Remember I posted a video some time back of my older daughter Ranya when she sang in front of her school Temasek Junior College (TJC) ? I was so proud of my sunshine Ranya who has been singing since she was 9 and has her most exciting moments only when she is on stage. Ranya loves performing. Nothing like it, she says.
Yesterday, my younger daughter Riya (featured above) did us proud too. Riya means singer in I don't know what language (maybe Hindi?) but Riya excels in playing drums. I believe she can sing as well but her first love is drums. I remember taking her to her first drum lesson in the Academy of Rock in Siglap when she was just 9. She didn't like the instructor. So we didn't pursue after that trial lesson.
While in America, she joined the Guitar Centre in Bluebell, Pennsylvania to learn drumming and she got a good instructor Dave who taught her well. Her interest deepened and we got for her a drum pad, a mobile pad like a big plate that she can practise her beats on. That bored her soon enough. Then, as a gift for her 10th birthday and under her persistance, she got the full accoustic drum set worth U$500. It is a beautiful black drum set. It is still in her room right next to her bed. Riya is truly gifted in her drumming. She is only 13 but she picks up beats so fast. Her idol is Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots.
Yesterday, she awed everyone in TJC during the annual Guitar Concert. She was asked to be part of the rock band of the Guitar Club called Morphine (I know right!) because a few people already knew her about her drumming. She was absolutely amazing, if I can declare as a proud mom. I kind of teared during her performance and halfway I started wondering what on earth are my two musically talented girls doing in academically oriented SG? Time to move again...
Strangers came up to her to compliment her on her awesome performance. One parent went 'You must be so proud of Riya' Of course, I am VERY proud of both my girls. Another parent went ' Both your girls are so talented - one is an amazing singer and another such a good drummer.' I was beaming with pride the whole evening. I wonder where they both got these amazing musical genes in them? I used to sing when I was a teenager but I mostly believe its their musician father who must have passed them on to them.
Congrats my honeybun, Riya. I'm so proud of you. You have always been different since you were 2 years old. You will refuse to pose for photos. You will throw tantrums when you didn't get your way. You cut your hair short when all your girl friends dared not. You love skateboards, BMX biking and of course your beloved drums. You make up for the son I couldn't have :)) You played to a crowd of 400 yesterday. Can't wait to see you and Akka Ranya perform in front of thr whole of Singapore! xx
Watch her video at my FB page
National Museum of Singapore (NMS) is hosting a monologue called 'And suddenly I disappear' between 25th to 27th May. It is the first ever multi-lingual intercultural joint disability-led theatre project between Singapore and UK. Promises to be an eye-opening experience. Click on the link above to find out more.
World Premiere is on the 25th May 8pm at NMS Gallery Theatre. The executive director of the True Colours concert and also an acquaintance, A, has made plans to go on the same day too. Get your tickets early before they get sold out!
25th May got sold out before I could get the tickets. Let me try 26th. No guarantee though.
Will I see you all there? You don’t hv to join the museum as a trainee docent but you can still come to learn more about what we do. Hope to see you all. 10am—12noon.
I'm proud of my achievement. I'm now a qualified NMS Docent. I still remember Sep 14th 2017, the first day of training. I was so new to museums. I had no idea what was in store and I didn't know anyone. As training progressed, I started wondering what I got myself into! The weekly memorising and presentation was not easy. But I loved the researching and all the reading I had to do. After the training got over officially on 27th March 2018, we had to prepare for our very first guiding in front of actual visitors to the museum. Its called Mentor Tour. I was so freaked out for the last 1.5 months getting ready for this tour. My only worry was how would i remember a 1 hr presentation? My mentor a lovely British lady Anne Wightman made it really doable. And I did my first guiding yesterday 7th May 2018 at 2pm. I prayed for a small group of just around 10 visitors and that I will not forget my lines.
I got 7 visitors and no I didn't forget any of my lines. Yay me! Am so proud of myself. All these weeks of memorising and practising in the museum day after day so much so that the people in the museum started greeting me because I was such a familiar face! Now I know many of their names as well. From 4pm, I was hoarded with so many congratulatory messages from current trainees and from qualified docents etc.. I was on WhatsApp the whole evening. It was euphoric.
The picture below shows my very first audience. 4 Singaporeans and 3 French ladies.
