Sunday, December 31, 2006

A girl's best friend

There's nothing like having your conscience pricked in the middle of the night at the end of the year when resolutions are about to be made.

We saw Blood Diamond last night and it was set in the time when Sierra Leone was in the midst of civil war as groups tried to wrest for the country's diamond resources. It was about how our love for sparkly little carbon bits cause thousands of human rights violations in Africa that range from the chopping off of limbs, the enslaving of entire villages, the training of child soldiers and the raping, pillaging and power hungry bullying that comes with the territory. And to top it all off, the diamond czars and industry of the world that ignored the fact that buying these cheaper diamonds funded the aforementioned crimes against humanity.

As a rule, I don't like seeing heavy handed movies that make me more aware of the horrid plight of the world. I know these issues are out there- often I teach them in class. But they depress me and I like going to the movies to forget reality, not get a slap on the face by reality and be all serious and contemplative after that. In other words, I don't like it when movies shake me out of my ditzy inertia driven state. There's too much discomfort and disturbance and it's yet another thing that I am forced to think about, care about and feel guilty about.

I asked Packrat after the somewhat public serviced reminder at the end of the movie about insisting on "conflict free" diamonds, if my diamonds were conflict free and he too, had the same sheepish look of guilt on his face that I felt. No we don't ask, in fact, it never crosses our mind making us perpertrators of the crime against humanity as well, by buying and owning beautiful bling. Before Packrat and I got engaged, he used to push my buttons by telling me that no matter how beautiful De Beers diamonds were, they were tainted by the blood of the one-armed African slave who had to mine diamonds under the threat of death and at gun point. He knew that it would prick my conscience and possibly let him off the hook, bling wise.

And it did. It's just, I, together with most of the educated world, am like a groundhog. We spend most of the time underground, not thinking about the issues, pretending they don't exist. Occasionally, we stick our head out, blink at the bright revelation in front of us and then retreat into the hole, with the knowledge that we have at least made that effort, to see something be it our own shadow or the truth. So we acknowledge that it's important to know where our consumer goods come from, but really, what do we do with it?

I know I'm not going to throw away my diamonds just because they may be conflict diamonds just like how I know I'm not going to buy a Hybrid car even though I'm wrecking the environment and contributing to global warming. I also know that I'm never going to protest loud enough to not ever have shark's fin ordered at a dinner or stop buying clothes because they're made by nearly blind little children with bleedy fingers. We know what we're doing wrong, but it takes too much effort to correct it, to do something right and so, we choose to shove it into the deep recesses of our mind. The rational, cold, logical side of me reminded me during the movie that if I chose to care about every single thing that happened in the world, I would kill myself, physically by starving myself and psychologically by the amount of self-flagellation that would occur and at the end of the day, it was and is always about self- preservation.

At some point, the groundhog will go back into the hole but until then, this will certainly bug me and I'm thankful that my job allows me the soapbox to spread the guilt round a little bit in the name of raising awareness.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:03

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Condescension

Story 1
My brother's been having problems with his car salesman. He ordered a car that was supposed to arrive at the beginning of December. By mid December, he was beginning to jump up and down because the paper work had been botched up and he still couldn't pick up his car. 2 days ago, the car was finally delivered to him in the wrong colour and wrong interior fabric. And the salesman refused to take it back.

Since this brother is part of our judicial system and therefore has friends in the judicial system that can make life difficult for said car salesman, he sicced some lawyers on the guy, his boss and the entire company. To top it off, my brother has Ng-ness up the wazoo and it was unleashed in its full unmitigated force onto the said sales people. I'm told when the Ng-ness is unleashed, it is best to take cover in perhaps a bomb shelter or another country and true enough, the hour long outburst left the maid cowering and my nephew remarking in the most insightful of ways, "Daddy, you spoke to the man like you were king and he was your servant." Ten points.

Story 2
Sometime ago, Packrat chided me for using a most condescending tone on some service staff. He teasingly commented that I could adopt a rather high and mighty tone. Feeling like a brat, I tried to check myself to make sure the high and mighty tone didn't surface.

Today, I saw a pair of pants I liked.

Me: Do these pants come in different sizes?
Salesgirl: Yes.
Me: So, could I try on an M size please?
Salesgirl: No.
Me: Wah?
Salesgirl: No size.
Me: You said you had sizes.
Salesgirl: All S size.
Me: So when you said you had sizes, you meant you only had one size?
Salesgirl: We have sizes. All S size.

I thanked her, put the pants back on the rack and walked away without another word.

