Feb 26, 2012

Love and Be Loved

The Moon Represents my Heart sung by the late Ms Teresa Teng.

Ms Teresa Teng was my mom's favourite chinese singer. For years, I grew up listening to this song on radio and later on cassette player when my mom would play it all the time.

I think many of us who grew up in Asia in the mid 70s would know or heard of this song and know of Teresa Teng.

We just got back from Guangzhou, China last Friday afternoon. A short and sweet mini honeymoon sort of holiday. I chose to be this time because its cold in China. We stayed at the Furama Hotel. And quite close to the river where many locals and tourists flocked there to 'romance' under the stars at night or just to sit there and watch the world go by.

I had intended that we go there too..but my knee suddenly misbehave and I was in pain. I couldn't walk very far, and even if I did, I literally took baby steps and very slowly too. I took him to places I would go whenever I travel to Guangzhou alone in the last couple of years. The places I go to eat my breakfast, lunch or even dinner. And I took time to tell him of the things I do to keep my mind off on the family when I was alone in Guangzhou.

Benny literally walked the steps I took..in Guangzhou. Seeing where I have been, places I have gone to shop or just unwind.

However, due to my knee problem, he also took small steps with me. We did the usual tourist thing like going to Beijing Lu(a tourist belt in Guangzhou). Beijing Lu is similar to our Singapore's Orchard Road area. But I was in pain, so he said "let's go back to the hotel to rest. Unless you want to shop and buy things?"

And I said:

"We didn't come to Guangzhou to hibernate in the hotel!"

and then he said :

"But I am tired and tourist shopping for clothes, shoes is not my thing"

But I knew..he was concerned of me. The first 2 days we walked in the bitter cold in our wind breakers and thick coats to have breakfast. Then by the 3rd day, my knee just 'give way'

And he got up early and said :

"I will go and buy breakfast. What do you like to eat?"

We had dinner with friends..with the freight forwarders who handles our shipment. They are more like family to me than business associates. For years, I have treated them like my sisters and brothers. And while we were there, they ferry us around town and brought us round to shop too.

I didn't take any photos with Benny..just photos of him eating. And everytime he digs his spoon or chopsticks into any meal, he would say something like :

'Its good..but it lacks something..."

and then I would go "What? too salty? too oily?"

"No, it lacks the chilli sauce you made for me."

We spent 4 days in Guangzhou China. We rekindled our old courtship days..of us walking hand in hand, doing things for each other. With him opening car door for me or shopping door for me, Waiting for me while I buy chinese junk food to eat.

For 4 wonderful days, Benny make me feel like a million dollars. My love tank filled..to the brim. My batteries re charged. And then on the way back..in the air plane, he said to me

"Let's do this again..maybe later this year.."

Benny having his breakfast at this dim sum joint I frequent..

The next day(2nd day), he ordered his favourite Chives and Minced Pork dumplings...

He waits for me while I took photos of kitty, cats by the road side..letting me do the things I enjoy doing.

and even though he doesn't like pastries and cakes or KFC, he just wanna try every silly thing I did when I was travelling and working alone in Guangzhou China

This is the Portuguese tarts by KFC. We had to order KFC meals just to get these tarts.

And though he prefers normal steamboat over Mala Pot, he just had to try this once just to please me

Even at the Departure hall at Baiyuan Airport, I said must try this cafe's food..so he did.

So to end this post..if you were me..wouldn't you feel that the world stood still for 4 days and your love for that special someone was worth it all?

That's what I felt..Happy, Contended and still very very happy...as if still in honeymoon. And mind you, we are married for 24 years now.

Tomorrow, Suzie will be visiting our shop..the same friend of mine who brought Benny to me..

Feb 14, 2012


I Love How You Love Me sung by Bobby Vinton

Today is Valentine's Day. A day where every loving couple shared their moments of love with each other. Different people do it differently. Those who can splurge on good things would take a holiday perhaps, others go for candle-lit dinners of good food and wine. And then there are the many hopefuls out there wishing , and waiting for that someone who is just perfect for them to come along.

