Thursday, April 30, 2009

what are at 2, 4, 6 nassim road?

at no:6 is a spa boutique. spaboutique ~ the city resort spa @ nassim is located just a stone's throw away from orchard road at 6 nassim road. step from the busy metropolitan atmosphere of the city into sprawling grounds surrounded by nature. soak in the nature calls and the ambience of an early 20th century colonial-style bungalow, as you relax and refresh under the personalized care of our experienced therapists.

at no:4 is pecc secretariat. pecc stands for pacific economic cooperation council. it is a non-governmental institution. the building is vacant as it is undergoing renovation or as they put it, rectification.

at no:2 is siia house. siia stands for singapore institute of international affairs. unifem stands for united nations development fund for women. aidha is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ‘enriching lives through financial education.’ inspired by unifem's national committee, singapore, aidha serves women migrant workers.

i went looking for no:3 nassim road and ended up with 2, 4 an 6 nassim road.

what was the tourist attraction i was looking for which used to be at no: 3 nassim road?

what is at this address - no:3 nassim road - today?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

sucking the nectar from the ixora

children today do not seem to have the same adventurous spirit that we had when we were young. we tasted all types of fruit, including some found growing in the wild. (incidentally, i have seen the ixora plant growing in a forest.) we climbed trees to get at the fruit. when i was young, i climbed coconut, rambutan, guava and mango (kway nee) trees as well as some other trees which do not yield fruit.

we ate fruits which today's generation of children do not and would not touch. we ate the fruit of the passion flower, the 'buah cherry' and the jambu mawar. the 'buah cherry' fruit was not only eaten, it was also used as ammunition for our home-made gun. we would use the hard green unripe 'buah cherry' as bullets to attack our 'enemies' in a friendly war.

although we did not have the benefit of any jungle survival course, we could very well have survived on the things found around us like some of the fruits i have mentioned. as kampong kids, we knew that tapioca has underground roots which can be eaten. i remember how we would steathily unearth the sweet potatoes from a plot outside one of those houses at chancery lane. we took the sweet potatoes home and threw them into the lower chamber of the charcoal/firewood stove. just like in a barbeque, the heat would eventually cook it.

the other day, as i drove past two mata kuching trees along rifle range road, my friend told me how they used to get the fruit down from the mata kuching tree near his house. they would tie two lengths of rope to the end of a short plank or stick. they would then hurl the plank or stick at the tree, aiming at some bunches of the fruit. when it got caught on the tree, they would pull the two ends of the rope and the mata kuching fruits would drop to the ground. if they did not have ropes, they would just hurl ('punggol') the stick at the fruits.

so, what about the ixora? well, we used to suck the nectar from the base of the individual flowers. it was one way to quench our thirst and at the same time provided us energy because it was sweet. the small flower has a tube. inside this tube is a filament. we would remove the filament and suck at the base of this tube to get the sweet juice (nectar?).

many of my contemporaries have also tasted the nectar of the ixora. some would remove the whole bunch and suck at them. some tell me that hibiscus flowers - which i have never tried - also provide sweet nectar.

it seems children in other countries have also discovered the nectar in this flower. when i read the comments in one blog posting, i realise that it is almost like an universal practice. however, nowadays with insecticide or pesticide being sprayed on the plants and flowers, it may be hazardous to one's health to suck at the base of the flower.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

tell me why-declan galbraith

a meaningful song.

the moringa tree - the drumstick tree

when it comes to eating and people mention drumsticks, they are usually referring to the thighs of the chicken but when my sri lankan friend mentions drumsticks, he usually looks at a particular tree. today, as we were walking towards casuarina curry restaurant, we walked past two of these trees. i decided to take some pictures and to find out more about the drumstick tree.

it seems the moringa tree is a very useful tree and nearly all parts of it can be eaten. the leaves, the pods and the roots are eaten; the flowers are loved by bees; and the seeds (from the mature pods) are powdered and used to purify water.

from what i have gathered, the drumstick leaves are much nutritious and beneficial to our health than the pods or, for that matter, any other vegetable. it is a great source of vitamin a and when raw, vitamin c. they are also a good source of b vitamins and among plants, they are about the best source of minerals. the calcium content is very high for a plant and the content of iron is also very substantial. they are excellent as a source of protein. moreover, the fat and carbohydrates content is low.

