Stretch of Road

Like many cities which straddle the traditional and the modern with aplomb, Singapore can give you plenty of sights which give you an idea, over a brief stretch of road, of the worlds Singapore does straddle. Theres traditional architecture, and the modern, humour, and stories (maybe many which we dont even know).

We started the other day at a more traditional part of Singapore, called Arab Street, the history for which you can find here. But of course, pictures are what are needed to complete the picture of the neighbourhood.

It starts with this painting done on the entire wall of a house (of which you can see the window).


A short walk down the street, one comes to a parallel street where the houses are all two-storey, and the architecture part of the heritage that is Singaporean … somewhat like this.

20150103_182141You dont have to look far, though, to see modernity and tradition mixing as neighbours.

20150103_182301A short walk down the street brings you to the iconic Muscat Street (yes, the streets in this part are named after the cities of the Middle Street, and this goes quite well with the ambience, and the food options you find here), with a beautiful view of the Masjid Sultan, which Laurel tells us, is built purely on donations from Muslims of the day, and so, the dome of the mosque rests on bottles, which were donated by a rich trader (glass being a valuable commodity in those days).

20150103_183245Just across the street is the artistically done Malay Heritage Centre.

20150103_183341Of course, some of the folks have a sense of humour, like these folks here, except that when you have caught a cold, you dont really want something cold … maybe vodka shots warmer than … what?

20150103_183536And next door is this beautiful building with a shop whose name could get lost in translation.

20150103_183633Walk around, and you will see street named after the big cities of the Middle East, and one of them is Bussorah Street, where Sushi Express is ready to take you on a Dubaii Escapade.

20150103_184051This is right next door to the artistically walled Sufi’s Corner, with the delicious Baklava.

20150103_184227Further down the road, one would reach Parkview Square, an elegant building, with a beautiful swan ready to take off.

20150103_185151Right next door is this building, which could look strange, given that looked at from certain angles, it almost looks like a 2-dimensional building.

20150103_184955Walking further down, one reaches a part of Singapore which is as modern as it gets, with this mall …

20150103_185529Or this view of the iconic Suntec Towers …

20150103_185619This would be right before one comes across this …

20150103_185728Which is right next door to the Tony & Guy (and no, the queue is not to get in there, but for the food).

20150103_190038And this, in turn, is right next door to another part of Singapore’s heritage …


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Walking Along Orchard

Thing about Singapore is that a number of small and big changes keep happening; one just needs to look for them. Some of these changes can come as pleasant surprises. Like the nice ones we saw walking along Orchard Road. Actually, only the stretch from Takashimaya to Orchard MRT.

A number of glass etchings have been installed along the path here, and some depict human scenes, while others are dedicated to nature.

Here are the ones which we saw. As you will see, the depict scenes from a bygone day, from another Singapore.








Walking into Ion Orchard, you see the lights changing colour in a sort of a rhythm.


Then we came across this shop … Lab Series for men? Sounds like some unsavory experiments don’t you think?



Ummmm … who else did you have in mind?

And then this really nice offer …


at The Body Shop.

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Inherent Bias

Is bias towards the “other” inherent in a community, or is it something which is built from the outside in? This is something we were discussing this Sunday. While our Sunday random jaunt did take us to some places across Singapore, not many w ecould share. Suffice it to say that we ended the jaunt at Bishan (how we got there is a different story, for another day), and then for dinner at Little India.

We did have this somewhat lively, and definitely animated discussion, over cups of Teh and Kopi about whether a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society has biases against specific communities. The discussion, like any such discussion, meandered down roads, turned down alleys (some of them blind), took minor and major detours, and basically got nowhere. So, it would be impossible to give a blow by blow account (which is also attributed to the fact that when a number of people are all talking simultaneously, no one would be able to take notes, nor would, like in this scenario, anyone be interested to).

The basic argument was that in India, communities have certain biases which are fundamentally against the Muslim community. While the discussion went all over the place, we did agree that there is truth in that assertion. For instance, a lot of people are hesitant to give their house on rent to a Muslim young man. However, there are two aspects which came out of here. One is that this kind of bias isnt specifically based on religional differences, but that people face these biases based on regional, and caste dimensions too, among others. For instance, in some instances, some Bengali folks we know find it difficult to get a house on rent because they eat meat. Or, not many folks would give their house on rent to people from specific castes, because of caste prejudices. In other words, there are many dimensions to biases.

The next question is where these biases emerge from. Essentially, these are created in the public imagination through the imagery we get through different means. This imagery, due to its very nature thrives on generalizing specifics, in order to try to create caricatures. In Bollywood movies, for instance, the Sardars are usually shown consuming copious quantities of tandoori chicken, or Tamils are usually shown with Dosa, Vada, or Idlis. Truth, on the other hand, is that Tamil cooking is far more varied than what is usually portrayed, and the usual Punjabi meal is vegetarian, with meat making an appearance once in a while, and is not a common occurence.

Its usually easier to identify differences than to understand similarities. Lets understand this with an example. Its quite easy to look at a number of colours and say that these colours are each different from each other, but it is infinitely more difficult (requires more effort, and there is much less tried by the average person) to ponder the fact that after all, all the colours we see emerge from a basic set of seven colours. This requires thinking, and an investment of time and energy which a large number of people are not willing to do with hectic lifestyles.

