Moon Tower: A Builder, A Girl, And A Mysterious White Rabbit – A Doodle

Once upon a time, I loved to doodle.  That was two years ago.  Surprisingly, the pen I have bought for this very purpose still works.  It is a surprise because these sort of pens do dry out over time.  On that thought, I shall stock up more of this sort the next time I hit town.

One doodle of mine!

The title of this doodle – Moon Tower: A Builder, A Girl, And A Mysterious White Rabbit – is the same as the story I wrote one entry before this one.  If you have read the story, you should be able to interpret this doodle with little difficulty.

Drawing is therapeutic.  This evening, I needed just that.  So exhausted after a long, long day at work, I did not even have the energy for active entertainment like playing video games or socializing through Google+.  I picked up my pen, some sketch papers, and started doodling.

Like how the story was crafting, I was about to give up on the initial concept after the first attempt.  I started with the tower.  It was too structured.  Too boring.  Perhaps my drawing is a reflection of my life, which in my case, is currently dominated by work.  On my second attempt, I have refocused the drawing around the three main characters.  And then developed the rest from the main theme, with an abstract touch.  This doodle was initially drawn in landscape orientation, on a A3 paper.  As I added more contextual materials onto the painting, I feel that it is best to be viewed in portrait.  Of course, now the northern side of the island appears on the bottom and hence, looks like the south instead.  That is rather unfortunate.  But I suppose that is one way to break the structure eh?

Merry Christmas, And A Brief Summary Of 2010

What a year 2010 has been!  By the time you read this, I am very much on my way leaving town, looking forward to meeting Cynthia’s family and enjoying the serenity of an Internet blackout.  Back to basic, somewhere in Indonesia.  I can imagine how I would hear the ringing in my ears at night, be greeted by the rather cool air in the morning, the prayers from a mosque nearby before the break of dawn.  I would have so much time to exercise, to read, to revise my Spanish, to take a walk in the neighborhood, and to taste the local food.

The official announcement was out yesterday.  My entry of “Sea Turtle” has won over the judges from the HP team, against some of the stiffest competitions.  I have read some of entries written by fellow bloggers showcased at the HP Singapore Facebook page, and they are good.  I am thrilled, very thrilled that the judges were won over by – quoting from the email – my creativity, relevance to the topic, and the originality of my story.  And I dedicate this little achievement of mine to you, my readers.  Especially those who think that I should take up writing more seriously, and the encouragement I receive when I venture outside my comfort zone – in terms of writing.  Also, thanks to Amelia from Waggener Edstrom who has been encouraging and reminding me to complete the entry.  Your positive energy is a blessing to those around you.  You should be my agent, should my writing career takes off.

I enjoy writing “Sea Turtle” a lot.  Because it took me a few good weeks to research on the subject matters down to how sea turtles hear and what sea turtles do.  And it took some good thinking in order to put together a folklore, as inspired by Italo Calvino and his lecture notes “Six Memos for the Next Millennium”.  I am not literature trained.  I wish I was.  Having said that, I would probably hate writing if it was so.

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This doodle of mine (on top of this post) is titled tentatively as “Rain of Heaven and Fire of Chaos”.  It started as a ginger bread man – Cynthia can vouch for it.  But I tossed the idea away and started afresh, with something more complex.  Because that ginger bread man and Christmas tree composition was going nowhere.  I am not sure if anyone would get what this drawing is trying to say.  It is a rather private piece of composition.  Hence the zipper.

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Instead of spending time to write a batch of posts to be released while I am away like I used to – which I suppose most readers would be busy celebrating the festive season and new year with family and friends – I dedicate my time going through all my year 2010 posts.  OK.  Retract a little.  Before I went through my posts this year, I tried to recall what I did in 2010.  Nothing significant came up.  The other day, I had lunch with my good friend Shauna.  We concluded that time flies, year 2010 has disappeared as quickly as it arrived.  Cynthia and I had dinner with our good friend Tong Kiat two evenings ago for his birthday celebration at Dempsey Road.  We also concluded the same.  Now, when I did take time to look through what I have done, here are some of my favorite entries that you may or may not have read.  Some, I have even forgotten that they were written.  Back to the first practical reason of why I blog.  Time does fly.  But not without leaving behind some of the fondest memories.

