19 July 2011

tai tai time wasting

tai tai /tı tı, tʌɪ tʌɪ/ n. [Mand. 太太 tàitai mistress of a household, madam, lady] A woman, usu. wealthy, who does not work but spends her time shopping, meeting friends, etc.; a lady of leisure.

Now, while I normally get quite huffy about being stereotyped, just occasionally it’s so apt that you’ve just got to go with it. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I do not work. Yes, I have been known to go to the shops, and yes I meet a friend occasionally.

But, though I know I can't really fight it, I wouldn't be me if I didn't at least try to defend myself from the lady of leisure (LOL, lol!) epithet...

For starters I'm (1) not thin, (2) not tanned and (3) I don’t have more children than hands. From personal observation, these (plus the ubiqitous silent presence of maid domestic helper to herd said offspring) appear to make up the holy trinity of the garden variety expat tai tai.

Don't get me wrong, I've no issues with any of those things, and most people I know fit those criteria. But I'm greedy and Scottish, so the first two are but a gauzy fantasy. And the third? I find that where children are concerned (unlike marshmallows) it is possible to stop after one. That's my philosphy at the moment anyway.

Okay, it's a pretty weak defence, I'll admit that by virtue of my husband’s endless talents and the rules governing my charmingly-named “dependant’s pass”, the three week-day mornings that The Boss goes to preschool are entirely my own. I have become a mistress of pleasing myself, and so I can't deny fitting into that apt pigeonhole: lady of leisure.

(Now now, don't have a go. I get how lucky I am. It hasn't always been this way so, seriously, I GET IT.)

Anyway, today is The Boss’s last morning at nursery before we go back to the UK for a summer trip. So it has been long earmarked for packing. But as all procrastinating jack-of-all-trades know, there are just so many nicer ways to waste the morning, some of them can even be productive... Here are half a dozen that have taken me through ‘til lunch, with some pretty pictures. Now, about this packing. It wouldn’t really be cricket to maybe just… y'know... borrow someone’s maid. Would it?

  • Thrashing up and down the pool like a drowning cat. Having never had a swimming lesson in my life, I know I look like an idiot.
  • Casting on this shawl I read about on pea soup last night. Immediately after putting The Boss to bed I rushed out for some late-night wool shopping. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the world sitting in a swimming costume in the relative cool of the morning (29C) knitting in 50% angora. Me? Tai tai? Okay, I see it too.
  • Looking at the sun.

  • Playing with my friends Orton and Lomo on Picnik.

  • Thinking about Nigella’s Vietnamese pork noodle soup from KITCHEN. Thrown together at least once a week and anticipated all day.


  1. Great post and hello!!! Great to meet another Hong Kong blogger and reluctant Tai Tai! I'm so with you - I've defended myself till the cows come home that I am NOT a lady of leisure, but when it comes down to it, I don't work either, so I don't really have a leg to stand on.... Have a great trip back to the UK and looking forward to reading more from your blog! xx

  2. ah - got it wrong!! You're in Singapore?!!

  3. Yes, Singapore variety; same breed different flavour!

    Thanks for being my second friend on this steep learning curve that is my first week of blogging :)

  4. Phew, have found evidence that I'm definitely NOT tai tai. Good checklist here:

    ...although I have been known to wear the occasional wee diamond so I guess I'm one step closer!

  5. When I grow up I want to be just like you. Have been perusing your blog and have way too much fun reading your posts. I'm absolutely sure I'll be back for more soon. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Haha! Thanks Nicole! But (I'm almost scared to ask) if you want to grow up... I hope you're super young, or do I sound positively ancient?!

  7. Hello! from a very misunderstood Senior Tai Tai (27 yrs)...
    1. Real TT only wakes up after 10.30am
    Fake TT is on call round the clock.

    2. Real TT do not eat breakfast as she has lunch
    in the Club or St Regis.
    Fake TT makes breakfast for family &lunch box

    3. Real TT's personal trainer helps her stay in
    Fake TT has endless mopping & ironing to keep
    her fit & trim.

    4. Real TT eats seasonal gourmet lunch by french
    /italian chefs.
    Fake TT eats whatever yesterdays 'leftover'..

    5. Real TT 'spend' whatever amt she feels like.
    Fake TT 'save' whatever bits she has to..

    6. Real TT compares about their shopping list of
    'LV,Hermes, Dior, J Choo, Channel, etc..
    Fake TT compares their shopping list of the
    best NTUC, giant, courts, expo discounts..

    7. Real TT' personal allowance is 5 times the
    average of a fake TT ' household allowance.

    8. Real TT has 3 cars to use from the garage.
    Fake TT has 3 legs to walk,run & run for SBS.

    9. Real TT goes to Europe 3-4 times annually.
    Fake TT 'dreams' GOING to Europe daily..

    10.Real TT sees personal doctors in Mt E..
    Fake TT queaus to see FT doctors in POLYCL..

    You all may think the huge difference in life..
    but who cares, 'after life' are all the same..
    no problem,to each is own..at least Fake TT LIVES A FULL LIFE !! Enjoy , whether Real or Fake TT !!

  8. Anon - this is a very funny list, Thank you! Defo confirms that I'm fake TT, and totally okay with that!

  9. well, i am almost 'retiring' from the FTT club
    after 27 yrs..and proud to be its members..My next club is the Senior FTT club !! No matter what kind
    of financial crisis happening, FTT will NEVER be made redundant, but the REal TT may be downgraded...
    watch out in coming 2012, you may find some NEW members having 'identity crisis' in our club !LOL.


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