Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Very Kiwi Christmas: Episode 1

Swimming in the Clutha River, Alexandra, NZ

So here we are at last! A whole two and a half years after farewelling Aotearoa, we're back in paradise on earth. Today was picture perfect Kiwi Christmas Summer Holiday stuff. Picnic, swimming, sun bathing, reading, blobbing on big towels, having sandwiches and grainwaves with ginger beer. On the banks of the idyllic Clutha river, no other souls save ourselves around. Perfection.

D's uncle K made a swing, and within half an hour of him perfecting it, a bunch of kids discovered it and were swinging from it and plunging into the river.

Soaking in the sun

We're staying in the most picturesque place in Ce ntral Otago (with D's aunt who is housesitting for a friend), replete with outdoor spa pool! Sensational. Gearing up for a massive home cooked Christmas lunch of gushpazho (sp?) soup, smoked manuka ham, new potatoes, baby carrots. berry ambrosia and dark chocolate and raspberry tart. Yum!

Me and F striking a pose - Millie waiting patiently for us to throw her a stick in the river.
It's just wonderful being with D's family again in beautiful South Island. Can't wait for Christmas! For a party of six, we have a rather disproportionate number of presents! Think a big mound. And the culture here where we open presents one by one... will guarantee a rather busy Christmas day I'm sure.
Love and warm fuzzies to all this festive season - catch you in the new year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Singapore's Own Hady Crowned Asian Idol!

Migoodness, against better judgement, I started watching the first ever Asian Idol broadcast over the weekend. Shoddy production, sound gaffs and a so-in-your-face-you-had-to-give-them-props biased focus on Indonesian contestant Mike aside, I found myself rather hooked. And yes, I cast a 60-cent vote!

I love it when underdogs win, and this was so the case. From a frosty reception by some judges, and the fact that Singapore's population is tiny compared to the giants like India and Indonesia, Hady was up against some pretty startling odds.

But in the end, Idol is very much about commercial appeal, and I think Hady had the most regional appeal. Idol is also very much kept afloat by adolescent girls - and though there were better singers in the competition, none had his boyish charm and looks. I think Indian Idol (who was pretty cute himself) was hurt when the media focused on his wife who was supporting him in the audience.

Favourite quote of the night (And most squeamish moment)...

When Malaysian host Kui Jien said after Hady's duet of George Michael's Freedom with (rather freaky) Malaysian Idol, Jaclyn, "Singapore and Malaysia in perfect harmony. Something you don't see very often!" Can't believe he said it. Talk about a complete faux pas. May be true, but I'm reminded about one of my favourite Far Side strips: A couple of dogs standing around at a party, all holding drinks and engaged in small talk, then one dog pipes up a bit too loudly, hey did I tell you I have worms? All other dogs fall quiet.

Something like that. Well that sums up the moment for me in any case.

In any case, good on ya Hady!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Bicycle Built for Two

My bum may be smaller than D's, but my head definitely isn't. I tried many helmets until the magic one came along - a Giro Havoc helmet. The only one that fit comfortably, and set me back almost $150!

OK, so it's official. Years of angst and unfortunate nicknames aside, I now embrace the inevitable conclusion that not only is my head massive, but that I have married a man who has a perfect, regular-sized head. It confirms all the theories that people look for symmetry and regularity in their life partners. Except not sure where D was looking when he met me, hehe.

We went shopping for our scary 5-day cycling/camping Mt Cook adventure today. Went to the most excellent Joo Huat Co, located at Blk 91, Zion Rd, which we stumbled upon using the Yellow Pages. This was after a failed attempt at a supposed Bike Shop in Bukit Merah Central (which also sold mattresses!). We left after one of two brands of helmets they carried advertised it as the model with "best head-retention". Err...

Anyway so back to Joo Huat Co - the affable and knowledgeable proprietors took us through the different models of bike helmets. D ended up buying the first one he tried on, a Lazer Devil - it fit him snugly, and he looked like he was always meant to wear helmets. Then it was me. Feeling very much like Cinderella's step-sis, nay, maybe the pumpkin itself, helmet after helmet just wouldn't sit right. Which prompted lovely stoic bike shop lady to say, "eh I think she needs the biggest model for round heads!". Whereupon they got this pole with a hook at the end, and proceeded to retrieve from the highest shelf (literally) a helmet in a rather dusty box. I put it on, and can happily say it was the only model that actually covered my forehead. And it was double the price of D's Lazer. Sigh. the good thing is that it comes with a warranty and an owner's manual (what kinda helmet needs a manual?!)...

