Thursday, November 09, 2006

British Influence

I feel like I am still living in London.
A hot, sticky, tropical London.

I was in Marks & Spencers today.
Sure, it is smaller, but it still has tinned baked beans, preserves, and biscuits.
I still have to queue for a taxi.
The plugs are big ole three prong deals.
There are Brits everywhere.
Cars are driving on the "wrong" side of the road, but somehow it looks "right" to me.

So here's a funny little story from today - it reminds me a bit of London as well...

I went to the mall to get a mobile phone. On the way, I stopped into a bakery (I love all those sweet buns filled with pork, wasabi, bean paste, etc.). I was tempted to purchase a green tea muffin, but instead selected a flat bread that had nuts, raisins and some kind of paste in the middle (methinks it was bean paste) and took it over to the cashier. There was one woman standing in front of me (yes, she was British).

The bakery is set up in such a way so that when you enter (after you pick up a tray and tongs), you are immediately forced to go left. You then circle an island of various bread products before arriving at the cashier - which puts you just to the left of the person in front of you.

When I arrived at the cashier, there was one woman directly ahead of me. I stood behind her, just to her left. The cashier gave me a piercing look and pointed, saying, "the queue is over there." I looked at where she was pointing, but I didn't see a queue. I didn't see anyone. And then it occurred to me that I must be standing on the "wrong" side of the woman. Even though there was no one else in line, I wasn't queuing properly, which is, as we all know, the end of the world.

The woman I was queuing behind turned to face me and gave me a look like, "oh, you must be new."

"Silly me," I said, giving her a smile. She returned the smile as if to say, "yah, I know, the woman behind the counter is crazy, but you need to learn how to queue properly."

About Singapore

Singapore was first mentioned in a 3rd century Chinese account which described Singapore as "Pu-luo-chung" ("island at the end of a peninsula"). By the 14th century, Singapore had become part of the Sri Vijayan empire and was known as Temasek ("Sea Town").

During the 11th century, this small but strategically-placed island had earned a new name - "Singa Pura" ("Lion City"). According to legend, a visiting Sri Vijayan prince saw an animal he mistook for a lion and Singapore's modern day name was born.

Then, during the 18th century, the British saw the need for a strategic "halfway house" to refit, feed and protect the fleet of their growing empire, as well as to forestall any advances by the Dutch in the region. Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a trading station.

By 1824, just five years after the founding of modern Singapore, the population had grown from 150 to 10,000.

In 1832, Singapore became the centre of government for the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the advent of telegraph and steamship increased Singapore's importance as a centre for the expanding trade between East and West.

Singapore had been the site of military action in the 14th century when it became embroiled in the struggle for the Malay Peninsula between Siam (now Thailand), and the Java-based Majapahit Empire.

Five centuries later, it was again the scene of significant fighting during World War II. Singapore was considered an impregnable fortress, but the Japanese overran the island in 1942. After the war, Singapore became a Crown Colony. The growth of nationalism led to self-government in 1959 and on 9 August 1965, Singapore became an independent republic.

History provided by and photo courtesy of