Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Time has been the order of the day this last week or two – I seem to lose it, never have enough of it, or shamefully, waste it. It left me pondering the following…

On Tuesday I had a lovely lazy morning with my friend from Kent, Liz, in Plaza Singapura. This mall contains a Japanese Yen shop, at home it’s a pound shop, so can only imagine it’s called a dollar shop in the States! Now I am not a shopper at all but even I couldn’t leave the pink mango slicer behind. Liz went off and as I had some time to kill before picking the kids up I bought some lunch and headed outside. So, I’m sitting reading and minding my own business when a young lady comes over and says ‘Do you have the time?’ ‘Yes’, I reply, ‘it’s half past one’. She then sits down next to me and I carry on reading. About 5 minutes later she gets up VERY dramatically and clearly quite cross and says ‘I have to go now!’ ‘Ummmm’. Clearly she wanted to know if I had ‘time’, not ‘the time’! Sigh.

As I told Dom later that evening he reminded me of my best incident of confused English ever. Many moons ago, when Dom and I first met, I shared a flat in South London with my marvellous friend Jill. We lived in Tooting; it was a complete cultural carnival which made it very vibrant and a great place to live. The local shop was a ‘Costcutter’ where you could honestly find anything from plantains through to chickpea flour. I was in there buying something very ordinary when an old Indian gent walks in and says to the young shelfstacker ‘you got time?’. The young shelfstacker says ‘yes, quarter to two’. ‘No’ said the old gent in complete exasperation ‘thyme, to put in food’.

Anyway, to get over my lunch incident I went for a stroll and am always cheered up by the legions of tourists photographing the Peranakan shop houses on the road behind us. They are beautiful and the kids call it Rainbow Road. (Aren’t the bins a total shame?)

shophouse3

It reminded me of one of my first taxi trips in Singapore with a lovely old Malay cabbie. I was in no hurry and he was in the mood for a chat. He told me that this is a conservation area now but that the whole of Katong (the area we live) has changed beyond recognition. Shophouses were seen as houses for the poorer classes – now they are home to wealthy expats and posh Singaporeans from what I can see. My cabbie grew up in a shophouse in a lane near where we live and started to tell me about life in Joo Chiat and Marine Parade when he was a boy. It was essentially a fishing village – Katong means Turtle – and he made pocket money as a kid helping at the fish stalls. What is now a huge, soulless shopping mall was once the jetty and there were row upon row of fish hawker stalls selling food and people would come from all over the island to eat here. Only one building remains untouched – it was the old police station and then a tea house – and that too is due for demolition to make way for yet another hotel/ mall.

police station katong

Singapore is changing so fast, building after bland building is being thrown up, and I wish, more than anything, that the urban planners would find more time to think.

lanterns

Apologies, apologies, I’ve been tied up. Actually I’m struggling to remember what I’ve been doing that has kept me so busy but there you go. Life as an expat wife summed up in a sentence for you.

We’re still ploughing through the Halloween haul of sugar and e-numbers. It is very different doing it on a condo. We are one of a handful of expat families here, unlike the condos in the posh areas that are full to the brim of UK, US and Aus families. It made for an interesting halloween. It would seem that parents are happy for their kids to dress up (kind of) and come out to knock on a few doors, as long as it isn’t their own. Weird isn’t it? Luckily, the families out and about on the condo had enough sweets to keep Willie Wonka happy and the kids were young enough to fill their bags and then run around manically for no apparent reason and were quite happy with their lot. I drank Prosecco.

Here is a photo…. Oops no, I can’t seem to upload it, shame. Will do when I’ve worked out what WordPress is doing. It’s a good one – it’s a taxi queue with everyone holding and plugged into a smartphone. So it should be a Halloween photo don’t you think? Everyone plugged in to their phones like zombies.

drones

Spending as much time as I do on the bus here I’ve been AMAZED at how addicted everyone is to their phones. All – the – time. One thing though that does make me laugh out loud (or drive me crackers), is noise pollution. If you like the weird man’s voice saying ‘divine’ on Candy Crush, well just turn up the volume – you don’t need headphones… . Fancy watching that clip on YouTube? No headphones, hell watch it anyway! But my absolute favourite, was when an old man sat next to me with a very large bag. Out of it he pulled, like a magician and a white rabbit, an old fashioned transistor radio. He then turned it on (at full volume), tuned it in and sat with it on his lap. He was tapping his feet and humming along and I’m thrilled he was enjoying it. Alas I most definitely didn’t feel the same way.

In the UK, there was a sudden spike in the number of kids getting knocked over by cars and the blame was put squarely on using their phones on the street and ignoring the world around them. I wonder what that statistic is in Singapore? I hate to think.

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