A new year... and lot of things to be grateful for

Happy Chinese New Year!

And I've morphed into what I always thought I would never become - a nosy relative prying into my younger kin's school results, school choices and whether there's a chance of wedding bells this year.

Sure, the signs have all been there: I've been tutting and tsking at the hemlines I'm seeing on young people these days, pulling at the lines that have appeared around my left eye, applying moisturiser on my new freckle hoping that it's not an age-spot (it probably is)... and now, squeak, auntie-dom beckons.

But then again, admittedly, Chinese New Year simply wouldn't be the same without us nosy relatives living vicariously through our kaypoh questions right?

Plus, most times, the questions are delivered over a round of fantastic food (may I please brag now about my mother's fabulous buah keluak, babi pongteh, and bakwan soup, topped with piquant sambal belachan?), or while waiting for the banker to dole out the next hand at the family ban-luck (Blackjack) table.

It's what memories are made of, whether you roll your eyes at my queries or not. (Yes, I notice).

On a sober note though, I am thankful we are able to celebrate our multicultural holidays in peace.

Whether Christmas, Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, there is plenty of bonhomie in the community when they roll around.

The problems of the world at large seem so far away, especially as we quibble over parking spots while visiting our relatives or groan at the cab fares, and calories being racked up during this time.

But in a rare interview, a terror detainee offers The New Paper an insight into how he got caught up in self-radicalisation. (See page 8). How does a regular polytechnic boy go from being heart-broken from a failed relationship to wanting to fight alongside the mujahideen?

It's a riveting story, and reminder to me that what we have is not to be taken for granted.

So go on, go shake someone's hand, wish them Happy New Year! Eat a couple more pineapple tarts, and enjoy the fact that you have aunties, like me, being nosy about your grades and your life.

natalie@sph.com.sg


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