The rest of the Chinese New Year holidays

Leaf-littered stairs

Tuesday: Walked. A lot. And then it was Bukit Chandu, just in time for the annual sounding of the Public Warning System to commemorate the fall of Singapore in World War II. As I tweeted: surreal.

Tuesday night: Drank. A lot. And then it was dawn.

Wednesday: A blur. The good kind. And then the long weekend was over.

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Be kind, Rewind

It's an odd thing to have an acquaintance come out to you as you're on your way out of a jam-packed inch-sideways-through-the-crowd gay bar --- not odd as in "I don't need to know", but odd as in I guess him seeing me in a gay bar made him think, ah, she's hanging out here, she must be okay to come out to, and so he did, half-shouting it so that I could hear him above the music and crowd noise.

Of course, it's even odder to have another friend introduce me to his gay friends at that same bar, only to follow up every introduction with an emphatic, "But she's not a lesbian." He said it's so that they know to introduce their eligible straight friends to me. I said it made me feel like I should have a disclaimer plastered to my forehead.

Not-odd was stumbling across another acquaintance's birthday party at the same bar. I didn't clink any champagne, but I gave him a hug and it was very nice to see him surrounded by the people he loves and who love him dearly.

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Dinner and drinks

Still life in a bar

Three women in their mid-thirties met for dinner, and we all turned up in grey tops and either jeans or black pants. "Eh, we can form a girl band already," I said when we met at Raffles City.

After drinks, I took a taxi home and asked the cab driver for a receipt. He said, "What company you working for? Drinking still can claim."



Kick-starting the week

Nature reinterpreted

Every Monday morning should start with Monty Python: "On comedy's flying trapeze" (thanks, sarah!).

Every Monday evening should end with drinks at Majestic Bar and making new friends (or even just one).

(I can't believe it's October already. Where did the year go?)

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Do you believe

Twice recently, friends who don't know me super-well have been surprised to hear me profess to being an atheist. On the first occasion, a friend --- a lapsed Catholic whose grandfather had been an avowed atheist and promulgator of atheism, no less --- said something along the lines of, "Wow, really? That seems so ... bleak."

Is it? Unrelated to that, I stumbled upon "ProAction Cafe Singapore- thinking collaboratively", which described an event whereat, among other questions, this one was discussed: "Are atheists basically religious at heart?" I can't speak for others --- actually, I don't know for a fact if I know any other atheists --- but I think if one were to seriously describe oneself as an atheist, it's probably not out of a flippant attitude to religion or religiosity, and hopefully out of a genuine consideration of ideas about religion and faith.

The second time I happened to mention being atheist was last night, at Zouk waiting for John Digiweed to show up. You could say that a dance club with pounding music too loud for you to talk is an odd place to have a conversation about religion --- or you could say that given the moments of communion one might find through that music, with it, that it's perfectly apropos.

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Bits and pieces, here and there

A week ago, I was getting very, very drunk on beer and soju. I blame it on the Korean friends (old and brand-new) who were in town. As I wrote in my "Food & Drink" chapter for the Lonely Planet Korea guidebook update, "Koreans drink enough soju that the brand Jinro Soju (the green bottles are everywhere) is the top-selling brand of spirits worldwide."

A day (er, night) ago, I was at HOME Club, people-watching and catching up with old friends. It's good for that, plus right around 1 a.m. on Friday nights, they like spinning The Killers.

A month ago, I was madly writing about Korea.

This past week, I've been wrestling with the essay that is taking shape oh-so-slowly. It's a spot of pro bono work, so I'd better load up on some pay copy after this.

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A weekend of mooching

No horsin' around

Good meals eaten: 3, at Picotin on Friday, La Petite Cuisine this afternoon and Canopy tonight.

Alcohol imbibed: 2 glasses of wine, 1 half-litre of German beer and 1 mediocre vodka 7-up (Night & Day really needs to get better bartenders).

New clothes acquired: 1 skirt --- finally, a denim skirt that I like.

Kilometres cycled: 4-5 today, although it would've helped if the cycling path at Bishan Park were not overrun by joggers and amblers.

Friends caught up with: 13. Whoopee!

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Celebrating National Day

I did not see The Dark Knight. But I did see The Swordfish, Then the Concubine at the Singapore Theatre Festival, as well as the exhibition about The Artists' Village at the Singapore Art Museum, and some Vietnamese art. Plus it was all free (thank you, museums who had a free day and Ming who had complimentary tickets to the play).

The only part of the National Day Parade I watched was on the bus on my way to town for the play. As it turned out, the audience on bus was predominantly non-Singaporean. Workers from the Indian subcontinent were clearly the parade's biggest fans, huddling around the screen near the front of the bus. A group of students (coincidentally also Indian) were behaving as most teenagers of any nationality do when it comes to such things: chatting about girls and boys they fancied, listening to funny audio files on each other's cell phones, and taking the piss out of the odd flash of activity they caught on the TV screen.

