October 26, 2004

Things you learn while living in tropics

Finally! The blog has been transfered to its permanent space so you can post comments again! Please, do! Its a pleasure to realize that somebody is reading this, you know... There are few glitches that need to be fixed, so be patient, but it will get back to normal very soon!


This is what I saw through our window one day. Hmm.. What could it be? I saw it happening again and again after few days. I asked our security guy about it and he explained that they do "fogging". Supposed to kill mosqitos that spread dengue fever. This fog actually contains some poison. (Poor guy down there, what a job he has...) Malaria is not a risk here, but dengue fever is on the rise. It is a pretty vicious deadly desease and there's no medical cure. If your immunity system is strong enough, you'll survive. There has been couple of thousands dengue cases in the island this year. Apart from that, last week there was an outbreak of cholera in Leijonakaupunki - 8 cases (1 person dead). They suspect that all the people have contracted it through eating in one food court. However, people continued happily slurping their food in the very same food court the day after the news came... Life is pretty exciting here.


What happens to you if you stay longer in the tropics is that you develop a "panda look" - black circles around your eyes. That's because you drink about 4-5 liters of water every day. What happens a bit later is that you start getting cramps (they say thats due to the lack of minerals in the body). Got those already. Maybe I should start chewing some soil to get more minerals? Also weight drops some 4kg (at least mine), although I have 2 warm meals a day compared to 1 or none in Finland.. I guess the noodles explain the slender looks of many Asians.


Also your personal space contracts. It becomes ok to stand very near another person. Also you learn crossing the street - if you see a mass of people coming in front of you, you're not supposed to change your trajectory. Just walk straight and at the very last moment someone will give you space. All the confusion happens when you want to be polite. Entering the train, you should push inside before other people leave, so maybe you get a seat. Also don't look around if there's people more in need for the seat, just squeeze yourself in. If you thought that people don't let you exit the metro in Helsinki, you should try exiting the train here..


Also "kopi" starts tasting better than capucino. "Kopi" is a tar black coffee and half of the cup is sweet milk. So its sweet and full of killing cofeine, just what you need to start a day. You also stop using salt sprinkler, because salt just doesn't come out through those little holes. It gets stuck because of humidity. So, use your salt in spoonfulls (also helps to restore the minerals and reduce your cramps) Since it started raining more often, the laudry doesn't get dry for 2-3 days and when you lie in bed in the evening, the sheets are a bit humid. But it is warm, so it doesn't matter.



Another danger that you start thinking about is, what if a body-board hits you in the face and you get a blue-eye and you need to go to a job interview next week.. :) Yeah, last weekend I've been excercising my new role of "surfer duddess". Since it is raining quite often, its much better to stay in the water all the time while you're in the beach. Few times I caught some really big waves that carried me all the way to the shore. But most often I was drinking water through my mouth and nose... Yoko (on the left) is real "surfer duddess". She can actually stand on the board and has the right attitude.


Posted by gkligyte at 07:09 PM | Comments (6)

October 23, 2004

Am I loosing the edge?


My sister told me yesterday that my blog is not interesting anymore. She said it was "too censored", "too nice" and becoming "like a travel brochure".. Hmm.. Made me think seriously. Why I don't "see" things anymore? These days I could just walk down the street and there's nothing that would catch my eye as something "spectacular" or "worth taking picture of". Did I stop "seeing" and start "living" in Leijonakaupunki?

I also read couple of "super-smart" weblogs lately that were very sarcastic about things. I wasn't entertained, I couldn't help thinking, "why are these people so bitter"? Am I becoming too "square" and "plain" or what?

I also noticed that I don't have the usual autumn sadness, you know, the smell of rotting leaves, the feeling of things passing away, the sense of shortness of life.. All these sensations that may make you write haiku or stare at foggy brownish fields for hours.. The clear crisp autumn weather with some sadness in the air.. Nothing like that here..

My response to my sister could be: "Everything also want! Free one is it? Yes, (grab, grab...snatch) Kiasu (I first, you second.) (I also have ah!)" :) That is Singlish. I'm becoming Leijonakaupunkilainen, lah. No weird thoughts, no.. Shopping is good good, ah.


