Life so far

I’ve wanted to write about life after the ‘A’ Levels for a while but I never really got to it. National Service makes it even harder for me. So here it goes: life so far…

Life after A’s was pretty weird. For one, I found my papers doable even though I wasn’t extremely well prepared. I spent a lot of my time worrying about how things would turn out on that fateful February day. In the meantime, I found things to occupy my time meaningfully.

I spent a good portion of December in India for the first time. It was a good experience learning about my heritage and meeting relatives I never knew I had. Visiting regular tourist sites aside, the life of India through the streets poised a sweet-sour view of India and Indians for me as a Singaporean Indian.

The days I visited the Golden Temple, I felt a warmth overwhelm me through the freezing winter temperatures. To me, it was an experience I could never describe in words. I was fully conscious yet fell into a trance. It didn’t make sense and yet it did.

I also realised my love for all Indian foods with the word butter in it.

A lot of my time after my trip to India was spent working at my previous tuition centre (Aspire Hub) as an “Academic Coach Assistant” which basically meant I helped teach students alongside the main tutor when crowds got big. Teaching Elementary and Additional Maths to Secondary school students gave me an immense sense of satisfaction which is why I continued teaching until right before I enlisted.

I also helped coach a primary school debate team at my alma mater. As I taught them the fundamentals behind debating, I formed a bond with my students that I look back to and reminisce to this day. It made me more confident in my ability to be a leader and a teacher.

Eventually that February death date caught up to me and I had to face it with my chin up. I went through those hallowed blue gates with my dad and climbed the steps in the foyer to where I knew would be my burial ground. I sat with my classmates for one final time, my stomach turning inside out as I hoped they called my name up as a top student and put away my pain with confidence.

Alas, it was not meant to be. My name has not been called up and I was even more jumpy than before. I queued up to collect my results booklet from my teachers who had already peered inside. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “how bad is it”. They said that it may be good or bad depending on how I saw it. I quickly grabbed my booklet and ran outside. My dad had been waiting there for me so I ran to him. We opened the booklet together and were equally gobsmacked.

Dad: what does this mean?

Me: I need to calculate my rank points

Dad: ok quickly

“Pulls out calculator app”

Me: ok 20 plus 20 plus 17.5 plus 10 plus 8.75 plus 10

Dad: 86.25…

We hugged each other after that. I didn’t want to let go. That day remains special to me.

I kept on working, applying for universities and scholarships and meeting friends until it was finally time for me to don my green suit.

(Part 2 coming soon)


Birthdays in summer

Birthdays in summer

Staring at the coastline, I sat on the wave breaker alone in company. She was just imaginary then, of course. I reminisced about the much simpler days there were back when I still had some place in her life. Days of blue sky with rapid wind yet travelling in an air-conditioned container at 90 km/h away from an art museum or night skies but stuck in a train cabin standing because we were students afraid of the internet. Other things to discuss like abandonment or change of life. Simpler times, it was.

I remember running up to her that one summer day to just make sure she knew she existed. It wasn’t weird though because everyone did it on a different day of the year. It just happened to be her day. I gave her my hand and wished her a great day ahead. For some reason, our hands didn’t let go for a good five seconds, our eyes met and for the first time in the six months I had known her; I realized why I had been so comfortable around her. That just made me more uncomfortable around her eventually.

Did I make it obvious? No. Should I have made it obvious? Maybe. It still haunts me to this day that I could have become closer to her but let it go. The worst part is that I’m still in trauma. I’ve been free falling down this rabbit hole for so long, trying to seek answers and solutions but nothing has worked. At times, I feel as though she has found another coastline watcher. At others, it’s a complete mystery.

I continued to stare at the coastline looking for answers and the imaginary summer girl couldn’t give me any, or at least couldn’t give me the truth. I knew what alone with company finally meant.

(Written a Long Long time ago, I forgot about it completely)

Wasted journey?

I didn’t waste my time, I hope.

About a year and a term ago, I approached Mrs Creffield on a Wednesday afternoon in the design studio with one question…

“Could I leave theatre and join debates?”

I wanted to leave theatre as Son as possible. I didn’t like the choreographer (main reason), I didn’t feel any competitive spirit (important reason) and I needed a change of pace. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy myself in theatre (the people there were amazing and I enjoyed their company a lot), I just wasn’t satisfied.

