Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dinner at Simon's

Last night, Aaron and I went to dinner at one of Aaron's coworker's. Simon is about 60 years old and is of Indian descent. He wanted to have us over to introduce us to authentic Indian cuisine and I think to show us what a good cook his wife is. (He tells Aaron that that's the reason he married her.) I was excited going into this, but Aaron was a little scared about what my reaction would be. I'm a little pickier of an eater than he is.

On the way to Simon's we stopped and got a bottle of wine to take with us. We didn't really know the Hindu or Indian custom on giving hosts gifts, but we thought that we could at least show the American custom. Then we took a Taxi to where Simon lives.

Simon lives in an HBD flat. This is like an American apartment. The buildings are 16 to 20 stories high and have about three to five flats per story. I've read that about 85% of Singaporeans live in HBD flats and of those people, 90% of them own their own flat. Simon's flat had 3 bedrooms, a closet (which is used as a Hindu prayer room), a huge living room/dining room, kitchen and bathroom. All of the walls are painted in bright blues, greens and reds. It looked like colors that I would have chosen to paint my room in highschool, but with the decor, it fit somehow.

Simon and his family had lived in their flat for 26 years and bought it for 60,000 Sing. (This is about 43,000 dollars US). Because of the growth of Singapore and the excellent condition the country is now in, Simon's home is worth about 260,000 Sing. (186,000 dollars US) However, he told us that he would never sell it. His home is one of the bigger HBD flats in Singapore and all housing prices are pretty comparable. They can't move to a big house with a yard in the suburbs like we do in the US. The suburbs here are filled with malls and more HBD flats.

Dinner was served very differently that what we do at home. Simon served us while his wife tended to the food in the kitchen. Once Simon, Aaron and I were all seated, the wife and daughter sat off to the side watching television and not eating. It is not customary for Hindu women to join in conversations with men or of guests. Men usually host the guests. (We read this online and it's how the night went too.)

We ate curry chicken, chicken flavored rice, curry/pepper chicken wings, and this most delicious ball of something. I think it was chicken, rice and spices, but it tasted really good so I don't care what else. Only Aaron and I used utensils. Simon used his fingers, which Aaron says is always how he eats so it must be a cultural thing. The food was really good. Aaron said that they took it easy on us because he's seen Simon eat some really odd things.

We finished out the night watching the Indian version of American Idol. The people compete as married couples and have to sing, dance and answer questions. It reminded me sort of the Miss America pageant. I couldn't understand a word that was said, but it was entertaining anyway.

As we left, the mother and daughter presented me with a gift. I was very taken aback and appreciative. They had given be an Indian style shirt that has silver sequins sewn around the neck. It's very pretty. That is a customary thing too. They present their guests with a gift and usually the woman gets the nicer of the gifts if there are two.

So the night was very interesting and educational. Simon and his family are extremely nice and welcoming.

1 comment:

Cori said...

Okay, my first thought was, "Meg, how awesome! You're learning so much." It's sound like a great evening. My second thought was, "Dear god, they gave her a gift." I know what happens when people give you gifts. You run all over town trying to find the perfect gift to reciprocate with, and spend more money than you have. Good thing you're flying home soon. :)