Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Market in Little India

Little India, located east of the Singapore river, and across from China Town is an experience all in its own. It is a deep ethnic neighborhood, rich in smells, vibrant color and breath taking shops of yards and yards of fabric.
Carefully meandering through the shops and traffic, you will be pleasantly surprised at the selection of shopping you will find; little nooks and crannies in the most surprising places full of treasures.

Going to Little India is always an experience in senses. Close your eyes and you will smell a nearly overwhelming smell of flowers, spices, incenses, and foods - both raw and cooked.
The freshest fruits and veggies in the city are here to select:

Fresh handmade flower necklaces with deep aromas of Jasmine hang from carts waiting a purchase:

And of course the fresh fish market (now there is an aroma to behold!) has a huge selection of picks for supper:

Looking around, I saw an expat and her maid picking out supper for the day:

The poultry looks fresh enough to run away:

The butcher works diligently with his 'modern day' equipment:

The ice truck is making its deliveries:

And of course clothes are sewn daily in the market - especially to fit in as little as 24 hours:

If you have not ventured to Little India, you should do so soon. Without a 'scratch and sniff' page on the blog, there is no describing the experiences you are missing - it is simply a breath taking adventure.

Be sure and take your camera - that is half the fun :-)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blowing Fire

When we went to the Singapore Zoo, I watched in amazement as these young men blew fire from their mouths. While I was watching, I was thinking how dangerous this must be. While it made an amazing picture, I have to wonder about how safe it is for these guys. The heat from it radiated into the audience and even warmed our skin.

Would we even see this in the states? What is the story behind this 'attraction'? Is it tribal in nature? Or is it just talented entertainers.

These were just a few thoughts going through my mind as I stood in amazement trying to get the perfect shot.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prayer Request Please

Horrible news today.

I was raised in a small community in Oklahoma where everyone knows everyone else. When we were kids, my brother and sister were friends with a family that lived by us. Today we find out that the grandfather of one of the boys accidently backed over his 12 year old grandson with his wrecker. My brother went to the scene of the accident, but said the young fellow was killed instantly.

What a horrible tragedy. Please keep the family in your prayers. I cannot imagine trying to make myself go on after that.

My heart is heavy for them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Singapore's Natural Beauty

Not feeling much like posting today, so I thought I would share some of the natural wonders we have seen in Singapore. Even when I am down like I am today, I can always look around and see amazing sights that lift my spirits and remind me that we live in a wonderful world.

Hope everyone has a great day :-)

Some People Have Marbles for Brains :-(

I was having computer issues this morning - my e-mail wonked out on me. I kept getting the Outlook popup that my password wasn't right. I tried ignoring it but it kept popping up every 5 seconds. I rebooted. It popped up. Finally I gave in and deleted my e-mail account and reloaded it. I closed Outlook and opened it again. The thing was still popping up to say it was not right. I logged into my web mail and checked my password - goodness knows, I might have changed it. I didn't - my password worked fine with webmail. SO, back to Outlook - yes it is still popping up.

I called AT&T who I have my e-mail account with and spoke with Bonnie. Now this account has worked here in Singapore for 16 months. Bonnie told me since I was in Singapore it would not work. Huh? It has been working fine until this morning. I just needed to change my outgoing server. I said m'am? It is just something on your server that you need to fix - if you reset my password on it, that fixes it. I have had it happen three times before. Nope, it won't work, you need to get a client over there. We appreciate your business, have a good day. Goodbye.

Soooo, I called back. This time I got Adelle. I explain everything that I have already done and that I have had it happen before and when they reset my password it works right again. Can she reset my password? She tells me that it is no problem, we just need to shut outlook and restart it. Huh? Did you hear everything I just told you - I have done that. Well, just do it for me, ok? I did. That nice little pop up? It popped up again. Ok, so let's just reboot your computer. Ok... I have done this, but I am doing it now for her she says. Of course that fancy little pop up box pops right up when I open Outlook. Over and over. Well, lets go in and change your account and be sure it is set up right.

We go and change it all - but she has me put my outgoing server as my home one from AT&T even though I explain I am in Singapore and it won't work. She says just to do it for her. I do. She changes everything - even my incoming. I tell her again I am with the old Bellsouth. We still need to change it. So, I change it. Then she has me save it all, close it out and reopen it. That fancy little pop up? Yeah, it popped up. Over and over. So then she has me try to do remote access. I am not certain I want her on my computer, but figure I am right there watching her... so she tries. Five times she tries - and fails. Maybe this is a good thing.

Total time I have been on the phone by now is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The pop up box keeps popping up still. She tells me to click save password on the pop up and check my e-mail. I click. And click. And click. And click. And she tells me to be sure and click SAVE on it. I explain I have done that about a thousand times by this time today and it does not work. My password needs to be reset on the server.

