No shit, Sherlock!

How about the relentless barrage of information in our local papers about how important foreign talents are, and how happy the ones who are already here are? No? Doesn’t get your goat? Then read about how our Apache pilots find training in Singapore so different from the Arizona desert:

No shit, Sherlock
Geophogry nosso good also can be pilot!

Then again, we live in a country where you really, really have to explain, on really big ads on taxis, that Summer’s Eve is for washing “down there”:

When you're not so fresh down there

And where you call the fire department if there’s something wrong with your toilet:

Multi-tasking multi-flushing firemen
You want to see prompt actions? I prompt actions all over the floor for you!

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Ab Origine

The whole debacle was over a racist comment, wasn’t it?

Because E@L is Ang Moh, and I had used the word Ang Moh to describe, well, Ang Mohs, he’s taken offence but also kindly pointed out that Ang Moh is also a racist tag. Any nickname derived from the physical attributes of the members of a race or an ethnic group is a racist tag. And racist tags are bad.

It is going to be a difficult change to eradicate this racist tag from my vocabulary because my Hokkien grandmother is going to have to make do with my explaining that my business partners are from overseas, from America.

She’s going to ask in Hokkien, ‘So, they are Ang Moh, lah?’

And I will have to say, ‘No, actually, their Moh is not that Ang, but they are from America’.

But she will probably say something like, ‘American people are Ang Mohs, what!’

And it will go on. Then the cows will come home. Then a new advertising company will be formed amidst pledges that the rights of workers remain paramount throughout decades of change and advancement.

(Actually, E@L is not so much an Ang Moh as he is a Boh Moh. With my fragile patch slowly but surely growing, I’m a-gonna be one too. So, we’re gonna be brothers, he and I! It’s gonna take some time, but it’ll happen. I’m already made of 10% beer, and closing in on his composition too.)

Her Moh also quite Ang, what!

Surf stop: Val

Vale, Wee Kim Wee; Vale, Krishen Jit
iTunes’ party shuffle is playing a copy of: Caught in the Middle – Cerys Matthews – Cockahoop, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn’t steal music.

Our secret history

‘A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that that patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.’

Jorge Luis Borges, Afterword, El Hacedor

I’ve used this quote before. And I’m doing it again because I don’t have anything else at hand that describes better what I feel right now.

I was quite pleased to find out last night that a letter I wrote to someone I fell in love with ages ago was still being kept. Why keep all your old love letters? Because. See above quote. And read this.

Same reason why we should document, narrate and journalise other things.

There is an especially desperate need to do this in Singapore, because our past is being erased so efficiently (try getting 8 day old Straits Times articles online), and I’ve been thinking that maybe that’s why there are so many of us who feel so alienated in our own country. I think there are very few people around my age who can say the house/flat they lived in for the first three years of their lives is still standing.

The other thing that precipitated this warm-fuzzy-serious sentiment was another conversation I had where I remembered I didn’t speak English for the first five years of my life, stayed in a house on Pasir Panjang Road, across from a beach that had a jetty, and where fishing boats would come in daily and unload their catch for fishmongers who set up shop down the road. I’ve kept notes on and off:

The shophouses on the corner of Pasir Panjang and Clementi Road are still there, but the beach is now part of the PSA, stretching beyond the West Coast Highway and how many kilometres before you can even smell the sea.

The same sea which my father threatened to throw me into when I had a fight with Grandma. (And he really looked like he was gonna do it when he put me in a wicker basket and carried me across the road to the beach.)

The car park at Cold Storage Orchard Road, where Centrepoint is now. There was a Milk Bar out front, where we’d pester my mother to buy us milkshakes after grocery shopping. We’d drink our shakes and then throw up in the car after, because the the road back home was a winding two-lane deal, from Orchard, to Napier to Holland to Clementi to Pasir Panjang Road.

The grand old airport at Paya Lebar. Where the departures and arrivals were two separate buildings, and where they had signboards telling male visitors to keep their haircuts neat and short. And where I fell off the airplane steps boarding my first airplane journey and where I bumped my head as a result.

There are more notes but there are also many of us who can make a much more coherent history of all the things around them. And many of you are blogging. I’d like for you to keep doing it and get around this contemptible policy of denying us easy access to our history.

Now, read that quote again.

iTunes’ party shuffle is playing a copy of: Something – The Beatles – 1967-1970 Disc 2, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn’t steal music.