Prosery – Prose Posing Poetry

I heard Richard Blanco delivering his beautiful ode to America – ‘One Today’ and tears welled up. I’m not American – but what an outstanding piece of prosery! (Which lead me to think of my brushes with poetry. Years ago, I was under the mistaken impression that the poems HAD to rhyme. Or it was not poetry. I’ve changed my stance since. But unlearning is tough!)

Prosery (Note: I have taken Poetic Liberties)
One upon a time, the poems used to rhyme
There were merry old kings and pigs with wings
Mother Hubbard had a cupboard. Mary was contrary, Bo Peep lost a sheep.
But Now.
Now, rhymes are gone, finis, khallas.
No rhyme – no crime, no eureka!, no reason.
(Back then, it would have been charged with unholy treason)]
Then, I read Vikram Seth’s Golden Gate
I learnt the neater iambic pentameter
(The first line to last. The rhythm was cast)
I read and I read, and poetry filled me
I thought of Wordsworth, his daffodils
I thought of Whitman, his leaves of grass.
My patriot tightened with Tagore
Shakespeare, though, in Seth’s pentameter
Was to my child mind a tragedy. An awful bore.
I found Haiku:
 Sounds of music
I heard. My bones.
I loved the limericks funny
To me it was more than punny
The poem’s wit
Just that little bit
Made me laugh with my nose very runny
I heard Coast-to-Coast music and swayed to pop
Simon, Garfunkel, Billy Joel and rock
I heard Tamil songs, some lovely, most droll
I learnt Carnatic, and discovered Soul
I heard tinny rhythms pounding in Hindi
I came across beat and singers who were Indie
I read books. Stories of courage, beautiful Prose
I read humour, wept and (again) blew my nose
Many times I stopped to wonder. Wonder at the designs
The thoughts, the plots
The heroes, the villains, the scenery, the lines
Oh! The lines.
Beautiful trains with words like ants, climbing vines.
And I wondered. If the authors were poets, in their spare times?
Then I read poetry. Angelou and you. Yes you. Yours
Poetry had veered a course
The river of rhyme to the ocean of Prose
A speech had rhythm, cadence and bounce
The President’s Poet now wore the Crowns
[Who needs childish jingles (Television?? Soap sellers? Hope sellers?)]
His words no more rhymed. Beat did not match with Meet. Or Feet. Or Sweet.
Rhyme, Rime was now past perfect. As ancient as the Mariner
It was Prosery.
Words that don’t rhyme no more, like Black Sheep. Cast away.
But built with cadence, strung with pulse
Yet, still. In Nurseries, teach rhythms to small ones
Tuning ears to music and beat.
And as the little fellows hum and tap their feet.
I think to myself – What a wonderful…Sweet.
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Males with nails

Unlike many well groomed residents of Singapore, I don’t patronise nail salons all that often.

I do love the indulgence of someone trimming, filing, scraping and massaging, but never have the foresight to book appointments nor the discipline to keep my nails unbitten. Sometimes my nails are so bad that I’m embarrassed to show them to the snooty ‘nail technicians’.

(Btw, did you know that Serena Williams is a certified nail technician? Have you seen her cute nails on the racquet? (yes, the same same nails on the hands which hold the racquet which pulverise the hapless opponent facing her) – but I digress…)

Anyway, I decided that today was my tai tai day. So after some retail action at Takashimaya, I walked into a nail salon where I had purchased (read suckered into buying) a package for some quiet restful indulgent nail love.

How wrong I was. The salon is teeny tiny and very crowded. Standing out in the crowd was a May-September couple. Let me rephrase that. The man was a Dandy Andy going on Peter Pan. He looked pretty good – 30s?early 40s? A loud lothario. Who was getting his nails done and hogging the air space. The girl looked 15.

He chatted up every – EVERY – nail techie who was in the salon. While flirting with his little lady. He would yell across the room to talk to girls busy with their customers. Customers included me. So annoying.

There had to be some kind of justice somewhere who would shut him up. Tinker-belle must have been around to grant my wish.

In walked a 50ish lady. She took one look at him and squealed. It was her classmate from school. The man was mortified. Classic lines from the Lady Classmate included:

“You come here often? Is he a regular (to a techie)?”

“it’s been decades!”

“You have aged well! So young!”

I was hoping she would ask if the girl was his daughter. Disappointingly, she didn’t.

So that knocked the wind of his sails. It was peaceful after that and soon the lovers left. The man in a tearing hurry.

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Three is a queue

This morning I marched off to participate in the Great Singapore Sale at Takashimaya.

I was determined to buy new bedding for my 5 year old who spent a rough night battling his rustly blanket and overbig new pillow (we did a pillow blanket spring clean this week. Epic fail with comfort levels of the new mite and allergy free bedding. Damn.)

His rough night = my nightmare. I stay up till he sleeps again. Sometimes you can find me in the morning frozen and cramped, crunched up on the junior car bed. It will take me 10 creaky minutes to unfold myself. I probably look like the gnarled old evil creature in ‘King Solomon’s Mines’. I forget her name – it started with F. Yes! Foulata! I feel like her on these mornings too.

So, that led me to the GSS sale at Taka. My eagerness landed me 30 minutes early and I went about looking for a good seat to perch/nap till the store opened.

My benchmate was a Shaker. Legs, arms were in perpetual motion. Bottom wriggling, neck turning. Finally the movements were so fast, she spun off like a top from the bench. Alone at last.

Till the security moved me out because I was in the way of the Food Sale banner.

