Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Double trouble

Old bewdas of the bar might know why I always say that I don't love Viv for his jokes, I love him in spite of them. I just went back and read this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and gosh, the man has cracked some reeeeeally bad PJs.

And his latest was performed smack in front of the 3.5-year-old Xena, with no regard whatsoever for the consequences. I was going through some Hindi flashcards with her when we got to the 'o se okhli' card.

Viv - Xena! You have okhli, and Poppy has Oakley too! Ha ha ha! Let's tell Mama!
Xena - Ha ha ha! Let's tell Mama!
Me - :/

It was therefore no surprise when I discovered that Xena has most definitely inherited and/or absorbed this trait from her Poppy. Here are some latest ones from her:

Me - Xena, please don't take your toys into the bathroom. They might fall in the toilet!
Xena - Mama, I want to put them in the toilet.
Me - Huh?! Why??
Xena - Because it is a TOY-let. Ha ha ha!

Me - Xena, we're going to the minimart now.
Xena - No Mama, it's not minimart.
Me - Huh? What is it then?
Xena - Mickey mart! Ha ha ha!

Xena - Mama, when Ryan (her friend) cries, what does he become?
Me - Hainn?
Xena - Cryan! Ha ha ha!

Me - Xena, come sit on the kitchen counter while I do the dishes.
Xena - This is the counter?
Me - Yes.
Xena - It can count from 1 to 10? Ha ha ha!

Xena - Mommy, when Poppy mops the floor, what does he become?
Me - What?
Xena - Moppy! Ha ha ha!

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?

*thunk thunk thunk*

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bhatt of jokes

It's been quite a few weeks since the bar had a 'video of the week', and here's the perfect video for the comeback.

Is she cool or is she cool?


Monday, August 18, 2014

A smart cookie

A few months ago, I had blogged about smartphones and why I was so wary about getting one. I was happy with my Nokia whatever-model-it-was. Until one day it stopped working. Like many mothers, I would also like to blame the toddler for the breakdown of any appliance. It was HER water bottle that leaked in my bag and ruined my phone. (It's a totally different matter that it was ME who put her water bottle and my phone together in the same compartment of the bag.)

I still have to give it to the phone though. It coughed and spluttered and revived itself, and chugged along for another four months. And then SOMEBODY dropped it. I won't say who that SOMEBODY was, but I can tell you it was the same person who was silly enough to put a water bottle and a phone in the same compartment of the bag. And from there, it went downhill. Like a cat, it died and resurrected itself some nine times. The most effective strategy I used to revive it whenever it died involved a lot of thought and precision -- I had to determine the exact height from which to release it so that it neatly divided itself into four components, which then had to be immediately put together and the phone would become fully functional. For another three and a half hours.

It was in the middle of this that I wondered if it was time to recontract with my service provider, who would then put me out of my misery by giving me a new phone with my new contract. I figured it was best to get a smartphone, but without any smart features that would distract me and/or Xena and turn me into a smartphone-wielding zombie. At the same time, I could take good pictures and perhaps use WhatsApp only on WiFi for all the events I organise with others who only use WhatsApp. It would surely avoid stuff like the Easter party fiasco. And guess what? It was indeed time to recontract. So we went to the shop and had a look at all the phones. There were a few free phones they were offering with a new contract and Viv, after using his HTC to read reviews and comparisons, remarked how good some of them were. "The smartphone industry is getting really competitive," he remarked. I nodded smartly.

Anyway, they offered me a $50 voucher for the new contract and told me I could use it to offset against the value of my new phone. We picked the Asus Zenfone, which they were offering for $48.  The first thing that struck me about the phone was how big it was. Wait a minute, weren't phones getting smaller and smaller at some point? Weren't the smallest phones the coolest phones? When did they start getting bigger again, and most importantly, where was I? Anyway, with a beating heart, I held my new phone and observed it as it did cool and scary things that I was not familiar with.

"So now I need a screen protector." I said, brimming with the confidence that only people who have never had smartphones exude.

"Oh no, don't." said Viv. "It will interfere with the resolution." I nodded smartly again as if I really understood how it would impact my life.

Viv doesn't like any phone accessories. I have to admit though -- his phone actually looks sleek. Kinda naked, but sleek. So I knew where the conversation was headed.

"Ok, but I surely need a cover for the phone." I declared.

"No, bad idea." He said.

What was with all this negativity, dude? I decided to fight it out.

"I need a cover."

"You don't really need a cover. It makes the phone look ugly."

"I need a cover. What if it falls and breaks? WHAT IF I DROP MY BRAND NEW PHONE AND IT BREAKS?" I tried to make a strong point by speaking in all caps.

And then he provided me with the solution. A solution so simple and elegant and amazing that it reminded me all over again why I married this brilliant Homo sapien. A solution, which I think should be immediately shared with the entire humanity so that billions of deprived smartphone owners all over the world can partake of its amazingness.

"Don't drop it." He said, shrugging his shoulders.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The jungle look

Xena (pulls out two combs and hands one to me) - Mama, come let's comb our junglee hair.
Me - What?! My hair is junglee?
Xena - Yes.
Me - And yours?
Xena - My hair is junglee too!
Me - And Poppy's hair is?
Xena - Handsome. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn!

In case the title made you think that Xena somehow overpowered me and assumed full control of my keyboard, let me assure you that it is not so. The title simply means 'Long time no see'. In Chinese. Woohoo! Yes, I'm learning Chinese. Mandarin, to be precise.

