Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The rain started suddenly and within 15 minutes, there were lightning and thunder. The wind was very strong as well.
There was no way you could prevent yourself from getting wet and it was pure insanity to even think of getting out into the rain.
But too bad for me, I needed to get to my daughter's school to celebrate her birthday at 3pm.
And I also have to bring a huge bag that contained her birthday party goodies bag.
So it was me in the rain. One hand holding the bag, the other holding the umbrella. Mr Wind was pretty busy trying to get my umbrella to divorce me in the rain.
By the way, how do you get into a car without getting wet when you have an open umbrella?
Do you place the umbrella between the car roof and car door and try to close it, pull it in as quickly as possible? The rain water will nevertheless still drip onto your clothes right?
Or would you try to close the umbrella in the rain and quickly jump into the car and throwing the wet umbrella onto the passenger seat?
I never quite figured out the best way BUT I really need to master this skill because there are no sheltered carparks within the Tiong Bahru Estate!
Anyway, my entire jeans, socks and shoes were soaking wet when I arrived at her school.
And guess what.....my wife told me she forgot to bring another bag of goodies bag and sent me home to retrieve it.
I think she knew that I needed more practice on how to get in and get out of a car with an umbrella.
By the time I got back to the school again, my mood was quite in sync with the weather.
When it was time to leave the school, the rain had eased up but it made no difference to me anyway. I was already soaking wet by then.
This afternoon sudden down pour did claim a victim in Tiong Bahru.
A tree next to Block 50 Moh Guan Terrace fell.
Luckily no one was hurt. Anyway, who would be out walking in the rain right?
I saw the fallen tree at about 4:30pm and by 6pm, the tree and all other debris were thoroughly removed by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council.
If you were heading home this evening and you walked past that spot, you may not even have noticed that there used to be a tree that stood there.
GREAT JOB Tanjong Pagar Town Council, you are super efficient.
Monday, November 12, 2007
This story was printed from TODAYonline
Monday • November 12, 2007
Letter from KUMKUM SETH
Prejudiced mindset must change if we believe in multiculturalism
I refer to media reports on concerns about foreign workers in Singapore.
I find it very disturbing to hear the increasingly prejudiced views expressed in public about foreign workers, especially construction workers.
At a meeting recently with a Member of Parliament and local residents, a well-dressed Singaporean woman raised the "problem" of foreign construction workers.
When pressed, she admitted that they had never done anything to her but seeing them in her area disturbed her.
"They may cause crime," she said. The other residents nodded in agreement.
A senior policeman pointed out that foreign workers in the area rarely commit crimes and that most of the culprits were pub crawlers.
But no one wanted to drop the idea that foreign workers were trouble.
The policeman had no choice but agree to keep a closer eye on them.
Other than the imagined crime we attribute to foreign workers, these are some of the flimsy objections we raise:
•Too many of them live in one apartment.
Here's a thought: Would Singaporeans be able to afford to live any better if they were paid the same wages as some foreign workers are?
• Curry smells.
Doesn't our food (fried fish, belacan and durian) smell, too? Are we so parochial that we only object to smells that are different from our own?
• They hang their clothes outside to dry.
A walk around any housing estate will show the many laundry poles outside our flats, attesting to the fact that Singaporeans hang their laundry out to dry as well.
• They hang out in large groups and that's scary.
I think our prejudices are far more frightening than a group of men finding company in numbers when far away from home.
• They don't speak English.
It's unlikely that they can afford the time or money to take English language classes. If this is really an issue, the Government could make it mandatory for employers to provide all foreign workers with two-hour English language classes every week.
It seems perfectly fine for foreign workers to work long hours with low wages to construct the buildings that drive our economic boom.
But many of us fail to remember how difficult their daily lives must be.
This mindset does not speak well for multiculturalism.
It isn't enough for Singapore to produce tourist brochures showcasing us as a harmonious, multi-ethnic society.
This attitude needs to be part of our daily lives before it becomes true.
Let's start with the way we think about foreign workers.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Posted: 10 November 2007 1830 hrs
Singaporeans risk taking their culture or historical heritage for granted in a rapidly changing world, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said.
Speaking at the opening of the National Library Literary Heritage Showcase, the minister called on Singaporeans to develop a sense of history and appreciation of their heritage.
The showcase, which includes a series of exhibitions that outline Singapore's rich history including pioneer artists and Chinese clans, also features the second run of the Heritage Road Show.
The public are called upon to donate their photographs, postcards, pictures and other items to capture the memories of Singapore before 1970.
Donations of old report cards, school magazines, menus, invitation cards to official events, programme notes of concerts, bus tickets, maps, manuscripts, certificates, awards and the like are also welcome.
Digital images can also be donated through www.deposit.nl.sg
The availability of this deposit website means that local publishers can submit their published works digitally.
