Monday, May 09, 2005

The Global Village Game : by Leigh Pasqual

"Leigh Pasqual" wrote:
Hi everyone,

Maybe I'm abusing this list, because Ling slyly made me a
moderator, but in the interest of keeping things going - and its really
nice that so many of us have signed up, everyone's coming out of the
woodwork!! - I thought I would suggest a 'game' we could all
respond to (or not).

Pam Oei is as we speak visiting me in NY for a few weeks, and I've given her and her boyfriend Terry a Questionnaire/form that they have to fill out while they're here. The form is meant to help them to experience life in NY as NON-TOURISTS, ie basically everyday life for people living here, ie MINUS the broadway shows, the Met, and going to Times Square to look at the pretty lighted billboards.

The form is not easy. Eg. One task is to order food at a deli at
lunchtime in a business-y area. (what tourists often don't know
about NY delis at lunchtime is that you better know EXACTLY what you
want to eat, or get out of the bloody line. or even the bloody deli.
and too bad if you can't hear the server properly over the noise.)
Anyway Pam finally did this today, and she almost died. These are her
exact words via sms "OK just went deli. F%^&^ing F^&*$#%$^ing STRESS. I
don't even know what I ordered man. Will find out soon."
I killed myself laughing.

So here's what I want to suggest: For those of us living in
different countries, or who've lived in different countries in the last 10
years - come up with 5 things about life in those countries that
you just will never find out in some tourist guidebook. I think it'll
be interesting, plus who knows, if any of us visit, we'll be a bit
less clueless. For those of us not living in different countries, but
who have babies (or both)- please apply the 5 points to things no one
ever tells you when you have a baby (not even your mum).

In the interest of getting the ball rolling, (and ending this damn
long email) here are some of my own points:
- before you take the subway in NY (especially over the weekend),
it is HIGHLY advisable to check the subway website for service

I cannot tell you the no of times I've ended up in Brooklyn or
Queens because of announcements that go like this "This is the
cbhasoidyqwyeu NR train tosakdhasuida going express from eweuywauf
to aurabjfbuib. No trains will be running from rweiryaeihrawoiyr to
waerwuihnbasocj." (Vickie, right?)
- if you have a choice, fly into Newark airport, not JFK. The
petty power mongers in JFK will treat you like a criminal even before
you show them your passport. Airport people in New Jersey are 100
times nicer.

- contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers are not grumpy. They are
just impatient. So if you generally walk fast, talk fast, eat fast
and like to honk your car horn for at least 2 minutes at a
stretch, you'll find that they're all actually really friendly.
That's it from me, hopefully some of us will play my game. (Pam?

Leigh Pasqual - Copyrights 2005


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

SOD THE FORM - Enjoy the City!

As a seasoned traveller to New York and ironically being based there now, I have found this without qualifications rendition of trying to experience life in New York as a “Non-Tourist” rather amusing and completely misleading.

1) New Yorkers love their city, especially Manhattanites. Deli’s are great and they are by far one of the best things about that city. The food selection is great. So what is the point of deciding what the hell you want to eat well before you can witness the epicure delights that are available in these deli’s. If you get crap service in one deli, get out of there and walk into another. There’s plenty to choose from and even my 15 month old knows how to order at a deli and get’s served exactly what she has ordered so it does not have to be a long drawn out exercise by any stretched of the imagination.

2) The Subway system in New York is clearly not the MRT system in Singapore or the MTR in Hong Kong. Firstly the space the subway system covers is a lot more vast that the well organised, structured system that is the MTR or the MRT covering a mush smaller space. Unless you have access to the web which will be doubtful if you are there as a tourist, just check with the ticket guys or better still, hop on and enjoy the ride. Great experience. I have never hopped on the incorrect train or ended up in Brooklyn when I don’t want to so unless you are completely incapable of reading or speaking, you should be ok.

3) Don’t fly into Newark if you are staying in Manhattan unless you want your first memory of NY to be the industrial, uneventful intensity that is New Jersey. If you get stuck in the Holland Tunnel, you would wish you had stayed at home instead. One of the best things about coming into Manhattan if you fly into JFK is the awesome view from Brooklyn into Manhattan and even after all this time, takes my breath away. The immigration control at JFK is only doing their job so give them a break. FYI, me nor my family have ever had any problems at the author of this article suggests.

4) New Yorkers as I said love their city. So they should – it’s a great place and trust me, just get into the groove of everything the city has to offer. If you are there as a tourist, experience it as a tourist and the rest will flow.

Lastly, don’t agree to do fill out a form or anything puerile like that – you are on holiday, sod the form, get out there and enjoy.

p/s: Got to “Gray’s Papaya’s” for the best NY hot dogs!

6:34 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

wouldn't it be more fun to play another CHIJ game of "where are they now?"

Ever wondered what has happened to all the "famous" ex IJ'ans of yesteryear?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Straits Times – 27/5/2006

ONE of the worst things about living
in Singapore is that it is hard to
escape your past.

You can balloon in size, alter
your hairstyle, move house or
even change your name, and there
will still be a chance that a class
mate from Primary 1 may spot
you at a restaurant or shopping
mall and mark the moment with a
screech that drowns out the muzak.

