January 29th, 2007

krazy koati

All through the town

Boy, you leave a country possibly for the rest of your life and suddenly all sorts of interesting things happen. All right, it's not as though Singapore was short of interesting things happening while I was there, but glancing at the news on ChannelNewsasia.com I came across a bus fire. It was a 182 bus, a route I don't think I ever found reason to ride (it runs from Boon Lay, currently the western end of the MRT system, into Tuas, the western end of the island, mostly around industrial estates), and somewhere around 7:30 am Saturday the right rear tire burst into flame. Before long the whole bus had burst into flame. The web site reported that by the time the fire department arrived and put the fire out (about ten minutes) ``the bus was already badly damaged'', and ``the bus stop nearby was also not spared.'' From the photograph I think ``badly damaged'' shows how well Singaporeans have adopted traditional English understatement. The driver and passengers weren't hurt, so it's easier to take this in as just a cool-looking accident.

Less amusing, since a person was really hurt, was that MRT service Saturday was disrupted an hour later because a woman got her foot caught in the gap between the train and station platform. She was reported to have fractured her left leg. I had never paid too much attention to the ``Mind the Gap'' minding since the gap is just not all that big, and the platform is always level to the train floor. porsupah had speculated that the Singapore mass transit systems warned about the gap because they knew the London Underground warned about it and if London warned about gaps then they were going to warn about them too. But, obviously, it is possible to get one's foot caught there.

The thing that caught my eye besides this was that she was caught at the Clementi MRT. Clementi is also where, a few months ago, a person fell off the platform and was saved from the oncoming train by rolling into the little overhung portion that the MRT people finally thought to publicize as a way to hide safely from an oncoming train. It's had a few other people-falling-onto-tracks incidents just in the past year, plus the only train crash on the Singapore MRT system. And about two years ago a man whose wife ran away to Hong Kong with a (former) friend bought one of the advertising spots on the platform to warn people about his perfidious ex-wife. Obviously there's something curious going on in Clementi Town, and it can't just be because I used to live near there.

Trivia: Shanghai's population rose from about 37,000 in 1900 to 3.5 million in 1937. Source: The City, Joel Kotkin.

Currently Reading: 1776, David McCullough.