Coming back to my tourist reporter duties - there's new celebrations coming. Deepavali for Indians and Hari Raya for Muslims. Deepavali is like Christmas, the festival of lights. People do special ceremonies in the temples (walk on burning charcoal and yogi stuff like that, I'll try to go and see one of those ceremonies someday). Hari Raya comes after Ramadan. During Ramadan Muslims cannot eat or drink while its still light outdoors. They have to do special prayers and when the night falls, they can indulge into very special meals. I think it is very funny that it is supposed to be a fasting month to clean your body, so I would imagine that you should be reserved about the food in general. But there's plenty of advertisements of hotels offering huge buffet "breaking the fast" dinners. You may even travel to Malaysia to "break fast", because it is "cheap cheap, lah". I'd like to do that one day..

Otherwise, I think it is beautiful, this society, equally respecting and appreciating all the cultural traditions and its ethnic groups. There's holidays for everyone - Christmas, Chinese new Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali. I'm very very impressed! Is it a utopia where lions and lambs are living peacefully together?..


Yesterday I was walking to botanical gardens and although monsoon season is coming and it rains almost every day, for some reason I couldn't bother to carry an umbrella with me. Of course, it started dripping after a while. And raining quite seriously very soon. I was just standing under a tree, thinking what to do, there was no shelter in the street, just fences and trees. Then a car stopped next to me and the lady inside asked if I needed a ride. As I got into the car, it started pouring really badly. Imagine tropical rain - water dropping with such a power, that it splashes from the ground up to your knees. Even if you have umbrella, you're soked immediately. So the lady took me to the bus stop and as I said I didn't have an umbrella, she just gave me one, because "she has a lot of them in her car".. I was just so thankful to this lady... So this transformation that is happening in me - maybe I'm becoming "plain", but possibly also learning to be good-hearted and considerate? Why not? You will not recognize me when you meet me again.. :)

Posted by gkligyte at 04:25 PM | Comments (3)

October 20, 2004

What makes people Leijonakaupunkilaiset?


Once again, sorry to keep you waiting, the servers in Media Lab are still under construction, so you can't see or add any comments.. Maybe I'll start getting more emails because of that (this blog actually reduced quite a lot my email trafic.. hmm..)


I'm back to normal: job search, web browsing, shopping, sightseeing. Plus a course on Finnish Media and Communication System that I am teaching in Tampere University for 2 weeks already. Very funny situation - a Lithuanian living in Leijonakaupunki teaching in a Finnish university about Finnish media.. (I use a web-based learning environment if you wonder how I am capable to do that). When I called the Finnish tax office, they're very confused about everything. Their job definitely got more difficult with the development of communication technologies and (yes!) globalization - all these people having weird jobs and life situations... The course goes very nicely, the students and tutors are extremely active and intelligent, so we have very high level conversations.. It takes up quite a bit of my time and my work chair is quite uncomfortable. So I have a sore butt and a very clever brain. The completely networked homo futuro, I am..


It has been pleasantly raining last few days. The weather got chilly to the point where cold shower doesn't feel too pleasant. Yes yes, I forgot what hot water is, you don't need it here.. Rain is very welcome here, the picture of the sun covered in smoky clouds (caused by burning forest from Indonesia, they say) may give some idea of the quality of air in Leijonakaupunki sometimes. It "breathes" really different after the rain.


We went to East Coast Park last weekend and Kaj promised to take up his windsurfing hobby.. The water seems to be very dirty (look at all the tanker ships in the horizon), so I didn't make any promises...


We passed past Bayshore condominium, one of the places we saw when we were looking for a flat. Kaj was still very much into the idea of living in a place like that. Because of the "water features", "view to offer", "gym" and "full facilities". I personally think that these places are quite horrible, fenced expatriate ghettos, but, of course, it would be nice to have a sauna and a nice park downstairs (not a major construction site, like in our home)..


