Friday, September 25, 2009

Angels Arrive Just on Time

Tonight Matt and I were going to a community shabbat dinner. The dinner was in a tough location for tonight. We were coming from the central business district, and there was this small thing in between the CBD and our dinner. The F1. All of Singapore is all over the place for about a week for this damn F1. The track is right next to a bunch of offices, next to a mall or three, and blocks the way to...just about everything.

We decided that traffic going out of the city would be too much, so we thought to take the train outside of the CBD and take a taxi to the dinner from there. Once we got off the train, however, there were no taxis to be found, and traffic - even out there - was pretty much at a stand still. Well...we knew we just had to walk to the outdoor stadium, through it to the indoor stadium, then over a bridge and into their complex. No big deal. a normal place where you can walk where you need to walk it's no big deal. In Singapore...well...we couldn't figure it out. We walked around the outdoor stadium, there were few roads, lots of gates, and there is NO way to get across the damn road (this is a theme in my life here). We were standing on the corner of a road, literally with NO ideas of how to cross the road without walking a half mile out of the way, when two people from the community, Clarency and Kym, drove up on this RANDOM road, opened their door, and we jumped in. That was just crazy.

To add to an exciting evening, a huge man in our community fell during dinner. We were all having dinner, and suddenly there was a HUGE bang. The chair must have broken and then gone flying, and between that crash and the crash of him falling to the ground, it was loud, and it was really scary. Thank goodness everyone and everything (other than the chair) is okay. Took a while to get the heart rates back to normal.

To put an end to the wonderful evening...we can hear the damn F1 from our house. It's really loud.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Third Rosh Hashana in Singapore

I can't believe it, but it's our third Rosh Hashana in Singapore.

The first one was memorable, because there was an earthquake in the middle of services.

The second wasn't memorable, because I don't think I/we went to services. I'm pretty sure I just skipped it and went to school.

This year, we went to Gal's for dinner the first night, and it was super nice and fun. Lots of great people, and amazing food. Saturday we went to UHC services, and when we were talking about what happened with the sounds of the shofar, etc, there was a HUGE rumble of thunder. Put that together with the earthquake, and Singapore is one hopping Rosh Hashana place.

Today I went to the Ashkenazi, orthodox service, and it was super nice. I was the only woman there who looked like I was born Jewish, and I was the only woman there without children. Interesting.

This Rosh Hashana is coming at a particularly interesting time for me - a good time to take a step back and reflect. Since, I just graduated, we just moved, I just started a new job, and it's all a little bit stressful. Sitting in shul (particularly this morning) was nice time for me to stop and think. Matt watched football.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I have gone almost completely keyless.

When I lived in the States (let's say DC), I had:
A key to my apartment building
A key to my apartment
A key to my work
A key to my parents' house (just in case)
A key to Matt's place

I have a key to my work

Our apartment building has card access for the complex and the building. Our door has a code - no key at all! We cannot afford a car in Singapore, but I do have a card to ride the busses and MRT...My parents live too far away for a key to be useful, and I now share an apartment with Matt.

So...I have one key, and it stays in my backpack. When we go out at night, all I need is a wallet and a phone. Pretty futuristic. I wonder what my kids will play with/eat?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lost in Malls

Everyone knows that Singapore is filled with malls. At every corner there seems to be a (new) mall. There are more stores than a person can shop in a lifetime. There are specialty stores for everything as well as big chains. Borders, Gap, Carrefour, Marks & Spencer...we got it all.

I HATE malls. I HATE shopping. When I find something I need, I get it. I don't really care if I can find it a bit better or a bit cheaper. I would rather do anything (just about) than shop. I really hate being in malls. Malls are the opposite of nature, and I love nature.

I often find myself lost in malls in Singapore. This happened last night when I met a friend's friend at the Thai Festival at the Thai embassy on Orchard Road. There is a new mall that just opened - the ION Orchard (check it out - it's pretty neat looking, even if I still hate it). They have been building it for forever and a half. It used to be that you came out of the Orchard MRT stop, and you could go up to Orchard Road, and you could cross over the road twice and end up on the kitty corner side of the street. Now - NOT possible. There is absolutely no way to cross over Scotts Road (or whatever it's called on the other side of Orchard) without going one big block out of the way or into TWO malls. This has always been the case on one side of the street, but now it's complete. You can (and almost MUST) now access all corners of a huge intersection from underground passageways - with very few signs and confusing lack-of-right-angles so you get lost. This is not like the Montreal deal - this is just simply annoying. In the malls here, you can't just walk past stores, you have to weave in and out of people, and they're all going slowly (remember this posting?), and it drives me absolutely nuts. It's about 19 degrees, and you have to go up and down three (at least) escalators to just feel the natural air or see the sun. This just makes me angry.

