Go tidy your room
Go read your book
Go practise your violin
Go do your homework

It’s now 10 pm
It’s time to sleep
It’s now 6 am
It’s time to wake

Go for your tuition
Go for your class
Go for your practice
Go for your game

Why can’t you be
More like your cousins?
They’re doing so well
You are so useless

Go revise your work
Go take your vitamins
Go clean your shoes
Go wash your bottle

You are so lacking
In initiative and imagination
You are so useless
You can’t do anything.





The Many Faceted Egg

Egg. Perfectly formed, self-contained, nutritious, a cradle of life … is there anything more perfect than this?

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photo credit: michal grosicki

‘Egg’ – the noun – has survived centuries of use but remains relatively unchanged from the Middle English ‘egg’ and its ancestor, the Old Norse ‘egg’. A simple word, it has contributed to a range of expressions over time: good egg, rotten eggΒ (reportedly 1848),Β egg on your face (reportedly 1936), nest egg. It is part of relevant advice today: don’t put all your eggs in one basket (Cervantes in Don Quixote, 1605) and it is also an insult: go suck an egg (1930s).

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photo credit: rebekah howell

‘Egg’ – the verb – represents encouragement, e.g., egg someone on. The thing is, the Old Norse etymology of ‘egg’ is the same as ‘edge’. So to egg someone on, back in the day, was to edge someone on, i.e., to provoke or drive to the edge. Technically, therefore, you could egg an egg to the egg. But I digress.

‘Egg’ – the food – is even more, well, egg-citing. Its cooking methods are diverse: hard-boiled, coddled, poached, fried, scrambled. It is integral in souffles, custards, soups and drinks. And let’s not forget caviar.

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photo credit: john baker

‘Egg’ is a poster child of cultural diversity: Huevos Rancheros, tamagoyaki, century egg, omelette, frittata. If you’re interested, see here for international breakfast egg recipes! By the way, while a London firm claims to have invented the Scotch Egg in the 1700s, it was apparently already being served during the Mughal Empire, founded in 1526!

‘Egg’ has synonyms. Kind of. I’m thinking of ovum, roe, spawn.

‘Egg’ becomes a tool for vandalism when it is thrown at someone’s house, i.e., egging. I know of a much-hated teacher whose students once cracked raw eggs on his car; it was parked in the sun.

‘Egg’ is part of folklore and tradition. It is said to cure illnesses, hangovers and foretell the future. It symbolises new life, birth and resurrection. The Chinese, for instance, distribute hard-boiled eggs dyed red to friends and family to celebrate a baby’s first month or first year.

‘Egg’ is a decorative item – who can ignore the beauty of an ostrich egg lamp? Or a Faberge egg?

‘Egg’ has cult followings – an egg yolk called Gudetama has spawned restaurants, merchandise and a near rock star status. And who has never heard of Humpty Dumpty?

I’d love to hear how the egg features in your culture. Please do share by leaving a comment!

[references: and]





Oy, Auntie! ~ Act of Kindness #6

I was early for my lunch with my BFF today. While waiting, I ordered a coffee and sat down to read at a nearby coffeeshop. 30 minutes later, she arrived and off we went to our lunch venue.

We took the downward escalator; I was in front, my BFF a step behind me. Mid-way down, we heard a loud male voice bellow, “Oy, Auntie! Aun-tie!”

There followed the thump of a foot that caused the escalator to vibrate. I turned, as did my BFF. As did the middle-aged man behind her. As did everybody else within hearing distance.

A young man stood at the head of the escalator waving a book. “Oy, Auntie, your book!”

Yep, I’d left my book in the coffeeshop. I had a choice: head back upwards on that escalator or reach the bottom and take the other one up.

The young man solved the dilemma. He took two steps down, handed the book to the middle-aged man and pointed at me. Then he bounded back up what was now five steps.

The least I could do was bellow back my thanks. He waved cheerily back. My highly mortified book was passed from the middle-aged man to my BFF to me. (It has since buried itself inside my tote and refused to reappear.)

I am deeply grateful to the young man who bothered to track down a forgetful reader. My thanks also to the man and BFF who helped to reunite a book and its owner.



Noodle Auntie ~ Act of Kindness #5

For as long as we’ve lived in the neighbourhood, we’ve had Sunday brunch at the coffee shop whenever we could. It wasn’t a large shop; just seven stalls offering drinks, vegetarian noodles, congee, prawn noodles, wanton noodles, Indian food and economical rice.

