25 October 2005

Faces of Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH - When I heard we were visiting a silk village as part of the Mekong River tour organized by our very hospitable Cambodian colleagues, I had thought it would be quite commercialized a la Thailand. But it turned out to be a bona fide village - with chickens, mud roads, and very very poor.

There was a 6-year-old girl (along with 20 other women and girls) who followed us the whole way to the local roofless temple, trying to sell me a scarf for US$1. I didn't buy initially because I was in no particular need for scarfs and most of all, because I was so plagued by dilemma - I didn't know who to buy from, which woman's / girl's need was greatest, who to help.

The women and girls followed us as we walked through the village. We soon came to the roofless temple. As I closed my eyes in prayers, it dawned on me that I could not just pray and do nothing. I looked down at the mud road. Two pairs of feet struck me. They belonged to a shoeless 6-year-old girl and a clubfooted pregnant woman. I bought a scarf from each of them.

Heartbreaking as Phnom Penh was, it still held alot of charm for me. I found an abundance of grounds-up social projects there - a free reading library run by a French woman, postcards at the Russian markets painted by disabled artists, a wonderful garden restaurant (*excellent* food and extremely value-for-money) called Bodhi Tree that hired youths at risk...

It will be nice to do something like that one day.

柬埔寨的 Singapour

傍晚| 柬埔寨,无名村






“你饿了吗?” -- 我笑笑地摇头。

“我家还有货。” -- 我又笑笑地摇头。

“你是从哪里来的?” -- “Singapore”。


发音和三年前的法语一样,就是那一样的 sung, 一样的 pour... ...

10 October 2005




10 OCT 2005, PARIS

08 October 2005

On the Dali Museum

FIGUERES - Just came out of the Dali Museum and am on the way back to Barcelona now.

What an EXCELLENT museum!

My head spun for a while after I came out because Dali is so unfathomably crazy.

No, not crazy in a derogatory way, but in the sense of unfathomable wildness or fantasy. How does he think of these ideas? How is it possible to live aside a person as wild as him? (Recall that he has a wife.) I reached the pinnacle of such sentiments when I was in the Mae West room looking at the converging mirror in mid-air. How, I question myself, can anyone think of as wild creations as these?

As I walked on, I thought to myself that every single person should have a Dali experience, just so to understand the spectrum of the human imagination. With nostril fireplace, lips sofa, corncob hair, mirrors reflecting illusion after illusion, intertemporal paintings, Dali has ensured that the reality-illusion duality is blurred to a maximum. One is left gasping as one walks through the various rooms. It was a substantial collection of his works (I am sorely reminded of the cheaterbug Picasso Museum in Barcelona) that was presented in a manner that reflected Dali's fauvist quintessence. I spent a lot of time in the courtyard and room 3 because there was so much to see once you look at the details. Yet the number of details was not overwhelming the way Sagrada Familia was. It was just sufficient to occupy the mind, to incite thoughts and contemplation.

What Dali works did I like?

(I am tempted to look through the photos I have taken, but I recall the words of my literature and photography class professor - that by recording, snapping away, one renders the memory of the experience to only what one has photographed. Having the intention to write a piece on the obsession of recording, I should not let myself fall into the same trap.)

I should think that the piece I liked most was Gala Looking at the Sea. I liked the colours and the somewhat Cubist feel of it. I also liked Othello Dreaming of Venice - I intend for this to be front cover of my future Venice album. There were other pieces I enjoyed, although not liked per se. The satirical interpretation of Matisse's La Danse was funny. So was The Bed and Two Bedside Tables Ferociously Attacking the Violoncello. I like how his titles are so humorously long. Like the one - 6 Reflections of Something that Looks Like 3 Chinese Pretending to be Lenin When Looked 2 Metres Away, and Like the Crown of a Lion When Viewed 6 Metres Away. Is this too prescriptive? I don't think so. I like to know what the artist intended for while allowing myself room for interpretation. I don't fully buy the Derrida idea that the author can have intentions or meanings that even he himself may not know about. (This would mean that the work attains a life of its own once commenced? If so, then like the conception of life, we have to ask: at what point does it attain its own soul?)

The silhouette of the Pyrennes is now faintly in the horizon. As the Catalunya Express charges forward, the arcs of blue in the train cabin morphs into waves and swirls into the blueness of the Pyrennes at twilight. The journey is coming to an end. The orange-vermillion of the setting sun asks me -

Are you ready for reality?

At this point, I feel like Gail Wynand - I could go either way. I could continue travelling for another 2 weeks, 2 months?

Or I am equally at peace going back to the humdrum of my city state.

More photos of glorious Spain »here.