Monthly Archives: May 2011

Week 20/11: Solo

” There is no magic like traveling alone, without friends or colleagues to condition one’s opinions. It is the very loneliness that makes travel worthwhile: to be in isolation with historical forces, with only landscapes and books as guides.”

[from: Robert Kaplan’s Eastward to Tartary]

Planning for my solo travels again, with adventure & common sense as my guide and a camera & guidebooks as my companions. It’s nice to be able to travel on my own sometimes. It frees me from the expectations of others.

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Week 19/11: Birds

I have an irrational fear (and dislike) of birds.

It’s most unfortunate then, that a family of pigeons have decided to make my air-con ledge their home.

It started with Mr. Cinical pointing out the 2 eggs on the ledge.

They hatched and out came 2 baby pigeons. They were the ugliest things I have ever seen, big beady eyes, rough skin pink with bits of black feathered fluff. They have not learned to fly, so they wandered around the ledge all day, stretching and flapping their wings. They chirped (rather loudly) for food in the morning and evening. Their parents (an all-black one and a green-necked/grey one) stand guard all afternoon on the ledge, occasionally flying off to forage for food.

The chicks used to be afraid of me, running to hide behind the air-conditioner whenever I go near. They have since grown braver and our relationship evolved into an uneasy tension. I’m afraid they will fly into the house (anyone seen/read Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds?) and they are afraid that I might throw a clothes peg at them.

I can’t wait for the chicks to grow up and fly away. I can’t stand the thought of my ledge being their permanent home. And horror, what if they think they are house-pets and they see me as a landing pad?

But as with all relationships, the uneasy tension has now become grudging acceptance. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, when there was thunder and lightning, I found myself wondering how those chicks will survive in a thunderstorm. I caught the adult pigeons cooing and pecking each other affectionately on Sunday afternoon and I smiled to myself.

It’s conflicting, I know. But I think I will miss them (just that little bit) when they finally leave.

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Week 18/11: Wilderness

82 seats contested, 82 winners, 82 losers.

It’s easy to be a winner. The path is clear. They engage your constituents. They conduct the meet-the-people’s session. They raise issues in parliament. All with the hope of securing another win in the next elections.

But what of the losers? It’s almost like being in political wilderness for the next long 5 years. What do they do in-between? Walk the ground, but with no expectations that the constituency may continue to be there 5 years down the road? So what motivates the losing candidates to try and try again to contest 5 years, 10 years later?

I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s a dash of idealism and passion somewhere in the mix.

At the very least, I shall make an effort to shake their hands, or buy a newsletter from them when they come around the hawker centres during meal times. Perhaps, the handshake or the small donation may just keep their flame burning a little brighter and sustain them until the next elections roll around.

And that’s the very least we can do as voters.

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Week 17/11: Roller Coaster

The SG elections had been an emotional roller-coaster – during the campaigning period, the voting day and the announcement of results. My brain is still fuzzy (from the lack of sleep) and my heart is both exhilarated that my country has turned a little more blue and disappointed at the injustice of the electoral system. But for better or worse, the die is cast, the choice is made. Now, the real work of nation building begins.

I’m happy that I did not remain a passive voter. I felt engaged, I felt like a full participant witnessing the process. So this is how democracy feels like and I like it.

I still have lots to say, but for now, I need to sleep. So that I can wake up and make sense of it.

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Week 16/11: Overheard @ Election Rallies

I was at the Worker’s Party Rally at Serangoon stadium (Aljunied GRC) on Friday night. The atmosphere was charged. It was electrifying. The cheers and shouts of approval came from people’s heart.

One tip I have picked up from attending rallies is that you’ll enjoy them better if you stand next to older uncles. Their comments are hilarious (and speak to most of us). Most of the comments they made in response to the candidates’ speech are in mandarin or in dialect. English translations my own.

  • On a candidate’s speech that was made in English.

“我不知道他在說什么。 我不喜欢。他沒有POWER”。(“I don’t understand english but I don’t like his speech. He has no POWER. Your speech must have POWER” 

Uncle subsequently gave his nod of approval to Pritam Singh who also spoke in English – “Oh this one got Power and he talked about football.”

  • On whether he believed in PAP’s policies.

“不相信,只有82人相信”。(“No! Only 82 people believe”)

  • Asked if his standard of living has improved.

“沒有。到退!” (“No. Regressed!”)

  • On the thunderous applause and cheers greeting the arrival of Low Thia Kiang (Leader of the Workers’ Party).

“好像歌神开演唱会 ”。(“Like a rock star at his concert.”)

  • Asked why he will not be voting for George Yeo (PAP’s incumbent)

“不是他不好,是要有竞争才有进步”。(“Not that he isn’t good, but improvement can only come about with competition.”)

  • Why doesn’t he attend a PAP rally?

“沒有空”。(“Not free.”)

  • On the constant redrawing of electoral boundaries.

“KELONG” (“UNFAIR”)

  • His message to George Yeo.

“回家炒果条”。(“Go home fried kway teow”)

Uncle is well-informed. George’s campaign message for Aljunied GRC is “Kway Teow Hot and Nice” which outlines the plans for the next 5 years for the constituency. 

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