Struggling With The Basics

My weekends are so packed that it takes me the whole week to try and finish writing about them, and even then I don’t manage – I haven’t begun editing my pictures of Sungei Buloh (last week), or written about the non-touristy joys of the Albert Square/Fu Lou Shou Complex area (Chinese New Year Eve), let alone write about the weekend that’s just passed.

Beyond that backlog there are also the various inchoate posts I have about films I’ve been watching, music I’ve been listening to, and those infernal 2004 lists! (The top album and top song lists are still owing, and I’m actually still adamant on posting them, hopefully before 2006.) So at the moment, imagine blog entries about this weekend as faint shimmering mirages on the distant sands of a desert, and me the wild-eyed pucker-mouthed wanderer crawling towards them.

However, I can share this encounter with you quite quickly:

When lift doors opened at the Marine Parade library yesterday, a young couple who had been waiting outside barged in. The old lady who had been inside smiled a little bemusedly, holding the lift door open for them as they pushed by her. The guy was holding a large hardcover book – Society: The Basics.

Door Bitch

Strange, isn’t it, that when I walk unaccompanied to the door of China Jump and ask what the cover charge is, the woman manning it says “You do know you have to be over 25, right?” with a distinct tone, but when I walk to the door with Alec, no one even mentions age?

I guess white is the new black. Or maybe white has always been the new black. If you know what I mean.

A Wonderful Weekend In Singapore!

Experiences from the weekend:

  • Some Chinese people know nothing about any of the other cultures that live in Singapore. At a formal dinner on Friday, we (I and other law graduates) were served Malay food. When the gado-gado arrived, people were staring at it blankly and asking what it was. When some of us (I and the Indian guy next to me) read “potato cutlets” on the menu and concluded that it was probably bergadil (I have no idea how to spell it, because it never appears on the menus, but I’ve used the word my whole life), others looked blank and said they’d never heard of that either. Over the months I have been home, I have also met a first class honours NUS law grad who, when told the cuisine we were eating was from Kerala, said “What is Kerala?”, Chinese people who don’t know Muslims don’t drink alcohol, and Chinese people who know nothing whatsoever about Eurasians. So much for Singapore being a multi-cultural society. If you’re Chinese, apparently none of the others matter.
  • Multiple travel agents promised that I could take a direct ferry from Tanah Merah ferry terminal to Tioman, and offered to sell me tour packages on this basis, but the service stopped running in June.
  • Singaporeans are willing to queue up for hours to secure condominium bookings, Hello Kitty commemorative dolls, and Singapore Idol audition slots. They are also noted (derided?) for their compliance with rules and respect for authority. However, announcements in four languages and so many ground markings that the platform looks like the scene of a gruesome arrow massacre are not enough to persuade Singaporeans to let people off the train before shouldering them aside and charging in, before sitting comfortably in seats reserved for the elderly/pregnant, studiously ignoring the at least eight-month-pregnant woman teetering in front of them.

Say What?

Two snippets of Singapore from today.

#1: I Donno Where Is This Democracy

Me, getting into taxi: Hello, Parliament House please.
Taxi driver: Where?
Me: Parliament. Parliament House.
Taxi driver: Near where?
Me, perturbed: City Hall.
Taxi driver: Oh, so take ECP¹ then Rochor Road?
Me: Yes.
Taxi driver: After that you direct me hor. I donno where is this Parliament House.

* * *

#2: Racism 20% Off

Young friendly male sales assistant in a earring shop in Bugis Village: This one you like or not?
Me: Mmmm, not sure. Maybe something a bit longer.
Sales assistant: You dare to wear like ke ling kia or not?
Me: What?
Sales assistant, waving a long dangly earring: This one, like ke ling wear one.
Me, finally understanding what he was saying²: No, it’s okay. Thanks.

¹ An acronym for one of our expressways
² Ke ling is a derogatory word for Indian