Sunday, 1 July 2007

Like A Goth To A Flame

Today I met Singapore's only Goth.

At least I believe this species to be in the singular but I may be mistaken. His callow expression as he descended the concrete steps into Centrepoint's basement level was offset by a delicate touch of mascara smudged around each eye. He displayed enough steel body piercings to make him a danger in the proximity of any sizeable magnetic field.

Slouching past me, he was quite oblivious to the contralto pleading of the young lady opposite as she attempted to sell Bread Talk's latest yeast creation.

Bread Talk is an interesting phenomenon that has spawned many copycat franchises. Each tries to outdo the other with an increasingly bizarre concoctions for fillings. Not content with a mere sausage in a roll, the bakeries now produce buns with encapsulated local delicacies. Most famous are the chicken or pork floss varieties. The same company has also successfully franchised kaya toast.

Kaya is a very rich spread which contains (amongst other ingredients) duck egg, coconut milk and pandan leaf flavouring. Its green colour should not signal 'Go' but rather 'Stop' and think of the calories.

Today Orchard Road was very crowded as it was the last day to buy big ticket items before the additional 2% rise in GST, which comes into force tomorrow.

No doubt my friendly neighbourhood Goth was stocking up on his stainless steel finery before the price rise.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Einstein's Folly

I was never 'Good at Physics' in fact I would go so far as to say that my results in this subject were less than marginal.

However, I have a great admiration for scientific genius an in particular Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist. His theory of relativity is well known but I cannot help but wonder what his output might have been had he lived in modern Singapore.

I suspect that he too would have observed the social mores of Singaporeans, such as their propensity to hog the footpath and not budge an inch, even when faced with oncoming pedestrian traffic.

Indeed, a whole new branch of physics might have eventuated - Social Physics - and I am not referring to a modern definition of this terminology which deals with an individual's digital identity.

The 'Great Thinker's' new branch of Social Physics who have spawned many new equations. For example:

1S=TF (One Singaporean equals the total footpath)

This core equation could then be further expanded upon:

1SA+S=TF X2 (One Singaporean 'Aunty' plus her shopping takes up double the total footpath space)

and

1SA+S+M=D (One Singaporean 'Aunty' plus shopping plus her maid equals disaster - for opposing traffic)

You may well ask on what are these observations based. To which I would answer, on personal experience.

There is clearly not the same sense of personal space in public places as there is in the West. Europeans tend to fall in behind one another in the face of oncoming pavement traffic. Not so Singaporeans, although they are profusely apologetic if ever shoulder contact is inadvertently made.

There is possibly another good reason for this behaviour as we Ang Mo tend to occupy more space than our Asian counterparts in the first place, especially if one has lived here a few months and put on extra girth thanks to all of the great cuisine!

This leads me to summise on final equation of which the "Great Thinker" would have been proud:

1AM X 2G=3S+TP
(one Ang Mo with twice the girth equals three Singaporeans occupying an entire footpath)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Moth Mortis

The moth that died in the library
withered and frail
from a life full of freedom and flight
beyond the pale
moon in the tropical night

Spread thin
on the carpet of hope
rough textured dreams towards the light

Sunday, 17 June 2007

The Great Tiong Bahru Family Cook-Off



It was all about family at Tiong Bahru Plaza this afternoon. We stumbled across a family 'cook-off' where three generations took turns in the preparation - and some had a 'watching brief' !

Monday, 11 June 2007

Coming Up Roses?

Readers of this blog will have noticed that it has been a while since I last made an entry. There is no element of sloth on my part, it is simply that life has been topsy turvy this past three weeks.

I have been caught up in the debacle that is UNSW Asia. That is to say, my wife and I relocated to Singapore in September last year so that I could join the new university that UNSW Asia promised to be.

I say 'promised' because this was exactly as it transpired and we were not alone in our decision. Close on 100 academic and professional staff and 150 students were similarly beguiled by the vision of being part of something new in Singapore, supported by the credibility of a leading Australian university, UNSW.

It is now clear that the incoming Vice Chancellor of UNSW did not share this vision. Just three months into our first semester he arrived from Sydney with the news that he was closing the place down - so much for the credibility of UNSW, especially in Asia and for many decades to come.

My last day in the office is in late July but already there are other staff who have received their notice and left.

Having bought a condominium here and obtained Singaporean PR status we have a few months breathing space, unlike others who are left paying large rents, supporting families and facing the prospect of no employment in the forseeable future.

Our first choice is to remain here and for me to secure alternative employment. My life is very focussed on this at the moment. Second choice would be a location elsewhere else overseas (Middle East perhaps?). Failing all else we will aim for Australia.

The UNSW Asia fiasco is big news both here and in Australia. The pull-out was undertaken with indecent haste. Yes, UNSW was losing money in the venture but this is often the case in the first couple of years when one establishes a new business. What they clearly did not factor in nor understand, was the financial impact of the loss of international students from Asia for the years to come. This is already happening with China warning students about studying overseas.

The big question remains. Why, when they clearly had reservations about the Singapore venture mid 2006, did they still recruit staff and make promises to students? At best it is a "head in the sand" attitude. At worst it is living a lie and as usual it is the innocent who suffer.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Today's Print

Fungi - Roger Smith