About Me

I am an indie writer. This is not a blog, it's a berth for my scrawling. Read my works and you'll probably think that they are either just plain junk or maybe knacks of a decidedly Bohemian attitude.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Stereotyping - What would you associate a country with?

Have you ever felt you were a frog in a well?

I did... and I felt that way when I was in a cab... with a Malay uncle taxi-driver listening to BBC... playing a talkshow on singers in Tashkent. I was so amused, I would have thought that I'd lived for nothing.

The talkshow was about some singers and how they are thriving in a Muslim country like Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan... just the sound of this place already makes me feel so small.

No, I'm not talking about the a park keeper in Safari in Africa, or the Pope in the Vatican City, nor am I referring to living on a farm and learning about farm-life in New Zealand. I'm talking about a place that we could have heard before and just know that the women there wear clothes up to their noses. I am talking about singers in Tashkent.

It just struck me at that time that there could even be a talkshow on radio about a weird occupation in a country that no one bothers to go sight-seeing in.

And it made me feel very small. It is like, for all the worldly history that I have read or all the eras of literature that I have interpreted in the Uni, or even all the countries that I have visited, I am still this very small in this big world.

Not sure what I'm talking about?


If you would to do a study about something from Texas, you would pick a cowboy. If you would to do a study about someone from Greenland, you might pick an eskimo. But would you pick studying an accountant in East Timor as a topic to learn about? No, you would probably choose to study about a tribesman living there.

Majoring in literature has made me love life, but reading about post-colonial literature has opened my eyes to so many other things - for instance, we no longer read about the white man writing about how weird the black man is, we read about how strange the white man is from the black man's point of view - Chinua Achebe, one of the best colonial and post-colonial writers of all time has astonishingly made me realise that there are so many things out there to see and learn about.

And learning about how singers are struggling, singing mostly and only at weddings (and not in concerts) and earning that little to continue their passion in a country where we all thought that they people are masked under a black veil, or fighting terrorists, or trying to stay alive from this meal to the next, is what I have felt that I, am just one Vic in this world.

In a way, we are all like frogs in wells, we'd thought that we know everything about a particular country or stereotype their people, we actually do not know a thing at all. China is not all about picking ducks, women with slit eyes, Chinese tea or Mao. And America is not all about Obama, The Big Apple or their cowboys. And Singapore is not all about Sarong Party Girls, the 4 different races of women or about the terrible 4 seasons of heat. It is also about a young lady, whose occupation is to create enrichment workshops and camps for young children - her own belief that education should be about fun and laughter, not exams and papers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In a name

When I joined one of the country's leading childcare company, I was taught to respect all children's names; because their names are given by their parents, we as advocates of education should respect how their names are being pronounced and spelt. 

But no matter how much prepared I am at upholding and implementing what I was taught, nothing had me ready at the many odd names that parents given their children in this modern era. 

Gone are the days where classic names are so commonly used that one can find ten Henry(s) or ten Mary(s) in one city. While these names will never go wrong, they are deemed now as old-fashioned and people who are named George for example, are probably well into their late fifties. 

So in this modern era, parents began to want their kids to stand out and as like clothes that follow trend, so do names. 

I have never taught in a centre without a single boy whose name was not Jayden. It is like suddenly, someone decides that Jayden is the 'in' name and thus everyone wants their son to be named that. And it doesn't stop there, because what if someone has twins; you can't possibly name your two sons the same name so some smart alec decided to toy with the feminine rhyme of the name and came out with names like Braydon, Hayden, Anden, while some kept up with the older names like Ethan and Ayden. 

While it is generally acceptable to go with the trend when it comes to names, I feel that parents should always think twice before coming up with weird names or names that are deliberately spelt in a weird manner to confuse the reader. For instance, Brandon is always spelt this why, why would someone name their son Brenden? Or Ken, why Kentz? How about Jason but spelt as Jaysen?

But what takes the cake was this girl I have encountered whose name is Pheobe. I tried to pronounce it the way it was spelt - Fi-o-bi but the girl was clearly mad when she said no, it is pronounced as Phoebe. I then committed the mistake of correcting her spelling to which she cried and insisted her name is still pronounced as Phoebe. 

I was sorry and regretted having to correct her and ashamed that I have forgotten all that I was taught in always to respect a child's name. But then I also had a thought about how pathetic this little girl will be in future because she would then have to always correct everyone who come into contact with her and cringed at how she would probably blame her parents for that. 

