home is practically like a safe haven of hygiene when you compare it to the general state of the estate outside of my home. litter is strewn everywhere. you see a disused sofa in the corner, used condoms and cigarette butts on the corridor, dying plants outside apartments and many other various bric-a-brac that basically deters people from visiting.
we are prolly as entertaining as a visit to an elderly retirement home. we don't subscribe to cable. we don't have exciting DVD collections (i do actually, but it's mainly drama serials, arthouse flicks and porn). we don't have high-definition television. we don't have exciting stories to tell ('And did i tell you about the time i walked in on my son having sex with another guy...'). we have excellent food cooked by my mother (in my humble yet biased opinion), but it's quite an acquired taste (cold salad pasta). we actually do have those orangey lightings that make people feel as comfortable as hotel rooms. admittedly though, i'm the only person who uses it when i invite strange foreign men back for a good time. then again, i rarely invite these strange foreign men back even, preferring 'your place' or 'transit rates are thirty bucks for two hours'. for some reason, we always deck our guests in ghostly white lighting and in cramped quarters.
i don't entertain the relatives for fear of those pesky girlfriend questions. and besides, we don't have time to entertain because my brother and i would always be in the kitchen working at our individual stations as Chef de Partie under the tyranny of my Chef de Cuisine of a mother. 'no no NO! you don't slice carrots that way!' she would always scream before proceeding to julienne 7/8 of the carrots herself, leaving me with the head of the carrot to dispose of.
that of course, leaves the father with the job of the Maître d' and provider of entertainment for the evening. it used to be a gracious thing for my father. he would pour drinks, make small talk with the various relatives and attempt to chastise the relatives in a polite way for whatever evils they have succumbed to for the week. it used to be much more prominent during a phase my father went through when he acted as though as his home was the source where all goodness emanated from. thank the goodness that emanated from the source that those days are over.
these days, it's DVD entertainment from our local movie rental. kiddy movies, family movies, anything from Pixar, Disney or Dreamworks. you name it, we prolly have watched it. however, it was with last week's family gathering at my home, that my father apparently upped the ante by introducing the paternal family to home made videos. my father is quite the gadget freak. he owns practically everything electronically-cool from a Macbook to an iPhone to the standard digital camera to a video camera to a DVD recorder to.... okay lah. my whole family is gadget-crazy. my father, mother, brother and me all own iPhones.
still, it's because of the Macbook that my father's creative juices started flowing like the source of goodness. my father managed to single-handedly create a rather professional-looking video of my brother's basic military training graduation parade (in local terms, POP) using the Macbook. it was actually quite good, albeit interspersed with clashing Richard Clayderman music. macho photoshots of my brother with his other camp mates accompanied the irritating tune of Ballade pour Adeline. i don't know if it's just me but Richard Clayderman music always makes me want to go have a tinkle. maybe it's the fact that the only places where i hear it these days are mainly in the lifts or the toilets. the general response to the video though, was that it actually looked quite professional. which basically inspired my father to further heights and a really bizarre conversation which my father and i had later that night.
it was while stacking up the guest chairs together that my father started. 'i hope you don't feel that we love you any lesser just because i did the video for your brother, okay?'
we seldom have conversations like that and i seriously dislike having such conversations. i mean, we don't even touch each other as father and son and now we are talking about sibling jealousy? the truth of the reality was that the video had about as much effect on me as scissors against rock. it's just a family video.
'not really, i would rather have appeared in porn' was the acerbic reply that the sarcastic monster in me wanted to reply and laugh over. but he said it with such seriousness that i felt really bad for actually thinking of such a reply. thus i decided to go with the politically-correct answer, 'i'm didn't think of it as that way,' i replied as i lifted the stack of wooden Ikea guest chairs. 'in fact, feel free to make a video of my POP if you want to.' which i am obviously regretting now.
it was a little peace offering to show that all was cool between us as father and son. except, the only problem was that most of my army photos were not exactly the stuff that you would show your family over dinner. 'okay this is the photo of me in a blonde wig when i dragged for an army function' or 'this is when a bunch of army friends and me in bathrobes acting like we were caught in bed, no no no... it was just a one night thing that happened after too many drinks at the local
bar and besides, we used protection'. after rummaging through my collection of army photos. i only found about twenty that i could safely hand over to my father for proper family entertainment purposes.
it's not a lot. but hey.... Richard Clayderman songs never make people stay for long.
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