Little stories that occupy my mind in the middle of the night #1

This late night storytelling is about an Indian man who I came across, but never had the chance to properly meet.

Seeing him made me so confused – why would someone, or anyone, walk around the carpark with a cloth at 11pm, and somehow looked like he wasn’t going to walk away? As this thought crossed my mind, my father greeted him with a smile and a wave from inside the car. So obviously I asked him if and how they knew each other, and my father replied, this guy washes cars for people for $30/month! When I heard $30, my brain took a double take and I just had to ask, $30/month only? What does he survive on? My father instantly replied, this is his side job, he has a day job and he washes cars for people in this carpark on weekday nights.My heart stopped beating for a second.

All I could think of was how tired he has to be, and how straining his financial situation must be, for him to be washing cars and selling his body to this manual labour that most people would gladly pay to escape from. Yet, he smiles brightly with warmth at every customer as he recognises the cars that are driven into the carpark every single weekday night.

I wanted to probe more to see if my father has any more answers to the many unanswered questions in my head, but I was starting to choke up from thinking about this man’s plight. Pity is a strong word to use, but I guess I would say I sympathise with him, not in a “he’s poor so I sympathise him” way, but rather in a “I wish I could be as strong as him” way.

Typing this made me emotional, only because I realised for a fact that I am not treasuring what I have. Everyone focuses on the things they wish to have, but forgets to be appreciative of the things that they already have. In order to smile so warmly at every single customer, you must be truly contented with what you have. Here’s to this Indian man who knocked some sense into me – thank you for teaching me so much; even though I have never spoken to you, you are a true inspiration and I hope you will strive on and achieve whatever you want!

Once Upon A Wish

Written in December 2016

Dear self,

I wish you knew how important it is to just be yourself and not be so bothered about what others think of you.

I wish you’d listen to yourself more as you give others advice.

I wish you’d become a better person you’d always hoped to be, but never tried hard enough to be.

I wish you knew that there are people out there who cares about you so you’d stop keeping everything to yourself because I know you’re suffocating.

I wish your laughter is 100% genuine, because I know you still fake laughters to please people around you.

I wish the world was a kinder place to you but since we know that would never happen, I wish you’d be kinder to yourself.

I wish you knew how to self-love.

I wish you’re more aware of the things around you because hatred comes so easily.

I wish… you’d be less self-conscious.

XOXO

#traveloguesg: Syonan Gallery

Last Monday, I took two hours out of the first day of my long-awaited summer break for a solo trip to this intriguing place, the Syonan Gallery. A little background on this place: it used to be known as Old Ford Factory before it underwent renovation and became the Former Ford Factory that we know now. It is the place that Sir Percival surrendered to the Japanese Army General, Yamashita, unconditionally on 15 February 1942 during World War II (WWII).

These two hours were very well spent. Even though I had wanted to go for the tour at 3pm, I figured that I would not hear and see as much of the oral recounts as well as exhibitions if I participated in the tour so… the choice was clear 🙂

As I toured this extremely quiet place, I felt the slight atmosphere changes as the gallery transits from one stage of the war to another. Here are only some of my thoughts as I wandered from exhibition to exhibition.

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This haunting past that Singapore has cannot feel more distant to me, a mere millennial who did not go through the pains and sufferings of my ancestors. Detachment, that’s the word. It feels so unreal that this war ever happened because I will probably never experience any of this.

When I was in Secondary School, my Social Studies teacher posed a question to the class, something about how we felt about a (at that time) recent terrorist attack that occured overseas. She listed a couple of adjectives such as afraid, worried, detached etc and asked everyone to raise their hands as she read out the adjective that we are feeling. When it came to the word detached, I was the only one in class who raised my hand, and many people looked at me with surprise. I suppose it was because they find it difficult to believe that someone would feel detachment over fear regarding terrorism, but I had an explanation. It was not because I was not scared, I do dread the possibility that terrorism will arrive in Singapore, and I wish that it would never arrive in Singapore. However, given that something like this happened miles away, I can only feel pity and detachment, not the intense fear that everyone else seemed to be feeling.

I presume this is the reason that all these information seem to fascinate me, because the artifacts that are placed in front of my eyes are real and concrete.

