Five Star dining with your Fingers

A ‘mega’ hotel that recently opened in Chennai, India, the ITC Grand Chola (the third largest hotel in India), is an architectural paean to the Chola Dynasty, one of the longest ruling empires of southern India. The hotel is contemporary Dravidian temple design a la Chola : four entrances (as found in temples in south India), soaring spaces, tall pillars (462), grand columns, sweeping staircases, … Continue reading Five Star dining with your Fingers

A Double Whammy

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. (Roger A Caras) Losing two family members within a month and a half of each other is one of the hardest things to survive; it takes time to come to the realisation that gratitude is in order because you were blessed, and blessed twice. Cadbury : 2001 – 2014 We never thought it … Continue reading A Double Whammy

Fluffy : 2000 – 2013

“Every life should have 9 cats” – Anonymous Our resident diva passed away on the 21st of November, having exhausted eight of her nine lives. (She donated one to our chocolate labrador). She lived a full life in her thirteen and a half years, more human than cat and more dog than cat (when she realised she needed to be the alpha dog, given that … Continue reading Fluffy : 2000 – 2013

Luminecse : Art in Glass and Light

The main allure of a Fringe Festival is the opportunity it affords to broaden one’s thinking : the chance to engage with new art forms, stumble upon new ideas, marvel at new uses and depart with a new appreciation for passion, technique and creativity. So it was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Exhibition, which concludes this 31st of August. In the category of visual art, … Continue reading Luminecse : Art in Glass and Light

Who is a Citizen, what is Citizenship ?

By government projections, Singapore’s population could well be 6.9 million by 2030. The recently released White Paper on Population set off a storm of comment and feedback, a lot of it around citizens, immigrants and foreign talent. Consider some other perspectives – those of first generation Singaporeans, of those who have not taken citizenship but nonetheless consider Singapore home, and of many children who have … Continue reading Who is a Citizen, what is Citizenship ?

When well-being is more than mere medicine

The new, professional Singapore is more than a sum of its people who are increasingly beginning to look and talk different; it is seamless efficiency in heterogeneity. The necessity for a minor surgical procedure was a revelation of sorts; a face-to-face with the new Singapore of ‘foreign’ and ‘local’ talent (that has been the subject of much press and debate); Chinese-Indian-Malay Singaporean, China Chinese, India … Continue reading When well-being is more than mere medicine

The Ties that Bind

In a world that is getting increasingly smaller and diverse, what are the ties that bind people with peripatetic lifestyles ? It is the essence of family and friendship – universal ties that endure as a mesh of remembrances and experiences (much like a piece of intricate embroidery), created or recalled by a meal, a celebration, a remembrance, a festival or a new year. We … Continue reading The Ties that Bind

Mind over Matter

Designer fitness in Boat Quay ? Explore fitness education, sport specific training, consultancy, weight management and/or nutritional guidance with some of the nicest people in town. Asian body building champions, fitness aficionados and personal trainers, the Fitness Factory duo tread like mountain cats, a feral containment of muscle and energy, lightly, almost weightless. They are at it again, training for a competition, for the championship … Continue reading Mind over Matter

Then and Now

Social capital, passion for conservation, art to provoke, technology to please and ease … issues that have remained relevant over the years. Zero Dark Thirty is being screened in theatres. It is a gripping, nail-biting experience; gut wrenching because it is of the now and you know it happened, or most of it did. It stays in the mind. It reminded me of an exhibition … Continue reading Then and Now

New Year Epiphanies

Sudden revelations and insights invariably visit us with the dawn of a new year, often segueing into fervent (and usually brief or soon forgotten) resolutions. They flare, subside and peter out all too quickly because high-minded resolve is far too difficult to sustain on a daily basis. A (sometimes rueful) contemplation of the detritus of the past year (and the many years preceding the last … Continue reading New Year Epiphanies

The Metaphysics of Stone : Revisited

Time spent with Mrs. Koh is a free flow, free association of ideas about stone … with some science, history, art and geography. She spends some workdays in her factory in an industrial estate in the Sungei Kadut Loop in Singapore, sourcing, cutting, polishing, honing, flaming, sand blasting, bush hammering, chiseling and/or chemically treating natural stone; customizing orders for interior designers, architects and house builders. … Continue reading The Metaphysics of Stone : Revisited

Thoughts for a new Year

2013 sounds promising, especially as the end of the world did not happen, and as always, a fresh start prompts introspection and reflection.   End of another year and it is stock-taking time everywhere. The media is awash with articles, opinions, columns and blogs offering much pause for thought. A couple of years ago, I came across a stream of commentaries, almost in succession, that … Continue reading Thoughts for a new Year

Christmas

As people all over the world – secular and religious – observe this most celebrated of festivals; the reality that we are more similar than we are different (and especially at Christmastime) is reinforced by our geographies and cultures. The post-Hallowe’en November-long anticipation has yielded to Yuletide celebrations and menu planning, Christmas parties and Christmas spruces, pines and firs, taller, higher, brighter, twinkling away (faux … Continue reading Christmas

Urban Tropical : Golden Orioles, Parrots and a Cockatoo

Early mornings are special … and tropical Singapore mornings bring a ‘fresh’ perspective to urban living. (A summer morning remembered, in the midst of this ‘wet’ winter). Tropical summers linger in the memory as alliterative summer days: lazy, languid, lucid … sweltering, sultry, scorching.

