Posts Tagged ‘ singapore ’

All Aboard the Train of Bad Manners

Sometimes I wish I was Superman, able to fly anywhere I want to in a blink of an eye. Sometimes I wish that I had listened to my parents and got my driver’s license, instead of the crappy learner’s permit that I’m stuck with because I was too lazy to clock enough hours. And sometimes I wish I had a red-haired best-freckled-friend who had a flying car, or a friend who was a know-it-all female wizard (is that a witch, or is that offensive?) and could wave her wand at a car shouting “TOYOTA-LEVIOSA!!”

But until that happens, I think I’ll just take the train. Continue reading

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The Random Musings of an Attention-Seeking Author: 19 July 2012

 

I’ve been trying to reconnect with my old friends from across the seas (Australia), and I have to say, it is hard. What do you say when the fellow classmate you say hello to tells you that he got married to another one of your classmates? What do you say when a friend of yours from church informs you that a man you knew passed away? What do you say when your mate casually throws in there that a mutual acquaintance has a baby on the way?

Continue reading

The Random Musings of an Attention-Seeking Author: 30-06-12

Live! LLLIIIIIIVVVVEEE!!!!!

Just thought I would revive an oldie of mine, where I would chat inanely about my week, and at the same time, write down any random thought of mine that popped into my head. POP!

Continue reading

A Time To Dream

I love to dream.

Sometimes I imagine myself standing on a mountain, no one next to me but a great sense of achievement. I have pride, not the bad kind when you’re arrogant, but the good kind like melted chocolate, that I have climbed the highest peak, the tallest hill, and that I’m currently perched on the king of the mountains spying the world in front of me. I am seeing the bustle of the cities, one with them and yet apart from them, over everything with the sense of achievement, that I have accomplished a feat that will be shouted from the rooftops, whispered in the halls, and spookily repeated over campfires to young little scouts out on their first expedition.

It is possible, you know. It is possible to achieve your dreams. Possible to climb that mountain, possible to get that driver’s license, possible to write that story. There’s a story idea that has been kicking around in my mind like a loose pebble for months now, and for quite a while I have desired to type it out and lay it on an unsuspecting public like bird poop from the heavens, only nicer, more interesting, and less of a mess to clean from your cardigan. I could say that I haven’t done so because I am still in the army, where my effort is spent in defending Singapore from threats physical, psychological and possibly mythological as well (if Cthulhu appears, we shall fight!).

The truth is I have been fighting the great double-headed dragon, apathy and distraction. And by frozen peanuts, I think they are winning.

But I have a secret weapon. And I think that monster ain’t gonna like it.

Yes. This blog is back.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

Picture taken from http://jedihawk.net. Used without permission. Tell me if you want it taken down, owner.

Respect Your Elders, You Young Whippersnappers!

Salutations, as the spider Charlotte said to the pig Wilbur. How is the general disinterested community today?

The reason why I’m updating is because of an unusual event that occurred a few days ago. No, not the floods, or even my eighteenth birthday – which I spent running around the entire length of the Singapore CBD. No, this is something that is so mind-blowing that it is even more contentious than the whole Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debate. The subject is the elderly.

You know, those shuffling, grumpy old people whose hair is slowly giving up the fight to stay on their heads. The bunch of wrinkly folk who either prefers to spend their time snoozing in a rocking chair or running after/over kids with their motorized death-traps of doom.

Or killing monsters with glowing staffs. That’s just another of their daily activities, after shuffleboard.

But to move on to a slightly less ludicrous stereotype, those who are 60 and over (including those who LOOK 60 and over) tend to populate any place you can see, and just like the different countries, them old folk have differing cultures. Since I have been blessed to live in both Australia and Singapore, I am qualified to pretend to know what I’m talking about.

The Australian old folk are nothing like those frail, dying old men you see on TV. In fact, they probably put that man in the hospital. Those guys keep fit and active through a healthy lifestyle of bowls, speed-walking, and chasing their daughter / granddaughter’s potential suitors away with a shotgun or a well-placed cauldron of hot oil. Heck, in Western countries, the grandparents may even be getting more suitors than their grandkids. In Singapore, it’s almost the opposite. With the lack of space to swing a cat, the pollution so thick that you could feel it, and the fact that most Singaporean older folk prefer to either stay in and watch Cantonese dramas or stay in and gamble, those people can spend ten years in a comfortable rocking chair being sustained on ancient Chinese kung fu serials alone.

