Writings

Dressing up for work in the hot season

Clothes make the man, so said American author Mark Twain. Today this is especially true at the work place. The way we dress has an impact on the people we meet professionally or socially, which in turn affects how they perceive and react to us. When meeting a new client or the boss, being assessed based on appearance is inevitable. After all like a book, everything begins with looking at the cover. So, it is important to look presentable at work.

Those working in the office can enjoy the comfort of air-conditioning, and the prospect of looking crisp and polished in those long-sleeved corporate clothes. But if you have to spend some time outdoors, take public transport or cycle, or walk to an appointment, then it’s a different story. Beads of perspiration will trickle down your forehead and body. Things can get a little sticky.

Natural lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen are our best friends for our weather. As it is difficult to ascertain how heat-friendly a particular piece of garment is when trying it on in the air-conditioned fitting room, be sure to check the garment tag or ask the retail assistant about the material. The garment should feel light-weight in your hands. Avoid synthetic and clingy materials. The less that a fabric adheres to your skin, the more comfortable it will be. A problem with full-linen fabrics is that they wrinkle easily, so you may want to go for cotton blends or silk-linen blends.

Choose light neutral colours like white, tan and light grey. These are corporate-friendly colours but more importantly, they absorb less heat compared to darker colours. If you are prone to sweat patches, avoid pastels and marl grey. Prints will help to camouflage the patches. Simple floral or geometric designs are the way to go. If all else fails, a short-sleeved cardigan or long scarf for the ladies and a waist coat or lightweight blazer for the men can save you from some stares.

Cotton T-shirts are comfortable for the heat, and the good news is, they aren’t only good for casual Fridays. A suitable T-shirt for work should be form-fitting and it should be plain or have a simple design. For the ladies, wide-leg pants and long skirts are in fashion now, and they will go well with the T-shirt for a smart-casual work outfit. Add a scarf or an eye-catching accessory to glam it up. The men can layer your T-shirt with a lightweight cardigan or blazer rolled up at the elbows for the suave business-casual look often spotted in Korean dramas.

Don’t neglect your feet. Heat escapes the body through your feet and head. So, make sure you dress to allow the heat to flow through. Leather is classy but traps heat. Consider loafers which are available in a wide variety of materials. Linen or silk-cotton socks will keep your feet reasonably cool and comfy. For the ladies, open-toe pumps and sandals are the obvious choices. If you don’t wish to show your toes, wear skin-coloured ballerina socks.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.
Picture from Pixabay

Let’s take a break and enjoy the Town Council’s nearby parks

Stay healthy, eat wisely and exercise — this is one of the points emphasised by PM Lee Hsien Loong in his 2017 National Day Rally speech. Ideally, people should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Walking at least 10,000 steps a day can be an alternative goal. ”Let’s all make the effort to walk a little bit more and work it into our daily routine, ” said PM Lee.

There are three major parks developed by the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council which offer good opportunities for residents to stay active and live well. These parks are located within close proximity to the blocks of flats and each focus on a different set of activities to reach out to the needs of our residents.

Bishan-Active Park offers an all-in- one solution to meet the sporting needs of the youths and at the same time provides an open place where families, neighbours, or just about anyone can enjoy some time together. Because of its wide-open space, it has also attracted the occasional kite-flying.

The open ground is home to many a soccer match between groups set up by residents. There is also the specially designed track around the field for a good jog or run around the perimeter. This is particularly popular among runners in the evening hours after a busy work day. There is the fitness corner for senior citizens and younger adults. The young ones would enjoy the roller-blade track and there is never a lack of takers for the basketball court. One more special feature is the sandy beach volleyball court where youthful men and women battle it out with enthusiasm.

Within the park is a podium and hardstanding area offering opportunities for residents to gather, relax and enjoy time together either for a mass aerobic exercise, or group yoga. And, for the children, there is a playground for them to tumble and rumble.

Located along Bishan Road, the Bishan Harmony Park occupies some 25,000 plus square metres of ground and offers a variety of facilities. A large in-line skating court attracts many skaters who would come complete with their gear to burn away their energy. Another special feature is the skating bowl, which literally is in the shape of a crater. The curved walls of the blows allow skateboarders to ride across and around the bow back and forth.

Like all parks built by the Town Council, the park also caters to residents who want something less robust. There are eight fitness corners for a variety of exercise routines. For the elderly, there are three pavilions to rest after a brisk walk around the park, which has quite a rugged terrain. There are also a multi—purpose court and two barbecue pits. For the kids, there is a garden maze to run around.

A lucky visitor may even get a glimpse of a furry squirrel scurrying around a variety of floral and shrubs.

Heights Park is located in an area somewhat enclosed by blocks of flats. It is near Block 144, 147, 148 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, and serves as an attractive ”green lung” for the residents. It is also one of the first 3G parks — three generation park — catering to the children, the young and the elderly.

