All around the world, a good number of us are obsessed with stuffed animals and toys. If you’re Asian or have been to Asia, chances are cute, kawaii-looking toys are something you might be familiar with. Maybe even love.
I love stuffed animals, especially stuffed monkeys. In my apartment I have a shelf full of them collected over the years. I’m particularly fond of this one that I call Mr Wobbles: knitted with light brown wool, long skinny arms and legs, fat belly, sans tail. One of the more odd-looking toys around.
We might be obsessed with teddy bears. Or obsessed with stuffed lions or penguins. Hello Kitty, Sanrio and Rilakkuma plushes are ever so popular in Asia. But no matter the toys we’re fond of, usually the stories of our past, and our desire to find our place in this world, play a part in why these inanimate objects often matter to us a great deal.
Non-alcoholic drinks are under-rated drinks. In Australia, when someone suggests we all go out for drinks, it’s always in reference to beers or fine wines. I don’t drink and when I politely decline alcoholic beverages and order a soft drink, sometimes I get funny looks from those who do. And a lot of us like soft drinks. And juice.
Walk into an Asian grocery shop in Melbourne, you’re bound to find such an array of drinks. Maybe some you drank as a kid. Photo: Mabel Kwong
I’m sure many of us loved certain non-alcoholic drinks when we were kids. A while ago, I wrote about my favourite childhood snacks. Looking back at that post, it occurred to me none of the snacks I reminisced about were drinks. But then again, food and drink are two different kinds of gastronomic consumables.
Part of my childhood was spent in Malaysia and Singapore, two food paradise places where sugary drinks and desserts are aplenty. I remember as a kid, I was very happy when I got the chance to guzzle down many non-alcoholic, made-in-Asia drinks. Perhaps I should buy or make some of them to ring in the New Year:
A while ago, I chanced upon Banana Lounge’s trip-down-memory-lane post on Asian childhood foods. Reading it literally made me drool as all Asian food items mentioned here resonate well with me – I ate all of them when I was a kid.
Asian grocery stores in Melbourne never fail to stock heaps of childhood favourite junk food. Photo: Mabel Kwong
I was born in Australia and when I was seven, my dad moved the family to Asia. Most of my primary and secondary school days in the late 1990s and 2000s were spent in Singapore and Malaysia. Two Asian food-mad cities where people nibble on something roughly once every two hours of the day.
I always found myself in so-called “celebrity famous” situations while growing up as an Asian Australian in Asia. When I was seven, I went to a private primary school in Malaysia. Half of my classmates were Chinese-Malaysian. The other half were Caucasian, their parents expatriates hailing from the States and Australia. Everyone was fluent in English and we all understood one another even though we spoke with different accents.
When there are so many pairs of eyes on you, sometimes you feel famous. But sometimes this is just unwanted attention. Photo: Mabel Kwong
I was Miss Popular among my Chinese classmates. Popular not because I had a blemish-free, pale Asian face, the funkiest hair accessories or a Gameboy, or was one of the high achievers in class, but because I was from Australia.
I was popular because I was Australian. Not Chinese-Australian, but just Australian.