Singapore


Pre Styling

 

During Styling

Post Styling

The Hair Stylist

In order to save time, I’ve been cutting my own hair. It works for a period but over time, it becomes a right mess as bad hair days turn to bad hair weeks and months.

I nipped out yesterday to get a haircut at my regular S$7 barbershop at Ayer Rajah but it was closed.

A few doors away, a hairdressing saloon was open. There were no customers in there and a stylist was available.

I decided to try her out.

I had SUCH a DELIGHTFUL hair cut (I should call it a hair styling now) bantering with the stylist. Lovely lady, a Malaysian Cantonese from KL, she’s been in Singapore for 20 years. She has one daughter studying Engineering at ITE.

After I paid her the S$10 for the haircut, she said “Thank you”, while shaking her head from side-to-side, Indian style. When I pointed that out to her in good nature, she burst out laughing! She realised she inadvertently did that because I am Indian.

We had a great laugh over that.

So lovely when a routine errand becomes a delightful experience.

Love it.

#mysingapore

Emphasis in bold, mine. Take particular attention of what he is saying.

 

LHL

 

“The shocking terrorist attacks in Brussels today remind us yet again of the serious and continuing threat of terrorism.

I have written to the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, to express our condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims, and to the Belgian people.

Minister K Shanmugam Sc had just spoken last week about tightening up counter-terrorism measures in Singapore. We face a severe threat in Southeast Asia. It is not a matter of if, but when, that an attack will take place here. Indeed, today’s attacks in Brussels happened even though the Belgians were on full alert.

I hear that recently on a double decker bus, the driver stopped the bus, pointed at a bag left near the entrance and asked whose it was. The tension was palpable as he went round the second deck to try to identify the owner (whom he found). He then explained that we have to be vigilant about bags lying around, because of possible terrorist attacks, and the passengers murmured their assent. So the message is getting through to Singaporeans.”

Lee Hsien Loong

‪#‎BRUBlasts‬

Diptych (noun) A painting, especially an altarpiece, on two hinged wooden panels which may be closed like a book.

Image Credit: Still from Himala (Miracle)

Ingenious. Curators, Philip Cheah and Teo Swee Leng, together with the Gallery’s lovely film programmer, Pauline Soh, have lifted film beyond film.

Let me explain.

The Gallery has a film series called Painting with Light: Southeast Asian Film Series.

Why do I say “beyond film” and called this post “Diptych of Film”?

“Painting with Light” is held over the first weekend of every month – Saturday and Sunday. Two films – diptych – paired very deliberately over the weekend. I guess much like how a gourmand pairs food, wine, table setting, etc. to enhance the entire dining experience.

Philip is obviously passionate about film – specifically Asian film. I admire a person with passion, focus and actually doing something. Read about him here.

The first two films were screened on 5th and 6th of March. I watched both of them.

Quick details on both (click the title for synopsis and details):

GURINDAM JIWA (SONNETS OF THE SOUL), 1965, 84 minutes

Director: M Amin

TEMPORARY VISA, 2016, 124 minutes

Director: Ghazi Alqudcy

Very cleverly paired.

One movie is from the past (Saturday), the other from the present (Sunday). Both films are from the same national cinema and explore the same subject matter, but at different periods and different settings. The first two were Singaporean directors, the next instalment, Filipino, followed by Vietnamese and then Burmese.

This is from the Gallery’s website:

The inaugural edition of Painting with Light pairs a classic and a contemporary film from a national cinema in Southeast Asia each month. An older classic that addresses an important issue of its time will be screened on the Saturday, followed by a more recent film with a contemporary view on the same subject on the Sunday.

The first two movies were about being displaced from home. But I saw another theme in both movies – the tension between morality and love. In both movies the main players had to make morally tough decisions balancing love and doing the right thing.

What I really liked about the first pair is that not only did I enjoy the movies individually but also as I watched the pair, it made me reflect on how love, duty, morality and societal pressures have changed.  In my worldview, morality and love should be absolute and unchanging. But that’s me. I tend to think about these things a lot.

I had the honour of meeting the curator too – a very unassuming  gentleman. But if the first pair is anything to go by, the rest of the programme should be brilliant.

Looking forward to the rest. Go. Tickets here.

 

John 8:6-7

They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Emphasis, mine.

Better to read the whole chapter in context.

Anyway, hence,  I remain silent. Deadly silent.

This gentleman is a cleaner at Pasir Panjang Food Centre. I live very nearby so I go there often and know most of the stall-owners and the cleaning staff.

