Singapore
I am a writer trying to build a readership from scratch. The pathetic stats number never seem to rise. Read my works and you'll agree that my writings are just plain junk or simply an art of a decidedly Bohemian attitude.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Singaporean Dream

We all know what the American Dream is; a very motivational ideal that drives people to work hard and that with hard work, success will follow suit

I like that.

So when I followed a friend of mine who went to the same Primary school as I did to pick up her 4 year old son at his weekly reading class, I was very surprised when we, being surrounded by other parents outside the reading centre also waiting to pick their kids up heard her say, "Look at these people, working a 9 to 6 job, Mondays to Fridays working themselves crazy to bring home the bacon and then only to cramp their time sending kids to tuition and enrichment classes, bringing and putting up with in-laws during their weekends family day, then go back home to clean the house and start the cycle all over again the following Monday. After a few years, saved enough for a 5-room apartment or deliberate between that and having a third child. Then if choosing the latter, plan to get a foreign domestic helper and forgo the yearly planned trip to bring the family to Hong Kong Disneyland. Is that what we want in life?"

I followed her gaze towards all those waiting parents and subsequently pictured myself in this sort of life. To tell you the truth, I look forward to it. I want to marry Andy and have our own kids and work hard from Monday to Friday and if we are still in the same companies, look forward to meeting him for lunch just few blocks from our office buildings and bitch about work. I also look forward to spending the weekends with his family and mine, maybe bringing the kids to the pool for a dip or to the library to borrow some books followed by MacDonalds and ice-cream. Then maybe we can then bring everyone back and do the laundry while the kids watch TV or play with their grandparents and end the night with wild sex at a nearby budget hotel then come back home to our sleeping angels.

Then I looked at her and find it weird that she would be saying something like that too because she has not been through what these people around us did. For she married an expatriate who earns $11k a month; other than her marriage being screwed up with an over-bearing colonial-mindset Caucasian, and being looking out for a mixed-blood son, she never needed to worry about money (sort of), nor worry about whether she should want another child or buy a condo because she lives in a condo anyways.

So if this is the Singaporean dream, then I want to live it with the man of my dreams, our kids, dogs and cat in toil.

But when curiosity got the better of me and I went to google just what exactly is the Singaporean dream, I was kind of upset at what I found.

http://www.transitioning.org/2012/08/29/what-actually-is-our-singapores-dream

The writer on this website wrote about how vague the notion of the Singaporean dream is. To my surprise, his concept came first as all about the 5 Cs - condo, car, cash, credit card, country club membership and (career). On a side, the 5 Cs have been romantically oust by the 5 Bs which are - BMW, Bank, Boss, Billionaire and Bunglow. But since we all know it is virtually impossible to buy a car in Singapore now, let us all revert back to the 5 Cs.

It has never occurred to me that I would want another car. I mean I do and so does Andy but since my Dad has already given me his to drive, I am perfectly fine with driving an old Chevy till the COE ends and then think if I want to renew it.

I am also not into country club memberships because there is almost NOTHING to do at a country club other than networking which I am able to do at free conferences at Expo or Suntec. The facilities in country clubs these days are just swimming pools which Andy and I can access at the public pool just walking distance from my place. The jackpot rooms are also a waste of time and the machines are old and ancient. Lastly, the ktv rooms are filled with old people that I don't think people our age will feel comfortable in. Most importantly, we have tons of Safras around the country that can fill our thirst for these facilities.

As for condos and credit cards, they do not make any difference to me. If you throw a stone at anyone on the streets, you are bound to hit one with a credit card and the condos in Singapore these days look as plain as an HDB, not to mention way too small to make a house homely.

So there, screw the 5 Cs and let's go back to the article in the website. Since the writer does not really define the Singaporean dream as an ideal ethos, but more like a status chase, then I don't think it is a dream fit for all at all.

Then how about the other version of the Singaporean dream that my friend has painted out? Is it a dream that everyone of us wants?

I guess in the midst of defining that dream, we have to first define what is home- the country that we call home and what we want in that home of ours.

Just like how you want to decorate and renovate your apartment; do you like floral wallpaper? Or do you prefer off-white paint for the living room? Do you like mirrors along the walls of the dining area or would you want to adorn them with framed family pictures? All in all, you would want to be proud of this house, proud of the people who live in there and you are picky who you invite into your house because you wouldn't want to welcome a crook in and offer him tea.

