Outside, Looking In











Charles & Keith

You mentioned you live here but work in Tokyo. Do you travel back and forth, or do you work remotely?
A bit of both! So when I’m here in Singapore, I’m mostly meeting with investors, but my team is actually based in Tokyo, and I travel there every month. In between, I come back here to my family—I have two kids in school, and my husband. It’s great!

I’m hoping at some point to actually move to Tokyo. I went to Japan for almost three months straight once, and I didn’t think I would miss Singapore so much, but I did. And I know that this will sound completely crazy, but I kind of missed the Singapore weather.

I know! It’s like, “How is that possible?” But it was summer at the time, and Tokyo was insanely hot, so one day I was just thinking, “Yeah, I kind of miss Singapore weather. It feels milder.”

Apart from the weather, what do you think you’ll miss most about Singapore?
I think the melting pot of cultures—Singapore is far more diverse in terms of where people are from.

Tokyo’s amazing in so many different ways, like the cuisine, the culture, and the history. But there are very few foreigners, all considered. I think there are only 2% of people that come from abroad. It’s a very homogeneous society.

Do you speak any other languages?
I’m Italian, so I speak Italian. I also speak French because my husband is French, and Spanish because I lived in Spain.

My kids as well, plus a little bit of Mandarin because since we’ve been here, they learn Mandarin in school.

Apart from that, I’m starting to learn Japanese, but it’s a very long road, and it’s definitely not easy. And the writing as well! Maybe if you can write Mandarin, it’s a little easier to learn hiragana, katakana, and kanji. But otherwise, for a gaijin (foreigner) girl like me, it’s a very steep learning curve.

What do you think are the benefits of being multi-lingual?
I think with Chinese, English, Spanish, and French, we can probably travel three-quarters of the world. Being understood and to understand really makes a difference, even if you speak just a little bit.

I can see it in Japan, for instance. Even with my really broken Japanese with a really weird Italian accent, people love it, and they’re very forgiving. They’re very understanding.

Coming back to Singapore, what are some of your favourite local spots?
We love Bukit Brown. Not very many people know about it, but it’s actually a Chinese cemetery. It’s beautiful, and it was our saving grace during COVID.

Back then, we took the kids to the cemetery on a regular basis. When we talk to the locals and they ask, ”Oh, where are you going?” we’ll say, “Oh, we’re going to the cemetery,” and they’ll be like, “You guys are weird!” But the landscape there is amazing. It’s very quiet. And it’s literally behind our house. So in a sense, it’s like having a forest just about 300 meters from home.

Do you cook at home?
We love cooking, especially local food—it’s how we spend time together as a family. We love cooking beef rendang. And, obviously being Italian, I also have my favourite Italian dishes that I think I’m quite good at cooking. One is mushroom risotto, and the other is linguini vongole, which is basically pasta with clams.

You do it with white wine, garlic, really fresh clams, and a bit of chilli. It’s very simple, but it’s delicious. Cook the pasta al dente though! (laughs)

Aside from cooking, we also like eating at the hawker centres. It’s such a Singaporean thing to do, and before coming here, we didn’t even know that they existed, but we love that kind of melting pot of different cuisines. You sit down and everybody picks what they want—it’s very informal and cheerful.

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