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On A Morning Walk …

Sometimes, a picture may speak more than a thousand words. This is probably why we are able to appreciate beauty through pictures, and not through words. And sometimes, we find something beautiful, something unusual along the way, and words cannot describe it.

On a morning walk, there are quite a few such places and things Hardy comes across. A short walk from his home is this beautiful temple, the Yan Kit Village Chinese Temple, the beauty and the peace emanating from the temple can only be seen through a picture.

1233497_10152730604565622_6658196482036015090_nA little distance down the road, and turning onto a side-street, one walks past rows of two-storied houses on both sides of the streets. These houses are often fronted by gardens, and theres some things you would see here. These fish, for instance.

10672339_10152648351715622_7031971295459610356_nThe other day, he saw this poor fellow hanging around.

10407395_10152462329010622_7122902975471960029_nWell, someone thought he would have been getting lonely, so they decided to give him company, and some music, maybe.

IMG_3636Of course, all under the watchful eye of our friend here.

10632732_10152588407200622_1481981902181786821_nOf course, tyres are for the road, but who says they need to be retyred? They can always be used to make a garden.

IMG_3639And if you are in the mood for football, but value your health, this probably isnt the right place for you.

10606499_10152642570210622_8273601965231012791_nThat one’s made of stone.

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Along Changi Road

Two weeks in a row … The first one was a bus ride from Bedok, the next one was getting off the MRT at Kambangan, and a short walk takes you to Changi Road. Here you will find a number of single-storied shops, and varied dining options.

The first sight that greets you is the mosque. The mosque has a rather unusual minaret, and a wonderful peace about it, as you can see here.

Exploring the streets near the mosque one can see some traditional restaurants, like the one you see here …
Or some unusual ones like this halal sushi … Actually, nothing unusual about this, except that we hadn’t seen one before.
Or this place where we needed to take some time to figure out that the name is not that of the empress.


And then you see the iconic Indian brand making its presence felt.

Then there’s this restaurant, with the Chinese Muslim food,not something you would find everywhere.

Along the road, you would come across this, though looking at the Stella Artois board, one wonders what fresh fruits they are experimenting on.

Here’s a view of the market, with the hawker centre right at the corner.

And the hawker centre is where we had our Dutch conversation.

And here’s what you’re could gorge upon here.

Farther down the road you would see this specialty from Singapore.

Farther along the road, you see this lovely mosque, the minaret calling the faithful.

And from here, a short bus ride takes us to Little India.

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Science & Religion

Continuing from this post, is another aspect which usually doesnt get highlighted in this science vs religion debate (which, by the way, we unanimously believe, are not two different worldviews, but rather, two aspects of the same worldview), is that the debate leaves out of the discussion a worldview presented by the seers of antiquity, which seems to be the one which science seems to be converging towards. Many of the discoveries of modern science seem to reach out to some of the concepts laid out by scriptures.

Lets start with the Big Bang. Some of the extracts from the scriptures (which you can find on the wikipedia page here) are akin to the idea of the Big Bang. True, the mentions here are more in a philosophical way, which is to be expected. The Puranas declare that the universe comes into existence, and stays thus, for one day of Brahma, after which it is dissolved for one night of Brahma, and then comes again into existence. This implies that before the moment of creation, there was a universe, somewhat analogous to the Big Bang and the Big Crunch. The Rig Veda declares “that none can know from where creation has arisen” which sounds akin to the fact that the laws of physics break down at the point of the singularity.

Coming to the idea of mass-energy equivalence, a consequence of the theory of relativity. The scriptures mention that matter is, in essence, condensed energy, as Paramhansa Yogananda asserted in the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.

Coming to another hypothesis, that of the multi-verse, which religions talk about. Some of these can be found here. A compelling description is given here.

So one needs to either admit that the ancients who wrote the scriptures had a very vivid imagination, or that they knew something we dont. Either way, this does help us to conclude that there is indeed no fundamental antagonism between science and religion, rather, the two complement each other, and the scientific arrogance is somewhat misplaced, and based on an incomplete understanding of our spiritual traditions. It’s about time, then, that scientists deeply studied philosophy, and religionists studied science.

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Religion & Science

Not many would have missed this news about Pope Francis declaring evolution and the Big Bang to be true. We have been discussing this for some time now, before we came around to posting our thoughts here.

To begin with, any truth does not need human sanction. If the Church didnt believe or declare the heliocentric model to be true, and upheld, for some time, the geocentric model, that didnt make the geocentric model to be correct. Or, when humanity believed the world to be flat (which, by the way, wasnt a belief shared by all humanity, but thats a whole separate discussion), that didnt quite make it flat. In light of this, the announcement is important as it represents the Church coming to an alignment with the latest scientific discoveries (ok, not necessarily latest, but you get the drift). The important thing here, more so for followers of the Church, is the bridging of the chasm between church and science, hopefully leading followers to a point where they dont have to be torn between two realities of their lives.

The other part of the discussion we have been having with friends center around whether science needs this endorsement. While it is true that it does not, this is a step towards bridging the gap between the two. The more important part, though, is a sort of scientific arrogance, which believes religion to be primitive. Bus is that really so?

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