Modern life?

I am on the way to office.

A boy skips zig zag on the pavement. He turns and grins at his father as they walk to school. I smile and remind myself about the fundamental cheeriness of children and how there is so much to learn from it. 

Phil Collins’ Another Day In Paradise comes on in my Daily Mix playlist. I almost skip the song but don’t. It plays while I read Facebook posts about the citizenship issue in India. There is bigotry and xenophobia and long-festering communal agendas, and emotional posts about the idea of India and Hitler and patriotism and cobras and the British. Greta Thunbgerg is Time person of the year, and there are probably more cynical voices about it than number of copies the magazine prints.

The cliched song, the familiar emotional rants, the consistent patriotic sadness. The cheer I just told myself to learn from has faded away, and its only been a matter of minutes.

Its one of those days I want to write all day, but I will now open my email and another Power point deck, and all will be same and well again.



I see what has happened. I mention it. I push it away. I watch a TV show I can't even remember. Oh yes, The Newsroom. I mention it. Maybe only in my head but not aloud. I sleep.
I wake. I see it. I push it away. I leave for work and see it again and look for sombre or angsty or mellow music, and play it. I write something else, smile at something else. I feel the discomfort within but again, I push it away. I combine anti social with unquiet, and plough through the day. I move on and think and do and say and be. I get done. I am available again. I let myself check and read and click and know and feel. I tear up and shake my head and feel hopeless. I look ahead but not my ahead, someone else's. My future makes a fleeting teasing appearance and I, again, push it away.  


Speak, write.

Here i am, everything
rushing by around me and yet
All is still, I look quietly.
Where does the night go,
how does the light know
when I have come in, hidden behind
crouched and moved and hushed, till I find
Eyes that cannot see me
eyes that somehow know me
Is it my heart or is that how
it was from the start
Is it how it shall be and it is meant to be
Yet right now only how I wish it to be?
Clasping and reaching and clawing
These are meaningless actions that mean more than most others
But do I know what they imply
or am I just waiting to try
To understand, to connect, to find
that yes, it started in my mind
But on it will go, and on it will flow
Till it rises and swells and till I will know-
This is what it is, and all that was before
and pre-packaged inserts in my life
will not mean much because here it is
Fresh and beautiful and exciting
and unknown and unknowable and frightening
But it is mine it and I belong to it
I am together more than even I know it
With me and her and us and everything else-
-and nothing else at all.



I look at things, see them clearly. I process them, enjoy them, file them away. Or so I think. Because when I look back at this time, details often blur. 

What's the date? When did we talk about that? When did he cry that way? What's the plan? Did I make that call, send that email, pay that bill yet? Did he poop last night, or was it the morning? Or the night before?

It all seems very mundane, and it's all very lovely. 


Clocking out.

I have been leaving office on time or early every day. It's justified, I want to, and well, I just have.

Today, it's past 8 and I'm not home yet. Just knowing it is making me crabby. But I should start learning how to deal with it. 

Soon, I'll be away for longer. 

How does it feel???

Has it sunk in?

You know your life will never be the same again, right?
What is fatherhood like?
How does it feel? 
Are you getting any sleep?

Except for the last one, I don't really know how to respond to these things people say. Sure, it's sunk in. Am also sure it going to sink in more every week or month or event. Yes I do and no I don't think about it. Wow, no idea. It feels great. It feels quiet. It feels smiley. Of course I'm not. Isn't sleep deprivation first in the list? Wait, is there a list? 

I'm happy. Tired. Unable to begin to understand how tired the maternal scientist might be. And everything thing shifts to soft focus. 

I need meetings over drinks or coffee, or more blog posts, or long emails to tell you more. 


New things.

Strange things happen now. 

I walked behind a little girl in the station. She would have been six, maybe seven. Bag on the back, phone in hand, steady and purposeful walk. And I thought, will K be walking like this soon- alone, assured still small but older? 
A little later I passed a cafe. I saw a young boy, a young man of maybe 16. He spoke animatedly and laughed with his friends. And in my mind I fleetingly thought of K being older, mature, independent. 

Both times, I felt a pang- a barely-describable mix of excitement, confusion and melancholy. 

Sep 19

It's coming to four weeks since I became a father. Since I had a son. Since I felt deeply, calmly happy. 

I'm still waiting to gush forth on this blog. 


