Asian Love Languages: Dad edition


Cross the road must be careful


(guo ma lu yao xiao xin.)


Every time I left the house, my father would never say “Bye!” or “Have fun”. Instead, he would always ask me to be careful when crossing the road. This continued even after I had become a grown adult, and I always thought it was just a weird habit he forgot to unlearn over the years.

After he passed away two years ago, I never got to find out his reason. But his words continued to echo in my mind whenever I stepped outside my house.

Recently, when I found myself saying the same thing to my boyfriend, it finally hit me. When you love someone, you want the person to be safe. Maybe you fear for their safety, sometimes unnecessarily. But when you love someone, their life becomes as precious as their presence in yours.

When my dad asked me to cross the road safely, he was simply trying to say, “Be safe, I would hate to see you hurt, because I love you.”

Maybe I’d grown up too fast, and he missed holding my little hand and leading me across the road.



Eat already?


(chi bao le mei you?)


There was a time in my life when I treated my house like a hotel, and came home only past midnight. The whole family would be asleep, but I always saw my father sitting there playing games on his iPad. Now when I think about it, I wonder if he was staying up to make sure I got home safe.

When I open the door and greet him “Hi Daddy,” he would always ask the same question, whether it was dinnertime or midnight.

“Eat already?”

I used to laugh at him, “Of course I eat already, now midnight leh! Why you think I haven’t eat?”

Now, when he is no longer around to make sure I don’t go to bed hungry, I suddenly miss it, the casual way he asked, in a deceivingly absent-minded way.

When my dad asked me if I’ve had dinner when I come home at midnight, he was simply trying to say, “How are you? Are you feeling ok?”

Maybe he just wanted to make sure his daughter was well before going to bed, because he hardly saw her throughout the day.



What you want to eat? I buy for you.


(yao chi shen me? wo mai gei ni.)


Which brings me to the point: Food is the Asian father’s love language.

When our house phone rang, we all knew it would be Dad. Picking up the phone and saying hello, the first thing we would always hear, as though a default greeting, was “What you want for dinner? I buy back for you.”

Even when I said I wasn’t hungry, he would insist on buying me food.

“You must eat something, at least a little bit.”

Without an appetite, I would always tell him “Anything, you choose ok?”, when all I wanted was to eat breakfast cereal for dinner.

Dad never allowed that. He believed in three proper meals a day, and eating breakfast like a king.

He would come back with plastic packets of wanton mee or mixed veg rice, and whatever appetite I had lost would magically come back.

On weekends, he drove all the way from Jurong to Telok Blangah, just to bring back four packets of Hainanese curry rice wrapped in brown paper for lunch. It was the food of my childhood, because that was where I grew up before we moved.


Dad never said “I love you”, but he asked me to cross the road carefully, and made sure I had eaten. But now I realise, aren’t these the important things?



Image credits: Jcomp on freepik , Steven Van Loy on Unsplash, SG Food on Foot



Twinsters (2015)


Watched this documentary film tonight, and I can say it is the most heartwarming and touching, yet light-hearted documentary I’ve ever seen.

Twinsters is a real-life story about a pair of twins, Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier, born in Korea but separated at birth and adopted by different families in America and France respectively.

Anaïs was then a fashion design student living in London, and Samantha an American actress. They didn’t know of each other’s existence until a friend of Anaïs showed her a YouTube video featuring Samantha. What ensued was probably the most mind-blowing revelation that changed both of their lives.

I’ve always been intrigued and curious about the inseparable and profound bond between twins that transcends that of ordinary siblings of different ages. Anaïs described how she grew up with her adopted parents as an only child, and always felt as if something was missing, as though she was always waiting for something to happen and would be really sad if it didn’t – although she hadn’t known what yet.

This sounds like how couples sometimes describe finding their soul mate – it is like finding a missing half of one’s soul. But maybe having the blood ties of kinship makes the experience of this connection even stronger, and dearer.

The film was actually crowd-funded on Kickstarter, and it’s heartening to see how the film, with its maddening amount of raw footage (I can only imagine the editing process), turned out. It feels really honest and vulnerable and emotional, and the fact that the twins discovering each other’s existence was made possible by social media makes everything – from the hand-held footage and live updates of their film/relationship progress online – even more powerful.

If I had watched this film two years ago when they made it, or possibly followed their story even earlier, it would have felt so powerful – a homage to how social media and technology, despite its many shortcomings, have literally transformed and uplifted lives.

The film also touches briefly on the idea of nature vs nurture, whether our lives and personalities are determined more by biology or the environment we are brought up in. This is even more relevant when it comes to twins, especially Samantha and Anaïs, who were brought up in two different environments and not given the chance to grow up together.