She says will let's go back and be sure it is all right. We do. It is. We close Outlook and restart it. We try again. That fancy little pop up? Yeah, it popped up. She decides we need to restart the computer. We do, yeah, it pops up again. She gets off and comes back. We do it all over again - ALL of it. That fancy little pop up? Yeah, it popped up.

Ms Einstein... errr, Adelle tells me to just hit cancel real quick on the password pop up and try to send myself and e-mail. I explain to her (at least the third time) that I am 10,000 miles away from my home network and the outgoing will not work for me. She says do it for her. I did. Guess what? I didn't get an e-mail back. Annnnnd? That fancy little pop up? Yeah, it popped up.

Ms Einstein... errr, Adelle starts to suggest to me that we go through it all again. By this time I have finally realized she is not the brightest crayon in the box and ask to speak to a supervisor. She comes back and says that she has spoken with the Supervisor and they have determined it is my Outlook. M'am, did you hear that I have had this problem 3 times before and they just reset my password on the server? Yes m'am but that does not appear to be the problem. Outlook is a client and you have something wrong with your Outlook as it is not accepting the password. May I suggest you reload it and give us a call if it is not working still?

Sooo, I get another have a good day and good bye. Again, I wait a few minutes until I cool down... I WANT my e-mail working darn it! Then I call the third person, Ms Jamie. I first ask her if she is new at this tech support stuff or not. She assures me she is not new - and is very familiar with computers. I tell her my problem - by now a multitude of them. Then I tell her what Ms Bonnie did, and then Ms Einstein's changes and all I want is for my e-mail to find its way to me, but now that Ms Einstein has changed it all, it will be lost in cyberspace forever. She says, no m'am I assure you we will find it.

She has me open Outlook and my account settings. She asked what I have on each page. I tell her. That damned fancy little pop up? Yeah, it is still popping up. She assures me to cancel it each time until we fix it. It won't matter if you click save because it is not going to work. I do. She is already my hero. As we go through each page, she is eerily quiet after I read off what I have. She asked me how I got those answers to which I say Ms Einstein told me that was the right answers. She says well please change them back to your original settings (she made sure I knew what I was doing) and I did. She made sure I had my Singapore outgoing right, then she said save it all and close it. I did.

Then we closed Outlook (haven't I done this already) and she says but DON'T OPEN IT! I don't. She says now go to this site and type in these numbers... now what does it say? I tell her. She says ok, this is what I am going to do. I am going to reset your password and we will see what happens then. Don't worry - we are going to fix this!

She reset the password and asked me to open Outlook. I did. That fancy little pop up? IT DIDN'T POP UP! My e-mail starts tumbling in! WHOOO HOOO! 2 hours and 35 minutes later - I have e-mail!

I was on the phone with Jamie for only 5 minutes and damn if she didn't do what I told her always worked - AFTER she fixed the mess the last girl did, and assured me my Outlook was fine, not to worry about that unless it was a last resort. Jamie is my hero! I hope Adelle finds her way in Tech Support, but I don't think she can even find her way out of a phone booth. Oh, wait. Do they even make those any more?

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Words of Wisdom Today...

... but do I ever have any real ones? lol...

I took it easy for a few days. I have fought that sinus attack from those beautiful flowers I got from the awards banquet. The funny thing is, before I realized that is what was making me so ill, Josie left for Scotland and gave me her bouquet which was exactly like mine - huge! So I had a double whammy effect. Man was I ever miserable. Anyway, with antibiotics and prednisone, it is finally coming around. Just fighting asthma now, but it will soon let up. No more millions of lilies for me.

We went to the Royal Thai Embassy this weekend for a bazaar. It was soooo crowded, I wish we had gone earlier. We had a great time watching the people around us. As one of Steve's colleagues and I stood waiting on him to return, a huge entourage of important people came past us. I could have reached out and touched "Mr Important" (whoever he was), but I just stood back and watched. Of course our cameras were in our bags. Well, after the man passed, I looked over and said, "He must be important..." Immediately, Steve's colleague said, "Uh, yes. That was our President! And my camera, I couldn't get my camera out! Oh no!" He looked utterly distressed. Leave it to us amateur photographers to miss a great opportunity.

People watching here is nice:

And this piece of meat has always intrigued me. I have no idea what it is, but they carve it off of the slab. Smells yummy too :-)

Signs around the city I have seen recently:

In the women's room... (I was the only one in here, I promise!) lol...

Check out the menu picture:

Getting shoes here is always an experience. We have so many sizes to choose from:

As I said, just ramblings. I hope to be back on my feet in no time and posting regularly again.