While most of the Leijonakaupunki live in places like that. There's blocks and blocks of HDB (Housing Development Board) houses window to window facing each other all around the island. Pretty depressing - some kind of soviet style idyll. However, seems that people are quite happy about that kind of living. They get support from the government for purchasing flats in HDB apartment houses and there's usually good transport connections, shopping, community centers and libraries around. However, there's a saying that the ultimate goal for all Leijonakaupunkilaiset is 6 Cs: credit card, condominium, cash, country club, car and career. I guess this is supposed to illustrate the materialism prevailing in this country. But in this website Leijonakaupunkilaiset say what they feel really makes them Leijonakaupunkilaiset, for example: Instant trees (?), The smell of chicken rice in the office, Shading our head with a newspaper (I learned that too), Searching for food's Holy Grail (oh yes, I'm deeply involved in this already), Talking with "foodie" friends about other great local places to eat while eating at an already great place, etc. Have a look!

Posted by gkligyte at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

My weblog is a bit broken

Sorry for not updating the blog for so long - there was some reshufling of servers in Media Lab and some of the things got broken. Lets see if this goes through. (Your comments are gone for the time being, that's so sad, basically the only reason I was writing this.. :)

Everything else seems to work, keep an eye, there might be new things coming soon!

Posted by gkligyte at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2004

Birthday blues

My blog is under attack! Just noticed that there's spam in the comment area, check out the comments on 28 of September. I'm very distressed about this! Never heard of that and after googling around I found that it is a known problem and there are solutions. However, I think it is sick!


I had my 16th birthday last Friday (well, one year here or there, big difference!!) I have put our address to the sidebar of the blog (on the left, see?), just in case if somebody would like to send something.. :) Nothing came.. I'm so forgotten here in this God's forsaken place.. New technologies make interactions much easier for people, but in some ways destroys some nice practices... No birthday postcards, but e-cards these days... Thanks a lot, it was great to receive those (the sad thing is that I can not really glue them to my fridge..:) In fact, the birthday itself was quite depressing, the image on the left is my birthday dinner. Yes yes. Alone. Kaj was working till 24:00 that night. Don't try this at home (having birthday dinner alone), its actually no fun at all. Kaj had to try hard and "buy out his fault" of working 16 hours in a row (very expensively) next night. Thank you, Kaitsuli!



On Saturday we walked along the canal. It is very nice, if you come to Leijonakaupunki, we'll definitely go for a walk there. Once again, the old colonial stuff and new cutting edge architecture go nicely side by side. The image of me is completely staged and directed (Kaj told me to do everything, so my stupid looks is his fault), but behind me you can see the Esplanade Theater building. I've never been inside, but from the outside it looks really great - like a spiky durian (the famous stinky fruit) or a hedgehog (how do you spell it properly?) The only show they currently have is Mamma Mia! musical according to ABBA tunes. So maybe you don't wonder why we've never been inside.. I've read an article today criticising Asian cities allowing Western architects to mess around as if in their own playground all around the Asia. There's tens of star-architects involved in hundreds of constructions (especially in Beijing because of the Olympics, of course). The budgets are enormous, but the buildings are impractical and often become completely abandoned at the end, but on the other hand, I think it is nice to have that kind of special landmarks appearing instead of glass boxes everywhere.


On Sunday we took a boat to the Desaru beach in Malaysia. We saw some romantically burning oil platform on the way (so we thought), but later on it appeared to be some Indonesian cargo ship that has caught fire. There was a major rescue operation in the sea while we peacefully had our breakfast.



Couple of Kaj's colleagues are surfer "dudes" and they took as along to their first surfing trip of this monsoon season (it starts in late October and continues till February. During that time it rains a bit more often, gets a bit chillier, maybe average +27C degrees and on the West coast the waves get bigger). There's a wonderful surfing-white-sand beach destination within 45min boat trip from Leijonakaupunki and these guys go there almost every weekend. I hope we'll visit this beach about as frequently as they do this year!! Beats staying in a dusty hot city for a weekend, for sure!



Maybe there's still a chance for me to become a surfer "duddess". I tried a body-board, a small floating board that you just have to lie on and try to catch a wave (you can't stand on it, so its much easier than real surfing). Its a lot of fun, not just floating in water, but actually doing something, all the time looking for good wave to surf, paddling, etc... A new hobby? Thanks God, its cheap this time!! (after trying scuba-diving, windsurfing...:)


Reading on the beach looks (also in my memories) a bit nicer than what it really is - lots of sticky sand everywhere, crawling bugs, gusts of wind messing around with the book, but yes yes, I can bear this.. :)


So the birthday weekend was quite fantastic afterall.


