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, their art, craft and helplessness contained in one impassioned offering … Continue reading The Manganiyars Seduce

A Family in Every Country

Families who move countries regularly share a certain spirit, an ‘impermanence’, which quite paradoxically can lead to strong and lasting bonds. The annual school hiatus – summer breaks, October breaks, Christmas breaks and Easter breaks – often signal transitions; departures, goodbyes and heartbreaks, friends moving away, pink slips and uncertainties (given current times), graduations and moving on. Transition and change, ever present in our lives, … Continue reading A Family in Every Country

Kuala Lumpur of the Senses

For a weekend, or three (or more) days of self-indulgence and excess, Kuala Lumpur beckons with every kind of luxury. Thirty five minutes by air and exactly four hours, door to door, if your destination is the Kuala Lumpur City Centre; and it is dusk and you stand in awe beneath Cesar Pelli’s soaring, magnificently supple confection of steel and glass – the Twin Towers … Continue reading Kuala Lumpur of the Senses

A month long Heurigen (wine feast) : The Austrian Wine Festival

‘Bottled poetry’ said Robert Louis Stevenson of wine; and in Singapore, an annual event and a month long festival celebrates the sparkling, sweet, red and white poetry of  Austria, introducing new wines from an old world. Diversity, individuality and character describe the magic and the excitement of wines from Austria, and the Austrian Wine Festival is the chance to discover how perfectly Austria’s ‘liquid gold’ … Continue reading A month long Heurigen (wine feast) : The Austrian Wine Festival

Bringing Up Father : The Honeymoon Period

Parents as children and children as parents : FIL, all of 89 and feisty as he ever was, moved in with us for a while, and life changed. The Maintenance of Parents Act is under discussion and debate in the press right now, with opinions on ‘measuring’ filial piety, moral obligations and legal requirements. Those in the situation – parent to his or her parent … Continue reading Bringing Up Father : The Honeymoon Period

Those Were the Days …

Teenage summers are blithe days of a carefree existence, to be enjoyed, remembered and stored away for later years. With the start of school vacation, a Zen persona manifests itself in a certain teenager I am acquainted with. This is a deep contemplation that precedes the uncoiling that precedes any movement; an unwashed serenity (perfected by adolescent males); a vacant calm coupled with a gait … Continue reading Those Were the Days …

Discovering the Wake

Wakeboarding for the beginner and the pro … and a dolphin, otter or manatee, if you are lucky ! In the strip of water between Malaysia and Singapore, beside the Immigration checkpoint in Tuas, beneath the arc of the bridge that connects the two countries (the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link), alongside what is possibly the last of Singapore’s ‘green’ coastline unmarred by buildings (the land belongs … Continue reading Discovering the Wake

Paris of the Axe Historique and the Hammam

Paris perspectives, Paris then and now; history laid out in a straight geographic line … and yet another kind of Paris indulgence. On a visit to Paris in 2009, Senator Yves Dauge, Sénateur d’Indre-et-Loire, extended an invitation to visit the Upper House of the French Senate in the Palais du Luxembourg. It was a fascinating couple of hours, the tracing of the past into the … Continue reading Paris of the Axe Historique and the Hammam

De-mystifying the Divinity of Money (2)

The Ethics of Investing (2010) This is the second of a three part series on random thoughts regarding the creation and pursuit of wealth; a stream of consciousness from a financial free spirit and friend – PK – who has spent years investing other people’s money while making a lot of it – and a name for himself – in the process. This free-flow largesse … Continue reading De-mystifying the Divinity of Money (2)

De-mystifying the Divinity of Money (1)

The Politics of Trust (2010) The past many months of monetary shambles and pecuniary machinations seem to be over, the news, earlier unremitting and unfailingly dismal, is brighter; the spending is up and people are buying, buying, buying – most evident in the property market in Singapore, an explosion, a growth, flips, profits, government curbs, higher prices, and now, disenchantment amongst many as the options … Continue reading De-mystifying the Divinity of Money (1)

Remembering Wind Shadow

Delivering an unbearable lightness of being – or non-being – with an apocalyptic end (in a maelstrom of green), Wind Shadow was less dance and more a fusion of installation art and kinetics; a visually stunning spectacle sans emotion, sans words, sans context, sans an anchor of any kind. A collaboration between Lin Hwai-min, (Founder and Artistic Director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan … Continue reading Remembering Wind Shadow

Is your python bigger than mine ?

Some people see them and many don’t – but they are there, the pythons, the cobras (spitting and otherwise), the green tree snakes, the garden snakes and all the in-between ones native to the tropics. I have a number of enduring stories – and recollections – which hold audiences rapt and disbelieving, all ophidian; sinuously compelling narratives (judging by reactions to the tales) spanning more … Continue reading Is your python bigger than mine ?