But if you're not trying to escape,
being in this global kampung
makes it easy to keep in touch
with old friends, even those who
have emigrated. IDD, fax and
more recently, mobile phones and
e-mail, make it even easier to stay
in touch with those who care to
maintain ties.

Back in the distant 1980s, an
ACS schoolmate who had been
away in the US since his university
days, settled back here and asked
himself "Where is everybody?" He
rounded up several dozen and
over drinks, declared it was time to
organise a reunion for the class of

Since then, that class and surviving
teachers have held re unions every
five years or so, while a smaller group
meets more frequently over dinner.
It was after one of those dinners that
I declared it was time that someone
organised a reunion for the Convent of
the Holy Infant Jesus class of 1966.

In 2004, the death of two of my
ACS schoolmates settled who that
someone would be - me.

Finding my CHIJ schoolmates
has proved somewhat more difficult
since women of my generation tended
to change their names, sometimes on
starting a career, and often when they get married.
This makes the telephone directory rather less
useful than in hunting down the guys.

After four years of haphazard
gathering, I have about 50 names
with e-mail addresses or telephone
numbers attached, but I still wonder
what happened to some of my
old chums. There had been one
reunion organized before, a dinner
sometime in the 1980s, but probably
none since then.

Leafing through my old photo
albums years ago, I would wonder especially
what had happened to my chum Shanta Marar,
part of a gang of four pictured scrutinizing
leaves in the Botanic Gardens.

Unfortunately, those albums
have now gone walkabout some
where in the mess that is my apartment.
But I know that somewhere in them are
pictures of Low Sook Keow pictured in
front of her family's provision shop in
Rochor Road; Rita Tann who used to live
in Devonshire Road who became a stewardess;
and Rita Ong, whom it was rumoured had married
into a royal family in Malaysia.

Many other classmates had left
Singapore years ago, including
Brenda Harmes, who married
young and left for England with
her soldier husband and their baby;
and Teresa Oorloff, who may
still be in England.

When I started trying to track
down my school chums four years
ago, some of the dozen or so who
received those early e-mails responded
with comments along the lines of
"Eh, this is only 2002 lah!".

As e-mails flew back and forth
over the months and years, more
names surfaced in our collective
memory banks and we helped one
another to name and locate the
pieces in the jigsaw.

Among them were Ann Morton,
Rosalind Wee, Agnes Puspalm,
Dolly Chan, Delfina Undasan,
Priscilla Undasan, Nelly Lee,
Cecilia Monteiro a.k.a Monty,
Katherine Wong, Joyce Yzelman,
Fenelia Tan, Catherine Lim,
Madeline Tan, Audrey Johnson,
Tan Chor Jee, Susan Seetho,
Simonele Mercier, Sundari Govindarajoo,
Loa Pia Yong, Lata Advani, Joan
Mosbergen, Malvina Chow, Joyce
Yzelman, Carolyn Milne, Penny Webb,
Ida de Souza, Margaret Pereira, Amy Daniel,
Philomena Reddy, Heather Siddons,
Lynne Ong, Cecilia Soliano, Rebecca Lim,
Winnifred Cheng ,Bernadette
de Souza, Annie Chen, Jennifer
Chelliah, Annie Lee, Lindy Tibbetts,
Penny Tham, Marianne Wiederkehr,
and the lone Japanese classmate, Yasuko,
whose surname no one could recall.

Some surfaced more quickly.
Chance encounters in restaurants,
supermarkets, through church and
even overseas added more names,
telephone numbers and e-mail
addresses to the list.

From the CHIJ diaspora, there
was Monty, for example, had settled
in Perth following a shipboard
romance on her way to Australia.
Carolyn and Penny had also settled in
Australia. Maria Lau was now Sister Maria.
Lata, who had settled in the USA by way
of Liberia, was now in Pennsylvania.
Heather, once the glamour girl of
Singapore athletics, was still glamorous
and had also settled in the USA.
Lynne and Jennifer had married and
settled in England.

At one point about a year ago,
things seemed to be going no
where and more than once, I felt
like quitting. Never mind, said Denyse.
Even if only 10 of us are there,
we'll have fun, she said.

But when the search got going
again, sad news emerged.

Among those no longer with us
was Priscilla. I had last bumped in
to Pris more than 25 years ago, at
an Orchard Road boutique where
she had worked.

My domestic science buddy Simone
had died last year. I had not seen her
since a chance encounter at the
American Club some time around 1969.

And when I finally saw Joyce
again, it was at her wake last year.
Denyse saw the obituary and
telephoned me with the news.

Joyce and I had bumped into
each other once or twice and
perhaps had mumbled something
about having lunch together
sometime. Why had I left it so late?

Joyce was one of the chums from school
with whom I connected because we were
incapable of being neat.
Even before the bell rang for morning assembly,
she, Rita Ong and I would usually be sweaty,
scruffy and scrambling to find the belts to our
uniforms after an early morning round of hopscotch.

As Denyse and I sat at the void
deck that windy, rainy afternoon
chatting with Joyce's brother, I
realized that whatever happened,
even if only a fraction of the 200-
plus classmates showed up at the reunion,
all the effort would be worth it.
I didn't want to wait till another
funeral moved me to act.

So ladies, will you come? For
those who weren't at the last reunion,
the August reunion may be the first
time in 40 years that many of us will have
seen one another. And it may be the last.

9:08 AM  
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