Christmas on a great street!

Christmas is always so beautiful in Singapore. I know that it is a hell load of money blown on the illuminations and the ads placed all over the island, but the results are still mind blowing! There are trees made of angels, macaroons, chocolates, toys and what not!

I am very thrilled every year when the dates for light-up inaugurations are announced. And then, we start going around all the places and shopping malls to enjoy the decors.  

This one, you get to be inside a christmas tree :-)

Merry Christmas !! 


Spice up the connections!

Remember the times when only Singapore Airlines opearted flights between Signapore and Kochi/Trivandrum ? Those days when we had to anxiously wait for the "super hot deals" from SilkAir ? Or that one time when we were too excited about the home trip and booked tickets few months ahead of the vacation, to eventually realize that SilkAir again rolled out the hot deals? That heartbreaking moment when we realized that the last minute ticket was substantially cheaper than our purchase price? Well, that is all in the past now, thanks to AirAsia for breaking the monopoly.

I remember everyones thrill and excitement when AirAsia started the budget flights -Singapore-KL- Kochi. Most of us were fine to spend a night in the Kuala lumpur LCCT (Air Asia bus stand), because two or sometimes three tickets in Air Asia were cheaper than a single ticket in SilkAir. 
And, who needs dinner in the flight when going home, Right ? :-) 

What followed was a direct Tiger airways flight between Kochi/Trivandrum and Singapore. I even have a friend who goes home to visit his wife and kid whenever Tiger Air have seat sales. He goes home so frequently that I usually dial his India number first, even though he lives in Singapore.

Even though, we have multiple options these days, we are still a bit jealous when we look at the options for travellers from Chennai. But you must realize that those from Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, etc are equally jealous of us in this matter ! Just becasue all the good (budget) fortune were only for Malayalees until yesterday. 

There is a rumour among friends and colleagues that I spend a bit of time everyday looking out for flight tickets to numerous destinations, which I completely deny. I know the following lines might make my defence weaker, but I am compelled to share this page I came across "by chance".

Spicejet has new tie up with Tiger Air and we have connecting flights to more cities in India.

So, in case you were planning to go Goa next time during you home trip, fly to Goa directly, enjoy the break and then take a train home :-) 


Keep Reading - Libraries for life !

Just remember how lovely the libraries and bookstores smell. The new books, old books, the combinations – all sorts of papery smell! Awesome right? 
In the last 4 years, libraries in Singapore have been the only place, which has consistently delivered satisfaction. The huge collection and amazing volumes have always bought a smile to my face.

I love the libraries more, when my dad is visiting. He likes to read Tamil literature. We have never spotted such a collection, in even Kerala! The Ang Mo Kio library has a whole room dedicated to Tamil books. He could spend hours there. Once he has his collection checked out, I need not worry about him being alone on our working days. Thank you NLB!

When I was taking a break between jobs, I used to spend my weekdays in Queenstown library. It is such a laid back place, with amazing garden views and perfect setting for quiet reading. It was just a 10 minute bike ride away.

When the mostly creative Manu’s mum was here are we were racking our brains on what to create next, I took her to the library. She couldn’t believe the amount of jewellery making, candle making and knitting!

What made me think fondly of libraries is this particular page.

One of the books I borrowed recently has this still attached. Even though this system is no longer in use. The guys at NLB just left it there, I guess for old times sake. It made me remember the small libraries I have been member of, back in my town.

If you are living in or moving to Singapore, do not pass up the membership.


I loved my half marathon!

Earlier this month, I participated in the Singapore Standard Chartered marathon 2013. It was my first attempt at 21K - yes the freaking Half marathon.  

Why did I sign up for it ? 
Around July, when the registration opened, two running enthusiasts promised to be in Singapore for a vacation and be part of the marathon as well. 
Lesson learnt - Always register together. Don't trust people without passports to participate in international events.  