At least my butt's smaller than D's - we got pretty spiffy padded bike shorts. An Italian brand called Giordana. Apparently, made to last and should keep us comfortable for years to come.

So this wraps up an incredible retail weekend for The Turnips (that Christmas bonus better come in as scheduled!). Christmas shopping in full swing, stuff for our cycling trip, oh and of course our tickets to The Police concert (on 4 Feb) with S & Z!!! Woo hoo! In fact, am listening to the best of right now as I type! Uh doo doo doo, uh dah dah dah...

Food for Thought's peach butterscotch crumble

This weekend, we also discover what I feel will become a favourite cafe of ours here. It's called Food for Thought, on Bras Basah St (opp the National Library). The menu just made total sense to us (e.g. a bratwurst and chorizo sandwich, lychee and sage freezes), real food, pretty astounding prices (sammys around the $6-8 range, all beautifully presented with fresh salad), and a social conscience to boot. Despite the fact they they'd sold out of a lot of their desserts, they whipped up a peach butterscotch crumble for D on the spot. And they don't charge silly prices for tea - a solid $2 a cup, regardless of Japanese green or more atas camomile. We like! Oh yeah, plus they play good music. Unlike another fav place Cedele in Wheelock Place, where at more than double Food for Thought's prices, they were playing... get this... Savage Garden's Truly, Madly, Deeply but in instrumental muzak/Kenny G mode! Erk!

One of Food for Thought's social missions. (Source:

Oh and I thought I'd end off with the funniest, most random item we saw on display during our Epic Retail Expedition. This is from a shop called Action City in Bugis (where we actually got quite a lot of our presents from). It wins the most unintentionally funny Christmas present of all time.

To the Cheebie gang of Temasek Hall, this one is for you... All my love this Christmas. May '08 be filled with more of the random miracles that make up our lives.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Back in Camel Land, and Dreaming of Tents

Matakohe, Northland, New Zealand. January 2005

This has been my longest hiatus from the blog. In part due to the craziness of work and also cos I wanted to write a fitting tribute to my grandma who passed away last month, and was waiting till I had the time and head space.

Well, it's almost 1am on a Thursday night and I've just finished my second huge work event in a row - putting my legs up after a whole night in heels and needed a bit of down time before going to bed (D is deep in dream land).

About my grandma I have this to say at the moment - that though I had several years in which to gently farewell her, her eventual passing left a bit of a vacuum in my heart. She was a feisty lady, with a generosity that was embracing. Though she didn't speak or read English, she stayed up with me the day my parents returned from Sydney in '94 and got me Tad William's final installment of the Memory Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, "To Green Angel Tower". I read for 12 hours straight and my grandma was right there with me! What a class act she was.

To all of you who sent your wishes and condolences, my thanks. I'm happy she's in a happier place.

Talking about paradise, I'm dreaming and toe-tapping for December to come round soon as it can (funny thing, time). Our much needed three-and-a-half week break to New Zealand. Dunedin-Christmas in Alexandra-Wellington-A &L's wedding in Havelock North-Scary five-day long cycling and camping trip in Mount Cook- Chill out with gang in Dunedin - Back to Singapore for Renovations and moving. What's not to like?

D hasn't been home in almost two and a half years. And I can see him straining for the pristine peace of New Zealand, amidst our frantic urban life. Just looking at the our camping pictures from our epic Northland trip in 04/05 makes me s-m-i-l-e...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And the Heavens Unleashed Their Fury

A giant water spout descended on East Coast Park today. We were having brunch at Scruffy Murphy's, and suddenly the sky darkened and there was a frightfully loud clap of thunder, followed shortly after, at around 1.05pm by this amazing phenomenon. It ploughed through a little boat that was in its path getting bigger and bigger. I ran and quickly snapped a shot, then got a bit freaked out and ran back to safety before it started pouring.

