Wednesday, September 06, 2006

As Scene from Singapore

Having the chance to talk with a Chinese businessman/hypnotist, a Muslim "information officer," an Indian dentist, an Australian artist, and a Vietnamese pianist, among others - this is especially what made visiting Singapore such an amazing experience. The beauty of Singapore is in its people, with so many cultures living together in harmony.

The only other place I've been that was so intercultural was Hawaii, but even there I didn't see the mingling of cultures that I did in Singapore. Granted it's made up of little "villages" - Little India, Chinatown, and so on - and some residents may never venture much beyond their neighborhood. However, when one does venture, the colors and variety are extraordinary. In fact, I wasn't able to choose a single photo that would capture Singapore as a whole because the whole is so multi!

To recount just a few experiences I had, I'll start with one of the least expected - a trip to the dentist. On the 3rd day of my stay in Singapore, I drank something cold that brought excruciating pain to a tooth on the lower left side. From that point on, I had a nearly constant toothache, a tragedy in a place with such delectable food. For temporary relief, I went to a drugstore and got a tincture of clove, which pretty much numbed the whole left side of my mouth.

Sign of Tooth in Little IndiaThe next day I was wandering around Little India and saw a sign with a big tooth. I took it as a sign! Rather timidly going up the stairs to the dental office, I was relieved when I opened the door and was greeted by a grinning Indian receptionist who was able to schedule me for an appointment later that afternoon. The dentist turned out to be a woman, very professional, who said I had the option of either root canal or having the tooth pulled, but it would be better to have it done when I returned to Japan. She loaded me up with antibiotics and painkillers, and, except for a slight case of diarrhea from the antibiotics, I was able to enjoy the rest of my stay, especially eating!

CA at High TeaAnother much more pleasant experience was when my two Japanese friends and I were having high tea at a hotel. It was my first time to have high tea - a bit like brunch in the afternoon, with all sorts of little sandwiches, fruit, a chocolate fountain (yikes!), and, of course, tea. I felt like such a lady.

Then a piano started playing, and it was wonderfully exotic and familiar at the same time, flowing with arpeggios and cadences. The truly gifted pianist was a young man and, when he took a break, I went over to introduce myself. He turned out to be from Thailand and appreciated having a fan. I loved his music so much, I asked if he had a CD. He asked me where I was sitting and told me to wait. A few minutes later, he appeared with a CD entitled "Just Piano." I asked him how much it was, but he said that it was a present for me! When he went back to play, I enjoyed the music all the more because of his generosity. The name on the CD was simply Jonathan. I've done an Internet search for him but can't find any website for him. At least I'll always have the music to remind me of my delightful high tea in Singapore.

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