Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Perfect Curry Puff

Why do I love curry puffs? Why do I keep searching for the ideal curry puff?

My memory of eating curry puff goes as far back to the time when I was 9 years old. I was in primary three then, in a neighbourhood primary school called Kebun Baru Primary School. It was a new school where I was the pioneer batch to have begun classes since Primary 1. During that time, the school building wasn't even ready and we had to put up at another school's premise.

I remember soon after about a year or so, we moved into the new school building. It was fantastic because the new school compound was within short walking distance from our home. The only peeve was that getting to or away from my home to school required one to walk up/down a very long flight of steps, since our block of flats was situated on a pretty steep slope. I had counted 80 steps once. What comforted me was that I had the luxury of playing at a playground between my home and the school everyday with my neighbours before deciding enough is enough.

The story of curry puff started with a name, Wenxiang. Wenxiang was one of my classmates then. Among the parents' grapevine, we found out that Wenxiang's parents were divorced and he had lived with his grandmother. My memories of Wenxiang is vague. Perhaps due to his parents' divorce, I never felt he was close to anyone and appeared aloof, although he had never been a problem for anyone or stuck out in anyway.

What I remembered most was his grandmother. Me as a nine-year old boy remembered her as an ordinary-looking grandmother who was always in her samfu. She appeared to be really old with her wrinkles on her face and her sunken eyes. Her frame was wiry and her fingers boney which made her look very frail. She was in every way the opposite of my maternal grandmother. My granny was large-framed, knew how to entertain herself, loved to smoke cigarettes curled in pink porous paper, spoke in a loud boom-my voice and liked to boss people around. At least, that was my impression of her. On the other hand, I had wondered what Wenxiang's grandmother would do if he was to rebel against his grandmother. Her almost silver-white hair was permed in the style that was even less fashionable than my grandmother's and the style had appeared then to have been kept since the 1970s, while my grandmother had dyed and highlighted her hair every so often, complaining that her hair was turning white.

On which day I can't quite remember. What I did remember though was that one day Wenxiang's grandmother appeared outside our doorsteps. She was carrying a basket with her. My mother went to the door and understood from her that she had received no allowance from either of Wenxiang's parent. In order to support her grandson, the old lady had to find ways to earn her keep and making curry puffs was the only way she knew. We bought a few at thirty-cents each. Each puff was pressed into the bulgy shape made by a plastic mould, and came with ends that resembled a pleated skirt. My mother had one but I had never seen her use it. Instead I had on occasions used the mould to entertain myself, imagining it as a puppet which it resembles with its teeth and mouth-like appearance when closed. Sometimes I used it to clamp my younger brother's ears. Inside the puff was curry paste with potato, and a full quarter of a hard-boiled egg. The filling was moist and the egg filled almost half the body of the entire puff. My brothers and I loved how the pastry was crisp without falling apart. The skin was smooth with pockets of bursted air bubbles which made it resemble the moon that the astronauts had showed us, and what I read in encyclopedias.

Wenxiang's grandmother had to walk from block to block, level to level and door to door to pedal her curry puffs. Every time my younger brothers and I hear her calling out 'kalipok' from a distance, we would rush to find my mother's coin purse and find whatever coins we can get to buy all the curry puffs that we can afford. We loved the curry puff so much that each of us can easily wolf three down every time, much to my mother's amusement and dismay.

After graduating from primary school and leaving for secondary school, I was hardly at home and no longer had the chance to eat Wenxiang grandmother's curry puffs and soon had forgotten all about it. I also graduated to more sophisticated fare like croissant and puff pastries. As time progressed and Old Chang Kee became more popular, I was reminded of Wenxiang grandmother's curry puffs, and had supposed that the old lady must have passed on after all those years. If she didn't, the heavens must have truly blessed her.

I guess I will never find the ideal curry puff ever again, one that is filled with the calling of the curry puff by its corrupted name from a very frail-looking old lady, who went round house to house rain or shine so that her grandson could have an education and future without his parents. All these however wonderful curry puffs that I had been seeking shall never be perfect, at least not in my memory.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A new start

I just 'redesigned' the look and header of this blog. Some things are waiting to be shared but I need to think them through these few days while I wrap up my current projects (http://www.facebook.com/sharehappySingapore), and before I start on new ones (yes I already have work confirmed and lined up till end of October).

For now, I shall talk about the movie INCEPTION and what it means to me.

I watched INCEPTION yesterday and was inspired both personally and professionally. The story is an interesting one, to say the least. The plot engaging but I half suspect that a large number of Singaporeans may find it tedious, preferring popcorn fare such as Prince of Persia to this.

This is not to say Singaporeans are generally lazy or stupid. Our lives sometimes just make us choose what is easier when picking entertainment, away from work's grind; without having to think so hard.

Short of going into the a review and analysis of the film (for the review, you can find it at incinemas.sg by another reviewer), I think INCEPTION affects me much as many people in the way that it manages to put into film what we can identify but can't really put into words. Some of these ideas are not now, but when packaged in the way INCEPTION, it becomes a novel way of looking at old news.

I can identify with the following:

1 Our dreams seem real.

2 Time seems to pass slower in dreams than in reality.

3 When we realise that we are dreaming, our dreams start to fall apart (at least for me).

4 I sometimes engineer my surroundings in my dream to fit my purpose (a Freudian analysis altogether) but yes, I do project my subconscious in my dreams and sometimes I know it.

