O joy and an incident at the bus stop

First of all I must start this little update by sharing a short email I received a couple of days ago. It is from Patricia Uberoi. She is an Australian anthropologist, her area of study is family and kinship in India, and she is big (not only in my eyes). My friend, Anurag, knows her and introduced me per email, so that I could send her my thesis. Alas the reply: ?I don't know whether I acknowledged receiving the copy of your dissertation. It was very generous of you to send it to me. I cannot claim to have read it all, but I'm impressed by whatever I've looked at: very sensitively written, and excellent ethnography. Are you intending to publish it? Have you done papers from this work? Contributions to Indian Sociology might be a good place.? Say no more! I say.

The weather in Singapore is quite wet at the moment. It is raining daily and the humidity is at its highest (during the year). They do say that it will be better at the end of December, I really hope so because some days it even feels hard to breath. That is when it is nice to go to the lovely and interesting National Museum of Singapore. I will one of these days give you an extensive review of the museum, with some photos. I just have to complete my next paper and gallery talk, which is on the 8th of December. Initially, we were planning to go to Australia for Xmas, but tables have turned and we have decided to go during Northern hemisphere spring instead. So Xmas will be spent here in Singapore. We hope we might find a nice little pine in a pot that we can decorate with the homemade decorations we bought from the Norwegian Seamen?s Church. We went there for the Xmas bazaar, and there are really a lot of Norwegians in Singapore. It is interesting to see how important the Church is for many Norwegians living here. I talked to some of the women and a few could tell that if it had not been for the Church they probably still would be stuck in their flat with their children.

Well, it is about time to round things off, and I thought that I would tell you about what happened to me yesterday. There were a few things I had to sort out yesterday, so I had to go to centre of town (sort of centre) which is called Orchard Road (the name is due to the nutmeg farm that used to be there, and up to about 2-3 years ago, one could still find remains of it. There was a hill there in a park with trees and the occasional fair. Today it is the fancy Ion shopping mall commemorated with the sculpture of a nutmeg in front). However, back to my story, I had finished my errands and was waiting for my bus at the stop. I kept looking up the road for my bus, when I realised that I was in the middle of a Japanese tourist?s photo. She had this huge camera with a big lens, so I was polite and moved out of her way, and would you know she followed, I moved again, and she followed again, I moved again, and she followed yet again. Finally it dawns on me that she is trying to take a photo of me, (for whatever curious reason) and she did not the sham to stop either when she was discovered. Fortunately, her bus arrived so she had to go on the bus with unfinished business.

Diwali

Last Friday was Diwali and what a jolly nice time and celebration we had. One of our neighbours is from Orissa, India and we were invited for Diwali dinner last Thursday. What nice food and company! We were served beautiful chicken curry, red kidney beans, mutton biryani and yummy raita. It was a superb meal with other neighbours in our condo. On Friday, Diwali itself, Anurag (our neighbour) had cake, sweets and sparklers for the children in the condo, so everybody was outside for cake and a chat. It was really lovely and good fun for the children. On Saturday we had Diwali lunch with a Punjabi guy, working as an associate professor at the National University as well as involved in some ABB project of Louis?. Beautiful food, nice company, though I am less certain that the Chinese engineers enjoyed the food as much as we did.

 

We have now been almost 4 months in Singapore, and I have realised that we actually live in a very nice and social condo. Our condo is not the biggest, not the flashiest nor the most modern (it is built in the eighties and our flat is one of the few original ones). To put it this way; it would not be a great loss to have something done to the kitchen or the bathrooms (one is baby blue the other bogey green). However, it is airy and spacious and on the ground floor with a patio. So I am not grumbling at all. But to come to my point, it is apparently one of the most social one?s I have been told. A lot of the other condos, newer and more modern ones are bigger than ours, and it is not so common that all the children are out and play at the same time. Here the toddlers are out and about in the morning and the afternoon, sort of from 8 to 10 a.m. then again from 4 to 6 p.m., the bigger children also play together in the afternoon.

 

Oscar is really enjoying his play outside. He has a couple of friends, Jadee, Sarah, Zara, Maya, Amir and Rose and he has been invited to his two first birthday parties here, both on Wednesday, tough one is in the morning and one in the afternoon, so we will manage both parties quite fine.

