21 April 2009

Luminosity II

Luminosity, 2002






10 April 2009

Motorcycle diaries

motorcycle diaries
I finally got round to requesting for the hi-res photos of my Harley bike rides and the good folks from »Wild Rides Sydney sent a CD over recently. It occurred to me that I was becoming a biker gal on my travels. Just the year before, I was in Paris and was zipped around in Mr C's vespa. For the record, let me declare here that the most exhilarating way to see Paris is to vroom by Place de la Concorde and Champs Elysees, on an ultra-blue autumn day in a bike.

It was in part because of the memorable Parisien experience that I decided to go for a Harley in Sydney. I was right: spectacular cities are born to be seen on a bike. Particularly bridges. Going through the Harbour Bridge made you feel dimunitive.

Sydney marked the second time Ms L and I have been on a bike ride together. The first time was in Phnom Penh, where we asked our restaurant to help us hail a cab to go to the Russian market. In a classic case of lost in translation, we found two grinning bikers waiting for us at the doorstep instead. After two moments of hesitation, we decided not to be lembeh city gals and hopped on. Some eyes wide shut was required.

Mexico, however, is the country with the honour of my virgin bike ride. At a heady age of 22, with a good friend ill in the hotel and only one day left in Mexico, I decided that it was of utmost urgency that I see a real »cenote before I left (not a Mickey Mouse touristy version). So I asked the young security guard at the entrance of Tulum how I could see one. To my surprise, his answer was, "I can take you there". "How?" I asked. "On my motorcyle," he replied, matter of fact.

Again, two moments of hesitation, and I said yes. On hindsight, this was probably foolhardily dangerous. I spoke roughly five words of Spanish, had told no one - this was the early days of cellphone, let alone roaming - and was riding pillion at 60 km/h with some random guy on some random Mexican highway. Thankfully, the young man did not rape, rob or kill me and leave me by the side of the road. Instead, I got to see a very local cenote in the middle of a jungle (incredibly clear water) and rode back home on the dusty highway with just my bikini, sun shining, wind blowing.

No photographs unfortunately, of this splendid scene of youth.

05 April 2009

A dizzying zorb

That's the romanticized picture. In practice, it is more like 10 rounds of 360-degree roller coaster turns!

More explanatory pictures »here.

04 April 2009

Arresting a decline into the vinegar of crabbed egoism

In between the dizzying zorbs of Ms L's birthday celebrations, I have been reading a great deal today. I cherish those Saturday mornings where I have the luxury of 9-10 hours of sleep and reading online for a couple of hours.

By way of a few fortuitous clicks, I came across a private interview with the feisty David Marshall in 1994. It was my first modern-day encounter with David Marshall*. Uncannily, his sharp words sum up what I have been mulling over for the past month or so:

I am frankly terrified by this massive control of the mass media, the press, the radio, television, antennae, [and] public meetings. You can’t write a letter to the Straits Times; if there is a shadow of criticism, it’s not published. And the Chinese press follows suit. It’s a very dangerous position because experience proves that no one group of human beings has got all the wisdom in the world.
We have lost sight of the joy and excitement of public service, helping our fellow men. The joy and excitement of seeking and understanding of the joy of the miracle of the living the duty and the grandeur. We have lost taste for heroic action in the service of our people. We have become good bourgeois seeking comfort, security. It’s like seeking a crystal coffin and being fed by intravenous injections through pipes in the crystal coffin; crystal coffins stuck with certificates of your pragmatic abilities.
I take off my hat to the pragmatic ability of our government but there is no soul in our conduct. It is a difficult thing to speak of because it is difficult to put in a computer, and the youth of Singapore is accustomed to computer fault. There is no longer the intellectual ferment, the passionate argument for a better civilisation. The emphasis on the rice bowl!

Tell me I’m wrong, come on.
All youths no matter what race, no matter what country, goodwill flows from their hearts. They want to help the world, but by the time you reach 30, your goodwill like good wine turns to vinegar – the vinegar of crabbed egoism.

... In my time, I tried to educate our people in an understanding of the dignity of human life and their right as fellow human beings, and youth was not only interested but excited about what I consider things that matter. Things of the spirit; the development of a human being to his true potential in accordance with his own personal genius in the context of equal rights of others.

... What matters most in life is the right of human beings to live fully in the context of their own genius. In one word, perhaps, to fight for human justice. I once said humanity’s cry for human justice reverberates down the corridors of the centuries, and it is still crying for human justice.

It has often troubled me that in 12 years of social studies and civic and moral education in school, I was never taught my constitutional rights as a citizen, its intersection with criminal law, and how ISA sits among all of these.

Comfort and stability are important, but only up till a certain point. Beyond that, diminishing marginal returns rapidly and numbingly set in. It is a decline I would like to make some decisions to arrest in the coming months.

I highly recommend »reading the full interview for David Marshall's unabashed views on capital punishment and Asian values.

*My history syllabus in school curiously ended at the point once Singapore has gained independence, so my image of David Marshall is a black and white photo of him as Chief Minister in the 1950s.