The National Library Board will be sending out details to publishers to access the website within the next two months.
The showcase runs until November 28 at the National Library.
Nov 10, 2007
I READ Tay Suan Chiang's story (Pieces Of Singapore, Life!, Nov 3).
It brings to mind the SIT flats in Tiong Bahru which hold many fond memories of younger days for many Singaporeans.
I remember returning from my studies in Britain and feeling overwhelmed by the sight of these flats. I felt I had arrived home.
Their architecture is unique. Not long ago, two architectural students from Sweden begged me to let them in to view the interior of the flat.
The buildings are characterised by the round stairway balcony with a porthole at the side, and the sheltered five-foot-way.
The Tiong Bahru market blends in beautifully with the neighbouring blocks and the town council has done a wonderful landscaping job.
In Yunan, China, the government preserved the Old Town of Lijiang and it is recognised as a Unesco preserved site.
Can the same be done for Tiong Bahru?
Lee Hoi Yin
Thursday, November 8, 2007
MARCHE CACHE: Shirley Tang and Stephane Herve invite you to sample their wares, like the Emmanuelle Baillard juices and nectars and the clementines in vanilla syrup.
With so many gourmet shops popping up all over the island - selling meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruit and gourmet groceries - it is quite possible to do like chi-chi Europeans do and patronise only small shops.
The shop is run by Stephane Herve, 37, who was a chef at various restaurants and a food division manager at gourmet chain Culina.
Try some nectarine juice, they'll say. Want a taste of anchovies? How about some cheese?
Shopping here is such a pleasure, with new things to discover on every shelf.
I highly recommend the Emmanuelle Baillard juices and nectars.
Emmanuelle Baillard juices and nectars
For people who don't want to drink wine with dinner but want something more exciting than water, try the Chardonnay grape juice ($6.50 for a 250ml bottle).
I also like the clementines in vanilla syrup ($13.50 for a 150g jar).
Clementines in vanilla syrup
If you like gingerbread, pick up some Mulot & Petitjean gingerbread with apricot ($21 for a 200g box).
Tiong Bahru has always been a magnet because of its old-style architecture and the great food served in atmospheric coffee shops.
Le Bon Marche, 78 Guan Chuan Street, 01-41, tel: 6226-3269. Opening hours: 10am to 7.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 11am to 5pm (Sundays). Closed on Wednesdays.
8 November 2007
Tan Hsueh Yun
PS OF HEAVEN
Right next door to Le Bon Marche is a cake shop with a screaming pink and white sign.
Walk into Centre Ps (pronounced centrepiece), and you'll find another very pink wall.
I've never been so glad to see dark brown from the dark chocolate used in the rather fancy-looking cakes in the display case.
They are the creations of pastry chef Steven Ong, 39 (above), who is letting his imagination run wild and free after leaving the hotel industry, where he's worked for 20 years.
The unfettering was a good thing too. D'Tanjung Katong ($7 a slice), named after another old, charming area of Singapore that he likes, has a dark chocolate ganache and sweet, chunky bananas in between layers of coconut dacquoise.
I like how the bananas still have bite and provide a sweet counterpoint to the dark chocolate.
The cake sounds terribly rich, but it isn't.
Dark chocolate fans should try the Grand Cru Royale ($7 a slice) - a deeply chocolatey cake on a crunchy hazelnut base.
I've eaten more ethereal macarons ($18 for a box of 18) but I am going back for the chocolate and cafe creme ones.
The violet one, in a bright blue hue, is fantastic.
Ong says he's happy to customise cakes for his customers.
He also has a terrific sugee cake, made originally for a resident in the neighbourhood who used to go to the East Coast to satisfy her craving.
I had a taste of one of these cakes warm from the oven, and it was a springy, buttery thing.
Soon, the shop will also offer quiches, pies and pissaladiere, a Provencal-style pizza topped with caramelised onions, olives and anchovies.
Centre Ps, 78 Guan Chuan Street, 01-43, tel: 6220-1285. Opening hours: 10am to 8pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 10am to 9pm (Fridays and Saturdays).
Nov 8, 2007
Winning bidder in HDB pilot scheme aims to target foreign students, expatriates
A COMPANY that has just won an HDB tender in a pilot scheme plans to rent out 120 flats at Tiong Bahru for up to $4,500 a month to foreign students and expatriates.
It is the first step to boost the supply of flats in the rental market amid growing demand.
It aims to put flats vacated under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme to better use.
The HDB said the flats that had been vacated were identified for its rental scheme, pending long-term development plans.
The winning tenderer, Katong Hostel, which provides international student housing, will be the managing agent for the 60 three-room and 60 four-room walk-up flats.
Katong Hostel won the tender with the highest bid of $230,280 a month, 22 per cent above the next bid of $188,000 a month.
Katong Hostel aims to rent out these flats - Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in Tiong Bahru Road - at a relatively high price of between $3,500 and $4,500 a month.