As per SCM statistics, 12,000 runners participated in the half marathon. And a total of 54,000 runners participated in the different categories. What I learned from this marathon is that even though we all run towards the same finish line, each and every one of the runners are engaging in a different marathon in their minds. Each one of us have a different demon to tackle. I absolutely fell in love with the idea and guess what, registered for the next run with my girlfriends :) 

While running, we all spot someone as markers. We tend to keep up with them. When we fall behind and eventually catch up with our marker runners, it feels great. What we realise is that we have those markers not to compete with, but to keep up with. Those are the runners who help us to keep up our pace and help us achieve our targets.

Personally I enjoyed this 21K run more than last year’s 10K.  The route for half marathon here is amazing - starting from beach side and then through the universal studios where the whole of Madagascar, Sesame Street, Shrek & Co. and even Marylin Monroe cheer for us. After that we get to run along the expressway enjoying the views of the Marina and downtown Singapore! 

I want to encourage each and everyone of you to attempt a communal event or sports which would test and push your limits.  I want you to enjoy and revel in the incredible feeling when the target is achieved. It is an amazing experience running the race and getting the emotional and motivational high. 

When we crossed the finish line, I still couldn’t believe that we achieved such an amazing feat! Two years back, if you had told me that I would be running a distance of 21K I would have laughed at you. But today I feel proud of my achievement.  

Obviously, the most important factor in all my runs is Manu. Cheers to him for constantly pushing my limits, motivating me always and at times dragging me along ;) 


Little India Riot , Singapore

December 8, 2013 will go down in the history of Singapore as the day when riots broke all over Little India.

If you haven't heard about the riots yet, skim through the news here. It has been more than 24 hours since this incident happened. Most people I know, even the ones who have never taken any interest in Singapore till now, are aware of this incident. Thanks to the amazing news coverage, facebook and twitter feeds & not to forget real time videos in youtube! Rioting in Singapore is so unimaginable and shocking, that the Indian community here talked more about the riots than the revolutionary election results back home! 

Unlike the riots in India which commonly results in a "Bandh", many involved were rounded up under police custody within couple of hours. The whole street was cleaned up by early morning and most business resumed as usual.  

The Deputy Prime minister called for a conference within hours (by midnight)and ensured the citizens that situation was under control. You could find pictures of him on site inspection as well.  

Prime minister has ordered a committee of enquiry into the happenings, the factors leading to it and on how efficiently the situation was managed. His press statement begins so -  "The riot in Little India was a very serious incident. There is no excuse for such violent and criminal behaviour. We are investigating the incident thoroughly and will deal with the culprits with the full force of the law.

This area where the riot occurred was a popular gathering place for workers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and SriLanka. On Sunday evenings, guys used to get together there, buy alcohol and drink together in the grounds.  I am specifically using past tense for these sentences because, this is Singapore and such an incident will not repeat. The government, which had turned a blind eye on this weekly entertainment won't do so again. For starters, there is a complete ban on alcohol sales in the riot area for the coming weekend!

The strong message sent out by government doesn't stop just in Little India. All over the public transport system, messages and posters are on display. 

The message is loud and clear. 
In this country, Rioting Achieves Nothing But Caning And Imprisonment!


Yaay! Its announced...

Yesterday, Creative Technology Ltd announced a new high performance external sound card – the Sound Blaster® Omni Surround 5.1. If itz within my means to say, this is one of the best products from Creative! Ofcourse, I got to work on it :)

When I joined Creative last year, I had to battle my way through a lot of unknowns. Leaving the personal stuff aside for 10 different posts, I could ramble just about the technical challenges, for hours.

 In the beginning of 2012, if somebody had told me that I would be doing windows based programing and struggling to understand the kernel driver architecture, I would have outrightly laughed at such a suggestion. Well, over the year and well into 2013, that is exactly what I did. I had always been working with embedded systems and had no clue about host based programing. What I took upon myself was to learn the USB protocol and write windows driver software for soundcards. But when eventually it happened and the product is out there, I feel immensely proud and happy.

