I have only just realised the wonderful way my Mom is welcomed to the dementia daycare centre. I’m not referring to the long waiting time for a chance to attend sessions, but the way she is welcomed when she arrives.

We knock on the door, which is not locked, and Mom would start to open it. Almost at the same time, there would be a staff at the door. Not always the same one, but the greeting is the same.

First the staff gives Mom a great big smile and a warm Hello! She seems delighted to see Mom there. She greets Mom by the name Mom wants to be known by. Almost at the same time, she reaches out to Mom’s arm and gently leads her in.

Such a wonderful warm welcome. No wonder Mom is happy to go and looks forward to her sessions. I have only realised this welcome is neither arbitrary nor accidental. It is intentional and done the same warm way every time we show up. The attention is all on Mom, and I am only incidental to the scene. It speaks volumes on how the staff at the centre are selected and trained.

I am so grateful to the centre and the people who made it happen. Click on the picture to find out more about Alzheimer’s Disease Association (Singapore).

Cooking Hints

As I was about to send the daughter off, she asked me to type out some easy recipes for her. She knows basic cooking but living away from home, she found meal planning and cooking more difficult than she had anticipated.

Eating in Singapore is easy and cheap. There’s a huge variety in hawker centres and food courts, it doesn’t cost much more than doing it yourself and is very convenient. In many homes, domestic workers take over the chore of cooking. Many working women I know don’t cook and proudly declare they cannot cook.

Though Mom worked, she used to cook all our meals when we were young. I don’t know how she coped. We helped her out occasionally, if only by telling her what we wanted to eat to spare her from having to plan. As far as I can tell, Mom cooked normally until a couple of years ago when she probably gravitated to simpler dishes as forgetfulness set in. Months before her stroke, she seemed to have prepared the same one pot meal everytime I checked. Apparently, a loss of cooking skill is an early sign of dementia but being apart, I hadn’t really noticed.

For myself, I’m a rare cook, often relying on cookbooks. I consider my meals edible, and perhaps “homely”, but certainly not anything to shout about. Anyway, to help my daughter, I wrote the following email in twenty minutes flat, filled with many items I haven’t cooked in years! It is written in a shorthand offhand way, with the understanding that the reader knows cooking and just needs a bit of prompting. I hope she finds it useful, and adjusts the quantities and seasonings successfully!

1. Egg

Fried egg
Omelette – onion. Fry onion with bit of salt until softened. Add beaten egg mixed with bit of soya sauce.
Omelette – green beans
Omelette – mushroom
Omelette – any vegetable
Omelette – minced meat. Mix meat and beaten eggs, add pepper and bit of soya sauce. Fry in well-oiled and heated pan.
Steam egg – beat egg into ceramic plate/ shallow bowl. Add chicken stock and pepper. Put on rice in rice cooker.

2. Veg

Stir fry – any veg stir fry with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Fish
Fish in ceramic plate – season with salt and pepper, or teriyaki sauce. (Make own teriyaki sauce – one tablespoon each dark soy sauce, mirin, sweet rice wine). Put under grill or in toaster about 20 minutes basting every 5 mins until cooked.
Steamed fish – add one tablespoon soya sauce, slivers of old ginger, put on top of rice in rice cooker.
Asam fish – buy bottle of assam paste – follow instructions on bottle.

4. Tofu
Steamed tofu – put in ceramic bowl, add one teaspoon soya sauce, one tablespoon oyster sauce, spring onion etc, put on top of rice in rice cooker

5. Pork
Slice pork thinly, season with cornflour, 1 tablespoon dark soya sauce, 1 teaspoon soya sauce. Stirfry with ginger strips.

6. Beef for pasta
Dice one onion and 3 cloves garlic. Fry until soft. Add minced beef and fry until brown, keep stirring. Add one can/ one bottle pasta sauce, bring to boil.

Boil pasta according to packet instructions.
Eat with salad.

7. Claypot chicken rice in rice cooker.
Soak four black mushrooms until soft, slice up. Slice one chinese sausage.
Season chicken pieces with oyster sauce, dark soya sauce, pepper.
Wash rice and put in rice cooker. When rice starts boiling, put chicken, mushroom and sausage on top. When cooked, stir well before eating.
Eat with sliced cucumber.

8. Simple meals without cooking or with minimal cooking.

Chicken sandwiches – buy cooked chicken. Add tomato, cucumber, lettuce.
Fried egg sandwich.

9. Fried rice.
Warm old rice from fridge in microwave.
Chop up leftover meat/chinese sausage/ luncheon meat. For greens use diced long beans, frozen peas/ carrots. Beat one egg.
Prepare one table spoon dark soya sauce, one teaspoon soya sauce.
Fry vege with/without garlic. Add bit of salt if veg is not salted. Add meat and stir till well-heated up.
Add rice and stir in sauces, when rice is heated, add beaten egg, stirring well all the time.

