Wednesday, April 26, 2017

death.

last night, my 8 month old kitten went missing. tonight, i found out that he jumped to his death.

the rescuer called an hour ago. it feels like eternity since then. i haven't stopped crying, and i haven't stopped blaming myself.

here's what happened.

yesterday, after getting home at about 4pm, i opened the windows slightly to let the stale air out. i had some food, did some work, and went into my room, as usual. then at 7:59pm, i heard my phone ring, so i went out of my room to check who it was. he was hanging around my phone then, sniffing it and playing with basically anything that he could find. i remember picking him up and carrying him like a baby and kissing him, then telling him he smelled like fish, then cleaning his nose. the last thing i said to my kitten was that he smelled like fish. how predictable.

at about 10pm, i come out of my room to go to the toilet. he is nowhere to be found. i see that the windows were opened larger than usual, and the worst thought came to mind. couldn't be, i thought. but it could.

the rescuer said that a resident saw him and called the town council to complain, after which the town council called her. she received the call at 8:40pm, which means he jumped not long after i went back into the room at 8pm.

what if i hadn't opened the windows so wide?

what if i had just brought him into the room with me at 8pm?

what if i had never adopted him?

what if...

this is my fault, no matter what anyone else says. it is my fault. it was my negligence, and my oversight, that allowed my kitten to jump to his death. it will never be not my fault. his death is on me. i killed him.

the rescuer said they tried to rush him to the vet, but he died along the way. so after he fell, he was in pain. in so much pain, for so long. and i guess the ironic thing is that during that time, i was watching the last episode of 13 reasons why, when hannah baker kills herself. the irony is laughable. it is a joke.

i'm in shock, and everything around me is unreal. will i ever get through this? i shouldn't be allowed to.

i'm so sorry. i'm sorry for adopting you, i'm sorry for not taking good care of you, and i'm sorry for causing you so much pain.

thank you for the memories. you made me so very happy in the short time that i had you. i will miss you dearly. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

train musings: social media curating

Was suddenly inspired by this thought as i was thinking about certain things to tweet or not tweet, when i realised that for me, twitter is a place where i can (or used to be able to) put my thoughts openly, whether negative or positive. It is an outlet for me especially when i get upset, and it is like a pensieve of sorts, where i dump certain trains of thought for the moment to pick them up and continue mulling over them at a later point. 

This led me to realise how i exert a lot of negative energy on twitter, but it shows who i am, and there is far less of a filter compared to the things i post on facebook. Or, well, this used to be the case anyway. Perhaps it is time to rethink the followers.


Anyway, on the other hand, instagram is a place where only happy memories exist. Only the good things are put on instagram. For me at least. But this is not because of the followers that i have, because i have none. Perhaps it is because pictures are generally associated with good and/or happy memories. As i scroll through my own instagram posts, there is not one that is representative of a negative emotion. On twitter, the opposite is true.


Which then led me to think about the social media characters and personalities people curate for themselves. To put across a certain image, to exhibit certain qualities you possess through the activities you partake in, to have people form a certain impression of you. This scares me very, very much. Which is perhaps why instagram needs to remain private. Absolutely private. And this is also perhaps why it is much better to follow cats on instagram than people.

Friday, February 19, 2016

train musings: nostalgia

there are many things that i miss.

i miss the days in mgs. there is a deep, deep sense of loss, knowing that I will never be able to return to those days and experience those memories ever again. i miss being in class, sitting through lessons and trying not to fall asleep. i miss planning school events, being involved in various activities. i miss drama, and rehearsals, and the thrill when the production youve been working on for so long finally opens its first show. i miss mgs terribly.

talking to someone today who has been posted to mgs has made me miss it even more. or at least, it made me realise how much i miss it. what wouldnt i give to, for one day, return to those days.

i miss acjc. i miss the long hours we spent in school doing council activities. i miss studying in the void deck with the dearest of friends. i miss the mgs friends who came up to ac together and that sense of familiarity and camaraderie.

i miss the days spent with geog friends. i miss when we could hang out without a care in the world. i miss when all these interesting personalities came together and erupted into something extremely magical. though it was short-lived, it was intense.

