14 April 2011

BY THE BEACH


This morning I ventured into Little India to attend my very first Singapore function. I took a bus to a stop about half a block from the Expat Kitchen. As I was walking down the street, I realized that I felt as if I were in India in the few minutes it took me to reach my destination. I was surrounded by Indian people, the men wearing  thin pants an loosely-buttoned shirts and the women wearing gorgeous saris of all colors swarming out of a place I thought was a temple. I later confirmed that it was the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of Singapore's oldest temples built by Indian pioneers in the 1800s. The building was blue and was intricately painted with golds and reds and yellows. There were sculptures of people and animals over five tiers in the roof. I have never seen such a place.

I attended a brunch for expatriates and met a few people from England and France including a British couple who moved here two months ago to start an innovation/product development company. We bonded over our home countries' budget and government issues and agreed that we are just fine being in Singapore right now. I heard on CNN this morning that the U.S. is estimated to reach is more than $14 trillion debt threshold next month. How on earth can a country rack up $14 trillion in debt? It seems almost impossible, yet somehow, our country has accomplished it. 

A panel of local experts presented information on their expat-focused services - real estate, business start up support, insurance, and the all-important food. The food guy had a lot of great information on where to shop and where to find the best food on the island. I learned that we should always take tissues with us wherever we go. Paul and I have noticed that hawker centers and even mall food courts are lacking something very important - napkins. How these people eat without having napkins handy astounds me. I have considered taking some paper towels in my purse. Today I found out that is perfectly acceptable. I also learned that tissues, in addition to being used as napkins, also mark territory. When eating in a public venue, placing a tissue or other personal object on a table reserves one's seat. This is called chokking or choping (pronounced "chalking" and "chohping" respectively). 

After brunch, I headed outside to catch the bus back home. Except I realized that the main street was one way, meaning I could not catch a bus to go back home on that street. I researched how to find the location of the Expat Kitchen, but I never thought to research my return trip. When I realized that I could not easily find a bus stop, I started walking toward a street with traffic going the opposite direction. When finding a cab was impossible, I continued walking toward the main roads. I started walking toward the tall city buildings and contemplated walking all the way, or at least half way, home. I at least wanted to find some familiar turf. 

The main roads looked like the Garden State Parkway on a summer weekend - not moving. I could not find a bus stop with any familiar numbers and I was not going to hop in a taxi while paying the driver to sit in traffic, so I just kept walking. At one point, I turned around and saw tall city buildings in three directions and it was at that moment that I realized I was lost in Singapore. I walked 2km, roughly 1.2 miles and found a building I thought was one of Singapore's thousand malls. The building turned out to be a hospital and I felt completely out of place, but I was able to locate a taxi stand. Luckily, the taxi driver knew where we were and how to get me home. 


And by home I mean downtown in the temporary residence. Paul and I get kicked out tomorrow, so East Coast, here we come. We got everything figured out, the mold problem is fixed and the super clean team arrives in the morning. Tomorrow we get to officially move in and put together all of our great, straight-out-of-the-box Ikea furniture. Woo hoo. Luckily, I am the man of the house when it comes to putting together furniture, so I will have a full night ahead of me tomorrow as I construct a bed and a full day ahead of me Saturday as I put together an entire dining set, a three-seat couch and an armchair with a footrest that will somehow work when completed. I'm excited. And exhausted just thinking about all that.


I quite enjoy constructing furniture. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when it is all done. Of course, I feel a real sense of frustration and confusion as I sit on the floor with various wooden pieces and metal fixtures all around me because Ikea makes picture books for directions. I am a big girl. I like words to accompany my pictures. 


I expect rain tomorrow during transition time. April is supposed to be the beginning of the dry season, but I believe the wet season is still fighting to hang on. It has rained nearly every day since we moved here. It rains overnight, early in the morning, in the afternoons between 2 and 4 and, sometimes, all day long. Twice this week I have been outside running errands when a thunderstorm came raging in. Yesterday, when my yellow umbrella wasn't keeping Paul and me dry enough, we sat under a bus stop shelter while the thunder rolled around us as we attempted to wait out the downpour. I so need to buy some cute galoshes. Flip flops are not the greatest in torrential rains.

B
ut alas, I will survive. I always do. I am a big girl.

1 comment:

Leanna said...

Sooo, at the luncheon did the food guy tell you where to buy a chicken without head and feet, or at least how to prepare it for cooking? :-)

I hope your weather cooperates tomorrow for the move. Send photos!

Love,
Mom