Friday, April 26, 2013

Chewing the Fat

According to the Urban Dictionary, "Chewing the Fat" means, "A verb, used in general conversation, in informal conversation. It refers to the act of talking, often rubbish, merely to pass time." This is what a gathering of my kitty friends do on a weekly basis in the vicinity of the Fullerton Hotel on Boat Quay (pronounced key...I don't know why...).
We meet near the bronze sculpture of a mama cat and her kittens called "Kucinta Cats" located on the Cavenagh Bridge. The bridge connects the Fullerton to the Asian Cultures Museum.  

The six of us meet at around noon on Tuesdays to discuss what is going on in our lives. There is a certain amount of embellishment in our stories but it is all in fun. When one of us goes overboard we all relish in making fun of them and then try to outdo them with our own stories.
Here are my kitty friends:

Sheila is rather quiet and probably the smartest of all of us. She listens intently to our stories and then calmly tells us if we get out of hand or if our yarns are completely unbelievable.

Jade is the most beautiful of all of us and she knows it. She constantly grooms herself and poses for pictures. Look at how she jumped on this green chair because it showed off her matching green eyes.

Jack is the most adventurous of the group and can't stand still. His stories are the most exciting ones and I tend to believe most of them. He has no fear and gets in lots of fights as evidenced by his broken tail.

Scoot sleeps a lot. He is an outdoor kitty but is well taken care of. His adventures always involve motor scooter rides he takes with his dad on an oversized scooter. He doesn't wear a helmet, which troubles me, but he tells us his dad is having trouble finding him the right size.

Mao Mao is the most pampered of us all. She claims she has a tiara and knowing her personality, we believe her!
She says she is an empress who loves South Korean rap videos and has a crush on G-Dragon.

This is me (Purrla) and I know, you know a lot about me. By the way...all of my stories are true although my "friends" only believe about half of them.

Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 Singapore Transplant Games

Yesterday was another day to explore. Mom and Dad left the house early so I made my escape and jumped on a bus knowing it was going to be a great day. I had no idea where the bus was going or where I was going to jump off but I felt excited about my prospects.
I ended up at the Toa Payoh Stadium. There were a lot of people congregating around the property which consists of a huge stadium with a beautiful track as well as an  attached indoor sports arena and administration offices.
As I approached I was met by Jock, a gray cat with a stubby tail. He lives on the grounds and the administrative secretaries take care of grooming and feeding him. He told me he has a great life because he gets to watch all sorts of sporting events. He was very excited about this day because the stadium was the site of the 2013 Singapore Transplant Games!
The Transplant Games are held every 2 years as a way to celebrate the enriched lives of people who received organs from generous donors. The recipients take part in friendly competition in various activities including track and field, badminton, bowling, and table tennis.
One of the most inspiring participants I was able to watch was a gentleman who received a donated kidney in 1994 and was a fierce competitor in table tennis and badminton. He actually had taken part in the world transplant games held in Sweden in 2011!
At mid day there was a break in the activities and lunch was served to all. The organ recipients had green shirts, the transplant recipient families wore blue shirts and the volunteers were identified by their red shirts.
Jock told me to follow him if I wanted some of the food. I said, "We don't have colored shirts on. How will we get a meal?" He just responded, "Watch me and follow my cue.."
He sauntered up to one of the volunteers handing out boxed lunches, rubbed up against her and started to purr. I did the same and voila... we were both presented with opened up boxes of warm and delicious people food!
I hated to leave but it was getting late so I said my good byes to Jock and bounded back to the bus stop to head home.
A phrase I learned while at the games was, "Don't take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here." I wish I could donate my organs when I don't need them anymore but I don't think they take kitty parts.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Memories at Old Ford Factory

Today my adventures took me to an interesting but disturbing place. As always I randomly selected a bus for my venture and ended up at a the lush green Bukit Timah Nature Park. I wandered around the eastern edges of the park and came across a building with a sign that said "No Pets Allowed". I was annoyed at the thought that anyone would want to keep ME out of their establishment. As I passed the main entrance, a scholarly looking Siamese cat  appeared and asked me what my name was. His name was Simon (yes...Simon the Siamese) and asked me if I wanted to enter the building. I told him, "Yes I want to but the sign says No Pets Allowed!"
Simon replied, " You didn't look at the sign very closely did you? Look at the picture on the sign...You don't look like a dog to me."
He was right of course so in we went. The building is called "Memories at Old Ford Factory" and Simon told me he is the docent for curious kitties.
The building was originally built in October 1941as the first Ford factory in Southeast Asia. A few months later the British started to use the facility to put together military aircraft that had been shipped to Singapore in crates. All the aircraft were subsequently flown out when things started to look bleak for the allies as the Japanese were swiftly taking over all of Malaysia

On 15 Feb 1942, in this plant, Lt General Percival signed surrender paperwork and handed it over to Lt General Tomoyuki (AKA Tiger of Malaya) of the Japanese Army. The day became known as Black Sunday. 130,000 allied troops and 3000 civilians were imprisoned for 44 Months and subjected to horrible treatment. One of the civilians, William Haxworth, secretly drew 300 cartoons depicting life under imprisonment to help improve moral. However as time passed the pictures of the prisoners slowly started to show the malnutrition they were being subjected to.
After WWII General Percival retired but the Tiger of Malaya was tried and executed for war atrocities in 1945.
In 1947 the building was turned back into a Ford factory and was used to assemble cars until 1980. It was turned into a museum in 2006.
Simon taught me a lot but I was really bummed out after my visit. "War is Hell". I was so pleased to notice a sculpture in front of the museum as I was leaving entitled "Peace".