Moral of both stories. Sometimes, it's hard not to be condescending or snarky when faced with such smallness of brain.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:10

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas is all around

Tym borrowed Love Actually today and then texted me to say she now feels all happy and in the Christmas spirit. It's true. We decided about a week ago that it shall be a Christmas tradition, one that we will hopefully follow more faithfully than putting up decorations, that we shall watch the movie every year.

It's not a movie really about Christmas but then again, it's not really not about Christmas either. Ai yah, whatever it is, it's a great movie to watch during Christmas and feel warm and fuzzy even though everything isn't all that hunkie dorie at the end of it.

Anyway, that's how Tym managed to get into the spirit of the season.

Tonight, I've decided I should also indulge in a little Christmas cheer as well although my choice of movie is slightly more unorthodox than Tym's. Packrat let out such a great cackle in the video store when I picked up my choice of a "stay-at-home alone- chick flick" for tonight with a huge grin on my face (he's WOW-ing tonight, but I've decided, in the spirit of Christmas and since Wes is back, I won't kick up too much of a fuss).

Before I reveal the cackle worthy and in Tym's words "postmodern" choice, let me explain some things that might make my choice a little clearer.

  1. I grew up with two brothers, so whatever access to entertainment I had was through them. This was especially so since the LD (yes, LD!) player and by extension of that, all the LDs belonged to the oldest brother.
  2. I have to be in the mood for chick flicks and I really wasn't in the mood for In Her Shoes or whatever other chick flick Packrat picked out. Some more, I've had enough of whiny Cameron Diaz (I just saw The Holiday and I wanted to slap her).
  3. My favourite re-read again trashy books that I can read a million times are The Hunt for Red October and Executive Orders, both by Tom Clancy.
  4. I have a thing for aeroplanes movies (having grown up on all the Airport movies) and submarines (I don't know why and no one go Freudian on me here!
  5. I think Bruce Willis did great comedy (more last time than now. Moonlighting, The Last Boy Scout, all the Die Hard movies...)
So for all those reasons and some inexplicable ones, my choice for a Christmas-y movie tonight was Die Hard 2. It happens on Christmas eve, there are Christmas carols, it's funny, the good guys beat the bad guys and there's a happy ending.

What more could a girl ask for?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:33

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Picnic

Christmas shopping is too energy sapping. It's worse when it's raining because the walkways are crowded and people still smoke in the crowded wet walkways. Everyday this week has been a Christmas shopping day. We're almost done and I'm sick of town. So sick of it that I decided to brave Vivocity instead today and truth be told, it wasn't all that bad thanks to its cavernous nature. Even then, we were there for about 3 hours and I'm all shopped out for the day.

The highlight of this shopping week however, was going to Scotts Picnic for lunch. It's closing at the end of this year for good so we figured we should go say our farewells. Packrat and I don't generally crave anything from there since it serves the same type of food that most other food courts do. Its distinction is that it's the first shopping centre food court to have ever been open in Singapore 19 years ago.

Looking around it yesterday, I realised that the only stall I remember from its inception was the Beef noodles stall. It was a franchise (and I think franchises were not a big thing back then either) of the Odeon Beef noodles although truth be told, I'm not sure whether it's still Odeon beef noodles since that seems to have faded into oblivion and Hock Lam seems to be the Odeon of the 21st century.

I made the comment to Packrat that Picnic was no different from any other food court now so why were we honouring it in its last hours. His response was one word- Nostalgia. And that's true. We grew up in the time when it was a big deal to eat at Scotts. I specifically remember going there on dates! Of course, dates as a teenager then meant fast food or something equivalent to that and Picnic was the cool equivalent. And the Picnic then, was always crowded, probably where I honed my skill of stalking tables. It was also there, that I discovered Yami Yogurt and the hapless boyfriend of that time would traipse down to Scotts just to appease me with a take home tub of icy goodness- yes, the brattiness, princess-ness was a skill that I was already quite adept in using at that time. :) So many good memories... and oh, yet another one! Queuing up at a public phone there to ring home and tell my parents my O level results. Celebrating with friends had taken precedence over telling the parents so it was only at Scotts that I did that, together with a bunch of ACS, SJI, SCGS, RGS kids whose minds it also slipped.

Sadly, today, it looks less bright and much less crowded, good for a wary shopper like me but it looks its age and it looks a little run down, as if knowing that its time is nearly up. It's also probably not helped by the fact that many of the stores are already closed in preparation for the big shut down at the end of the year.

So, my end-of-year resolution is to go back to Picnic a few more times in the next 10 days and soak up all its nostalgic goodness and also to wonder if this generation of kiddies would have as many nostalgic places to reminisce over.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:11

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blistering Bali

We're back from Bali. Having learnt from our previous Bali adventure, we took the sun in moderation unlike our travel companions who indulged so much in the sun, their scalps were sunburnt.

