Monday, August 27, 2007


I’ve been away again hence the slowness in blogging. In Singapore, as I had mentioned last time, there’s way too many things happening. I’ll try and give an insight into the music, theatre, performances scene here this time. Singapore is trying to position itself as a entertainment hub (this word "hub" has been over-used) and is promoting all kinds of visual arts, music and theatre performances.

There are various venues around Singapore where performances are held, the best of all being the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. As the name suggests, it is by the bay and is Singapore’s answer to Sydney’s opera house. Architecturally different, named unofficially but affectionately as the Durian, it stands at the Marina Bay water front on a sprawling complex. The Durian is a local spiny covered fruit, it tastes like meat and smells really bad. The smell is so string that it is banned on all public transport, cannot even carry a piece of this fruit on an MRT or bus. I'm sure the local populace would differ with me and call it their king of fruits but let me say it is an acquired taste. It looks like a jackfruit, but beware, it aint jackfruit for sure.

(The durian shaped Esplanade in the background)

A number of theatres indoors and outdoors around the Esplanade area compete with each other in hosting performances of various kinds. The last performance I went to last year was the West Side Story, played by the original Broadway cast. The “King and I” is presently playing and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is coming soon. The calendar is packed and one can take a look at the Esplanade website to check out what’s up next:
If you don't drive and take the MRT instead, get off at City Hall MRT and walk through the underground CityLink Mall to the Esplanade.

(The stage for Baybeats 2007)

The music scene here is also varied and the itinerary somewhat packed. To give an example, there was Christina Aguilera a few weeks back followed by Gwen Stefani and now Engelbert Humperdinck. I probably missed mentioning a few more as I have been in and out on my travels. To keep people amused, Singapore hosts the annual Indie Rock festival outdoors near the Esplanade and that is free for the public. The event was called Baybeats 2007 between 2nd and 5th August and included local as well as invited International bands. I took in the rock sounds of a Sydney based group called Intone and enjoyed it, this being my genre of music (I’m a Linkin’ Park fan BTW, for rock fans, I’d also suggest “Send away the tigers” a new album from Manic Street Preachers).

(Intone lead singer)

So, the next time when you are in Singapore, check out the Esplanade for performances and check out the local newspaper listings to see what’s going on. The hungry ghost festival is going on now and that is a Singaporean event mostly reflecting the culture and music of the Getai singers and performers who perform at various places in the heartlands. A movie based on this has been released called 881 (Pa Pa Yaw) in Chinese with English Subtitles. I’ll watch it and then post something on it. I may have to do a separate write up on the Hungry Ghost month. Singapore also had it’s National Day celebrations recently and there was the NDP parade and performances and for the first time this was done on the waterfront on the World’s largest floating platform. That’s another post as well.

(Intone in motion)

Monday, August 13, 2007


One and a half years ago, January 13th 2006 precisely, I wrote a piece on my blog ( titled "wake up airline investors..." and that was about how the hinterland in India was largely unserviced by any Airline or operator in India. I had predicted that new investments were required from private players to tap this market. I had also predicted that the boom in aviation in future woukd come from the hinterlands.

Why am I rehashing old stuff? Well, news from India that I am following on the net these days suggests that the Ministry of Civil Aviation is paving the way for new "regional airline" operators to connect hitherto unconnected airports, using "regional" aircraft. There are some riders attached to the policy to ensure that regional routes are the primary business of the operators and to ensure that new licenses given for an airline does not violate the reduced norms of the Government.

The policy of encouraging new entrants to service the regional sectors is a good one. I am sure that feasibility of operating to smaller towns is not going to be a factor and I predict that the revenue yield per seat is going to be much above what "national" airlines are getting for their trunk routes. The new policy also allows existing operators to have regional subsidiaries but the license given will be in a different category. The Government has also offered lots of sops for companies willing to operate on these sectors, just to give them a jumpstart. I hope that new operators take this gauntlet tossed to them by the Ministry and turn this into profitable ventures. I say again, in my opinion, the hinterland in India is where the next boom is, for sure.

I guess this comes a little late, but better late than never, says an old cliche'. I have been shouting hoarse for a while on this subject. I don't believe for a second that the Aviation Minister read my blog of a year and half back although that would be flattering if he did! Only my fanciful thinking! I had to do this piece, felt good to be writing about aviation again.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I am not sure why they call stunts and acrobatics performed on bicycles, in-line skates and skate boarding as extreme sports, but they are called as such. Singapore is not left behind in the world of extreme sports and last weekend saw an extreme sports challenge take place right in the heart of down town. There is an area next to the Somerset MRT (train) station that has been designated as a graffiti area and for people to enjoy practicing their “extreme” sports. I have been watching young chaps accompanied by their doting girlfriends do their thing at the skate part (for lack of a better word). Skate boarding is a fun thing to do, for me at least, inline skating and stunt biking is not the thing for me although I’d watch people doing it.

So, yours truly had a weekend off, well almost the whole weekend, and what better way to spend the morning and a part of the afternoon but hang out at an extreme sports event? So, there I went, being among the oldest looking chaps at the place, in shorts, scrawny legs and all, gawking at youngsters ability to throw themselves and get hurt in as many ways as the imagination can stretch!

The event was well organized and that is one of the things that I have said in the past and perhaps I sound like a broken record now, everything happens in Singapore the way it is supposed to happen. That said, the event had rock music and sponsored by various sponsors of extreme sports equipment, the Singapore Sports promotion people, a local radio station that plays the latest music including my favorite genre (rock) and other sponsors.

The morning session was dominated by the bicycle stunts participants and by noon the inline skaters had done their thing followed by the skate boarders. Young Singaporeans have taken to the sport, although not in huge numbers and they had their colorful spectators to cheer them on and the locals were joined by some expats as well, especially in the skateboarding part of it. Can’t say that I saw any of my fellow Indians there though, conspicuously missing as usual, perhaps at home or perhaps doing typically sedentary activities on a lazy Saturday, even watching extreme sport can be too tiring for some!

For those of you who have watched these events on T.V. I’d say that being there is better, the spills and thrills are better to watch from up-close except that I never managed to take any pictures of mid-air acrobatics and there were some of them who looped their bikes and skates. Since the options were unlimited on the day and since I was tempted to pack more things on my off-day, I wandered off to the annual rock concert that takes place in Singapore and is free to the public. That’s going in my next post along with a preview of the flying displays that I watched and took pictures of, in preparation of the National Day Parade. Singapore is celebrating its 42nd Birthday on the 9th of August and I’ll tyr and put in some information after the celebrations.