Do Singaporeans have belly-buttons? Not so long ago, there used to be a theorist of the nation, and his name was Ernest Gellner. He is said to have famously and provocatively asked the same question about nations: do nations have belly-buttons? By which he meant: do nations have a single, traceable origin? Are nations born? Where […]Read more "What is a Singaporean?"
You think travelling solo is fun? Full of spontaneous love affairs, moving musical soundtracks, full of dancing brown people or white people in baggy harem pants in search of Love, gorging on alcohol and pseudo-spirituality? It’s 8.10pm on the island of Lombok as the bus drives off the ferry. Ordinarily, one should feel a surge […]Read more "Southbread II: Waiting for the Night Bus"
First days are the worst. It is May 2017, and I have just landed in Denpasar, Bali after an early morning flight from Changi Airport. Because I was too much of a cheapskate to pay for an exorbitant early morning taxi all the way to the airport, I had spent the night (quite snugly) being […]Read more "Southbread I: Bali Breakout"
It was getting dark at MacRitchie Reservoir. A large crowd had gathered, because Singaporeans usually enjoy a spectacle. At sunset on 31 March, 1982, a 102kg orangutan fell from a 25-metre tree, and fractured her left arm. The fall ended a three-day long episode at the reservoir involving the sudden escape of Ah Meng, Singapore’s […]Read more "Nature Condensed II: Ah Meng & the Primates"
In the early hours of 7 March 1973, a three-year old panther, slipped through the bars of its locked enclosure in the Singapore Zoological Gardens, beginning an eleven-month exile in the forests of the Seletar Reservoir. The escape captivated the imagination of a young nation on the eve of the zoo’s opening. How? How did […]Read more "Nature Condensed I: The Singapore Zoo Opens"
“Wow,” exclaims Shawn, “it’s like we’re walking into lemon tea.” It’s the fourth, and longest day of our expedition to summit Gunung Tahan (translated literally as Mount Endurance in Bahasa Melayu). We had already summitted the mountain on the second day of our climb – but there would be four days of walking through dense, […]Read more "Tahan V: Eight Rivers and the Mountain King"
In about five hours, I am about to graduate. The Graduate Today I become The Graduate, the third in my immediate nuclear family, after Mum and Dad. Something about today has induced a lot of stress and melancholy in me, and I have been trying to understand this feeling. I want to tell you […]Read more "USP Lives: Full Stops and Full Stories"