One Night In Ipoh
The most beautiful girls hail from Ipoh, which explains why I fall in love with my reflection in the mirror every morning. Yes, my creamy skin like the smoothest tofu fah, red lips like a rose bud and a delicate demeanor to match. Snort! If the first line was true, then I think I was seriously short changed. The women in my dad's family are indeed blessed with creamy complexions but there is nothing delicate about their demeanor nor robust size. Every year when we meet for the big occasions, its easy to spot the in-laws. They are thin. The rest of us, well, we're shapely.
My grandmother, my only living grandparent, celebrated her 90th birthday this weekend. It wasn't a lavish affair. It was mainly family, distant relatives and old friends. We celebrated at Oversea and a few of us cousins decorated the place with balloons and ribbons. We took some family portraits but it was such an ordeal. Try herding 30 of your most boisterous relatives. Hah! Its no wonder we don't take family portraits often. Ten minutes later, two of my aunts are shouting at everyone to "leave" and everyone scuttled off to the restaurant. Halfway through the meal, I realised that something was missing. Well apart from some relatives who have departed and family who couldn't make it. It was too...Civilised. Gone were the days when heated arguments between siblings would ensue after a couple of whiskeys. There were near fights, with utensils too, tears, vigorous finger pointing,... In between, my late father always trying to calm him siblings down. My father always said he was a lover not a fighter. Ah, I quite miss all the drama actually. Now, everyone is much older and less passionate about fighting. Even my very feisty grandmother has mellowed. To be honest, I didn't like her much when I was growing up. Not many of us grandchildren did. She never hugged us and was quick to discipline. Now, I completely understand. She had 9 boisterous children and really, did she want to spend "quality time" with 30 more snot faced brats? I bloody wouldn't! However, at the ripe old age of 90, my grandmother now resembles a grandmother. She no longer colours her hair a dark aubergine. She doesn't criticise anymore. Instead she imparts wise and powerful words that reverberate for days and years after.
Dinner at Oversea was mediocre. We had hot & cold starter platter, sharks fin soup, roasted suckling pig with glutinous rice, steamed kampung chicken with what looks and taste like luncheon meat, sweet sour deep fried garoupa, noodles and lotus buns. The suckling pig was really outstanding! It vanished in 2 minutes on our table. There is more meat with the crispy skin and beneath that glorious fattiness is a bed of glutinous rice that has been soaking up all the lard! The rice was too oily for me. The noodles was really good. But the one that my sis and I was waiting for was Mrs Chong's butter cake. No one makes butter cake like Mrs Chong. For as long as I remember, there was no other cake, year after year, birthday after birthday. Its always marbled with chocolate, and the icing is always cream with green leaves and pink flowers. It was just as good as I remembered. I only managed 3 small slices. That night, I had major indigestion from all that rich food. After dinner, we all hung around the family home and spent most of the time reminiscing and watching the next generation play the same games we once did.
Happy 90th Birthday Grandma! Thank you for your wise words and giving me my fun, mischievous and kind father, my amusing aunts and uncles and nutter cousins!