Though to be frank, any diseases in your body would probably die when they see IP Man.

However, one thing is for certain: The older generation has lived longer than all of us hip Gen Y folk. They have centuries of combined wisdom between them on a range of subjects life, marriage, schooling, and gambling. At least, the last was more for the Asian community. The Australians probably teach their kids to hunt koalas or ride kangaroos or something. But altogether, most of us obey and honour our parents, whether it’s because of love and deep familial bonds, whether it’s because of a biblical imperative (Exodus 20:12, NIV), or whether it’s simply because they’re giving us our allowance. The question is, do we, as a younger generation, have to obey the orders given by strangers of the older generation?

Of course, for purposes of this discussion, I of course mean legitimate orders given by a member of the older generation (middle age and over) to one of the younger (say, 20 and younger) in the course of everyday life. This does not include illegal requests or orders, or even requests. If someone orders you to do something and you have to biological or emotional prerogative to do so, would you do it?

I, as a partially-Singapore education teenager, have been brought up in a culture that demands courteous respect to our elders (i.e. anyone older than us), because that is our tradition. Family is one of the most important things in Singapore, and tradition states that we must defer to all elders, even strangers. While that all seems sunny and green, it does have a dark side – though I have no time to go through that at the moment. If you would like to do some further reading, have a look at Neil Humphrey’s Notes from an Even Smaller Island.

But why wouldn’t you want to live in a system that respects your elders? You might ask, and I’m sure that many of my older relatives would in a furious tone of voice. In response, may I just tell you a story? Note that all this is true, and it really did happen to me.

I was riding on the bus a while ago in Singapore. As with most public transport anywhere in the world, it was quite full, but thankfully not packed like a can of sardines. Or like the morning trains I used to take to work, where it was so full that the doors would close less than two inches from my face in an Indiana Jones-esque fashion. But I digress. The Singapore buses were shaped in such a way that there were two doors and two distinct ‘parts’ to a bus. The back had the normal rows of seats filled with rubbish and sticky substances and a narrow aisle, while the front had seats facing sideways, and on the other side was a space for people to stand / a wheelchair / some young goats and a goatherd named Peter. If anyone gets the reference, I owe you a candy bar.

On that fateful day, I was standing in that space and attempting to simultaneously peer out of the window to observe Singaporeans in their natural habitat and keep away from direct sunlight lest I either burn, get skin cancer, or sparkle and be cursed to act in a sappy teenage vampire romance movie. On the seats facing sideways (and me), there was an elderly gentlemen in his, I would estimate, late 50s, and his wife sitting comfortably. Between us were about four very young school children, say about 9-11 years old, still in their school uniforms. They were all from the same school, and were situated around the front entrance and between me and the old folk, and then a gap between them and the steps to the back section.

Now that the Agatha Christie novel-style description (long and draggy) is over, here’s where things get interesting. All of a sudden, and breaking my thoughts on whether the first bulldog was actually a crossbred between a bull and a dog, the old man suddenly spoke up, snapping at one of the kids who was standing in the aisle.

“Hey, you! Boy! Which school are you from?!?!?”

The little boy, in confusion, did an  ‘Are you talking to me?’ gesture, before answering the man.

The man grunted in satisfaction, before continuing: “Don’t block the aisles! Don’t block the entrance! Go move to the back [of the bus]!!”

Now, it may seem like a normal request (the snappish way of speaking notwithstanding), save for two things:

  1. The man had no authority to tell them to move on. He was not a bus conductor or driver, nor their father / teacher / cruel overlord. He had nothing but the casual requests of a bystander or fellow passenger.
  2. Even if the man had had the authority, the bus was currently in motion and not stopped. If someone was being blocked by the kids, the order would be perfectly justifiable. Thing was, no one was moving around on the aisles, nor was anyone trying to enter. The man had no reason to order them to move.