A Nameless Friend

We noticed you. And were peeved. Day after day, in the same spot, in the same way, with the same companions- none. Weeks passed and we began to rationalise- maybe you were not left there out of indifference, but from some unavoidable need we could not fathom. We stopped and said hello anyway.

It has been two years, and many hellos since. Through the bars of the gate, we see your eyes. Not hollow as your age and prone position might suggest; mildly curious, sometimes we detect a sliver of...amusement? Maybe even bewilderment, at the strange couple who say hello and ba-bye to you from outside your walls. Bewildered, but accepting- their greetings, if nothing, don’t hurt.

You feel the heat, and pant. Sleep a lot- sometimes, it seems, with one eye half open. You stare, almost unblinkingly. Sometime you hold your neck up so straight and proud, that despite the lack of animation and despite you lying down, we believe we can glimpse more statuesque days. Yes, with little movement we still think you handsome and proud.

Sometimes, though not often, you bark. It always makes us smile, because it is a sign of life, of awareness. Sometimes we have fancied the bark to be a “‘Hello!”. Then one day you are standing, and then you come up to the gate and bark, again and again. Bark, doubtless, at the two strangers who stop by so often. You look us in the eye, with no malice- just a solid, regular (dare I say happy?) bark, and that is more than good enough for us. We looked then in your eyes as you did in ours. There was little understanding, but somehow enough for this barred greeting.

Sometimes, we don’t see you for a day, or three. Before we can acknowledge what we must consider, you reappear. Rain kept you in, perhaps, or maybe you lounged in the front garden instead, which we can’t see.  

You seemed animated for a time. Once, I saw you play with a ball. My heart gladdened unexpectedly and wholesomely. Another time, you rose from your prone pose and trotted to the gate as I appeared. I probably smiled all the way to work those days, at your animation and (perceived) recognition. Recognition that is, at best, based on appearance and smell and shouted Good Mornings. We don’t know your name, because we never understand your helper. Taashin? Tayshun? Dayshin? Dashing? We can’t tell, and none seem appropriate.

Today, after not seeing you for days, and not talking about it much (for that would ask more of us), I pass by again. You are not there, the porch is still empty. But then I spy your helper, she is drying clothes. I say hello, and take a step toward the gate.

“Hello”, she says, “he no more already.”

I strip my headphones off, not sure if I have heard right. But of course, I have. I ask for her to repeat, but I know it already. It was old age, and I knew it would come, though I never acknowledged it even to myself. She says you were so handsome. I meekly agree. I ask your name again, and again fail to understand it. I nod, unsure, then step away with a platitude (as much to myself as to her). The tears come before I have fully turned away.

I miss your other stranger, whose greetings were often the more cheery. I would have liked for us to find out together. I make a call but I can’t say anything for a few moments. Then I do. It seems a bit hollow. I turn and walk to my bus stop, trying to form your image clearly in my mind. The music plays. I wait to write.

Hello once more, and goodbye one last time. 


The Known Unknown

The rain comes
Approaching in a roar 
I can't see it, can't touch it
Nor smell or feel it
I can't know how it will be
To get drenched in it
Yet I know it pours
And I am gladder for it. 



We take our body for granted. I have been horizontal for more than 24 hours, unable to get up. The simple act of getting off the bed and standing seemed so distant and difficult and painful. It was scary and unnerving and agonizing and very sobering. One of the times I tried to stand up the pain was so intense I passed out and fell one the bed and woke in her arms 15-20 seconds later. 

I finally was able to get up 20 minutes ago. It still hurts but I have walked and gone to the loo and stood a minute in the balcony looking out. Now I'm sitting in front of that greatest of babysitters, the TV. But before I surfed I wanted to put this down. I will be in bed again soon because I must, 
but I will be less pessimistic. 


Sweet basil

So I killed the basil plant. I dragged my Internet feet on checking how to take care of it and let it die.
That's just useless of me.


Regret Of Creativity

So here is another piece that resonates, prods, churns, even inspires.
We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity.
Though I suppose you inspiration is only really such if actually moves you to do rather than only to want to do. Of course, I am not suggesting that one's own laze or inertia reflects badly on the source of inspiration. That reflection, of course, is all one's own to deal with.

It is called, after a quote from one Charles Bukowski, "Find what you love and let it kill you."