My amazing mentor, Anne Wightman (below pic) who is also the spouse of the British High Commissioner. She is such a warm loving person.
Christine Zeng, a Singaporean (pic below) a fellow docent trainee.. A vegan because she can't stand the idea of animals dying to satiate her taste buds. Even her make up is cruelty free! She came especially to the museum to support me after my tour. She is 11 years younger than me, but we do get along quite well. She is the one who introduced me to the yummy vegetarian brown rice soup noodles at the Vietnamese restaurant Nam Nam at Plaza Singapura. Thats my fav hangout nowadays sometimes alone if not with Christine.
So, now that I'm a qualified docent, please do note that I'm always free to do a private tour for all you friends out there. Or even for your guests who come from overseas. It will be my pleasure sharing my Singapore story with all of you and your friends.
Now its our turn to train the new batch of trainees for the next 2018/2019 intake. After I finished training the new batch, I might start training to become a guide in another museum. I seem to have been bitten by the museum guiding bug!! Perhaps at the Peranakan Museum for the 2019/2020 intake? Let's see where the museum bug takes me.
HEN is an acronym for Helping and Empowering our Neighbours. This is an initiative a group of like minded friends and I have started recently to help the less fortunate amongst us. We have a staggering 20% of our population who are suffering in poverty ( according to Prof Tommy Koh our guest speaker at our NMS End of Training Celebrations at Eden Hall on 27th Mar 2018). 20% works out to an estimated 800,000 families of the 4 million resident population in Singapore. Isn't it alarming? Singapore is an incredibly rich nation and to have this alarming number of people below poverty line is unbelievable.
Most Singaporeans are incredulous when I mention that there are poor amongst us. Why? Singapore government does a great job concealing poverty. It offers cheap rental of HDB flats so that you don't see homeless people sleeping on the bus stop benches or in the beaches. It also gives out handouts to help these families tide through. Beggars are quickly attended to and kept off the streets. So as to give a squeaky clean image to investors and tourists. Don't get me wrong. I am not a political activist. I just believe that more can be done to reduce this 20% to maybe 10%? Am I being overly ambitious? I sure am and being ambitious is undeniably a great start to success.
I began asking close friends in early March who declined politely.. I understand it can be quite a stretch of your time if you are working full time. So on the 24th March I sent out a long message to my National Museum group chat seeking any friends who may have the same passion to help this forgotten community. To my absolute delight, I got immediate positive respones from so many of my fellow docents. Now we are a quite a strong group and we have had a couple of meetings where we did our brainstorming. Our mission? Helping the poor by assisting them with dry food rations on a monthly basis while Empowering them with skills that they may learn from us or through our network of friends and families. Singapore is so small, when you look out of your home, everyone is our neighbour. Hence, HEN - Helping and Empowering our Neighbours.
I once saw while walking along a neighbourhood near my place - on the right hand side of the road (Bedok South Road) were beautiful terrace houses with a couple of cars parked in their driveway while on the left I was met with 1 bedroom HDB apartments. The contrast in inequality was striking.
We are still in our early planning stages and we are stumbling in the dark. We haven't even set up our website yet. We will face many challenges along the way, no doubt. But where there is a will, there will always be a way, won't it? We'll pull this through, I'm confident. A Swiss lady Lara C said Inshallah at the end of our inaugural meeting on Tuesday. I was pleasantly surprised but it was an apt conclusion. Inshallah is an Islamic term which means with God's will, anything is possible.
So what can you do to help? HEN welcomes any kind of assistance :
Time seems to be the most precious commodity these days. Everyone can donate food rations or money but time? Not everyone can do that. To actually sit down, hold an elderly lady’s hand and listen to her reminisce about her younger days as she looks into the far distance? Can you envision that heartwarming scene? That moment of serenity that you bring to her world - that is precious. Or to counsel a troubled youth and set him in the right direction. The world of difference you are going to make to his future? That is equally precious. Some things which money can't buy.
If you would like to help in any of the above ways or become a member of HEN committee because you are bursting with new ideas to help the less fortunate in Singapore, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!!
With so much going on, I have overlooked to blog about an amazing concert I had a chance to attend over the weekend. Let me start from the beginning how it all began.. (hmmm....did I just say that? Spoken like a true docent!).
