今日のイベント

今日、初めて日本研究会のガイドに参加した。栃木からの高校学生にシンガポールの観光したい場所を案内させていただきました。まあ、今日とても暑いね。長い間、このような長い距離を歩いていないので、今随分疲れた。学生たちは大体17か18歳だ。僕はお兄さんだね。

まず、マーライオンパークへ連れて行ったけど、間違った。行きたい場所を誤解してしまった。学生たちもうこの場所に来た。だけど、マーライオンパークの辺を案内して、エスプラネード劇場もちょっと行った。そこから、チャイナタウンへ昼ごはんに行った。実は、ホーカーセンターへ連れていくつもりだったけど、暑かったし、お腹がもうすいたので、マクドナルドで食べた。昼ごはんの前に、お土産を買った。

最後、セントーサに連れて行った。時間が短くても、海が見えたので、彼達が嬉しかった。その時、僕もう疲れてしまった。もちろん、みんなもとっても疲れた。だから、早くホテルに戻った。ホテルが隣にあり、あと50分なので、紀伊国屋書店を案内した。それから、今日のイベントが終わりました。経験がよかった。

はい、以上です。

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Don’t “It’s okay” me

I have been wanting to write about this since quite a long while ago, but could not find the mood to do so.

I think many people have done charity work or have at least one experience with flag-raising or similar activities. When you approach people to ask for donations, have you ever met with an “It’s okay” reply? Especially when this “It’s okay” is when that person did not want to donate?

The issue which prompted me to talk about this was me making this mistake which I very much condemn. Once, on the way out of Utown to the bus stop, a girl stopped me and ask if I would like to buy a coffee bean pack for a good cause. Well, sometimes my mood do determine my charity heart. I decided not to. I gave a little smile, but I replied with a simple “It’s okay”. The moment I realised what I had just said, I felt so embarrassed and apologetic to the girl, but she had walked away. If there was any use, I could have just slapped myself a hundred times. This went on in my mind, “What the fuck were you trying to mean by saying ‘It’s okay’? What’s okay? You mean you’re okay not donating? Or do you mean she should be okay for you not donating? Fuck you!”

Do you realise how impolite this little phrase is? Consider this scenario: I ask if you would like a cup of coffee and you said “It’s okay/fine/alright” as a mark of being not too direct. That’s cool, you just mean you are okay not drinking coffee. Consider this: I ask if you would like to donate, and if you donate, I thank you and you reply “It’s okay”. This would be perfectly fine! You are telling me “It is my pleasure to contribute, you don’t have to thank me.” If you don’t want to donate, reply with a “no”, and I say “It’s okay”, and this would be perfectly fine too, because it means I am fine with you not donating. However, if you don’t want to donate and reply with an “It’s okay”, it means “…FUCK it doesn’t even mean anything! Wait… let me try to interpret…

Okay, it could mean, “It’s alright, I am okay not donating (Because my money is precious, I am a selfish bastard so leave me alone).” Or it could mean, “I am telling you, you should be fine with me not donating because you are lousy. I am the boss.”

And both of these aren’t exactly polite. Who says I am okay with you not donating? I am not okay! I am not even asking if you would like a cup of coffee. If you freaking don’t wanna donate, just say NO. Next time if someone tells you “it’s okay” when you are asking for a favour, ask them back, “Hey hey. Sorry but what do you mean by it’s okay? What’s okay? Are you okay with yourself not doing it or should I be okay with you not doing it? Wait this doesn’t even make sense. I am definitely not okay with you not doing it and I should not be okay with you not doing it because I want you to do it and if you don’t want to do it, just say no. If you are a little polite perhaps you can add a “sorry”. Thank you for listening to my wonderful piece of advice!”

You’ll probably be branded neurotic, but hey, at least there is some righteousness toward the use of words.

Now don’t be surprised if I get a swollen eye from telling someone not to “It’s okay” me!

