Every year, my family gathers for the Reunion Dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a rowdy affair, filled with food, drink and laughter.
Ma cooks up a storm each time, and we all tuck in. Back in the old days, it was just my immediate family: Pa, Ma, my two younger brothers and me. But the participants grew as we siblings got married and had children.
These days, it is not just my brood and my brother's kids at these dinners. Even family friends, cousins and aunts are here. We didn't have Pa with us for the last three years but Ma felt we should have even more loved ones in the home for this dinner, and so the party grew to as many as 19 people.
It got so big in numbers that we had to buy two folding tables from Giant, so that we could seat everyone.
My second brother usually cooks some of the dishes too, because he is a great cook. And also, it helps take some of the load off my mother, who is already 73 years old. But Ma loves to cook for us, so she still does a fair bit of the cooking. It's in her DNA, I think. She has been making meals for us since we were born, while juggling work as a teacher.
I cherish these Reunion Dinners. I like eating at home with all my loved ones, and home-cooked meals. My children too, are used to this scene because they are at my mom's every weeknight for dinner (we live a few blocks away from my mother).
I am not sure how we would even execute a Reunion Dinner without her hands-on involvement. She has run this show and this household for so long.
Ma is what you would call the Pioneer Generation. When I think of her though, I don't think of the term Pioneer Generation. I just think of her as Ma.
It is nice, of course, to appreciate that generation for their contribution to nation-building and all that. But really, my late father and Ma impacted us in a more intimate way, providing for us and bringing us up.
They were there through all our ups and downs; when we struggled in school, when we failed an exam, when we grappled with work and business, when we got attached, when we went through breakups, when we got married, when we had children of our own, when we had a special child, when we lost a child.
Through it all, our parents were there, a pillar of strength and support. Their contribution to us is beyond nation-building. They are the very foundation of our lives.
It's been a few years since my last Bangkok trip but here I am, surrounded by Samsung's latest offerings, at their SEA Forum held in the city of angels (and traffic jams).
The TV above is the new 88-inch JS9500 that features what Samsung calls SUHD technology. I was just getting used to UHD and now they added an S to it. But I am Singaporean, so acronyms do not phase me.
I don't know what the S stands for (Super? Solid? Superior?) but Samsung says it is used for their Premium products, and says SUHD delivers 2.5 times brighter images compared to regular TVs, and also 64 times more colour expression.
In Vietnam, Samsung Smart TVs don't need a set-top box anymore because you can use a card that slots into the back of the TV.
This egg-looking device is the WAM7500 and it is an Omnidirectional 360 speaker. Sound can travel in a 360-degree radius with this speaker.
It looks like I am playing music in this photo but I am really playing a game.
I also got to play with the NX500 camera. I see the Samsung has followed the retro styling that Fuji and Olympus made popular. It comes in black, white and brown but I seem to like the brown one best. (I wonder why…)
The NX500 features a 28MP APC-C sensor and shoots 4K video. It's positioned as the smaller cousin of the NX1. Besides the 9FPS continuous shooting mode and motion detection feature, the NX500 has one feature that will excite the narcissists among us. Yes, the screen flips up to allow you to take the perfect selfie. In this day and age, No Selfie No Talk.
The camera handles well and I found it ergonomic. My only gripe is a lack of a viewfinder but that's because I am an old coot with age-related longsightedness.
Of course, a tech event isn't complete without featuring the unsung heroes of electronics: Fridges and Washing Machines.
I went to check out the new Chef Collection refrigerator. Samsung claims this behemoth of a fridge can maintain a constant temperature within a 0.5°C variance. The temperatures in typical fridges vary as high as 1.5°C.
This fridge is so big, even I can fit into it. Hmmmm…
My interest in washing machines is genuine. Because my old one just broke down and I had to replace it. A washing machine is something you don't think about until it breaks down. When it does decide to go to Washing Machine heaven, you are left staring at a pile of unwashed laundry wondering how to live like civilized human beings again.
So I've become a kind of an amateur washing machine enthusiast.
That is the Samsung WA6700 top loading washing machine with built-in sink you see above. Samsung calls it "activ dualwash", which sounds better than "attached sink thingie", I suppose.
It seems like a good idea, not needing to soak/scrub your dirty clothes in a random basin on the floor first. You just do it at the washing machine's sink directly and then pour both the laundry and the water into the machine.
This front loader comes with a a door that opens really wide, for easier loading and unloading. I think you can even stuff a small pig through that hole. There is also a built-in detergent and softener dispenser.
Onward to the airconditioners and the cleaning robot.
I have to say I was very fascinated by the robot cleaner. Even its name is high tech. It's called the POWERbot VR9000. With a name like that, you half expect the robot cleaner to transform and roll out. And why is the name in all caps for the word "power"? Does one shout the first half of its name?
"Hey guys, I just bought a POWER! …bot. Come and play with the remote with me!"
The POWERbot can traverse your home automatically, mapping the place on its own, or you can use the remote to make it do spot cleaning. Me, I'd send it to the kitchen to get me a beer.
The last thing on my agenda for today is a visit to Health Land for some aromatherapy massage. That is one thing you still need human hands to execute. For now.