Thursday, February 03, 2011

Chinese: whispers, new year, me

Yesterday I was listening to Today in the morning and someone used the term "chinese whispers" (re: how suspect treated in Bristol murder) and I felt very uncomfortable. Affronted. Why "Chinese"?

Should I make a complaint to BBC and campaign for a ban on the use of "Chinese whispers" with its negative connotation? (Just kidding.)

It's the new Chinese lunar year today and I am quite excited (but tired). I am salivating at the pictures posted by friends on FB.

The eve of Chinese New Year is when families gather for the Reunion Dinner. I remember having to wait for hours for sister to come back from her nursing shift and/or father from his new year's eve haircut.

Then we tuck in. Ah! I enjoy most the thrill of putting on my new pyjamas. Mum could not always afford to buy me new clothes -- going-out clothes -- but she would always used to buy me pyjamas (they were very cheap). So I give my son new pyjamas, too.

Except that his cost a bit more. Few people do the traditional open-front pyjamas and he won't wear anything else.

I couldn't take part in any of the festivities this year. But I was thrilled when my family phoned on Saturday. They were having a pre-New Year's eve reunion and I spoke and saw everyone present via video link.

I've also been making pineapple tarts. It is tedious making these tarts.

Why do I make these tarts?

Because it affirms my Chineseness, and in particular my Singapore Chineseness. It's not something you could buy at Chinese supermarkets run by Hong Kong Chinese.

And because my son tells me, "You're not Chinese."

So once a year I have to reinforce the message that mum is Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, and we have traditions. He likes most the custom of giving hong bao, cash put in decorated red envelopes.

I'm tired because I'd just spent a long morning at CAB where I've been trained to do gateway interviews to help all those who come through the doors. I meet all sorts of interesting (and sometimes frustrating) individuals.

Working at home is great. Up to a point. I need to go out and meet real people, people from all walks of life sometimes.

Xin nian kuai le! Wan shi ru yi!

(Happy New Year! May all your wishes come true!)

1 comment:

Laura Brown said...

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

I recall that Ken Hom's website used to have a section of cooking tips called "Chinese Whispers", so I guess some people of Chinese descent have embraced the phrase, though its origins do seem a little dodgy. The children's game called "Chinese whispers" in Britain is known in America as "telephone".