Monday, September 19, 2011

Tram No 8 goes to Toorak Road


If you read this blog frequently, you'll find that I talk about Melbourne a fair bit. And I think I make it sound like this blissful place, this place of sunshine, good food and wonder.

Partly, I was a student there and there was just so much more freedom. Partly, the food really IS better there. And partly, it's a less insecure place. It's a city grown comfortable with itself, its immigrant quarters and its Victorian past.

Three years in Singapore is also three years away from the city that I grew to love. It's odd because even when I was lonely and heartsick there, I still loved the city. On the wet and cold nights, staring out of the tram windows, I felt that the city shrugged itself around me, mourned with me and sent its angels to make me smile.

Here's something I wrote when I was still living there - a different girl in a different time -

10 May 2006:

".... I think I must have finally hit that stage where one gets mad obsessions about pop stars with floppy hair and nonsensical crushes on random boys.


Today on my way home from school(actually it was the supermarket but school sounds less aunty) this dark haired medium tall guy got on and sat across me and started gabbing on his mobile in french.

And I swear, he had the most adorable smile I had ever seen in my life. He was on the phone chatting volubly and amiably with his friend and occasionally smiling at a joke and I swear that the charm and general good naturedness contained in that smile made the stars dance.

He had these impishly crooked teeth, you know, the kind that only serve to make a smile ever more boyish and full of mischief and dimples that flashed and winked every time he moved his lips.

It made my day, it really did. I mean, all those glum looking city slickers around me and you get this guy in a grey coat and green scarf who smiles like the world is this great wonderful place and I just wanted to beam back at him in return. As it was, I sat there with my lips twitching in an effort not to start grinning like a mad stalker person and only let myself smile when I got off at my stop.

Whereupon he sailed off on tram 8, still on his phone saying unintelligible things in french,still smiling his adorable smile and probably never to be seen again.

Isn't it mad? And isn't it so 15 years old and feeling faint because the boy you liked breathed in your direction today?


Ah well. Singapore, you have got to work on increasing your incidence of cute, dimpled french speaking boys with angelic smiles! :)

DISCLAIMER: Ahem. French boy on tram really existed. But I never saw him again. It was fun writing about him though.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

3rd Year

"It is possible at a distance to maintain the fiction of former happiness - childhood or school days - and then your return to an early setting and the years fall away and you see how bitterly unhappy you were. I had felt trapped in Singapore; I had felt as if I were being destroyed by the noise - the hammering, the traffic, the radios, the yelling......."

-- Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

I had meant to write this post earlier but work, life and an accident got in the way. I came back here in June 2008 - it has been three years since I came back to Singapore.

It gets unbearable at times, living here in the cramped conditions, the noise, the lack of space, the snaking lines and construction sites everywhere. There is money to be made in this place - otherwise all the foreigners I see on the train wouldn't be here - but there is no peace, no quiet, no space.

Walking to the station from my office a few weeks ago, a drill started up nearby and it filled the air with its poisonous insistent "Ba Ba Ba Bam!"over and over again - and I completely lost it. I all but screamed at Mr Grey - "I HATE THIS COUNTRY, I HATE THE NOISE, GET ME OUT OF HERE!"

I don't hate Singapore but I am utterly sick of it. I am sick of the noise and crowds and having to smell people on the train every single day.

I am not sick of its people but I am so sick of being pressed up against them on the train and having to know - in intimate detail - if someone has had a shower that morning and the types of soap/shampoo used.


And yet if you ask me if I would move back to Australia - I would hesitate. Time and visits back have confirmed that while I was happy and felt free there, I had also been enormously lonely in a way that a person is lonely when you live among a people not your own.

Living elsewhere would be exchanging one set of problems for another set - the only question is - which set can I live with?


Happy 3rd anniversary Singapore. I'm sorry to be so grumpy - you're not a bad place in your way but your people have GOT to stop rebuilding and tearing down every third building all of the time. It's exhausting and I'm not really sure it improves things in any concrete (pun totally intended) way.

But still. It's been three years and when I find time, I'll have a glass of wine in honour of that.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mozart chocolates


So in Vienna (and all over Austria) they sell chocolates covered with gold foil and stamped with Mozart's portrait. I was fortunate enough to be given a bag full of them and they turned out to be delicious - layers of chocolate, marzipan and some caramel :)

Mr Grey and I were just sitting around munching some ...

Mr Grey : So what do you think makes these chocolates so nice?

Me: maybe having Mozart's picture on them makes it taste nicer on a psychological level.

Mr Grey: No no! It's nicer because in the factory where they make this chocolate, they pipe in Mozart's music all day long and the essence of Mozart's genius soaks into the chocolates! That's why they taste so nice!

Me:........ er ....