Human Cheese

An interesting read

scienceandfooducla

Cheese1

Have you ever been offered a fancy cheese that smelled more like a used gym sock than something edible? Odor artist Sissel Tolaas and researcher Christina Agapakis took this idea and ran with it, with their project Synthetic Aesthetics. The duo used bacteria isolated from human hands, feet, noses, and armpits to generate cheese!

Many cheeses, like beer, wine, and yogurt, are the product of fermentation. Fermentation occurs when microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria convert carbohydrates such as sugar into alcohols, gasses, and acids to generate energy in the absence of oxygen. One common cheese-making type of bacterium, Lactobacillus, breaks down lactose, the primary milk sugar, to lactic acid. This results in lowering the pH of the milk, which as pointed out in a previous post, causes coagulation and solidification into cheese. The work of microorganisms in cheese also results in the creation of many other byproducts…

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Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Today, we bid farewell to the one who led Singapore to independence. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, passed away on 23rd March 2015 at 3.18am.

I would be a liar if I said I was filled with grieve and sorrow on hearing his passing. No, when I was born, he had already stepped down as Prime Minister and I have never experienced the “iron in him” as he once mentioned in his 1980 election rally. Although I have watched videos of him when he was at his peak, I have not once seen him delivering powerful speeches that were relevant to the context of my generation. And of course, as age caught up with him, the recent speeches and conferences he spoke in has no more aggression. He was visibly weakened, but nevertheless possessed unrivaled intelligence.

I respect Mr. Lee as a formidable figure. However, I was indifferent because I had no emotional attachment to him. My mother told me I shook hands with him when I was about 3 or 4 years old, when he came to my estate in Tiong Bahru. I had no recollection. Somehow, as the week progressed, I felt some emptiness. As social media began to flood with tributes to him, pictures of people queuing up for the Lying in State, I felt something. As I watched on the vigil guards, videos of his life, I felt something. As the news of Singapore’s national mourning got around the world, I felt a sense of pride. At the same time, I felt that we have lost someone very close. Emotions are contagious, scary huh?

I did not go down to the parliament house. It is true that if Mr. Lee could spend his entire life building this country for me, waiting for 10 hours is nothing. Like I said, I had no emotional connection with him. Practicality overcomes my emotions. To me, walking pass the casket for a mere few seconds will not communicate my respect and gratitude. Neither will posting his picture on Instagram convey the same message. It may not apply to many, but to the some who used this national mourning for likes, fame and nobility, you are not fit to pay respects to him. The most practical way to show it is passing down his legacy and mentioning this legendary historical figure to generations after generations, all over the world.

No doubt Mr. Lee had done things that pissed many people off. People have suffered during the tumultuous times, some due to his policies and his aggressiveness. However, which leader is perfect? He could not have satisfied everyone, and basic ethics tells us that the utilitarian approach is the best way to run a nation. He did it. So before anyone even thinks of criticizing Mr. Lee, ask yourself if you would be able to lead the transformation of Singapore into what she is today. I am not a fan of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, but I strictly condemn inappropriate comments made against him, especially during this national mourning period. Amos Yee, congratulations, you got what you want. Fame? Yes, now the whole country knows you, good luck to you.

It baffles me sometimes when I meet English educated or English speaking Chinese not using English names. I expect otherwise. However, this man answered me in his memoirs. Although the main reason could be garnering votes from the Chinese population, it was no doubt a preservation of his roots. Mr. Lee dropped his Anglicized name Harry in 1950. Also, he did not give English names to his children. He thought that there was no need to because they are all Chinese. I am impressed. He will never regret this decision. His first name “Kuan Yew”, in Chinese “光耀” means bringing honour. He did it!

Today marks an important date in world history, for Mr. Lee’s name will command admiration in every land. Also, in which other country have you seen so many people gathering to send their leader off, almost an entire 16km of road. Uniquely Singapore it is.

