Monday, January 28, 2013

Big Noises in Little China

Around Chinese New Year, Singapore's Chinatown begins to take on a hallucinatory aspect. It could be the extra crowds milling around, buying bakkwa like their lives depended on it. It could be the Chinese New Year decorations. It could be the way that, just like Christmas, Chinese New Year starts earlier and earlier. There's another two weeks to go, and there's already been almost two weeks filled with noise. After a while, you begin to imagine that it will never stop, that it will be Chinese New Year for 365 days, that they'll never stop with the lion dances and the banging of drums and the high pitched opera.

This is not an entirely irrational fear. Over the last 11 months, it seems almost every weekend has had some momentous event that needs to be commemorated by Very Loud Music in the square beneath our apartment. If I'd known I would be living in the All Loud Noise, All Of The Time Complex, I might have reconsidered my choice of accomodation.

However, it just keeps getting stranger and stranger. I begin to worry that I'm losing my grip on reality. That is fairly normal, I think, when you realise somebody is singing in Cantonese to the tune of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Yet even as I write this, Boney M's "Rivers of Babylon" is reverberating through the walls and window frames of our gaff. Why that is being played without a Chinese overdub, when all else is, becomes part of a greater mystery. What do the people down in the square know that I don't?

I could ask them, but I don't think they'd respond well to a man in his underpants walking into their midst and yelling. Last night there was a woman standing my the lifts, throwing fruit peel at the wall, and nobody batted an eyelid, but I don't want to risk a sudden change in public opinion.

Perhaps it's just sleep deprivation that's bringing me these visions. Maybe another night's sleep and I'll be full of good cheer for my fellow human. Or I'll be locked in the wardrobe by my wife to stop me screaming abuse at men in inflatable nylon suits miming to Gangnam Style.


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