Christmas 2015

I asked Google about ‘Christmas light up around the world 2015’ and it threw back a list of articles about those in Singapore. 

I tried ‘Christmas lights around the world 2015’and I got what I wanted. 

I think Singapore is the only place that uses ‘light up’; To others, it probably succeeds BOOM! 

The lights along Orchard Road, the main shopping belt here, are pretty this year. SJ and I went on an obligatory drive in the city and oooh-aaah-ed our way till the end. 

 

It seems the lights along Oxford and Regent Streets in London are beyond spectacular. With the forecast of probable snow then, I think it would be magical. 

We are looking forward to experiencing it despite the warnings from family to be careful during this time. I read that Special Forces have been deployed to patrol the streets of UK. That does little to comfort I think because they are ready for a fight in the name of defence. 

In a battle, there are only losers and death. I am not religious but Christmas with all its festivities is my favourite time of year. Let’s see if this one will change my opinion. 

Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris

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Rembrandt and Monet have finally found a place on our shores, thanks to academic and Modigliani scholar, Marc Restellini.

This charismatic guy supposedly created quite a stir in the Parisian art scene with his idea of transversality in art; That art should be curated in a manner that transcends time and form, not collected by periods they were painted nor by the famed artists who created them as is traditionally done. That artists are influenced by what they have been exposed to, consciously or not, and deliver some of that into their original pieces and that some things, like feelings, are expressed in the same way in spite of differences in time, culture, race, religion. Universality, was the word he used.

Interesting concept. No wonder he caused such a furore because this idea, if it gains sufficient momentum, will fundamentally change how art is appreciated. It might also cause galleries the world over to reorganize their collections. I understand the resistance. Change is hard. But it seems The Lourve is making space to start a little section based on this concept. The world’s most visited museum might just pave the way.

In order to fully appreciate the exhibits in the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris, guides are needed. Unless you are rather familiar with art, you will need narration to get you through. By familiar, I mean you need to at least recognize a Picasso and tell when Rembrandt is attempting to create light on his painting. I can identify a Picasso but I’d still be completely lost without a docent.

When I went, there weren’t many locals. I am not sure if Singaporeans are ready for something so highbrow, other than the higher echelons of society and dating couples more interested in each other. No matter, it’s a start.

There is also a special exhibit on Cleopatra that will be a highlight for fans of things Egyptian. Or Greek. The thing about transversality is that Liz Taylor was brought into the picture via the 1963 epic, Cleopatra. I don’t know how he did it, but there were original costumes and props on display too. There is certainly a concerted effort to make art relatable.

Singapore’s Proclamation of Independence

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This will be played at 9am on our National Day over TV and radio.

It is a powerful rallying message, especially when read by charismatic orators whom have built and left a legacy. This is publicised posthumously but it works. I think it went for my gut.

Not sure why this was not made public before but it sure awakened and stirred up dormant feelings of patriotism, more intensely so with the media unabashedly unfurling history we were made to watch recently, because now we can read in between the lines.

Better late than never.

A Month Prior to SG50: Recollections

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It is a month prior to our nation’s Golden Jubilee.

The schools are bringing their Primary 5 pupils to the rehearsals to watch the performers practice their song and dance every Saturday from here on out in preparation for the big day. It is a big treat for the children because tickets to the National Day Parade are notoriously difficult to get. What more those this year? It would be close to impossible.

I much prefer to watch the Parade on TV in the comfort of my couch. But I digress.

I was observing how much the schools were involved in this. Other than lessons on National Education, performances and numerous activities leading up to the big day, I also came across a deck of slides containing lyrics of past National Day songs for the pupils. Yes, we have that – the tradition of coming up with a new song every year for N-Day. But I am quite glad that the powers that be decided to do away with it this year; The songs of late made citizens cringe and made my grandma’s false teeth drop while trying to rappity-rappity-rap so I guess they killed it.

So, the slide deck with the lyrics. I flipped through and read a page entitled “Recollections”. It is a 5-minute history lesson that I think may have been dramatised a little to help rally people together on such a day. The effort is borne out of good intentions but I shall reserve my opinion on its effect on the young in terms of their ability to understand and, lo and behold, appreciate the meaning behind the words. Right. I am usually cynical of passages like these. But, this one moved me. I hope it will prod something awake in the students as well.

There was a time, not long ago, when other flags flew in Singapore; The British flag in colonial rule and the Japanese flag in war.

There was no freedom, no justice, when our forefathers stepped ashore. Life was a struggle, bitter and hard, and families were hungry and poor.

They spoke a dozen different tongues, though their dreams were all the same. But their hopes for a better life were lost when war and invasion came.

After the war, we called for change, for the right to decide our fate. Some of us wanted Democracy, others, a Communist state.

Riots and killings in our streets, years of hate and fear. People said we’d never survive as independence drew near.

When self-rule came, we took a vote and joined Malaysia, merged as one. But even friends disagree sometime, and more trouble had soon begun.

August nine, nineteen sixty five, we were out of Malaysia…alone! Against all odds we had to build a nation of our own.

We’ve come this far, by ourselves, one people from many lands. Our forefathers paid the price for us; Now the future is in our hands.

This is our home, where we belong, and our flag flies high and free. But let’s not take for granted what we have will always be.

Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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As with most things Singaporean, the Botanic Gardens did not strike me as a location that would earn a place in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nor any esteemed list that requires a respectable degree of heritage, historical or cultural background. We are, afterall, only 50 years young.

But we did. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the third garden to appear in the list after Kew Gardens in England and Padua Gardens in Italy.

The question I had was when I first heard the news was ‘How ?!’

Two reasons:
1. Contribution to Trade. We have to thank the rubber seed that made its way here from Kew Gardens, grew up well, and multiplied, thereby prodding the growth of the rubber industry. In fact, rubber did so well here that Malaya became the world’s top producer and exporter of rubber then.
2. History. (Really). The Gardens was set up by the British 156 years ago and its tropical colonial garden landscape hasn’t changed since. We still have the old parchments left by the British detailing all species of plants in the Gardens! It also survived WWII. Golly.

So as America celebrates Independence Day, we pop the best champagne over our inscription of the Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It may be comparatively a small feat, but it is a big deal for a nation that you can barely see on the world map. Particularly so as we close in on our Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Now, we can add this fast fact into Singapore travel guides, beside the line that says chewing gum is banned here.

Shakespeare in the Park

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That is a stage shaped like a book built for the Shakespearean play, The Tempest, in Fort Canning Park with part of the Singapore skyline as its backdrop.

I think this is might be lavish even by the standards of the art stages of the world. I would not have imagined that this would appear here. Singapore has always been a prude in spending but I am glad she is finally extending her purse strings to include the arts.

I am still trying to reconcile what my eyes are telling me and the stubborn mind that refuses to believe. Given time, the eyes will win.

Singapore has a Bay Area too

Marina. Bay. Sands. aka The Casino. Kekeke!

The southern landscape of Singapore has been forever changed by extensive land reclamation that made possible a water barrage, a rather gorgeous man-made gardens, the Eye, and the building with Noah’s Ark v2.0 sitting at the top.

All of which are aesthetically pleasing yet economically practical touristic icons catering to extreme tastes – from a haven for green-fingered hobbyists to a cesspool where sinners gather.

But it is a welcomed change because it is a feast for the eyes, appreciated only by those whom are blissfully unaware about their deprivation of natural beauty.

So devastatingly well-balanced. So Singaporean.

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