Sunday, 11 November 2007

Beethoven With Fried Onions

I no longer sing in the shower.

It's not that the vocal chords that once fronted a rock band have lost any of their timbre. Nor is it decreasing lung power. It is simply a case of living in a condo.

Rarely is one made aware that there are 700 other people living in our Queens Condominium. Once the front door is closed the proximity of others ceases to be relevant. I have come to really enjoy living in this manner.

The only place in our condo that remind one of other lives going on around us is the bathroom. Open the window in preparation for an evening shower and the beautiful notes of a concert pianist in full flight greet you. I am not sure who she or he is, but they are certainly gifted and have a wonderful touch. I now shower to the solemnity of Beethoven or the exuberance of Mozart.

But the sensations are not all auditory. The open window also reveals the smell of various ethnic cuisines in preparation around us. Thus I often have Beethoven with fried onions and garlic or Rachmaninoff with a pungent Indian curry.

On the rare occasion there is even a dash of Liszt with Chinese herbal soup.

There are many Japanese families who rent apartments in Queens. They tend not to mix with other occupants and form collective huddles as they await the arrival of their children on the returning school buses.

They do however have a passion for barbeques and from our other bathroom window, we will from time to time catch the odd whiff of over-done steak.

The Japanese restrict their shopping activities to two Japanese (and very pricey) supermarkets. The ingredients and basic food stuffs in places such as Isetan are very expensive, compared to the supermarkets that we and most Singaporeans frequent.

A trip today down to our supermarket of choice for western style foods (Carrefour), was memorable in one regard - the Xmas decorations are already up along Orchard Road! And this being early November. In addition, the faux Xmas cottage and plastic reindeer that embellish the frontage of Tanglin Mall have returned. This same cottage incorporates a small water feature and coloured lights - 'nuff said.

Even though I no longer celebrate the festival, I cannot help but think that the commercialisation of Xmas has become an absurdity. It might get merchants excited but my memories from distant childhood remind me that it should be bells and not tills that are jingling.

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