Wednesday, March 07, 2007

After 2 Months..

Home - The International House

Hi dear friends,

I'm better. I should not have left the previous post on for so long. I don't quite know what to say nowadays as the novelty of being away ebbs. There are still many things I learn each day, but more often these days, they reinforce my existing thoughts rather than challenge old ones.

And lately, I have been distracted. My mind's all over the place and I can't focus, so much so I can't even blog.

Nevertheless, I am more or less fine. On the weekends, I have a nice dose of bubble tea (what they call milk tea with "tapioca". The word "tapioca" just removes all the fun from "bubble tea"). I attend church, but am increasingly removed from the doctrines because I have so little Christian affirmation and reinforcements while I live here, and I am not exactly taking an active approach to seek it either.

Oh, some interesting things I just thought of..

I've experienced two earthquakes here! Both were jolts that lasted less than a couple of seconds. The first one had me running out of my room in panic and the second one was experienced while watching "Letters from Iwo Jima" (which is a lousy Hollywood attempt anyway). The movie theatre was pretty grand with 500 seats in it and initially, I didn't realise it was the quake because of that movie-effect of engrossing all your senses. I absent-mindedly thought it was part of the surround sound, surround everything effect, until I realised theatres aren't that advanced.

That was pretty cool. Well, at least for the naive Singaporean who lives in a quake free zone. Anyway, quakes are pretty common here. Many buildings have signs on the outside that carries a disclaimer stating that the building isn't quake ready enter-at-your-own-risk kind of tone. One of these signs can be found at the entrance of the International House where I live. (=

My friend got punched in front of the I House last Sunday at 9.30PM. Three males randomly came up to him, asked him whether they could ride his bike, and before he knew it, his glasses were off his face. There were still people around, so perhaps that why his bike was not stolen nor was he beaten any further. The guys just ran off when he screamed, hm.. shouted.. (scream doesn't sound like the genderly-correct word here).

I've seen policemen making arrests with handcuffs here. Once at the lobby of the I House and another on school grounds.

My Singaporean friend who got sent to the hospital for about 5 hours after she had heart palpitations during yoga class had a US$1400 medical bill sent to her. And if I am not wrong, that doesn't include the fees for the ambulance and fire engine. According to her, it's US$200 each. These two vehicles come in pairs when 911 is dialed, even if the distress call is for someone with heart palpitations.

People actually like the Singaporean accent. A Korean and two Americans have told me that. I'm beginning to like it a lot too. It's an inescapable sound that allows all from Singapore and Malaysia to identify one another the instance an "ah" is sounded from his mouth. It's nice to randomly bump into similar sounding people here at Berkeley. And for the first time, we Singaporeans get really friendly talking to others who would otherwise be considered strangers in our home country setting.

OK, something visual for your pleasure.

The girls' gym/swimming pool shower area

Yes, there are no doors. In the entire shower area, there are 4 miserable curtained cubicles, which I believe they created to cater to more reserved Asians like moi, and which I appreciated. But alas, to my horror, there were no hooks within those cubicles for my towel. The nearest hook was a 2 metre walk. So I waterproofed my clothes and towel in a big plastic bag, tied it up and kept one hand up in the air, holding the bag away from the direct blast of the shower as I had the chlorine washed off my body.

Part of the huge girls' locker room.

People usually change here. Yes, full monty; they go commando; the birthday suit -- whichever phrase you understand better. Young ones, pretty ones, slim ones, fat ones, old ones, gravitationally-challenged ones.. International nipples of all colours, shapes and sizes. I generally try to do in Rome what the Romans do -- that's the best way to experience a culture in most aspects, I believe. However, the most I've gone so far is having at least 2 garments (a combination of inner and outer) on me at any one point. I shall challenge myself further to go American in the locker room. I shall conquer my inhibitions within the next 3 months! Muahahahhahaha!