However, the man either didn’t know / didn’t care about the two things. Despite the confused ‘WTH‘ expression on the little kid’s face, he repeated his demands. But he didn’t stop there. Oh no. Ordering a little kid around wasn’t enough.

The man glanced to the side and, observing more of the little tyke’s friends clustered near the entrance, decided that he could embarrass all of them at the same time. He turned back to the young schoolboy and said:

“Go. Go tell your friends to move away. Go!”

If I was the kid, I would have hit the old man, or treated him to my best death glare. Or, at the very least, said no. Credit to the little boy, though, he was nothing if obedient. Trading freedom of individual thoughts for the, albeit unwilling, deference to the old man, he trudged back up the bus to the front and tapped one of the kids on the shoulder.

“Hey,” the boy whispered to her. “We have to move. That man told us to.”

The girl gave him the same dumbfounded look that he showed earlier (maybe it’s catching), and with a look at the old man, told the boy, “You go move!”

Ah, childish insults. Or insults of a child. Potato, Po-tah-to.

In the end, the boy and girl did move to the back, the old man sunk back to his seat with an arrogant smirk, and my face now carried the dumbfounded look. Because, I truly was shocked.

Personally, I feel that the old man overstepped his boundaries. By snapping at the children, ordering them around when he had no authority to, or when he had no need to. He had no reason to make them do what he wanted. Either way, he should have asked them politely, and not barked orders like a drill sergeant. Kudos to the children for obeying and choosing not to make a scene. But in a system that promotes respect of elders, what the man did fell far short of the mark. This was not respect. This is an abuse of authority.

Thankfully, not everyone is like this. Here’s hoping that that old man, and everyone else who is like that, realises that respect is a privilege, not a right. Ironically, I learnt that one from my elders.

But perhaps you feel differently. If so, I would love to hear your thoughts upon the subject and the story – post a comment and tell me what you think!

A Series of Unfortunate Medical Tests (Part 2)

Good day, friends, enemies, and citizens of the planet Earth! It is I, the author of this blog!

Now that the uncomfortable silence is over, yes, I am still sweating in my homeland of Singapore on my self-imposed exile for reading Twilight, the result of which scarred me for life. Coincidentally, I also have to be here for some tests and procedures in order to serve my time in Singapore’s army. Not willingly, of course. I was persuaded by my overwhelming patriotism, as I am a slave of duty (and also the threat of 3 years jail didn’t help either).

Did you get the Pirates of Penzance reference? 😛

So, when we last left off, I was in a secret location somewhere in Singapore undergoing secret medical tests. Mhmm. Secretive stuff. You can read all about the previous tests here, but suffice to say, I was midway through a medical exam that neither the patients nor the medical personnel could care less about. So, where we last left off, I just did an auditory test, and was off to the next station, which was:

Station 6: X-Rays

Now, the thing you have to understand is that this was not a ‘one-on-one’ exam. There were around 100 boys wandering around going to stations, and anytime you entered a room, there was sure to be at least 5 other boys waiting in front of you.

I gave my documents to the receptionist for the X-Ray station. He gave them a cursory glance, handed it back, pointed me through a door, and told me to take off my shirt inside. I was only mildly shocked. After all, he was a doctor, right?

So I entered. And there, in front of me, was 3 shirtless boys waiting to be called inside another room for their X-Rays. Taking off my shirt, I stood at the back of the line. Yes, nothing wrong with 4 shirtless guys hanging out to get X-Rays. The awkward was so thick, you could have cut it with a knife. It wouldn’t have felt so bad, but the others were in such better shape than I was. 😦

But soon, it was my turn. A woman with a crew cut and who looked like she enjoyed this job a little too much led me to a machine and told me to hug it, then 5 seconds later told me to get out. Either my chest was fine, or it was too traumatic for the woman to look at my exposed torso any longer. So, I hurriedly left and went to the next station:

Station 7: Eye tests

This was pretty straightforward. Stand on one spot, put a plastic paddle-thing over one eye, and read the letters. It was so ordinary, I don’t even have any jokes for this.