When I read the press release, I am even more thrilled that I got to be part of this product.

 "On top of enhancing audio playback via Creative's SBX Pro Studio™ suite of processing technologies, the Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1 goes a step further to provide a more complete playback experience. The sound card comes with a 600 ohm headphone amplifier that allows discerning listeners to hear every enhanced audio detail through powerful studio-grade monitoring headphones.

"Beyond a complete playback experience, the Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1 also features impressive recording capabilities that will be appreciated by today’s new generation of audio content creators, including podcasters and budding YouTube musicians. It houses a built-in dual array microphone that records clear audio, and all recorded audio is further enhanced and cleaned up via Creative’s CrystalVoice™ technologies."

Read more about this souncard HERE


How to beat "silly" everyday panic ?

For me, the easiest way to recover from a bad feeling or cherish a good feeling, is by writing it down. And hence this post.

Last Thursday, when we were riding back from work, it started drizzling. Traffic was heavy as well. We were riding slow, but I saw the bike ahead of us in the next lane trying to switch, and then skidding and hitting a divider pole. Luckily, the skid wasn't that bad and he wasn't hurt. But, I was terrified and re-lived the feeling of helplessness when a bike goes out of control. 
In 2012, somewhere in September, we had a bad evening. As always with the Singapore skies, it started raining suddenly while we were on the roads. Manu is a very careful rider and I have never felt any fear to be his pillion. Those days, the bike rides in the rain were charming and romantic. But, since he had just upgraded to a 400CC bike, he realized that it might be risky to ride in the rain. So, we cancelled our plans for the evening and headed home. As the rain was getting steadily stronger, we decided that it would be safer to ride home(in the opposite direction of the rain) rather than wait it out with a kopi-c. We were relieved to see that the rain towards our home had subsided. We relaxed a bit and continued our chit-chat ride. Alas, the evening took an unexpected turn when the tires slipped away in the wet roads. Luckily we were on a small bridge and the traffic was sparse(I assume it was because we were going in the opposite direction of the city).
After what felt like an eternity, we were safely on the tarmac in one piece. I had been pushed out of the bike, the moment it lost balance. While I was skidding through the roads I had precisely two thoughts in my mind - 1. Hold on to the helmet as tightly as possible, so that even if a vehicle ran over me, I wouldn't have a squished brain. 2. Praying - yes, praying and hoping Manu was OK. I couldn't see him. All I could see was the grey horizon becoming brighter, for some reason.
Once the movement stopped, I sat upright and to be honest, I have never been more happier to see Manu walking towards me!
I realized the adrenaline power that day. I had big angry bruises on my knees and I could see the blood slowly gushing out. Despite my extremely low pain tolerance, I did not feel a thing. I saw an SUV coming towards us and parking horizontally to protect us from following traffic. The kind driver ran to our spot to help us with the bike and offered to send us to the hospital. We were not in a real bad situation, so we thanked him and declined his offer to drive to the hospital. I took a cab home while Manu rode beside us. Luckily he had only minor scratches in the arms. Later, when we went to the clinic to dress up the wounds, I realized that it was super painful. After a few days spent in the bed, I was physically all right.

But, from that day I am terribly afraid of riding in the rains and changing lanes. Even after a year, I am still nervous at the slight angle at which the bike tilts when changing lanes and entering expressways.  But, I do not want to stop riding with Manu, as it is something special we have been having for so many years. Now a days, he chooses long traffic hogged roads to express-ways. It is a joking point for my friends when I get restless until Manu messages me "I reached" every time, when riding without me. I try to talk myself down from being anxious and tell myself that he is just held up in traffic. But, somehow my fear overcomes my confidence and the demon wins. 

I hope someone out there has better, stronger solutions to help me and would reach back with suggestions. 


