Some of you may have noticed that I’ve started to blog a little bit more. I’ve now added a photoblog.

Why? Facebook and Social Media is getting too cluttered, too messy. While I still see great value in it (hence the share of this post), it’s getting harder to find stuff I’ve posted. So for things I want to find later, thoughts I want to keep, I started to blog.

Same with photographs. Sure, I’ll still have my mobile uploads but for pictures I want to keep and find later, I’ll use Flickr. This new photoblog is something I wanted to do. Check it out. Why did I want to do this? This is why.

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Every victory must be celebrated – no matter how tiny it is.

I learned that from my interviews with the people who work at the St. Andrew’s Autism Centre. The guys who work there have a difficult job. Their work is largely uncelebrated. I was astounded when I learned what they do and the challenges they face.

I won’t go into details. It’s not relevant. Why? It’s not because what they do is unimportant. It may be counterintuitive but their challenges are not relevant because what they do is supremely important. But the people who work there do it for the passion to serve people with autism.  They do it because they are called to serve and love – not because they need to be celebrated. They celebrate each victory in their jobs because it is important to them.  Each incremental victory keeps them going.

When I reflected upon that, it was a “wow” moment for me. It struck me  that all of us should celebrate our victories no matter how small they are.

It was also at that moment I learned that people with autism are no different from me.

Oh yes, we are different. But no different in that I face challenges, sometimes bigger than the challenges they face. And when I have a small victory, I will celebrate. It will keep me going to finish well.

Watch this. It reminded me that the things we do may seemingly go unrecognised – not necessarily. So to the guys at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre – jia you!

So this is the story. UOB had a Bollywood themed staff dinner. I can imagine that would have been quite fun and colourful. However, some of them went further than dressing up in Indian togs – they painted their faces black.

After the party last Friday, they posted the picture above on Facebook. A hullabaloo was raised in the press and online for them being offensive. The bank had to apologize and counsel their staff that was involved in this face-painting exercise.

I’m like, what’s the big deal?

OK, it’s true. I have no idea what these guys are like. But my first reaction was that they were dressing to theme and went one step further by painting their face. I am Indian and we Indians are generally darker than the Chinese. It is what it is.

So, as one Indian Singaporean, if the act was done in the spirit of fun and without any malicious intent, I’m ok with that.

I don’t condone racism as an act of prejudice or discrimination but I wouldn’t want to evolve into a society that can’t have fun. In fact, by being overly cautious, we may actually breed factionalism instead of integration and harmony.

I have a bunch of great friends from different races and we are able to have fun because we don’t take ourselves seriously and we inherently trust the intentions of each member of the group. If we had to err on the side of caution, the relationship will become a little stilted and perhaps at the extreme, we will stick with members of our own races in case we inadvertently offend another.

I can see why this act could have caused offense so I don’t speak on behalf of all Indians. But I want to make it clear that as an individual Indian, I would not take offense if I was at the UOB dinner provided it was done in good fun without any malice.

Let’s celebrate our differences, have fun and not take everything so seriously.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Across cultures, one thing that unites is Love. So let’s celebrate the love and cast aside differences.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Don’t wear a black face 😉