Benny and I have loved each other since the day we met..and that was in July 1986. I remembered it clearly because it was about the time after my birthday in late June which I celebrated alone...yet again. Feeling depressed, and lonely, I seek my solace in Suzie, my best friend from school. And she said "Gina, I'll figure it out for you. Give me time to find someone for you."

And yes, she did. She sent Benny to me a few weeks later.

Its been such a beautiful journey I made for Love. And it was planned that Benny and I would spent the rest of our lives together like Valentine's Day. So we did things for each other, say silly love words to each other, every day, every moment of our lives. How time flies, its been 6 months now since he quit his full time (good paying) job to be with me. To work with me and side by side.

I won't say its easy. Initially we had fights, big and small. We came head on clashes with each other. I was always head-strong in everything. Being the youngest at home, my parents spoilt me silly. Always, Benny would give in to me. All the time! But when we work together, he was out of his comfort zone. A place he used to work where he reigns over all. Now I seem to have the say of everything and anything. And his pride was hurt.

I learnt quickly that a man needs to have his day all the time at work. A day his pride is at the best. So I went to God and ask that He humbled me and mellow my overly eager spirit to rule everything and anything. And then God told me "Be the wife in the Bible. The one which the Book of Proverbs spoke of..the woman who puts her family first. And like a servant, she humbles herself in front of her husband. Where she is loved and adored. "

And so, here I am, re-born you might say. And then I looked back in all my years as his wife, I realised that I was always in the background. Always the one who plays the soft and subtle music. The person who stood behind, never in front. The one who spoke only when spoken to.

In the recent months, I wrote funny status quotes about "My boss" at Facebook and people replied "I thought you are the boss?". And then I said "no, I am the one who sweeps the floor, clean the table, wash the dishes and make kopi(coffee)". In short it meant that for as long as Benny works with me in the shop, in our business, he is head of the household, the boss in the company.

We do things together. We seek each other's opinions on everything. I learnt to humble myself and spoke to him as if we are still dating. No more raised tones, no more harsh notes. If I am upset, I show my displeasure. If he is angry, he shows his temper. But all these never passes a day. We end our days with a happy note.

Recently there was sales order we had and it was to be delivered to the customer's residence. I couldn't go with him as I had guests in our studio..TV crew, Mediacorp artistes came to ask me things for their upcoming TV program.

So I told Benny :

"So today you go alone..please drive carefully..slow down if you can. If you are lost on the road, just ring the customer to tell her. "

And then he said "no worries, I got the GPS on, I will figure my way there"

He did his deliveries and drove home. When he reached home, the girls have gone to school..the house was empty, and quiet.
I was still in the shop.

And then he sms me to say :

"Miss you, its very lonely to do delivery alone."

Later that evening, he came to the shop and all he could say was : "how was your day? Did the TV people give you problems? Did you have any difficult customers?"

and he went on and on asking me if my day alone in the shop was okay and whether I have eaten my lunch properly as I was busy entertaining people and I often forgot to eat. Before I could even ask him the same.

And he said to me :

"I think when I am very old, I will ask our girls to send me to the old folks home"

When I heard that, I knew what he meant, I was almost in tears but I put on a happy face and said :

"What? You want to leave me at home with our girls and be their house maid while you play Chinese chess at the home?" Of course I knew what he was trying to say..the greatest fear he had in life was that I wasn't around in our autumn years. And then he would be alone and how he used to wish that he would go first as he thinks that I can handle it without him.

When you reach this age in your life with your partner, Death is something you don't talk out loud. Its said in subtle ways, beating around the bush about it.

And then I told him "We told God many many years ago that He should take us home with Him..together. Never to leave one behind. And I still believe that it will happen this way." And so that was why when we do things without the other, our hearts ached and we felt somewhat awkward in our way.

A Valentine's Day is meant to be a happy day, to talk about love and all the nicest things you share with your better half.

For me and for Benny, we celebrate this every day. And every moment of our lives together.

