2013-06-11_Mama Said  Reconciling Generations   Être The Girls


A friend of mine recently started a fashion and beauty blog, Etre The Girls. She is a California transplant now living in New York and working for Birchbox. How she finds time to survive in the Big Apple and maintain a website, I’m not sure, but luckily for me, she had time to reach out and ask me to write a guest post for ETG!

For her Mama Said series, I wrote a bit about my mother and how our relationship has affected who I am. While exploring cultural differences and maternal relations may not be all that related to fashion or beauty, the confidence that our mothers inspire us to have definitely makes us prettier people.

Check out the guest post.


I like to creep.

I’m always on the Internet – Yelp’s “Hot New Businesses” section – creeping on grand openings and new establishments. When I spotted a new cafe, I almost passed over it because 1) I rarely drink coffee, and 2) there are cafes on every block. But this Kopitiam Cafe boasted authentic Singapore and Malaysian fare so I had to try it out.

Kopitiam Cafe is located in the Seafood City plaza in Milpitas, on Landess across from the Target Shopping Center. I had the chance to stop by on a Sunday afternoon was pleased to see that there were several patrons inside. Unfortunately, I already ate lunch so I decided to just order a cup of hot teh-tarik to go. Teh-tarik is Malay for “pulled tea” and is a version of milk tea made with black tea, distinguished by a head of froth. I gave my order to a young woman at the counter and then sat down on a white chair to wait.

As I waited, I took in the cafe. It was somewhat trendy minimalist, with white furniture and pops of color. A bookshelf in the corner hawked Kopitiam gear like shirts and mugs. A table of Chinese mothers were having a late lunch and a little boy was “bussing tables” (but really trailing drinks and food on the floor on his way back to the kitchen). While my mother joked about the element of child labor, I turned to observe the cafe workers. The young woman was standing at the counter, sometimes walking to the back to figure something out. A man with glasses who greeted us stood at the drink machine looking back at me. Wait…who was making my drink then?? I speculated that maybe it was being “pulled” in the back and resumed sitting in my place. After another while, neither the man nor the woman showed any sign of activity so I glanced at them impatiently. At this, the man asked me to “Hang on, yeah?” and consulted the young woman, who seemed to have an epiphany and walked to the drink area. Where she proceeded to tell me that my nasi lemak and teh-tarik were coming. No, I only ordered a teh-tarik I said.

Let it suffice to say that I will not be returning to Kopitiam Cafe unless I have a life-threatening hankering for laksa. A cafe that couldn’t even get my one simple drink order straight is not probably not worth returning to (while making the teh-tarik, which is NOT pulled by the way, she had to ask me to clarify whether I wanted it hot or cold). A cafe that pretends they didn’t forget my order, tries cover it up, and doesn’t apologize for a ridiculous wait time is definitely not worth a second trip. Maybe they were new business owners? Maybe they were still getting over some kinks? They definitely shouldn’t have been in the weeds, seeing as how it was just my one drink order and another lady’s one food order.

Maybe some time will pass and I will venture to give them a second shot. I’m a pretty forgiving person and easily persuaded by the advent of roti and laksa.

Kopitiam Cafe: 1535 Landess Ave Ste 147 Milpitas, CA 95035

Bar life.
Blowing off steam at happy hour is the best way to end the day. Oh, to be a young professional in San Francisco, where an abundance of these places with lively libations and scrumptious small plates exists. Unfortunately, as a non-resident, San Francisco is more of a late night bar-hopping venue than a happy hour haven.

We planned a trip to Nihon Whisky Lounge before my LivingSocial deal expired. Even before the coupon was offered, I had my eye on Nihon for a long time. Any place with “Lounge” in the name piques my interest, and this one happened to offer a huge selection of whiskey and whisky, in addition to serving intriguing Japanese-style tapas. Somewhere in the area where MIssion and SOMA meet, we easily found street parking a block away from Nihon. It was fairly unassuming on the outside.

Once inside, we were so glad to have had reservations. I knew it was a popular spot for happy hour, but I think it really blew up with the LivingSocial deal. It was crowded and they had a private party that night. Nihon’s a fairly small place, like most bars in San Francisco, and it had a furnished, industrial vibe. All the servers were very courteous, weaving through people standing in every inch of empty space. We were seated upstairs with not much improvement in noise level but a small drop in temperature because of the open windows. We had whisky (5), cocktails (4), hamachi ceviche, duck, and their version of fries (tempura yams and taro). After receiving the bill, we owed almost $75, after the deal was applied ($70).

I would go back for 1) the atmosphere, 2) the whisky cocktails, and 3) happy hour. Happy Hour would be a great deal: half off selected cocktails and small plates. Though the waitress, who was extremely nice by the way, recommended them, I would say skip the duck and the fries. I would not go back because 1) it’s too far for me and 2) it’s pricey.

But Green Man Tea and Yamazaki 18 Year, I miss you already!

Nihon Whisky Lounge: 1779 Folsom Street (at 14th Street) San Francisco, CA, 94103

People like to text. They like to talk on the phone. They like to read. They like to listen to music. And they like to do all these things while driving.

Driving no longer is longer as much of a “privilege” as it used to be. Now, driving is commonplace and pretty much an essential life skill. Most everyone has a car, and car makers scramble to update their offerings every year to entice consumers. Automobile technology used to be centered around horsepower, all-wheel drive, and even fuel economy but now it’s all about integration. Integration of consumer technology and car technology. Not only can a car handle snowy terrain and avoid hydroplaning, it can also receive phone calls and connect to the internet. And the most popular of all, your car can give you directions.

GPS has made getting lost an anachronism. And while it’s great that we can all have turn by turn directions and a voice to guide us at all times, I believe that GPS and modern car technology are  contributing to a rise in bad driving and reckless drivers. Think about it: what did we have before GPS? We had maps. And with maps, we had to research the route before we left, and if by the unfortunate chance that we got lost, we had to stop on the side of the road to consult the map again or (gasp!) ask an innocent bystander for directions. Now, with GPS, we don’t have to research or even stop when we get lost. We just jump in the car, turn on the system, and are on our way.

How is this different? By blindly using the GPS, we have little idea what the driving route entails. We traipse into unfamiliar territory with little warning of upcoming turns and freeway exits. We become drivers intent on getting where we need to go, less intent on the safety of other drivers and less aware of cars around us. Also, reliance on GPS inhibits our sense of direction. Turning right and turning left aren’t the same as heading north and heading south.

In addition to GPS, new automobile amenities include Attention Assist (Mercedes-Benz) that will wake you up if you drift off, and blind spot detection, where a flashing light alerts you of cars hiding next to you. While all of these are great safety features, I can’t help imagining how they will impact a new generation of drivers. I think that these new features increase our ever-growing reliance on technology, which in this case of automobiles is a deadly trend. Cellular phones already make talking and texting while driving daily occurrences, though both are against the law in California. Will we also begin to be reluctant in looking over our shoulders and checking our mirrors? Will we not care if we are too sleepy to drive at night because the car will rouse us anyway? Car accidents already plague our commute every morning, and even without these new “smart” cars, people changes lanes without signaling and cut others off.

At the end of the day, people should remember that driving means that they are in control of a ton of metal on wheels, literally. Then I would have more faith in these new technologies. Like Phil Dunphy says: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.