Last year, I attended prayers in Sivan Temple in Singapore for a friend S whose mother in law had just passed on a few weeks back. I didn't know the elderly lady personaly but I attended the prayers out of respect for the deceased and because S is a friend and she had invited me together with her close friends and family.. While I was there, I met A, through her husband's introduction. [I know what you are thinking- It was prayer time in a temple. What in the world were you doing chatting up people? Couldn't help it - it is just me who chats with random people in temples (and on the streets, malls, lifts etc )! My girls have given up on me!! Plus, I wasn’t very sure what was going on, being a Muslim]
Anyway, A passed me her card and explained to me about this True Colours concert she is putting up in March 2018. I lauded her efforts, told her I would contact her and help her out in any way within my means. Then, we parted ways. I kept the card in my drawer, very soon to be forgotten while I started on my NMS docent training that began in Sep and just ended on Tuesday. A and the concert fell to the recesses of my brain..
Then last month in Feb, S got in touch with me again and sent me a message regarding this concert which is coming up. I thanked her for the message and told I will surely try to make it. Invited my docent friends - none had any interest. Sad they had missed such a wonderful concert. Invited my famly members as well. Husband declined. He travels the whole week. I can understand if he just wants to chill on weekends with his temple visits and his beloved music. My girls were half interested. Cajoled them to come with me - partly because I didn't want to attend a concert alone. Secondly, it was to impart in them values of perserverance and inner strength. We can keep on nagging these values at our children but it is through such events, it will truly dawn on them what we have been trying so hard to instil in them. I hope they took away something from the concert.
True Colours concert brought artistes from all over the world. Singers, dancers, pianists, violanists...what is so new about that, you may think. Music concerts are held every weekend in SG. Well, what is so new and so different about these artistes is that they were born with physical deformaties. Some were visually challenged, some couldn't hear well, some did not have fully formed limbs, some even had missing limbs. It is a celebration of artistes with disabilities. Featuring 18 of the most talented performing artistes and troupes from all over the world.
What an amazing performance they had put up!
I was partcularly awed by 33 year old music protege Adrian Anantawan from Canada who wooed us with his beautiful violin pieces with his not fully formed right hand. Incredible. Of all the musical instruments, I find violin is the only instrument which can bring one to stop and draw you to its beautiful melody. Drum beats make you tap your feet or make you want to start grooving to the music but violin is on another level...As I type this, my husband is using one of his music synthesizers to create violin music. What are the odds?
Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei the dancers from China who performed their Hand in Hand each without a limb that they had sadly lost in separate accidents. We Are One - the Indian classical dance performance by wheelchair bound dancers from India gave me a chance to view and hear the beautiful Bharathanatyam dance after ages. (Personal note - I should attend more Indian classical dance performances).
Visually challenged but vocally very blessed Alienette Coldfire from Phillipines serenaded us with her lovely rendition of Symphony, one of my all time fav songs. Ranya, my singer daughter, was amazed at her vocal capabilities. She commmented that some of the high notes in the song were quite difficult and was complimenting her. The Korean duo The Sound - their combined talents - Singer Hye Jeong Han and Pianist Seong 11 Kim were amazing. She sang a lovely balled Will you Still Love me Tomorrow? which tugged at my heart.
Their true colours were indeed shining through...
I was totally enjoying myself throughout the 1 and half hours last Sat evening. Audience sitting in front of me and behind me would have been annoyed with my constant head nodding away to the music, Woo! and Encore !! If it had a dance floor, I would have been the first one there! And when the concert finally ended, it was met with a roaring applause and a standing ovation.
I wanted to speak to A after the concert. A was the executive director but alas I didn't have a chance. But I did send her an email immediately after, thanking her for a chance to view these special group of people who have overcome all their difficulties, against all odds. And we able-bodied people complain about every single small thing that bites us!!
Kudos to the True Colours Festival team for enlightening and entertaining us with an incredible and leaving -with-goosebumps kind of concert! An amazing inaugural success.
