Monday, December 31, 2007

43TK = S$1

Or This morning I made myself two half-boiled eggs and the taste was closest I got to home since I got here. Not even my Ramen noodles invoked the same sensation. I suppose there's something about black sauce, a mountain of pepper and eggy goo that strikes deep.

This morning I paid my rickshaw wallah 15 takas to cycle me from my house to my office. I would say that would be a locally-acceptable rate, although some may argue 12 would have sufficed. I generally judge how acceptable the payment is based on my rickshaw wallah's face after I've handed it to him.

The locals haggle and deal before getting on the rickshaw. I don't bother because I never win and it takes too much out of me. So I just pay what I gauge would be a price that would make them happy enough not to ask for more.

Sometimes I gauge wrongly and they look at me slightly sorrowfully with their palms outstretched, refusing to pocket my money. I ask them, not enough? And I give more. Sometimes they ask for a lot more, by which I mean asking for 25 taka for something that is usually 15. Sometimes they yell at me even though I've given a reasonable amount, which usually pisses me off and makes me not want to give them more.

I've seen some wallahs get beaten on the back and the legs by policemen wielding unprofessional wooden sticks, trying to herd them back behind an imaginary line. I've seen wallahs get their rickshaws thrown up and over because they crossed imaginary lines. I've seen too many of them getting yelled at by their passengers (then again, it could've been conversation since I don't understand the words exchanged). I've heard of cases of people running off without paying. I have also heard many singing as they cycled, chatting to each other and exchanging friendly taunts and dishing out helpful advice (you go first, quick quick, ok move in front of me here). Some make snarky comments about passing vehicles. Others try to tell me jokes I can't understand. I've had one hold my ankle the entire ride begging me to give him money for his family. Some chat and complain to me when we are stuck in a jam and we heckle at the big cars together. Some question my rickshaw wallah about where he picked me up from. Others don't say a word.

And so this morning I paid my rickshaw wallah 15 takas. What does this mean?

Saturday, December 29, 2007



Won't be having much time to blog these days. Happy New Year in advance, everyone.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Victory Day

Will probably be MIA as everything shuts down during the Eid/Xmas season.

Have fun.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It is only after being faced with a student who constantly questions me and talks back that I realise how fucking irritating I must have been in school.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Space Between

Happy Victory Day to Bangladesh.

Woke up to a phonecall from Zaid at 4 am informing me that he had changed his mind about going to Savar after all, and would I perhaps like to be ready in half an hour so I may catch a lift from his father's car?

The cold 's inescapable at night, and even after borrowing Arjun's ski cap and jacket I found myself wishing I had a huge jumpsuit of wool or a big fat sheep to hug.

The streets were predictably empty, a couple of people making their way to good-ness-knows-where, and one lone rickshaw ignored my shouts as he hurried by.

It's been a while since I allowed myself to be really, truly alone. The house doesn't count anymore, the space has been marked out by too many. This is why I used to come home late at night, I was claiming my space somewhere else - a space no one else wanted. It could have been anywhere, but anonymity and public-ness usually guarantees my privacy.

Savar was a lot of fun - Bangladeshi press pool is not a pretty sight. Most press groups I remember seeing came across as being hungry and earnest. Eyes wide open, trying to up one on each other. This bunch had a sense of menace about them - like a pack of wolves who knew exactly what would happen next.

Will post some photos soon. Just glad to be out and about and shooting - although the ankle almost gave way after a stupid jump and now I think I may have a long-term injury on my hands and I spent a good deal of time on the bus thinking of all the shots I would never have been able to get if I had this sprain a year ago.

The university has requested I stay to teach a new course during the next Spring semester. Which is really good news because this is how I gauge whether or not I've fucked up yet. The course has too many words and too many syllables in its title and I think I'll be learning as much as my students about the subject.

I have also started saying "too much" when I mean to say "very". This is entirely my roommate's fault.

Also, a certain friend is visiting in a couple of days, during which I will talk nonstop in Singlish and use big and bombastic words. I am too much excited.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Someone had a birthday.


"How long have you known each other? When did the two of you become friends?"

"After we were born."


Fellow Saggi and resident of my dwelling ( aka roommate), Arjun, turned 24 a couple of days ago. The four of us - birthday boy, a roommate, an aunt and a childhood friend - didn't go anywhere. We ate a lot of fried chicken and most of his cake landed up everywhere but our stomachs. There was plenty of dancing, but the kind which doesn't require a darkened club and illusory lights. Arjun's guitar got quite a work out. Oh, and no bartender in sight either, but let's just say I successfully woke up with a hangover anyway.

In other words, it was an awesome party.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Song Won't Leave My Head

- Ajab Si from the latest SRK movie Om Shanti Om.

Just listen lah. Hard to find full song you know.

If you think the movie looks cheesy, well be happy with the knowledge that it's intentional. But hey, how gorgeous is Deepika Padukone man.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I swear that sometimes listening to him talk is like hearing myself speak.
Unless he's speaking Bangla of course. Doh.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Sometimes you find out things about yourself when you least expect it. Or at least, when you don't expect it.

The conversation was awkward enough, and I'm generally better at such things when they take place inside my head. In my head I'm awesome. In my head I ask questions like there's no tomorrow.

But this was real life. In a lighted scenario. No shadows, no where to hide. I didn't know what to do with my hands. Then, the question that I wasn't expecting.

"Why are you so nervous?"