Frugal Living

Call me stingy or call me prudent; I am always in for resource saving and optimization.
Be it to find out the best value-for-money place to stay, or "researching" online for sales of household stuff or waiting for flight deals. I proudly acknowledge it! Once I know about an amazing deal, I have this irresistible urge to spread the word. The idea is, the more people who need the stuff, makes use of the sale; the more we save! Right ? I can't help those people who accumulate unwanted stuff just because it is one sale. For their own good, I don't inform them ;)

What triggered all these thoughts about my character ?
I have a sprained neck today and damn, all those pain relievers are at home. I rummaged around my desk and found this teeny tiny tube of muscle relaxant which came in the last year's Stan Chart Marathon goodie bag. Since it wasn't heavy, I had carried it around in my purse and was quite handy when my colleague needed it (even though she was perplexed why I had it with me). I had left it in my cabinet when I felt that there might be more to squeeze out of the tube. Today, when I was desperate for it and was lazy to walk out, I decided to put that tiny tube of medicine to maximum use. 

Mission Accomplished!
(PS : I can't wait to get home to be lectured by Manu on how stingy I have become :O )

It got me thinking about the resources we waste due to packaging constraints. Other than the tubular packs, I could come up with one another important resource - Last drops of perfume.
When I pay about 50$ for a 100ml bottle of CK, how much do I waste when I let go of the last few drops when they insist not to spurt out! I googled a bit and found that people have found a way to exctract it as well ;)

I want to write down a few domestic tips I learned, mainly from family, which has made my life easier:
  • When closing the lid on the instant coffee, make sure it is air-tight, so the coffee remains usable. Using a tissue paper around the rim helps.
  • Well, if you really messed it up once and the coffee powder became a lump, don't throw away. Add hot-water to the bottle and let it sit and absorb the caffiene. Once it cools down, store it in the fridge! Applicable to health drinks like Horlicks ;)
  • Don't throw away zip locks if you are packing jam sandwich or croissants for breakfast. They can serve you on a few more morning meals.
  • Make your own yogurt. (Apparently milk is cheaper)
  • Manu's favourite - Make a list! (for everything)
  • Multi-task while cooking. Saves the most precious - TIME. Pack separately and freeze those dishes which you plan to use in 3-4 days. If you insist of freshly cooked food everyday, make a funny face and move to next point.
  • Ferrero rocher boxes are excellent for keeping small jewellery.
  • Invest in a pair of good slippers for in-home use. I never agreed on it until I realized the difference.
  • Always utilize the point system in airlines, hotels, credit cards. You will eventually amass free nights or free flights! True story!!
  • And the most important one! Luckily, it came true for me. Find a guy obsessed with cleanliness (slight traces of OCD desirable) & marry him.

Comment with more tips, if you have any! Waiting .. !!


I have a DREAM

Everyone knows about the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. Almost everyone knows about the tough times people had to go through during those days of intense racism. Now situation has mellowed down a lot.

Still, as humans, we get flustered and confused, feel wronged and are angered at the slightest hints of racism - whether it be a snigger in the face or a gesture or the body language with which 'the other guy' uttered something in a completely foreign language. I did not realize or experience this until I started living in Singapore, a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation where the so-called subtle racism is very prevalent. The media is frequently flooded with real-time stories of how silly racist remarks posted in social media, have cost people their career and life. There was an instance where a Singaporean lady finally immigrated to another country and had to change her name, to escape the bad publicity she bought upon herself with the racist remarks!
Earlier in August, when I was staying in a hostel in the Gili Islands, I came across these beautiful lines, painted on the bathroom walls. (Good idea there! everybody is forced to read it ;) )

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring! "

Back home I found that it was an extract from his courageous speech and was awed by it! 
Listen to the crowd agreeing with him and embracing his words for completely understanding their feelings. Listen and understand the way the hope of the entire crowd is lifted! Listen to how the people in the background hang on to each word he uttered. Listen to how he became a Legend!


Even after 50 years, the speech is still so powerful and relevant in our world! It moves, motivates, conforts and gives hope to thousands of people across the globe. The crowd that gathered at Lincoln memorial on 08/28, the efforts by various media to stream the speech and enormous number of views in Youtube proves it true.


