Monday, February 2, 2009

Will Singaporeans ever learn how to be gracious? Or is it just us Chinese?

I attended Chingay over the weekend but I did not have the luxury to see it from the comfort of the Padang seats. Instead, I stood outside Singapore Recreation Club. Whatever the case, it was my first "LIVE" Chingay for 32 years. The performance was quite lively with the participants and the spectators in a chirpy and festive mood. However, it just takes one incident to ruin the good image of Singapore as a Metropolitan city, rich in culture and pride for its tourism.

However, I noticed a commotion between 2 Chinese ladies (middle-aged and an elderly) and an Eurasian couple, who looked like tourists. The following video shows one of the scenes of the commotion.

Anyway, my take from this incident is that we, as Singaporeans, live in a hustle and bustle environment and we have that "Kia-su" and "Kia-si" mentality that has become our uniqueness as Singaporeans. In a good way, it shows our competitiveness. Chinese are known for their competitiveness and will often go the extra mile to get what they want or accomplish what they should. Make no mistake in this instance, this jostling for space or position clearly showed the ugly side of our society. In fact, it has tarnished our image severely as a warm and friendly nation, welcoming to foreign investors and visitors. Don't forget, we do rely on them to a large extent.

Are we going to rely on our ambassadors to our nation to uphold the good conduct to foreigners? On hindsight, we are all ambassadors for our nation and we must do our part to uphold our graciousness (if we ever had any). It is a tall order, esp I have seen worse during Chinese New Year eve @ Chinatown, where even younger folk disregarded elderly ones, brushing them away at the stalls just to get their own way.

Is it a problem of our upbringing? I beg to differ anyway. We can be competitive in our work but we can always be gracious in our dealings with other people. Perhaps, we should bring back the annual Courtesy campaign of the 80s as a first step to make Singaporeans more courteous and gracious.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Xiao Long Bao

Hey hey. More food for thought. I love xiao long baos. For those of you who do not know this, it is also known as soup dumplings and it is well known in Shanghai. It is steamed in a traditional method using bamboo baskets. It must go with vinegar and ginger to bring out the heavenly taste. There are many places in Singapore that sells them, including food courts nowadays. However, I have tried some in the more well-known places like Din Tai Fung (Paragon and Raffles City) and Asian Kitchen (Vivocity).

Here's my take on each of them. I am very particular about the skin though and form after you pick them up from the chopsticks. The ones at Din Tai Fung are great... the skin is soft and it does not stick to the chopsticks once you pick them up. In addition, it will sag to show its soft skin without the soup within spilling. However, those who have poor chopstick skills like myself, you need to be extra careful. The meat is rather fresh and the soup is tasty so thumbs up for Din Tai Fung. The one at Asian Kitchen is quite the opposite. The skin sticks to the chopsticks and hence, sticks to your lips and teeth once you put them in your mouth. So it is quite a turn off although the only redemption is the meat within which is quite fresh. I haven't tried those in Geylang or food court which is relatively cheaper but I will one day so that I can rid myself of the stereotype that only restaurants serve good dian xins. More of this in my subsequent updates.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Again... on Tissue Prata and Roti John

I was feeling peckish yesterday so I decided to try Tissue Prata and Roti John again. This time closer to home.... Serangoon Gardens (RK Eating House). Like I mentioned previously, I did take the timing before the Tissue Prata goes soft and less crispy. It takes about 15 minutes for this one. Interesting ain't it. However, the issue about this one is that they put lots of ghee in it so it's really fattening.... Chinese use lard, indians use ghee in their cooking.... Anyway, this one is by far the BEST in terms of crispiness and it lasts longer too. The best part is, we didn't have to wait long after if came out from the pan, barely a minute before it is served.

As for the john, this one isn't far off from the one at Al-Azhar's except that the french loaf used is quite hard. Not too appetising. First serve of the chilli is meagre, you will need to ask them for more. The chilli used ain't that sweet compared to Al-Azhar's. So I rank this No. 2 out of the 4 places.

Watch this space for more take on Pratas and Roti Johns.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good Prata anyone?

I thought I will add this segment since I have been eating quite a bit over my leave period between Christmas and New Year.

Lots of people have posts about pratas and roti johns and I shall have my take on some that I have tried.

I recently tried tissue pratas and plain roti john at Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant (opp Beauty World Shopping Centre) and I compared it to the ones I tried @ The Roti Prata House (Thomson) and The Cheese Prata Shop @ Clementi Rd (NUS). First, my take on the tissue prata, famed for its crispiness. I think it is a good supper snack esp if you don't want too much fat and ghee in it. However, if it is left too long after being cooked, the prata will "lao hong", losing its crispiness. Over the 3 places that I have tried, the best so far will be The Roti Prata House, followed by The Cheese Prata Shop. Next time I try it, I will note down how long it takes before it gets "lao hong". But the weird thing about eating tissue is best to eat it quick and with your own hands and not with utensils. Utensils take longer to tear and this time wasted means your prata may turn "stale" after a while.