Education : the facts and the challenges, the new realities, contemporary parenting and non-traditional pedagogies. Singapore’s educational system has generated a lot of press lately, sparked by the Education Minister’s advocacy for a a student-centric, values-driven education. An article in the 26 September 2011 issue of the Straits Times commented that the country’s education system has always tended to emphasise quantifiables over qualitative factors. Grades, ranking … Continue reading IQ & EQ

From ‘Garden City’ to ‘City in a Garden’

The concept of ‘green lungs’ has become a part of Singapore’s argot. National Parks has done a spectacular job with the greening of the island, and the ‘park network system’ – when complete – will allow an enthusiast to explore Singapore through an uninterrupted corridor of green, some 360 kms long. NParks today manages 1,763 hectares of parks, connectors and open spaces, including some 300 … Continue reading From ‘Garden City’ to ‘City in a Garden’

Snapshots of a Destination Wedding

A Bollywood wedding is the ultimate pageant, and a Bollywood wedding on a Bali beach is the ultimate fusion of culture and stagecraft. They came from all over the world, the guests, from Mozambique and Mumbai, Boston and Birmingham; from Washington, Texas, Singapore, Calcutta, Jakarta and elsewhere to celebrate a wedding in Sanur, Bali, on the beach, as the sun dipped and the wind soughed … Continue reading Snapshots of a Destination Wedding

Antipodean Dining

Epicurean evenings versus local fare versus dining with friends : dissimilar, consummate and expansive dining experiences.   Progressive tapas and quaffs, suggested Ilanit, for the perfect middle-of-the-week dinner, considering its been months and a break from the tedium and minutiae of the weekday is absolutely in order. As in what ? As in beers and champagnes, wines (red, white, rosé, sauternes), spirits (absinth, aperitif, Armagnac, … Continue reading Antipodean Dining

Secret Gardens

Singapore is a city of secret gardens waiting to be discovered, and an excellent website makes the discovery exhilarating with extensive photographs and detailed information about the island’s flora. They are everywhere, Singapore’s secret gardens – across the wall, along the hedge, in verges and ditches, sectioning roads, above your head. That blanket of yellow peanut plants along the length of a drive, little sunny heads … Continue reading Secret Gardens

Art Doctors : Restorers & Conservationists

Singapore is becoming a centre for art in the region, with monetary, historic, sentimental and artistic interests paralleling the explosion of art galleries, exhibitions, festivals, fairs, auctions, retrospectives, biennales and personal and institutional art collections. Collecting art has become de rigeur, but what happens after the purchase ? Is mounting, framing and displaying the end of the process ? At 1º north of the Equator, … Continue reading Art Doctors : Restorers & Conservationists

Total Fitness : It’s a Mind Game

‘Champions in Fitness’ they say, and not a single person who has met them will argue the fact. Singapore’s bodybuilding champions Joan Liew and Augustine Lee walk the talk and look the part, fit beyond belief and definitely on top of their game.   Discipline the mind first and the body will follow, we’ve been told, and if you think this is another bit of … Continue reading Total Fitness : It’s a Mind Game

The Experience of Modern Travel

We travel to discover the new, the imagined, the exotic and the enlightening; we know that on our return we will have changed in immeasurable places; in our thinking, perhaps our attitudes, certainly in insight and probably in intent. It has probably never been so easy to slip into the biorhythm of a new city as it is today, all the uncertainties removed by the … Continue reading The Experience of Modern Travel

Orangutans : Why Should we Care ?

Perhaps because the issues that threaten their existence are the reasons Singapore experiences fluctuating (and sometimes alarming) PSI (Pollutant Standard Index) ratings ? Forest fires originate in Indonesia but the consequences affect us all – man and beast – in one way or another. The haze, that ghostly shroud of grey, that has become a recurrent annual phenomenon is a part of the same cycle … Continue reading Orangutans : Why Should we Care ?

Ponzi for a Purpose

Everybody knows what a Ponzi is – robbing Peter to pay Paul. This pyramid system of fraud, which offers quick and often generous returns to investors using the money of other investors remains recent, both in history and memory, with Bernie Madoff’s US$50 billion Ponzi scheme and the widespread global shocks and aftershocks it generated. The idea is not new. In 1857, Charles Dickens set … Continue reading Ponzi for a Purpose

Head, Hands, Heart

Anita Thomas writes about the Waldorf Education, which focuses on developing creative, independent thinkers committed to social change, offering an alternative to current pedagogy. I encountered the term anthroposophy (or ‘wisdom of the human being’) a few weeks ago, when I attended a talk at a local pre-school. In contrast to the current methods of teaching largely followed by educational institutions in Singapore, the fact … Continue reading Head, Hands, Heart

Bats and Butterflies that are free

Singapore, to resident and visitor alike, is many things – food, shopping and ease of living – and on this island (the second most densely populated independent country after Monaco), bats and butterflies probably don’t feature at all in the daily subconscious. But, did you know … … that you can explore a four kilometer trail down the most popular road in Singapore by following … Continue reading Bats and Butterflies that are free

Singapore : The City that Never Stops

Cities are born, many grow and flourish, some endure in one form or another, others decline, some die. Once material prosperity and wealth creation is in place, what are the intangibles that bind people together in today’s world of shifting populations ? Why do some cities, like London and Paris whose histories span centuries, continue to remain attractive, viable and current, while others like Venice … Continue reading Singapore : The City that Never Stops