Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman,
The New Paper,
Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014
This past Ramadan saw American actor-host-radio DJ Bobby Tonelli try something for the first time. The Fly Entertainment artist and Class 95FM radio jock joined Muslims all across the globe in fasting from dawn to dusk.
The popular personality, who has been based in Singapore for seven years, has also been actively learning the ways of Islam. All this, so he can better understand the culture and religion of his Indonesian Muslim girlfriend of over a year.
But he made it clear - she never pressured him into it. He did it willingly.
Tonelli, 38, who managed to fast for a few days, told TNP: "The hardest part is definitely the thirst. But it's a spiritual thing, it's about purification and appreciating what you have. You realise that in some parts of the world, some people don't even have a meal a day."
Tonelli met his girlfriend in May last year, following his well-publicised split from local actress Joanne Peh after four years.
Ironically, it was his girlfriend's aunt who had read reports of their split and told her to "get to know and meet" Tonelli, who "seemed like a nice guy".
In a twist of fate, the pair would meet soon after through a mutual friend.
Tonelli would not reveal his girlfriend's name. He would only say that she is not a public figure and works in the jewellery distribution line and has been based in Singapore for the most part of her life.
Last week, he spent five days in Jakarta celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri with her family. It is not his first time meeting her family - he had also celebrated it with them last year.
"They are such warm, inviting and wonderful people. I remember I greeted them in Bahasa Indonesia but, funnily, they replied in English.
"My girlfriend was quite shocked that her parents seemed to like me because when she was younger, her father used to be strict with the people she dated," he called.
Tonelli has also been picking up Bahasa Indonesia.
"She can speak multiple languages (including Spanish, French and Mandarin). I'm learning languages. I think it's key in learning about someone's culture," he said.
It is clear that Tonelli is serious about his current relationship - he admits he sees a future with his girlfriend and hopes she is the one.
"I'm really hoping so, I don't want to jinx anything but we're working towards (a future together). When? I wish I will be in that position sooner than later," said Tonelli, who revealed his ideal family would include "maybe three children, max" and "a good family upbringing".
That gives him two years -Tonelli hopes to be "engaged or married" by the time he hits 40.
With that in mind, he is looking at exploring business opportunities dealing with - strangely - fertiliser and eyewear for a more secure source of income. This is on top of his already hectic schedule as an entertainer.
Tonelli will star in his first two local productions, slated for upcoming releases. He will play an Australian vice-principal in comedy Wayang Boy as well as a radio DJ opposite local singer Kit Chan and local actress Xiang Yun in a psychological thriller with the working title Ms J Contemplates Her Choice.
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