I also met an adorable little boy who is named Denzel. And I couldn't help but to ask if Denzel Washington is his parents' favourite actor. To which he sulked and walked off to no amusement of his classmates who then walked up to me and confirmed as well as laughed about how Denzel always get this question whenever he met someone new. 

Then there was this boy who was named Alpha. Ok... enough said. 

I feel that while we always remember to respect and value one another's names, parents should always think twice... no think more than twice before giving whatever names they think they want to name their children. While the name might seem unique to you, the parent must always bear in mind or consider whatever problems this child might face in future. 

After all, a name belongs to you but other people use it more than you. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not just fuck, thanks and bye

When a friend's father, during his only daughter's wedding said, "What does a woman ask for but only for today?" Gina and I yelled out in apprehension a loud, "No!". A woman can ask for many things and indeed, should be given many things other than her apparently 'sole' role in life to be someone's wife- she can have a career, she can study for her degree or Masters or PHD, she can be a politician or even a president of a country; she can have whatever and be whatever she wants. She is not only a woman, she is Man too.

So when Zeus split Man into half so that we would not overthrow him and would only seek to find our other halves for the rest of our lives to be complete, I find this myth intriguing to the point, it amuses me. Marriage might be important, but long gone are the Jane Austen days of needing to find a man or a woman to marry that vital. Now, we have so many other things that we can do that maybe, just maybe, marriage has turned into just another option.

We need to study and get our degree first, then get out into society to work and gain some life experience. From this small earning power, we want material gains like an Hermes bag or that Prada power suit. And when we can't afford, we want to climb the corporate ladder faster and higher. Then of course, there is the occasional booze, vacation to the Bahamas that would also suck up all our savings and so we need to earn more and more to sustain what we need and get what we want.

Until one day, we decide that hey, maybe we can date when our raging hormones start boiling till they overflow out of your vagina and we yell out for some fire fighting as that bachelor checks you out over a mug of beer. Into bed we go and into a relationship we find ourselves in days later only to find out what a jerk he is because he leaves the toilet seat up. And then the vicious cycle starts all over again.

In Asia, or especially in Singapore, whilst save for the above and seek to find a man decent enough for Mama to approve and Papa to nod his head, we are still, a daughter, a big sister, a niece and maybe an aunt and with these other shoes to fill, you'll soon find that it would be so much easier to just fuck, say thanks and then bye.

So you continue this kind of lifestyle for the next decade only to find more and more of your friends unable to come out for that booze because boyfriend's mum is in town for the weekend or the kids are yelling for breast milk fresh from the tap and we can only linger around longer in that new Bebe dress and Fendi bag and wonder if these can be turned into a maternity dress and diaper bag instead.

With worry and lamentation come wrinkles and spots and you think, where have all that tight and tone skin gone to. Then we slap more make up and creams to cover up what time has decided to leave on our faces and continue to pretend to be cool that we like to just fuck and, say thanks and then bye. But deep inside, we want that marriage certificate just like everyone else.

Thus, we bring back any Tom, Dick or Harry back home- one is a divorcee with 3 kids in tow, the other one is a hot-blooded young chap earning a fraction of your current salary as a junior clerk in a bank and the last one is a bar tender full of tattoos and piercings, until Mama faints and Papa nearly gets a heart attack and so we only fuck, say thanks and then bye to all three of them.

Soon, we'll attend so many weddings of friends and peers that we begin to attend funerals of older family members until one day, Mama and Papa too both lay cold and stiff in their last resting places that we'll appallingly think, where have all the time gone?

Perhaps mopping around the house and digging out old photos would bring back memories and so we proceeded to reminisce the old times and burrow into our heads for fond and hurting memories and when that is not enough, we take the car and go there physically or fall asleep on the couch to see them in our dreams.

Until one day, we step out of the shower and look at the mirror to find curiously, that hard lump in that left breast and we'll know, no matter what we ask for in life, it is nothing a marriage looks like. It is someone to share and walk with you through all those Masters and PHDs, all that booze and partying, all those weddings and funerals and not just fuck, thanks and goodbye.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The dirt in the education sector

It doesn't matter what you work as; you could be a teacher, a principal, an administrative clerk or a businessman who is has tons of educational centres, as long as you are in the education industry, you behave like a how you'd want your children would want to see you as in their eyes.

2015 is my tenth year working and my eighth year in the education line. 2 years, I took out to be with my 2nd love- cars but I decided that that was not what I really want to do. An interest might not be suitable for a day job. So I hopped back to the education line and started again as a junior.

