Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Interview - David Finkelstein

Interview - David Finkelstein

1-800   RID-OF-IT   Helping out when they can.  Our second annual donation of musical instruments to those who need it the most.
Coverage of our Clean up the Humber Event 2013 continues with a little insight on our owner and his family. Check out the great article on page 53.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Winter Getaways      Part Two of My Singapore Fling

The Streets of Singapore

Arab Street is the centre of the Muslim community, Kampong Glam. It really consists of many streets and alleys surrounding a mosque. When we finally stumbled into the area, the maharaja den was wailing the call to prayers, setting the atmosphere for us. Many of the shops here are devoted to exquisite fabrics. They will also custom make women's outfits very inexpensively. Other stores boasted an incredible amount of trims, notions and beads.

Oman Street scenes (near Arab Street 3) - Picture of Arab Street, Singapore
This photo of Arab Street is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 Little India was a mass of teeming people. I have never understood their art, with its improbable portrayals of intertwined bodies in bright colours. Now their art was coming to life in front of my startled eyes. Women in beautiful saris, men dressed in pants not informally in jeans or shorts, and children laughing and running around, always less than a foot away from another person. Even though a green area was just across the road, everyone obviously wanted to be on the street. We walked through an almost unbroken chain of shops. There was a garage where a mechanic was going about his work oblivious to the melee close by and a fellow repairing bikes nearly on top of the curb. The wares offered were everything from the familiar dollar store items to the bright rich 22kt. Gold jewellery. I found it impossible to purchase anything with all my senses under assault. It took a second visit, when we were ducking the monsoon rains one afternoon, to come away with any Indian souvenirs. Those we found in a huge store that been labelled Little India's Walmart, real name, The Mustafa  Centre. Five floors with an advertised 10,000 items awaited our perusal. Much of the merchandise is not Western tastes, but there are brand names to be had. These are the real McCoy, as Singapore does not allow knock-offs. Beautiful linens and many women's blouses and tops were eye catching. We purchases spices from an unbelievable selection, some of course, completely foreign to us. The food section seemed to have better prices than the mainstream supermarkets. Also more candy and cookies - but the Indian population is heavier that the tiny Asian men and women! Corrupted by the Brits, no doubt!

Having seen Chinatowns in many big cities, we didn't think this area would be as interesting as our other haunts. However, when you arrive by subway, it is suddenly in front of you as you mount the last few steps. At first a jumble of colours hits you after the sterile atmosphere of the MRT station. Then your eye sorts out the red lanterns, awnings, and umbrellas. There are lots of bright souvenirs for you to sort through, all quite inexpensive. Table runners, pillow covers, purses, traditional clothing and lingerie, all made of silky fabrics. Occasional jewellery stores have masses of the very bright gold, jade, and pearls of grey and pink. The more exclusive shops have home decor items that look like they came from the pages of our Canadian decorating magazines.

If you are not too tired you can also explore the three floors of the Chinatown Heritage Centre!

Friday, 3 January 2014

A Winter Get Away

Winter Get- Aways

Two part Series by Jacky Crawford

Our Singapore Fling

It was hot and steamy. I should also add, exotic.
We might live in the southern most part of Canada, but January holds only coldand windy days topped with grey skies. Stepping out of the Singapore airport is to be instantly transported into another world. Lush and verdant vegetation greets you: trees in unusual shapes and warm air folds around you like a velvet cloak.

Acting as my own travel agent, I had messed up on only one detail, but it was a whopper – I though we were arriving as seven in the evening, but we got in at seven am. Having been assured that we could easily use the ATMs and credit cards, we were bereft of even a Singapore dime to use the public phone. I missed my cell already!

An Avis salesperson gave us a dime and welcomed us to Singapore. He was to be the first of many helpful locals that gave us directions, advice and smiles. Adding to the fact that this city state is extremely clean, graffiti-free and safe, you have a worry free springboard to your introduction to Asia.
We had travelled Singapore Air. They are somewhat of a legend in the service they provide. The quality of the meals, served with very little in the way of plastic utensils or dishes, was superb and the attentative stewards (women coiffed and groomed as for a catwalk) was reminiscent of the days of BOAC.

However, the effects of a twenty-one hour flight is still a major case of jet lag. We kept our first days low key. Our initial outing was to the peaceful Botanical Gardens. It was filled with families strolling the many paths and gazing at the flowers and birds. This little oasis has many sculptures and all the unusual plantings are labelled. The food court was a noisy shock – we had to settle for strawberry smoothies, as we didn't have enough energy to decipher the menu, even with the pictures!

A few days later we were ready to do some serious sight-seeing. We had already found the taxis to be inexpensive. The bus and subway system is cheaper and almost as convenient. Arming ourselves with an e-z link card, we just swiped and took a seat, often on a double-decker that afforded great views.

We visited each ethnic section of Singapore in turn. Each was like entering a different country, Singaporeans have a great street life. People are to be found eating outside, shopping and bar-hopping almost twenty-four hours a day. It is not only the tourists that jam the many small streets, walking around and choosing a cafe', snapping pictures and then deciding to get one more drink before calling a cab, but the locals too. It leaves inside activities quite flat. The Museum of Civilization, interesting and beautifully presented, was quite empty, even though it was Saturday and there were areas set up to children to experiment with hands on materials.

Return to this site to read about Singapore's Streets!