Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Dash of Orange Amongst Gray...

Was all it took to make my day!

We moved to a new office this week (actually, the old office from where we moved out and have moved back in. But it's new for me!). So I am busy spending my last week establishing a new routine - timing my mornings, dashing to the bus stop, stteling into a new coffee routine, finding lunch places to eat...

The one thing I do miss - ok! I hear you. I've not been here long enough to "miss" things. May be I should say, the one thing that I did like about the other office was the view of the Quay. The orange and red tiled brick houses breaking the monotony and the monstrosity of grey office buildings around.

Boat Quay along the Singapore river from 34th floor, Battery Road

The bright orange and brown brick tile roofs

Singapore sprawled beneath a cloud laden sky - yea, it was going to rain!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lost in One Art

This poem has been weighing on my mind for the past one week. For no reason, yet, for some reason.

One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

I wonder if ‘losing’ really does get easier...

When I saw the movie AND read the book, I liked the poem quite a bit. But it takes a melancholic mood to really, really, feel it I suppose. The other poem in the book is also beautiful. On reflection, not so much for the words, more for the moment where one sister reads it for the other. And for all that the moment signifies.

I carry your heart with me, by EE cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Such sombre thoughts for a Friday night! On more mortal affairs, my trip has been extended by a week. So, lots of options for the weekend – Mcritchie reservoir, may be the ECP... or may be just blogging and reading. Will have to wait and see what the morning brings.

PS: The book is ‘In her shoes’ – not brilliant, but definitely a favourite.

Monday, March 16, 2009


A girl seated on one of the sculptures found along the Boat Quay

Caught this girl seated on one of the many scultptures set along the Boat Quay. There are several sets of sculptures, depicting the history of life along Singapore river in times gone by. On reflection, I should have caught the whole sculpture as well. But couldn't resist this pic!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

In Search of the Perfect Nook for Coffee and A Book - A Day in Randomness

I had the Saturday all planned out in my head – a nice toasty day, white sands, blue seas, the wind in my hair and hot coffee as I settled to finish ‘The Hours’. I was going to go to Changi Village, a sleepy locale close to the airport, by the sea and if it was anything like the scenes I had seen on my drive into Singapore on day 1, could be close to paradise. I had read and re-read the scene where Clarissa steps out into a spectacular New York morning about 3 or 4 times. I was getting a feel for the book, and all I needed was a great place to settle into for me to fully devour it.

I had a late start. Ok a really late start! Grabbed a sub, caught the MRT and I was on my way. The sky grumbles, here and there. But my excitement cannot be dampened. I reach Changi Village. Changi is really sleepy. And the sea – grey and murky. This place is nowhere close to what I had in mind. I notice a sign that says ‘Coastal Walk’ and indicates a stretch of beach. So I decide to check it out. 30 minutes, and a kilometre of sweaty walk later, still no sign of my dream. I realized I had grossly mistaken that Changi would be like ECP.

Sleepy sidewalk in Changi Village

What to do now? After a quick coke (the village may be sleepy, still expensive), I decide to get on the bus and try and get to the ECP. On the way, we pass the Changi chapel. On an impulse, I get down. There’s no way I am coming back here – May as well take a look. Plus, there was a cafe attached!

Outside the changi chapel

Just as I get done with the chapel, the sky that has been ominously threatening with its growls and grumbles, decides to unburden itself. So, I sack in the cafe. Now my stomach is rumbling – but the menu is pricey. I order mushroom soup. What I really really crave is endless cups of coffee. Coffee that is strong and not milky. And doesn’t cost 4 sing a cup. I want my Kopi. Still, the cafe is quiet, and I manage to turn a few pages. And chat up with this westerner guy who comes and asks me where I was from. Apparently, he is right now based near Pune and travels to North East very frequently. A vague thought is hovering as we talk - I should get his contact or something like that. But I don’t. The rain stops. The cafe is pretty and all. But there is no feel. So I leave.

Stranded in the Bark Cafe

ECP? May rain again. I don’t want to go to Starbucks. My bus comes – I get on. The bus feels closed. I feel restless. The day feels pointless. I see a signboard for ECP. On an impulse I get down. I am in Bedok. Looks like a residential area. I just want to walk. Few more cafes have come in sight. All serve cappuccinos, Irish coffees, lattes and others I can’t remember. Not a sign of the simple, honest Kopi. I walk further. Ahhh – a Chinese food mall, with graphic designs of all possible meats in the world. My hopes rise a little bit. I run through the menu. And there it is – coffee, Hong Kong style and coffee , China style. I don’t know which one it is. But I say Kopi and she seems to understand. And then I look for something vegetarian. I want plain toast – but she can’t seem to grasp toast with butter by the side (as inferred from her breaking into a song-like squeaky Chinese). She asks if I want Kaya. I don’t know what that is, so I am dragged to the kitchen and shown Kaya :). Yes, a plate of Kaya toast and Kopi for me. All for a buck and ninety.

Kopi and Kaya Toast

There is Chinese music playing behind me and radio jockey talking in between. All slide into the background as I sip the coffee. And bite into the toast. And finally, finally settle to flip a few pages of ‘The Hours’ in soul deep contentment.

A random day, broken only by the monotony of my attempts in photography.

Me in Tang Tea House

Tang Tea House

Friday, March 06, 2009

City Quirks: The Fine City?

The T-shirt says it all :). I vaguely remember being warned about fines for littering on our first trip to Singapore (15 years back). To be honest, I haven't really paid attention to these fine boards, which supposedly can be seen everywhere. And I probably would not have registered this fact but for the T-shirt.

Of course, my friend pointed out that one can hardly see any cops policing on the road (I wonder how they go around fining people) and people follow rules implicitly (except may be not so much for jay walking :)).

A T-shirt hanging in a shop in China Town