Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Fear Of Fong - A Passing Wind

It is noticeable that many Singaporeans shun their vegetables.

Apart from the vegetarians you will often see people in the Heartland food centres (and especially the young) just eat their meat and fish, nibbling on their greens and leaving them on the plate.

Even when they buy a meat and vegetable dish from the Rice table stall it is often the vegetables that remain forlornly on the plate once they have departed.

Coming from a western culture, this is a somewhat surprising revelation. To paraphrase religious texts "Man cannot live on curry puffs alone"

I suspect it is also due to the old Chinese (mainly Cantonese) belief that certain foods including raw vegetables give you "Fong". The nearest western equivalent term is "wind".

This is not an uncommon phenomenon in the human body and Mel Brooks even made a movie, "Blazing Saddles" which incorporated a running gag about the effect of beans.

The Fear of Fong however has more direct consequence amongst the local populace. It also applies to much raw fruit so I can imagine that there are a significant number of people who are not getting the nutrients they need.

Our fellow diners look askance as we order and tuck into a large vegetable salad. Fresh vegetable are certainly not cheap in Singapore as, almost without exception, they are imported.

Actually all this talk of Hawker Centres raises another and more pressing matter. The second generation of hawker families are due for retirement and the third generation in many cases have no plans to succeed them.. This means that much of the traditional hawker fare will be lost forever as the recipes are jealously guarded and handed down through the families.

Today being Sunday I have enjoyed my weekly swim in the condo pool - breaststroking my way through various assorted inflatable animals and water craft that are loaded to the gunwales with excited Asian children of various nationalities.

We have more Expats in our condo now as the high rents in right in the centre of Singapore are driving them to accommodation such as ours - a short bus trip away from Orchard Road.

Ang Mo tend to sunbathe like beached white whales around the pool, especially those from Europe who remain oblivious to the threat of skin cancer. The Chinese prefer to watch the goings on from the shade and the Japanese women all sport wide-brimmed sun hats.

It's time to stop writing and go to our favourite family restaurant "Jacks Place" for Sunday lunch - I have date with a green salad.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

This from New Zealand

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Hard Luck George

Things are looking up this morning. There was actually a cool breeze at the bus stop. That is 'Cool' with a capital 'C'. Normally the air is fetid and there is crush of bodies waiting to board. This was followed by a deluge which caught most commuters out, as they were not carrying their umbrellas.

It has not been easy finding the time to write this past fortnight as two of our staff left for greener pastures reducing our small team by 50%. This means that yours truly is doing the work of three people and also trying to pack up an office in preparation for the shift into our new building.

The other piece of good news is that the share market is staging a small rally this morning. Not that I 'play shares', but the fluctuations of the market do affect my New Zealand superannuation fund.

The local media is plumbing the depths for items to print. This morning's edition of of My Paper shows a copulating tortoise under the heading "Lonesome George finally has sex after 36 years".

He is apparently the last of his sub species according to the text which makes one wonder what he actually mated with? No doubt we we see a camel with a hard shell on the streets we will know why.

Organ trading is also a hot news item with the recent indictment of one of Singapore's wealthiest businessmen, who apparently attempted to procure a replacement kidney for himself. It would appear that the government are now quite serious in reaching a legal conclusion on organ donations beyond the regulations that already exist.

Well it's back to the packing!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

If you have never heard pure 'Singlish' as it is spoken

Sunday In The Pool

two falcons circling
on thermals high
high still higher
above the thirty eighth floor

lying on my back
in a languid blue pool
ripple light bursts tiled and fountains spouting
watching the opening in the heavens

a gentle wind rustles
in the bougainvillea
its spindly vines with colour splashes
climbing towards the sun

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Feeling Drained

I have a predilection for using blade razors. Not that I aware of any 'Sweeney Todd' genes in the family pool, it is a case of a smooth chin as opposed to a machined stubble.

This preference has given rise to rather an interesting scientific phenomenon; a sludge problem in basin pipes. Caused in the main I suspect, by the copious quantities of shaving gel I use in any given month.

So it has been quite noticeable in recent weeks that water in the aforementioned basin was taking ever increasing lengths of time to drain away.

In our condo drainage pipes are not of a large diameter and clearly some remedial action was needed.

There were two choices. The first would have involved an arduous deliberations with a Singaporean plumber. It is noticeable that these tradesmen can never give an accurate time of arrival - usually the indicate somewhere "between 9 am and 6pm". This means that one is held captive in the home waiting at their pleasure.

The second choice and the one we adopted was to use a 'liquid plumber'. A bottle of this mix was purchased on special from the latest supermarket.

Fortuitously I was at work when my wife chose to experiment with the concoction. Having emptied half the contents down the sink hole she stood back and watched it bubble and foam as it went to work. Far more entertaining than the local fare on Singapore television.

The instruction said leave this brew to bubble away for an hour and flush away with warm water. I confess I half expected to get a call to say that the plastic waste pipe had dissolved due to a chemical reaction but fortunately no such calamity transpired.

The stuff actually works!

Buoyed by this success "she that must be obeyed" has returned to the supermarket and bought several more bottles. We will have the cleanest drains in all of Queenstown of that I am sure.

The product below was not the one we used but the same principle applies.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Plans For National Day

The weekend of August 9th provides a rare holiday opportunity given that it in encompasses Singapore's National Day.

As we are planning a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia later in the year we thought a couple of days away might be all wished to do in August.

Given the spiralling costs of travel with everyone except Singapore's few remaining trishaws adding a fuel surcharge, the options are not that great.

Younger Singaporean colleagues love to travel to Bangkok but having been there before, it doesn't appeal all that much and my wife had a very unpleasant experience with food poisoning on her one and only trip into Thailand many years ago.

I recall also being laid low with the Thai equivalent of "Delhi Belly" as I was half way up the steps of one of the many Wats in the Thai capital - not an experience either of us are keen to repeat and the traffic congestion in Bangkok, once experienced is never forgotten.

With all of the above in mind we opted for a two day cruise aboard the Star Cruises Superstar Aquarius. Some great deals are currently advertised in the papers so yesterday we went down to Star HQ in Singapore, Park Mall.

Alas, the dawning of the age of "Aquarius" is not to be. The two day cruise on the Friday and Saturday night was booked out. Why we asked do they not indicate this fact in their advertising? This would save a lot of time and bother for nothing. Naturally we got no straight answer.

So it was that we got back on a bus and headed to a travel agent in Chinatown that we had used before when we booked a previous journey to the Malaysian Highlands.

We have decided this time to travel on the overnight bus to the Genting Holidays and then stay another two days in the First World Hotel. The bracing zephyrs of highland air will be a welcome respite from the June/July hot season of Singapore.

One just has to hope that the deteriorating political situation in Malaysia doesn't put a dampener on proceedings or for that matter that the bus does not catch fire or run off the road as it descends from the resort - which seems to happen with increasing frequency if one believes the local press reports.

Meanwhile the National Day bunting has gone up at the front and back gates of our condo and Singaporean flags are reappearing on the HDB balconies.