SWF 2018 : the experience of

Singapore Writers Festival 2018 : nine days of unplanned but full-on immersion. You buy a Festival Pass, collect a Programme (150 pages or so) and go whither whim dictates.
Some events are free; the Pass gets you admission into others and a few are ticketed.

Writing about Indonesia

‘Writing about Indonesia’ predicates a knowledge of the country, and the panel discussion hosted by Books Actually on March 22nd presented interesting viewpoints from Singapore-based author Shivaji Das (also humanitarian, photographer and management consultant) and award-winning Indonesian author Okky Madasari, currently writer-in-residence at the International Writing Program, University of Iowa. One a visitor and traveler,…

Native Wisdom

Compassionate medicine. Cheerful fortitude. Love, oodles of love and care. Native wisdom. And leaps of faith. This, I find, is what works when you reach what seems like the end of the road. In the strangest and most stressful of times, there is wonder, discovery and learning … as when freshly-made virgin coconut oil and…

The Singapore Coffee Festival 2017

Baristas and cafes of Singapore came together for a weekend in August, in the expanse of the Marina Bay Cruise Center; two levels of artisanal coffee, tea and bites. It was about conscious consumption, choices, grounded pleasures, wildlife friendly beans, a barter market and an aeropress championship among other things … with balmy winds off…

Ranthambore … and the man who knows his tigers.

Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India is a melding of hues, tones and associations. Amber, beige, puce, khaki, alabaster, butterscotch, camel, chamois, celadon green. Cinnamon, cloves and cocoa. Copper and cordovan. Splashes of apricot and bittersweet. Chartreuse and maize. The greens are mostly faded, dusty, subtle. Tiger sightings are a game of chance. There are…

Everything I needed to know about Saké

Imagine life without alcohol. Civilization would drive us mad. We’re only human, after all. – Michael Hoffman The Japan Prestige Sake Association organised an evening of free-flow saké tasting to introduce various breweries and their premium products to Singapore. (There are over 1500 saké breweries in Japan, with 40,000 to 50,000 different brands). So, at…

Singapore’s amazing ACRES

Last night a snake slithered under the washing machine and Sunday dinner was electrified by the gasping palpitations of the person who saw it as she walked past ; a breathless description of its tail to-ing and fro-ing, like a rattlesnake. A black snake, she thought it was. Anyone – like me – who has…

A fine balance of space, air, light and water

Simply put, this is vertical farming. Where all environmental factors (air temperature, humidity, water, nutrients and light) are controlled through computer automation and optimally customised to suit particular plant varieties.  Also known as CEA or Controlled Environment Agriculture.   Remember Ridley Scott’s 2015 film The Martian ? You recall the plot line. To survive, botanist…

‘WOMEN: New Portraits’ by Annie Leibovitz

A part of a project that began over 15 years ago visits Singapore on its global tour. An exuberant and vivid celebration of women and womanhood, these are Ms Leibovitz’s portraits of women, many influential and recognizable, some not; and include past work from the original series as well as some unpublished photographs. The venue…

Bear Aware, Bear Beware

The few days at the ski slopes of Whistler, British Columbia were limned with suspenseful anticipation; the hope of a sighting of the common Ursus Americanus aka the American black bear. An occurrence completely unimaginable in tropical Singapore – meeting a wild bear, by perfect chance. Each morning, as we trudged-clambered-hiked through the woods around…

Suparna and her Elephants

This is to salute Suparna Ganguly – friend, environmentalist and animal activist – on her recent award from the President of India for her ‘outstanding work’; a public acknowledgement of her tireless, indomitable focus on the welfare of animals – wild, domesticated, abused, abandoned, disparaged, maligned. Suparna is a dear friend, yet I am the…

The Arts House, Singapore

The Arts House More Than Words : A Visual Playground of Chinese Characters A serendipitous visit and a delightful room of eye-popping art. The Hanzi characters of the Chinese language, square block and originally derived from signs and pictures, now find expression in kaleidoscope-like motifs … reminiscent of geometric abstraction.  Millenia-old logograms (signs or characters…

