Behind the Wheel

The taxi driver who drove me to work today, was a lady and a muslim. In some countries, such social freedom to work without gender bias and religious restrictions is still an improbable dream.

Singapore truly shines through as a progressive nation. Thumbs Up

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Singapore Duck Race 2007

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My Picture from the last duck race to be held in Singapore. An amusing concept where thousands of rubbers ducks are released into the Singapore river. The river current(?) eggs them on to the finish line which is further down the river. The event is held for charity and the public pitch in by adopting a duck. All in all a fun day out for the family.

Eager spectators thronged the banks on both sides of Clarke Quay. The  event started a good 50 mins late. But hey, its all for a cause right.

Mustafa Shopping – Survival Guide

If you are in Singapore, you’re most likely to visit the Mustafa Shopping Center. Here are some tips on orienting yourself better.

Why go there: 

  • They have just about everything and then some. Electronics, Watches, A supermarket, a Jewellery shop, Pharmacy, Foreign exchange and even a book store. It’s really a one stop shop. So, go prepared for the heavy dose of items/ sq foot
  • People go there because it’s cheaper than most places. But I wouldn’t say everything is cheaper.

 How to get to Mustafa : 

  • If you are taking the MRT to get there. Get off at Farrer park station. Most people get off at Little India station because, well Mustafa is IN little India. But the fact is, you are then faced with a long walk through the pretty busy and (un-‘rest of Singapore’ like) sidewalk of Serangoon Road. That can slow you down and tire you out for the final assault on Mustafa.
  • If you are a happy tourist, transiting through Singapore. You can take the MRT  from the Airport to Outram Park and then transfer there to the North East Line all the way to Farrer Park.
  • For those who couldn’t be bothered – Take a taxi J

 Something’s you might not know  : 

  • In my experience, you get the best US Dollar conversion rate at the Mustafa exchange, better than at Changi Airport.
  • Mustafa has an extensive luggage section. Some visitors ingeniously, buy their luggage first, and then leave it outside Mustafa under watch. After their through with the shop fest they pack in all the stuff into their new bags and have a neat , hassle free way to get out of Singapore.
  • If you are an Indian and missing desi spices / masala and all the other paraphernalia, the Mustafa supermarket is an essential monthly stop for groceries. I have seen more ‘Indian’ items there than you would find in a large supermarket back home.
  • People love buying DVD’s here and they have an extensive collection.
  • The perfumes and chocolates are sometimes cheaper than at the  Duty free.
  • It’s quite a labyrinthine place, so make sure you explore in all directions and all levels.
  • Getting a taxi out of Mustafa sometimes can be a big pain. Most often you will find them On Call. If you are burdened with a lot of shopping , then this can be a frustrating experience. Call for a cab, it will save you a lot of hassle.
  • Mustafa has gift certificates with unlimited validity. You can get it from the counter at Basement II
  • They have a bunch of ‘qualified to help’ staff walking around looking busy. If you get lost or can’t find something – which you most definitely will, just walk up and ask!
  • They have a paging system so use it if you are trying to track someone down.

When to go :

  • Mustafa is open 24hrs, which is great for tourists and locals alike.
  • Going at midnight and beyond means you get more air to breathe and more inches on the aisles.
  • Don’t go to Little India or Mustafa on Sunday evenings or Public Holidays. The mass swelling of migrant workers on their day off can really overwhelm you. If you are squeamish about crowds – Don’t go!

Comex 2007 – The big electronics fair in Sg

As always, it’s been drawing a lot of visitors and I think the weekend is going to be really buzzzzing with folks scouting around for that SUPER deal. If you have been eyeing something for a while and want the right environment to make an impulse decision – Go Now!

There are lots of offers, but even with its many brand offerings, the scope of the exhibition is narrower than it should be.

Some of the high end or newer end models are just not available. Take for example the Lenovo X61 Tablet. Given the size of the Lenovo stall, it’s a pity that they didn’t have one on display or even a price quote for the same.  All the people we met there seemed ill- prepared to give any answers on that model. It’s almost as if they never expected anyone to enquire about the X61 tablet!! With the kind of crowd that turns up at COMEX, M/s Lenovo, you got to be ready for anything. Don’t just sell what you have, sell what the customer wants.

I saw similar shortcomings at Apple. Although I think the promoters this time were very good. They were full of energy and quite intelligible, much like the brand itself.  We enquired about offers on the Ipod Nano and BOSE docking system as a package ——–‘Blank’

Come on Apple, get Creative! 😉

Comex is on till 2nd Sept  from noon to 9 pm at the Suntec City Exhibition Center.

