Monday, October 31, 2005

Punk'd by a Visitor

Someone made the Merlion disappear from the Singapore Pavilion today.

I was busy showing this couple where the Merlion was in Singapore via the Internet (they were going to Singapore next week), and the next time I looked, the statuette of the Merlion had disappeared.

Ahh! I had a little surprise, and started looking around for it. Keeping a look-out for, er, suspicious-looking Italians at the same time.

Nothing. Oh boy.

Then this couple came back into the Information room, beaming. "He wanted to make Mike disappear," the lady said, laughing. The guy, deservedly proud of himself, put the Merlion back on the table. "Yeah, make Mike disappear from here."

So I told him he was evil, laughed out of relief, and gave the couple two beers. For their efforts in making me panic over a Merlion, and for getting into the spirit of Halloween. Trick for a Treat, muahahaha.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Punk'd by the Clock

Because of this temperate concept called Daylight Savings, we opened the pavilion at 9 am today.

Past noon, I got tired of reading Oliver Twist (besides, I have to ration the number of pages read a day), and decided it was time to stare at the laptop. It asked if I wanted to adjust the time for daylight savings. I wondered how the computer knew it was in Europe. Then it dawned on me.

AHH!! We screamed when we found out, and hurried to check our dearest resource, the Internet. Daylight Savings ended at 3 am early this morning in Central Europe. That means the clock should be turned back an hour to 2 am.

No wonder Arsenale was so quiet and devoid of people when we came to the pavilion.

One unexpected, extra hour in a day is great when you're rushing to meet a deadline, but not when you find out you woke up an hour early on a cold, foggy day to go to work. Discounting the fact that our work isn't really work, and that we like Venice. Things could be worse, like, er, spending an hour outside the pavilion wrestling with the key, trying to unlock the pavilion with it. Hypothetically speaking.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Word of the Day

Un-cutify : When the dirty finger or toenails of a person undo the effect of his/ her good looks.

Example of Usage

A: That guy was quite cute huh.

B: Please, he's got dirty fingernails. That totally un-cutifies him, ok?!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sweet Love

Sigitas smooched his girlfriend in the courtyard today.

He was working diligently before and after that.

We sneaked peeks from the information room and smiled to ourselves.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Marathon di Venezia

The winner's time was 2:09; I think he's from Qatar. Second and third place went to Italians. The female winner's was 2:28; she had a full head of dreadlocks.

The marathoners had to run from a town near Padova to Riva dei Sette Martiri, between Arsenale and Giardini. Imagine, Padova! It's a 40-minute train ride away. If more people were marathoners and if we didn't get grossed out by others' sweat, we would save lots of fuel, wouldn't we?

Just looking at their robust calves and hamstrings makes me feel like running again when I get back. My huff-puff run, however, will be painfully slow.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Random Sobering Thoughts

I visited the South-American exhibition yesterday, and loved the works by the Columbian artists, Oscar Munoz and Juan Manuel Echavarria. Echavarria's video piece was very heartfelt, and I felt it made the point about art as an essential and natural outlet for people during hard times, and how art can be political without being preachy. I felt a little more informed, about people and about Columbia, after watching his video. Munoz's work was magical, it appeared to have been video-edited, only it hadn't.

The rest of the day was spent manoevering my way back to the apartment. Which brings me to my next point, that tourism makes people jaded. Not the tourists, because it's always an experience being in a different country and seeing something new. It's those serving the tourists.

Bored gondola rowers and stall-owners at San Marco. They all looked jaded, like they had seen and dealt with all kinds of people and their less desirable human qualities.

Tourism's a massive, complicated creature. It lets many people make a living, it lets visitors take away a piece of the place, it creates memories, but that's the thing with professions where you have to smile constantly and sell your wares -- professions where you depend a little too much on others. You get jaded by the superficial exchanges, and the sheer number of people you encounter every day.

But perhaps I'm just seeing one dimension of these people. Perhaps I don't see them with their friends and families, and I don't see them chilling out and being tourists themselves. Perhaps we all have to do some things we don't like, in order to earn the means to do things we like. Perhaps some things come in packages and not detachable parts.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dogs, CC and an Old Lady

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There. CC has been complaining that I have all but droppped off the surface of this earth when it comes to blogging. So here is my contribtion of the week. :)

1. The gorgeous puppy that CC blogged about earlier.
2. Pigeons at S. Marco. CC's most hated things here. haha.
3. There's CC in the pavilion, with the dear old lady who came in one morning wanting to understand the work. She spoke italian, some french, some german and minimal English. We spoke English, minimal Italian, minimal French ( CC) no german. But she wanted to know about the work so bad! She kept trying to understand, and we kept trying to explain. The other girl is german, a visitor also, trying to be our translator. I finally ran to Arsenale, one of the main sites of the Biennale and got one of the staff at the entrance to write down what i wanted to say in Italian. The old woman left.. she said she was tired.. but all smiles as she could finally sort of understand our art.
4. A stretch of my fav waterfront in the evening. This part is in front of the vaporetti stop. Its just 2 streets ( kinda) outside our home. Sigh. This will be the part of venice i miss most when i finally have to leave to go home.
5. The Arsenale bridge we have to cross to get to work and back. Isnt it Lovely!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


We encountered the most loveable and unloveable dogs today.

