Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Talk at Kinokuniya Saturday 31 October

I look forward to meeting some folks and selling some books this Saturday at Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City, Orchard Road between 2.00 and 3.00pm.
I will also discuss some of my wild and wonderful Singapore adventures, and perhaps even venture a few observations and opinions while trying to stay within the OB markers. Any questions from the public will also be entertained (within reason!).
So come on by, you'll have plenty of time to get into your Halloween costume afterwards.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Uncle! Now Tighten Your Belt!

After living here for ten years, I am reminded that I still have much to learn about Singapore. The headline in today's paper mentions a proposal to end the "widespread practice of cutting the pay of workers when they turn 60." The law allows a cut of up to 10%, and usually employers go to the max.

I had never heard of this practice until now. It seems positively barbaric, especially in a society that otherwise reveres the elderly. I wonder if those over 60 will have their pay raised to what it was when they were 59 years and 364 days old? Will they also get a lump sum to offset their previously reduced earnings?

No doubt the practice will end very soon. One thing I have learned is that when the government proposes something, it usually happens very quickly. I remember a similar headline soon after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, where the government told banks to "do the right thing." Banks immediately began throwing money at almost anyone who claimed to have been misled, and even billionaires were crying that they had been duped.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Paella Singaporeana

I had a hankering for paella, so we found a "Spanish" restaurant on the river. I can tell it was a Spanish restaurant because the name sounded Spanish and the menu was written in Spanish, with English subtitles. But the cooks didn't look Spanish. Nor did the paella, for that matter. There was orange colored rice in a pan with seafood, but no lobster, the chorizo (sausage) tasted strongly of chili powder, and there were triangles of ham arranged like the topping of a Hawaiian pizza. It tasted OK, but not great. Then again, I haven't had paella for a couple of years. At any rate, it wasn't authentic.

The sangria tasted like red wine mixed with Sprite, with no fruit to be seen. It was refreshing, and Cherisse liked it, too.

To add to the latin atmosphere, three amigos performed Spanish standards. One of the guitar players looked vaguely Mexican, but he and his fellow were Malaysian, while the third was from the Philippines.

I should have known better than to expect anything authentic before sitting down in a restaurant on the Singapore River. I have been to several of these riverside restaurants over the years, dishing out all types of cuisine, and have yet to find a really good one. Most are decent, but not great. These places are touristy and are really just selling ambiance rather than good food. If you define "ambiance" as "sweating in the equatorial night while gazing at the water and colored lights."

Well, I'll be in Miami soon and will be buried up to my cabeza in Spanish menus. No doubt I'll find a good paella. No sweat!