i miss all these things that i will never again be able to have.

this train ride has been a very emotional one.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

train musings: friendships

in a bid to surf less of social media while on the train, i decided to spend some time in my head. then the thoughts that came i felt compelled to write down. ironically, on social media.

friendship is something that weighs heavily on my mind. it always have, and i think it always will. im intrigued by friendship. what holds two people together? why are some friendships stronger and more intimate than others? what defines a friendship, more than a social contract? is it, at the end of the day, just another form of relationship? what sets friendships apart from romantic relationships? do we all need friends?

the past 1.5 years these issues have been more pertinent than ever, because of the sudden influx of new people in my life. at what point can i call these new people friends? should i be so ready to accept them as friends? should i so eagerly commit to invest in them emotionally and trust in their persons? what happens if not long after, we dont talk to each other anymore, simply because the bonds never grew deep? would my investment have gone to waste then?

friendships baffle me. i yearn for deep friendships, and i detest shallow ones which are driven by motive. but at the same time i know i am guilty of the latter (although i wouldnt necessarily call these people my friends; theyre kinda just convenient). it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate and negotiate friendships later in life, because people are political, people know who they are and what they are looking for in a relationship, and they know what they want from people. which makes it intimidating, because wild thoughts and questions go flying across my mind. what if im not "good enough" for this person whom i wanna befriend really badly? (yes, these thoughts do still come) what if this person hates me? i guess its scary cuz it shows us sides of ourselves we dont want to accept. it forces us to face rejection. and people naturally turn away from rejection.

the people ive been spending most of my time with lately are mostly new friends. arguably, im spending time with them because of circumstances, but i would be lying if i said i didnt choose to spend more time than required with them, or that i didnt enjoy the time i spend with them. and i must admit, there were particular people i wasnt too keen on acquainting myself with, but having gotten to know them, the feelings are just as intense, except, thankfully, on the opposite end of the spectrum.

to be called a friend by someone is truly a gift, and i am immensely thankful to those who have come into my life and who call me friend. especially as i reflect on my multiple character flaws and find myself terribly unlikeable. but friends have written and spoken some of the kindest words to me, and i am deeply thankful. i started out wanting to write about my insecurities regarding friendship, and this is something i struggle with almost on a daily basis. but perhaps for today, i will choose to be filled with gratitude for these friends i dont deserve to have, but that have chosen me, and who have put up with me and embrace me, whether for less than a year, 5 years, or 10 years and beyond.

i have a friend writing a thesis on friendships. i am excited to read it and have some new perspective on this.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

日本

22 May 2015

It’s the end of the trip!

Everything has happened so quickly, but grad trip is truly over, as is uni life.

I remember having a few hesitations before I came to Japan. My understanding and imagination of Japan was all based on media portrayal, which could be very different from what reality was. What if I ended up hating Japan? What if Japan was an awful awful country and I never want to return? 

Thankfully, my fears were for naught. I loved Japan, and having visited it again, i love it even more. The people have been great, the systems are great, i love the efficiency and punctuality of not just the trains but also the people. everything is just spot on. It’s clean, people are considerate and leave you alone, service staff are incredibly attentive, sceneries are beautiful, museums are fun, it’s all great. 

In particular, punctuality is something i really appreciate here. If a museum or a shop says it will open at 9:30, it will open at 9:30 on the dot. Not a second earlier or later. Your plans won’t be screwed over just because a place opens 2 hours later than it promises. Case in point: there was once when I wanted to go to St Marc’s cafe in Marina Square to study. They were supposed to open at 10am according to their website, but at 12pm, they were still not opened. That is lying. And it is bad. People are so punctual as well. When I met Marin for dinner, we were supposed to meet at 7pm. People in Singapore, at 7pm, would still be ‘on the way’. She was there spot on. 7pm. I love it. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

It’s not a perfect country. Tokyo is not the perfect city. It’s really quite claustrophobic. On the way to the airport, I was (unfortunately) caught during the peak hour. The trains are so, so crowded. People are literally squished against each other. There’s no way you can fall on the train cos you just can’t move. Buildings are erected in close proximity to each other as well, to make the most efficient use of space. It can get really congested and uncomfortable. The wifi, surprisingly, is quite slow. Tele connectivity is not the best. In this particular aspect, Singapore is much better.

