Mostly Non-Adherent

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The dreaded opening line - "Can you tell me something about Singapore?"

The question - "can you tell me something about Singapore?" - always brings the onset of a Goldfish Syndrome attack. The symptoms are un-blinking stare, frozen expression, while my mouth engages in a open and close motion.
I am really at a loss as to where to start. There are so many things to tell, but everything about Singapore is layered - to talk about one thing, you have to explain many others.

Invariably I find myself talking about food - it's quite a safe subject, quite neutral, I have some knowledge of it, and it does make for very interesting conversation.

Recently, I was asked to post something about Singapore on a Italian forum. My posting about the normal Singapore breakfast apparently had them riveted, and waiting for the next serving.

The posting that I am including, also proves that Singlish is truly a universal language.

Messaggi: 6
Località di residenza: Singapore
Inviato: Mar Giu 14, 2005 6:47 am Oggetto: Buongiorno

Hmmm....E che cosa posso racontare da Singapore?

Since it's morning over here, let me start with breakfast, and what many Singaporeans (S'poreans) eat for breakfast.
WHERE: Kopitiam (kopi = coffee + tiam= shop = traditional Coffee Shop)
WHAT: Traditional breakfast set - 1) kaya toast (wafer thin brown bread toasted on a charcoal grill, on the spot, with kaya and thin slices of unmelted butter. Kaya is a sweet spread made from coconut milk, eggs, sugar and Pandan leaves - yes, the artery clogging type of stuff you should avoid; 2) 2 half boiled eggs condimented with dark soya sauce and pepper - there is a traditional way of eating the eggs - you slurp them off the plate they are served on, and just gulp down the runny egg white and the quite liquid egg yolk - I guess you can gather that I am more of a dipper than a slurper; 3) kopi - traditional boiled, thick coffee (there are quite a few different kopi styles, that deserves a dedicated post)

USEFUL VOCABULARY - 1) Uncle/Auntie- all men over the age of 40 are called uncle ( taxi drivers, shop attendants, security guards, etc etc); while women (food stall attendants, cleaning ladies, nursery attendants, shop assistants, etc) are calledauntiey- When you order your breakfast you should say: Uncleauntiey, kaya toast set;
2) da bao - very useful and often usedwordd in Singapore meaning "take away". So if you want to have your breakfast at your desk, instead of eating at the coffee shop you should order it this way- Auntie/Uncle, kaya toast set, da bao."
3) Chi - literal translation is "eat" in Mandarin, but in the context of placing your order in a eatery it means "to eat in thepremisess". So if you intend to eat your breakfast at the Kopitiam you should place your order accordingly -Auntie/Uncle, kaya toast set, chi de."

VOCABULARY YOU CAN USE TO IMPRESS OTHERS WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF LOCAL SLANG: Jelat - local Singaporean slang for flavour overdose caused by overly rich/sweet/sour/salty/spicy, etc food. How to use jelat - "Ayoh, the kaya toast damn jelat one leh!" - yes that's English, well it's Singlish (Singapore's own brand of English which I will try to explain in another posting). The phrase actually means "God, the kaya toast is too overwhelming."

Messaggi: 32
Località di residenza: Milano
Inviato: Mar Giu 14, 2005 11:08 am Oggetto:

good morning Bebinka... OMG.... I would Love to have one of those kaya toasts! Yes.... .....a damn jelat sweet one! is that right? Blue