I have a habit of greeting the cleaners and bringing my finished dishes to them instead of them having to come to me. So over time, I’ve developed a relationship with them.

This guy is really cool. He’s from Shandong, China. When I see him, I smile and say, “ni hao” (hello in Mandarin) and he in turn says “Hello Uncle” (yes, I’ve evolved into a heartland uncle). He speaks virtually no English. I speak virtually no Mandarin apart from “hello”, “have you eaten?”, “thank you” and “good bye.”

During our earlier interactions, he was quite shy but he’s now comfortable with me.

Today, I needed a kopi-o gau. So I went there for my caffeine fix. I took the book I’m reading with me.

As I sat down with my kopi-o gau, I saw this gentleman and said hi. As usual, he replied, “Hello Uncle.”

It wasn’t a busy period so he came by and sat opposite me.  Although, I had intended to read, since he sat down, I proceeded to make “conversation” with him.

After “It’s hot” (in English) and “nǐ chīfàn le ma?” (have you eaten?), the conversation predictably stalled.  He picked up the book I had put down on the table. The scene was so endearing. He looked like he was engrossed in the book and studying it deeply. Of course, he didn’t understand a word (it was not even a picture book). I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was holding it upside down.

As usual, I asked him if I could buy him a drink. He always says “no.” But this time, I asked the kopi uncle to bring him a liang teh on my account. He accepted gratefully but a little pai seh. I said it’s ok. We sat together for a while. He motioned to me if I’ve eaten. I said yes.

Soon, a family eating on a nearby table left. He smiled at me, said “xie, xie” (thank you) and went to do his job.

I sat alone reading and drinking my coffee. After I was done, I walked up to him (he was seated on another table with another colleague – a cleaning lady), thumped him in the shoulder and said bye. Both of them beamed in return. I felt great.

For all the ranting about foreigners who live here, there are many many more absolutely stellar individuals. It’s just that these usually don’t make it to social media.

I tell you what. This is Singapore. And I love it. #sg50

Update on 9 October 2015

I went back there again for a late lunch. It was about 3pm. That is about the time the cleaning staff get to eat their own meals as the lunch crowd has cleared and the evening rush has not yet begun. This gentleman was sitting on his own eating. I brought my plate of nasi padang and sat down with him.

This time, we made some “conversation.” I whipped out my OnePlus One and fired up Google translate. First thing I wanted to know was his name. So I “asked”.

In this manner, we were able to get to know each other a little bit – when he came to Singapore, where I was from, my profession, his family, etc.

He offered me a swig of water and I bought him and some of his colleagues a beverage from the drinks stall.
Then, he obliged to taking a picture with me.

Unlikely friendships. Gotta love Singapore.

Happy 50th Birthday Singapore!

I am a Singaporean born here in 1964.

Singapore is a rich place. No, I’m not talking about money. It is culturally diverse, interesting, vibrant, ever changing, steeped in tradition while always looking ahead.

We’re not just the little Red Dot. We’re like a rubber ball. We’ll keep bouncing, not matter what. We roll with the punches. We make things work.

A few years ago, I started documenting Singapore to capture its diversity – not just Marina Bay Sands, the skyline, the Merlion and such like – but the fullness of what we have. It’s an ongoing project on http://www.streetsingapore.com.

I’ve put a few of my pictures into a video with the classic “Home Truly” and this year’s SG50 song, “Our Singapore.”

I may or may not be here during SG100. If I’m not, raise a toast on my behalf.

I went to Bukit Merah View Food Centre for brunch this Saturday morning. I love heartland life. While Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay, etc. have more social airspace, the silent majority and real Singapore resides in the heartlands.

Beautiful incidences that don’t make it to social media play out in the heartlands on a daily basis. Well, unless I’m part of it.

Today, I was part of another one.

After brunch, as I headed home, I caught the eye of a gentleman.

I have a habit. Whenever I make eye contact with a person I will smile and/or say a greeting. This gentleman was sitting on a bench in a playground. I smiled and said, “Good morning!”

He was eating a fruit from a bag at his feet. He motioned to me. I approached him. He beamed a huge smile and offered me two fruits from his bag – passion fruit, he explained. Feeling pai seh, I declined. He insisted. Having little resolve,  I easily caved.

I was so touched that I asked if I could take a picture with him. He was lavishly thrilled and happily agreed.

After the picture, he offered me two more passion fruits. It was impossible to refuse this beaming gentleman.

I smiled at a stranger. In a flash, I left with four passion fruits.

Who says Singapore lacks passion?

All it takes is eye contact and a smile.

Think about it. That’s where passion always starts – with an eye contact and a smile.

I love Singapore.

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