On Movement and Trains (and College)

I’m not quite sure what time it was when the train started to move (ten, fifteen, maybe 20 minutes after it was due to leave the station? Czech trains sadly lack the timeliness and efficiency of its German and Austrian neighbours), but its departure was signalled by a familiar musical refrain – a buildup of…

Oxford Shenanigans

“Oh, so you blog?” “Yeah, I do! Well, kind of.” That murky wave of guilt laps at my conscience and I remember that it’s literally been months since I last posted. Sitting across a new friend at a beautiful coffee shop in Oxford, I begin to recall why I started blogging in the first place….

To Marguerite – Continued

By Matthew Arnold Yes! In the sea of life enisled, With echoing straits between us thrown, Dotting the shoreless watery wild, We mortal millions live alone. The islands feel the enclasping flow, And then their endless bounds they know. But when the moon their hollows light, And they are swept by balms of spring, And…

The Lesser Seen

It’s been a long time since I last posted on my blog; I’ve been quite busy with university applications, scholarships, exam preparation, meet-ups with friends (before they head off to college this September!) and the works. But this holiday I’ve found the time to return to the weekly Wednesday Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS) at my local constituency…

The Middle Kingdom

[First published in my school editorial, One Voice] The Middle Kingdom has, for the last few decades, dominated the center of many budding and puzzled minds, enshrouded in an amalgamation of mystery, awe, and fear. Fledging teenagers (like myself) struggle to comprehend and keep up with the workings of the economic giant, for it has certainly…

Hector and the Search for Happiness, by Francois Lelord

By now you’d be familiar with my frequent laments about not having enough time to read the books I want to read, do the things I want to do, travel the places I want to travel – but I decided to indulge myself a little this holiday. Having won $150 worth of Kinokuniya Bookstore vouchers from an…

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

Beautiful, quirky, and utterly engaging. Admittedly, the book title’s typography and design is not great – it literally screams ostentatious ‘teenage hipster literature’ all over the front cover (although that may be the point, if teenagers are the target audience). Teenage hipster literature? A slight fidget, an inward cringe, a heavy sigh. Is that even a genre??? Yep —…

Fat Pig, Pangdemonium Productions

I have to admit, I watched this play twice. Twice? Forget the outraged (and at the same time rather smug) voice in your head going: “Twice? Such a luxury! What a spoilt thing!”, and listen up for a moment. Watch this play. (Well, it’s over now – but do catch it elsewhere!) You won’t regret…

MOE Cuts Funding to Independent Schools

The funding cuts for the top independent schools in Singapore have recently raised quite a furore over the fairness of such a move. Six top independent schools in Singapore have had their funding cut and, along with other mission schools, have been told to moderate fund-raising activities for campus upgrading. In addition, they will have to…

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all. Beautiful, reflective, and charmingly nostalgic, Brideshead Revisited paints a captivating picture of the British aristocracy in the prosperous age before the Second World War. This is a novel that speaks of religion, love, art,…

London: Singular Sunlit Solstice

London. There is something inherently exhilarating about megacities that compel us to marvel at the achievements of human existence – the skyscrapers that seem to stretch for eternity into the sky; the varied architecture that hints at periods of intense demolishing and then robust development; the multitude of people that crowd the streets, each with…

Italy: Vibrant Hues

The psychedelic colours that saturate this film absolutely stun me; the vibrant hues of foamy blue and blood orange coalesce into some sort of dreamy, eternal-sunset-splashed heaven. Italy is indeed a beautiful place: elderly centenarians (perhaps not quite; but the Dumbledore-esque wispy white beards seem to make them decades wiser) stroll along the cobbled streets;…

New Year, Old Concept, Same Life

At the debut of every new year, the vast majority of the 7 billion (and steadily increasing) human inhabitants of this earth sit down at their desks (or stand in their showers, take a run in their parks, do handstands in their rooms for all I know) and mull over the past 365 days with…

Household Gods, by Philip Hobsbaum

Household Gods “I mirrored their breaking lives,I saw their pale Distraught coming and going, lined despair, His shaken bulk, her calm pose in the doorway— I saw them. I was there.” “I have so long been silent, even now Hardly at all remember how her slim Long fingers once caressed me—was that how At one…

There but for the, by Ali Smith

It was one of those rare december break mornings; one where I actually woke up with the burning sensation (rather, a pounding heart attack) to get a start on my holiday homework because oh lord why is there always so much work. Knowing that staying at home would eventually lead to languorous inactivity, I wiggled…

While the Light Lasts, by Agatha Christie

I spotted this gem amidst the rustic bookshelves of Sister Srey café, a charming little nook along the riverside of Siem Reap’s bustling Old Market area serving good ol’ Aussie nosh tosh. The amazing food aside, this petite café had a charming shelf-load of books on its second floor free for anyone to take. Having…

Siem Reap: Savong’s School

I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy. – Kahlil Gibran The rickety drive up the bumpy, pot-holed path to Savong’s School was always one of suppressed excitement; the pit of my stomach would…

Siem Reap: Colorful Characters

The most exhilarating part of traveling is chancing across an intriguing, colorful array of people along the way. This trip to Siem Reap not only led us on a journey of self-discovery and service, but brought us on an adventure to meet a myriad of different characters, each with their own riveting stories. Often taxi drivers…

Siem Reap: Epicurean Explorations

Food is the language we all speak. Food is also the door to another culture; the physical manifestation of complex undertones of emotion, complicated webs of history, and ineffable human connections and individual refinements that all coalesce in a beautiful explosion of flavors. One mouthful is all it takes to taste the rich Cambodian history,…

Siem Reap: Culinary Creations

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude. – Julia Child The kaleidoscopic array of colors arranged so stunningly in an amalgamation of lettuce leaves, carrot strips, cucumber bunches, crisp basil and petite onions sat alluringly in the center of the table. Dinner plates from…

The Outsider, by Albert Camus

Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee? It is this strange  insouciant detachment that characterizes ‘The Outsider’; that makes it such an unsettling and yet morbidly compelling read. It is a story that leaves you with an aching sense of gaping vacuity, a feeling that perhaps life has no meaning, and no…

It’s All in the Mind.

