Friday, 31 October 2003

oh my gosh. i am absolutely shattered. Spent the last two days simply walking around London and my legs are now beginning to protest. Good to be just sitting down in front of the computer for this morning.

Gabor, Fanja, her brother and I went to Greenwich on Wednesday. Yup, the Greenwich where the Greenwich Mean Time comes from.

The Royal Observatory was set atop a hill and the walk up the hill was simply lovely. We had to walk past the National Maritime Museum, with its beautiful white pillars and then through this gorgeous autumnal park with orange-leafed trees and strolling families.

At the Royal Observatory, we were standing right in the middle of the eastern and western latitude of the entire world. Thought that was pretty cool. Even had a certificate to prove that I was there.

Walked around the museum which was full of telescopes, watches and clocks...hey, what did you expect?

Ida arrived on Wednesday evening and so the both of us went to London again yesterday. Ida, being more or less a Beatles fan, had to visit the Abbey Road Studios. Even took a photo of her crossing the now famous zebra crossing in front of the studio.

The studio was a hive of activity when we arrived there in the afternoon. There were so many guitar carrying musicians making their way into the studio. We kind of hung around outside for a bit hoping to catch sight of someone famous, but it was a futile attempt.

After two full days of sightseeing and shopping around London, I am honestly glad to be resting my feet for a while. Almost 24 hours of walking in 48 hours!! At least I know I'm developing my calves....

This afternoon, Gabor, Ida and I will most probably be going to Stonehenge (on Halloween day no less) and Salisbury.

At least he's driving, so less walking.

On another note (read: shameless self-promotion)...check out Edge magazine, under Features #1!

Wednesday, 29 October 2003

darn daylight savings time....because we have to turn our clocks back an hour on Sunday morning, the sun now sets at 4.30pm. It's dark even before I leave work!!! Thankfully, it still isn't THAT cold...
Just joined this online Asian Journalling Community - Rice Bowl Journals. Am amazed at the number of Singaporeans who are in the blogging business. Blogging has really taken off hasn't it?

Mid-semester break now, so College is pretty quiet. Not that it makes any difference for me since I still have to work. Fanja helped me dye my hair yesterday. Finally, I'm looking like the 23 year old that I am again, and not 60. Don't really like the colour - just some sort of dark brown/black - but hey, it's better than having all those grey all over.

Ida's coming to visit me tomorrow! She's this really sweet penpal from Sweden that I had from two years ago. Met her for the first time when I visited Sweden in May and now she's coming to visit me. Which means...I'll probably be gone again for a few days coz I'll be doing the touristy thing with her around England, particularly London.

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

I'm back! Had been a real whirlwind trip driving from one city in Holland to another. Met up with lots of Guisele's friends and her two sisters which was really nice. Was really interesting how one Dutch city is so different from another in terms of housing, architecture, layout etc.

Am won over by the Caribbean folks - warm, friendly, open, easy-going...and most definitely funny. Had a fantastic time chatting, laughing and eating with them. Oooh..the food...was really nice and surprisingly Asian-influenced.

Highlight of the trip came in the form of snowfall on Friday morning. Absolutely gorgeous. Was so excited I had to run out to the balcony in my PJs. Naturally didn't last really long outside, especially with the fact that I had just washed my hair and it was still damp.

But the sensation of having those small snowflakes landing on the palm of my hand is simply indescribable...

Wednesday, 22 October 2003

My article, well, one completely re-phrased paragraph, was published in London's Daily Telegraph! Entitled Hungry as Spectacle: David's Vein.

Also got it published in The Straits Times!

I think Edge magazine in Australia is contemplating putting it on their website. And Faith wants to use it for her radio show.

I'm beginning to like this writing business. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it may just be a one-off thing. Inspiration hits me once every few years...

On another note. I just booked my airticket to Hong Kong. Will be there from January 11-18 next year. I'm so excited! Granted, I'm actually there for work, but I'm still excited about the prospect of doing some sight-seeing during any free time I've got. It's just too bad that Rosa's not going to be there. Would be fun to have a local bring me around.