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This was the exact room and table that Sir Percival and Army General Yamashita had their negotiations regarding the surrender, and below, shows the transcript of the surrender process.

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Once we were under the control of the Japanese, we were renamed Syonan-to, which translates to Light of the South.

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As I go on to read about what happened during the war, what agonised me the most was the fact that the prisoners-of-war (POWs) are treated so much less than a human. The torture that was inflicted on them was unspeakable of, yet there were oral recounts by the courageous people who managed to survive and tell their story. I listened to a couple of them, and one of which said that he underwent water torture, which was the process where the Japanese kempeitais would insert a water pipe into the POW’s mouth, and turn on the water. The POW will be forced to swallow the water until his stomach bloats to a sizeable extent. Then, the kempei would step on their bloated stomachs such that the water will be forced our of their mouths, noses and even ears. It was horrifying to hear, which resulted in my inability to listen to the rest of the oral recounts, as I could not bear to hear any more.

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The Japanese, in order to resolve overcrowding issues, decided to build primitive farming villages for some Singaporeans. Besides escaping from the kempei’s wrath, these Singaporeans also felt rather lucky and happy that they were able to make a small livelihood.

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News of the surrender spread like wildfire as the atomic bombs hit Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Above, would be a quote from a Singaporean regarding what he had heard about the surrender, and below would be the Japanese news articles announcing the surrender.

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After WWII, many Japanese were captured and put on trial for war crime.

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This gallery posed a gentle reminder to me that people such as Elizabeth Choy, Lim Bo Seng and other unsung Singaporean heroes who eventually died during this devastating war, did not sacrifice so much to be known as heroes today. They wanted to do the right thing and fight for their country’s honour and for that, I was moved despite the detachment I feel. It is so remarkably noble of them!

Singapore has come such a long way to restore and build upon the peace that our ancestors so painfully worked for us to savour. To appreciate it and at least have some knowledge is definitely the least I can do 🙂 It was an enlightening solo trip, and I would definitely do it again (but maybe not so soon) because I missed the chance to tour their little garden, and also did not listen to all of the oral recounts. There is truly so much to be learnt about the history of Singapore, which makes me so glad I took the time to revisit the things I’ve learnt in Social Studies back in Secondary School, and to relive the moments I’ve read about in books when I was in Primary School.

Being an Ambivert

I don’t know how many people can relate to this – being an ambivert. For people who are reading this and wondering which spectrum of extrovert or introvert this term belongs to, it actually refers to being a mixture, or a balance of both.

First of all, being an ambivert means you are so awkward when it comes to meeting new people. Take for example, a social event, maybe a party. You are never sure if you are able to successfully strike up a conversation with someone you think you would genuinely like to know. Wait, you can’t even muster up the courage to approach them in the first place. You can’t even imagine what to say if you were to initiate anything. So you wait until someone, hopefully a mutual friend,  introduces you to this person. At this point, you feel lucky and happy to know this mutual friend just because that he/she introduced you to the person you wanted to know.

Then, the awkwardness begins. However, you are not a stranger to small talk at all! You engage in a conversation to know more about this person because well, that is what you had wanted to do in the first place. You are careful about revealing too much, you do want that person to keep on talking, and you are cautious about the things you say but at the same time, you want to blurt out so many things.

Consequently, the both of you start to become closer and closer, gradually but surely. Regardless of gender, you feel thankful to have met him/her at the party because it was the event that brought you together. Despite this appreciation, you are somehow still unable to open your heart up to that person fully, no matter how much he/she divulges. It is a headache, to constantly contemplate whether or not to say something that matters to yourself but more than that, you may be worried that this friend might judge, or lower their opinions of you.

Ego-involvement. That is it, no matter what you do, you are somehow unable to let go of this sense of pride in you.

Do you see? If this is relatable to you in some sense, you do have traits of an ambivert, which I believe most people are. There are some people, howbeit, who balance this ambiverted sense of self better than others.

My inspiration to write about this stems from my inner emotions and thoughts that I don’t usually confide in people. I don’t know if I’m going to regret posting this, but it is something that I thought was interesting enough to share.

Being an ambivert has probably made you realize that this world is made up of really nice people. Simultaneously, it is made up of really nasty people as well. Enclosing yourself in your own comfort zone may not be as bad as people think, neither is being alone. Being adventurous though, is something that you know you want, from the bottom of your heart. People nowadays are all for living in the now and #YOLO, right?