First, the realisation that I was indeed nervous. Hand-wringing, lip-bitingly nervous.

Then, the question itself - why indeed?

"What are you afraid of?"

Puzzled smile, head tilted quizzically.

Instinctively I just said, "I don't know." One safe, plausibly honest answer for two impossible questions. But by this time my head (in which I am awesome, remember?) had joined the dots and I found out just how much a person can affect your life even if you haven't spoken in two years.

The fear hasn't left after all, it made itself a nice home in my head and I had forgotten to evict it - and I suppose I'm the only one to blame for that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Swept Away

Uh oh guys, we may have to brace ourselves for a very hard landing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The only way to have a conference call between people located in South Bangladesh, UK and the US is to have at at 7.30pm - Dhaka time.

Which means that Jess has been waiting, and she is hungry.

Bangladesh cyclone damage much worse than thought-UN
Tue Dec 4, 2007 7:44am EST

DHAKA, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The United Nations said the humanitarian crisis caused by last month's cyclone in Bangladesh was much worse than previously thought, with more than two million people in need of immediate life-saving assistance.

Excerpt: "...The confirmed death toll has increased slightly to 3,268, the number of people considered missing is 872 and the number of injured has been revised upward by 5,000 to nearly 40,000.

Damage to property is also more severe than first reported. Nearly 564,000 homes have been completely destroyed, 200,000 more than initially estimated, the U.N. statement said. Another 885,280 houses have been damaged..."

Worse than thought? Is this the first disaster the UN has handled?? Geez.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Lunch hour break: Others eat, I ramble.

Facebook might have a hit a low with these guys and the fine, fine group they formed:

We never made it to OCS nor SISPEC (ok maybe we did, but we got out of course anyway), but we've been going out with your chicks!

Proud to add that I only stumbled upon it because my brother's a member. And that led to more fine, fine groups such as SAF Eyepower Division.

When not on Facebook, I do have an annual report to finish, a document package to revamp and update, and two classes to plan lessons for. Oh, and a 1,500 essay on xenotransplantation which I'm doing for a cheque which I may not see till next year. In other words, I am swamped.

I started reading up on nouns and verbs and all that stuff I should have paid more attention to in primary school in preparation for my upcoming English classes. Jess, who heads the Grammar Genocide team, will attempt to tell people why sometimes an abstract noun is different from a noun. Honestly, this is going to kill my brain. Tym might be feeling particularly horrified right now.

Might be the first news report about Singapore's "farms' vegetable plots"

I love how someone reading this might think us as an agricultural country.

Air force left red-faced by botched test

Mon Dec 3, 2007 8:18am EST

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A test by Singapore air force of a red plume of smoke for an acrobatic display has backfired after a cloud of the dye polluted nearby farms' vegetable plots.

The air force was testing the dye on the ground, but strong winds carried the smoke away from the base, the ministry of defense said in a statement Saturday.

Nearby farms had to destroy 200 tonnes of vegetables -- about 10 truck loads -- since the dye is not approved for food use, the Straits Times paper said.

The ministry of defense said it would not cause adverse health effects if inhaled.

The paper said it had received a flurry of complaints from people saying everything from a pet cat to white cars were sprinkled with the red dye. One farmer estimated his losses at S$70,000 ($48,410), the paper said.

Claims for compensation will be considered, said the ministry's Colonel Darius Lim in the statement.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Clear Skies Ahead

White Out



"Quite scarry lor After 5hrs 45 mins still no sign Last year 5hrs 20mins she was already in.She slow slow. Only consolation this time is that she got no splitting headache and churning stomach IF PA NOT AROUND SURE JIA LAT ONE LOR"

"My timing this year was really good 6Hr to finish lor. Weather was so hot later part of the morning that i walk the last one thought i was maybe in the ambulance when after 5.30hr still no sight of me....haha that old man thought i fainted but he did not realise how strong we women are."

Cyclone Destroys $291 Million Bangladesh Rice Crops, AFP Says

By Simeon Bennett

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A cyclone that killed at least 3,200 people in Bangladesh last month also destroyed $291 million of the nation's winter rice crop, Agence-France Presse reported, citing the state-run news agency BSS.

Bangladesh plans to import 1 million metric tons of food grains in addition to 1.1 million tons it's already shipped from overseas, and allow private companies to import another 900,000 tons, AFP said, citing BSS.

Bangladesh faces a shortfall of 3.1 million tons to meet domestic demand in the year ending June 2008, AFP said. The damage caused by Cyclone Sidr, which smashed into the nation on Nov. 15, follows the loss of summer crops of rice and other food grains caused by heavy floods in July and August, the agency said.

Last Updated: December 2, 2007 03:52 EST

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

Blackout - Portrait

They asked me for money and I declined, with a smile of course. Then they asked me for food.

"Ek ta shingara! Ami kheda lakse..." and she rubbed her tummy for effect in case the language wasn't getting through.

It's tiring and I feel a little less human everytime I do it. And it happens, every single day. I declined again, trying to engage them in inane chit chat. I decline because I want no part in this habit that they will rely upon when they grow up.

Chat to them? What for? It's ridiculous. Such a charade. Who am I kidding.

Then later a couple of guys left their table the the girl rushed over, scooping up the leftover gravy mixture of chick peas and potatos. She beckoned her friend over to share the spoils.

I used to believe that at the very least, I could be nice. I thought it would be a gesture that they would appreciate. Now I think they really don't give a shit.