Off to get ready for more picture taking. Leone and I are going to learn some more :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A World of Many Ways

20 years ago, my sister lived with us in south Louisiana. After she graduated from high school she joined the Air Force and trained in Biloxi. While she was in training, she met a girl named Jenny from the Philippines. Jenny came to visit us one weekend when Shari came home. Even then I was always open and questioning about other cultures and Jenny was only too happy to share about her life in the Philippines.

While we were chatting about the ways each of us lived, we got into the conversation about foods. Jenny related that in the Philippines, they commonly eat dog. We cringed at the thought of eating dog and uncomfortably laughed in disbelief. Jenny immediately reassured us that they don't eat just 'any' dog, they were careful and only ate dogs they had raised in their yards or that were raised on a 'dog farm'. Of course, we immediately thought 'pets'. Not happening in America.

I have thought about that conversation for many years and grown from it. I came to realize that while we as Americans would not eat dogs, other countries would not eat pork - or cattle - or lamb. What makes dogs any different than any other of God's creatures? Why is it acceptable in the states to eat pork? Pigs can be cute critters... though most people don't keep them as pets - but just what makes them different? I finally came to terms with that dog conversation. No, I won't ever knowingly eat dog or cat, but I can be ok with other cultures that do and accepting of them.

I didn't know 20 years ago that conversation was preparing me for life on this side of the world. Meat tastes different in Asia, and I am going to be quite honest here. I am told that we are eating beef when we order at restaurants; but sometimes you just have to wonder... you know, when the texture isn't quite what you expect it to be and you really cannot pinpoint it? I am sure it probably is beef, but that conversation comes back to me often these days. It is not uncommon for other cultures to eat other critters, and believe me, I am living in a very diverse nation; am I really eating what I ordered?

Today we went to the American Polo Club for lunch. I was not feeling well, and I sat back and listened to the different conversations going on. We had a Korean girl with us from Seoul sitting beside me. Having been to Korea, I know the Korean's eat dog. However, I wondered how she felt when the conversation across the table turned to a little dog being carried away in a bag - and they were wondering if it was for a meal. I quickly turned her attention to my visit in Korea and showed her pictures of my trip on my iTouch, asking her questions about her country... you know, pronunciations, destinies and such.

We had a nice conversation and pleasantly enough, we communicated easily. Her accent was quite strong and she is still learning English. She shared that her children like American pizza and asked where in Singapore she could take them to get it. We chatted about a few other things, then the conversations moved on. I guess I was relieved when the doggy conversation changed to more pleasantries, but I realized once again just how easily a conversation could offend one of our international friends. I am not saying she was offended, but she certainly could have been.

As I sat back and gazed around the table and thought back to Bible Study, I realized that we have so much to learn from other people. Our (the American) way is not the right way; just the way we know. Learning and embracing our differences is a growing experience - one that I think God expects from us. He works in mysterious ways; Jenny's conversation 20 years ago prepared me for this incredible journey that I am on in Singapore. It began opening my eyes to the differences in cultures, traditions and foods.

Who am I to say what critters are acceptable to eat? I have realized that many people eat differently than I do, and that is ok with me. Even in the states that is true. I have realized in a world so vast, we each have different things available to us. Above all, I have realized I should never just accept that America's way as the only way, that it is just one culture in a world of many.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Seasons Come and Seasons Go...

Living in Singapore, where it is 95 degrees every day leaves one wondering where the seasons are. So how does one know when seasons are changing?

We hear about the cold fronts starting in the west and making their way across the states; it is like a team performing the wave in the stands, slowly but consistently working its way from one said to the other. We watch comments on facebook and notes in blogs as it travels. We wake in the morning and see scores on the football games from back in the states, people commenting about the wonderful cool or cold weather and about having to wear jackets. We see posts about Saturday morning soccer games and fall school pictures. Pictures are posted of pumpkin patches and conversations begin about the holidays; holiday meals, family get togethers and Christmas shopping.

In the states, soon after Labor Day we put up our shorts and white shoes. Labor Day is a US holiday - not celebrated here in Singapore. Halloween and Thanksgiving come and go - also US holidays. In Singapore, with no change in weather, no 'fall' holidays commonly celebrated and no tv football, we have to really pay attention to what time of year it is. Time has a way of quietly slipping away here unnoticed - how can there only be 2.5 months left in 2009?

Our malls hang signs in them that say FALL SALE! FALL HAS ARRIVED! or HUGE WINTER SAVINGS! I look around for fall and winter but I see no sign of it. The weather has not changed; it is still hotter than a firecracker and the lush tropics show no sign of color change. Oh, wait, there is one funny thing about the people here, hot or not, they start wearing sweaters! Uuummmm, hello? It is still 95 freaking degrees outside - and I don't care what the signs say! Summer has come and gone and the temperature is still... 95 degrees.