Ah well, very dramatic and exciting - just the sort of thing to pull one out of the shocker this morning's rugby game. If only the All Blacks hadn't worn those stupid blue jerseys. Everything would've turned out ok.
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What's the difference between the All Blacks and a tea bag?

A: The tea bag stays in the cup longer.

(Thanks to Greg for sending this, and cheering us up.)

After waking up at 3am to watch the game, convulsing in stress, hope and then despair, I have decided that supporting a sports team is just TOO emotionally nerve-wrecking.

I'm just so thankful we didn't open the bag of Marks & Spencers lightly salted red duke of york handcooked crisps which we bought on Friday for the game. At least we have one bright spark to look forward to in our week. Mmm... chips...
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Whole Day in a Morning

This morning, I was awakened at 7 by the rousing sound of the Irish national anthem. I stumble out of bed in a daze and realise it's D glued to the Rugby World Cup. I end up watching most of the Ireland v France game with him (save for the last half hour, when I fall back asleep!).

At 930 we decide to head out to Sentosa for a bike ride. We don't own our own bikes so we have to rent at the island kiosk. We're Islander members, which means we pay like $20 a year and we get free admission and transport to the island, as well as discounts (like 10% of the bike rentals, sweet!). D decides to transport his mountain bike from NZ back to Singapore when we head back for Christmas end of this year.

We cycle around the whole island for about an hour and a half. I don't recall Sentosa being this hilly! I'm a bit freaked out about our plans to cycle around the Mt Cook area come Dec/Jan. First I need to figure out how to work mountain bike gears properly! And I think I will also need to get ultra-padded bicycle shorts!

But my worries float away when we hit Tanjong Beach - or Dog Beach as we call it. It's the best place in Singapore to dog-watch, and get your regular dose of cute! So for non-pet owners like us (not by choice mind you, anyone know how to cure dog allergies??!), it's heaven. Today, we spot the motliest crew of canines, all fresh out of sea water being scrubbed clean by their owners around the public showering area. There's a resigned looking border collie, smiley golden retriever, a 10-year old pomeranian, a drenched and skinny mini-Schnauzer, and a terrier belonging to D's ex-boss, whom we happen to chance upon!

After our bike ride, we hop onto the chairlifts that will take us to the pizza place we decide to go to for lunch. The Sky Ride as it's called, is part of a kiwi-operated luge ride. It's only $3 up the hill each for members so why not. Plus we get to take cool pics and dangle our legs over the edge. Not many leg-dangling opportunities these days, so when they avail themselves, you just gotta grab em.

Back at home now - it's one of those scorchingly hot afternoons, where the light is a bit too bright and bathes everything with a garish glow! So sitting here in the cool shade listening to new awesome CD we bought, Yo Yo Ma's Appasionata, typing away. Nice. Feels like we've squeezed a whole day's living into one morning. Woo hoo!

View from the chairlift if I turn my head round.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Tribute to A and his A380

Let's start at the very beginning: two chocolate swiss rolls, the wafer-thin tail (D's inventive prototype), and for the nose, a Kinder Bueno.

This post is a tribute to A, who out of all my friends, has displayed the most consistent obsession with the A380. A's just put in a winning bid for the inaugural flight on the A380. Our heartiest congratulations to you! Who'd have thought that two-and-a-half years ago, when we were putting together this cake as a surprise for your birthday, you'd become a part of history?

PS: our cake just rocked, didn't it?

And for the wings, two triangular pieces of sponge. Sculpted with precision.

What a beautiful thing.

Cover with a clean paint job of my secret icing recipe.

M&M windows, and a painstakingly recreated logo (procured from the A380 website no less) and there you have it... I'm pretty sure, Wellington Central's inaugural A380 cake put together using ingredients from Centre City New World.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I love Picasa

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I just downloaded Picasa and I love it! So easy to use. Created a cute collage of the Singapore leg of our wedding in three minutes. Can't believe all this software is free. Go Google! All for the democratisation of information and knowledge I say...

And then for practice, I did another collage of the Dunedin leg of the great Turnip matrimonial event.

For all those wondering about the genesis of the Turnip monicker, once and for all...


So there.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Post-Norwegian Wood Blues

I finished Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood last night, and am now suffering slight depression, I think.

