#7. Letter to My Papa

Papa, I’m glad you’ll never go through the hardships of aging, but I still very often think of how much better my life would be if you hadn’t been taken so early.

I don’t think I would have cancer or be this much of a mess. Well by society’s standards at least.

You wanted to do so much and never expected to go that early. How I wish I could have supported you in your endeavours. This blog is my feeble attempt to, as you never got to write your memoirs.

My too beautiful Papa. I miss seeing your soft eyes and your sweet smile as you blow out the candles on the butter cake baked by Amma. Your favourite.

I miss getting you a card and present from the 3 of us. In my fantasy, I’m getting you the present you always wanted – a trip for all of us to London to see all the literary and historic sights. Oh how happy you would been, but alas. I’m sorry I didn’t fulfil this wish for you. Truly deeply sorry.

All of Amma’s cooking was your favourite. I’m sure now you would long to tell her all the ways you appreciated her. Instead of criticising. We all realise too late.

Even though your relationship wasn’t the best due to lack of compatibility, and because it was arranged, I do recall a time when I was a toddler, that you would both laugh together so happily. You teased her when her back was turned. It’s like a video in my head and the room is filled with sunshine.

My mum admitted she thought you were very handsome. And as you both got older you did want her to always accompany you and you really did need her by your side. I too felt so much better knowing you were there looking after her. Well, in reality I didn’t gave it a moment’s thought. It was totally taken for granted as I selfishly galavanted off doing my own thing.

It always felt special that your birthday was so close to mine. I feel extra lonely in October, but it’s a month precious to me.

The 19th year. Seems like an ocean of time. You do know I will never stop thinking the world of you and needing you.

You were a young father, far from perfect, but the only Papa for me. No one else would have loved me that much.

It’s weird to think that the age gap between us is closing. I’m less than a decade away from you.

I can’t even imagine the day when I reach a chronological age that you never got to reach.

With time I gain more knowledge about the world and I yearn to share it all with you. It’s like you are suspended in time. Or have you been watching me all this time in a way I can never fathom. I wish that was so. I don’t feel it, but I sure do wish it.

My only wish, is for a redo, while retaining the maturity I have now, of truly understanding you. Because I am you, in countless ways. I’m thankful I have my mum’s softness though, especially when it comes to children.

There is this vacuum that I can’t fill. A gaping hole of regret and yearning to do so much for you. And that is grief.

Since then, I’ve felt deeply blue and extra anxious around this time. I’m in a state of panic. That is grief too.

I am Papa-less, but am grateful for loved ones who truly listen to me, and I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that I am surrounded by angels on earth. Some of them are so little and so absolutely pure, but with empathy beyond their years. My heart aches with gratitude.

Some are even virtual. They are writers like me who have lost their dads. I feel a deep connection with them.

It helps. To have people who understand the overwhelming enormity of loss. With them your pain is never dismissed or diminished.

In a way I should be grateful for the grief, as it always comes with a great love. Imagine if I felt relief instead, as someone unfortunate children with horrible parents do.

Being loved unconditionally is so important and I want all children, small and grown, to have that. Not based on status, or how much money you make, how intelligent you are or how well you do, but just for being you. If you have a kid, that is your responsibility. And thank you my darling Papa for more than fulfilling that responsibility for me. Thank you for never ever making me feel less than.

Happy Birthday Papa. I love you with every fibre of my being and miss you too much.

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Why Do People in Singapore Boast So Much? I Want to See the Good Ones Win for a Change

Office folk seem to be taking to cafes to conduct job interviews and they talk at the top of their lungs. It’s annoying as covid cases rise and no one wears masks. I dread it when they plop down next to me.

It’s like they love the sound of their own voices and mostly the interviewer boasts about what an amazing manager they are, and in this particular case, how terrible the last person who quit the vacated role was. It truly makes me seethe.

It feels like only aggressive bullies get ahead. Or those who know how to promote themselves or play the game. Life is so unfair and real life is like that horrible ‘Survivor’ game where the worst kind of person gets ahead through back mouthing, sabotage, backstabbing etc. Anyone else feel me?

