Showing posts from December, 2007

balik kampung

Juraissic age HDB playground at Kim Keat - all images by J My parents were born on this tropical island. But my father's father was from that most southern of southern China - the godforsaken island of Hainan; and my mother's was probably from Swatow. Pa J on the other hand was actually born in the Hokchia stronghold of Zhang Jian, and had travelled to the Nanyang by boat when he was a boy. On our tiny city-state, the idea of a hometown may have little meaning. Ask a Singaporean "where were you born?", and the answer would probably just be "XYZ Hospital" instead of "XYZ Village/Town/City/Country". This would, of course, change with more new migrants. Still, since we were both on leave from work, this morning J and I decided to put on our domestic tourist tags and go visit what comes closest to being our hometown - the neighbourhood of Bendemeer! The walk from Toa Payoh to Bendemeer brought us through the flats of Kim Keat guarded by 2 dinosaurs


click for flickr view About Christmas and gifts, I just overheard this on a news interview tonight - "帶一個感恩的心". Friends, hope you have a good Christmas and New Year holiday.

the walking man

image by J The joys of walking are seldom fully experienced on this island. The reasons are many: it's the weather - that debilitating heat or the indecisive raining that is not quite a steady drizzle or a thunderstorm; the fast pace of life; the design of our pavements and streets; "there's nothing to see"... Or maybe, as in many cities, we reserve our walking for indoor, air-conditioned environments designed to visually entice and seduce at every step (no, not museums, but shopping malls). But the nature-lover's trek, the scholarly stroll, the solitary romantic's ramble, the lovers' meander, or just a destination-driven march are all possible (and enjoyable) on our small, car-mad island. When I was a student, I had spent my holidays walking around the city alone. Now, since we don't drive, J and I walk a fair bit everyday whenever we can give the bus or train a miss. 2 Saturdays ago, with J at the gym and the December morning air agreeing, I walked a


afterlife of a moldy towel by J As part of the admission process for a study programme I've applied to, I was required to submit a sample of my undergraduate and postgraduate writing. As such, I spent an hour in my old room going through all 10 thick ring folders of notes and essays on literature that, 10 years ago, was still so precious I actually put it on a 3-month sea voyage from a northern island to our tropical one. The folders are accompanied by 2 boxes of index cards, neatly documenting every article and book I had referred to and made notes from, the highlights now a sickly candy floss pink. Having found the 2 essays I needed, for a moment I contemplated trashing the whole lot. But only for a moment. Then I stashed the 2 boxes of index cards and 10 stacks of mildewed paper back into the cupboards, unsure if they would ever see light of day. Ah, sentimentalism - that's what remains of an education!

in the quiet of the night

This was meant to be a post about Michel Faber's extremely well-written and pleasurable novel The Crimson Petal and the White , but the Singapore Writers Festival , a biennial event sponsored by the National Arts Council hijacked the review. I've never been entirely convinced of the need of a writers festival. People who write getting together to listen to other people who write talk instead - and talk among themselves. All this had seemed unnecessary. As if writing itself was not vanity enough, there should be voices declaring. But I looked forward to this year's Writers Festival. Not for anything but the names of 3 writers I recognised and admire. There was Goh Poh Seng who would be coming back to Singapore from Canada after so many years away, now ill, to give the opening address. Chinese poet Bei Dao, whose poems I enjoy (despite the appalling translations). And Arthur Yap . Last evening, wheyface and I attended the Arthur Yap reading. It took place in a room of s