Sunday, September 30, 2007

island in the sun.

SATURDAY, 29.SEPT.2007

made a trip to the harbourfront and to Sentosa Island, a small man-made beach-resort of an island off the southern coast of singapore. along for the ride were Kathryn, her friend JJ (stopping in singapore on his way back from china to cincinnati), and Jeppe (the danish guy from the weekend before who works at the biggest wind turbine company in the world...how admirable/cool is that?).

rather than elaborate (ramble) further, i will simply refer you to the posted pictures, which are many. click the humorous image to your left to see the full album on facebook.

NOTE - raman does not endorse fruit roll-ups, the general mills company, or any of their subsidiaries. though he does find them quite yummy and delicious, and highly respects anyone who chooses to send him boxes of said delectable treat (though you will not win points for originality, as it was already done by someone quite cool)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

hello kathryn!


better late than never :)

please, no feeding of monkeys.

[at least, NO corn...or bananas, but everything else is OK]

kathryn got here today (!) - at 5am*. so naturally, she will soon become a recurring member in the cast of characters that make up the antics of my blog (that is, unless she asks to be omitted from events :)

as part of my relocation "package" - the company contracts out to a local firm to give an "on-boarding session" the region. since i've been swamped with work (and have been getting coworkers/local friends to help me "cheat" to find my way around), AND i wanted something for kat to do on her first day (you gotta fight thru the jetlag), we did our official "tour" of the city today (i wonder how many more terms i can put in either (parentheses) or "quotation marks"?)

here are some other highlights from the relocation tour (i would have taken quite a few more pics but only had my my mobile):


[pop machine @ national resorvoir, dead duck @ wet market, sand castle club @ east coast park]


*THE NIGHT BEFORE:
so prior to heading to the airport to pick up kat, i got all of 2.5 hours of sleep. why? i had gone to harbourfront to (1) get my phone fixed (thanks dopod!), and (2) meet + greet one of our i-agencies, blue (their office is on a heli-pad overlooking the harbor/sentosa, how cool is that?). of course that involved heading out for a beer on the waterfront. which turned into 2, and then 3, after numerous other blue folks in town (from CA + the UK). that later turned into a late night dinner at some random chinese "restaurant." below are some pics of the spread, as well as the progress.


[before, pile 'o chile crab, after]

thanks to chester, jaime, and the blue crew for a fun time out and about, and for making me exhausted today.

we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

F- wafflehouse.


...we got the whole town here baby!


OLPC. simply phenomenal.

this is something that got me very, very excited when i stumbled upon this article in the NY Times today.

basically, the fine folks at the MIT media labs have designed, constructed, and plans to sell + distribute affordable network-based laptops (<$150)to children in the developing world. they're negotiating w/ governments of developing markets to get these out there.

though demand is currently below expectations, they're implementing a "give one, get one" program in the developed markets to drum up support. more info can be found at laptop.org

a friend of a friend at MIT had mentioned this to me awhile back, but i was unaware the program was this close to getting to market

personally, i will plan to participate in the "give one, get one" program in Nov/Dec, buy myself one + have the other donated to a child in a developing market (eventually donating the other one out before i leave Asia).

this left me really inspired. which is all you can hope for in a day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

i live...in the future.

one of the (few) things i still cannot fathom is how people back home STILL don't get how the time difference thing works for me out here. now, i'll grant that you might not know how many hours ahead i am, but once you know, come on, it's really quite simple. i'm +12 hours ahead of EST. so basically, for a good chunk of you, take whatever time it is, and flip the AM/PM, because,

i'm on the other side of the world.

...it's that easy.

now, you're probably asking yourself, "self, what are the other things that raman still can't fathom?" quite simple, i'll tell you, it's:

SINGAPOREAN MODERN APPLIANCES
now i live in quite the nice apartment. hell, it's far nicer than the place i call home back in ohio (dump). but the one thing i am still struggling with is some of the appliances bestowed upon me in my veritable lap of luxury. let's start with the oven/microwave combo unit featured above - it has 11 settings. 11 different ways to heat your bread. why does anyone need this? and which is which? and why must the symbols be so vague? don't even get me started on the ability to alter any of 3 variables - temperature (in degrees C, no less), wattage (really?), and time (fortunately, space was left out of the continuum). the end result? raman eats oft-under/overcooked food. i consider it a delicacy.

ahh, but then there's the bane of my existence - the washing machine. you beauty of a beast, you. the most ironic thing i find to be is that i actually now work in "laundry" at my company (i sell soap), and yet i cannot successfully wash a load of clothes without crisis. the last time washing left me so scarred, i was afraid to try again. ultimately, my lack of undergarments forced me into another encounter with the devil's machine. you see, this feat of euro-asian engineering has the ability to wash and dry clothing, all in one go. no need to take your clothes out. in fact, it won't LET you take your clothes out - the door locks! the unfortunate thing is, the past 3 times i have put it in for a wash, the machine WON'T STOP. i'm talking 8 hours later, and it's still spinning and soaking, on a slow, slow cycle of doom (sans dryer cycle, fortunately, otherwise i would be wearing more muscle shirts to the office). i ultimately had to use my electrical/computer engineering skills to outsmart the PLC (that's programmable logic circuits for you liberal arts & business majors) into resetting and releasing my clothes from the clenches of it's ivory maw.

i'm considering going to work naked.

