Wednesday, December 28, 2022

THE PROPRIETIES

Sometimes your comfort zone doesn't fit as well as it should, or normally does. My usual Wednesday lunch spot was fine, I enjoyed my food and a little bit of conversation. At the herbalist where I sometimes buy stomach calmative pills (平胃片) everything was fine too, and I chitted minor chat in Malay with a lady there from Kuala Lumpur -- she commented that my accent was 'Indonesian'; well duh. Saya orang Belanda, tentulah aksen-saya seperti dari Indonesia! -- and both at the grocery store where I get many supplies and Walgreens I was still nestled well within my comfort zone.

Then two other groecery stores, both run by Toishanese speakers. My comfort zone loosens, like old trousers developing a tear. To a bakery, for tea and a biscuit. Where there were four Singaporeans, with whom I ended up in conversation. Where the comfort zone becomes as ill-fitting as an elephant suit. They were nice people, but I must conclude that I am less socially smooth than is necessary at such times.

This is usually how I feel when the caffeine wears off.

Too much stimulation, and not enough.


My equilibrium wasn't restored until I had an argument with an old lady on the bus. "Have a seat." "No, you sit." "I won't sit, you sit." "You have a cane, you should sit." "Truly I have no need to sit, you sit." "I refuse to sit." "But I will not sit, so you sit." Etcetera.


你坐。我唔坐,你坐。我唔使坐,你坐。你有棍,你坐。我唔坐!


Well, she was older than me, clearly. And frail looking. So she should've sat. But old-country Chinese often assume that us white people are older than we actually are, especially when we're past forty, because apparently we wear hoary antiquity all over our faces, good lord we look rickety as all git out, and I did have a cane with me. The end result was that we both ended up standing till we got to our stops.


Tomorrow is a non-fixed restaurant day. Thursdays I have no errands, usually, and no set place to go eat. What I may end up doing is fixing myself something at home during the day, before heading out to Chinatown for tea and a smoke later.
Teatime Thursdays often finds me at a customery haunt, enjoying a charsiu sou when all the Toishanese have cleared out and there are plenty of places to sit. Sometimes a few of the older gentlemen I know are there -- their age and breadth of experience make me feel quite the youngster again, it's very refreshing -- and we may end up talking.

Lou yiuk faan (Fujianese: "lo bak png") with THREE soy eggs.
Comfort food oh boy, especially on rainy days.
滷肉飯同滷鴨蛋。



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