Friday, May 11, 2012

The new book is out!

Great Expatations, a collection of essays contributed by various expats in Singapore, has just been published by Marshall Cavendish. It should be available in a bookstore near you, maybe even at Popular, if they can shove their mountains of school assessments aside far enough to make room for an actual book!

I have two contributions in the collection: "Holiday Blues" and "A Home in the Heartlands?" There are also pieces by some of my friends and colleagues, including Heather Hansen, Nick French, Tremaine du Preez, Alison Lester, and Nishant Kasibhatla. Other contributors include Botak Jones and Courts' CEO Terry O'Connor.

Here is an excerpt from "A Home in the Heartlands?"

Condos are big sellers now. You will see enticing newspaper ads and TV commercials featuring attractive Caucasian, Eurasian, and Pan Asian people who do not live anywhere in this country, lounging by the pool, enjoying a drink on the balcony with a stunning sea view, or sitting at the piano in their living room dressed like they’re ready to go to the casino in a James Bond movie. They are even wearing expensive shoes in their home! Based on these ads, you might run down to the show flat and see an exquisite architectural model made of cardboard with a few tiny luxury sports cars in the driveway.

This heavenly depiction of condo life is not just poetic (or advertising) license; it is a complete and utter fabrication! Once the condo is built, the actual sea view will look like a maritime parking lot for rusting cargo ships, though there might be some small patches of murky green water visible between the ships. They never show these old hulks in the renderings. A non-sea view will feature the next apartment block up close and personal. As you survey the other units you will not see anyone as gorgeous or as beautifully dressed as the people in the ads. What you will see is lots of your neighbors’ laundry hanging from windows and balconies.

For some reason the furniture and interiors of these dream homes are always snow white. This is not practical at all. During the Hungry Ghost Month and certain other festivals when incense and joss paper is burned smoke will come pouring into your home, covering the furniture in gray ash. The management of our condo has put a ring of metal canisters around the perimeter of the entire development for the joss burning faithful. I guarantee no property developer ever puts tiny canisters on their fancy cardboard models!

I'll bet you can't wait to see how this ends! Don't wait for the book to come to the library, go buy it!