Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shouted at

After staying up too late last night reading a gargantuan blog post about why the US isn't good at Olympic weightlifting, I woke groggy and exhausted this morning. Then I spent another hour reading about why the US isn't good at Olympic weightlifting.

I don't know why I behave like this. I have no interest in Olympic weightlifting. It's not that I don't think it's a sport - it must be, because it's ridiculous to think of somebody doing a clean and jerk in a non-sporting context - and the idea of fairly small people picking up very heavy things is amusing, but it's not something I'd go out of my way to watch.

Or read a 20-page blog article about.

It was a bit long, and boils down to Olympic weightlifting (I didn't know how many types of weightlifting there are, but I guess you learn something every day) being unappealing to Americans used to sports that are easy to follow (er, American football?) or exciting (er, baseball?) or violent (aha! Ice hockey!) and there being no huge pool of weightlifters to draw on / fill up with drugs / tell them they can't compete in other, more lucrative sports. Which didn't need four hours of my life. Oh well.

This meant that although I knew I had to go running today, I didn't get out until 10:30, by which point the sun was up and the streets were crowded. Not wanting to spend twenty minutes shoving, and feeling either guilty or masochistic, I crossed the street and ran up Pearl Hill instead of my usual flat course to the river, and ran round and round the hill until I felt I'd done enough. Then I ran back down the hill and tried to get back home.

I'm not very good with hills in Singapore: whenever I go up one, I come down somewhere I didn't expect to. This time I ran along a road I didn't recognise, then cut through a car park. There was a man at the entrance, sweeping up dead leaves. This is one of those exercises in futility that passes beyond comprehension; more leaves will fall tomorrow, and others will blow in, so a little bit of sweeping is rather ineffectual. (This is a bit rich coming from somebody who alternates his time between running and eating cheese, but I'm large, I contain multitudes.)

I ran to the end of the car park, to a locked gate, then ran back out again. As I approached the exit, a cantankerous gent came out to yell at me. First he shouted that it was dangerous. I doubted this, because unless the leaves being swept were made from purest penicillin, I was not at much risk, and there wasn't a cavalcade of vehicles driving in and out. There weren't any cars around at all, which is suspicious for a car park. Maybe they're up to something.

Then he shouted that it was private property, which also baffled me a bit, but by then I was accelerating out of the gate and down the street, calling out over my shoulder that I hadn't realised, what with there being no sign anywhere saying so. I suppose my swift exit was lessened by running up to a crowd of very old people walking very slowly by a big pile of durians, but the old man wasn't the kind to give chase.

Perhaps I should have stopped so we could have a proper discussion of what constitutes a reasonable expectation of public and private spaces. If there's no fence and there isn't a man sat in a hut that lets anyone walk in anyway, is that a public space, or is it just not a condo? Is there an implicit social contract that says men with sweaty beards shouldn't run through the car park outside your block of flats, and if there is, why is there nothing similar to allow me to shout at the line dancers when they're playing Islands In The Stream incredibly loud on a Saturday night? Or did I move some of the leaves accidentally?

Or, I could admit that I was in the wrong, but that's the sort of thing that rankles. I must remember to avoid private concrete spaces in the future, but since half of Singapore seems to be concrete spaces, that's a bit difficult. At least up on Pearl Hill there's some obvious signs with a man shooting a surrendering trespasser, which leaves no doubt.


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