Tang Sifu

This post was written 3 years ago and published on Father's Day. My dad has since passed away. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I’ve never been hugged by my dad.  Growing up, I was under no illusion that I was anywhere near the favourite of his 9 » Read More

The Hard Sell

‘Hello, sir/ma’am – come try Malaysian food – we have noodles, curry, satay, roti’ – called out my newest staff member to the passing crowds.  We were trading at a market and he was obviously trying hard to show initiative and had been at it all day.  I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and told him to stop.  I don’t grovel for business; it’s just » Read More

Starting School – Seremban

I attended ACS (Anglo-Chinese School) in Kindergarten.  I’d been raised speaking Hakka within the family, and Cantonese among the neighbourhood kids.  The teacher spoke Cantonese to me. I remember a boy, Bernard Wong, taking  a liking to me and bringing me candy every day.  We hung out.  Then one day, he started getting obnoxious.  I think he’d » Read More

The TV

We lived on the 11th floor of the 14-storey high Templer Flats – Seremban’s Twin Towers – a welfare project for low-income families.  11 of us (9 kids plus our parents) crammed into a tiny 2-bedroom apartment.  Each night the mattresses would be on the bedroom and living room floors to accommodate everyone. There was one toilet, which doubled as » Read More

Bob is Sexy

‘Oi, tukar, tukar!’ (Oi, change! Change!) yelled the Odeon cinema usher as he banged on the counter at my Dad’s canteen.  He needed some change for whatever reason, and forgot to say please.  I was furious; I’d had enough of his BS. At 15, I’d had a personality transplant; from a mild, soft-spoken and obedient kid, I’d turned into a » Read More

Yin Chee

This is our ‘san goong yan’ (new maid) – I whispered to the neighbourhood kids – as we sneaked our heads over the doorway to our flat.  We wanted to stealthily check out the lady who was washing our clothes in the bathroom but she spotted us immediately. Yin ‘Chee’ (‘sister’ Yin) was only about 17 when she started working for us; she still » Read More

The Odeon

Throughout my time working at the Odeon, I had at best a love-hate relationship with it.  It wasn’t always that way.  When I was younger, I stayed at home whilst all my older brothers and sisters were out all day and night working.  I wanted to join them, but thanks to my position in the family – 8th in a family of 9 kids – they didn’t really need » Read More

Choong Fee

It would seem in hindsight that he never stood a chance, even from the moment he was named as a baby.  All the girls in our family have the middle name ‘Min’ and all the boys, ‘Choong’.  His name was Choong Fee. Shortly thereafter, my mom saw a fortune teller.  He told her it was a bad choice for a name.   The Chinese are superstitious about » Read More

The Car

This is my mom in our first car.  In the early years, my parents used to get around on a scooter.  Road safety laws have come a long way since those days when several of us would pile on top of each other on the scooter to get around town. Anyway, one day, my mom rode the scooter to the butcher’s to buy some meat for dinner. She saw his prices » Read More

The Fortune Teller

According to my dad, mom planned on having four kids.  This pic shows the four oldest kids - and that would have been it - neither I nor half my siblings would have existed. Then my mom visited a fortune teller. He told her he could see her husband marrying a second, younger wife in the future.  That enraged her.  She decided there and then, that » Read More