Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kuching - Singapore - Taipei

Twenty of us traveled to Taipei with an overnight layover in Singapore - architects, two chefs, a surveyor and some of their spouses. Our hotel was in Little India where streets were lined with shops selling Indian food, I knew it would be an eventful trip when a female voice behind me called out to the tour guide in Mandarin "Miss, is there anything nice to eat around here?"

 Two important things happened to me on this short stop in Singapore; my initiation to Handburger's "Burger with the Lot" and my first visit to Mustapha's - Little India's 24-hour department store.

At 5 a.m.the next morning, we were at Changi Terminal One again to board Jetstar 3K 721 to Taipei.

Next stop Taipei

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An afternoon in Tiong Baru

Each time I am in Singapore, I am drawn to Tiong Bahru - not for the hawker food that everyone assume is my goal. I am drawn to the public housing in the area. Or more precisely, I am drawn to the period that these buildings were built and what that era represented - a new beginning and the hope that came with it. Perhaps that is why the corners of the buildings have such heraldic detailing.
The Council flats of Tiong Bahru - I like the staircase with its slightly nautical theme.

For the same reason, I like watching movies from that era when men wore hats and women wore gloves; and they spoke proper English. Over the Chinese New Year break our Astro (cable TV) broke down and I resorted to watching my Alfred Hitchcock collection - from 'Rebecca' to 'The Rear Window'.  

Some of the architecture and interiors in these movies are worth a second look - at times the second look made me realise I was looking at a stage set.  Nonetheless,  I have fallen in love with Joan Fontaine - who is still around apparently. Perhaps I ll drop her a line.
The ground floor of this block are shops; the white walls are accented with face brickwork and Hokkien spoken enthusiastically by the local kopi-drinkers

A wander through the back lanes in between the housing blocks is my way of returning to the past; the smell of laundry drying in the mid morning sun. Even the smell of lunch cooking seem to come from the past.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hero Drawings

These are Kok Ming's recent ink drawings; done with a Hero drawing pen. 

He says these sketches remind him of wood cuts. I used to do wood cuts in high school; I wonder if I still have the tools (and skills) to do them again. Have to find some lino; they are an easier and more accessible  material - meanwhile, here is my favourite woodcut, Escher's self portrait. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Water, water everywhere

For the Chinese, water is a symbol of Life and Wealth - as such - money is sometimes referred to as 'water' in casual conversation. So when it rained continuously at the beginning of this year; it was thought to be a good sign as this is also the year of the Water Dragon.

We knew that our office was in a flood prone area; that's why we raised the new floor level by a foot. However, we were still unprepared for the flash flood that took place that morning; 6 inches of water came into the studio in half an hour - CPUs died, books drowned and ink-lines washed away.

There are always good things that come out of 'bad' - in this case, we discovered that we have several strong leaders in the office; efficiently and calmly coordinating the clean up, re-instating a sense of order and purpose.

Sofia with her head in her hands

The spring cleaning was premature but it forced us to take stock and part with 'precious' things collected over the years. I had to throw out a thick stack of butter paper sketches, actually I had someone discard them for me. I did not have the heart to do it. 

New beginnings are better with an uncluttered desk.