February 28, 2006

What if...?


Where would Leijonakapunki be if things were different in the 50s and 60s? Would it be a slum ravaged by conflicts, a place full of racial hatred, a country torn apart by opposing political parties? Would Leijonakaupunki still exist today? Would it be part of Malaysia or Indonesia? These are the questions that PAP, the ruling party, asks Leijonakaupunki citizens every so often. As the elections is drawing closer, the ministers and other important people are making rounds in the city, giving an odd million here and there. Getting immense coverage (free advertising?) in the only TV channel, or the only newspaper, of course... Yesterday I read MM Lee's (the founding father of the nation) instructions for the citizens: "Remember, when it comes to a contest, don't just think, a protest vote... Think of the value of your house, the value of your jobs. Think of what will happen if Leijonakaupunki goes the other way." Yes? Closing my eyes and trying to imagine real hard... What will happen? Many things could happen... Maybe there would be more different voices to be heard? Maybe there would be more debate? Maybe more poeple could chip in and make this place even more great? I don't know! Nobody really knows! How to know if never try lah? :)


I liked this tunnel. If you ride a bike from one side, the fine is 1000$, if from the other, its 000$! Know from what side to enter!!! Its quite ironic, although the fines are really hefty here, people are breaking the regulations everywhere all the time! I don't have a picture, but just as we were in the tunnel, a bunch of bicyclists swooshed past without even blinking. You can get away with many things here, especially if you're a stupid ang moh.. :)

As I mentioned before, we have Leijonakaupunki Fringe festival right now and one of the events that I saw was political detainees talk last weekend. This was actually the first time they made a public appearance (they've written memoir books though). Anyhow, the speakers happened to be on the other side from the PAP in the 60s. As far as I understood, they were "guilty" of organising a workers strike, and were detained without trial for years (people were in prison without being charged for 4, 6, 9, 17, 27 years!!!). They were interrogated, kept in solitary confinement, deprived of reading and writing material and they didn't know whether they will be released tomorrow, or is there 10 more long years ahead. The surprising thing was that these detainees were not overly bitter about wasting their youth in prison. They were extremely sharp, intelligent and somewhat humorous. The kind of people you'd like to see in the round table debate on TV.. hmmm.. :)

The audience was quite young (good! they say people suffer from historical amnesia in here..:) and there was a long line of people, who wanted, but couldn't get in!!! Based on what I've heard and read, I assume there were some undercover policemen or secret service people in the crowd.. Funny atmosphere of half-curiosity, half-fear, half-trying to figure out the "planted" questions from the audience. One question about "what would you have done differently if you wouldn't have been detained?" sounded suspiciously close to some remarks that people in power like to throw back to anyone who questions them - "there's only one possible way", "don't even think that we could have achieved what we have, if we wouldn't have done things the way we did", etc. However, the answer, I think, perfectly summarized the whole discussion, nobody was talking about revolution or doing something radical. They said: "there may have been more bridging and linking of different voices and opinions. Maybe our society would have grown to be more inclusive and accepting. There's no evidence that suppression is the only way to achieve success." Yah, it kind of downed on me that this country actually missed out 40 years of dialog! The guys were not exactly criminals or revolutionary. They cared about Leijonakaupunki! What this country missed out, is a wonderful range of brilliant minds that has different opinions on different matters, but still wanted to serve the same country, the same people. They missed the oportunity...


Another event at the Fringe festival was this Bhutanese textile/Leijonakaupunki designers collaboration. We crashed to the opening night with Fity. It was so refreshing to see something happening and talk to Jo of Hansel. As far as I understand, she's about to "make it" - she's constantly mentioned among the most promising "hopes" of local fashion design scene.


...being merry in our Space Odysey... (The MediaCorp van says "the choice".. ahahaha... These guys have a true sense of humour and irony!!!)

Posted by gkligyte at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2006

Please do this! Please don't do that!


One morning I decided to document my daily 5min walk to school.


All these notices and signboards appear in just 500m walk from my apartment to my workplace. And I definitely didn't take pictures of all of them!!!


