Singapore

I NEED A HAPPY USERPIC.

GOSH, MAN, REALLY.

(IDRK WHERE TO START SO I WILL START WITH THE INCONSEQUENTIAL AND FRIVOLOUS.)

1. I went running for half an hour today during lunch! It was a particularly easy run, partly due to a fortuitous choice of songs on my running playlist, which pepped me up very nice, and I felt like I wanted to keep on running and running (and I went ten minutes longer than I intended to, and I only stopped because Larissa was waiting and we had to go for lunch before international affairs and I ran through my throbbing blisters) – one of those few good, smooth runs, you know. 

Also, I burned over 350 calories, so. And I think endorphins were released, because i was unnaturally alert and unreasonably happy during international affiars. AND I HAVE NOT BEEN SNACKING/EATING EXCESSIVELY (after the break, caf food is totally turning me off /o\) so ALL IN ALL. I have been a little hungry generally constantly but also not interested in caf food so have been snacking on fruits and juice AND I have begun incorporating lettuce and other green vegetables in my diet, which has been good so far because neither my stomach nor my mouth seem to be rejecting them yet \o/

2. I don’t want to make any sweeping statements or set myself up for failure, but there is this creeping sense of settlement or stability or contentment or ease that pervades my actions now, and it isn’t even the result of a direct resolution (I suppose it couldn’t have been, so total a reorientation of attitude.) Homework has been done, I feel more upbeat, people are easier to talk to (with one glaring exception that is mortifying me to no end, but no matter), classes are easier to get through – I feel more engaged, more positive, more appreciative of the current place I’m in in my life.

(If I was cynical about myself, I’d say it’s probably my hair, but then again – it’s not just that.)

(I hope it lasts; I suppose it is a good thing.) My circle of friends has been firming up, coalescing – it’s difficult to believe that this is only the third day of school, because my statements are conclusive in tone, aren’t they, but Farah and I have spent some time being simultaneously torn up over the fact that our second years are leaving in slightly less than five months, and impatient for the year to end and to return home with new eyes.

In any case, there have been moments big and small the past two days where the sheer amazement of being here made itself, in unexpected flashes of clarity, startlingly clear, and in those moments I found myself eager to write it down and sort of trap the soft touch of awe somewhere before it slips away into routine again, but I haven’t, and to recreate that phantom of an emotion right now is proving difficult, so –

My english class is doing Anil’s Ghost, a book set during the Sri Lankan civil war by Michael Ondaatje, and yesterday we had a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable English class (I love English classes here) about our thoughts on the preface to the book and the preface to his memoirs, Running in the Family. I don’t like the book, stylistically – it doesn’t resonate with me, but that’s irrelevant to the point. We were just talking about our thoughts on the book, and Aneri (an ethnically Indian Canadian) talked about how reading the first part of the book was disorienting because she was used to Anil being a male name, and so she had a mental image of Anil and then as the book continued, female pronouns were used and the protagonist turned out to be a female, so she had that moment of whoa, what? For me, that was a revelatory insight, almost, because though the author explains the name choice and that it was traditionally a male name in the book, I got it as an intellectual understanding, as a fact. Aneri felt the dissonance, and that impression would have shaded her reading of the novel and gave her a subjectively different experience or grasp of the book, and – I know that that’s the case in all sorts of sutble and nuanced ways for all books for each individual, but to have a book that’s so culturally embued and to directly see the effect that has on different cultural groups make it a so much more authentic literary experience, I think; it was awesome.

(This also made me realize how little I knew about Sri Lanka – I had no idea it was an island, for one /o\ so I actually did a quick Wiki read of the civil conflict, and I’m going to talk to the 2nd year Sri Lankan, and it will never grow old or not awesome, having people here I can directly talk to about international issues.)