Unlike the other two above-mentioned parks, this park puts emphasis on fitness stations. It has a line-up of various elderly fitness stations, and there are instructional signs at each station to guide residents how to use them. These stations are located close to leafy trees that provide good shade on a sunny day. There is a special foot reflexology path flanked by support railings, with soft pebble stones to massage and stimulate neurological reflex zones on the foot.

Even as the grandparents are exercising, their grandchildren can enjoy the two playgrounds that each cater to age groups 2—5 years and 5-12 years respectively. There is also a hedge maze to play hide and seek. There is a multi-purpose court that is great for team games like sepak takraw.

Another attraction is the jogging track around the park. One complete round of the circuit is about 420 metres and if you do six rounds, you would have achieved a little more than 2.4 km. This is helpful for all the students and NS men who have to pass their annual fitness tests.

– This article first appeared in a Town Council newsletter.

Image: Pixabay

Shopping anywhere, anytime, with technology

If there’s one other major impact that technology has on our lifestyle, it is certainly in the way we go about with our purchases. Today, instead of making a trip to the shopping malls or even to the eateries or outlets, just let the fingers do all the walking.

Be it on the computer, ipad or a handphone, consumers can pick up just about anything they want online. So, if you visit the shopping malls and see a noticeable drop in human traffic, it isn’t necessarily because business is bad. It’s just that many shoppers have taken another route to tap on the convenience of shopping. A survey done by PayPal and market research firm lpsos in 2015 found that 69 per cent of online shoppers in Singapore made Eurchases both locally and overseas. The online expenditure y Singapore consumers is expected to grow 55 per cent from 2014 to 2017. Another study by Temasek and Google released in May 2016 showed that the e-commerce market here is expected to be worth $7.46 billion by 2025.

Take the fashion stores for example, many reputable brands and departmental stores have their own online shopping platform. The popularity of e-commerce has also driven budding entrepreneurs to set up online retail shops, also known as e-tailers, carrying generous selections of top- sellers from various brands. These shops will ship internationally, sometimes for free or a flat fee if you hit a certain amount of expenses at check-out.

Go on-line and browse these fashionable shops catering to men and women, sometimes children too, that ship to Singapore.

Macy’s, one of the popular US’s departmental stores, sells an impressive variety of wearables for all ages on top of its lifestyle products. Aside from some mainstream brands, it features a large portfolio of private brands with products that are exclusively sold in its stores.
Website: http://www.macys.com

Opening Ceremony, based in the US, is well known for its unconventional and quirky designs. Occasionally, it also collaborates with big-name designers to create limited-edition capsule collections.
Website: http://www.openingceremony.com

Selfridges is touted as London’s Greatest Store, and has also done consistently well to be recognized as Best Department Store in the World by the Intercontinental Group of Department Stores in consecutive years. Its liberal selection of products, from clothes to jewellery to gadgets and more, will keep you entertained for days.
Website: http://www.selfridges.com

Colette is a cult store in Paris among hipsters, artists and fashionistas, known for bringing design, art, culture and fashion together in its three-level concept store. Colette collaborates with influential creatives around the world to co-create products, which can be found on its online store.
Website: http://en.colette.fr

Stylebop, based in Germany, features the works of over 250 designers, including big names like Valentino, Fendi, Balmain and McQueen, just to name a few. Its fashion editorials under the Inspiration section would be highly beneficial to those who need a little help with deciding what goes in their wardrobes.
Website: www.stylebop.com

In Singapore, there’s a whole host of stores lined up at Orchard Road which also offer their fashion merchandise online, such as Tangs, Robinsons, Metro, Isetan and Takashimaya. With Foodpanda,GrabFood and other delivery services by fast food chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and many more, consumers are spoilt for choice. Then there are e-tailers that cater specifically to Singapore-based customers, like Q0010.sg and Lazada. And it’s not just for clothes. If your car needs special parts that are not carried by the motor garages here, you can order online, parts for all makes of cars from the US and Europe. Just make sure you give them the correct make and model of your car, and the year of manufacture.

Many websites are user-friendly and some will even quote comparison prices between the normal and after sale discounts, in Singapore dollars. Common payment methods include credit card, debit card and Paypal.

Tips:

Read the stores’ policies carefully; certain policies like free shipping and returns may not apply to all countries
Know your measurements, check the size charts. Size labels are not always universal!
Due to differences in screen calibration, be prepared for minor colour differences.
Know what other customers are saying by checking reviews and the shops’ social media accounts
Pool orders with friends to get that minimum amount required for free shipping
Budget! We tend to be more free with money when paying online versus paying with cash.

Happy shopping!

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.

Picture from Unsplash

A Whole New Two-Wheel Generation

If there’s one evolving trend which didn’t need so much push to get Singaporeans and others on board, it is the use of various mobility devices and e-bikes to get in and around our city state.

Like ducks to water, young and old alike they can be seen, some a bit awkwardly and others dexterously, zipping from one destination to another, often with a gleeful look on their faces. It is indeed gratifying to see white-haired uncles and aunties who have mobility issues being able to move around on their own. Equally delightful is the sight of young kids on their kick-scooters and adults getting about their lives with a breeze.