When the bus passed by Lavender and Arab Streets, most of its passengers tumbled out and the parade lost its audience --- which made me wonder just how much Singapore is still segregated by race and language (perhaps all the more so given current government policies towards "foreign workers", "foreign talent" and "foreign students").

After the play, Ming and I went for very low-key beer and supper in the Bras Basah area. The low-key part was what I found astonishing, since the parade had ended around the same time not ten minutes' walk away, yet the streets we passed were fairly deserted. I guess all the party people were already at the party places, and all the people worn out from the parade extravaganza went home to put up their feet.

There would be pictures to illustrate this post, but I'm not very good at shooting in crowded situations.

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Crazy is ...

The National Museum goes MPH

Not the thousands and thousands of people swarming the Night Festival last night, but the fact that somebody decided Sunday would be a good time to run a loud motor all day to slice up the tree that they chopped down on Friday. (They have to slice it up into more manageable chunks so that they can transport the lumber away.)

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up on writing because I only cranked out twenty words instead of a thousand yesterday, and they were twenty crappy words that I promptly deleted today.

Sunday = day of rest? Not likely.

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Serendipity is ...

Going to the Long Bar at the Raffles, because Timbre at the Arts House was packed, only to run into the friend that's only ever in town for two weeks of the year (and she leaves tomorrow).

So what I thought would be a quiet drink to round off the night, turned into several hours of bar-hopping and too many green tea vodkas, not to mention a little cute-boy stalking at Mox. The friend wanted to chiong (go all-out for the night, i.e. party till dawn), but I begged off by 1:30 am. As it was, I had a teeny hangover this morning and it took me two hours to sufficiently rehydrate.

Nothing like the holiday season to remind me that I'm getting old ...




Ladies who wine

After the wining

Not all the time, but twice last night --- once at Hermitage, and again at Wine Connection. But we did not whine, because it's the Xmas season and we have much to be grateful for. Like pink coin purses and vacations to Australia and iPhones.

Okay, so none of those were mine. But I have new earphones and I managed to avoid being stuck with a week's worth of Xmas leftovers and I have free tickets to Maria Sharapova this Sunday. Not bad for a season I barely got warmed up for.

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The week in pictures

Sea view

On Monday, I went out to sea. But only for a little while and it was choppy enough that I had to stop taking notes and concentrate on the horizon to quell the potential seasickness. Now I know exactly where some of the Southern Islands are, like Kusu and St John's. They always seemed such a long boat ride away when I was a kid.

PS: Our port is truly, irredeemably ugly.

Nature reinterpreted

On Wednesday, I popped in on Culturepush's Next Stop: Wonderland tour of Majestic Bar. Groovy art. Besides Yuki Chong's stained-glass ceiling installation (above), I'm also in love with Sandra Lee's third-floor blue-room set-up, staircase and all.

They don't build 'em like this anymore

Yesterday, there was ROJAK. I hadn't been to one in some time, and since my Singapore Writers Festival panel put me right across the street from the old City Hall where it was happening, I had no excuse not to drop by for a bit (until my stomach demanded to be fed anyway). It was very, very cool to be sitting in the same room that I've seen in so many black and white photographs of historic events.

Things that I forgot to take pictures of this week:
  • The also very cool Dual City Sessions party on Friday night, where I ran into all and sundry, and managed to finally meet a couple of people that I'd been hearing about for the longest time. Other people have pictures on Flickr; all I've got to show for myself is a pair of well-worn wedges (lots of traipsing up and down the stairs), a resolution to bring my mom to see what her Old School has become, and the vicarious thrill of reporting that I loaned Daniel the camera to make his art.
  • The Reel Blogging panel I did yesterday evening, which I completed failed to even, er, publicise. Good thing Stefan was, as usual, quick with the blog post and the camera to record what went down.
Pardon the lack of more eloquent descriptive phrases. My brain's all used up from crunching text for that Very Important deadline.

No pictures of the new Macbook yet. Let me post this, then I can go play with it.


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Champagne and celluloid

The fake lake somewhere in Jurong

Another museum project all wrapped up and open to the public. Not that I had as much of a finger in this one, but it's nice to be able to mark something done and done (TM Stellou). At first we thought there wasn't going to be alcohol at the reception after the opening ceremony, because, I dunno, it's an official army event, but then they busted out the beer (and wine) and I was like, duh, of course there's alcohol, this is an army event.

(Army men sit around in the mess and drink beer a lot. I know this because my dad was one of them.)

The post-party party was at The Screening Room at Ann Siang Hill, where plenty of alcohol was served but no films, just a looped reel on Paris Fashion Week, set to a soundtrack of the DJ's own. We were in the basement lounge and I'm told there's a very nice rooftop bar too, but I didn't make it up there. My feet aren't used to wearing high heels anymore, so I plonked myself on a couch and mostly sipped champagne instead (although there was a small dancing incident).

