There’s a section in our porch that isn’t covered by a roof. It’s just a small section, but since it’s the area where we feed Snowy, it’s inconvenient to feed her when it rains. This being a tropical region, it rains often and it rains hard. So whenever it rains, we have to move her to another area in the porch to feed her.
Now, this isn’t that much of an inconvenience. So we didn’t really try to resolve the issue.
Recently though, a family moved in right next door – the house next door had been empty as far back as we could remember so this was a surprise for us all; especially the dogs.
Anyway, the first thing our new neighbours did was renovate their place. In the process of renovation, they removed the zinc partition between our back porch walls and replaced it with a brick wall.
My SO saw the discarded zinc plates and had an idea – why not use it to cover the exposed roof of our front porch?
So that’s what he did.
We carried the zinc plates upstairs to our bedroom – the porch roof extends from our bedroom balcony – and used some silicone glue to attach the zinc plates to our roof.
And it worked! Like a charm.
Now we don’t have to move Snowy to another area in the porch to feed her during a thunderstorm.
And bonus – the sound of the rain hitting the zinc roof!
Now I know what some of you may be thinking – rain on a zinc roof would raise a ruckus. How is that a good thing?
Well, it’s a good thing when it brings back memories of a childhood in a house with a zinc roof.
I have so many happy memories staying in that home with my grandparents in Joo Chiat Place! And hearing the sounds of the raindrops on the zinc roof brings back a flood of those wonderful memories 🙂
In fact, as I am sitting here typing my blog post, it’s raining outside…. and I can hear the sounds of my childhood again.
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeits
of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters
the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains
on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced
obedience of planetary influence; and all that we
are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable
evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star!
A couple on months back I’d written about the exhibitions at the Asian Civilisations Museum (incidentally, my favourite museum in Singapore). I’ve seen their permanent collection on display a few times since I ALWAYS make it a point to visit the museum every year (sort of like an annual pilgrimage). More recently though, I went there with the express purpose of viewing the current exhibitions, namely Devotion & Desire: Cross-Cultural Art in Asia and “A Way of Life” Photographs from the Leica Collection. Being a history affectionado as well as a photography enthusiast I was practically salivating at the thought of viewing the works on display.
First up, here’s a look at the Asian Civilisations Museum facade with a bit of history on the museum itself-
The Asian Civilisations Museum is located at the newly restored Empress Place Building situated along the Singapore River just opposite the banks from the Fullerton. For much of its history, the building functioned as a government office – functioning as the Immigration Department and Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in its time. It was re-named the Empress Place Building at the beginning of the 20th century, in honor of Queen Victoria while we were still under colonial rule.
It is a really beautiful example of neo-Palladian architectural style on the outside, and on the inside houses over 1,300 artefacts from civilisations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia from the Museum’s permanent collection in its 11 galleries since it was renovated and opened to public in 2003. From time to time, the museum also features temporary or special exhibits in its temporary galleries. I for one have been in love with this museum since I first recall stepping into its gorgeous lobby, and have stayed in love ever since.
When I visited the museum on a Saturday afternoon (waaay back in December), I the first thing I noticed was the lack of visitors there. It was a Saturday afternoon and apart from myself and two other visitors, the lobby was empty (save for the museum receptionists of course!). It was a marked contrast to the almost suffocating crowd at the Art Science Museum I’d visited back in October. So basically, I had the run of the museum with no queue and no jostling to see the exhibits. Which was fine with me (but just a tad disappointing in the lack of interest in this wonderful museum, but I digress). Since the Leica Collection exhibit was on the ground floor, I visited the gallery first.
The exhibition itself was small and the photographs showcased in a modest space. This gave the viewer (myself) the experience of being in an intimate, almost personal gallery with an unimpeded view of the stunning original prints by actual photography legends. The icing on the cake (for me especially) were the 10 Henri-Cartier Bresson original prints that he’d given to Leica Camera, two of which are among my favourite images of his works. As I had the whole room to myself the entire time, I blissfully lost track of the time I spent in that modest room, immersed completely in the works displayed before me. Of course I eventually emerged from my reverie as I still had more to see elsewhere!