A few weeks ago, somehow, the universe conspired to firmly plant me in a Beginners' Mandarin class. Well, this is what happened. My sis-in-law, who is staying with us now, had signed up for the class and then she got a part-time job and the timings clashed and she couldn't defer it and the stars aligned and bam, next thing I know I'm asking her if I can take over.

I must have been out of my mind when I asked her that because my July and August schedules are already jam-packed. I'm doing four projects at once, and one of them has daily deadlines. And Xena has been sick almost the whole of July and has lost another kilo, adding to my stress. So it was not exactly a great idea to completely ignore the existing contents on my plate and pile on one more thing. But somehow, somewhere, a hypothetical, rolled-up Chinese newspaper was thunking my head, reminding me that this was a sign and that I had always intended to take up Mandarin again.

Yes, I said 'again'.

You see, exactly a decade ago, I had enrolled myself in Cambridge Language School for a 10-week Mandarin course. Viv, who just happened to be with me as I was enrolling, suddenly found himself signing up too. I was thrilled. Here was my chance to show him his aukaat - his level. Muahahaha. My mom once told me that she thought I was very intelligent until she met Viv. Sheesh. Great. Thanks, Mom. So here was my chance at a face-off. To show him what stuff this first-bencher nerdy class topper was made of. He rolled up his sleeves too. Next thing we knew, we had become one of those obnoxious couples. You know, the kind that sits together at the first bench in a Beginners' Mandarin class and kicks everyone's ass? Yeah, that one. Needless to say, everyone hated us. Except the teacher, of course, who loved us. And somewhere along the way, in spite of it being a very difficult language to learn, I forgot about competing with Viv, and started truly enjoying the lessons.

Our teacher ("lăoshī") was from China and she spoke in very pure Mandarin. She was also exasperated at how, in her words, "so many Singaporeans kill the beautiful language with their bad pronunciation". So under her influence, here I was, telling my friends that they spoke bad Chinese, while they gave me looks that could only be interpreted as, "Please go back to your country." I know better now. And I can seriously tell you that the most brutal murder of this beautiful language happened at the hands voices of the back-up singers of the song 'Ajooba' from the movie 'Jeans', who sang "Ooowaanee oowaanee!" instead of "Wŏ ài nĭ wŏ ài nĭ" ("I love you, I love you").

Anyway, back to the topic. At the end of the course, I carefully kept my books and notes in my bookshelf. And never saw them again. Sheesh. It was sad because even Viv and I never practised together. So our Mandarin rusted. Into microscopic pieces. Until it was no more. The thing with learning a language is that you need to keep practising. You need to keep talking in that language. In Singapore, I rarely get that chance because everyone speaks English. (In fact, many of my Chinese Singaporean friends tell me they themselves rarely speak in Mandarin, even at home.) And when I did attempt to speak the language, I got laughed at. I blame the damned tones. Ugh, the tones. You see, unlike other languages, Mandarin has this amazing feature. The same syllable can be said in four different tones, and they all mean different things. So you might end up calling your friend's mother a horse because the word for both is the same, but the tones are different ("mā" means "mother", while "mǎ" means "horse"). My teacher told me that "mā-ma mà mǎ" means "mother scolds horse". Try saying that. Trust me, at the end of it you won't know if the mother is scolding the horse or the horse is scolding the mother!

Anyway, so here I was, back in the same boat I'd boarded a decade ago. I'd missed one lesson (the first one that my sis-in-law had attended) so I was a bit nervous when I entered the class. And obviously there was only one question in my mind -- would I be able to... bag a seat at the first bench? Of course, I got one very easily, because the first row is the 'danger zone' and no one wants to sit there and put themselves at grave risk. Especially during role play when the teacher asks the first person on the first bench to start off a conversation in Mandarin. The back benchers have nothing to worry about, because by the time the teacher is done making sense of what the front benchers are saying to one another, and correcting our 2727364638 mistakes, it's time for the lesson to end.

And yet, week after week, I sit there with courage in my heart, struggling with the tones and the grammar, attempting to string together one coherent sentence. Why? Because I love it. It is a very fun and interesting language to learn (well, the spoken form, at least). One of the perks is also that now I know what Xena says when she tells me something she learnt at school. The other day, as I attempted to stuff an apple slice that was approximately 0.0008876 mm thick into her reluctant mouth, she pointed to it and said "píngguŏ!" And I understood. Omg. I mean OMG. I understood what my kid was saying in Mandarin. I can't even begin to describe the thrill I felt. The other day I was at a shoe shop (where else?) and the shop assistant said, "Nĭ yào shénme size?" ("What size do you want?") and I was so thrilled that I forgot to say "sān shí jiǔ" and said the very boring "39" instead.

Learning Mandarin also helps me make much more sense of Singlish, which I'm fluent at, but never really saw the 'behind-the-scenes' of. For example, the simple "What do you want?" in Singlish is "You want what?" which makes so much more sense when you see that it's a word-for-word translation of "Nĭ yào shénme?" (Nĭ being you, yào being want and shénme being what).

I have two more lessons to go. And after that, I'll be on my own again. I don't know how much better I'll do this time. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. For all I know, I'll be signing up for another refresher in a decade's time. But for now, all I know is that I'm really enjoying it. Especially the fact that I don't need to learn it; I want to learn it.

Good night, bewdas!

Wǎn ān!

(Sorry, I don't know how to say "bewdas" in Mandarin. I don't think I want to ask my lăoshī either.)