Thank you S for reminding me about this concert. My girls and I would not have had a chance to experience these beautiful performances if you had not sent me that message :)
End of Training celebrations for our NMS Docent training 2017/2018 batch took place yesterday morning at Eden Hall. Eden Hall, along Nassim Road, is this beautiful stately official residence of the British High Commissioner and his wife Anne who is in our training team. As a person, Anne Wightman is a hoot! She often forgets to identify the right Indians in our group. I playfully asked her a few weeks ago - 'Do we all Indians look alike? ' to which she grinned and apologised. I think the reason for her forgetfulness is because if you look closely a few of us in the group are around the same skin tone and round faced! So, her mistake can be overlooked.
It was a wonderful celebration and the highlight was the conversations with Ambassador At Large Prof Tommy Koh. I have not met Prof Koh in person before so I was looking forward to meeting up with him. He is a long time supporter of Friends of the Museums and delightfully agreed to grace the occasion. He is a humble charismatic gentleman and it was an honour meeting up with him. Did you know that he had always supported inter-racial marriages and to spread the message when he was much younger and still a bachelor, he dated a Bengali ??!! Alas, he was able to impress that Bengali girlfriend's mom by studying the rich Bengali culture but he couldn't impress the girlfriend enough!
I pitched my idea to Prof Koh to improve the state of the low-income families in Singapore through food rations. We are 15 member strong now and we have called ourselves HEN - Helping and Empowering our Neighbours. To my absolute delight, he supported my idea and he gave me his name card to get in touch with him to discuss this further. There I was holding the card, with the idea in my head and passion in my heart and to get support from Prof Koh was a miracle. A bit of a high!! I held that card in my hand like it was the crown jewel and didn't dare pass it to anyone. (Can you see the card in my hand in the photo below?)
We all had a great time, we bid farewell to our amazing training team and we now took over the reigns to train the next group of trainees for the 2018/2019 batch. Next year 2019 is the 200th anniversary of the landing of Sir Stamford Raffles and the founding of British colony in 1819. It will be an interesting year for us!
We had a very interesting lecture on Tuesday by a certain Margaret Thomas of AWARE - the Association of Women for Action & Research. She showed us an inspirational Youtube video called the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame which chronicles how the Singapore women have progressed sine 1819. Shown at an appropriate time since its the International Women's Day today. You can find the link here :
It got me thinking what have I done in my last 45 years? Shouldn't we women look out for one another and make a difference in the lives of others, no matter how small? Something to seriously think about. While the thought process is taking place, I took my first step. I joined AWARE as a member and volunteer the next day itself. I wanted to start somewhere and being a volunteer at the leading supporter in Singapore for women's rights seemed right. Now, its your turn.
I'm now a docent trainee for National Museum of Singapore (NMS), if I haven't said enough. It will all come to an end on the 27th March 2018. Yes, it is just around the corner. I'm trying not to think too much about it. Why ? Well, let me see...
I will miss the 9am sharp, 2min WOW presentations of the artefact of the week which I had to research and memorise over the weekend. I will miss learning even more about that artefact from my group leader or GL Linka Lokker while the sun streams through the beautiful colonial windows of the 1887 National Museum building along Stamford Rd. Oh yes, did I mention that it was built in 1887??
Then, when the presentations are over, we'll walk up to the 3rd level where we'll get to listen to interesting insightful lectures every Tuesday. I will miss learning so much of Singapore's history from these renowned speakers and historians. The most recent being Margaret Thomas of AWARE who showed what women in Singapore have achieved since 1819. An eye-opener.
I'll miss the 11am tea break where we mingle with fellow docent trainees and trainers over tea and finger food. I have learnt so many new recipes in the last 6 months, some of which I have posted in my other page of recipes. We'll bicker about the amount of work we have - the research, the writing, the presentations while we are all actually pleased with ourselves and our achievements.
At 12, I'll miss listening, during our various gallery walkthroughs, to experienced docents who give us in depth knowledge of the galleries and we learn from them what to do and what not to do during our guiding.
I'll miss the Thursday field trips where we have visited so many historic places in Singapore all with guides. Some of the places include Bukit Brown Cemetary, the Supreme Court, URA, China Town, Changi Prison Chapel & Museum etc. These were not compulsory but not many of us miss them! I wouldn't have thought twice about visiting these places if not for this training.
I'll miss the shadow touring where we have to shadow an actual tour by an experienced guide at the National Museum. We choose the date and time and observe how an actual guiding is done. Sometimes we shadow student tours to observe how to guide the students who can be quite difficult to handle.