On the other hand the interviewee seemed like a nice polite person (obviously capable as the interviewer seemed very interested) and hinted that he was offered only half his salary by HR, but was hoping for the salary to be matched at least. Hope he doesn’t get taken advantage of or even better, I hope he gets an alternative job offer with a more humble manager. Major red flag. That ego display.

Sorry but I just had to do a mini ranting post today. Our values are really twisted in this mostly mercenary country.

Glad there are lots of people I meet on social media that are not the norm. Who live on the fringes. I respect them the most, but often they get the short end of the stick.

There was this incredible teacher, loved by all the school kids, but the head of department was so political that he got jaded and quit. He felt bullied and was under extreme stress. That is how the profession looses good Teachers who truly care for the kids and not just ambitious ones who want to get accolades and get more money and power. Stories like these distress me as the kids he taught were so sad to see him go.

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#15. Simple Joys: Seeing Deepavali Decor in the train

Just seeing your upcoming festival being recognised was nice.

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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 4: Stunning Displays at the Museum of Old & New Art (MONA)

The MONA experience was so unique that it has never left my mind. Definitely a mind altering experience at the Museum of Old and New Art that I would highly recommend if you visit Tasmania.

Arresting symmetry & precision
This was incredible – all the senses engaged
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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 4: MONA

What we saw on the vast grounds of the museum.

The vast grounds
We passed the cafe at the entrance of MONA
Impressed at the architecture which is art in itself

After walking through the museum we had lunch at the cafe and then explored the grounds outside.

Nasi goreng for mum
A giant trampoline with a great view
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‘The Possession’ by Annie Ernaux (Audiobook)

These lines were arresting and expressed what I have thought a countless number of times. Oh the liberty to write with such freedom. But the author has bravely done so even when alive. She is shockingly honest. She speaks of all consuming jealousy in this book.

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I Listened to ‘I Remain in Darkness’ by Annie Ernaux

That was the first book (audio book) I got after placing some on hold at the electronic library. I use the app Libby on my phone and need to sign in with my library account details.

It was brilliant. Stark and beautiful. Sparse, yet efficient in the use of language in conveying emotion. I could listen to it again and I want to read it as well. If not for my weak eyes I definitely prefer reading over listening.

About her worries and guilt over her aging mother who has Alzheimer’s. Her recording of her mother’s decline is devastating.

The devastating effects of Alzheimer’s

As a grown daughter myself I’m constantly worried about my mother’s wellbeing. In that way life seems so cruel. I want my mother to be well always.

I’m glad that the Nobel prize committee has realised the importance of the genre of biography. How our struggles, especially those thoughts we hesitate to share as we want to preserve a good image of ourselves is often universal.

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French Writer Annie Ernaux has Won the Nobel Prize in Literature

When I heard that Annie Ernaux was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature I was ashamed and embarrassed that I hadn’t read any of her work and immediately went to my library app to borrow her books.

Many readers must have felt the same way as I found all her books ‘on hold’.

She won for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory

Annie Thérèse Blanche Ernaux was born September 1st, 1940, in Normandy and her parents ran a café and grocery in a working-class part of town. More of her biography here.

Source

My dad was born just a year earlier and yearned to write memoirs as well. Perhaps another reason why I’m drawn to this genre.

Annie is 82 now and she is known for her memoirs (slices of her own life), something I’ve been interested in all my life (being drawn to the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a kid) and even more so after crossing the golden age of 50. Well into it now.

I of course, will be reading the translated versions, but wish I had the ability to read the originals.

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Most Job Ads Make Things Sound More Difficult than they are

Social media jobs always ask for knowledge of CapCut or knowledge of CMS.

I felt very intimidated. Thought these must be something only Gen Z will know. I’m way too old to ever learn these.

Turns out CapCut is just a video editing app (that goes well with Tiktok) and it’s great. Also, things get easier the more you try them out. And this is in demand as Tiktok is currently the most powerful tool out there for reaching a large audience. Even our politicians are scrambling to get on it to get the youth vote.

