Austin day 2 and 3

2 and 3 December 2009:

I’m staying with my sister for the next 9 days. This is a kind of rest stop in the middle of a long trip, to get laundry done, to catch up on the news and other matters. And to buy a new trolley bag.

The handle of the one I am using broke at Changi airport, even before I left Singapore. If that’s any indication of the quality of the wretched thing, the wheels will probably be falling off soon. Better to get a new one while in the land of gigantic shopping malls.

East 6th Street in Austin comes alive at night, with its many bars

The problem is, all such goods in America are probably made in China, just like the one I’m using, now sans handle. I’m not expecting any better quality for a replacement trolley bag, just hoping it will last long enough to get my underwear home without spilling them all over an airport tarmac some place.

One day, we will look back on all this and have a good laugh.

Austin is not exactly the kind of place for heavy-duty sightseeing. First of all, like many American cities, it has quite poor public transport, and distances between one interesting point and the next is measured in miles, not metres. There’s supposed to be a light rail line operating by now but it’s delayed, and – the big joke around here, according to my brother-in-law – the city authorities have already voted to increase fares before it even goes into operation.

My brother-in-law asked me where he could take me. I said, quite bluntly, nothing touristy, thank you very much. Let’s just do a round of America’s biggest invention, the supermarkets and hypermarkets. There must be a rich vein of socio-anthropological observation waiting to be discovered from them. I shall write about what I see later.

Meanwhile, the weather has turned unsually cold. It was raining quite hard the day I arrived with wind shear making for a white-knuckle landing in Dallas-Fort Worth. The rain marked the front between the cold air pushing down from Canada and the Arctic and the warmer, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. The cold air won, and tonight, it is expected to snow – a once-in-four-years event in Texas.

I’m mostly indoors today, spent fruitfully composing a short piece of music for my nephew, who has taken up the clarinet. He’s only been at it for a year, but his teachers think he has great talent for music. Dare I say it comes from my side of the family?

He plays in the school band – the concert band, not the marching band – but apparently, there are a lot of competitions through the school calendar. I think it is bad for children to have to face too many competitions when they’re taking up an elective they have a passion for. The pressure can kill a child’s interest.

My sister thinks so too, so I decided to write the boy a simple piece of music he can play with ease (with piano accompaniment), one that he can call his own, and that, I hope, will fill him with pride everytime he plays it: It’s written specially for me by my uncle.

I told my sister, let me know how he progresses with the clarinet. As he gets more advanced, I will write more challenging pieces year by year.

7 Responses to “Austin day 2 and 3”


  1. 1 bin 4 December 2009 at 06:29

    You can write music? More respect for you!

  2. 2 Kim 4 December 2009 at 09:13

    Wow. I didn’t know you could compose. Impressed. By the way I compose too.

  3. 3 Teck Soon 4 December 2009 at 12:36

    Can you post up the piece that you compose? It would be great!

  4. 4 yawningbread 4 December 2009 at 12:43

    That will have to wait till I get back to Singapore. I have as yet no idea how to convert the music score into a picture file🙂

  5. 6 anony 7 December 2009 at 12:29

    The lack of public transport is one of the reasons why I no longer wish to spend vacation time in USA. My last 2 trips solo on independent travel were a huge disappointment.

    I went to Orlando. I stayed within Disney’s theme park grounds, it was OK as they provided free & regular bus shuttles within their own theme parks. But I wanted to go to Universal Theme Park too but realized I had to book my own cab. The Disney receptionist thought I was bonkers when I requested for timetable schedules of public buses. No such thing. She gave me cab tel nos instead! Expensive too. So there goes Universal & NASA space station. I felt so handicapped as I wanted to travel to these places independently. I do not own a drivers license in Spore either.

    Compared to Europe it was a bliss. All train journeys to major cities end at the center of town where all public transport radiate: subways, trams & buses. It was sheer joy.

    I will never again waste money & return to USA on vacation.

  6. 7 Ally 10 December 2009 at 11:21

    Anony. what a pity because some people love vacationing in the USA as they can do road trips.


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