Photo taken at a Chinese Medicine Shop near Ghim Moh Market, Singapore.
Posted in Chinese Medicine, Ghim Moh, Market, Photography, Shopping, Singapore, spices, travel photography | Tagged Chinese Medicine, Ghim Moh Market, Photo of the Day, Photography, Shop, shopping, Singapore, Store | Leave a Comment »
The other day I saw an ad on TV sponsored by StarHub, Singapore’s cable and telephone company.
There was an artsy looking woman on the screen with a ukelele trying to convince me that Singaporeans really are happy.
I wondered if this had anything to do with recent polls citing Singapore as the most emotionless country in the world and another one saying that Singaporeans didn’t experience positive emotions, basically that they are unhappy. According to the study, Singaporeans were less upbeat than people in poor or war-stricken areas like Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Haiti. Ouch.
Sure enough, the ad was indeed a response to the study.
There’s a whole Facebook page dedicated to proving that Singapore is actually happy. And a happiness bus that distributed free coffee outside of La Pau Sat to go with it.
So folks, this is the Singapore Happiness Campaign. You can share pictures and videos of proof that you are happy on the Facebook site in exchange for a chance to win cash and the latest mobile handsets.
The submitted photos are mostly babies and children, food and shared moments with friends. I didn’t notice any photographs of the infamous five C’s.
What does this mean for Singapore and the life satisfaction level of its residents? That indeed they are happy? That they are like everyone else in the world? That cash and mobile handsets can encourage you to participate in a social media project where you submit your very own Instagrams? Or a need to prove to the rest of the world that they are not an unhappy society?
I think it means that Singapore likes campaigns. There was the Courtesy campaign to promote a pleasant living environment filled with kind, considerate and polite Singaporeans. The Speak Good English Campaign, a movement to promote the proper use of English over Singlish in Singapore. The Speak Mandarin Campaign, to encourage the Singaporean Chinese population to speak Mandarin. Singapore’s OK Campaign, for better hygiene.
And I haven’t even mentioned the use of remade modern fairytales to warn women of declining fertility, oh my. They go on. I counted ten total government campaigns for 2012 alone off this government website.
Do they work? A 2011 study says no, they actually wear out the population.
But maybe, just maybe this happiness one will work? I’m crossing my fingers for you Singapore. Here’s to hoping that an absence of emotion doesn’t equal unhappiness, only a shyness in expressing it. It’s just too bad I missed the free coffee to go with the tagline.
Editor’s note: Although this isn’t the original commercial mentioned in the posting, you can view one of the happiness campaign videos here.
Posted in Culture, Events, Singapore, Singapore Campaigns, Stereotypes, studies and surveys | Tagged ads, campaigns, emotionless, happiness, Happiness campaign, La Pau Sat, polls, Singapore, Singapore campaigns, studies, surveys, the 5 C's | 3 Comments »
Ran across this item while browsing at Dean and Deluca in Orchard Central. Ever tried one of these Green Musk Melons? At 100 SGD (that’s 80 USD or 50 GBP) a piece I hope they are absolutely fantastic! That’s one food item you don’t let rot in your refrigerator.
Posted in Expensive Eats, Fancy Eats, Food, Food Photography, Foodie Photo of the Day, fruit, Grocery Store, grocery stores, Photography, Singapore, Vegetarian/Vegan | Tagged foodie photo of the day, Singapore, fruit, grocery store, green musk melon, dean and deluca, orchard central | Leave a Comment »
One thing about living in hot climates is that you often see people napping out in public. And why not? With all the heat, you are bound to get a little tired – especially if you work as hard as some of the foreign workers in Singapore. I’m just not sure you should do it so close to equipment marked as dangerous. Or perhaps he’s guarding it?
Posted in Photography, Weather, Immigrant Life, travel photography, Singapore, Foreign Worker, Sleep, Heat, Danger | Tagged danger, foreign worker, heat, hot, Immigration, nap, Photo of the Day, Photography, Singapore, Singapore photo of the day, sleep, snooze, tired, Weather | 1 Comment »
On weekends spent working at home, Husband and I will often have some noodles as a lunch-time around the house snack.
We buy two different types of noodles. I get the ones without monosodium glutamate (MSG) and he gets the ones with MSG. He swears it makes things taste better, and I swear it gives you cancer or some other sort of yet unnamed disease. He asked for proof and so I go down a rabbit hole of the internet.
The only knowledge I start out with is that an ex’s dad was so allergic to the stuff that he had to carry an EpiPen with him when he dined at restaurants just in case the chef slipped some MSG in. He ended up being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance one Thanksgiving when the family decided not to cook and go out instead. That alone is enough to freak me out.
Being a good science reporter (one of my day jobs), I couldn’t leave it alone at that. Besides, my scientist husband doesn’t accept anecdotal evidence.
MSG is isolated glutimate, the chemical that gives foods umami flavor – that taste found in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat outside the four well-known tastes of salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Pure MSG does not have a pleasant taste until it is combined with other savory food items.