The "cats" board fascinated me since the day 1. Apparently the problem was so acute that it was worth carving it nicely in this metal plate.. That's almost like carving it in the cornerstone of our school.. :)


Not sure if "biohazard" is a joke or there's really something fishy behind that door...


The amount of signs helping to live our lives more efficiently doesn't get lesser once you enter the staff room.


Finally I safely reached my cubicle.. My friendly colleagues tampered with my name board, it is actually an anagram, using only the original letters of my name. Quite cool, isn't it? All of our names are anagrams in our office: "she robbed huge ann", "grand ale u", "cute netz"... you often see these puzzled faces of technicians when they come to fix computers or do some inventory checking: "...and you are...? ah.. ah.. okokok..."


This also reminds me that we're a design school - scrapping these beautiful G3s!!!!! I was almost crying when I saw this, I can't understand why they don't donate them or do something meaningful with them, the guys in Little India would know how to use them!!! The other pic seems very ironic to me. It reminded one of the ministers interview about introducing more accessibility to the public transportation system for the disabled. I was totally stunned when he said that "Few years ago we didn't really want the disabled to use our public transport, because we were striving for efficiency. However, now we're striving to be a more inclusive society.. blah blah..". I was completely schocked that he said it upfront - "we didn't want these people to be taking our buses and trains". Some may think that, some may know that, but how on earth someone (and a minister at that!!) can SAY that?!?!


Some more evidence that we're in a design school.


And even more proof that we have creative people here...:)

There's Leijonakaupunki Fringe festival happening now. I've been to some events alreay and I'm going to see more today. More updates later, sorry for being hasty.. Otherwise, life goes on, Kaj is in Bali, I'm going to visit him next weekend!!! Yah!!!

Posted by gkligyte at 10:39 AM | Comments (2)

February 19, 2006



I've been adopted. Not officially, but practically.. :) Kaj has left to Bali on Friday, but I yet have to start feeling lonely, - Giulianno, Joanne & Luca has been graciously feeding me every night.. :) As you may see, Luca has been totally captivated by this new blond home fixture.. Staring at me like that and NOT blinking! Not smiling, no... Poor child is seriously drugged and not feeling quite well right now (7 different bottles with different medication to be administered at different times!!!) What was crossing his mind, when he was watching me like that? :)


Hei, by the way, ever needed a nanny service? Just let us know, Kaj is a natural at handling babies! At better times Luca has been entrusted to him for up to 5 minutes!!!

I'm very impressed how the parents dare to have children here. Joanne is back to work pulling 17h shifts at times (still breastfeeding - imagine that!!), Giuliano has used up his 3 day paternity leave and works on "school stuff" on the weekends (sometimes). The perfect solution for local parents is, of course, to get a maid. Or then have retired grandparents.

The real problem with this place (and I could imagine with being a parent in this place, although the guys never really complain..) is that there's no time in here.. Don't know how to explain it, but you constantly feel that there's no time. Where does it go - I have no idea. No time for hobbies, walks, sleep, long coffee breaks and chats, writing emails to your friends and family.. No really time for thinking and imagining things, just attending to the tasks that are immediately at hand.. Regular 9 hour days could explain a little bit, but it doesn't really justify the sense of constantly trying to catch up with time.. Just got up, oups, its 11pm already...

When Kaj was quitting his job and all the mess was still on, he got an MC (ow yeah, famous Leijonakaupunki newspeak - MC is "emcee" - a Medical Certificate, one of the most vital abbreviations you have to learn!) for a week, because of the anxiety and stress at work. The MC doctor (sounds like something in between MC Hammer and Doctor Alban:) said "well, I regularly work 16 hour days. I destress by playing computer games for 15 minutes at the end of the workday" (surely thinking "you ang mohs are weak!"). Well that's a "can do" attitude for you! This is the cornerstone of the Leijonakaupunki society and economical progress!!! The taxi drivers that drive 18 hour shifts daily and go to Batam for 1 day twice a year. The construction workers that live in the construction site and work 8am-10pm days. We're privileged! I know... We sit in the air conditioned offices, work with computers and above all we can leave!


