The organised chaos

Do not stereotype SCGS girls

To say that I am furious is an understatement.
I am livid.
And totally annoyed that our local broadsheet is actually stirring up a storm (a very pointless storm, I might add) that is way past its expiry date.

If you took a read at our national paper this morning, you would undoubtedly have read an article entitled Which schools do you think these students come from?. In it, the reporters tried to confirm if the stereotypes about certain schools and the students that they produce are true. And this is following the flurry of comments from readers about a columnist’s insistence, last Sunday, that she would never send her daughters to her alma mater because the girls from that school are too confident and hence, unmarriageable. In that particular column, she also mentioned that girls from Singapore Chinese Girls School have been known to trade up in marriages but only if you belong to the upper tier of society. If you don’t, then tough luck, you can’t marry up.

In today’s articles, the reporters harped on the notion that SCGS girls want to be tai-tais and are known to be boring. Bullshit, I say. Ask around my friends and they will tell you that I am anything but boring and inane. And to add insult to injury, the article mentioned about our school’s infamous uniform. Well, I happen to like it. It’s cooling and the school does teach us about proper grooming such as shaving, you know.

I am annoyed that these reporters chose to portray my school as a bimbo school. I could tell them a thing or two, given that they probably were never privileged enough to experience life there. Without my school, I would never have had a chance to studying there because they paid for my school fees throughout the four years I was there. Not only that, I also received free, brand new text books every year.

Why did they not talk about how artistically inclined the girls are, given that we were always exposed to a variety of arts, from Russian dance troupes to Australian theatre performances to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra? How about the fact that we were taught every sport under the sun, be it hockey or touch rugby? That we had so much fun even if we ended up with bruises on our legs? Or the fact that we were encouraged to take a mixture of Science and Arts subjects so that we can be balanced beings with knowledge? That we were all made to take Literature and the school will never drop the subject so that our ranking will go up?

I don’t understand what the big brouhaha is about independent single sex schools and the students they produced. Why doesn’t anyone talk about co-ed schools? Or, why bother even comparing? I suppose it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek as a friend says but hey, the subject is rubbish to begin with.

Please, the papers are full of advertisements as it is. Save your newshole for more worthy subjects than comparing which students from which schools are more marriageable.

SCGS has made me “grow nearer the sky” and I am all the better for it. I am proud to be from the school of Emerald Hill.

The organised chaos

Money – the universal language

As Abba was smart enough to realise, money is what you would need to play in this rich man’s world.

Well, lest I get chided for being materialistic, greedy and coldhearted (sniff), let me explain myself.

Hey, I do believe in the greater values of love, freedom, happiness and peace. I place my faith in that I would be a better person should I possess all these values and more.

But really, can freedom let me go to Choir Olympics 2004 in Bremen with my choir?
I don’t think so. I hardly have the pennies to go Bintan/KL with my friends, let alone travel in Europe for a couple of weeks (alright, it’s more like four weeks) in July next year, after I graduate from university.

You see, I have always had this fascination with Europe, fuelled by my first trip to Pohlheim, Germany back in 1999 with Victoria Junior College Choir. The picture perfect rows of houses, the spaciousness, the wondrous cool weather and getting my hands warmed, and singing at a town square amongst flying pigeons. And my desire to go back has not lessen in the least by the passing of time.

But I have just realised that for four miserable nights’ stay in Bremen (that’s in Germany), I have to cough up almost SGD400. And that’s for a standard twin room. You might as well ask me to cough up blood, that would be immensely easier. Multiply that by five (for 20 days’ worth of accommodation), it will be almost SGD2,000. Add in air tickets (another SGD1,500+++++++) and food and transport and we can see where we are heading towards.< Bankruptcy.

And that's even before I step into the corporate world. Hell of a start.

Well, since I do not belong to that kind of family where I can simply stick my hands out, tell Mummy and Daddy dearest that I wanna go on holiday and get the money, I’ll have to think of ways and means to finance my dream tour of the great European cities. Or not go at all.

In the meantime, if you would like to donate to my cause, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, if you do “see” certain numbers in your dreams, tell me about it and make me a rich millionaire.

The organised chaos

Are Singaporeans an unforgiving lot?

This afternoon I finally dragged my wearied body to visit the good ‘ol doc.

At the traffic junction, I waited together with a middle-aged mother and her two small children, who looked like they were no more than ten years of age. As we stood there, I overheard the irate mother rebuking her son, “You forgot to put the ‘s’ in 90 cents and your teacher took one mark away from you. It’s not half a mark but one full mark, okay. That’s 39 out of 40. One full mark for forgetting the ‘s’ in 90 cents.”

As the son tried to defend himself by saying he forgot and will remember it for all his life, the mother cut him off and repeated the same mantra, “You forgot the ‘s’ in 90 cents and your teacher deducted one mark from you. One full mark, you know, not even half a mark. That’s why you have 39 out of 40. It was one full mark, not half a mark.”