10. Shopping list

Oyster sauce
Dark soy sauce
Light soy sauce
White pepper
Cooking oil.
Teriyaki sauce.
Pasta sauce.


Tomatoes, cucumber.
Yogurt, Milk, Ice cream
Jam, Nutella, Butter

Dry pasta
Chinese mushroom
Chinese sausage

Fish steaks
Boneless chicken thigh
Minced beef – just before cooking
Salad – eat soon

Pomelo Buds!

Me : I have pomelo flowers!

Friend : For breakfast?

Me : ON the tree

Friend : Picture?

Me : Flower buds


Friend : Nice

Let’s hope I have better luck this year! For last year’s saga of the pomelo flowers and fruit, go to

Pomelo Plant in a Pot - for the flowers and early fruit
Pomelo Update - for the growing fruit

Population Fears

Copy of picture from 18th century depicting life in Kaifeng circa 1000AD

Singapore is all abuzz about the projected population growth from 5.3m today to 6.9m in 2030.

People are feeling the squeeze and complaining no end about it. Housing is expensive, cars are expensive, and public transport is too crowded for comfort. The population is rapidly aging too, and the older population above 65 years of age is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.

Methinks we plan and worry too much… maybe about the wrong things.

The numbers that caught my eye are actually the following:

There are approximately 200,000 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore today. These are the women (mainly) who arrive from some neighbouring countries to live and work in the homes of Singapore residents. They are engaged mostly to look after young children and do the housework, but increasingly often, they are brought in to look after older folk.

Without them, 200,000 households out of the million of so will not be able to enjoy their current lifestyle.

In 2030, the number of foreign domestic workers is estimated to rise to 300,000.

300,000 out of 6.9m if the projected population will be foreign domestic workers (otherwise known as “maids”).

The good thing about FDWs is that they allow the elderly infirm to be looked after within their own homes, at affordable rates.

The bad news is that relying on FDWs is surely not sustainable in the long run. Some day, FDWs will stop arriving on our shores, and what will families do then?

Bollywood Veggies and the Gentle Warrior

Mom loves outings, and it is often challenging to think of safe and interesting places that all the family can enjoy. Shopping centres are busy, crowded and can be difficult to navigate. Also I think Mom gets distracted and slightly confused by all the lights and things on display.

I think a good outing should be physically do-able yet not too easy, and better still have content that trigger and stimulate Mom’s memory. A few weeks back, we had one such outing and it was fun! The fun even started on the way there as we drove down quiet narrow roads with plenty of greenery on both sides with  not a tall building in sight. Mom kept saying “I didn’t know Singapore has parts that look like this!”

Bollywood Veggies is an organic farm owned and run by Ivy Singh-Lim, the self-styled Gentle Warrior. She’s a real charming lady, I must say! Full of zest and lives life entirely her own way. Way to go! She runs a restaurant there too, and it’s called (tongue-in-cheek, of course) … Poison Ivy Bistro.

Mom had a great time strolling amongst the fruit trees and other plants. There are lots of humorous signs about too. A most enjoyable outing.


Tiny little chillies

Tiny little chillies

Bunch of bananas

Bunch of bananas

Ripening Jackfruit

Ripening Jackfruit

So pretty

So pretty

Watch out!

Watch out!

Baby papayas

Baby papayas

Go ahead, make my day!

Go ahead, make my day!

Lotus flower

Lotus flower

The lotus pond

The lotus pond

Lotus Pod

Lotus Pod

Cotton Tree

Cotton Tree


Diary of a Singaporean Cabby: An Old Lady with Dementia & Dignity.

A cabby in Singapore blogged about the surreal conversation he had with a passenger with dementia. She was sure, then unsure about where she needed to go, at times pensive then belligerent, and finally got out of the cab after telling the cabby off.

Whilst the cabby treated her very kindly, and even refused to take her fare, the whole episode made me realise how vulnerable the old lady really was. I wish there was a way we could get her to safety. After all Singapore is a small nation, how far can anyone wander without a passport. Do read the blog and let me know what you think.

Diary of a Singaporean Cabby: An Old Lady with Dementia & Dignity..

Pomelo Update

Some time ago, I posted pics from my pomelo tree. I guess I owe all followers an update on what happened.

Well, although a friend told me to wrap the fruit with a plastic bag or newspaper when it was calamansi lime-sized, I didn’t do it. So then one day when it was grapefruit sized, I saw a happy insect buzzing around and poking into the fruit… literally. I apologize I have no pics of this insect.

Anyway, not long after, the fruit started to ripen, and fell into my hand when I gave it a gentle tug. It was still too small, and not the proper size of a pomelo yet.

We cut it open, and the fruit pulp was still tiny within the thick rind. How did it taste? I don’t know :( Memories of that insect put me off!


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