 

My museum course is still fun. I sort of feel that I have a good grip of the history of Singapore, though there are quite a few gaps when it comes to the artefacts in the museum itself. I do hope that you all will come and visit us while we are in Singapore so that I can take you to the museum and show you around. It is a fascinating museum, on several levels, both in relation to understanding the Singaporean society of today, but also because this country, state, nation, city and people has so many layers to it and I have so far revealed but a few. Most people think Singapore is all about shopping and leisure, which it is to a certain extent, but it is also about going from a third world country to a first world country in about a decade. And the National Museum both tells the story about this as well as it to a certain extent create this story.

 

Well, it is time to wrap it up. The boys are still doing well, and Louis is enjoying work. Marius, Jakob and Oscar all have swimming lessons weekly, and I am so happy to see how confident and happy they are about their swimming. Particularly Marius and Jakob are picking up techniques and abilities super quick. It is such fun to watch them during their lessons.

So there has been a while ago

Long time no see?but my good excuse is plainly that I have been really busy. Though, my hope by writing on this blog of mine again is that I will be less so.

First of all I must really say that seeing some of our friends and family in Norway when Oscar and I was there in middle of September was just great. It was impossible to meet all due to the time limit, but I will see you guys in May, June or July next year.

I have been back in Singapore for about a month now, and I must admit; I am really starting to like it here. I am also handling the humidity much better and I am really enjoying the National Museum Singapore Docent Course, it is worth every cent. The lectures and the reading are interesting, the people really nice; all in all an enjoyable experience. And I must say; I am excited about the lecture we have on the 26th of Oct. on the secret societies of Singapore. Maybe I am mostly curious because we have to sign a sheet of paper saying we will not disclose any of the information to anybody and because we have to give our name, green card and passport number to the police in advanced. Singapore is an interesting place, fascinating and mysterious with several layers; a bit like an onion sometimes. Learning about its history is very fascinating and it is an important piece of knowledge quite essential to understand today?s society.

As I mention earlier, it has been quite busy, I have a gallery paper and a gallery talk paper, as well as a gallery talk due all on the 26th. These are our first papers and I feel a bit nervous about it all, since it is the first hand-in, though it is an enjoyable nervousness.

Louis? mum is also visiting at the moment, Ingvill was here a couple of days, though now she has left for a couple of days in Melaka (a place which historically is linked with Singapore, both having been influenced by the same first resident William Farquhar). We all really enjoy having visitors, it is good to have people here and take them around Singapore. The boys really enjoy having grandma visiting, it is after all 1.5 years since last time they saw her. And of course, Ingvill is as always a big hit.

The boys have also started taking swimming lessons. Marius is doing really excellent, Jakob is just around the corner from crawling properly and Oscar really loves the pool by now. These days he go quite confidently in the babies? pool, blows bubblees, jump of the edge into our arms and kicks like a professional. I must admit that the pool is also very refreshing after a sticky and humid day ?.

There are so many hidden treasures to life in Singapore and we enjoy discovering them ? people we know here are really nice (except for that busybody of a poke-you-nose-in-it-neighbour), and we are all really setteling in by now.

ps. Must say it is really nice of you to ask for more blog :)

 

Here are some photos from the first two weeks here in Singapore



















What I like about Singapore

I just love the feeling of going into a air con bus, after my 5 minute walk to the bus stop (mind you, I have to cross the road by a foot bridge). One does not notice it so much when walking, but when one stops the sweat just pours off one and one is soaked within seconds. So there I am waiting for the bus, all sweaty and sticky, the bus arrives hopefully after only 5 minutes, I go onto the bus, and bliss, almost heaven, the cool air con air of the bus. Though I must say, I do not fancy the meeting of the warm, humid air when I have to leave the bus at my stop. I also like the air conditioners in all the shopping malls and public buildings. Like the other night when Louis and I went to the movies, the cinema theatre was so cool that I actually could have worn my woollen cardigan and felt comfortable. After a couple of hours in that cool, cool theatre it actually felt really nice to be back out on the streets. I must admit it was the most peculiar feeling, thinking that the hot, humid air was a good change.

 

Another thing I love about Singapore is the birthday parties that Jakob has been invited to. It is common to include parents and siblings in the invitation, at least when they are Jakob?s age, and the whole class, both boys and girls, are invited. It is so nice to chat with the other children?s parents, who are all really lovely, nibble on some fruit snack and sip to a drink (last time I think Louis might have sipped about a carafe of sangria). But there is one thing in particular that I really like about these parties and that is that when you arrive and Jakob gives the present, he is thanked and the present is taken aside to be opened later after the party. One of the mothers? said she really like this Singaporean tradition and that their child opened one present every day after the party. That way he paid much more interest to the gift and learnt to appreciate it more. I think it is a great way, too.