I'm normally a pretty fast reader, but I lingered over every word of this unusual, beautiful, gem of a novel. I'm struggling to articulate why I loved it so much, but I think it boils down to the fact it contains all the attributes I look for in a good read.

1. It captures a time, place and mood to perfection. Tokyo, 1969, comes alive with such life and colour that you yearn and keen for it.

2. Characters grow and learn through tragedy, but the novel itself is not tragic.

3. Music is woven through the story seamlessly, and you can almost hear the soundtrack to the book as you read on. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ravel, Brahms. I was first reminded of The Virgin Suicides (excellent as well, but just not in the same league as this), then of the puny-by-comparison An Equal Music by Vikram Seth, which did have a companion soundtrack to boot. If Norwegian Wood went down that path, it would seriously kick some ass.

4. The story is underscored by a quiet symbolism - the balance of the mind, for example, reflected in the serenity of nature, or lack thereof. I was reminded about what so moved me when I was in Tokyo earlier this year.

5. I was lured into the story, I cared for the characters, I didn't want the novel ever to end. I read the last few pages so slowly, like how you'd want to prolong one of those great late night conversations with old friends. That's the kind of book Norwegian Wood was for me.

I don't know if it's everyone's thing, but this book is one of my top reads to date. Can't recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Class of '99

Me, V, S, C and S

An impromptu reunion, with the girls from Lit Hons class of '99.

On the Blackboard: Fantastic conversation.

Venue: Dome at Dempsey Road (the service there has to be personally experienced to be believed - maybe they were all just having a bad hair day).

Special Order of the Day: Being able to (unabashedly) weave in critical theory, Baudrillard and simulacra, while dissecting the wonder of procreation in glorious gory detail and Pan's Labyrinth.

Lovely to see the girls again - gotta revive that failed book club.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Signing on the dotted line

The lounge overlooking Telok Blangah Hill - we've only viewed two flats. This was the second and we fell in love with the view.

If all goes well, this will be our new home. We've just signed all the paperwork today, and it's now up to the Singapore Housing Development Board (HDB) to process our application - a rather loooong agonising two month wait.

The flat is an old five-room HDB flat in Depot Road. In Singapore speak, that = 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge and kitchen. At 114 sq m, it'll be the biggest place we've ever lived in (counting all the flats we've rented in Wellington!).

The hallway - the three bed rooms branch off from here.

Depot Road, unlike its name suggests is a lovely, shady road in Central Western Singapore. It's where one of our favourite hangouts, Villa Bali, is in Singapore, and has a handful of apartment buildings. And a lovely little sleepy enclave called Gillman Village which houses rustic teak furniture shops and restaurants. It's round the corner from where we live now. About a 10-min bus ride away from the CBD.

View from the kitchen

The flat is on the 11th floor and is breezy and light - don't think we'd need air-conditioners. There's a fantastic little covered playground at the foot of the building, and only four apartments per level. It's also near two of Singapore's handful of hills - Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber (from which you catch the cable car to Sentosa). By end this year, there'll be a 9-km walk way linking Mt Faber all the way to Kent Ridge Park, called the oddly Kiwi Southern Ridges Walkway. You can read more about the new walkway here.

Suffice to say that we love the place and are keeping all appendages crossed that things will just go like clockwork from here :) To be home-owners with a mortgage at last!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

WOMAD 2007 (This post is for J in Kyoto)

Thanks to J for giving us this ST boingy outy picnic thingy - it's lasted through many a hairy WOMAD moment.

WOMAD this year: awesome awesome awesome.

7:00pm: Opened with an Iranian father and son team called Ensemble Shanbehzadeh. Father played the Iranian version of a bagpipe, son (only 13) played the drums. Nice mellow start.

Mahotella Queens from South Africa show us what active ageing really means.

7:30pm: The Mahotella Queens, three divas - 62, 65 and 67 yrs old - who've been singing together for 40 years. They yell to the crowd about the power of WOMAN, saying that all the men who were in the original group had all died. Err, ok. Crowd went crazy with their exuberant dancing and tight a cappella harmonies. Felt like I was at Paul Simon's Graceland concert.