As like how a child decorates her doll house or how a teenager personalises his iPhone's wallpaper, we all want to have a say in how our home looks like. If we would want pink walls, we hire a painter and tells him we want that particular shade. If we want puppies running about our gardens, we plant grass and beautiful plants in it. If we want our children to be happy individuals, we teach them values and joy in simply things and groom as well as guide them in the academics and morals such as introducing bonding time with our parents.

Hence, that should be the Singaporean dream- to be able to have the freedom to choose who and how we live our lives in a country without having anyone else to define it for us.

You hear that, G?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why I write

I offered to visit my paternal grandmother's grave today. It is her death anniversary and I felt it should be right for me to join my dad on this day.

I hadn't been there to visit her tomb for about 3 years and it suddenly dawned on me, has it been 5 years already? The two angels on her tombstone are already green with algae caked at the delicate corners of their faces, necks and underneath their palms, other than that, there isn't any indication that she has been gone from this world that long.

After a quick prayer, we adjourned to my great-grandmother's at another side of the cemetery. It was my first time there and first time seeing her tomb. Unlike my grandmother's which has a short prayer engraved on her tomb, my great-grandmother's has the names of her kids engraved. The sad thing was, I could not make out which was my grandmother's name.

As though he could read my mind, my dad asked me if I knew which name was grandmother's. I lied a yes but my eyes still followed his finger where he pointed at the 2nd one because my grandmother was her 2nd daughter.

Then it dawned on me, if one day, should my dad be gone too, I would not remember nor know nor make out, which one among the sea of tombstones, was my great-grandmother's. Hell, I don't even know my grandmother's name until today and to think I was with her when she took her last breath!

It is very sad and nothing for me to be proud of. But no matter how hard we try to remember, or jot down the address of our deceased relatives, they remain dead to us, only left was their decaying bodies 6 feet under.

So when I visited my great-grandmother's grave today for the first time, and when I think about how through all these years, during the hungry ghost festival, we would be offering prayers and food to my maternal great-grandparents, I felt that distance yet unspeakable closeness to these deceased relatives. I came from their blood and bodies, I am very much their DNA as much as I am an individual myself.

But in a sad way, I do not know them at all.

I am sure, after my parents were to leave this world, my children and my brother's children will be feeling the same way as we did- offering prayers to someone we didn't know yet someone we are so close to.

Just how do I tell my children about how much these people meant to me when they were alive?

P/S: Did I mention that it would be a year this Friday since my nanny left us? Here is what I wrote about her passing on about a year ago.

I will never stop missing her.

In loving memory of my nanny Mdm Quek Ah Moi 1932 - 2013

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Do not slur, just because you do not understand

I am very glad and proud that I have taken up Eng Lit as my major in my Uni. It is a pity that most people do not see this major as a skill in itself which is more superior (in my opinion) than any other courses. For instances, we have to analyse a character's personality, his strengths and weakness in just a mere few conversations he had with other characters. We learn to read between the lines, examine the conditions that made this character say a particular line and review the consequences of his actions and his subsequent reactions to his consequences and that includes politics, history, geography, art, music, religions and philosophy.

In a business course, you learn to maintain and sustain an organization. In an accounting course, you learn to balance the figures. In an engineering course, you study the mechanics of a machine and what makes it work. In a medical course, you learn to treat illnesses. In a media course, you learn communication skills and marketing. But in an English Literature course, you learn to be human.

An ex colleague of mine once told me her teacher in her Buddhist class made a joke of Christianity by saying their concept of heaven, everyone is naked (depicting from pictures of angels who are not clothed). He laughed and said that in Buddhist context, our heaven is when everyone will be clothed. She then laughed and told me how everyone in her classed laughed too.

I was appalled and disgusted.

First of all, Buddha DID NOT say nor explain nor describe anything about how heaven is. To us, there is no heaven- there is only Nirvana or Nibbana. And even Buddha himself didn't know how Nirvana looks like because he did not even see it before passing on. Besides, angels are naked for a reason: they do not need clothes anymore because they are way passed the basic rules of modesty and morality. Seeing someone naked does not and will not arouse their sexuality or sensual pleasures; they are after all, angels, and not humans! By saying such immature things during class by a teacher not only puts Buddhists in bad light, this teacher also showed he is a very shallow man, in my opinion, not fit to deliver a religious class at all.

