Thursday, August 23, 2007


an exercise calculated to bring one on a trip down the memory lane: on a piece of blank paper, write down what memories of college life you have, that you cherish.

i was saddened to see that some (only a few) students seem to think that they have nothing to pen down. how could it be? 2 years spent, during which, nothing worth remembering happens? meanwhile, others happily scribbled down their thoughts, and decorated the piece of paper fondly with coloured pens and drawings. suddenly, the paper looks profoundly symbolic of the experiences of these students. some hand in brightly decorated work, some, a perfunctory few lines in drab ink. in the same place, why do people have such diverse experiences?

it is the season to choose colleges and universities again. as usual, there is a mad rush for open house days, reading all the prospectuses available, seeking divine guidance and even drawing lots! but i think that most of the time, the place isn't the main factor in determining the quality of the experience. after all, in every environment, there are people who enjoy themselves, and there are those who wish that they were somewhere else. i really don't think that it means that some are luckier than others. what matters more is, what everyone choose to make of his/her own experience. the fact is, YOU make the difference between being happy and being sad.

then i got rather nostalgic and inspired, so i shall also write down some of the memories i have of my own college:

being one of the airy fairies in the play, 'the Tempest'. The Other Fairy and i were gracefully dancing on the stage during rehearsal, when we bumped right into each other. very lovely sight.

having a (cute) senior send me home. i had a crush on him :)

making Year One students search through a rubbish bin for clues...then a REAL cockroach ran out. hehehe, that wasn't planned.

going to a dance with snake. i was all dressed in black so i thought i looked very cool, actually, i think i was just trying too hard.

falling asleep every history lesson. but dear Mr T always forgave me.

class outings at TGIF. yummy potato skins. the restaurant has closed down. sigh, it was that long ago.

one to one literature s-paper time with the tutors. having Mr H read John Donne's love poetry to me :P hey, it was for professional reasons, but i blushed anyway.

Friday, August 17, 2007

why it matters

i am angry.

i heard that a student from a top school forged an MC using his old one. even when the truth became evident, he tried his best to deny it. he displayed no signs of repentance eventually, only regret that he had been caught. he should have been more careful about using the right kind of ink. more disturbingly, this isn't an isolated incident. neither do his friends condemn an act like that. to these students, there is nothing wrong about forgery. after all, this act hurts no one in particular. why does the teacher have to spoil the party and discover the truth? what does it matter?

i feel so tired. how do you guide children who question even the fundamentals of basic morality? what have these students ever experienced in life to justify such cynicism and amorality? nothing. but life is very strange. those who have a lot, think they deserve more, and they don't see why they should allow inconvenient moral rules to get in the way of what they want to do.

first let me address the idea that the act was acceptable because it hurts no one. not every act should be measured by utilitarian principles. sometimes, things are simply right or wrong. beyond the pragmatic effects, is nothing else worth believing in? this deception is ultimately a deed done in darkness and secrecy, the perpetrator lives in fear that he would be discovered. there is something in his life that has to be hidden. tell me that this isn't guilt that comes from doing something wrong.

i always think that there is a very effective litmus test for whether an act is moral or not. we can just ask ourselves, is this something we would want our own children to do one day, on the basis that what you don't know can't hurt you?

besides, there are after all some social rules that everyone follows, to protect the order and mutual trust in society. these rules might bring about some immediate inconvenience, but no one sane wants to live in a world without them. we respect official documents, like MCs, because we trust that they come from a reliable source. but this is a situation that requires everyone to cooperate. our collective stability is safeguarded, and this too protects the individual. frankly, the very students who argue that a little deception is acceptable, would definitely not think the same way if the tables were turned on them, and they are the ones deceived. doesn't this betray some double-minded hypocrisy and selfishness?

it is naive to think that this deception hurts no one. it hurts his parents and those who care for him, but most importantly, it hurts his conscience and how he sees himself.

anyway, ultimately, i really don't think that people get away with doing what is wrong, even if they persuade themselves that they haven't done anything wrong using twisted logic. as the psalmist says to God,

'If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. '(Psalms 139)

Thursday, August 16, 2007


sometimes i think that i am in the wrong line. if i hadn't gone to read poetry and plays and such in the university, maybe i would have become a scientist. in fact, i do remember that chemistry was my best subject in secondary school. my interest in scientific research has not waned over the years, and i am just as keen as ever on conducting experiments. but what is a scientist to do, without a well-stocked laboratory?

luckily, there is actually one place right at home that is also full of volatile substances and the bunsen burner. so i indulged my adventurous spirit in the kitchen. i came up with quite a few innovative recipes, though no one particularly liked them :P. there is something else to play around with. i read about some interesting beauty treatments that use the ingredients in the kitchen, and so the only thing to do is to try them out. my dear friends, after much investigation and practical experiments, here is my verdict on these suggested treatments. you guys have to try them out to test if i am a reliable scientist.

What works:

natural yoghurt as a face mask. the bacteria eats away your dead cells and makes your skin brighter.

green bean powder+green tea powder+egg white = a very good mask to make your pores smaller and cleaner.

lemon juice+witch hazel= a good skin whitening product.

my mum keeps the water that is used to rinse rice, and washes her face with it. apparently it makes her skin less lined. in fact, if you keep the water overnight, it actually smells as bad as SKII products :P

What doesn't work:

rinsing your hair with vinegar. this is supposed to make your hair shiny, but it also makes your hair smell like puke :P

smash a tomato on your face. it's hard to function with bits of tomato dripping off your face.

banana peel on your eyes. this supposedly is a good eye mask, but all it does is make your eyes itch.

Monday, August 13, 2007


it is the national day season and i am feeling patriotic. besides, if i wrote a glowing enough piece, maybe i would get a pay raise :P

it probably is my age now, but i am not feeling half as footloose as i used to be. i guess, i have been to enough countries to feel somewhat less curious about what the world out there is like. and frankly, after it all, i do is rather good to be a singaporean.

of course things could be better. there is always room for improvement. we don't have the terracotta army or polo buns. we could be less kiasu, more gracious. less demanding, more generous. we should complain less and smile more. oh yes, things could be better. but think again, things could be much worse too.

having been squashed on tokyo trains and left stranded by striking subway workers in London, i do appreciate our comfortable and reliable MRT. after shopping through a major street in HK, both little fish and me fell ill because of air pollution, so, never take the clean air back home for granted. there aren't many developed countries in the world that offer cheap freshly cooked food either. you just have to make do with cold sandwiches, even in winter :P . and there are some countries that you simply mustn't fall ill in. the list could go on, but i don't want to sound jingoistic. suffice to say, after travelling, i feel quite glad to see the 'Welcome Home' sign at changi airport.

there is only one other country in the world which i really wanted to live in - New Zealand, of the Lord of the Rings beauty. it looks picture perfect from every angle. in fact, i wanted to marry a New Zealander just so that i could migrate there. but here is the irony. the country has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

so, what exactly makes an ideal country?