In no particular order, there is a brief summary of my year 2010.

  1. My niece Bethany was born in January!  When I look at my little sister, who is so full of heavenly joy, it is hard to believe that she now has a little daughter.  My photo is seldom featured here.  The one taken on Bethany’s 100th day birthday still melts my heart whenever I look at it.
  2. I do many silly things in life.  Regardless, these would have been my talking points if we are to meet face-to-face.  Like that toilet bowl incident.  Like that little operation I had on my toe and my buddy still thinks that it was not a piece of hair.  I should have kept the specimen, as what my doctor has suggested.  And like that hard sales incident that till today, whenever I am inside Thomson Plaza, I try to avoid that counter.  Cynthia would say: Don’t worry, you are with me and no one will touch you! Yep.  I feel so much protected with Cynthia around.
  3. If I have to pick one post I enjoy writing the most this year, besides that sea turtle post, that would be the koala post.  Or the one on Indonesian forest fire.  The style is similar.  It takes effort and tons of luck to chain up the stories.  What if I fail to chain them up?
  4. Well, the materials would turn into the “Snippet of My Life” series, which has been running for more than three years.  Snippet without a doubt holds a special place in my heart.  Of all that I have written this year, episode 27 is my favorite.
  5. Our band has performed live gigs in Bali Culture, which unfortunately the land that the restaurant sat on has been repossessed by our government.  Our band has not been doing much lately, due to a missing drummer, and subsequently, lost in momentum and motivation.  Sometimes in life, there are something that I wish.  And there are something that are out of reach.
  6. Writing travel journals takes so much time and sustained concentration.  However, I am glad that I do.  My favorite albums would be Gorges du Verdon in France and Lamma Island in Hong Kong.
  7. Counting how much time and money I have spent on learning Spanish is, scary.  From time to time, I use what I have learned from my Spanish class as an inspiration for my posts.  When I was 18 is one good example.
  8. What else?  Of course, for many years to come, Cynthia and I would still be laughing about how we spent our 10th wedding anniversary.

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Yesterday I was on leave.  Ever since I have been relocated to the east, hardly do I have the opportunity to meet my sister for business lunch.  Because she works at the west.  So I was thinking: Why not gang up with Bethany – my niece – (together with Benny of course) and  have a Surprise!! lunch with my sister?  The logistic turned out to be more tedious than I thought.  So instead of a Surprise!!, we have a “surprise”.  Lora was fully aware of our visit.  Still, it was a fun day.

Below is a photo taken with my niece Bethany possibly mouthing and gesturing “I am number one” or “My mama is the best” or “My papa is the coolest” or “Hey, pass me that camera of yours, would you?”  In the middle is my sister Lora, and by her sides, Benny and Bethany.  Now that I look closer at the photo, I am very much convinced that Bethany was mouthing MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sea Turtles, I “AMP” You!

It is time like this when I feel like I am staring in the movie “Troy”.  Not as Brad Pitt of course, but rather one of the many soldiers who gets his point-one second of camera time.   But that is OK.  As someone who is reborn into this new generation of whoever participates wins, I am happy to contribute, fully aware of the likely outcome.   For yet another contest this time invited by HP, I hope the panel of judges will get what I am trying to say (sometimes even I don’t).  We know how the last contest turned out.  So I am going to stick with the drawing bits and leave out the music bits.   The title of this drawing is “A Sea Turtle Butchered – What Santa could do with the help from Wilfrid who in turn needs some money from HP to make a difference”.

One folklore goes something like this: For many years, the inhabitants of the underwater village Da’Touk Thump have lived a relatively peaceful time.  They spend most of the time frolicking in the sea, eating jelly fish, and mowing sea grass.   Once in a while, some females get knocked up and they take care of their “business” on dry land, away from Da’Touk Thump.   No one knows why eggs have to be laid in a place so far away.   But the sea turtles are not complaining.  They treat it as a seasonal holy pilgrimage.   Religion always manages to explain all the unknown unknowns, even for the sea turtles.