So I made my way upstairs to the Permanent Galleries (3rd floor) and made my way to the main exhibition by wandering through the Lacquer Across Asia exhibition first.
I’ve been a fan of lacquer works since I first came across Vietnamese lacquer paintings a few years earlier. So this exhibition was particularly delightful for me as I got the chance to see truly beautiful works from all over Southeast Asia and China. As objects of wealth and prestige, lacquer works have been prized across Asia for centuries.
Though the use of lacquer has been documented in China for a few thousand years, the works in this exhibition span from the 15th century onwards, where their use spread across Southeast Asia. In Southeast Asia, most prized lacquer works were also donated as offerings to the Buddhist temples in this region. Other works would also feature themes from the Ramayana and Jataka tales which had entered into the Southeast Asian collective consciousness by this time.
I wound my way around the exhibition, which in turn led me to the main exhibition Devotion and Desire: Cross-Cultural Art in Asia – featuring the new acquisitions of ACM.
Clearly, the folks over at the Asian Civilisations Museum had quite the shopping spree. The exhibition was packed with artifacts from all over Asia, and there were so many of them that I think the curators just gave up trying to have a coherent curatorial approach and so decided on broad themes instead. The overarching curatorial concept was on the subject of trade in terms of religion, ideas and traditions and the artistic results of that. Here’s some of the highlights from each theme –
Here we see artifacts from the ancient kingdom of Gandhara – present-day northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. The unique location of this ancient kingdom meant that it was right at the crossroads between the East and West. The artifacts all show a beautiful blending of Buddhism ( the religion of the East) with realistically sculptured artforms such as those in Greece and Rome (the aesthetics of the West).
Cabinet of Wonders
When merchants and other travelers from Europe returned from the exotic East, they brought home objects unique to the regions they visited – to be displayed and admired by those not fortunate enough to have gone on these journeys of course!
The love for all things from the exotic Orient and mystical South Asia by Renaissance Europe meant that trading of objects from these destinations was a highly profitable enterprise.
It is a well-known fact that royal patronage has encouraged many a fine art form. Artists produced their very finest work for the rulers of the realm, who in turn sponsored their creative visions. Some of the exceptional works of art even made their way across land and sea to foreign lands as gifts or tribute – and these fine creations were admired and at times even imitated by the artists in the foreign lands who were inspired by their beauty and skill. Thus we have cultural syncretism of the best kind.
My journey through the museum ended with Beginning of the Becoming: Batak Sculpture From Northern Sumatra. Viewing the works here brought back nostalgia for my childhood. I’d visited Lake Toba way back… hmm… let me think…almost.. two decades ago! Wow! Ok. That was definitely awhile back. I still remember the trip quite vividly, since that was the first time I had sole possession of the family camera. Well.. for a couple of days at least; until my parents realized to their horror that I was taking ‘artistic’ shots of the Batak cemetery and multiple shots of the Batak sculptures. It was a film camera you see, and they felt I was wasting film (and their hard-earned money) on my so-called artistic shots instead of taking photographs of the family with the beautiful scenery. But that really was the moment I actually caught the photography ‘bug’ and it never left me. I wonder what my life would have been like if I’d decided to pursue a career in photography from that point. I’m hoping it’s not too late to begin my photography career now. Ah well… decisions, decisions.
So anyway, back to the exhibition. The Batak people are from the region around Lake Toba, an immense volcanic lake (It is the largest lake in Indonesia and the largest volcanic lake in the world) that formed in the volcanic crater after a massive supervolcanic eruption (yes, there is such a thing as a supervolcanic eruption. I know, it’s so cool right?!) tens of thousands of years ago. This eruption was so massive that it had a worldwide impact, changing the global climate and affecting the human population. The flora and fauna in this area is practically endemic and the Batak people are unique in their traditions. Their beliefs are largely influenced by the various Tamil, Arab and Javanese traders as well as the Christian missionaries who settled there – so it’s a whole religious mish-mesh going on in this region, which produces delightful religious sculpture and art such as those exhibited in this gallery.