"
aye, mr. starbuck. aye, my hearties all. It was [she] that dismantled me ...and left me with this dead stump I stand on. for forever and a day I shall chase that white whale." -herman melville

Sunday, September 23, 2007

when it rains, it pours.

literally and figuratively.
...just received some alarming news from back home. am hoping for the best though.

too bad i can't be more like this guy (though i feel like him today), who i saw aas i left my apartment on way to work this
rainy monday morning...


(and NO, i have not taken to painting my fingernails out here, that's just the lighting/the camera on my mobile)

faking it in little india, & a champagne supernova in the sky.

quite the lazy weekend. eat, drink, and be merry indeed (w/ quite a bit of sleep and a good swim).

FRIDAY, 21.SEPT.2007:
a long day of work, mired with one crisis after another. things in india do not bode well. things in the philippines needs some work. and japan, as usual, chooses to be difficult to manage. i'm with a little stress, luck, and collaboration (my usual formula for success) i can handle whatever gets thrown my way. at the end of the day though, it's just soap.

post work, my new marketing friend nitin invited me out for drinks with the young "hip" marketing crowd. the more i talk with this guy, the more i like him. sure, we have different views on a few things (the awesomeness of cricket, for one, specific tastes in modern rock, being another), but he's got opinions that he can intelligently back. and that's enough for me. that, and anyone that can recognise juliete binoche and irene jacob for the brilliant (& beautiful) actresses they are, is OK in my book.

the rest of the group, mostly of the indian ex-pat variety (see earlier post w/ comment by a local...i invite some others captured in my generalization [nitin] to respond as well), was quite alright as well. hopefully a crowd i can soon call friends in town. we sat around, had a few jugs of tiger beer, talked work, people, etc, and then, most importantly, where to go for dinner. my vote for anything non-western was quickly overridden by a desire for pizza. we piled into a car, debating shotgun rules (clearly the american rules vary from the south asian ones, though i did introduce to them the concept of "not bitch"), and wound through the hardly-recognizable streets (similar to irvine, CA, where everything looks pristinely the same) to our destination, a belgian pizza joint. the food and conversation was good. talk of movies got people in the mood for one, but an early cricket game on the part of my crowd squashed any evening plans. i spent the night reading, discovering some saddening news (see below post on mike wieringo), and spending some time with my friend john steinbeck.


SATURDAY, 22.SEPT.2007:

i've probably stated earlier that my favorite thing about the weekend is not sleeping in, but choosing when to wake up. not having to submit to an alarm (even though if it is to Air or the Police) makes my morning. out here i've even found myself waking up earlier than i did back in the states. this morning was not the case. somehow, i found myself awake at 2AM. this was quite insane and troubling. i meandered about, trying to figure out what to do with myself for the day, eventually opting to get out of the apartment and make it back to little india, a place i'd only been to once earlier for only a short dinner, but was quite fond of, given its stark difference from the rest of singapore. i grabbed my camera and hit the MRT. i wasn't even going to stop to eat before. i'd figure it out once i got there.

LITTLE INDIA
i emerged from the train station and found myself cutting through a market full of vegetables and raw meats. the floor was damp, as my i cautiously splashed through the puddles in my sandals. i cut through corridors and corridors, eventually finding my way to the street, where i proceeded to purposely get lost. cutting in and out of alleys, corners, and stalls. digging my way out to some semblance of recognition of the streets made me feel like i'd accomplished something for the day. but my stomach soon began to protest, so i began eying restaurants and stalls along the road. i saw and smelled many things, but i wasn't going to stop until i found something that was exactly what i was looking for. cutting through the human traffic, and away from the tourists was a task in itself. keeping my camera out didn't help me there either, as i was clearly marking myself as one. but i figured this being my inaugural run through the streets, i'd get learning my way around and taking photographs out of the way. i eventually found a main road that i recalled from my earlier evening visit, and kept going until i found a storefront corner (mustafa) that i recognized. along the way, i found a few likely candidates for my lunch, and eventually cut my way back to one of them.

while i don't speak much ("hardly any") hindi, counting and food are 2 of the things i think i have enough of a mastery of to get by on. so faking it at a restaraunt is easy enough. quickly surveying the food behind the glass, i took a seat in the open air venue, quickly studied the menu and motioned my malaysian waiter over. one of the first universal words across the world is "coca cola", so i had one of those w/ a samosa, which was damp and oily. an early disappointment, and i almost considered getting up and finding another stall, but my stomach wasn't going to let me wander aimlessly anymore. i picked 2 of my favorite dishes (which made me feel like a kid ordering...i might as well have gotten cookies and milk for lunch) - tandoori chicken, and channa bhatura. as i waited on my food, i watched the people hustling by in their saris, motorbikes, and turbans. the indian movie playing on the screen was right in the middle of a scandalous song number, which was entertaining enough. a little girl was staring at me, so i gave my patented crazy-toothed grin and waved. she giggled and ran behind her table.

