“Bojio” means “(you) didn’t invite (me)” in Singlish. Technically, it is a kind of Chinese dialect, Hokkien, but I think the usage is uniquely Singapore. The context of “bojio” is this: Person A found out that Person B is going out/ has gone out with Person C (it can also be a group of people) and Person A will say to Person B or to the entire group, “Bojio!” This phrase is essentially used as a self-invitation to the group outing. If the outing has already taken place, then what Person A wants by saying this is an invitation to the next outing. Sometimes people use this phrase because they really want to go for the outing but on other occasions, they just use it in a pretty meaningless way. Does Person A need to know Person C/ the group in other to use this phrase? No, Person A doesn’t need to. Will Person B really invite Person A along? It really depends on the context, Person B can say no but at the very least, Person B should try to arrange to meet up with Person A in another setting.

To some people who are not accustomed to the way Singaporeans speak, they may find this phrase quite shameless or rude. But to me, this is something that I really miss about being in Singapore. Being around people from different cultures, I find myself trying hard to hold back the “bojio” when the context arises. In particular, I find it really awkward when I learnt that a friend is meeting up with a mutual friend/ a group of mutual friends. Somehow Person B does not feel obliged to extend the invitation to me,I hold back the”bojio” and an awkward silence arises.

On a different but slightly related note, I really miss my Singaporean friends. I find that London is a place where many people (regardless of ethnicity) have a “every man for himself” mentality. Many people around me are focused on themselves and what they want to do or experience and we will hang out if our interests happen to align at that moment. I am used to doing things the other way round, I  tend to fix an appointment with my friends first and we will find something to do together when the date approaches. The mentality is more like “I don’t care what we do together but can we meet up please?” How many times have I met a friend at a MRT station or bus stop and then we realized that we have not decided on what we want to do together?  How many “meet ups” (because I have no idea what we will be doing together) have I written down in my calendar? How many times have I written to my friends that “I miss you and I want to see you”? Here in London, people are so independent and are so proud of the fact that they are independent that people won’t make time for me just for the sake of meeting up with me. There is no right or wrong when it comes to these things; everyone is entitled to their own way of living. For me, I miss my Singaporean friends, I miss how much love friends have for one another and readily express to one another, I miss those handwritten letters/ post-its that friends write to one another.

I do have quite a number of non-Singaporean friends whom I love to meet up with and I know I can rely upon and I am open to making even more non-Singaporean friends here. What I want to say is I think the Singaporean-styled friendship is something quite unique and cute and I am really thankful to have grown up with these friends around me and I am happy that I will be going back to grow old with them. 🙂

“This is where my family and my friends grew up with me so I’ll cross the skies and sail the seas to be where I wanna be” – There’s no place I’d rather be, Kit Chan


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