The thought of being separated from the twin at birth seems so poignant, yet Anaïs says, she wouldn’t change a thing about how things turned out and unfolded. It was also particularly touching how she described feeling lonely and alone all her life, and then not only does she find her twin, she is embraced by her twin’s family.

Samantha also encourages her to step out of her fear of facing the past, for while Samantha was fortunate to grow up in a open-minded and nurturing environment with two brothers, Anaïs was an only child and faced prejudice about being adopted and looking nothing like her parents.

Both embark on a meaningful trip back to their home country, South Korea, and reunite with their respective foster mothers who cared for them after their birth mother left them at birth, until they were adopted. They attend a conference with other South Korean adoptees feel, for the first time, that they are part of something so much larger.

This film, above all else, is a celebration of love in all its forms. As Anaïs says, she realised that out there in the world, even in the past before she knew it and now, she is loved and embraced by so many people. I guess no matter how tough life can be, there is always love. And there will always be love.

Twinsters is available here on YouTube, I highly encourage everyone who reads this to watch it, if you’re not tempted to already. Even or especially if you are feeling sad, their crazy amazing story and love will definitely bring some light and warmth into your heart.

The Course of Love


The novel’s title, I believe, is a wordplay on ‘course’ that means both instruction and a journey, like that of a meandering river. Indeed, Love is a learning journey.

This book in three descriptive phrases (because it’s so nuanced single words are not enough): intricately wise, humorously cryptic, and painfully honest.

There are so many “quotable quotes” sprinkled generously throughout the book which reverberates clearly with the wisdom of years – this is a first novel from the bestselling author of The Art of Travel, Essays in Love and many more, in nearly two decades. Clearly, age and presumably a journey with marriage of his own makes this book refreshingly different from his earlier titles, while still retaining his poetic style.

But despite a whole list of quotes I’ve typed out and saved in my phone, no fragment of the book can truly encompass what The Course of Love means. It is not a lesson the author preaches, but rather a journey that we go through together with the couple in the story. Whether it is fictional or not ceases to matter, because they are so full of failings and imperfections that finally, we have a love story that is so startlingly real that it filled my heart with both pain and relief (simultaneously).

As such, it is imperative to go through this book like a journey, and just like the journey of love itself, it requires patience, contemplation, self-reflection and the willingness to consider a perspective vastly different from what you’ve known.

Love in this book is not romanticised – in fact it attempts to deconstruct the vision and expectations of love that Romanticism has built in human society.

With great insight and very incisive and powerful writing, Alain de Botton unfolds and lays bare all the vulnerabilities of being human and the unpredictable nature of life that we strive and fail to hold within our grasp.

In the end, he teaches us, slowly and patiently, to appreciate and cherish the imperfections, frustrations, incessant anxiety, and the grand heroism in accomplishing the small things that aren’t really small after all. He shows us the beauty of what many of us fear or aspire to surpass: mediocrity. 

I would like to leave here the closing paragraph of the novel (no spoilers, since there’s nothing to spoil anyway as it’s not really a destination but a continual journey):

Very little can be made perfect, he knows that now. He has a sense of the bravery it takes to live even an utterly mediocre life like his own. To keep all of this going, to ensure his continuing status as an almost sane person, his capacity to provide for his family financially, the survival of his marriage and the flourishing of his children – these projects offer no fewer opportunities for heroism than an epic tale.

He is unlikely ever to be called upon to serve his nation or fight an enemy, but courage is required nevertheless within his circumscribed domains.

The courage not to be vanquished by anxiety, not to hurt others out of frustration, not to grow too furious with the world for the perceived injuries it heedlessly inflicts, not to go crazy and somehow to manage to persevere in a more or less adequate way through the difficulties of married life – this is true courage, this is a heroism in a class all of its own.

And for a brief moment on the slopes of a Scottish mountain in the late-afternoon sun, and every now and then thereafter – Rabih Khan feels that he might, with Kirsten by his side, be strong enough for whatever life demands of him.

me & you /isn’t this lovely ?

What Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type Means When They Say ‘I Love You’

INFP: Loving you has become a part of who I am.

Love is a deeply personal experience to the INFP and they take the feeling anything but lightly. When an INFP loves you, they aren’t just concerned for your wellbeing – they feel all of your pains, your struggles and your triumphs as their own. Loving you becomes a part of their core identity and part of the way in which they define their very selves. When this type says ‘I love you,’ they are letting you know that the way they feel about you has infiltrated their most intimate thoughts and emotions.

ISFJ: I value your happiness as my own.

ISFJs are selective about who they fall in love with – but once they fall, they fall deeply and completely. This huge-hearted type takes on the needs of their lovers as their own. They genuinely find it difficult to be personally happy if their loved ones are distressed, and therefore take it upon themselves to provide diligently for the people they care about. When an ISFJ says ‘I love you,’ they are telling you that they are incredibly invested in your happiness – and that they want to help you achieve it at any cost.