Monday, 30 May 2016


Original title of post: The inevitable darkness
Why do I give 'mean' people a chance?
Because it is not easy. I cannot say this with any authority for I'm no mind reader but I know what's in my own head.
This is why I think people are foolish when they say they wished people, or themselves, were more like Andrei. I do not think these people understand the kind of unhappiness this entails. Andrei is unhappy because he can see his honest flaws and limitations after chasing lofty ideals for himself and sometimes others. And it takes simple courage and wisdom to accept the human condition per se. These are the people who know, who say its OK that you were mean or said something wrong. These are the people who laughs cynically at the people who believe themselves saints but also admire their optimism. These are the people who are frustrated when others judge others for not meeting expectations, who are constantly aware of their own inner darkness. But no, while this darkness sometimes leads to despair, it is also something human in that optimism, that starts with awareness.


It is walking into Allison
And being able to tune
In and out

Of the ambient noises

To hear yourself think
And think clearly

Smiling wistfully
In galling satisfaction

Then checking yourself
Remembering that you
Are like each
And everyone

Saturday, 21 May 2016


I was asked this by Derrick in the frat, jokingly of course. But I guess we all know jokes are meant just a little how we might instinctively feel, be it prejudiced or not.

Somethings come with age, but people deceive themselves into thinking that everybody follows their path in maturity, another loaded term. There are as many paths as there are many people. And while I won't call you childish, or immature for believing that there is such a thing as maturity or not, or that you should necessarily stop watching cartoons and playing video games past a certain age.

Ok that was way over dramatic, as he might rightly point out. It was just a jest after all...
I guess in your smugness you've failed to see I don't necessarily need to compare myself to everyone around me to 'see how I'm doing in the maturity scale'. You just do your own thing, and be at peace with yourself at last.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

You are unique, just like everyone else

A tribute/response to good writing.


We are all different in the same ways.

We rebelled against 'fashion', grungy teen and young adult culture borrowed entirely from the West, against pop music which all the radio stations played, against the cheesy Chinese and Korean dramas that people incessantly watched for the same plot. We romanticized the hidden gems, the culture hiding in plain sight; 50 years on, we're still looking for independence. So we looked for local. We looked for what was neither Chinese or American. But the truth is we detested any kind of subscription. We couldn't see why anybody couldn't see they were part of the masses. We neither liked the incumbent nor the opposition, we believed we understood why there was a conflict in the first place - because nobody can be certain of being totally correct. So we dressed to show we didn't care about dress. Shirts, shorts and slippers. A lot of black, a lot of free t-shirts. We prided ourselves at living frugally.

The down-to-earth, hawker centers of Singapore called to us, beckoning with great local food, and some feeling of 'genuine culture'.

We loved the idea of an indie band. We wanted to be special, to discover a new philosophy. The musicality of some bands lacked depth of talent, a fact we detested. The balance of tones and bass notes reeked, the electric guitar wasn't too bad. The instruments were usually top notch, and it was always the Singlish accent that caused discomfort. Were we uncomfortable because they sound bad, or because they all tried to sound as white, as western as possible to correct their local tone? Are they mainstream yet? We knew them first. You could've said they were a good band, but we bought their album from a live show that at first there were only 20 of us, and now it''s 300. We used to play them on our phones all the time, though it was replaced, in awkward disappointment, for better indie bands overseas.

We wanted people to hear what we're hearing but deep inside knew we feared losing being special, we hated ourselves a little for that pettiness. We dreamt of jamming out in our own bands, making our own designs; higher art would probably have been considered frivolous in our society, yet it was the most academically rigorous. We tasted the scam in overpriced bubble tea and coffee, we treasured the local haunts, the hidden gems of local cooks and their family recipes. We ranted at expensive food with small portions, most of them 'western'. As if that aglio olio was better quality than the minced meat flat noodles. We felt bitter, but we knew it sustained itself in some galling satisfaction that we were better because we were just different. We were trapped.

We felt like self-proclaimed vegans and vegetarians were fads, paying lip-service in their privilege affording expensive 'healthier' options. We didn't understand expensive haircuts, expensive branded clothes, all franchised, all from the latest fashion magazines. We didn't understand praying to our ancestors, to praying to little statues of smiling fat men nor wooden statues of emaciated thin men on crosses. We hated the rat-race, the education system that perpetuates it, while respecting our teachers for their underpaid sacrifice.

We hung out with cynicism, people like us, people who disliked the dystopia outside, and would much rather eat, sleep and play video games, fiercely defend our nerdy disposition. We found solace in each other knowing that we weren't the only ones not going to the club to waste money and listen to lousy music while bobbing up down with people pretending they know how to dance. We disliked people who complained about 'trivial' things like the weather, but we were complaining about those people all the same.

Our grandparents sent us money in red packets, telling us to be doctors, not to get a boy/girlfriend until we finished our studies. We believed our art and music weren't that great, so we never dreamed, and would never know if our parents would have shown us their expected grimace or smile with pride. We chided and mocked people who were following their passions. We were trapped.


I intentionally paraphrased, even copied parts entirely; not that it matters much, but narrative credit to Alex.


"You're fucking naive." But really who knows these things? I honestly have no response, and I obviously am not the best person I could be. Are you? Have you considered that I don't have the benefit of being brought up a liberal? I'm no genius either, and I don't remember everything I've read. If speaking my mind only elicits judgement, then am I to endure it for being who I am? Hedonism can seem faultless at times. But it's true, and I'm sorry if I don't know the world as well as you do.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Nikolai and Andrei

I included Nikolai (Andrei's dad) because I wanted to talk about mine, before it's a little too late.

So my dad's lung cancer has relapsed, and we're at the 'prolonging his life' stage. How do I feel about this? How am I expected to feel about this? The same thoughts always plague me when I contemplate impending death in the family. My parent's were never shy about it; c'est la vie, was their philosophy. I remember my dad joking during funeral rites even heheh...


"Obviously trying to entertain a guest with whom he now found nothing in common." Page 438 War and Peace. Sometimes too real Tolstoy. Too real bruh.


I intended to write about me identifying a lot with Andrei as a person, but I think I actually need to devote time to reading it now rather than blogging...


#82 My Dad
Is a simple man in the simplest sense.
Some might call him lazy, lacking will, maybe my mom would.
But I am the son of both my parents, and I understand him more than perhaps even my mom could.
Simple does not mean stupid. It means content, few wants perhaps.
It's somewhat hedonistic, yet isn't hubris-tic.
He works as a civil servant, a humble profession that he does with diligence (I think).
And he is someone who will surprise you with his intelligence because he does not seek to flaunt.
Humility tempers his measured words of deep thought and he has a treasure of experience one might not expect from a Singaporean-Chinese man born before independence. He is as much a man of his time as LKY is, the Singaporeans who punch above their weight.
The truth is, I have never probed his mind deep enough to know these things, but I feel it as a son does. I feel it when I ask him about Prince or Credence Clearwater Revival, and he can tell me all about his favourite songs and artists back in the day. I feel it when he matches me in chess and scrabble, at first always winning, and eventually always losing in tiredness and falling asleep after games. I feel it in his excitement over the great local cuisine at $4, and his annoyance at wearing expensive suits and attending black ties... I feel it. I love you dad. And I wish we had more time together.