Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kopitiam Kitchen Candour

Once I reach back home in Penang after my boring 5 hour drive ( isn't it odd that I still refer to a place as home though I haven't actually stayed there for more than two decades? ), the first thing I do is make a beeline for the kitchen. For those who haven't been to a pre-war colonial shophouse, you should know that the kitchens at the back are amazingly spacious, certainly large enough for a marching brass band, a platoon of sexy marines and then some.

Not to mention an octogenarian granny with a potty mouth :P

Whereas the coffeeshop in the front is a free-for-all amongst my numerous squabbling relatives, no one doubts that the cavernous kitchen is my indomitable grandmother's domain - and surprisingly, usually the place where people gather around to share and compare notes, catch up on what's happening - and generally gossip. Yes, my family's pretty well known for that in these parts, and we even have a somewhat regular email newsletter that gets passed around.

In between juggling her various dishes being steamed, stir-fried and baked ( three stoves and two ovens from last count ) and also listening to the numerous complaints brought to her supposedly hard-of-hearing ears, my unconventional grandmother still manages to find the time to grill me about my unmarried status ( if I don't manage to deflect her attention to the other singleton cousins ).

Minus the pseudo-Yoda accent of course.

Grandmother : And what do you bring me?
Paul : See! Magical flower tea! Am I your favourite grandson or what?
Grandmother : Hmph. And where is the wife?
Paul : Suffocated in the luggage during transit from Hanoi.
Grandmother : Cheeky grandson. How did that happen?
Paul : Genetic inheritance possibly.

Yeah, I do bring her something odd every once in a while since I do enjoy the occasional curio-hunting. Not sure what she did with the insanely ticking Mao Tse Tung clock I bought her last year.

Although we do converse in an odd patois of English / Hokkien, occasionally she mumbles incoherently in native Fuzhou ( oddly enough, a mysterious dialect that sounds like a mixture of plain babble and Neanderthal grunts ) in reply to my questions - since she knows that I only have a rudimentary knowledge of the dialect, understanding only a few passing phrases and cant-terms.

Man on a mission
See. I have a boyfriend!

Half the time I feel like shocking her by revealing a hunky boyfriend in tow but I'm not sure if she'll get a devastating heart attack - or give me a heart attack in return by becoming a zealous PFLAG activist. Never can tell with these wacky old ladies. :)

Of course she also knows how to keep me happy for Chinese New Year.

Grandmother : Money's upstairs in my cupboard. Go pack the angpows. The relatives are coming.

Mwahahahahaha! A Happy Chinese New Year to all!

Happy Chinese New Year

Hope I got that right! No worries, Charming Calvin will tell if I'm mumbling garbled rubbish.


matrianklw said...

Ooh, you're back in Penang! Must be some reunion tonight!

strapping.shane said...

Pack extra ang pow for me. Bwahahahahaha!

connerkent said...

Oooh,I love old shophouses!


Nige said...

Hey Dude

Your Granny sounds like something. :-) Mine turned out to have a lesbian relationship with this lady. I wish I'd known it when she were alive. She was really spunky. We forget that all these older people have had sex or tried things we may not even have thought of. ;-)

You take care and Gong Xi Fa Cai.


BicaraTeruna said...


Dave said...

The old shophouses reminds me of the Peranakan household that still makes Kuih Belanda using charcoal. It's rare and it is something worth treasuring before it is gone.

Wonder if Paul could make us some lovely Kuih Belanda.

zali said...

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Gong Xi Fa Chai...

No such holiday here in D0ha :-(

Annie said...

HA! Now we have living PROOF of where Paul got his sense of humor! Inherited by crazy granny.

Dear ol grandma, she sounds about as wicked and sly and smart as you!

Stephen said...

My granny's become a bit of a fag hag since finding out she had two gay grandsons. No lesbian tendencies though.

Happy New Year!

hrugaar said...

Loved the suffocated in transit comment, heheheheh. :oD

Yeah, it's great how the older generation take outlandish ideas on board much more readily than do their angst-ridden children (our parents).

Isn't it unlucky to give clock as present though?

Gong Xi Fa Cai, paul!

Calvin said...

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!! And don't forget that you've been tagged!!! Read the details in my blog. Now don't you try to get away with this. Lol...

Jonzz said...

LOL, I envy you. You have one cool granny.

Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Ban said...

Happy new year, doc!

WestVillageKid said...

ha! you made me laugh, well done. now i want to learn native Fuzhou.

savante said...

Certainly will be a wild reunion, matt :)

And you gotta come here and collect it yourself, shane.

Love the old shophouses too, connerkent. Plan to buy one myself to renovate one day.

Lesbian granny! How cool is that, nigel!

Thanks, bicarateruna!

Much too hot, dave. Tried that one many years back and spent the day getting baked! HOT!

No CNY? That is sad, zali!

Yeah, she is one sly creature though she keeps that on the low, anniieieieiei....

Sounds a bit like my granny, stephen.

Yeah, she appreciated the comment too, ru :) It is unlucky to give clocks as presents but my granny's an odd duck and she doesn't bother with all that.

Will do the tag soon, calvin!

She's pretty nice, jonzz.

Same to ya, ban.

Not easy to learn, westvillagekid. Still sounds like babble!


Joel said...

happy new year

BicaraTeruna said...

still sexy!!