You belong among the wildflowers

When it comes to music, I am almost monolingual in my tastes. During my teenage years and a little beyond, the radio was tuned in to FM 933 and only to 933醉心频道. I have never listened to any song by – off the top of my head – the big names and pop culture icons like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Linkin Park, Coldplay and all the rest. Not interested to, either. Why so insular? Don’t ask me because I don’t know. This is a mystery even to myself because my command of my so-called mother tongue is so lamentably shaky I can’t really write or speak a proper sentence in Chinese/Mandarin.

For a fleeting year or two, however, I dipped into musical stuff from the English-speaking waters. Again, no idea why I started and then stopped. I remember the first time I caught “All Apologies” though I can’t recall why I was wearing my hearing aids then (I seldom do so at home) and why I was watching TV at that time when it was deep in the night and Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged in New York” was on air and I probably had school the following day. The one song was enough – I bought the CD and, later, all of Nirvana’s studio albums.

As for how I started orbiting R.E.M, only a vague impression remains; it was probably MTV’s fault as well. The song which conked me on the head, made me see constellations, and dragged me into its gravitational embrace? “Everybody Hurts.” (Years later, it was to take on an especial and painful poignancy.) I came into possession of a couple of their albums too.

And I used to own Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” on cassette. The hows and whys are lost in the mists of time. It’s the first English album I bought, that much I know. Decades on, I’m listening to it again and hey how do I still remember the lyrics to the title track and “You Don’t Know How It Feels”. Thanks for the music, man.


Stage debut

Contrary to Benjamin’s speculation, that wasn’t my acting debut. This one is – a monologue I ownself wrote titled “The almost perfect optical illusion of standing on woody legs”.

(Photo shows me in a black shirt and jeans, standing with arms crossed in front of my body, and behind a wooden stool such that my legs are in line with and disappear behind the legs of the stool.)


In solidarity

The Online Citizen reports: Activist arrested by Police outside of Parliament House after standing alone with artpiece

Apparently, you will be arrested for holding an artpiece and standing peacefully and silently in front of Parliament House. The ‘artpiece’, by the way, is a mirror. For those who remember, you can also get into trouble with the law for putting up cut-outs of elephants near an unopened MRT station and wearing tees with kangaroos printed on them to the Supreme Court. So I say: Singapore, contrary to what STB says, is where passion is made impossible.
Anyway, some will decry him as a troublemaker. Some will say it won’t work; he is wasting his time. Some will advise him to do something more useful with his life. Some will wonder what this has to do with them and their mundane lives.
And yet others, like me, comfy in our armchairs and living equally mundane lives, will sigh and say it’s more than politics, more than grandstanding, it’s our lives and our rights, and those of our children and their children, and we need to care and understand and question, and that we stand, pardon, I mean, sit in solidarity with him.
I lack his courage and his gumption and civic consciousness. But here I am, sitting in solidarity with Seelan Palay.
(The post on Facebook is set to public, for the little it’s worth.)

Streaking out

There’s this understated Japanese drama on Netflix called Midnight Diner which I’ve watched. Nothing to do with what transpired but, you know, every story needs a random Murakami-ish fact.

At 11.55pm, I glance at the pedometer. 700 more steps needed. Move legs faster and beyond my destination – Kopitiam Express 2000 – to nowhere. I want to hit my daily target. More, to maintain the 13-day streak. Just as well Vivian Chow is purring 自作多情 in my ears – gets the blood flowing.

At 12.00am, pedometer app resets to zero. Look at the reading for 30 September – I have fallen short by 145 steps!

Upset me more than I expect. I’m now drowning my sorrows in curry and roti prata.

Retro classroom circa 2005

You don’t know what you miss till you miss it. I can hardly find any good photos of the school at its Prince Charles Square premises. This was my teacher’s desk which doubled as my office (we didn’t have a staff room). The school had the most quaint classroom design I’ve ever come across in Singapore. Because mine didn’t have a door, I put up a screen on rollers in an ultimately futile attempt to block off distractions.

Years after I left and after the school moved to Mountbatten (what’s with all the names of British royalty anyway?), I walked over from Redhill MRT to have a what-I-thought-would-be-a-last look at the long abandoned building, only to be denied by the extensive construction (of swanky condos) around it.

p/s: And oh yes, wildlife and semi-wild critters abound – at its peak, the school garden had a rooster, hens, chicks, rabbits and bunnies, and the surrounding greenery boasted squirrels and snakes and frogs and cobras and snakes (which left behind moulted skins and ate at least one rabbit).


Why is this the track’s fault?

TODAY headlines: “S’pore posts flat population growth; lowest in over 10 years”

I would like to add: “MRT posts steep breakdown increase; worst in 30 years.” Boh pian. Our infrastructure cannot tahan anymore. World class transport right here eh. Malu is as malu does.

Am waiting at Paris Ris station platform for over 10 minutes. It’s packed and the ‘4 min’ timing to next train has been 4 minutes for over 10 minutes without a single train arriving. Apparently there was some fault between here and Tanah Merah. Crowd ebbs and surges as people get fed up and leave (I presume to take the bus or cab) and as more people arrive to join the lines.

Update: Became part of the fedup group. As I walked to the bus stop, train chugged overhead towards the station, finally, at walking pace. I kid you not, I was keeping pace with it. The bus stop is also packed. It’s an hour since I left home and I haven’t managed to escape my neighbourhood.

A public apology

30 September is International Translation Day. I’m getting my post in early. Because I’m such an incorrigible horror of a client, I wish to issue an official apology to all the interpreters who ever kena assigned to interpret for me.

I am sorry for falling asleep when you were interpreting. I am sorry for chit-chatting with other people and ignoring you when you were interpreting. I am sorry for taking unglam photos of you when you were interpreting. I am sorry for commenting on the fresh crop of pimples on your face (after waking from my nap) when you were interpreting. I am sorry for saying you seemed to have put on weight since the last time I saw you when you were interpreting. I am sorry for laughing at the signs you got wrong when you were interpreting. I am sorry for writing down the signs you got wrong when you were interpreting and showing the list to you afterwards and shaking my head in sorrow. I am sorry for asking questions about your personal life when you were interpreting. I am sorry for trying to exchange gossip about other interpreters when you were interpreting. I am sorry for looking thoroughly bored and sighing ever so often when you were interpreting. I am sorry for looking thoroughly confused at your signing when you were interpreting when I understood you perfectly well because I was bored. I am sorry for asking you why the talk was so incredibly boring when you were interpreting. I am sorry for forgetting to thank you after the interpreting session. I am really sorry. I promise to turn over many new leaves and never mention facial blemishes again when you are interpreting.

The photo is of Xiong 哥 who is representing all the interpreters I am apologising to (because his visage will garner more LIKES for this post from his vast fan base) and who was like, “don’t take photo of me! auuggh! no photos! no!!” when I tried to take a photo of his newborn beard sometime ago.