  • Be prepared for huge swell of humanity, by Singaporean standards. But, everyone does a wonderful job of not bumping into each other.
  • Be prepared for an army of P4’s – Pointless Paper Pushing Promoters. Wouldn’t generalize, some of them really do a good job. (The organizers of COMEX, should put a limit to the no of promoters per stall)
  • Be prepared for long queues at the Taxi stand and difficulty booking one.
  • Finally be prepared for a lighter wallet / bank account!

My well thought out, impulse purchase at COMEX: a Nikon D40 DSLR kit with extra zoom lens. I am thrilled to bits.

 

Mustafa Shopping Center Singapore – The Story

I just happened to be at Mustafa yesterday and then ‘coinkindingly’ when I got home I watched a Soapumentry – Life Stories II on Channel 5 Singapore. This episode was a light bio on the genesis of the Mustafa Shopping Center enterprise in Little India. So here are some things I learnt along the way –

  • Mohamed Mustafa arrived in Singapore in the early 1950’s from India.
  • He started a tea and snacks push cart stall, to cater to the locals with the help of a close friend Samsuddin.
  • Mushtaq Ahmad, the son of Mohamed Mustafa came to Singapore in 1954 after the untimely death of his mother. He came from Uttar Pradesh. (one would think Tamil Nadu since most immigrants to Singapore were from the South of India )
  • He was instrumental in taking the Mustafa business from food to textiles and much more.
  • The business that started off on 4 wheels moved into a 500 sq foot shop house and today covers 150,000 sq feet of shopping area selling more that 150,000 items with an annual turnover of S$ 302 Million.
  • Mushtaq Ahmad is one of the richest men in Singapore with an estimated worth of USD 165 Million.
  • Mushtaq Ahmad stuck to sound business principles like volume driven business at cheaper fixed prices. Owning rather than renting the location and most importantly, listening and responding to customer needs.

Today, Mohamed Mustafa & Samsuddin Co Pte Ltd Shopping center is a landmark and a ‘must go’ place on any tourist list. Its literally bursting at the seams and continuously changing. Truly Inspiring!

More on Mustafa in my next post…

Check out www.mobtv.sg for broadband television playback of Life Stories II.

Onam Sadya in Singapore

sadya.jpgsadya.jpgsadya.jpgsadya.jpgThis one is for all my mallu brethren. With Onam around the corner you must be looking for a good place to savour the ’20 plus-item on banana leaf’ lunch extravaganza, which has become the high point of any Onam celebration.

Spice Junction (126, Race Course road) is hosting the ‘Ona Sadya’ starting today all the way till next Sunday. The Sadya will be served between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm. Priced at S$ 12.90 per adult and 6.90 per child. Pretty reasonable for a feast away from home I’d say.

Spice Junction can be reached on 63417980

They have an Onam Takeaway pack that serves 10 -12 people for s$129.I am planning to go next weekend. I am sure its going to be packed the next few days.

Rain – Bring it on!

umbrella.jpgI hate carrying an Umbrella .

Its a bad habit. One that I got from life in my hometown – Bangalore , India. People don’t carry umbrellas there. It doesn’t rain as often as the tropical climes of Singapore,  but it does rain. However, unlike other city dwellers in Mumbai and Delhi, the umbrella to the Bangalorean is So, to put it mildly ‘uncool’. It OK to get drenched to the bone but its NOT OK to carry a damn umbrella. Use of alternatives like important documents, plastic bags, other human beings, trees and so on for protection is acceptable, but don’t use the  ‘ U ‘ thing. Its an unspoken rule.(IMHO)

Personally, I think its easier to quit smoking than to carry an umbrella around. There’s also the part about finding the right umbrella! A man’s umbrella – the right colour personality, span and feel. A search, I have been avoiding for long.

Not any more.

Its the third time in 2 weeks , that I am getting drenched, just crossing the street  and on my way to office. Impatience is my virtue and I’d rather make a run for it and risk it all than wait in the comfort of a shaded building or pathway. Much to the amusement of onlookers who wonder, why I am so hell bent on getting wet. They have a ‘ Why can’t he just get an umbrella?’ look on their faces.

With Miss Rihanna going -ella ella ella hey hey hey on the radio almost 24/7 , I am pretty convinced its all part of a larger conspiracy. 

I give up! I am gonna get myself a ‘partial body rain protection device today’, so ‘Indra’ -Bring it ON!