Actually the following is quite a touching video. Him giving kisses to his late wife… At 2:29 of the video, we see the life of a man in a flash, from a 2 year old baby boy to a 90 year old political veteran. I kept looking at the collage over and over again. This was the man who almost got executed by the Japanese somewhere between the 3rd and the 4th picture. This was the man who became the father of our current Prime Minister in the 6th picture. This was the man who was already a Prime Minister in the 7th picture…

I would like to repeat MG (NS) Chan Chun Sing’s words, “Singapore is small, but nobody dares to bully us. They tell us to jump, but we dare to say no. Because we can.” Why? Because our ah gong trained us so.

Thank you Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Year of the Goat

The year of the Goat/Sheep for 2015 begins on 4 Feb, 11:58am (GMT+8). Please refer to my previous post last year for the reasons:  https://themysterycross.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/today-is-not-the-year-of-the-horse-not-yet/

However, it is still to be noted that prior to 1913, Chinese New Year was celebrated on 4/5 Feb until the President of the Republic of China changed it to the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

So hey there, Happy New Year! Yep, I’m a goat, or sheep whatever hehe

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国に帰った感想

今日から、ここで時々日本語で感想を書く。練習を要りますね。日本語がわからない人へすみませんが、大切な事は何もありません。

国に帰ってから、生活がちょっと違います。あまり慣れないよ。ブダペストの物価の方が安い。そして、生活のペースの方がずいぶん遅いね。しかし、まだシンガポール料理が一番好き!本当にこんな食べ物を欠場した!この学期はダンスのコンサートをやめた、とても忙しいと思うんです。例えばFSPがあるね。さらに新興企業をはじめたい!先学期自分で日本語2を勉強した、だからいま日本語3を取れるよ!プレイスメントテストに合格したんです!浜崎先生は優しくて、ユーモアな先生ですね。でも、日本語の勉強は難しくなっていますね。じゃ、また。

Delusion

I am back in Singapore for almost two weeks, but I am still trying to adjust back to this fast paced society, not to mention the timezone. Although I had fully recovered from jet-lag, I still refuse to accept the truth deep within me. Sleeping at almost 3am in the morning everyday and waking up after 10am, I kept convincing myself that my circadian rhythm is still with CET. This nonsense needs to stop.

Exchange seemed like a long dream. My life in Singapore seemed to come to a standstill the day I flew and resumed after I came back. Things changed: From small household items to new buildings being constructed. I felt foreign yet familiar.

After these few months of being away from home, I knew I cannot settle down. I have to keep moving. Life is too short for one to find a good career, settle down and work our asses off for the rest of our lives. The world is so big out there and it’s foolish not to experience as much as one can. Singaporeans like to compare this tiny island to other countries. We like to say, “Hey, why don’t we have this system? Why must we do this? Why is it so expensive here?”. We speak as if we know the world at the back of our hands. The unfortunate fact is we don’t. Unless you have been living outside Singapore for at least several months, mere holiday experiences don’t give us the rights to criticize our homeland in comparison basis. Yes, other countries may be better when you’re there as a tourist, but the perspective changes when you’re living there. Singapore would be a paradise if not for the weather.

After coming back, I know I need to start building my future. I have to get started on the goals I had set before I entered university. No more student activities, no more fun. Even though such activities still excite me, my self-discipline has got to take over. That was why I decided to pull out of Synergy’s NAF concert in order to dedicate my time and energy for my goals. I really really want to perform for it, but I know I will not make it out of this vicious cycle and will still be stuck in delusion if I don’t make this difficult decision. This is the semester which make or break.

Stutterers need your patience

For the purpose of this, I will use the word stutter instead of stammer. And they mean the same.

I am a stutterer, and I can’t help it.

Yes, for those of you who know me well enough, you will hear me stutter(stammer) frequently. I can’t explain it but when I get too comfortable with speaking to someone, the frequency of my stuttering increases. Whereas the normal case should be the other way round.

I have seen and experienced it myself, that some people just like to make fun of stutterers and while I can tolerate the jokes, I believe many others feel hurt because it is not something we want. I know it could be annoying, and it is annoying for us too! We have no control over it, just like how sufferers of seizures can’t. It attacks more often than not, in the least expected situations like a casual talk with friends. On the contrary, although I worry about stuttering during presentations, it has yet to occur. Now, even doctors find it hard to explain.