My local grocery store in Singapore sells it alone by the bag full to cook with. The first time I ran across it, I couldn’t believe how socially acceptable it was as an ingredient and had to take a photo.
Glutamate is naturally found in many foods and a research study from 2009 revealed that the tongue has a receptor that is exclusively activated by the chemical.
If it’s naturally found in foods, then why are we so scared of it? Well, there’s quite a bit of research out there linking the isolated form of the chemical to obesity, headaches or other symptoms. And yet there are other studies saying it is just fine.
So how do you know whether to avoid or embrace? I’m no doctor but I say if it gives you headaches, Chinese Restaurant Symptoms or other difficulties, avoid.
When it comes to your food choices, personal anecdotal evidence (aka your experience) is OK.
Personally, I’ll continue to embrace naturally umami laden foods but avoid the stuff in its isolated capacity. There’s just something unappealing and unnatural about heaping the synthetic shiny white crystals out of their plastic bag and onto my plate. But then again I take my coffee and teas without sugar and sweeten my desserts with agave nectar.
Still confused on what to do? Don’t sweat it too hard. Just remember the words of Micheal Pollen.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
I’m pretty sure that bag of crystals is not a plant and I’m more than hesitant to categorize it as food.
I’m out with my friend, Afsan, and someone asks us how long we’ve been in Singapore.
“Six months,” I say.
She looks at me and says “No, honey. You’ve been here eight months. I’ve been here six months.”
Can that really be true? I start to do the math and sure enough, eight months.
I’m not the new kid on the block anymore. I went to my first going away party a few months ago. Anywhere else in the world eight months might still be new, but in a city where people stay either two years or twelve years, I’m becoming an old timer.
Wow, this happened rather quickly.
Despite Afsan being in Singapore for six months, her husband, Max, only just arrived. I spent a day with them and another friend, Colin, on a driving tour around town.
Colin jumps in the car and immediately hands over a copy of one of Neil Humphreys books on Singapore. I get a little too excited. “Oh my gosh I’m reading his collection! Insightful, though a bit cheesy at times.” I can’t express quick enough the pride in finding the book all on my own and the many thoughts I have about it.
It’s Max’s first time living abroad and his excitement is charming and infectious. I remember flipping through my Singapore Lonely Planet before I arrived, imagining a land of temples, tofu and adventures yet to be had.
Max has only been here two days and he has lots of questions and a little bit of jetlag. Some questions I can answer, some I leave to Colin and Afsan. I’m surprised at how much I know about this place in such a short time.
“What’s that building over there?”
“It’s an HDB. You can assume that pretty much any ugly building is an HDB,” I answer. The others look at me and I realize my bluntness is laced with cynicism – cynicism that can slay enthusiasm. Now I feel a desire to start checking myself. I want his excitement to last as long as possible.
I want the travelling new experience magic to linger. I want to see my own experience through fresh eyes, not the eyes that deal with finding work, struggling with grocery store food choices, missing my friends around the globe.
I remember what it feels like to talk to people back home about what I am up to, to see my life from their perspective. It all sounds very exotic and exciting to live all over the world. It’s one of the many things I have dreamed of.
I remember that yes, my life is exciting. I am doing the things I want to be doing. I’m living, I’m exploring, I’m learning. The daily grind is just the daily grind.
I start to recall the things about Singapore that I really appreciate. “You get to meet very interesting people,” I say to Max. And indeed, that’s the biggest most meaningful and honest complement I can give.
Posted in Being American, Being Texan, culture clash, culture shock, expats, Immigrant Life, making friends, moving, Perceptions, perspectives, Philosophy, Singapore, Travel | Tagged expat, expat life, living abroad, perspectives, Singapore, Travel | 1 Comment »
I prefer not to shop at Court’s as I’ve had my share of frustrations with their customer service, but I do like to check their pricing on big ticket items. That’s why I ended up looking at this ad on their website for a Samsung washing machine and found this beautiful piece of marketing.
Like a diamond, the Diamond Drum Washing Machine is long lasting, caring, beautiful, and is an expression of most woman’s want.
That’s right, ladies. Court’s knows what you want. It’s diamonds and washing machines. List it right above equal pay, joyful expression of the soul, and a house in the Dolomites- or on Sentosa Island if you prefer.
Maybe if you are lucky you will meet a man who can give you both a washing machine AND a diamond.
With that, I am headed out to buy a washing machine. Because sadly, even conflict-free diamonds can’t get my clothes clean.
Editor’s note: My local electronics store sold this washing machine for $455. That’s $44 lower than Courts. That includes delivery, installation and disposal of the old one.
Posted in Badvertising, Consumerism, Feminist, Gender Issues, Shopping, Singapore | Tagged bad advertising, Badvertising, consumerism, Courts, diamonds, household items, sexism, shopping, Singapore, washing machine | 6 Comments »