the first of my meal finally came out, and once again, i found myself without a napkins, so started cautiously on my chicken, singapore-style with a fork and spoon (how they bypassed the knife i'll never know). before digging in though, i paused for to document my meal, which got a laugh from my waiter + the woman working the cash register. by the time my bhatura (a heavily fried bread) came out though, i really had no choice but to go indian-style (napkins be damned), as it's meant to be eaten. fortunately, the store owner saw my predicament, smiled, and brought a box of looney-toons kleenex over at the end of my meal. the malaysian waiter came over asking in singlish how i found the food. he got the polite thumbs up (despite my finding the channas a bit oily, something my dad would likely let him know immediately, asking for a new plate...the raj sehgal seal of approval does not come easily). when he came back to refill my water, i asked for a carry-out container in my first spoken english at the meal. he stopped, laughed, and asked where i was from. the usual comical banter of "where do you think" went on for a few minutes, before i let him know i was indeed an american. i took one last sip of my water, grabbed my carry out, paid, and made my way back down the street.

i wandered the streets for a bit longer, but found myself exhausted. i took a few more pictures (the rest of which can be found here), and wandered back to the MRT, subjecting myself to the saturday shopping crowds of the packed trains. i returned home around 5.30, and decided to lay down to read for a bit. i took off my glasses to rub my eyes, and the next thing i knew it was 7pm. troubled by my newfound slothfullness, i struggled to get up, but it was useless. soon it was 8pm, and my buddy alex was ringing me up, eager to head out for the night, as planned earlier.

OUT AND ABOUT
a quick shower, and i was out the door. i met alex at the destination MRT, grabbed some of the asian-trucker red-bull, and we found our way to the Ice Bar, to see a local friend (of a friend of a friend) at her going away party. going away parties are odd affairs. even with my own, it was hard to really spend any time with any one person, so as as a guest, it was hard to really get anything more than a bit of small-talk with the guest of honor, my relatively new friend in town. we resolved to keep in touch as she heads to NY, and i offered up a few of my friends in the boston/NY area, which she'll hopefully look up. through the course of the night, i also met + chatted up a few of her local friends, so hopefully i'll make some of them my own in time. alex and i opted to make an early departure since we had plans elsewhere, but also as not to overstay our welcome with what was clearly a group of old friends. after all, it's better to leave [a party] when everyone wants you to stay, rather than still be around when everyone wishes you had already left. one of the many tenants i live by.

post-party, we caught a cab to the southern end of the island, to the power station. i'm guessing it is in a building that once housed a some power-generation facilities. but it had since been turned into a connected series of clubs + restaurants. he got us in via a pretty slick connection (something i'm learning "the clapper" has quite a few of in this town, one of many surprises), gave me the lay of the land via an upstairs corrider that looked over every independent club (each of which had it's own live band playing...whether it be salsa, rock covers w/ breakdancers, or dodgy chinese rock). we then headed downstairs for a quick snack of prata (not to be confused w/ paranta, this is a mild singaporean twist on the familiar indian dish my mom served for sunday brunch) + cucumbers w/ chinese chiles.

from there it was stopping in each of the respective clubs. and we know how much i love clubs. i drank my beer and enjoyed the people watching to pass the time. i felt bad, as alex was trying to show me a good time. the only problem is that i'm lame old man when it comes to going out and about. put me in a bar/room with new people, some drinks, let the conversation flow, and i'm good to go. put me in a club with people dancing on the tables and i've got nothing to contribute. sorry. for me, dancing is a pretty painful experience. it has nothing to do with my lack of the indian gene to move (though, despite my ability to mockingly 'twist the lightbulb" and grab+swing my knee ryan-king style, that partially is the case), it's just a general dislike + discomfort. i'm wound up too tight, and would rather sit back or get out on my own to unwind. it's who i am. so in these situations, i'll just keep drinking, get bored, and listen to the music, which is pretty much what i did. after heading in and out of a few of the clubs, we walked out and got a cab to clarke quay, where alex wanted to show me a few more places.

the first was a club - Attica - with it's own carnevale celebration going on, crazy costumes and all. alex's connection was able to get him in, but not me. i didn't really care to go, so he hopped back outside, and we walked to another place, which had a pretty cool scene, despite being empty. terra cotta warriors, aquarium tables, and giant chinese coldfish. definitely somewhere i'll take a crowd for a relaxed drink. the tour continued, and we made our way up some fire-escape-type stairs to China One. we caught the tail end of a some Chinese-English emo-band, which was actually pretty good. by this point i was on water, winding down. we wandered the bar, which was actually, so far, my favorite bar. pool tables, small stage for a band, and a neat setup. unfortunately, as Alex pointed out, it's where "all the assholes from back home congregate." this was clearly the case in some of the outer rooms, quite a few drunk brits carrying about. we made our way back to the center room , where i was holding out for the good band to come back out. i soon gave up, released Alex into his environment (where i later found he spent the next 6 or so hours), caught a cab home, and called it a night.

