Nonya curry piqued PR's interest in Peranakan culture

Permanent resident (PR) Shubhada Jayant Bhide first became interested in Peranakan culture when her colleagues took her out to eat Nonya curry.

That day, the 38-year-old IT consultant went home and Googled the word "Peranakan".

The more she read, the more her curiosity was piqued.

"The Peranakan culture is so unique. It is a mixture, a blend, of many different cultures," she enthused. Yesterday, she got her chance to soak in different aspects of Peranakan culture when she and her six-year-old daughter, Eeshaa, attended the Straits Family Sunday: Spice and Everything Nice workshop, which was held at the Peranakan Museum.

"Certainly, there are striking similarities between our cultures," said Madam Shubhada. "We (Indians) use some of the spices used to prepare Peranakan food."

Organised by the Lifeskills and Lifestyle Division of People's Association, the workshop was attended by 150 people, 40 of whom were new citizens and PRs.

Madam Shubhada, who was originally from Mumbai, India, moved to Singapore five years ago with her husband and daughter.

She became a PR 21/2 years ago.

When she found out about the workshop, she thought it would be good to take her daughter along.

"She has just started going to school. I want her to know about all the different cultures in Singapore," explained Madam Shubhada.

She said attending such events could help immigrants integrate into Singapore society.

"Singapore is a First World country, and everything is so modern. Our first instinct would be to visit the shopping malls, but my advice is to visit museums, and talk to the locals, especially the elderly. Get them to talk about their lives," she told my paper.

Singapore's immigrant population has grown in recent years. As of last June, there were 3.26 million Singapore citizens, 530,000 PRs and 1.39 million non-resident foreigners, according to the Department of Statistics.

At a seminar on population projections organised by the Institute of Policy Studies last month, academics warned about the impact of a growing population on social tensions between locals and foreigners, and the issue has generated heated debate recently.

But Madam Shubhada is one immigrant who appears not to have had difficulty adapting. "Singaporeans are generally easy to get along with," she said.

oonlisa@sph.com.sg


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