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."
"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."
The mahjong resumed clacking as I pondered inward.
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
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:
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？
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。
1、Christina Ong 是 COMO group 創辦人， 她於 1972 年創建了 「Club 21」（Multi-label store）公司。
from YZ's Grand enoug.