Although a bit tiring...


But after getting to know Fity and Jean, Gary's and Sean's girlfriends, I think I will not have to be lonely on my next birthday, even if Kaj works!

Posted by gkligyte at 09:41 PM | Comments (1)

October 04, 2004

One more weekend mission accomplished


Leijonakaupunki is a small brave nation that has a say in South East Asia. The prime minister has visited Taiwan couple of months ago on a friendly 'non-official' visit and China reacted with a political chill. The prime minister's Lee's inaugural speach was not reported in Chinese media, also some Leijonakaupunkilaiset singers were not allowed to perform in China. Somehow the threat of Chinese-Taiwanese war is much more real here. There's daily accounts on Taiwan testing misiles that could hit Shanhai, buying weapons from the US, etc.


Also the significance of the global political players is completely different from the picture that you have while living in Europe. Australia all of a sudden becomes a bully that is very eager 'to fight terorism' in neighbouring countries (Indonesia, Malaysia), somehow downplaying the overwhelming position of the US. India, Pakistan, Japan, Russia and Iraq, of course, are all the time in the center of attention. There's very very few news from Europe (something about Nokia from Finland, something about French actor murderer from Lithuania. Very interesting...) Basically nothing from Africa. Want it or not, the scope and interest shifts while being here.


Talking about some lighter issues - there's something about women's shoes fashion that I don't get. You see these girls runing around the office, strolling around in the town, doing massive shopping and wearing these impossible shoes: extremely high heels and few straps that form some kind of thing that somehow manages to keep on your feet. The most attractive view is when they try to climb downstairs - horrible sound, both hands holding the stair rail and completely crippled body. I bought one pair of shoes like that. I wear them in job interviews, but usually I change 5min before entering the office. Couldn't bear more of that. Is there something historical, going back to the Chinese tradition of feet binding?



Last weekend was rich in different kinds of events and things happening - it started with me finding a magnificent Arts Museum opening party with food and wine pooring freely, while Kaj was changing his style and exploring new possibilities for social interaction with the 'boys' from work.



It somehow happens that on the weekends we engage into these massive missions of 'doing something'. Last weekend it was Jurong birds park. There were several cages that you could enter freely and the birds were flying (and shitting) around. Apart from scorching sun and about +35C degrees, it was quite bearable. There were even penguins! The junior penguins looked quite ugly - very big and hairy. They're most funny when you see them swimming under water. After this weekend it feels again that we need to rest...

By the way, have you tried the Clusty search engine? Supposed to be clustering the results, but to my opinion it is not very smart yet. I don't think it will ever kill Google...

Posted by gkligyte at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2004

Art scene in Leijonakaupunki


If you thought that this is from Leijonakaupunki, think again.. Where the artist could come from? Well.. Not Lithuanian, not Finnish.. Think... Well, not that it would really matter. He's German. Its Jim Avignon (the name certainly sounds French..) Not that I'd be super excited about his work (althogh it is pleasant for the eye), but this painting really touched my heart...

Why? Yesterday I went for 'informal' job interview to Temasek Polytechnic and it appeared that they may be looking for someone just like me... It was the first time in a job interview that I didn't have to hide or downplay the things that I've been working on few last years, they seemed to recognize, understand and agree with most of the stuff.. In fact, I don't really want to talk about it, you know, "cool today, cold tomorrow".. Makes you think. So, I'll tell you more once something more happens.


Otherwise, I've been exploring the arts scene here - there's a Creative Spaces event happening right now, where some German artists that do 'art-in-between' are mingling with the local art students and have shows every night. Yesterday I went to a show by a flip-book artist and there was one where a woman flashed her breasts in front of camera, I'm pretty sure it was illegal and he could have faced problems if they would have discovered this flip-book on the border. People just giggled.

Tonight I plan to go to an arts event where "Jogjakarta artists Venzha and The House of Natural Fiber will generate soundscapes through electromagnetic waves while tatooing their bodies". No kidding. Straight quote from the paper! That kind of art really crosses the borders... I'm very curious.


Posted by gkligyte at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)