881 and 42nd National Day

881Finalposter800Royston Tan is a bastard – make me cry on National Day! But congratulations Mindee and Yann Yann – Papaya Sisters rock!

I’ve said before that if we get one good local movie a year, we’d be lucky. Last year we had Colin and Yen Yen’s Singapore Dreaming and then Tan Pin Pin’s Singapore Gaga, so that was pretty much a bumper crop by our standards.

Last night, we paid good money to watch our first Royston Tan film, 881, and damn it was good money well spent. This film alone makes for a bumper year.

I’ll have to admit an earlier aversion to his debut, ’15’, even though my friends told me it was really not a bad piece despite its run-in with the censors (‘aiyah, rebel film wannabe’, I thought), and we thought we’d watch 881 because the subject was interesting enough (hungry ghost getai), we knew the actors personally, and we’d already watched Harry Potter V and Simpsons wasn’t playing at the hour we wanted to watch a movie.

It turned out to be a happy conspiracy of factors, because, dammit, if you have no other plans this weekend, go buy tickets now and watch already. And even if you had plans, cancel them and go buy tickets and watch already.

It blew us away, this bloody Royston Tan film, and that’s really ’nuff said, unless you take pleasure in knowing that the token Mediacorp-contracted actor has no lines in the film because his character’s a mute, and his voiceovers are done by Royston himself anyway.

What’s not to like about a film which if you were to summarize in a summary sort of thingie, you’d call it a ‘Hokkien Musical Which Is Something Like Moulin Rouge‘?

Don’t wait for 881 to make its rounds on the European festival circuit. Go watch now, and tell the Ang Mohs you watched it at your local cinema first.


One half each – title track music video from 881

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Mindee Ong and Miyagi circa 2000: Lookee you now, Mindee, we is so proud of you! Naomi says, basket, make her cry on National Day! Well done!

So taken by Royston’s film we were that I’m writing this blog post back to front, because we had planned to make an evening out of National Day – going out to eat, skipping the parade because we’d already seen two rehearsals, and then catching the movie before heading home and to bed.

OK, where was I? Ah, yes, we started the afternoon out at Tanglin Mall, because a good coffee was needed to kick-start our day, and there still isn’t anywhere else (or anywhere convenient) that serves as good a coffee as Caffe Beviamo. Just check out the crema:

Crema e gusto!

Then we looked around at the new furniture/lifestyle/dunnowhat shop that had been making us curious because it’s predecessor ‘Barang Barang’ had several months ago suddenly closed shop at both Tanglin Mall and Great World City, boarded up, and all we could hear were sounds of renovation. Called ‘iwannagohome‘, this shop is tons brighter than Barang Barang because of the huge number of lights they use. It’s worth a look or two before you decide, hmmm, I don’t have so much spare cash to buy these things which I can probably find in Thailand or Indonesia if I had the time and spare cash to fly there to buy.

Sometimes, warped shoppers’ logic can save you a bit of money.

Then it was off to the Straits Kitchen at the Grand Hyatt for dinner, which we thought was pretty apt because it’s a buffet, and how much more Singaporean can you get at a buffet? Actually, you can, when you realise the price is not bad either – $42 per person, to commemorate the 42nd National Day. This is also where I get to say that for that price, it’s really really worth it when you can eat as many bowls of the “Mini Buddha Jump Over The Walls soups as you can manage:

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Mini Buddha Jump Over The Wall – or is it Buddha Jump Over the Mini Wall?

A meal like that was always going to make on feel downright patriotic, wherever you may hail from. A jumble of cuisines, fresh fruit and desserts, brisk service. The only thing that was lacking was the horrible, horrible choice of music. We know it’s called the Straits Kitchen and you’re trying to recreate a ‘Straits’ ambience. But Canto and Mando pop tunes, and maudlin Malay slow rock ballads do not make for a good digestive accompaniment. That was probably the only salah thing about dinner, though.

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Quick, dude, they’re not looking. Pour the rest on the floor!

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When I eat chili crab, I need two finger bowls because I’m messy like that

For the rest of National Day, I hear people enjoyed themselves, and we saw a couple dressed in red and white waiting for a cab to probably take them to the floating platform. So patriotic, so Singaporean, we thought. Then we saw another couple, also in red and white, and walking ahead of the other couple so that they’ll get a cab faster. More Singaporean, we thought. And no better day to display that.

National Day
Unbeknownst to Auntie and Uncle, another Auntie and Uncle have just walked 20m up the road to snatch a passing cab. Majulah Singapura!

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Uncommon courtesy


Escalator – by Mr Wabu

This evening, Naomi and I went to the airport with her Mum so that we could dine at the only Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits Famous Fried Chicken Restaurant in Singapore. Oh, and for Naomi’s Mum to catch a flight.

On the way up the escalator to the restaurant and observation level in Terminal One, Naomi and Mum were standing side by side, talking about how many pieces of chicken we should eat without being too full for comfort. Out of the corner of her eye, Naomi’s Mum saw that there was a woman one step below them, so she looked apologetically at the woman and moved one step up and in front of Naomi so that the woman could have a clear lane to overtake if she so intended to.

“Wow, that’s really considerate of you”, said Naomi to her Mum, who nodded and said, “You’re supposed to do that. I do that all the time in Taiwan (where she’s from)”.

“Well, it doesn’t happen very often here”, said Naomi.

The woman who was behind them didn’t intend to be in that much of a hurry, and was surprised enough to say, “Oh yes, that’s true. It doesn’t happen very often here, but other cities, yes”, and when she composed herself further, said, “I didn’t expect that, you gave me a bit of a shock, actually”.