My dad is a stutterer, and a heavy one at that, so naturally I believed my condition to be a genetic one. When I was a child, I used to stutter more than I do now. I am glad that the condition improved. While there is no exclusive explanation for the causes and mechanism of stuttering, let me share what is going on inside my brain when I stutter. I would probably describe my condition as both a speech block and repetition of words/syllable.

As I talk, usually images and words appear in my mind before they come out of my mouth so I could articulate my ideas and content. If I am too comfortable talking, my brain tend to relax and go into a half asleep mode. I could get stuck somehow because the part of my brain that controls speech just refuses to process the word! Or it could be me talking too fast for my brain to process the words and images (so my mouth has nothing to say). For example I could be wanting to say the sentence, “So he told me that he has to create another folder because it is too messy.”

I could get stuck at the word, “create”, so I could be saying, “cre-cre-cre-create”. As I am very conscious of this situation and want to avoid it, I would restrain myself from repeating and forcing the word out. Thus it will result in this awkward pause, “creeeee…(take a long breath) create”.

Also, in order to avoid the repetition of syllable, I would sometimes use substitutes. In this example, I may say, “So he told me that he has to cr… make another folder because it is too messy.” Well it certainly trained my brain to think fast because most of the time the word that is blocked won’t even get time on stage before being masked. It may thus appear like this, “So he told me that he has to … make another folder because it is too messy.”

Sometimes the substitute word can be damn weird. “So he told me that he has to … form another folder because it is too messy.” And although the sentence is understandable, it doesn’t make proper sense. Other times, I may just change them to Mandarin words.

And sometimes I could even get stuck on the first word! Like, “Theeeee (fuck me) Theeeee (fuck la) That day blah blah”. I do curse myself for being unable to speak properly, but we need your patience.

If friends who know me didn’t know of my condition, I would say that it’s probably me masking it well or that I may not feel comfortable enough around them (which means my brain is working hard).

I regard myself as having above average self-confidence, and getting laughed at for stuttering is not something to be concerned about. However, I still feel injustice for stutterers who are being made fun of. It could potentially destroy someone’s self-esteem and worsen his condition. Please stop it if you’re guilty of making fun of stutterers. And with that, I would like to help heavy stutterers to improve their conditions.

And if you’re thinking of what to say to stutterers, these are not what we want to hear.

I don’t know how much of this makes sense to fellow stutterers, but if you want to share how your brain is wired differently, or have unforgettable interactions with people, I would like to know.

Travel for the sake of travelling?

Right now, I am studying for my mid-terms and there is this module called “Personality Types and Team Dynamics”. We go into detail regarding the 16 Myer-Briggs types and while I was revising the type preferences, I came across this description for introversion, “Think-Do-Think”. Then, it got me thinking about recent events that as an introvert (I), the processes that has been going on in my mind. One of these is about travelling. Let me put this into perspective.

One of my initial thoughts about exchange is that it is an opportunity for me to travel. It is an opportunity for me to travel around Europe because I don’t get this kind of chance regularly; I’m not a rich man’s son. I was going to visit so many countries and have the best 5 months in my life. Money wasn’t an issue because although I am not wealthy, travelling is still affordable. Grades weren’t an issue because all I need was just to pass. Everything seemed so perfect!

The fact is, as of now, I have travelled, and will be travelling much less than my flatmates/friends and what I had thought.

So, I was happy to be going on a holiday, far away from Singapore where everything has became so mundane. I flew to Zurich, spent three and a half days adjusting my circadian rhythm before flying over to Poland for the real tourist mode. New places, new tastes and new faces. After having much fun in Poland, we came to Budapest. The initial plan was to dump our stuffs in the apartment and go for more travelling before school starts, however I was tired from the 11 day travelling and had to spend some time recharging. I think I could travel much more without taking a break, but still, the feeling of having somewhere you can call home was calming to the senses. It was like, “I am home, I am too lazy to move.” At that point in time, I hadn’t really considered why was I reacting that way because my friends were visiting Budapest and I just joined them as a “tourist” since I was new here too.