SUNDAY, 23.SEPT.2007:
awake early, and spent some time organizing my life back home. it's amazing how much you let some things slip when you're on the other side of the world. it's a more intense form of procrastination. Alex + i had made earlier plans to meet up for "Sunday brunch," a well known Singaporean ex-pat tradition i had heard about before i left the States. basically you goto a nice hotel around noon, have a seat, eat all you want with a bottomless glass of champagne until something well into the mid afternoon, pay a hefty price, and continue on about your day in a mildly-inebriated stupor. our venue of choice was the Fullerton hotel @ Raffles Place, one of the nicer local hotels, with a clear view out onto the Boat Quay waterfront/Esplanade.

at first glance, i really didn't know what the big deal was (i still kind of don't). i really wasn't sure how this wasn't different from the western-styled breakfasts i'd been served in hotels in Beijing & Manila. i guess the mass conflagration of rich white people amongst one another over poured champagne + dessert made all the difference. i was initially disappointed that we started our meal out in the lobby (since Alex had not reserved a table, and Sunday brunch is an in-demand event), but as i looked upwards towards the natural lighting of the lobby, i enjoyed the open space. i started with an omelette and some seafood. i enjoy a good amount of shrimp and crab, but have never fancied oysters, having only had them once or twice in my life (the first being on beach in New Zealand on a $1 NZ challenge from a friend). i figured i was now older and more sophisticated, but found it to still be salty and...squishy. i've since decided this is really one of those things that in actuality is not that good, and rich people have only convinced themselves as such to make themselves feel superior to the rest of us. oh rich people, when will you learn - thought i, as i slowly sipped my champagne.

our host soon let us know that a table was available, where we found ourselves underneathe the band. our anglo-brunette melodic singer seranaded the room with her covers of soft-rock covers, and a happy-birthday or two, sang marilyn monroe style. we decided to take a break from the gluttony and take wander about outside, agreeing that we'd like to try for a seat outside as it became available, which it soon enough did. we found ourselves next to a german family, which i made it a point to eavesdrop in on the conversation of. we were soon joined by a lone bruncher. a danish fellow we came to know over the course of the next 2 hours of brunching. the nice thing about "single-serving" friends is you can talk about most anything before even knowing eachother's name. we eventually found our new friend to be Jeppe, who is enabling IT support for the asian division of his organization. and what does said organization do? develop wind turbines for clean energy. marketing soap started to feel even more detestable. turns out Jeppe was only supposed to be here for a week, which has since turned into 4 weeks, and is starting to look like another 6+ months. between Alex (a brit focused on supply chains), Jeppe (IT + sustainability), and myself (american marketing whore), we had a few good political and technology-based conversations. soon, the white guys were starting to feel the heat (weather, not intense submission to my argumentative wit), so we retreated back inside, and continued our conversation over more champagn, cheese & crackers.

soon last call was made on champagne. upon discovering Alex had saved some chocolate on his shirt, we chose to document it appropriately, breaking out my camera, which soon became a topic of conversation in itself. post-brunch, we wandered about Raffle's place (the area along the "river" outside the hotel). most notably were the 2 statues of Sir Raffles (British founder of the grand experiment of commerce & trade that is now Singapore) - one white and one black (why's it always gots to be about color?). the older of the two, in white, was actually more interesting, since there was an art exhibit opposite. the long-standing statue of Raffles had a plaque that spoke of his single-handed change of Singapore's destiny. opposite this statue though, was another statue staring right at Sir Raffles. it was that of an migrant worker (happening to be indian, missing an arm). it's plaque talked of how the hard labor turned Raffles' mere idea into a reality. i thought it was a poignant commentary, and proceeded to setup an appropriate homage/mockery of the statues with a picture. after all, we had an indian and a brit present, so why not? in all seriousness though, i think it would be interesting, if in a feat of artistic movement, similar statues began to appear around the world opposite statues of great men, as much of their work (right up into the modern age) has been executed on the backs of many other less fortunate.

i'd be lying if i said the rest of the day was any more thought-provoking (judge for yourself though, the entirety of the day's pictures can be found here). we all cabbed back to Alex's, watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and called it a day. Jeppe + I walked along the river to Clarke Quay, where there was still more on display for the Chinese mid-Autumn festival. by this point we had already exchanged numbers (and i had found another convert to my cause of Week in Review Singapore), so made plans to see eachother again soon.

so while it was clearly a weekend of moderate sloth and gluttony, i can take pride in saying i made a few new friends. i think my good friend Larry David would find that "pretty, Pretty, PRETTTTTY good."

