the durians

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Year 2012. I was in Singapore for a professional assignment early 2012. I would, for the 3d time in the past 10 years in similar professional circumstances, celebrate my birthday in the Town-State-Island of Singapore. Like every time I was celebrating my birthday away from home I tried to do something special and started then, one month earlier, to do some window shopping in something related to Arts. The choice was not easy because Singapore has quite good choices for it all year around. But knowing everything sells out very quickly, after a screening of the Art menu in the hotel lobby I decided without hesitation to buy a ticket for a Ballet performance of Swan Lake by the Singapore Dance Theatre @ Esplanade Theatre located in Marina Bay. It had been over 39 years since I saw a performance of this Tchaikovsky masterpiece so I thought it was a very good gift for my birthday. I went to my room and order the tickets by phone to be picked up on the show day, the day of my birthday, on the 18th of March.

The Esplanade Theatre is a complex of two buildings that also harbours a Concert Hall, a Library, some shoppings and restaurants all wrapped in  beautiful gardens. The original idea of the building was conceived by the British Michael Wilford bureau of architects and the dome was planned to be made of exposed square glasses but public critics thought it would create a green house and not compatible with Singapore hot clima. Since the buildings had an oval shape an idea of adding aluminium sunshades ornamenting the glasses in different angles to shade the sun according to the time of the day, made it look like a durian, an oval heavy tropical fruit with a peel look like spikes originated in Malaysian, wish despite its fetid smell it is highly valued for its flavour. I have tried this fruit but I only tried to please my working colleagues once. No more. Its smell is horrible and give me vomits even before I can swollen a piece of it.

Because that look the set of buildings became colloquially known by “The Durians”.

Once I arrived to the Concert Hall to pick my tickets in the morning of the 18th March, one of the staff helping people indicated me the ticket guichet. I was greeted with a very typical Singaporean smile;

– Good morning! How are you?

– I’m good, it’s my birthday and despite the wounds and pads in my face making me look like a monster, I am OK!

– Oh, is it? How old are you today then?

– Just turning 58. And I smiled.

– Then your ticket will cost you only 1/2 price. And he smiled.

– Are you kidding? Are you doing it because I look like a handicap or? *

– Not at all! In Singapore we consider someone Senior after 55 years of age are completed and it does not matter if you are Singaporean or not. So the policy applies to you too and never forget to speak out your age when you go to theatres or visit public places, for example.

– A nice and unexpected gift. Thank you then!

* I will explain in another photo the reasons for my wounds and pads in my face.

//jb.20december2014