I literally grew up here.
Back in the ’80s, My aunt and uncle owned the snack/drinks store at The Cathay and my mama worked for them. Weekends were spent at the cinema. In the mornings, I would board SBS number 25 with my mum for that one-hour ride into town. Of course, buses were not air-conditioned then but I don’t remember being put off by it. In fact, I loved to sit by an open window, feeling the sting of the wind whipping on my face. I still love that sensation now, come to think of it.
At the store, my uncle was kind enough to let me sit on the counter top, behind a dizzying array of snacks that were on offer. He used to let me scratch those lucky draw cards that came with cartons of packet drinks, which was SO! MUCH! FUN! for a tot. And when I was done with running the business, the cinema attendants would quietly sneak me into the theatre. Inside the darkened theatre, I would perch on the steps to watch movies.
One movie that remained steadfastly in my memories was The Fly. Because it FREAKED ME OUT SO BAD. I was terrorised and had nightmares for ages. In fact, I can still vividly remember some scenes from that movie. TRAUMATISED, I WAS.
Mmm, not the best movie to show a preschooler, on hindsight. Clearly nobody thought, then, to think about the movies that a little person could sit in on. (Note to self: Do not screen shows featuring man transforming into a human-sized, gooey mess of a fly to my children.)
When the owners closed the cinema for renovations, my mum and aunt and uncle lost their jobs. And when it eventually reopened again, it had become nothing like the Cathay that I knew. Everything was so new and snazzy and shiny and bright.
BUT. The greatest thing was that the owners re-hired some of the old cinema attendants whom I grew up with. There was once my cousins and I went to watch a movie at The Cathay and the attendants recognised them! It was so amazing.
Come to think of it, it was a pretty simple childhood that I led. But wow, some of the memories that I still retain after so many years – who would have known? Something to keep in mind as I totter along this parenting journey which has no instruction manual and no back button to push.
Recently, I have been hit by a lingering case of the blues. Travel blues, to be more specific.
Maybe it’s the fact that many of my friends are currently overseas now, but I suddenly feel the urge to quit my job and go see the world. Uproot and live in another environment. Change my current pace of life. Explore new surroundings. Challenge myself a little. Check out a new city and discover its charm and beauty. Retrace our steps in our favourite destinations.
And I want to experience life in a setting that’s different from what I have now. Not to say that it is a terrible existence, but well, different. Instead of being hot and sticky all the time, I miss the days when we huddled into our coats while walking down the streets. When we happily walked and walked everywhere because the weather allowed it. When the fallen leaves crunched beneath our boots. When we tumbled laughing and breathless from the cold into a cafe to have a cup of hot chocolate.
Ah, travel bugs.
For personal reasons, we can’t travel right now and I can only imagine that one day, we will get to do all of the above. I know the man will want to walk among the hustle and bustle of New York City, bask in the holy grounds of 1 Infinite Loop, catch a live football match in England, revisit the alleys of Tokyo, jump back onto the cafe trail in Sydney and eat our way around Hong Kong again.
Seven Mid-Autumn Festivals ago, we pledged our lives to each other, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.
(Not including for richer or for poorer because I completely missed that out when I was reciting my vows. Yeah, I totally fluffed it up, heh.)
We had envisioned a joyful celebration under the stars and the beautiful moon, as the waves crashed upon the shoreline. It was perfectly planned, the date was certainly not chosen at random. There was going to be singing and dancing, and feasting. We even picked out the spot where we would be wed, under this tree:
The morning of our wedding day was scorching hot. And then it started raining in the evening.
In the end, the decorations lovingly put up by my dear friends were drenched and washed out. The lanterns that we had placed on every single seat were left unused. We had to hastily shift all the tables and chairs indoors and it was, honestly, chaotic.
Instead of reciting our vows under that tree, we were saying “I do” under the bright lights of the function room.
I was pretty disappointed and heartbroken at that moment when Mr Thick said that we had no choice but to move indoors. But it turned out fine: we still got married, had heaps of fun and our friends got roaringly drunk. It was still one of the best nights of our lives.
Seven years ago, we became husband and wife on September 14. This year, on that date, we spent the afternoon together, just the two of us. It was a simple date, nothing fancy, no expensive meal, no lavish presents. But it was time well-spent. I was feeling tired from the long and exhausting semester, feeling deflated from just about everything, and so the day went by just like that. We ended up picking up the boys and spending the evening with my sister and her family.
Seven Mid-Autumn festivals later, on this day, we spent it with our boys and then with his family. Serendipity, I suppose. The night is quiet with both A and Z finally sleeping, and the mister has dozed off with them. It’s just me, with a slice of moon cake and my two cats keeping me company.
I’m home. And happy.
I don’t know what the future holds for us and how the next Mid-Autumn Festival will look like. I mean, in the past seven years, we have gone through a fair bit of pain, drama, trauma, blood and tears. There were times when I had no idea if we were ever going to remain us.
But here we are, tired but happy. With two littles and two feline babies in tow. He’s not perfect but neither am I, and together we balance out each other’s shortcomings. Like I have always said, we may not be perfect to each other but we are certainly perfect for each other.
Marriage is hard work, staying in love with someone is so much more difficult than what those ridiculous books and movies tell you. It’s a choice, it’s an active choice that we make every single day.
And so I choose him. As our wedding vows go, until death do us part.
(Or if he becomes poorer. In which case, HASTA LA VISTA BABY!)
The past two weeks have been quite a crazy whirlwind.
The week after the epic SG50 National Day was the last week of the semester and it was chock-a-block full of assessments and assignment deadlines. We hardly had time to breathe and then it was over. It felt like I had barely pushed my head out of the water for a quick gasp of oxygen before I had go back in again, to tackle the mountain of marking that awaited.
In the midst of it all, the littlest started teething AND jumped into his next Wonder Week. So sleep was not forthcoming.
Okay, what I am trying to say is, I IS TIRED. And therefore no bloggity blog.
It’s getting better now. I’ve cleared two-thirds of my work. I’ve been shopping online like crazy and stress binging on chips and chocolates. The husband got off work early yesterday and surprised us by being at home by bath-time. We had so much fun before the babies went off to bed. And I was so stressed and tired that I declared a holiday was much needed and we are off to a beach holiday next month.
YAY YAY TRIPLE YAY.
In the meantime, I still need to clear my head and make some tough decisions/plans. But that can wait – because my clunky mental CPU belongs to the noughties and simply lacks the capacity to think straight these days.
So I’ll show some pictures. During the long Jubilee Weekend, husband was dying to watch The Black Knights in action. On the first day, everyone got rained out and horror stories of crazy queues were spreading fast and furious on the social networks. When it started to pour on the morning of the second day, I was NOT IMPRESSED.
But he was really looking forward to it. And so I swallowed my skepticism, packed the boys into the car and we zoomed down to Gardens by the Bay to see if we could get a good view of the aerial display. Luck was on our side, the rain had subsided and there were parking lots.
After 90 minutes of waiting under the hot sun and sweltering in the humidity, the show started.
Did I say I wasn’t keen to catch the show? STUPID ME. It was amazing. Breathtakingly amazing. My jaw dropped open right from the start and by the time it ended, it had reached the ground. It was EXCITES MAXIMUS.
I shot these with my humble 17-50mm lens with Zac in a wrap on my hip. Picture this: he was sitting on my hip and I had my left hand pressing his ears into my body to prevent the noise of the planes from getting to him. I was virtually shooting with my right hand holding up the DSLR. Not the best set-up, I guarantee!
Bonus: the kid fell asleep as we were walking back to the car after the show ended.
So all in all, great show. We were thrilled by the spectacle and it was absolutely worth the wait. Thank you RSAF and thank you Black Knights for giving us something that we will remember for a long, long time to come.
After much fanfare for the past year or so, we are FINALLY here: August 9, the day that our forefathers declared our independence from our noisy neighbour up north.
While many Singaporeans chose to make use of the long weekend to travel, we opted to stay home. Strangely enough, it never occurred to us to go for an opportune holiday, we simply decided that we wanted to remain in Singapore to celebrate the golden jubilee of our nation.
Maybe we are patriotic, I don’t know. I never thought of us as that. We are just Singaporeans who love our nation deeply. At the same time, we are not entirely blind to the faults of our leaders and our government. But we know that it would be a massive injustice to equate our home with our government.
Like most Singaporeans, I love many things about this country. The food, for instance. The well-connected public transport system. The cleanliness. The greenery. The crisp air. The Singlish. The malls. The parks and playgrounds. The convenience. The relative safety. The education system. And like most Singaporeans, I dislike many things about this country. The education (yes, it’s a love-hate thing). The kiasu parents. The one-track way of evaluating and assessing our young. The crazy car prices. The ridiculous property prices. Policy makers who live in ivory towers and have no clue of the struggles the rest of us face. Social media lynch mobs whose mouths are larger than their brains.
But as I stood at the bridge connecting Gardens by the Bay, Bay East to Marina Barrage while watching the Black Knights take to the skies, I was moved. By the stunning and thrilling performance, of course, but also by the infectious joy and happiness that connected my fellow countrymen and me.
Despite what many critics and naysayers proclaim, Singaporeans are not a bunch of emotion-less, joy-less people. As a nation, we may not be adept at showing our emotions but this does not mean that we do not feel. I only have to look back at the past seven months to find great examples that show just how good and kind and compassionate we can be: the kindness rendered to us when we paid our last respects to Mr Lee, when Singaporeans rushed to pull up a truck that was pinning a man down, those who helped out frustrated commuters stuck during the massive MRT breakdown.
As we take a step towards the next 50 years of our short but fulfilling history, I think it’s time that we aspire towards Singapore 2.0. While the past 50 years was all about economic viability and progress, now that we have achieved that, it’s time we look at the heartware and build a better Singapore.
A home that is more compassionate to those who may not be measured by the same yardsticks as everybody else. A home that allows for responsible, open conversation without the fear or threat of being incarcerated. A home that accepts, encourages and allows for divergence. A home that respects all individuals, regardless of who they love, where they studied, what they look like.
Happy birthday, my beloved Singapore. It has always been you, and it always will be. Let’s make the next 50 years a beautiful one together, shall we?
Love letters to my nation: