Friday, August 19, 2011

A delicious pot of Curry and how not to blow your own horn ...

I will be cooking a pot of Thai Panang (chicken or fish, I've not quite decided) Curry on August 20th at 10pm here in Eugene, OR, USA in solidarity with the others in Singapore who intend to cook curries of different stripes August 21st Singapore time.

Many of those doing the same will probably be doing it for many different reasons. For my part, I will be expressing myself as a global citizen. I will allow the smell to waft out through the back patio door. If my neighbors do not like it, they will talk to me about it and I will engage them, as mature adults should. For me, it will be a non-issue, after all I do not take Panang as a staple and even if I do, I'm sure we can come to amicable solutions.

My take on this whole sordid affair is that it was an inappropriate, even stupid, attempt on the part of someone to toot their horns in the public media using what was, in fact, a really lousy example. I am surprised they did not review the material and on a second read, realized their story had a massive WTF/"aiyaiyai" moment behind it.

I am more than willing to believe the two families had come to an amicable agreement (timing, the use of fans, letting each other know ... etc ... ). The "authorities" did not need to make the "incident" sound as if it were a resounding success story of their "mediation" and "integration" programs. I mean, why could they not simply have said "We have volunteers who are trained to help mediate in disputes and we encourage folks who find it hard to resolve a problem on their own to contact us for help" and just leave it as that.

Well, their back-patting exercise backfired and frankly, I'm glad it did. I'm glad it riled up enough people to take note of it, get annoyed enough to then poke some fun at the expense of the "authorities". As with all issues with a strong emotional backdrop, there will be people who are riled up for the wrong reasons, perhaps adding to the problems of mounting tensions toward immigrants who come to our country. However, I am a strong believer in free speech. I believe these people, probably in the minority, should be allowed to say what they wish. At the same time, the rest of us also have a right to speak up whenever there are unfair or inflammatory statements and say "No, that is not right, we should not be feeling this way."

As I've said, I was annoyed by the initial description of how things were "resolved" but I am inclined to accept the clarifications made by Shanmugam. I would like to think the two families worked things out. If one takes a step back and think about it, these are just simple things that people need to do as mature adults and private citizens in a civilized society living in a high-density environment (and with tons of artificial mobility restrictions imposed on people by the government - one cannot "simply move away" to reduce tensions).

Anyway, enough of my rant ... in 24 hours time, I get to enjoy my very yummy curry! Pictures will be forthcoming.

Update: 8/28/2011 - Photos!!





15 comments:

Kevin Jang said...

Curry is nice. I am making Korean curry on Sunday! Honestly, from the way I read it, as much as it is blown out of proportions by some pro-opposition supporters, I agree that it is in itself a 'fob' tendency to restrict the lifestyle choices of other people and to end up being rude and mean, even should the other people be a little tad intrusive or insensitive to the claims of curry being "too strong". The truth though, as far as I am concerned, is simply the case of an unassimilated PRC couple trying to lord it over a Singaporean way of living. It's like telling Indians not to eat!

Beau Lotus said...

I just realized that I will be in my own kitchen in Shanghai come Tuesday so I guess a curry could always be cooked up. I wouldn't bother any neighbour unfortunately since I live in a villa, but I join my fellow Singaporeans in their love for curry and in the call for tolerance and peaceful mediation in neighborhood affairs. Must say that this brought me to mind of my building in Paris where a few of the neighbors chased out our Korean tenant for her 'smelly' cooking. In this case it was locals vs foreigner and the former won. Sad state.

Chee Wai Lee said...

Cousin - chased out? how? That should be against the law, shouldn't it?

Sounded like the tenant lost, but did she try to fight back through the courts and force an attempt at negotiation over the cooking?

The issue must have been brewing for a while and tensions ran too high or those neighbors were thugs. If the latter, then no amount of mediation will solve anything.

Beau Lotus said...

They didn't kick her out they just made it so uncomfortable for her that she left on her own. Koreans use alot but alot of garlic in their cooking...

The building is near the arc de triomphe in Paris - a chic address just minutes from the champs élysées. The inhabitants are therefore of a certain standing and works on keeping it in the bldg. All owners have voting rights in the managing committee and we have a non-spoken agreement not to spoil the standards of our residence.

I empathise with her but could also see their point. Told off the neighbours who had been rude to her and offered to fight for her case in the committee as a matter of principle. But she decided to leave anyway.

Chee Wai Lee said...

I empathize with her as well and I agree with your analysis. There are similar scenarios here where the Home Owners' Associations can intervene.

I was joking about being too poor to buy one of the houses near my area (US$500k) but could afford to buy one of the free plots of land still there (US$120k) and then have enough money left to pitch a tent. Of course, we all know the home owners' association of that area will bust me for that :P.

