Rambles

I write & shoot (photographs) occasionally

what i miss about home

is the conventionality of vulnerability, not having to depend on yourself all the time, being fussed over and cared for when you’re sick, lemongrass and chrysanthemum tea and all the age-old remedies mothers believe in. the constant noise and conversations, close to never a moment of silence, someone being there to answer your doubts no matter how stupid they are. the comforting, satisfying home cooked fare that no outside food can ever compare to, the relief of knowing that your meals are not a cause for worry. familiar, loved company in itself; warm hugs. the closeness of the sky, the visibility of its blueness and pinkness and all its beautiful transitions, the proximity to an entity so vast and overarching and the reminder of just how small your problems are; your bad day is. remembering my love for sunsets as i watch out my kitchen window rather than the grey grids which contain glimpses of other lives.

 

mid-autumn festival

it is in fact mid-summer in an eternally summery singapore, but today has been one of the longest days since university has started. i’m not a particularly huge celebrant of mid-autumn festival, but it’s my first one away from my family. last sunday we enjoyed the most glorious snowskin mooncakes filled with lotus paste and a champagne white chocolate core- together. today the crowd is a pretty different one.

yesterday i looked at the moon and was dismayed that the sky was foggy and the moon was but a dim spot. i was worried that the moon wouldn’t be bright, round and clear for mid-autumn festival, that it wouldn’t be the same moon i associated all mid-autumn festivals with. i wonder why.

but the moon didn’t disappoint- sure enough, today as i’m taking a long walk back to hall after the bus services have discontinued, there it is- a round glowing face beaming through the shadowy branches. it makes me happy and puts me at ease, the moon guiding the way on a quiet, eventually solitary walk, as i am led forward perhaps by a little warmth from spiced rum and old friendships rekindled. along the walk i see a couple with lit paper lanterns by the road; it warms me and i try to slow my pace and look, stay longer in that atmosphere. i haven’t seen any candles except my friend’s birthday candles today.

today, amidst the familiar countenance of the moon, there are so many new faces. mooncake sampling and impromptu, rowdy foosball matches with people i don’t know but shared many laughs with, making an impossible sprint for the bus for the longest distance and missing it, panting all the way to my very first training afterward and swearing at the red line. classes with unbelievably exaggerated vocal exercises that simply reminded me of choir days, sustained, deep, somehow personal conversations with people i never would have expected, walking back along the blue track with insects and whatnot creaking in this wilderness.

public speaking

feels, for lack of a better term, like an out-of-body experience for me. the idea forms in its infant stages inside my head, a seed sprouting tiny leaves. the faint halo of what i want to express glows and before it fortifies the time is up and off i go, lips moving and forming words i never conceived, i don’t know how i’m releasing them from me with such conviction and intensity. my mind doesn’t go blank but it’s like it frees itself of everything it holds, it occludes itself from my senses and i have no inkling of the word i’m going to speak next; everything is surging from my soul and being channelled with such uncharacteristic passion and intensity. i can’t remember much because my mind was in this state that i cannot encapsulate in description, an untouchable space in those moments with unforeseen, invisible workings. what i remember is believing wholeheartedly in every syllable i uttered, charging like an unstoppable train until the end, fuel-filled, fire-filled and i knew i was going to end there. i trusted and delivered.

8 months

It seems like a tall order to compress the enormity of the past 8 months into a single post, but I believe it’s possible. I’m certain that these past 8 months have contained some of the best moments of my life, even though my indecisive nature hinders me from directly pinpointing a frozen frame in time. There have been so many mixed emotions: the most apparent and long-lasting freedom- joyful freedom of doing whatever you want and being uninhibited, painful freedom of having nothing to do as the hours stretch ahead of you, the heavy feeling of impending adulthood and commitments intensifying, how fast we’re growing up. With every friend I meet we mention how old we feel now (in a relative sense), lay out our confusion and fear about the completely different life that lies ahead of us- it is terrifying for many to step into unknown territory. But under every layer of fear there is a small spark of excitement or longing for adventure; the idea of possibility is endless but something I don’t quite dare to entertain.

Travelling: I travelled widely enough to satiate a wandering heart/ mind, and I’m so thankful. Winter in Japan and Korea and seeing a short-lived 5 min snow for the first time in my life, parasailing and spending New Year’s Day in Langkawi, making it back to the hotel just before the clock struck twelve and clinking our bottles of apple cider together in a resounding “Happy New Year!”. An adventure in India, a place I never thought I’d go in my life, staying in the desert, stargazing, sunrise camel rides and vibrance epitomised in the Holi festival, colour on skin and cameras and dancing with strangers, shedding all self-consciousness in good fun and the sharing of culture. My first trip with friends to Hoi An, strange feelings of freedom in simple acts of walking in the streets, peaceful motorcycle rides through rural landscapes, boat rides on the water illuminated by floating lamps, taking in the charming old town in its night-time magic.