Jess has nothing to say for herself, so she's posting pictures.

All taken on the same day, the day after Cyclone Sidr and the day Dhaka had a city-wide power failure. I did a lot of swearing in Hokkien that day, and it felt good.

Blackout - TGINSN

Blackout - New Market

Blackout - New Market

Blackout - Shreds

Thursday, November 29, 2007

অিম িকছু জািননা


Rubbish dump at the entrance of the Zigatola residential area. They do have a system, I just can't figure out what it is yet. The other is the shoreline of the Buriganga River that just happens to look like a dump.

Uploaded more stuff, two of which are shown here as a not-so-subtle and completely indulgent reflection of current inner turmoil.

Inner turmoil. Very Mill on the Floss, my friends. There was a storm, and there was a flood. I suppose all I need now is a boat.


I went down to the Buddhist temple in Bashabo a few days ago. On a whim, and on a bad leg, so that makes it a strong whim. An irrational gesture since I am not religious, but religion and culture cross paths all the time, and what I was looking for was the comfort of familiarity, the going-through-of-the-motions, and that sweet smell of incense.

Picking up Bangla script - and hence the title - which makes me feel thankful for being Chinese because if Bangla is this difficult - I can't imagine having to learn Mandarin now. Probably shows up as gibberish unless you've the unicode installed or change the language settings.

Shall refrain from translation, because my god I've been enough of a drama queen already. Australian Club having a BBQ which I have been kindly invited along - what, is the word Beer etched all over my face? I guess so, even though I don't really feel like drinking - and I shall go now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Probably a bad idea to upload so many photos at a time. Overload! but the recent Kushtia and Durga Puja - Faces photos are up.


Should've written about shooting Durga Puja because I was on a mind-numbing adrenaline high most of the time, hanging off the side of a lorry by hooking my arm onto a rope next to huge speakers blasting dance tunes till my ear drums hurt and trying very hard not to fall off as I shot the mad dancing crowd following the vehicle a la Pied Piper and his rats.

Durga Puja - Faces

Plenty more daily life stuff to come. Edited but slightly strained on the time factor so will upload another day.

The only meat I have eaten in the past one week is a single dish of fried fish three days ago. Oh, and eggs. Still an accomplishment for someone who was addicted to KFC. But then again, I now only need one meal (the rice/noodle kind of meal) a day, not counting eggs in the morning if I've the time or a shingara in the afternoon if I start to feel hungry. So its partially because I have less opportunities to be a meat consumer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moving On

Haven't felt like this since I was 17.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

This Must Be What Happy Drugs Feel Like

First of all, this is all thanks to Rajiv who ignored my whines about lousy photos and submitted them on my behalf anyway.


Of course, the feeling is best experienced in full screen, an emotion which unfortunately only I can appreciate, but would like to share nonetheless, and you can happy along with me by clicking on this link.

OH WAIT. I've a better idea. Why don't we just head over to World Pictures Network and type in my name in the search box.

I know. Many many nasty things will be said about this unabashed display of self-indulgence. It's no big deal. Photos are bad. Probably won't get any money from it (though god knows I need it man). My friends have long had their work out on the international scene in way more prestigious settings. I'm not even a staff photographer. And worse of all? I'm in joy at seeing a photo of a woman in pain.

Just please, I just want five minutes to stare at my name on that page. It's small but it's there, and its my name.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ami Ki Chu Nai (I Have Nothing)

I debated writing this in a three-parter series, but seeing the amount of work I have, it might be better to finish it off in one shot.

"Don't try to be a hero." My father is particularly fond of saying this to me. He was quite wrong though. I wasn't trying to be a hero when I rushed off to Purang Dhaka, zipping through the roads on the back of Antu's bike, trying to make it in time to grab us a seat on the last launch leaving for Patuakhali in Barisal.

I wasn't trying to be a hero when I made the decision to go, I was trying to do something differently for once - which basically includes the act of doing something rather than sit and whine about how I wish I could.

And I certainly wasn't trying to be a hero when I got on the motorbike. It was our only option to reach the villages. The roads was busted, and we had a time constraint - plus everyone used these taxi motorbikes to get around.

So the three of us hopped on, and I certainly had no heroic intentions when I ended up sitting at the back. Perhaps just didn't want to be squashed in the middle.

Maybe, just maybe, I was wearing a secret red cape without me realising it, burrowed deep in my consciousness along with my domesticated, submissive self.

But whatever the heroics I may have had, I can assure you that there was none when I screamed in pain as my right foot got caught in the back wheel of the motorbike as we sped down the country road.

I don't really know how it happened, and I am thankful I did not break anything and that I am now back on my feet and capable of walking (slowly) unassisted. I am thankful I had the good sense to cling on and resist all urges to fling myself off the bike and onto the ground. I am thankful that only skin came off, although I really don't like looking at my flesh too much.

Well it all sounds worse than it really is.

I could post a photo of my swollen and blue-black foot that looks like something out of a drowning incident, but what I really want to express is how much I wanted to hit myself for my sheer stupidity. I've run out of things to blame.

But anyway, this post is not about me.

This post is about them, which I cannot do justice to because I was utterly useless. At one point one of them tried to find me a walking stick, and the irony of everything was too much and I sat down in the middle of the destroyed and muddied marketplace and just cried.

My injury made a mockery of their loss. And for that, I want to apologise. But to who? I don't know.