There has been a lot of faffing around this week and I really need to Get. Focused.

Celluloid craziness


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Getting around

So we were at one end of Depot Road and wondering how to get to the other end, so that we could mosey over to Handlebar at Gillman Village for some cold beer. When we got to the bus stop, I scanned the list of bus services and said, "Okay, we can't take 195 and I don't know about 57, but we can definitely take 175." To which my friend said, "How do you know these things?" To which I wanted to quote Stellou's immortal lines from two Christmases ago:
"I am a worm. I can find my way places."
For really, sometimes it seems that I am. Give me a map and I'm good to go. The map at the Braddell MRT station got me to block 970 along Toa Payoh North so that I could drop off my laptop for repair, and Streetdirectory.com got me to DSTA Tower B for a client meeting. Later the bus got us to Alexandra Road and by 6 pm we had frosted mugs of Heineken in our hands.

Now if only every day could end this way ...


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Not quite the weekend off

The apple martinis at Winebar are too sweet. Plus when combined with a generous dose of champagne (at a party in mock celebration of an "en bloc" eviction, no less), it meant that I popped awake this morning after only five paltry hours of sleep.

Although perhaps it's just as well, since I have a deadline looming tomorrow and the work is barely halfway done.

*[insert other "virtual" fretting-type gesture]*

The next time someone tells me that editing and/or typesetting for publication is easy-peasy and shouldn't require such high fees, I am going to whack them over the head with a mallet the size of my accummulated eye strain over the last two days.


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Random thought

And then, some days, the dilemma is: what do I wear that's apropos for meeting a potential new client this afternoon and going to the open-air Muse concert at Fort Canning tonight?


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Happy New Year!

Salads and couscous

I ate so much at X-man's party last night that I failed to take any pictures of all our party-poppers going off at midnight. Blame it on the bountiful salads and yummy couscous cooked up by the guest cook, not to mention X-man's shepherd's pie, which tasted much better than its low-fat ingredients would have one believe.

You know we're getting old(er) 'cause we had the good sense to cover our drinks with tissue paper a few minutes before midnight, to make sure that they wouldn't get tainted by any errant party-popper streamers. Also, I suspect everyone actually ate more than they drank.

And so, abruptly, here we are in 2007.


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Bah humbug

Did you think a motorcycle bar would have an Xmas tree like this?

This Xmas, I have been feeling a bit of a sourpuss. I suspect it's the guilt that comes from yielding to laziness and deciding that I really wasn't sending any Xmas cards or buying any Xmas presents --- wanting to soak up the festive joy without putting in the work, so to speak. I actually made a face over the phone last night when my mother called to remind me to bring gifts for the gift exchange at my aunt's place today.

Fittingly, the last episode of Veronica Mars that I watched last night before going out to an Xmas party was the season 2 holiday episode:
Veronica (voice-over): New Year's Eve. Someone just needs to change the name to Same Old Year's Eve, because that "New," implying all that hope and promise, it's not fooling anyone.
Last night's party sure felt like a warm-up to New Year's Eve. For one thing, there was an actual countdown to Xmas, which arrival was then heralded with plenty of silly string and fake snow being aerosol'ed all over people. Fortunately, none of it got on my new shirt.

Give it up for the red and green

I think it's time for a nap.

Merry Xmas, everyone!


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Xmas is coming

A Caffeine Xmas

I know Xmas is coming because I've attended 2 Xmas parties since Thursday, been gobsmacked at the prettiness of Xmas trees everywhere I go (it seems that there's been a resurgence of good taste this year, as evidenced in no small part by Raffles City's classic Xmas tree) and been regaled by friends' and associates' triumphant tales of completing their Xmas shopping well before Xmas proper.

Nevertheless, and much as I love the season, I haven't had the energy or zest to dig out our Xmas decorations or low-maintenance Muji Xmas tree, or to buy pressies. Mostly, I can't believe the year is almost over --- where the hell did 2006 go when I wasn't looking? --- and in some small way, maybe putting off the Xmas routine helps me to put off 2007 for just that bit longer, until it becomes irrevocably true and/or I can accept that the year is, in point of fact, over.

Meanwhile, it's a swirl of Xmas parties. I have seen some of the same people three nights in a row (with likely a fourth sighting tomorrow at a one-month celebration for our friends' baby), which ain't a bad thing because it means a good chance to catch up thoroughly after the months of social life that I lost to work. For instance, I finally got a first-person account of a certain car catching fire while on the road.


For the record, the miniature Volkswagen Beetle is a stand-in for the actual Beetle that caught fire, the brown pouch for the car driven by the friend who put out the fire, and the yellow cue ball for the Shell petrol station where the Beetle on fire pulled up --- which turned out to be a pivotal decision that probably saved the Beetle from going up entirely in flames since it meant that fire extinguishers were immediately on hand. (Although, on hindsight, it seems equally possible that the flaming car could've set the petrol station on fire ... )

The nice thing about Singapore is that even after attending a slew of Xmas parties, I have not had any eggnog, roast turkey, mince pies or any such predictable Xmas fare. Instead there's been excellent popiah at the Objectifs do on Thursday and a welcome overdose of mee siam at last night's Caffeine/Addicted shindig. I'm hoping to make it all the way to Xmas itself before any roast turkey or honey-baked ham touches these lips.