We have no true weather change here. Ok, so maybe we do - there is monsoon and hot. Monsoon are hot rains and hot is just hot. The average temperature change in Singapore in 12 months is no more than 14F degrees from high to low. 14 degrees makes no real difference - except when it is 14 degrees less it is usually raining and it is still hot :-(

I have friends from Australia living here. It is funny to chat with them as I am sure them to chat with me; in Australia, the seasons are the opposite as the ones in the states - it is just turning into summer there. Oh, the differences across the world... things we don't think about living in the states.

So, in order for me to know what to do, I must watch you on facebook or read your blogs for signals - we surely don't have any on our little tropical island. I must listen for clues about what time of year it really is and what I need to be doing for you in the states. Life is not the same here at all - we are in a different timezone and season. The hot one. Half a world away.

Oh dear... Christmas is almost here - I must run and shop for the holiday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Singapore Sling, Arab Street and the Malay Heritage Center

What a busy, wonderful weekend it has been! Steve's award banquet Friday night started us off running. Steve had meetings all weekend, but we squeezed visits with Josie and Mike in during our free time. I had met Mike before, but had never met Josie. We had so much fun visiting and touring a bit in Singapore.

Josie is the only one that can understand what my husband does with the company - her hubby is Steve's counterpart. She understands there are only two guys in the world (with the company) that can do the job the guys do. She understands that if they are on a job, we cannot simply pull them away - there is no one else with the knowledge of the job they do, so no one can take their place. Yet.

It was so nice to have someone to chat with about the frustrations that come with the guys knowledge - the times we have had to 'buck up and do it alone' but needed them there. I know it sounds conceited to even consider that no one else can do their job, but until there are others that have their experience and know how - and then are trained to use it - they have been a two man show. They know, and we know. It has been a very difficult road to hoe for all of us, but we all understand the position we are in and the sacrifices we have all made. I hope that will soon come to an end, but for now it was nice to have someone that understands and can identify with me.

Saturday evening we ate at Boat Quay, had a SINGAPORE SLING at Raffles Hotel (they are world famous for the Singapore Sling) then we finished off the evening with drinks in Chijmes. I shake my head in disbelief when I think of this - and I don't take it for granted. Singapore is a lovely place and I am blessed to be given this opportunity. The sights, the sounds, the smells... We had a wonderful evening. However, I think the Singapore Sling is over rated and definitely over priced:

Here is Mike with his Singapore Sling:

He needed it when he received the check:

It was a glorified fruit punch with very little alcohol; however, I when I came home to research the alcohol content (1 oz), I found out that you must ask for them to hand mix the drink if you want the original. Just as we suspected, we had a premixed drink :-( So now we must go do it all again for the original - Steph? Guess you will have to do that with us... We did, however, have another one at a hotel, and it was much yummier than the Raffle's drink, but the cost was right up there with the Raffle's Sling...

While the guys were at a meeting on Sunday, Josie and I slipped off to Arab Street and browsed around a bit. ARAB STREET is a wonderful shopping area with thousands of yards of the most beautiful material I have ever seen. They have tailors that will measure you and whip up and dress in less than 24 hours - a dress that will take your breath away and fit you like it was made for you. Oh, because it was :-)

Cheyenne's love of red and black came to mind when I saw this dress:

When we went to the MALAY HERITAGE CENTER, we had an artist work with us (free of charge - as a demonstration) to show us how BATIK is made. Basically, you draw on a piece of material, wax over the lines of your drawing with a special tool, then dye the material. The lines stay white and the dye covers the areas the wax is not on:

Here is Josie getting ready to learn her new skill:

Our waxed flowers:

Dying our art:

My artwork:

Our art drying in the sun:

Showing us how to make different patterns and colors by alternating pouring inks and water onto the material:

The finished product, though it got even prettier as it dried:

And finally, a piece his father did - it sold for + S$20,000.00!! His father has an amazing talent for beautiful color.

If you look closely, you can see women dancers in his art:

So our weekend was exciting and fun :-) Most things we do in Singapore are wonderful - I love learning the traditions, and seeing and listening to the unique sights and the sounds of each area. The experiences are breath taking - and sharing with friends only makes it better. I think Josie had fun and we both learned a new trade, though I think we might need a little practice. We bought the wax tool - now I can't wait to see our new projects.

She flies home to Scotland tonight and I am again left nodding in disbelief as I realize just how blessed I am. Oh! And we have been invited to Scotland and Cypress... hmmm... can you imagine BOTH of the guys getting time off at the same time? Yeah, not happening... lol...

Singapore Memory Project