the drumstick leaves taste bitter when eaten raw. so, it is either stir fried with other ingredients or cooked with water to remove the bitter taste. two drumstick leaves recipes i found on the internet are here and here.

the green pods are called the drumsticks. when they turn brown, as on the above tree, they look even more like drumsticks. according to my indian friends, they prefer to cook them when they are (immature) green, when they taste like asparagus.

the drumsticks are usually cooked together with other vegetables or as dalcha, when they are cooked in curry with other vegetables and bits of meat. drumsticks are available at mustafa samsuddin supermarket, sheng siong supermarket and grocery stalls at serangoon road.

at sheng siong supermarket, the drumsticks are sold at $6.00 a kilo. for $3.00, you should be able to get 6 drumsticks. i did not come across the leaves but understand that the leaves are usually more readily available compared to the pods.

Monday, April 27, 2009

have you heard of st luke's church?

the church (chapel) was opened in 1928. the first priest was rev. r richards who served from 1928 until easter 1934. mrs mary mcgregor was the instructor from 1928 until her death in 1932. there is a plaque in her memory affixed to the south wall of the church.

st luke's church served as a chapel for traflagar hospital (formerly trafalgar home). anglican and protestant patients from the hospital worshipped at st luke's and so did former patients who lived in the neighbourhood.

bilingual services (hokkien and english) were held on sundays at 11 a.m. after the service, the blessed sacrament was taken to patients in the hospital who were unable to attend church. an evening service in hokkien was held on alternate wednesdays.

some of the church members who lived in a kampong off jalan kayu where there was no bus service. holy communion was celebrated in one of the member's house in the afternoon of the second sunday of each month.

information obtained from the diocesan digest, diocese of singapore

can you read the words on a small plate just above the door? it's 'om sai ram'.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

buying direct from factory outlets

in tuesday's straits times, there was a feature report about food factories at woodlands drawing more customers during these hard times because of the lower prices. actually, those who live or work in woodlands and those who know about these bargains have been patronising these food factories at woodlands terrace, woodlands link and woodlands loop since 2005. most have started sourcing for bargains at the woodlands loop factory outlets even before that.

i have been buying ice-cream from foodedge gourmet located at woodlands terrace. they even have a mailing list and will keep you informed of special offers, which are usually available towards the end of each month.

fassler is the place to go to if you want to buy salmon and other imported fish. the cold room is so cold that they provide jackets for their customers.

we have been buying fishballs from housen seafood enterprise at level 1 block 15 even earlier, before 2005. then the plain fishballs were priced at 10 cents each and the fishballs with bits of vegetables and other meat were going for 20 cents each. they also sell uncooked fishballs and a variety of fish cakes. over the years, they have added other items like fried chicken wings, fried wanton and ngoh hiang. the fishballs and fish cakes are on sale after 4.00 p.m. they are not open on sundays.

if you want to buy breakfast snacks like carrot cake (the whole piece type), soon kueh and other kuehs, you have to go to block 15 in the later part of the evening, say between 7.00 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. to get them.

another outlet that we often go to buy foodstuff is j&c food industrial on level 3 of the same building (block 15). i go there to buy cakes, cream puffs and sometimes, pineapple tarts. i like their chocolate, butter and banana cakes. they used to charge 35 cents a piece. today, it is $4.00 for a box of ten pieces.

also on level 3 is janur food industry where i went once with my former colleague to buy halal satay. there are at least two outlets selling pork satay on the other levels. both the halal and non-halal satays are priced at about 25 cents a stick.

i usually go to fragrance just before the lunar new year to buy 'bak kwa' and other tit-bits. my friend goes to cecilia minced and dried pork food trading on level 2 at block 15 to buy the same stuff - bak kwa.

there are a few other factories along the same stretch of road that welcome walk-in customers, like the two above. over at woodlands link, which is parallel to woodlands terrace, you can buy fresh pastries from polar. there is also one food factory at the end of this road where i sometimes go to buy otah and chinese-style nasi lemak.

another place which we go to to buy from the food factories is located at bedok north avenue 4. it is called the gourmet east kitchen. i think this place is popular with people who live in the eastern part of singapore. we go there to buy chee cheong fun, chwee kueh, yam cake and pumpkin cake. i have blogged about the chee cheong fun here. my friend, nah, gets his kueh pie tee shells from red lips at gourmet east kitchen.