Also, I'm leaving tomorrow (5 in the morning no less) for Holland with Guisele to visit her sisters and friends. Really excited about it. Will be driving down to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais in France, then driving through Belgium to arrive in Arnhem.

Will be staying in Arnhem for a night and then making our way to Utrecht and then on Saturday and Sunday, we'll be in Rotterdam before making our way back to England.

There is of course the fact that Guisele is about 6 months pregnant which will make this trip rather...interesting. Can't believe Glen is entrusting his pregnant wife to me.

Write more when I get back on Monday!

Tuesday, 21 October 2003

An Audi TT is not a claustrophobe-friendly car.

Went out for dinner with Adrian, Darren and Fanja yesterday and we had to take Adrian's car. Adrian had sold his Mini Cooper recently. Yup, the really cute bright red car, with its checkered roof and two white stripes down the front, that brought us all to Scotland. In its place, he got a TT.

Of course, the guys had to sit in front. So Fanja and I ended up being squashed in the back with no leg room whatsoever. Well, Fanja being shorter, was actually rather comfortable. Me, I was facing the side of the car and my legs were where the handbrake should be. I also could do nothing but to crouch down. But whenever there was a bump, or when Adrian suddenly swerved my head came into contact with the roof anyway.

It also didn't help that the very second they closed the car doors, I started getting panic attacks. We ended up driving to the restaurant with the windows down even though it was freezing cold. Simply because I was feeling claustrophobic.

At least with so little space, I could easily reach out - wait, it didn't require much reaching out - to hit Adrian for doing something so stupid as to swap a Mini Cooper for a TT.

Monday, 20 October 2003

I was in London yesterday. Swept up by the media hoo-ha, I found myself making my way to Tower Bridge to gawk at an American. A so-called magician/illusionist who had willingly enclosed himself in a glass box. By the time I was there, he had already been suspended in midair and gone without food for 43 days.

David Blaine – Above the Below.

Maybe it was just a typical Saturday evening crowd on the bridge, packed with camera-toting tourists (none of which were Japanese), but the number of people – practically hundreds, certainly shocked me. All around, I heard the same words exclaimed, “Look, there he is!”

There were people pointing, people taking photos, people posing for photos and people simply standing there and staring. I stayed on the bridge for about 5 minutes, looking at the motionless body lying in the box.

The enclosure beneath the box, fenced off after all those hurled eggs, was full. The surrounding paths were also crowded with people who shrieked at Blaine. Whether it was of a hormonal female-groupie nature or a homicidal golf-ball hurling nature, I have no idea.

Suddenly, he moved. He actually sat up, turned around and waved weakly at the people behind him. The lady beside me immediately instructed her young daughter, “Quick, wave back at him! Wave!” There rose a chorus of encouraging shouts as well as a series of excited waving.

Amazing how a simple gesture by one starving person hanging in midair can generate so much reaction. Amazing how many people are interested in the condition of one man who wanted to be locked up in a glass box with just water for sustenance.

Thousands are expected to turn out today to watch Blaine’s exit, which will be broadcast on television and streamed to paying subscribers on the Internet. Sky One, which has been filming the whole thing, says a quarter of a million people will have seen Blaine for themselves by the time the box is lowered to the floor at 9.30pm.

In all honesty, I am ashamed to say that I contributed to that statistic. Not because I think Blaine wanting to prove through his stunt that “we can endure much more than we think we can”, is merely a publicity tool, or that it was an easy feat.

I am ashamed of the quarter of a million people, and the many more watching their TV or computer monitors.

Imagine our reaction if instead of a starving Blaine, we had a starving Ethiopian in the box. Or maybe a starving North Korean. Too far away? What about that hungry and homeless guy who begs at the train station you go to work from? What about…guess what? The choice is limitless because there are so many hungry people all around the world!