Some things were similar to our last visit, some things were different.

Similarities.
1. It was blisteringly hot.
2. The sky was a shade a blue that made you smile just by looking at it.
3. There was much laying by the pool because there were just TOO many touts on the beach.
4. Our drivers shared the same name even though they looked remarkably different. It only made sense when the driver told us that their names told people the order in which they were born into a family and both this driver and the previous ones were the third born into the family.
5. The stores sold the exact same clothes, right down to the Fuck Terrorist T shirt we found and bought the last time round.

Differences.
1. We stayed at Nusa Dua this time, rather than Kuta. This meant we had prettier, private beaches and a luxurious resort.

2. The problem with having a luxurious resort and a private beach was that food was a problem. Resort food meant Singapore prices. Wanting to go out meant having to cab because walking was out of the question, especially in the heat. And the thing with Bali is that everyone is connected to everyone else, so when you ask for food recommendations, you don't get good food, you end up going to places that sell tourist food at tourist prices.

Our attempt to try to get non-resort food and non-resort prices resulted in a somewhat Groundhog Day adventure where we got lost in the somewhat "gated neighbourhood" of Nusa Dua and went round and round and not being able to find our way out and ending up where we started out. At that point, we were resigned to yet another night of resort food only to be thwarted there too when we finally settled on Japanese and the resort's generated failed and left us sitting stupidly on tatami mats in the dark.

That was when we accepted our fate and bade a hasty retreat to our rooms where we ordered room service and ate copious amounts of MSG laden cup noodles.

3. There was an entire eco system where we were. Ponds with fish that ate mosquito larvae attracted kingfishers and monitor lizards. We also saw some other bird that would hang around the stupid humans who fed the fish, thus egging them to come to the surface whereupon the bird would swoop in and have breakfast. Then, there were the ducks outside our balcony. Six of them, one of which was as stupid as stupid can be, oft bullied by the other ducks and spent the entire hot day running round the pond rather than heading in for a swim like the other 5. I also learnt that ducks don't eat lettuce. :)

So, we had animals rather than Hard Rocking heavy metal jammin' till late at night that we previously had.

All in, it was a good holiday. Our travel companions are extremely depressed to be back because it's all wet and rainy. I don't mind it so much but then again, that's probably due to the fact that I can laze in bed till 10 in the morning or sleep 14 hours at a stretch thus enjoying the rainy, stormy weather.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:07

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

(My) state to be disjoint and out of frame...

The biannual Mango sale is on.

And I am at home.

I think I am in disarray

Like in Denmark...



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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:59

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Found soup

Thanks to LMD, I found my chicken noodle soup at a local NTUC supermarket. We don't know why NTUC which is supposed to be more heartland stocks it and Cold Storage, the more atas*, upmarket one doesn't. But whatever it is, all is good in my world now with 2 tins of Chicken Noodle and 2 tins of Chicken Alphabet soup stocked up in my cupboard.

I look forward to the salty, artificial, chicken-ish taste. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow.

Joy. :)

*atas- nose up in the air, snooty (local Malay slang)
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Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:39

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

A huff and a puff

The weather's been quite nice lately. It's cool bordering on chilly and there really isn't much need for the airconditioning these days. Fan blades spin involuntarily and doors slam. Nice. Now, all that needs to happen to make it perfect would be if the temperature dropped just a little bit more to warrant some winter-ish clothes.

One morning however, amidst all the wind, I heard a loud crash and wondered what had happened. A peep out my window revealed this sight.

All fall down!

The amphitheatre used for all cultural events from Hari Raya to Deepavli to Hainanese Opera performances, so the chairs are necessary for the poor Member of Parliament that had the bad luck of being arrowed to grace the occasion. They don't take the chairs away. They just stack them up till it's needed for the next performance. I'm surprised residents haven't carted them off for their own personal use yet. Anyhow, stacking them and leaving them in the middle of the amphitheatre that is built in some sort of wind tunnel is just asking for them to be stacked and restacked again. Kinda like Jenga, just not so fun.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:52

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Fashion police

It's that time of year again, where the streets are filled with people and people like me get grumpy trying to get from one traffic light to another in the city. Of course, there are moments of brevity and it makes me thankful that I have a nifty camera phone that I can whip out and amuse myself with.

