Monday, February 19, 2007

A sense of history

At a CNY dinner at my parents' place.  My dad was telling stories about the past and my cousin Alvin decided to take notes.  I think it started by how my dad would go clean our grandparents graveyard.  It became a family history thing and threatens to become a Peranakan play since Alvin is involved in theatre...  There were the stories about pre-war Empress Place, Geylang Bahru, Spohia Road.     My dad described the indulgent lifetstyle of my grandfather and some granduncles.  There were the cabaret girls, servants, opium smokin, gambling, civil service, raleigh bicycles, 2nd wives.

Then of course there was the japanese war and how my aunties were kept hidden in another person's house.  I shot about 2 hours worth of handphone video recording the story telling.  Another uncle and aunt were there to add nuggets of stories of their own.  Running around were the little children and there were 4 generations in that house.  So the atmosphere was quite conducive to try to extend that beyond the 4.  We even took down the photographs of my late grandparents from the wall.  This was the first time we actually knew our grandparent's names.

Soon a family tree took shape and there was mention of a Hakka blood line and I joked that "sekali" we are all hakka...  the dangers of digging up the past!   There was also questions like why the peranakans enjoyed cantonese opera..  My dad said that the housekeepers were usually cantonese speaking so most peranakans could understand cantonese, my uncle said the women were usually very pretty..  I tend to believe the latter.  Alvin and Lina tried to get most of the names but these were beyond my dad even and he said we needed to go back to the graveyards...  And he only knew how to navigate there using a tree (the forked branched in particular) as a landmark.

As I type this a 77 mb 3gp format video is being sent to my cousin through yousendit.  It would be nice to see all my dead relatives come to live in a peranakan play...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


This is probably the most enjoyable animation on a biological process that I have seen. Its so entertaining. Click here to go there.


Monday, February 05, 2007

there was you... a tribute to Kai, the memory maker

Here's Kai. I wrote about him in this post "There was you". I bought 2 of his albums and there was a song there that marked a beautiful memory for me. A few days ago he commented on the post . It was a pleasant one, long, thoughtful, like a nice glass of wine or a sit down by the lake.. That prompted me to take out the harddisk from my old toshiba satellite-pro and whacked the 1 Gig disk into my harddisk casing Otterman provided... soon it was whirring and i firewired it into my mac.... Its strange how I never thought of doing that.. i almost threw the old laptop away.. now I have saved so many photos from my postdoc in Kew. Gosh, Thanks Kai. Here's a picture of yu that was in my old laptop as well.
Then the next day I had a dream... it was my my dear old friend who's dissappeared/ run away from my life and many others... So he was there just by the aisle of the cinema and holding on to a baby, he smiles at me and its the same smile when we first met in kindergarten, just at the old hawker centre whilst his grandma was buying soya bean. He sits next to me and before he could say anything... the damn alarm rings... I wake up and cycle to work in the quiet and desolate cold morning.

1215 hrs. I am at Novena and after mass, I buy a pot of Narcissus bulbs for his mum and bring along the Rudraksha rosary beads that I bought for him in Tamil Nadu... I go to his house thinking he or his mum will be there but a maid comes out and says that the house owner is a totally different name...

Kai was right, people change, things change...


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Life of Pi

This book is about teenage boy shipwrecked, and had to share a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger for over 200 days.  I was as one reviewer put it, at the mercy of Martel's great story-telling.  It took me less than a week, stealing some time here and there to read it.  It also helps now that I take the bus.  There's a nice overview of it in the wikipedia .  I don't think I have been so taken in by fiction accept maybe books by Tagore.  Yet some of his lines are Tagore like.  Nice to chew on for quite some time.  But of course no one can outdo Tagore's phraseology.  I also like the way the story starts of in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu.  That's a place I visited last year and hopefully again in June.  I can just hear the vehicles honking away now, way into the night.

The situation (starvation, eating raw stuff; even tiger's turd) on the boat reminds me off another excellent book I stumble upon in leafy Richmond, just by the Thames in a nice Waterstones bookstore more than 5 years ago.  Its called In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and more on it on PBS .  It must be one of the top 3 books I have read.   Anyone wants to borrow?