But do we see Mr. Starving Ethiopian on TV? Would we make that trip to the Orient to wave at Mr. Starving North Korean while he lay weakly on the floor? Would we pay to see Mr. Hungry and Homeless on the Internet?

Granted, if it does come to that, I am sure that countless of kind-hearted people out there would be making generous donations to help alleviate the pain and suffering of Mr. Whoever-is-Starving-and-in-the-Limelight. But that’s just it isn’t it? If it’s not in the limelight, we pretend it doesn’t exist.

David Blaine willingly starving himself is generating more media interest right now than the numerous of civilian Iraqis suffering from America’s search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Nine out of ten times, a mother would shield her child from watching on the news, heart-wrenching scenes of children dying from hunger.

And yet, we applaud Blaine for his incredible feat of endurance. But he had a choice. Our starving friends from the rest of the world don’t.

A spokesman for Sky One has revealed that “[Blaine, after his exit from the box] will then be put on a stretcher and taken to a private hospital,” where nutritional experts will begin his re-feeding programme and monitor his recovery for approximately one month.

I do not deny the fact that Blaine’s stunt poses real threats to his life. It poses a real threat to the Ethiopian and the North Korean too. And guess what? They do not always have a private hospital to go to after 44 days. They have no nutritional expert to monitor their recovery. And they do not usually go hungry for just 44 days. In fact, after months of starvation, they usually die.

Do I see tourists flocking to photograph this phenomena? Does the media even take coverage of such events?

No. Because it’s the harsh reality of life and none of us want to see it. We want to see Blaine. We want to see a man starving, but with the full knowledge that he will get help if his life was in any serious danger (Blaine’s medical team analyses his urine daily to check for kidney and liver failure and will intervene if he stops moving completely for two days).

And we want to call him a hero, for enduring such an ordeal. We forget that everyday, hundreds of others go through the same thing, without hope, without support, without encouragement. And we forget that some 2000 years ago. Jesus Christ not only fasted for forty days and forty nights, he had the devil to contend with after that.

Friday, 17 October 2003

i seem to be on a roll for strange thoughts today...while sitting in during the College's student forum today, a thought suddenly hit me.

I have been a rather unwilling participant in working here because of various of which was the fact that I sincerely feel like a hypocrite (that's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one). But yeah, I'm doing PR work...don't they say all PR people lie?

So, I feel horrible about having to promote the College and entice students to come study here. The fact that I'm going to go to Thailand and Hong Kong in January 2004 to do just that is more or less eating me alive. I'm excited about the prospect of travelling, but I'm rather hesitant about the idea of promoting an organisation I don't fully believe in.

Then it hit me. A lot of the students who are already here are suffering...and one of the main reasons is because of the lack of funds the College has. No students = no money. No money = current students suffer.

If I were to be able to promote the College effectively and get students to come here, the College would have more money and hence be able to better the quality of life the students have here. And with more funds, everything else would improve as well!

I could look at it this way. I'm not so much working for the College as I am working to better the lives of the current students. Maybe.

And maybe, doing PR for the College isn't that bad after all....
this is how stream of consciousness works....

I just started reading Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men last night. Great book by the way. Only read the first chapter but shall we say, the way in which our dear Mr. George Bush won the elections were say the least. It's politics, true, but Michael Moore does it in a rather hilarious easy-to-read way it's great.

I'm actually now wanting to watch Bowling for Columbine.

Anyway, from there, I thought of another USA-bashing American friend I know...the one and only Kristin Dewey. I love that girl to bits (in a absolutely non-lesbian way of course, ahem.) Her "love" for her country absolutely astounds me, and is probably the main reason why we get along so well. Besides the fact that she practically thinks almost like me and shares my tastes, despite being raised halfway across the globe.

