11 May 2010


This afternoon before going home, on a whim I decided to drop by Tokyo-Tokyo and order some Yakisoba to go. Still on a whim – I had declared it National Whim Day – I asked for a pair of chopsticks.

I am the sort of person who does not normally engage in something I am not good at. Take, for instance, basketball... Discovering at an early age that my eye-foot coordination was incomparably better than that of eye and hand, I naturally turned to football. Which explains why so few of you – if at all – have ever seen me play the national obsession...

Life is, indeed, full of unsolved mysteries. Count among these why I never really learned to use chopsticks – at least, properly!

The irony here is that I used to hear Mom say that her grandfather was, in fact, an immigrant from mainland China who came to live in this country still wearing the archetypal Manchu Chinese braid. That makes me, from the mother-side, in fact one-eighth Chinese.

While Dad had no such braid-stories to tell, he likewise used to say that he had a Chinese grandfather – or was it grandmother? If you do your fractions, then you come to the conclusion that I am, in fact, one-fourth Chinese.

Which, therefore, explains why I have a slightly golden complexion and a hopeless partiality for Chinese cuisine... But somewhere in the exchange of genetic codes, those that contained instructions for dexterity in the handling of chopsticks got flushed away...

Even in the poshest of Chinese restaurants, where the waiters assume you know how to and serve you chopsticks, I always make it a point to ask for a spoon and a fork. Alangan...!!!

Today, of course, is National Whim Day. For a change, I decided to ask for a pair. Since I would be eating at home rather than in public, making a fool of myself would, therefore, not be for the utter enjoyment of others.

Scant joy to be obtained from that once the oily Yakisoba noodles started to squirm between the sticks. Ah-ah... Parang bulateng nasayaw... I had to set and reset my fingers each time the slithering noodles fell back into the styro.

In exasperation, I thought to myself, pahirap areh sa sarili... And got up to get a fork...

Just another of the countless ironies one finds in life... I can run a school of ten thousand students, but find myself humbled by a pair of bamboo sticks.

If you ask me – excepting for when one is eating noodles – the best eating utensils are still those five digits hanging off one’s forearm. Five, ha! Never use the left hand ‘pag nagsasakol, especially when you are in the company of Malays or others of the Muslim religion.

Kasi naman, it is assumed that that is what you use to clean up with your tabô of water after making poo-poo in the baño...

Ewan ko... Perhaps it is the Malay genes manifesting themselves whenever I eat sakol. I just tend to suddenly have a greater appetite, lalo na if the kanin is bug-ong – i.e. sprinked with salt and then wrapped with banana leaves – and the ulam is inihaw na liempo. With manggang-hilaw and bagoong alamang...

‘Nuff said... Naglalaway na ako...

The Lady at the Eatery
The Tail