 This morning, a breeze tosses the leaves of the rain trees. The air is thick and heavy but a daybreak zephyr … Continue reading Urban Tropical : Golden Orioles, Parrots and a Cockatoo

‘A Whole new Mind’

Does current education suffer from the ‘tyranny of common sense’ ? Will the perspectives and templates that defined our generation sufficiently equip our children for their tomorrows ?   Let’s face it, things have changed. We’ve lived the trajectory – agriculture to industry to information – and have entered an age of ideas and abstractions distinguished by blips, beeps, tweets and twitters, digitization, instant information … Continue reading ‘A Whole new Mind’

A Frangipani in my Cappuccino : Three days in Bali

To visit Bali frequently is to rejuvenate the soul, to escape the glass and steel of metropolitan living to a world governed by exquisite harmony and balance. Possibly, the most easily accessed ‘instant nirvana’ in this part of the world, Bali is undisputedly the Island of the Gods; almost other-worldly in both geography and spirit. Its spectacular grey-black volcanic sand beaches along the northern coastlines … Continue reading A Frangipani in my Cappuccino : Three days in Bali

Luxe and beyond, in Singapore, in Sentosa.

John Gay declared ‘whether we can afford it or no, we must have superfluities’ … and so it is on Sentosa; visit and discover your nirvana. Capella, ah Capella ! Give us the luxuries of life and we will dispense with its necessities, goes the well-quoted quote and after a weekend (or more) at the Capella Singapore (+65 6377 8888), you begin to comprehend how … Continue reading Luxe and beyond, in Singapore, in Sentosa.

The Night of the Orange and Black

On the night of the thinnest divide between this life and the afterlife, when apparitions and spirits freely slink, skulk, stalk and sneak about, bring out the costumes to scare off the demons and carve your pumpkins and light them with candles and make your taffy apple treats.  Two thousand or more years ago, the Celts (in today’s UK, Ireland and northern France) had an … Continue reading The Night of the Orange and Black

Highland and Island : Malaysia Getaways

The ideal location for short (and long) getaways, Singapore must probably offer the widest choice of holiday destinations in the region. A visit to Kuala Lumpur should extend beyond urban, retail and downtown preoccupations; and according to the travel brochure, cool ‘Highland Resorts’, a few hours drive away from KL include Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill, Bukit Larut, Penang Hill, Bukit Tinggi – variously … Continue reading Highland and Island : Malaysia Getaways

Bon Appetit

Paris 2009 – with friends – a holiday of the senses, an effervescence of food, an exploration of haute cuisine, gastro-tourism, Michelin stars, Michelin guides and just plain ordinary eating. Read on, if you plan to visit Paris, or if you are interested in food. The compact, businesslike (soon to be rated Michelin discovery) Le Gaigne in the Marais quarter (third arrondissement) makes a persuasive … Continue reading Bon Appetit

Beyond Ah Meng : Asia’s only – and fast disappearing – great ape

In Singapore, the Singapore Zoo has chosen the orangutan as its flagship species and oversees one of the world’s most successful orangutan-breeding programs. Orangutans, for most of us, are a must-see at the Zoo, and if they are not saved from extinction in the near future, a Zoo could well become the only place to see them. To avert this, a number of organizations around … Continue reading Beyond Ah Meng : Asia’s only – and fast disappearing – great ape

Singapore Fairs, Bazaars & Markets

Where bargains mingle with new ideas, products and unusual folk … and people with the interest and the time can browse and cherry pick. The bazaar, the flea market, the fair, indoors and out … … are often the quirks and caprice of people who see the odd, the whimsical, the uncommon (or the unexpected) and who bring it all together at a single venue … Continue reading Singapore Fairs, Bazaars & Markets

Art of the Heart

The Art of the Heart … slice and dice state-of-the-art technology paired with the symphony of natural stone at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. When the ticker needs some help and you need a clear, detailed picture of your heart, your doctor will probably suggest a Computer Tomography (CT) Scan, which is basically x-raying in slices, the machine rotating around the body as it scans and … Continue reading Art of the Heart

Water is Life, Water for Life

The Katrinas, El Niños and La Niñas do not significantly impact life in Singapore (yet), hurricanes, floods and droughts remain distant, disquieting images on flat screens and websites. We, in Singapore, only know a world of plenty – plenty of water, when and how we need it. In an unvisited part of our subconscious we know our survival depends on water but for many of … Continue reading Water is Life, Water for Life

Corsican candied clementines, anyone ?

Pick a neighbourhood and explore its casual-gourmet dining options – the smaller eateries located either just round or at a corner, near a thoroughfare, down a lane, or in an enclave; staffed with (mostly) charming young men and women, the chef perhaps from Normandy, or Tuscany; pleasingly done up, with handwritten or chalkboard menus detailing sophisticated ingredients and avant-garde, region-specific or cosmopolitan fare. Take the … Continue reading Corsican candied clementines, anyone ?