The past three months have been rough for me. Juggling a full time office job and being a writer and a blogger hasn’t been easy: clueless as to why I’m doing the job I’m doing, emails waiting to be answered in my inbox, unhappy with articles I’m working on as deadlines loom, five hours of sleep at most each night. Being sick with the winter flu hasn’t helped either.
I don’t mind eating alone. I don’t mind asking for a “table for one”.
But what I do mind is getting grief for dining by myself.
Ricotta hotcake with berries (Top Paddock). A great meal for one, but I chose to share it.
My Chinese-Malaysian parents are big on eating meals as a family, which is what many Asian families do. Growing up in Malaysia and Singapore, we ate dinner together almost every night. These days, it’s a different story. When I start putting my dinner on my plate before my brother is home, my mum asks, “Do you want to wait for your brother to come home and then eat?” No. No idea what time he’ll be back.
I grew up in a traditional-minded Chinese Malaysian household and am no stranger to Asian superstitions. My mum is a big believer in them, believing there are lucky Chinese numbers and that keeping pet turtles slows down fortunes, for instance. I always wonder why.
As Asians, many of us are respectful. We believe in the spiritual, believe fate controls our destiny: anger ghosts or spirits floating around and they may curse a dose of bad luck upon us. My parents pray at temples for luck at the start of every Chinese New Year. My relatives have small shrines in their homes, and and never fail to put an even number of mandarins – usually lucky eight mandarins – at the front as offerings to the gods.
That’s the first thing my mum asks when I land a volunteer stint or get a job that pays. Coming from the average traditional-minded Chinese-Malaysian family, I’m expected to be a filial Asian kid, working for the money and supporting the folks in their old age.
When we were young, maybe we were forced to travel, travel for a better life and a better education. Growing up, I moved quite a bit: Melbourne to Malaysia to Singapore and back to Melbourne. My parents wanted to work in Asia, and so little me was dragged along with them.