For the roti john, people's taste may defer but I think it is best eaten with sweet chilli. Maybe because I have a sweet tooth, but believe me... it is heavenly after you taste it with sweet chilli. I think the best roti john I have tasted so far has got to be Al-Azhar's... cooked to perfection in my view. The bread is not over-fried so that it will not harden so quickly leaving you good time to savour it warm. The bread at The Roti Prata House @ Thomson is quite hard and it loses its appeal after the 2nd bite.

That's my take on 2 of my favourite supper snacks.

I am open to comments on this. Perhaps you guys and gals out there may have different views....

It's Been quite a while.....

I am back after a long while. Lost the urge to write. Anyway, I am back after going MIA on my own page. How pathetic is that?!

Life has been treating me swell since the last post, except that there are major changes. Anyway, I shall not bore you with this. Let me get down to what I want to ramble about.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Be wary and take care of your back!

It ain't fun having slipped disc at all. worse still - mine occurs @ 2 pts (L2/L3 and L5/S1) and one of it contacts the nerves roots. So as much as I exert too much during strenous physical activity, there will be some ache. The L5/S1 region is the most common ailment and yet the most painful when it happens.

Treatment so far includes physiotherapy sessions to strengthen the back muscles and maintain a proper posture as much as possible and avoid carrying heavy stuff. I have also enrolled myself in yoga too. According to my friends who have the same problem, they say it helps.

So far, I had occasionly neglected most and more critically on the strengthening exercises and posture, thus the pain when I had coughed slightly more forcefully than usual while washing up, forcibly putting me into a squat, subsequently dragging myself back to bed and lie supine hoping the pain will alleviate. Didn't happen, so off to the hospital I went for treatment.

Words of advice:

1. If you are carrying an injury, take care and follow the prescriptions ordered, no matter how troublesome. Believe me, it won't be troublesome until you go to the hospital, like me.

2. If you are seeking treatment by doing some prescibed exercises, don't forget to do lots of stretching to lumber up your back. There are many websites which promote these exercises and I will link you to some lower back exercises from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

3. Take care of your back when you are young. When you get older and are more prone to ailments, then having a potentially paralysing injury ain't fun at all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Analogy of a worker sitting on a stool....

My apologies for the lack of activity recently. Guess I was too caught up with work. But there was something interesting about our lives that I learnt and would like to share....

In an ideal working world, a stool would have 4 legs and when we sit on it, there is always stability. Whenever it comes to the crunch, management may say that we do not need 3 legs and therefore, we have no choice but to comply... and so we continue working with our 3-legged stool albeit less stable. Sometimes, there will be situations whereby we need to tighten our belts more... and the inevitable happens.

Management will always look at people on the ground from their own lenses, i.e. they won't even ask about our difficulties and make assumptions that doesn't reflect the actual situation. When they see that we can manage well with our new 3-legged stool, they may even take away one more and ask us to live with it... Now the situation becomes less stable and secure (with 2 legs), so we enlist the help of others to work hand-in-hand and keep us afloat. All management does is to tell us to manage.

As time passes, management will opin that we can manage well with our current "2-legged stool" and may even wonder why is there a need to put the legs back in place since the situation on the ground can be managed with 2 legs, even if there is a chance to put things right. Eventually, we will even forget that we had 4 to start with.

The bottomline is:

1. We work always to make this happen - even when our belts are tightened and no matter how painful - "Just do it, make it happen".

2. If things get uncomfortable, don't forget to enlist the help of others.

3. (For management level) Don't just make "management decisions". Don't always look at things from your boardroom perspective, take some time to walk through your organisation and understand things better. It will help in making decisions that benefit all concerned. If there is a need to tighten our belts, everyone should take the cut, inclusive of management.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Decision-Making for Dummies

It is difficult to comprehend that in major organisations, decision-making is continually the archilles heel. The trouble with decision-making is with the individuals. Every individual plays a part - whether it is a decision by an individual or a collective decision.

Many books on Organisations, Leadership, etc, will articulate how decision-making, be it as a model or process, should be done. In theory, it is definitely logical. When it comes to practice, it is, at times, perplexing. There are many facets to making proper and sound decisions. To make a certain "decision", one has to consider multiple aspects and as you rise higher in your organisation, the mutiple aspects becomes a multitude. The range of factors to consider while making decisions include "Will it affect me in any way", "Will I have extra work to do", "Will the staff be happy", "Will it inconvenience others", "Will I score points"... and the list goes on. I thought that the main fundamental is to "Will it do good for the organisation".

So, although many have complained about decisions being made, it is not easy for personnel beyond the managerial-level, given that they have to answer for their decisions.

Decision-making is, however, part of everyday life and we must be able to be "make that decision" rather than "please consult my boss" all the time. My humble opinion is that, the fundamental to good decision-making should be based on one's principles and ethics. One must be willingly accountable to his decisions, else the decision will not carry weight. I firmly believe also that - if it is within your power to influence or even make a decision, make it. I am not asking everyone to be foolhardy in making decisions, just outweigh the pros and cons, considering the different hygiene factors in the process.