It was really quite uncanny the sheer volume of memories it dredged up in me when I saw the sculptures – and the precise details I recalled. I’m glad that this was the last gallery I saw before leaving the museum as it left me with a feeling of nostalgia and reflection.
How to get there:
Nearest MRT station – Raffles Place
Exit at Battery Road and walk across the Cavenagh Bridge to the opposite side of the Singapore River.
Daily: 10am – 7pm
Fridays: 10am – 9pm*
Free for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (you’ll have to produce your identity card at the reception counter to enjoy this privilege)
Regular ticket prices are $8 for adults and $4 for students.* On Fridays, tickets are half-price after 7pm
There are also joint tickets for the ACM and the Peranakan Museum which you can enquire about at the reception counter.
A visit to the permanent galleries are a must. Seriously guys, the museum has an AMAZING collection of artifacts from across Asia
There are currently 2 special exhibitions that I’d highly recommend
The ACM is a family-friendly museum, so go ahead and bring your kids. They do offer a number of educational guides and activities to keep the little ones interested. There are also special museum activities during museum open-house days that fall during the public holidays – you get free entries + fun activities which is great!
With the topic of Utopia/Dystopia, the Singapore Writers Festival was (almost) 2 weeks of awesomeness with wonderful panel discussions by writers from all sorts of genres and an amazing Fringe events lineup on fairytales, plus workshops and author events, book launches etc etc. Unfortunately, due to my laziness and the sheer number of events lined-up, I only managed to go to a mere fraction of the sessions.
I didn’t exactly have any goal in mind, except to basically ‘go to as many varied sessions as is humanly possible and try to take notes wherever possible’. As such, I’m having a hard time to try and summarize all the events, so I’ve decided to instead list down the things I learnt about writing from the authors. Some of the tips are about travel writing and some are about food blogging; others are on critical thinking and writing fiction, but they all have one thing in common – they are all insights gleaned by the talented and generous writers who imparted their hard-earned knowledge about the art of writing well; freely to all of us present at the festival. I’ve just compiled some of them here as tips/reminders to myself for my blogging.
On travel –
Travel can be any new experience.You don’t need to leave your country to experience travel
When you’re stuck in defining your travel experience, try taking classes or workshops that can help to define/enhance it.Madeleine Lee, a Singaporean poet recalled how the vivid colours of the landscape she experienced in Tanzania were so unlike any she’d ever seen that she took classes in oil painting to figure out how to describe those colours effectively in her poems.
When writing/blogging, bring your own perspective into the prose. Readers want YOUR unique insight, not what’s general knowledge. As a Chinese Buddhist living in the USA, Wena Poon brings her cultural perspective to the articles she writes on her travels. It is a unique perspective that only she can give and gives her stories that extra depth.
Be selective about what you choose to write about based on all those copious notes you take during your trip. At best only about 10-20% of your entire experience can be effectively written down and shared, so share the best.
Readers’ experiences vary. Do not expect the same reaction from every reader.
Examine our world, our culture and our interaction with the outside world.
On critical thinking, and intellectual writing –
You are the product of your society. Coming from a society that breeds uniformity, try to expand your horizons by being varied in your reading and other experiences to improve your critical thinking.Mah Jian is a Chinese writer in exile living in London. His view of Singapore is that of a hospital – where everything is sterile, and we are like ‘patients’ too ill to care about much (referring to our political/social apathy), though he thinks our nation is less sterile now than it was 4 years ago when he first came here.