No one knows how the bipeds come into existence.   One sea turtle legend goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was a royal dispute in Da’Touk Thump.  Two princesses were fighting for the throne and eventually, Princess Ho’Mos-Api was ousted out of the palace.   Feeling the rage inside her turtle shell, she heaved herself out of the sea and vowed never to return.   Once she reached the shore, with super-turtle effort, Ho’Mas-Api yanked herself out of the shell.  And the unthinkable happened; she began to walk on two legs!   Over the years, the descendents of Ho’Mos-Api have populated the shore and named the village Aa’Rr Pop.  One day, they discovered fire.   Since then, they have incorporated sunny-side-up sea turtle egg and roast sea turtle steak into their menu of fruits de mer.  It was a sad day for the Da’Touk Thump inhabitants.

One morning, Tortu’Aga-Mari realizes that she is pregnant.  And she prays to the gods.  A rabbit appears and says, “Say no more!   I hear you!  Many times I’ve told you sea turtles the importance of abstinence.”  “What should I do now?” Tortu’Aga-Mari implores.   The rabbit pulls out a magical collar from his furry chest and says, “My child, you have two choices.   Wear this on your neck.  You may still face the choppers of the Aa’Rr Pop villagers but the wounds inflicted upon you will be amplified in a mysterious way.   However, if you choose to wear this around your tummy, all the fertilized eggs inside you will vanish.  But no sea turtle will bear any eggs in Da’Touk Thump – not today and never in the future!”

A hero or a zero, what is it going to be?  Visualizing how to take off the turtle suit is tedious enough.  Obviating the entire turtle race?  That is genocide in a turtle sense.  Tortu’Aga-Mari  gives it a little thought and has decided to wear the collar onto her neck.   At nightfall, Tortu’Aga-Mari tiptoes under a starry night onto the dry land where many of the sea turtles lay their eggs and some end up on a dinning table.   The bipeds are waiting.  Tortu’Aga-Mari does not stand a chance.   As the turtle-sacrifice is being chopped into pieces, the collar works its magic; all the women back in the Aa’Rr Pop village magically feel the blade and disintegrate into chucks of flesh.  Each time a piece of Tortu’Aga-Mari comes off, pieces of the same proportion come off from the women in the village.  There is bloodbath at the shore; and there is bloodbath in the Aa’Rr Pop village.   The men happily chopping the poor turtle have no idea that they are indirectly chopping their own women back home.   Soon, news of the village travels to the ears of the bipeds at the shore; scent of the shore intrudes the Da’Touk Thump inhabitants in the sea.   Shocked, the bipeds return to their village moan at their mishap; the sea turtles swim all the way from the sea and stare at a bucket full of turtle meat, shocked.

There are many versions of how this folklore ends.  Amongst all, this is my favorite: Out of nowhere, a rabbit materializes at the shore and screams, “Say no more!  I hear you all!”  The rabbit curiously looks into the bucket and in his surprise, sees a pounding heart.   The heart of Tortu’Aga-Mari.  He digs his furry arm into the bloody bucket, stirring vigorously as though he is a chef marinating the meat.   The sea turtles gasp at the scene and cry in silence.  The rabbit clicks his tongue, rolls his eyes to the night sky, and says, “I still hear you!”  After what seems like an eternity, in one swift motion, the rabbit pulls something out from the bucket.   It is the magical collar.  In one majestic gesture, the rabbit carefully wraps the pounding heart with the collar.  A blinding light immediately radiates to all directions, momentarily dazzles the sea turtle audience.  Metal zippers grow from the collar weaving their ways along the wounds of the mutilated limps and body of turtle-sacrifice.  In no time, Tortu’Aga-Mari becomes whole and in one orgasmic ending, the final piece of the collar – or what is left of it – permeated by the prayers of millions of sea turtles wraps around the newly mended Tortu’Aga-Mari, hardens and becomes a golden, grandiose shell.   The sea turtles are in awe of the miracle, a miracle they have unknowingly partaken.   The rabbit lets go a sigh of triumph and smiles, “My work here is done!”   And poof, he disappears.  Tortu’Aga-Mari is reborn.

