Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jottings from Singapura - Part 1

Of Quays, Clones and Caskets

Newly-married and in Singapore. No. Not the honeymoon. My husband is on a project here. Since the last thing I wanted in life was to "live" outside India (travelling abroad on vacation is very enjoyable!), and since I grew up in a very closely-knit joint family with friends and relatives all around me all the time, homesickness reigns supreme! In an attempt to overcome this, I've decided to jot down tiny observations about Singapore... not what you'll find in a tourist guidebook, but just little things that caught my eye!

Here is batch one. More as I explore the place further.

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There is a place called Clarke Quay here. Basically a river-like canal with a bridge across it, right next to the S'pore Parliament (if there is one thing I hate about Singapore, it is that everything seems "made", even the rivers!) It has restaurants lined next to it, serving everything from Italian to Thai food. You get a Burma Bazaar (Chennai) feel as they sell the restaurants to the visitors as if selling their wares in a moving market or fish market! Every one of those had only lobsters and fish advertised, so I thought it risky to simply step into one of them without recommendations from a Singaporean on which one might serve anything close to good vegetarian food. So, pending such suggestions, we simple ate at an Indian restaurant there!! Blooper... I forgot to take my camera, so pics have to wait.

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Just realised that there is a pure vegetarian Zen Fut Sai Kari Chinese restaurant very close to home. Plan to barge in sometime and chat with the chef!!

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I think there is some kinda play school in the same block as our apartment, because a line of kids walks up and down twice a day with a teacher. They look like clones... little white chubby kids, with hair combed down front, in white and blue uniforms. All of the same height and weight too. Wonder how the teacher tells them apart!

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Was exploring the Chinese 24x7 supermarket in the ground floor, today. Found that they stock innumerable varieties of ready to drink herbal and flavoured teas (chamomile, lemon etc.) in 1 litre cartons. And not expensive... twin packs cost around $4! Same with fruit juices as well. Surprisingly, here fresh fruit juices, tea and milk cost almost the same!! Probably because they import milk? Because forest produce (such as fruits etc) can be easily imported from Malaysia?

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Since half an hour ago, there have been bhajans and shouts of "Govindo, Govindo" and there was a golden coloured kalasam (pot-shaped decoration you find in temple towers) in sight... could not see the whole cart. I thought there was going to be some kind of procession. Then, the procession started and came to the perpendicular road which I can see clearly from outside the house. Guess what?! It was somebody who'd bought tickets to dead man's office (okay, that's how dad used to call the cremation ground when we were kids :-))! They have a vehicle here called "Hindu Casket". Golden coloured vehicle with golden coloured kalasams on top. Glass walls and flowers and a casket inside! The "Govindo Govindo" here is a chant like "Ram Nam Satya Hai"!! And just when my brother was suggesting on chat that I go and show my face clearly in the kitchen window incase somebody was distributing interesting prasad... fortunately realised the nature of the procession before doing that

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Miss you, India!

Smiles,
Janani