Thankfully, for me, the traffic lights turned and I tried to walk away as quickly as possible. But behind me, I could still hear her verbal tirade, expressing annoyance at her son’s carelessness at forgetting the ‘s’ in 90 cents.

For God’s sake, it was just a small mistake, need the mother run down her son so badly? That poor boy had gotten 39 out of 40, which is a really good grade. Wasn’t it enough to just tell him he ought not to be so careless in future and teach him why you need the ‘s’ in 90 centS?

And now we know why this society is so unforgiving of mistakes. As Confucius believes, everything starts with the building block called family. If within the family, such abhorrent attitude exists, it is of no surprise that this attitude extends beyond the parameters of the family and reaches to the society. If we cannot even forgive such minute mistakes, how can the individual grow to be creative? How will the individual dare to be different and learn that the tried and tested route might not be the best way after all? Will the individual learn from past mistakes and go on to cultivate more innovative ideas if every little error he makes is slapped into his face at every opportunity?

I find such parents narrow-sighted and pathetic. A Picasso or Shakespeare might be stifled because of such rigid and unforgiving attitude.

The organised chaos

Bizarre News of the Day

Singapore sure has the weirdest news.

First, I read yesterday that a policeman was jailed for two years because he had consensual oral sex with a 16-year-old girl. Today the issue has escalated into a big debate: Is the ruling on oral sex unjustified?

It’s rather ambiguous to have a law that states that “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animals” is breaking the law. If it’s about involuntary sex, then yeah the law is justified. But to jail those who had had permission seems to be beyond logic and allows for human manipulation to cause harm.

Hmm, in that case, they might need to turn some of those unused HDB flats into jails since most of the population would have had an oral sex experience in their lifetimes. This odd piece of news has even made it to Reuters news wire.

But well, we do know that if Prince Charles had been in Singapore, he wouldn’t be guilty because he did not do it, whatever it is.

In a rather embarrassing public relations fiasco, the British royal family has tried to prevent a scandal involving the prince from reaching the media but rumours are so rife with his “wrongdoing” that he has released a public statement, clarifying that he did not do whatever it was that he was supposed to have done. Needless to say, he was merely dumping pots of fuel into a stoking fire and the media is having a field day ridiculing him and blowing up what was a bonfire into a forest fire disaster. Nobody knows what it was that he had supposedly done but everyone is wondering what it is that’s so outrageous that would prompt him to deny it so publicly.

I can’t wait for the next installment to play itself out.

The organised chaos

Alive but not living

Existentialism, according to the good is “a philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts”. Sounds pretty lofty, huh.

To me, it seems to be more about how you live your life. What, exactly, is the difference between living and existing? Am I living or am I existing?

It would seem to me that living is about bringing meaning to your life. You do exactly what you wish to do. You feel that you belonged in whichever part of the world that you are living iYou you find meaning in the things that you do, a sense of purpose, a feeling of motivation. You revel in the affection of loved ones and reciprocate their feelings. You hope and dream and work towards these hopes and dreams.

On the other hand, existing is less exciting and more mundane. When you exist, you are breathing and alive. You fight for the same air as everyone else. But when you are merely existing, your life ceases to have a direction. You are merely floating on an empty ship, going wherever external forces push you to. Everyday, you wake up, go to work, get stressed/tired/annoyed/hungry, get off work, go home and go online/watch TV/read. And this would repeat itself over and over again. You once had hopes and dreams but they have faded to being blurred and hazy pictures.

Can one ever make the jump from existing to living?

Arts & Entertainment

Local Divas

Just went to M Hotel’s J Bar to catch the launch of local jazz talent, Claressa Monteiro‘s new album, Words Can’t Describe.

It is without a doubt that she is one of the more talented singers of our local scene. However, as a matter of personal preference, I don’t find her singing or style particularly stunning. I would describe her as good but not fantastic.

I can’t help but compare Ms Monteiro with Norah Jones, whom I had the immense pleasure of catching live at the Raffles City Convention Centre about half a year ago. Norah Jones managed to cultivate a sense of rapport with the audience even though she was seated behind the piano most of the time. Plus, her voice quality is warm and mellow, with a richness and fullness that I enjoyed (sounds like an ad for milk).

On the other hand, Ms Monteiro’s voice sounded a little flat and thin at times. The acoustics did not help, with the live band drowning her voice out occasionally and she has a tendency to mumble into the microphone. It’s kinda difficult to decipher what she is singing at times.

But hey, she’s a real good start and it’s really wonderful that a local singer has managed to go as far as she has so here’s wishing her all the best.

Another local singing sensation that I totally love is Corrinne May. Her debut album, Corrinne May is breathtaking. Her lyrices are poignant and touching and her voice, warm and inviting. She is one of my favourite singers of all time.

And so, it is with an acute sense of excitment that I await her concert at the Esplanade Recital Hall on December 26 this year, Music for Superheroes. Do go and catch her live if you can and show some support for our local artistes! I have heard that she is fantastic when singing live and I can’t wait to be there.