Yawning Bread. 13 November 2009

Away again




I'll be out of Singapore some five weeks. The main site will likely be out of action for this while, but what I will try to do this trip is to blog daily from wherever I am. This means the updates will only be on the Sampler site yawningbread.wordpress.com.

The plan is to blog about impressions as I travel -- the press headlines I see, the cultures and social behaviour I encounter, the politics around me. Naturally, it will be subjective and impressionistic. And it will require a different style of writing: short and sketchy -- which is one of the reasons I want to try my hand at it. I may be a total failure at that, but we shall see.

Of course I'll be meeting people, but their privacy has to be respected, and I do not intend to name them or discuss the conversations we have.

The ultimate destination is Trinidad, where the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be taking place at the end of November. I am not (yet) a head of government, and I don't expect to have a place at the table. But I will be attending two side conferences - the Commonwealth People's Forum, where I have chosen to participate in the Human Rights section, and a nameless conference dealing with gay and lesbian advocacy.

* * * * *

About two weeks ago, I went to the nearest Polyclinic to make an appointment for an H1N1 vaccination, after hearing that it is spreading crazily in the United States. They couldn't give me a date because they hadn't yet received the vaccines. I could understand that. Taking down my contact details, they said they'd call me to fix a day and time for the vaccination when they have received the stock.

It's been two weeks. I haven't heard from them. I tried to call, but couldn't get through to a human. Instead, I went to a private hospital and got it done on the spot.

* * * * *

I thought I should make sure I have working Personal Identification Numbers for my credit cards before departure. I have never ever taken cash advances against my credit cards, but this is a long trip and I thought I should allow for this possibility. 

Naturally, I have forgotten what my PINs are, so I went to both DBS Bank and Citibank to get them updated. At DBS, they said I had to fill in a form manually and submit it over the counter. They'd mail the new PIN to me in four working days.

Four working days? I'll be flying off by then, I said. Any way to do this faster?

No, this is the only procedure we have, they said.

Can't I go to some office and collect the PIN myself?

No, we have to mail it to you.

OK, then, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope I get it in the mail on the day of departure. 

I left the bank defeated.

At Citibank, I went up to the Enquiry counter with the same request.

So, how can I get a new PIN? I asked.

Oh, we can do it on this keypad right here, the young man said, pointing to a keypad on the counter.

He called up the relevant operations module on his computer, activated the customer keypad and asked me to key in whatever set of digits I'd want for my PIN.

One minute later, it was done.

* * * * *

So, over and out, for the next few weeks.

Yawning Bread