i turn 26 today.

the month my sister turned 26, she took her marital vows. three months later, she and her husband completed the traditional marriage rites, wedding dinner and all. i spent the month leading up to this day wondering whether my ex might text (he hasn’t).

the sense that the grass is greener on the other side shows itself at times like these. my sister has stated before that she is sometimes jealous of my carefree lifestyle – no familial commitments except to my parents while she has a husband and a daughter to take care of too, no big financial obligations because im not eligible for affordable public housing yet plus i don’t drive… instead i jet off whenever the holidays roll around, adventures that she can’t afford the time, money and energy for.

what she doesn’t seem to realise is that i look at her family and wonder what’s wrong with me. i want to love and be loved. i could be persuaded to give up the travelling to spend time with my beau. i would make sacrifices for him, too.

but what im left with is a quarter-life crisis, with unfortunately enough self-awareness to loathe myself for being so self-absorbed when there are far more serious problems out there where i may be able to make a difference were i to humble myself and get to work.

do people ever grow out of lamenting singledom? or will this nudge my heartstrings till the day i meet someone or meet my maker?

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a breakup, in books: love poems

i bought this little anthology as a valentine’s day gift for myself some years back.

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last year, carol ann duffy came to singapore as one of the keynote speakers for the singapore writers festival (swf), and my lovely friend, grace, invited me for a poetry reading by her.

i brought my books to be autographed, and, on the spur of the moment, got madame de poet laureate to address this book to him and me.

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‘oh, that’s my brother’s name!’, she commented as she wrote.

two weeks and a day later, e announced that it was over between us.

what do i do with this potent reminder of a failed relationship?

jy, ever elegantly pragmatic, has offered her services: ‘well, shall i liquid paper his name off for you?’ nad sighed out loud: ‘given that she’s a love poet, perhaps she should have known better than to inscribe a lover’s name in a book’.

how fickle the heart, how fleeting love is. of course, one can never fully appreciate the beauty and anguish of love poems until one has been in (and out of) love. why does it have to be so painful though?

sunday cooking 5

i thought i’d torture my folks a bit more with my tremendously average cooking, so here goes some chicken and capsicum frolicking away happily in a pan –

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then some shiitake and white buttons decided to crash the party –

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which all ended when the beehoon showed up –

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with salt, pepper and light soy sauce to taste before serving.

acm after dark

not being on facebook makes me feel quite out of touch with stuff so im always grateful whenever friends ask me out for events –

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halloween special at the asian civilisations museum (acm) by the river. it’s been years since i last came here!

the special touch came with the docents being stationed specifically at artwork and deities associated with the afterlife, explaining in detail the significance of the artefacts unearthed from graves: statues, jewellery, urns etc.

there was a getai playing familiar favourites –

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these socio-cultural practices really belong in the lunar seventh month domain of the hungry ghost festival, but i suppose the idea got postponed to a halloween event instead out of deference to cultural sensitivities and because people are just pantang (superstitious) about seventh month. by that, i mean that i have met people from varying religions (or no religion) in Singapore who remark that the stuff with seventh month is ‘real’ while halloween is just for fun. mostly, i’m too lazy to point out the logical inconsistencies, plus i know little of intangible beings and things, so i shrug it off.

i didn’t dress up because i was out grading papers at a coffee shop, so this was the best i could do –

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my best imitation of a pontianak.

happy halloween, all. (you know, i have never tried pumpkin pie in all my life! i wonder whether it’s available in Singapore?)

book buying dilemma update

an impulse buy today, really –

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Margaret Visser’s The Geometry of Love,
subtitled Space, Time, Mystery, and Meaning in an Ordinary Church

Read a sample here on NYTimes.

i doubt it will arrive in time for my birthday next week, with it being mailed all the way from the USA from a used bookseller. i decided on this instead of the books on walking because the church building has been a big part of my life this past year. i have spent so much time sitting, kneeling in churches, contemplating, reflecting, crying, praying over a broken relationship, but yet i know so little about religious art and architecture. the reviews seem promising, and i hope that reading the book will help me to experience churches better, given that i am going to visit rome soon!

dec 2012: trekking in sri lanka

this walk offers quite the view over tea plantations, and so it is quite unfortunate that my salient memory of this walk is that of me wearing insensible canvas flats and trying not to get them muddy.

we hired a car to get us to Horton Plains National Park early in the morning

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it looks very much like england, no? do you think I’ll be able to pass them off as the peak district, because I lost my photographs of that?

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along the way, you’ll pass baker’s falls

Baker Falls

and be sprayed with refreshing fine mist, leaving the area with your clothes slightly damp…

the abrupt sight of world’s end caught me by surprise.

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we hardly caught our breaths when the clouds rolled in, as they always do after 10-11am…

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within minutes, the view was thoroughly obscured, and i felt bad for the tourists who came a little later, because all there was to see was the cloudy, foggy mist. am i glad for our walking guide who kept hurrying us along, or we’d be the disappointed ones too.

anyway, the park bestowed a farewell to us, which made us scramble for our phones and cameras…

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i’d like to head to more of Sri Lanka’s national parks sometime in the future.

book buying dilemma!

it’s a good dilemma to have. I’ve been contemplating a birthday present for myself, and i’m torn between the following two books

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A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros

or

Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit

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Right now, my preferences tend toward Gros, mainly because I had the opportunity to skim some pages at the local Kinokuniya, whereas I only came across Solnit while reading reviews of Gros.

Alternatively, I could choose to buy neither, because I know my colleagues have chipped in to purchase a book for my birthday – it’s either gonna be the latest Murakami Haruki or a title from the Man Booker shortlist.

After all, why read a book about walking when you could just…walk? I’m gonna trail through my computer in search of photographs taken on walks and share them here.