When Parents Age

  You see them in their fading days and years, in a state of grace that seems impossible to approach. They are frail, yet stronger than ever in spirit. They stumble, yet are resolute; unsure but trusting; in pain but serene; silent, mostly, yet smiling; enduring, patient, resting, sleeping, taking a few steps, a few…

Dog Day Afternoon

When friends visit, the visit expands to more friends, new friends and much food. Beginning with a breakfast of Veron’s special frittata, a perfection of eggs, cheese, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and onion. A Mediterranean salad with french beans, grilled peppers and more. Sausages. Rocket tossed with raspberry vinaigrette and pomegranate arils. A jug of crushed…

Roots & Wings

We gave him roots and gifted him wings, so why does it hurt so much, she asked. Is he okay, he asked, how was the call ? Unsentimental, she said. Practical. Checked out. Are you finding it difficult or just annoying ? All of us cope differently with change, he said, and he is the…

That Wedding There

The name of a self-styled wedding, in the village of Hanumanahalli, in Hampi, in Karnataka, That Wedding There is the reason for the Hampi visit; two days celebrating a wedding and two days of exploration. Getting to Hampi is either air + road or rail + road and the Hampi Express from Bangalore is an…

More than just a Bulbul !

Our Nilgiris (blue mountains) experience was defined by the ubiquitous red-whiskered bird, ever present in the garden, whirrings and flappings and busyness in the trees alongside Oriental White Eyed’s; tireless good cheer in the occasional summer sun. “go via mysore-bhandipur-masinagudi-ooty. at bandipur, after the police checkpost is a left turn over a narrow bridge to…

MAD Museum of Art & Design, Singapore

The MAD side of life, a private museum that is both an art space and a modular event venue. The MAD Museum of Art & Design is worth a visit for the quirky, curious and revelatory pieces tastefully curated and exhibited on two levels; paintings, graffiti, sculptures, furniture and the odd this and that. It…

Wisdom for 2015

It was a serendipitous meeting on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, in Baba’s Cafe. Baba himself was present, but I later discovered he was just ‘passing through’, even though his visit might last eight months or more. I am from Manali, he said, and was willing to talk. You are a long way from…

Bikers in the Kitchen

Pan Asian in ITC Grand Chola, Chennai exemplifies a culinary wanderlust, which, if you pause to think about it, is a perfect embodiment of the spirit of adventure you would associate with avid bikers – which is what the restaurant’s Chef and Sous Chef are. Chef Vikramjit Roy and Sous Chef Lambert Chiang, ride captain…

Innocent, wounded, yet trusting

On a sunlit shore, seemingly nowhere in particular, framed by palms and blue skies, within thatched enclosures, lulled by the continual boom and ebb of waves, there is a little hub of passion and devotion where little babies struggle to survive and grizzled men lovingly tend to the wounded, the resting and the trusting. This…

A beautiful Friday morning …

It was a rare convergence : a beautiful morning, clear skies, sunshine chased by a rippling wind into ‘shadow and seek’, the beginning of a weekend and an hour to spare. Carpe diem is my resolution for 2014. And so, when I find myself traveling alongside a lengthy, glinting stretch of silver fringed by green…

Salvador Dali : Twice in Singapore

Surrealist Salvador Dali (1904 to 1989) ‘channeled the unconscious to unlock the power of the imagination’. His Paranoid-Critical method (the basis for most of his artworks) went further – creating art from a state of self-induced paranoia, putting the artist in touch with his subconscious and ‘systematic irrational thought’ in order to escape conventional understanding…

Autumn becomes Spring in Singapore

2014 began cool and windy, unseasonal, a nip in the air … fresh mornings, bright sunlit days and the occasional need for a light cover in the evenings. This ? In tropical Singapore ? Yes, in tropical Singapore. And then, without warning, an autumn-like spell descended upon us, a browning of the green, leaves changing…

Window Dressings

London is many things to many people. The ‘retail’ experience is as much the art that goes into seducing customers, as the products themselves. Behind the glass, a city’s edge and imagination comes to play with whimsy and fantasy. The ideas are brilliantly inventive, over and over again, the juxtapositions are quirky and the mis-en-scenes…