I began my education career as an English teacher and taught English to foreign students. I've had a great many crying bouts when it came to my first job and also many wonderful, beautiful memories. When I realised that I cannot teacher nouns and verbs and survive on a $1500 pay a month, I jumped into selling programmes like degree and diplomas for a school. The highest pay I've gotten there was $7000 in a month.

After that, I learned what is lesson planning, hiring teachers, working out different activities and even conducted my own children's workshop when I became a project manager. It was in this job that I've found out that I love exercise my creativity and harness my English Literature background to build programmes, develop them, sell them and conduct them. It is a very gratifying progression of work.

Then I climbed the corporate ladder higher and found out that I have a keen eye for picking out suitable business development ideas and marketing techniques to better the business. No programme can sell well, if you marketing method is wrong and you can be sure that if it is right, coupled with the correct industrial partner, your programme will reap tons more rewards than just paper marketing.

From these, I am glad to say, that I have met many principals, teachers, clerks and so on. Now, manpower is a company's most important asset. It can help push your company to great heights because you've picked the right talent for the right job. But it could also mean a flop for your business when you don't.

Take for instance, in my previous tenure, I was to assist a book sale in one particular school. Upon reaching the school, I found out that there was no table nor chairs for the vendors. I went to the school's office to ask and was only rudely told off that the school does not provide these necessities for the vendors during a book sale and that we would have to bring our own. Now it doesn't matter if this was delivered to my ears in a firm but polite manner, I would have grumbled but would gladly comply to a school's policies but not from an administrative clerk who is well in her fifties and yelling her head off because all I asked for was a table and 2 chairs.

I asked for her name so that I could speak to the principal about her behaviour but I needn't have to because her name tag was hung just outside her cubicle. I announced to her and to the rest of her team that I thank her for her informing and that I will remember it was also firm instructions given by her.

During the book sale, I managed to speak to a cleaner and asked her about a particular Ms X who was so rude to me that particular morning and she replied that this lady has been working in this school for more than 30 years, even the principal dare not speak up to her had to tolerate her attitude. I was appalled. Now this Ms X might be a pioneer, but the school and in particular, the Ministry of Education in Singapore should not allow such a worker with an attitude the size of Jupiter to be working here. Or even if her vast experience of being an administrative clerk would be valuable, her choice of conduct is not and that she should be sent to counselling to change her stupid attitude. I guess even if she is retired and has left the school, the ghost of her ridiculously bad attitude would still be lingering in the office because everyone working there would have seen how badly she behaved and the principal condoned it.

Sometimes, I enjoy telling on these people to their bosses because it would mean the image of the school or the centre affects other people from doing businesses with them. While Ms X displays her bad attitude even in front of her boss, there are some people who don't and choose their victims carefully. These are what people call the paper tigers.

There is this big chain of childcare centre which I had the chance to visit and present my business proposal to, couple of years ago. I called on the receptionist upon my arrival and told her of my purpose there, seeing that I was a vendor 'begging' for business with her organization, she gestured me to fill in my particulars on a paper and asked me in a boorish manner to take a seat at the sofa with the tilt of her head. Now, not only was that rude and unprofessional, it was childish. She acted as though she has the right to be a bitch because she was the only one in this whole world entitled to PMS. When I had waited for more than half an hour, I stood up to ask her if the meeting was cancelled because from the half hour that I was sitting there, she did not lift the receiver to call the person I was meeting that I'd arrived. She then turned her head and spoke in a barbarously way that since I was early, there wasn't any need for her to announce my arrival yet.

When I finally got to meet and presented my business proposal to the person whom I was meeting, and she was kind to walk me to the door, I stopped to ask if Ms Receptionist was having a bad day, making sure everyone in the lobby including Ms Receptionist could hear. My business partner looked surprised at such a remark and asked me why to which I promptly replied, "Because for the entire time that I was sitting on that sofa waiting to see you, she was making sure I know that her day has been really, really bad."

Now, I would have forgotten these past incidents if not for a Mr A from a centre who spoke to me recently that made me decide to share these bad experiences here.

Mr A is a very shrewd businessman with a keen eye for business. His centre is only one that provides a particular service for students and children. His income comes from these (let's say) 100 students and from them only. Unless his premise is expended, he cannot foresee any raise in his income from these 100 students. Hence, when vendors like myself go to centres like his to market our programmes and workshops, he jumped upon the idea of earning more from them (and from us).

It is common practice for centres to take a cut from vendors if we are to provide a programme to their students. It is after all, their students that we are marketing to the centre would help to promote our programmes and get these students to sign up. It is akin to a vendor providing something to a club's members. The club gets a cut from the profits too.

But Mr A has a greedy stance in him. He wants not a small cut, but a huge one and the only way for him to achieve it is to lie. And lie he did.

