Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Four Million Irritations

I was very happy to see on the TV news yesterday that life for office workers in Suntec seems completely unchanged and as marvellous as ever, although an optical illusion (something to do with our aging projection TV) seemed to make the news presenter's nose appear to grow slightly longer as she joyously gave us this great news.

Of course I must be the only one who is terribly inconvenienced by all the razor-topped metal skirting and plastic cones everywhere. Either that, or the 2 happy people working in Suntec who got interviewed in the news yesterday actually started their journeys at 7 am. The sky did look rather blanchy in the news feature. Probably the aging TV again.

This morning I contributed to the 4 million smiles as I was asked by a policeman to take a special trip through Marina shopping centre from Raffles Link and then down through Millenia Walk and Times Square just to get to the office. My office suit radiated heat as I stepped around the still obtrusive Communique sign to get into the lift. God help us if there is a fire and there's a bunch of bodies piled up behind that Goddamn COMMUNIQUE sign for the firemen to bag.

At lunch I walked through the virtually empty shops in Suntec and saw plenty of virtually empty smiles. In one particular shop, 3 salespeople stood around in their beautiful white uniforms smiling at nobody in particular since the shop was completely devoid of customers. A hairdressing salon that is usually full at lunch hour had 3 hairdressers sitting inside, catching up on the news. I got the full attention of the girl at the photo shop. She was extremely grateful for my patronage. I asked for a discount. She smiled and said "You already paid 2 weeks ago."

I looked around for someone IMF-looking to smile at. Unfortunately, I couldn't see anyone remotely governor. Or delegate. Just a lot of policemen. For once, the policemen outnumber the shoppers. And the po po are not shopping.

Isn't it ironic. With the barricades and the road blocks and the blocking off of pedestrian walkways, the only regular people who will get to smile at the IMF delegates in person are the police. And the Ghurkas. And these people can't be smiling on duty, it's just not proper. The rest of us mere citizens are just like ants skirting a picnic table whilst being shooed off. Even if I was smiling in the direction of the Convention Centre, I'm too far away for the people inside to see me. Which is probably why the "4 MILLION SMILES" banner has got all them smiley photos on it. That's probably the closest that any of us smiley people are going to get.

It feels like we're working on the moon, to paraphrase Sting. No one outside of Suntec can have lunch with me - our friendship would not survive the long walk and the irritating multiple detours. And that stupid feeder bus that the news reader happily proclaimed "ARRIVES EVERY FIVE MINUTES!" - that must be during the non-peak hours only. I waited almost 20 minutes for that damn bus just yesterday and I'm almost completely certain I'll have the pleasure of doing so later today.

This is a long post but it really does get extra irritating to go through this nonsense and then have the news tell us that everything is really really great, despite our own personal experience. It's like me telling The Son that his saltless, MSG-less, sugar-less, spice-less porridge is YUMMY as I shove another spoonful into his mouth.


At 1:10 AM, Blogger knobby said...

Jen, this was too funny. Sorry to express mirth at your situation. (Actually, not sorry. I put it down to the effects of alcohol.) I guess I should be glad I'm out of town for a while!

At 1:26 AM, Blogger valkyrie said...

this is not another comment to gloat :p but you've just made me really glad i got the fuck outta there!

also glad i turned down a lunch appointment at suntec yesterday. phew!

At 1:38 AM, Anonymous desmond said...

That's the frustration I felt too, when I travelled to Suntec yesterday afternoon. I had an appointment in Tower 2. A trip that would usually take about 10mins stretched up to about 40mins. Arghhh....

At 4:56 AM, Anonymous Tony. said...

unfortunately, that's how things work.

while the authorities bend over backwards just to please the delegates and make everything smooth sailing for them,

the general public suffer because of all the restrictions in place, especially the businesses at Suntec.

in fact, I think they should just close the whole of Suntec down for the duration of the IMF meeting since it would roughly translate to be the same anyway.

then maybe the wages of those affected can be borne by the smiling authorities.


At 7:26 AM, Blogger Sivasothi said...

For a non-Suntekkie like me, and someone who has not been reading the IMF coverage in detail, the vague impression I've picked up is "STAY AWAY FROM SUNTEC."

So I'm responding to it like the place is quarantined. Even nearly diverted cycling trips heading for Changi that passed Suntec's periphery.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Venitha said...

At least that smile has helped preserve your sense of humor. =) I'm with the commenter who said the place is quarantined - staying far far away.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Can you imagine what would happen if you cycled through the place and ran over one of those brand new flower bushes? Probably get warning shots.

Am still sweaty from my 15 minute morning walk into the office.

It's only Wednesday and I've already run out of fellow Sunteccies to have lunch with. Will get my nails done instead. Which grateful pedicurist shall I pick? And do I have the unmitigated temerity to ask for a discount?

