Sunday, 27 February 2011

ELTON JOHN: "Healing Hands"

We felt invincible in those days, with a naivety that was more persistent than weed in a neglected garden. Age is forgiving, and luckily there are helpful hands for all of us. They reach out to ours, to overcome our shame, guilt, regret, and resent that have been dripping like stalactites in the caves of our past. They are the hands of lovers; the fingers of a parent who’s more like a friend than a biological ancestor; the grip of a new friend, who shatters your old beliefs with the knock of one odd sentence. Hands heal, words steal. They wake us up from the daze that the past wraps around us like fresh linen on a canopy bed. Sad memories tempt us to forego the possibility of novelty. We embed ourselves in laziness and inertia, and refuse to step out while the morning sun knocks unhearably on the blinds. It’s a long day before the night falls.

BEACH HOUSE: "Walk In The Park"

Southern Ridges (Singapore)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

WOLFMOTHER: "Joker And The Thief"

"The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief,
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief."

(Shakespeare, "Othello", Act 1-Scene 3)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

SNOOP DOGG: "Serial Killa"

I put the corn flakes in a bowl, pour some milk, take a spoon and start nibbling. The breakfast routine of a cereal killer...

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Friday, 4 February 2011

JAY SEAN: "One Minute"

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour.
Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."

(Albert Einstein)

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Happy Chinese New Year!

年年有 (nián nián yǒu yú)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

R.E.M. : “Orange Crush”

Before I first came to Singapore, it was nothing more than a 90 seconds item in the TV news, yearly repeated with the imprecise regularity of the monsoon season. I’d frown my eye brows again, without giving it more thought than just realising that in other parts of the world, people would have their second new year’s party of the year. At least, the Chinese New Year was a cheerful flake of news in the daily avalanche of dark gloomy messages, albeit pressed like a cheap gossip magazine between two heavy book holders, swept away by the devastating passage of a North American hurricane in the news item before, and immediately convicted to oblivion by the more shocking news of yet another tax increase in my own country after. They would typically broadcast a predictable video clip that contained the stereotype images of fireworks lighting some random Asian skyline, a colourful dragon head and moving legs, and some street shots of pedestrians crossing the road in a sub-urban Chinatown, not even bothering to dig their archives in a quest to find images of a true Asian city. It was an all too easy bet: the last shot would unavoidably be one of a bunch of animals, cosily cuddling and flocking together, and – oh what a coincidence – they happened to be the live version of the zodiac sign of the new lunar year, filmed a few hours earlier at a nearby Belgian farm or zoo. You can imagine the challenge for the TV station in the years of the dragon; the news item then simply became 15 seconds shorter even.

No wonder that the real Chinese New Year experience turned out to be totally different than my own pre-conceived expectations; looking at a person’s silhouette always reveals so much more than watching his shadow Once more the TV news had proven to be merely a black-and-white comic book that shamelessly summarizes a more colourful novel.

By now, I have smelled the sweat of the young lion dancers performing a few metres away from me. I have heard the ruffling of their drums, their chitchatting as they climb into the pickup truck that will bring them to yet another place. I have learnt about fire crackers and what they mean apart from the mere noise they produce. I got skilful at tossing food at round tables. I have pushed my trolley in the supermarket, while hearing long forgotten Chinese tunes that are beautiful in their ugliness; and I know that unlike any other week, the usual Chinese cashier won’t be smiling from behind the counter on Chinese New Year’s day. I filled red packets, but only after asking around, in all discretion, which colour of Singapore dollar notes you are supposed to put in. And I found out about so much more, learning that you can’t make someone else’s traditions your own, but they can make them yours. You should not adopt them, but adapt to them.

Our conversations had been limited to wordless greetings and smiles when we saw each other in the street, until my neighbour rung the doorbell. She stood in the gate opening with a broad smile and gave me a box of oranges. I couldn’t come up with anything more creative to murmur but a simple “thank you” when she wished me “Gong Xi Fa Cai”. She disappeared, just as unnoticeably and mysteriously as she had shown up, only to re-appear again the following year for our annual one-minute date. Gong Xi Fa Cai… I didn’t even know what it meant, back then. But I read those same words on a lonely signboard that hung over the deserted expressway the morning after the reunion dinners. Only because those dinners are so incredibly sumptuous, abundant and take days to digest, can it be reasonably explained that even food courts in food-loving Singapore are equally empty on those days...