Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Singapore, Day 9

August 30, 2005
A most adventurous day. I discovered last night, while reading some of those tourism pamphlets, that a Chinese festival (forget which one) begins on Sept. 1, so the Chinatown walk was postponed once more. Instead, we went to Toah Payoh (I think that's how it is spelled) which has some fun shops. Didn't buy much though, given that money and luggage allowance are uppermost on my mind these days! Particularly the latter... I can always pay by card if something really appeals to me.

Afterwards Ma and I sneaked off to Changi airport, to change our return tickets. There is no other word for describing our journey, I'm afraid. We were scared of Bharathi-akka finding out beforehand and somehow stopping us from bringing our return forward. Anyway, so we took the MRT aaaalll the way to Changi, and that's a long way off into the suburbs. We had to change twice, too. We made it without any mishaps though. It was inside Changi that things got confusing. All I will admit to is that now I should be able to draw a pretty decent map of Changi, including the various offices hidden in its inner recesses! Actually, while thinking it over later I realised why it was that the JetStar Asia office is so difficult to find. They don't want to be found for the simple reason that anybody who needs them knows where to find them already while all others (like us) are handled downstairs, in the departure lounge... We were helped in our search by a funny-looking young man who, despite being undeniably Chinese, reminded me strongly of Vicky Sharma. Ma was as strongly reminded of Vicky Niyogy, and I don't appreciate the comparison because while this guy was quite helpful, if he had been Vicky he would have known where the office was and not had to go in search of it; he would also have known that we were searching for the wrong place altogether!

Oh well, now foreign travel doesn't hold many terrors for me, I find. If anything, I'm raring to go further. Actually, I would love to travel across Europe someday. Hint for anybody feeling generous enough...

The day finishes with the discovery of a nice bakery (scrumptious doughnuts) near where we live.

With a coffee-mouthed grin from Singapore,

Went to a shop on Arab Street that day which sells everything a belly-dancer can require, including recorded lessons. I was tempted by a really hot pair of harem pants but realised that I have no place to wear them to. Plus, I never did learn to belly-dance after all...

Saw the trailer of a Chinese movie in the Toah Payoh mall called "April Snow", whose lead actor looked startlingly like John Lennon. It was quite a shock. It wasn't even as if the guy was wearing granny glasses either, but he could have been a double. Almost. There was only ever one John.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Singapore, Day 8

August 29, 2005
Just noticed, I'd forgotten to change the subject for the last couple of bulletins. Sorry, I'm sure!

Stuff I forgot to add yesterday: those rows of houses joined together are called 'shophouses', I've found. And after we walked around Arab Street, we walked into the park of a hotel (called Parkview I think). The reason I mention that is, that is it a nice place with statues and fountains and generally looks posh enough, so it's a mystery to me how they allow the general public to walk in and picnic there like we did. There were other people too, and nobody asked us to leave. I thought it was very kind and public-spirited of the hotel-folk. Took lots of pictures of everybody with Baba's digicam, which he has lent me for the trip.

Today Ma and I went out with Bharathi-akka, but she went home after lunch because Siri (her daughter) was expected home from school. Ma and I carried on. We went to Northpoint, the second mall I went to in Singapore (day 2). It's teeny-bopper haven, more than most malls... School had just given out somewhere and the floors were crowded with schoolkids. We went to Daiso afterwards, that "Everything Priced at S$2" place, where I felt sorry for myself because I couldn't buy even more dolls' furniture. Bought Vicky purple socks to match mine and then felt a little bit better. It's always nice to buy things for other people because one can always justify such shopping completely.

While Ma and I were waiting for the free shuttle from the IMM mall (which houses Daiso) I realised that I had left my handbag behind. Luckily it was in the place where I had left it. Srinivas was most annoyed about it though, because he hadn't expected to have to wait for a full half hour before I'd realise that I had left him in the trial room! That teddy is getting grumpy with old age.

Was fun jauntering around with Ma. We didn't get lost and enjoyed ourselves. Didn't mean to reach home so late though -- it was past nine when we came in!