But the Tiong Bahru flats are different in that they will be managed and aimed at a specific clientele, said Ms Joyce Sim, 25, a Vita group director.
These could be doctorate students, for instance, who could be paying their own fees or sponsored by firms.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Heartland Getaways is back!
The effervescent host Chua Enlai jumps right back to take viewers on another round of discovery through Singapore’s definitive HDB neighbourhoods!
Each week, Enlai heads to a new neighbourhood and check out what makes it so quintessentially unique!
And the best way to do so? Hanging out with the residents of course!
From delicious grub, to quirky residents and even uncovering the odd trivia that no one else knows about, Heartland Getaways will prove to be an eye opening journey through our favourite and familiar communities!
Just like in the previous season, each week, Enlai will launch himself on an unsuspecting town!
Mingling with the residents, his journey begins; mixing up the best with the understated!
Each episode, we take a fresh new look at the history and what makes each neighbourhood distinct and different from the others.
Quirky historic facts will be featured in each episode as well as food which is every Singaporean’s obsession!
Enlai will no doubt hit the local culinary haunts and taste the neighbourhoods’ signature dishes.
Every neighbourhood has a secret of its own too, and wherever there’s a secret, Enlai is sure to find it!
It’s neighbourhood trivia at its best! Unearth an urban myth in Yishun!
Discover a high fashion joint in the middle of Bukit Merah! And even visit some of Tiong Bahru’s hippest households!
This season Heartland Getaways will cover 11 neighbourhoods:
Tampines, Tiong Bahru, Bukit Merah, Pasir Ris, Potong Pasir, Eunos, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, Yio Chu Kang & Queenstown.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Nov 1, 2007
Tours down memory lane
By Tay Suan Chiang
EARLY FLATS: Tiong Bahru SIT flats, Singapore's first large-scale public housing project. They were designed by the Singapore Improvement Trust and adapted the shophouse typology through the planning of courtyards and back lanes between adjacent blocks.
BUSLOADS of visitors will be dropping by iconic buildings such as the Singapore Conference Hall, City Hall and the Gallery Hotel to marvel at their distinctive facades next month.
The buildings are among the attractions in a new tour of Singapore called ArchiTours organised by a group of third-year architecture students from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
There will be two day tours and one night tour every day from Dec 1 to 9. Participants will get to learn about the history of certain buildings and how they have played a part in shaping Singapore's architectural heritage.
'We realised that not many Singaporeans know about local buildings so we decided to run this tour,' says Mr Paul Yeo, 23, head of the organising committee.
Together with two other committee members, the trio picked about 20 locations for the tour based on their historical and architectural significance.
The tours will be guided by NUS architectural students who did their research by reading up on the history of the buildings and speaking to their professors.
The day tours, which last about 41/2 hours each, will take visitors to historical and modern buildings such as the Pearl Bank Apartments and the National Library.
They cost $40 for members of the public and $25 for students.
The night tours, which last seven hours, will travel to nightspots such as Zouk, St James Powerhouse and Muse Bar at the National Museum.
OLD AND NEW: Muse Bar at the National Museum is proof of how changing lifestyles can co-exist with old buildings. -- PHOTOS: ARCHITOURS
'Even when they are out clubbing, we want participants to ponder how our changing lifestyles can co-exist with these old buildings,' he says.
The night tour costs $60 for the public and $40 for students.
Mr Bryan Koh, 23, a third-year NUS science student who went on a preview of the tour last Friday, found it educational and says he will recommend it to his friends.
Among the buildings he visited were People's Park Complex and Golden Mile Complex.
'I got to see the residential areas of these two buildings, which was more than what I would usually have,' he says of the two mixed-used developments.
The ArchiTours are part of the inaugural Singapore ArchiFest 07, organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA).
The two-week-long festival is to celebrate Singapore's built environment and is a precursor to the Singapore Architectural Biennale to be held in 2010.
Mr Tai Lee Siang, 42, president of SIA, says he wants to take architecture to the streets with the $250,000 festival. It is sponsored by steel company Bluescope Steel and co-sponsored by the Architecture and Urban Design Excellence Promotion Programme of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
'We want to engage with the public to make architecture more relevant and meaningful,' he says.
He adds that the tours will be a good starting point for Singaporeans to get interested in local architecture.
The SIA is expecting about 50,000 visitors to the festival from Nov 27 to Dec 8. A highlight is a collection of exhibitions at the City Hall featuring award-winning works from various architectural competitions such as for the Marina South Residential District and the National Art Gallery.
There will also be a two-day forum with 12 local and international architects speaking on the challenges of urban architectural design.
Singapore ArchiFest 07 will be on from Nov 27 to Dec 8 at various locations. For more information and to buy tickets to ArchiTours and the forum, log on to www.archifest.sg