So, from Kristin, I begin to think about her recent "aquirement"....Chris. (And I sense that I will be receiving a threatening email from her soon for saying all this on my blogspot) I am curious about this boy. Who is this person who actually won my dear friend's heart? What is he like? It's annoying that one of my closest friend in the world has a boyfriend and I have no idea how this person who is so near to her heart is like. Maybe it's just a control thing. I want to know. So that I can hunt him down and torture him if he ever treats her wrong. (Chris, if you're reading this, consider yourself warned *smile*)

From Chris, I then move on to another mom. (have I ever mentioned that I know waaay too many Ch/Kris-es?) How she's always so supportive and understanding, even when her only daughter refuses to stay put in the country she was born in. I love my mom. And we're moving! By March 2004, our new home will be in the delightful, secluded ex-fishing village of Punggol.

I can't wait to move. Not because of where it is, which honestly, I'm not too excited about but I'm sure I'd get used to the idea of travelling forever to get to anywhere. I'm excited about designing the whole place, especially my room. It will reflect me as a person and have everything I love in there. I only developed my personality and started to know myself a few years ago and to have a room that will reflect that is extremely exciting to me. My old room was designed when I was 7. Think pink. Think childish. *shudder*

And then because of this whole identity business, I think back to this video Motherland that I saw yesterday evening. Interesting stuff. Searching for your ancestors through DNA testing and finding out where you came from. I spoke with one of the participants, Mark Anderson and gleaned from him his need for identity and sense of belonging...

Which led me to think about my own sense of belonging. Most Black-British people feel that they belong in Africa, which is fair enough since that's where their ancestors came from. My ancestors come from China...why don't I feel that I belong there? On the contrary...I feel more at home in the Western world. I am not white. I certainly don't look white. Half the time I don't think like a white, and yet...I feel like I belong more in a white society than in an Asian one. Why?

Besides, what encompasses belonging anyway? Acceptance? Personal comfort? An environment which reflects one's morals/ideals/principals/thoughts?

Am I just confused or am I just unsatisfied with what I've got?

Wednesday, 15 October 2003

Maybe it’s my sickness. Maybe it’s coz my walk with God hasn’t been that steady lately. But for the last few days, I have been beginning to doubt God and am terrified as to what my future holds.

Two more months and I’ll be making my way back to Singapore. I’m looking forward to meeting up with family and old friends. Then there’s the food and the cheap shopping…but to spend the rest of my life there? Shudder. The weather doesn’t agree with me. I get horrible sinus attacks and the lifestyle…well…maybe I’ve just been away too long. I don’t know.

I cannot imagine myself staying in Singapore for an extended period of time. Yet, it seems that God is calling me back to Singapore. And in accordance to my epiphany in July – I have said I would do God’s will, and if it entails returning to Singapore, I will do so.

My question now is, does God exist? What if He isn’t real? I’ve come to the conclusion that he wants me back in Singapore and so I’m not really fighting it because I want to do His will. But what if He isn’t real? I’m returning coz I tell myself I should trust God and God’s not going to make me hate my experience wherever I may be. And maybe he just wants me to return to Singapore to learn something.

And since my heart really lies overseas, He’ll eventually bring me away from Singapore. But what if He doesn’t? What if He isn’t even real and hence would not lead me away from Singapore and make me hate every single day of the rest of my life?

Working myself into a frenzy here. I’m scared half to death. I am extremely resistant to the idea of staying in Singapore for an indefinite period of time. I know that I should trust in God, but I still can’t help feeling scared because I honestly have no idea what my future holds for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do next year! What will my career be? Will I even get a job?

And yet…God seemed to already know that I would get to this point. My daily devotional reading for the day, courtesy of Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Life, said this:

God develops real peace within us, not by making things go the way we planned, but by allowing times of chaos and confusion. Anyone can be peaceful watching a beautiful sunset or relaxing on vacation. We learn real peace by choosing to trust God in circumstances in which we are tempted to worry or be afraid. Likewise, patience is developed in circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse.

Peace – to trust that it will all work out when I return to Singapore. I don’t know how, but to simply have faith in God and trust that he would be there for me.

Patience – I want to know what my future would be like. But I just have to wait, and it will all be revealed…

Not easy....

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

i'm going to Thailand!!! well, at least I hope so....

