Map from a Market Report

A map depicting the conflicts in Middle East and North Africa:

Brown: Revolution - Egypt, Tunisia
Red: Governmental changes - Jordan
Orange: Major protests - Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait
Yellow: Minor protests - Mauritina, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman

Reminds me of the poem, War Photographer, by Carol Ann Duffy.

A hundred agonies in black-and-white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday's supplement. The reader's eyeballs prick
with tears between bath and pre-lunch beers.
From aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns a living and they do not care.

And, do they care?


Please read this

February 21, 2011 0 Comments

Read this, seriously, it's worth it.


Reliving the past

February 20, 2011 0 Comments

His vision blurred. He had donated blood before - years ago, during a drive in school - and it had not felt this debilitating. This, this disorientation. His mild nausea had erupted, and everything faded into whiteness.

"Have you had your meals?"

Shit, he was so busy mixing chemicals that he had skipped his lunch.

"Did you drink a lot of water?"

Come to think of it, he was desperately thirsty. 2 hours of lecture and 4 hours of lab, back-to-back, gave little chance to top up his bottle.

And, he was on the brink of exhaustion. What with a morning jog and a fitful night's rest. What with the draining academia.

Strangely, he had not felt tired prior to the blood donation. Only when he was reclining on the portable beach chair did he feel so pleasantly languorous. After a few minutes, the laziness was replaced by a dull fear that the world had disappeared. A world of pure whiteness where Newtonian gravity had no influence.
He had walked into the hall alone, with an inflaming sense of loneliness. It seemed that he was frequently lonely nowadays.
370 ml, out of the average 450 ml.

Not bad, around 80%, still an A. Comforted himself while he was on his way to find food.

Just comforting myself.

Still feeling wretched, as though I didn't measure up.
In JC, he had donated blood by himself too. Then, he was fascinated with the rhythmic flow of liquid rust. Every clench of his right fist around a heart-shaped soft toy released a squirt of blood. There was something surreal, then, about this virginal experience.

Then, he had felt big, encompassing; a tower of courage and goodness, with a flutter of fear-laced excitement. Now, he felt small. An awareness that this was right, yet an undefinable dread.

Somewhere, somehow, he had lost the idea of who he was.
Over dinner, his stomach was clenching painfully. Is this how menstruation feels like? This hurts to high heavens. Thanks goodness, I'm not a girl. Argh.

Almost ten hours of poor sustenance; insufficient food and water. 6 hours of disrupted rest followed by a draining jog around the estate. It was a wonder he was still alive and kicking.

He felt as though some giant had swallowed him, found his stringy hide too tough for comfort and vomited him out again. It had been months since he felt so wretched. His tummy had cried for food, yet the sudden Fillet-O-Fish was too much for it.
He is lucky in ways that matter. All he has to do is to keep it in mind.


Arcadia? Utopia? Dystopia?

February 16, 2011 0 Comments




The words just felt awesome as they rolled off his tongue. It was as though he could taste the sprightly fullness of every word, the textural richness and phonetic melody.

Words are just words. Arrangements of alphabets and -

No, wait, they aren't just mathematical permutations of alphabets. There are histories to every word, shades of meanings that meandered through the course of time. Yes, words are more beautiful than just being words.
As Evan casted his vision about the wrought landscape, he felt a flutter of anxiety. Marina Barrage was the epitome of modern living, twin circles of carpet grass interlocking and inviting. Sprays of fountain waters arced gracefully through shallow pools of glistening waters. Lamps - yellow, white and all other shades in between - accentuate the curvilinear forms of bronze sculptures. It looked like the very Arcadia.

Wondrous, idyllic. Serene.

Then, he thought. Not really an Arcadia, perhaps more of an Utopia. Arcadia would mean absolute equality in an idyll while an Utopia has an overlord ensuring universal peace. Indeed, the term Utopia might be more apt. An overlord, hmmm.

He was more satisfied but the peace was not lasting. Dancing confluences of moving air brushed across his face and brought coolness, laced paradoxically with stirrings of unease.

The landscape of buildings afar formed an imposing concrete jungle. Not Utopian at all. Silent cries flowed - poignant, palpable, yet ignored. Human condition manifested in the ugliest manner in tall, shining skyscrapers. Urban dystopia.

His friends called out to him. Time to leave for home. Evan stood up, posed for some photos, threw away two bags of rubbish and strands of unacknowledged thoughts.


To see the World in a grain of Sand

February 12, 2011 , 0 Comments

'To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.'
-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

It struck her, as she sat sluggishly on her chair, that the elliptical motions of planets around the sun mirror the rotations of electrons about a nucleus.

