Treatment

Get your ass to MarsYou know how when you go to get a haircut, you have a lot of time to think to yourself, and sometimes accidentally think aloud? No? OK never mind.

I went to get a haircut at Next Hair Salon at Holland Village on Monday, and after shampoo and conditioner had been put into my hair, the shampoo boy placed the towel, which I would have thought was for wrapping around your head for you to walk back to your chair, over the top of my head and over my eyes.

“OK, that’s interesting”, I thought as I succeeded in not panicking.

Then I heard the water being turned on again, and I wondered for a couple more seconds whether the shampoo boy had gone bonkers and begun doing things back to front.

“Hey, you’re doing things back to front, and the towel is still on my head, what are you doing spraying water over it?”, I thought as I stopped myself from speaking that same thought.

Before I could think of other thoughts not to speak aloud, the water turned cold, and I found myself audibly catching my breath. This went on for a good minute or two, before the towel was finally pulled from my eyes.

Shampoo boy (I didn’t catch his name this time) then said, “How? Was the water ok? Was it too cold? Some customers don’t like it because the water’s too cold”.

“No! It was not ok! I felt violated! I thought I was going to be tortured! Next time can tell me first before you do something like that?” I thought of saying out loud, but didn’t of course.

Apart from that, I had a decent haircut, as usual.

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair from the album “Verve Jazz Masters 17″ by Nina Simone of which I have the original CD.

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Me walk pretty one day*

French ConcessionProbably the best day of our Shanghai trip came when we persisted in going out for a walk despite the pissy weather, having had the best laid plans of visiting the ghetto and other historically significant places dashed by the rain and not knowing beforehand that a Shanghainese wedding starts at 3pm.

We had just enough time for the old French Concession, and although we didn’t manage to complete all the waypoints recommended by our Fodor’s guidebook, our 8RMB visit to Dr Sun Yat Sen’s Shanghai residence made it worth the sore feet and damp clothes.

Inside the two structures on the former Rue Moliere (the current Xiangshan Road) were well preserved and well presented bits of Chinese history and almost startling us were letters written by Dr Sun’s wife and daughter, couched in formal tones one would expect of letters written in that era, but in English!

I suppose my limited knowledge of Chinese and Chinese history made for a really interesting excursion, and it was not till we got home (and had a decent internet connection) that I learned more about Dr Sun, and in particular, why he had so many different names.

Prior to this Shanghai trip, all I knew of Dr Sun was that he something like founded modern China, had many houses all over the world (including Singapore), and married someone my dad tells me was from Wenchang, Hainan, where chicken rice was invented. (She wasn’t from Wenchang, but her father Charlie Soong was, but that never stops my dad from making Hainanese connections as regards prominent people. E.g. Unbeknownst to many, the wife of the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is Hainanese. Very useful information).

It is just as interesting that any place in China associated with Dr Sun are the only places in China where the non-communist republican flag can be seen. Digging around in wikipedia also led me to learn that the first Chinese republic wasn’t founded by Dr Sun.

If there’s anything this little walk taught us, it’s that I really have to read and travel more, or else I’ll persist in believing that the Hainanese invented pork chops and Russian food, owned the Raffles Hotel and built the Forbidden City.

Picture of other places in the French Concession:

We had raised expectations about the pretty tree-lined avenues of the French Concession and I suppose photographs look better than real life, especially when you factor in pissy weather.

French Concession
For the thirsty traveller

There's a hospital close by in case the experiments go wrong
Shanghai Qixiu Experimental Middle School – Naomi notes that there’s a hospital close by in case something goes wrong.

French Concession
Champs Elysees Palace – A condominium for people who want others to know that they live in the French Concession

French Concession
There was always the risk of this streetside knife sharpener having a go at a tourist taking his photo, but he’s smiling

French Concession
Across the street from the knife sharperner dude, a pet shop

French Concession
Down the street, an art gallery

French Concession
Fuxing Park

French Concession
The streets may seem quiet, but you still have to watch out for motorists who, by habit, bear down on pedestrians

French Concession
Grand houses and pretty gardens are the norm in the Concession

Morris Estate
On the grounds of the Ruijin Binguan, formerly the Morris Estate

*Thank you David Sedaris

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of China Girl from the album “American Fool” by John Mellencamp of which I have the original CD.

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The things that matter

UNIFEM eventAbout a decade ago, the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer went into damage control mode after a gaffe he made when speaking at an event raising awareness for female victims of domestic violence.

He had thought it witty on the occasion to coin the phrase “the things that batter” for the event, giggling proudly for a good couple of hours before the fallout and subsequent pressured apology.

Well, he knows now that domestic violence is no laughing matter, and UNIFEM’s concert and bazaar at Clarke Quay yesterday, commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was meant to raise awareness of this serious issue, although the turnout was a little disappointing because of the weather.

Regardless of your gender or orientation, you should support UNIFEM’s concerns, which range from human trafficking to violence against women. At the very least, you should be aware of the gender-biasness (among other biases) of some of our society’s regulatory frameworks. You may not be able to do anything about it directly, but you shouldn’t say you didn’t know.

Just as I didn’t know until recently that there was such a thing as marital immunity as a defence against the crime of rape within a marital relationship. Now that I am aware of it, I am concerned that the legal reform commission or similar body has not removed this immunity completely, as it should.