It’s that time of the year when work starts piling up- multiple IAs and assignments lie in a stack of unkempt, disheveled papers at the corner of your desk- constantly reminding you, beseeching you to pay some thought to your neglected duties. But all you can think about is how to avoid studying for your…

Why Teachers Matter.

This post is dedicated to all the teachers out there. To the teachers that have touched my life, and the lives of many others, from tottering toddlers to angsty adolescents – this is for you. I simply cannot express how much my teachers have influenced my life – every single one of them. You get…

Taking a Nap: A Break from the World

I never really believed in the power of naps – quite frankly, I considered them a waste of precious time that could be put to use productively. It pained me to think of wasting thirty minutes on pure lazing around: there was simply too much to do to take a break just for the sake…

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by Charles Seife.

Nothingness is being and being nothingness… Our limited mind cannot grasp or fathom this, for it joins infinity. – Azrael of Gerona Connections, connections, connections. There are many things in life that have inconsequential beginnings: things that are only discovered by chance (and on curious whim). When nonchalantly sweeping past the library bookshelf and fingering…

Sri Lanka: Rustic charm amidst quirky delight

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. -Gustave Flaubert I’ve always loved elephants, so I was delighted that we were going to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage this trip. Baby elephants are always objects of wonder for children and adults ‘ooh’ and ‘awwwh’ over, but a small pat…

Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

I am a feminist. Abashedly, such a declaration makes me cringe. A voice in my head adamantly screams fury and repulsion, refusing to let me associate myself with the characteristically outspoken, obstinate, and vehemently bitter female advocates of feminist rights. But I am a feminist. I believe in social, political and economic equality of the…

Perfume, by Patrick Süskind (Translated by John E. Woods)

If no one asks me about it, then I know what it is; but if someone asks me about it and I try to explain it to him, then I do not know what it is. ~ St. Augustine, quoted by Patrick Süskind in On Love and Death A quote intended to describe time, but aptly adapted…

Why I Love Maths

Why; I Love Math Yes, you heard correctly- Why I Love Math. A question people ask frequently It never ceases to puzzle me How could you not love math? It is wonderfully adept with many possibilities in fact Infinity to be exact. It is much like a lover. A lover, you say? Yes, a lover…

Hidden Hideaways: The Lemontree Bistro

Culinary Appreciation Society. A mention of the club brings amused chuckles and knowing glances- everyone takes it as a barely concealed excuse for spoilt kids with a buck to spend to rack up the CAS points whilst spending time with friends. Oui… Mais non. Finally some bona fide food enclave searching; purveyors of unbeknownst cafés and bistros…

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

The flaw, or crack in character, is really nothing – and need be nothing – but his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity, his image of his rightful status. – Arthur Miller, Tragedy of the Common Man. I have fallen in love with…

Piffling Postages

Things have been a bit of a convoluted Christmas-light-esque jumble of tangled wires lately, but suffice to say these few days have been incredibly eventful ones. The past week has been frenetic- from helping out at Open House 2013 (a chaotic jumble of 400 people!) to watching The Importance of Being Earnest, to multiple IAs…

The Importance of Being Earnest, Wild Rice Productions

It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me? Words cannot begin to describe the stomach-aching, cheek-muscle-straining, giddiness-inducing two hours of utter enjoyment that Wild Rice’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest brought to the…

All My Sons, By Arthur Miller

‘[…] the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what or who we are in this world.’- Arthur Miller, Tragedy of the Common Man.  The fear of not being that which you want to be. A pervasive fear; one that everyone falls prey to at one…

Nothing Good or Bad, Only Thinking Makes it So

Thought. The throbbing ache of a newly formed notion, coaxed out of the tranquil state of wispy thin air and forced to materialize in the depths of our minds- retaliating; lashing out and coiling its long fingers around our brains, leaving us with no choice but to live in perpetual fetters to its inescapable contemplations……

Lord Turnbull and the ‘Really Inconvenient Reality’

Lord Turnbull came to give a presentation on his ‘Really Inconvenient Truth’ about climate change today, but all I got out of it was the reflection of a ‘Really Inconvenient Reality’. His presence here was showered with prestige, but tainted with an unfair amount of conceit. Not on Lord Turnbull’s part- but rather, the entire…

New Year, Schnew Yarrr.

New Years, Christmases, birthdays- all these celebrations usually call for a cup of nostalgia and a spoon of melancholy, or else a flaming plate of excitement- but these past few days have been anything but so. Relatively phlegmatic, tranquil, and utterly devoid of lugubrious mournings of lost time. I think I’ve come to accept that…

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J.Dubner

The problem with non-fiction books is that they inevitably become outdated one day. No, not even your most basic Math 101 textbooks can withstand the test of time, and are usually swept off the shelves within a few years of publication, woefully lost to some newer, shinier edition with a sleeker cover. However, there are…