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Both my drawing and this posting are inspired by the CNN Hero of 2010 nominee, Oscar Aranda.   Oscar in the category of defending the planet does not win.   Voters seem to be touched more by the thousands of girls saved from sex slavery than the many mother sea turtles saved and thousands of baby sea turtles released back to the sea.  HP wants to know how I would make my Christmas holiday better than before (or in their technical lingo: How I “AMP” my Christmas).   With HP’s full financial aid, I am happy to spend two to three weeks in Mexico with Western Ecological Society, document the sea turtle preservation effort, and share with the online community my photos and journals.  Keep a look out on HP Facebook page.  I will need your votes to become Brad Pitt for a change.

PS. No sea turtles or turtles of any kind are harmed during the drawing of this featured picture.  I wish I could credit the folklore to some ancient civilizations that worship sea turtles, like the Moche people of ancient Peru.  But any resemblance to real life creatures alive or dead is purely coincidental.

External Links: An article by CNN on Oscar Aranda, Western Ecological Society Website (in English)

I Blog Because …

My blogger buddy Walter has written an excellent post on why he blogs regularly.  I have been wanting to write a similar topic for ages.  So why not do it now?

I blog because … I am highly imaginative?

  1. I have this special ability to look pass the pathetic statistics and number of comments in my website and visualize millions of fans waiting eagerly for what I am going to post next.  You hear right!  I do it for the people.  In fact, I am so psyched by my vision that I manage to psych those who are around me.  Some think that I am a celebrity blogger.  Erm.
  2. I have this vision that one day in the very distant future, when our planet would be populated by another species that replace homo sapiens, in one of the dig sites, they would discover a hard disk that would date back to our present era.  Inside, they would find my website.  And I would have become legendary.  Pretty much like the dinosaur bones now displayed in the museums.  Note: This inspires my doodle above titled “Original Disk”.
  3. I love to do voluntary work.  In the old days, people were happy to pay for things that they consumed.  Nowadays, from music albums to books, from recent movie blockbusters to daily news, people want to consume things for free – legally or illegally.  Most bloggers write for free.  Because we love what we do.  In fact, I have this vision that at the pinnacle of our civilization, none of us would work for money.  Money would vaporize.  How nice?

I blog because … I am a dreamer?

  1. I have this dream.  One day I will be a writer.  Like a real writer who writes books that people read and critic.  I have no idea how to get there although I do have millions of ideas in my head.  I reckon if I keep writing, every other day, if I keep on practicing, by the power of some cosmic random events, I might have my dream comes true.  And then I can quit my day job, do my writing in some exotic locations sponsored by my publisher.  Wouldn’t life be lovely?
  2. I see my website as the incubator for my budding hobbies, my decades old hobbies.  Publishing my work online forces me to keep doing it and doing it better.  Sure, some hobbies may take a nosedive.  Like the gazillion number of fans and friends who recently ask: What happens to your band?  Do you still jam? Sure, it feels crap every time when I have to explain why our band is in hiatus.  But in the long run, this invisible support, my commitments made public, all crystallized into an invisible cane that keep me going.
  3. Oh yes.  If my writing career does not work out, may be I could be a musician?  A professional doodler?  A Spanish video blogger?  Well …

For all practical reasons and beyond …

  1. I keep a website to keep track on what I do over the years.  I would feel empty if decades pass by and I have no recollection on what I have done, what I have tried to do.  Sure, we should live in the present.  But the past is just as important.  That is why there is a degree called History.  Uh huh?
  2. The difference between an offline diary and an online diary, to me, is vast.  Because I have an online diary, I strive to live an interesting and inspiring life each and every day.  Otherwise, I would have nothing interesting and potentially inspiring to write online.  Yes?

Titled Nightmares – A Doodle

If you are amongst the rare ones who follow my doodling career, you may realize that this picture contains quite a fair bit of detail.  Quite possibly one of the more ambition drawings I have worked on to date.  It is titled “Nightmares”.  One early morning, before the break of dawn, before the train started to operate, in our bedroom that was dark and quiet and inviting for a few extra moments of sleep before the screaming of the alarms at seven o’clock, I felt someone was frantically grabbing me.  I woke up, could not go back to sleep.  Cynthia woke up, realized that it was a nightmare, and went back to sleep.  Hence this doodle.  With me, eye wide open and her, eye wide shut.