ST Run 2013 - so much for all the hype!

Disclaimer - I am not trying to be part of the complaining society, but spilling out the facts that need to be out there in the net. My intention of writing this post is not entirely to crib on how bad the event management was, but to direct pointers to the management, and to serve as a caution for ST runners next year.

I was thrilled when I read an advetorial about STRun in the park 2013. I saw it as a training run for the Standard chartered Run at the end of the year. When I called up a few of my friends who are into running, it eventually became an opportunity for us to spend some sporting time together and discover a new park route. We signed up as a bunch and started the prep. Some of us were running 10K and some were doing their first 5K.

#1 Alarm bells started ringing when the race pack collection was set for the National Day/ Hari Raya long weekend! Of all the days, the ST team chose these particular days when most people would be out of the island or busy visiting relatives! Luckily, Kanan and D were in town and they helped all of us with the race pack collection. After all the fuss, the L size marathon Tee resembles an XL and Manu was not able to use it for the run!
Possible solution - Be reasonable and relevant. After all, being the national daily, you should know the crowd behavior and expectations!

#2 When the 10K was gunned off at 7.15 on August 25th 2013, most runners didn't realize that it would be under the balzing sun all the way, with limited water supplies. There were only 3 water stations along the route and very ill prepared. Runners had to queue while the glasses were being filled! At one station, I skipped the hydration to avoid the long queue and it was a mistake which I couldn't foget because of the throbbing headache throughtout the day.
Possible solution - This route might be good for an evening run. But, for the next year, if the management plans to keep the park runs, choose another park with better sun protection OR consider alternate timing.
More resources should be allocated at water stations and increase the number of water points as well, so that runners would take staggered stops.

#3 Obviously, the management had conveniently overlooked the capacity of the punggol waterway and the serangoon reservoir park connector when they decided on the number of runners. I heard from the 5K runners that they were briskly walking or slightly pacing an obstacle course!
Possible solution -  Set the maximum cap on registration based on the park capacity, or if this intends to grow into a big event, find better routes for the event

#4 Unlike other marathons, there were no cheer persons to motivate us to keep going, One volunteer at the 8K mark was sitting there utterly bored and yawning! The only cheer we got from was from a park visitor who was quite happy to see the thousands of blue clad runners :)
Possible solution - Allocate more cheer leaders by the water stations and at kilometers marks. Motivate them enough with goodies or freebies so that they in turn pass on the cheer to participants.

#5 I hated the supposed-to-be motivating captions at the kilometer marks. There were some captions like - "Stop reading this and keep running", which I did not find humurous at the 9K/14K Mark!
The worst one was - "Smile, because you are still ahead of the people behind you!" I couldn't believe that organizers are unaware of the fact that apart for the top 1% of the runners, marathon is not about competing with the rest of the crowd. It is about fighting demons within, runner's block and most importantly achieving the incredible satisfaction at the finish line at the end of months of hard training !
Possible solution - Run a campagin similar to SCM and collect motiavtional quotes from runners and choose positive, relevant and most inspiring quotes.

#6 When the last water station at 10/15K mark ran out of water supplies , I thought that this was the worst part of the run. To get some water we had to walk long way to the carnival area in the still balzing sun, where each runner had to queue for the end-point drinks. Each was alloted only 1 small bottle and a can of 100 plus.
The goodie bags and medal collection were clubbed together. Manu rightly pointed out that, in a country full of queue loving people, this organizer has succesfully mis-managed a queuing system! They were even assembling the contents and magazines of the goodie bag while the finishers were queueing. D said that she spent more time queuing than running !
Possible solution - Find a better event management team who are ready to learn from present mistakes. Don't cut corners lah!

