Monday, June 26, 2006

Postcards from France - wished you were here!

I usually express myself better using words than in pictures. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (if you considered impulse buying THAT), I bought myself this kick-ass digital SLR that was all the rage two years ago (sobs... its now an old bird).

My trusty Nikon D70 has weathered it all: pelting rain in Lake Inle, dusty sands from the ruins of Bagaan, biting winds up on the Empire State Building of New York, balmy weather and curious stares in Bali, sweaty summertime in France, and other charming parts of Europe.

Now, where was I going with this? Oh yeah: the weekend last, me and my housemate did a little trip up to Reims and Luxembourg. Being tourists while poor students at the same time don't make for a good combination: for one thing, its hard to justify all that expensive food I've been eating. What's more, Reims is champagne country: it sucks when all I had in the beverage arena while at Reims was one glass of champagne. That silly Tattinger shop stopped accepting tasting visits when we got there (Gawd... my housemate was sooooo mad).

Anyway, first up on the itinerary was the Notre Dame in Reims. The Notre Dame in Reims was where the King of France was crowned. If you saw 'Joan of Arc' the movie, there is most likely a scene where Joan attends the coronation of her king in this cathedral (it is grand and probably looked a lot grander in its heyday).

Long hallways, high arches and rose-shaped stained glasses: yup, I'm in a grand French cathedral alright

So that's what I look like!

After enough cathedral gazing (you do that a lot in Europe, alas), we went a perambulating around the little city. Had lunch al fresco in some roadside restaurant that had amazingly good service for a French restaurant (side note: no tipping in this country = expect bad service). Anyhow, our stomachs satisfied (I had champagne from champagne country!), we went to the Palais du Tau - a little museum housing some of the art that has been taken out of the Notre Dame (for one reason or another). There were a lot of tapestries (boring carpets that people hang on walls - easier on the neck I presume) but I was more interested in the sculptures:

This was one of my favourites: it's Adam and Eve. Eve's eating the forbidden fruit and so is the serpent on the tree of knowledge.

Eve and the Serpent, this time rendered with legs.

A gargoyle.

Nice little effects with a reflective surface and some butts.

After Reims, next up was Luxembourg. The drive there wasn't too bad, but Luxembourg was a little tad boring at night. The first thing to do upon hitting the little hotel was to turn on the dingy TV and watch some soccer. It was Italy vs US in a match of send-offs galore. Did a walk about town at night and then caught up on sleep. Somehow, that hotel we booked was near the red light district - it was right next to a strip club - but nothing as exciting as Geylang here (it's boring Luxembourg, eh?). Morning came and this time, we went to see the town proper:

Some cheerleader performance in the middle of the day.

Pity about this photo: I couldn't get the sky to be any bluer because it was done near noon. The sun just washes out the colours there.

I have this thing about taking reflections of buildings off of spanking shining cars. Incidentally, Luxembourg has the highest GDP per capita in the world - it shows: everyone here drives an expensive car.

I thought it apt to point out that the cute statue couple under the umbrella seemed to be having a much better time than the old couple on the bench. Maybe that's what marriage does to you?

This was my favourite picture from the trip - it's the opera house of Luxembourg, and its interior was designed to give it a web-like effect during the day. Nice...

To see more from this set (and others), check out my flickr pics.

Friday, June 23, 2006

For the Sake of It

Ahhh... It feels so good.

Alcohol always does. It numbs you, makes you feel woozy and then delivers that little punch to your gut. A little something to warm you while you think about how good life is just because there's alcohol in it.

Ahhh... Life feels good.

How come I feel like blogging some random nonsense whenever I had some alcohol? Hmm. Doesn't matter. It's going to turn out to be one of those random posts anyhow. I think I promised some pictures for this post. Nevermind... wait for the next one.

Ahhh... Gut feels warm and nice.

In case you're wondering, I had some sake (SAR-kay). It was Japanese Day (they weren't gung-ho enough to do a Week) and there was free flow of sake. Too bad the Kirin beer ran out. Sipping sake while watching guys wrestle in sumo suits is really fun. Sipping sake while surrounded by buzzing insects isn't (sign of summer: buzzing insects).

Ahhh... hey, what am I doing in the library then?

Cold hard reality hit me: the exams are next week and I have not done much studying. Sighs... and there are the assignments as well. Still have 3 papers to submit and I'm not fully done with them. Life sucks. Sake isn't helping me to do my assignments.

Back to work.

Ahhh... back to work.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Travel Plans for Summer

Hi y'all,

For all the friends out there who actually read this and keep asking about it, I'm still in the process of finalising my summer plans. Should be home in sunny Singapore come end July, hopefully around the 22nd, and throughout most of August up until term starts again on the 25th (I think?). After that, I'll head back to France in the fall for another 2 months from September to October and be back in Singapore again.