There's a major Youth Congress that the church organised in Bangkok and I'm going to attend to promote the College. Some 2000 college aged kids expected to turn up, of course they're not going to pass up this opportunity to get in contact with some potential students.

Granted, my contract ends before then, but hey, a free trip to Thailand, practically all expenses paid. Of course I'm going to jump at the chance.

Everything's rather blurry at the moment though and I really have no idea what's going on. Where am I going to stay, how am I going to get to where I stay from the airport, what am I going to eat...but I'm sure it'll work out. All I know is that I'm going to send in the application form tomorrow and probably book an airticket within this week. woohoo!!

Only catch? I leave UK on the 28 December, arrive in Singapore on the 29, and then leave for Bangkok on the 30, not returning to Singapore until 5 January 2004. Talk about serious flying issues....and spending New Year's all alone. Well, with some 2000 strangers....

Wednesday, 8 October 2003

if i'm MIA for the next few's coz the flu bug finally got me.

everybody's been getting sick left, right and centre coz of the sudden drop in temperature (autumn is most definitely here) and i've been thinking that i've done pretty well fighting it.

well, i've just lost the battle...

Tuesday, 7 October 2003

Opening text:

Disclaimer: 1) a renunciation of any claim to or connection with; 2) disavowal; 3) a statement made to save one's own ass.

Though it'll go without saying ten minutes or so into these preceedings, View Askew would like to state that this film is from start to finish a work of comedic fantasy, not to be taken seriously. To insist that any of what follows is incendiary or inflammatory is to miss our intention and pass judgement; and passing judgement is reserved for God and God alone (this goes for you film critics too...just kidding).

So please before you think about hurting someone over this trifle of a film, remember: even God has a sense of humor. Just look at the Platypus.

Thank you and enjoy the show.

P.S. We sincerely apologize to all Platypus enthusiasts out there who are offended by that thoughtless comment about Platypi. We at View Askew respect the noble Platypus, and it is not our intention to slight these stupid creatures in any way.

Thank you again and enjoy the show

Today, I rant about the movie Dogma.

Yes, it's got a fair share of controversy, being obviously anti-Catholic. The show is a little too coarse for my liking and is extremely generous in its vocabulary, if you get what I mean. The movie has some theology that I am rather "iffy" about and can take God too lightly.

But the statement the film made is powerful.

This movie is not an attack on Catholics per se. On the Catholic Church maybe, but certainly not the folks who love and believe in God. The movie is not about faith in God. The movie is about the loss of God within religion. This movie is about how humans are more concerned about rituals, tradition, laws and how we behave rather than our relationship with God - it's an attack on organised religion.

Just have a read at some of the dialouge:

I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it.

When are you people going to learn? It's not about who's right or wrong. No denomination's nailed it yet, and they never will because they're all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn't matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up.

I don't know how well these statements would come across if you haven't watched the movie, but there's lots more where those came from. And even more from the movie itself. Of course, you'd have to sift through some really dodgy ones but when you find a good quote, it's a gem.

And it makes its point in a light-hearted comedic way...great movie. Watch it.

Monday, 6 October 2003

so, i'm not entirely sure if this is even legit, but i got ambused by a reporter from the Reading Evening Post on Friday afternoon. Actually, come to think of it, I assume it's the Reading Evening Post coz I was in Reading and she said she was from the Evening Post...logic of a woman...nevermind...

she was doing a feature on "people who dress stylishly" and somehow, she had the impression that I fitted her criteria. (In case you're wondering, I was wearing an orange turtleneck jumper, denim jacket, this really cool reversible skirt that I bought in London and knee high boots - typical autumn not sure where she got that idea from.)

Unfortunately, I disappointed her bitterly when she asked me the following questions:

Reporter: "So, what is your favourite brand?"
Me: "Don't really have one, I just go into shops that look cool to me and pick whatever I want."
R: "And what brands are you wearing now?"
M: "Erm, dunno."

