The other day while playing mahjong, we indulged in our usual gossiping.

"Oh so and so broke up with his gf."
"Really, weren't they getting married?"
"Nah she wasn't really his type."
"How so?"
"Hmm let's just say she's a little bit coarse."
"Coarse? What do you mean coarse?"

In my mind I was thinking, this had better be good.

"You know, a little bit ribald....low class."
"Whaaat?!"

The mahjong resumed clacking as I pondered inward.

"I'm coarse!"

There was some awkward silence before I started berating them on being
mean and judgmental. Our game resumed, but it got me pondering on this
ubiquitous categorization of people into "classes".

My mister told me, "a person with class does not talk about it." which
made me even more disturbed about its furtiveness.

Even as singapore prides itself on it's diverse yet harmonious
society, we still can't seem to run away from this classification (pun
intended). There is the old rich, the kuoks, the tans, the lees, (I am
randomly putting out surnames here, I don't actually know the list of
the who's who in Singapore), the nouveau riche who made bank from a
sudden windfall or business or selling millions of CDs, the middle
class and the lower income bracket. This classification is purely
monetary and should in no way determine the classiness of an
individual. Right?

So does it boil down to education? I know this girl who never made it
to college but has the classiest way of putting you at ease. A primary
school educated man who remained silent about his rivals'
indiscretions even under extreme pressure. That's classy.

Upbringing? Basic etiquette? Dressing appropriately? This can go on an on!

I define classiness as being honest really. I don't think a well
spoken/dressed/known/mannered person should be bestowed a high class
honor for what he appears to be. I would rather keep a tattered true
friend than a polished back stabber by my side. My very sartorially
adept girlfriends would think I'm being ridiculous. Oi, better wear
more rags around me ok!!

But having said all this, I do know of obviously well
dressed/mannered/etc. individuals with integrity and forthrightness
(sorry I do not know of a better word). People like Christina Ong,
Harry Lee, Kit Chan...although I don't claim to know them personally,
But they sure have proven themselves over time to be able to walk the
walk and talk the talk. As for myself, I nestle comfortably, knowing that I lie
between them and the 'coarse'. I'm sure the world has space for the
likes of me.

Thank you for reading this, at an altitude of 20000 sq ft, I bid thee
a classy adieu. Buy!



Translation courtesy of Joyapple:

一天,我們打麻將的時候,又開始八卦起來。

「那個某某與女朋友分手了。」

「真的啊?他們不是要結婚嗎?」

「不可能,她不是他喜歡的類型。」

「怎麼會呢?」

「嗯..我覺得她有點粗俗。」

「粗俗?這話怎麼講?」

我心想,最好是一個有建議性的解釋。

「就是…有點惡俗…低級。」

「什麼??!!!!」

我們繼續啪啪地打麻將,可我內心不禁開始思考起來。

「我也粗俗!」

突然安靜下來,有些尷尬。我開始怪他們這樣講太刻薄、太主觀。我們繼續打麻將,但我已開始反思這個普遍存在的現象——把人劃分等級。

先生告訴我,「一個有修養的人是不會討論這個話題的。」於是我對於它的隱晦性感到更加不安。

儘管新加坡人對於我們多元但和諧的社會感到自豪,我們似乎仍然無可避免地被劃分為三六九等(故意使用雙關語)。我們有富裕的老家族、郭氏家族啦、譚氏家族 啦、李氏家族啦,(我在這裡隨意列出幾個姓氏,其實我並不太瞭解新加坡的名人錄),通過意外收穫或者做生意或者賣掉幾百萬張CD而致富的新貴、中產階級和 低收入群體。這種劃分僅僅是從金錢角度的,所以完全不應該據此判斷一個人的品位和修養。是吧?

這應該歸結到教育上嗎?我認識從未上過大學卻讓你感到非常自如的女孩。一名只有小學學歷的男人卻可以頂著巨大的壓力,對於他競爭對手的輕率魯莽保持沉默。這才叫做有品位有修養。

教養?基本禮節?衣著得體?說不完的性狀!

我對於修養和品位的定義是要真正誠實。我不認為一個善談的/衣著光鮮的/出名的/舉止優雅的人僅根據他們的外表就可以被稱作高層人士。我寧願擁有一位衣衫 襤褸的真正朋友,也不想身邊有一個看起來體面卻能在背後捅刀子的人。我那些很會打扮的女朋友們該覺得我不可思議了。是的,在我身邊你們都穿破布好了!!

但說了這麼多,我確實認識一些衣著考究、舉止優雅的人卻正直坦率的人(抱歉我沒想出更好的形容詞)。像Christina Ong, 李光耀, 陳潔儀這些人…我私下倒不是與他們很熟,但時間證明他們確實可以說到做到。對於我本人而言,我在這舒服地呆著,知道自己處於他們和『粗俗之人』中間。我確 信世界之大,可以容納我這樣的人。

謝謝你們讀這篇博文,在處於海拔兩萬英呎的高度,我對你們優雅地說再見。拜~

註:
1、Christina Ong 是 COMO group 創辦人, 她於 1972 年創建了 「Club 21」(Multi-label store)公司。
2、Harry Lee:李光耀,曾任新加坡總理,現任新加坡內閣資政。
3、Kit Chan:陳潔儀,新加坡著名實力派女歌手及舞台劇演員。

 

from YZ's Grand enoug.

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