The photo set is up. I have no time right now to do the captions again. I am aware there are spelling errors.




They came to me, since I couldn't really move away and was walking too slowly or sitting down for most of the time. "Ami ki chu nai," they all said. They wrung their hands to express their nothingness.

Some had it worse than others. Some drowned, others survived. Some have half a house left, others have nothing.

I still can't quite reconcile that a cyclone did this. It looked too much like an earthquake, the way the ground had been wrought open.

So I am sorry, I wasted a lot of people's time and caused a lot of worry all because I didn't know where and how to put my foot on a 100cc Honda motorbike. I don't know why, I really just want to apologise to someone for all this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Eye of the Storm

The cyclone came and left, and I could spin a whole story but I am right now on an extreme caffeine high made worse by the fact that I've been trying since last night to get my ass down to the coastal areas and all my competitive and ambitious drives are kicking in full kiasu-overtime so I am having a bit of difficulty just breathing at the moment.

Living with no water supply and electricity for over 24 hour is not really an ordeal but the mobile networks were down and the information blackout was really too much to bear.

The death toll so far is 1,100 but as we all know, the first day figures are never the right ones.

Slightly mad rush in the market area yesterday as candles were snapped up and sold out everywhere (at a ridiculously inflated price) and bottles of water taken off the shelf. Personally almost sprained my back carrying up buckets and bottles of water to my fourth floor apartment from the reserve water tank below.

I ran through all the worse case scenarios. The candles we had would last us for one or two more days, but the water would not.

I had half expected the situation to last for a few more days, and had heard reports confirming this, but early this morning at around 2am there was a flicker in the bulb of the ceiling and my roommates gasped. The lights came on and the fan starting whirring and the whole of Zigatola was treated to the very very loud shrieks of a Singaporean girl who never thought she would be so fucking happy just to be able to say "Yes, we had light last night."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not so hollow

Who would've thought that the secret to tolerating, no, enjoying, the whiny refrains of James Blunt would simply be a cold, rainy Thursday morning with a steaming cup of tea and a warm jacket wrapped all around.

Apparently I'm in a confessional mood today.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I shall write off a quick note about life and its mistress Irony because I am desperately trying to avoid sinking into my usual zombified post-afternoon slumber, which in my defence, is completely biological (proving the ingenuity of the Mexicans and their siestas) and thus not a result of my unwise choice to talk about music genres with my roommate till unprofessional hours of the morning.

As you may be well aware, I have a rather ridiculous obsession with the feline variety and its offspring, or for that matter, an innate affection for almost any sort of wildlife lucky enough not to be called by the names of mosquito, caterpillar, cockroach and flea - because these are not animals, they are spawns of the Devil and put on this earth to make my life miserable and hence I am justified in my hate.

And yes, I have reflected upon my feline obsession and have concluded that it is likely an evolutionary consequence and a self-defence mechanism since we are all intelligent human beings (some more than others) and if we figure out (consciously or subconsciously) that some creatures (like other human beings) are generally not worth the effort, time and obsession - we naturally find other more intelligent creatures (like cats) to divert our obsession towards.

We thus come to the point of my post which I promised would include the slut-child called Irony. I have been trying very hard not to indulge myself in my feline obsession because the last time that happened I ended up breaking the law which is sacrosanct in Singapore and most other countries (I think). And I also ended up with not one but three cats.

So, I think I deserve an award for having dutifully stayed away from cats in the last one month and not feeding them or showing them any form of affection which is about as easy as me turning vegetarian, and that says a lot.

But, (there's always a 'but') one night I came back to the apartment to see a very nice calico cat sitting quite daintily and right smack by the gate I had to pass in order to get home. I figured, I have been so good for so long, and I have no food on me anyway, there's no harm in just smiling and looking, right?

Wrong. Because just as I knelt down to get a closer look something else tumbled out of the darkness behind Calico, which I thought was a large rat at first, but with my kind of luck, it turned out to be a goddamn fluffy black kitten with the bushiest tail in the world, and it proceeded to display insane levels of cuteness. Its sibling, Kitten Number 2, tumbled out right after it and all three cats went on to merrily destroy the carefully constructed feline-proof walls I had built around me.

How did I end up living in an apartment block that was also home to two fluffy kittens and one calico cat? I'm not too sure, but I think that slut-child has something to do with it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

This email made my day.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "a Ugandan photographer" <>
Date: Nov 4, 2007 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: Yes I would like to know more.

Dear Jessica
This is more of a miracle than a reality. It is hard to believe, but hear it is before me. Last week I was searching the internet for a possible promoter abroad - in where in the world but had not found any yet. But within the 7 days, you come in with an offer.

I'm just so happy.

Man and Beast

Man and Beast

The guys hired a boat and we cruised down the Gorai River, one of the many tributaries of the mighty Ganges, which carried the melt and monsoon waters from southwest Bangladesh down to the Gulf of Bengal.

I wondered where my sandals were.

Two years ago, my sandals broke as I walked along the riverbed. The Gorai River was almost completely dried up then. Many rivers in Bangladesh are seasonal according to the monsoon, and man also have a serious sedimentation problem.

So I gamely left my sandals on the fine, fine sand in the middle of the water-less valley. So much for responsible tourism.

Now, the river is full and almost threatening to burst it banks in some areas. The river cliffs showed heavy signs of erosion - clearly, the Gorai River was back in business.

