When plans go out the window

I always like to plan things so that where possible, nothing is left to chance. I’m uptight like that!

This despite the fact that time and again, my best laid plans go awry. When that happens, I comfort myself that I have plans B, C and D; meaning that if I had no plan and no fall-back plans as well, then things might be worse.

Still, what happened last Sunday wasn’t what I had planned at all. And I didn’t even have anything to fall back on this time! Because my plan/s was/were targetted getting my mum out of the flat, without undue delay. Nothing else.

Brunch had been fixed with the family of mum’s childhood friend, because said friend’s grand-daughter, J, was back for a 10-day visit, after having been in Nagoya for a whole year doing Japanese language studies.

Actually, the idea was for mum to meet up with her old friend who is a year older. So I was happy to hear J choosing Red Star at Chin Swee Road for us to have dim sum brunch. Time: 10.30 am.

Not exactly an ideal time for slow moving mum who takes an hour to get up and clean up; then another hour to eat breakfast and perhaps another 30 minutes to get herself ready to go out. As she normally doesn’t wake be4 8.30am, that doesn’t leave us much time, if at all, to get to our appointment on time.

Mum’s picky maid Siti too has her Sunday routine and might be none too pleased to be asked to be on the fast track to get out of our flat.

However, I reckon we could be late by 15 minutes. To extract more leeway, Siti was instructed to wake mum 30 minutes earlier; let her skip her exercise and not give her a full breakfast etc

With our Sunday routine totally shredded, we managed to leave the flat at exactly 10.25am. I thought we shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes late for our appointment and allowed myself to drool about what I would pick from the dim sum trolleys, chatting with mum about the food, as I drove.

Then my mobile rang. Unexpectedly it was J’s mum ie daughter of mum’s childhood friend. She sounded distressed. There’s a 200 metre queue at Red Star. Could we change venue?

“OK, you choose,” I said, trying to concentrate on driving, than thinking about where we should go.

“How about the club?” she asked.

“Which club?” I responded.

“Tanglin Club?”

“Huh? Oh, they don’t allow maids, and we have Siti with us.”

“Do you eat chicken rice?”

I thought it was way too early for such food and then declined the suggestion to go to Boon Tiong Kee in River Valley Road as mum has a thing about kerb side parking, especially along a busy road.

She went on to suggest the Serangoon Country Club. Too far, i countered. I’d to get everybody home, be4 going for another appointment at 2pm.

I could sense exasperation at the other end of the line when she said: “Ok, lah, we stay here. They tell us we can have a table in 30 minutes…”

As my car neared Red Star I suddenly remembered the last time we were there for the Chinese New Year yusheng and what a mad house it was. Mum had been furious that time, complaining about the crowd and the noise.

So, I rang back quickly to make a counter proposal.

Let’s eat vegetarian, at Fortune Centre, 2nd floor, Nature’s Harvest.

Picky Siti muttered something from the back of the car that sounded like “three”.

“No,” I countered sharply, “it’s on the 2nd floor, two, two,” I emphasised.

And that’s where we ended up at 11am, eating a healthy vegetarian meal at Pine Tree Cafe, which Picky very triumphantly told me was what she was trying to say, when I named the cafe as Nature’s Harvest.

“Ma’am I said Pine Tree, not three.”

Despite the unpromising start, seven of us ended up having a good time. Perhaps the meatless meal calmed us. Perhaps the cooking was first rate. In the end, not only did we polish off all we ordered, but we also bought dabaos as well. The total cost? Under $40!

Here are examples of what we ate. And contrary to what the pictures might suggest, there wasn’t a molecule of meat in any of the dishes!

dry char siew noodles

bak kut teh

nasi lemak


wonton noodle soup

beautifully wrapped biscuits J brought from Nagoya


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