I'm lacking some face time with the folks and GF and will need time out to just be a Singaporean again. It is tiring here, largely because I felt like I'm on some big holiday and almost every weekend had been spent travelling (and burning cash). For the period after summer (P4), I'm going to be doing less of that, and more of getting to the serious business of finding a post-INSEAD job and actually doing my readings. I'm hoping to regain some of that enthusiasm I had in the earlier periods and putting them into where it matters (the courses in P4 actually look a whole lot more interesting!).

Like I said in an earlier post, the 'experiencing life' thing is good for me, but it should be secondary. I need to get back to the important business of actually doing my future - life isn't always about the present, isn't it?

Will be posting some photos in the next entry - road trips are such fun! (Disclaimer: it depends on the company and length of trip though). On a side note, I checked the odometer earlier and found that my housemate and I (we share the Renault Clio) have collectively done 6000km of asphalt (and some clay and mud) in a matter of 6 weeks. Now I know why I have thicker calves muscles on my right leg...

Be back in Singy soon - do write me a note and we'll catch up yah? Out...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Looking for Similarities

If you keep looking for differences, then that is all you see.
If you keep finding similarities, then that is all that matters.
Relationships are such: when you want it, you do anything to justify why.


1. Background: We share the same race, the same religion, the same culture, the same country. Everything that I can say or do relates with a little slice of history which you can relate to. You know me well partly because we have similar roots, and although you may wonder if there are other similarities you can build with people out there, I am always the one who will know you and where you come from.

2. The Future: We are aligned. There is a path heading forward and you know as well as I do that we are walking along it together. No matter if I can show you a map of the way; no matter if we take a couple of twists and turns round the scenic route. What matters is that I've aligned myself with your goals, and yours with mine. Perhaps I've never spelt them out clearly - that is where I need to address myself to you.

3. Our Present: Apart and away from home - we both are. Little to keep us rooted at home when neither of us is there to anchor the relationship. We've both left our friends and family behind to pursue our dreams - yours differ from mine but at least we're clear why we needed to do that. Don't fret: being apart is never being far away from each other. I'm as ever present in your life as you are in mine.

4. Saying nothing at all: We share this trait. We don't say much - we conserve words. There's more that is conveyed in a simple gesture, or touch. You can even tell from the way that I keep silent in an instant message window and read me correctly (eerie, but that's what you've become to me). More than ever, I need to convey what I feel for you - and you know words fail me (as they do fail you too) when this becomes necessary.

5. We are jealous people and we guard what we own. Possession is absolute and sharing is out of the question when it comes to the most precious. It's not a good trait, but that's what we're like with each other.


This post is done for you, my dear. We may have our differences, but it is our similarities that hold me to you - I hope it does so for you as well.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Shouldering the Blame

One reason why I like to wear short sleeved shirts with collars as opposed to t-shirts (round necks, Vs) is that it covers up the left side of my neck where it meets the shoulder.

On that particular spot, I have a mole, slight and roundish. It's quite inconspicuous, though clearly visible if you look closely. Nope, no hair sprouting from it (that would be gross) but it does tend to stick out whenever I scratch my neck there.

My mum used to look at the mole when I was younger and said that I will grow up to bear the weight of the world on my shoulders. She said it in Chinese, and I think that whatever it meant, it held deep resonance for how some events have turned out for me. The mole was an omen that I will shoulder responsibility beyond that which I can bear. It meant that I was to be weighed down, and never free.

Perhaps what she said stayed stuck in my head: I do feel as though I have the weight of the world upon my shoulders. Sometimes, I feel weary, like there are too many things that cause me worry. No matter how far I fly away from it all, my responsibility has a way of worming its way to me.

My shoulder aches from the weight I have to bear. My shoulders ache from the hurts I cause myself - I feel that I am just too nice a guy to let go and let be. I feel that perhaps, somehow, someway, someone will recognise the pain felt, or stinging pain of a careless word spoken.

Every word is loaded, and sensitivities get trampled upon. Perhaps letting go sounds easy to do, but what of it? One doesn't escape his destiny - a mark of one's indenture etched on the skin.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Been there, done that

The need to try everything, to try experience every conceivable activity, is inherent in all of us. I believe it stems from the human need to want things. Economic theory teaches us that human demands are unlimited, but supply is constrained (i.e. limited). So, a balance is achieved between what we want, and what we can obtain, and demand equals supply.

But I'm not one to talk about economics. What I'm speaking of is the inherent human need to want. What I'm speaking about is the inherent human need to experience.

Perhaps I'm just not getting it: why do we justify the things we do by saying that "it's something I've never experienced before, so I should try it"? We want to try new things out, and the only reason that is worth justifying it is this: 'I've never tried it before, so here I go'.

And that is the basis for all the actions I'm about to list out below:
1. Having sex
2. Smoking pot
3. Drinking alcohol
4. Getting drunk
5. Travelling to obscure parts of this big big world
6. Eating exotic food
7. Participating in extreme sports
8. Going diving (very popular, this one)
9. Doing an MBA (??)
The list goes on and on.

