Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 103. Tango 'Magnolia'

"Banana-lemon Singapore...", I heard these words when I was just a student. I never knew the lyrics of the love song. In those remote days I was just absolutely formally reciting the phrase. I just really loved the word combination: banana-lemon Singapore. I even did not think about where it was. I simply was repeating the phrase whether appropriate or not. So that was a very long time ago. However, when I already could afford something bigger than much talked-about Antalia; which Natalek and I visited and did not like very much, though the hotel was decent; but we did not like the Turks. I am not going to write about that, everybody should independently choose a place to go on vacation to. So, in 2007 I made up my mind to celebrate Natalek's birthday in Dubai at their famous seven-star hotel Burj al Arab. I did not say anything to Natasha; let it be a surprise for her. Though, I agreed with Cathy that she would fly from Toronto for a week to greet her mommy with her birthday. That would be the second surprise for Natalek. However I had my heels itching; I wanted to do something so special to make Natalek's heart sing. I was investigating, I was thinking about what exactly I was looking for, how I wanted to surprise Natashka. And there I got business in Singapore. I am not going to bother you talking about the business; why should you care? However the fact itself that it was in Singapore I took as God's sign; that was what I would surprise Natalek with, Hurray!

It was only the end of September, but I started acting enthusiastically: I began collecting and analyzing information about hotels, laws and customs in Singapore, and about tourist attractions. I will tell you right away, most of all I wanted to visit the well-known Singapore Orchid Garden, and not the one which is on Sentoza island, but the very one in Singapore. Though, the most important thing was to make Natalek interested in the garden. Ultimately I chose the hotel Shangri-La, and decided to fly with Emirates' airlines. We would fly back from Singapore to Dubai anyway. So, the hotel had been booked, air tickets bought, and not just tickets, but the ones in business class, however there were two month left to wait for the trip. Oh, I was suffering so much; I wanted really bad to tell everything to Natashka, but then the well structured system of surprises would have been destroyed. Of course, she would be happy, so I made up my mind to be firm like flint stone. I was determined to keep silence. However, because of my restless character I started advertising Singapore theme using all means at home. I could start singing imitating Vertinsky (Alexander Vertinsky, 21 March 1889 - 21 May 1957, was a Russian and Soviet artist, poet, singer, composer, cabaret artist and actor who exerted seminal influence on the Russian tradition of artistic singing): "Banana-lemon Singapore...", and I was singing absolutely out of tune, for that Natalek was angry at me, because I was spoiling the song. And I immediately gladly asked her: "And what goes after that?" I really wanted to make her think about Singapore. And other things like that. Or I would start talking about the economic miracle of Singapore, as if I had read about it in the Internet. So I was languishing like that till the very departure. A day before I told her that we would be flying on my business, and she would learn later where. Sure enough, Natalek made a rumpus, as she faced a problem with toilettes. I had to say that swimming suits would not be useless. This is what in addition to many other things I love Natalek for, that she does not need anything to be chewed over for her. In Borispol airport when we came up to a registration desk to Dubai and to the one of business class, Natalek's mood improved. Though, she did not hear that I had asked to register our luggage to Singapore. When we arrived in Dubai, and I lead her not to exit to the city, but to a transfers hall, she became alert again and kept asking why we were not picking up our luggage.

And when we were registering to the flight to Singapore, Natalek told me that she realized why I had been annoying her with Singapore for the two month.

Eight hours of the flight to Singapore flew by unnoticed; there were comfortable chairs-beds, chic dinner, and the most important thing, we got the seats in the section of the plane where there were two of us and only two other people. We landed in Singapore at night.

We were very much surprised, when all the passengers of the flight received their luggage at the famous Changi, and we did not. Luckily, I had taken care beforehand that we would be met by a Russian speaking guide. So we told him about our problem, and he started dealing with the situation. Finally, Natasha and I were given two hundred Singapore dollars each to purchase first-necessity goods and were promised that our suitcases, which got lost somewhere at Dubai airport, would be delivered the next day. We were driving along night Singapore, and it was shining and glittering with illumination.

It's useless to act against one's conscience, we did not like the way the banana-lemon one welcomed us, even the four hundred dollars we had received for two of us did not give comfort or burn holes in our thigh pockets. Though the next day, when Natalek and I went out to the city, it turned out that, if to consider prices in Singapore, four hundred dollars was big money. So Natalek with great pleasure spent it on all kinds of stuff. And when we returned to the hotel, our suitcases together with an apology letter were already in our room, we were satisfied. Nevertheless we did not like Singapore anyway, and we still have no desire to visit it again. The hotel was super, the room was chic, the city was beautiful, a lot of green space, but climate...

It takes a lot of time to get used to it. At +30 C of heat humidity is huge; it is like in Russian baths, but you are with your clothes on. Of course, we were impressed by cleanness of the city. We left the hotel early in the morning and saw cleaners in the streets. We were very surprised that streets were vacuumed and after that washed with liquid soap. It was great. We were in admiration, it was morning and not too hot. I am not going to write about stores and shopping, I can only say that in local stores everything is obnoxiously cheep; and in cafes and small restaurants everything is not only cheep, but unthinkably delicious. As long as you are in a store or a cafe or in a taxi, there is air conditioning everywhere, and you are fine, but the very moment you step outside... it's a nightmare. Natalek enthusiastically approved of my idea to visit the Orchid Garden.

All day long we were wandering around that man made miracle and admired what we saw. Sure enough, we on a regular basis stepped inside small cafes to cool down, and eat something at the same time. By the end of the day Natalek even suspected me of bringing her to cafes not to cool down, but because of those micro cakes, absolutely not sweet, but with unforgettable taste; I have to admit, Natasha was right, though I flatly rejected all her suspicions. Yes, I will not argue, we were happy when leaving Singapore, but we do not feel like going there again, honestly. And to sum it up, I will reproduce the text of the song for you, no, not the song, but the trademark of Alexander Vertinskiy. Now I know the lyrics.

Tango "Magnolia"

Banana-lemon Singapore is purely spurious:
the ocean cries and sings without words,
in dazzling azure skies the storm is furious,
pursuing strings of birds.

Banana-lemon Singapore is purely spurious,
the silence on your heart is like a stone,
the frowning of your eyebrows is injurious,
you're always sad, alone.

And tenderly reviving
another May empyrean,
my caresses, my words, my eyes and mouth,
Yvetta, you are crying,
for our song is dying,
your heart's no longer flying
with no flame of love.

A parrot shouts, frightening,
you're standing still and sighing -
a lonely wild magnolia in bloom -
Yvetta, you are crying,
for our song is dying,
for somewhere summer's soughing,
gone with dreams of doom.

Your opal-moonlight Singapore is purely spurious,
when storms tear off bananas in your dreams.
The tiger skin you sleep on is luxurious
amid the monkeys' screams.

Banana-lemon Singapore is purely spurious.
A tropical magnolia in bloom,
you jingle with your rings and try to cure us,
you love me still, in gloom.

Poetic translation into English by Igor Gorny.

9 April, 2012

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #213101901196

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content