 

Of course, I also like the National Museum of Singapore. It is cool, interesting and the building itself is beautiful. And I like that one can find all those things one misses from Australia in the supermarket, like Master food?s hot English mustard and tim tams. I like baby-sitting Wednesday and pizza-by-the-pool-Fridays. I really like Mustafa?s, the Indian 24/7 department store, that place is just amazing and feels like a very dear and familiar place. There are probably more things that I like about Singapore too, yeah, like the clean streets and MRT?s (the tube stations), the pool and the air coned, yet tiny, gym we have here we live (but the air con is such a great incentive to go for a work out, it really works for me), the most thorough medical examination I have ever experienced, when I had go to the doctor?s. And not to forget our new red, Chinese cupboards (lovely pieces of work and so spacious) or the awesome rain and thunderstorms, like the one we had last night and this morning. It clears the air and the amount of water that pours down from the sky is just incredible (I suppose I love these rain storms since they have not yet surprised me without an umbrella).

Runny nose

Today I received a phone call fraom Marius and Jakob?s school. My poor son Jakob had a runny nose, at the time resting in the nurse?s room. Though fortunately he had no temperature. I must admit that even at this early stage I felt slightly annoyed by the fuss given a runny nose, though a lovely nose. So in order to stay out of ISS black books I agreed to come and pick Jakob up. And I must admit that upon entering the office and the nurse?s room and, behold, a thoroughly cheerful and extremely pleased Jakob did not convince me that this was a boy who needed to go home and rest, rather the opposite and, by the way, where was the runny nose? Running away? I do hope they will not call every time Jakob has a runny nose, in which case there will not be much school for Jakob the next couple of years, considering having a runny nose is a frequent occurrence.

 

Both Marius and Jakob are quite happy in school. Jakob has learnt the s sound this week and acts as my teacher every afternoon, though of obvious reasons the lesson was earlier and longer today. However, with my brain becoming more and more mushy every day, I suppose that is just what I need. I will return to the state of my brain a little later, but will reassure you all; help is on the way and treatment is prescribed.

 

Since last time, we have become more settled here in Singapore. Our container was left outside our house and emptied a week ago. It is very nice to have and see our things and furniture. Particularly Oscar seems to think so. He is very happy sitting in his chair at our dining table again. There were a few surprises in the container. A few of out things that were supposed to go into storage arrived here, like the drawers and a few shelves of our wardrobe, but no wardrobe (the wardrobe however, was not placed in storage, as intended, but in Telemark, along with our fridge and stove (the two latter were going to Telemark, so that is ok). So there are a few ends to tie. At this stage, a corner in our flat is filled with boxes going back to Norway to storage (like, we do not need all our woollen underwear and winter jackets, neither did I intend to wear my bunad here!) and only 17 unpacked boxes (though 10 of which contains books that need shelves first). Things are definitely coming along.

 

This weekend we are going to a birthday party, rather Jakob was invited by a boy in his kindie and when they are still smallish the rest of the family come along too. I am quite curious about how birthdays are celebrated here. I will be fun, I hope.

 

We also plan to put up our new DOUBLE bed, and I stress DOUBLE since it is our first double bed. Our old one, that for some unknown reason was also shipped here, was only the size of a ¾ double bed. I feel a bit grown up now, having bought my first DOUBLE bed (having 3 boys and turned 30 several times do not quite match the feeling of finally having a DOUBLE bed).

 

I will stop now with all this chit-chat, after all that my brain is going all mushy should not affect you. Which reminds me, a cure has been found and will soon be applied, just fingers crossed that it will not be too late.

 

The treatment is that I yesterday joined the FOM here in Singapore. FOM is an abbreviation of the friends of the museum. As a member of the FOM I may visit all the museums in Singapore for free, as well as bring a guest. And there are a lot of museums, really good museums too. Yesterday, furthermore, I was also interviewed and accepted to attend their docent training at the National Museum of Singapore (NMS). I am absolutely thrilled. It is a 6 months course, one compulsory lecture a week, two optional, though good if one is able to attend as many as possible. We have to hand in 4 papers, and then a final paper which will be the guided tour (of 1 hour) I do as mine at NMS. Finally, I guide my mentor on a tour of NMS, after which I will receive constructive feedback, finally I am given a group whom I will guide (for 1 hour). Hokus pokus, abera cadabera, it is March and I have become a qualified docent at the NMS. I am so much looking forward to this course, I believe it will be a lot of fun and that I will learn a lot about the history and culture of Singapore (they give us quite a lot of reading material. I must admit, I am ever so excited.

