Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Friday, June 26, 2009

Storm in a (Styrofoam) Tea Cup


A friend of mine, while dining at a restaurant, is usually reluctant to order items on the menu that she feels she could make better. With prices getting ridiculously exorbitant, and quality and taste very ‘’suspicious’’ at restaurants these days, her rationale makes sense. Well, sometimes.

Dining is a social activity. It’s the ‘’overall’’ experience, a total package. It comes with catching up with friends, with deepening of relationships, and with meaningful conversations. Of course, if you are a typical Singaporean foodie who would look for a few ‘’friends’’ to drive with you the distance of half of Singapore just to wolf down some famous roti prata, then this article is irrelevant to you.

So, yes, I would sometimes gladly pay ‘’a bit more’’ for a nice piece of chocolate brownie, even though I can make one very well, with real Valrhona chocolates to boot. Why? Because I like the ambience of the restaurant, the impeccable service, the reasonably good food, and the wonderful time spent at this restaurant with a loved one. Think of all the work you have to put in just for a simple meal with him or her; you might as well take some of that time to ‘’catch up’’ over a good conversation.

There are some places that I will never go to, unless it’s the last dining place on earth and I am on the verge of death by starvation.

I made this decision more than 10 years ago, and this morning, renewed my vow. I was on Orchard Road, too early for an appointment. I needed to sit down to make a few calls, and to get a drink.

I walked into the MacDonald’s at Lucky Plaza (gasp!). I ordered a tea. The service was sullen and silent. The place was dark, gloomy, smelly and dingy. And this takes the cake: the Lipton tea bag in the Styrofoam cup and some water cost me $1.85.

Anyone who has gone to a supermarket would know a tea bag does not cost a fraction of this. Of course, businessmen would urge me to factor in the labour, rental and other ‘’operational costs’’.

Still, $1.85 for a teabag and pathetic experience? Ok, maybe for some air con, a seat and a table so I could make my calls in peace, while waiting for my appointment time.

Mireille Guiliano, author of ‘’French Women Don’t Get Fat’’ urges us to eat only if you derive pleasure from what you are eating. No matter how yummy that kong bak pao is, if you have derived pleasure from the first few paos and you are already full, there is no need to stuff your faces with more of it, just because there are still a few pieces left on the table, even if it’s ‘’cheap’’. She has the same principle for beverages and wine.

So, back to my teabag. Did I derive pleasure from that teabag tainted with smells of the styrofoam cup and apathetic service staff?

The answer is a categorical no. Next time, I will carry a water bottle, and wait at the bus stop.

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