Her mind was divorced from her body and floating about in random realms. She casually picked at the strand of black string straggling out at her cuffs. In other words, Sabrina was bored, stoning and daydreaming. Her distraction, we must understand, was pardonable. In all fairness, it was difficult to drum up enthusiasm about quantum mechanics when the discussion was circling about the same tired issue like a headless housefly.

Then, the truth struck her.

Electrons circle around the nucleus.
Planets circle around the sun.
Moons and rocks, in turn, circle around planets.

There must be a touch of divinity in this underlying order. It was just too neat, too proper. And wasn't the world supposed to tend towards disorder or something?

The knowledge - separated into strands - was common enough. It was just that no one really put them together and considered them in tandem. She paused and thought, wait, isn't there this Newton guy - no, no, Einstein - yes, Einstein was trying to come up with a Grand Unifying Theory before his death, was he not? He must have observed this too.

It felt awesome to feel the intentions of a divine architect. Perhaps, he had intended the world to be neat and tranquil, an Arcadia, but his Promethean efforts went astray? Evidence of his presence - supposed by modern community as scientific laws - exist.

Like Blake, she had seen the world in a grain of sand. Or more accurately, the world in an infinitesimal atom.


Melodies and Writings between past and future

February 08, 2011 0 Comments

The lecturer - Prof John Yip - passed a random comment. 'Blogs were so fashionable, like 5 years ago.'

Immediately, I felt rather paiseh. Thank goodness, I was late and wasn't sitting with the usual group of friends. Wouldn't want to be ribbed, would I?
Recalled Hanwei's comments on my taste in music.

'Do you know, XY, what you'll be listening to in 2014?'


'You'll be listening to music from 2010.'


An Unexpected CNY card

February 04, 2011 0 Comments

He was, unusually, feeling effed up.

This sort of thing shouldn't happen to him. It should happen to Samantha, for example. She's more skilled at being a person. Or Chao Xu or Edlyn or Joy. They're the ones who aspire to be psychologists. Not him, no, not him.

It was a bolt from the blue - unexpected, unforeseen, unknowable. It was ... simply ... awfully ... just ... (Readers-friends/family, as empathic beings, please pause to feel for his frustration as he seeks suitable words to describe his turbulent emotions. Words, as we all know, are inadequate.)

It was memory made manifest.

It was just so unexpected.

The surprise came in the form of a Mr Adhie Shafiq bearing a Chinese New Year card.

Adhie was a resident in a local home for the intellectually disabled where he used to volunteer and it had been years since he last saw Adhie.

Being who he was, Adhie could only mutter a string of incoherent murmurs and stab indignantly at the door's lock. When he feinted ignorance - after all, it was clear that Adhie wanted to enter his home - Adhie grew agitated and took a CNY card out from an unwieldy bag. All Adhie wanted was to enter his home, use his table to write some well-wishes for him. Intuitively, he sensed this. Yet, he was reluctant to let him in. How could he turn Adhie out from his home thereafter?

His uncle hovered in the background and both of them were at a loss. Should they let him in? Suspicion kicked into high gear.

Inspired, he decided to SOS. His friend - Samantha - was a senior volunteer at the home. Surely, she'd know what to do, how best to react.

'Adhie was evicted from the home a long time since. For being violent to his fellow residents. They sent him to IMH but apparently, it didn't help. So, now, he's just staying at his own home.'

'What should I do? He's just standing outside now...'

'Don't worry, you're not the first. He had been visiting all the volunteers who had given him their addresses. To give them Christmas or New Year cards. Just take his card and don't let him in. I wouldn't be able to save you if he refuses to leave your home, haha.'

With a nervous fizz in his blood, he quickly grabbed a random packet of sweets and threw in some Julie's biscuits. He slithered out from a small gap, easing the metal door such that he could exit awkwardly and yet prevent the expectant Adhie from entering.
The little boy. This incident reminded him of it.

What he was willing to give wasn't what they needed.

What he gave wasn't -

He waved goodbye to a retreating shadow but there was no reciprocal farewells. Adhie had refused to look back.

He must have been disappointed, he thought and he knew such dismay well.

How great it was to hope and how devastating it is to realise the futility of optimism! Is this how people become embittered? Shrivelled up from being disappointed one too many times?

He let his right hand fall limply to his side.
To the divine architect,
please grant peace, prosperity and plenty to the people around you. May Tranquility leave indelible imprints on the psyche of all. All the best to one and all,