The distinct aroma of cumin, cinnamon and coriander wafted through the window and into my nostrils. “Mmmmm… that smells lovely. I do hope Mrs Vanya saves some for me.” I thought, as I inched my way closer to the window, closer to the origin of that magical curry.
While most Singaporeans are able to appreciate the intricate creation and aroma of Indian Curry, many of our friendly (or not so friendly) outlander neighbours may not. This is evident from a very unfortunate case that happened on 8 August 2011, where a mainland Chinese family lodged a complaint against an Indian neighbour for cooking curry while they were around. Of course, this sparked a lively discussion amongst netizens with local Singaporeans arguing that the Chinese family was being racist and inconsiderate.
And this got me thinking. “Does that mean that I will not be able to cook/bring home anything that’s pungent or strong smelling (even if it’s aromatic)? What’s gonna happen to my durian parties and future curry projects? I mean, putting myself in their shoes, I definitely do not want any of my neighbours to open a can of Surströmming in their house and let the smell get to me.” Towards the end, I gave up thinking and decided that it’s best to just live and let live. Taking precautionary measures at the start of your house hunt would be the better option – you don’t offend anyone and you live happily ever after!
So let’s say you’re looking for a place to rent in Singapore and you love to put your chef skills to the test. What should you look out for? Here’s what we think!
- Know your neighbours
First thing first, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re planning to live in an area of predominantly FOPs (fresh off the plane), you might have a hard time getting them to appreciate your food. Not saying that they are racist, but the food they grew up loving is different from what YOU grew up loving. It might take a bit of time for them to truly appreciate your culture.
- Good kitchen ventilation
Buying a good exhaust fan can help to prevent cooking smells from spreading too far. If you’re renting and are not allowed to install an exhaust fan, try using an air purifier to get rid of any lingering smells in the kitchen.
- Share the love!
What better way to share your culture by giving out food to your neighbours! This will not only build a better relationship, but will also give them a chance to appreciate your food and culture. It also gives them a reason not to complain about the smell (since they now have a share of it).