To contribute to intellectual thinking/writing you need to take a step back from your emotions; be detached – do not rant in your writings. Words of wisdom from Dina Zaman, who also stresses the importance of social responsibility, especially to the sources you use when you write your story. She is a columnist for The Malaysian Insider and reflected on the huge responsibility she feels to protect her sources and the integrity of the story.
Think about what drives you to write.
On blogging and reviews –
Always think of your readers. They are the priority, not the hotels/tourist spots/restaurants you are reviewing.
Use all your senses in your reviews; not just sight and taste. Ms Tam Chiak, the food blogger stressed the importance of all senses in the culinary experience.
Sincerity and honesty needs to come through in your reviews.ToSingapore food critic Wong Ah Yoke, it would be an insult to his audience if his voice, his opinion is not laid out truthfully. At the risk of incurring the restaurant owner’s wrath, his first priority is still to his readers.
When being critical, be constructive. Do not criticise for the sake of criticism. Explain your reasons for disliking something.
In general –
The story must be readable. Invite your reader into your world; to view things from your perspective.
Brutal editing is required to make the story good. Don’t be too in love with your writing and blind to the mistakes you make.
There is a writer’s integrity/ethics. You write as you see/feel. You write the truth as you see it.
Meeting new people allows us to experience alternate lives; embrace that.As a writer of speculative fiction, Dean Francis Alfar sees every interaction as a potential story in the making. ‘What is it like out there?’ and ‘What if?’ are questions he never stops asking.
Criticisms on your writing from others is not a bad thing. Use them to improve your skills. It’s how you become a better writer.
Think about who you want to write to; who is your audience.
That’s all I have. Hopefully, you may find these points useful for your writing as well 🙂
Any number of travel blogs that mention Singapore seem to refer mainly to our cleanliness, variety of delicious food and staggering shopping opportunities. But Singapore is not just about food, shopping and obeying the rules. There’s so much more to this city, if only one tried just a little harder to look beyond the surface. So for those of you planning to visit our Lion City in the next couple of months, I’ve done a short list of 10 delightful activities you can do right here.
Music & Dance
The da:ns festival is an annual festival that celebrates the beauty of dance in its many forms. And every year, there is a delightful and exciting lineup of the worlds’ best at the Esplanade. This year, the festival runs from 11 – 20 October.
Sundown Festival 2013 , the largest Asian music and cultural festival in Singapore will take place at the Marina Promenade on the 16 November. You get to see and experience the music of 10 established and up and coming artistes from all over Asia – China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/Korea/Indonesia/Japan/Philippines/Thailand
The exhibition on National Geographic 50 Greatest Photographs at the Art Science Museum is a MUST SEE for everyone. Come see some of the greatest and most memorable photographs ever featured in the magazine’s 125-year history. Open until 27 October only.
‘Not Quite the Moulin Rouge’, a musical by the Bellepoque and presented at The Alliance Francaise from 17 – 20 October “promises to be a thoroughly entertaining and intriguing evening”. Tickets are on sale at all SISTIC outlets and online.
The Singapore Biennale 2013 is the much anticipated art event of the year. Organised by the Singapore Art Museum, the theme for this Biennale is “If The World Changed”. With a team of co-curators, made up of 27 art professionals with distinct knowledge of Southeast Asian art practices and showcasing the artwork of over 80 international artists (over 90% of whom are Southeast Asian), the exhibition will be featured in various venues around the island from 26 October.
Singapore Writers Festival 2013 will feature a smorgasbord of events from lectures to writing workshops; from meet-the-author sessions to fringe festivals and folktales – all from 1 – 10 November
For all you fashionistas and aspiring designers out there, FashionWeek 2013 will be in the Marina Bay Sands from 9 – 19 October 2013.
Konichiwa! Asia’s first dedicated Japanese F&B showcase – Oishii Japan – will be held at Suntec Singapore from 17 – 19 October. Itadakimasu 🙂
Run For Hope is a yearly run in Singapore to raise much-needed awareness and support for cancer research. This year marks its 21st anniversary on 17 November. Come register online and do your bit for charity 🙂
Join me next month for another list for December 2013.
