Singapore Adventure

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Brush With Greatness
by venitha

One of the items not yet checked off my mental list of remaining accomplishments in Singapore: Spot Someone Famous. I'm not ashamed to admit that I honestly thought that in Singapore I might see a celebrity. Maybe even two. Not Britney Spears clad in no underwear, of course, but perhaps the Asian equivalent. Or Borat. Sooner or later everyone in Asia passes through Singapore, it's a small island, and it's not like I'm hanging out in the sticks. Well, not any more, anyway, since I'm no longer working in Yishun.

Sabotaging my brush-with-greatness plan is the fact that I am woefully unplugged to pop culture, especially its Asian channel. I might recognize Zoe Tay, but in the "All you people look alike" vein, probably not. I've never even seen an episode of Singapore Idol, lah. I comfort myself with the belief that I would definitely know ; the undoubted mob of security would be a sure tip-off.

So yesterday as I rode the escalator up from the City Hall MRT into Raffles City's blindingly pink Barbie Wonderland - does it bother no one else that not a single one of these dolls looks remotely Asian? - I was pleased but puzzled to have to do a double-take at someone riding down. Who was he? Was he famous? And why did I want to smack him? A Caucasian male, he seemed professional and condescending, the kind of guy who would wear pastel-colored business shirts and give you crushingly-firm handshakes, who would make you feel like an idiot by speaking slowly with exaggerated enunciation, saying things like, "And by condescend, I do mean talk down to."

Thankfully, I didn't have to fight my way down the up escalator after him, blazing a path of gift-wrapped destruction through the mobs of holiday shoppers, for it came to me in a flash that he was John, the stereotypical expat hire in Singapore, fawned over by management, detested by the local staff, over-paid, under-talented, and completely lacking in knowledge of Asian culture, from the local movie I Not Stupid. In short, my hero. A search on IMDB reveals him to be Harlow Russell, and the lamentably bad I Not Stupid is his only acting credit to date.

Not exactly what I had in mind, but a celebrity sighting nonetheless, and I'm glad to know that watching I Not Stupid was not the complete waste of time that I'd thought it to be. Trust me: see Singapore Dreaming instead; and if you know where any of its cast hangs out in their spare time, shoot me an e-mail.