This sort of analysis is not something mere business students or medical students can understand. It requires a different order of aptitude to comprehend a certain kind of work or communication.

Let me explain more.

I have just ended my last class of part 1 of my Buddhism course. And I am saddened by what was taught during the last lesson. It was not so much of a Buddhist lecture, it was more of pointing out the differences between Buddhism and other religions, and with that, you cannot run away from slamming others while promoting yourself.

First of all, my teacher explained that for certain religions, one is able to go to heaven as long as he believed in his god. There is no indication of how one needs to be good and so on. I know where he took this from. It is from John 3:16. I was a Catholic myself and with my little knowledge of the bible and what I have learned from Eng Lit, I was able to rebut my teacher (but of cause I did not), that that line from John 3:16 was more than what it meant.

It means, in order to do his works, follows Jesus's teachings and so on, you would need to believe in god first. It would be the same as us Buddhist who need to believe in Buddha first before we follow the Dharma. It is something as simple and logical as that. This, I am sure, students of Eng Lit are able to draw the similarity from and place both side by side to say that these 2 logic are the same. They are only written in 2 different ways.

I recalled watching a rerun of Lord of the Rings on HBO with my brother many years ago. I told him about how the troll in part 1 was so hard for the whole lot of Legolas and Gimly etc to defeat was actually the writer's depiction on the first appearance of the tank in WWI and how massive and difficult it really was to bring down and that every stroke of attack on the troll was real portrayal of actual parody of real life experience because J R R Tolkien was really a soldier in WWI. My brother was collectively surprised and impressed when I told him this is how a Eng Lit student decipher a text.

I feel sad for the rest of the students in my last Buddhist class who got the wrong illustration of other religions. I am more sad that it is my own Buddhist teacher who taught them the wrong things. What you do not understand does not mean that it is wrong; just like some Christians laughing and mocking us Buddhists praying to fake idols. Case is we are not praying. We are merely remembering the Buddha's teachings and humbling ourselves to someone who has taught us the right way out of samsara (endless rebirth and suffering), so that we may have enough self control, self discipline and effort to practice the Dharma and follow suit, his way to Nirvana.

So to that ex boyfriend of mine called Alex Lim who mocked and insulted my choice of my major, fuck you... not (Buddhist don't curse and scold other people). I just pity you at how ignorant and immature you are, because you lack the right skills to tell the right from the wrong. And to others who slur and affront other religions because you do not fully understand it, please try to ask other people of these religions who will be best to explain the right analysis to you, otherwise, live and let live.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Justice and vengeance; anger and retaliation (Part 4)

I have an ex-colleague who is always on the look out for all sorts of upgrading courses. She does the most radical of things and always on impulse. But she never regrets her decisions and whatever turns out for her. Everytime she goes on a random escapade or signs up for whatever courses, I find myself in awe of her courage and her throwing caution to the wind.

She was the source of my inspiration to want to learn more about the religion I was blindly bonded to. I thought I was a Buddhist as long as I pray, chant, abstain from eating beef and offers joss-sticks every morning. But I was wrong. I proceeded to sign up for classes myself (after much procrastination), and was so much enlightened by what I was taught that I found out there are so many sides of so many things.

For example, this ex-colleague once shared with me that in her karma class, her teacher taught her that if a person is dying of cancer and is pain, no one is to help him relieve his pain ie by giving him morphine or painkillers because for him to die in this way, he had not paid by his dues and would bring forth his pending karma to his next life and he would have to suffer the same pain again.

Only upon going for my own Buddhist class and learning from my own teacher that I found out how wrong this ex-colleague was taught.

Firstly, why would people in helping you relieve your pain are such that they are harming you to bound for another round of negative karma? Because one is simply accountable for your own deeds, no one, by helping you can lessen or heighten your karma for you. The next thing is, the way things were explained to her are so morbid and negative that my ex-colleague got the whole idea of karma wrong. For someone to help you at the point of your death or when you are dying of painful cancer, would most likely mean that you have accumulated positive karma previously to have some be there for help you lessen the pain as you die. It does not mean that you should refuse any aid so that you can suffer the stature of pain in order to pay back your dues.

