Mainichi Weekly

I write a monthly column on life in Singapore for Mainichi Weekly, published by the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, for Japanese readers who are learning English. I get to write about slice of life stuff, everyday things. The column runs in PDF format, I’d like to share a few favorites here.

Taste of heaven, smell of hell

Durians are a tropical fruit grown in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. They are considered a delicacy and when they are in season, they are wildly popular and plentiful. There are many people who can’t get enough of the fruit.

And there are many others —like me — who can’t tolerate the terrible, overpowering smell that durians give off.

Durians are sometimes called “the king of fruits,” although as far as I am concerned, they should be dethroned.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-Durians

Play It Forward Singapore

Play It Forward Singapore spearheads a public piano movement whose mission is to put used pianos in the hands — and ears — of music lovers. It’s a great idea that can be applied anywhere.
The group encourages donations of working pianos that are no longer wanted or needed, and often sitting unused in living rooms or home basements.
Then it looks for worthy recipients — a charity group, school, or non-profit institution that would benefit from a donated piano.

In addition, Play It Forward gets permission to put put pianos in public places — sometimes two in one place, side by side.

Read the column in PDF: MainichiPiano

Sarong Party Girls

There’s a current bestseller in Singapore that takes you on a comic romp through the city’s dance clubs and night spots. But it’s not all fun and games — it’s also a growing-up tale that looks at how a group of young women balance the old-world values of their parents with the wealth and luxury they see all around them.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-SarongPartyGirls

The Hawker Centre

The tradition surrounding Singaporean street food and hawker centres, where delicious food can be had on the cheap. And why American food writer Calvin Trillin observed of Singaporeans: “Culinarily, they are among the most homesick people I have ever met.”

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-TheHawkerCentre

School’s out for summer

Think of a college campus, and what do you see?

I see students on a green throwing a Frisbee or kicking around a soccer ball. Somewhere in the distance, on a dormitory balcony, someone is strumming a guitar. From a rehearsal room, a young violinist can be heard practicing toward perfection. A college is a community of lifelong learners.

Take a walk on campus, and you are bound to bump into someone who is exploring something new, discovering some interesting pursuit, or thinking some grand thought.

Then summer comes, and I live in a ghost town.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-School’s Out

Pink Dot

Playing off Singapore’s nickname “the little red dot,” Pink Dot is a yearly event at Speaker’s Corner, the British colony’s answer to London’s Hyde Park Corner. Don’t call it a demonstration for gay rights, call it a celebration of love. Which it is.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-PinkDot

Happy anniversary?

The year 2019 will mark the 200th anniversary of what is considered the founding of modern-day Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles arrived on the island in 1819 and saw the potential for a bustling port city. He envisioned what would become one of the busiest ports in the world. But there are mixed feelings today about celebrating Singapore’s British colonial legacy.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-RafflesAnniversary

The Joys of Carlessness

One of the things I love about Singapore is that you can get anywhere on public transit. Granted, it’s a pretty small place. But there is a conscious effort by policymakers to put every neighborhood within reach of a train line or a bus route. And there are taxis, cheap by international standards, and now ride-hailing services like Grab. Owning a car is a status symbol, and not owning one is a joy.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-CarlessLife

The Smart Nation

Singapore is setting out to be the world’s first Smart Nation. The whole place is wired and connected. However futuristic, technology makes everyday life a little bit easier.

Read the column in PDF: Singapore-SmartNation

The new danger on the sidewalk

More and more, Singaporeans are using personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as kickscooters and hoverboards instead of walking. Singapore is trying to figure out what to do about the growing popularity of these PMDs on public sidewalks — should they be allowed, or regulated? Should insurance be required? Or do pedestrians just have to put down their smartphones and become defensive walkers?

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-PMDs

Orchard Road

There is occasionally talk of turning Singapore’s world-famous shopping belt into a fully pedestrianized strip — in a city where the car is still king.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-OrchardRoad

Singapore, the Little Red Dot

This was my introductory column on life in Singapore for Mainichi Weekly on Oct. 3, 2015, and an intro to Singapore for those who’ve never been.

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-Singapore, the Little Red Dot

John Lennon’s mystery trip to Singapore

Read the column in PDF: Mainichi-JohnLennon