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I don't usually ...

A different kind of Xmas tree

... get all gussied up at 5:30 pm on a Thursday. But I was told to show up for the party by 6 pm and it was gonna be one of those parties, that sent me scrambling to the back of my cupboard in the middle of the afternoon to rustle up an old (but good) dress that I'd completely forgotten I had.

... pay attention to speeches at an event. But this time I wanted to hear my colleagues' and collaborators' names read out for the applause they more than well deserved.

... eat that many profiteroles at a buffet reception. But I was in the mood for chocolate.

... invite an ex-student to crash a party. But panaphobic got lucky.

... dance in public. But the problem with declining to dance by advertising one's disinclination to dance in public, is that all one's well-liquored up colleagues (or even those who were relatively sober) immediately take that as a challenge. So when I let my guard down towards the end of the night, an evil colleague from Montreal whirled me out onto the dance floor before I could take cover.

... do the air-kiss-kiss thing. But when everyone's from Montreal, that's what you end up doing to say goodnight.

... mix white wine with champagne with vodka. No wonder I threw up on the way home.


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At 5 pm, with the party scheduled to its doors at 7 pm, I literally reached into the back of my wardrobe and found the perfect thing.

My mommy's shirt

The shirt is, in fact, my mother's. I stole it from her wardrobe some time in the early '90s, I think. She got in the US in the '70s and always said it was too hot to wear in Singapore.

The bolo tie is mine --- some tacky souvenir I picked up on a school trip to the US (specifically, Arizona) in 1991. I don't believe I've worn it with the shirt before, but I think a cowgirl costume sort of calls for it.

Now I just need jeans (check), boots (check, although they have heels which no self-respecting woman rancher would wear) and maybe something that looks like a lasso.

Alas, I have no cowboy hat and no time to either run to Peninsula Plaza to get one or to borrow wahj's, which I hear was a big hit at the office party last night. But hey, as long as I'm not costumeless or slutting it up this Halloween ...


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Getting the guys together

Wined and dined

Put three guys together for the first time and what do you get? A conversation that runs the gamut from National Service to comic book superheroes to comic books-turned-into-movies to chien bien jokes (i.e. really bad jokes that earn the joke-teller a merciless pummelling). If you know the answer to why Superman's underwear is really tight, you'll know the kind of jokes they were telling last night.

Terz pointed out that we now know a Daniel-and-Shereen and also a Daniel-and-Serene. This, in addition, to the six or so Christines/Kristine/Christinas in his cell phone, the four or five Cheryls in mine and a handful of Nicks that he talks to regularly. We're starting to use nicknames in conversation and on our cell phone entries to keep everyone sorted.


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A good night's drink

A balancing trick
Taken by Stryke

You know the mr brown show's acquired a certain cultural cachet when you're sitting in Ice Cold Beer and suddenly your non-blogging friends launch into spot-on imitations of mr brown and Mr Miyagi on episodes like dead birds, csi malaysia, finding nemo and, well, dead birds again, because who doesn't love a good mr brownMiyagi-imitating-Jackie Chan imitation?


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Oktoberfest! Oktoberfest! Flat and stacked



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It was supposed to be a mooncake party

Party central

But when we got there, the host announced that it was a wine and cheese party instead.

No wonder he'd asked us to bring wine if we wanted.

I ate too much Indian rojak, drank too much red wine and wasn't actually very social.

Indian rojak never looked this good

Party people

The night before, on my way out to the Aya Sekine concert at the Esplanade, I saw clusters of children near the open field beside the train station, each child wielding a paper lantern lit from within by a small bulb. The steady glow of electric light didn't quite conjure up my romanticised memories of childhood, but it was novel and entertaining enough to see little moppets wandering around after dark (dutifully supervised by their parents and, in one case, a foreign maid, of course).

I suppose wee lightbulbs are a lot safer than skinny birthday candles that might fall over and set the lanterns on fire from within --- but that was part of the fun, right? Being a kid, yet handed this thing with a live flame, and having to be vewy, vewy careful while playing with it, because if anything besides the candle caught fire, that was the end of one's lantern privileges for the year.

My paternal grandmother used to be the supplier of lanterns every year when my brother and I were kids. The lanterns generally took the shape of animals with coloured cellophane paper stretched over over a wire frame. I remember having to try and make that type of lantern in school too --- which was a terror, because I could never get the wire in exactly the right shape and glueing the cellophane paper onto the frame was a bitch. Much better to just let Mama buy them for us.

