“Hi, my name is Moulay!” said the mysterious man as he walked into my hotel lobby, the brilliant morning sun reflecting off his ivory teeth. With a broad grin, he continued “I will be your guide today!” As my gaze went from head to toe, I took in the full extent of his interesting mix of attire: Yankees baseball cap, designer sunglasses, traditional loose-fitting robe and desert sandals. Touching his heart with one hand and holding a mobile phone with the other, it was then that I knew my trip would be anything but predictable, singular or stereotypical. I had arrived in a land that blended modern and ancient, reformist and conservative, far western and near eastern so thoroughly that it created its own unique identity in the world. Welcome to the majesty and magnificence of the Kingdom of Morocco.
We’re bouncing up and down in a rickety old SUV as it races down a dry, dusty road. As I look out at the fleeting landscape, I catch a glance at an elderly farmer, sweat running down his brow, leaning on his rake and staring into the distance. As I follow his gaze, I finally lay my eyes on them; there, amidst the rice fields and straw houses, are the mountains I came so far to see. The mountains most others only dream about.
On June 30 we celebrated one of the most significant dates on our calendar; the birthday of the US. As members and guests of the American Association of Singapore (AAS), we came in our droves for this momentous occasion at Singapore American School (SAS), who co-hosted the event with AAS.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent time in Singapore that the annual Dragon Boat Festival (also known as the Dumpling Festival or Duan Yang, which translates to Upright Sun or Double Fifth) is also a celebration of food. Eating, is of course, something of a national pastime (and one that I was very keen to embrace from the get-go!). But do you know why the Dragon Boat Festival that we celebrate today is so intricately linked to dumplings?
There are some things in life that you simply have to do. Witnessing Thaipusam first-hand is one of those must-dos. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai, in January or February. The word is a combination of the name of the month and the name of a star known as Pusam which is at its highest during the festival. It commemorates when the Hindu goddess of love, Parvati, gave Murugan, the Hindu god of war, a spear so he could vanish an evil demon. Last year, I really wanted to go take a look for myself. I researched where to go, charged my camera and went to bed early. Then I got up, got dressed – and just plain chickened out. I was uncharacteristically nervous and …