Showing posts from February, 2022

We all need the sun

The people who work in plant nurseries or shops probably often get this question - “does this plant need light/sun?”  Folks, every plant needs sunlight. All plants thrive with some if not full exposure to sunlight. They make food with it, they grow under it, they bloom and multiply with it, they simply bask in it…Any plant will gravitate towards sunlight, even those that miraculously survive in low light conditions creep ever so slowly towards it. I don’t think there is a plant that deliberately hides from the sun.  My only flowering plant, the Senecio Amplifolius, has blooms angled towards the sun. They are amazingly consistent. All the buds look the same direction.  Succulents or cacti have a condition where they become “etiolated” when they do not have sufficient light. Their form becomes skinny and long, they become unnaturally stretched because they are spending all their effort or energy to get closer to the source of light. Or otherwise they become dormant, barely growing. I thi

Departing Ways

Zhang AiLing or Eileen Zhang was a writer who inspired legions of fans. I don't know why I was a fan - my Chinese is so shit I probably didn't really understand half the stuff she wrote. But for years I bought and tried to read Zhang's short stories, novellas, letters, essays and even literary criticism. In September 2019, during a work trip to Shanghai, I managed to steal some time away to visit that apartment block where Zhang had supposedly lived (fangirl photo above that my colleague helped to take).   In 2005 I even wrote a short story about Zhang Ailing's ghost. The short story "Departing Ways" was published in a Malaysian anthology, and is reproduced below (with edits): DEPARTING WAYS    Following the death of Miss Jumi Lim’s mother and after a decade of barren, the papaya trees started to bear fruit. But when the ripened fruits disappeared as mysteriously as they had appeared, talk began to circulate among her relatives.       “It’s the tree ghost. You

the wisdom of (very small) trees

My mom came over for dinner today. My task for her was to help me trim and “train” my unruly bonsai. And although she does not have any practical experience, she has been studiously watching videos on YouTube. I played her music on Spotify, made her a pot of tea, and found in the toolbox some bonsai wire that J bought years ago and never used. I joked that we are like 2 very cultured ladies of leisure. Photo 1 shows her in action. Photo 2 shows the results of her efforts. Pretty good for a maiden effort, no?  When I praised her, she proudly shared with me these pieces of bonsai wisdom that she had culled from YouTube bonsai masters. Advice that you may selectively apply to other aspects of life.  (1) “Don’t be afraid to cut it all off. Be brutal. It will grow back.” At the end, she must have shorn at least 80% of the plant. She is right. I could not see the form of the plant until all that “extraneous” growth was removed. And while the plant looks quite naked now, the leaves will grow

A Long Walk

Even in tiny countries like ours, regionalism exists. And among accounts of regional pride, none is as fierce as the Easties’. Last Sunday I took a walk in the East. Whenever I go to Katong, it feels like I am on holiday - it is after all the birthplace of SG’s original leisure class. My walk started at Ah Yee Soon Kueh, and I made my way to coffee with ex-Eastie WW  at one of many hipster cafes, before lunch at the original 328 Katong laksa. But the main destination is actually Seabreeze Bookstore ( @seabreezebookssg ), an extension of  @trendlitpublishing  . Located at level 2 of 366A  Tanjong Katong Road, the moment you look up the stairs, you will feel Seabreeze bookstore’s “Taiwan vibes”. They carry mostly Chinese language titles from Singapore, Taiwan and HK, and a small selection of merch, such as those by Taiwan label 小日子. I must say that Trendlit’s book designs are themselves very on-point, and in the context of Singapore publishing, refreshing.   Do check them out. Also becau