A May Day

I took a few photos around Singapore today. Part of a personal project I am doing (if it is for someone but they don't know it yet and it is not for work, it's a 'personal' project, yes?).

The weather is kind to me. I pass by Revenue House and recall coming here many years ago to pay my tax because I had left it to the last day. Gillstead Road, then Moulmein Rise. Construction and construction workers. Litter in the grass on the pavement. I refer to my list and check the map on the old, old phone and buy water and stride. It can almost be a trip I am on. Kinokuniya by MRT, and I am already weary of trying to take interesting photos of bland, generic signage. I like clicking signs and boards and writing, but this is not of that kind. I do what I can.

I sit at a bust stop waiting for one bus, then decide to take another from another stop. It is warm but bearable. And every now and then there is aircon- a bus, a mall, a shop. I walked on Tiong Bahru Road, up Kim Pong Road to Yong Saik street. I must take what light I get, and click. A bald ang moh man sitting outside Forty Hands shakes his head disapprovingly as he sees me take a photo of the place.  No, I am not interested in photographing you, I say to him in my head. He turns away. I go in. I have decided to treat myself to lunch there but I seem to have forgotten that it is expensive. Maybe the brunches hide the cost, for they are 'nice' brunches, nice outings. It is too late, and I even order coffee. In Forty Hands, you must order coffee. Preferably with an extra shot. I take photos as I have my coffee and then my sandwich. It has been better. It feels like a pit stop, this lunch. I see that they have opened another coffee place, called the Kiasu Espresso. I like the name, but why would they not call the branch Forty Hands as well?

Chay Yan Street and Guan Chuan Street, for more bland photos, though I get a couple of moderately interesting off-project shots. A chalk on blackboard sign like an easel lies on the corner of a corridor, it says 'nana & bird' with an arrow pointing left. It seems to point to nothing. I don't know what it means, and I don't find out. Typical. Another arty shopfront about books. An simple old-style restaurant, with old style locals sitting around, talking, eating, having teh and beer and not bothering about this man clicking a photo. I do not know what Hua Bee restaurant serves, but I am sure I can't eat it.

There's another walk. Then two trains get me to household chores very quickly. I amble through the supermarket, as I often do. I buy a basil plant after years of threatening to. I know I will be told it is entirely my responsibility to take care of it. I hope I will, because I love basil.
I shall check the great internets on how to maintain a small basil plant.   


Wailing memories

Getting flashes of being in overnight trains as a kid. Not being able to sleep at night, listening to sounds & watching the shadows. Babies crying. Sticky berths. Rumbling. Clattering. Babies crying. Tossing. Turning. Wishing I had. Alight to read under.



I think the blackberry is quite the symbol of disrespect. Of course, all mobile phones ride on owner behaviour to be symbols of present day discourtesy, but at work nothing surpasses RIM's only worthwhile product. And mostly because it gives people the misguided impression that they have the right to not respect your time, as the device in their hand always heralds incredible importance.




I was quite alright a while ago. Now I have that feeling in the chest when it seems like a long violent scream is stuck inside.

Oh well.



I am free.

I don't feel the need to break rules. I don't have the urge to break shackles. I have no shackles. No oppressive society. No overbearing parent. No strangling debt. There is no cause I am fighting for. There are no rights I have to demand. I am educated and independent and loved. I do not need to grovel for opportunity or plead for a chance or pray for a meal.

I don't have to rebel, revolt or retaliate. I am not a zealot, nor a revolutionary.
I just am.

Is this freedom?


"You want to always be somewhere where your individuality (selfishness?) absolves you of a larger responsibility"




"Don't stand on sentimentality", he said.
"Don't make it out to be more than it is. Sure, it has been 4 years now, more or less. Sure, you have come to be identified with it by many (for good or bad), others have not known you differently. It has fuelled debate and love, amusement, dislike, sighs and squeals and shakes of the head. But why be sentimental about it?"

He sighed. The silent one looked on.

"Yes, it will spark reactions of all kinds even in departing. People might see you in a new light. Or not care at all. Departures are always bittersweet, separation is never easy, more so when wilful. It is, at the best of times, tinged with emotion or sentiment or-"
"Oops", he paused.
"Sentimentality", the silent one completed the thought.

He seemed at a loss for words for a moment. Then, with an air of finality, he just shouted, "CUT!"

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