In the morning, I asked what happened.  Cynthia rarely dreams.  But when she dreams, she always finds herself running away from something.  This time, her dream has something to do with knives and cut wounds on the arms.  Many knives, many arms.  Hence, the right side is composed as such together with the arms inside her head.  But as you can see, the arms and knives that appeared so real to her were merely illusions to me.  Hence the abstractly looking, distorted arms and knives on the left side of the composition.  I like symmetry.  Round about the same period of time, I had my share of nightmares.  About work.  About people from work.  There are four unnamed colleagues who are especially scary.  Hence the four figures inside my head.

OK.  There is a bed with a headboard too.  In case if you wonder what it is.

Click Me To Rooney

Dear readers, here is where I really need some help from you.  For real.  From now till end of the month, click onto the short link below and share it with as many people as you can possibly harass.  The more people know about my post, the better the chance I am to meet Wayne Rooney in an all expenses paid trip to Manchester sponsored by Tiger Beer.  I will get to drink Tiger Beer with him and play dart games.  I hope he will help to hook me up with David Beckham, whom I really want to meet in real life.  I want to meet Beckham’s wife too.  On TV, Victoria looks really stunning.  I am a big fan of Spice Girls.  I wonder if Victoria could hook me up with the rest of the spicy girls and sing me “Wannabe”.  If they do, I don’t mind if Rooney tucks along with me.  To make my dream comes true, here is the short link that Tiger Beer keeps track of how many are clicking:

I am from Asia and in my tradition, when we meet someone overseas the first time, we bring something from our home country as a gift.  Since I have put aside my budget to purchase clicks from Google AdSense (not that I don’t trust you guys, just in case the clicks fall short you know), I have no money to buy a gift for Rooney.  Instead, since I draw, I have painted him a picture.  One that I am going to ask Tiger Beer to frame for me so that it will look better on the UK tabloids, when I get to present him the painting in person.

Tiger Beer wants to know how I am similar to Tiger Football Champion Wayne Rooney.  When I get older, I want to be a millionaire, just like Rooney.  Since I have way more hair then he does, I reckon I will have some time before I reach his age today.  I am an up and coming artist and celebrity (I think) and I enjoy watching football.  And I am as smart as Paul the Octopus.  I too knew that Spain would win the World Cup.  When Spain won the UEFA Cup, I started learning Spanish.  When Spain won the World Cup, I renewed my interest in learning Spanish.  ¡Hola amigo, clic en el enlace por favor!  Compártelo con tus amigos.  ¡Muchas gracias!

The real reason why I am similar to Rooney lies inside the video I have spent much time preparing.  I really want to credit my band members for the demo recording materials but I am quite sure that none of them wants to be associated with it.  It is more like a one off crazy thing we did.  The song excerpt is called “Unleash The Beast” and pardon my strong accent (I had sore throat the next day).  Unfortunately Tiger Beer does not give me much time to prepare for this blog post and so, I grab what I have.  Something like when the ball lands onto our heads, we just head it into the goal post instinctively, like Rooney does I suppose.  And I can argue with Tiger Beer later on the short notice.  I hope I won’t be red carded because of the strong language used in the video.  If you are underage, please turn off the volume or watch it with your parents (and ask them to spread and click onto my short link).

My post will be judged on presentation and creativity (60%) and buzz generation (40%).  That’s why I need your help to spread the words.  For those of you who are anticipating my weekend travel blog post, I am afraid I will need to postpone it to next week because this post has sucked all my energy I have for a weekend.  Sorry!  I hope this blog post is entertaining enough to make up for it.

The Story Of A Boatman (La Historia Del Barquero)

This is my latest doodle titled “Boatman And A Girl Together With Other Parties“.  I have not been drawing for quite some time.  Drawing can be therapeutic.  Especially if you have a rough day at work (like mine today).  Each stroke scraps away a little bit of the trouble in your mind.  By the time you are done with your drawing, you would be so detached from the earthy frustration and glad that the time spent not thinking of it has turned into something tangible.  Something that brings a smile to your face.