Some more of Luca's mesmeerized look.. And quick points summarized: the mess with taxes, apartment, etc is happily over. We're couple of thousands dollars poorer, but million times happier. Kaj is in Bali, looking for a house. I'm serving my notice. We're packing up and leaving on 11th April to travel in New Zealand for 5 weeks. We'll most likely be heading North-West in June... We miss you! :)

Posted by gkligyte at 10:41 AM | Comments (6)

February 13, 2006



Last two weeks were pretty tough. More so for Kaj than me. His resignation wasn't exactly graceful - there were argues, fists in the air, sleepless nights, and a bit of spitefulness... Its still not quite resolved, Kaj has to pay his tax before he leaves the country and there are still some issues that he has to settle with the company and our horror landlord.


The whole situation was so depressing that we just decided that we will GO AWAY from here in any case. Just leave and start something new somewhere else. I have this growing suspicion that "life is elsewhere". So no part time teaching, no extension of deadlines, we're leaving in April. That's set. Now I'm desperately trying to finish everything that I'm involved in at school and Kaj is just waiting..


Some colours from Kaj's trip to Thailand! Very beautiful and potentially exciting, but quite useless when one of us is stuck in Leijonakaupunki... :)


Although Kaj said that he didn't enjoy his Thailand trip that much (yes yes, because I was not there.. :), he will go and wait for me in Bali, while I'm serving my notice. I wish I could arrange some leave to come and visit him for a long weekend!


In any case, a month in Bali sounds like an excellent plan! Kaj spent almost a week not going to work (waiting for the papers to be settled) and from what I hear, he's bored to death already - reading, cleaning the house, buying grocceries, doing yoga, swimming, playing tennis... And waiting... Totally boring, right?.. :)


This is not Thailand anymore. Its back here in Laijonakaupunki. There's no good cycling around here in the East. We tried to go to Pulau Ubin again, but it took us extra 2.5hours cycling in the industrial areas till we got to the ferry.. Aaaand... I wouldn't do it again.. :)


So how? Still waiting... And waiting... Andrea had this theory, I remember that when you fly huge distances from place to place, it takes couple of days for the soul to arrive - your body is physically already there, but your soul is still on the way... I feel like my soul is already halfway somewhere else... My body still here.. :)

Maybe I should start reading THE newspaper again?!?! Or maybe watching the old cool bourdox colour TV that Yong graciously borrowed to us?!?! Maybe my brain could be fixed? :)

Posted by gkligyte at 08:06 PM | Comments (5)

February 01, 2006

Permanently temporary


Here's me trying to crack a Trinity look in my new sunglasses. The pictures are few months old - when we were flying to Thailand together last October. Today Kaj went to Thailand again. Alone this time. For a few days, fortunately. I'm busy at work, while his company is closed during the Chinese New Year. It somehow feels wrong - all this holiday, traveling and time off spent separately.

I handed in my resignation letter today and it feels like the right thing to do - just to get over this and start something new somewhere else, together again.


Ow, this is real Trinity for you! :) Theoretically this arrangement - me serving 3 months notice while Kaj is travelling around the region sounds ok. But I have to admit that I don't enjoy being here alone already (tonight being the first night when Kaj is gone for holiday.. :). Just a few days this time, but for much longer very soon (Kaj is going to spend his February in Bali!!.. :(..)

As for the possibilities of Kaj teaching here, he will probably still go and have the "chit-chat" with my bosses. But if you ask me now, it feels that his part-time teaching would be just delaying whatever life is waiting for us after Leijonakaupunki. I'm a bit tired of this permanently temporary life arrangements. I really feel that we should find something somewhere that we'd both like for a bit longer... Say next 40 years? :)


Without being overly grim, here's some wonderful advertising copy that Kaitsu found one weekend in the City Hall MRT station:

"Learn about disability issues in a two day extravaganza with fun filled games, performances, information booths and lots of fun filled activities for the whole family".

Yeah, mummy, daddy, take me there!! Great fun, but excuse me, what was it all about? :) Cheers!

Posted by gkligyte at 09:36 PM | Comments (3)