Encore events in Singapore to cap your 2015 off

Ready to send 2015 off? Here's a list of events you should know of (and book tickets for, right now)!

Singapore saved the SG50 best for last

Four stunning events on design, art, creativity, film and the future of our city

  1. Singapore Inside Out | 27 Nov Fri - 6 Dec Sun | Free
    Finally home after a tour of Beijing, New York and London, this weeklong showcase of Singapore's brightest bands, street artists, dancers, designers, writers, filmmakers and DJs is the best place to see what Singapore is capable of. 
  2. National Art Gallery Opening | 24 Nov Tue - 6 Dec Sun | Free
    Free tickets to a stunning building housing a wonderful collection of South East Asian art.
  3. The Future of Us | 1 Dec - 8 Mar | Free
    Free tickets to an immersive exhibition asking the question - what is the future of Singapore? Held across from Gardens by the Bay.
  4. Singapore International Film Festival | 26 Nov Thu - 6 Dec Sun | Free / $12 - $25
    Catch more than 150 films and a red carpet event at the Marina Bay Sands.

Now for more family friendlier fun...




Kid in tow? Head to these...

  1. Singapore Heart Map Festival @ Marina Bay Float | 26 Nov Thu - 29 Nov Sun | Free
    A crowdsourced celebration of Singapore featuring Urban Sketchers Singapore.
  2. Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay | 27 Nov Fri - 3rd Jan | Free
    A European-style Christmas market lands in Singapore.
  3. Collider @ ArtScience Museum | 14 Nov onwards
    DisCERNing parents bring kids to learn about physics.
  4. NUS110 Concert in the Park
    The NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Orchestra plays one of my personal favourites - Dvorak’s New World Symphony.  In our own UNESCO World Heritage Site the Botanic Gardens.

Onwards, discoverers!

Secret spots and events to explore:

  1. Open Farm Community - what happens when the Spa Espirit group has a farm.
  2. Whisky Live - A is for Aultmore, B is for Bruichladdich, C is for Whisky.
  3. Neon Lights - target audience: Laneway-goers suffering from withdrawal symptoms in November.
  4. Bliss Out - Yoga, music, and of course, coconut water.
  5. Free the Robot Coffee - do robots drink coffee? Then again, these days, who doesn't?
  6. Dream a Little Green of Telok Ayer - yup, that's our own event! An afternoon of rediscovering the streets and architecture of Telok Ayer, Amoy, Stanley, Cecil.

    See your CBD workplace in a new light!
    28 Nov Sat 3pm | http://peatix.com/event/131075
    5 Dec Sat 3pm | http://peatix.com/event/131294
    12 Dec Sat 3pm | http://peatix.com/event/131295

What's Indian about Singapore's Indian Heritage Centre?

Launched in May 2015 after exhausting seven years and $21M, the Indian Heritage Centre on Campbell Lane, Little India, often triggers this first question - what's Indian about it?

Photography courtesy of Greg Shand Architects

Photography courtesy of Greg Shand Architects

Cheekier critics would reply "it's Indian because it looks like the new wing of Mustafa Centre."

The person on the street is looking for obvious tributes to historical Indian architecture - perhaps elements that draw from Indian temples, palaces or the Taj Mahal. However, architects win design competitions based on bold forms and fresh ideas. These ideas could be grounded more in theory or academia. The result: layman interpretations that fall far from the architects' and building owners' official press releases. 

A famous example would be starchitect Rem Koolhaas having to state that his groundbreaking CCTV Headquarters design in Beijing "has no hidden meaning" when ridiculous speculations went viral that he meant it to look like female and male genitalia, after an earlier round of toilet-related comparisons.

Back to the question. "What's Indian about it" begs a deeper question - "what's Indian?" For the Indian Heritage Centre, the challenge faced by designers Greg Shand Architects and Urbnarc is to not be too direct, because being "Indian" holds a range of diverse meanings.

They found inspiration for the main facade in the stepwells, flights of descending steps that leads to the water table, a category of Indian architecture that evolved to balance water supply between the seasons with and without monsoon rain. 

Stepwell in Rajasthan

Stepwell in Rajasthan

Partly because stepwells are below the ground, even in India they are becoming forgotten and abandoned, in spite of their historical importance of enabling a steady water supply in drier areas.

The best designs for cultural institutions not only look back - they look forward. The curtain of glass used in the Indian Heritage Centre may invite the knee-jerk reaction to compare it with Mustafa, but it would be unfair and unwise to expect a 2015 building to look like it belongs to the 10th or 18th century.

And anyway, the Mustafa Centre extension is lovely and houses a gorgeous rooftop restaurant that may remind you of dining at Pollen in Gardens by the Bay - with a friendlier price tag.

And on the note of looking forward, the Indian Heritage Centre's logo looks like it is trying to belong to Google.

This blog post is part of a series highlighting that you can always "travel without leaving home." We are also featuring more archaeologically related information in the lead up to the opening of the National Gallery of Art in Singapore towards the end of the year. 

Further reading:
- India's Forgotten Stepwells
- Mustafa's rooftop restaurant

The Tanjong Katong

A personal short story about the porch in my childhood home (now torn down) in Katong.


"But what was in that space?"

"All things," the young man answered.

"the dog's bowl, Pa's car, our dog under Pa's car. Ma's and Ah Ma's plants fighting all over for space, with last year's Ang Paos still clinging onto them in shades of red. The wind chimes clanging, the overhang of our neighbour's mango tree. And slippers and shoes that revealed who's home."

"When the car was out, Mimi the dog would stretch in the sun. He would dash around to fill up the space. Sometimes mangos fell ripe, sometimes they fell because mynahs pecked at them. Their gentle fragrance filled up the night air, and bats - yes eventually I realised they were bats - swooped in chaotic loops. At least that's my memory of it."

"But what else? Surely there was more?"

"Small pools of wax, filed smooth by shoes skating by. The wax was from the Lantern Festival candles. Ma was always worried we would set the house on fire, so we were only allowed to light candles outside, in the porch. Mimi the dog wouldn't approach the flames. He's actually male, but we adopted him when he was already eleven - we didn't get to name him. When we wanted him to sound macho, we called him 'Ah Mi' to make it sound like 'Army.' Haha, imagine that. He's a great dog. People always asked me what breed he was. You know, that's what people care about - the breed. I have endless stories but they just want to know the breed."

"I guess he's just another dog, Pavlovian and all. Even before I took Psychology 101, I tried to trick him into running towards me for a photo. Of course, tapping the dog bowl worked."

"How's he doing?"

"Well that must be more than ten years ago. I wonder how he liked to be under the car. We had a kennel that he never used it much." 

"Sometimes I played those skipping games with my two sisters. The kid next door always spied on us jealously, and we nicknamed him "Pong Pong" after that buoyant fruit. We would yell 'Pong Pong' at the top of our lungs and that confused Mimi. He would bark at us, thinking it is a game. We also spotted one mynah that with recurring baldness from fights, and gave it a nickname that is too embarrassing to tell you."

"You guys weren't kind - to neighbours or animals."

"Well I guess my compulsive e-mail checking habit came from running to the mailbox every half an hour to see if there is any new mail, although we would have seen the postman pause at our door when cycling by if there really was. But partly because my Ah Ma would randomly comment that she saw or heard the postman. Thinking back, perhaps she knew that we liked to race to the mailbox. It probably took us just seconds, the dash - that was how small the physical space was."