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of women, many influential and recognizable, some not; and include past work from the original series as well as some unpublished photographs.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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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….

‘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…

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….

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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)…

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,…

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…

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…

The Manganiyars Seduce

I was taken to a slum in Delhi, a slum of 1,500 families of artists and artisans. As I stepped out of the car, they began singing, children on rooftops, men in doorways, in lanes, everywhere, singing with the hope that their songs would take them out of their extreme poverty; singing, laughing and crying,…