A scent of fresh jasmine. Stringing up orchid petals, with jasmine counterpoints. A book of handiwork.
“Wow, this is much harder than I thought… How do they do it? It’s exquisite!”
“They have observed nature carefully… understand the structures, the small details of the plants?… We lose so much from not having nature, in all its vastness, with us. If we did, perhaps we would be more conscious of how minute a part of a very big world we are. If we did, perhaps we would think ourselves as less invincible, and cease striving desperately and breathlessly.”
If we did, perhaps we would more often be in awe of a Creator who holds everything in rhythm while we tumble, stumble and hurtle our way through foolishly, driven by our perceived needs.
“You think this place would be different if it were bigger?”
“In terms of…, yes. I once heard this story. An African expedition was on a journey and travelled very fast and well for the first 3 days. On the fourth day however, they stayed put. When asked why, they said they had been moving too fast – it was time for their souls to catch up with their bodies.”
“I love orchids… you know, I was amazed by all the flowers growing in the wild in Canada, and told my friends so. They would look at me with astonishment and say, ‘But you have orchids!'”
“But our orchids don’t grow in the wild…”
Salvaged from a bouquet of dying orchids. Doesn’t it look like a little bird? 🙂
Bus ride home. Tree. Tree. Building. Building. Grumpy people. Cars. Building. Road. Bridge. Angry-looking people. Tree. Grass. Tree. Building. Bigger building. Frighteningly big building. Road. Cars. Too many cars. Frowning people. Spaced-out people.
As we turned onto AYE, we went under a huge canopy of trees just in front of the construction work for The Interlace. From afar, the construction looked menacing and overwhelmed the quickly vanishing landscape. Upfront, the structures paled in comparison to the magnificence of the canopy. Sunlight pierced the million holes between the rustling leaves, like diamond dust in the midday sun. It was a sight to behold. But the bus steered so efficiently away from the magic that there just wasn’t time to capture the moment.
The bus ride continued. Looked into the soft shadows created by trees and grass along the way. Then looked at the sharp shadows created by the parapets and foyers of shiny buildings. In one I saw shade and shelter; in the other I only saw shade.
Edited the bird-orchid picture. Read a few blogs. Came across one of a young American who is spending a year travelling through Asia. Saw that he had a few posts on Singapore, which he visited for a while earlier this year. Curious. His descriptions were not unkind – they were truthful. He did not write with disrespect – no, the rest of his blog reflects a thoughtful, appreciative young person. Because it was respectful, truthful writing, I read and was strangely saddened. [Incidentally, he had a beautiful post with breathtaking pictures of orchids – all from the Singapore Orchid Park only…]
“Even at 10pm the streets ushered a heavy flow of traffic, our driver jumped lanes often to keep momentum through the madness.”
“Merchants were respectful as we passed, exchanging smiles they didn’t hound us for a sale. English is the official language of Singapore but it is not the first language of most of its residents. If you’re eating where the locals do English descriptions on menus are limited, as is most merchants working grasp of the language, luckily pictures are common…”
“After the relatively bland fare of New Zealand, my taste buds thoroughly enjoyed the complex flavors concocted from the region’s sundry of spices, which of course finished with a beloved eye-watering burn of hot peppers…”
“Much, no most, of the city’s downtown is retail space, temples devoted to the gods of consumption of a scale unlike anything I have ever seen.”
“The whole scene was a bit much for me. The thought of how much energy that went into lighting and cooling the massive amount of retail space was mind boggling, let alone the embodied energy in the buildings and the goods that went out their doors. The relatively small island of Singapore, whose population is roughly equal to that of New Zealand, is a black hole for resources. I was aware it was happening, but seeing their success firsthand was disheartening—the same companies that have been so effective at engineering an insatiable hunger for consumption in America are now setting their sights on Asia, using the West as a role model. The fact that 80 percent of the faces that seductively stare out at potential customers from storefront ads are Caucasian is very telling—chasing the ‘American Dream’ seems to be a sadly relevant term in this context too. And it goes far beyond clothing and accessories, McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC, 7-Eleven,and other hawkers of cheap convenience fly their familiar flags on almost every block–it’s a whole lifestyle being sold. Towering high above the frantic bustle skyscrapers house the true string-pulling puppeteers, the bankers. In one of the biggest port cities in the world all the big multinational financiers are present, no doubt spreading the same delusional debt based model of growth that now has the Western world, from the individual to the institution, in a chokehold. While I felt there was value in experiencing it, this was all a little too reminiscent of the atmosphere I was striving to step out of by traveling—I was excited to get into Malaysia.”
I went on to read several of his posts on Malaysia – and what made me sad was that some of the things he described as “pleasantly unpolished” were not things that couldn’t be seen/heard/done in Singapore. They have just been hidden too well.
So well, that I think even Singaporeans would derive genuine pleasure in uncovering them.
If we stopped and let our souls catch up with our bodies.
Afternote: look at what happened to the little bird-orchids overnight –