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.
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...