Th-th-that's all, folks, for tonight. Hope your day was as fun as mine! In fact, it'd be nice to hear about yours too, sometimes.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Singapore, Day 7

August 28, 2005
Sentosa yesterday was fun but exhausting. Went with Kishore (our host) and his seven year-old daughter. An excellent lesson in family planning, taking a kid that young to an amusement park. We went for the dolphin show, where three pink dolphins completely wowed the crowd. That was followed by the trip in the acrylic tunnel under the sea. Our timing was lucky, so we got to see the sea-cow (dugong) and several sharks being fed. The plastic makes things look smaller I found, because the frogmen feeding the fish certainly looked smaller than life.

Visited the Merlion and paddled in the long fountain behind it. Had a lovely double cheese lamb hamburger at Burger King. I don't understand why they keep giving me these huge servings of cola with everything. I've gulped more cola this last one week than I had in several months back home, I'm sure. The sonne et lumiere show in the evening at the Musical Fountain was everything I'd every been told it would be. Most impressive. It was preceded by a school orchestra which was also impressive. None of the kids could have been much above twelve but they played rather well.


Sunday comes to an end here, wrapping up our first week in Singapore. Spent another day shopping, but today's was at a really interesting area. I recommend the Bugis area to all visitors to Sinpore who are interested in weird shopping. There's everything, from the upmarket, swanky 'booteeks' where the service comes with a smirk, to the streetside trolley-shops where they serve you with a grin. Between them all, they manage to stock enough variety to satisfy just about anybody, I think! You name it, they got it, from socks which are actually slippers to little jade tea-sets.

We went further, to the Arab area, which was mostly closed for the Sunday but the houses were cute along Arab Street, so I took some pictures. They seemed to be a long line of joined buildings, something like the houses Polly and Diggory lived in, in The Magician's Nephew, but they are divided every so many yards, and each owner has painted his portion a pretty candy colour. Speaking of which, the Singporeans seem rather addicted to Candy colours. It's cute, but in small doses, I think.

Off for dinner now. Evenin', all.

Priyanka, I bought the Beatles' autobiography and their Illustrated Lyrics. Both I've wanted for years. I didn't exactly buy them cheap, just cheaper than normal.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Singapore, Day 5

August 26, 2005
Fifth day here at Singapore and I'm mailing earlier than expected... that's because I actually woke up early this morning. Unbelievable but entirely true.

So what have I been doing the last two days? Let me see now... I met Ravi on day 3 (Wednesday). Spent the morning at Suntec City/City Hall area, window-shopping, buying souvenirs, turning blue with the cold (Suntec special), looking sadly at impossibly priced painted denim wallets, that sort of thing. Oh and my mother and I fought all day. Nothing new in that. As I was explaining to Ravi, Singapore is marked (for me at least) by the places Ma and I have fought at. Somethings don't seem to change much!

Ravi took me to dinner at Marche, a delightful place for dinner. It's built to look like a French market -- that's what the name means btw -- and it has stalls all over the place serving different kinds of food. One goes around and picks up whatever one wishes to eat, in whichever combination, and pays when leaving. The food's pretty good too. We had pasta with ham, a crepe stuffed with chicken with black pepper and some grilled chicken. I also got to try out the Singapore Sling. Nothing sensational. Pleasant drink, that's all. Entirely safe for children, if you ask me :-)

Ravi hasn't changed much. Nor have I, says he. Which is funny, because I thought I had some, but evidently I haven't after all. Reassuring to know. He walked me around Clarke Quay area, and I had my photo taken in front of the Parliament building like any good little tourist. Afterwards he took me to a brilliant bookshop called Borders which was vast enough to make me feel rigth at home. Sorta Landmarks-like. Oh and I bought 2 long-coveted books on sale at HMV. I used my debit card for the first time! Maybe I should have mentioned that I only got it 2 days before I left India...

Yesterday Ma and I paid our respects to Muhammad Mustapha, like any self-respecting Indian. We spent the whole day in 2 of the 3 stores and spent over S$500, I believe. (I spent the evening in deep dejection wondering how to carry the extra baggage which overshoots our meagre airline allowance, but that's another story). There was so much to carry back home (and also because I was dog-tired) that I decided to return home with Ma and Kishore, instead of going for that Chinatown walk. Maybe I won't get to do ti after all... We returned to Yishun by taxi for a change (usually we travel by the MRT and shuttle buses) and got to see Singapore from the roads. Nice.

