靠左走·靠右走

今早上班时将一只蜗牛🐌从行人道上迁移到了草丛里。

在那交通灯附近,有条分叉路,靠左走便走向工地,靠右走则走向大楼。搭着同一趟地铁的西装笔挺与硬帽工靴就此分道扬镳。每每经过,总是感慨重重。

在那么一条路上,爸爸一生靠左走,而我因为有他得以选择靠右走。

爱你哦❤️ 老爸!

后序:工地与大楼的对比固然重要,本人更希望将焦点放在”选择“上。

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What should we never forget?

# whatshouldweneverforget The Birthday Collective

I never forgot the day my mum told me I was given a place in Zhonghua Primary School. It was a treasured opportunity, since we weren’t from this land.

I remember too the gift that Zhonghua gave us Primary 1 students for good academic performance: Three books of our choice from a classroom full of books. Equally unforgettable was that day in 1998 when I discovered that MOE scholarships and bursaries were awarded to citizens only.

I never forgot my dad’s response, saying he would be my “government” and disburse those on behalf of MOE, or that day in Primary 3 when I was walking home from school and my Chinese teacher shouted across the road that I must remember to “drink and ponder (over) the source”.(“伟良!要记得饮水思源啊!”)

I remember trying really hard to convince my cousins that I was Malaysian, not Singaporean, when I went back to Batu Pahat during the school holidays.

I never forgot the first time I stopped singing the national anthem and saying the pledge – sometime in Primary 5 – just to see if it made me less Singaporean, more Malaysian. (Previously, I tried really hard to sing and say them well, both because I liked how they sounded and wanted to see if it made me any more Singaporean.)

I remember that interview I had with some teachers in Chinese High, when I told them that, while I was certain I would contribute to Chinese High, I wasn’t sure if I felt the same towards Singapore. I never forgot, too, how nurturing they were when they nodded understandingly and encouraged me to continue figuring that out.

I never forgot the day I pledged the oath of allegiance, the night we received our rifles or the day I recited the SAF Officers’ Creed. I remember mulling over them, wondering if I truly meant what I said, and if I will come to be completely sure. I also remember reading the Accelerated Citizenship offer (which we second-generation PRs received upon enlistment) again and again, and finally on my ORD tucked it safely into my drawer, where it remains till today – a keepsake, a memory, and an artefact of deep personal significance.

I remember feeling out of place sometime after the 2011 General Elections. I never forgot, however, the friends (and strangers in their own ways) who assured me I was as local as could be to them.* And there were so many of them.

If before Singapore found me wanting, from then on she signalled she no longer did. If before Singapore for whatever sociopolitical reasons found it difficult to express her acceptance of me, from that point on she’s never stopped trying.**

(Of course, I exaggerate for effect. 😛 Also, I opened my eyes and heart wider than before to see it happening.)

I attribute this deepening sense of solidarity, community, purpose and rootedness to something I knew but haven’t always remembered: That Singapore is more than her citizenship policies. That she is my Chinese teacher (all my teachers, in fact), my friends from school, my neighbours in Clementi, the affable staff at NTUC Fairprice, the strangers I rub against in the MRT trains (both local and migrant, however blurred the line is), my newfound colleagues (who unquestioningly included me as one of their own), the cleaning auntie who till this day is still trying hard to fix the sewage smell in our toilets at work, and much more.

While I would never forget the sometimes disorienting experiences growing up, I ought also to remember the many, many times this country has, through her people, included me as one of her own and invited me to take, to share, to care and to contribute in whichever ways I could.

Perhaps that is the Singapore that we should never forget.

This is as coherent as it gets for now, but I hope this little stub inspires you to think about, “What should we never forget?” in the context of Singapore. If you feel so moved to, do write a response of your own, be it in your personal diaries or public blogs, with the hashtag # whatshouldweneverforget and tag me back 😊

Beyond that, do keep a look out for this year’s #TheBirthdayBook! Edited by Malminderjit Singh and Sheila Pakir, the book has a collection of 52 thought-provoking essays on Singapore, responding to the prompt above, “What should we never forget?”

I’m helping with the initiative and we’ll be holding a launch event on Sept 9. Will be posting more details in the weeks ahead on how you might get your hands on these books 😀

==> Click #whatshouldweneverforget or The Birthday Collective for more info! *\o/*

Update:

For those interested, the Book is out! 🙂 https://www.ethosbooks.com.sg/collections/others/products/the-birthday-book-2017-what-should-we-never-forget

Here are two sample pieces:
http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/inspirational-tales-societys-margins
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/switching-between-languages-to-say-it-best

Enjoy!

*Though honestly, so what if I wasn’t deemed “local”? We can discuss this someday…

**Though we could also talk about the types of migrants that are “desired” and those that aren’t. But hey, we already know it’s messy, so let’s not leave out the nuances.

每天都是一種練習

今晚听着陈绮贞的歌
让一首接一首牵着思绪想起了一切的一切

选择这张照片时也刚好听到了
《每天都是一種練習》(繁体,因为。)
要多少年,得到的才不比失去的多?
要多少夜,无眠的不再是阿公阿嬷?
多少泪,孩子们才懂得争气,夫妻又懂得珍惜?

