Kelvin and the Elevators

It has now been seven months since our move to Singapore. I’d say we have finally settled in. I judge this by the fact the majority of restaurants where we eat are within a 5-minute walk of our apartment. Thousands upon thousands of good restaurants are spread across this city-state. We hear about them from new friends (mainly coworkers here), the Time-Out magazine, and many of the travel magazines we pick up when we venture out to the huge newsstand at Holland Village. All the restaurants reviewed or suggested look good but we seem to stay within our perimeter. Maybe it is age (not), maybe it is workload, and maybe it is California lazy. However, I am not complaining because we have quite a few favorites nearby. I have mentioned on numerous occasions how much we love The Cut (The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands).  We also get salads at the local salad shops and seemingly complete a weekly trip to Din Tai Fung in the basement mall next to our building (Marina Bay Link Mall). I actually think by now the Din Tai staff would greet us as locals at least but nope, we are still just another couple with the Ang Mo husband.

Speaking of me, since we moved here I have wondered if I really know my name. As you can see when I post anything, it is Kevin. That is K   E   V   I   N. However I have discovered my name is not very common here, duh, or it is harder to pronounce. I know when I was learning Japanese, I was Kebin because they do not use the ‘v’.

What is common is Kelvin. Add the L and that is what 90% of people will say back to me the first time I introduce myself. By now I joke you can call me either name and I will respond. At the gym, one instructor did it so often that when we had the marathon Christmas fund-raiser workout, I decorated my t-shirt with the phrase “Kevin, not Kelvin”. After I explained it to the rest of the staff and of course took a picture with the instructor who made the mistake, it did wonders. (She is great by the way – all in jest!) The gym not only remembers me as the goofy guy (is that good?) but now they correctly say Kevin with a smile.

To add injury to insult, or vice versa, I was working with someone recently who asked for my middle name. When I asked why, they said a bad past experience with someone named Kevin now provided negative connotations to any new business relationship with said name. Okay – you can call me Art, I said. I have one close friend who does it therefore I will likely respond to that too. I did not ask for details as to why Kevin was such a negative experience for them. I figure everyone has something in their past they try to avoid. It is just weird for me to type Art instead of Kevin when I sign the emails for this one peer. It really is amazing how often this continues – the Kelvin vs. Kevin war. Hopefully I’ll still respond when my wife calls me by my correct name. If not, at least I’ll have an excuse as to why I did not listen this time!

Have I mentioned we live in a high-rise? Not a good segue but I’ve got nothing. If you move to Singapore, you will most likely live in a high-rise apartment. This is especially true for Western expats unless you are the ones who get the $15,000 monthly housing allowance which means you’ll live in a colonial with your 1-16 helpers and 2 cars. We are not in that bracket but we do live in one of the most modern high-rises in the Central Business District. Our apartment is on the market for $4+ million. I know I have mentioned it before and for that much money, I’d expect the interior construction to be a bit sounder! I also expect that being on the 31st floor of a 62-story building, it will not be very often that I have to walk up the stairs to get to my apartment. After all, there are 4 high-speed lifts (elevators but lifts is 3 less syllables) that whisk me away to my floor in 25 seconds if no. Before it sounds like I am way lazy, it is not true but you do get used to the convenience.  It is such a difference to be on the 31st floor and then occasionally have the discussions with my wife about buying a 1-story house when we go home to the States so that we won’t have stairs as we plan ahead, way ahead, for retirement. “Where’s my cane?”

This week, like most weeks (after week after week), it was raining fairly hard in the afternoon. I came back from some type of errand this week to find the lift lobby was flooded with about 1” of water. The maintenance crew was busily using the wet-vacs but whatever caused this flood had already had its way with the elevator system too. All 4 lifts were out of service. So that’s why the main lobby had so many people sitting around! Unlike me, apparently they did not relish the adventure of hiking up the stairs to their respective floors. More lazy Californians I would think (and if you are Californian, please realize that is said in jest!).  There are no mountains around here therefore this is good training for that dream trip to Everest base-camp.

I had no such qualms about the stairs but I have to admit, it might have helped that I was in shorts, sneakers, and a t-shirt. I was not dressed for a customer meeting nor was I carrying my 14-pound brick.  Thus I headed smartly up the stairs. I counted 20 steps per floor. After my 31st floor summit, I had done 620 steps! I was a little winded and my back was sweaty which is typical for exerting any tiny bit in Singapore, but overall it felt good. I was glad we’ve been going to the gym and taking the class with 10 of the 60 minutes devoted to squats and lunges. I am not glad during the actual class but it did help with this adventure.

That is my update for this week. It went by very fast since we came back from Sydney on Tuesday, spent time with U.S. friends staying with us Wednesday and Thursday, met another friend from my old job (Newport Beach) on Saturday for breakfast, and yet another friend from Texas for breakfast today and tonight for dinner. This is the most social we have been since we moved. The benefit, besides getting to share a bunch of stories in person, is we now have a nice wine collection consisting of some good California and Australia varieties. All in all, this was a good week. I hope you have enjoyed yours as well.