27.5.05

Found in Transit

We had just got back from Tokyo when the movie was first released in Singapore. We had watched it, not for the critics' positive reviews, but just to catch the Tokyo cityscape. Ah,Tokyo wonderland (Sneaker heaven for James)! Yesterday we gave in to the $19 DVD at HMV.

The movie's website declares "Everyone wants to be found". I guess whether we speak the same or a different language, somehow, between 2 persons/cultures/entities there is always that slimmest of space where our words and meaning would often go missing in transit. Movies, missed opportunities and misunderstandings all tell us that maybe that space can never to filled. So our translations,interpretations and gestures, the messages we send out - they will never quite reach our intended audience in their entirety.

universal peace 2
CalcuttaJesus
Top: I've Seen the Doctor! Bottom: From Jesus to a Guru (Click to view larger image)

But I think it's not always this lonely or romantic. My experience of translation tells me instead that for everything that may be lost, something else new is always found.

For e.g. It did seem like an odd name for a clinic "Universal Peace". This was a clinic we had chanced upon at the Toa Payoh Central one day. What would a clinic called "Universal Peace" cure? Wars? Battle Scars? Hatred? Bigotry? But before you run away with these grand thoughts, "universal peace" is really just a rather literal translation for "TaiPing" (Tai Ping Yi Yao Suo). Somehow in Chinese, calling a clinic "Tai Ping" doesn't seem so strange -we assume the Chinese to be melodramatic anyway. But in translation, we find again the ambition of "Tai Ping".

Another time, somewhere in Marine Parade, James and I saw this message scribbled on a wall. We took first a photo of it and printed it 3R size. The already illegible writing was now more so. Oh well. That's what is the writing on the wall. And there's a story somewhere in there... a ghost story, a prostitute's (from Calcutta?) tale, a religious parable.

So don't despair, my friends! For everything that is lost, something else new is always found. And in the spirit of optimism, let me declare this true for more than just words and meaning, but also dreams, love and good restaurants (though never money lah).

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5 comments:

said...

i like the "don't despair" bit. but what if what is found is not what you want?

ampulets said...

Hmm, that's tricky, I don't know!

I guess, maybe, the spirit of optimism recognises only his friend, contentment, and his cousin, consolation :>

Anonymous said...

Translation = being in transit at the lost and found?

ahmad said...

"Tai Ping" is indeed a strange name for a clinic, macabre even, considering that "Tai Ping Jian" (太平間) is Chinese for "mortuary".

ampulets said...

Thanks Ahmad, didn't know that... if the doc knew this, he must have a very odd sense of humour.

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