Archive for August, 2006

On completing a government survey

We got a letter from the Ministry of Manpower last week, informing us that our household had been shortlisted to participate in their annual labour force survey. I actually have a penchant for doing surveys (filling out forms is fun!) and government surveys get my full attention because I don’t think I’m a very “typical” Singaporean, so I like to think that my survey tells the government a little something they didn’t expect.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that my survey results merely generate such pronounced statistical outliers than my perspective is effectively rendered moot. But anyways.
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Clear blue skies

The weather was brilliantly clear and cool this morning when I threw open the door to my flat, which was a welcome breath of fresh air (literally). You see, late August in Singapore typically means we’re living amidst a dull miasma of excessive carbon particles.

First, there’s the Chinese Seventh Moon/Hungry Ghost rituals, which require responsible Chinese families to prepare various offerings to their deceased ancestors. My family doesn’t observe this so I don’t know exactly all the inner workings of the rituals, but they do seem to involve a lot of burning of joss paper and joss sticks.
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The order among chaos

With the pace of life going so fast like a machinery going at full speed that never seems to stop grinding, it is inevitiable that we give up everything that we own and love just to fuel that drive to keep surviving in that system. However, sometimes it’s good to sit back for an hour a week just to pursue something that you love, have passion for, and something outside of that system that you have to face everyday. A hobby is important not only as relaxation, but also as a means of keeping your life well balanced.

So ask yourselves, what hobbies do you have?

A 20 year appointment

Class Reunion 24 Aug

20 years ago, 3 of my classmates and I made a deal: to meet 20 years later, 12 noon on the same day, at the statue of Raffles by the Singapore River (yes, you’ve probably guessed which school we were from).

Well, today’s the day, and though only two of us turned up, it’s still a class reunion. We waited for a while, speculated about where the other 2 were, then adjourned for lunch at Indochine nearby.

A few things about this reunion that I never would’ve guessed when I was 13 and made the appointment:
– that only 2 of us would make it: I honestly thought all 4 of us would be there
– that, besides the 2 of us and the usual tourists, the only other people there would be a snake charmer and 2 albino pythons. I’m not joking about the pythons.
– that 20 years later I would still be in school … teaching rather than studying – but I still had to ask permission to leave school early for this = )

We’ve made a follow-up appointment to meet in another 20 years – so I’m putting August 24th, 2026, right into iCal now.

(cross posted to my own blog here)

Food, glorious food

If there’s one thing Singaporeans are really good at, it has to be eating.

I don’t know if this is common amongst people from other countries (or perhaps it’s an Asian thing), but my friends and I tend to plan our vacations around food. We go to a new place, and the first thing we have to check out is all the host of wonderful food that’s available. I guess living in the gastronomical hodge-podge that is Singapore gives us the opportunity to sample a huge range of food from different cultures, which possibly makes us a lot more adventurous than some of our counterparts.

Whatever the reason, I find myself hunting down the good eating places in whichever part of the world I happen to be in, and I attribute it to the foodie in me that was nurtured from growing up in Singapore!

Mee siam, mai hum

If you live in Singapore and haven’t heard the mrbrown show’s take on the National Day Rally, you’re missing out on the creative zeitgeist — that same zeitgeist, one might argue, that has the Establishment so worried.

Have a listen, have a laugh. God knows we need it.

A little touch of Nippon


sashimi platter

Originally uploaded by Liangcai.

Was at the Izakaya Nijumaru Restaurant for dinner last week, and I must say that this is by far the most authentic and affordable Japanese cuisine that I’ve eaten so far. As a student I cannot afford the prices of high end hotel restaurants, so this venue suited the bill perfectly. Located in a quiet corner of town, it is almost too easy to miss.

Of special mention is the sashimi moriwase, or the assorted sashimi platter. The squid almost melts in your mouth. Upon asking one of the waitresses who worked there, the owner of this establishment imports the fresh seafood all the way from Japan, which probably explains its freshness.

For those of you who are interested in a little Japanese fare, head down to Cuppage Plaza level 2, and you’ll find it there, complete with its wooden sliding doors. Can’t miss it.

Lost in translation

Was helping a friend translate one of his videos from Mandarin into English. This tape was raw footage taken for a documentary about cheongsam tailors and it was filmed in Shanghai. Needless to say, we ran into a lot of problems with the mandarin terms used by the interviewee. In the end, we made it through with a couple of broad generalizations and guesswork from the lexical bank of Mandarin words that we had. Obviously this is only a rough transcript. The complete one will have to take a couple of rounds of checking before being submitted.

This event happens just in time where I’ve just met an exchange student from Sweden. And what’s interesting is that he speaks some Mandarin. Over here we see a growing dislike for the language among portions of the younger generation (while the government tries to stem the problem with the Speak Mandarin Campaign), and here is someone from the other side of the world who takes an interest in the language. I find it very refreshing indeed, especially when I was brought up in an environment (through my family and friends) that favored the English Language over its Mandarin counterpart.

Preparing for the big show

Nicoll Highway With only a few weeks to go before the big IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Singapore, it’s time for the organisers to get beyond the PR fiasco of the Four Million Smiles campaign (dutifully derided on the mrbrown show and by two different Four Million Frowns counter-campaigns), push back the shirtsleeves and get down to real work.

Like putting up glaring neon yellow signs to warn people of imminent road closures during the period that the meetings are beind held (September 10-20). Republic Boulevard’s closed and they’re taking away my beloved Nicoll Highway too, which will make getting into town from the east something of a pain.
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Flickr Singapore.


Merlion.

Originally uploaded by *nathan.

Its been a busy month with school and the exams coming up.

Still, its always nice to take a look at what pictures people have taken of our fair country, especially nice if they ain’t local. It just gives a whole new angle to looking at the place we’re familiar with.

Got this one off the Macintosh Group. Its a photoset by *nathan.

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