10 May 2013


The natives are resting. This is not uncommon for the Singaporean as they are sleepy creatures. They seem to be able to sleep anywhere and everywhere - even whilst walking. I encounter this every day. I encounter it on trains and on uses and in parks. I see Singaporean sleepwalkers in the walk that I take to and from my office. It doesn't particularly bother me most of the time. I step over sleeping bodies and I am wary of my surroundings. Pedestrians in this city often collide with each other. The collisions I think wake them up - at least temporarily. 

I prefer my sleep at night and in my bed. It is more comfortable there. In his infamous work "Paradise lost" John Milton asked:

"What hath night to do with sleep".

I assume that Mr. Milton must have been a bit of an insomniac and it may well have been a primary reason that he lost his paradise. We all need sleep and we are chemically programmed to do this at night. Studies have been done on this. I must admit that I am not a good sleeper though. It often eludes me and I say in a Milton-type fashion that it is mine enemy. I will continue in a Miltonian fashion and say that sleep regularly honors me not with its presence. This sometimes makes me grumpy and I occasionally threaten to set people on fire. 

It is one of my many faults.

At night I have my air conditioning blasting at a comfortable twenty three degrees when I am at home. This is twenty three degree Celsius and not Fahrenheit – just to clarify for any Americans that might be reading.

The Fahrenheit temperature scale was introduced in the year 1724 by a bloke named Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. He was born in Poland but his parents were German and he lived most of his life in Holland. Before 1724 there was no actual measurement of temperature and it was considered to be either hot or cold or somewhere in between. The Celsius temperature scale was adopted by most countries late in the twentieth scale even though it was developed in 1742 by a Swedish Astronomer named Anders Celsius in the year 1742. Fahrenheit outdid him for more than 200 years. I have no idea why it took so long to transform from the Fahrenheit to the Celsius scale but the fact remains that it is hot or cold or somewhere in between. The number that is applied is not particularly relevant to most of us.

America is one of the few countries in the world that persist in using the Fahrenheit scale. They are stubborn Fuckers who generally like to do things their own way in between blowing things up and invading countries.

I sleep beneath a single cotton sheet that is made of fine Egyptian cotton and I lay on top of one as well. My bottom sheet is a fitted one with elastic corners that my part-time helper Mery changes once a week. She cleans my house and irons my shirts on a Wednesday. Mery also changes my pillow cases. I suspected that Mery was ironing my sheets so I left her a note telling her that it wasn't necessary - but she still does it. Mery irons beautifully. My shirts are magnificent and they are completely crease free. They are a sight to behold and a joy to wear. 

They really are.

The security guards at my apartment complex are always asleep. Day and night. I rap on the window of their little security hut as I come and go from my complex and I startle them awake. It brings me a small degree of perverse pleasure to keep them on their toes. The security guards and I are deeply engaged in a battle of wits which I cannot win unless they are conscious and alert. They are witless anyway so the battle is probably futile. 

Irrespective, I shall persevere. I enjoy a good battle.

One of the seven dwarves in the tale of Snow White was named Sleepy. I know this because I attended a quiz event last night where we were challenged to name all seven of the dwarves. My group could only name six. We forgot Bashful. The shy one. Like me.

Apparently many people forget Bashful and perhaps that is because he is so quiet. My favorite dwarf has always been Doc but I don't know why.

Dwarves don't like being called dwarves and they prefer to be referred to as "Little People". Dwarfism is a medical condition. It is a genetic disorder named achondroplasia. Chromosome number four is mutated in Little People and it causes growth to be stunted and disproportionate. Little People typically have torsos that are normal in size but their limbs are much smaller. They often have problems with their joints as they grow and they are also quite often in a significant amount of pain. Little people are always less than four feet ten inches in height.

One of the seven dwarves in the famous Snow White fable is named Grumpy. I suspect that his joints hurt all of the time and because of their joint pain many little people may be sleep deprived.

The seven dwarves are from the fable written by the German Brothers Grimm. Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. The Little People in this story adored the Princess Snow White. She likely suffered from a condition known as anemia. This is a blood disorder which amongst other things causes a paleness of complexion and causes skin to become as white as snow. The whole story is really about a bunch of people who are ill.

The names of the seven dwarves in the Snow White fable are Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy, Bashful and Doc. Interestingly their original Germanic names were Blick, Flick, Glick, Plick, Snick, Whick and Quee. I am glad that we weren't asked this at the quiz. 

We would not have got any of the names.

The name 'dwarf' is derived from the Old English word dweorg however there are Germanic and Indian roots as well. In Germany the term dhreugh is associated with the words traum - which means 'dream' - and trug - which means 'deception'. Both words are unrecognized by my cursed spell check device. Traum is being changed to 'trauma' and trug is being changed to 'drug'.  

There it goes again. 

Dwarves are associated with mysticism and mountains and in ancient India dwarves were referred to as dhvaras. They were considered to be powerful demonic type of beings.

In the modern world there are more dwarves in India than anywhere else on the planet. I have seen quite a few Little People in Bombay and Delhi. 

This is not really surprising given the very large population of the sub continent.

Little people have been much popularized through the Lord of the Rings trilogy where Tolkien described them as a warrior clan of people who were bearded and powerful and had very bad tempers. I would imagine that Little People would quite like being perceived this way.

I am sleepy now and am going to go to bed.


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