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Posts Tagged ‘ABC news’

Same, same – but same

I have a friend who once trekked all the way up a mountain in Nepal. She figured it was worth it, as when she got there she was enthralled with the rich local culture, and brought back some beautiful little brass bowls as souvenirs.

That is until she saw the same bowls in Aldi in Melbourne some years later.

Exactly the same. And made in Nepal, not China.

The queue at the checkout was a lot easier than lugging the heavy brass back down the mountain track, but nowhere near as satisfying.

I know how she feels.

Here in Singapore, I eat cake at Brunetti’s, I buy homewares at Ikea,  I buy electrical goods at Harvey Norman, have my shoes fixed at Mr Minit, get my vitamins from GNC and our clothes at Guess, Esprit and Forever New. At night, we watch the Australia network and listen to the ABC news on the radio.

“I feel like I’ve never left home,” I complain to Rob, as we watch Australian Story. Admittedly, this is a repeat, but then so is my life – or so it feels.

This homogeneity of culture is not unique to Singapore.

When we were in Sydney for Christmas last year, we decided not to bother shopping for clothes, as most of the stores, such as Sportsgirl , Esprit, Myer and David Jones, were exactly the same as those in Melbourne.

Even a charming little Japanese stationery shop here in Singapore was not unique. “Oh, they have one of these in Box Hill,” Greta said as we went past.

This feeling of “same same – but same”, rather than “same, same – but different”, was reinforced when we went to see Wicked at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre a few weeks ago.

The show wonderful, as was the Wicked we saw in Melbourne a year or so before.

It wasn’t just that the cast was Australian, it was the fact that the two stars, Jemma Rix as Elphaba, and Suzie Mathers, as Glinda, were physical clones of the original Broadway stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth respectively: right down to the short-waisted perky blondness of Kristen and the dramatic profile of Idina. The set looked exactly the same, too, and the same merchandise was being sold in the theatre shop with the same logo stamped on everything.

In the old days, it was the star that was promoted, not the brand….Ethel Merman in Gypsy! or Mary Martin in Peter Pan, or Howard Keel in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Now the logo is the star.

I guess this is why I always get lost in the underground malls in Orchard Rd.

“It’s just near the Coffee Club,” I tell Greta when trying to remember the location of a particular shop.

But around every corner, it seems there is another Coffee Club, or Guess, or Prada, or Starbucks, making my directions useless.

But I am grateful that there is a Brunetti’s here. That’s where Greta and I often met for coffee when I lived in Melbourne, and where we are meeting for coffee again next Friday: Greta in Brunetti’s in Carlton and me in Brunetti’s in Singapore. We plan to meet at a set time, order our usual fare, and facetime each other on our iphones.

It makes it easier to say goodbye after our Easter holiday here. I type into my calendar “Coffee with Greta – Brunetti’s” and for once, I feel grateful for my pasteurised and homogenised life.

Next time, we might go to a movie together: me at the Shaw cinema in Orchard Rd and her at Hoyts in Melbourne Central. I see that both are screening, Mirror, Mirror.

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