Station 8: Dental

Now, I just have to say, like the rest of human population, I’m not a big fan of dental tests. Put your hand up if you enjoy lying helpless on your back while a guy, features obscured with a face mask, pokes around with sharp metal objects inside your mouth. If you enjoy that, you have serious problems. But that was what happened to me. Eerily silent, the doctor did his stuff. Afterwards, I thought it was over. Silly me.

I was then sent for a dental X-Ray, which involved me biting down on a plastic protrusion and gripping a set of handles while parts of the machine revolved around me. I kid you not, I nearly thought I was going to be teleported. I was disappointed when I was not.

After this, I moved on to a huge room where there were about 70 boys waiting with numbers, and more milling around other stations. After taking off my shirt, shoes and socks and putting them in a locker, I went on to….

Station 9: ECG

Basically, this test was simple. You lie down on a bed, the guy attaches clips with wires all over you, and then both of you stare at each other in uncomfortable silence while the heart rate monitor does its thing. Simple…and weird. Anything instantly becomes weird when you don’t have a shirt. Just ask Edward Cullen in the New Moon movie. Everyone in the cinema threw up once he appeared shirtless.

Station 10: Height and Weight, and Blood Pressure

Two very disinterested nurses did these tests. First, I had to stand on a platform while they measured both height and weight, and then I had to stick my arm into a machine that squeezed it so tight, I thought it would burst. That apparently was for blood pressure, but I still think it was a torture device. Make of it what you will.

After this, I put my shirt and shoes back on and took a number. Apparently there was another stop, a doctor’s examination and final write-off. So, I took a number and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

My brother, who was slightly ahead of me, went in first.  I tried to amuse myself by watching Ellen (I must have been really bored), but I couldn’t get the screams of patients past out my my head.

So I waitied some more. And then the unthinkable happened. For those who know my brother, he’s unfazeable. He has an annoying habit of being jocular and being able to laugh through any situation, making stupid jokes and basically being awesome. So when he emerged from the room, face ashen and speechless, I knew something was wrong.

But before I could radio HQ and arrange for an immediate extraction, it was my turn to enter into:

Station 11: The Doctor’s Room

Here’s how the first minute went. Italics are my words, bold are the doctor’s.

“Hey there.”

“Hi.”

<Awkward Silence while I give him my file>

“Go stand in the corner and take off your pants and underwear.”

I immediately replied, “Show me your credentials first, you sick quack!”

After a short scuffle, and after I explained things to Security, he asked me some further questions and told me I could leave. I dashed out of there as fast as I could and called the police.

All that aside, I dutifully went off to the last station:

Station 12: IQ Test

Let me just say here, I have a lot of respect for the Singaporean schooling system. They teach their kids to be geniuses by age 10 and superhuman by age 13. It all goes uphill from there. Thus, you can imagine the level of difficulty of the questions presented.

I spent most of my life in Australia, where freedom and creativity is emphasised rather than mindless repeating knowledge. Needless  to say, that isn’t recognised here. So, let’s see how I did, shall we?

  1. English: Awesome. Australia did at least teach me the English language, which was helpful in answering ‘Train is to Car as Plane is to?’. That was dumb, wasn’t it?
  2. Maths: Fail. I could only answer about 9 of them. But let me put this in context. I have got mostly As in Maths my whole life. Australian schools give us calculators since we were 13. I am studying law full-time, which is a non- maths subject. So, when you are only given a pencil and ONE sheet of paper, and asked to solve 1.76 x 3.34 in 1 minute, you know you’re screwed.
  3. Graphics: Okay. But this was just dumb. You were given a picture of an object in a circle, and asked what it would look like if it was rotated around 45 degrees. How the ‘eck is this relevant?
  4. Physics: Kinda okay, I think. Only in Singapore will there be a Physics section in an IQ test. But again, I’m doing law – Physics is another orbit. And let me just say, my space shuttle can’t reach there far.

The test took 2.5 hours. I was exhausted by the end, but glad that it was finally over. I could go home happy, and secure in the knowledge that the government was happy. And in Singapore, that was all that mattered.

Do you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks? Remember to leave a message and give us your feedback!