I was called condescending and told that by joining debates, I had a chance to prove myself not to be.
The thing was that I didn’t join because I wanted to prove her wrong, I joined for myself and myself only (as condescending as that may be). I saw my condescension as a skill that I could hone to become a better debater. I didn’t think it was a big issue (and true enough, I grew 7394938556x faster than I did in Barker).

My main goals were a few

  1. Become a better debater
  2. Compete and get recognised
  3. Create a conducive environment for my juniors to join.

Backtrack: barker had a pretty bad impression in ACDOS before I joined (HazyJayzee and all)

It was important that I achieved these goals. I want to just take a look back to see what I’ve accomplished as of now.

Goal 1: become a better debater

I started taking debates a lot more seriously. I watched almost all the debate videos I found on Sam’s webpage and I kept trying to debate. Given that I was restricted by my parents from going for every single spar that I wanted to, I had to make sure every spar I went gave me maximum potential. 

I’ve definitely become a better debater, in my honest opinion. Rebuttals, substantive, characterisation and setup, extension and even areas of clash, no longer became a problem for me. In fact, I was craving to debate more and more. I think some of my friends can definitely vouch on the fact that I am a more comparable debater now than I was a year ago.

Goal 2: compete and get recognised

It started with the first competition I could go for, MIDCs Swing Team of 2016. Thee gruelling round of debating taught me how intricate debating styles can be towards how you react, which taught me how to tune out the fluff from the content. 

I was really discouraged after not getting selected for AWSDCs in Thailand until SPDOs came up which I debated in and finally made more contacts in the debate circuit. 

The next time I would compete would be in late December at the HCBPs Where I learnt about extension and how important it was. It was also here that I found out my favourite speaker role (second).

I got to adjudicate for over 10 rounds of official competitive debate so far and made many more contacts and becoming even more recognised.

In addition, my Mun involvement helped me gain this from time to time as well.

Overall, even though I did not get to debate at AWSDCs, IHLs, Bratislava, Oldham or MIDCs, I still got to debate and make contacts which even though not fully satisfactory, still pretty good.

Goal 3: create a conducive environment for my juniors to join

I was afraid of the fact that ACDOS had become a lot less accepting of ex debaters from Barker. Sam had trouble with some of he ex debaters and it really did hamper on some of us who wanted to join AC or ACDOS but decided not to in the end.

Hopefully I can say that I’ve been able to redeem some of that Barker distaste.

Attempting to impress sam as well as carry out my duties dutifully allowed me to create a positive impression of people from Barker as fun loving but hardworking when task called. 

I’d like to think that my juniors who ended up joining ACDOS from Barker Debates had an easier time after me.

Plus, mr Kumu said I was cool unlike other Barker people he knew 🙂


Was my time in ACDOS a wasted journey? Not for me to decide to be honest.

There were wasted opportunities but overall, it wasn’t a bad experience. I just wished I could have had a bit more opportunity to do more.

But it doesn’t really matter anymore, it can’t be changed. I need to carry on. It’s been a wonderful year at ACDOS and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.

The people are reliable, the teachers are caring and the coach is talented. I wouldn’t have asked for anything else.

Fearless girl

Is your art still your art when someone changes its meaning completely?

Most artists spend much hard work and effort to create their pieces with them often spending their own money and missing out on different things that could have come along the way. It’s therefore fair that we respect the work that these artists make in regards to their rights and their message.

So what happens when someone changes that message?

This is exactly what people are missing out about the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl in New York. Most people want to argue on ideas of feminism and messagery without considering the view of the artist who was affected by this situation.

The Charging Bull presents a message of economic prosperity and the economy Charging ahead, hence being put in Wall Street of all places. The Fearless Girl, placed strategically in front of the Charging Bull, represents a message of female equality and ability.

Not that that’s a bad message. Female empowerment is important in this time and age.

But it doesn’t respect the work of the artist because it innately changes the message of the Charging Bull. You can’t look at the Fearless Girl and understand her message without having the Bull present. That makes the Bull no longer represent its message of a prospering economy but one of a glass ceiling and the challenges women face and can defeat.

It becomes impossible to separate the two as individual components. They become interlinked, but does no good for the artist who created the Charging Bull.

It is therefore not mysoginistic when the artist requests the authorities in New York to remove the Fearless Girl. He’s protecting his message, his work and his effort, no one should have a right to take that away from him.