We were generally happy to eat from each stall in rotation. It got to the point even the stall owners knew whose turn it was to serve us. However, the Munchkin had an affinity for the wanton noodles and often ate it for weeks in a row.

This stall was run by a couple. Uncle prepared the noodles: dry, braised, with or without chilli, cooked soft or al dente just the way the customers ordered. Auntie did the plating and garnishing, often also delivering the bowls right to the tables.

But Auntie did much more for us. Over the years, she cut the Munchkin’s noodles into short little strips so it was easy for a child to scoop with a spoon. She made Uncle boil the noodles longer so they would be softer. She added extra sauce. She smuggled out extra wantons. Later, it was vegetables. When there was a moment to spare, she would sit with us for a chat.

The Munchkin had wanton noodles the day before leaving for college. Auntie cried and offered all sorts of advice about living alone. Even Uncle, whose voice we’ve pretty much never heard, said, “Study hard!” from behind his giant soup pot.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then I’m beyond thankful Auntie (and Uncle) and my family live in the same one. Thank you, Auntie.



The Suspension of Time

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photo credit: skeeze

I sat before the TV, rapt and in awe of the grace, skill and athleticism of the ice dance competitors in the 2018 European Championships.

Pair after pair glided seemingly effortlessly across the ice in perfect unison, and in gravity-defying lifts and spins. Humans were not made to wear floaty dresses or sparkly shirts to dance on blades on ice!

Not every pair completed their programs unscathed – some stumbled, some had a sequence out of sync. But there is no denying the time, energy and commitment each has devoted to this sport. Nor the talent and passion.

Then came Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. Time stood still as the ice became the canvas for their art. If I was in awe before, I was speechless now. For several minutes, I was spellbound by this poetry in motion. The Moonlight Sonata will forever be associated with this record-breaking performance.

I am not a skater. I can’t tell a lutz from a loop. But I can suspend time for a few moments to appreciate beauty, and savour some moments of bliss.





Cab Ride ~ Act of Kindness #4

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photo credit: peter kasprzyk

I took a cab today because, as usual, I was running late. Plus, it was raining.

The driver and I discussed the weather. How it was -67C somewhere in Russia, and how it was 43C somewhere in Australia. An earlier passenger, he said, had griped about how it once rained for seven straight days where he lived, while his sister’s hometown was in danger from drought.

Then he asked how late I was staying out and how I was getting home.

Can you blame me for blurting out, “Huh?”

He waggled one hand skywards. “This rain won’t stop anytime soon.”

“O-kaaay,” I said.

“I don’t know if you remember about the train disruptions this weekend? Nothing running eastbound from 10:30 tonight through to Sunday midnight.”

I had, indeed, forgotten about that.

“The buses will be packed – how you going to board? Better to leave earlier from wherever you are and get the train. You don’t want to be stuck in town without a ride. And remember about surge pricing in case you want to do Grab.”

Yes, I had a great evening. And, yes, I left in time to catch the last train safely home. Thanks to a kindly driver.



Three Pages ~ Act of Kindness #3

While many genuine and satisfactory transactions occur on websites such as eBay or Carousell, it is probably fair to say that such sites are not typically the source of random acts of kindness.

Yet, an act of kindness happened on such a site.

This Seller received a message requesting pictures of three specific pages from a textbook she (or he) had listed. Several messages to and fro later, it transpired that the buyer was a kid who had left his (or her) textbook in school and needed it to complete his homework. He was honest: he didn’t want to buy the book. He just needed those three pages required for his homework.

The kid had not been able to reach his friends (who apparently had long gone to bed) nor could he find the relevant pages anywhere else. In desperation, he searched for the textbook on Carousell, found a copy and put forth his request to the presumably bemused Seller. Where others might have brushed off the kid’s request, the Seller obliged.

photo credit: jess watters

We could, of course, ask why the kid was still up at that hour trying to complete his homework. Or how he ended up on that site. Or wonder if we would have done the same in the Seller’s shoes.

Or we could applaud a kid’s solution to his problem – a study in thinking out of the box. And appreciate a seller’s generosity to a stranger in need.

Thank you, Seller, for your kindness in sending those three pages.