Periodically, you crave attention. You want someone to notice you for something that you are doing. Other times, all you want to do is go home and wrap yourself under the blanket and stop interacting with the world.

You are easily influenced by your peers, just as you are easily influenced by that soft but assertive voice in your head. Sometimes, there is no in-between. At times, you cannot spell out your decisions because you don’t know what your heart desires, even if it is a simple conclusion. To put it simply, you know what you want, but you just cannot put your mind to it and tell yourself that is the best decision you can make. You’re neither decisive nor indecisive, something along these lines.

Somehow, everything to you is a passing phase. Oh, I liked flat water bottles at one point because they seemed practical, now I like big and round ones because they are even more practical. Oh, I liked haversacks at one point because it is convenient, now I like tote bags because they are even more convenient. Oh, I liked pens with covers at one point because they looked classy, now I like retractable pens because they look even classier. It is because of this that you cannot decide what to buy for yourself, knowing that you’ll get tired of it. Even this thought makes you exhausted after awhile.

You never know how to describe yourself when the occasion calls for it. For instance, when someone asks you to list something interesting about yourself, you would think all the way back to kindergarten and eventually, manage to find something to say that may not even impress people who were listening. It’s pretty tragic.

Nevertheless, you are beyond grateful that you are an ambivert because you can empathise with both introverts and extroverts. In spite all that was said, the perks of being an ambivert are truly remarkable, to say the least 🙂

Maybe this is just me. 

I’m all for people following their dreams

Casually meandering into the boutique on my own for the first time, I stood briefly at the entrance with both arms stiff by my side and took in with my eyes all the colors on garments that seemed to reflect every ray of light shone on them. The stale odor of the new clothes filled my nose as the rhythm of the electronic dance music played in the store prompted me to nod my head along with it. I then walked in and proceeded to touch any clothing that caught my attention. Soft, smooth, thin, thick, warm, lightweight… they all felt so voguish.

Should I pick that soft sweatshirt, or this pretty suede skirt? Should I purchase that twenty-dollar vest, or that everyday dress? How do I decide what to choose? I craved to feel the best version of myself in whatever I wore, but at the same time, I wanted things that did not fit into that category. Living in a first world country where comfort has never been an issue got me to question my lifestyle. Had I been living, or just surviving based on societal standards? There are so many things that I want, and I intend to turn the wants into plans.

I plan to feel more than the six types of innate emotions that everyone else in the world experiences. I plan to feel genuine, raw emotions while doing something that I am truly passionate about. I plan to feel the soft wind brush against my skin and the itch for adventure tickle my heart. I plan to experience more than what I have imagined from books since a tender age. I plan to be the person that I aspire to be as I pursue things and subjects that I have always been sincerely intrigued by.

To 2016

I had begun to write a gratitude post for the people I am truly thankful for in the year 2016 like I did in 2014, but realised that it meant including lots of patronising and superficial content, so I decided that instead of just posting photographs and writing paragraphs of words that I don’t think will really sink into people’s minds, I will show my gratitude by appreciating and treasuring them more in my heart. Below are just some lessons that I have learnt throughout the 12 long months in 2016.

Things I’ve learnt in 2016 (so far) was written in June. Many of those things still hold true and are dear to me even though they are unexplained. I wrote the 10 things I have realised because I was extremely upset at a conflict that was supposedly over, but came back to haunt me. To be honest, I don’t think I have these 10 lessons drilled in my head yet despite the use of the word learnt. As mentioned above, these are the 10 things I have realised – a tad bit late, but better late than never, right? – as I was trying to sort my thoughts.

“I want so much to be strong.”

“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.”

2016 had been such a painful year for me. I crashed emotionally harder than I ever did, and I was not the person I envisioned myself to be. It would be absurd and unrealistic to believe that I can become that person in just 12 months, but one can try. Baby steps, right?

Emotions are humanistic. They are natural but may not be wanted, yet they exist anyway. In order to be strong it does not mean that one has to be void of emotions, it just means that he would have to be in control of them and use them appropriately. Point #2 to remember.

