Thursday 4 August 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 4/8/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Jetstar

Talk of the town

Travellers on board Jetstar Asia flights to Singapore are in for a surprise next week. The airline has just announced that it will introduce Singlish on its flights in celebration of Singapore’s National Day on 9 August. Passengers in the air on the country’s 51st anniversary will be greeted in the city’s unofficial tongue: a hodgepodge of dialects and the state’s languages of English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Historically the government frowned upon the vernacular: it views the proper use of English as fundamental to Singapore’s economic ties with the world. In 2000 the government even rolled out the Speak Good English Movement to crush its use. Yet Singlish proved invincible and has since established itself as a distinctive component of the Singaporean identity, particularly after certain words such as lepak (laid back) were added to the Oxford English Dictionary earlier this year. As big brands such as Jetstar throw support behind the lingo, it seems this cultural quirk isn’t going away any time soon. Now that’s what we call shiok.

Image: Daniel Reinhardt/PA Images

Wheels on the bus

In recent years Germany’s market for long-distance buses has had more ups and downs than a Bavarian valley. About three years ago it was flooded with new players keen to exploit a relatively untapped niche but since then operators have seen a distinct drop in the market. Yesterday Flixbus (the most successful of the young crop) announced it was going to take over Deutsche Post’s long-distance bus service Postbus. After merging with another big German start-up, MeinFernbus, in 2015 and buying the European Megabus service from UK-based Stagecoach in June, Flixbus has established itself as the market leader in Germany and a big continental player too. Others have been less fortunate: Deinbus and City2city have both thrown in the towel. Fortunately for Munich’s Flixbus this deal will pass Germany’s so-called “cartel office” as the company has enough competition from planes and trains.

Image: Norio Nakayama

Slippery slope?

Since anguilla japonica, or Japanese eel, was added to the international list of endangered species two years ago, freshwater eel is harder to come by and not only because the supply has dropped to one-third of its levels in 2000. For this year’s Doyo-no-ushi-no-hi (Day of the Ox) on 30 July – the day in mid-summer that is synonymous with eating grilled eel – retailers trotted out alternatives. Supermarket chain Aeon sold a marinated catfish fillet developed by Kindai University to have less fat and less odour so that it’s suitable for grilling. Meanwhile, department stores and speciality restaurants experimented with other alternatives, from conger pike to Pacific saury and amago salmon. But finding a fish as delicious and packed with as much vitamin B as eel – to combat lethargy in the swampy summer months – isn’t easy. As one writer in national daily Asahi Shimbun put it: “Eating Japanese eel is no different from feasting on the grilled meat of a giant panda or Japanese crested ibis. I would still eat it though, bearing this in mind.”

Image: Gobierno de la Ciudad de México

The hole shebang

Baches, or potholes, may be the hot word on the lips of Mexican politicians but they’re not particularly glamorous. Nonetheless, it seems that any leader worth their salt in the Latin nation is talking about them. Jaime Rodríguez, the governor of Nuevo León, has been telling residents that if they see one of these unsightly holes in the street they should work together to fill it; it’s part of what he calls fostering community and is not well received by everyone. Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, meanwhile, has gone one step further, this week launching a phone app called Bache 24. Residents can report a pesky pothole and one of the app’s teams (pictured) will deal with it within 24 hours.


London-based menswear brand Percival was launched by Luke Stenzhorn and Chris Gove in 2009. They began by selling clothes online and in pop-ups but now run a flagship store on Soho’s Berwick Street. Percival has stayed small despite attracting fans such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Alexa Chung. But now the team is ready for the next stage. Stenzhorn and Percival’s finance director Jacob Sorkin meet with Daniel Giacopelli to discuss their early days and their new crowdfunding campaign.

Addis Ababa: bloom town

Once a byword for all that ailed African nations, Ethiopia is again playing to its strengths – and its booming capital, Addis Ababa, is at the centre of the resurgence.


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