Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Singapore Sketches

I'm still in Singapore, talking about writing, talking about science, talking about writing and science. The university I'm visiting here has been wonderfully welcoming and the place is beautiful. The trouble, of course, with talking about writing is that I've not a lot of time to do it….so what follows are just a few sketches before I lose all the details.

Drive left! Look right to cross. I look the wrong way when I cross streets - thankfully Singapore drivers are even better than Californians about stopping for pedestrians. And you don't jaywalk here. (See below!)

The churches - the Cathedral and SS Peter and Paul -- were fascinating. The Cathedral is held together by baling wire -- or at least cables and boards. Apparently when they excavated for the MRT system (the subway/trains) the lack of a solid foundation under the Cathedral proved disastrous, and the subsequent damage has yet to be repaired due to lack of funds. The peeling plaster walls also suggest budgetary woes. SS Peter and Paul has incredibly gorgeous bones - you walk in to what appears to be a small church and turns out to be an enormous open and light space with a triptych of stained glass windows that simply glow. The sense of openess is enhanced by the low windows along the sides - all open to the outside. But you don't have to look carefully to see the same signs of dwindling urban congregations. The plaster is falling off the walls, fans are bolted to the walls. Oh - and no A/C in either place. Fans, open windows. Heat. It encourages stillness (and as I did an hour's meditation in SS Peter and Paul - elicited strong memories of Wernersville in a heat wave).

Jaywalking. I watched a bit of Chinese language TV in the student canteen over lunch. In the middle of the soap opera on comes an ad showing a grandmother indulging her granddaughter (I'm guessing about the relationship - my Mandarin is limited to thank you. Period.) The grandmother goes out to buy the granddaughter a treat. She jaywalks coming home, is hit by a car and the final scene shows her body lying in the street and the crushed box of treats. I got the message, without being to able read the Chinese characters that flashed on the black screen. Don't jaywalk.

Time for my next talk! More later…. (photo is of Good Shepherd Cathedral in Singapore)


  1. I have always found that my Mandarin knowledge -- though limited to hello, goodbye, thank you, I love you, and you're crazy -- pretty much covered all the necessary eventualities..

  2. Great snapshots (in writing, I mean.)