1. The tsunami that decimated parts of Japan with the completeness of Hollywood special effects passed uneventfully over my blog. And I only used a Facebook status to record my observation that newscasters use superlatives for everything so they have no words for something like this. When a fashion faux pas is devastating and holidaymakers forced to sleep in an airport are tragic, what do you call a 30-foot wall of water that comes in so fast that the most prepared nation is helpless? Of all the videos of the flooding, the most poignant one for me is the one of the little town where you can hear the warning sirens, the repeated, urgent recordings that are probably saying “run for higher ground”, but there’s no time, no time at all. The sea is already there. In a few seconds, the cars have started to float. In six minutes, the water is up to the roofs, the sirens quite literally drowned out. But I believe that it happened to probably the only country capable of coming back from it stronger and better.
2. I even left underided the efforts of the US to find some way to muscle in on the tragedy, and the equally futile candlelight campaign on Facebook. The only thing more unhelpful than holding up a lit candle is passing around a photograph of one.
3. On another part of the emotional scale, the joy of watching the BBC series on the South Pacific also went unrecorded here. It was great to know there is somewhere a coral atoll not open to tourists, white beaches left to birds and turtles (and the occasional TV crew). The volcanoes still moving in Hawaii, the islands rising and falling, the strange fish that eats coral and craps sand, the earth’s continuous shift and shuffle form a reassuring big picture. Also on the subject of big pictures, my brother’s obsession with giant TVs paid off in this case because it did full justice to the glory of all that high definition cinematography.
4. I haven’t written my usual cafe piece on the Coffee Club in Orchard Fountain Corner, “my cafe” in Singapore. It sits cheerfully at a busy crossroads, open on all sides, with a clear roof high above. Behind it is a row of restaurants leading to the metro station, across from it is the Singapore Visitors’ Centre. On either side stretch the shady pavements of Orchard Road, lined with temples to the Gods of retail. The clientele changes through the day, like coloured lights. Yet everyone seems to hang out for hours. It’s always busy, friendly, unexpected. They’re playing Bach today, and when it’s played in the open air, threading between the noises of the street, it becomes somehow hip. I walked in after a gap of two weeks, one waiter smiled a bright hello, another said “Cappuccino and water?” and a third, seeing the glass full of ice, reminded him: “No ice”. They have the best cappuccino ever.
Some other things I haven’t written:
- An ode to the iPhone
- A whinge about the sudden breakdown of hair and skin, in an anticipatory deterioration into 40
- A witty piece about life as a freelancer-on-contract, with restful benefits of only being on the fringes of office life
- A warmly informative article about salt water aquariums, the strange preferences of captive anemones and the surprising discovery that fish seem to have personalities
- A travelogue about the Singapore metro
- A frankly self-indulgent ramble about the fact that the cashier in the Seven Eleven at Queenstown Station recognizes me now
- A word portrait of the Jurong Bird Park
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