Singapore is full of aunties. You see them at the markets, you see them on public transport, and if you're lucky, you hear them before you even spot them.
But if you're a Singaporean girl born and bred here, you may one day catch yourself saying or thinking something that makes you wonder if you're turning into an auntie.
That day came when I found myself shredding an ATM receipt into tiny pieces, splitting the pile and throwing each half into different bins on my way to work, because I once watched a documentary about people who dig into bins for torn up receipts to get your personal information - and I thought to myself that I should tell people to do the same.
That was a new low for me.
In response to the awakening of the auntie-ness in me, here is a list of 20 ways to tell if you are - slowly but surely - turning into a Singaporean auntie.
1. You find yourself warning people about the dangers of the world and recommending ways to avoid them that essentially complicates life more than necessary, because "if it can happen in the US, it can happen here".
2. You bring around a bottle of anti-bacterial gel with you wherever you go, in case you see someone cough into the same hand they use to press the lift button.
3. You are telling your colleagues all about your weekend, even though they never asked you a word about it.
4. You are using phrases like "back in my day" or "youngsters these days", or complaining about the things 'kids' are wearing these days.
5. You are beginning to recommend various types of medication (Asian or Western) to your friends when they sneeze, ones that friends or friends of friends have told you about.
6. You are nagging. Whether it's your best friend, siblings, or your boyfriend, you are nagging. A lot. And your voice gets a bit higher when you do so.
7. You purposely grab products which have been placed at the back of a shelf to: a) get one with a later expiry date even though you're probably consuming the product immediately, or b) get one that hasn't been groped by the world.
8. You are regurgitating facts to your friends that you read on the Internet or saw on TV. Yes, it's the same thing as your mom warning you about rapists in Singapore after an episode of Crime Watch.
9. You find yourself arguing with shopkeepers. A lot.
10. You have mastered the art of slipping past the crowds at the bus stop or MRT platform like a ninja to get onto public transport first.
11. You're using the words "Aiyo" more. A lot more.
12. You gossip to people about that person you don't really know - but have on Facebook - about a breakup/proposal/shotgun marriage/divorce.
13. You buy way too much food for your family and friends when you go on vacation - and get annoyed when you see it go bad.
14. You use an umbrella when you know you're going to be in the sun, and frown at people who don't.
15. You have all the best deals and promotions from every store and restaurant you can think of, and you make it your sole duty to share it with everyone, whether they want it or not.
16. You eavesdrop on the conversations of complete strangers - and feel personally offended by them.
17. You feel stressed by events that don't even affect you, and you decide that it is your job to fix it even if it isn't your problem.
18. You collect as much free stuff as possible, but spend most of your time trying to figure out who will need them most.
19. You're sending advice and tips to all your WhatsApp group chats, because you are the most well-informed person and it is your job to make sure that everyone is well prepared for life in Singapore.
20. You start to appreciate your mothers and aunties for their shrewd intellect and street smarts, because it is their 'auntie-ness' that have helped them get through life in Singapore.
As annoying as it could be sometimes, this 'auntie-ness' is a shield that women around us have formed to protect themselves from the world around us.
On some level, it does define the strength in us, showing that we are becoming street smart and worldly. We stop letting people push us around, and we do whatever we can do to get ahead in the world.
And because we care about the people around us, we do what it takes to help them out through what we know can be a cruel and harsh world - even if it seems a bit kaypoh.
This International Women's Day, appreciate the women (or aunties) in your lives, and embrace the auntie within you. Just try to be classy while you're at it.