Thursday 30 November 2023

Month of November 2023

A Dutch friend dropped by in town and we met for a quick catch up over lunch. He's much more travelled and experienced than me, when allied with his effusive nature, shared interesting perspectives of what's been going on in his life. One of our topics referred to the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. He was quick to rebut what his government had done. As we know, much of Europe relied on Russian gas for their energy needs. Add that to the intention of being a climate friendly nation and thus the Dutch government decided to reject natural gas for cooking. By next year, most homes must stop using gas stoves. Petrol vehicles are also being phased out. The Dutch are big proponents on human rights as well. So obviously, they are sympathetic to refugees and protesters alike. But according to my friend, there's been much abuse of the system. In his city, once a week, a group of people hold sit down protests. Their choice of location is usually at a busy or major road, blocking entire traffic for hours. That's because the police can't disperse them easily. No water guns, no tear gas and not even pushing people off the streets. In the end, someone came up with the idea to create human trolleys and cart them off. A laughable solution. Worse, such people are usually unemployed and yet they continue to receive benefits to the tune of around S$2200 per month. Compare that to a service staff who earns S$2500. Our conversation sometimes drifted into his business. He's as passionate as ever, with plans to explore opportunities in Asia. If things go well, I'll probably see him again next year.

There's been a rather alarming rate of announcements with regard to people getting scammed. Singapore is among the top nations in terms of amount lost. I have received a fair share of phone calls, emails and social media invitations and been fortunately safe thus far. What I have done is especially to keep a close eye on credit card transactions, checking them monthly and looking for odd vendors in the list. However, something else happened. Recently, I was walking along Marina Square and just window shopping while waiting for my wife. A voice called out in Chinese, "Hey brother, hey.." I looked back, saw a pair of mother and daughter and the former waved at me. They looked like tourists and likely needed directions. I walked over and nodded. The mother said, "We just arrived in Singapore and waiting for a friend who's late but we're hungry and have no money. I'm not asking for money but can you treat us to a meal?" The time was around 4pm. I paused to think and the daughter quickly added, "It's fine if you can't help. We'll just wait." They appeared decently groomed. The mother maintained her smile towards me and probably saw my hesitant look. "Well, tell me which hotel are you staying at?" I replied. Now it was their turn to turn hesitant and the daughter, a little impatient, tugged at the mother's hand to pull her in the opposite direction and her parting words were, "That's ok, we will be fine, bye." It was a strange encounter.

Tip: Ratafia Solera 90-16, nutty grape with tea infused wood

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