I was caught on camera smiling while reading a book at the Botanic Gardens last weekend. How embarrassing! I’ll get to that later. Couple of months ago, I was also caught on camera as a school project – so I was told – while I was reading a book. It was a lovely afternoon at the Botanic Gardens and I was either reading The Medici Effect or Brand Leadership when a young girl approached me and asked if she could take some pictures of me. I was flattered of course and besides, if my mug shot can help someone to gain a grade A+ in her school project, why not?
Me: (nervously) What do I need to do?
Her: (smiled) Just read your book.
Me: (puzzled) Just read my book?
Her: (nodded) Yes, and I will take some pictures.
Me: Shall I face the camera?
Her: No, just read the book please.
Me: Okay, okay!
I was trying to strike an intellectual post given the rather intellectual book I was reading. I mean, I couldn’t really look that entertained and relaxed with a non-fiction book, could I? I acted as if I was in deep thought. I imagined a sponge, a huge knowledge sponge, while giving her the most stylish post possible without looking as though I was trying too hard. I swear, not a word from the book got into my head while I was photographed in all possible angles – front, behind, sideway – far and near. At the end of the photo session, she thanked me, I wished her all the best for her school project, and I regretted for not asking what the title of the pictures would be. “Bookworms can be sexy”? “A rare find in the Botanic Gardens”? “Future Singapore PMs are made of this”?
Last weekend, Cynthia the Paparazzi caught me on camera while I was reading Sophie Kinsella’s “Can You Keep a Secret”. Okay, there you have it. Chick-lit makes me smile. I mean, it is not the most glamorous thing to say but Sophie Kinsella’s books are actually very entertaining, however forgettable the storylines are. It is like, a secret indulgence, a breath of fresh air in the little mountain of serious books I read, a McDonald’s meal once in a blue moon. If only chick-lit comes with covers that are less pink or bright blue, that would be perfect for me to read in public.
If to replace the main character of “Can You Keep a Secret” with Rebecca from the Shopaholic series, the story would pass as one of the books from the same series. Except that the center of focus of this book is “secret”, which I find it pretty interesting. I am sure we all have our own set of secrets that are kept away from people around us however trivial they may be. What if all relationships begin with honesty with no holding back of secrets? Is it really a bad thing for your friends to know some of your secrets that concern them? How should the line be drawn between lies that are deceitful and the withholding of the truth because the recipient is not ready for it (white lies)? What if the whole world knows your secrets (like the main character in the book)?
One thing I know though is that those secret pictures behind the closed doors of the Hong Kong celebrities should be kept secret. But that is another story.