CMS is short for Content Management System. I was thinking what the heck is CMS. Sounds like something complicated. Turns out that this very platform that I’m using to create my blog is a CMS. Felt happy to know I have years of knowhow with WordPress, and most likely if you’re a blogger, so do you.

Just had to write this post to dispel the myth. Don’t know why job ads always have to make things sound more complicated than they are, with all that annoying jargon and of course acronyms like CMS.

I find the most rewarding thing is to just keep learning and some of the best creators on Tiktok include those from Gen X, the Boomers, and the Silent generation. That is the mid fourties onwards.

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Patisserie G at Millenia Walk: Stunning Cakes

I didn’t have any cake but they were stunning to look at. The flat white I had was great, my partner found his latte too ‘heaty’ (acidic?). He can’t take stronger coffee like I can.

Poison Apple was the most captivating

The Cuban sandwich was nothing close to what was shown in the movie ‘Chef’. I found the ham a tad too oily. The pulled pork wasn’t tangy and the sandwich wasn’t toasted enough so the cheese was not melted. I mostly tasted the mustard but at least the quality of the baguette was good.

Cuban Sandwich

It was pleasant to sit there as it was comfortable and relatively empty compared to the cafe at Meidi-ya for instance (where we initially wanted to go).

Service was great. Friendly, cheerful lady.

When I looked up – cool ceiling
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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 4: 3rd Feb, Breakfast at Jackman & McRoss

Today was museum day. But first breakfast at a highly rated cafe, Jackman & McRoss. Famous for freshly baked goods. We visited back in 2019 but I’m glad it’s still going strong in 2022 after covid and still getting rave reviews.

My chicken pie breakfast. My sister had poached eggs and my mum just bread and butter
My cousin C’s doppelgänger (from this angle), minus the Stacie. Taxi driver who brought us to the Museum
Reached the museum grounds

In the next post I’ll write about the amazing MONA, Museum of Old and New Art.

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My Space to Practise Writing & More

I get great satisfaction looking at my statistics as a measure of how I’m doing with this blogging pursuit.

I have written 300 posts so far this year, starting at the end of February, when I got technical help to revive the blog.

Makes me feel pleased, as I seem to have abandoned writing during the years 2017-2021, with only 12 posts over those 5 whole years.

I was continuing to battle cancer till 2019 as side effects persisted from treatment.

Then the covid years of 2020 that we all know too well. But I couldn’t bear to ever give up this space as it is so much a part of me.

Strangely though, I still had high traffic with the momentum of my old posts. They still held interest for many people for some reason.

2010 and 2011 were prolific, crossing 1000 for each year. The 1.1 million visitors of all time were mainly due to these early enthusiastic years, when I was listed tops on Google.

I continued with regular posting till 2015.

In 2016 it was mostly cancer posts as I was diagnosed shortly after New Year having endured pains through Christmas. I wrote 42 posts in all.

Traffic in 2022 however is only 0.5% of the heights I reached. That’s pretty dismal (and mostly due to not being listed at the top on Google anymore). I was probably penalised for not having a high security domain like I do now.

I’m trying not to be discouraged and produce art for art’s sake. Whether it is good or appreciated is besides the point. The important thing is to enjoy the creative process. Well, at least I try to tell myself that.

The honest truth is that I desire to be discovered and published. Since I have this platform, I might as well make use of it.

I actually let a lot of opportunities go in the past, due to shyness and fear. Also lack of technical know how holds me back the most. I can’t let any of that hold me back any longer.

What I love most are the comments and interactions with fellow blogger writers of all ages, in a community spanning the globe.

I like writing about different topics simply because I have varied interests just like any human. I couldn’t possibly just write about cancer for instance as I’m no longer undergoing active chemo. Also a particular post may just resonate with someone for any random reason.

Travel posts make me feel the most relaxed as I’m able to re-live the highlights of the trip.

Food posts make me hungry as you can imagine.

