Here’s the first part of the challenge for Spectacular Settings
1. Firstly share a paragraph from a novel, or an extract from a poem, or a photograph that stopped your heart with a spectacular setting etc.
2. Describe how your chosen ‘setting’ spoke to you. Why did you like it?
(A still frame from a video clip) Welcome to My Home, Singapore
I was on a study abroad programme to the UK when this National Day Parade was aired. I streamed it live over in London so that I could watch it “with” my family, 8 hours apart, and my breath was literally taken away at the skyline of Singapore. Being in London at the time, I revelled daily in the history and architectural marvels of England, always feeling regretful that Singapore had chosen to rid ourselves of many a heritage marker in order to build the modern city. At that moment, though, the glitz and glamour of our Central Business District (CBD) stopped my heart. The irony of me learning in the land of our (ex-)colonisers was not lost on me – sometimes, decades on, we have yet to lose the flawed perspective that the colonial masters are better, even though we have since proven ourselves to be as capable (or more). This video remains one of my top choices whenever foreign friends ask me for a quick introduction to this mysterious land called Singapore (which is NOT in China, by the way. We are a tiny but proud independent nation.) and it usually takes their breath away too.
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Part 2 of the challenge
Then you have the option to:
a) write your own ‘setting’ piece in any genre, or share a ‘setting’ from your WIP, or…
b) write your own poem which highlights ‘setting’, or
c) share a photograph that blows you away every time you look at it and tell us why.
d) share an artwork that shows a ‘setting’ you love and tell us why you love it.
e) write a small playscript which highlights ‘setting’.
This is a supremely incomplete piece for options a&e (hurhurhur) – I was gunning for travel writing, but I also imagined it as a conversation between two people, and thus it became a dialogue-heavy play. Have mercy, and here goes –
A bare stage, with a backdrop of a forest.
A road-end, during a jog.
Dan: Where to, next?
En: Follow the pony tracks!
Dan: But that goes…into a forest. We are going to a forest?
Dan: Oh. I didn’t expect that. I thought you said a cemetery.
En: It is the cemetery. Straight ahead, I think.
Dan: I was kinda expecting tombstones, not the woods.
En: This was before they realised that land is scarce in Singapore.
Dan: By the way, Google Maps says we are standing in a random grey patch. Big random grey patch. You’re the boss now.
En: Uh, I’ve only been here twice. I followed wherever the experienced guide went. Hehe.
Dan: Now you tell me! You bring me to a cemetery during the seventh month and you don’t even know the place well!
Dan: Wahlau seventh month leh. Other times I don’t care, but this month the spirits are up and about…
En: Don’t worry, just be friendly! After all, these are our forefathers. They won’t harm us. Hehe.
Dan: Oh please, take a look at yourself. They will probably think you are incompetent and destroying their hard work.
En: Ah. Good point. It’s ok. Just don’t step on any incense or food offerings and don’t step on the graves themselves and it should be alright.
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Some background information:
I used some Singlish vocabulary and grammar structure in this for authenticity.
The seventh month refers to theHungry Ghost Festival, where the realm between the spirit world and ours is open, and the deceased are believed to visit the living. We are in the eleventh day of the seventh month as I write. Thanks for reading!
Word Count: 669 words
MPA: Minor Points Acceptable