© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
The little red Ovenbird (furnarius rufus) is the national bird of Argentina and it makes an unusual clay home not unlike a rustic pizza oven that is surely a five star nest in the feathered world. While watching Rufous Hornero make architectural repairs I wondered about the concept of home and my flimsy attitudes towards a stable base, homeland and domestic bliss. I do understand these concepts but again and again I return to airports in order to wander far and wide. Silly me.
“I did Sydney” as many tourists say about a short visit to a location. Meaning I fell off a long haul flight, saw family, friends, colleagues, art and strangers, drank a lychee cocktail and ate great food, wandered about, met more people and then rushed back to the airport to fly to Singapore. I am sure I did other things as well but it is all just a blur now.
In Singapore I presented a travelogue talk at the LASALLE art school which covered topics like wanderlust, getting successfully lost, constructing art residencies in unlikely places and whether pink and blue pyjamas are the ideal traveling outfit or maybe a classic 1960’s safari suit is more durable? I really must get myself a new stylish wardrobe to replace my weathered antique fashion ensemble.
Singapore is an odd city as many will agree but in some ways it represents one possible neat future. It is cosmopolitan, modern, wealthy, clean, safe, and very very busy. High-rise, hi-tech, hi-energy also high in temperature for the entire year. Compared to Argentina on the world time zone scale, Singapore is eleven hours in the future but from what I saw around me I was at least 11 years in the future from Argentina. One morning while slurping dumpling soup I saw a man zoom by on the pavement riding a electric solo-wheel vehicle, wearing very hip shiny synthetic clothes and plugged deep into the internet. Looking half-man and half-robot. In fact the entire city runs like a well oiled machine and that includes the citizens who are mostly pleased to be part of this social experiment on a tiny Island state just 140 kilometers from the equator. The Chinese/Indian/Malay/Euro masala seemingly does not actually mix that much in terms of social activity but generally this city state of six million folk all work hard together and play by the rules as they all consume stuff galore. Shopping malls litter the state and shopping is in fact a sport, a religion and a hobby. Is it all too ordered, a bit too non-organic and just a bubble of fortune that will soon pop?
I was told that the population have all sold their souls in order to live in a place that is safe, clean, planned and rich. Growing from a small tropical fishing village 200 years ago into a first world, air-conditioned, global financial, commercial and transportation hub is rather impressive but I feel that I would be physically roasted like a barbequed duck under the humidity and possibly I would also creatively melt if I stayed too long but maybe by melting I would reform ideas, blend and flow into some other innovative vein.
In Singapore I stayed with friends who live in a skyscraper with a grand view of hundreds of other skyscrapers from the balcony and a never still cloud-scape watering the Island. Below the cumulus nimbus at the base of the building sat the basic Moonstone Coffee House which was a culinary and social microcosm where Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Euro/Oceanic characters all mingled by the multi flavoured cooking pots simmering on well used stoves. Everyone sat down to eat, chat, drink, relax and perhaps they considered how extremely controlled their lives were but also how very lucky they were living in the belly of the Lion city.
I made a short pit-stop at Kuala Lumpur which initially seemed like a much larger and much less organized version of Singapore but I am sure I will learn a great deal more about Malaysia when I return. Now I melt on a Thai island. It is Songkrang or the Thai New years festival. A very hot and humid time of the year, in fact so hot and humid that the locals all throw buckets of cold water at each other in order to cool down and cleanse themselves from the build up of dirt, sweat and evil deeds collected over the past year. It's actually the year 2560 in the Thai world so I feel once again very much in the future even though there is a large water buffalo living next door in a wallow hole.