 

I have visited the NMS a couple of times already and I like it. I will write more about it later. Though if anybody is curious, here is the homepage http://www.nationalmuseum.sg/

Boys at school

Today is the first day at school for the boys, they were a tiny bit nervous, but stoic about it. I am quite eager for them to come home and tell me about their day. Louis and I took them to their classrooms today, but tomorrow they are off with the school bus at 7.10 a.m.

 

It is quite quiet in the flat this morning, even peaceful, Oscar fell asleep on the floor, not quite used to getting out of bed at 6 a.m.

 

This weekend was a long weekend. Monday was off because of national day, celebrating 45 years as a nation; much like any other Sunday really, though there was a parade somewhere and there were fireworks in the evening down town. We rather went to the Science centre, it was good fun for the boys, though a little bit sad too since several of the installations were broken. However, we did not manage to see it all, so we have to go back, then we might have time to visit the Chinese and Japanese gardens too. Oscar and I both liked the IMAX film about the beavers the best. They have a really good IMAX theatre.

 

Saturday we did some more shopping, we are now the proud owners of a toaster and a wok. I only wish we also were the proud owners of that Afghan rug we had a look at. Though, one must not grumble, I am, after all, the horrified owner of a new pair of swimmers, horrified because it might be one of the most expensive pieces of clothing I have ever bought.

 

Sunday we went to Sentosa with our Aussie neighbours, who by the way more or less have adopted Jakob into their household. Sentosa used to be a swamp, now it is a beach with beech bars, restaurants, entertainment, resorts and spas (the latter, apparently the best in Singapore) Sentosa is quite nice, though crowed with people. But we really enjoyed it. It was lovely to be on the beech with the boys, Jakob was thrilled to be with his new best friend, Harry, Marius was thrilled about the pieces of coral he found and the rolling of pizza dough at the restaurant, Oscar was thrilled about the cubby house and Louis was thrilled about sitting at a table in the pizza restaurant, drinking a few beers, and feeling the breeze. We were with good company and had a really good time.

Tonight one week in Singapore

We are still living in an empty house, that is, we got our new TV in the corner, though still unpacked.

 

We had an awful lot done this weekend, had the utilities organised (gas, water, electricity), sorted out the school uniforms, organised myself a bank account where I can place my pocket money (also known as håndpengar). We purchased a microwave oven, a kettle, an umbrella and a manduka (baby carrier) (and I do love it more than our good old ergo that we lost in Paris, though I feel deceitful admitting loving the manduka more), as well as picking up Louis trousers and shirts from the tailor?s. Which reminds me, Louis is actually looking quite dashing in his new clothes, and I must admit that I am very pleased about the Singaporean climate, which makes him shave daily, his face is smooth like a baby?s bum these days. I hope his chops will soon make him feel too hot too.

 

I must admit that the days are a little bit slow and boring, so today I did something about that, I volunteered myself as a volunteer at a couple of the museums here. I really hope that it will work out. The boys start school next Tuesday so then Oscar and I are free to grab our manduka and explore the city, I am looking forward to doing that actually. There are several places to go and explore, but I find it more tempting to explore with one calmish boy rather than three super active, excited, impatient and rumposing boys.

 

By the way, I have come up with a couple of new things for the list of what is great about having a maid; it is great to have somebody to hang all the washing (though I do not mind putting on the loads myself). It is fabulous to have somebody ironing my blouses and linen trousers (which I am afraid I would never ever have time to iron in Norway, unless I was going somewhere really special). I really find that having my clothes ironed is very nice. However, I have come to realise that there also is a downside to having a maid; she lives in our house and I miss being just us around the palce. It is a very strange feeling living with somebody you do not know at all. I wonder what it is like for her, starting all over with a new family that she will have to adjust to? I also don?t like the way she has organised the cupboards in the kitchen, thankfully there are not much there, but I do actually have trouble finding my muesli in the morning. I am sure I will besome used to these things before too long. In other words, there are now two lists about having a maid; the upside and the downside list. I will add to these two lists as we go along.