Mostly, I will miss the many friends I have made over the last 6 months, fellow Singaporean Christine with her quirky but stylish dressing and owner of 5 cats and a vegan, the ever smiling renowned artist Nidhi, the ardent supporter of local transport and culture American Urvashi, the very experienced, calm, nothing-can-shake-me docent from the Indian Heritage Centre Jyoti(IHC), my fellow groupmates French Angelica and Swiss Irina, fellow Singaporean with a British accent Jane, the cute always asking questions Belgian Gaelle, our official photographer Michelle Lim, another experienced docent from IHC-Durga, the matured but Super friendly Mariet, sweet Ewa, the very first docent trainee I chatted with on Sep 14th 2017 Belgian Ini, mysterious Renia, the beautiful Dutch swan Michelle, British Carey who gave so many tips before my visit to London last year, the American Carrie who gave me a yet to try pumpkin muffin recipe and our co heads Karen Houtman and Diana Loo who have done such a great job heading this batch of trainees, our field trip coordinators Choy May and Chwee Peng, our speaker coordinators Anne and Lara... the many group leaders (or GLs ) my very own fantastic group leader Dutch Linka Lokker, Mieke, Colombe, Estelle,Antje, Tessa, Jo and so many more...
It struck me yesterday that when we are just getting closer and getting to know each other better, we are going to go our separate ways. Isn’t it cruel, the way life sometimes plays such cruel tricks on us? These last 6 months will just become memories years from now. That is really sad.
See, now you know what I mean when I said earlier that I don't want to think too much about the fact that my docent training at NMS is coming to an end. Like all good things (and hopefully bad things too), it must come to an end one day, I guess. But, I'll enjoy the next few weeks while it lasts and hopefully we still do keep in touch after our training.
I went back to watch it again on Sunday with my younger 13 year old daughter Riya who loved the movie as well. She went back again yesterday Monday on her own to watch it for the 3rd time. It’s her first time watching a movie alone by herself. She said ‘ It wasn’t a problem Mama, I actually enjoyed watching by myself except for that odd guy next to me who was nodding his head throughout the movie !’ Well done my honeybun :) Mama is so proud of you. Learning to enjoy your own company will always come in handy in the future. But do be kind because the guy could have just been enjoying the music and probably nodding away to it.
I tried to watch it again on my own today but 20 mins into the movie, a white middle-aged guy on my right ticked me off because apparently I was annoying him with my sniffles. I get the sniffles in any air conditioned environment. He asked me with annoyance written all over his face ‘ Are you going to do that throughout the whole movie?!’ I tried to explain to him that my nose is quite sensitive in a cold environment, but he went ‘ So? it’s disturbing others!’
What could I do? I could hv moved away to another seat but I just left the theatre because I will be very conscious about my sniffles (it was more than half packed) and won’t enjoy the movie. I felt snubbed but it was alright ... I had already watched it twice before but I was appalled at his lack of compassion for the sick. I pity his girlfriend or wife sitting next to him. And I always thought that the westerners were more courteous because they would have been brought up in a cultured environment. Oh what an eye-opener!! People can be so self-centered, so self-absorbed regardless of their background! Shocking.
Update as at Thursday 22 Feb 2018
I went to watch it again today morning. I'm having fever and the works. I popped some paracetamol and still went to catch it! There were only 5 of us in the theatre...and i controlled my sniffles and cough as much as I could. Fever may come and go but great movies on the big screen?? Uhh....Like never!!
I remember something once a friend said during Dirty Dancing musical that a few of us were watching in 2013. She said that she watched the movie Dirty Dancing over and over again because she absolutely loved it. I couldn’t comprehend what she said at that point, but now I can totally relate to what she meant.
Coming back to my movie The Greatest Showman , I don't think I've watched a movie this many times!! 3.5 times so far...and the thing is I'm still enjoying it....hmmm, should I catch it one more time?? Just to get my fill?? Just to get it out of my system? Omg...How obsessed can I get?
Somebody, please STOP ME!!!! :))
My home is
usually in a mess and has dust settled on almost everything. But I believe laughter and love will win the day. In 20 years, my girls won't remember how messy the house was but will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt...