..:: Kellog ::..


Monday, August 23, 2004

Politically Correct

I watched the new Prime Minister's National Day Rally speech last night. All 3 1/2 hours of it. And I was pretty damn impressed. And I'm not only talking about the 5 day week (which hopefully my company would follow on).

Maybe it arose from low expectations. I couldn't have sat through 210 minutes of GCT...or any other Singapore politician for that matter. We just aren't known for our charismatic politicians (aside from the obvious Lee senior).

I had many thoughts swirling in my head as I watched that speech. Maybe it was because it was the first political speech of significance I've watched while in Singapore since I turned voting-age 21. Maybe because I've gotten so sick of American politics (re: presidential elections) and their expensive slug fests. It was kinda refreshing to be in a smaller pond.

While the PM talked about certain issues that struck a chord in me, I am personally still alienated from their attempts to get more babies, telling people to not have too high expectations for partners, etc. It was ridiculous. Whaddya expect people to do...simply settle for less and get it on to pop out more babies just cos 'leadership' tells you to? I'd rather have them just push the financial incentives and say blatantly "ok, look, this is all we as a government can do, give you financial incentives in hope that you will pop out more babies." Although he did actually recognize that he knew it was a private matter and they're just trying to make it easier for people to have babies, I'd rather he not push a moral claim on "family life" and proclaim how "sad for you" they feel if you don't have kids.

And they are lowering maid levies for people with kids, saying that we in Singapore, unlike Britain and America, are "lucky" to have maids. I've always felt that our 'maid' system is archaic. To make it easier to produce an entire spoilt generation brought up by maids and not their parents is mind-boggling. Of course, families differ vis-a-vis maids, but too many people do not know how to respect individuals enough to have a live-in maid who waits on them hand-and-foot. Eeck...that issue makes me sick...but that's just me.

In any case, other than those 2 matters, I'm happy to be back in a new era of politics in Singapore. It may not be much (we still have the 2nd highest per capital execution rates in the world, without any openness), but I (a beneficiary of this system) do feel more positively towards my own country. Let's see how long my idealism lasts.

One thing's for sure: I hope to see more of my generation being less apathetic about politics as the previous generation was.
kellykelly, 8/23/2004 08:55:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

I was scrolling through the Sistic events calendar when I saw:

Shithole (in Mandarin)

It's apparently about a village whose king took away their toilet shed so they have to shit in the river. There's a hero that's supposed to save the river.

In the Castro, the story would probably be about something else...
kellykelly, 8/23/2004 08:50:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, August 14, 2004

It's All About Timing

I had a decidedly splendid day (that phrase is so borrowed but I lack a better term to sum up the day).

I got up early to do laps in the pool. I love it that Singapore has clean community pools that anyone can use for $1.30 (US$0.75), all day. Beats the gated American system where you have to be part of an institution (school, club, etc) to go swim...or fork out the money to do so.

I went to the Esplanade and walked around. I had a leisurely lunch by myself on the balcony of Ichiban, reading. A couple clearly on their first date sat next to me. Both didn't sound like they were Singapore locals. I'm guessing Philipina and Shanghai-nese. The Chinese dude cut his date short because he received a phone call and rattled off in chinese "ok, I'll be there right this minute". Boo to him. She kept profusely thanking him for the meal. The table was next occupied by another couple. The girl was in her early 20s, the guy above 40 at least. She spoke perfect Singlish to his heavy Australian accent. Both couples were in that early phase of dating where no silence seems to be allowed. I never felt so glad to be eating my lunch in joyful silence. I don't think I fully appreciated it then, but I definitely lucked out with Patrick. We spent our first day together laying out all day in Dolores Park with lots of silence in between our conversations, and the need to fill up the in-betweens never occured to me that day.

I wrapped up 'The Fountainhead'. What a glorious book. I loved it to the end. Howard Roark is one of the sexiest novel heros I've ever read about. I've never thought of a novel hero as hot before. I'd have wanted him to do me in the quarry.

I went to Sunny Bookshop, which is in my view, an institution in Singapore. I've had many a glorious childhood memory when I'd rush eagerly to see if the latest installment of Sweet Valley High was out. Yes, yes, I did use to read Sweet Valley High. We all have skeletons in the closet. I love that bookstore. There's this lady who has been working there (or is she an owner?) for eons, who always knows exactly where any book I request for is. And they wrap each book up so nicely with a plastic cover! I don't see Border's doing that. I told the old guy owner today how I have been coming here as a kid, and how nice it is to come back again after 4 yrs of being away.

So in characteristic Kelly fashion (i.e. when I like something, I obsess), I picked up Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' and 'We The Living'. I'm quite entralled with her philosophy Objectivism. Can't really see myself fully applying it (after all, her social context was her being an ex-Russian with bitter memories of socialism + Cold War stuff), but I like applying bits of it to my life. When my mind is ticking away, it makes working in a corporation (be the ball) that much easier.

I sat at a cafe along Orchard Road picking up my new books. Shucks, I thought. No bookmark. Oh well, I'll find some scrap of paper later to act as one. 15 minutes later, some white dude crosses the path to hand me a bookmark, saying "for your book". Did someone hear my thoughts? Turns out to be a flyer for a mega booksale coming up. Althought the hosting site sells BBQ stuff. Go figure.

And then I saw a leaf falling on top of someone's head as he was walking briskly past. It had fluttered randomly above before just making it on top of his head. And then it continued on his journey.

kellykelly, 8/14/2004 10:55:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Monday, August 09, 2004

Rah Rah Lah

Happy National Day, Majulah Singapura and all that jazz. Now let's hope our new PM announces a nation-wide 5 day work week. That whole alternate 1/2 day Saturday thing doesn't sit well with me (especially if my private sector Bank is the only bank in Singapore that adheres to the public sector's alternate Saturday thing *phhht*). I say, work me up in the work week but don't touch my weekends!
kellykelly, 8/09/2004 04:49:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Hard as a Roark

Every once in a while, a novel comes along that completely takes over my conscious state. There have been many: Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina', Huxley's 'Brave New World', Orwell's '1984', Eliot's 'Middlemarch', Austen's 'Emma', Dave Egger's 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'. The last one was Steinback's 'Grapes of Wrath' this May.

It's timely now that I'm completely obsessed with Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead', completely and utterly sucked into it. Every free time I have is spent reading it. I've even found a way to read the novel while walking home from the bus-stop. And I'm in love with Howard Roark, the anti-hero hero.

It's timely because this period could be pretty painful without the distraction. Not that I'm not learning new stuff, I am, and I am actually enjoying my ride on the steep learning curve that is derived from the point of zero knowledge on banking 2 weeks ago. I have a new-found respect for the beauty of capitalist institutions (after being somewhat antagonistic) after learning about the nitty-gritties of businesses. And things, i.e. namely the SF-->S'pore transition, are riding more smoothly than I expected. I'm reminded again that I've been blessed with the coolest family in the world. My parents are not only loving, but respectful of my space (a combination hard to find in Asian households, I reckon) ; my brother (who has sadly just left for Purdue) proved to be more than exceptional. And the people at work are pretty damn nice people.

But fact remains my passion is still on the other side of the Pacific right now (...6 more weeks). And it's kinda hard to feel passionate about being locked in a overtly air-conditioned (and I mean, freezing, oh lordy, why must we overcompensate?) room for 7 hours a day, with 2 precious 15min coffee breaks in between the 2 halves separated by an hour of hurried lunch shovelling through a lunch crowd.

Then the timeliness of obsession comes in. I can't imagine being bused from home to work, work to home, stuffed amidst tired empty faces without a shield from them. My book protects me from slipping into a form of despair that comes from seeing yourself in them, a part of them. The moment I grab my seat, I defensively whip on my iPod earphones and whip out my book and...just read. Then I'm safe.

Not that I'm only reading 'The Fountainhead' to cower from reality; this book is absolutely mesmerizing. I can't remember why exactly I walked to Sunny Bookshop to buy it on the first day of work. I think I came across a quote in it on a website or something. It's all about the dangers of not being an individual, of believing we are only what society judges you to be. At the height of Peter Keating's (the 'bad dude') glory, he was glorious only because other people believed him to be so:

"He needed the people and the clamor around him. There were no questions and no doubts when he stood on a platform over a sea of faces; the air was heavy, compact, saturated with a single solvent--admiration; there was no room for anything else. He was great; great as the number of people who told him so. He was right; right at the number of people who believed it. He looked at the faces, at the eyes; he saw himself born in them he saw himself being granted the gift of life. That was Peter Keating, that the reflection in those staring pupils, and his body was only its reflection."

And how are we to not fall into that trap if our (my) society has deemed it to be so? In school, we're ranked by grades. No different at work now. We were given a 50 question MCQ test yesterday. We have another one tomorrow. It's the only way they could ascertain we learnt something, they said. Only for this training month. There will be other indicators when we start work work. True. And I believe that Truth. Because I'm one of them. We are taught to work as "a team", we were taught skills to come to a consensus, a decision where everyone is a part of. Then you are judged by someone else on how well you give yourself to the team. Then I turn the page and it's all about the fight to be an individual. That greatness comes from within, not given from without. I believe that. But I'm putting that aside for a bit because it's the easier thing to do. Maybe eventually I'll fight. Right now, no use allowing the tension to set in yet. I'm content for now with the suspension of disbelief, not in Ayn Rand's fiction, but in my reality.

kellykelly, 8/05/2004 07:35:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

That's All I Need To Know

My life is complete.

credits to my brother
kellykelly, 8/04/2004 08:48:00 pm | link | 0 comments |