19 February 2013


T-minus six weeks until we are homeless. How am I spending my days? Worried? Freaked out? Trying to find a job? I’m actually doing my best to stay away from all that. In fact, I am keeping mighty busy co-chairing a charity’s largest annual fundraiser and doing my best to not think about all that other stuff.

Managing a major fundraiser with a five-figure budget and six-figure anticipated profit is a major challenge that makes me feel right at home. I was explaining to the head of the committee yesterday that this stuff – hunting down vendors, seeking proposals, developing time lines, writing progress reports, negotiating like crazy – is work I used to get paid to do and I love it.

In this role I get to experience a few perks. I get to see fabulous venues, I get to have people submit papers that document my every desire and fight against their competitors to woo me into signing on the dotted line. I get to participate in fabulous food tastings and hit some pretty fabulous clubs to hear some…interesting bands.

This past weekend was definitely deemed band weekend. Not typically a night owl, I spent Saturday night and Sunday night out on the town in places in which I have never been and, frankly, didn’t even know existed.

Saturday my committee chair and her husband joined me as we listened to one band recommended by fellow volunteers. I was up for a late dinner, so they picked me up at 8:30 and our fancy-car driver took us to Little India where an Australian hostel and pub was hosting the first of our three weekend bands.

The last time I was in Little India after dark, it was Deepavali and my husband was ready to kill me for:

  1. Dragging him out of the house.
  2. Dragging him out of the house after dark.
  3. Dragging him out of the house after dark when we should have been in bed.
  4. Dragging him out of the house after dark when we should have been in bed and making him go to Little India for the Festival of Lights where it was so busy that we literally could not move through a tent or through the streets because there were a million and a half Indian men and a quarter of a million women and children and smelly foods and incense and a concert blaring loud music, all so I could experience some culture and maybe see some fireworks.

He was not happy.

This version of Little India at night excited me. According to my friends who have actually been to India, our mini India is a pretty good comparison. It was near 9 p.m. so the sky was dark but the streets were bright. Lighted signs and neon colors filled the air around the streets. People were in the streets and filled the shops along the streets. There was a vibe but it wasn’t overwhelming – this was normal.

We ate at a restaurant called the Banana Leaf, quite popular among my friends. I have only eaten Indian food one other time, more than a year ago. The conversation with the waiter went something like this:

”Good to order?”

”Yes, what is the least spicy thing on the menu?”

”Least spicy?”

”Yes, I cannot have spicy.”

”Butter chicken.”

”O.K. I’ll have that. And some saffron rice.”

Doo doo doo…time rolls on…food comes down… A silver bowl is set in front of me and the sauce was a bold, bright color I had never seen before – a deep, red, though somewhat orange with a cream swirl on top. Somewhere in that soupy sauce was some chicken.

I remember eating a tiny bite and knowing that it tasted good but that it was still really spicy, which, for anyone who has actually had butter chicken, means I am the biggest spice wimp in the world. And, yes, I am.

This time, however, the butter chicken was not spicy like I remembered. The chicken was grilled and tough on the outside and then made soft by the sauce. The saffron rice at the Banana Leaf was surprisingly not as flavorful as the prior rice I had but this rice did come with more additives like chickpeas and cilantro. I had some butter naan as well, which I love. I am an American who should have been born Italian – I love my bread.

The banana leaves placed in front of this at the table added to the experience. I thought they made great placemats. Then the food was brought out and, while I waited for the plates to be presented, Peter said, “I think these are our plates.” It was only awkward for a few seconds and then I just piled everything on the leaf.

Once our bellies were full we headed to the hostel pub where the band was doing a sound check. We heard the first set and then moved on to another club downtown to hear one of Peter’s favorite bands.

There is a club called Brix in the basement of the Hyatt on Orchard Road. I had been warned about what happens at this bar but I figured I would have been fine. I was with Avril and Peter. What could happen?

For the first time entering a club, no one was checking IDs. I found this odd. Yes, I am 30 and my friends are older but I still found it odd. For $28 a head, we got an ultraviolet stamp and a drink ticket. The club, I stated, sounded like a frat party when we walked in. It was after 11, the lights were dim, the heavy-beating music was blaring and I did all I could to stay with my friends, at least until I found the bathroom.

”I’ll be right back,” I yelled to Avril and pointed in the direction of the restrooms. When I walked in, I was greeted by stares from girls in the tightest dresses, the biggest hair and the most makeup seen anywhere outside of a Texas beauty pageant. I looked in the mirror and noticed that my skinny jeans, layered tank tops and flat hair weren’t exactly in style for this venue.

I did my best in front of the mirror to make myself feel a little more presentable. The entire time, the women were staring. All I could think was, “I’m married. I’m not here to meet anyone and I am sure no one here is here to meet me. What do I care?”

Then I walked around the corner and headed out as more pretty ladies walked in and gawked. This was one of those moments when I felt insecure – it can happen a lot in Singapore – I was not nearly pretty enough to be there.

”Did you do the walk of shame?” Avril asked when I returned. “Yes!” I said. “That’s exactly what it felt like.”

We waited about 10 minutes for the band to start and I did some of my best observing, though I also did quite a bit of staring.

At the table next to us was a group of three men who looked to be in their late 50s. They had the tallest bottle of Grey Goose I had ever seen, lit up with lighted ice balls inside the container. There were carafes of juices and the vodka on the table and empty glasses that were continuously filled by the approaching wait staff. The men were adorned with young Asian women on their laps, around their shoulders and in their faces.

I wanted so badly to tell the one man that his lady friend wasn’t actually a lady but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. “Does that guy know that his date is a man?” I asked Avril and Peter. “I think he knows,” Peter said. “Some guys are into that thing.”

I looked around and more young Asian people in dresses were either hanging on men or hanging around men in order to gain their attention and hang on them at some point in the evening. I was disgusted but it was clear to me that no one would actually be looking at me that night so I was quite fine being invisible.

We went back on Sunday night to hear the third band, this time without Peter. “I am trying to figure out,” I told Avril, “if the club will be dead because it’s 10 p.m. on a Sunday or if it will be booming because it is Maids’ Day Off.”

Because it was Sunday, we were able to enter without paying a cover charge. The place was pretty empty, which meant we were able to choose a table and sit without ordering a bottle of something (we stood the whole time the night before). Only a few gentlemen and only a few ladies in tight dresses were present when we arrived but the place filled after a couple hours.

I didn’t feel quite as dirty the second night. I dressed up slightly more than the night before, this time wearing heels and leggings with a sparkly top so that I wouldn’t feel completely under dressed.

To prove that I am way too old to be doing this kind of stuff, I have spent the last two days catching up on my sleep. After a major nap fail yesterday, I went to bed near midnight and didn’t arise until 9:45 this morning. Two more bands to see this week.

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