Next week, from 20th to the 24th February, we will run away together..away from work, family, our girls and home. And rekindled our youthful days of being head over heels with each other..spending blissful moments..

May you all have a Blissful Valentine's Day today..and all the days of your life together..

God Bless you..

Feb 6, 2012

A Taste of Time with all things Chinese

LOVE sung by the late Nat King Cole

Today is the last day of the Lunar New Year celebration. Chinese folks here and all over the world would celebrate this day with more feasting of good food with their families and close friends. Being a Christian all my life, I never quite get to celebrate it in full swing. As Chinese New year is also about traditional belief, old chinese culture of filial piety, of respect for others, and alongside with prayers and burnt offerings to the deities of Chinese belief.

Most people think that Chinese belief are a religion. I see this as a practice and a hand-me-down of a set of rules and must-do from one generation to another. Not many people now follow these practices. But some really go to great lengths to practice it.

My mom always tells me "We are Christians. We cannot pray to our ancestors or offer burnt offerings. Just follow the feasting part will do. And have respect for others who are non-Christians. Especailly your inlaws. Do anything they ask of you, minus the prayer part, offering of incense and burning of offerings."

So all these years, I played the role of a dutiful wife to Benny, a respectful daughter in law to my mother in law and an obedient child to my parents. Because I believe that despite being a Christian, I am still very much a Chinese.

My mom told me as the eldest Daughter in law, it is my duty to cook and serve my inlaws. In the begining of the early years, I can't cook at all. And I so thankful that my late father in law was so forgiving and he did all the dishes for me. Along the way, I stood by his side, helping him to prep the dishes and learn a thing or two from the old man.

And every year when I cook and prepare the feast for the family, I am reminded of him. Of how he would cook and prepare the meals. I have fond memories of him. Unfortunately none of his children are interested in cooking or prepping food. I was able to learn much from him.

This year our Reunion Eve Dinner was prepared at my new studio. Since I wanted to keep it 'halal', I chose recipes that does not have wine, pork or lard oil. Here's what I cook :

Because my mom in law was a vegetarian, I had another section just for her. Its a vegetarian steam boat pot set aside with veggies to cook and dip into

Then on the First day of CNY, we had our first meal with my mom in law. And every year, its the same food. A big steam boat pot with Napa cabbage, fish maw, fish balls swimming in chicken stock. Side dishes are braised sea cucumbers, chicken, steamed prawns.

Then we went home to change..and went to my mom's place for dinner. My mom is no longer fit to cook for so many people, so my aunt took the liberty to order food by a catering company.

This is what I mean..Chinese New Year is now all too modern. People stop cooking for families reunion dinners. In due time, no one understands the true meaning of what Chinese New Year was meant to be. Just like Christmas.

Some one ask me why I can be bothered to cook such an elaborate feast to serve the family. I find great joy to do this. Even my mom ask me.."you can just order the food, why labour over it and fuss up the whole kitchen just to cook for us?". Then Benny told her "It gives her great joy and she enjoys doing it. Plus, home cooked food are tastier, less msg, salt too."

Benny knows me too well. And with each feast I cook for the family, its always him who decides what goes on the table. In a way, you can say we planned the menu together. After all, we are feeding families closed to our hearts. The people we loved and continued to love.

This is what I cook on the 7th day of Chinese New Year..also known as the Birthday of Men or 人日. Every year without fail, I would cook and invite my parents, my sister, her hubby and my niece for this. This year, Benny invited his friend and wife and I included my cousin too. Because she stays only a few blocks from our place.

In the dishes shown, 2 of them are Seok Buay's most priced recipes. The ultimate dish was the French Seafood soup.

Today..no feasting. Because its a monday and everyone is either in school or working.

If you want the recipes for what I have cooked, go to Culinary of Fame to get it. Or if you are already a member at my KC Forum, find it there too.

Enjoy and may you have a joyous, happy year of the Dragon..filled with the abundance of Good Healthy, Love, Prosperity and Happiness.