The next trip I went was during the second week of school. We went for a 12 day trip to Berlin, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, spending about S$1,400 in total. Out of these four places, three were places I had been to 8 years ago. Was I bored? Not at all, because I was on a guided tour and didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of these cities at my own pace. Driving on the other side of the road, getting fines and just being spontaneous, these were all new to us and obviously exciting. It was really like a vacation.

Thereafter, I booked a weekend trip to Prague. On the night before the day we went to Prague, the thought sank in. “What am I going to do in Prague?” As a Perceiving person (P), I like to be spontaneous and not plan for things. I like to be disorganized and messy. I like to think of new options and do it when I like it. Therefore this question came as a surprise. I don’t usually ask these sort of questions because usually I just go to places without much plans and do whatever I want to do. There must be something wrong with me if I actually had to ask what am I going to do.

The reflections came like bullets hitting a target board. I was actually just going for the sake of going. I was travelling for the sake of travelling. Because people have done it. Because I want to do the same thing too. Because exchange is all about travelling. These little thoughts have stealthily invaded my subconscious mind and manipulated the way I perceive things. I was lost, because what does it mean by going to Prague? So that I can tell people that I have been there? So that people can look at me with envy? So that I can take nice photographs with a beautiful cathedral and put on my instagram? How many of us exchange students possessed such thoughts? I was done with the bullshit of experiencing a different culture and meeting new people. I was done with the common mindset of seeing the world and to live in the moment. I had to find an answer, a logical excuse to account for and justify my travels. I am a Thinking type (T). I don’t want to roam freely like a blind deer (pun intended: no idea) and bang into a tree before I even finished my journey here.

I realised that my overseas vacations so far were justified by simply “an enjoyable getaway”. Like I have mentioned, I was excited about the idea of getting away from the tropical heat. I was excited about not seeing the same MRT stations. I was excited about not eating the same food in the hawker center. I was excited about not entering Mochtar Riady Building for several months. There were more push factors rather than pull factors. I realised it after the Prague trip.

Although I explored Prague and spent a productive time experiencing the city, I couldn’t help but noticed that I didn’t exactly enjoyed the trip. Nothing much new. Same kind of buildings, same types of cars on the roads. Kebab everywhere in Europe. Tourists everywhere, food tasted the same… What’s there interesting? Oh, Charles Bridge is sooooo beautiful! Wow, this church is sooooo pretty! Hmmm.. this restaurant is good! Well at the end of the day, all there was left was #okcan. It wasn’t value-adding anymore. The things around are pretty much the same, at least to the Asian eyes. I mean, you cannot experience different cultures and differentiate them just by going to the cities for a few days each. It takes time to understand and experience! Isn’t the European culture similar on the surface to the Asian eyes? No? Okay come, I clap for you.

Since there were more push factors, I prefer to see it as this way: I am now living in another country, far away from Singapore. There is no need for me to travel a lot because my original mindset was just to get away from Singapore. Now I have done it, I see no purpose in travelling anymore. I am now at equilibrium. If I do have to travel, something must push or pull me. Budapest has been treating me well so far. I have to get sick of Budapest before I move again, unless I found something fun to do. For example skiing or mountain hiking. Otherwise, I am staying.

Some other factors that held me in was building on the friendships I have made here. My classes are really interesting and I really don’t want to miss any. Of course I will be going on a long trip after the finals because by then I would probably be sick of Budapest, and also, the thought of places I wanted to visit long ago.