8:15pm: Sheila Chandra ("one night only" touted the programme) is unable to perform due to her bad throat. The crowd gasps in dismay. Many have obviously come just to see her. But most take her non-appearance rather well, and we're suitably entertained by Cameroonian acoustic guitarist Muntu Valdo. Back to mellow vibes again. D and I wander off and get the most kickass triple brownie chocolate explosion thingy.

Nomadic music from Niger. The acoustic guitarist wears this purple robe that looks like it's made of PVC. How in the world he plays in the heat I don't know.

9:00pm: We start off listening to samba sounds of Sao Paulo band Clube de Balanco. OK only lah - crowd go mad, but for some reason, I find their sound vaguely muzak. D and I wander to catch something more unusual, nomadic band from Niger called Etran Finatawa. Hardly anyone is here, everyone else is dancing salsa to Brazilian beats at the stage below. So nomad musicans and the handful of weirdos like us gather round and it feels like we're back in the desert of Wadi Rum listening to quiet sounds in the dry air. Very transporting this stuff.

Shooglenifty! Sorry J - too busy dancing to take proper photos.

10:00pm: But then10pm comes round and it's Shooglenifty - incredible Scottish band that J introduced us to. Last seen in WOMAD Taranaki NZ 2004. We danced and danced. Everyone was smiling. Shooglenifty plays happy music.

11:00pm: Can't believe the Shooglenifty set is over. We want more! But head down for Asian Dub Foundation. I stupidly bought ADF's best-of CD before watching them live, on the strength of reviews alone. Never again. They're supposed to political, daring, best gig to catch in London etc etc. But found their lyrics a bit wanting. E.g. "We want your oil!" supposed to be provocative song about err, US invasion of Iraq? Sigh. Obviously subtlety not order of the day. We wandered off after midnight. To the sounds of the musicians screaming "we love you SINGAPAAAAW!"

Sigh, just love WOMAD.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Weekday Picnic and Chinese Jazz

Sandwiches and sushi at sunset

I love where we live. Tonight, we left work at 6:15pm and were having a picnic by the harbour round the corner from our place at 6:30pm!

Woo hoo for work-life balance!

We've forgotten just how calming an al fresco meal can be. It was like being in Welly again.

Three jazz musicians in tuxes, jamming with erhu and pipa players. Crazy yet sublime!

On Saturday night, we went to the most marvellous concert - The Singapore Chinese Orchestra teaming up with Chris Brubeck's (legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck's son) jazz trio, Triple Play. I was so inspired by the performance (and reassured about the state of the Arts scene in this country) I wrote in a letter to The Straits Times Forum (never written in before) the next morning. Was rather surprised to find the letter published in today's online edition!

ps: D and I are now slightly addicted to Facebook. Am in touch with people I lost contact with more 13 years ago! Actually, come to think of it, very scary to actually realise that I have lost touch with someone for 13 years actually. God, I'm aging. BLEARGH.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Finale to End Them All

Now, I haven't cried while reading in a long time now. Truth be told, there are maybe five books in the world that made me cry. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the last one (that scene in the graveyard near the end where the spirits of Harry's parents and Voldemort's victims appear just did my head in!).

So it was a bit to my astonishment (though I should have expected it) that I found tears rolling down my cheeks when I was feverishly finishing up the final installment in this most excellent series, on Thursday night.

D had long gone to sleep, and I carried on reading maniacally till past midnight, trying not to turn the pages too loudly.

What can I say? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows lives up to the hype. It is a most original and satisfying end to the epic series, which started out innocently humble, with the 11-year old Harry first finding out he was a wizard and going to Hogwarts. Since the first book, the series has grown gradually darker, with political undertones and rather frightening references to Nazi Germany.

Most of the last book is set outside the confines of Hogwarts, and it's only when Harry and his friends (I'm not giving away any details!) start wandering the wider world (from cities to countryside), does one appreciate how comforting the presence of Hogwarts was. It's as if the school itself was a much-loved character. With our beloved characters in the wild literally, things get a lot more (pardon the pun) hairy!