Some of you may be bored of me going through in detail how I compose my drawings.  If you have been reading on my doodle series, it is the same old symbols and linkages and a picture within a picture.

What inspired this drawing is our recent Spanish class.  We were given a story in Spanish and were tasked to first form our individual opinion and then discussed and debated within the group in order to arrive at a common conclusion.  All in Spanish of course.  What intrigued me, out of this entire exercise, is how differently we think as an individual.  It comes down to our bearings.

The story goes something like this.  A young married girl was neglected by her husband who spent most of his time working.  And she was seduced by another man while her husband was away.  How far did she go?  She had spent a night at her lover’s place on the other side of the river.  In the next morning, she woke up early and planned to reach home before her husband returned from his business trip.  At the bridge, she was hassled by a dangerously looking mad man who refused to let her pass.  Panic, she had decided to take a boat in order to cross the river.  But she had no money with her.  And the boatman refused to take her across if she did not pay in advance.

She then returned to her lover’s home asking for money.  But he refused with no explanation.  As she left her lover’s home, she remembered a bachelor friend of hers living nearby and is in platonic love with her.  When she explained her situation to her friend asking for money and he refused.  Feeling utterly disappointed, the young girl had decided to reason with the mad man.  When she tried to cross the bridge, she was killed by the mad man.

So, in your opinion, of the six characters – the girl, her husband, her lover, the mad man, the boatman, and her friend – who is the most guilty one?  And how would you rank them from the most to the least guilty?

Our class spent much time debating, attempting to arrive at a common ranking order.  It was a fun exercise.  It reminds of one of the law books my sister read.  So full of bizarre scenarios that challenge the readers to decide who the guilty ones are.

For those who are learning Spanish, here is the story in the original text.

Una joven casada, poco atendida por su marido demasiado ocupado en sus negocios, se deja seducir y va a pasar la noche con su amante en una casa situada al otro lado del río.

Para volver a casa al día siguiente, muy temprano, antes de volver su marido que está de viaje, tiene que cruzar un puente, pero un loco haciendo gestos amenazadores le impide el paso.  Corre entonces hacía un hombre que se dedica a pasar gente con su barca.  Se monta, pero el barquero le pide dinero por el viaje.  Ella no tiene dinero y aunque le suplica desesperada, el barquero se niega a pasarla si no le paga por adelantado.

La joven vuelve a casa de su amante y le pide dinero.  Él se niega sin darle explicaciones.

Se acuerda de un amigo soltero que vive en la misma orilla del río y que siempre ha sentido por ella un amor platónico, aunque ella nuca lo ha querido.  La joven le explica su situación y le pide dinero.  Pero su amigo también se niega: se siente totalmente decepcionado.

La chica vuelve a hablar con el loco, pero él no cede y la amenaza otra vez.  Al final la joven decide cruzar el puente.  El loco la mata.

¿Quién es, en tu opinión, más culpable de la muerte de la chica?

Seat “Chopping” And A Non-Existence Bazooka Lens

A quick doodle

Two unrelated stories to share here.  One from Cynthia.  One from me.

What is seat chopping?  For those who live in Singapore, we all know what this means.  For my overseas readers, no, we don’t literally chop seats here.  We simply don’t chop anything in Singapore.  Not even the trees.  We move or relocate the trees along the highway when we have the need to add an extra lane or two.

So what does “chop” mean in Singapore?  To be honest, I am not born and bred here.  The word’s origin to me is fuzzy.  I interpret the word or verb quote-unquote chop as “occupy or obtain ahead of one’s need while denying others of the resource or opportunity”.  A clumsy interpretation I admit.  But by now you should how clumsy I can be with words.

Monday afternoon, Cynthia met with her Indonesian girl friend from Bali and they have not met each other for more than a decade.  Under a hot sun, they walked from point A to point B.  The sun was so hot that it gave Cynthia a headache till the evening, as she recounted her afternoon story to me inside our car.  I do not know where point A was.  But point B was a food court at Tanjong Pagar, a location Cynthia seldom roams.  Lunch time near the city center, we know how crowded the eateries can be.  So while Cynthia queued up for food, her friend carrying tons of shopping bags was tasked to look for a table.