He spoke of how his students are all from the low-income tier of the economy and that the vendors should lower their rates in order for more sign-ups. He also mentioned that he wants a long working relationship with the vendor and he would not be always looking for new vendors all the time.

Whilst I am deeply and most honestly, am interested in working with Mr A, he however wanted a huge slash in the rates offered. He then told me that he would add on to the price to whatever amount he wants and his cut would be from the extra that he charged the students.

Now hand on a minute... I thought that his students are from low-income families? Taking advantage of the vendor is fine, but why would he take advantage of his students?

A check on his website shows that apparently, there are already plenty of vendors working with him. From clay-making to art and so on. The calendar that he put up on his website for the month of December 2014 shows a workshop every 4 days in his centre and even a trip to Mcdonald's (I don't know whatever the hell for).

From his counter proposition to me, he was able to guarantee more than 30 students for my programme if I slash the price so much, that I am not making any profit while he, makes an additional profit of $5 to $8 per student. Take that times the many programmes that he has and the many vendors that he is already working with, you can guess just how much he is making from his batch of students from 'low-income' families.

I don't know if he thinks I am stupid or the parents of his students are stupid or even his students are stupid. From his website, he said that his centres act as an enrichment hub, for all vendors to gather to provide the best of enrichment programmes because he screens and assess all the contents, negotiates the fees with the vendors to make sure that only quality programmes are introduced in his students.

Quality programmes, I (so do the rest of the vendors) am proud to say is definitely the best way to describe my programmes, but negotiating with the rates Mr A did not because he merely slashed the price so ridiculously until the vendors stand to gain hardly anything. And for sure, screening and assessing my content he did not. Throughout our conversation, he not once as much as asked what the activities were and how are we going to run them. The first thing he asked was for me to lower the rates as much as I can allow. And what he left out in his website was how shamelessly and unethically take big cuts from the students from these improper acts.

For sure, I am not going into the role of teachers and principals because you would have already heard many especially those teachers bedding their students.

I don't know if I have perceived the education industry as The Perfect World but it should at least be where high moral values and proper character development are placed above academic excellence. For this, I mean that the people who create such worlds for learning should... no, they MUST in the very least ensure that the environment is of such quality and this includes their own conduct.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tossed from one end of wonderful feelings to the other of fuzzy pleasure

Another year has come and gone, unlike 2013 when I wrote Tossed from one end of wonderful feelings to the other of dreadful realitiesthis new year seems to bring with it, more joy, more anticipation and more cheer. Not sure if it is because of the impending wedding or the excitement of being 'incorporated' into another family or even more intriguing plans for my startup, everything about 2015 just seem better and so much less bleak than before.

In 2014, I wrote Tossed from one end of wonderful feelings to the other of dreadful realities - revisitedI had more revelation and perhaps, (maybe not for my temper), better things when it comes to life and experiences to write about. I come to see more about people, how they react and why they react so and of course, the question about nature vs nurture which is my favourite topic to talk about because it is the only one argument that I am always sitting on the fence.

Maybe for the exception of my temper, I could actually see and feel myself evolve from my writings, articles, preferences, feelings and emotions. While in 2013, I was quick to judge, full of myself yet seeing the world as a sad place; everything was bleak and I was ignorant in so many aspects. In 2014 I felt more critical to discern people but forced myself to see more light and good in and from other places. I was fighting an internal battle between reality and desire. I tried to play the waiting game, only to feel more miserable than before because I could not decide if I should continue to wait it out and be patient or I should throw in the towel, flip everyone the finger and just walk off. I have grown to hate but I hate to combat that hate because I know it is wrong. All these made it as though there was a constant indigestion inside of me and that made me ill.

I have learned that whilst we all know not to let others dictate our happiness and write our lives, we cannot simply ignore ruffians and evil-doers or even what others call, the harmless pest. When something has to be done, it has to be done and sometimes, it just can't wait. I quit my job, walked out on my boss in the middle of an important fiscal year, let life-and-death issues lead me out of my misery and look Life in the eye and say 'take me on!', finally saw my relationship making progress and see myself evolve from a woman with a 25 year old mindset to enduringly a woman of 34.

If the horse year would be when a crazy horse just galloped and knocked everything off its track creating dust and fog with its fast movement that caught us all off guard, the snake year would be  slow, meandering, cold and mysterious yet mystic and august at the same time, making us pause in frustration and anticipation on what is going to happen next.

The goat however would not gallop crazily nor meander slyly; it would browse on the mountain tops and maybe frequently gaze afar at us then get back to eating its weeds.