Friday, September 21, 2007

mike wieringo (1963-2007)

i just randomly found out that one of my favorite modern comics artists, mike wieringo, passed away just over a month ago (sunday, august 12). at 44, and in great health, he fell to a sudden heart attack. more details can be found here.

it was 1994, and i had stopped reading comics for a few years. i was at a drug store one night with my mom, and decided to peruse the comic rack as i waited for her to run her quick errand. i came across flash #97 (shown above). it was both mike's inspiring cover (which drew me in to pull it off the rack), and mark waid's phenomenal story, that drew me back into comics in a much more permanent and meaningful way. i still remember raving about the book later that night on the phone to one of my friends (laura, who probably cemented her suspicions that i was a weirdo).

mike later went on to draw some great books like robin, spider-man, the fantastic four, and his creator owned comic tellos. i read all but the latter (but now plan to pick up and find it), following him as an artist (which is something i rarely chose to do in my second renewal of comics collecting. i enjoyed his art that much. something that i just learned, was that over the years, he drew every day, often posting his sketches to his blog. this was clearly someone that loved his work. you can find more on his life & career here.

mike, thanks for catching my eye, and getting me back into comics. it meant more than you'll ever know.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

forced inclusion, or comfortable exclusion?

i've had this come up in conversation a few times in the past couple of days, so figured it would make a good post. people keep asking me how i'm finding singapore. there's the easy answer, and then the longer one.

the easy: so far, so good.
the more complex: it's more than i expected. it's less than i expected.
...let's focus on the less, shall we?

singapore is ~70% chinese, ~20% malay, ~8% indian, and the rest is everything else (what's left of a mixed bag of expats and multinationals).

sounds like a veritable melting pot, doesn't it? a developed, cosmopolitan city, right in the center of asia. if only that were totally true.

don't get me wrong. this is way more of a city than some of the other places i've lived, and is a GREAT place to live…as i often joke with my mom that she shouldn’t worry bc i'm actually SAFER here than she is in the states). and i'm looking forward to the next several months here. but in some ways, i was thinking there would be more to it.

and i'm not going to dog on how many say the city has a limited amount of things to do. it's all in what you make of it (after all, i spent a large portion of my life somewhere i'd argue has LESS to do). i'm here to work during the day, and travel in all of my free time. everything else in between will be (hopefully) spent making good friends, eating great food, and spending some time in new surroundings, away from everything else that was once familiar (the last of those being a healthy thing to do every few years...if only for a few weeks, i'd highly recommend it).

what's disappointing on the inclusion that seems to be missing here in singapore. better put, the social-mixing of ethnic groups is somewhat lacking. to be clear, we definitely don't have this one solved back in the US. and perhaps my opinion is somewhat skewed given i'm a 1st generation american (of foreign descent) who's grew up in suburban (white) america. i had to assimilate + aclimatize, and have always found myself with anyone who's somewhat interesting (just being yourself helps) and not (a) pretentious or (b) a jerk. one of my pet peeves about MANY indian kids my age in the states has always been that they tend to only want to socialize with eachother (case and point being a large group of them congregating on my back porch at a recent going away party, or go out to any club in a US city and you’ll see what I mean).

it's not about diversity for the sake of diversity. it's about doing your own thing, and just stumbling upon it. and that's just it. my friends are diverse, not because i want them to be, it just kind of happened that way. my first 2 friends in cincinnati - a white guy and a black guy. my roommate, a white guy who happens to be a republican (i try not to hold that against him). my girlfriend, a chinese girl from florida (though about as chinese as i am indian). of my other super-close set of friends, only are a pair of my out-of-town, usually-only-by-phone people really indian (not counting my sister, since she automatically makes the cut since we’re related, but calling her out would be nepotism, which should be frowned upon)- a guy i grew up with, and a girl i've known forever. in my extended circle of local (cincinnati) friends there are a few more white guys, few more indians, etc, etc. there's even a half white/indian guy (that can play a mean guitar hero), and a pretty cute half white/black girl. let’s top it all of with one of my favorite people at work , a venezualan guy. and we all hold hands and sing "it's a small world" (or was "we are the world"?). i never know.

...and THIS is all in a country that's ~70% white, ~12% black, >12% hispanic, and <5% asian

so here, in singapore, why isn't there more social intermingling? probably the a greater degree of the same reason there is none in a large part of the US. people just don’t want to. period. they'd rather stick with what they know and what is comfortable. and who can blame them? here in singapore i personally seek it out, because i've traveled to a far away land (hell, i'm discovering that i tend to like my indian peers here more than their counterparts in US :). but for the locals, this is where they grew up. this is what they know. does that make it any better?

the chinese.
now that i look back and compare the numbers, singapore is ~70% chinese. the US is ~70% white. so who does a better job of mixing? i really think the US wins hands down here (and i grew up in alabama). but why is that so? i have no idea. i don't fully understand chinese people/culture yet. give me a few months and i'll get back to you. but i DO find it ironic that in a city full of chinese, they felt the need to label a particular area "chinatown."

i'm not sure i'm making complete coherent sense as i jump around, but hopefully you can get the general sense of what i'm thinking so far.

the indians.
indians in singapore largely keep to themselves. i've found there are 3 kinds of indians here (not including the ex-pat imported from another non-indian country type like yours truly).

#1-there's the migrant worker, who i have often seen digging ditches (literally), cleaning buildings, and riding around in the back of trucks from one construction site to another (many from sri lanka, but let's just generalize and put all south asians together, shall we?).

#2- then there's the 1st/2nd generation type. those who came here for good professional opportunity (doctor, professor, engineer, etc), and brought/raised their family here. i've met a few so far.