Cynthia’s friend has found a table in a nice and quiet area.  As Cynthia placed the food onto the table, she noticed a package of tissue paper as well as a fold up newspaper.  Too late to do anything now.  In Singapore, white collar workers often “chop” the seats with packets of tissue paper put onto the empty seats or tables.  After a seat is confirmed or reserved, they head out to look for food, queue up for food.  Personally, I do not do that, unless I am with a group of seat choppers.  I do not do that because by the time I look for food, queue up for food, get my food, one or two persons could have benefited from the seat.  Especially so for some of the more crowded eateries like Amoy Street Food Court.  The flip side is, by the time I get my food, I would be faced with a sea of tissue paper and empty seats reserved by the seat choppers.

Not long after Cynthia and her friend started eating their meal, a Singaporean woman came by the table taking back the package of tissue paper and the newspaper.  And she said, “Did you know that these seats are chop?  Are you new here?”  Cynthia was about to leave the table while her friend was reluctant to do likewise, imagine having to carry her shopping bags and her meal.  Cynthia’s friend replied with her Indonesian accent …

“No, I do not know.  I am from Indonesia.”  And she signaled to Cynthia and continued, “And she is not from Tanjong Pagar.”

Cynthia is not from Tanjong Pagar?!

I was laughing in tears when I heard Cynthia’s friend’s reply.  And so was she.

The Singaporean woman – friendly as it seemed – said, “It’s OK.  We have found another table.  Just to let you know, this is the culture here [in Singapore].”

Singapore culture?  Really?

PS. I have nothing against seat choppers.  Just so to let you know that I am still your friend.

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Monday morning, my sister dropped me a message in Facebook asking me to check out her comment on one of my blog entries.  Lora had a phone conversation with our mom in Hong Kong.  She ended the message with: It is quite funny and I hope you won’t faint.

Rewind to a week or so ago, my mom called me on my home phone.  And she acted quite strange, repeatedly commenting on how expensive my lenses are.  She even threw in some numbers and I was shocked that she knew the price of camera gears.  The numbers did not seem right but I was not thinking much.  In fact, I confess that I was not 100% with the phone call.  I am a lousy person to have a meaningful phone conversation with.  My attention simply drifts before the first minute is up.

So I replied, “Well, these are quality lenses and the photographs look great, no?”  And my mother went on and on about how rich I have become.

Over the weekend, my mom called my sister and said, “You brother has bought a lens for S$20,000!”  I can imagine my sister was as shocked as I would have been had I pay attention to what my mom had said over the phone.  In my defence, my sister mentioned that it is not possible to spend that kind of money on camera gears.  My mom insisted that she has read it in my website, together with dad as the witness.

Uh-oh.  My parents are reading what I write here?  How?  They do not read English!

Apparently, technology is so advance these days that websites can be translated into another language on the fly.  But not so advance to accurately translate the meaning of I wish I have that bazooka lens that costs S$20,000.  This gives ‘lost in translation’ a whole new meaning.  If I have that kind of money to blow, my photograph of the moon would certainly look better than this.

Working Title: Wet Shoes And The Journey To Las Lilas

My lattest drawing: Wet Shoes and the Journey to Las Lilas

Some readers shared with me that it is fun watching the slide show of the behind-the-scene footage on how I draw.  Since we have already established the fact that each object of my recent drawings is formed with rationale, I shall focus on the story behind this drawing and showcase the behind-the-scene footage instead.

Some of you may recall my rather memorable experience in trying to sun dry my sport shoes.  Three years have passed and I found myself in the same situation.  Mid November, as I was near the Spanish school Las Lilas after work waiting for Cynthia to join me, there was a sudden heavy downpour.  So heavy that it was impossible not to get totally soaking wet even with a huge golf umbrella like mine.  So heavy that I have seldom seen something quite like this, even in a tropic island of ours.  My sixth sense told me that Cynthia would not have an umbrella with her.  So I braved the rain, walked all the way to the train station intending to fetch her with my golf umbrella.

