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Showing posts from March, 2007

hello neighbour

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When I was a kid, this was one of my favourite books. Not so much for Dr Seuss's rhymes (I probably can't read then), but for the illustrations. None of the homes in those pictures resembled mine! There was one illustration of the chestnut-haired boy having rice with a chinese boy who lived on a boat. The rice was these round white balls. Even the rice was not like the rice I ate! Looking through the book today, my adult eyes noted the stereotypes and the naive idealism of "Some houses are rich, full of silver and gold. And some are quite poor, sort of empty and old. Some houses are marble and some are just tin. But they're all, all alike when a friend asks you in." Anyway, I thought of this book only because J and I are finally giving in to the wanderlust and taking a holiday - albeit a very short one with Ma Y to visit our peninsular neighbour. For a treat, we got ourselves into a neighbour's house that will have lots of marble, even if it is not ful

standing still

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Yesterday HK launched the 1st Asian Film Awards at the opening of the 31st HK Film Festival. Yesterday was also the first day the tickets to our own 20th Singapore Film Festival went on sale. The former was all glitz and excitement. The latter is clearly standing at some kind of crossroads. This SIFF's selection is patchy but continues its SEAsian anchor. It clearly lacks the vigour of a programme that has a good mix of obvious high notes, dependable festival regulars and low-key curiosities. Still, the SIFF is always a special time for J and I. I've many fond memories of the Festival - especially of the days when the films were screened at the old Capitol and Majestic cinemas. Hey, I even have all the programme booklets my old ticket stubs since I was a teenager! It was also at the film fest that J and I first became good friends. So this year, we persisted and got tickets to: (pictures in order from top) documentary Aki Ra's Boys by Singaporeans James Leong &a

conversation

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When I got home from work today, I found a young lady sitting in the living room. "Hello." I smiled. So did she. I told her my name. Her name was YY. Her voice was slight, as was her handshake. J was in the study with YY's husband, who was helping to resucitate a dead hard disk. They stayed there for the next hour. So YY and I started to talk. YY was a PRC citizen, but was recently granted permanent residency here. A fine arts graduate (major in print making!) from a Nanjing university, we spoke about YY's job search, her inability to make any art here, her distaste for the noise and congestion in Singapore ("why such small toilets here? I really don't understand", she had said when I told her we had to knock away a wall to make a large enough bathroom from 2 small ones), her general disillusions with life, her concern for her husband's health, her views about the corruption prevalent in Chinese art colleges, her jobless and aimless peers in Nanjing

agednap

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Drawing 1 of Kidnap News 2! can't access my @&$*flickr acct, so not sure if this image can be viewed larger L amazed us one night by saying that as he grew older, he looked forward to growing old. Ah, the horror, the horror. L smiled and added how he was happily looking forward to turning 40. J was incredulous. Perhaps L was speaking of a mental and emotional reality. And perhaps J, observing Ma and Pa J, is terrified of growing old - of its material and corporeal reality. The former is of gain, the latter of loss. Today, I realised I was wrong to imagine time can be stolen . We are never robbed of it. Busy-ness is a poor excuse I've been making. Time cannot be taken away from us, since it is never ours to begin with. It's just a slippery thing. So it was that last night, J and I decided to bring back our friend , Kidnap Bob! Only this time, Kidnap Bob will not only meet with kids, but grandpas and grandmas too. Will Kidnap Bob only be accused of abducting the young?

gone fishing

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image by J It was like a stage. Or maybe a bear-baiting pit. In a section of a canal that cuts across Mr Chiam's sliver of Toa Payoh and joined an even larger monsoon canal from PAP's Bishan towards the Kallang River, residents from both constituencies were joined in watching the spectacle of 4 men wading in the murky water. A pot-bellied and bald Chinese man was moving barefoot, miraculously avoiding all the chips of cement and rock on the canal bed. Another a track-suited Malay man in jogging shoes was on the other side of the canal, similarly dancing about without slipping on the algae. They wade in the water that is knee-high by the sides, and waist-high in the middle of the canal. Above them, walking on a large beam that held a (sewerage?) pipe were two other men, skinny and monkey-like. A fishing net was half-sunken in the water. The audience joked, shouted instructions, or watched curiously. Boys scrambled about above ground and tossed them rocks and chunks of broken br

distracting time

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Nostalgia a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time Other dictionary definitions replace the wistful with a taste "bittersweet", or more simply, "The condition of being homesick; homesickness", which in 1770 was classified a disease. J : You know, people like to talk about the past. Y : Yeah? J : They seem happiest when they talk about the past. Y : As in... J : Like how guys talk about army, your mom likes to tell us about her childhood... Y : So? J : Well, the thing is that those times are probably rather miserable, but when they talk about it, all that is miserable feels like it wasn't there or wasn't as miserable. People love to reminisce, Y : I see, J : I wonder if it's only like that here. I've never lived anywhere else before. Wistful. Typically, the most popula

learning to read and write

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What is clear to me after 2 weeks of rather hectic work is that this is not how to live our short lives. The paycheck doesn't justify it. The interactions with more "(wannebe) upstairs" types certainly don't (oh, the minefields!). The work-writing threatens to destroy whatever non-work-writing I can do. But whatever protestant work ethic and misplaced sense of responsibility I have say to soldier on - for now; count it a blessing that my colleagues are at least unchanged in their generosity, yes, accept all situations as an opportunity to learn (the practical, the useless, the dark, the frustrating, the inspiring)... But to protect the time with friends - and books. J has been faring far better than me in this respect, having finished this book in a few days and labouring through designer Bruce Mau's Massive Change . Of the latter, he took this lesson, and I from him: Been reading this book called Massive Change . Part of the book is about how changes in tr