The trauma posts are draining, but feel necessary as writing is my therapy – a way to process and offload. Also more critically, to educate and for prevention. I don’t want my traumas to happen to anyone else, ever.

The diary posts are what I love to look back on to see how my perspective has changed.

It’s been 15 years since I opened an account on WordPress, moving here from Google as suggested by my dear cousin D. She was right, as always, as WordPress proved to be a much superior Content Management System (CMS) even though it looked intimidating at first.

My most popular posts this years include topics covering, travel, happiness and aging.

2010-2015: Active Blogging
2015-2021: diminishing as life takes over (cancer & covid)
2022: revival
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#14. Simple Joys: trying something new on the menu & enjoying it

This was truly scrumptious. I am a creature of habit and always have the chilli vinaigrette dumpling noodles here.

Usually when I choose something new I always regret it. But this time I was pleasantly surprised. Both the broth and dumplings were divine. This was at the Paradise Group Casual dining restaurant Lenu at VivoCity.

Vegetable Pork Wanton in Pork Bone Soup
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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: Pancakes for Dinner

Pancakes with fairy floss.

Weird sculpture
Decorations for Chinese New Year
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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: Seagulls & Supermarket

More walking around Hobart. And I do love seagulls. We never get these in Singapore. And the grass here is so lovely. In Singapore this would be called carpet grass and they have to be weeded carefully and it’s expensive.

Cute little orange feet
Carrots in Singapore look too clinical. Here they look so good.
Rosewater sounds divine
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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: Fish & Chips at Fish Frenzy at Elizabeth Street Pier

We couldn’t come to Australia and not have fish & chips. My sister did the research and found this famous place called Fish Frenzy just by the pier.

Hope these trip posts help in your travel planning. I love looking at blog posts rather than authoritative travel guides for the best most honest trip info.

The beautiful pier.

On our way there the art on these post boxes caught my eye.

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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens – walking around after lunch

A glimpse of what grows nearer the Antarctic or South Pole. Subantarctic plants.

More plants outside the cold room
Parrots in a tree outside the gardens
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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens (Lunch)

We stopped for a light lunch at the lovely cafe within the gardens. The cheese platter was so lovely.

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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens

Being driven to the next destination, The Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens. Wish I had journaled as I travelled. I must the next time or at least blog as soon as I can.

Memory is so lacking, after a lapse of more than 3 years.

I can see now why a travel writer like Paul Theroux is constantly scribbling into his notebooks and writing out passages as soon as he’s in his hotel room.

150 year old Sequoia tree. I long to see the 4000 year old ones.
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Insecurity

I’m always second guessing myself and wracked with insecurity. I wonder if there was ever a time in my life when I was confident, and the answer would be hardly ever.

If at all, it would be for a fleeting moment, if I get praised about something. Immediately after I think it’s just a pity compliment. Or the giver is biased.

Are you that way as well?

I want to be more confident, but it’s eluding me.

On the other hand when it comes to the people in my life, I am full of admiration for their abilities. And I feel so much confidence in them with zero doubt.

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Revolted by the Article in Our Newspapers about Hitting Children

This article truly triggered me. It presents the findings of a survey that shows 40% of parents use corporal punishment. It doesn’t take any stand against it. It even seems to be excusing it.

The study found that younger children are more vulnerable to physical discipline, with 40.6 per cent of parents of pre-schoolers found to be most likely to use the method.

Straits Times

Reading the above makes me incensed. I knew it was happening, but to see the cold hard statistics was very hard.

I will never waiver from the stand that hitting is barbaric and should be illegal.

Evidence shows corporal punishment increases children’s behavioural problems over time and has no positive outcomes.

All corporal punishment, however mild or light, carries an inbuilt risk of escalation. Studies suggest that parents who used corporal punishment are at heightened risk of perpetrating severe maltreatment.

Corporal punishment is linked to a range of negative outcomes for children across countries and cultures, including physical and mental ill-health, impaired cognitive and socio-emotional development, poor educational outcomes, increased aggression and perpetration of violence.

