Laptop woes

Last night, I finished up editing a story and then went to my bedroom. I went to plug in my laptop, only to find out I couldn’t. Something in the connection between the two is broken. I have been reduced to using Elanor’s Chromebook, which can’t do most of what mine can do and which does not have Word. My laptop is currently at the shop and any sacrifices you’d like to suggest I make to the laptop gods is welcome.

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Elanor and Rhi

If you’re wondering how Elanor and Rhi are doing, here are videos of them talking about books.

Rhi wants to talk about Fly Guy vs The Flyswatter

Elanor is talking about Dear Dumb Diary #1 Let’s Pretend this never happened.

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Aquarium of the Bay

Last weekend, we took the girls to the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39 in San Francisco.

It’s a relatively small aquarium, but they make good use of what little space they have. There is an emphasis on fish and other animals that live in the bay. The San Francisco Bay is the breeding grounds/nursery for many species including leopard sharks.

There are many species of jellyfish, and the changing light makes them appear to be pink, blue, green, etc.

There are interactive exhibits, whether you’re putting your head into an aquarium of fish or touching a baby ray. Be careful, though, because the touch pools are deeper than they appear. We ended up with a wet sleeve.

There’s also a room with amphibians, snakes, turtles, etc. I think at least some of them are rescue animals. There are three otters which are rescues, and are great fun to watch.

The big attraction, though is the big tank, where you walk through the tank while sharks and other fish swim beside you and above you.

If you’re already at Pier 39, check them out.


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Things and places in Singapore that I miss 6-10

Continuing Friday’s post of things and places I miss in Singapore. Seeing Crazy Rich Asians made me nostalgic for my Singapore.

6. Kaleidoscope Therapy Centre was a huge help to Rhi as we began to identify and work on her special needs. She saw a therapist and an occupational therapist. If you have a special needs kid, they are pricey but worth it.

7. I miss being a part of Democrats Abroad. I’m still finding my feet, politically speaking, and I feel like there were ways in which I was more involved there (and then others where I’m more involved here). But it was a great community, and I’m proud to have served on the Country Committee.

8. I miss our Lao Shi. Both girls have stopped speaking and studying Mandarin and I feel like I have let them down. But without speaking Mandarin myself, I’d have to enroll them in too many classes, and the lack of Mandarin at home would still be a problem. I miss the way Mandarin was incorporated into their lives.

9. River Hong Bao was something we looked forward to every year. We managed to go in 2017 just before we left, but we noticed the lack of it this year.

10. Again, we haven’t fully found our community yet, so we also miss the way that Diwali is a national holiday. It was easy to get into the spirit, to purchase goods at the Diwali Market in Little India, and to celebrate as a family when everyone had the day off.

I could keep going…I’m getting homesick just listing things off. I’m not certain this is the top ten exactly, but it was the top ten that was in my head off the cuff.

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Things and places I miss in Singapore 1-5

Watching Crazy Rich Asians made me wish they’d shown more of Singapore. So I thought I’d compile an off the cuff, not in any order list of places I miss in Singapore.

  1. Brinda’s has amazing Indian food. The only things I don’t love is how long it takes for a delivery order to arrive and that some foods (like tikka masala) are only available at certain hours. It’s also open 24 hours, which makes it perfect jetlag food (as if you need another reason to eat there).

2. Toni and Guy on River Valley Road. My hair never looked so good before or after. My colorist, though, has opened a new salon, and I would have followed him for color and stayed with my stylist at Toni and guy.

3. Amazonia is the indoor play place on the third floor of Great World City. It has giant slides, a toddler play area, and an excellent parent cafe. They also have glow in the dark minigolf, do birthdays, and other assorted fun. We used to live two blocks from Great World City, so we ended up at Amazonia often. There is an equivalent here, but it’s a twenty-five minute drive.

4. Little India in general, and Mustafa specifically. We went there for both American food you couldn’t get elsewhere (tang, weirdly enough) and Indian food. We also went to the restaurant on the roof whenever we were there. It’s also a great place for kitchenware, and mundane items like laundry baskets. I have not purchased electronics or furniture like a fridge from them, but they do sell them. We might have bought our dishwasher there, but no one remembers. If I did, then I can attest to the quality of at least the dishwasher I bought.

