Posts Tagged ‘ang mo’

I’ve never had things not made for me.

That’s a lie.

The original plans in the engineering building at my university did not call for a women’s bathroom. The school compensated by converting the one on the first floor into a ladies room, much to the chagrin of the men.

And the entire thing about being a female engineer is really a bit abnormal in the first place.

Then there was that period of time- my entire teenage years- when I was too tall and skinny to fit into normal jeans or trousers. Everything was just a few inches too short leaving my socks showing and submitting me to high school mean girls shouting “There’s a flood!” when I turned the corner. Although the bully experience was scarring, you don’t get much sympathy for being too tall and skinny.

And then I gave up eating meat, so there was that. But I lived in Austin, and then London so that wasn’t too much of a problem.

But mostly I fit in. I’m right handed. I’ve never had a disability, unless you count being severely clumsy.

Then I moved to Singapore where my average height self and husband stand up tall over the rest and not eating meat is something the Hindus do, not the ang mohs.

But the daily struggle is the clothes and the beauty products. My friends back home were shocked to hear that in Singapore I was an XL.

Sure you can get the same high street items as you get anywhere like Gap and Zara, but they aren’t guaranteed to stock your size.

For the record, I’m not overweight.

And the beauty products are to lighten skin and smooth the hair, while I already get pretty pasty and have hair so smooth and flat that it will hardly hold in a ponytail.

The sales ladies don’t understand and in their aggressive nature proceed to tell me how their smoothing serum is great for Caucasion hair.

“But lady, look at it. It doesn’t need to be any straighter. It’s already limp and lifeless,” I try to reason with them.

They can’t seem to answer my question as to why the skin product they are pushing is allegedly good for Caucasians. I then realize I am only being placed in one category: white.

This is the portion of the post where I apologize to all my black female friends and acquaintances whom I did not take seriously enough about their hair and beauty product struggles. Obviously my problems are not the same, and yet I still feel traumatized.

I’m made to feel racist when I request a hair stylist who can deal with REALLY fine and thin hair. “All of our stylists our good with Caucasion hair.”  That’s not what I was asking, and by the way I ask this question at all new salons. That includes in the US and Europe. So really, please don’t take offense!

These are first world problems, I know, but you don’t mess with a girl’s hair.

My last haircut left me feeling pretty sad. At the end of the haircut, I had to ask for more product. And more product. “My hair is so fine it’s falling in my eyes,” I had to point out.

“Oh sorry,” she said. “Most Singaporean girls don’t wear product in their hair.” I tried to smile, but couldn’t help but think about how I had just paid her $70 to teach her how to cut my hair.

I know there must be very talented hair stylists in Singapore, I just have to learn where to look.

I walked straight out of the salon- one I found on expat forums miscategorized as cool and chic and good with fine hair mind you- and straight into a plate of cheese fries.

If you are going to engage in emotional eating, might as well do it full force.

I guess I should be grateful that there are some things you can get everywhere.

Texas style, with a side of ranch.

Author’s note: In case you are desperate for a reminder of home, there’s a Chili’s at Tanglin mall and Clarke Quay in Singapore. Normally I wouldn’t condone this behavior, but hey, there’s really no shame in it from time to time. I know a foodie friend who once drove 2 hours in the UK just to go to a TGIFriday’s. Think about how desperate he must’ve been.

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As the Olympics and Ramadan have come and gone, so has another event – my stay in temporary housing.

I won’t lie. I was a little nervous about being sent out on my own. It felt comforting and easy to be under the care of a 24 hour front desk with candies and sweet girls who were paid to be nice and chatty with me. Sometimes I even think they enjoyed the banter. I would also miss the pool and of course, the housekeeping.

The housekeeping ladies and I hugged goodbye as I left to the surprise of my eavesdropping husband. When you work from home, you appreciate the help around the house AND the company. Hey, their suggestions on best places for me to live around Singapore didn’t exactly fit with my lifestyle and personality, but their kindness and anecdotes were much appreciated by an ang mo far from home.

More than leaving the only few people I’d managed to connect with in Singapore, even if it was only due to daily proximity, to be out on my own dealing with real un-sheltered life and making friendships that would run at a deeper level was a bit scary.

And then there was the house I was moving into. Would I like it? Would it be a big mistake? A big hassle? Should I have picked a condo instead?

Despite the initial fear, I must say I am adjusting well. I love my house and it’s quirky bohemian charm. Surprisingly, I love it’s size. I always prided myself on being able to live in small spaces. It made me versatile, urban and a bit edgy.

But now we have room for a guest bedroom/ yoga room AND an office, luxuries we could not afford in London. Husband and I can be in the house together without driving each other mad. In fact, he can watch the TV and I don’t even have to hear it.

Plus, we have outdoor space! Outdoor space!

Yes, I do miss the amenities. And the neighborhood. Sure I like the area we have chosen, but I also miss the little places in Kampong Glam that I found and considered my own. And I miss hearing the call to prayer out of my window from the nearby mosque as I worked.

Not only was the call to prayer audible from my air conditioned box in the sky five times a day, but I was able to observe the festivities during Ramadan.

I would sometimes take walks around Masjid Sultan and see the Ramadan market outside, with treats to be sold from tents and rows of tables set up in the courtyard. Groups of people would sit waiting to break the fast together. It was quite lovely to see them and know that although they were so hungry, they were calm and enjoying being together.

I miss observing the beauty in these rituals.

But now it’s time to make my own. Like opening the windows in my office or daily practices in my yoga room. And once we get some patio furniture, the evening and weekend cocktails with friends.

Somebody call the ladies from housekeeping and tell them to come over!

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