So, don’t wait for personalities like Nadya Hutagalung and Andrea de Cruz to tell you their experiences (as they did in press interviews this week) before you do something about it.

Surf stop: UNIFEM Singapore

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of A Matter Of Trust from the album “Greatest Hits Vol. III” by Billy Joel of which I have the original CD.

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Particular flavours

at the hypermartBecause it is compulsory to go to a supermarket anywhere Naomi and I travel to, I got to see the varieties of potato crisps on the shelves. No mere salt ‘n’ vinegar chippies for the Chinese! Alongside the shelves of knock-offs, there were cucumber flavor potato chips from Lays!

Normally if I had a craving for cucumbers and potato chips at the same time, I’d have gone and bought cucumbers and potato chips. But the damn Chinese, they think of everything, including combined cravings for cucumbers and potato chips.

And while chicken-flavoured snacks are not new, they’ve gone one better, the Chinese. There were ‘crispy drumstick flavor’ potato crisps; For tomato-flavour afficionados, there were cherry tomato flavor potato crisps, and if you fancied BBQ ribs… you get the idea.

No, wait. There was the big daddy of them all – Italian Red Meat Flavor. Though what animal the red meat was from wasn’t specified.

at the hypermartWe also saw more of Stefanie Sun’s photos in the one supermarket than anywhere in Singapore. She’s selling all manner of foodstuff in China, and classier ones too (if you consider Lays classy) compared with what Gong Li (the unintelligible woman in Miami Vice) is flogging – some orange flavoured biscuits which look like if you ate them, you have to pamper yourself after with L’Oreal products.

I have a friend who wouldn’t have minded us buying her some Stefanie Sun (red meat or white?) flavoured snacks, nor Gong Li scented ones, but that’s another weird story I don’t want to get into now.

But then you’d want to forgive the Chinese for all their weirdness because in Shanghai, you can get a really decent Italian lunch for under S$15 at this place called Da Marco’s, which, after eating, we discovered to be within the building we were staying at, and needn’t have had to walk out in the rain bitching in the first place.

Being the gluttons that we were, we over-ordered of course and had to take out half a pizza, half a plate of fusili and a quarter slice of lasagne, then we spent a minute deciphering the Filipina waitress saying ‘fapeow mum’ repeatedly when we paid for our meals.

Turns out, or at least I’m guessing, she was asking Naomi if she wanted an official receipt.

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Normalcy

Sometimes, going abroad makes you appreciate how normal Singapore is. Sometimes, it doesn’t.

a day in the CBD
Battery Road, Singapore

Frankly, I prefer juice
The drink that speaks frankly: McCallum Street, Singapore

Children nowadays come in different flavours
So if the children drink too much coffee they’ll be…

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Where is the Next One Coming From? from the album “Love Gets Strange — The Songs of John Hiatt” by Mitch Ryder of which I have the original CD.

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America’s Next Top Project Model Runway

Mr Miyagi and JadeNaomi grabs my arm and goes, ‘Look behind you, it’s the girl from Project Runway!’

‘Where?’

‘That one! The one with the glasses!’

‘Oh. America’s Next Top Model lah!’

‘Yah! That’s what I said! You want to go ask her for a photo? Quick! She’s leaving!’

And so Jade obliges graciously before being laughed at by her two companions who mimic me asking her for a photo.

I think we watch too much tv.

iTunes is playing an illegal copy of Everybody Plays the Fool from the album “Warm Your Heart” by Aaron Neville of which I have the original CD.

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Fit the bill?

enjoyClassifieds.comI reckon Spongebob Squarepants is out of the running for this personal ad on account of the shape of his head.

But for the rest of you oblong-headed lovelorn blokes out there, your soulmate is in Shanghai awaiting your response and your kind assistance in teaching her how to press the space bar after hitting the comma key:

He is a cool person,real cool,not just pretending it…hes caucasian,age forty above,height oneeightsix cm above,weight eighty kg above,personality A level above,finance B level above,IQ A level above,his head in oblong shape, his favourite color maybe black,he doesnt enjoy a playboy life,hes not a sweet talker,hes not vulgar not hypocritical,he likes stage,hes responsible,he want a kid…Ill like to b his secret friend at beginning,marriage may not necessary,but i want a kid…U may think am picky,i only want a man suits me,miracle happen on the person who believes,its not easy to find him…if you saw him,please let me know.

audrey@enjoyClassifieds.com

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Deluge

IMG_2767I think I brought the rain here. It hasn’t stopped since I arrived, and it doesn’t look like stopping before I leave.

So much for the highly anticipated self-guided walking tour of this grand city, which, at the moment, looks like a scene out of Bladerunner: Rain, neon billboards, flying taxis (well, they almost fly here), umbrella and raincoat parades, and food stalls selling all manner of what look like piping hot meals. Just no Harrison Ford character, or that woman who plays the cyborg whose name I can’t remember for the life of me, and can’t look up right now because I’m not connected to the internet because the internet connection here sucks.

But still, I’m here, and I’m sure as hell gonna make the most of it. Just need to pop in to a shop to buy an umbrella. Which means I’m gonna get wet trying to get to a shop. Ah, f*** it!