Lah and Order

16-22 Feb99

Lah and Order

There isn't much of a theme to this installment. It is mostly a case of collecting a bunch of notes that I haven't done anything with.

My palm III has proven amazingly handy. I'd love to have a keyboard that folds up to about the size of a pilot to make it easier to take notes when I'm travelling. There is a keyboard available for it for about $100 US. It is almost big enough to conveniently type with and almost small enough to conveniently carry.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a small, auto everything camera so I could take pictures when I didn't want to carry my full photo kit around. It's very handy, but the time delay between pushing the button and the shutter clicking is very annoying. I got my first batch of film that I shot with it back today and for the most part it takes pretty good shots. There was one which was completely out of focus and I have no idea why.

It would be nice to have a portable, decent quality means of recording sound, there is no way I can adequately describe some of the sounds that make up the ambience of Singapre. Sometimes the sounds are incredibly loud, sometimes they are complex. It is these sonic assaults that remind me, more than anything else, that Singapore really is not the US.

At times it almost seems that I am living in a Dilbertian nightmare, being a manager in a company full of pointy haired employees. OK, it's not really that bad, but I did like the imagery. It does seem that a lot of the locals have a more difficult time doing what I call "thinking outside the box". That is to say coming up with a creative, non tradtional solution to problems.

It is annoying how streets will change names every few blocks. It wasn't until last night that I realized that North Bridge and South Bridge road were the same. Since it runs mostly East-West I figured that one went over the northerly of two bridges.

Sundaram, one of my cow-orkers, gave me a tour of the Hindu temple and explained a little about their pantheon to me. I realized that I had a big hole in my education about non-west european religions.

Afterwards was late for dance class, was trying to find the YMCA and a guy on a bikeshaw offered me a ride. If I paid him for a ride, he'd show me the way. It was the most expedient solution to my problem so I went for it. About a week later, I was riding my bike downtown. I was on the street that the pub I wanted to go to was, I just didn't know whether I was east or west of it. Right about then, this same bikeshaw rider rides up and recognized me. I keep running into these little signs that show just how small Singapore is.

Singapore is blessedly almost devoid of SUVs, and those which are here are like the Suzuki or the Honda CRV and are small. You don't see any suburban mom's driving darling Jr. around in a Ford Exploder.

I've recently realized that it has been about a month and a half since anyone has even given me a hug. It's interesting to note which things that are common and easily available at home, are suddenly so rare when you travel.

My bicycle has really been proving to be an ideal way to see and explore Singapore. Yes, the traffic sucks but I get a level of freedom and mobility that just isn't possible on foot or by public transportation. One thing that I've noticed is the homogenaity of the Island. Every Housing block looks alike, they all have the same small shops, with the same selection, on the ground floor.

The hebrew word for "yes" is caen, theoreticaly pronounced like cane but it sounds more like "Ken". If a local is saying that they can do something, or something can be done they say "can!". As you might guess, it sounds very similar to an Israeli saying "caen" which causes me to keep getting the mental image of being spoken to in Hebrew by Chinese. Coincidentally, I recently met someone by the name of Kenneth Loh. Ken Loh sounds very much like hebrew for "Yes No". It sure would be amusing were he to ever visit Israel: "Can I have your name please?" "Ken Loh".

I've noticed a lot of cultural differences between the US and Asia regarding families and marriage: Most people live with their parents until they get married. Almost everyone gets married. Almost everyone has children. Indians still have arranged marriages People at least seem to make the pretense of staying a virgin until they marry. I don't recognize the telephone ring. It's a double ring, and sounds like a buzzer and ends up sounding more like a car alarm than a telephone.

It's funny how long it takes to connect random bits of information. I had noticed that the Indian/Muslim style of bathroom stalls, which basically just have a porcelin (I need an english dictionary) hole in the floor, often didn't have toilet paper. I also noticed how the floor was almost always wet. Since these two characteristics were often in the sort of bathrooms in small restaurants that double as storage closets, I never connected them with the bucket on the floor or the fact that Indians and Muslims only use their right hand to eat.

When traveling in a foreign country, always try to get the local transit guide. Of course, it took me until last week to get the local bus guide. It was out of print from sometime last November, or before until this years edition came out a couple weeks ago.

The government public services messages (or propaganda) are very interesting: anti-drug, fight-crime, make babies (always chinese people in the "have a family" ads).

Last modified 22 Feb 1999

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