We stopped at an embankment before turning back, and I wandered off towards the sunset. As I approached a steep and muddied slope leading down to a stream which connected to the main river, I saw a man bathing his two magnificent water buffalos.

I think this is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

I used to say that I would cry if I ever had a chance to see a whale up close, but I suppose my tear ducts are cheap that way because I was utterly moved at the sight of these two creatures.

I knelt at the edge of the slope till my legs went numb and their bath was over. The old, wizened man coaxed his beasts up the slope and towards me, and I stood up and fought all my better instincts to run. And so I stood, quite literally face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder to a creature of such beauty and raw strength, and there are really no words to describe how I felt at that moment.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A funny thing happened last night when I discovered my iBook's Voice-Over feature and I had a fine time humiliating my laptop and making him say all kinds of nasty things that would make my roommate blush if she heard me.

So this is what it has come down to. Having fake and self-constructed conversations with my iBook array of voices (My favourite's Bruce, because he sounds like he means it).

But I swear it's horribly fun.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The beautiful thing about my jobs now is that I spend my time helping people. I teach, I reach out to people that no one has reached out to, I make my little contribution to making the world a fairer place.

Is that cotton-fluffy enough for you yet?

But it is a beautiful thing, and it is frustrating as you slowly discover just how damn difficult things can be. My worries and problems have always been about me. Not enough time, not smart enough, not enough discipline etc.

I will never understand what it is like to have problems that I can't do anything about.

The only female student in my class revealed today that she had been out of sorts all day and uncharacteristically gloomy because her parents are trying to force her into marriage. At the age of 21, she's not about to give in without a fight. "What can I do?" she said rhetorically.

But she held back her tears and she tried to contain her anguish under a sweet smile and tried to reassure me, another female just barely older than her and a girl will never understand what it is like to be a girl in this country, that "I will manage. No problem, I will manage." And I can just barely begin to fathom what she has had to manage in her life.

And I have been corresponding painfully with a photographer in Africa, and I can't imagine how he translates my English but Google Translate is taking care of his letters in French.

I will never understand what it is like to be in his shoes, but I have to try my best to anyway. Lost images taken by European agencies with no way of getting it back, no fucking internet unless at a cafe and really I don't want to know how much they charge for it there. And yet, a talented photographer that has exhibited at Noordelicht, no less, but still in this same shitty condition.

This is a heartbreaking business, but I'm quite glad and willing to have my heart broken this way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Miss Her.

Her Evilness

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rinse and Repeat


Go here and then click on the Majority World link to see what I've been up to.

Am rather exhausted.

Waiting for alms

But probably not as exhausted as him.

And probably not as exhausted as those behind the petition to repeal 377A. Feeling very empty after reading the news reports on it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I have to go because now that I am eating regularly again I actually get hungry. I kinda miss my days of non-food reliance. The diet didn't last long.

So, Trond and Rajiv decked out in their "finest" for Eid while I plainly forgot that women are supposed to be adorned and appeared at the house in my grubby clothes. This is akin to showing up at Chinese New Year visiting in your pajamas.

Merry Christmas to you too

But truth be told, I had nothing to wear even if I wanted to dress up. All I brought are grubby things and I'm feeling too miserly to go buy nice clothes.

As a result, one of Rajiv's relatives stopped in her tracks when she saw me. She pointed at me and said to Eli (Trond's fiance), "Girl?" With raised eyebrows and shocked/bemused chuckle.

Quite the compliment, I must say. And I am not being sarcastic.

And then these are some Kushtia photos. Have better onces (in my opinion) but... am hungry.

Lalon Festival


The town breaks out in merriment and a festive glow especially in the areas near the Lalon Mazar. Whole lot of sitting around and doing nothing and listening to people sing Lalon songs all days long. Oh and eating, of course.

Rock Star

And then, there was the River.

Gorai Nodi

Gorai Nodi

Will get around to editing the rest at some point in my life, I'm sure.

And my father sent me a bunch of photos of cats as per my request, and as the thumbnails in Gmail started to load slowly I smiled and laughed at the antics I saw and they were mostly of the third and second cat.

Some thumbnails didn't load though and I had to download the whole batch to view them. And I was just smiling stupidly to myself, scrolling through the pics and I reached the ones that didn't load properly in thumbnail before and they were of her and I swear someone must have cast a spell on me because this cat has a ridiculous hold over me and when I saw her face I just burst into tears. And I still do. So I can't look at this photo.


I want to be her paw.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Manyhow, Anywhen

Trond and Eli left this morning. I feel quite sorry that they live so far away and have to put up with an insane amount of air travel and plane switching, and very sorry that they had such a spate of bad luck here that both were admitted into the hospital (not at the same time, thank goodness) and even though they're alright now it must SUCK to have to go back earlier than you expected.

I hope I do not have to see the inside of the hospital here. Fingers crossed.

As it is I can barely breathe at night because of my rabid obsession with ridding the room of mosquitos and I think I should do some research on the long term effects of breathing in the smoke from mosquito coils.

My hatred of mosquitos is at an all-time high. Little fuckers.

Other than that, we finally got a stove which made me do a celebratory dance around the empty apartment because I want my EGGS and I want them NOW. Awesome.

Kushtia was fun in a way that doesn't make you go COOL AND AWESOME. It was fun because it was different and I had to discard my traditional standards of cleanliness.There is no Dirt. Really there isn't.

Plus I'm always bullshitting about how I like roughing it out.