Then she starts picking at my clothes trying to find the clothes brand coz honestly, I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE BRAND OF CLOTHES I WEAR! I go for the look, not the brand....

R: "Where did you get your clothes from?"
M: "Well, Singapore, Australia, London..." (pointing to the respective article of clothing)

She stared at me in disbelief and then recovers, continuing...

R: "What is your favourite shop in Reading?"
M: "Don't have one really, seeing that I don't come here often..."
R: "What about your favourite TV programme?"
M: "Don't watch TV much really..."

I think she wanted to kill me then. But instead she smiled sweetly and thanked me politely and then this guy who was with her whips out his huge photographer camera and said he wanted to take a photo of me. Rrrriiiggghhhtttt...she didn't mention that before. Ended up standing in the high street of Reading posing for a photograph. He took a total of 4 photos, two full length and two mug shots...then, they left.

Don't even know whether they were truly from the Evening Post. Don't even know when the said article will be published. Don't know nuts. But if you end up seeing nude photos of me on the Internet, you'll know what I thought I was posing for...

Wednesday, 1 October 2003

The Little Prince is a classic tale of equal appeal to children and adults. On one level it is the story of an airman's discovery in the desert of a small boy from another planet - the Little Prince of the title - and his stories of intergalactic travel, while on the other hand it is a thought-provoking allegory of the human condition.

Such a small book - only 100 pages long - and yet the statements made are so powerful...

“In the evening I want you to put me under a glass dome. It is very cold here where you live. And rather uncomfortable. Now where I come from…”

Too late she interrupted herself. She had arrived as a seed. She could not have known anything about other worlds. Embarrassed at having been discovered preparing such a naïve lie, she coughed a couple of times so as to confuse the little prince.

So the little prince, in spite of the goodwill his love engendered towards her, came gradually to doubt her. He had taken words of no importance seriously and became very unhappy.

“I shouldn’t have listened to her,” he confided to me one day, “one should never listen to flowers. One must admire them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet, but I did not know how to enjoy her…

“…at that time I was unable to understand anything! I should have based my judgement upon deeds and not words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I should never have run away from her! I should have guessed at the affection behind her poor little tricks. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her.”

Unconditional love.

To look beyond the meaningless, flighty or untruthful words into the inner core of our souls. To realise that there is a hurting spirit inside most of us. To know that because God created us, we have a positive contribution to make on this every earth we live on.

And yet, when we hear certain words, when we hear certain stories, we forget that the person involved is still loved by God and still possesses the ability to make that same positive contribution. Our opinion of the person changes. Our judgemental spirit emerges. We forget the numerous good the person had done for us. We no longer see the positive side of the person and instead remain focussed on the mistakes, the wrongs, the bad.

To love anyway...

...besides, how often do words come out of our own mouths without thought? How often do we say things we think of no importance? The Hebrews believed that when we speak, the words we utter become living organisms that grows. And it does. Words are powerful tools in which we need to learn how to use carefully. What we say to people, no matter that we don't mean it, are going to create an impact on them.

A good impact? A bad impact? That is what we have to be careful about.
my mom will be proud of me. my friends will gasp in shock.

I will be working in the kitchen this evening.

before anybody gets too excited, I am not working in the cafeteria or cooking any English cuisine ("do those two words even go together?" I hear you say).

Once a week from 8-11pm, the lounge area in the boys' dorm converts into a cafe where people come to hang out, socialise and have some food. There is a kitchen area where milk shakes, paninis, waffles, cappuccinos, etc. are served.

In a moment of weakness (or insanity, however you wish to view it) I agreed to help out.

Now I pray that I won't kill anybody with the food I serve...I am on my way to domestication *gasps in horror*

By the way, the filming session went well yesterday evening. We just sat around, ate biscuits, drank juice and chatted about movies, horrible food and psychotic primary school teachers while the camera poked itself into our faces. And we got paid £30 at the end of an hours' worth of something I normally do with my friends anyway!

Nothing to it. Is this my first step to a career in Hollywood?
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