Lay Ean Eng, MC PAA NSW Annual Dinner – wearing my grandmother’s baju kebaya
Photo courtesy: Peranakan Association Australia NSW
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Allow me to share this story…
Since last year I was deliberating whether I would like to work on parenting (GoParents), child development and education (GoKids), or working on my baba nonya culture and its cuisine (Tok Panjang).
I could not decide and therefore settled for My Long Table, which was incorporating the three elements into one website, while trying to create a tangible product from My Long Table, as I felt the names of Peranakan / baba nonya theme (Tok Panjang) was a little bit too niche.
I took a few weeks off to go to Canada to think about it, and two days after I arrived home, I received a phone call from the president of Peranakan Association of Australia NSW, Ms. Evelyn Tian. She invited me to be their MC for their annual dinner, which was the following Saturday.
I was really flattered, but my immediate response was NO!
It was because I have never been an MC for any event before, secondly I was not familiar with the event itself, and thirdly I had a great fear of standing in front of the whole room of 130 people and was not sure what to say. My inner dialogue was going like this… “What was I supposed to talk about?” “What if I froze and stood there usable to utter single word?” “I am so going to embarrass myself” …
Evelyn was very patient and invited me to her home to walk through the whole process. The truth be told, I was too jet lagged to fully comprehend the enormity of the responsibility to MC an event that I was not familiar with, and because Evelyn was so convincing, I reluctantly agreed to it!!!
On the day itself, when I turned up to help set up the venue, the reality hit me right in the face… Oh my gosh!!!! It was a big venue (for 13 tables) and I was going to be in front of everyone as MC for the event. For the whole 15 minutes before it started as I was noticing the tables were starting to fill up, I had to really pace up and down the corridor to settle myself, as well as many drops of essential oil along the way.
Long story short, the event went well; I did my job and was confident that I did not do too badly for a rookie. Fingers crossed!!!!!
However, the excitement of the experience kept me awake the whole night – here I was worrying that I may not have enough content to work on the baba nonya culture – Tok Panjang. However, with 130 people really enjoying themselves from the event, chatting, singing and dancing the Peranakan way, I seriously had to double think about my doubts.
Tok Panjang (my original name) is Long Table in Malay language, and it represents the Peranakan culture and cuisine on a whole – “served” on a Long Table. From that experience of being involved with the Peranakan Association Australia of NSW, it dismissed my scepticism about not having content to share. I grew up in that culture, how could I not have anything to talk nor write about ?
I am so hononoured and grateful to be invited to MC the PAA NSW annual dinner 2017, and through that experience, I gained the clarity of my next journey.
So my fellow members, once again, I have to ask for your forgiveness and patience, as I am going to use my original name again – which is Tok Panjang, and my future content will be geared towards the Peranakan/baba nonya culture and its cuisine. Thank you once again for your enormous patience and understanding.
The future of Tok Panjang is about the unique culture of the Peranakan/baba nonya, its cuisine, values, beliefs and much more. I will be writing more recipes (cheat recipes) that I grew up with to share on the page.