Some say that this Goat year would be great. I know. I can feel it already. There is speculations that it will be as hot as the last 2 years and it would be dry too. But there is something about it that makes the heat so much more bearable unlike the dry spell in the last 2 years. Perhaps 2013 was like the desert and 2014 was like walking along the streets of India- hot, humid but lots of sights and sounds to distract you. 2015 would be akin to playing ball on the beach; it is hot, the sand burns your soles but you like to sweat it out, feel the occasional breeze from the sea and laugh at your friends being silly then later, look forward to that ice cold beer...

Revisiting all the different characters that played big and important roles in my life, each and everyone of them have moved out from muddy holes to clear waters - there are new babies introduced to the family, relationships lost and rekindled, new budding romances that are bitter and sweet at the same time, better careers for all, debts cleared and more money in the bank. I don't know but seeing all these around me just make welcoming the new year so much more drugged-happy; some sort like a fuzzy feeling that makes you lightheaded in a peaceful kind of way.

It is like we are still being tossed around but it would be from one end of wonderful feelings to another end of fuzzy pleasure.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stereotyping - Name tagging

Stella's story

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with an older girl. Her name was Michelle, she was pan-asian, with long hair and beautiful hazel colour eyes; she was slim and tall but despite her not smiling all the time (she didn't need to) she looked just as lovely. She was the talk of the neighbourhood and my elder brother who hung out with boys his age was about a few years younger than Michelle, never failed to cycle around her block to try to get a glimpse of her.

From that moment till now, I have always loved the name Michelle. I tag the name to a girl that looks just like the one I had fallen in love with and wanted to grow up to be just like her. And true to my words (with the exception of 1 fat one) all the Michelle(s) I know are tall and pretty too. 

Whilst there are names that I tag to beautiful people, there are names that I tag to nasty ones too. This is usually the case when I met the first person whose name I first encounter and then, that person's personality is stuck to that name forever. So when it comes to negativity, stereotyping certain people according to their names is a most natural thing to do. 

You often hear people say, "I hate the name Vincent..." or "I hate people who name their son Melvin..." or "Eeww, Chloe, I knew a girl who was named that and she is such a b****..." 

And if you didn't ever hear people say that or you are not one of those, then I think you can skip this article and fly to Venus and not be poisoned to death because you are simply not human. 

Yes, so I do classify myself as one who stereotypes people according to their names. And I am here to share just how much I hate the name "Jimmy" or "Jim". (No offence to anyone of you readers who is reading this).

You see, I have an uncle named Jimmy and boy is he a jerk. When my family was going through a really bad patch and we lost our house, he offered to take us in. We were grateful to be able to have a roof over our heads especially when we were on the verge of a bankruptcy. But to our dismay, he took us in only to show others how 'kind' he was. He actually took rent from us and demanded we cook for his kids and clean the house too. 

Only when his father, my grand-uncle found out, did he then come back to us (when we finally moved out and got our own apartment) like a sorry dog with his tail between his legs to return part of a one month's rental to us. He said sorrily to my grandmother that he'd spent the rest of the 10 months rental we'd given him and he was only left with some. 

He pushed the money to me when my grandmother refused to take. Seeing money in my hands, I really wanted to pocket it but a harsh tone from my grandmother made me drop the money on the floor. She picked it up and gave it back to her nephew saying that if we take it, it would mean that we'd stayed in his place free of charge for a month and she didn't want that. We agreed to pay rent and so we should. 

So the screwed up man left with that money still in his hands and his tail still between his legs. But that didn't change anything because he proceeded to insult my mother in front of me, wrote me nasty emails saying that if I did not turn to Christ, I would be banished to hell. 

I never forgave him nor did he not feel ashame every year when he comes over to visit my grandmother over Chinese New Year. Initially, I made sure I was there to shame him; once, I told him he need not buy us anything because now, we can very well afford it when he asked if we have money to buy stuff for the new year. 

Perhaps being a rebellious teenager aided me in shaming him and degrading him. But now that I have grown up, I no longer shame him but I watch him and on times when I could, I reminded him on how he has treated us in times when we needed help most and he would text my mother about how rude I was. But what was most important, was he got my point. 

Along my years to adulthood, I have met other 'Jim(s)' and 'Jimmy(s)' and you can bet, just how all of them are the same. But I guess all in all, this uncle of mine really takes the biscuit. He is not only the embodiment of all of the above, he is more than what you can imagine.

Now that Chinese New Year is around the corner, I look forward to taking another opportunity to humiliate him.