Superhero Me, Planet of Possibility: I discovered the joy of working with special needs children, or special kids as we like to call them. To set the context, Planet of Possibility is an experiential, interactive art show that makes a stand for inclusion in Singapore. This year, we reached out to over 60 children from 4 special education schools and worked with them to create their very own artworks- for children, by children. These children may be different from us but we believe that differences are good, differences are what make us diverse and create a stronger whole. I learnt the importance of patience, of trying, understood how much joy a smile, laugh or the completion of a simple task can bring. Pride stems from seeing that the children have given their best; contentment comes from engaging them rather than the huge successes we are so accustomed to in our material world. Thankful for the small moments I’ve derived joy from during the exhibition: of a genuinely interested adult, marvelling and in awe of what children’s minds and hands can create, being involved, wanting to know more during which I am just so happy to share. Seeing a familiar face of a child who has returned so often I’ve lost count but whose names I clearly remember- Matthew and Akash, when parents explain to their children about differences in such a kind light- that God made each of us differently but that doesn’t mean we are any less than another, when children themselves are interested and ask me more about the superpowers, when they remember what I’ve shared, when you feel like you’ve potentially made a small ripple of change in the lives and beliefs of these impressionable beings. Of speaking about what I’ve grown to believe in wholeheartedly, becoming the mouths of these children who may not be able to articulate themselves as eloquently as their art deserves to be expressed, speaking for Grace and her unbelievable patience which I am only more in awe of each time; it is like a spark of conviction that is renewed inside me each time the words bounce off my lips. Affirmations come more easily to me now, empathy and understanding.

Logue internship: Very much intermingled with Superhero Me but developed me more for the school and professional aspect, taught me to approach situations with heart. Had the privilege of meeting people so passionate about their art and their lives, people who compelled me to want to write about them and express their story with every ounce of sincerity I could muster. Successful people not tied down by pride, opening themselves up and sharing their stories which can touch many. Having to return to the same location 6 times to shoot and learning that you do get better with time and practice; become more sensitive and patient with photography. Whenever I was tired and disheartened I would meet a kind soul who shared their story with me and rejuvenate me, remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. In everything you do fatigue is going to be definite at some point, but every now and then these little encounters/ reminders keep you going. In the end it was all worth it, and I’m proud.

16 july- one day to closing

sitting in the turmoil of the cardboard playground alone and feeling strangely at peace. around me workers are drilling a deafening melody, egg cartons messy with painted hollows, recycled materials strewn all about. it has always been my most hated place but i see it was a blessing i was put here today, to find the quiet I haven’t known in a long while. steadying my mind for the many unknowns and the immensely different life that lies ahead without explicitly entertaining those thoughts, letting my inner child run free with this spread of art materials and questioning the existence of adult creativity- do i still have it in me? I find it again when I pick up my brush and the bottles of paint and get my hands dirty once more; it is therapeutic and the most silent my mind has been in a while.

bugis figures

IMG_7606IMG_8270_T6A0153

hoi an snapshots

IMG_8705IMG_8725IMG_8750IMG_8759IMG_8766IMG_8781IMG_8785IMG_8997IMG_8967IMG_8999

My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An

IMG_8943

There is something special about old structures because in some ways, it seems that time hasn’t touched them at all. Centuries have passed and the surrounding landscape has changed drastically but even so, we are seeing this holy place in the same light, with the same wonder in our eyes as people of the past. If the photo is captured just like this, without an interfering human figure, I can almost imagine people a thousand years ago going about their daily lives in this setting.

Our guide speaks to us and points out parts of the structure that were built in the past, and these bricks standing at over a thousand years old are clean and adhere strongly to each other. They are firm and sturdy and look good as new. Yet, the modern reinforcements around them are twenty-odd years young and eroded, stained with a brackish black and crumbly-looking. We are still trying to figure out how people of the past built, but to no avail.

It’s a pity that we’ve lost the ways of the past, but there’s also a strange beauty in it. It is this very ignorance which allows us to fully understand the worth of ancient methods and marvel at their minds; we always try harder and appreciate more of something we cannot easily attain. It is precisely because the information eludes us that we now appreciate these structures as true works of art and continue to be intrigued by it. Technology in all its might is somehow unable to replicate or decode the work of the past; it is powerful that rudimentary problem-solving skills and ways have somehow beaten the complex formulas and equations that we have created.

hoi an impressions

The town slowly trickles to life even before 5am, early risers making their way about the pre-dawn blue glow. A lone figure traipses through quiet padi fields waiting to be worked upon; on the tranquil river surface a single boat rests, fishermen collecting their catch from nets left overnight, a scene still and undisturbed as a painting. True early birds make up the scene of bustling seafood markets which open past 3am, complete with shrimps wriggling and jumping in baskets, huge stingrays splayed and locals buzzing in Vietnamese, casting curious looks at out-of-place tourists. An atmosphere of peace as we hurtle past fields cast in shadow, the potential of a new day not yet dawning on them; the sun blooms in the sky like a flaming red flower as pale orange streaks tail our motorbikes. There’s a feeling of waking up with the town as the cool breeze graces our skin and masks our conversations. Tall fields shroud farmers who work relentlessly amidst them, conical straw hats like floating sails in a sea of green. People stroll and dust the streets in fervent sweeps- housework their form of morning exercise; they station themselves at their gates like watchmen, unabashed to stare outrightly at anyone unfamiliar. Dense red carpets of chillies dry in the sun; through the open doors of homes televisions still resemble boxes. Nature is their largest playground and against the setting sun, the beach is a mass gathering of silhouettes. Strong waves ride atop each other like terraces in rice fields as people wait to dunk themselves into the surging currents.

inanimate: kallang

_T6A0314IMG_8597IMG_8536IMG_8598IMG_8494