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24 Jun 2010

Toilet Signs

We've all seen graffiti on the walls and back of doors of public toilets. Off late, it appears to be common practice to put up notices - posters, print-outs - appealing to people to keep it clean, flush the toilets, etc. I even saw those in Singapore which is, by far, the cleanest city I've been to. That's understandable... public toilets are used by so many people, some of them think it's "unclean" to touch the flush buttons/handles, etc. Yuck but hell, it's true!

I have found it rather disgusting that this has been a necessity at many offices. It's shocking! Educated professionals, why do you need to be told? 

So, when I did not find such a note up in the 'ladies room' at my new workplace, I was pleased. Enough to notice it. There was another note, though. Rather strange. 

New airlock flushes. Please press button hard.

I nearly laughed. Until I tried to press the button and realized what they meant. Yeah, if it was not for the note, the place might stink. I mean, seriously, you need mammoth strength to get this thing working. Whoa!

I don't know if I had missed it earlier or it was only put up recently but I noticed another instruction yesterday. A printout on the door. It started with a cheery 'hello ladies' and continued to say that this was a reminder for us to keep the place clean... yada yada yada. Then, the real message. I don't have the exact words here but it is pretty much this

Please flush after using the toilets and check to ensure that it has worked

I struggled to control my laughter. Imagine a woman laughing by herself in the restroom,  my colleagues would think I'm mad and it is far too early for them to know that! Every time I walk into the restroom, I have to rush in because it is hard not to laugh and that makes me want to pee. LOL!

16 Jun 2010

Welcome To Sunny Brisbane

After holidaying in Singapore for 4 days, it was time to head to the new place I was going to call home. Having been through the 'new country experience', this should have been easy. 

Plus, I was being pampered. I arrive at the airport to a warm hug & a cup of coffee, a friend I hadn't seen in ages, a bag of grocery, a sleep-in at a friend's place till I could check-in, maps and directions, not to forget dollars for my expenses from another dear friend. What more could I ask for? The weather in Brisbane is simply superb. Of course, the clean place and traffic don't surprise me anymore. Mmm, I could get used to this!

Been to the Queen Street Mall a few times now. Liked it each time. Free-for-all salsa/meringue/cha cha, German sausage, awesome awesome.

A fantastic drive in a convertible with friends, checking out furniture, watching the river, it just keeps getting better! I'm even enjoying cooking. It's different, using an electric stove with hot-plates, different kind of ingredients and oh boy, it took me all evening to cook rice & cabbage curry with scrambled eggs but hell, it felt good. 

Except that I miss driving in Bangalore, the familiarity at times, homesickness hasn't quite set in yet. I can't wait to move into a rental and start furnishing it! Starting work tomorrow and looking forward to it. More new experiences, new people, exploring the city...

PS. This was written a day before I started work, only posted now but I'm leaving it unchanged. Been at work 2 days now and by God, my favourite part of the entire Brisbane experience (ok, second favourite, cos my favourite's the riverside)

Singapore Diaries - 2

When I arrived in Singapore, I was confident that I'd get used to the place quite easily. It came as a surprise to me that I was a bit taken aback when I walked into a  new world of different looking people, speaking in a different accent (some of which I struggled to understand) and an entirely different lifestyle. 

It took me a bit to absorb all the strange things around me but once that was settled, I simply loved the place. Out of the few things that struck me about Singapore, what I loved best was that the place seemed to have been planned to work with maximum efficiency. I almost felt a funny tingle that I did not really have to plan & organize things as much as I normally do. Mmm.

The swipe in/swipe out at MRT stations and buses a fantastic idea. Carry one card that works for all. No worrying about ticket costs or carrying change. It reminds you when you need to reload. There are maps everywhere, routes & stations tracked in MRTs... not hard for a newbie to get around the place without help. The once that we asked at an enquiry counter how to get to the zoo/bird park, he handed us a slip with perfect directions. While the automated system worked well, it also meant that you never had to speak with anyone. In a way, the inconspicuous-ness was nice but at times, the human touch is missing. 

