Last month, a video of a man being rejected after proposing with 99 iPhones went viral, with netizens saying that romance does not work on women any more. Ng Jun Sen speaks to men who prove this theory wrong.
The distinct sound of a violin slices through the industrial clatter at Defu Lane every morning.
The song being played is a Mandarin love classic, The Moon Represents My Heart, made famous by Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng. A reader tipped off The New Paper on Sunday about a man in this cluster of workshops and funeral parlours who could be Singapore’s most romantic and devoted man.
So we follow the mysterious notes to Sunrise Auto Services, a car repair workshop.
There we find the owner of the workshop, Mr Paul Low Tien Poh, sitting in a dim office with motor grease on the blue and white walls. In his rough and gritty hands are a $6,000 violin and a $800 bow from Italy.
Says Mr Low, 52, who is surprised to see us: “I started learning the violin four years ago. I surprised my wife with this song on our 18th anniversary.”
At the back of his workshop are several rose bushes in a makeshift garden made out of wooden planks and car parts. He has been growing them since the start of the year.
In a mixture of Mandarin and broken English, he says: “These are for my wife. I give her flowers every year, so why not grow some myself?”
In 22 years of marriage, Mr Low has come up with a series of romantic gestures to celebrate each year of being with his wife, Madam Sally Chan, 48.
Besides learning the violin and growing flowers, he has had exquisite dinners at romantic locations, organised surprise parties and held events proclaiming his love for his wife at their church.
RED LOVE SEEDS
One year, he scoured the ground for hundreds of saga seeds — also known locally as Red Love seeds as they represent earnest love and affection — to put in a vase for her.
Mr Low plans for the next anniversary almost immediately after celebrating the most recent one.
Every gift to Madam Chan is special.
Once, while dining at a sushi restaurant, he got the staff to place a bunch of flowers on the sushi belt.
“Many diners were wondering what the flowers were for. You should have seen the look on my wife’s face when they went to her,” says Mr Low.
Another time, he wrote a hidden love message on the petals of the roses he gave her — a surprise for Madam Chan.
The message was supposed to read: “Thank you for your company”.
“She kept rearranging the petals but couldn’t figure out what my message was. Turns out my English is so bad that there were spelling and grammatical mistakes.”
Unlike Madam Chan, Mr Low says he is not an educated man and used to be boorish and crude.
“My temper was really bad. I would kick things and shout vulgarities at customers when I wasn’t happy.”
But this “brute” yearned for love.
“When all my friends got engaged, I was envious.
“So I went to a matchmaking agency, where I met Sally. She didn’t look down on me,” Mr Low says, adding that she was a cashier then.
They got married within a year of dating.
But, initially, their relationship was “not a passionate one”.