Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Further Adventures of Pixie the Roof Cat

“I think your cat just fell through the ceiling of my classroom”. Not a comment you hear everyday, especially while at school and certainly not what I expected to hear when the music teacher walked through my door. I went to investigate and sure enough, there was Pixie being consoled by the admissions director who, fortunately, is one of the main violators of the “no cats on campus” rule that exists at school (see “Pixie the Roof Cat” post from Saturday, October 16, 2004 for more details). She was quite freaked out, Pixie, not the administrator, but was otherwise unharmed. Apparently, Pixie has found a way to get into the crawl space between the hung ceilings and the actual roof of the buildings here at campus and today ventured onto a ceiling tile that could not hold her weight (perhaps she needs to go back to life on the streets for a bit and regain her svelte figure). The music teacher heard a loud crash in the practice room and went to see what was responsible for the disturbance. Imagine his surprise when he saw Pixie standing on the floor amongst various percussion instruments. All involved are fine, just a bit shaken up, especially the music teacher. Hopefully, Pixie has learned a lesson and will curtail her rooftop activities to less precarious situations.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Jakarta vs Singapore

New Years Eve in Singapore

I’m involved in having a baby (I was scolded the other day when I used “we” when referring to some aspect of the pregnancy – as I am certainly not with child). Involvement in having a baby includes lots of shopping. I was not aware of this. Fortunately, according to certain persons’ qualified to make such an assessment, Jakarta does not have good, yet cheap baby products; actually I believe “cute” not "good" was the descriptive term used. Thus my involvement in baby shopping in Jakarta has been limited. Unfortunately, Singapore does have cute and cheap baby stuff. The last few days of Christmas holidays I spent a lot of time in stores I never knew existed shopping for items I have never imagined. Once while looking for a diaper bag I asked what is required of a bag to be deemed diaper worthy – actually I don’t think that wording would have gone over well – but I was quite curious about the characteristic of such a bag and inquired. I received an exasperated look and a sigh that showed true sympathy for my ignorance followed by a detailed account of all the characteristics necessary to qualify a container as a truly proper diaper bag. I thought that a left over plastic supermarket bag would do the trick but I also imagined the versatile shopping bag would make quite a nice baby carrier as well – put a bit of padding in the bottom, perhaps double up the bags for some security and you’re good to go.

While we were in our 4th store (Singapore has 100s, perhaps 1000s of stores devoted to things baby all within a ridiculously concentrated area) and again unable to find the proper bag, I pointed to what I thought appeared to be the elusive item. I was given a sympathetic look and informed that it was a portable baby sun shade. Oh. I retreated into a corner and became as much a part of the background as possible. I noticed that I was not alone.

When you walk into a baby store the difference between men and women becomes glaringly obvious. As a kid I was asked how I knew the difference between men and women and responded that men have furry legs. Well observing men and women in a baby store would be just as telling. Women buzz with energy and coo over little baby size Santa outfits, pint sized overalls, mini French berets and "classic" (important) Winnie the Pooh pajamas. Men stand in out of the way corners and coves, slightly slouched, staring glassy eyed into space, clutching their wallets with one hand and previously purchased baby products with the other.

So one crib, crib mattress, crib mattress cover, changing shelf thing, blue bucket that attaches to the changing shelf thing, Fischer Price development enhancing vibrating chair and lots of adorable clothes later, (the elusive proper diaper bag managed to evade our persistent search, to be hunted another day) I shouldered our loot, looking like an urban Sherpa and stumbled, exhausted back to our hotel.

People always brag about the advantages of Singapore over other Asian cities. Well I have finally come up with an advantage Jakarta has over the City of Lions; few good baby stores.

Jakarta Baby

My wife was scolded the other day at the gym by a very concerned, spandex bedecked, Indonesian matron. I was running on the tread mill and Alicia went to grab some weights when the concerned matron asked Alicia with alarm in her voice, what exactly she thought she was doing working out in her condition(eight months pregnant). Alicia commented that it was good, grabbed her weights and made her way over to the exercise balls that she likes to roll around on. Supposedly in Indonesia, women in their later months of pregnancy are not expected to do much and certainly not hit the weight room. The lady communicated her concern to several other patrons, who did not seem to share the same level of distress. Un-phased by this lack of concern by her compatriots, she kept up a diligent watch while continuing her workout, perhaps expecting Alicia to give birth while rolling about on the giant ball. The scene certainly made the tedious time on the treadmill pass quickly and for that I was thankful for the paranoid patron’s vigilance.