Welcomed Home

I walked in the front door and was greeted by our traditional cheesy family banners for returning graduate children – 1ST CLASS MICHELLE! in the hall and WELCOME HOME MICHY! on the door of my room. The first ever banner in the tradition was made 13 years ago by my mother and I, for my sister. While we were making it we rearranged the letters of WELCOME HOME BETHY! to HELCOME BOM WEETHY! (I was 9 and found these things amusing), and ever since then I call her Weethy from time to time.

We went to one of my favourite restaurants on East Coast Road and the salt and pepper squid had fundamentally and disappointingly changed. I would have felt a bit stupid saying “wo3 de jiao1 yan2 sotong mei2 you3 jiao1 yan2!” (literal translation: My “add salt squid” had no added salt!) to the waitress so I contented myself with the Hainanese chicken rice, which was as good as it’s ever been.

Plans for this time at home are mostly unformed. There’s mum’s birthday to celebrate, a cousin’s wedding to attend and play the violin at, a national debating tournament to judge, a multitude of friends to catch up with, a neighbourhood to fall back in love with, a plethora of favourite foods to eat too much of (see below), a Great Singapore Sale to bankrupt myself at, a Singlish accent to enjoy using again.

Slightly less positive features about the next month and a half are that it’s too bloody hot, my eyes have already gone red (I’m having flashbacks to the horrible summer of ’99 where 4 eye doctors couldn’t do anything to lessen my misery), I was reminded right from entering Singapore by the unsmiling passport control officers that random politeness isn’t appreciated here (they were more interested in continuing their conversation in Malay than responding to my hellos or thank yous or even registering my existence beyond the fact that I was a recurring troublesome feature of their job), and I have to find a way of not missing Alec.

Michelle’s summer food list:

  • Alvin’s claypot oyster chicken (Parkway Parade food court)
  • Ocean Fish Head Curry (Ceylon Road)
  • Hainanese chicken rice (Ghim Moh hawker centre)
  • Murtabak
  • Chilli kangkung
  • Sambal everything
  • Small crispy fried squid
  • Barbecued stingray
  • Baby octopus
  • Satay
  • Lots of Mum’s dishes that I can’t name but describe as “that chicken in the gravy that stains everything yellow”
  • Bubble tea
  • Luan Qi Ba Zao (explained last summer, scroll down to NoBlogLove post #2)
  • Bee-Bee (does anyone else from Singapore love this, or even remember it? It’s still 10 cents – childhood price – it comes in a small orange packet with a picture of a sparsely-haired plump man savouring something that looks like a gigantic piece of Bee-Bee, and it’s only available from small provision shops and some kacang puteh stands including Orchard Cineplex. I can’t be the only person keeping its sales alive by buying crates of it once a year!)
  • Uncle Toby’s muesli bars
  • McFlurry’s with Oreos (London, get with the program already!)