The wistfulness of an expat.
Sometimes shopping is not just shopping, sometimes it is reminiscence.
Last week I bought something for a very strange reason. I didn't buy it because I wanted the contents of the container, per se - I wanted it because of what it said on the container: "Waitrose".
Now, "Waitrose" may not mean much to you, but to me it means: childhood, adolescence and youth.
I should explain. The supermarket nearest my longest term home, in my formative years, was a Waitrose. It is a chain of supermarkets in the UK. It is by no means the biggest chain of supermarkets - but it is the one that I visited most often, it being on our doorstep.
So perhaps you can now understand my reaction when I saw that familiar brand staring back at me from a pot of jam in Cold Storage in Singapore. "Waitrose", it said...so I found my hand reaching out reflexively to this otherwise unremarkable pot of jam, reaching out to recapture a part of my earlier life.
It felt odd to see a name from my youth, in the UK, on a pot of jam, in Singapore. It felt as if, for a moment, I had stepped back in time, to that earlier home, and that I was no longer in Singapore, with my own family, and my own home. I picked it up, not because I felt like eating jam - for I am not a regular eater of jam, and had only eaten it once or twice in the past several years - but because it was a way of reconnecting myself to my younger days.
The following morning, I had Waitrose jam on toast for breakfast. It tasted rather good - but for reasons unconnected to its flavour - it was all the associations it had, that made it meaningful.
Singapore is a very alien country, compared to the UK, given its origin as a British colony. It is much less like the UK than one would have thought, given that history. A Chinese way of thinking pervades the way things are done here - and the result is altogether different from what one might expect.
Thus, I don't expect to see fragments of the UK appearing in Singapore - and when I do, they are welcome, for they remind me that once I had another life, with other thoughts and understandings. Once I lived in the UK and could never have guessed that, one day, I would live in Singapore.
Life is strange like that.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
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