Saturday, May 25, 2013

How App

They say that jealousy is not a good colour on anyone. And by they, I mean, of course, my mother. It’s something she’s always saying to her sisters whenever they lose to her in mah-jong, or when she shows up at her weekly book-club wearing new diamonds that my father bought her in a mad fit of guilt over some fight they had had the night before about something that had really been my mother’s fault but which she had skillfully turned into his.
            In the little flat that I share with Saffy and Amanda, we’re always jealous about other people’s good fortunes.
I’m jealous that Dan Brown can write a multi-million dollar best seller without even raising a sweat.
“How difficult can it be to write a stupid blockbuster novel?” I say to myself every day as I sit in front of my computer staring at a blank screen.
Amanda is jealous that Prince William never looked her way when she showed up in her slinkiest most revealing Prada dress at the Botanic Gardens in the high heat of the day, hoping that he would fall so madly in love and lust with her that he would immediately cause an international scandal by ditching the Duchess of Cambridge and moving in with us in our little flat.
“And to think that he may actually have knocked Kate up while they were in Singapore,” Saffy observed quietly.
“Hate her!” Amanda sniffed.
Meanwhile, Saffy is jealous that her most treasured possession, her formidable twin-peaked bosom, has yet to land her a coveted Victoria’s Secret Angel gig.
“Seriously,” she said while we watched last year’s show on YouTube for the millionth time, “can someone really tell me that she hasn’t had a boob job? Whereas my babies, which are all natural, aren’t as deserving of prime time TV?”
“It’s an absolute crime,” Amanda said.
Saffy, who wouldn’t recognize irony if she had a one-night stand with it and got knocked up, nodded in sisterly solidarity. “I know, right?”
What bugs us is just how easily good fortune seems to come to other people. As Amanda observes, the only reason she can see why she’s not the current Duchess of Cambridge is that she lives in a flat in Toa Payoh.
“I’m just as pretty as that Kate woman!” she said the other day as she grudgingly admired, for the hundredth time, pictures of the Royal Wedding in her souvenir Women’s Weekly edition. “And I’ve got a degree from Harvard! What does she have?”
“Royal connections and a posh British accent,” Saffy piped up helpfully.
“Oh shut up, Tyra!”
But what really gets our goat is all those people who became instant millionaires because of an app they designed. ‘Angry Birds’ get us particularly incensed.
            In one year, the developers made $100m. One hundred million dollars. From a game that basically shoots badly drawn cartoon birds at badly drawn cartoon pigs.
            “Wah, so fun, I tell you!” was Sharyn’s verdict as she tried out the Christmas edition. “I play play play till I cannot sleep! Jia-lat!”
            This only made Saffy even grumpier as she thought of all the hundreds of millions of Sharyns out there who’d just parted with good money for such a stupid game.
            “Why can’t we come up with an app of our own?” she demanded the other morning. The question haunts her waking hours as she scribbles ideas into a notebook that's devoted to app development. So far, her best idea is a variation on Angry Birds, but instead of birds, round heads bearing a remarkable resemblance to Prince William are hurled at a pair of bouncing breasts. “Modelled on mine,” she adds just in case anyone missed the resemblance.
            Leave it to Sharyn to come up with an app idea that might actually make money. She told me about this afternoon at lunch, leaning in over a steaming bowl of bah kut teh.
“You know how there are apps that help you find people, like dates and friends?” she whispered, the steam from the soup fogging her thick glasses. “They show you on a map and where other people are, right?”
            She took my silence as encouragement to go on. “What if you have an app that tells you if your enemies are near! Then you can fast fast run away!”
            When Amanda heard about this, her reaction was: “Oh. My. God. That is sheer genius! Why didn’t we think of that? I have so many enemies I’m always scared of bumping into!”
            Saffy says the first person she’d add with this new app would be Sharyn. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Fly By

It’s funny what sleep deprivation can do to you.
            Recently, Saffy and Amanda and I took a holiday to London. It will go down as one of the worst in recorded history. The calendar said we were in April, but the weather insisted it was early January. Grey skies, rain and cold. It was so miserable. Then one day, it started snowing.
            “Isn’t it meant to be sunny?” Amanda complained.
            Saffy shivered. “I’m so cold. I only packed tee-shirts!”
            “Let’s get out of here and go somewhere warmer,” I said.
            Which is how we found ourselves at the airport one early morning waiting for a plane to Greece. It was one of those really weird continental flights on a super cheap budget airline that takes off at 7 a.m. You know the one. It’s not quite nighttime but it also doesn’t feel like morning, so everybody is very confused, not sure whether to go back to sleep or have breakfast.
So, we decided to eat since Amanda said that it had taken her an hour to get her hair just right and she couldn’t afford to mess it up.
“You know what would be a brilliant idea?” Saffy suddenly said in the middle of chewing an awful, stale muffin she’d bought from the airport cafĂ©.
“I think they should convert the front half of the plane into an activity room!” she declared and sat back in triumph, sipping her cappuccino and waiting for the songs of praise to begin.
I put down my scone. “Well, first of all,” I said, “who are they?”
“The airplane people, of course!” Saffy said. “The ones who control what’s going on. I think they have an office up in that tower where they spend a lot of time blinking at radar screens and saying things like, ‘Flight Niner one Foxtrot, you’re clear for descent on runway two. Tractor beams are engaged on my count. Three, two, one. Welcome home, Galactica!’”
I stared at her for a while. “Thank god you’re pretty!” I said eventually. “I don’t think you should drink so much coffee before sunrise.”
“But not as pretty as me, of course,” Amanda added, not wanting to be left out of the conversation.
Saffy ignored the barb. “No, really, listen to me! If they got rid of First and Business Class – no one sits in them anyway, they’re always half empty – and moved the rest of us up, you’d have at least half a plane worth of space. Just think about it, you could put in a gym. You could arrive at your destination toned and ripped!”
Sometimes, great ideas come from such unexpected quarters.
“Or a library,” I said slowly, a whole new world of frequent flyer activity opening up before me.
“There you go!” Saffy said, beaming. “I would install a spa. Light a few aromatherapy candles, put in a few massage beds and have hunky Swedish masseurs called Lars on standby.”
“Or a lap pool,” I said.
“Then where am I going to sit?” Amanda said eventually. “You know I can’t travel Economy!”
“You should stay home more, Amanda,” Saffy said gently.
But I think Saffy is onto something. There’s no end to what you could do. With some very clever planning, you could even put in a golf driving range, though of course you wouldn’t want Tiger Woods to be playing, since he’d probably drive a hole right through the rear of the plane.
“Oh, don’t be silly!” Saffy said. “Tiger Woods has his own plane. He would probably put in a tennis court on his. It’s like how Michael Jordan plays baseball and golf in his spare time. Tiger Woods probably practises forehands in his. Anyway, we don’t care what he does in his own plane. I want a dance-floor with strobe lights.”
Later, on the flight to Greece, Saffy said that we could also put in bedrooms which make the Mile High Club more comfortable. “Not to mention so much more sanitary. Imagine having to do it in that little toilet!”
“I’m not sure why anyone would want to do it anywhere!” said Amanda, who is currently single and therefore insanely jealous of anyone who is in a relationship.
The options for all that extra space are endless. You could put in a Jacuzzi and steam room. Or a restaurant. Or a full sized movie screen, so you never again have to squint at the tiny screen. And those big-assed A380s? Waste of space – has anyone you know ever gone upstairs? You could rip up the upper deck floor and turn the whole thing into a bungee jump.
Now, wouldn’t that be something?