5. Kidzania is amazing and there’s nothing like it here. Period.

On Monday I’ll share five more places/things I miss about Singapore

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Review–Crazy Rich Asians (movie)

My rating? C+

Okay, so this is an unpopular opinion, but I wasn’t that whelmed by Crazy Rich Asians.

I read the book, but it was years ago so I can’t do a book v movie comparison (although iirc I wasn’t that whelmed by the book, either). So my review is primarily through the lens of a former Singaporean PR watching a rom-com set in Singapore. I am also very critical of all the media I consume, so critiquing CRA is not an anomaly for me (or if it is, it’s only because I’m not sitting her complaining about all the changes from the book, which is far more my style).


I wasn’t crazy about CRA (pun intended). I’m closing comments because I’m not interested in moderating comments from those of you who are mad at my hot take. This is *my* opinion and ultimately it’s another in a long series of hot takes on CRA by every person with an internet connection.

Things I liked

  • Constance Wu is a delight and should be in everything.
  • Henry Golding can’t act, but has beautiful abs and I appreciate the multiple, lingering shots of them.
  • It was cool to see the places that were shot on location like Changi (yes, Rachel is right, it is an amazing airport and the rest of the world only wishes they had the majesty and efficiency of Changi), and MBS.
  • It follows the act structure of a rom com, more or less, and I haven’t seen many rom-coms in the theaters recently. I’m hoping the success of this one will help bring about both more movies centered around people of color and more romantic comedies.
  • Michelle Yeoh is delightfully cruel. The scenes with her and Rachel are among the best in the movie. She should be in all the things, too.
  • The look that Rachel’s mom gives Nick’s mom is perfect. I want a movie about her.
  • It is a win for EAST Asian Americans. I get why this is a big moment, and I hope the box office continues to blow up for CRA. A huge CRA box office on top of the Get Out, Black Panther, and soon The Hate U Give box offices will hopefully lead to movies that center around other people of color. But keep in mind this isn’t a win for “Asians,” it’s a win for East Asians in the US.

My problems include, but are not limited to

  • The ending is unbelievable, even within the constraints of the story. After everything, why would any self-respecting woman, much less someone with the brains and guts to be “the youngest faculty member at NYU” take Nick back after what his toxic friends and family did to her? Eleanor’s ring is not adequate compensation for knowing everyone affiliated with Nick hates her and wants her to fail. The pit is full of venomous snakes and I think Rachel should’ve kicked his sorry ass off the plane. Which leads to…
  • I don’t care about Rachel and Nick. The best scenes are between Rachel and Eleanor. They had more chemistry than Rachel and Nick.
  • Astrid’s story was more compelling and I care about where she goes next far more than I care about Rachel and Nick. So was Rachel’s mom’s story.
  • While I loved that there were shots of Singapore, what was with the fixation on the MBS area? I mean, the first time I saw it, I was like awwwww. By the fifth identical shot, I was wondering why we couldn’t go to the Botanical Gardens or some other spot.
  • Newton Circus is the best hawker centre? Is that just to show how out of touch rich people are? Because it’s not the best hawker centre by far. The hawker centre at the Little India wet market blows it out of the water, and that’s before we get into the heartland hawker centres.
  • Peik Lin Goh’s blaccent. This is not how Awkwafina talks. Look at any interview. The use of a stereotypically American black accent (aka blaccent) is racist, and barely the tip of the racism iceberg. Nor do Singaporeans talk like that.
  • Why was the only person in the entire movie with a Singapore accent one of Peik Lin’s little sisters? I kept my ears avidly open, knowing that it wouldn’t be a main character, but…really. The only time Singlish is used is during some texting–it wouldn’t have been too hard to sprinkle it in such that the viewer would get its meaning in context.
  • Brown bodies as servants/comedic relief only. The Sikh bodyguards are there for comedic relief. There’s a flurry of brown maids for Astrid. Singapore is a diverse society, and even at the “crazy rich” level, there are rich Indians and rich Malays. There are rich expats of every color. But the use of brown bodies was racist in the book and it’s racist in the movie.
  • What was even with the quote at the start of the movie about waking the sleeping giant of China? Singapore isn’t in China, nor does it want to be. Why not use some LKY quote? Again, missed opportunity.
  • I don’t actually care, but in multicultural Singapore, especially with a family that has been there since the 1800’s and is clearly cozy with Western influence (a rich family would’ve been bff’s with the Brits in the colonial days and still sends kids like Nick to British boarding schools) isn’t going to be precious about every song being in Chinese.
  • So it’s a rom-com, but it was light on the com part of the equation. Constance Wu has incredible comedic timing. It’s a missed opportunity that she didn’t get a chance to show off her comedic chops.