yet another place we go to to get foodstuff at bargain prices is ben's food at fishery port. it is open on saturdays for two hours only. across the road from ben's is song fish dealer where we buy our frozen cod fish in cube sizes and other seafood products.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

i missed the chariot procession

i walk past the murugan on the hill temple every day. one day, i saw a notice announcing the chariot procession. it had a schedule, starting at 6.00 p.m. from the heavy vehicle car-park at upper bukit timah road. the procession would take the lighted chariot to bukit panjang, choa chu kang and finally ending at bukit batok.

when i reached the temple at 5.15 p.m. that evening, the chariot was sitting in front of the temple and the crowd which had been there that morning was missing. a few stalls that were around in the morning had also been dismantled. even the seat where the barber was shaving male devotees bald was vacant. i realised then that i must have missed something.

i asked the people who were still around and they told me that the procession was held on 7 april. the banner outside the temple had it as 8 april.

that morning, i had seen quite a number of male devotees shaved bald, with ashes on their bald head and wearing saffron dhoti. there were also a number of women devotees clad in saffron clothes. there were a few stalls set up outside the temple. thinking that the main event would be held that evening, i did not linger to take photographs although i did take one of the bathing point.

the chariot procession held by the sri murugan on the hill temple was in fact a mini thaipusam because there were some devotees who carried the kavadis. i saw at least one kavadi at the heavy vehicle car-park just next to the temple.

when i was living at towner road, i have seen the lighted chariot coming around to the estate one evening. it was a very attractive sight. the chariot would stop at certain points and the devotees would make offerings to the gods.

there is a very good account of a chariot procession in this post by another blogger.

Friday, April 24, 2009

1st shot, 2nd mis-shot

i am a long shot from doing a proper second shot. i need to take some lessons from the 2ndshot specialist.

anyway, the first photo was taken about two years ago when i first stumbled upon this disused building while walking around the dairy farm area.

the second shot was taken yesterday. it shows the visitors' centre of the soon-to-be-opened dairy farm nature park.

the development of the dairy farm nature park is meant to draw some of the crowds from the bukit timah nature reserve which is finding it difficult to cope with the number of visitors, especially those with cars, on weekends.

there are two wells that came with the disused buildings and they have been left more or less in tact.

there are two car-parks for visitors to the dairy farm nature reserve. one is at the junction of dairy farm road and upper bukit timah road. the other, a bigger car-park with toilet facilities, is just before the junction of dairy farm road and petir road, if you are coming from the bukit timah expressway (bke).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

shaheen jafargholi - 12 Year old singer - britains got talent 2009 ep 2

12 year old welsh talent

singapore buddhist lodge @ kim yam road

i heard about the free vegetarian food available at the singapore buddhist lodge at kim yam road. i decided to check if it was true you could get a wholesome free meal at this place. i have passed this place before in the past but had not stepped inside the temple until today.

in true buddhist tradition, nobody is barred from helping himself to the free food served at this temple. no question is asked and nobody blinks an eye even if you are in shirt and tie queuing with the uncles and aunties for the fried beehoon, porridge or soup.

as is expected, it is self-service all the way. for crockery, you can choose to use the porcelain bowls or melamine plates. these days, because of the greater number of people who turn up for the free food, they have resorted to using disposable bowls, chopsticks and plastic spoons. those who use the porcelain bowls or melamine plates will wash them before returning them to the shelves.

a friend of mine who used to volunteer at another temple serving free meals had seen some well-to-do free-loaders. he was upset to see this well-dressed attractive woman, in her 40s, appearing every day to help herself to the food and leaving immediately after having her fill. the woman would arrive with a maid in her posh mercedes benz.

however, i explained to him that some of these people who can easily afford better food choose to eat the food prepared at the temple because they believe that the food is blessed and so it will benefit them nutritionally and spiritually.

i had thought it was just fried bee-hoon, like what we used to get when we visited leong san see or bright hill's kong ming san on certain days of the month. here it is available every day and four times a day. and it is not just bee-hoon; there is porridge, soup and stir-fried dishes.

there is even desert like cheng tng and beverages like milo or ovaltine. hot tea is also available. there is no limit to the number of helpings you can have so long as the food is finished within the temple premises. you are not allowed to tar pau or take away food from the place although i did see one person filling up his water-container with the hot milo or ovaltine.

