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  • Writer's pictureGwen Lee

A Slice of Singapore in San Francisco South Bay

When the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) approached me to do an event for the families in the SF Bay Area, I was expecting a turnout of maybe 10. So imagine my surprise when a crowd of 100+ Singaporeans arrived from all over, most of whom I had never met before!

My daughter had been practicing hard with me for the past 2 weeks and when the time came, she gamely bounced on stage and demonstrated the motions for rhymes while I sang and played the ukulele. We sang about our favorite Singaporean food in songs like "Pat-a-Kueh" and "Kueh Tutu" and the kids were quizzed on everything from mooncakes to famous Singaporean personalities.

The Jamison-Brown House in Santa Clara has never seen such a big crowd of Singaporeans!

I shared with the audience my experience of growing up a Singaporean kampong (village) and there were some nostalgic "oohs" and "aahs" when the parents recognized some of the old school snacks they grew up with. Kudos to the parents who bravely belted out the Malay folksong "Chan Mali Chan" with me! And because it was the day before Mother's Day, of course I had to read my book Little Cloud Wants Snow! to thank all the moms for the wonderful job they were doing.

After the main performance, our lovely volunteers swung into action, helping the little guests try their hands at capteh making. It was really fun to see the usually serious Dad competing to keep their handmade captehs in the air!

Making capteh from scratch!

Complementing the food theme of my Singaporean Nursery Rhymes series, we had a veritable feast of Singaporean goodies like ang ku kueh, 9-layer kueh, kueh bahulu, kueh sarlat, yam cake, chwee kueh, topped off with bandung and teh tarik. It was hard to imagine we were in America and not in Singapore!

Rainbow-colored kuehs.

Bandung ready to be served.

I made friends with many guests, and with the volunteers who did a great job putting this event together. I was so lucky to have Stanley, the liaison officer from OSU, and his lovely wife Dorcas sing along with me as they were seasoned A Capella performers. Thank you to all who came and gamely sang along, and especially to those who shared their stories and were generous enough to buy some of mine! Every book that you took away with you is a reason for me to keep on writing!

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