Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Condos are big sellers now. You will see enticing newspaper ads and TV commercials featuring attractive Caucasian, Eurasian, and Pan Asian people who do not live anywhere in this country, lounging by the pool, enjoying a drink on the balcony with a stunning sea view, or sitting at the piano in their living room dressed like they’re ready to go to the casino in a James Bond movie. They are even wearing expensive shoes in their home! Based on these ads, you might run down to the show flat and see an exquisite architectural model made of cardboard with a few tiny luxury sports cars in the driveway.
This heavenly depiction of condo life is not just poetic (or advertising) license; it is a complete and utter fabrication! Once the condo is built, the actual sea view will look like a maritime parking lot for rusting cargo ships, though there might be some small patches of murky green water visible between the ships. They never show these old hulks in the renderings. A non-sea view will feature the next apartment block up close and personal. As you survey the other units you will not see anyone as gorgeous or as beautifully dressed as the people in the ads. What you will see is lots of your neighbors’ laundry hanging from windows and balconies.
For some reason the furniture and interiors of these dream homes are always snow white. This is not practical at all. During the Hungry Ghost Month and certain other festivals when incense and joss paper is burned smoke will come pouring into your home, covering the furniture in gray ash. The management of our condo has put a ring of metal canisters around the perimeter of the entire development for the joss burning faithful. I guarantee no property developer ever puts tiny canisters on their fancy cardboard models!
Friday, March 2, 2012
A few days ago I had an early morning meeting with some colleagues at an Orchard Road coffee joint (as opposed to the Singaporean variety of coffee shop). I parked at Orchard Central. To get into the car park you have to ascend an interminable spiral that can cause permanent psychological trauma. It was not yet 8am so hardly any cars were there, but it still was a long way up before I could park.
I pressed for the lift and it opened. I got in and pressed the lobby. The lift went down, but it would not open. I fiddled with the buttons, but no luck. I pressed the alarm, and miraculously a voice responded. I explained my plight, and the voice said the door would not open until 8.05, about ten minutes. I really didn’t care to wait. If the door lets me in and takes me down it should then let me out. I decided to find a way out. The doors are made of some kind of Plexiglas that is virtually indestructible. (Don’t ask me how I know that!) Soon (but not soon enough!) the lift magically took me back up several stories higher than where I entered and the door opened. I got out and walked down many many many steps to freedom.
Not only is the parking garage there a disaster, the mall itself is extremely confusing and inhospitable. The only thing about it that works is the exit gate, which exacted a high price from me in monetary terms as well as psychic well-being. The only reason to go that waste of space is for Cold Stone, but you can get there from the street. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open that early.
Monday, February 27, 2012
The main article in the Straits Times today bore the headline “Future hawker centres: keeping food cheap.” It discussed some recommendations of an 18-member panel for new hawker centres. Among the recommendations:
- Rooftop gardens and solar panels
- On site child care
- Table decals reminding patrons to return their trays (Train announcements don’t work, why should decals?)
- Street buskers
- Value meals
- Locksmiths, cobblers, and other household services
Next time a loan shark chains and padlocks your front gate just bring the whole thing down to the hawker centre and let the locksmith open it while you eat your noodles.
What’s missing? There was no recommendation to require that all dishware and utensils be washed in hot soapy water. I can’t believe not one of the 18 committee members thought of that!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Straits Times has had at least two articles about the Obedient Wives Club in recent weeks. This is a group of Muslim women in Malaysia and a few other Muslim countries which is apparently making inroads in Singapore as well, though local Muslim leaders have distanced themselves from the group. These obedient wives believe that a Muslim woman has a duty to please her husband in bed to keep him from seeking adventure elsewhere. They have stirred up controversy, with some Believers upset because they deem the subject matter unsuitable for public discussion, and other Believers upset because it objectifies women and suggests that wives are somehow responsible for the infidelity of their husbands.
As a non-Believer, I find it troubling for an altogether different reason. The OWC has released a book entitled “Islamic Sex: Fighting Against Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World.” I don’t understand why the words “Fighting Against Jews” appear in the title. Are they suggesting that Jews have something to do with the absence of Islamic sex? How is “Fighting Against Jews” relevant to the subject?
In a country that emphasizes religious harmony and forbids comments that can incite religious tension I find it curious that these words have been published at least twice without explanation. I hope some reporter at the Straits Times can report what the title of the book means.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I was at the Slop ‘n’ Save stupidmarket at the West Mall today (Monday afternoon) and picked up half a dozen items. The queues were super long, as in nearly to the back of the store. I was glad I’d be in the ‘express’ lane. Or so I thought. There are actually three registers at the express lane, but only one of them was open. The line snaked down an aisle quite a distance, about 15 customers long and getting longer. You would have thought they were giving food away for free! Or you might assume that their stuff was really excellent. It isn’t. In fact, this place is pretty much near the bottom of the local supermarket hierarchy, along with its sister store the super-gigantic-mega-hypermarket.
The cashier’s name was May. Not ‘Mae’, who says “Don’t wait!” on the TV commercial, but ‘May’ as in “you’re going to wait a hell of a long time to pay for those things.” May was doing her best and I don’t blame her one bit. But I couldn’t believe a manager would allow such a state, so I asked May if the store even had a manager. After all, some orchestras don’t even have a conductor and manage to play just fine, so I thought maybe the store was trying to save costs by not having anyone in charge. May got on the speaker and called for the manager. Twice. Then a third time. I didn’t want to delay the other customers, so I went to those doors with the ‘authorized personnel only’ signs and opened them, calling for the manager. A young lady came out and told me the manager was in a meeting and wasn’t available.
I sure hope that meeting was in fact a mass hiring interview. I don’t go to that store all the time (or I would have killed myself by now), but I’ve been there several times when all of the queues have been intolerably long, so I know it’s not a rare occurrence. On a few occasions I abandoned my basket and left rather than wait in line.
That manager should not have been in a meeting at that time. If he cannot manage to have adequate staff on hand he should have been at the register next to May helping her (and his customers) out. What is his job, to have meetings? Or to provide a quality shopping experience for his customers?
They have some kind of loyalty card called the “Passion” card. May asked me whether I had the Passion card, as they all do, and I told her I had no passion whatsoever for that place. And while they always ask, no one has ever asked me whether I want one or explained how to get one or what it would do for me. I guess even the employees have no passion about that store.
Just what are we supposed to be saving at Slop ‘n’ Save? Surely not time. Could we be saving money? No, it’s not the cheapest shop in town, and if you value your time even a little bit you are losing big there.
I mentioned that this ugly wretch of a store had an equally horrid sister. The funny thing is, they have a third sister who is like the Cinderella of local supermarkets. They should try to learn a few tricks from her.