You don't see those cellophane lanterns so much anymore. Now they're all either made of chunky, unfriendly plastic or they're the pretty paper ones (which I disdained as a child but now they're my favourite). And you'd be hard-pressed to find one with a candle-holder inside; they're all built for bulbs these days.

There weren't any lanterns at last night's party, nor any mooncakes either. Dammit.

Look up, look up


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Flotsam and jetsam from the week

Otherwise known as the week that the IMF/World Bank bigshots rolled into town, while accredited civil society activists were turned away at the airport and sent home, non-violent activists both foreign and domestic were arrested, and Lee pere and fils have filed a defamation suit against the Far Eastern Economic Review.

On Monday, I almost signed up with M1 (my cell phone service provider) for a mobile blogging service --- until I realised that the terms of service required me to swear that anything I posted using the service would not be "obscene, defamatory, seditious or contrary to public policy." Since they failed to define what might constitute at obscene, defamatory, seditious or contrary-to-public-policy post, the decision not to proceed further was a no-brainer, really. (Plus I would have to pay extra for this blogging service, whereas now I blog for free.)

On Monday night, while out with the girls, I found out that there is some fancypants barbed wire ringing the War Memorial Park downtown (adjacent to the IMF/World Bank meeting zone). Because nothing says freedom and sacrifice like fancypants barbed wire.

On Tuesday, I got a closer look at the sunflowers that's at the vanguard of the excessive landscaping that's taken over our downtown. Poo.

National Museum of Singapore
Taken by lisamontgomery

On Wednesday, wahj pointed me to a GOOD Magazine column on how it is that people know how to read without having actually learned to read. It goes a long way to explaining why Singapore has close to 100% literacy but so little actual appreciation for words and ideas.

On Wednesday night, the expanding Ah POH club gathered over much sashimi to initiate bee and Eva into our fold. Hurrah!

On Thursday, the Singapore Heritage Yahoogroup pointed me to Maodee's blog post on "Singapore history extended to 14th century or stay with 1819?" He thinks it should start at 1819. For the record, I completely disagree and I've been trying to find the time to write a response to it --- but linking it and merely stating the fact of my disagreement is all I've got the time for right now.

On Friday, I took many cabs, spent very little time at my laptop and had 2 coffees within 2 hours. I'm not a huge fan of the coffee connoisseur chain, but their German blend of coffee is quite yummy. When plans for a third girls' night out this week got nixed, I went over to Muddy Murphy's for the evening instead. Aside from the Long Bar, this is probably the best bar to be in if you want to surround yourself with non-Asian faces and pretend you're not really in Singapore. (Not that that was my motivation; it was just another UnXpected night for me.) Halfway through the band's rockin' second set, a group of about ten Caucasian and Asian men (but not locals) entered in their weekend casuals, each one wincing noticeably as they stepped into the bar and were greeted by the pounding music. Lost IMF/World Bank delegates, maybe?


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Spotted in a crowd

The thing about running into former students at Wine Bar is that, first of all, they bellowed my name loud enough that I immediately turned and fled the scene. (That is, not my name per se, but what they used to call me in school, Ms _____, hence also immediately distinguishing me as a teacher. Very cool --- not.)

When the dust had settled and we had all caught up, there were the exclamations of how cool it was that I was still clubbing. Despite my age, I guess? Thanks, guys.

And then it turned out that one of these young punks had a Master's degree. Damn, I need to get me one of those.

Finally, we did a little math and realised that they're now the age I was when I taught them many moons ago. I'm not sure how I feel about that.


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Some nights are all about chilling out, particular when the preceding evenings have been spent hammering on the keyboard till midnight or thereabouts.

Le Carillon

Tonight, Casey suggested we check out Le Carillon on Ann Siang Hill, which turned out to be an excellent suggestion because it offered a relatively quiet nook for conversation, a wide range of inexpensive drinks and comfy couches for all corporate-weary souls (myself excluded, of course) to sink into.

So for a little while, I could trade in my iPod anxieties (it has crashed, irrevocably, and I am torn between the consumeristic impulse to buy a new one right away and the sensible impulse to live without one, dagnabbit --- a Manichean tussle which fuelled no less than 20 SMS exchanges with various friends today) and listen to former colleagues' work-related gossip, which reminded me once more why I'm glad to no longer be in certain public sector employment.

The best thing about the place, of course, was that in this World Cup season, it's one of two places I know for sure in Singapore that hasn't invested in mammoth TV screens for broadcasting live soccer matches. Hurrah for peace and quiet that allows for civilised discourse

Le Carillon

Le Carillon

Le Carillon


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As others see us

It's nice when someone says I have "interesting eyes ... lively and luminous". Clearly, the lighting at Wine Bar was kind to me that night because I'm pretty sure they were, in fact, drunk and bloodshot eyes.

On the other hand, I'm not sure it's a compliment when Corporate Overlord is on sick leave, feeling better by 3 pm and looking for lunch company, and he calls me because I don't have a "real job" and would likely be able to nip out for a snack. (I suppose it doesn't help that I somewhat prove him right by taking an extended coffee break with him.)