#7 The medal is stamped in big bold letters with Straits Times Appreciates Readers (STAR) branding and sponsors titles! I wonder how this could be a STAR event, when each runner paid 50$ for this terrible experience.
Possible solution - Set the event goal clear! Is it to really to appreciate the readers ? Or just another ad campaign ?

Overall, a very diasppointining event management and a marathon not be attended next year.

Still, I must say thanks to my buddy finishers who remained motivated against all odds and successfully
finished the trails :)
Proud finishers
D (Divya), Kanan, Kapil, Priyanka, Manu and Me!
(Background - Goodie bag collection)



Now, That is a catchy headline!

Last week, Creative Technology Ltd announced the Creative Sound Blaster® EVO™ ZxR and Sound Blaster® EVO™ Zx – the world’s first wireless headsets that utilise a built-in multi-core Sound Blaster SB-Axx1™ processor for enhancement and customisation of audio quality for playback of music, movies and games and for voice communications.

It is as awesome as a headset can be!
This series of headsets enhances audio in real-time.With their integrated SB-Axx1 processors and SBX Pro Studio™ technology, the Sound Blaster EVO headsets deliver immpresive audio that was previously only available with the Creative Sound Blaster PC sound card.  BT connectivity gets it wireless and the android app rocks the red theme! I will to get the gaming modes evaluated by Manu pretty soon.
The headsets are also awesome for phone calls, especially when you want to pull a prank on your friends or family. My favourite feature is the microphone effects ;) I just talked to Manu in a male voice and irritated him to a good measure! I can't wait to try the 'Munchkin' effect on the next call :-() 


Lift your skirt , save your life ?

Do you agree ?

If you are following the latest media activities in India, you would think this is another stupendous solution provided by another 'famous' figure head to prevent rape.
I am sure some swami or neta or guru'ji' wouldn't hesitate to suggest it as a way to prevent getting raped.
If someone is coming on full power at you, just comply to his needs so your life could be saved !!

But, I came across this statement in Singapore, on a full sized poster ad with a lady's skirt flying up.
Part ll - The end !  ;) 
Somebody knowingly or unknowingly put a second poster adjacent to it.

The caption is so powerful and 'innovative' that I had to stop on the tracks and walk towards the poster so I could understand the divine purpose.
There it goes, zoomed into the content, below the distracting picture.And the campaign is in fact launched by Singapore Cancer Society, as an awareness campaign to detect cervical cancer. 

According to a survey result released last year by Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore, cancer is the #1 killer in this nation. Among the cancer victims, 4% of females were battling against cancer of the cervix. The most hope giving factor is that Cervical cancer found in early stages can be successfully treated.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) of Singapore is an establishment run by the government. They have come up with an amazing initiative, to provide subsidized PAP smear tests for early detection of cervical cancer. 

Pap smear helps to detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix early and allow for more effective treatment against cervical cancer. The chances of cervical cancer can also be reduced by vaccination against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). 

With the subsidies in place, Singaporeans get to do the screening @ S$ 15 while Permanent Residents would get it for a marginally higher S$ 22.5. 
Earlier this year, when I went for a PAP smear test, I paid around S$ 80. 

I am pretty impressed with the programs, except for the tag line ! 
The weird caption serves the purpose, people would definitely take a second look ;) 
Kudos to HPB!


Happy Mother's day

When you are away from home, what reminds you of your home the most ? What makes you miss your home the most ? Would a sudden wiff of that heavenly food your mom cooks, take you home in a matter of seconds ?

The beautiful assortment of everyday smell in my mother's kitchen was the best smell of my home. And I have been missing that for more than 10 years. That is how long it has been since my mom passed away.
After a decade, during this mother's day, I celebrated it in the best way I could. I have finally come into terms with her being away and I have decided to let her go. This doesn't mean that I would not be crying over the precious memories of her or I would stop wishing a zillion times if she were here with me, or would not be spilling silly billy tears over videos or reads on mom's love. I will always miss my mother. But, now I recognize that she cannot and will not come back to me.