A Series of Unfortunate Medical Tests (Part 1)

Good day, all my faithful readers! (Probably all two of you) I am so sorry I have not been updating at all, but due to the high pressures of exam and cramming, the mad rush of packing, and my general laziness, this blog has been basically left stagnant. My apologies, and I shall try to update more often….though why you people want to know about my boring life I’ll never understand.

So, since I last updated, I finished 4 exams and I arrived back in the country of Singapore. For those of you who do not know what Singapore is, let me explain. It is a tiny island just above the equator, it’s really hot and humid, and apparently has a nice airport with free internet. That last one was from my friend, who told everyone to go to Singapore because of the free internet. Figures.

Anyway, I had to return to Singapore for a fortnight because of something called National Service, which in other words is akin to the old ‘gang-pressing’ methods of the 19th century, where unsuspecting people would be coshed and wake up on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic, forced into service. Today, the government uses legislation and the police, but you can see the similarities. The problem is that their victims of choice are not hardy soldiers rising up to fight the forces of evil:

But instead are more like these:

Though I have to admit, if we ever face The Covenant, the Singaporean Army would kick their butts.

Moving on now, I had to report to an undisclosed location for a medical checkup and other stuff. So, let me bring you the deets with a play-by-play analysis:

Station 1: Photo Taking.

Okay, first of all, there was a really old Chinese guy giving us instructions. He went on to measure our head and waist and shoe size, and then give us a long talk about how to take our photos properly. His soft, soothing voice put me to sleep immediately.

Kids, you know how people tell you to pay attention in class or you might miss out something? Well, that happened to me. Apparently I “didn’t style my hair right”, and he sent me back 3 freakin’ times! And then, when I still didn’t do it right, instead of kindly telling me where I went wrong, he used me as a model for the next bunch! He even practically poured water upon my head to style it. So, after that, I kindly told him where to painfully put his camera and tripod in his rear and walked out.

Station 2: Computer Check

While I hoped for a James Bond-esque style computer entry software that scanned my fingerprints and retina before burning a binary ID tattoo upon my palm, instead I had to update my personal details on Windows XP and IE6. Who even uses IE6 anymore?

Station 3: Urine Test

Not gonna get into much detail here…..but let’s just say that the guy in charge was oddly excitable and jocular for someone in that capacity. Hmm…..

Station 4: Blood Test

Apparently they haven’t got Edward Cullen to do these yet. At least then he can use his powers for good instead of harrassing poor little teenage girls and pubescent werewolves with anger problems.

This guy has harassed us for far too long. Who’s with me?

Sorry, where were we? I got blood drawn out of me by a young guy that looked like he was still in med school. What scared me more was that he wasn’t even concentrating, but rather he was talking to the other male nurse (heh heh…male nurse) throughout. But since I’m not dead yet, it must have been okay.

After that, I got shown over to a older guy and was asked to complete….wait for it…a survey! I swear, only in Singapore will this happen. Even when I was doing it, the older guy was making jokes aboout how he was going to get fired (aptly acted out with an “Oh no, I’m drowning” gesture) everytime I marked ‘Dissatisfied’. So, just for him, I marked most of them as ‘SLIGHTLY Dissatisfied’. Aren’t I nice?

Station 5: Hearing Test

Basically, this station involved a soundproof chamber and someone outside playing high-pitched sounds. If you could hear them, you raised your hand, and so on. It was pretty straightforward. I did consider stuffing around by putting my hand up randomly when the girl outside preferred to talk on the phone rather than start my test, but I’m too nice.

***

And….that’s it. Nah, just kidding. I’ll give you the rest soon, since this post is getting waaay too long.

One more thing: Does anybody know what an ‘Enlarged Aortic Valve’ is? I read it on someone’s chart and I got curious. What is it? Is it deadly? What are the consequences? Will that person die? Or is he just even more awesome?

Alright, I’m gonna go off and smell the fresh air (coloured with a dash of burning insense), look at the stars (which haven’t been seen since the start of the 20th century thanks to the pollution) and eat some delicious food. Though I might style my hair properly too as well. I don’t want a slightly feminine Chinese man with a camera using me as a model again….

If you have any questions, remarks, or insults, remember to leave a comment!