Also, I can now boast that I slept in a small room with eight guys and nothing happened.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Off to Kushtia. Again.

Haven't had the proper chance to write a proper entry because of all the ruckus what with the moving in and the looming project deadlines.

But I leave tonight for Kushtia, Khulna to attend the Lalon Shah festival which I did two years ago but without my digital camera. I'm not too sure if there will even be a difference, but we'll see.

Moving house was a nightmare. It was the third day of continuous rain, always threatening to pour and drizzling constantly. I had already moved the smaller suitcase (filled with food) a couple of days back, and it took me about 2 to 3 days to make sure the lights and fan were properly installed.

So when it came to the big day, I had to lug a hug suitcase in the rain across town. There was a lot of waiting involved, mainly for the rain to subside.

I must admit, that while I was finally squeezed into the CNG with my suitcase, that I felt downright miserable. But in a good way, I suppose. Life is way too easy in Singapore and my pampered ass is getting whooped real good.

I was wondering how in the hell I would get the suitcase across the alley way (too narrow for vehicles to stop and there's no sheltered concourse) and then up to my room (I live a couple of storeys up, sans elevator) since it was so heavy I could barely walk a couple of steps with it.

Then the nice night watchman promptly came to my rescue in the rain, heaving the suitcase up onto his head and brought it all the way to my room. Easy-peasy. I was laughing because sometimes the Bangladeshis really do have all the best solutions.

I used to live in a more suburban part of the city, where things are slightly more orderly (as orderly as Dhaka could get), and next to a main road.

My new place is located in the heart of a not-so-suburban area, but still relatively better compared to the older parts of the city.

This is akin to moving from Sengkang to Geylang, I suppose.

And because of Eid and work, I have been fasting for the last three days. Ok, semi-fasting. I had my first meal of the day at roughly 9 pm every night, and I think its amazing-fabulous because I did not feel hungry the whole day (I drank water, which is why it was semi-). I just did not realise that I could survive on so little food.

Although I did end up behaving like an energy-deprived zombie, so there's no fun in that.

Nothing else much to say, only that I have proven myself right in believing that there is just no logic or rationality behind the chemistry between two people. Language schmanguage.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bedside Picnic.

Haven't had time to post. Moved into new place. No internet in the house. Work is piling up in mountains. Eid is almost over. Rained for three days. Back to hot now.

House is ok, empty. Roommate is nice, but language barrier poses problems. No stove yet so no cooking yet.

Having a hangover because I had too much of my own bottle of tequila yesterday. Feeling shitty, hence the shitty post. Rather inappropriate considering the muslim festivities going on.

But it was a nice picnic by the bed.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ami amar biral ti kay miss korei.

So the lights are working (finally), and the fan is fixed (finally) and the bed is there - which mean I'm all ready to move in.

This would be my first bona fide apartment, since hall doesn't really count. I didn't expect to have to fix up an entire room from scratch, learn about where the hell to get ceiling fans from, how many locks it takes for a house to be considered safe, and why a 10TK starter is a world of difference from a 5TK starter.

Really, having lights and a fan made me squeal like crazy.

Plus I'm making a trip to stock up on alcohol tomorrow, so things are looking up. So even if the power gets cut again tomorrow (like the previous two nights), I'll be christening the dark and hot room with a good strong drink.

Although I kinda wish I had one right now to say goodbye to this guestroom and its lovely aircon in the corner.

And if you're going to visit, let me just say first that furniture and electrical appliances such as a fridge or television WAY overrated. At least I've figured out that basic living means having lights, fan, bed, working toilet.

I'll probably be able to wriggle out a table and chair from some place, I think.

Oh, and the sentence above means "I miss my cat very much." Which I do. I could be an actress here, really, because all I have to do is conjure up her face and I can cry on demand. It is stupid, but it's true! I've been testing myself at various times and various locations and it really works!


I told him that he stressed me out because he had accomplished so much in life.

And I really was jealous. In a healthy way, but still jealous, nonetheless. The places he has gone, the things he had done. I explained to him that I have high expectations of myself this trip because everything I've done so far seem to have ended in a failure of some sort. And I know I shouldn't have such expectations so at least then there'd be nothing to fail. But I can't really help it.

And then he held up his wrist to show it to me, and told me that high expectations can be a dangerous thing.
UPDATE: Just had the first lesson at the university. This is just so fucking difficult.

Ok Jess is in whiny mode for the next couple of days while she does some serious character-building exercises. Pardon all the angst please, people.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I had the internet, water supply and electricity die on me in the span of one hour.


Anyway, great article below from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Singapore, a friend indeed to Burma

The island-state may have much to lose if Burma's generals don't retain control, writes Eric Ellis.

SINGAPORE is not just skilled at mandatory executions of drug traffickers, running an excellent airport and selling cameras on Orchard Road. It also does a very useful trade keeping Burma's military rulers and their cronies afloat.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Goods Transport

So everyone says that I'm fat now. They don't mince their words here.

"Jessica! You are fat!"

I am not only fat, I'm also a mess of perspiration. I can feel it under my scalp, tiny waterfalls, all freakin day long. Its not particularly hotter than Singapore, and I really don't know why its so bad.

The locals say they don't sweat because it's fasting month and they don't drink water.

I want fasting month to be over. I can't be politically correct about consuming my water for much longer. Feeling embarassed because I'm thirsty and then disappearing off for a few minutes to drink in isolation. I just don't want to offend anyone or make their fasting even more difficult than it already is.