#3- finally, there's the ex-pat. with all the global corps + multinationals putting their asian hubs here (for which india is often one of their top/growing-ist markets), they're naturally going to source talent from indian universities (probably 30-40% of my office fits this criteria).

so it looks like you've got a pretty solid indian community going, right? quite the opposite, in fact. while little india does indeed rock here*, it's not because these 3 indian communities are intermingling. they are largely exclusive of one another. and 2 of these groups are in the same socio-economic class! i guess i'll call their split more generational (after all, what 20/30-something indian young urban professional wants to hang with the uncles + aunties, or their underrage/college-age kids?).

but to be fair, none of these individual indian groups (with few exceptions, like with anything) seem to want to hang out with people from any of the other large ethnic groups here.

*all that being said, little india IS so far my favorite part of town, and NOT because i'm indian. but because it's a chaotic oasis to the clean streets and shopping malls that i find my self sometimes drowning in...

the malaysians.
i have no idea what's going here with these guys. not enough interaction or observation. statistically speaking though, they've got to be here!

but today at work i had coffee + got to know a rather nice coworker from malaysia (though she is ethnically chinese!). and i did go to quite a good malaysian restaraunt on circle rd the the other day. the pedang chicken was delicious. give me a few months. i'll get to the bottom of these guys too and continue making brash, off-base generalizations.


closing thoughts.
so now that i've offended everyone (for which i have NO apology to offer), i am going to write a love letter to cheese & crackers (not supposed to be a racial metaphor, i genuinely have a recently rediscovered soft spot for the delicious combination of crispiness and creaminess).

maybe when I go back to japan in a few weeks i’ll get a sense of what racial inclusion is supposed to be like (blatant sarcasm)

...oh cheese and crackers, why must you be so delicious?

visual dna?

i had heard about this awhile back, but it wasn't until i was reading through the recently discovered blog of a peer that i decided to see what it was about.

(and for some reason this HTML widget is acting up, so you have NO idea what i'm talking about)

Monday, September 17, 2007

...a case of the mondays

moderately alliterative, how i'm feeling today......and that was BEFORE i got some pretty bad & confusing news on the personal front (which made the rationale for my own frustration & disappointment seem minuscule).

btw - i'm supposed to be the guy in tights being kicked, not the kicker (pic
stolen shamelessly from Chris's Invincible Super Blog, a newfound addiction for my RSS).

i'm going to call it a day and just go home now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

jews, hindus, & dragons...oh my!

after a "normal" week of work, i got a bit older on friday (apparantly alongside mr. chekhov). but decided to keep it to myself, and a low-key affair. i wound up meeting up w/ another one of mala's uni friends here, yu-ling. she brought along jason, who happened to be a P&G newhire. we met up for a late dinner at glutton's bay, on the esplanade, for the usual hawker fare, then headed out for drinks. the singapore sling is by far one of the most overrated drinks around.

the conversation, as i've found with all of the locals i've met, was quite insightful. there's something deeper than what the typical ex-pat/visitor lives here. while it definitely is a clean, safe, western locale, this just barely scratches the surface to what's really going on. ranging all things from government policies and the press - there is more than meets the eye.

SATURDAY, 15.SEPT.2007:
got up early to a rainy day, and headed out to Maghain Aboth Synagogue near Burgis/Raffles. i came at the invitation of Alex, a coworker from London who's been here for ~1 year on EBT (the arrangement i've got here). given most of our encounters back in the US involved drinking and music, i never quite took Alex for the religious type, much less someone of the Jewish faith, but this is apparantly something he's rekindled since being out here. today marked the end of Rosh Hashanah, so the service was an interesting one. this was the second time i'd attended services at a Synagogue (the first time being w/ my friend Jen in AL), and despite the aesthetic differences, found much of the ceremony to be similar to that of Hinduism (the chants, the separation of men & women, etc). i spent most of the time flipping through my copy of the Torah, and fidgeting w/ the hat thingie you have to wear on the back of your head.

after the services, i joined Alex for a lunch at the temple, and got to meet some of his non-work friends in town, most of whom were MBAs from Tel Aviv and/or NYC at one of the local unis. through my wit and charm, i MIGHT have been able to recruit a few more patrons to week in review.

given Alex was observing the Sabbath (day of rest), he was waking back to his place - since he could not use anything that involves work (cars, trains, etc). we walked to the MRT + said goodbye (until sundown, when he can come back out...not unlike a vampire).

i decided to make my way to Chinatown, so hopped lines to the aptly named Chinatown MRT stop. where i spent the next couple of hours. i had already heard so before, but Chinatown was a bit disappointing. in itself, it's odd to find a Chinatown in a city that is almost 70% Chineses, and you could also tell that the city has done quite a bit of "dressing up" of the area. i wandered through the streets + stalls, finding my way to both the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, as well as one of the most touristy Bhuddhist temples EVER. i even had a kebab for a snack!

...and no, this guy is NOT doing what it looks like.


but given it's the sabbath, and i should be resting, i'll just give you the link to the pictures from my day's jaunt:


Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

...earthquake?

