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.