And I'm really not sure it's a compliment when another friend declares that I look like a Brenda. Unlike most Singaporeans who appear to be Chinese, I don't have an English name (not one that I respond to, anyway), so the friends I was with last night tried to think up one for me. Other suggestions included Louise and Jenny. I suddenly feel like a post-war baby boom British girl.

Finally, over after-work drinks yesterday evening, I order a pint of Hoegaarden, prompting the boss to wonder out loud if I like to drink beer. Before my brain can stop my tongue (or is the other way around), I say, "No, I pretty much drink anything." Fortunately, he's British and doesn't bat an eyelid.


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On the agenda

Today: a full day of work stuff, without internet access to boot.

Tonight: a social thing with colleagues at 5 pm, followed by another Month of Photography opening at 7.30 pm, followed by long overdue graduation drinks with former students.

Tomorrow: pick up Ondine and Packrat at the airport at 6 am, which I am duty-bound to do because they were gracious enough to leave their car with us while they were on vacation. And still be awake enough at 10:30 am to interview a lovely woman for a couple of hours.



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After hours

It's a good thing that I'm with kk, when the boy calls from Tokyo for directions to find his way home from Vanilla.

In other news, kk and I have not had margaritas together since Las Palmas in Evanston, Illinois in mid-1997. We'd planned a sojourn at Cafe Iguana tonight to remedy that situation, but were thwarted by the unavailability of tables. Good thing the tasty Santa Carolina Chardonnay at BarCelona took care of that ...


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Dinner and after

Fancy Chinese food

You know a Chinese restaurant's gone upmarket when the food's served on square plates, the restaurant tries to serve everyone's portions individually instead of allowing us to dig into a communal dish, and pork ribs come with silverware on the side.

Also, when the roast chicken skin served with prawn and a slice of mango is served on a potato chip. (It tasted like Pringle's to me, even though my uncle tried to laugh it off as a mini taco.)

But I'm not doing justice to the food, which was really quite good and not as much of a culinary experiment gone wrong as I'm making it sound like. And dessert was a somewhat psychedelic marvel.

Fancy Chinese dessert

I have no idea what the dish was called (the perils of ordering the set menu), but think flour rolls with pandan (green) and ang tau sar (red bean), served on a bed of ground peanuts. I wish I could've eaten more of them.

Since the dinner was ostensibly a Mother's Day dinner, it's only fit that I put on record the fact that the two mothers present (my mother and Fifth Aunt, her sister), are certified pet killers. The inadvertent death toll from their childhood:
  • One terrapin (and one that "ran away")
  • One bird
  • Two guinea pigs
  • One pigeon (cooked for dinner because my grandmother found it "troublesome" to have it flapping around, it seems)
For the full gory details, you'll have to ask me the next time you see me. All the deaths (except the pigeon) were accidental. Of course.

After dinner, because I am rapidly turning into Little Miss Winealot, I enticed Little Miss Drinkalot out to Barcelona for a nightcap. Even though soccer was playing on at least five screens in the courtyard area, we managed to have a chill girls' night out, quite different from the previous attempt. Maybe the magic ingredient needs to be white wine and not Lana cake.


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I'm too old for hangovers

Stairway to ...

It's nice to start the weekend with some wine.

It's not so nice to have too much wine because then there's the throwing up (sorry, Makanguru!) and the feeling dehydrated the next morning and the general disorientation that's aggravated by not enough sleep. Which then heightens the confusion when the vet tells me that Ink has something weird going on with his liver, so he can't go under general anaesthesia and hence can't be sterilized as planned, which is fine except for the part where no one seems to know what's really caused the weird liver symptom in the first place.

Anyway. If any of you reading this are ever out with me and see me attempting more than two glasses of wine in one night, please bash me over the head with your shoe. Thank you.


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How young punks in their late twenties celebrate their birthday these days

Until last night, I'd never been to a birthday party where purely by coincidence, approximately two-thirds of the 30 or so guests were wearing jeans and black tops of some sort.

Of course, until last night, I'd also never heard anyone declare the following about Martell Cordon Bleu: "Even if you're dead, you won't have a hangover."

More accurately, until last night, the three words "Martell Cordon Bleu" had never entered my hearing in that sequence before.

I didn't have any, anyway. The word "Martell" gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Let them eat cake


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Without a trace

I have a couple of days' blogging to catch up on, but first: what the hell happened to the Europa outlet that used to be squeezed between the Thai Embassy and International Building along Orchard Road?

Where's Europa gone?

This is all that greeted Ondine and I when we were looking for a place to chill out tonight. Where's Europa??!

Now I'll have to hunt for a new oasis in Orchard Road that doesn't overcharge and isn't plagued by teenagers or children...


