Friday, July 08, 2011

"If you care too much about Singapore, first it'll break your spirit, and finally it will break your heart." --- Alfian Sa'at

It is awfully uncharitable of me to be quoting this line now, this year of all years. After all, it has been an awfully exciting year so far, filled with awfully inspirational/cheesy words and phrases. Watershed, landmark elections, groundswell, landmark, hope, change, upheaval, the voice of the people... well, you get the idea.

The year isn't even over. Plenty of things could happen in the next five months.

I suppose I wanted to write this in an attempt to figure out my waning interest in Singapore-related matters. After all, it wasn't so long ago that I was utterly intoxicated by the political happenings on this tiny island. Fun times.

However, even at the peak of my excitement, I knew there was something missing from the picture. I didn't know what was wrong exactly, but I mentally prepared myself for a 'downer' that I somehow knew would come.

Last night, a friend and I went to look at the developments at Punggol jetty. It hasn't been officially opened yet -- which minister will they get to come cut the ribbon? -- and everything was shiny and new. There was a huge sign: 'Punggol Promenade'. I suppose in time to come, no one would use the phrase 'Punggol Point' or even 'Punggol Jetty'. The word 'promenade' will be known as a proper noun to most Singaporeans, just like 'Esplanade'.

There was an old man there throwing pieces of raw meat onto the field next to the main road. It looked rather excessive -- lots of meat, and only one lone dog chowing down. There used to be a lot more wild dogs in the area. Never before did I have to actively look out for them, like I did last night. The man said it was only a matter of time before they would come shoot the rest of the dogs. By the end of the night, my dog count stood at a grand total of two.

I kept thinking about that quote by Alfian, which I first came across on Tym's blog many years ago. I've always liked it, but I don't think I fully felt it before -- my spirit was not yet broken, and my heart was intact. Occasionally angsty, but intact.

As I walked along our latest "waterfront development", it occurred to me that somewhere along the way during the past five or six years, my spirit did indeed become broken, and I think I am now no longer capable of loving this country. I wondered if it was because my heart had become broken to such a degree that while the recent elections did manage to revive it for a short moment (we have a pulse!), it soon flat-lined all over again.

The thing is, I don't have any suggestions for how they could have done a better job at the Punggol Promenade. I would have just not done it at all -- which is really quite unfair, since it isn't my private beach, and who am I to stop others from having lovely waterfront-filled weekends? I will just have to take my retro-aggression elsewhere.

I told my friend I had deliberately not gone to see the railway station when they closed it down. I didn't even want to go on those walks by the tracks which some nice people organised. I didn't want to have anything to do with what I felt was another elaborate, long-drawn funeral for yet another place that would soon be dead.

As such, I don't think I will go to Bukit Brown either.

I can't recall if there were other places that closed down earlier in this year, and I don't know what else will disappear by the end of the year. There are five more months -- plenty of things could happen.

Of course, the right thing to do would be to do something. I know there are folks working to conserve/preserve these places. Bukit Brown still stands a chance, but I'm not going to hold my breath. But hey -- shouldn't you Take action! Do something! Join in the efforts!

The truth is, I don't think I could muster enough interest to be bothered. Maybe it is because I (am too lazy) don't care enough -- and I don't care enough, because I can't care about something I don't love anymore.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In Conversation: Mr. Renovation Man

Alan asked if I wanted to do part-time work in his gallery on Sundays. It has to stay open, and Sunday is generally a precious day for those who work during the week - would I be interested? I would like to point out that I DO work during the week as well, but my Sundays are not exactly overflowing in weekend ambitions.

So one of the jolly renovation guys doing work at the cafe downstairs came up to make sure they haven't drilled a hole through our floor and to spy on what I was doing. Earlier, one of them sang me a little ditty about how "A smoke a day makes you stronger, and alcohol drives away all your problems." The rhyme is more obvious in Mandarin.

He asked a bit about what I was doing, and I decided to pick his brain about what kind of photographs he would like to see. I've some ideas you see, and the success of these ideas will depend on how accurately I am able to read the mind of an average Singaporean.

Conversation Excerpts (Translated from Mandarin)

"So, if I told you there was a photo exhibition thing near where you live, would you go see it?"

"Yeah sure, I'll pop by for a look."

"What would you want it to be about? If you had a choice?"

"I don't know... something interesting? Like other countries?"

"So if it's photos from around your area, you wouldn't be interested?"

"Why do I want to see where I live? It would be boring! I see it everyday!"

"But photography can let you see the same things but in a different way?"

"Yes I get that. But it would still be boring. Why not show me something I haven't seen before from other countries?"

"So you'd like to see photos from abroad?"

"Yes, if it is nice to look at. It is something new for me to see."

"What if it is photos of your neighbour?"

"I see him everyday!"

"What if the photo were to be really huge? Like a few stories high?"

"Why would you do that? He'll look weird."

"So what would you want to see if it in a photo that's really big?"

"Something moving and interesting. Like landscape and scenery. That would be beautiful."

"So you wouldn't go see your neighbour's face even if its 3-storey large?"

"Yeah I'd go see quickly. But just a quick look, that's all."

"What if its Lee Kwan Yew's face?"

"There's no way in hell I'd want to see that."

Food for thought, folks.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Why, hello there.


I may have forgotten how to blog.

So yes, from the above photo, you can see that not much has changed. Crazy cat lady status still awaits me in the near future. There are lots of other photos hiding in my harddrive that I've not even looked at, but for that, I'll first need to find a bit of motivation.

Take this set, for example. I was just tickled at coming across random man-made things in the middle of nowhere. I was hoping to formulate some kind of slightly ironic, slightly witty montages, but when I started working on it, my brain blocked itself. I don't think this is the way the photos should be presented, but hell, sometimes, there is just no rescuing a shitty photo even if you slap them together and call it a triptych. I couldn't even think of a title! I keep thinking 'Lost and Found', but at doesn't make any sense at all.

Cambodia_Found B_LR.jpg


This was a day trip to the Angkor temples. I paid for a three-day ticket, but I only went for a day because shit hit the fan and I couldn't find the time to go. I did not visit Angkor Wat because it was being invaded by busloads of tourists, and I just felt I would rather have no experience of Angkor Wat than a tourist-laden experience of it. On hindsight, I was being really silly.

So I now officially work - as in, have rejoined society as a productive member who expects my bank account numbers to fluctuate (upwards) after a month. I realised a few days ago that I had been unemployed for six months. It is cool that I had enough money to stay unemployed for six months. As for how much I've actually managed to really rejoin society - well, let's talk about that another time, shall we?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011