What is mysoginistic, however, is the Pissing Pug the artists decided to make in retaliation (placing the pug strategically near the Fearless Girl). That disrespects the message behind the Fearless Girl.

While the artist may have tried to simply retaliate to protect his own work, it does him Nor the other artist any good. It makes him look petty enough to be immature and disrespects the other artist’s message. It also doesn’t serve his purpose of protecting his art.

So before we point fingers at the parties involved, some context should be viewed before jumping in straight and getting involved.

Thanks for thinking 😛

The War between the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl

All the small things

In addition to being an awesome song by blink-182, it’s a personal life motto to be well lived by. In itself, it’s the purest form of humanity within us.

I recently spoke to a friend of mine regarding some of the issues he was facing. He was unsure of his place in the world and the impact he’s created on some of his friends.

He basically felt as though he did not play a significant role in the lives of his friends because he’s never been through anything major with them.

I’ve felt this way before.

It’s the same feeling you get when you constantly doubt yourself. It’s normal.

I told him that I know how he felt but I’ve somehow overcome all of it. He asked how and I told him the truth.

“It doesn’t make a difference whether you’ve done something which you’ve considered major, what matters is what others consider as a major impact on them.”

He looked confused. I explained to him that what you do may not seem like much to you. But one act of kindness in the smallest extent can have the largest impact on someone.

None of us know the situations our friends face outside of their lives with us. Sometimes all the small things are the ones that make a huge difference even though we consider them small.

To you, lending someone a calculator for their math test may not seem like much. But the fact is, they could have failed without it and t was you that made that critical impact that helped him significantly.

It’s a small thing.

When I went through a rough emotional period last year, the biggest help that I got was when my friends came up to me to invite me for a drink and talk to me about it. It was a small thing but it helped me so much!

It’s something everyone can do. If you know that you can help someone, no matter how insignificant that help may be, do it. You never know whether it could make the biggest difference in someone else’s life.

To all my friends who helped me in the same way, thank you! To the one guy who invited me for drinks up on the Star Vista rooftop just to talk, to another who pulled me aside after Oldham Cup just to listen to me whine in Hindi and even to the person who I coincidentally met on the train one night and talked to about my issues, you guys made the biggest difference in my life so far. If it weren’t for you, I could have been in a much worse state.

If you currently doubt yourself or your impact, know that you’ve probably made a big impact in someone’s life through a small act of kindness. 

I’ll leave you with the song right here…

All the small things – blink-182

The smallest things make the biggest impact

Animal Farm (review) and why it’s so applicable to today’s society

Saturday night after Three days of Oldham Cup (two night of reaching home near midnight by uber, three days of switching between chairperson, adjudicator and swing team debater while showing off all the green day t-shirts I had), it was time to unwind and watch ACSian Theatre’s production of animal farm with the people who suffered with me through Oldham.

Disclaimer: I’ve read Animal Farm (George Orwell’s classic) about 8 times beforehand.

My favourite book finally being brought to life and for me to enjoy , right?

Yes! Absolutely right! I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The characters were almost spot on to their depictions and the entire ambience and depiction of the story was so accurate that it almost brought tears to my eyes.

Through all the references to Stalinism and the little details such as the pigs progressing in the way they stand to look more and more like humans, it was an enjoyable experience overall.

Napoleon was scary and blunt with squealer always by her side to announce as loudly as possible. Perfect representation!

Snowball was as charismatic as in the novel.

Boxer was just as hardworking and oblivious as in the book making this theatre production a success in my opinion.

But even then, there was a deeper meaning behind the play; the idea of choice.

Animal farm is great in showing us the idea of how rule of common can lead us to self destruction and authoritarianism if we continuously trust our instinct instead of logic. 

Napoleon played on the emotions of the animals to gain power for herself by telling them that if they didn’t follow, Jones would come back.

This is applicable to the rise of populism we see today (hear me out, I know politics probably isn’t your favourite thing). 

It tells us that we can’t blindly follow our leaders’ promises because they can’t be fulfilled realistically and are designed to make us feel satisfied even though the sad truth is, we will never be satisfied.

It will lead to the rise of authoritarianism in states like in the Philippines where the war on drugs is finally taking its toll. Animal farm reminds us that we have to make sure we know what we want and why we want it.

Overall, thank you ACSian theatre for this wonderful performance! All the best in the future J2s!