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 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