Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Xmas-y in Island S?

Its good to be back home on Island S. Besides the welcoming warmth, sunny skies and chilly a/c malls, i missed hawker food too much.

In just 5 short months its amazing that there are already many changes to the sunny little island 4 million of us call home. Checked out the new VIVOcity, an abomination if there's a word for it. I had almost forgotten that Island S boasts one of the highest population density on the planet...and if there's one thing VIVOcity did well for me, it was to remind me of that. No wait, there's another benefit with VIVOcity opening - Orchard Road, Suntec City are now more hospitable!

15 more cinema screens? Have more unique shops instead, i say. I've also gradually remembered how after a while all the malls look the same...corner Watsons/Guardian, an anchor hypermart and retailer, hair salons to last a lifetime, blah blah. Why don't make VIVO city a new retail experience, with unique flagship stores, daring retail concepts and displays (a la Ginza, Fifth Avenue etc), instead of more of the same old? Ya, and GAP doesnt count la.

What would my ideal VIVOcity be like?
- An Apple Flagship Store
- A anime/comics/figurines/model trains, ships, planes store
- A giant Toys r us with a ferris wheel/merlion or perhaps mini cable car rides for the kids.
- A museum...of shopping! and a museum of food!
- 3 food courts with the charm of food republic (a laudable effort) and the tastes of glutton square
- An Asian Madam Tussaud's? Zhang Ziyi floating in mid air brandishing a sword at Andy Lau, Fann Wong staring down Zoe Tay at the Star Awards...oh the possibilities!
- A giant atrium where you can display promotional stuff like the latest James Bond movie car/Bond Girl, an Xmas tree, and yes a God of Fortune when its Chinese New Year, or maybe a life one, who gives out angpows to people who have been good the past year. His mini "temple" can be next to the fortune teller's/fengshui master's booths.
- For the tourists, an STB visitor center, a Singapore products showcase (vacuum packed Bakwa, ya)
- Hard Rock Cafe with the car sticking out the facade...but instead of an American car, it should be a Mercedez..you know..localisation..

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NooYork Subway and USB cables

Everyday i take the NRW line to work. Standing on the long platform staring into the darkness I wait patiently for the train to arrive.

Back home, on Island S, the underground subway stations all come with glass walls and doors. So when a train zooms by, you hardly hear anything beyond a muffled whine. If you're deaf, you would only tell a train was near when the doors move ever so slightly, pushed against the station by the rush of wind that precedes the train.

Here in Manhattan, things are a little different. The quiet peaceful dark is always replaced by the subway sonic boom - metal wheels clanking against metal rails and that rush of wind. Even those of us who put on a pair of earphones to listen to our favorite tunes wont escape - from Mozart to Madonna, the subway incoming subway train imposes its will on you - "Pay Attention, hear me roar!" - you feel that the things you hear are out of control for a while. You lose your bearings....kind of like how a little nation feels when a large nation "imposes" its ideas, cultures, opinions on the former. Or perhaps like a terrible terrorist event. Depending on where you are relative to the train (and if you've been bad and living life on the yellow edge you know this intimately), sometimes its all you can do to hang on to your position - redistribute your weight.

When you're small, you have no choice but to listen.Sometimes you put on your earphones, just so that when the train is absent and your mind wanders, there's something to focus on.
Over time, Madonna and Mozart re-establish their connection with you. And sometimes, you just hop ON to the train. Lets not go there.

You know what's the solution to this loud subway problem? Ear plugs, or noice cancelling earphones. The sound is still there, but you just choose not to hear it...


~~~

Over the weekend I went to an electronics store. Island S is quite well known for good price electronics. Manhattan? Well, its different. I was out looking for a USB cable. The kind that plugs into your computer and the other end has a special shape that plugs into your digital camera. I had neglected to bring it with me from Island S - where something like that would cost less than 5 Benjamins. Here? Nothing goes below 29.99 Benjamins. Same cable, both made in China. Why? I mean I can understand when a certain recently retired Mr Gates charges you more for a superior product - well he thinks its superior anyway - he poured in lots of Benjamins to get his brand out. But USB cables...what branding?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Where did Spring Go?

I arrived to a cool windy spring evening on May 8, 2006.

Is it coming to a month already?

Where did spring go? Wasnt it about 3 weeks ago that the last vestiges of the mild winter was still clinging onto the Big Apple? That "current temperature in your area, mid 40s, wind, NW, 15mph, chance of rain, 20%"?

Before you can say United States of America, long black jackets have given way to tight bright coloured (yes colour, not color, thank you!) t-shirts, in the subway and on the streets, scarfs tear away to reveal jewellery that seem to emerge from their long hibernation. And don't you think you see less people grasping a cuppa on the trains?

Anyone else notice that there seem to be more homeless people on the streets once temperatures push into the 60s? Makes you wonder where they keep warm before this.

Where did Spring Go?