I love dogs too. And pretty much every other animal out there.
But this post is about cats; so we’ll stick with them.
So…..cats. Yea. I love them. But I do know that there are people who… don’t.
Shocking. Right? I mean, you’d think with all the cat-worship going on in the internet that the felines are pretty much universally loved.
Well, you’d be WRONG.
There are a number of people whom I know personally who don’t like cats. Some don’t mind them, as long as they stay away from them; and others who just don’t see the appeal. At all.
Some of my housemates fall into the latter category. By their own admission, the guy prefers dogs and the girl prefers insects. Yes, INSECTS. She prefers those creepy-crawlies to furry little kittens.
Well, to each his or her own I guess.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I got home one night after my usual walk and found my cousin in possession of a mewling kitten that was rescued by that very couple!
The dog-lover and insect-lover couple had come across a wet, bedraggled kitten abandoned callously by someone at the banks of the reservoir near our home. And they decided to bring her back so that she could be taken care of.
We knew she was abandoned because they found her huddled and shivering uncontrollably in a pit near the grass next to a cardboard box that was thoroughly soaked from the rain. The box contained a single shallow dish with soured milk. So she’s been there for at least a few days already. We also found out later after she’d been brought to the vet that she was barely 3-4 weeks old.
So, someone had removed a newborn kitten from her mother and just chucked her in the park with little or no thought to her well-being and our housemates just happened to miraculously spot her. And being the wonderfully decent human beings they are, they brought her home to warmth and safety.
And cuddles. Lots of cuddles.
People do the strangest things huh?
They’d just rescued her from an almost certain death by either drowning, exposure to the elements or starvation. And they don’t even like cats.
I guess at the end of the day, you can be a dog-lover, a cat-lover or even an insect-lover and it really doesn’t matter at all. What matters is whether you are the person who abandons a living, breathing being that is dependent on you for survival, or the person who picks it up and brings it home.
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” ~ Charles Darwin
Let me start off by making a statement that anyone who’s ever moved homes before is obviously aware of – it is a freaking huge PAIN! You have to pack every damn thing you own, (while discarding the numerous USELESS THINGS you’ve accumulated for God knows what reasons.. I mean did I really need that weird thingamabob or whatchamacallit?! NO I DON”T! What is it? Dunno. What does it do? Beats me. Why did I buy it? For God’s sake don’t ask me! Just TRASH IT!!) I think sometimes I get temporarily insane, and just impulse-buy objects based on their cuteness and/or perceived usefulness. And then I chuck them in a corner where they gather dust, and I conveniently forget they ever existed. Until this moment, when I have to pack my stuff. And then the head-scratching and exasperated conversations with myself begin, concluding with me dumping the whole lot while wondering if I may have made a mistake in throwing the thingamabob ‘coz you know, it might have been something I’ll absolutely be in need of down the road.. sometime.. later? I don’t know, don’t ask me! Ok, starting to panic now… need to look at something to relax. Stat!
So.. anyway.. where was I again? Oh yeah, moving house.
Why did we have to move again? Long story short, the HDB rules (Housing Development Board) had become stricter, and so our landlord being only a PR (Permanent Resident) was no longer eligible to rent out the whole flat. So either one of us had to move out, or all of us needed to find a new flat to rent together. Since we all couldn’t bear the thought of separating, we decided to hunt for another flat to move into. (I adore my flatmates. Couldn’t ask for a better lot to share a flat with 🙂 ) And we had to do so within 3 months! (Landlord was informed of this new regulation in February this year, which meant that we had to move out by May) After some intensive house-hunting, we finally found the perfect place with just 4 weeks to spare. We just couldn’t believe our luck, after cutting it so close! Phew!
Now that the new lease was signed and stamp duty fee paid for, we needed to work out the logistics of the actual move.
