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The basics
THE UK: Once you arrive

DIARY: Joining a Singaporean community abroad

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I admit, I am probably one of the lucky ones who had the exclusive chance to work, study and experience living in several countries abroad. Nonetheless, no matter where I am, it is always nice to catch up with my other fellow Singaporean students or expats once in awhile. Mingling with my countrymen gives me a chance to let it loose by conversing rapidly in our rather drawly but high-lilting accent and throwing in a couple of ‘lahhs’ and ‘aiyohhs’ over a piping-hot feast.

One thing is for sure…whenever Singaporeans get together, the most important thing is the food. This would typically be Asian cuisine of course, closest to our own as possible and the spicier the better.  Even for those who aren’t culinary experts in the kitchen, the hottest topic of conversation would go somewhere along the lines of…’where can we get the best Nasi Lemak in town?’

Although I have been living in the UK for the last 6 years, I have only recently joined an official Singaporean community here. SUKA (Singapore UK Association) has over 200 members and frequently organize 'makan' (eating) gatherings in line with celebrating local festivities such as Hari Raya and Deepavali. It doesn’t matter whether the members were British or Singaporean-born Indians, Malays and Chinese, everyone joins in anyway as there is much food, fun and games!

Recently, we went to SUKA’s double Hari Raya cum Singapore National Day celebration at Pak Awie’s restaurant in Paddington. The tickets were sold out, as 40 of us trooped over to feast on the mouth-watering authentic Malay cooking, enjoy entertainment by Singaporean-born artistes Liz Chi Yen Liew and Sharliza Jelita, Lila Bhawa dance UK who performed a special Malay Dance choreographed by yours truly (erhmm), and take part in the raffle that gave us 2 chances of winning return flights to Singapore with Singapore Airlines. Although we were hoping for the top prize, we walked away with the 10th prize, which was a beautiful bath spa set. We also had the chance to meet the High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr T Jesudasen, and his wife, who were in attendance.

His Excellency Me T Jesudasen and his wife

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, and even though the crowd was much older, they have been in the UK for a very long time and shared their valuable experiences with the younger ones like myself. If I had known any sooner, I would have joined SUKA earlier whilst I was still studying, as full-time students get free membership! Anyway, since those who live abroad like us are always missing home, for that one afternoon, I actually forgot that I was 10,000 km away, as I could have easily been in a ‘kopitiam’ in Geylang Serai.

If like me, you are missing home and would like to join a Singaporean community abroad, do check out the list at Overseas Singaporean communities.

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