“每天都是一種練習 用今天換走過去
每天都是新的練習 用明天換走失去的“

每天确实都是一种练习
可我不换走过去,也不打算用明天换走失去的
昨日再不完美,它仍是以自己的方式将自己完美地展现于世。而今日、明日也将效其绚丽地登场。

每天确实都是一种练习
但练习的意义又为何?

葬送的不应是过去而应是自大与狂妄。
练习的除了爱与忠坚还有什么?

刚好下一首,李宗盛 ·《山丘》

📷: BCBA photographers~


苏打绿《无眠》

陈奕迅《多少》

Vultures of Culture

The commodification of culture doesn’t always kill culture; one could point to many examples of culture thriving for its own intrinsic value while also producing (yes, in the language of production) transactional value.

Some then say, “Be careful! Lest you kill the golden goose,” thinking they’re stewarding this culture in question. Yet, perhaps it is the very conceptualisation of this “golden goose” that drags culture into “being”, instead of its continuous “becoming”, and that bestows culture with form – a discrete manifestation. 

Vultures gather, bearing gifts, unaware they’re exacerbating the dying. At times, perhaps when fortunate, this goose bleeds slowly on and passes peacefully into oblivion. But, mostly (I say this for effect and with a tinge of truth), it limps on hollow, without a soul.

Perhaps we only truly own something when we give it away. Perhaps, too, what we didn’t struggle for, we can merely seek to behold, never to own nor to hold.

《拓荒者·摆渡人》(300317)

“由此岸踏入河川,从彼岸走向城镇。由此岸……,从彼岸……”
少年涉水时,反复地嘀咕着。

少年后来才知道,走向城镇的他经过了天上来的河水的洗礼,已非踏入河川的他。

走过河时,少年一度不断回头眺望。渡口、渔家、绿林、山脉,而后,不过河上丝丝的雨,稠稠的雾。

大头大头,下雨不愁;你有雨伞,我有大头!
大头里的影像处理器非常on cue地重现儿时母亲逗趣的小歌谣。
Continue reading “《拓荒者·摆渡人》(300317)”

The stars have long gone.

The stars have long gone.
Homebound, two million light years in emptiness.

Night has fallen, for while now, her solace freely given.
“This city never sleeps.”
To those who find the silence too quiet, or tremble in the dark.
“…woooOOOSHHHhhh…” The sound of wheels and wet streets.

The wind’s been at it for a month, or two;
an East Wind, it enters my abode undeterred, cleanses my soul.

Next Stop: Oei (WEE) Tiong Ham Building

In September 2015, I dropped NUS OCA an email regarding the potential mispronunciation of Oei Tiong Ham Building. The recording read it as “Oi” instead of “Wee”. They promised to look into it and change it. I think somewhere along the way, it was changed but I simply didn’t notice because it was no longer mispronounced. But today I heard it!

“Next stop: Weeeee Tiong Ham Building.”

Oh, how sweet…

城市人的孤单(履历单)

2016年10月21日:

城市人的孤单
不过是薪水单 病假单
业绩单 报销单 水电单 房贷单……诸如此类很多很多单。

2016年11月21日:

聘人手法日新月异,最近最奇怪的事某某人问了一句:“请问你当领导的时候有得到什么样的反馈吗?”

  1. 你酱问,我说什么都算喔?
  2. 没有耶……
  3. (哪里好意思自己夸自己?那么……就说说该进步的地方好了。)
  4. 你还问:“还有呢?”这……人人爱我怎么说得出口呢……(我说笑的。)
  5. 且慢,这问题的用意到底是……?

2016年12月11日:

11月头星展银行一通电话让我误以为就业在握。上周星展银行另一通电话却让我意识到自己的单纯(又或痴愚)。

城市人的孤单其实还包括那履历单。

在寻觅这第一份工作的路途中,理想与抱负渐渐烟消。时而过于浪漫,时而不够矜持。闭门羹吃多了,泊油路似乎也走尽了。

这就业市场讲究的,来来去去,不过就是——令人质疑这一家家机构是否严重人格分裂的——那几样。

  • 创新精神,但必须走过既定的求学道路。
  • 领导能力,但请切记:要你领导的不是族群,更不是改革,而是华丽大型活动的主办团队。
  • 团队精神,但说真的,要如何表现团队精神呢?不如让申报者毛遂自荐似的自我报上如何使得团队运作无误?“啊!这便是团队精神!”是吧?

说话有些刻薄,其实只不过为了凸显间中许许多多矛盾之处。总觉得寻职者就如此让各个机构玩弄五指间。当然,旁观者清,这一切其实不过是我吃不到葡萄的缘故。

你争我夺的就业市场,厌倦了还是得插一脚么?

是呀,因为履历单铺的不是什么康庄大道,咱走的是不平等待遇、关系横行的懵懂小路。

在不完美的精英制度下,少了这一番磨练、反思,又哪来动力使这国家继续前进?