Saturday, 5 April 2008

Of Atuomania and Arabs

Stay long enough in Singapore and one succumbs to atuomania.

The 'atuo' stands for 'another totally useless object' and the manic variation manifests itself as an irrational desire to purchase objects, solely on the basis of a 50 to 70% sale price and irrespective of whether one actually needs the object or not.

Today's 'atuo' purchase was an OSIM eye massager for the princely sum of $S148 (we passed on the $4,500 massage leather chair after one pummelled us into submission in Plaza Singapura).

Once I got the massager home and discovered how to switch the heat function off, the sensation was quite pleasant. The device is designed to relieve eye strain and stress and as I spend a lot of time in front of a PC screen, it seemed like a good idea to get one. At least that's what the salesman intimated.

After tightly adjusting the velcro strap around one's head, it is simply a matter of selecting the programme variations of choice - heat or no heat, gentle tapping or Thor style hammering and finally, the amount of air pressure. The last setting is somewhat critical and the first time I tried the unit out on too high a level, the sensation was akin to having one's eyes gouged out by a drunken masseuse.

There is one inherent design problem with this gadget and no doubt you have spotted it?

If one has followed the printed instructions and tightly bound the eye pad to one's head, it is impossible to read the instructions further.

This results in a feverish fumbling as you struggle with the keypad and its very slightly raised control buttons.

Now which was heat? No not that one - that's tapping. No, not that one either ..... as the pad rather painfully vibrates on the bridge of the Caucasian nose.

So what will this item be good for after the novelty has worn off? No doubt after staring at the credit card statements that record such follies I will be in need of its use.

News yesterday of the fall of another colonial icon to Arab merchants. This time it is Robinson's department store in Orchard Road and the new owners are from Dubai. Having recently signed up for the OCBC Bank's Robinsons Card which entitles us to lots of discounts on 'atuo' items such as the one above, we read in this morning's paper that the bank has sold its shares in the store. No doubt this will eventually mean that our card will become redundant in the scheme of things?

This however might be a blessing in disguise.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Flyers & Fish Nibbles

Flyer & Rain

This afternoon saw our staff visit to a new Singapore attraction - the Singapore Flyer. 'Frequent fliers' on such attractions tell me that it compares very favourably with the London Eye.

Not that I will be in a position to judge, as my taste for heights is not what it once was. I now work on the principle of terra firma - the more firma the less terra.

While the others took their thirty minute spin I had a look around the recently opened complex. It's been a huge investment and the engineering is very impressive.

Once my colleagues were safely grounded we spent a pleasant half an hour having our feet nibbled in a rather fishy pedicure. The fish in question being Doctor Fish , or Garra rufa to its friends.

This is one of the latest spa crazes to hit Singapore. At least when someone asks me "What did you do last Monday?" I will be able to reply "I had my feet in a bucket of flesh-eating minnows".

What does it feel like?

Well the sensation is not unpleasant, much like small electrical discharges on the soles of the feet.

Thank goodness they are not attempting this treatment with Piranha.

Postscript: And if you should wonder why I did not go on the Singapore Flyer then please note that within the week of writing the above came the news of hundreds of visitors being stranded in the air on the London Eye!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Taking the Pisang

Hot on the heels of reported cardboard in Chinese steam buns comes the news of hawkers in the neighouring state of Johor Bahru, Malaysia adding plastic straws and bottles into their cooking oil. Supposedly this enhances the crispiness and longevity of their fried bananas - goreng pisang.

"Would madam like some PVC with her order?"

This potentially carcinogenic concoction and others like it are being noted in Malaysian blogs and have been reported in Singapore's New Paper this morning.

It would be wrong to blame the Japanese for starting this trend. Their plastic food presentations are designed solely for presentation purposes with the aim of to luring customers. The practice of plastic food in the restaurant window has since been widely adopted throughout Asia.

Perhaps the Malaysian hawkers in question took the trend of plastic food a little too literally? I think not.

But it does explain, why on a 2007 journey to Genting, we tasted some of the worst ‘chinese food’ I have ever experienced. I think in future I will be doing what other Singaporeans do - stock up on food rations for the journey in Singapore.

So much for the 'plastic fantastic'.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Red Scarves & Neighbourly Developments

Red Scarf - San Francisco Roger Smith

A download of this print is available for private use only. Click Here and follow the instructions. The image is a composite of winter activity in San Francisco.

Matters closer to home

Last evening we watched the outcome of the elections in neighbouring Malaysia and this morning's radio news confirmed a major upset for the ruling party. For the first time in more than 50 years the ruling coalition have lost their absolute, two-thirds majority.

The reason there is such extensive coverage and analysis in Singaporean media is the impact this dominant player has upon the day-to-day lives of Singaporeans. From labour to basic commodities like food and water, much is transhipped from Malaysia.

A stable Malaysia makes Singaporeans sleep a little easier at night and of course the economic inter reliance has a major impact upon both countries. The economic development zones of the former Malaysion government may now not happen, as the government's smaller majority will not allow them to push through their legislation unimpeded.

With the loss of the outright majority of the Barisan Nasional party it will be interesting to observe what this does for foreign investment in Malaysia and for social order. In 1969 following the polls there were riots and a state of emergency declared. One hopes this will not happen this time around.