Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sayang Sayang

Yesterday evening I was at the Esplanade and caught the second half of a free performance at the Esplanade Concourse, “It’s Time for Sayang Sayang” by the Golden Girlz of Katong. It was a charming little skit, with two nonyas (beautifully dressed in their kebayas) teaching a new (but not young) nonya bride about the traditions of the Peranakans.

I missed the section on food but was present when the new bride was learning about the marriage gift exchange practices. These do appear a little complicated. Some gifts, you have to give half back. So if you get 8 oranges, give 4 back. Sometimes you have to give a gift, only to get it back three-fold. And then there is the brandy – which is apparently not for the bride to drink (horrors!) but for her husband-to-be and his male friends in the baba equivalent of a stag night. Some practices are similar to the Chinese customs – the wearing of a black veil to signify sorrow at leaving her family, but with a bright red dot underneath for good luck.

The play was littered throughout with Malay words, slipped into the conversation. “Sayang” is one of these words, a versatile word with multiple meanings. In one context it means “darling”, in another, “caress” or “stroke” and in another, “affection”. Somehow, I use it most often with my cats. Especially when they get a little “manja” – another Malay word which I translate as “being needy” in relation to my little pusses. But looking at the audience, I wonder how many of them are able to understand even the simple phrases used. I was talking one day to a friend of mine, who has lived in Katong all his life, and I let slip a Malay phrase which I then had to translate. Another of my ex-colleagues, who has again stayed in the east coast of Singapore all her life, had never eaten gado-gado (a salad dish with potatoes, egg, cucumber, tempeh, tauhu and a peanut sauce poured on top) or tauhu goreng (tauhu with cucumber, bean sprouts and peanut sauce on top) before. If food-loving Singaporeans aren’t even familiar with the different types of food each community eats, then it’s clear we still need to work on building mutual understanding between the communities here.


  1. Oh my gosh I just made tahu goreng last night. Im from Dallas Tx- yes my wife & I are Eurasians from Katong/Siglap area -

  2. Thanks for your comment! Guess it is the food cravings which define the Singaporean.

  3. jolo what year did u graduate from KC. I graduated 1976 Class secondary 4C



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...