I can't say I remember most of my dreams, as most seem to be independent and discrete from each other (very mathematical I know). However I also had the privilege to experience continuous and episodic dreams. i.e. subsequent dreams (after a period of time, say days, or months, that seem to form a larger story continuously from where my earlier dream left off. They are not often but they are exciting when they do happen. I can't say for sure when they do. One such 'series' is the flying dream, where by conditioning my mind and adjusting my body instinctly, I will start to float and can travel to places I choose to go. Dream on I know, but such dreams make me happy and empowers me, giving me greater energy and making me alert to face the real (?) world the next day.

Conversely, there are times when I know I'm dreaming, but I can't wake up from it even hard as I try, when my body receives a kick (usually pain in my kidney area due to my pillow pressing on me) but the mind refuses to release me from my dream. Such times I struggle futilely as time seems to pass so slowly. This is my personal version of 'Nightmare on Elm Street'. Usually I encounter so much pain at my waist, which appears real to me, to the point that it becomes no longer bearable, then do I wake up. And yes, my body feels the pain but much duller when I'm awake.

Thirdly, I have solved most of the problems I encounter during the day since I was young. We are not talking about mathematical or social problems. Usually projects which require me to think different. Out of the box if you choose to see it. But to me, my dreams allow me to drop logic, facts and allows my imagination to take over. So, I'm most creative when I dream and that is one reason why I like to sleep. Perhaps you can try this too. It works for me. I write down the problem I try to solve or think about it seriously for a few minutes just before I drift off to sleep, at the state of semi-consciousness. Usually I would have found what I thought was a brilliant solution that could not have happened if I were awake. This is also why I tend to thank God in the morning instead of before sleep. As a side note, I find it unacceptable to pray to 'God' for a solution, so I rather give thanks for the solution for coming to me.

OK, enough about me, but as dreams are personal, I can't take myself out of it completely. Back to the film, what INCEPTION offers in addition is the idea that you can enter someone's dream and subconscious and 'peek'/'steal' whatever he/she is thinking at the superficial and subconscious levels. I bet this film is going to be a hot discussion point for all our psychology students.

If you still don't have much of a idea of what I'm saying, it's best to experience the film for yourself, but unlike some films where reading the book beforehand enhances the pleasure of watching the film. It is probably best that you start dreaming before watching this film.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Lego Avatar

Look like me bo?

Lego Book

This is coming out. I think I'm going pre-order it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.

Friday, February 08, 2008

New Song

Wrote a new song yesterday using Finale Notepad. The title is tentatively called 'God be my guide', written for SATB with harp/keyboard accompaniment and an a cappella section. Hope to buy a midi keyboard soon so I don't have to write in note by note then

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I took this test when I was 17 years old. Now I'm 31. Some things never change, it seems.

You Are An INTJ

The Scientist

You have a head for ideas - and you are good at improving systems.
Logical and strategic, you prefer for everything in your life to be organized.
You tend to be a bit skeptical. You're both critical of yourself and of others.
Independent and stubborn, you tend to only befriend those who are a lot like you.

In love, you are always striving to improve your relationship.
You have strong ideas of what love should be like.

At work, you excel in figuring out difficult tasks. People think of you as "the brain."
You would make an excellent scientist, engineer, or programmer.

How you see yourself: Reasonable, knowledgeable, and competent

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Aloof, controlling, and insensitive

Friday, May 11, 2007


I found this song accidentally, when a friend lent it to me by Eason Chan, whom I usually don't listen to. I found the words to be very meaningful and discovered that it was actually written by a Singaporean.

我来到你的城市, 走过你来时的路,
想象着没我的日子, 你是怎样的孤独。
拿着你给的照片, 熟悉的那一条街, 只是没了你的画面

我们回不到那天, 你会不会忽然的出现, 在街角的咖啡店,
我会带着笑脸, 挥手寒暄, 和你坐着聊聊天,

我多么想和你见一面, 看看你最近改变,
不再去说从前, 只是寒暄, 对你说一句, 只是说一句, 好久不见。
拿着你给的照片, 熟悉的那一条街, 只是没了你的画面,

我们回不到那天, 你会不会忽然的出现在街角的咖啡店,
我会带着笑脸, 挥手寒暄, 和你坐着聊聊天,

我多么想和你见一面, 看看你最近改变,
不再去说从前, 只是寒暄, 对你说一句, 只是说一句, 好久不见。

Sometimes I think about life and the people whom we meet, the times that has passed. I try to appreciate what I have before they are lost forever for one reason or another.

I can be a very loyal person and sometimes too sentimental. When I listen to a song, I listen to it for it's lyrics for a few times, then it's construction in terms of progression, instrumentation, musical development and so on... I've listened to this song ad nausem for more than 150 times in less than 5 days. No I'm not obssessed, but it speaks of the philosophy when I tend to approach things which I want to know more about or understand... by repetition exposure. (meaning behind that: I'm not that intelligent and try to compensate by doing more! ha!)

The bottomline is I have been feeling rather downcast lately with my tonsilitis and my problems at work (nothing new). Add that to the feeling of being taken for granted without any reprieve from pressure when I needed one...

I'm recovering from melancholy and starting to slip into indifference... something I don't quite enjoy feeling as I feel responsible making sure everything is OK before I embark on a 3 week ICT (holiday? I wish). Phones will still be coming in.. so I guess I will work from camp since as a workshop 2IC I don't really have that much to do. Hello?!? V200 armoured tanks in need of repair by NSmen instead of active servicemen?!?!?!?!?!? I think I'll end up with some logistics work and to wait for lunch wait for dinner wait for nightsnack... argh... I hate life like that... worse than being kept at work nonstop.

Hope I come out of ICT without feeling too deranged. :|