Beau Lotus said...

You could still buy the land as an investment, no? Being landless still bothers me a little but I have no funds for any where I am, land somehow costs a lot in all the places I've been living in...

Will you be voting this Saturday? I still couldn't decide who to vote for!

Chee Wai Lee said...

Sure I could buy the land, but I'm not sure if that's a good price for the plot.

If I am to sell it, it better be at least break-even. Otherwise, I'd have to find a way to build a nice house there.

Anyway, Shanghai is an expensive city isn't it?

I'm not voting this Saturday. Not spectacularly enthused with any of the candidates (not that I can vote anyways). If I were forced to choose, it'd be between TCB and TJS with a stronger tendency in favor of TJS.

Beau Lotus said...

Shanghai is very expensive indeed. I'm not destined to be a landowner from the look of things.

I've just received my voting letter, will vote in Shanghai come Saturday.

I think I'll go for the fattest guy, for had Caesar not once said,"Let me have men around me who are not thin..."

Chee Wai Lee said...

Hehehe, I do believe Shakespeare meant to use that to depict the cynicism of politics (if that be true). Kevin, would you happen to know a little something about Elizabethian politics to say if it mattered enough to someone like Shakespeare to write about? (Kevin did his Phd in Medieval history)

I'm sure though, that Shakespeare understood that the "fat men" euphemism for lazy, incompetent or corrupt politicians greatly benefits the kings and rulers of the day, like Caesar, much to the detriment of the peasants with whom we can personally draw a closer relationship.

Kevin Jang said...

Hey Chee Wai,

Actually my major was more in medieval literature and with a secondary emphasis on performance studies(drama) which accounts for the interest in Shakespeare and early drama as well. There is this strange reference to thin men--ectomorphs--being suspicious inside "Julius Caesar", especially to Brutus who murdered Caesar, because he was thin and lean. The premise that lean-looking men are suspicious is odd but might have to do with the sense of Elizabethan aristocracy being generally well-fed, and hence not lean by contrast with those who would be at odds against the status quo.

On an aside, I have heard enough about the candidates. It might be really my last time voting for a president, since I have no idea where I will be 6 years from now, and I might even be back in Canada again as a permanent resident later on by then. I am surprisingly against the idea of a government-endorsed presidential candidate, and plus, the role that TCB played inside Operation Spectrum and Operation coldstore alongside TT has given me reason in all conscience (and moral ethics) to turn away from them. For me, I am in a throw between tkl and tjs but am more predisposed towards the former who is the most non-partisan.

Kevin Jang said...

On the other side of Shakespeare and politics, it is actually very hard to classify what he felt about politics per se. Some of his characters seem to be modelled somewhat as allegories of political governance, especially the Roman plays, the history plays(involving medieval history, such as Richard II and III and the Henriad plays), but there is little to generalize across a spectrum, and even the tragedies like "Hamlet" and "King Lear" reveal a more humanistic element than just mere running political commentary.

Kevin Jang said...

hahaha....talking about getting chased out for cooking Korean food, Chee Wai, I am hoping that this does not happen to me one day outside of Singapore. I have always cooked more Korean food than any other ethnic foods(never was a fan of Singaporean food much and find that a lot of the local dishes seem to give me bad stomach upsets for a reason, either due to the oils or wheat content), and that included fermented kimchi done the original Korean way! Hahaha....

Kevin Jang said...

There is a rather amusing saying in Chinese which I would say that describes the anxieties of people for this PE ever......四粒蛋: 坏蛋,老蛋,捣蛋,丢鸡蛋!希望其中一个不是假蛋!哈哈哈

Chee Wai Lee said...

Hey Kevin, thanks for that little nugget on Elizabethan England and Shakeperean plays!

All the best to you in your future plans! Where "smelly" Korean food is concerned, I think all that is needed is a little common sense and empathy. I'm sure you will get along fine with your neighbors if you let them know your preferences for a staple food and talk to them to work out a plan ahead of time.

Beau Lotus said...

Cousin, the curry looked great and I see that you like your nasi.

We had Lamb Vindaloo with basmati rice.

I voted for TCB and he didn't win, but I'm fine with TT, I thank him for forcing me to learn Mandarin, you should see me speaking it in Shanghai, the Chinese are usually impressed with it.

The other 2 guys very honestly I didn't like the way they look. That shouldn't be coming out of my mouth what with me having accepted scholarships from 2 governments to study Political Science, but after a decade on the subject I have learnt not to analyse anything to death and just go with my feeling. Us humanities scholars often have our hearts and minds working in tandem you no longer can tear them apart. :-)

Shanghai is very expensive alright. And they don't have much public housing to fall back on, so it's a tough world here. You are already a home owner, so you are just being greedy.