Rain Play

Before I left one of my (many) mentors (self-proclaimed, they've no idea) told me to "shoot my ass off".

Seeing how my job is more or less desk/classroom-bound, I think I'm going to have to.

By the way, I am loving my job more and more. I've always thought I'd only be fulfilled in a job that requires me to shoot all day. Well that's true, but I think other things could fulfil me as well, and this would be one of them.

Doing something I believe in. Who'd have thought.

So I spied the four thrashing around in water as I sought shelter (both literally and metaphorically, I do miss my capitalist comforts) at a restaurant. I ran across in the rain as soon as I found a plastic bag (not so easy in this country) but they saw me and stopped.

So I gave in, happily, to their camera-whoring. My feet were soaked in mud and the rainwater seeped into my hair and my camera was about to drown and still the euphoria of getting back in the game was worth it.

Char at Night

Goodnight. I'm exhausted.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Not Bringing Him Home, Don't Worry

Dhaka Calling.

I am exhausted.

I don't know what to say because I'm so tired.

The city comes to me differently the second time around. No wide-eyed wonder, no naive elation at the days to come. If I must be honest, I had dread in my stomach. I had it all through the journey, sulking to myself as if I hadn't done this out of my own free will.

But then we hit the highway, and the hot sticky air enveloped me and the fumes hit my face and all around me was life, bustling and as raw as I remembered it. I couldn't help but smile.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm all geared up.

The feeling of buying your own gear? Fantastalistic.

The feeling of buying your own gear with your own hard earned money? Priceless.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I swear I've had enough beer over the past few days to drown a small elephant.

And also, I'm running on a delightful 160GB 1GB ram thanks to a delightful bloke named Simon who operates out of a pub. Which may explain the beer intake. Which would change to sake if I were not leaving in a matter of days.

And without even meaning to, I've realised that there's just no changing the way I'm wired. Its not a case of old habits die hard, its a case of a leopard not changing its spots. Or a cat and her whiskers. Or some other animal-related analogy.

The point is there is just not enough concrete in all the world to block up my soft spots.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

10 Days: The Art in the Lie

"The bigger the lie, the closer you are to the truth."

I had a chance to interview Zadok Ben-David yesterday. I don't usually like sculptures because I know squat about art but his stuff is.... well, go see for yourself.

And his statement is really killing my brain. My brain has been doing a million squats and the muscles can't take no more.

This is why I know squat about art. And why my perverse love for all things theory is ultimately going to kill myself because, let's face it, I use so many brain cells trying to understand long words and convulated sentences its almost mental suicide.

And plus I have a shitty memory. So it's all for nothing since I forget what I read almost instantly.

And I leave in 10 days, in case the title didn't already send off the proper implications.

Just call me 'cher!

Friday, September 07, 2007

As I listen to Johnny Hates Jazz I almost choked when I read that Marks and Sparks make cat food.

Interesting morning so far.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Cat 1: I will eat, but only after a 15-min exploratory walk round the neighbourhood (corridor).

Cat 2: I want to eat, but you must cajole and coax me repeatedly and sit next to me and stroke my back constantly or I will stop eating.

Cat 3: I'll have what they're having. No, no don't give me my own stuff I'll want their stuff.

This is why I now wake up one hour earlier to feed the fucking princesses. It was my own mistake not to have started them off on dry food and dry food alone, but I suppose in typical asian fashion, my mom and I feel a lot more affectionate when we engage in the act of feeding.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I have two puncture wounds on my calf, not unlike (i lurb double negs) a vampire's love bite. Only that it was inflicted by Cat 2, who was trying to get at Cat 3, who was unfortunately under the blankets next to Calf 1.

What a painful morning.

I have been attempting/doing an enormous amount of cooking since the folks left town. I constantly overestimate my appetite, and I think I always end up cooking enough for two.

And it exhausts me, entirely. Picking up after the three cats exhausts me as well. Cat 2 and Cat 3 are not getting along, and I've always been woken up by snarls.

Cat 1? Oh she's above it all.

I could never wake up on time for work, but I have absolutely no problems waking up at 6,7,8am to feed these idiots. Case in point, its a saturday, and i'm blogging at 930am AFTER breakfast and AFTER feeding them (which takes about half an hour or more cos they're fucking princesses).

But I am enjoying this, oh you bet I am.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why Press Releases Can Sometimes Make Me Laugh

"Imagine a camera that triggers its shutter only when a smile is detected.

Or imagine shooting something that suspiciously looks like a head jutting out of the water while on holiday at Loch Ness via a 17X Smart Zoom-equipped camera."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I didn't hear my phone ring when a mysterious person called from the Shangri-la late at night.

Who on earth could it be? (Assuming it was not a wrong number, duh.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Happy and bubbles and love and freedom and all that.

Impossibly cheery, despite the stuffed nose and sore throat (which seem to have miraculously cleared up in a matter of hours). I've always enjoyed moving desks. I loved the excitement in Pri/Sec school when we would switch desks every so often. I just loved the newness of it. And plus I work better because I happen to become very sucky when I fall into routines.

So we had a major internal moving day in office today, and although I'm now squeezed into a dark and cold and rather claustrophobic corner (since I'm leaving soon I get the lousy seat, and I'm ok with it), I had a helluva time rearranging my desk and creating symmetry on my very asymmetrical desk.

