My friend and collaborator Jasmine Teo’s directoral debut is also the first musical to be staged at a brand new venue – The Henderson Project – which is actually the office and rehearsal space for Dream Academy Productions, the company behind The Dim Sum Dollies and Kumar’s Amazing Race.
It stars the amazingly talented duo Linden Furnell and Mina Kaye. Watch:
This evening we took a break from eating junk food and took Naomi’s visiting cousin out to a chili crab dinner at Long Beach Dempsey. Good thing we got there early, because a little after we got there, a queue formed with several dozen families, tired from visiting and being visited, looking to get a quick crab meal as well.
At the table next to us in the “outdoor area without shelter (sans umbrella)” was a Japanese family who were convinced to order the traditionalyu sheng raw fish salad. The dish arrived, and the funniest thing was that they were given instructions on how to partake of the dish by a Filipino waiter (purst, you tuss eberyting as high as you cahn with the chupstick), who also recited English translations of the Chinese idioms/proverbs/sayings/nonsense rhymes that accompany the tossing of the salad.
The second day of the New Year is when married daughters return to their birth family’s home and spend time there. We learned of this tradition only after we got married, because previously, both Naomi’s and my family were always pretty sketchy and inconsistent with customs. We still can’t remember for sure how many oranges we’re supposed to bring when visiting, and how many we’re supposed to leave a house with.
I suspect mandarin orange farmers were the ones who came up with the give 4 take 2 back custom, cos if you did the math and did what accountants call a “contra”, a give 2 take 2 back custom would kill the orange growers’ orange rice bowl.
Sometimes we get saboed by our families, when they suddenly come up with customs we’ve never previously observed. I remember vaguely when we were in secondary school, and my parents came home with this new fangled grated carrot and radish salad with crackers and slivers of raw fish and declared we had to eat that for good luck after tossing the salad everywhere on the table.
Sometimes we argue over what customs are what, and actually resort to googling or wikipeding what to wear and what to do so we don’t offend whatever gods it is that our families have subscribed to for the New Year.
This year’s googling/wikipeding taught me that some Chinese also believe that the 2nd day of the New Year is also the birthday of all dogs. Apparently it is when these same Chinese treat dogs extra kindly, feed them well, and try not to eat them.
Also, I found out why firecrackers were banned in Singapore – in 1970, 6 people were killed and 68 injured, leading to a partial ban. In 1972, a total ban was implemented when 2 more people were killed by explosions and 2 policemen were attacked when trying to prevent people setting off crackers.
The ban has been in place with the exception of publicly sanctioned setting off of crackers. Apparently, pro-private-firecrackers’ claim that “Firecrackers Don’t Kill People. People Kill People” fell on deaf ears.
I think it was my brother who said to me one Chinese New Year: “Why do people bother to wear dress shoes with their New Year clothes? All you do is dress up, go visiting, and take off your footwear when you go inside someone’s house. Why bother?”
So I challenge you to wear slippers or sandals or even go commando with your footwear (that means barefoot lah) when in the morrow you dress up and visit your relatives’ and friends’ homes.
They won’t notice, and you’ll go away feeling like you’ve been the rebel and bucked tradition a little bit.