In the morning, I was tapping on the laptop when this black Gordon setter puppy ran in and came to me like I was its best friend. Aww.

We followed it out when the owner called for it. Seita was four-months-old, and still discovering things everyday. The woman and her son were from Roma, and their friend was a local. You know how parents act stricter or more lenient with their kids when other people are around? Well the woman reprimanded it, when it ran out of the pavilion for a while. "Seita! Abbiamo qui!" But everyone loved Seita, who kept wagging its tail and leaping up to play with us.

Then in the afternoon, someone tied three white toy dogs to the grape plant and disappeared. Most annoying dogs ever! They kept barking shrilly and loudly and didn't let anyone get too near them, not that anyone was tempted to. I was going to call the owner a moron for treating the pavilion like a dog-sitting area, but maybe he isn't so silly after all. If I had dogs like that - Wait. I would never keep dogs like that.

At the time of writing, the silly dogs were still barking their heads off at anyone who came within 3 metres of them. Grrr.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Colourful lingerie belonging to one of the pavilion's neighbours. One of our visitors pointed at them and asked, "Are they part of the exhibition?"

Our most regular visitor at the pavilion. He comes in almost every day to rest his legs and smoke a cigarette. He begs for money outside the pavilion.

Most Boring Party Ever

Venice is devoid of nightlife of the pounding music sort.

Yesterday, Kermin went to the Northern Ireland pavilion and they happened to have a party later that night to cap off a week of N. Irish artists having performances all around Venice. The party, dubbed "The Big Party" (it should have been The "Big" Party), was at a bar in Dorsoduro. We got invites and decided to go. The invites said 10pm, we got there at 10.30 and turns out the party starts at only midnight.

So at first we were the only few people in the bar and the only Asians and that attracts stares. After a few minutes, more people started arriving; but the bar was so small and the music so unhappening and we were so bored. The DJ was playing sixties tunes when we went in!

The other people also just mingled with the friends they came with, and so there were awkward-looking people all around, plus a few old farts too.

Midnight, and the unplugged session by two N. Irish musicians began. Still boring.

Perhaps it wasn't so much that the party was dull. Perhaps it was the dismal absence of free alcohol. Who throws a party at a bar without free alcohol? We bought a few beers between us, and stuffed ourselves silly with peanuts and tortilla chips, which we haven't seen in any supermarket in Venice.

We decided the night wasn't going to get better, and beat a quick exit.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sigitas saves the day!

Monday was a bleak and rainy day. It rained so heavily and was so windy that we had to drink 2 cups of Milo each in order not to freeze in the pavilion. And then the toilets flooded. Gah!

We darted next door, ponchos flapping, to put up "Out of Order *Do Not Use* - Chiuso -" signs on both toilets. And test-flushed the toilets today, after the break yesterday. The water levels were still disturbingly high.

Then Sigitas breezed into the pavilion with a friend/ colleague in tow, and we told him dramatically, "Sigitas, the toilets died!"

Of course he didn't understand what we were saying, so Ker Min led him to the toilets and pointed. And he looked troubled and scratched his head, saying he would call Paivi. Minutes later, however, he came in to tell us he had switched on the "motor" and now the toilets were working again. The motor was one of the many power switches by the toilets that we had never touched, labeled "Presi Servici".

Now we know. And so we laughed, feeling like complete bimbos, while Sigitas smiled and looked like he was glad things were well again.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


The peril we face: gelato you can't get enough of


A sure sign that Venice is getting colder: The information room is actually warmer than outside, with the unforgiving wind. Many people came into the pavilion today with trenchcoats or windbreakers zipped all the way up. And quite a few have pretty shawl/scarves wrapped warmly around the neck. Even the men do it. I might get one too, just so I can look like everyone else - and because I'm cold.

I wonder what will happen to the gelaterias around Venice. (We have a favourite gelato guy whose shop is on Via Garibaldi, a bridge away from the pavilion. He's hardly ever open, but when he is, he greets everyone with a booming "Ciao! Prego?".) Will they close shop, or do Italians have their ice-cream all year round?