Indeed, with Harry and gang out to face the elements, the tale takes on a more epic, adult scope, very much channeling the Fellowship's journey in The Lord of the Rings. Like in LOTR, the world of Harry Potter contains absolute evil (Voldemort and Sauron do not display any humanistic attributes like compassion and desire absolute power), and a motley crew of folk who would fight the dark side (anyone thinks the Weasleys could have been Hobbits in previous lives?). There are also those who are struggling with their weaknesses and temptations (Boromir vis a vis Severus Snape, Gollum vs Kreacher).

But it is in the journey that Harry and friends undertake in this final book that is so reminiscent of the trials that the Fellowship have to endure in their bid to destroy the ring. Like Frodo and Sam, Harry and his friends embark on their portentous task, in the same vacuum that the hobbits did, while around them the other groups who resist Voldemort's reign are going about their own ways to rally support. Neither knows how each other is doing - and it is in this unknowing that the tension plays out.

Also, the many mysteries raised from the previous six books are resolved very satisfyingly.

How does it all end? Who or what are the Deathly Hallows? Did Dumbledore really die? Tell us once and for all, is Snape good or evil? Do Harry and Ginny get together? Ron and Hermione? And yes, most importantly, is Voldemort vanquished in the end?

Shan't spoil it for you. Believe the hype. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is worth every penny of the inflated price of the hardcover novel.


PS: Now that I've mentioned it, from hazy memory, these are the books that made me cry:

1. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
2. The Fionavar Tapestry (The Darkest Road) by Guy Gavriel Kay
3. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
4. Toothpick (this random book I read in my teens about a boy's friendship with a girl suffering from cystic fybrosis, of all things!)
5. Possession by A S Byatt
6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

OK, so maybe there are more than five. But these are the ones I remember.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Another year, another dessert...

My own creation - move over Nigella! This girl knows a thing or two about raspberry coulis!

This weekend, at Cheeto's birthday high tea at the ever-reliable Equinox, it suddenly hits me that my buffet prowess just isn't what it used to be.

Rewind approximately 10 years and a few of the individuals you see gathered below embarked on a girls' lunch at Crossroads Cafe at The Marriott. Those were the days - on our extremely tight undergrad budgets - where we'd starve the night before, not have breakfast nor morning tea and unleash ourselves on the spread awaiting. We had our various strategies; mine involved the secret passed down through the family: Avoid carbs, rotate savouries with desserts, and make sure you start with the most expensive items on the menu. No processed foods please!

Happy Birthday to the Cheeto!

So now that we all are in our 30s, save for the delightful presence of F's son N (who out of the rather massive spread, chose to have a slice of brown bread and two marshmallows covered in chocolate), it was pretty noticeable how a) our capacity for stuffing our faces has reduced proportionately with our increasing age, b) our collective metabolisms have slowed down, c) we actually heed our brain's warning that we are getting full and it's time to stop. Unbelievable. Who'd have taught we'd turn into respectable, well-behaved adults?

Mmm... cake...

Ah, we also just returned from watching Royston Tan's latest film, 881. All about the getai (or song stages) that pop up during Singapore's Hungry Ghost Festival. Brilliant stuff. Should honestly be a contender for an Oscar for Best Costume. No kidding, for example, there were lasers beaming out from pointy durian-shaped bras. Woo hoo! And the music. Just fantastic - made me want to to learn Hokkien and buy a minus one of getai music!

The film student in me is itching to write a paper about it, and to compare it with another recent film (or more accurately, video), the equally marvellous Invisible Cities by Tan Pin Pin. Both present quirky perspectives of Singapore, without ever turning themselves into "Singapore films", if you get my drift, and hence, avail themselves to international audiences.

Ah well, as it's Sunday and I have major bout of the Sunday blues, I have neither the time nor the energy to write anything insightful at the moment. So just try to catch these films if you have the chance. Promise you it's worth it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Singapore!

D is Sing-Biz Man!

Tomorrow we celebrate Singapore's 42nd birthday.

In true Singapore style, public servant D is caught up with nationalistic sentiment and takes part in the National Day Best-Dressed competition at his work. He is decked out by his team mates in the red-and-white colours of Singapore. He dons a cape, adorned with the logos and parephenalia of the pioneering companies of Singapore. He is... Sing-Biz Man! The number one Super Hero for Singapore in the 21st century!

Err, D works at the place that regulates businesses in Singapore incidentally.