Like everyone's mom, my mother knew what I loved, what made me happy and what my favourite dishes were. A usual curry in a brahmin house is sambhar or rasam. But my mom knew that I detested them both (If she sees the way I slurp over sambhar now, she would say "this is not my daughter!"). My favourite meal was a simple fried coconut gravy with kerala brown rice and pappadam. No one, not even my grand mother or chithi makes it the way mum used to cook. And it stopped being part of my cuisine, when my mom left me. So did many other important things.
I had been so disconnected from how those days used to be. I even forgot about my favourite meal. This fact hit me only a few months back when my dear friend Tisy sent me the recipes of a bunch of brahmin dishes.

Today I decided to bring back the happy memories of my mom back to life, one at a time. I came home from work and dedicated the evening to make that simply curry. When that nostalgic old smell filled my kitchen, memories of happy moments flooded my heart. By the end of the cooking session, I felt like having spent the whole evening with my lovely mother.

I feel, I am finally at peace, after a long long time. I know having Manu's family is my greatest strength now. After being together for more than two years, I am finally feeling secure enough that I will not be deprived of mother's love any more.

You lucky ones out there, who have your mom by your side, did you tell how much you love her and you know how much more she loves you back?


Farrer Farrer, where are you ?

Finally realization dawns on SMRT or LTA that people could really get confused between the "Farrer Park" mrt station in the North East line and "Farrer Road" mrt station in the new circle line !

They are kind enough to put up transit directions now

How many confused tourists and store goers did it take for SMRT to finally realize that ?

If the LTA says that the Farrer Rd station had to have that name because the public knows that place only by that name, I wouldn't buy it. I did a quick check with my friends. Most of them did not even know such a place existed, until this MRT station was unveiled  Singaporeans definitely do not lack creativity when coming up with names! So, the question lingers, why Farrer ?


Letter to the editor

My next letter to the editor was published in the national newspaper on 20th March 2013.
The excitement and motivation levels have risen :)

Writing letters to the editor is a whole new experience compared to writing a memory or a blog post. The article has to have a few characteristics. For starters, the content has to be well thought, precise, have the potential to make the readers/authorities think and as my good friend pointed out, should be constructive.

Thank you my readers and critics for encouraging me to come up with better articles each time.


Custard with a zeSt

When parties are decided out of the blue, do not stress yourself in the kitchen.
Custards are always a delight :) 

Add Orange zest to the custard mix while you are setting it to cool.
Chill the fruits separately and add them later to the custard.


The CNY eve

I promise that after this one last post about the CNY holidays, I will move on!
I have a more interesting note to write about underwater robots, but this has to go in first! In my later years, when I look back at 2013 and try to remember what the h*ll I was spending my days on, I want this to be on the chart! Because it was a fun night. :-)
Moreover, this is the most recent holidays we have had and so automatically it is a high!

Note : I will swallow as many words as I can and let the pictures speak.

I love the Chinese New Year season for the yearly supply of mandarin oranges, love letters and other goodies, amazing decorations in Chinatown and not-so-amazing fireworks on the eve. Continuing the yearly tradition, we set out to see the lights.  They were as magnificent as ever! Then I noticed the posters about River Hongbau 2013 - unlike the US budget, Singapore is in surplus and spending cuts are unheard of ;) Well, the River Hongbau was a full fledged celbrations complete with lighting up the whole riverside, enormous floats and decorations at the Marina, food street and what I had wished for - mega scale fireworks !
For the 2013 actual New Year's we had missed most of the fireworks due to "technical errors"(Please note my usage of the most handy term when situations are better left unexplained) . So, this time, we determinedly went early as 8.30, to catch the whole fun !

Prepared we were! An ideal field day, Aye ?
Lights, Camera & with the right spirits

That is the fortune god. He was periodically showering lucky numbers for the year!

Candy time .. Oh we had so much fun! :)

The carnival - I missed Teena here.
She is the only other one in the gang ready for these rides.

The grand finale !

