Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

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My life in Singapore 2…

July 12, 2008

Continuing with the quirks of life in Singapore, you witness a strange phenomenon when you go to any foodcourt. Firstly, paper napkins are not offered at every outlet–so those who forget to carry their own will probably have to make sure they don’t need to use one. On empty table tops, you will see small packs of paper napkins placed as if to reserve the spot… and that’s exactly what they’re meant to do. Even now, I find this fascinating… that no one ever just moves those paper napkins and occupies a table, no matter how crowded the place. That line of decency is never crossed. It is the same when you stand in ATM queues… there’s no need to hunch over and cover your PIN coz the next person is standing atleast 3 feet behind you. By choice. As a courtesy.

I find myself bubbling with silent mirth when a taxi driver tells me the traffic situation in Singapore is pathetic and that the jams are horrible… coming from Gurgaon, where getting to office everyday was in itself an exercise in chance, I find it hilarious. How can anyone complain about a place where digital boards overhead show you exactly how many minutes it’s going to take you to go from where you are to your destination? And I mean EXACTLY.

Another very interesting sight, especially for any men reading this blog, is the sheer number of women of every age wearing shorts/ hotpants. It is probably just a step away from being declared the national dress. And the complete lack of neanderthals lusting after with lewd comments and catcalls. If eve-teasing exists, then it is hidden away in some corner. Again, coming from Gurgaon, this is a liberating change for me… to be able to walk around feeling comfortable and secure.

You must be wondering how is it that I have yet to find something I don’t like. Truth is, I don’t see it as a question of like or dislike. It is different… and right now, I’m in a phase where I’m loving the difference. The one thing I really, truly miss about India (apart from family and friends) is dhinchak bollywood… I never thought I’d be saying this, but I do. Now I see why there’s such a market overseas for Karan Johar movies.

Got some great news… I finally managed to convince my mom to spend longer than a couple of weeks with me. She’ll be coming over in August and staying till Diwali. Yay !

On that note, will close the entry for this week… more when it happens.

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My life in Singapore…

June 22, 2008

Speaking of Singapore, I was reminded that I have spent nearly 5 months in this city now. Most people think of Singapore only as a polished, artificial visitor’s paradise. There is no denying that a lot in Singapore is geared for tourism–and the number of annual tourists justifies this investment & effort.  But there is another fascinating side to Singapore that you get to see only if you live here.

The first thing I registered about Singapore, after I left the airport, is the bougainvilleas. There is a profusion of these light pink and magenta flowers everywhere along the roadside. Against the backdrop of the lush emerald green foliage, they stand out in tropical gaiety. The next thing that stayed was the contrast between the inside and the outside–the cloying afternoon heat of an island state close to the equator against the cool, sometimes freezing interiors of every enclosed space in Singapore. One can’t help but think that if it weren’t for air-conditioning, Singapore economy would never have flourished.

I live in a two-bedroom apartment on the west side of the island. The west is, apparently, the wetter side of Singapore. It rains on average a day a week, usually in the early mornings or early evenings. And sometimes, like today, these rains can be noisy and violent.

My condo has a swimming pool, tennis court, squash, billiards, gym… and this is standard for most condos here. Right across from the condo is the biggest reason I chose this apartment. A stone quarry that was blasted for stone filled up over the years, into a picture-perfect little lake. The rock face climbs into the sky, across the lake, and the sun rises over the rock face. Some mornings, I walk across and sit down on the rocky shore of the lake, watching the dappled sunlight light up the rippling surface of the lake. A few people are around, some walking by, some exercising in the open and some like me, just breathing in the moment…

And if it’s a saturday or sunday, I walk down to the wet market nearby to grab a cup of thick, sweet typically Singaporean coffee… now this food-court coffee is amazing stuff, really strong and thick, and instead of milk or sugar they usually mix condensed milk so it stays thick and is very sweet too.

See, here’s another interesting thing about Singapore–there are thousands of food courts everywhere in Singapore, and they have Chinese & Malay food, and sometimes Indonesian, Indian and Thai. And when you walk into any of the Singaporean homes, you’ll face a classic chicken-and-egg question… did the food courts come up first so people stopped cooking & kitchens became small, or did they make small kitchens becaue there wasn’t enough space & food courts sprang up to cater to the need for a more efficient solution? Or maybe the fact that domestic help is so expensive has something to do with it. In any case, people in Singapore do not cook at home (the one cloud in my otherwise blue sky–there is no chimney/ exhaust in my kitchen, nor counter space for anything). Families walk down every single day to the nearest food-court and have dinner, as if they’re walking into their own dining room.

And the one thing you’ll always find at any food-court is one stall that serves whole fruits, cut portions and fruit juices. Every single food-court. Fruits are cheap and consumed generously, probably one of the main reasons why Singaporeans have such beautiful skin.

It’s 7.45 on a saturday morning, the rain has just let up and the skies are still grey & overcast… there’s a lot more about Singapore that I find intriguing and unique, but more about that in other blog posts. For now, I’m going to end this post here and go downstairs to grab my fix of sweetened caffeine…

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Knitting away…

June 22, 2008

So, apparently knitting is my code word for something else… somehow, people find it hard to believe that I knit as a hobby. The truth is, it’s more than a hobby–it’s an addiction. It started out simply enough many, many years ago, an hour a week during craft class in school. Then, about a year back, I picked it up again. And just like swimming, it all came back. So I tried a few simple things, plain caps and mufflers. Then one day I looked up a pattern online  and tried it out–all of a sudden, I was knitting cables. That’s when I realized something… it wasn’t half as difficult as it looked, though it took thrice as long to make as I estimated. And then it all just exploded.

First, I bought a stash–yarn in various shapes, colours and textures. The sheer visual and tactile pleasure of handling the yarn was overwhelming. Next, I scoured the internet for patterns–and I found a treasure trove of designs. A few months more of knitting, and I had another realization that changed everything… I had picked up enough basic skills, and more importantly had developed enough confidence in myself, to go beyond the constraints of a pattern and innovate. I couldn’t find a free pattern for an argyle sweater, so I designed one–I had never tried the intarsia technique, so I found the instructions and learnt as I went along.

Knitting is both technical and creative. When constructing a sweater of the correct dimensions, using a modified pattern, I have to ensure I work out the required stitches and rows and then count them at every stage–that I check the guage and visualize to make sure everything fits, then keep doing quick checks as I progress. At the same time, I love the first phase of choosing yarn type, matching colours, comparing different designs and knowing the aesthetic appeal of the finished piece depends on my creativity and eye for colour.

Till this point, it was a hobby. Now, alone in Singapore with some evenings and most weekends free to do with as I choose, it has become an obsession. Any free time I have is spent knitting. I can knit simple designs without looking, so I do it while watching TV, surfing the net, even while reading a book. As with everything else, I have to multitask. The same way I usually read 3 or more books of different genres simultaneously, I work on 3-4 varied projects using different yarns/ colors/ needle sizes at the same time.

This blog entry is very unlike the overall tone of my blog, but I was chatting with a friend and it sparked off this train of thought. And, 6.45 am in Singapore (lightning, thunder, rains and still as dark as night outside), I felt the urge to blog. I’ve been meaning to start a knitting photoblog, and I probably will when I have finished a few more pieces to display. For now, I’ll content myself with this ramble and (shortly) some photos of finished pieces.

Right, back to my knitting for now…