that afternoon when i was there, i counted about 40 persons helping themselves to the free food. most of them were elderly chinese - equal number of men and women - and two who looked like malays.

i could tell that the majority of the helpers in the kitchen at the temple were volunteers. they do not have the glum look of ordinary workers; you can tell from their cheerful demeanour as they went about doing their work. guess it is not work for them but rather it is a service to the needy and hungry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

shooting of stray and unlicensed dogs

since singapore became rabies-free in 1953, dogs have not been hunted as thoroughly or as vigorously as they were in the past. in the 50s and 60s, there were men roaming the streets and kampongs (villages) of singapore, some with a shot-gun in their hands. they had the authority to shoot and kill all strays and unlicensed dogs. culling of strays was quite common in the 50s and 60s.

i can vaguely recall watching a scene where one of these captured dogs was put to sleep with a gun shot. the dog was lassoed and taken to an open area where it was killed with one shot from a shotgun.

there was another incident which made me realise that dogs are quite intelligent animals. one day - when we were still living in the kampong - we were taken aback when our neighbour's pariah dog rushed into our house and hid under our bed. it stayed quiet and did not leave until the danger was over. two strangers walked past our house, one carrying a shotgun, but the normally noisy dog did not let out a sound at all.

my neighbour was quite appreciative of our help in saving the life of her unlicensed dog. at that time, we did not quite understand why there was this persecution of dogs, even dogs that were owned but did not have a tag.

those days, as children, we were not traumatised when we witnessed the taking away of an animal's life right in front of our eyes. we did not think of it as an act of cruelty; we saw it as something that the authorities had to do.

from the 70s onwards, there were hardly any report of culling of stray dogs. but even up to 1998, shooting was one method to get rid of strays. it was only after an unfortunate incident at lorong halus where a man was killed by a stray bullet that this practice was reviewed and then discontinued.

these days, i come across stray dogs at sungei buloh wetland reserve and along certain lanes in lim chu kang. when they are in a pack, they can behave quite aggressively and they do look vicious.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

which one of these is a hindu temple?

you would think the answer is obvious. the second one is definitely the hindu temple. then, what is the first one?

actually, both are hindu temples. most non-indian singaporeans are familiar with the southern indian hindu temples because there are more of them and you can find one in practically every housing estate, either within the estate or at the fringe of it.

even the more well-known temples like the sri mariamman temple on south bridge road and the sri srinivasa perumal along serangoon road are both southern indian hindu temples.

many non-indians who walk past the first building on their way to the tekka market (which reopens in three months' time) or to the indian restaurants along race course road and chander road may not realise that this is a temple until they look at the signs.

the southern indian hindu temple is characterised by a pyramid-shape tower called the gopuram. the gopuram usually features fascinating sculptures of hindu deities and foral decorations. one of the main differences between the northern and the southern architecture is the gateway. in the southern style, the gateway is large and elaborate.

the northern hindu temple is characterised by a bee-hive shaped tower called a shikhara that rises in a massive conical shape. a shikhara is a tower or a spire.

the shreelakshminarayan temple in little india (chander road) and the sri sivan temple in geylang are examples of the northern style. the sri sivan temple at geylang east actually exhibits a mix of the northern and southern architecture in its design. however, the sri sivan (now called the sri siva durga temple) at potong pasir belongs to the southern style.

Monday, April 20, 2009

what fruit is this?

flower and fruit of the monkey apple

resembling a small soursop, this fruit is native to south america. it is grown as a roadside tree along certain 'lanes' in lim chu kang. even the flower of the fruit and the seeds resemble those of the soursop.

unlike the soursop, however, the fruit changes from green, before it matures, to yellow when it is ripe.

if you want to know more about this fruit, check out this website.

this is called the monkey apple or pond apple. in some places, it is called the alligator apple.

a recent study suggests that its alcoholic seed extract contains anticancer compounds that could be used pharmaceutically.

on a related topic, someone sent me this about the cure for cancer.

as i have already given you the name of the first fruit, now it is for you to guess the name of the second fruit. what is this fruit (in the picture directly above)? clue (especially helpful to icemoon): it is not a nutmeg. may be another picture may help.