Monday, June 02, 2008

The Joy Luck Club

Yesterday, we did a home party for a customer that we met at the VGH Craft Market last month. Magnanimous Maggie invited her fellow Singaporean friends, family and neighbours to her spacious home on the hill for an afternoon of tea and shopping...lots of shopping.

Both her very lovely mother and mother-in-law were busy making fresh, tasty sweets in the kitchen all afternoon, while the laughter amongst her mah jong mates echoed throughout her home. As they all helped one another pick out jewelry, I stood back and watched the dynamics of their very own Joy Luck Club. I am both envious and sad that this is lacking in my life.

It's not so much about friends (we are blessed with great ones), as it is about the coming together of generations and missing my grandparents. It was always about food and breaking bread together. Memories of my grandmothers making parcels of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves are etched upon me. I ache for the pungent smells of Chinese mushrooms and dried shrimp, pan-fried turnip cakes and most of all - salted fish.

Growing up in a predominantly lo fan neighbourhood, it was embarrassing inviting friends over to my house and having layers of newspaper spread across the balcony with dead fish drying in the sun that stunk like nobody's business! Jesee is the most adventurous gourmand I know, but "stinky" fish is not on his top-ten list. I'm not sure what his problem is, since he grew up with bacalao?

I close my eyes and can vividly remember the clatter of mah jong tiles lulling me to sleep right after a late night snack of congee and Chinese donuts...

Living in an inter-racial marriage allows us (and our children) to have the best of both worlds, but sometimes due to our cultural differences, we are missing that unspoken understanding.

I am certain that I was French in another lifetime. Je parle français comme une vache espagnole, but somehow I am fluent in my dreams!

When I first met Jesee, I had just returned from a stint in France and interestingly enough, he was practicing the I Ching - although we may not fill those cultural voids for one another completely, we are each others Yin and Yang.

Photo: The abandoned and dilapidated home of my paternal grandparents in Guangdong, China.