Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011 (Singapore)

TRAGEDY PROMPTS THE QUESTION--WHAT'S REALLY IN ALL THOSE CONTAINERS? Today's Straits Times includes a riveting tale of two Bangladeshi dockworkers who, while taking a work (and ganja, or marijuana) break inside a shipping container in their home port of Chittagong, dozed off and did not hear the crate being closed and sealed. The crate ended up on board the Hansa Caledo heading to Singapore. Not surprisingly, cries for help were not heard. The ship left port on April 1; it arrived in Singapore (2,668 kilometers away) about five days later, at the Pasir Panjang terminal. During the trip, one of the men died. The survivor was found Sunday April 10 when a driver of a vehicle moving the container heard the man's banging. The container was about to be put on board a ship heading to Vietnam.

A WELCOME VISIT: Cornell classmate and fraternity brother (Fiji) John Schroeder (Winchester High School, class of 1970) joined Sandy and me for dinner at Indochine's Club Street restaurant--after a beer or two at one of the many Harry's bars in town. It was great to see John, who first came to Singapore in the late 1970s. Yes, LOTS has changed here. He worked for years in Indonesia and even had a stint long ago in Dubai (before it was Dubai). He came here from Kuala Lampur and brought with him a devilish box of Tiramisu almond milk chocolate pieces from Beryl's Chocolates. They are outstanding!

IT ALL ADZES UP TO SOMETHING: In Singapore, I have enjoyed counting the CRANES at the shipping terminal nearby. If I had had my wits about me on this trip outside Beijing, or even just ONE WIT, I would have noticed the preponderance of ADZES or MATTOCKS visible outside of Beijing. I think I saw at least six--either leaning against a wall, or lying in a "wheelbarrow" (right), or being wielded in a field, or hanging from a laborer's back. It's a tough old tool that embodies hard manual labor. Not very high tech. Not something you want to use when working a large field. Some people were.

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