And also, the weather has been lovely. Ok, wet shoes are not lovely. But still! I like being made to wear jackets. Jackets and sweaters and coats and boots. Happy days.

And also, Parents and Brother are off to Shanghai. Do you have any idea how much I love having the house to myself? Do you? Do you know what kind of plans I have with DVDs and wine? DO YA????

And also, there are
his photos.

I can't remember how I came across the Poloroid Kidd's beautiful, timeless photos on some obscure website which listed neither his name nor the context of the photographs. Some argued that the photos were from an American Apparel catalogue. Others thought it was Diesel. Most agreed it was likely to be a mix of "real" people and models.

It took me a while, but I finally unearthed the truth.

So now I'm infatuated with Mike Brodie aka The Poloroid Kidd, and I feel certain I've seen and heard about his work before, and I feel a bit silly that I haven't come across him before. I suppose if you've to spend time to search for details things are seared a little more clearly into your brain.

I don't think i'll be able to explain myself very well, but its got something to do with reverance and friendship, and the absence of voyeuristic gaze. And Respect. A whole lot of Respect in his photos and almost no exoticism.

Well, at least to me anyway.

My Love.

And you know who has it best on these rainy days don't you? Our fur-covered friends.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I thought I'd try, but I decided that no words would sufficiently describe how much I am in love with Roystan Tan's 881.

I just feel so goddamn proud, you know?

I wasn't particularly surprised to read that Roystan loved getai as a kid, or that he's Hokkien-speaking. I suppose this is what happens when you do something from the heart, something that comes from the very essence of who you are.

This is the one film that I would very, very proudly like to label as a Singaporean film.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Not too sure about the effectiveness, but I really the art work on this series. Anything that's not fluffy bunnies and fluffy kittens and fluffy cute fluffies.

American Lynchings

When murder becomes art - what are we to make of it?

Collector James Allen published a book titled "Without Sanctuary", featuring his collection of lynching photographs collected from all over the America.

There's a website as well, with about 80 photographs. They're about as explicit as you could possibly get. Thank god the quality's lousy.

I found it to be an interesting commentary because you see the same photos today emerging from other countries. Someone already drew parallels between the Fallujah incident in Iraq (concerning four US private military men) and some of the photos here.

Castration, mutiliation, decapitation, burning of dead bodies and dragging charred corpses through the streets. It's the same thing, repeated decades later with different people.

I'm constantly amazed at human beings' lust for blood. And not figuratively either.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Go tally up. I scored 19/60. My favourite is No. 11.

I'll be Outta here by October.

Too fast, too fast.

Ferocious napping

Forgive the insanely huge photo.

What am I going to do without them? I will go crazy, my god.

Monday, August 13, 2007


People can really surprise you.

I am utterly exhausted at this point, having spent the last three hours talking to my parents about Bangladesh. I am impatient and stubborn and easily irritable - exactly like my father. So conversations between us tend to, erm, get slightly heated.

But really. You'd think that living with them for 23.5 years would mean that there's very little they can do to surprise you. Oh boy, was I wrong.

It turns out that there was just one niggling thing, one issue, one point of contention that he had which was the cause for his resistance.

Just one.

After hours and days of arguing, you can imagine my shock when that little nugget of truth finally wriggled out. He never wanted to say it.

All that talk, and it was really just about that???

I can't believe it. And I can't say it either, because its really not going to make him look good.

Well, all I can say is this - he's usually wrong about mw, but this time, he was spot on. His one and only worry turned out to be the only valid worry.

I apologise for all the cryptic-ness in the last couple of posts.

Nothing is confirmed, but after tonight's debacle, things are finally moving in the right direction.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On a Friday night

It's been quite a while, and I must say, my tequila is tasting extra special tonight.

It's a strange feeling to be drunk in your own home. I don't typically blog or write when I'm drunk because all that comes out is emotional and depressive rubbish, but I am thankfully neither emotional nor depressed, so there's no real danger.

NDP '07

I found myself wanting to attend the NDP, true blue kiasu Singaporean that I am, because I wanted to see for myself how they would do it in the new location.

I perversely enjoyed the defense display. I might not have if i hadn't already watched Transformers twice (the movie made me love metal), but I really thought it was quite bizarre when the machine guns mounted on the boats started to fire blanks.

Well at least this year they made it real clear - we can kill you if we have to.

I never really got into the mood, even though it was much more picturesque than the Stadium. It was just too different and foreign.

And I really really hated the fact that they renamed the Kallang Wave. And the hosts were screechy and very irritating.

What I do like is the location, ironically enough, because I could see how hundreds of other people thronged the coastline along the Esplanade, One Fullerton and even Marina/Raffles Place area. At least everyone had a great view of the fireworks.

I don't think I'll ever want to attend NDP again. Unless I'm shooting, of course.

Friday Fight

Sat down at Dhoby Ghaut to take in the scene before going home. The two of them were already going at it, and by the time I noticed them, the girl was discreetly trying to wipe away some tears. I have no idea what they were arguing about, but it looked like a employee-employer argument. I did not envy the girl. That is no way to spend a Friday night.

Centrepoint Kids

And look, I understand loitering and loud laughter and cursing at the top of your voice. I understand! You're 15 and you want to be heard. I'm still doing the exact same thing.

But I really, really don't understand spitting. I don't get what is cool about it. As long as you're not 70 years old with a chronic phelgm problem, you really shouldn't be ejecting spit in public.