Growing up in Singapore for the past 21 years of my life, I daresay I’ve seen quite a fair bit of things. What has stood out, however, from the daily sights and sounds is the local quirks I’ve experienced while visiting Singaporean homes.
Regardless of it being a friend’s, a relative’s or even a stranger’s crib, there is a comforting and homely vibe exuding from within these spaces. I guess, in simpler terms, you can somewhat call it “Uniquely Singapore”.
Here’s a list of 11 things that you’ll probably observe (and can relate to) in a typical Singaporean household.
1. Remote Controllers Wrapped In Plastic
Yes, the remote controllers for our televisions, radios and fans are wrapped in plastic. I have no idea who started this, but I’d say kudos because how else are we going to keep our remote controllers clean?
2. Even Textbooks Are Not Spared
Aside from keeping our textbooks clean, these wonderful plastic covers act as a life-saving waterproof coating. I cannot tell you how many times these plastic covers saved my life whenever I spilt water onto my textbooks.
Now that I think of it, there is no denying that we are highly practical.
3. The Thing We Feared The Most: The Cane
“What colour you want?” asked Ma whenever we walked past this one particular shop in the neighbourhood market.
To which, I would shrug and pull her away, only to realise that she had already restocked her cane collection with a baby pink and a lime green colour. It goes without saying that these were part of the many reasons why I used to despise going to the market.
That said, I’m glad that I turned out well and fine. I guess I’ll have to thank Ma for her whips and lashes whenever I misbehaved or threw a tantrum.
4. Cookie Tins That Don’t Always Have Cookies In Them
Surprise, surprise. In what we think contains sweet savoury snacks, lies a great disappointment. Inside, you’ll probably find your mother’s stash of sewing materials or your father’s stamp collections.
Of course, the next time you find one of these in your house, don’t shake it. Sometimes it pays to be hopeful.
5. Plastic Bags Filled With Other Plastic Bags
With the amount of grocery shopping we do at local supermarkets coupled with the many takeaways, there is bound to be a spillover of plastic bags. But because we, Asians, are
scrimpy resourceful, we never let these go to waste.
I’m pretty sure that within each and every household in Singapore (or Asia), a plastic bag holding several other plastic bags exists. Come to think of it, it’s funny because we never really bring them back to the supermarkets for reusing.
Instead, we keep them to store our dirty laundry, line our dustbins or collect our dog’s poo in public.
6. A Handy Rubber Band Collection
We love to collect things and these include the rubber bands that come with our takeaway boxes. They are highly practical and we use them all the time.
I don’t know about you but I used to grab a bunch of these from home and have a no-holds-barred rubber band war in the back of the classroom or at my neighbourhood playground.
7. Vicks VapoRub & Tiger Balm
Have difficulty breathing? Coughing regularly at night? Rub some of Vicks VapoRub onto your throat, back and chest before you sleep. The mentholated topical ointment never fails to suppress coughs and ease your blocked nose.
Tiger Balm is also one of the few excellent remedies for relieving sprains and strains. I owe the swift dissipation of my childhood blue-blacks to these wondrous embrocations.
8. And The ‘Real’ Bomb: Qing Cao You (青草油)
The infamous Double Prawn Herbal Oil is my worst nightmare. Why? The sharp pain that ensues whenever the oil is applied onto the cuts, bites and burns is quite intolerable.
The herbal oil contains camphor, menthol and rhubarb extracts which provides its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Despite the intense pain, there is no doubt this bottle of herbal oil works.
9. Your Super Smelly ‘Chou Chou‘
Some call it their “Bantal Busuk” or “Busuk Busuk” or “Chou Chou” (“Smelly” in Chinese), I call mine “Bear Bear Zhen Tou” (Bear Bear Pillow). They come in many forms – a stuffed animal, a blanket, a bolster or even a small pillow.
My “Chou Chou” was my best friend; I used to hug it to sleep every night. Being the only child, it goes without saying that my “Chou Chou” knows all my secrets.
Sadly, I no longer have my “Chou Chou” anymore. I miss it a lot, especially its distinct smell. A single whiff of it is sure to make my day a little better.
10. Gorgeous Antiques Your Mother (Or Father) Refuses To Throw Away
I don’t know about you but my Ma still keeps this super heavy and super old school iron. We tried convincing her to throw it away, especially since she already has a new one, but to no avail.
I am pretty sure that somewhere in your house, there is bound to be certain “antiques” your parents (or grandparents) keep. It can be an old sewing machine or, in my case, the super heavy iron.
No matter how hard you try persuading them to discard it, they will not budge. I guess, it is hard to part with something that has such close, sentimental value.
11. Hello Kitty And More Hello Kitty
People living in Singapore seem to have a thing for Macdonald’s Hello Kitties. We will queue in the haze just to collect two of these limited edition plush toys.
I don’t know why we hoard these – is it to sell and earn a profit in the future? I think it’s best to hold that thought.
Are we missing out on anything? Do drop us a comment and share it with us!