But I would work in Japan any day. It’s very practical, no frills, fuss-free. If you want a quick meal, you can get it nearly anywhere. If you want to sit down and have a long chat with a friend, there are plenty of options too. Different parts of the city also boast their own flavours. It’s charming. It’s colourful. It’s vibrant. I love it. And there’s no end to what you can see and do. Tired of Tokyo? Take a weekend trip to the countryside. You could probably even take a year off to explore the whole of Japan. Oh, how great would that be. 

Even smoking in Japan, that’s something bearable, because people are discouraged from walking when smoking, and there are plenty of demarcated smoking areas so you can just avoid them in general. Sorting the trash also instills in you a sense of responsibility for the environment, as seeing technological developments being made here for cleaner energy is inspiring. There is no end to the praise i have for this country. And i find, the more familiar i become with it, the more i fall in love with it. 

Thank you, Japan, for a gorgeous and beautiful experience, and for allowing me to meet wonderful people and create precious memories. i don’t know when i’ll next return, but Japan will always have a special place in my heart.

p/s YES I managed to finish all my Japan posts by the end of the year

Worn out

21 May 2015

My last day in Tokyo!! So I had to try and do as much as possible; all the things I hadn’t managed to do up until then HAD TO BE DONE TODAY. I would say it was a fairly productive day.

So I started out with lunch at Taimeiken, which is famous for its omurice, which I hadn’t had the chance to have yet. And true to its name, it was really delicious. Like, seriously delicious. I got the tampopo chicken omurice (I THINK; it’s been so long). The omelette is creamy and fluffy all at the same time. The one mistake I made was to add all the ketchup which really wasn’t necessary, cos the rice was already fried in ketchup. So my dish turned out wayyyy too ketchupy. But it was still delicious. And the place filled up quite quickly as well. 







Next I went to Showakan. Showa is like a time period in Japanese history during which WWII occurred. They didn’t allow photos, which was a pity. But they had a free museum guide (in English!!) so that was pretty cool. It was really interesting cos it showed a little bit of what life was like for the Japanese during the war. I think in the media (much of which is propagated by the US) the Japanese are often portrayed as the “bad people” who wanted to take over the world. Even in history at O Levels (at least the one I remember) Japan was projected as a country that wanted to take control of the Pacific region. This is true, but the overemphasis or over-portrayal of power hungry Japan invades the minds of most people, and we forget that their own citizens and civilians were victims of war as well. The museum showed how people had their food portions and variety reduced severely and how the Japanese were not spared from air raids and bombings from the Allies as well. It was quite sobering, learning from a Japanese perspective, and you realise that war is something really so, so evil and unnecessary. 


After that, I needed to cheer myself up, so I went to the Science Museum. I kind of regret not committing an entire day to it, cos it is huuuuuge. Much, much bigger than the Edo-Tokyo, both physically, and in terms of activities at the museum itself. When I went, there were quite a lot of school children there, which made me a little bit stressed. And everything was in Japanese, so I had to seriously concentrate on everything hahaha. Very tiring, but very enjoyable. I’m a bit lazy to describe exactly everything there, but people should go there. Just like commit one entire day to visit the museum and do EVERYTHING there.









I was there until about 30 minutes before closing time, and I initially thought of going to the Japanese Imperial Gardens which was nearby, but that was going to close soon too and I didn’t want to pay money and rush through it, so I decided to head back. 

I stopped en route at Menya Takeichi for chicken ramen, which was one of the places recommended by my host. And THANK GOD FOR THIS RECOMMENDATION. Because seriously, BEST. CHICKEN. RAMEN. EVER. Like, I’m not even kidding. 

It was practically empty when I went, but I went pretty early. It seems to be more of a late night, supper place. Opens till pretty late. It was really delicious. There are no words for it. The broth is creamy and savoury and perfect. The chicken is the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth thing ever. I’ve never had such good chicken ramen before. Well, to begin with, chicken ramen is not that common, but this is a serious gem. I walked out feeling SO happy and satisfied. Japan has a lot of good food. The time and dedication to their craft, no matter which industry, is something that really deserves respect. 





