Make the most out of this CNY: Ask thought-provoking, soul-searching, life-revealing questions

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How old are you this year?
Where are you studying?
What are you working as now?
When are you going to get married?
When are you going to have kids?

This year you'll probably find yourself the hapless victim of some inane line of questioning once again. And once again, you will probably subject your relatives to exactly the same treatment whilst simultaneously trying to escape the drudgery of being a polite and courteous human being.

So, why do we persist in these errant ways? What can we possibly gain from acquiring useless information about the mundane lives of other lesser mortals? What will we do with the information so grudgingly offered up to us? Put them through the rumour mill and see what comes out of the other end? Surely there are already more than enough STOMPERs to last us till 2050.

In fact, will you even remember the answer to these questions? You've probably asked the same questions the previous year and you're asking again now because you can't remember the answers. Chances are, you won't remember this year's answers when 2016 comes either. So why bother asking? Save yourself the embarrassment instead. Stop asking questions you'll have to repeat year after year like a broken record, revealing nothing but your own forgetfulness and lack of concern.

Instead, ask questions that matter. Ask thought-provoking, soul-searching, life-revealing questions. Here's a couple of questions to get you started.
  • What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? This is a very good one. It is direct and to the point. If your relative answers, "41," or "43," be sure to let him know that he's getting close.
  • Are you real? This is a deep one. Make sure they hear it correctly. The question isn't, "are you for real?" Neither should it be misinterpreted as one of the armchair philosopher's favourite existentialist questions. The beauty of this is, there are no right or wrong answers. Only really stupid ones.
  • How's your goldfish? Express genuine sadness if its bad news.
  • Do you believe in UFOs?
  • Give me your car keys.

Or if there are kids around, you might want to simplify things a little for them.
  • Want a beer?
  • Promise I won't tell your mom.
  • How about a cigarette?
  • Trade you one Marlboro Red for your iPhone?

Or perhaps you can practice your interview skills on that needy relative who keeps borrowing money.
  • Tell me something interesting about yourself.
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • How many slippers would you have worn out by the time you finish cleaning all the toilets in Singapore?
  • How many fingers does a pregnant Siamese twin have?
Whatever you do, always be polite and only pose questions when it's your turn to speak. A good sign of this is when your relative's mouth is full, when the baby is crying, or when the doorbell is ringing. Practise good etiquette and your relatives will have an easier time pretending to enjoy your company.