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After the turkey

Outside, looking in

At a popiah party, it would be judicious to have the guy who actually has a relative in the popiah business to come early and make neat, packed rolls for everyone to partake of. However, he arrived last tonight, after we'd all slopped our way through our amateur versions, so we could only watch in awe at the flair with which he put his together.

Guest: I thought this was a healthy dinner. Why is there satay and [fried] chicken wings?
Hostess: Oh, that's for the carnivores --- the ones that die die must have meat one.
Said guest went on to eat mostly satay and chicken wings.

Food aside, it is quite something to share a dinner table with someone who describes herself as a breastfeeder and another whose primary job description is to prevent all the hazardous materials at her workplace from blowing up.

A little of this, a little of that


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Drinks at the Raffles

We stepped into the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel for the first time in our lives last night, expecting to see many, many glasses of Singapore Sling and plenty of peanut shells on the floor.

We weren't disappointed. It seemed like the bar did nothing but churn out Singapore Slings by the bucketload. We were probably the only table that didn't have one --- but we were also likely the only table of Singaporeans in the entire place.

Peanuts & drinks

While Terz munched on peanuts and cour marly shredded the shells into confetti, I tried not to stare too obviously at a couple that won, hands down, the Get A Room Already award for the night. The barstools where they were sitting must've been anointed with aphrodisiacal properties, because an hour later, a solo guy who chose one of those stools successfully chatted up a solo girl who happened to sit down next to him.

This couple and guy and girl were all of the Caucasian persuasion, of course. Seriously, the bar staff and our table notwithstanding, there were no Singaporeans in the entire place. A middle-aged tour guide with wide gestures temporarily raised the Singaporean quotient with her appearance, but trailing behind her were at least thirty white tourists on a "Night Tour", so that immediately screwed up the math.

So the next time you want to feel like you're in a foreign country but can't actually leave the country, just pop into the Long Bar. Even the overhead fans are weird --- or is that uniquely Singaporean?

The weirdest fans I've ever seen


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Plugging the gap

On Wednesday night, I got home at 11 pm, got into bed and read myself to sleep with a little The Fellowship of the Ring. That's life as it should be, which it hasn't been for a while now.

So what have I been busy with? It's hard to say. Random things: wrapping up work at the existing job, looking for the next one, birthday parties (four good friends have their birthdays in the same week in November, although, er, that only accounts for two parties), other parties. Even a simple satay dinner with Cowboy on Tuesday night segued into ice cream at Gelare which then led to Heinekens at Blooie's, and it was close to 1 am by the time we got home.

Actually, "looking for the next job" covers a lot of what I've been doing, but without much of the time being spent on job applications or interviews per se. There's a lot more than goes into the job-hunting process , and as a newbie who's doing the great job hunt for the first time in her life (how precious of me, I know), it's hard that I've made a decision not to blog about it. The blogger in me has so many stories I want to tell, but the part of me that would like a steady income next year, thankyouverymuch, keeps reminding me to be professional and get over it.

Random snippets from the unchronicled days, then, without details of the job hunt:

I wasn't sure whether or not to be embarrassed when at the department farewell lunch last Wednesday, the other colleague who's leaving (she's just a couple of years older and married with two kids) was given two beautiful coffeetable books on jaxx music, which she loves --- and I, I got the Zouk Book.

I really, really didn't like the new Harry Potter movie. Talk about hacking up the story to fit 156 minutes without caring too much about trivialities like, y'know, the basic principles of how to tell a story.

This next almost goes without saying, but I really, really, really liked Serenity.

But. I'm really unimpressed with United International Pictures' complete lack of interest in marketing the movie. If you're going to bring a movie in for an "exclusive one-time screening", shouldn't you a) advertise the screening a little, and b) not close online ticket sales after selling only 289 tickets (and really, it didn't seem like more than 100 people were in the theatre on Monday night), because that gives people the impression that it's sold out when tickets were still on sale at the door?

I overslept for work one day last week and was late by an hour. Needless to say, the word "shit" was the first word out of my mouth that morning, and was steadily repeated thereafter until I finally got myself to work.

On the other hand, despite going to bed at past 3 am last Friday night, Terz and I were up and on time the next morning for a 9:30 am wedding --- and we were the first on my side of the family to show up, even though I'm sure the rest of them went to bed the night before well before we did. Hmph.

Anyway, it seems that the family dress code for the wedding was primary colours.

Primary colours

Some launch events serve you crisp, clear white wine. Others charge you $15 a glass for something that looks like iced tea and tastes worse than pi pa gao.

It's very surreal to be at a party where everyone was drinking either Coke out of a can or Heineken out of a bottle. It was like being on the set of some kind of cross-branding TV commercial.

Boys on breakups enjoy a good dollop of ice cream too.

Most people who didn't already know I was quitting my job have responded, "Wah, so brave." I think my parents (whom I haven't told yet) will have a slightly different take on it.

In Singapore blogosphere-related news, there is a new baby brown, Mr Miyagi is not in jail and Mr Gorgeous is really very gorgeous.