Last night I went to a small presentation/discussion thing led by a second year Canadian, Marissa, who did her EE on the communication breakdown between environmental groups and oil companies in the Alberta oil sands development, and today for international affairs, José presented on his country, Venezuela, and its historic development in the terms of its oil industry, and both were fascinating and informative. What struck me – well, what I was reminded of by the intimate, experiential knowledge they had of their countries/provinces was the fact that – I can’t even begin to put this in words articulately, but – the countries we think of as other countries do not think of themselves as other, which is so obvious, right but it’s so, so easy to overlook and dismiss through force of habit of thinking. José said something about being at an economic summit last year where the speaker talked about Venezuelan oil and how it should be boycotted because it was supporting a corrupt government, and he said it was incredibly offensive to listen to that, even as he acknowledged that he understood the rationale behind it, because it was still his country and the economy supports the people in the country and him, and it’s always easy to think of issues as problems to be solved with simple solutions without seeing the intricacies of the issue at hand and all the implications of the system. As he talked about his country has been spoilt by oil, it was – the personal connection was very obviously there; I felt that when he talked about the social and economic and political issues in the country, he wasn’t being pedantic or pedagogical, and it wasn’t academic knowledge he read about or had to do extensive research on, but knowledge he had simply from being part of the country and being there and seeing the effects of oil on society (though obviously the presentation was very well-researched and substantiated). It reminded me, kind of, that when we talk about other countries and their problems and instability and whatnot, that it was very much a detached, intellectual exercise, and until I met someone from that country and heard him talk about his own country, it was difficult to see the issues as human, difficult to forget that under all the names and the theories there are people being directly affected by the phenomenons that have been academized – even more difficult to realize that we should do it or even that it is possible to do it.

(Also, less on that: he spoke well – I like that non-native speakers of English usually don’t pepper their sentences with likes or fillers; a reason for that could be, as Felix said about German, that such fillers did not exist in their native languages – their sentences all had to be perfectly grammatical and clear and unhestitating, which is not a bad thing to do, right. Also, I realize that as a presentation style, quite a few people here like to use dramatization (a kind of it!) to explain a point or stance – they’ll say things like, so when this happens, people will either say, what is this, i don’t like this, man, or they’ll say, okay, i am alright with this, i accept this I’M NOT SURE WHAT THIS SPEECH DEVICE IS CALLED OR IF IT IS EVEN A PROPER ONE but people do this a lot. Personally, I thought that in Singapore, people liked to use proper noun forms of actions, or at least I did, especially in essays (but I also tended to favour ending my presentations using noun forms of action instead of gerunds or conjugated forms.) This was probably not a very interesting point.

ToK had another fantastic discussion yesterday, where we talked about acceptance of socialism/communism and reactions to their models of revolution in the various countries represented by the people in the class, and it was fascinating hearing about the prevalent opinions in the different regions of the world. Also, it amuses me the cultural history and background that is given to me, because I find myself talking about the state of China and Singapore almost equally in discussions both formal and informal, and that really highlights to me the point that  and I were considering, that we should educate ourselves more on China and SEA as a whole, because it’s our geography and we can never escape it! 

I now also know more about the Canadian constitution than I ever have because on Sunday night, Daniel (Ontario), Luke, Jesse and I had a long conversation (three hours long!!) about firstly, the constitution (sparked by an ill-fated question about the Meech Lake Accords which Daniel had on his laptop screen), and then, the respective developments of North America and SEA/Asia, because of another unfortunate statement I made about it not making sense that Canada is so underpopulated and parts of the world like China and India are so overpopulated, which immediately had them all defensive and we spent so long arguing over it, god, and it was infuriating but enjoyable! (I like conversations with them, and also with people here in general, especially about their home countries, because they know so, so much and I absorb facts better and more efficiently aurally.)

Today, after international affairs, back in the house, Vicente, Luke, Kenta and I were talking in general about our countries’ economics and airlines, and IDK DEGENERATION HERE but I really really like the level of political awareness here. (Obviously something I am not used to in Singapore.)

3. um um! now that that’s out i can’t quite remember what else i wanted to say. I LIKE FEELING POSITIVE. This isn’t a bad post for an hour.

4. Oh right, I am going on a books amnesty because I really cannot take out more books from the library without finishing the fifteen or so I have in my room, seriously.

5. Hope everything is well! 

6. OHHHH I FOUND MY CAMERA.

7. HOPE EVERYTHING IS WELL. TA!

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