Karma is not rewards and punishment. It is merely a cause and effect cycle.

The abbot of the temple where I attend classes told me that while we take time every week or every day to exercise our muscles and body, we should also take time to exercise or minds which is something we often neglect. He also said that whatever we feel is a product of our thoughts through our senses.

If we see something and think about how it is distasteful which then creates a feeling of disgust and hatred, it is simply a reflection on our own feelings against our opinions of something. And because of this, it will result in certain intentional or unintentional actions which will bring about its consequences.

This is exactly the Law of Attraction.

Now for the past few weeks, I have been going on and on about my hatred for this particular person I am working with. I know why working with him is so difficult. It is because of his terrible ways of abusing his power, his hunger for boot-lickers and his lack of respect for his fellow work-mates that got me mad. I am not someone who can curry his favour and so I got ostracized and most of all, this resulted in me losing interest in this job.

I am not punished for standing up in what I believed in nor am I rewarded for standing up for the rest of the colleagues and for myself in the process. This is merely a cause and effect. I stood up against a tyrant and got s**t in the end. But it is not all negative karma that I have gotten. I did, in the cause of justice accumulated positive result which is the support of my other fellow team mates.

So what next, you might ask.

If I stay on in this job, I can either continue to suffer the way I am right now by taking in all the visually and audibly horrific things and taking them in my stride, then treat this as a stupid, mundane job and not use my brains ever, or morph into a boot-licker. The other choice is to leave.

No prizes for guessing which route I am going to take.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Justice and vengeance; anger and retaliation (Part 3)

One of my friend posted a picture-quote on instagram that says "Once you start to dislike someone, everything they do begins to annoy you" and it quickly made me nod my head.

I have never really hated anyone nor disliked anyone in particular. Only 3 people I can remember were my uncle who rented us his apartment while we were waiting for ours to be built and scheming(ly) took rent from us, he not only used his religion to "teach us" manners etc but also insulted my family. 

The next person I can remember was my ex boss from my previous company. She speaks of nothing  but sarcasm and cynicism. Her famous lines were always, "Oh I wouldn't dare not greet you. You are the director of this this this and by not greeting you would be soooooooo impolite of me, wouldn't it?"

The latest person who was recently added to my list would be this person and I am currently working with.

Now I try not to "pollute" my website by writing about negative things such as criticising people but I must say that when you do something wrong, you turn into a lawyer but when others do something wrong, you are quick to turn into a judge. I am guilty of the above too. 

So I constantly try to move away from being bias and judgmental before forming my own opinion of this particular person and try to exercise compassion and empathy. Even if I dislike that person so much, I would still try not to think about him or what he has done and concentrate on my work.

But this is easier said that done.

How does one constantly try to input thoughts of good qualities about this person that you dislike while this person repetitively makes everyone around him or her upset with their ways?

Take my ex boss for example, I never understood why she always chose to speak this way and when she did, I always saw people rolling their eyes and turning away, undoubtedly criticising her under their breaths. So if I had to exercise empathy and compassion, do I first think of her as a poor widow who left her kids in KL to work her ass off in a foreign country so that her kids could go to the Uni? And then later think of her as a pathetic woman living on her own during the weekdays who had to drive to KL every Friday evening to see her kids and then drive back on a Sunday night?

When I started working after graduation, I met a colleague who was branded a meanie. She always wrote nasty emails to people, is quick to criticise everyone, always grumbled and complained and had practically nothing nice to say. Everyone in the office hated her and though she did not do anything openly to harm me, I hated her simply because everyone did.

Once, an old colleague went out to smoke caught me there. We made some small talk about everyone in the office and I then took the chance to ask him about why this female colleague was always so nasty. He told me because her husband got killed in a car crash when she was pregnant. Her husband never got to meet his son. I gasped at this piece of news and was speechless. The next thing I did was to spread this news (to this old colleague's dismay) so that no one will speak ill of this female colleague anymore.

We are always very eager to form our own opinions of other people and unless that person stand up to justify his ways, it is simply impossible to employ the compassion techniques on anyone especially when that person is doing harm to you.

