My 5 day trip to Singapore ended on Friday last week. Singapore is a place with a lot of immigrants- I am not sure who the natives are. But a large part of the population is English speaking Chinese- so the food essentially is Chinese.
While I was there, it was the last few days of the Chinese new year- this added more color to the streets and the faces around us. Red lanterns and red decorations marked the streets and you know , as my favorite color is red, I was totally enjoying it.
We are on a tight budget here as my husband is a student once more and will not be earning during his course. Essentially I am the only bread earner in the family for a time.
The first two days we and especially he suffered a lot for want of familiar food. We couldn’t find familiar food- and though I would try new food and was surviving on Chinese food like fried rice and orange chicken, my husband would try a spoonful and turn away. His breakfast was essentially eggs till we could find a bread stall and he indulged in cranberry buns. But we needed to find a solution to the food problem.
The rented condo provided us with a two burner induction cooker and a couple of pans and plates and spoons but that wasn’t enough for me, who has been cooking with a lot of pots and pans for about a quarter of a century now. To cook par boiled rice, we needed to use our pressure cooker as this rice only cooks in a cooker. But it looks like the induction cooker wouldn’t provide heat to the aluminum pressure cooker and so we had to abandon that effort. And without our own brown hearty rice, we couldn’t survive. We decided to get us a n electric hot plate which is more of our age and not a modern device. So off to the shops we went with growling stomachs and a will to get our necessities come what may.
We travelled by the MRT ( public transport) and changing from red lines to purple lines to green lines, we reached the Dhobi Ghaut change station where we took another MRT to the Ferrer Road station which is the nearest to the Mustafa center, which we were informed was the place to go for everything a middle class family wanted in their lives.
It truly lived up to its reputation. We went on a shopping spree to tell the truth- a couple of pots and a few pans and some more cutlery, a ceramic knife( which is the new thing in knives, apparently), a rolling pin, some vegetables, some scrapped coconut, a blender, some containers ( to store our food in) and some prawns and fish ( for protein).
To carry all these things home, we hailed a cab. The front of the Mustafa center was cramped with cars and the road was narrow but we managed to push our things into the boot of the cab, with horns honking in our ears from a very irate cab driver, who had spotted an Arab gentleman and wanted his custom( we were in his way, he thought and he let us know this in no uncertain terms). We reached home and the friendly cab driver asked us where we wanted to go and we didn’t know where we lived. All we knew was that we stayed somewhere near the Clementi station and that it was about 6 bus stops away from the National University hospital. He asked us which Exit turned to our home and we didn’t know, so we called our house owner who talked to the cab driver. We got home safely and managed to get all our stuff into one elevator and pulled all things to our small home.
For the first time in days, our home felt like home again. Having familiar things, food and cooking our own food made us feel more at home than friendly faces and helping hands. Our house owner Joshua was kindness personified and he helped us see Singapore through the MRT and familiarized us with the various lines and buses.
But it takes food to make us feel that we can survive in an unknown city.