However, as of now, I see no point in mindless travelling just for the sake of, “I am already in Europe, it would be stupid of me not to travel and come back again next time.” Many people will say, “Wah lau you come here don’t want to travel, then you want to wait next time pay another $2,000 to fly here again meh? You siao ah. Stupid sia!” The point for me is, I want to come back next time! I don’t mind paying the $2,000 air ticket twice a year to visit Europe because that’s my personality. I do what I enjoy doing and don’t tell me what I should do or should not do. I am not rich, but having such thoughts certainly motivate me to achieve what I want to somehow. By thinking, “I am just gonna cover Germany now and not return for the rest of my life because it is cheaper this way.” I would be indirectly restricting my future options and developing a “poor” mindset. To me, memories are memories. I live in the moment literally and practically. Photographs and memories cannot replace and re-enact what I want to experience again. I am a Sensing type (S). So, if I want to, I will just come back to Europe again instead of looking at the old photographs like a loser.

Yes, my personality type is ISTP.

These are just my personal views after doing some serious soul-searching. The bottom-line is, think for yourself. Feel for yourself. Don’t do things just because, “people do it so I also want to do it”. And don’t succumb to enviousness or peer pressure because you will end up not knowing what the fuck you are doing.

Budapest Part 2

Okay screw this thing about Budapest tour, I have no patience for that.

Here are the rest of the pretty things in the most beautiful city of Europe.

The Fisherman’s Bastion

Budapest (78) Budapest (88)

Budapest (98)

Budapest (81)

Matthias Church

Budapest (100)

Budapest (66)

Budapest (133)

Heroes Square

Budapest (165) Budapest (192)

Elizabeth Bridge

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Liberty Bridge and Szent Gellert Hotel, the closest Grand Hotel to the “Grand Budapest”

Budapest (44)

Margaret Island

Budapest (162) Budapest (155) Budapest (149)

St. Stephen Basilica

GTB (121) GTB (122) GTB (123)

GTB (134) GTB (131) GTB (129) GTB (144)

There’s still the Great Market Hall as one of the attractions, but it’s really just a market, kind of like wet market in Singapore.

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There are still the thermal baths and I have only been to one of them, just once for a night party. They called it sparty. No photographs too, for why would I bring my DSLR into a bath.

Anyway, this is a very livable city that takes you away from the modern living style of cities like Seoul, Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and of course Singapore. Now I can understand why there are two full-time Singaporean professors in my school who are married to each other, and who enjoy living here. Every summer vacation is their holiday too, disappearing to exotic places for the whole period. In which institution can you find such good work-life balance in Singapore?

Property prices are also so shit low that I can buy 5 landed houses if my parents sell our HDB flat. I asked my landlady how much her house (semi-detached) cost. She said about 20,000,000HUF ~ S$105,000 and flats in the city center are “really expensive” at 35,000,000HUF. I told her my flat in Singapore was about 33,000,000HUF when my parents first bought and now it is worth about 152,000,000HUF. Singapore has really moved too fast. I would probably invest in property over here in the future.

Of course there are annoying things that we don’t face in Singapore. Most of these have to do with public goods. Roads are not properly maintained and cars park on the pedestrian sidewalk. Like not the whole car but half of the car goes up the curb. And mind that this is legal parking, with proper lines drawn on the side walk to mark the parking space. Look at this:

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So you wonder why can’t proper car parks be constructed, or at least expand the road to make proper parallel parking spaces. I haven’t yet seen a shiny clean car except rental cars. I think that’s because nobody here gives a damn about status so they don’t wash their vehicles AT ALL. Cars are really stained with dirt, mud or bird shit, some quite badly. Rubbish strewn everywhere and dead leaves are left clogging in drains. Shit, I meant literally shit, like sai, poop, can be found behind the corridor of my school building where homeless people just decide to take dumps in the drains. Wait, and no one clears them. If you think public peeing is only widespread in India, then you haven’t been to Europe. By public peeing I don’t mean the person attempting to hide from others to pee. I meant them peeing right in front of you into a drain or grass or some absorbent material. Sometimes I wonder why people coming from developed countries say that Singapore is so clean (Because I do see rubbish on the ground). Now I know why. Even in developed countries, public goods may not be properly taken care of.

You don’t see new property estates in construction. Or rather, constructions are considered rare in my opinion. Apartments built 50 years ago are still standing and mostly only the interior is renovated. The exterior looks exactly the age of the buildings. Life is really slow.