So, it was my last night, and I decided to throw my shoes away cos they lasted me the entire trip of a lotttttt of walking, so much so that they were wearing out at the bottom. They served me really well. There’s a quote that goes, you should always wear a pair of beautiful shoes, because they will take you to beautiful places. Well, you should wear any pair of shoes because you choose the damn beautiful places you want to go to. And Japan, you have been beautiful.


(Ramen+dessert)x2

20 May 2015

Ichifuku is a small, neighbourhood ramen shop that my host recommended to me, and he said I HAD to try it, so try it I did. It’s like, the most unassuming, easy to miss shop ever. Like some random ramen shop, but it is overflowing with deliciousness. 



The one thing anyone has to order from here (if it’s your first time) is the irorimen, or fireplace (?) noodle. The broth has hints of sake, which adds depth to it. There are strands of shark collagen on top, which adds texture to the dish. AND THEY HAVE MAGIC CROUTONS. Croutons that are not soggy even when you are almost done with the dish. Like, what?! STILL CRISPY. STILL CRUNCHY. Must have been a wizard.


The next destination was Chasen, which is a traditional Japanese desserts shop. I found it off one of the tourist pamphlets that I picked up, and this is another hidden treasure. They have a small (and I really mean small) seating area for dine-in customers, but it seems most of their sales are from their tea leaves. I was the only dine-in customer they had.
 



I’m not sure what I ordered, actually. Some green tea dessert set thing hahaha. But it was delicious, so it doesn’t matter. There was green tea, green tea soft serve, and idk what it’s called, but like mochi balls in green tea paste with red bean in it. And there was this sugared preserved plum strips thing at the side, which I wasn’t sure how it was meant to be eaten, but I had it with the paste and it was really good. Ugh, I still dream of this.



I headed to the Japanese Sword Museum afterwards, which just exhibited a range of katanas and other Japanese swords. No pictures were allowed, and I imagine this would be quite a boring place for most people, but I like Japanese swords, so it was pretty cool. It’s not cheap though. It was 700Y for quite a small exhibition room, and that was it. You’d have to pay for other exhibitions if you wanted to go. 

I did another attempt at trying parfait at Takano Fruit Parlour, and SUCCESS. Finally!! And seriously, totally worth the wait. I got the musk melon parfait, which is the only one anyone needs to get. I don’t understand why anything else would be ordered. 



The parfait comes with a layer of ice cream at the bottom, topped with a scoop of melon sorbet, and then pieces of fresh melon on top. It looks pretty unimpressive, kinda mild and not very colourful or attractive, but don’t be fooled by its looks!! The melon is the sweetest thing ever, coupled with the creamy ice cream that is made from like unicorn’s milk or something. It’s so delicious. It’s totally not like normal ice cream. It’s also not gelato. Like, it’s just crazy different. My only gripe was that I wished the melons were served cold, which I think would have added to the overall enjoyment of the dessert, but even with that gripe, this is easily the best thing I had in Japan while I was there. It’s comparatively quite a bit more expensive compared to Nishimura, but the quality here is top-notch. No competition. 


By this time i was really quite full cos it was just a day of mostly eating, but I knew I had to try Mutekiya cos 1) they don’t have it in Singapore and 2) I would totally regret it if I didn’t go. I weighed my options a bit cos there were two potential regrets. The first was that I would regret I never ate it in Japan, which was simple enough, but the second potential regret was that I would be too full to enjoy it and even risk throwing up due to overeating. I decided that the former would be the much bigger regret, so I decided to go anyway.

To counter the second regret, I decided I would explore Ikebukuro area after eating to walk some of the fullness off and digest a bit so I wouldn’t die at night. And the previous time I went to the Pokemon centre I didn’t get to explore that much also. And I’m very glad I went for ramen. Mutekiya is easily one of the best ramen shops in Tokyo, evidenced by the short queue that was already there when I went at like slightly after 4pm. By the time I left, which was about 440pm, there was a muchhhh longer queue, and I was glad I had decided to go early. I mean, it’s not even near dinner time. Where do all these people come from?




