samedi, avril 10, 2010

OSU Dinner in Venice

Venice and Gondolas

It was a little ambitious driving to Venice the morning after our return from Rome. Especially when it was only the second time that I was driving this far with the children and without the Hub. But we've been to Venice a few times and I know that there is a big parking at piazzale Roma which is expensive but convenient.

The drive was reasonably smooth and I was able to surf at around 135km/h most of the time which meant driving to Venice in 2 hours. However there is a new highway near Venice that the GPS couldn't recognise and I found myself driving to Trieste. Where the hell is Trieste?

Found out later that it's 100km from Venice near the Slovenian border. Oops.

Luckily I saw "Venezia" mentioned somewhere along the way and exited in time. Lost just 20 minutes in the hoo-ha. But there was a very long queue outside the parking and it wasn't moving at all. Panic. What if I couldn't park there?

Baby Girl and Pinocchio

When I finally got into the parking, the attendant told me to park on the 8th floor. I nearly freaked out, with visions of me scratching the big car (again) and Hub killing me for it. It was a slow and torturous climb up there (the engine died a few times) but I made it. Beautiful sunny day otherwise so all's well. I'd worry about driving down 8 floors later on.

I marched the kids round Venice all afternoon. Piazzale Roma - Train station - Cannaregio - Rialto bridge - Piazza San Marco - Park near Piazzale Roma - Train station for our 7pm rendez-vous.

Didn't go to Venice on a whim as it was. Had an email a few weeks ago from KP of the Overseas Singaporeans Unit (OSU) inviting all Singaporeans living in Italy to dinner in a city near where they live. I'm near nowhere as it was, and had to choose to drive to Milan, Florence, Venice or Rome. Venice had seemed the easiest (driving) option.

Looking down from the Rialto bridge

I wasn't desperate for a free dinner since you could well imagine that it cost me more driving, parking etc in Venice. And food there isn't particularly re-known if you wish. But I'm always glad to meet the country's efforts to reach out to us and I'm particularly happy to meet other Singaporeans anywhere in this world. We were 12 that evening and I had a great time.

I was the only one from Modena, the others being from Bologna, Venice, Verona and Mantova. The ladies are married to Italians. Most of the husbands were there and they all seemed very nice. One (diplomatic) guy made a toast to the "Singaporean women who brightened up our lives" at the beginning of the evening and another (romantic) one made some Bangladeshi rose seller (and of course the ladies) very happy by buying up the roses so that all the ladies could have one each. Just as well that Hub wasn't there as I'm not sure if he'll be able to live up to the standards.

Kids at piazza San Marco

Babies feeding potato chips to the pigeons

It was great meeting up with the girls, they were a fun bunch and we had a good laugh. We are all Singaporeans and have Chinese, Indian and Indonesian Chinese origins - but the great thing about Singaporeans no matter who and where we are is that we understand each other really quite well. KP is one nice girl (our age) and she spends her time in London (and Europe) trying to reach out to Singaporeans living there and keep us in touch with each other and with our country. She also gathers feedback from us so that she may pass it on to the government.

I know that there are now many new citizens in the country but seriously, they'll never be like good ole us. If they've not gone through our school system, our socialisation process, they'll never be like us. Probably not even their children. Because they are arriving in such numbers that they will not have the time, opportunity or desire to adapt - tending to stick to their own ways, language etc and forcing the locals to adapt to them instead. I still shudder when I think of the number of people asking me to speak Mandarin in my own country the last time I was home. Don't get me wrong, I'm super fluent in the language and believe in its importance, but I just dislike being forced to speak it when I least expect to. And I'm still sulking because that mainland Chinese hawker (and another time Filipina waitress) couldn't understand what I wanted done to my noodles which a truly Singaporean auntie would have no problem understanding. Anyway.

Venetian floating market

Park near Piazzale Roma

It is therefore nice to know that they haven't forgotten us. Exiled not because we do not love our country, but because of education, work or family that happened to bring us away from home. I do not feel any less Singaporean after nearly 15 years away, on the contrary, absence makes the heart grow fonder and surrounded every minute by non-Singaporeans, I can only realise how Singaporean I am and how proud I am to be so. And away from home, I still contribute to the economy.

The Dinner Group

It was 11pm when we finally parted ways. I marched the kids to the carpark fearing that they would close and we would be stuck in Venice. But apparently they are open 24/7. It was torturous driving down 8 floors and I had some difficulty at the beginning. But once out, it was smooth-sailing all the way back to Modena. With Lady Gaga singing 8 tubes again and again for 2 hours.

8 commentaires:

Pris a dit…

Well done you! Driving all the way to Venice for a Singaporeans gathering! :) Are there any Singaporeans living around your place??? There are quite a couple in Stuttgart. As a matter of fact, I met up with the "young ones" today! :) Very very nice bunch. The older bunch are nice too, but somehow quite Aunty lah....

Beau Lotus 涟 a dit…

I'm the only Singaporean in Modena, Pris.

Except for 2 (younger) girls, the rest of the group's of my age. And I am an aunty already :-)

Pris a dit…

Dear, you're a super cool "Aunty" lah.... I don't even feel like you're an Aunty.

When I say "Aunty", I mean I don't really know what to talk to them about, since they would talk mainly about babies and kids. And being childless, its a bit hard to participate in these type of conversations.

Anonyme a dit…

In the internet world, netizens are now referring it as the Foreigners Action Party. What concerns & anxieties that the native born Spore citizens have, are met by a do not bother me attitude by these party members. As long as we bring in foreigners so that there is critical mass to fund payment for mass transport, utilities, taxes etc, native born Spore citizens should just keep quiet.

The Foreigners Action Party is only interested in its bottom line: assets & liabilities in the true accounting sense.

Let us see what happens in the next GE though I am not counting on any changes. My prediction status quo.

Beau Lotus 涟 a dit…

I think we need foreigners, every dynamic country does. Paris, NYC, London wouldn't be the same without them.

It is just that I wonder if the quantity that we are inviting into the country is wise. They will not have the chance to adapt and integrate.

In the past, we really have the skilled labour, but now we seem to be flooding the market with the lowly-skilled ones. Prices could be kept low this way, but it does seem artificial and probably not feasible in the long run.

On the other hand, if prices go up any higher (like in most developed countries), Singaporeans will also complain. Can never win either way.

Unknown a dit…

Hi Serene,

I've really enjoined reading this post, an I'm not saying this diplomatically this time :-)
By the way you can find in Venice some really good places to eat, but of course they would be more expensive than the one we have choosen. Sally told me that you already know the restaurant called Anice Stellato, and people have described me that place as a good example. But If you look for "money for value" places, then the innerland it's definitively better than Venice itself.
Anyway we shared a really good time, and I have a little, friendly message to your friend one has talked about kids that eve, hopefully we have more topics to share ;-)

Beau Lotus 涟 a dit…

Emanuele, are you not in Berlin yet?

No, we didn't talk about kids - because none of you have any!!! Except me and KP :-)

It's about time you do something about Italy's low birthrate, don't you think so? LOL

Hope you've not been scared off by my 3 monsters..

Yes, I already know Anice Stellato, it's a very good restaurant.

And I'm sure that there are good eating places in Venice, but you'll have to go off the tourist track. We've tried a Trattoria there on another occasion and the food was good too.

Really happy to have met you Emanuele and hope to see you and Sally again soon. Amusez-vous bien à Berlin!

Unknown a dit…

Yes, leaving in one hour time. I hope to see all of you again, monsters included;-)