So this is the story. UOB had a Bollywood themed staff dinner. I can imagine that would have been quite fun and colourful. However, some of them went further than dressing up in Indian togs – they painted their faces black.

After the party last Friday, they posted the picture above on Facebook. A hullabaloo was raised in the press and online for them being offensive. The bank had to apologize and counsel their staff that was involved in this face-painting exercise.

I’m like, what’s the big deal?

OK, it’s true. I have no idea what these guys are like. But my first reaction was that they were dressing to theme and went one step further by painting their face. I am Indian and we Indians are generally darker than the Chinese. It is what it is.

So, as one Indian Singaporean, if the act was done in the spirit of fun and without any malicious intent, I’m ok with that.

I don’t condone racism as an act of prejudice or discrimination but I wouldn’t want to evolve into a society that can’t have fun. In fact, by being overly cautious, we may actually breed factionalism instead of integration and harmony.

I have a bunch of great friends from different races and we are able to have fun because we don’t take ourselves seriously and we inherently trust the intentions of each member of the group. If we had to err on the side of caution, the relationship will become a little stilted and perhaps at the extreme, we will stick with members of our own races in case we inadvertently offend another.

I can see why this act could have caused offense so I don’t speak on behalf of all Indians. But I want to make it clear that as an individual Indian, I would not take offense if I was at the UOB dinner provided it was done in good fun without any malice.

Let’s celebrate our differences, have fun and not take everything so seriously.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Across cultures, one thing that unites is Love. So let’s celebrate the love and cast aside differences.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Don’t wear a black face 😉

All of us have them – a good day. I had a fabulous day yesterday.

It hasn’t been the best of years but for me, that’s ok. I’ve learned to see good in good and I’ve learned to see good in not so good.

But yesterday was a good day.

This is a mundane post but bear with me.

I woke up early, at 530am. I spent the early morning with God in prayer. That was good.

I had a productive morning at work from 7am to 11am. That was good.

I spent some time from 11 to 1130 on Facebook catching up with the crew of ChristMRT and Facebook chatting with a new friend I made during the production of ChristMRT. That was good.

I had a fabulous lunch with a dear friend of mine who was best man for my wedding and I of his. That was good.

I had a productive business meeting. That was good.

I caught up with some of the crew of ChristMRT at Morton’s. That was good.

I had dinner at the restaurant of one of my best friends in secondary school and some other old schoolmates. That was good.

I was able to minister to a friend in need. That was good.

It was a good day. Thank God for good days.

Good night  🙂

Like many Singaporeans, I was not at all pleased to read about the curry incident where a mainland Chinese family went to the Community Mediation Centre to ask that their Singaporean Indian neighbours stop cooking curry as they could not stand the smell. This was after the Indian family already bent over backwards agreed to cook curry with the windows and doors closed. When I cook curry, or anything for that matter, I leave my windows and even doors open as I live in a small space. I have a Singaporean Chinese neighbour (we often exchange food), Japanese, Indian Nationals and a Caucasian (I think Russian). No mainland Chinese neighbours though.

There has been an uprising on social media and as of Sunday afternoon (13th August) almost 30,000 people have agreed to a nationwide call to cook curry on 21st August. Thats great for showing our solidarity to our national identity of harmony, tolerance and mutual respect. I too am participating by cooking and attending a curry pot luck which I suggested to a group of friends.

However, what disturbs me is some of the sentiments against Chinese Nationals and Foreigners in general. One only has to look at “Cook a Pot of Curry” Page on Facebook and trawl through the comments. Many comments are negative and flame the Chinese National. Many of them call them to go back to their own country.

Now, I know for a fact not all Chinese Nationals in Singapore are like the infamous neighbours. So as a Singaporean, while I condemn this particular incident in terms of attitude and eventual decision by the Community Mediation Centre, I cannot judge all foreigners in Singapore, Chinese or otherwise.

I also look at the one condition the Indian family asked for when they were asked by Community Mediation Centre to cook curry only when their Chinese National neighbours were not at home. The Indian family’s one condition is that they wanted their neighbours at least give their curry a try.

So, in the spirit of this Singaporean Indian family, I say let’s use Curry to Unite and not divide. Let’s use curry to educate. Let’s go ahead full force next Sunday 21st August to “Cook a pot of curry” but let’s do so in a spirit of unity, inviting our Singaporean and non-Singaporean friends and neighbours to embrace our curries – Indian, Chinese, Malay or Eurasian and let’s use curry for positive change.

Food is one thing that unites us as Asians. Being invited to someone’s home is a big part of our Asian welcome.

If there are a few bad eggs, no problem. Just don’t use them in the curry 🙂

I’m looking forward to next Sunday. Yum.