Singapore

take the weakest thing in you

1. MPS session tonight was illuminating, if only for the light it shone on my ignorance of the logistical details of Singaporean life. HDB legalities, fines, etc. It sometimes occurs to me, the faltering thought, that there must be something wrong in the way I have next to no clue about what the majority of people face in Singapore, their daily struggles far more prosaic than my fidgeting with languages, identities, philosophies. That so sharp a divide can exist among countrymen – it has to be a symptom of something. Perhaps just inattention and inexposure on my part, perhaps something more. There was a girl today with a three-month-old baby, looking no more than a 14-year-old herself, seeking a waiver of a $300 fine for littering, a cigarette butt. We write letters to be sent through our MP (Member of Parliament) on their behalf. It is all very new to me, their scenarios and legal/official entanglements, and I confess for most of it, it is very bemusing. The problems seem unnecessarily complicated, the solutions bewilderingly simple to effect if the relevant ministry should simply relent their regulations slightly. But there is always more than meets the eye, especially with ministry workings, I suppose; we, not least me, are just not privy to them. Truth be told, already I have doubts about the efficacy of the MPS session. I am unsure if we are there to offer placebos or genuine solutions, if the limits of our aid are determined by genuine constraints or bureaucratic machinations. Is writing letters all that effective? (I have an ingrained disdain for these letter campaigns, online petitions, etc.) But everyone I have met there has been sincere enough, and earnest. There is that.

2. Windsurfing on Sunday saw great weather conditions that allowed me to practice my jibes, to moderate success. I spent a fruitless initial ten minutes trying to get out of the tiny bay, but the wind kept blowing me into the rocky outcrop, so I had to constantly lug my board and sail to the far side. Then I watched a few intermediate-level people get on and manoeuvre their way out; exasperated, I clambered on and told myself, karen you are getting the fuck out of this bay too, hoisted the sail up and then angled it in one impatient motion – and voila, I was set! I even figured out how to make tiny flapping motions with the sail to generate my own wind when the wind died down a little. This was great, until I realized I couldn’t figure out the right angle for my sail to reach a rigging that would take me upwind, and wound up cruising along three beaches down, where my dad hailed me back to shore, because I was rapidly heading into the Unmarked Sea. I jibed a few times, but the right positioning for the sail eluded me, so I gave up and went to shore. I had to push the trolley a good 500 m back to my starting point, which wasn’t fun at all. At some point, floating on the beach, a guy on a bike stopped and asked if I wanted to trade, because he thought I was stranded. That was sweet. Should have taken him up on the offer.

I’d planned to stop by that time, anyway, but the wind had just picked up and I felt on the verge of getting … something, so I re-launched, and the wind had picked up, so it was a great ride out, and I changed upon the right (or more right, at least) angle with my sail so that I could make some headway up wind, but I still ended up at two beaches down. Still, it was a good journey there, and the waves were gentle enough that I was confident enough on the board to shift and dip my weight according to minute shifts in the wind, and it is a fantastic, fantastic feeling to be caught in the grip of the wind’s fancy, to brace yourself against each lift and swell, to be sharply aware of the tension in the lines of your body. Will shoot for twice-weekly lessons, and the windsurfing clinic in Aug-Sep, and hopefully shall begin the harness before I leave Singapore!

I ALSO SAW A JELLYFISH. It was startlingly gorgeous, and all the more so for its vitality in what is normally static Singaporean waters. But I was terrified I’ll happen to fall into the water right on top of it, and with my luck, I’ll probably be allergic to jellyfish stings.

3. JC class reunion was unremarkable, I think. I guess I forgot to realize how much I am not a part of the class, and that the six months I had there was really not important in the grand scheme of the two years + A levels, for either of us! Or perhaps it was just fatigue from windsurfing, since I went right after. Or a general, mild malaise. In any case, this bullet point is a compendium (not really) of my scattered thoughts: my junk food cravings only present themselves when I’m sick. I have a horrible sore throat and some flu, and I’m scarfing down chips and B&J ice-cream and lemon tea and instant noodles, things I would not usually eat. I want porridge. I’ve found a version of a PPE reading list, and the good news is that it is a lot shorter than I anticipated. The bad news is that apparently more than one college is in the habit of setting a math test early during Freshers’ Week. What a charming school.

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