We used to see skateboards and roller-bladers, but increasingly the younger people are moving on to more zippy two-wheelers.

Bicycles, including the power-assisted ones, have also been making a stronger presence in the past five years. They are expected to latch on to the great mobility movement especially with the push for a car-lite city. On any day, just go around our Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC and you can spot residents happily getting about on their devices, be it on a trip to the hawker centre, the shopping mall or even to the library or community centre.

There is now a gradual paradigm shift and you see working adults riding e-bikes and other mobility scooters around the Central Business Districts and other office areas. Even the SMRT trains started a trial to allow passengers with foldable bicycles and personal mobility devices (PMD) on buses and trains at all hours, instead of just off-peak hours.

However, as with all things that move with wheels, there’s a need to exercise responsibility, with the safety of the riders and the other road users in mind. This is especially for the e-bikes and PMDs when they are riding along the pathways, pedestrian walkways and void decks, and at road crossings too.

When you take into account that these devices can go at speeds of between 10 and 25kmh, an accident can cause serious injury. So, let us continue to enjoy our new found “toy” but do give consideration to others too. We don’t have to wait till fatal accidents take place before we sit up and awake ourselves. Surely, we do not need to let the LTA enforcement officers issue summons before we smarten up our riding.

Here are some simple guidelines to follow:

-Check your vehicles to make sure the brakes and lights are working before you start your journey;
-Be attentive of your surroundings and look out for pedestrians and others;
-Take note that electric bikes are allowed on roads, and cycling or shared paths, but NOT on footpaths under the Land Transport Authority (LTA) rules;
-Never use your handphones when you are riding (stop by the side where you are visible if you must use your handphone);
-Don’t weave in and out of pedestrians expecting others to look out for you;
-Cyclists must be mindful of the road safety rules when travelling on the road.

Many of our residents may have travelled to Europe, l.e. France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden or even to Australia or Japan. You may observe how the cycling is done in such an enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere. Young men and women going about their lives exercising good road courtesy, and of course there are many places where special lots are provided for them to alight and park.

– This article first appeared in a Town Council newsletter.
Picture from Pixabay

Summer Vacations: Beat the Heat when you Travel

Summer vacation is the longest break in many countries for a good reason. It is the time of the year when the skies are bright and blue, when flowers bloom in a multitude of brilliant colours. It is also the time in the northern hemisphere when the daylight hours are the longest, and there is more sun than rain. If you love the sand and the sea, then you’ll be spoilt for choice. The beauty and fine weather of summer makes it one of the best times to travel to any where.

Yet summer also means intensely hot temperatures, sometimes made worst by sudden heat waves, and an increased risk of heat-related illnesses and fatal heat strokes. With each year creating a new record tempera-ture-wise, we can only expect the summers to get hotter. Last summer, the British suffered a sweltering heat wave that saw the temperate go as high as 34 degrees Celsius. The year before, Kitzingen in Germany was blasted with a heatwave of 40.3 degrees Celsius. To think that many of us cite escaping the hot and humid Singapore weather as one of the reasons for our getaways!

Still, the heat should not stop us from enjoying resplendent blooms or pristine beach waters. Here are some tips to make the high temperatures more tolerable.

Pack light clothing is a given, but dressing for summer can be a conundrum. While tank tops and shorts seem like the obvious answer, you’ll be exposing a large part of your bare skin to scorching hot sun rays. And, if you don’t diligently apply sunblock, you’ll certainly wind up with bad sunburn. The trick is to bring a large scarf made of light, cooling material —cotton, silk and linen are good choices. You can wrap it around your neck, or drape over your shoulders and arms when the sun gets too scorching. But don’t get lazy with the sunblock. A breathable hat with shade, and sunglasses will help keep the heat off your head. Even guys can go for the newsboy caps or sun hats — it can help make a fashion statement too!

Mini electric fans are good to have for keeping you cool, but sometimes, manual fanning works better when you fan with gusto. Foldable nylon frisbees are not only capable of conjuring a decent amount of wind with light fanning motions, they are also incredibly convenient to carry around. If you can spare the extra space, cooling mists and wet wipes will improve your mood considerably in the sweltering sun.

The good thing about summer is that the sun stays up longer, which gives greater flexibility in planning activities. Hence you might want to plan the museum trip in mid-day, and head to the sunflower field nearer to the evening, which is said to be the best time for outdoor photography.

Consuming plenty of water is essential to keep you cool and hydrated. Make sure you bring a refillable water bottle with you. These days, many public attractions and outdoor spaces will have drinking fountains. If you must buy water, then it is an expense that you must not spare. Surely it is more worthwhile to spend on water, than on medical fees incurred from a heat stroke on top of a ruined trip.

Above all, listen to your body. Headaches, fatigue, thirst and dizziness are common initial signs of heat-related illnesses, and you should immediately stop, take shelter, rest and drink water.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.
Picture from Pixabay