Err, that brown oblong object is part of a Charles & Keith shoe box by the way.

So Sing-Biz Man wins best dressed! Congratulations to him, and to lovely ol' Singapore for evolving from a tiny speck of tropical swamp into the heady metropolis that it is today. Majulah Singapura!

PS: Singapore's 42nd birthday is significant, as we all know that 42 is the answer to the riddle of life, the universe and everything in between.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It all hinges on one kiss. Who cares?

Ok, this confirms that for me, Lionel Shriver is a one-book-wonder.

I was utterly blown away by We Need to Talk About Kevin. It made me question the notion of motherhood, of roles thrust upon individuals by society, and of an increasing apathy in youth. Read it if you can. It's harrowing but worthwhile.

I didn't approach The Post-Birthday World hoping for that same intense experience, but I was expecting something disarmingly original.

And instead of original, I felt slightly betrayed by Shriver's use of a gimmick. That old plot device of one decision resulting in two different consequences.

In a nutshell, the story is about one woman, Irina, and the decision she makes one night - whether to kiss a man (a volatile snooker player -of all things!- with an 'ideous Cockney accent) she feels strangely attracted to, or to forego the reckless kiss for a life of stability and happiness with her current partner (an intellectual, rational academic working in a UK think tank). That's about it. The 517-page trade paper back then goes on to delve in the minutiae of her parallel lives had she a) kissed snooker guy, b) not kissed snooker guy.

Erk. I return to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in grateful ecstasy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

King Lear in Epic Proportions

(source of picture:

19 July 2007 - Opening night of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear at Singapore's Esplanade Theatres on the Bay. Ian McKellen in title role.

In one word. Astounding.

Two thumbs up, 10-min standing ovation, utterly spent audience. Full-house. An almost four-hour epic journey to the kernel of humanity and madness. Catharsis in this island state.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bangkok Beautiful #1

Grand Palace, Bangkok

Just returned from an amazing four-day weekend in Bangkok chez J, who has the best taste in art by the way. Dean and I went up first on Thurs night, and D joined us on Friday night and it was all systems go! Dean's and my excitement (and hence, our holiday) started on Thursday afternoon. How else to express our delight but in rhyme?

Erawan Shrine, Bangkok

Oh me oh my

Tonight we shall fly
My luggage I bring
To meet the Thai king!

Oh dear me hearties
This will be a party
When we take flight
Our way to the King's palace
Oh what a sight!

Bonsai and the golden stupa, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Dean and I in our palace outfits. He had to don pants and I had to put on a borrowed shirt as my pashmina didn't cut it.

Thinking thoughts of red ruby
Buying bras to make me booby
Siam is my favourite place
When I want to leave the race!

Life here can be a bitch
It is quite a rut
But now I feel right
In my pockets full of bahts!

Flourescent sunbeams, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Light dinner I am having
As cake I shall eat
Once I'm safe in transit
At 8 we shall meet?

Oh As in unison with all my cells and the rest
The answer is a YES!

Dean took many photos. And I took many of him taking photos.

Chez J in the heart of Bangkok. We all liked his art. Like really liked his art...

In the train I ride
Trusty luggage at my side
Excitement laid bare
With nary a care!

Oh As the sun wanes
I am on the train
To the airport I go
As my face glows.

Drinks at restaurant-for-beautiful-people, Thang Long along Soi Lang Suan

I smell the whiff of lavender
Now into the open I emerge
Peering through my new glasses
Looking forward to greener grasses!

Where is this place asked my nose
very much I am in the heart of Eunos
As I leave this place a'bellicose
So there goes all my woes

Dean and I want humane jobs. We want to be humane to the world. We will start by looking humane then maybe people will give us jobs in the UN. Outside J's amazing office overlooking the Chao Praya.

D and J having an animated discussion/drinking game to solve the problems in the world. J's balcony right outside his office. Have we said it overlooks the Chao Praya yet?

Dean (haiku):
The train leaves Expo
I think of tomyum and such
The heart flutters now

Me (responding with a rhyming haiku):
Passed Paya Lebar
I think of Hari Raya
What meals tomorrow?

Ok you win liao.

We are NOT tourists though we be posing along Khao San road.