Sunday, July 16, 2006

Void Decks

There is nothing void about void decks - the open spaces on the ground floor of public housing apartments, or HDB flats. Better known as the venues for mega events such as Chinese New Year parties, weddings and funerals, they have also served as locations for the simpler birthday parties (watch the cake!)

When there isn't an occassion, the place is *lepak land. Here vagrants lounge, people just wait or **relak (even though they are haunted by other thoughts). Furniture is abandoned as are cats (Vegancat has more pix).

But residents put the place to more creative use than we can imagine. A popular spot for jams, with or without guitars, prancing and other table-top (or chair) dancing or simply a game of counterstrike, flying or biking. Sporting activities include fancy footwork with a football (check how he keeps the ball on his back while he takes off his t-shirt), skateboarding, and acrobatics (you must see this to believe it!)

It inspires poetry, academic musings, and political propaganda. There is a famed political website going by the same name

Turner, David captures the excitement and treasures at void decks in his NewPaper article "I want void-deck membership too" (10 July 2006) but to taste the real flavour of life in the void, you have to view the videos in this blog. They are proof that Singapore is more exciting than it seems.

*lepak = "to **relak in one corner" (ex-policeman quote) although the various online Singlish dictionaries seem to realate this term to sissy behaviour
**relak = to releax

Of Pratas, Plasters and Dinosaurs

Craving for the local flavours of Singapore, i came across this fascinating video of prata at Bukit Timah. Here you get a dizzying view of local favourites - Milo Dinosaur, Teh Tarik and of course the humble Prata! Catch the sideline sights of the Indian man pushing a heavy garbage bin across the room and the pretty Singapore lasses feeding on this feast.

This common breakfast fare which comes from South India has propogated an uncommon variety of mutations and accompanying drinks when sleepless Singaporeans began frequenting 24hr prata shops across the island.

The receipe for a prata seems simple enough but making one is an art. Watch the marvelous prata show online to see how these eastern pizzas are truly made. This is only outdone by the craftmanship that went into this bomb prata (a prata made of honey and butter, slurp!). UrbanWire, last month, wrote about Mr Prata, an outlet at Clementi. The article gives details of unique creations such as Tissue Prata, Italian Prata and Tuna and Mayonnaise Murtabak.
And what's a plaster?? Check Jim's Journal.
But should Roti Prata (Singaporean version) be merged with Roti Canai (Malaysian version)? Or do we truly have a distinct flavour?


It seems the Milo Dinosaur is now THE drink to accompany a good prata where once the simple teh-tarik or its later innovation, teh cino and kopi cino would have been prefered. AsiaOne's Wine and Dine's January 15, 2006 entry gives the history of teh tarik and claims that teh cino was invented by A&A Restaurant off Sembawang Road whilst Milo Godzilla was the fruit of Al-Azhar off Upper Bukit Timah. The Milo Dinosaur itself is a Malaysian invention. Basically a glass of iced Milo with a layer of Milo powder topping it, it sells for a hefty S$2. Options for a Horlicks variant, milk version (Milo Eruption)or more healthy fruity versions have been made available in other outlets. Check AsiaOne's Wine and Dine's July 3, 2006 entry for these new inventions.Summer Punch (May 31, 2006) describes the Milo Dinosaur and its gargantuan sister drinks, Milo Godzilla and Milo King Kong at Al-Ameen (T-Rex is common too but not profiled here). They progress in power and calories with each added scoop of whipped-cream and ice-cream.

Yes, Al-Ameen seems to be the oft cited site in blogs for these delicacies. Check out Recent Rune's entry on the outlet's infamous history and its other 24hr offerings.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Singapore online discoveries

My kind blog mentor (a rambler of some sorts) has adviced to make my entries more informal. So here it goes.

Being far from Singapore makes me long for all things Singaporean. The only way i can get near her is -- virtually. Thus i throw my net wide (onto the Internet that is) and through random successes i pull up whatever the day's catch may bring. Sometimes i will get leads from Singapore Heritage discussion list (this site is for members or join by emailing, or even Sometimes i am just lucky. Maybe this blog should just be called

Here are some of today's discoveries
* Intelligent Singapore or (IS) for short aggregates from some of the best social critics in our blogsphere. Seems to have only recently started as its archives is dated July

* My Sketchbook , a political cartoonist capturing recent issues such as the brownout of Mr Brown! The cartoonist was first highlighted by Singabloodypore, another site not to be missed. The later has his own bloody eshopfront!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Singapore English has its own following. Jack Lee's Dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English includes not only explanations and samples of usage but also phonemes and the Chinese script where relevant. Many of the words defined are derived from the local papers. Talking Cock's Coxford Singlish Dictionary was an earlier online dictionary which also has print parallel.

Although i don't usually cite Wikipedia, its entry on Singlish presents an indepth linguistic analysis. From Jack Lee's Dictionary, several online sources which provide valuable academic analysis include Anthea Gupta's Singapore English and David Deterding's Singapore English : An Annotated Bibliography.

Join the Speak Good English Movement continues its attempts at inculcating good English amongst Singaporeans.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Panaromic Singapore

Chanced upon Panaromic Singapore whilst doing a search for Singlish. It vividly captures the visual language of being Singaporean. The images are displayed in panaromic style, against a black backdrop giving it a cinema-effect. The colours, angles and peoples portrayed show Singapore in a new light. Pictures are taken from all over Singapore, mainly of people in earthy, non-tourist locations such as Geylang and Bedok. The website is Tay Kay Chin's, a photojournalist who had served as the Straits Times Picture Editor in 1999 and has several international credits to his name.

An associated website National Day Babies, has 40 profiles of Singaporeans who's birthday falls on the same day as the Nation's. Each black and white photo has a short quote, and a poster-sized picture which can be downloaded.

Tay's Eastpix has a broader spectrum of images from Asia and the rest of the world. For Singapore, catch his vignettes of Little India and Colours of Singapore, his Requiems for Grandma and Grandpa and the Esplanade: Behind the Scenes for an insight to the true Singaporean.