Source: WHO

I promised myself when I was a kid, that when I grow up, I will always protect children and if I don’t put my voice out there, I am letting my past self, and all children, down.

If you hit an adult, you will be charged with assault. It’s totally mind boggling that it does not apply to an adult hitting a child. The same laws should apply for all humans. I thought we progressed with time?

And birthing a child doesn’t mean they belong to you. That mindset should be thrown out. They are an individual in their own right.

It’s even worse to subject a child who is vulnerable and obviously smaller than an adult to this barbarism. There is a sadistic element and a loss of control of emotions and it’s lazy. No one can convince me that it’s not abuse.

When someone says, but I was hit and I turned out fine. Really, I want to say. You really think that?

You’re basically teaching the kid to bully. That it’s ok to hit someone less physically powerful. In the long term this translates to bullying other kids in school, and bullying in the office. Ultimately it’s a political leader waging war and killing millions. I’m simplifying it all, but I see that trajectory of abuse of power, and just pure violence.

I have seen children grow up to resent their parents and the relationship is often severed. It does not surprise me in the least and it’s basically karma.

I may not have birthed kids, but I know what it is like to be a defenseless child. To loose your dignity and have long term psychological damage.

I am ashamed that not more is done to protect the most vulnerable. I can’t believe that it’s 2022 and nothing much has been done. I’m seething as I write this.

China has made a bold and right step in this regard. Hope they do better in enforcing the laws. But then, why can’t we?

Higher powers that be (I’m calling out to all that’s good in this universe) please protect the most vulnerable. I implore you. It’s imperative for a more humane society. When ethics are in question you can’t go with what the majority think.

On the other hand I’m highly impressed by thoughtful parents who take the time and effort to explain things to kids. It’s the harder way, but definitely superior. I’ve seen these kids turn out to be well adjusted lovely young people with kindness and compassion towards others.

And if you don’t truly love children, but see them as an accessory like a car or a condo, a possession you own, then do the poor child and the world a favour – don’t have them. Because children are a blessing and you don’t deserve them.

I’ll leave you with more information on research by the WHO, because if my impassioned plea doesn’t impress you, evidence might :

A large body of research shows links between corporal punishment and a wide range of negative outcomes, both immediate and long-term:

  • direct physical harm, sometimes resulting in severe damage, long-term disability or death;
  • mental ill-health, including behavioural and anxiety disorders, depression, hopelessness, low self-esteem, self-harm and suicide attempts, alcohol and drug dependency, hostility and emotional instability, which continue into adulthood;
  • impaired cognitive and socio-emotional development, specifically emotion regulation and conflict solving skills;
  • damage to education, including school dropout and lower academic and occupational success;
  • poor moral internalization and increased antisocial behaviour;
  • increased aggression in children;
  • adult perpetration of violent, antisocial and criminal behaviour;
  • indirect physical harm due to overloaded biological systems, including developing cancer, alcohol-related problems, migraine, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity that continue into adulthood;
  • increased acceptance and use of other forms of violence; and
  • damaged family relationships

Best countries for child rights. I’m not surprised to see Nordic countries top the list.

Tomorrow is Children’s Day in Singapore. Let us do something much meaningful than just giving them a school holiday.

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Tasmania Trip 2019 Day 3: February 2nd – Salamanca Market

Walking to the farmers’ market and we spot a cruise ship.

Truly spoilt for choice at the Salamanca Farmers’ Market. It takes place in Saturday’s from 8.30 am to 3 pm.

The market extends the full length of Hobart’s historic Salamanca Place. With over 300 stallholders, the market includes fresh produce from local growers, hot coffee, delicious breakfast and lunch options, lots of gift ideas and plenty of handmade products.

Essentially we had brunch here – donuts and pies.

A very long, picture heavy post, as there was so much to capture here.

It was buzzing
Super crowded
Probably locals plus those from the cruise ship?
South Indian food likeThosai
What we had been hunting for
Glorious sugar donuts
Custard filling
Jam filling
Pears
They call candy floss or cotton candy, fairy floss here
So yummy
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