I don't get it: why do we want to do new things so much? I can understand if you've never eaten Chinese food before, and you would like to try it. But I don't get it if you've never smoked pot and you want to try it. First of all, it's not healthy. Second, you get real stoned - maybe you get more creative, maybe you get more numbed from the experience. And then the result is that you did not enjoy the experience (it wasn't that pleasant huh?), but you justify it by saying, 'I've tried it'. So the point of the experience was to have something akin to boasting rights, something like a little badge to pin on your shoulder, something akin to another table conversation topic.

I don't get it: why are we willing to fork out good money to experience new things? Perhaps you're genuinely interested in seeing what the underwater world is like. Perhaps you are looking for an exciting new way to exercise. Diving does introduce you to a whole new world, a whole new experience. But it costs you. Nonetheless, you have to go for it. Why? Because it is an exciting experience. Because diving gives you a new high, it gives you great pictures to show off to other people. Then you can go exclaiming about that wonderful underwater world that you discovered, the beautiful coral fish, and that shark you saw swimming by. What of it?

Conversation fillers I think. We're all looking for things to say about our lives, and the more we can pepper our conversations with such experiences, the more we appear to be interesting people.

Pathetic aren't we all?

In case you get me wrong on that count, I'm not saying one should never try smoking pot or diving. I'm just against the idea of doing something for the sake of experiencing it - I think that things should be done for the reason that you are GENUINELY interested in them.

Like salsa. Do salsa because you like dancing. Do salsa because it is a great way to meet people. DON'T do salsa because you want to experience it. Don't do it because you've never tried it before, and therefore you want to try it to 'see how'.

Why am I so strongly against that? Because I think that the typical human being, who tries his hand at something for the experience, is doing it for the wrong reason. The wrong reason is to try an experience to gain an 'experience'. The right reason is to do it because you have a genuine passion for it.

Perhaps you need to try it first to gain a passion for it. I don't doubt that, but don't tell me nonsense about how something like 'doing an MBA' is just for the experience. It's good money spent on just an experience, and without the passion and drive for it, you're just not going to love it.

Love what you do, and love what you experience. I'm being preachy here because I'm kind of high (shit, that's what this Brazillian drink called Capirinha does to you). I just don't think that the 'experience' justifies it anymore. I don't think that having 'been there' and 'done that' is enough of an accolade, and people realise soon enough the phony that you are: it comes out in what you say when you aren't truly passionate for something.

So go: love what you do, do what you love.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Lines in the Sand

Sometime during the last couple of months, it dawned on me that the number of friends who know about this blog has grown.

Here's how I analyse this:

1. There is a universe out there called the 'Friendspace', which are the people I know and can reasonably call my friend or acquaintance. Acquaintances are also in the Friendspace, but are not accorded status 'Friend', though statuses are never a permanent kind of thing.

2. This is a blog I write and which I update as often as I so wish. Usually, I write whenever I have something to get off my chest. At other times, I wrote because I thought I have something clever to say. There were also times when I wrote nonsense just to satisfy that notion that someday I will be a writer of note.

3. When this blog first started, Friendspace and blog don't intersect. Well, they aren't quite in the same frame of the universe, so to speak, but you know what I mean: friends generally do not know of my blog.

4. Gradually though, I started to let some friends know. It's a funny game that bloggers (like me) play: they aren't blogging for the fame (initially). Sometimes, it's because I learnt about a friend's blog, and decided to reciprocate. Sometimes, I left obvious links which allowed people to figure out my identity. Sometimes, I told people outright that I blog. Sometimes, I just get found out by the occasional stumbler from the net.

5. Generally though, Friendspace and blog existed peacefully, but there were times when certain things were blogged about certain friends, and that fragile peace in Friendspace land gets threatened.

6. Thus, with that last thought in mind, I find it so much harder to be truthful with my own blog. Like, there're things I want to talk about, but out of sensitivity and grace, I leave it out entirely. Maybe that explains why really good soulful blogs descend into nonsensical mush - I think some bloggers end up blogging to please. They're playing to the peanut gallery, canvassing for applause wherever they can.

7. So I'm not sure for now how to proceed. I'll still blog, and I think I'll still blog what I want to blog about. This blog is not therapy, it certainly isn't a mundane recount of my daily existence, it isn't really an MBA blog either (I don't say much, really, about school), and it certainly isn't popular enough to be a source of entertainment (I'm no camera whore!).

8. Until I get real serious kickbacks from this blog, I am going to largely IGNORE the fact that there are people I know reading it. Until I experience severe aftershocks in Friendspace, I shall CONTINUE to write in as irresponsible a way as I feel I should, and nothing anyone can say will make me change my opinions.

9. In other words, if you don't see eye to eye with me on my ramblings, I truly don't give a... hehe... fuck.

10. Need I say more?

Disclaimer: Friendspace isn't Girlfriendspace unfortunately, so some things are, still, very much out of bounds. Cheers to privacy!