The city seems to have more females than males. No surprise then that there were shops for women's clothes & accessories everywhere! Scores of them. If you are a shopaholic, you would go crazy here. It's amazing! It was summer when I was there, so everyone wore shorts (I guess I didn't get to see the office crowd, considering I spent most mornings indoors). Having always wanted to do that, I bought a couple of pairs of shorts myself and wore it on my last day at Singapore. Funny how all the women in the city wore trousers on that fateful day! I hardly saw anyone in shorts, so much so that I wondered if I were wearing shorts on a day that did not allow it! That we went to Orchard Street and window-shopped where all the designer and elite crowd roamed, while I was walking about in $10 shorts. Beep beep.

Traffic in Singapore is nothing like in India. The lane discipline is noteworthy, of course, but what really took the cake was cars stopping for pedestrians. Everytime we had to cross a road at a point where there was no signal for pedestrians, we would stop to let a car pass and the car would stop to let us pass. I found myself looking for a red signal each time that happened. Cars park atleast 2 feet away, irrespective of whether they are behind another car or they stop for pedestrians. 

The tourist attractions were nice, no doubt. Some were fabulous but some of it seemed over-hyped. 

The visit to the zoo was good. So many animals I'd never seen before. Just make sure you ignore that niggly feeling of anguish at watching the animals cooped up in enclosures. We gave the Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari a miss for lack of time. No regrets about the latter but the JBP might have been interesting, I'm sure. 

Sentosa Island was nice but definitely over-hyped. We found it a slightly different version of Innovative Multiplex. Better? Well, it is just a question of personal preference, I suppose. The adventure sports don't quite give you the 'adrenalin rush' they promise, I've seen better in India. I did enjoy the luge and skyride, though. Different. The views from top were brilliant, I am a sucker for those. So we did the Merlion but gave the Sky Tiger & Cable Car a miss (a view is a view, eh?). There is quite a bit to walk about and see, we seemed to have picked a fairly good course, for the wait at the Megazip didn't hit our schedule, took us to the beach instead and at such a perfect time. What better than sunset at the beach after a tiring day? The Underwater world has some of the most amazing water-life I have ever seen before. Much smaller than I anticipated and the squishy feeling about 'animals in enclosures' reared it's head again but ignore that and it's lovely.

Singapore is a shopping paradise, true to their claims. We were there during the month of The Great Singapore Sale and the place is nothing short of Heaven for a shoppaholic! Among others, Mustafa Centre seemed to give some of the best prices and boy, is it huge! 

Clarke Quay was beautiful. Amazing number of restaurants and awesome food. We spent quite a bit of time walking around. Seems like a good place to watch people, run if you want to. Oh yeah, now here they had some amazing 'adrenalin rush' games out here. Reverse Bungy - I don't know if I could do it but I think I'd to give it a shot if I get there again. 

There is so much else I haven't seen, I'm sure I would love to go back to Singapore. Not so much for the touristy things but to experience the everyday life and people. Maybe with my parents next time? I'm sure dad will be fascinated and mum would be excited. One place ticked off, now to the next.

8 Jun 2010

Singapore Diaries - 1

My first day in Singapore. Arrival at Changi airport. 

It was raining when we landed and drizzled lightly at various times through the day. The weather remained lovely, nevertheless, no sweat nor humidity.

Welcome to raining Singapore
Breakfast at McDonald's at the airport. I had the Sausage McGriddles while the husband had the entire breakfast tray.

Hotcakes with maple syrup, McGriddle, Egg, Sausage
The Mustafa Centre is a monstrous Big Bazaar and more! From hankies to furniture, you can buy everything here and the variety is mind-boggling. I'm still not 100% convinced about how "cheap" things are... or did I just like the not-so-cheap stuff?

The Big Singapore Sale was an offers galore, a shopper's paradise. You don't even have to be a shopaholic to be struck by temptation!

The Big Singapore Sale (May 13th to June 14th) at The City Square Mall
I wore this top all of yesterday. This picture was taken at night, after I got home. What's absurd about it?

I wore this top with the tag on, all day. Thankfully, the tag remained inside.
More to come in Singapore Diaries...