WEDNESDAY, 12.SEPT.2007:


the official story from BBC News.

the official story from Raman:
~7.30pm. i was still in the office working ~100 miles away. some random lady turns to me and was like "did the ground just shake?" i could not come up with a witty response fast enough, so we shrugged it off and went back to work. then we saw the blinds moving. so i sent my email to japan quickly.

we looked outside and the power was still on in the city. and cars were moving along.
...30 mins later on the short walk to the MRT then i start getting panicked texts from coworkers saying to warn all my friends at the beaches.

then i road the train home and made a salad for dinner.
...and watched curb your enthusiasm.
...then i read some comics (gen13)
...then i went to bed

NOTHING HAPPENED HERE. EVERYTHING IS FINE.
(but thanks for asking)

we should all be more worried about all the people in indonesia. better yet, do more than worry and do something :)

what i do...

not literally. but this is the kind of marketing environment i'm in. both symbolic of the "can do" attitude, but also the great calibur of competitive advertising creative (remember, i work in laundry now, with specific focus on india, japan, and the philippines):

Monday, September 10, 2007

this sums it up

11.SEPT.2007:
6 years later, this is still pretty much
how i feel.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

around downtown

SUNDAY 9.SEPT.07
spent the afternoon walking downtown, around the "city hall" to "raffles place" MRT stops. click image for more pictures:

Saturday, September 08, 2007

the elephant, the pig, & the frog.

my first full week actually IN Singapore was consumed with work craziness - helping with some regional training, and dealing with some issues up in Japan. though i was fortunate to make it out and about every night of the week, slowly expanding my knowledge of the city. Sunday was Korean on Dhempsey Road with my visiting Aussie colleague Kshitij. tapas on Monday w/ work peoples, the Polo Club on Tuesday w/ even MORE work peoples (weak food, neat locale), Muthu’s Curry (Sri Lankan Crab) w/ Kshitij in Little India on Wednesday (prefaced by a quick trip to Mustafa), Japanese fast food for lunch Thursday, and then Vietnamese w/ Tricia at Somerset Thursday night. Friday night I met up again w/ Tricia + a handful of her agency friends for drinks at Clarke Quay, and had dinner afterwards w/ Deepa (Mala’s friend) in the Arab Quarter, which was followed up w/ ice cream + a bunch of Singaporean lawyers (a few of which i hopefully convinced to join the local WIR cause).

despite the many urban experiences, I was quickly becoming eager for an escape, so made plans to retreat to Pulau Ubin for my Saturday. Pulau Ubin is an island off the northern coast ("Pulau" literally meaning "island"), in the straits just between Singapore and Malaysia. so while Pulau Ubin is sovereign to Singapore, you’d apparantly never know, given it lush wetlands and bike paths. something i looked forward to all week. [NOTE: for all pics from Pulau Ubin click the elephant >

SATURDAY 8.SEPT.07:

the beautiful thing about weekends is not so much sleeping in, it’s waking without an alarm. that being said, the unfortunate thing i've noticed since i've moved to this side of the world is that i CAN'T sleep in on the weekends, always waking up at 9am-ish. for shame.


so up early, milled about, read, made an early lunch, and got a move on. a ~20 min MRT ride to the far east side of town. from there, a 25 min double-decker bus ride to the "Changi Village" just near the airport. from the bus stop, a quick cut through a MUCH more local market than anything seen in + around downtown (hard to not get distracted), and down some stairs to the ferry point, where i enjoyed a coke light + a kitkat as i waited for the "bumboat" captain to gather enough people to make the trip.


once 12 finally gathered, we piled into the back of a small boat with benches along the side. i brought an old friend along with me, so took a photo as appropriate. more to follow, as he now resides in my camera bag. the bumboat was filled with couples young and old, and even some kids (who found my red partner amusing). the captain took S$2 from everyone and we were off. it was just a short ride off the coast, 15 mins to get there. near the landing point, you could the other bumboats lined up next to eachother, their "captains" sitting around, smoking and chatting. basically a bunch of old guys kicking back and enjoying the water. i wondered what they did in a previous life, or if this was it.

through the main "gate" and i was surrounded by cafes, and bike rental shops, my surroundings resembling more the outskirts of a 3rd world village than anything seen in Singapore. i quickly grabbed a map from the information desk, shoved it in my back pocket, and began perusing the bikes. despite the poor appearance of the surrounding, 80% of the bikes were brand new, which i found to be an odd juxtaposition. i guess what i'd expect from an island halfway between Singapore and Malaysia. i found a bike, negotiated a price (S$5), gave it a quick test ride, and was off.

the entire island only spans a few KM, so i planned to see every trail. i started by heading to the far east side of the island, which was a wetland nature preserve. i rode through several muddy hills covered in tropical canopy. along the way were several run down houses, which doubled as respites for weary riders. most memorable was Cookie Monster waving at me as I rode by. C is for Cookie indeed my friend.