Remember the old campaign in the 70s and 80s exhorting the citizenry to “make courtesy a way of life”, complete with stickers for kids that kids ended up sticking all over HDB void-decks and lamp posts? Looks like it’s culminated in this level of expectation, as well as a revamped campaign called the Kindness Movement, still headed by Singa the Courtesy Lion.

I think it’s time for that cat to put some pants on and do something about this. Better still, retire the lion and introduce Kelly the Kaypoh Krocodile or something?

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It’s good to be a kaypoh nation


Asleep in car – by Andwar

Earlier tonight we went out to Holland Village for a bite and to take a short break from work. At 11:45 p.m., parking wasn’t hard to find.

We parked next to a car that had its engine running and its sole occupant motionless in the driver’s seat. We didn’t think much of that and we went off to NYDC.

Friday night out at the village was something we hadn’t experienced for a long time, and I swear, people looked different, and I think fashion trends must’ve changed a bit, because both of us felt a little out of place at this ‘young people cafe’, even though we were greeted by the familiar (and old) ‘NYDC cat’, who’s always at the doorstep of the cafe every time we walk past.

We sat amidst the din of many young people, and we ordered our drinks, and cake, seeing as it is my birthday. And then I took out my new MacBook Pro, hooked it up to the free wi-fi and started looking for bits of information that might help the project we’re working on, but the noisiness of the place put paid to that.

Naomi grabbed a copy of IS Magazine and started looking through interesting stuff about our island’s night life and arts scene. She was done in about five minutes, and at midnight, I was very happy to have my wife kiss me and wish me happy birthday, and we thought we’d spend the next half hour or so fielding birthday text messages from friends and well-wishers. There were only three (and one of them was from Naomi), so that didn’t take us too long either.
Just as well, because as with most outings these days, we had to keep it short because of Naomi’s painful back. So we headed back to the car park, where the car with the running engine and motionless occupant was still there. The windscreens were all fogged up, and we were a little concerned because it had been close to an hour since we’d left the car park.

“You think he’s ok?”, asked a very concerned Naomi, so I peered into the car just in time to see the occupant’s chin loll onto his chest, which moved in a way that resembled breathing.

“Yup, he’s alive”, I said, and we got into our car because, you know, we really didn’t want to be too kaypoh. And we don’t like kaypoh people, do we?

But something stopped us from driving off. Maybe it was the recent story about the taxi-driver who was found dead in a car park after many passers-by had thought he’d just been drunk and sleeping. So I got out of the car, looked into the window, then decided to get back into our car, but we felt uneasy, and I got out again. Then in again, then out again, and in again until I thought, what the hell am I doing?

Then Naomi asked, “what the hell are you doing?”

So I got out of the car again and tapped on the running engine car’s window. There was no response, so I tapped harder. And some more, until I must have scared the bejeezus out of what we then knew as a sleeping man, who woke up and spent five seconds wondering such pertinent things like, “Whadda!…! Wha!” and “Whadda!”, before he found the button to roll down the window and ask me what I wanted.

“Are you ok?”, I asked, and patiently waited for his brain to register the question and formulate an answer, which eventually came in the form of a puzzled sounding, “ok, yah! I’m ok?”.

I then wanted to tell him, “You know, carbon monoxide is odourless and poisonous and car engines produce a lot of that stuff which can get into the comfortably air-conditioned cabin of a stationary car”, but chocolate and cheesecake and ice-cream makes your brain as fast as flowing molasses, so I merely said, “OK, you shouldn’t sleep inside your car so long, roll down your windows a bit”.

It’ll have taken a while for him to fall back asleep again, if that were his purpose. But Naomi and I were glad we did as much as we could without agitating the sleeping man too much.

Of the many things I’m wishing on my birthday, one of them is, please, don’t sleep in your car with the engine running and the air-con on – it’s dangerous; and the other is, if you do see someone motionless in their car or anywhere else in public, please, check on them to see if they’re ok.

I mean, if we’re kaypoh enough to be unconcerned that we’re causing another traffic bottleneck by slowing down to take a closer look at a traffic accident in the next lane, we should be kaypoh enough to check on our fellow citizens when it looks as though there’s a chance they’re in trouble and might need some assistance.

Embrace your inner kaypoh! You might save a life. Come to think of it, kaypohness should be a civic duty.

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Lining the queue


Photo by Luangmai

Tonight after a work meeting, Naomi and I popped by the Holland Village Cold Storage because our fridge was bordering on empty. Because she was still suffering from the pain of two prolapsed discs in her lower back, we were hoping to make this a quick grocery run, but for some strange managerial reason, the supermarket closes all but one of their checkout counters at about 11pm, which also happens to be one of the busier hours.

There must’ve been 20 people in the queue, and I was more or less resigned to standing in line for a while. But Naomi, fresh from bargaining $10 off the price of our new laser printer yesterday, wouldn’t stand for it (hur hur), and went to ask one of the checkout cashiers very nicely if she could reopen at least one other counter.

Bless that cashier that took one look at the line and agreed to reopen her counter.

Pleased as punch, Naomi came back to my line to tell me, and the rest of the line, that another counter had been reopened. And this is when something really odd happened.

Only myself and two other people abandoned the snaking queue to pay at the new counter. The 17 others remained where they were, perhaps happy and very content with the fact that their queue was now 3 shorter.

Happy that she didn’t have to suffer at the supermarket that long, Naomi later went online to help me with my work, and found out the following bits of information that may constitute a possible explanation to what happened at the supermarket:

Singapore holds the world record for the longest human domino chain;

Singapore holds the world record for the most number of participants in line dancing at 11,967;

Singapore holds the world record for the biggest ever game of pass the parcel;

The world domino topple record was set in Singapore by a woman from China.

Yes. A lot to do with lining up.

Link

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