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kampong Glam Historical District

I jumped on another double decker bus today and jumped off in an interesting historical area of Singapore called Kampong Glam. The corner stones of the district are the Sultan Palace and the Masjid Sultan Mosque. The Malay Heritage Centre is also located in this area as well as a number of very colorful little shops all along numerous streets, the most famous of which is Arab street. There are silk, rug, dress, and non alcoholic perfume mini stores as well as lots of eateries specializing in local flavors.

I overheard a tour guide telling a group of tourists  that when the Sultan decided to locate here he had to have a Mosque and a residence for his entourage built next to his palace. Another interesting detail learned is that the Mosque was built with donations from believers from all economic levels. The poor donated old bottles that were crushed and used to create the black circle around the base of the dome.

As I was walking around soaking in the sites I went down a small alley and came across the Blu Jaz Club. It was the middle of the morning so it was not open. A good natured lady that was working there saw me and assumed I was hungry. (She was right!) She leaned over and petted me and then went inside the kitchen door. A few minutes later she came back out with a great smelling bowl of fish chowder for me. I licked her hand in appreciation and then chowed down. The spicy soup was great and warmed my tummy. I hated to leave but knew I needed to head back home.

On my way back to the bus stop it started to pour down rain. I ran into a covered shopping "mall" called Bugis Street. It is a three story building crammed full of tiny stores specializing in knock off clothes, watches, shoes and lots of other "junk". The place kept me out of the rain but it was packed with people, none of which cared if they bumped into me or stepped on my toes. I know as a cat I am a lot shorter and hard to see in crowds but my goodness attention folks! There was a sign that said, "I love Bugis Street" but my feeling is, "I HATE Bugis Street"!
I was so glad when it stopped raining. I dashed out of that place as fast as I could.
Kampong Glam was very interesting but I don't think I'll be going back to Bugis Street.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What was I doing in a tea shop?

I was prowling along Tanjong Pagar Road on the outskirts of Chinatown on a very hot day. The heat and humidity in Singapore has really been making me shed a lot. I spotted a shop with an open door, ran in and hid under a counter. The air conditioning and cool tile floor were so refreshing!
The shop is called Yixing Xuan Teahouse and is owned by Mr Vincent Low, a very accomplished man who had been a banker with an MBA from Brunel University in West London. He decided to give up that lifestyle to study tea in China and Taiwan and then open his tea shop in Singapore. The shop has a beautiful display of teas, tea pots, and other tea related paraphernalia. It also has a small restaurant specializing in dim sum.
In the rear portion of the store is a small lecture room. Mr Low has been  conducting lectures on the history (tea has been around for 4000 years) and culture of tea growing and preparation since 1989. As I hid under the counter I was fortunate that a group of 8 people were attending one of his lectures. I was fascinated to learn about the ceremony involved in true tea enjoyment.
Schools send their kids on field trips here and corporations have team building events here as well. Many famous personalities have visited the shop including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Now another famous celebrity ,Purrla, has been here as well!


Monday, April 1, 2013

18,000 Eurasians in Singapore

I left my home on a very hot Saturday to do a little more exploring. There are really a lot of cultural things to do here in Singapore!
The Eurasian Club is a very informative place to learn about a little known but very influential Singapore ethnic group. There have been many Eurasians in such fields as sports, music, politics and the military.  However, there now remains only about 18,000 of this cultural group  in Singapore.
I slipped, undetected, into a tour group and learned a lot from Quentin Pereira, the operator of Quentin's restaurant which is in the clubs building.
Eurasians are people of mixed marriages between Asians and Europeans and most are Christians. They are also very well educated.
The building has a very interesting museum which has sections dedicated to famous Eurasians, the history of explorers who traveled to South Asia from Portugal and from China, and the difficult times experienced by Singaporeans during the Japanese occupation in WWII. There is also a beautiful tile map of Lisbon donated to the club by the ambassador of Portugal.

The tourists got a great meal in a neat partitioned off tray at the end of the tour. I sneaked into the kitchen where someone left one of the trays so I got to try everything too. There was Chicken Devil Curry, Prawn Bostador, a great mango and onion salad, and rice. Desert was Sugee Cake which has no flour but lots of crushed almonds.

After the meal a very nice girl came out to show the Jinkli Nona (Fair Maiden) dance. She needed a partner so the youngest guy in the group was pulled in to help out. He was a very good sport and caught on to the dance steps very quickly.

Speaking of quickly...I had to run out fast to catch my bus. I beat Robbie and Bill home.
I wonder where they went today?