eventually, i found my way to the preserve's entrance, which was surrounded by discarded bikes. much of the preserve was a proper platform/pier, keeping the visitors from disturbing the habitat. an old German house, facing both the water and mainland Singa, now served as the visitor center. stretching out from the house was a long pier towards Pulau Sekud, otherwise known as "Frog Island." the proper story of Pulau Ubin was that long ago, a pig, elephant, and a frog challenged either to a swim across the straits, the loser to become a rock. none of them could make it, so the elephant and the pig became Pulau Ubin (2 islands connected my man-made bunds), and the frog, was left further behind to become what is now "Frog Island."

my hike continued along through the wetlands, which continued to become more and impressive as i got further away from the strait coastal, and deeper into the forest. i eventually came across a viewing tower, which provided a good view of the canopied terrain. along the way were many Chinese little kids w/ their parents, and the fair amount of Indian tourists. everyone got the Raman smile. the kids even got a wave. most of them waved back. the rest were delinquent brats in my book (or just shy).

exiting the preserve, i was relieved to find my bike still there, jumped back on, and made my way north. along the way were several impressive lagoons/quarries, which were fenced off by the authorities to keep people from heading in for a dip. though my natural suspicion had me wondering how mother nature got an EXACT match for "miniature golf lagoon blue." i eventually found my way to Marnim Beach, where i took my first real break at what can be best described as a shack (the sort of thing i was more adept at seeing on the side of the road in Alabama than in Singapore). buying a water from the resident old couple, i wandered their grounds, coming across bunnies, laundry, lilypads, and clay pots. a few kids sat at picnic tables were playing their PSPs - which i've seen ALL over Singa, making me want one (despite my DS...).

the trail beyond the beaches was closed off, so i turned around and headed back south to the next fork in the trail. i made my way back north, into the center of the island, coming across many odd sites and shrines, frequently stopping to take photos. the hills continued to go up and down (giving my knees and brakes a good workout), as the path alternated between narrower and wider (somehow always narrower when a van/truck would come along). back towards the top of the island i stopped at Noordin Beach - which was full of campers, cadet training (16/17 year old boys), and fishers. in the distance you could clearly make out Malaysia.

back towards the island center, i came to my final fork, taking me to the northwest stretches of the island, towards more quarries. this part of the island was much more barren, and the trails were lacking. but i pressed on, hoping i'd find something new and interesting. there were actually a handful of shrines and interesting stops along the way. at one point i even hopped back off the bike to venture into the forest to find "des Schrein des deutschen M├Ądchen" (shrine of the German girl), which i had read about earlier. basically, years ago (just after WW2) a German girl (whose parents settled on the island fleeing the British) was wandering about and went missing. turns out she had fallen into a well and died. a she was soon found by Chinese laborers who gave her a proper burial. somewhere along the way, the daughter of a Roman Catholic family became a Taoist deity who many Chinese Singaporean regularly make the trek to Pulau Ubin to pay their respects for good fortune. well i hiked and hacked through quite a bit of thick brush to find said shrine, and all i found was mud, water, and alot of scratches.

stupid German girl.


having covered nearly every angle of the island, i made my way south to the docks. enjoying what was left for me of the hilly paths, blue quarries, and surrounding nature. but by the end of my ride, i was ready to call it a day, returning my bike quickly, and waiting at the docks impatiently for enough people to gather for a ride back to the mainland. the ride back seemed significantly longer. not just the bumboat ride, but also the bus and MRT ride. i guess the thing i was looking forward to was a known entity (home), whereas earlier in the day it was the unknown, making the excitement make the time go faster (though i've typically found anticipation tends to slow things to a snail's pace). i must have been in an anomaly of the space-time continuum.

a few detours on the way home. first to Orchard to stop by Borders. i found what i was looking for (top secret), and made my way to the graphic novels, where i noticed something similar to what i had seen in Manila - ALL the graphic novels were shrink-wrapped. so while everyone else was perusing through their books, etc, i would not be able to read comics for free at the breakneck pace at which i read them back home. disappointed (and frustrated), i made my way over to the magazine aisle, picked up the latest Rolling Stone, going straight for the "national affairs" column (if you don't regularly read this, you should). the column discussed in detail the gross-spending in fraud the government has made in Iraq.

troubling and infuriating indeed.


rather than more MRT, i decided to try to walk my way back home. the MRT (or any mass transit in ANY city) tends to "black box" the rest of a city from you, keeping you from ultimately having any sense of direction in a city. going forward, i plan to make it a point to skip a few stops on the train + try to walk the extra instead, so i can figure out how the streets and neighborhoods connect here. a stop at the hawker center in my back yard (Newton Circus), where i finally treated myself to the oft-recommended chile crab. and what a large crab it was - S$28 worth (~$18 US) - more than i spent on the entire day's events preceding it. combined with a fresh glass of watermelon juice, a reward well worth the money.

going for a walk

SATURDAY 2.SEPT.07: random pictures taken on a walk around the neighborhood last weekend, from my apt (newton) to my place of work (novena). picture links to a public photo album on my facebook...





Friday, September 07, 2007

random phone pics


















...random drawing at an ice cream parlor ("pluck")



















...clark quay on a friday night.
























...smoking is subtly discouraged here



















muthu's curry in little india - sri lankan crab + a king fisher w/ my aussie buddy kshitij. probably the best meal i've had here so far.

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