I had the smallest, most basic dish, and all the prowess of this ramen shop came through that dish. Simple, classic, but so well-executed. The broth is a little bit on the oily and thick side, but goes super well with the noodles. And the seaweed even greets you! How rare is this. Hahah. But a very delicious bowl of ramen overall. No regrets that day. 


After that, as I had promised myself, I explored the Ikebukuro area, and went to the Pokemon centre again to hunt for gifts. And the number of pikachus there is no joke; I cannot get over it. This centre is much bigger than the Sendai one (thankfully) but there was just the same irritating music that kept going on repeat. Tsk.






Old School

19 May 2015

Shitamachi (lit. the under road) is a super fun 2-storey museum. The first storey shows what Japan was like in the past during the Edo period. It’s super rustic, old-school, and looks like it belongs on a movie set. Absolutely loved the exhibits. 













The second storey, however, is the more fun part. Photos were only allowed in certain sections of the second storey, but I took whatever I could. Some of the exhibits showed life during the second world war for the local Japanese people. In the history that I learnt, Japan was portrayed as the bad guy, the instigator of war, who finally met her end and was defeated. But what do the Japanese learn? And many of the civilians also suffered during the wartime, when many of the resources had to be redirected to supporting Japan in the war. 




On the same level, there are these old school games that honestly, you could spend hours playing. I think a reason the Japanese are so intelligent and brilliant is because of the games they play. All except for one or two of the games they had in the museum were puzzles, if not they involved using some part of your brain for intense concentration. It was super fun, though incredibly frustrating when you can’t figure out the solutions. 








Whilst playing at one of the games and trying to figure it out, there was a local who was playing the game next to mine, and we struck up a conversation. And I asked, I wonder who would be able to solve these games. And she replied, people of the past. Thank you, lady.




Ueno Zoo: I absolutely hate this place. I never thought i’d ever be so sad going to somewhere filled with animals. The animals there are so sad and depressed. I almost cried, thought I was weird, until Marin told me her friends who went there actually cried. I wasn’t there for more than an hour. Couldn’t stand it. Only saw half the zoo and had to leave.

Increasingly, zoos and places of captivity are making me more and more uncomfortable. I suppose places of gaze where the subjects of gaze are not in their positions or conditions willingly or voluntarily. It sounds a bit strange, cos well, animals can’t really volunteer for anything, but..yeah.







Decided to walk down and explore Ameyokocho, which is one of the ‘must-visit’ places on many travel sites. It was quite exciting, though probably more exciting for people who shop. But I went around eating, so it was all right. 


I had some dumpling thing at a Chinese stall, which the stall guy claimed was xiao long bao, but totes wasn't. But oh well. 


Then I walked around a bit more and decided to try Gindaco takoyaki cos I haven’t had takoyaki yet. And it was really good!! I was quite impressed. My expectations weren’t high, because I was like, how good can takoyaki be? I mean… All the same lah right? WRONG. It was really different. Like the ones in Singapore are all quite soggy and gross, but the Gindaco ones were fresh and super crispy, and retained heat quite well. And it was delicious. Worth it.


And I have no more pictures cos I conveniently forgot to take my camera out the rest of the night. I realised I tend to do that when I’m with people, and when it’s night time. I met Marin for dinner. She’s the acquaintance I mentioned I met from church. We went around searching for somewhere to go to, and just couldn’t find anywhere good. Eventually we settled for this random izakaya called Wataminchi, but the food was surprisingly not too bad and not overly expensive either. My only gripe was that indoor smoking was allowed, and it got a little uncomfortable when people started smoking later into the night. 

I don’t quite remember in detail what exactly we talked about (given that this happened more than 6 months ago), but I just remember, we really hit it off, and she’s super easy to talk to. I guess it really helped that her English was fluent, and she had a Western education. She’s really sweet and very creative and edgy, and really passionate about the things she’s doing, which is really great. It was a joy to have gotten to know her. Sadly, as mentioned, I don’t have a photo with her.