So I ambled off to the fountain seats to doze. (A bit crowded but I’ve lost my sense of personal space since my days in the Mumbai local, Hong Kong bargain shops and Singapore malls).

The fountain seat is just the ledge around the water. Half circle. I sat near the end of the curve. 3 women stood next to me. Next, an old lady stood behind them. 2 more women stood behind that lady. One of them asked me if I was joining the queue. What queue?

A long line started forming. A line to what? There was nothing there! The line wasn’t going to the store or the food court. I could spot no free samples being given away. The mystery queue was going nowhere! And I was in the middle of it!

In my mind, I sang a song:

‘A line formed around me, as if on cue
In Singapore, two is company
But three! Three is a queue!’

I waited for 20 minutes. It grew longer. At 10 am, the line did a conga and moved beautifully away from the arc, leaving me alone. Everyone knew their place in this line dance. I felt lonely and rejected.

Mystery solved. In the far end of the fountain, a cosmetics brand was giving free collagen or maybe exchanging old collagen for new.

The people, seemingly resting around the pleasant fountain, had a deadly purpose. No innocent fellow travellers, they were there for the Deal.






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Stunning Skies and Cloud formation – ECP from Changi – iPhone via Car Windscreen

How gorgeous is this? Photography has truly become egalitarian! I am no hot-shot camera person. A simple phone camera at the right time and right place works magic… No. I haven’t touched it up. All naturel. (And also a lot late….photos taken end September, 2011)









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High Street meets Elm Street: Haute Couture Halloween

This gallery contains 37 photos.

Halloween is up next in the Celebrations Calendar. Many in Singapore are already in deep depression as the Zoo cancelled the annual haunted night festivities and instead, opted for unscary (bo-o-oring) Deepavali to celebrate. To these never-say-die fans and eternal … Continue reading

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My Bollywood Body Double Day

This gallery contains 12 photos.

My lovely neighbour, N, invited me for a ladies’ lunch, theme Bollywood. We had to dress up as our favourite female star for the event. For the next few weeks the prospect of the lunch buzzed like a mildly annoying … Continue reading

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The Blouse Nazi

The Indian festive season kicks in around August and stays on till November (when we respectfully make way for Christmas.)

Shops in Little India do brisk business selling sweets/pretty paperweights, pens, tiny idols, elephants (ad infinitum and nauseum)/betel leaves/minuscule packets of haldi and kumkum/coconuts and oranges/gift bags/lamps/flowers and many other accessories which the demanding Hindu deities specify for their celebrations.

Among the many little businesses which benefit from this season, one really calls the shots. The saree blouse tailoring shop. Loads of lovely ladies line up in Little India to get measured for the perfect blouse*.

*(In case you are wondering what the fuss is all about, please read – to get updated)

When my little group of friends discovered that I was short of blouses for the Season, they reacted in horror and looked at each other in disbelief. Efficient R, rubbed her hands and marched me off in goose step to the….Blouse Nazi.

The Blouse Nazi, is not your ordinary seamstress. For her, designing and creating saree blouses is a calling. A Divine Art. If anyone has watched the “Soup Nazi” in Seinfeld (see episode here –, you would recognize her as the titular character.

As she puts it – “My customers don’t choose me. I choose them.” (Poor AB, a non favorite gets second-hand treatment. Her blouses get delayed inexplicably and her designs compromised. No eye contact is given or received. AB can only approach her through R- a class favorite)

An appointment with her is set up well in advance. It helps to have a customer referral. In my case, R (as you know by now) is a Chosen One, so the appointment was given instantly. “See you tomorrow at 1 pm exactly”

R was tense as we met for blouse material buying. After checking her watch for the 5th time in 10 minutes, she gave the signal to leave. Meeting someone we knew on the way was a contingency we did not plan for. We ran the last 100 meters to the shop.

She was waiting with a measuring tape. Introductions were made and I was sized up – not just with the tape.

After a quick round of fitting, I was informed that my blouses would be ready in 3 weeks. A deadline which changed to 5 days on intervention by R and some hamming by me (eyes wide in shock, pale, blood draining from face). A receipt with date and time of collection was handed over. I was to call/text her 24 hours before collection so arrangements could be made to keep the goods ready.

Unfortunately, 24 hours before my deadline, I was in Yangon with no mobile connection. My last day in Yangon was spent worrying if the BN would excommunicate me.

Almost did. The next day, I sent three text messages, explaining in long-winded sentences why I could not tell her in time. No responses. A phone call. I was told tersely that, now, I could collect the blouses only 4 days later. Some tears and beseeching (and shameless bandying of R’s name) and a time was given for the next day – at precisely 3 pm.

5 minutes to 3 and I was there. BN’s kindly (but powerless) assistant asked me what time I was given. I told her, she looked at the clock and said “Wait for 5 minutes, ma”. At 3’0’clock, She emerged and announced my name “Are you there?”. I was standing just 2 feet away, so I doubt she could have missed me, but I reacted like a good school girl does to her battle-axe of a teacher, raised my hand and said “Here!”

My blouses did not resemble any of the demure designs I had suggested (merely suggested, one does not insist). They plunged, hugged and revealed. One even had a ‘sweetheart’ design. (UGH).

When I meekly pointed out that they looked different, I was told – and I repeat verbatim “I got bored with those round neck and square necks. You try this now. I want to mess with your head. Change ideas”. OK, I said as I paid up, lavished praise, smiled and giggled sycophantically and hysterically till she looked at the clock pointedly.

I walked into the afternoon Singapore shower with 5 blouses (1 sweetheart design) and a feeling of joy. The Blouse Nazi likes me!

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