A landed property in Siglap, where she has lived all her life with her parents. Most of Valerie's childhood was spent bonding with her mother over cooking and wandering around her beloved neighbourhood.
I still live in my first home, which is a landed property in Siglap. It is a familiar, cozy place, which shaped my personality of loving to cook for others. My mum started the ball rolling by inviting her own family members over, and subsequently when I grew older I would invite my friends for experiments in the kitchen.
The earliest memory I have of my kitchen is of my mum spending hours making all her wonderful baked products. I would go in and peep at her and she would chase me out. As the years went by, she gradually allowed me into the kitchen and I would pick up bits and pieces of whatever she was cooking – from braised duck and stir-fried dishes to kueh. I enjoy it when we cook together and the dish meets her high standards without me making a big mess. It is also a place where we have our quarrels and heart-to-heart talks while waiting for time to pass. She still bakes the same chocolate cake to celebrate my birthday every year.
I love my neighbourhood and will never move away from the east. The air is fresher here, you can really tell the difference. When you wake up there are no weird exhaust fumes or smog. I work in the west and it really feels different. People are more relaxed in the east as you can see on the streets – families going for walks with their dogs.
Because it's only a 10-minute walk to the beach, it encourages more active behaviour. If I lived anywhere else I wouldn't be half of what I am today. During the holidays, I would always end up at the beach and drag my friends there too. You never see sad faces there. Everyone is always in good spirits and there are constant sources of wonder.
Siglap holds all little memories of my childhood – McDonald's at Siglap Centre, Café Cartel, going for piano lessons down the road, playing badminton with my neighbour over the fence and cycling around with my dad. Although the area is changing pretty rapidly, I still enjoy it because the relaxed vibe is still there.
To me, home is somewhere where you can be with anyone, forget about spending money and just have fun. The east is that place.