Singaporeans need to understand at some point that what they see in fashion magazines, Korean dramas and what not may not necessarily work here for 2 reasons. One, we are not a temperate country so generally knee high boots unless one is a hooker, is out of the question. And even then, hookers aim for the ability undress in record time so even for them, knee high boots may not be kosher. Reason number 2, unless one is 6 ft tall and has got proportions that fit on a fashion runway, one should refrain from copying fashion blindly.

This is what happens when people misguidedly think they really know how to dress and are dressed fashionably.

bad dress sense

And the scary thing is, someone once told me, no one leaves the house thinking they look like crap. So this girl, she really thinks that she looks good.

Why isn't there a real fashion police force out there?

Tis the season, seriously.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:42

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How NOT to be a parent, way #187

The scene.

Television is on. Old re-runs of Friends playing.

Credits by the Rembrandts are playing.

Phone rings. Same song plays.

Girl looks round confused, thought bubble forming : What the.... Oh... right, phone. Must. Change.Ring tone.

Girl stares at phone frowning at the "private number" display: Hello (cautiously)

Parent: HELLO??? IS that tuition teacher?

Girl walks into bath room because Friends is on too loud and she doesn't know where the remote is: Yes... (annoyed)... Hello Mrs xxx (resigned)

Parent: Tomorrow you coming tuition right?

Girl, wanting to bang head on wall already: Yes (warily)

Parent: Tomorrow, I want you to teach my daughter how to write.

Girl, asking herself why why why did she take up the assignment: Write? Erm, your daughter knows how to write.

Parent: Yah, yah, but her writing no good. You must change her writing style.

Girl, asking herself if all this is worth while: Change her writing style? Her writing style is fine. She needs to learn how to develop her ideas though.

Parent: REALLY? Her writing style no good lah. I read other people's writing, her writing no good. You must change her style. And teach her more big words.

Girl: (breathing deeply) Her writing style is clear. Her grammar is good, I wouldn't change her style.

Other side: But it's not complicated enough. I thought her writing must be more complicated.

Parent: Mrs xxx, we teach students how to write simply. If they write simply, they get their point across more clearly. Your daughter merely needs to learn how to write more analytically.

Parent: Yes, she writes too simple! Like small child. Change her style to write more complicated than more analytical.

Girl: Mrs xxx, writing analytically does not mean writing complicatedly. In fact, the more complicated and convoluted the writing is, the less the point gets acrss and the less the point gets across, the more she is going to be faulted and the fewer marks she is going to get. (gasps for breath).

Parent: Orh, like that ah. Then her vocab how like that? Always use simple words. Donno how to use big words. She, this girl, dowan to read, how to learn big words.

Girl, wishing she never took on this job and never picked up the phone: Sometimes, the use bombastic vocabulary causes immense discrepancies to occur during the adolescent's cognitive processes and bona fide piece of work. (Haha, gotcha!)

Parent: Har??... What?

Girl: Sometimes, using big words can cause your daughter to think one thing but actually write another thing.

Parent: Oh, is it? I thought big words very good. Like that, how to score ah? You got good essays, make my daughter memorise can?

Girl: I'll see what I can do and please don't worry, I know how to help your daughter. (read: butt out or I'm going to quit!)

Parent: Yah, yah, must pressure her more. She, this girl, can take pressure one. And you must pressure her to read.

Girl: Your daughter's trying to read Noam Chomsky. I think she's pressuring herself to read all by herself.

Parent: Noah who? No good lah. Make her read more...

Girl:(rolling eyeballs) I'll see what I can do. I'll bring in some Time magazines for her.

Parent: Ah! Yes, yes! Time magazines is good. Noah what thing, ah yah, waste time.

Girl: Right. Anyway, I'll see your daughter tomorrow.

Parent: Yes, yes, don't forget ah, must pressure her some more.

Girl, hangs up phone. Ensures phone is hung up, yells at husband: WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!

Girl storms out of the bathroom, turns mobile phone onto silent and rewinds entire episode, turning up the volume.

Stage dims.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:54

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Monday, December 04, 2006

The day of sleep

I must have broken some sort of record over the last 2 days with the amount of sleep I've had. I think it would actually be easier to count my waking hours but much less sensational. Let's see.

Saturday
Midnight- Bed.

Sunday
10am- Woke up feeling blah.
11am- Went back to bed.
12.30pm- Hauled self out of bed to take a shower.
2pm- Climbed back into bed.
4.30 pm- Opened one eye, realised it was 2 and a half hours later.
4.30-6.30 pm- Lazed around in bed.
7pm- Out for dinner.
9.30 pm- Back in bed.

Monday
9.30 am- Opened one eye, did sleepy math on how much I've slept in the last 36 hours.

Appalled.

Stayed up the whole day.

It's 7.12 pm now.


Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:20

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"