If you’ve read along on this blog for more than a handful of weeks, you’ll know that, in my world, family comes before all else. It could be fairly narrow-minded of me to claim this, but I do not know of any family unit crazier, stronger or more loving than mine. We’re scattered all across the globe but whenever we’re back together, it’s mayhem in the best way. Living on the other side of the world, apart from my immediate family, that is my parents, brother, sister and Granny, taught me to cherish family even more because life is bloody tough when you’re trying to be grown-up and cut it on your own. I also think it’s a trait of being a BBC, a British-born Chinese. We’re in a very unique position of having full comprehension of life both in Asia and in the West, a cultural melting pot whereby I rarely see my upbringing as different, yet I’m reminded all the time as I try my hand at different things. I hand-on-heart feel that no other generation will experience what we have right now as cultures meld together.
The familial bond is honestly like no other. There’s no-one else that has dealt with your Mum’s wake-up tactics, no-one else that has played the exact games of make believe with you, no-one that can advise you against decisions by bringing up play-by-play accounts from the past. Chinese families are very family-oriented and we are of no exception.
So, let me introduce you to my beautiful Mama. Her name is Annie, a name she chose for herself after immigrating to England with her parents, my granny and granddad at the age of just 9. I can’t even imagine leaving my friends behind and moving across the world at such a young age! My Mama is, like me, the eldest sibling. She worked tirelessly whilst in her teens, waitressing or helping in the kitchen of my granddad’s restaurant. Whilst doing this, she even managed to nab herself a cameo role in an episode of Doctor Who! She tells me stories about how she used to have to prepare beansprouts after school (she straight up refuses to eat them now) and how she’d prepare dinner for herself and her brother, my uncle. She studied Accountancy at college – the same college I eventually attended! – and drove an original Mini Cooper in white. She wore sweatshirts and bleach wash boyfriend jeans, turtlenecks and pinafore dresses, little satchels, skirts and button-up shirts. My Mama runs her own business, multiple businesses in fact, she has a John Lewis restaurant habit, she drinks coffee all day every day, and she uses emoji to excellent effect. She taught me everything I know about skincare. She tells me when boys are crap and reassures me that someone might one day want me. Always the emphasis on might, haha. She’s my biggest cheerleader and likes all of my Instagram posts and backs almost everything I want to achieve. She’s a loving and caring mother, wife and daughter and she really likes Japanese food.
Daddy Chai is oft-spoken of too. My Dad – Seong – is the biggest kid I know. He grew up in Ipoh, Malaysia, as one of seven children. He’s the apple of my grandma’s eye, even though he decided to drop out of high school with his best friend and decided to jet off to England. He used to catch beetles and crickets and ‘fight’ them with his sisters. The legit, original Pokemon! Dad told me he used to work in Kensington in his early twenties… then he told me it was as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant that was almost certainly haunted. He and his best friend from Ipoh stayed in really cheap rooms in the same area and never slept a wink because of ghostly happenings! He speaks five languages and works tirelessly for our family. Dad once appeared in a Chinese newspaper in England talking about his signature recipes and our business and it was the cutest thing ever! One time when my brother and I were tiny, he impulse bought a snooker table and it was the bane of Mum’s life. He’d play snooker every Monday evening (his night off work) and my brother and I would sit on top and ruin his game. He used to arrive at the school gates at 2:30pm when it was his turn to do the school run because he didn’t want us to wait around. (I can’t work out if he knows we finished at 3:15pm or…) He is the reigning champion in the Chai household for All-Nighter Heavyweight and spends his free time plying us three kids with Nando’s, cooking us delicious authentic Chinese-Malaysian meals and playing real-life supermarket sweep, or chain-watching dramas (ancient storylines are his favourite) and reading manga. Dad used to bow out of work and drive to the school gate for 3:00pm if it was raining when I was in secondary school. It’s quite literally a 3-minute walk but he knew that I never carry umbrellas. One time, I had a boy round for the very first time and he waved a meat cleaver at him from around the kitchen door. That was secretly one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed – that boy broke my heart anyway. He gets really hyper on holiday and loves YouTube maybe more than I do. He drinks yin-yang, half coffee and half tea. He really loves his Gucci trainers. He still thinks my Mulberry Bayswater Shoulder Bag cost £100.
My little brother is named Jonathan, also referred to as Jonny or Daisybrother. He’s 18 months younger than me and we’re essentially the same person. I think I’ve always got along with my brother, we never argued or came to physical blows, we just had a minor disagreement once when he wouldn’t let me play on the new Gameboy Color. He absolutely loved Beast Wars, Transformers, The Lion King and Ultraman when he was still smaller than me. We used to spend entire weekends playing Pokemon together and trading cards, battling, discussing techniques. He’s kind-hearted, clever, witty, hilarious, awkward, a FRICKING AMAZING cook, patient, excitable and secretly watched The Hills and The City with me. Once, he filled an ex-girlfriend’s room with mini gifts and balloons for her birthday. Another time he customised a handbag by hand, sewing and designing, for my Christmas present so I could safely carry my blogging camera around with me. I don’t know any other male that would have done that of their own will aged 18. He valiantly attempted to bake me a birthday cake that looked more like an omelette. Picks me up from my London escapades. Covers for me when I do stupid things. He quietly shoves a soup and Lucozade into my room when I’m quite possibly hungover. He’s a huge fanboy and once went to a 2PM fan meet on his own, 2 hours before a flight! He plays and finishes games in a matter of hours and we watch cheesy South Korean dramas together. He can cut hair and is one of the most thoughtful people I know.
My little sister is no stranger to this blog! This is Louise, fondly known as Babybutter after she began to accompany me to blog events. She’s five years younger than me and she’s my best friend. She’s the younger, wiser and less jaded version of me. She studies Architecture at University but will always be a tiny baby dot to me. When she was born, I had chickenpox and wasn’t allowed to touch her, but as soon as I could, I marvelled at this beautiful, soft, real baby doll. I styled her hair into a topknot whenever Mum and Dad weren’t looking. She’s funny, witty, beautiful, smart and quiet. I didn’t know it was possible, but she’s even more shy than I. She catches bugs and spiders on behalf of Jonny and I. She puts screws and nails in the walls and opens jars for me. She constantly tells me I’m a strong independent woman who just needs to buy ten cats. She’s an overall much tougher cookie than I am. She tells me off for bad posture and RBF in my blog photos. She tells everything just like it is. I think she’d be really good mates with Gem! She shares all of my clothes and shoes and likes to tell me when she hates my outfit. She compliments me on my skin and I compliment her on her brows. She makes extensive and detailed lists of things she wants to tell me after each day. She secretly takes tips from me of ‘how not to do twenties life’.
What are your favourite little things about your family?