Ultimately I think you should see it and make your own conclusions. Anything that helps the CRA box office ultimately helps rom-coms in general and poc centered movies, and I want more of both.

But CRA? I doubt I’d watch it again.

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No post today

Hi all

My fibromyalgia has flared up, and put me behind schedule. If I can, I’ll get my CRA review up tomorrow. Otherwise it will be Wednesday.

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Crazy Rich Asians Poll

So I’m sure you’ll all sick of hot takes on Crazy Rich Asians, but I’m going to go see it this weekend.

What did you think of the movie? Pick up to three answers.

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Americanized, sort of

I was listening to Elanor talk in the following video a few days ago and it struck me how thoroughly she has assimilated into the US.

By comparison, this is what she sounds like now

Elanor has lost every last trace of Singapore in her accent, almost as if she never had one. I had wondered what it would be like when we went back last December, if she would pick the accent back up when hanging out with her friends, but she didn’t. I think we can safely say she’s been Americanized.

To be fair, we always had a pretty American household. We bought western brands like Jif and Cheerios and made dinners like pot roast. We celebrated Thanksgiving. We went trick or treating. We watched US tv for the most part. While we adapted, and even assimilated into Singaporean culture, we still were an immigrant household full of artifacts of that previous life.

Has she completely assimilated? No, and my regular trips to Patel Brothers in Santa Clara attest to the fact that she has not lost her taste for Maggi Noodles (and will accept no substitutions). She talks longingly of chicken rice. She misses her friends at school. She misses the heat. She misses our helper. She misses our old apartment. She considers the indoor play place we were told about an imitation of her favorite indoor play places in Singapore.

But she’s also made friends. She enjoys US birthday parties, and enjoys whacking at piñatas, which are quite common at parties here. She has had sleepovers, which weren’t on the table in Singapore. She likes shopping for clothes and cute things at Justice. She has adjusted.

Rhi never quite had the local accent, but I assume it would’ve developed had she gone to local schools. Had she gone to private school (more likely given her special needs) I don’t know what would’ve happened. But her accent is pure US.

Rhi is the one who actively talks about moving back, but I’m not so sure that it isn’t on Elanor’s mind as well.

As for us? Ask again if Trump gets re-elected.

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Life without a maid

I miss my FDW.

Adorable but exhausting

I don’t miss her because of her amazing cleaning skills (although they were amazing), but the other myriad ways she supported me. If I had a doctor’s appointment, or some other errand that would go a million times easier without kids she watched them. She was better at convincing Rhi to take a shower than I am. She was more patient that I am, or did a better job at faking it.

Me? I drag the kids and their devices with me. I get cranky when Rhi gives me shit over her shower or getting her hair brushed or some other non-negotiable. I am not as patient.

If I needed to get work done and meet a deadline, she’d run interference for me.

On my own I do a lot of late night work because during the day I’m often swamped, especially this past summer when they were around all the time. Now that they’re back at school, I’ll start to get more work done when they’re not around, but it’s just not the same. Ravi is very involved, and it’s rare for both of us to be on a tight deadline at the same time so we trade off.

If I was too tired/sick she’d make dinner. We have ordered in or gone out more than I’d like to admit.

If we wanted a date night, we’d just ask her to work later one evening in exchange for extra hours off another day. Here I have five or so babysitters that I can text to see if they’re available. But two of my sitters just went back to college. And if there isn’t a sitter available, we don’t go out. Again, not a hardship, but something that now requires additional steps.

Am I fine without a maid? Of course I am. And while I get frustrated, I make it work.

Did I live without a maid in Singapore for four years? I did. But the escape hatch was always available to me. In the US there is no such option. Almost no one has that sort of help, and well I’m comfortable financially you have to be exponentially richer to have that sort of help in the way a Singaporean does.

I don’t think about her every day, nor do I sit around bemoaning the lack of her presence. But I do miss that extra support.

Singaporeans, if you have an FDW, I hope you appreciate all they do for you. No it doesn’t always work out, and it comes with many problematic (even toxic and abusive) elements, but you have support most of the world can only dream of.

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