Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sundays from Singapore: All the news that's funny to print


The newspaper here is the mouthpiece of the government, so predicting the next public policy isn't too difficult. Lately, there have been a number of articles and letters to the editor regarding litter problems in specific places, as well as articles praising the efforts to refurbish local parks and make them more presentable. My bet is that soon the will be a new public campaign called, "Sweep It Up, Singapore," or some such thing, along the lines of the "Smile, Singapore" campaign that was designed to make the residents friendlier towards visitors.

They take cleanliness very seriously here, which cracks me up sometimes as it doesn't seem to extend to personal cleanliness in some parts of the population (remember the purple cloud of BO from the movers?) I recently got a memo from the apartment management office asking residents not to feed or befriend the roaming cats as they have been "shitting and urinating" in the common grounds. I kid you not!

But back to the news. Of course the headlines are full of reports that Indonesian's president didn't take to being impeached any better than Bill Clinton, and have many accompanying side articles. Yawn. Of greater interest to me was the Health Minister in India (I think) who presented legislation that would require student nurses to be certified virgins, or face expulsion. How being a virgin qualifies one as a better nurse is beyond me, but in short order the Minister was told to "shut up and take a vacation." Here! Here!

The Chinese have been told that they must suspend sales of Saint Bernard meat during the Olympics. They like this particular species of dog as they grow rapidly, and supposedly have aphrodisiac properties. After being overcome with the smell of a local fruit called Durian, which has the aroma of fermenting carcasses, and can stun a water buffalo from forty paces, I have decided that ingenious hawkers will assign fertility and aphrodisiac potential to anything that is otherwise so disgusting, nobody in their right mind would be interested. Of course, anyone who would put either of these "foodstuffs" anywhere near their mouths, isn't in their right mind. But I digress.

The paper seems to delight in reporting the economic downturn in the U.S. Daily articles on dot com high fliers who now have to actually work for a living, or can't find a job, have a slightly gleeful tone. Today's report concerned local actors who, having tried their luck in Hollywood, are returning to Singapore to find good acting parts. I personally believe this is an attempt to soften the blow of Singapore's own current declining economic climate and the scramble by people who have been "retrenched."

The paper has the usual sports section, with soccer (football) the most popular sport. Yawn again. The ads run about 50% mobile phone offerings, 40% really ugly 1960's modern furniture, and the rest for treatment programs for everything from short legs to sagging bosoms. One actually offered three free treatments for your problematic bust with the purchase of a facial care package. The ad even showed pen drawings of various bust ailments, such as postpartum droop (pointing straight down) to general aging sag (down near the waist) that they could alleviate. I am sorely tempted by some of these offers, but worry that if they can lift and separate as well as the pictures promise, I might end up with two perky horn-like appendages sprouting from my forehead.

Cold Storage grocery store.

I do gain some benefit from the local grocery ads, but this is tempered by my inability to convert dollars per 100 grams into something meaningful. Is steak from Australia at $26.00S for a kilogram a good deal?? Let's see. A kilo is 2.2 pounds, I think, so that's about $13.00S a pound, which since the money isn't worth very much means that it is about $7.00US... for those scrawny-looking things?!? Okay, how about vegetables? What the heck are those veggies? A member of the onion family? Or perhaps something closer to a really fat spinach. Oh well, they do sell Ben and Jerry's, so I'm all right.

My local mall is across exactly one street. And it's pretty good. It has all the shops necessary for daily living, such as the grocery, the cleaners, and a dinky HomeFix-It store. The girls are happy with Esprit and the CD shop, Mrs. Field's cookies and McD's, where shortly, you can get 2 for 1 McSalmon sandwiches! I'm not making this up! To go with your "pink chicken" burger, as my niece and nephew call it, you can get a Hot Curry Pie, or perhaps a pizza one. They only sell two types of fountain drinks here, so they have four spigots of Coke and one of 7Up. Oh, and some local drink, but I'm afraid to ask what it is. They will neatly package your order in a multitude of hanky-size plastic bags (with handles), including the drink cup, for "take away." But remember to ask for a napkin because you'll never find one for yourself. They are as precious as gold.

My favorite shop is the Bread Talk store that bakes numerous buns with an infinite number of fillings, most with great names like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Bacon. Some are a little funky sounding, like the one stuffed with custard and topped with a dusting of powder fine pork "floss.' The apple one and the sugar loaf are yummy little snacks. I was hoping the good influence of lighter asian cuisine (and some revolting menu options like Fish head Soup) would slim me down. By all rights, I ought to look like Linda Hamilton in the "Terminator" movies for all the lifting and hauling I've done. I'm afraid, however, that the buns at Bread Talk will only inflate my buns to twin theater proportions.

The girls have run off to the mall for the fourth time today, to check on the availability of the new InSync cd. Before they return, they will purchase some fresh milk, some number of grams of ham, and a can of whipped cream, which I will dispense directly into my mouth while watching frenetic foreign language games shows on TV. Good night to you all.


Celticspirit said...

The McSalmon burgers don't sound bad, as I love salmon. Hopefully they won't do a McBernard burger! I can't believe they eat that there. How long did you live in Singapore?

Lisa said...

I don't know about a McBenard burger! I haven't spend anytime in mainland China, just Hong Kong.

We lived in Singapore for 2 years, starting just before 9/11 and continuing through the SARS epidemic! Fun times!

Penny said...

Lisa, I just love, love reading your Singapore letters!! Kinda corny, but you make me smile! ;)