Packing your stuff, discarding unwanted clutter is exhausting enough. But the truly annoying matters are the other stuff you have to take care of simultaneously. And since I absolutely ADORE lists, I’m going to list down the tasks we had to tackle for a smooth transition when moving from one flat to the next, within a couple of days
Now.. where was I? Oh yes. List.
Do a walk-through of the new apartment, with a digital camera to record any concern’s you have. VERY IMPORTANT to have photo-documentation BEFORE you move in. Otherwise, the landlord may claim that those damages occured after you moved in and insist on using your deposit to do the repairs. We tested every electrical socket and light switch to be certain they all worked fine.
Make sure you and flatmates sit down and work out the details of costs involved, and how you’re going to share the financial burden.
We moved into an unfurnished flat. So we had to add the cost of purchasing new furniture to our budget as well. Of course we had to buy individual items, but there were some items we decided we’d be better off sharing the costs for, ie a bookshelf and kitchen cabinet. It’s important to work these things out before moving, so that you can budget your finances accordingly. Otherwise, you may just get the shock of your life when you finally work out how much you need to fork out this month alone.
Work out transfer of utilities bill from landlord to us. (This is VERY important to do BEFORE the actual move. You need electricity and water and it’s more practical to do it as a transfer at least one day before your move so that you’re not left fumbling in the dark when you stay over that first night. )
Arrange for transfer of internet access from old flat to new on moving day.
Call the movers and arrange for them to send boxes over at least a week in advance. (Otherwise how are you gonna pack your stuff, I wonder) Some companies will not charge for the boxes, while others will request a deposit. As long as you return the boxes to them after the move, they’ll hand over the deposit to you. Our movers required a deposit, but did not give us a time limit to return the boxes. So we can unpack at our leisure and collect the deposit even a month later.
Discard clutter. Send recyclables for recycling instead of just dumping them away. Be green 🙂
Pack everything but the food first. It’s important to leave the packing of food items to the last. You don’t want to pack them in a box, only to lose sight of them after the move. Also, pack the dry food separately from the food that needs to be refrigerated. It’s best if the refrigerator is the LAST thing you clear out before your move.
When packing, label all boxes clearly. Since there are several of us living together, we labeled the boxes according to the person they belonged to, and the rooms they needed to get to. ie, bedroom, kitchen, living room etc. Also, number the boxes so you’ll know how many you have in total.
Make sure you set aside the items you’ll need for the first couple of days (at least) after the move and pack them separately in a luggage or backpack instead of the box. This way, you know exactly where to locate the stuff you need immediately. Otherwise you’re going to be rummaging around dozens of boxes for your underwear and toiletries and other essential items, increasing your stress levels exponentially.
Call the gas guy to install the gas. (This is only applicable for those older flats which don’t have the gas pipe, like our current flat)
On moving day itself, we were frantically packing the last of our belongings into the boxes, and deciding who was going to remain behind to begin the cleanup of our current residence it was only proper to hand over the flat to our landlord in good condition; that and we wanted our full deposit back :p) and who was to meet the movers at the new residence to supervise the delivery.
The movers were late so we just lazed around, waiting for them to arrive.
When the movers did arrive though, they hauled off our boxes and furniture so damn fast, it was all gone in mere minutes!
It was an utterly exhausting day, but we were all relieved it was finally over and safely and smoothly relocated in our new home. Well, most of us were relieved. Our cats weren’t. In fact, they were distinctly and vociferously against the entire thing. They still are actually.
It’s been a week now since we’ve moved into our new digs and our cats have only just warmed up to the place. Their incessant meowing had been keeping myself and my cousin awake every night. Let me repeat that – Loud, continuous meowing. EVERY. BLOODY. NIGHT. For 5 nights. It took all my effort to barely stay awake this past week, and they’ve only just begun to reduce the meowing. Hopefully, I’ll finally have a full night’s sleep tonight.