Photo credits : Dragonfly 


A day at the President's

We spent this CNY break in Singapore and finally had a chance to visit the Istana. That is where the Singapore President lives and works. Common folks get to visit the grounds only during the open house. These are the vast lush greens in the midst of the city, which we see from rooftops like Marina Bay Sands or while riding up in the Singapore flyer.
The entry is free for locals and residents, while foreigners(including those who are here on work visas or dependent pass) have to pay a dollar as entrance fee. You can read all about Istana here.
I overlooked the fact that many people were looking forward to the open-house just like me. By the time we leisurely finished our holiday brunch and reached Istana, we were greeted by an enormous queue extending all the way to the adjacent shopping mall (Plaza Singapura).

The first sight. 
Now I know why Manu doesn't feel suffocated  in a crowded place.  He hovers above the crowd! 

But the security screenings were impressively fast and we entered the gates in around 20 minutes. The grounds are enormous and well maintained.Kids will love it there with acres to run around and fountains to play with!

Sunbathing - a major activity at Istana

At the president's fountain!

Spot me ? Am I contemplating? Nope! Just trying to count the trees

There were guided tours of the Istana main building for a small fees. Usually, we always get distracted during guided tours because I always come up with significant stories on my own and then there is the camera.  We always lag behind the group and end up irritating either the guide or the group or at least the guards. So this time, we wisely decided not to be guided. We purchased a 2$ ticket to get into the building and drool at the beautiful and expensive stuff gifted by various nations. 

The Istana with the dramatic clouds which appeared suddenly.
Those clouds appeared exactly when I told Manu "Istana grounds are the perfect picnic spot!"

Upon entering the main building, I was disappointed that only one floor was open to public and photography was not allowed. I did not see any national secrets there. Since dignitaries from many nations have visited these rooms, there wasn't any secret to be kept from the outside world. If there were any secret passages, they are hidden well enough(I peeked hard didn't find any). So, I strongly think photography should be allowed.

My recommendation.
It is interesting for a one time visit, especially for families with little ones to entertain. Keep a look out on the schedules in the Istana website, if you are in town during public holidays. 

Lion dance inside shopping malls – Is it good luck ?

As much as I love the Chinese New Celebrations, holidays, sales, open houses and deals, there are annoying aspects to it as well. As part of the CNY celebrations, I witnessed multiple lion dance performances on the HDB estates and other public areas. In general, residents accept the importance of this particular tradition for the Chinese community. But, this time around I couldn’t help but wonder if the celebrations went a bit overboard. Along with other shoppers, I had to suffer through the lion dance performance inside shopping malls like IMM(managed by CapitaMalls Asia) and Vivocity(managed by Mapletree Commercial Trust).

As the loud drum beats and celebrations continued in the enclosed areas, I looked around to understand the crowd response. There were a few curious kids and smart phone (camera) users whose attention was on the performance. Otherwise, for the majority of the people, irrespective of the race, it was plain inconvenience. The retailers who had not engaged the performers were having a tough time interacting with their customers. Meanwhile, a good number of customers were reaching for the exits.

I couldn’t help wondering if the management of these shopping malls had given considerable thought before approving such performance? Were any alternative solutions considered?

After thinking a bit about it, I could come up with two practical proposals for the next year’s round of blessings. Most convenient option is to organize the lion dance at the entrance of the shopping mall, in a common open space. Or if the retailers strictly believe in having their establishment blessed individually, the performance should be arranged outside the operating hours of the mall, so that it would not disturb the general public. Since such performances are planned ahead in schedule, a notice should be put up about the timings and interested people could come and watch the performance, while others could stay away.

I hope the managements would show more sense next time round !


Most intrigued I am

Time and again, I have stumbled upon numberous funny signs and warnings  in the Singapore streets.
But this is one of a kind. No warnings, no explanations - just a door opening to the air in the second floor!
Someone is expected to use that as an entrance as well.

 And it is a 2 way door!