Friday, July 01, 2005

I am not Singaporean #47856

*sighs* the devil is in the details.

and the thing is, Singaporeans simply expect me to act and think Singaporean by virtue that my passport says that I am. And *some* Aussies think the same way for the same reason.

Yes, I am far more Singaporean and Asian than the average Aussie, but I am so far removed from Singapore sometimes that the differences literally make my head hurt.

My accent is just one of the things in limbo. Everytime someone tells me I sound Asian, I think "ok, I sound Asian" and when I finally convince myself that no, I haven't lost my Singaporean accent, someone will say "You sound thoroughly Westernised". Chalyz's boyfriend's sis put it best when she described me as "that Asian chick who sounds really Aussie although you can tell she's Asian".

UH. Oh-kay.

Then of course, is the matter of the minute details of being Singaporean.

Everyone knows the major bits. How to speak Singlish (albeit badly), the 5Cs, materialism, capitalism, socialism, communalism, status obsession, cleanliness, traditionalism blah blah.

And since everyone knows this, and discusses this stuff, I'm quite at home with the Singapore mentality here. I understand it even if I sometimes don't agree with everything.

but then come the details.

I was talking to offkilter online last night, and we were talking about hmm....high schools and fashion.

So she mentioned CHIJ TP.

I took one look at that and went. Where? Tampines????????

before thinking really seriously about it and going. Oh. Toa Payoh.

She kinda e-blinks at me, and says "man you're so not Singaporean!!! U Aussie chick you!!!!!"

we natter on about nothing in particular, and then some mention of a shoe and bag brand comes up.

Tod's or Tods or Tob's or Tobs OR SOMETHING. I'm like...whoa???? At first I thought it was a typo- like toads was what she meant to type or something.

As it turns out, (she explains) Tod's/Tods/Tobs/Tob's is a shoe and bag brand, the new Coach.

I sheepishly tell her I found out about Coach only 6 months prior, and only because gerri had come back from New York with a cheap-as-chips bargain Coach bag.

"But you know all the Aussie designers!!!!" she exclaims. (I blame this fully on my Third Millenium dress)

"Yes I do" I conceede. I love my fashion. I love the more creative designers (who apparently aren't that big in Singapore. Too avant-garde, too DIFFERENT. too un-cloneish.)

I tell her I love local designers. The ones that take up the basement of Far East Plaza. But wouldn't know a Tods/Tod's/Tobs/Tob's if it fell on my head. Apparently Tods (you get the idea) is not a local brand. AHHHHHHH.........

Ok OK. So I have a fond spot for Kit Willow. Michelle Jank. Toni Mativeski. Third Millenium. Wayne Cooper. Scanlan and Theodore. and I prefer Citizens of Humanity to Seven. (yesh. I love my fashion) I like my Miss Sixty too. But I like it as much as I like Mavi. and shock horror. I love Esprit. yeah it's a HK brand. SO? I wear $20 JayJays jeans (that's considered dirt cheap here- the land of fantastic fitting jeans) with $90 Sonzai tops. It's mix-and-match. Not spot the brand. I like international brands too. But am obviously not fashion-whorish enough to have all the world's brands covered. Coach? Whazzat????

Oh. AND I HATE MANGO. *fends of 2 million females trying to pelt me with last season's clothes*

So I know nuts about shit like that. And my mother thinks I'm mad when upon touchdown at Changi I run to a newsagents mama store and buy 8 days. She doesn't realise 8 days is my bible to re-acclimatisation. While it certainly doesn't fill me in on my 8.5years, it does a pretty damn good job on current pop culture.

Honestly, all Singaporean-ess about me is learnt through vicarious living. Feeding off blogs, listening to experiences, textbooks (I'm SERIOUS! That's the sad part), hanging around with them waiting for some Singaporeaness to rub off. It does work btw. Enough to maintain a quasi-Singaporean accent, and to know enough that I am still a functioning only-semi-alienated Singaporean as opposed to an alienated non-functioning one.