Nobody else can look down on me except myself. At the same time, I don’t want to be one of those people who “peaks in high school”.

This was something said in several movies and books, and it’s something that is unerasable from my mind. High school for me was three years ago but since then, it was like I never found my calling. I am still stuck in this circle of “I don’t know what I want”. One fact that I have grasped is that most things never stick – acquaintances, friends, closer friends etc. I was not expecting to be in contact with everyone I knew, but popularity never lasts. I just wish I knew that when I was 14 years old. So here is another thing to add to my resolutions: do everything as if there will never be a second chance. That’s how I would know if I am truly passionate about something, or anything at all.

Cheers to a new year ahead of me, as I turn 20. May the obstacles I face be just a phase in my life, and may they always make me stronger than before. 2016, thank you for this hell of a ride, but I quite glad to be saying this personal goodbye to you. Let’s hope 2017 will be better than just average 🙂

 

Malaysia 2016

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Malaysia is still a really foreign country to me despite the number of times I’ve crossed the checkpoint to enter their land. My family & I are kinda sick of the places we visit ever so often, so let’s hope that we would not have to visit anytime soon and if there is a next time, I would like to be the one to drive my parents into this place filled with wonders that we don’t see in a bustling city like ours.

Here’s the link to a vlog I created after this trip!

Faith in humanity restored

There are many instances when I would go “aww…” when I see a touching video on Twitter or Facebook of someone helping another out in this world we know that is filled with cruelty and not so much kindness. Whether it is a small act of kindness, a huge one that gains so much publicity it calls for a controversy, or even an anonymous act of goodwill, they all bring me to the verge of tears. Yes, I’m a total sucker for touching little things.

Today at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I had a real life encounter of a kind act. Albeit small, it was something that warmed my heart instantly.

It started drizzling when we were descending the stairs and by the time we reached the bottom, it was already kinda pouring. So we had to seek shelter in the small little space they had in front of the 272-steps staircase.

The woman in beige white, rushed up the stairs with an umbrella on the last flight despite not having the best mobility, and helped the Indian lady down the last two flights of stairs. It may not seem like much because there were so many flights of stairs above where she did not offer her help, but the rain only got really heavy during the last 3 flights, which slowed down the lady’s speed in descending the stairs and explains the kind act.

It was so rewarding to see such an act of kindness because we were all stuck in the shelter under the heavy and unforgiving rain. Under those circumstances, anyone with an umbrella would have offered to help, including myself, but it was a coincidence that we were all just stuck in the rain with no umbrella or whatsoever equipment that we could use to shelter the lady from the rain.

Not to toot my own horn, but my father helped a Caucasian lady with her child down the stairs as well as the rain began to get heavier. The lady was thankful along with the small boy, and it really made my day a whole lot better. I wanted to much to help because I saw them first, but the boy is about 3-4 years old and I wasn’t sure if I could shoulder his weight AND descend the rather steep steps on the staircase.

This marks the end of this wonderful story that heightened my faith in humanity. It was beautiful and I wanted to document it so I would never forget to be kind ✨

NTS; 2017

This generation, or rather, the generation below yours, is truly the strawberry generation. They are less hardworking and less willing to find answers because they feel that they are entitled to the knowledge.

Someone told me this and it was just kinda embedded in my mind. Rephrased, but it carries the same meaning. Rather than just lazing back and waiting for an answer to be delivered, we should be working towards getting them. Our generation is so used to getting everything on a platter that most of the time, we just take it for granted. Yes, we have access to clean water and a roof over our heads, we have education that is compulsory and live in a country that is peaceful and harmonious. But I think it is exactly these privileges that made us who we are. Selfish, entitled brats.

C’mon now, I’m not saying we cry like brats just because we don’t get what we want. We, however, pause at crossroads and decide that if it gets too tough, we can always U-turn or just stay where we are, contented. But one can’t be happy forever. That was not how people above our generations lived. They worked, and when they got happy and satisfied, they work even harder because they know a brighter future awaits ahead of them. It is of a different era now, but I think this spirit can still be carried on instead of letting it die in the older generations.


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I saw this beautiful blog post about wants. Instead of saying “I want to”, I got to start saying “I plan to.” Turn wants into plans so that they become actual goals instead of mere empty words. It is a fact that I haven’t began to plan yet, but this will be my top resolution for next year. Speaking of 2017, it’s actually arriving in about half a month. How insane is that??