Life is full of anti-climax scenes and renewed surprises.  When Cynthia emerged from the station, the rain had subsided, obliterated what appeared as an heroic act with now only my pair of wet dark trousers that did not look that wet against the dark color and my shoes that oozed out water from the stitching on every step I take as subtle evidents of what I had endured.  Those stitching that looks great as a design but is defenseless against heavy rain.  My socks were soaking wet.  So were my shoes.  As we crossed the street and passed The Cathay – our favorite cinema – the rain gathered force and Cynthia turned to me and asked, “Shall we skip this lesson, have dinner and go home?”

Erm … no.

What I did not tell you is that in the making of the previous behind-the-scene footage, I nearly set my stack of drawing papers on fire.  Candles are fire hazard.  Also, setting up the scene takes at least an hour.  But if you enjoy viewing these footage, I am happy making it.

Recently, I am reading more into Dalí’s work.  I figure that my drawings so far lack perspectives and a frame.  And I am intrigued by Dalí’s imagination and articulation.  To create this drawing, I have made numerous practice on how to draw my shoes in different angles.  I viewed them from close to the ground.  Imagine the discomfort of drawing in that position.  I could of course  put my shoes on my dinning table and practice my drawing.  But that would drive Cynthia mad for sure.

I used to think that making a surreal interpretation of an object is easy.  But it is not.  I have to be able to draw the object in realism first before transforming it into surrealism.  As for the overall composition, I have also made quite a number of sketches in arriving to this final state.

This drawing took me three hours to complete (and many hours to compose and prepare).  Initially I thought doodling takes much lesser time than oil painting.  Maybe not.

Composition of Bleeding Heart And The Thread Of Fate

I wonder if painters explain their works under normal circumstances, or let the viewers, big time critics to figure out what the artworks really mean, the inspiration that was behind the drawings.  Like Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”.  Did he explain to the then media that the blob behind the painting of God is indeed a brain?  Or someone simply figured it out?  It would be so flattering if someone in the future ‘figures out’ my works.  For now, back to reality, some of you may wonder how I compose the drawing “Bleeding Heart and the Thread of Fate”.  If you have not seen the drawing, I hope you have a look at it before reading further.

Bleeding heart, and the thread of fate

Center to this drawing – both theme-wise and location-wise – is what you see above: a bleeding heart and a 8-shaped thread cut opened in two places.  I deliberately leave the heart hollow, and broken.  Like I wrote in the previous entry, the Chinese title is 《心中滴血紅線斷》.  That is a big drop of dripping blood you are seeing.  The thread, again, is the ‘red thread’.  In Chinese, it is the thread that binds the married couple, a thread of fate that brings the couples together in the first place.

The main subject of this drawing is a girl, with a broken heart (please refer to original drawing).  You can see a teardrop from her eye, her shoulders, and her upper body.  There are two hands by her side (check out the palm lines).  Some form of support, some form of care from her friends and family.  There are two more hands side by side with opened palms right underneath the bleeding heart.  Again, it is a form of support.  What an abstract pair of hands you may ask.  If you look closer, from the shoulders of the girl, tracing along her sides with patterns marked by the fingers, all the way to the finger patterns and the gap between the two palms at the bottom – this forms a butterfly.  I wish to convey a sense of femininity to this drawing.  Also to bring forth the concept of something so beautiful, yet temporal, time bound (butterflies don’t live long).

Previously, I mentioned that there are four faces revealed by rotation.  To help you to visualize, I have extracted the bits for each face.

Face 1 and 2

Face #1 should be obvious.  That is our main subject.  Face #2 requires a bit of imagination.  Can you see the two lines of tear from the girl’s eye?

Face 3 and 4

Face #3 and #4 look like distorted figures, which I have intended to in order to signify the pain of a broken heart.  There is a face, shoulders, one eye (while another one hidden in the shadow), a nose, and an opened mouth with teeth.

OK.  That is all I have.  I hope you find this write-up interesting.  Thanks for reading!

Related Entry: The Original Drawing