Life is better on the island (the island being Singapore).
Singapore men’s street fashion usually comprises shorts and a tshirt, though not many shy away from color. Or, sports wear.
On the other end of the spectrum are men like these two dapper gentlemen seen on Orchard Road, the fashion mecca of our little island. A bit weather inappropriate, but I am sure they were indoors where the air conditioning was super strong. And that amount of gel in hair conveys a serious dedication to looking good.
They did look good, like they had stepped out of a fashion magazine, or were hipsters who had very rich parents.. Like they were super into themselves.
Sunglasses and branded handbags s are really big in Singapore. Almost everyone has a designer handbag, from Tory Burch to Chanel (some are fake, but really good fakes). I hear that people take out credit card loans to buy the latest Chanel ‘boy bag’ or a Prada ‘top handle’for work. Not that I understand this behavior, but mad props for commitment to fashion, I guess.
And the ladies can somehow, always, balance the line between cutesy and cool. This isn’t your usual Kawaii fashion. Even with bunny ears on their head, Singapore girls look kind of hot. And even in goth outfits and vintage sunnies, they look kind of cute.
We have moved. And so, the last seven days have been spent in a perpetual state of shock by my husband (at the amount of things we have) and a perpetual state of exhaustion by me (due to the amount of things we have).
Don’t you just love how everything magically expands in volume the minute you decide to move?
I haven’t posted anything new this week. The reason is, I have recently come to possess a small little Japanese sketchbook. It has 20 beautiful, thick, creamy pages and is about 3.5 x 5 inches. So I have stared a mixed media project, drawing on certain social aspects of growing up/being female in South Asia. These will be slightly different from my usual style. I will be looking to pair traditional media with stitching, embroidery, stamping, and digital – which means it will be time consuming to both conceptualize and execute.
I will be talking about my personal experiences, of course. But it’s also a look at the socio-politics of gender that is sometimes unique to South Asia and at other times, universal. So it would be great if people of the interwebs and the amazing ladies who read this blog could help me by:
a. sharing your own stories or thoughts, irrespective of whether you are South Asian or not.
b. helping me with some suggestions for a name for this project.
Here are some progress shots. I’ll start posting the individual finished pieces soon.
It’s no secret that most Ang Mos live a fabulous life in Singapore, all the while complaining about the heat, the smell in the MRT and their full-time nannies/maids. I respect that. After all, you are expats, and the rest of the color spectrum are only immigrants.
But dear Ang Mo lady at the beach, who matched her umbrella to her shades and her swimsuit to her ice-cream – I bow down to your dedication to the image. However, do not ever ask me to move away because my shadow is hindering your tan. I know you did not know me this time, and expected that much like the very kind locals, I would oblige. So I feel your pain about what happened next.
In the blistering heat of South East Asian summers, the visual of a hilly little Portuguese village is a bit incongruous. But it’s also somewhat like time travel. In the center of Macau, away from the gaudy casinos and futuristic lights, is the colonial Portuguese quarter — full of dark old churches, tiled and cobbled streets, and pots of hot pink bougainvillea and ranunculus.
My husband and I sat here on green park benches dating back to the 1800s. He had a cream soda to cool off, while I did a quick sketch.
I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes I get obsessed with a song and then I listen to it over and over and over, on a loop.
The past few days it has been a song by Pakistani singer, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (you can find it here). It’s a song about eternal love and longing and waiting. There’s some poetic complaining about heart break. It’s beautiful, even if you don’t know what the lyrics mean.
So of course, I had to draw something pointless about it, with what are probably wildly incorrect Hindi spellings of Punjabi words. I am not sad right now, but I figured someone somewhere is sure to be.
Singapore is ridiculously awesome and clean and sci-fi level efficient. Not to mention the really amazing food. But in my experience and some of my other Indian expat friends, people here can sometimes be a bit, well, unfriendly. And, unsmiling.
I cannot count the number of times I have come face to face with someone and smiled and was met with a steely face. One day, the cab driver who was driving me home from somewhere was coughing a lot. And having just recovered from a horrid cough I knew how that feels. So I pulled out the medical cough lozenges I had left over in my bag and gave it to him along with my cab fare. I kid you not, his face was still as a June afternoon.
I have friends who fainted in the gym, only to have other people in the gym continue to run on the treadmill like they couldn’t see her. I have a friend who had a freak accident in the kitchen and grated off the top her finger. She was alone and scared and rang the bell of all the other flats on her floor and three of them didn’t open. One person opened and pretended she couldn’t understand English and shut the door.
But to me, the funniest story till date, is this.
I was at an uber-posh mall on Orchard Road, meeting a friend. I had forgotten my phone at home but I remembered her number. My friend and I had not decided on a specific spot to meet. We thought we’d reach the mall and then coordinate, so I had no way of knowing where she was unless I called her.
I was looking around helplessly, when I spotted a woman standing right next to me. She was very fancy and had a gazillion shopping bags full of Prada and Chanel. I walked up to her and said, “Excuse me, would mind if I used your phone to make a quick local call?”
She looked at me and said in her best mean girl voice, No.
And then, just in case I did not get her, she added, Actually, No.
I love this place to bits for all the amazing things it has to offer. But you have to admit, the only thing warm about Singapore is the weather.
Durga Puja (Bengali: দুর্গা পূজা,) is the biggest annual festival for Bengali Hindus. Much like Christmas, only bigger. It’s celebrated like a carnival, over six days, starting with Mahalaya, which is today.
Durga Puja marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil demon Mahishasura. Durga “the invincible”, is the supreme goddess. She is depicted with many arms, riding a lion, carrying weapons and a lotus flower, and with a third eye representing feminine intuition.
Durga is also Adi Shakti (the original power), Adi Maya (the original illusion caster) and an embodiment of the creative feminine force of the universe (Shakti).
The Durga puja festival epitomises the victory of good over evil – universal to all religions of the world, I believe.
Wonderful Angie from Pretty Little Things in a Box took me to Art Friend. The two of us were like kids in a candy store! That shop is really amazing! So now I am fully stocked.
Apart from the stash I picked up there, I am so glad I got to meet Angie. We pretty much talked non-stop, went to the national library, and chatted some more over coffee and cake.
Altogether a brilliant Friday!
I miss India. With all the chaos, heat, dust, traffic and virile-looking Haryanvi men and their rapey vibes.
I can’t help it. Everyone, everything I love is still there and I am here.