My best friends back home do their best to fill me in. RenaissanceMan in particular displays great patience, sitting there explaining stuff to me. Sometimes I wonder if he takes notes on what has been happening in the past year to fill me in. Whatever the case, he's been doing a great job for the last 8 years. I even have a better understanding of NS as opposed to most Singaporean girls. Hats off to you RenaissanceMan!

but as I said, occassionally, something will catch me off guard. Like Steven Lim's yellow underwear and fetish for 14 year olds. Or new boybands. Or Tods/Tod's bags.


Anonymous said...

i like mango. i also like the avant garde stuff. love dizingof! and alexander mcqueen (hehehe). but really.. i just wanna look hippie.

ps: your post below... *shakes head* can't believe ur cuz calls black people "negros" AIYOH

sway said...

my cousin doesn't!!!!! he just kept quiet the whole time is all.

Anonymous said...

oops sorry!! thought it was your cousin. guess it's the bro in law!

kabluey said...

You know what happened when i came back to the office yesterday?? I was dressed head to toe from the clothes i bought from Target, Jeans West and leather boots from Vic Market and my colleague mentioned : "You've only been away for 11 days and already you're begining to dress like an Aussie."

And i thought, is there such a thing??

Though i HATE the humidity and heat in singapore with a passion. First words to come out of my mouth were "Why is it so fricking hot!?" as i walked out of Changi. :P

lookingfortrouble said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

*sigh* I get what you mean in a lot of ways. I get the distance and the separation and the strange way people expect you to be a certain way when you simply are not and there's just not much you can do to change it..


hazela said...

Hey chick it's a universal deal, I'm a kiwi living in the US after living in the UK for 5.5 years...people here think I'm english.
I'm sure there are advantages but as for the style thing...i'd just say 'we dressed differently in *insert another country* and leave it at that

おにぎりまん said...

To a greater or lesser degree, many Asians find themselves--to varying degrees--wondering about their identity. Living in a western world, we wonder about our own culture and try to maintain it, even as we evolve within western society. Although, I have no idea what this means...

sway said...

O-man sensei, I believe you know perfectly well what you're saying and you're just being modest.

thing is, I actually come from Singapore. I spent my childhood there and my parents are Singaporean. By all rights and definitions, I am Singaporean. Deepest Asian.

sway said...

Realspace always been a square peg in a round hole. I've *never* ever fit into Singapore. Even before I was 14.

kabluey haha. well you Aussie you. have fun with the new clothes!

hazela it's got nothing to do with the clothes as it is about managing my identity.

bun said...

Tod's. Pfft. I bought Tod's shoes from Rome in 2001, long before it ever came to Singapore. AND THEY'RE CRAP! I can't imagine why anyone would get them. Probably because it's a fancy name brand or whatnot. The fit is so bad (somehow the shoe squeezes the top of my foot, squashing it downwards, so walking for any length of time is exhausting and painful). And I almost always can wear any kind of shoe.

Australian fashion is fab. Where, oh where, can I find another pair of those wonderful Rich pants?? And where can I get my hands on more Syke??

sway said...

I'll get some for you. what do you want? I like Syke too but I think they've changed designers coz it's all gone downhill since you left. :(

bun said...

Oh yes, no offence intended to the fans, but to me, Coach seems slightly fuddy-duddy for an American brand. Something Old Money would buy. I suppose the English equivalent would be Mulberry.

All these funny lil' brands. Give me my Fendi and LV bags any day. And keep the limited edition stuff coming, woo-hoo!

Thanks for offering to buy me some decent clothes (ha!), but I'm trying to lose some tummy fats in time for the wedding, so may not be a good idea to invest in my favourite brands right now (i.e., I'm a bit too fat to look good in them). What about a fancy scarf or a cute hat/belt? :)

No ranting about how I'm not fat and stuff. I'm ballooning faster than a petrified puffer fish...