The local P.O. had been relocated from the flying-saucer beside Paya Lebar MRT and was now housed in the new mall opposite City Plaza. (Another older and more modest mall.)
The treacherous tiled forecourt needed to be traversed where the water-spouts in the narrow passage remained unused. (At the first sign of rain a ride-on mopper comes out, working sometimes in tandem with a second.) A giant invoice stamp raised on its side holds the signage, and against the glass a sports-car on a platform awaits lucky shoppers.
Toast Box left and Superheroes sharing the right street-front with Starbucks. The girl at bellapierre cosmetic counter obligingly directs you to Level 3.
The first number of times passing the candy colors, the playground decorations and through the pumped perfumes there was a small shock of going under. LollypopLollypopLollypop either side whichever way one turned. Hanging out the tongue one could have collected the sweetness along the corridor from the luscious tints.
Yankie Candie—read at first as Candle—blew a gale into the passageway.
Keep right. The marker to look for was I. POISE JEWELS (pronoun; not numeral), diagonally opposite the escalators. Up was around on the other side, hooking through a nameless shoe outlet that had taken advantage of a narrow passage.
Blundering at Level 2 introduced Sliming Sanctuary, Old Hollywood Market and numerous F & B outlets. White picket fence and rustic cardboard brick elsewhere in the same tint.
The nearest other post office was up on Aljunied corner about two kilometers.
The P.O. itself was unobjectionable. (How odd to actually miss the spaceship-inspired platform at Paya Lebar. Control Tower. Do you read me, roger?... Who would have thought?) The same markers on the floor for queuing: giant-sized arrow-heads for the visually impaired. (Rather too like the flight of geese on Australian living-room walls a generation past.)
The problem lay elsewhere; not at the Post office. Hardly objectionable at all that and the staff usually quite native lovely. Close-by the problem lay.
On the first sortie Level 2 below in the same corner had provided a kind of aperitif of this strange assortment that had been passed more quickly on that occasion.
Heguru could not be deciphered at first whichever way it was turned.
Hegu-ru? Heg-uru?... Completely stumped by Heguru.
Juzmusic. Then Ingenium and then after that globalart.
Globalart’s crooked second “l” stood in the shape of an old-fashioned rocket-pencil like we boys favored in primary school down in the Great Southern land.
One had become used to the local creole; the moveable signage worn on the tees had been a particular study. Expats made a great deal of money tutoring bureaucrats and management here to straighten out the crooked tongues. Even official government signage could occasionally make little bloopers. It was perfectly understandable. Where else on the planet had a foreign language been foisted upon a populace with main force in this fashion?... One of the fascinations for a curious-minded traveler and student of culture.
This was a rocky road in this particular corner of the new One KM Mall on both Levels 2 & 3. Something unexpected in the hunt for the post office.
Within globalart with the rocket-pencil second "l," naive-painted on an inner corridor wall, a worrisome Mona Lisa floated in a cloud of sunflowers and geraniums on a riverbank perhaps. Understandably the smile had created difficulties.
A gallery of some kind this was not. This was some other kettle of fish.
WTF? What sweet Jesu truly?
Even a pattern was not immediately apparent, no commonality sensed in the cluster. A mature-age wise-head standing around open-mouthed and staring. Disbelieving. What a figure he must have made.
Mind Champs. And beside globalart, Total English Learning Centre too failed to read immediately.
No product visible anywhere made it harder still. Even the dentist on the other side (on Level 3 was it?) gave a hint of the service.
Mind champs?... globalart?...
Really, in all honesty, it was only the small print that finally, properly revealed the mystery.
Heguru sold the promise of "Photographic Memory" and "Extraordinary Thinking Power." Sold more too. Added to the accomplishments available behind the glass at Heguru was in unmistakable English writ large: "Great Personality."
Great Personality. They had "Great Personality" brewed and bottled here on a shelf in an assortment of colors, twist-top or pop, the choice was yours.
As the messengers in the epics declared at the high points in the sagas: May the Lord's thunder-bolt strike if I speak false.
Jazmusic delivered the Suzuki Program and "Junior Playtime for 2 1/2 Year Olds" in the back corner of One KM Mall on Level 3 around from the post office. There was a high-polish black mini baby-grand against the glass inside.
Ingenium could "ignite (the) innate." It delivered "science by scientists."
At the eatery table later over the teh the laboratory came of itself to mind with SXXX dust-coats, bunsen burners and petri dishes for the next generation Louis Pasteurs on the equator here.
Aduh!... No drinking fountain in sight at the time.
One or two parents could be seen delivering children to TV-bright front-of-house girls in uniform, Filipinas possibly; a maid picking up her precious young charge. One or two little faces were glimpsed as they marched along out front coming or going. A mite at her coloring-in table behind the glass waited to get picked up after her session.
The mail was becoming grubbed in the hands now despite the aircon. There seemed little point suddenly. The lifts stood near-by.
On the other side of the passage from English Learning Centre that had eschewed lollipop and presented a corporate shop-front, Citibella Beauty Club & Atelier. Mothers could pop in during their wait. Maids meanwhile could attend to the shopping in the basement supermarket. Immediately opposite the cluster Gelare offered ice-cream after the brainstorming.
There was a logic at work. One or two business concerns operated all these stores, on both levels; the cosmetic counters and Yankie Candie too integrated.
The insight suddenly dawned. Dots not difficult to join once one had made the breakthrough.
The Singaporean educational model, like the urban planning model, the business-friendly climate and low taxes, the cleanliness and security regime, were widely admired and copied across the region. On the other side of the globe replicas of the Republic were mushrooming rapidly. India would shortly be building an entire city from scratch with Singaporean expertise. How well they had done after all. None could hold a Yankie candle to Singapore.
A foreigner could not recall the open sewers, the flooding, the rat infestation like in Malaysia and Indonesia, which had been overcome in the famously short thirty years.
It was impossible to overstate the importance of cleanliness in the broiling tropics particularly.
Reports arrived subsequently of eight-month-olds enrolled in enrichment classes and others attending 3–4 times a week after school.
Singapore was a parable; the existential contemporary drama nakedly revealed.
Someone must bear witness. A superhero scribbler in tight costume had taken the pledge and would keep faith. The story must out. Take one's place in the queue quietly, buy the postage and dispatch. That was all.
Copyright © March 2018 Map Literary and Pavle Radonic