Report from Tomorrow - Vol 14

1USD = S$1.74 (S$1 = 0.57USD)

Fashion

You should appreciate the great irony of getting a report on fashion from me! People here dress very much like anywhere else - only much nicer. No grunge here - no holey pants, no paint splattered tee-shirts.

During the work week on the MRT, you'll see men dressed in long sleeved shirts and nice slacks on their way to work. Some will have ties. Off work you'll see nice jeans and bermuda shorts. No short shorts to be found in public here. Many wear nice shirts or blouses, or knit shirt with collar. Tee shirts are common also.

So at first glance they look much like in the US - except upon close examination, you'll see most people are wearing something with a name brand on it. It may be a tee-shirt, but it says "Disney" or "DNKY" or "Calvin Klein" etc. "Elle" must have sold a million purses here. It doesn't appear to my untrained eye that everything everyone wears is a name brand, but it seems most everyone has at least one name brand item on. Seemingly every school aged child wears a back-pack with a Disney character on it.

I was told S'pore women wear the shortest skirts in the world and have no evidence to disprove it.

Men's beards are pretty much non-existent here. Other than a few Indian gentlemen, I'm about the only person in Singapore with a beard. It's a sure show stopper for little kids - I'm guaranteed to get a long serious look when the little ones get on the bus.

On Sundays you will see many families on the MRT going somewhere in their dress clothes. Particularly striking are the Indian women in their sari and Malay (Muslim) women in their pants/skirts and long top. Both sets of women wear the prettiest and boldest colored clothes! The clothes appear to be silk (or some similar material) and often have designs sewn on the fabric. They are really very elegant and impressive looking.

While people dress nicely here compared to the US, their clothes reflect the hot muggy weather here. You only see light coats (worn backwards) on people riding motorcycles. I have yet to see a suit coat at work, although ties are required attire at headquarters. Once in a while I'll see someone wearing a light sweater and I break out in a sympathetic sweat for her. The one exception to people accommodating the weather are the Muslim women who always wear a scarf of some sort on their head. It may be blazing hot and we are all wilting, but every Muslim woman has her head covered.

This is black haired society - everyone has straight black hair. So, for a little variety, you'll often see women (and a few younger men) who have tinted their hair some dark shade of auburn. This is nothing garish, just a subtle hair color change. No Asian blondes to be seen here. If he/she's blond, it's a westerner.

Building Boom

I've never seen a place which had so much construction going on. It is really quite amazing. The skyline is littered with new buildings (usually HDBs going up). On my short (2.5 km bus ride to work), I counted 5 major construction projects ranging from adding a new tower to some HDB to a new HDB complex that is a full block long.

When we go to the outskirts of the island - like the north end as you enter Malaysia, there is even more building going on. Cranes can be seen all over the horizon.

There is a new HDB going up right next the Queenstown MRT we use and the sign on the building says this is a seven year contract in progress. So clearly the construction we see has been going on for quite some time and will continue for a very long time to come. I read in a book that Singapore builds a new apartment every 17 minutes day in, day out and have sustained that rate for many many years (i.e. 31000 new apartments each year).

Most of the workmen on the projects appear to be from the Indian subcontinent - Indians, Bangladeshi, Pakistanis etc. I can't figure out their work schedules. You'll see men working at 9PM on a Saturday evening and occasionally on Sundays too. There are often hovels on the construction grounds where the workers live. You can see pictures of some HDBs near us which under construction at construction1.jpg and construction2.jpg.