Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Surprising Singapore

First, I was brought up short by the serious machine guns worn casually by the security guards at the airport. I had a brief, disorienting flashback to my little run-in with them in Beirut. Then, Singapore turned out to be astonishingly green. Any 12-year-old could have told me it was tropical but I hadn’t given it much thought – perhaps I was just subconsciously expecting blindingly swank towers rising into dehydrated skies.

There was much to be surprised at. The unexpectedness of Tamil announcements in the subway stations, which did not wane even after a whole week. (I often took the train simply to hear “mind the gap” in Tamil and chortle silently.) The improbability of a sit-down dinner in a cable car. One bewildering street of giant malls connected by a calmly logical series of underpasses. A startlingly familiar Dome cafe in a very alien Chinatown. Sudden thunderstorms. Equally sudden changes of ambience with every turning you take.

The famous Underwater World was surprisingly small. The iconic merlion made a surprisingly small impression. But the dolphins were astounding, incredible, extraordinary, fantastic. So was the chilli crab. The zoo came a close second.

There’s an amazing expanse of rainforest in the middle of the city. And it hasn’t been imported. There’s a stunning reservoir running through the zoo and it isn’t artificial. All the people who said “sterile” while describing Singapore to me have clearly never lived in Dubai.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Some enchanted evening, you'll ignore a stranger

As of an hour ago, Shaadi.com was receiving 1,842,342 visits per day. Jeevansathi.com was at 372,742 visits. Bharath Matrimony got 174,253. eHarmony was leading the pack at 2,040,286 visits per day. Even correcting for accidental hits and morbid curiosity, that’s a lot of people looking for love or marriage at any given time. That of course is as it has always been and the total number of people looking for that is probably staggeringly high. But what’s really pathetic is how many are choosing to do it online rather than just smile at that okay guy (or girl) they see now and then at the supermarket.

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