Tag Archives: Lights

This Time of Year

There’s a fun little calendar on the window sill. Its colourful flip pages track not only day of the week, month, date, and year, but also weather, season, and moon phase, which makes more sense when you consider that the day of the week and month are in Hebrew. I purchased this calendar at an art museum in Israel many years ago and it has travelled around the world with me. Before that, it sat on my desk when I taught at Catholic school. When an astounded student asked, “You can read that?” I had to clarify that Hebrew and hieroglyphics are not the same thing and my choice of the falling leaves picture (rather than sleeping forest animals, for instance) simply meant that leaves were falling.

Neither the illustrations of falling leaves nor sleeping animals have been used in quite some time. Seasons are far more subtle on the equator, signified by a shift in wind that changes the texture of the air and how it feels on the skin. There might be more or less rain, but that’s about it.

As I write this, I’ve flipped the weather image to “partly sunny”; we’ve been at “cloudy” for days. It is nice to watch the world change.

Last night, the air smelled like winter. Fresh, clean, sharp, coming down from high places rather than emanating from the ground like summer air. I could smell the grass when I first arrived here in July, and to say that I could not get over it is both silly and the truth.

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, which I always think of, incorrectly, as a winter holiday. The lunar calendar shifts, after all. Chanukah commemorates the destruction of Jewish communities by the Greeks and the efforts made by groups of rebels to protect themselves and their Holy Temple. A tiny jar of oil burned for eight days, the story says, and we light candles for eight days in commemoration. Traditionally, there are delicious fried foods and a game that uses a spinning top called a dreidel in Yiddish. The only dreidel I currently have is a decorative one that I received as a Bat Mitzvah gift a shocking number of years ago. It hangs, as it always has, year-round in front of a window. My menorah (more accurately, chanukiah) was a Bat Mitzvah gift, too.

This brings me back to the calendar. My Bat Mitzvah, my coming of age in the eyes of the Jewish community, fell on the second night of Chanukah and also on American Thanksgiving weekend. It snowed that night.

We have snow in the forecast this week, as well, but right now we have a sunny morning. The sun came out in full force yesterday afternoon, and suddenly the world looked a little bit bigger. We were no longer huddled under a cloud. Yesterday, I was out in the rain to mail a stack of postcards and commented about the weather in all of them. I knew how easy it was to live on the equator, and I thought about it every time I ran out of the house in sandals and a tank top late in the evening because I suddenly decided I wanted a specific vegetable for dinner, but I didn’t remember how many actions were required to do the same when it’s dark in the middle of the afternoon and only getting colder.

I do think Chanukah comes at a good time of year. My consumption of fried foods will be limited, but I am looking forward to the glow from the candles. It feels different in a cold place.

May this time of year, with all of it festivals, traditions, rituals, and holidays, be a peaceful time for all. Chag sameach!

Weimar, Germany – November 2021

Silent Disco Asia

Ever been overwhelmed at a party? Lights are too bright, music is too loud (or just plain bad), and there are too many people? Ever caught between wanting to join your friends for the night and wanting to DJ on your own?

As I learned last weekend, Silent Disco Asia has a solution!

Three DJs curate three different radio channels and one simply flicks a switch on wireless headphones to choose the channel and adjust the volume to their heart’s content. If the dance floor itself gets too crowded, the headphones reach outside and upstairs to the rooftop for more breathing room and beautiful views of Marina Bay. From there, you can see the light installations that are part of the iLight Festival and on view until the end of the month.

Me to my roommate: Take a picture of the back of my head for blog purposes.

In addition to being a lot of fun and a great way to literally dance the night away, silent disco allowed for excellent people watching. Headphones seemed to reduce many inhibitions that people feel sometimes on the dance floor; there was a great array of big moves and loud singing with a boldness that is far less common. The most hilarious part by far was taking off the headphones for a moment and listening to all the truly awful singing from people with huge smiles on their faces. Every so often, I’d make eye contact with someone else and we’d laugh, sharing our delight.

That’s what I enjoyed most about silent disco. People were there to spend time with their friends, sing as loudly as they were dancing, and just enjoy the music. When my friends frantically pointed to their headphones in obvious excitement, I’d change channels until I found what they were listening to (as I have trouble with spatial things, I could not for the life of me keep track of the three possible positions for the switch). Sometimes, I’d stick with my friends’ songs and we’d sing together, though other times I’d shake my head and flip back through the channels, laughing at the way our dancing did or did not line up.

It was a happy evening during which social awkwardness or anxiety didn’t seem to play a role for anyone. Maybe it takes a certain type of person to even consider silent disco, or maybe having your own space (and therefore the explicit freedom to do your own thing) in the midst of a crowd provided enough individualism and autonomy to make it easy to do just that – be an individual.

Interested? Silent Disco Asia will be here for the next two weekends and they’re advertising an upcoming Bollywood night. $25 gets you admission, a beverage, and guaranteed great music. Have a wonderful time!

Celebrating SG52

It’s so strange to me that I was here for Singapore’s 50th birthday two years ago. At some moments, it feels like I’ve been away for ages but tonight reminded me that a year really isn’t that long. Just like two years ago, I celebrated National Day at Gardens by the Bay, which I’ve written about a few times.

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While still exciting and patriotic, SG52 was much calmer than SG50. Far fewer people and much less hype.

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We were able to actually move around freely to watch the nightly light show . . .

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. . . and take in the fireworks.

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We also ate Middle Eastern, Malaysian, Chinese, and Singaporean food at Satay by the Bay. We felt pretty darn inclusive in a country that spends National Day highlighting unity.

Here’s to another year, Singapore!