I really hate malls. Don't make me be in them more than I have to.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kitty in Captivity

Our new apartment is on the third floor of a building.
It is about 600 square feet.
It needs an elevator (or a lift) to get to.
It has a balcony, and it is made of glass, so at least you can SEE what's outside, but you cannot join it (immediately) from the balcony.
There are very few hiding spots.
There is no closet that is warm, dark, undisturbed, and filled with Matt's underwear.
There is no maid's room and no maid's bathroom.

All of these details make for a huge change in Kitty's life.

In August 2007, Kitty was born in Casafina, in Bedok. At about two months old, she was being cared for by two adults, Mel and Matt. At five months, she moved in with them. She had only seen a car when Matt and Mel took her to the vet when she had a broken leg as a baby. She CHOSE to live with this family. She could run off any day, and she did not. When she went off to play, she always came back.

During work days, Kitty spent her time sleeping in an extra bedroom on a shelf in a closet with Matt's underwear. She especially loved to kick off all of the socks onto the ground. She loved her peace and quiet, and she even chose to sleep there sometimes when her family was home. During evenings, she had access to a whole condo, other cats, lots of fun things to smell, and even dirt and Mel and Matt's plants when nature called. Her life was good. Point was that she CHOSE to be captive. It was a good deal. She even had her own bathroom.

In Kitty's new home, the only dark, warm, quiet spot is between two suitcases in the middle of under Mel and Matt's bed. She can sit on the balcony, but only when the air con is off and the door is open (which isn't too often, thank goodness), and even when she can look, that's all. She can't go join the fun. She just watches cars go by and people walk by. She is very interested in smelling around the third floor of Mel and Matt's apartment building. She sometimes sits at the front door and meows, as if she is a dog and needs to be let out (she meows at the wrong side of the door, though, for some reason - it opens on the other side, Kitty!). When she is let out, she ultimately returns to Mel and Matt's apartment, but it is not clear that she would make this choice if an alternative were offered. She also has to share her bathroom with the couple!

All in all, Kitty is being kept captive, and it is not clear that she is choosing to stay in Mel and Matt's apartment. Though she is otherwise acting the same, this has caused some anxiety (or at least pondering) for Mel. We hope that she chooses to live with us forever. We think she feels part of the family. We hope so!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Starting "Real Life"

I got back on Monday. Though I really only got back from Israel, it feels like I got back from Israel, our dive trip, the US, and really, the whole year at INSEAD. No joke.

I came back to our new apartment which is an upgrade but a downsize. We had about 1200 sq ft, three bedrooms, three bathrooms (if you count Maria's - just in case you don't remember, Maria is our invisible, non-existent maid. There's no space for her in our new place so we left her there). We had more closets and drawers than we knew what to do with. It was dark, it was hot, it had pretty weird furniture, especially curtains, but it sure was spacious. It was, however, about an hour from EVERYWHERE other than our friends who live near us, some of our favorite restaurants, the market, and the sea. To get to work, to get downtown, to see most friends, we had to travel a lot, and it was really annoying.

We got it in our heads that we were going to move downtown, and when we started looking for apartments, we realized that we really didn't want to pay for more than one bedroom, since we don't need it, but we got pretty hooked on the idea. So, we now Linklive near the Little India MRT, about a ten minute (15?) walk from Dhoby Ghaut, in a one bedroom. The complex was opened last year, so it's all brand new, and it's just way nicer. And brighter. And the air conditioning works. We're just figuring out how to squeeze ourselves into this space. We're working it out. Not ready to post pictures yet, though...Here are some pictures of the complex.

In addition to being in a new apartment, I have also started my job. I haven't formally announced this here yet, but pending my employment pass, which should be finished processing in the next day or so, I will be the executive director of the World Toilet Organization. It will be an extremely challenging and exciting position. I am the first person to have this position, and there hasn't been a lot of management, so considering it's been around for about eight years, there are a lot of processes to implement and things to figure out, but the organization has so much potential, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes.

In other news, it's hungry ghost month again, so there are little offerings burning all over this country at all hours. I like seeing people participate in this, and the picture below is what I saw on my way to the MRT after work. Apparently, outside of the Philips factory, all DHL guys were invited to burn stuff for the hungry ghosts.