My grandma’s stories: Hungry ghost festival, part two [PICS]

(This is part two of the eighth installment of an ongoing series recounting my grandma’s stories about her life and the old days in Singapore. Click here for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eight part I of this series)

A live getai, literally translated as a singing stage, performance

“Many ghosts that come out of Hades during the Hungry Ghost Festival are hungry and miserable spirits roaming the streets for food. Misfortunes might befall upon you should you bump into the fierce and hungry ones. The way around it is to burn more money and prepare food for them in hope they will leave you alone,” grandma explained.

The Hungry Ghost Festival or yu lan festival, held during the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, has gradually evolved from the past to today in Singapore and Malaysia as culturally interesting events.

One of the highlights would have to be the free entertainment that could be found almost everywhere around the island every day of the week for the seventh month.

If you have yet to read the first part to this post, click here. [Scroll below for photo slideshow]

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My grandma’s stories: Ah Ma is a child bride

(This is the sixth part of an ongoing series recounting my grandma’s stories about her life and the old days in Singapore. In the last post, I did a quick update about some difficulties writing this series. Click here for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth part of this series)

Ah Ma, looking really shocked, poses with my sister who just graduated this week!

My grandma is a child bride. I learnt about this only around a week ago after living with her more than 20 years under the same roof.

You can imagine my absolute astonishment to know that my Ah Ma, who was born, bred and raised in Singapore, lived under such a traditional, antiquated system.

“I was sold by my birth parents to my in-laws at a very young age,” Ah Ma, whose last name is Choo, said. “I was then only about a month old, according to my mother-in-law.”

As mentioned in my last post, grandma is not exactly the best storyteller, but never did I realize that all the family stories had told me thus far referred to her in-laws, whose last name is See. In another words, her in-laws were my great-grandparents.

I found out when I started probing Ah Ma about her relationship with granddad. Only then I understood there was never really a courtship or much romance to talk about because they grew up with each other, destined to marry later on in life.

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Book review: A tiger in the kitchen [Food pics]

Chinese New Year is coming up this weekend and I would love to celebrate it by sharing a great festive read that involves heaps of finger-licking good treats.

“A Tiger in the Kitchen” is a food memoir by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, a Singaporean who has lived in the U.S. for 16 years, and her journey to learn how to cook, wonderfully detailing all the mouth-watering local favorites.

Much to my delight, the book kick-started off with my all-time favorite Chinese New Year treat – pineapple tarts.

“Each year (during Chinese New Year), I looked forward to the bite-size pineapple tarts that are the hallmark of the festivities,” Cheryl Tan wrote. “I considered myself a connoisseur of the treats, which comprise a buttery shortbread base topped with a dense, sweet pineapple jam.”

The pineapple tarts reminded the author of her late grandma who would bake these treats yearly during Chinese New Year, which typically involves great feasting and paying visits to family and friends in Singapore.

This year, my mum made these sweet treats for my family too, using her own secret recipe as seen below: Continue reading

On the word “tiger mother” and Chinese women

I see words as a powerful tool that either conveys its literal meaning(s) or acts as a platform for imbuing ideas and feelings, explicitly or implicitly. I was mildly surprised when the term ‘tiger mother’ surfaced last week on news reports that deviated from its original usage.

Most of us would remember tiger mother was popularized early this year by Yale Law Professor Amy Chua when she discussed about her highly disputed, iron-fist parenting model practiced by Chinese mothers. To put it simply, tiger mothers referred to very strict, academically obsessed Asian parents who seek to push their children to over-achieve in life.

But last week, tiger mother took on a different layer of meaning. As the former News of the World saga unfolded, it made Rupert Murdoch’s third wife, Wendi Deng, an unlikely hero when she volleyed away a foam pie by an assailant who tried to attack her husband. In response, US TV news anchor Katie Couric tweeted, “Wow Wendy Murdoch giving whole new meaning to the term tiger mother…insanity!”
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