 

Singapore is a really green, nice and clean city. The metro shines like an operating theatre in a hospital compared to the metro in Paris. It is so clean and neat. We did take some photos on the weekend, but it turns out that we the cable we need in order to transfer our photos to the computer is in the container with all our stuff.

 

Since the last piece I wrote, I have discovered a dark and murky side of Singapore; the fogging every Thursday between 10 and 12 in the morning. I didn?t discover what it really was until yesterday, though I did experience it last Thursday. Thursday mid-morning Marylou just started to shut the veranda doors and all the windows and said it was fog time. I didn?t understand anything; how can fog have its own set time for when it is due to appear? I just couldn?t understand what she meant by fog time. She continues by saying that every Thursday there is fog in Singapore during the morning. I become more and more puzzled, how can a fog be this predictable? Isn?t that part of the fog?s nature, being unpredictable, I mean. Though at the time I didn?t have any more information about it. Yesterday, however, it was all revealed to me by one of our neighbours, that the fog is actually DDT, good old mosquito poison. The government has decided that it is very important to keep the number of cases of dengue fever in the population as low as possible (merely 150 cases a year in a population of 5-6 millions). So, though I am really thrilled about a lot of things in Singapore, the thrill too has its backside. I must admit that I am very disappointed with the government?s use of DDT, in Norway it has been banned since 1970 mainly because of its effect on birdlife (DDT really messes with the birds? ability to produce eggshell when reproducing) and wildlife, research on the effect of DDT on humans are a bit inconclusive, though there seem to be some.

 

People in our compound are nice and friendly. Every afternoon parents hang around the playground with their toddlers or in the pool with their children. Marius is becoming more and more confident in the water, and Jakob is just like a fish (though one that does not quite know how to swim) and he is completely fearless. Last night when Louis took them to the pool Jakob held on to the edge in the deep pool, he reached for a floating toy. Though, he couldn?t quite reach it, so he just let go and sort of swam for the toy, and I really mean sort of swam, fortunately Louis was there to help him to the surface when he ran out of air. Both boys also have a swimmers? tan, it looks quite funny when they walk around with their snow white bums.

 

Seems like I got carried a way today, so hope I didn?t bore you too much. I will try to keep it shortish in the future.

 

 

 

End of day three

Vi sliter skikkelig med jet lag. Vi får ikke gutta til å legge seg, og jeg har mest lyst til å sove første halvdel av dagen. Dessuten er det meget sært å bo i en helt tom leilighet, ekkoet her er helt vanvittig, og Jakob som allerede har en ganske kraftig stemme allerede får virkelig vist sitt stemmepotensial her. Det er kjekt med svømmebasseng, da, når man ikke har noe som helst i leiligheten. Gutta kunne vel egentlig vært i bassenget hele dagen.

Ellers så er været ganske bra. Det har regnet en del i dag, og da mener jeg regnet i bøtter og spann. Tempraturen er grei, ikke så ille luftfuktighet heller, men fryser om natten og har fått sår hals siden Louis insiterer på at vi må ha på enten vifte eller air condition!

Det er litt rart å ha en maid, hun gjør alt for oss og det er bare så utrolig merkelig, nesten litt surrealistisk. Gutta trenger ikke engang si at de vil ha frokost hun kommer de i møte og spør hva de vil spise til frokost så snart de er ute av sengen. Marius er vel den som beste ser alle mulighetene i det å ha en maid, Jakob synes det er uvant å ha en annen person boende sammen med oss, og Oscar er bare veldig mammadalt eller mammagal som Jakob så passende sier det. Marilou virker veldig hyggelig, er bare litt usikker på hva hun synes om oss; er redd gutta ikke helt har viste oss fra vår beste side. De kjeder seg når de ikke får være i bassenget og da sloss de så fillene fyker.

Den største fordelen ved å ha en maid så langt er at hun lager en fantastisk god fiske curry. Jeg tror jeg må lage en liste over de største fordelene og ulempene, sånn etter hvert; ja, legge litt sjel i det.

Nå i helgen skal vi kjøpe skoleuniformer, vannkoker, brødrister og microbølgeovn. På mandag kommer TV'en og vi krysser fingrene for at møblene kommer til uken.

Jeg skal ta noen flere bilder i helgen så da kommer det vel opp noen bilder sånn etterhvert.

Velkommen til min blogg!

Dette er den første posten på min nye blogg ;)

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