In less than half a month, a new year will arrive and everyone will be crafting their new resolutions for the year. But how many people actually stick through it for the entire year? Most people give up at the end of January, even on simple resolutions such as eating less junk food.

In less than half a month, high school students will be heading to school again and wishing that they graduate from the hell hole soon enough. Little do they know, the outside world is more vicious than they ever imagined, and college is only going to get tougher.

In less than half a month, I would be on my way to say hi to a month of winter break from school. There will be many important decisions to make, and most of it are to be made alone, but I will get through it for sure.

In less than half a month, my brother would be enlisting in the army and I would only get to see him for two days a week. Less, if he decides to go out with his friends on weekends as well. I’m definitely going to miss him.. Don’t know how I’ll deal with it yet but I’ll see as the date draws near.

These are just several changes that I will be experiencing in the coming month. I will never be ready but it will come anyway. To be honest, when people say change is the only constant I keep thinking about what changes I’ve been through. I’ve tried to view it from another perspective and realised that when people say change is the only constant, they mean time too. Time is constantly changing, and we take that for granted because it’s right beneath our noses. We can’t see it, touch it, nor feel it. But time changes. That is so important because now I know that and I need to do something about it.

So here is a note to self: planning is essential but spontaneity isn’t all that bad either. Stop getting caught up in situations and realising that leaving might be the solution, because it’s not. Determination is 🙂

University journey #2

For the longest time ever during the nine months break that I had from school, I had imagined university starting. At the time, it felt like school would be this wonderful beginning for me because I would finally have something to do other than driving and work. Now that school has started, I realise that it is more tiring than I thought it would be. I am still doing fine, but my schedule this semester is rather packed. I have to wake up at 6.30am from Monday to Thursday. I get to sleep in only on Fridays & Sundays because of my afternoon class and my only day of “relaxation” respectively.

As of now I’m still working part-time at the same F&B place. I spend the whole of my Saturday working, and Sunday studying, which is not equivalent to “relaxation”, let me tell you. I wouldn’t say I got lucky with my timetable, but I’m not complaining because I know for a fact that I chose this. Assignments, projects and exams piling up certainly means not much time for a break but I read blog posts and decided that it has been way too long since I last wrote, so here I am.

For the first three weekends of October, I participated in different ultimate frisbee competitions and had an absolute blast even though I was so tired from having to work on weekdays and juggling school work with sleep and trainings along with the competition on weekends, for which I had to wake up very early. I would say it was all worth it though! Below will be photos from these different events because frisbee photos are always the nicest… right? 🙂 I love it when they are on my feed. Green grass, mud and/or jerseys make me very very happy!!

First weekend – Savage Seven (NTU) @ NTU:
This team came about because Gerald wanted to play in this competition with his NDU friends but had no female players so they asked around and tada, here we are!!




Second weekend – Grab Huck Score 2016 (SMU) @ West Coast Park:
AJwolves!! Played our hearts out even though we haven’t trained together for more than a month. Will always always miss you guys because AJ (and y’all) is where my passion for ulti originated 🙂


Aiyo I know I got no butt but don’t be mean and judge okay? 🙂
 
Third weekend @ SUNIG B (NTU) @ NTU:
This is self-explanatory…. right? But I can’t believe we did it. A medal after all those weeks of training and guidance from Ben and all the seniors. It was so so intimidating, but the results were so satisfying!!
 



Although I’m not sure if I will ever be able to juggle anything like that again, I know I will ultimately tell myself that it’s going to be worth it, and then sign up anyway. So thankful for the pals I’ve known through ulti and I really really hope everyone I know in ulti are here to stay, whether you’re a coach that I truly respect, seniors that I look up to, or friends that I’ll always love/miss messing around with.

For people who are looking forward to university starting, you should expect VERY busy schedules and because everything is own-time-own-target, you would require an insane amount of self-discipline, which I am still trying to cultivate. Things will definitely be worse if you stay in halls (aka dormitories), so have some mental preparation! As much as I am enjoying and relishing my time in university, it really is just superficial. Here’s to more things to update on in the future – or you can always find (not so fun) updates about my life on my Instagram.