So when a fellow colleague g-talked me about how she gloated at a component of an impending event nearly causing the entire event being a flop, I laughed along with her. Then I stopped to take a step back and picture myself, looking at myself and my fellow colleague smirking. It is a horrible sight.

But guess what, I quickly erased that thought away from my mind and continued to smirk though now, I did it half heartedly and tried to change the subject. I am glad to say that I am not all that evil hearted to wish ill on someone, but this someone is one who had intentionally and knowingly harmed and hurt me with his words on so many occasions.

I guess this world will not be a better place even if it's short of one less evil person. It is very difficult to exercise any compassion when that harm and hurt is directed intentionally at you. What I can do henceforth is perhaps not to smirk or gloat when something bad happens but I certainly am not going to empathise with this person and say that it is okay to harm and hurt others just because the world harmed and hurt you too.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Justice and vengeance; anger and retaliation (Part 2)

I can't say that I am a huge fan of the famous Singapore blogger, Xiaxue but I do read her all the time, follow her Dayre and instagram. It sort of fills my need to busy-body-about someone's life. From her, I got to her other bloggers who are also her friends.

It is really interesting reading about their lives, learning about their buying habits and writing about which good skin products they use and of course, reading about their children and the weals and woes of being a mother.

I usually skip the thousands of comments that are left on their blogs or dayre though I do read them, when the latest ones show on their instagram pictures. Most of these comments are questions on where they buy their make-up, how they find the food in this and that restaurant from which the bloggers snapped their food porn.

Sometimes, I do read about them writing about haters and what they say to them. Xiaxue once said that she has ever had people wished her get cancer, raped and get knocked down by a bus. Recently, she has received threats from a follower who wanted to murder her son.

Now I know that putting your life out there for people to read, one is bound to have people write mean things to you. I also know that the more famous you are, the more people hate you.

I came from a neighbourhood secondary school in the middle of Jurong town. The girls who hailed from there are mostly riff raffs or gangsta-wannabes. They usually wear black bras underneath our white uniform and could be spotted with tinted red hair. Once, I got stared at by this girl called Xiuying. I do not know anger or wrath from a teenager as much as what I knew from Xiuying. Everyday, she would make sure she turned up within a few metre radius from my eye sight and would proceed to stare death stares at me. I do not know why but I do know that she wanted to beat the hell out of me.

I got to know this from a guy friend who also happened to be in some kind of secret society gang in school. I was kinda upset with someone wanting to beat me to death but I was more curious of the reason why. I was a student leader in school which means I had to do my extra student duties of ensuring there are no smokers hiding in the toilets for a toilet break or people who skipped classes and sneaked outta school. I did not recall, catching Xiuying in any of these duties before, so why the hell would she hate me for?

My guy friend then found out from her, the reason was that she simply hated my face.

From then on, I always have had haters at certain points of my life. Most of these people just hated my face (I don't have a villain-like face, if that is what you are wondering about). I have very small eyes with very faint double eye lids and the shape of them are quite slits-like which a friend of mine calls them, oriental eyes. I am short at about 1.55m, with a small waist, small feet, small hands and what nots. I might however, have a loud voice and I'm really good when it comes to verbal fights but those are not visible from my face so I seriously don't see anyhow my looks could get people to hate me.

I don't recall hating or disliking anyone for the way they look. But I did start to hate people when I started to work. Most of them was because of how they chose to treat me by speaking ill of me, doing bad things to me, malign me, frame me etc.

Either way, whether I have a reason to hate people or not, I have become a hater myself. And it is sad because I have never been that way before. Though these times of hatred do not last long, but they do last for sometime and I find it impossible to forgive these people.

Now I am not so noble a person, nor am I a saint. I am human after all, and I do not sit and wait for poetic justice, if I can, within my own righteous and justified ways, stand up for myself and put these villains back to where they should not harm people, I would very well do it. Just that, I often find myself hating these people there after and it is then that these haters have polluted me in their negativity.

I know how to deal with haters and put them in their place, but I must from today on, abstain from being a hater myself. This, I need to constantly remind myself.

My pre-wedding blog

Dear readers,

I have created another blog. It will house all my pre-wedding posts. If you would like to follow me in all the ups and downs, emotional rides and hair-pulling episodes of choosing of dresses etc, the link is here:

http://countdowntowedding-21-mar-2015.blogspot.sg/


















Thank you!