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Kev said...

I was in the vicinity two days ago, really love the tranquility of it all.

Ironically, it's the best time to go shopping at the moment.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, you have the typical Singaporean who complains at anything and everything. How laughable that your Government is doing its best for the people and time and again not only does it go unappreciated, it gets bashed with useless comments like this. Perhaps you have a better suggestion on how to organise this whole mega event?

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still wondering if hosting this event will benefit Singapore as opposed to benefitting some Singaporeans. Right now, judging from foreign media reports, it seems our hardline stance against peaceful protests is making a stronger impression than all the smiles and flowers etc. I'm actually feeling more shamed than proud of our government.

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous dilettanteP said...

Quick question and pardon my ignorance- what's happening at Suntec???

U mean some IMF delegates have drop by a visit to Singland?

Where exactly is Time Square that you mentioned? So Singapore have a Time Square?

God, I must be living in the past decade still!!!! Your Suntec City sound so different from mine where in the good old days, I used to toil 11 hours a day labouring as a poor blue collar worker.

And I was just back in January 2006. (????)

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Narrowmindedness. Stuck in their own SMALL world. It's always a question of "how would it benefit me directly??". I fear for the future of Singapore.

Just do a google on IMF protests in the past and see how "peaceful" they can be. Here's just one article about protests that happened in the USA:


At 11:52 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

I think many people would agree that the event should have not been held right in the middle of our commercial and shopping district. There are a number of alternative venues which would have been equally attractive and easier to secure, e.g. the Expo/ Sentosa. I didn't think of these points myself - opinions are widely held and widely shared.

For credibility purposes, I've disregarded the less viable options that have been offered by the man on the street, e.g. holding this event on St. John's Island or the moon.

In order to truly appreciate the uniqueness of this experience, one should try to come to Suntec in the morning (must arrive by 9 am) and leave for home only at 6.30 pm. Nothing like an invigorating 15 - 20 minute walk each way to revive the senses.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there were tons of hotels in the East or at Sentosa, then yeah maybe? Else they could choose to shut the whole of ECP so that that IMF/World Bank delegates can get to the Expo from town? Singaporeans give too little credit to the organisers. Please don't show your ignorance by agreeing with just anything that is "widely held".

At 11:59 AM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Noted with thanks, although I'm not entirely certain that they are all staying in the hotels next to the Convention Centre which is why so many of them have been provided with chauffeured cars.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger axe said...

surfed in via tomorrow.sg
big fat word on all you've said. perhaps you could invite a non-smiling ghurka to lunch with?

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone I know actually went: "IMF?" means I MUST FUCK-OFF?

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous bewildered said...

If the protesters were allowed in, they might be spending more in Suntec compared to the IMF guys in suits...

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds almost like Suntec has SARS!!!

At 4:01 PM, Blogger gremlin said...

think "cup half full". ghurkas for lunch. yums. hairyD, have you been paying attention at all? I really dig them, really. they're the real stuff - handsome, diligent, focussed...and I'm sure they lunch too. axe is damn right.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Well now I went downstairs and gave it my best shot but the Ghurka told me real men don't eat lunch. If they get hungry, they just grab some pansy-ass off the street, chew him up and spit him out.

I had no response to that.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Well , Cheer up people!! @ least there will be some entertainment this coming saturday ..

That Chee SJ Fellow declares that he wanna Go Suntec City & test water , see how well-trained our Riot Police are ...So probably its an Exercise between the Singapore Police Force & Mr Chee ..To Show how Good our security is ..

This will give Investors the confidence to Invest in Singapore , seeing how well we can control the protestors !!

Oh Boy am i Bullshitty today

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous kierra said...

hiyo! i will not go suntec and marina area. NO WAY!

hahaha... no need to go all the way there to catch some smiles right?

At 11:11 AM, Blogger gremlin said...

oh, you mean like that anonymous ants-in-my-pants-all-day-and-nite-pro-P-A-P-cannot-take-adverse-comments pansy? yeah! spit that out, man! eh, dare you to make a dash, grab, then smooch a ghurka (one only wat) so bad to check out how tight this security situation really is. wish I was there, then you'd really do the dare. chicken bak-bak.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger The Screwy Skeptic said...

nice post. but who are these self-righteous anonymouses (or anonymi, if you rather) dicking around with you? want me to off them? where are my brass knuckles?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Thanks for the offer, but I'm all right. It's all the Anonymous advertisements and blog-spam (blam?) that I find difficult to respond to.

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that money spent to project a lie to the world that we are actually a nation of smile!

It was funny seeing how badly the report card was at the end of the fiasco.

American media was not flattering.


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