Tuesday, May 13, 2003

once in a while in our lives, we get to reconnect with someone from our pasts, and sometimes, just sometimes, it feels as though no time at all has passed us by. eun put me back in touch with evan this morning, and i spent some time reading evan's blog: she sounds so familiar, as though the last time i heard her voice was maybe last week, instead of a whole...god only knows, when's the last time i saw you, evan? 2001 sometime, maybe. the last time EUN was home, which was...erm...too long ago to remember. christmastime 2001. =) but it felt good to hear from you again...this week, for some reason, i've been thinking back on old times. i blame eun and xilei =P xilei for asking me where all the rosyth kids are, and then spending like an hour with me on ICQ trying to remember WHO the rosyth kids are [we remember 36 out of 52! we suck] and then trying to figure out where they are. that's the really hard part; we're scattered all over the world. and then Eun with her RJ canteen table thing. =)

reading evan's post about hems and fabrics and eun's posted poem also made me think about the choices i've made to be here at this point in time, and think about what i sacrificed to be here. i mean, it sounds like a small thing in comparison with what i've gained from making the decision to (a) take a PSC scholarship and (b) come to the University of Chicago, instead of staying at home and going to NUS Arts and Social Sciences faculty like most arts people. but evan's post reminded me that the NUS community builds very strong bonds, and bonds that are tied into the local community and singaporean society at large -- i mean, my parents are still very involved with their NUS/hostel friends from way back when they were in college, and i'll never have the kind of social network that they do because i didn't go to school where the bulk of singaporean graduates go to school -the National University of Singapore. [i am reminded of what a teacher-colleague of mine told me when we were talking about going to college: she said that 'that's where you'll meet your life partner, and if you miss the boat in college you'll probably have a really hard time later on'. when i informed her that i fully intended to get the hell out of singapore for college, she looked thoughtful for a moment, and then very sweetly said 'well, i hope everything works out for you' which made me incredibly depressed for the rest of the day. -grins-] even if the bonds we as singaporeans build with one another here at the U of C are as close knit as anything you'll find at NUS, there are still only a few of us compared with the hundreds, thousands who hang out on the NUS campus every day. most of the time i feel that it's not really a sacrifice that i chose to make [rather, it's something that never even occurred to me in my singleminded desire to leave singapore for my tertiary education; i was DETERMINED not to go to NUS at all costs] but after reading Evan's posts about hall life, i realised that i would never talk about 'hall life' or playing ball with other hostelites; i would never do the things my parents used to do, like play carrom at midnight, or run to the nearby hawker centre and eat supper at like one am, before sneaking back into the hostels...granted, i might do the equivalent of those things here with my friends here, but it's not the same thing as being at home and doing it with friends who will be right there with you every step of the way for the next fifty or sixty years. and that saddens me.

on quite another level: as a PSC scholar and a going-to-be-civil-servant, i have to realise that the majority of the Singaporean population ISN'T like the people who surround me here at the U of C. [and of course i'm talking about the singaporean population on campus as opposed to the general population; i am already aware that most of singapore is neither white nor american -grins-] we're a very select group: mostly scholars from some govt or stat board, coming from comfortable, english-speaking homes, overwhelmingly Rafflesian [that's just insane, the number of RGS girls on this campus is insane, not that i'm complaining since i'm one of them] - which is totally unlike the general population of singapore. college is a time for all the other privileged rafflesians who didn't go to sch out of the country to learn that no, not all of singapore is like them and to have their corners rubbed off and made smooth. we, on the other hand, wind up having our corners sharpened, and our lenses focused even more tightly on the little section of Singapore that has been carved off and transported to this faraway land. we don't have that learning experience of getting to know the whole -or at least some approximation of the whole- spectrum of singaporean society. it's terrifying, as a future civil servant, to think of the many many people like me who have gone before me and risen up the ranks in the service and become our PermSecs and our politicians even. i hope that if one day you do call me Madam PermSec [at this point i don't even know if i WANT that day to EVER come] i will not have forgotten that i and my friends are in no way representative of the population, and my work needs to be aware of that fact.

i guess this post sounds sort of melancholy, but i'm in that sort of a mood tonight. "Things fall apart/The centre cannot hold" -Yeats.

on the other hand i watched two excellent movies today: The Hunt for Red October --how can any movie that has (a) Sean Connery (b) Alex Baldwin when he was young and cute and (c) nuclear submarines in the plural possibly be bad?- and The Blues Brothers. This is the first time i'd ever seen either of those movies, and i loved them both. Blues Brothers is hilarious, and i LOVED the carchase scenes through the sort-of-familiar streets of Chicago, with what looks like the entire Chicago PD in hot pursuit AND crashing into a huge mess somewhere in the Loop on Wabash. -grins- and of course who could forget the invasion of the Daley centre -giggle- by all sorts of uniformed personnel [mmm uniforms]. i'll leave you with a quote from the movie:

It's 106 miles to Chicago. We've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.


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