We're off to Sentosa in an hour or so now, so au revoir. More later. Oh and final answers before I end:
Beq, Vamsi's an old schoolmate of mine.
Guddi, Ma's enjoying her trip very much although she's tiring quickly. She's skipping the trip today because of that. And no, I am not planning my honeymoon here. As to the shopping, I've bought seven bags... my idea of heaven! Also bought some tops. Some footwear. Bought too much, I think :-( Won't be allowed to carry so much on the plane.
Priyanka, if the shop-talk (what a lovely pun) bothers you, skip those bits. Want me to focus on what I'm eating instead?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Singapore, Day 2

I'm surrounded by different Chineses, Malaysian, Telugu and French (met the cutest French kid at the mall today) and I'm loving it, as they say in MacDonald's! And living in a Telugu home after so long, I've started speaking that once more. Have been shopping like crazy, buying the most impractical things which seem to have no place in a self-respecting trousseau. I wanted to buy the loveliest purple canvas sneakers I saw today. They were too expensive though, I felt, so I compromised by buying shoelaces in that colour. I can always thread them through more boring shoes. Have bought the shortest skirt I have ever worn. Yummy black and guaranteed to upset the old biddies. Ma picked it out, and looked longingly at it till I bought it, and now she's asking me (in a quavering voice) not to wear it around any relatives. She's either a terrible hypocrite, or else the answer to a question I've been asking myself a long time, viz, Where did I get my affinity for acting!

She has also taken to asking me to move here for a couple of years. I have tried telling her that I don't want to live so far away from India, but it doesn't stop her. Talk about vicarious ambitions! I feel right at home around the MRT, I must say, because it reminds me of good ol' Cal, and I can relate to its workings very easily. It's all very clean here, of course, but it doesn't bother me like it did my father the first time he came here, nor do I feel it to be so very different from our own cities. What I like is the behaviour of the people. The salespeople are invariably so friendly, no matter what I'm buying or whether I'm buying at all; in the MRT there is neither a rush for the seats nor a palpable waiting for one to vacate one's seat; nobody seems to stare at the clothes one is wearing, for any reason at all. Of course, that involvement in the lives of our neighbours that we Indians seem to be known for does have some advantages. Bharathiakka, who we're staying with, says you don't get spontaneous help on the streets like one takes for granted in, say, Calcutta. The only thing I'd wish to learn from here would be to sell things... they do it impressively well. The other thing they do well, dressing stylishly, I already know :-) (Ok, maybe I don't always follow it, but I do know more about dressing than most people!)

The mall Daiso has toy furniture! Barbie-size wooden stuff as well as dolls' house -size 'antiques' and everything at 2 S$. It's a great place, all right. We went all over that mall, and I bought myself purple shoelaces and also a pair in camouflage colours. Spice up a trousseau, don't you think?

Everybody has recommended tourist attractions I must not miss out on. I don't think I'll get to see them, though. There's a walking tour I would like to take, and perhaps I can go somewhere with Ravi one day (not a mall) but our time is taken up by the shopping. In fact, shopping has dominated my life for the last few months and I fear I'm becoming thoroughly spoiled. Not that it stops me from going into the stores!

One more exhausting day is drawing to an end. But I do like it here and I couldn't have nicer hosts. Hope I get the chance to return their hospitality someday.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Travellin' Light, Singapore Day 1

Am in Singapore now. Alles ok, sauf the keyboard is messy and there's a virus at large on the PC.

Apres ma sortie dramatique, I'm back to my blog. More later, peut-etre.

From the emails:

Am safe and sound in Singapore, albeit a little sleepy. i'm inclined to ascribe it to the crazy week that I just finished in Calcutta. Wedding shopping is hectic, and I'm not sure I enjoy it all so much. Sometimes, I almost wish it was all happening to someone else. Don't feel old enough to get married!

We're staying in the Yishun Ring Road, I understand. Flat's nice. Only wish they had ceiling fans, but i'm comforttable oherwise. This keboard's crazy, so please gloss over all typos, especially the absence of Ts and Ys. Funny to hear ppl speaking Chinese all around me. The other funny thing is having so many things attached/stamped all over my passport. First trip abroad (Nepal does NOT count) so I suppose I'm being pretty naive. Bu it's cool how you fly for a few hours and land up in a different country altogether.

Srinivas likes it so far, although I'm not sure how to take him around with us, since I didn't think to get a backpack his size. (For the uninitiated, I'm talking about my teddy.)