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Ice Cold Beer


After too many Hoegaardens, this is what my friends start to look like.




Bar 84

Bar 84 Bar 84 Bar 84

For $10 per person, we got to unfold in a quiet, Tokyo-esque bar where the conversations with the bartender in Japanese tinkled as brightly as the solid ice cube that dominated each glass.

Bar 84

For $10 per person, we got a warm towel faultlessly presented by one waitress, drinks impeccably refreshed by another, and peanuts constantly refilled by both. Us plebians left the used towels lying dishevelled on the table's edge, which one of the waitresses quietly retrieved, folded into a snug roll and replaced in alignment with the table setting without a twitch of rebuke.

The $10 cover didn't include any of our drinks or snacks. But it was well worth the hour of peace and dignity.


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I need more single female friends

I am trying to get people together for Mambo at Zouk tonight.

So far, the gender ratio (of single people) stands at something like 10 guys, 5 girls.

Clearly, I need more single female friends.


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Happy Halloween

For all that I sometimes give the impression on this blog that I party and drink a lot, I will have you know that tonight, it is Terz who is on his way to the party at Zouk --- his second Halloween party in as many nights --- while I am at home with the laundry, a DVD of the making of the extended edition of The Two Towers and the internet.

Of course, I also had to be up and at 'em at work at 7:30 am today. And I learnt that after many drinks at last night's Virtual Insanity Halloween party, having just four hours' sleep is insufficient to fully exorcise the influence of alcohol from my system.

In other words, I was still a little telltale pink in the face when I got up this morning, and all the face-washing and water-guzzling I could squeeze into the half hour before I left didn't seem to reduce the tinct very much. Two packets of Milo and polishing my face with a wet wipe on the cab ride helped somewhat, and no one asked any awkward questions at work. Perhaps most importantly, at least I didn't smell of alcohol or cigarettes.

For last night's party, I went as a witch and Terz went as a pirate. No witty costumes for us. As a measure of our relative dedication to our roles, consider this:

Sabre and sash

Terz bought a sword yesterday afternoon and put on our Pirates of the Caribbean DVD in the afternoon to swot up; there was also some consultation of the Talk Like A Pirate Day website.

Me? I bought a witch's hat at Cold Storage the night before for $3.50, resurrected a black bodysuit that hadn't seen daylight since we moved into this apartment six years ago, matched it with a swishy black skirt and dug up an old dragon pendant. That was it. The high point of my preparations was discovering that I could finally wear the black pair of stilletos I bought for a steal in the US more than eight years ago (kk, do you remember? I got them at Lincolnwood for like 15 bucks?). Sadly, because they have not been worn once in that time, the rubber heel pieces crumbled through the night and the sole layer of the right shoe decided to come off completely.

Nevertheless, the shoes made it home safely, as did the rest of us (although, apparently, not Cowboy's mask).

Recipe for a good Halloween party:
  • Costumes galore --- I thought the guy in the schoolgirl uniform took the cake, but that was before I saw the dashing TIE fighter pilot.
  • Silly drinking games, thanks to Cowboy's boredom ingenuity
  • Little Miss Drinkalot's expertise on shots
  • Crazy dancing, thanks to a combination of the above

If partying isn't your thing, you might consider carving a persimmon to celebrate Halloween Singapore-style.


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The night out

Chocolatini at Morton's
Originally uploaded by Ms. Marly.

While the martinis at Morton's are very, very good indeed --- as Abigael's hearty endorsement of the chocolate martini went, it's a meal in itself! ---

And their steak sandwiches are also very, very tasty --- slices of good steak oozing sweet juices and fresh-baked bread at once crisp on the crust and soft within ---

And of course the conversation with cour marly was scintillating, as usual ---

Having a hearty combination of the above without any water to wash it down, means that several hours later, I'm ready to pull a Cinderella and pack it in for the night, even if Zouk's great reopening party hasn't quite gotten off the ground yet.

Zouk really brings them all in. Sitting along the road outside, waiting for my friends to arrive, I was greeted by intermittent waves of English, Singlish, Hokkien, Cantonese and Mandarin going by, not to mention a couple of other Asian and European languages I didn't recognise. The inadvertently funniest moment was when two salarymen men in their fifties --- one local, one Caucasian and probably foreign --- walked by, and upon seeing the packed traffic and club lines spilling onto the street, the latter said, "What's all this? What's going on?" in a genuinely perplexed tone. Several minutes later, they came back, heading in the opposite direction and looking as if they hadn't quite found what they were looking for.

The verdict on the new Zouk decor:
  • Me: It's very white, very bright. You can see everything going on inside. How surreal.
  • Beeker: It looks like Zouk KL, yo.
  • Unnamed source: The white exterior pieces look like what you see at the dentist --- ah, like molars.
  • Other unnamed source: Nah, it looks like a single butt cheek.
Your imaginativeness may vary.


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