Adulthood, again

A few months ago, I signed my name on a mortgage loan for a flat, and last Friday all the paperwork was finally wrapped up and I collected my keys. I'm a home-owner again, with a pretty scary-sounding amount on my loan papers, but when you consider how much scarier Singapore rentals have gone up in the last two years, a loan ain't so bad.

The flat is in Toa Payoh, making it the fifth "old" HDB flat I'll have lived in ("old" meaning they've been around since at least the 1980s, if not the 1970s). As a friend said in email last week, "I admire the way you only seem to live in housing estates that have some character/history." I told him it's more that I have a low tolerance for commuting distances from town, where most of my work commitments and social plans happen, and most of the affordable housing options within my tolerance level happen to be in those estates built in the HDB's early burst of public housing planning, right after the frantic desperation of the 1960s. Fortunately for me, this means they also happen to be estates with larger flats, better amenities for residents and more developed, even entrenched communities.

Last week, I also drove a car again for the first time in at least five years, possibly eight. My brother says I pretty much slid behind the wheel, adjusted the seat and mirrors, and knew what to do. I've had a driving license since I was 18 and eschewed car ownership the past few years because I always crowed that taxi fares were cheap enough when I needed to get around in a hurry. But since I got back from London last year, I've felt that the things I need to do now, for work and in personal life, are stretching me out a lot more, and there's been more than one day when I've sorely felt that having a car would be handy. I can't afford one right now, but at least having refreshed my driving skills, I can borrow the family car or rent a car when I need it.

My junior college class got together for a reunion recently, and as we dawdled over nasi briyani, chocolate cake and nonya kueh, it felt at moments like we were still the same people we had been at 18 again, only now accoutred with partners and spouses, mortgages, children (in some cases) and increasingly unreliable memories. Most days I still feel like a bit of a teenager, maybe because I don't have children and don't work in a typical office environment. But on days when I'm getting used to new house keys and temporarily adding a car key to the bunch --- maybe not so much.

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And now it has been discussed

What I learned from Channel NewsAsia's report on prime minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech at the Singapore Symposium in New Delhi, "PM Lee highlights wild boars, graffiti on need to be 'messy selectively'" (the speech transcript isn't available yet at the government's SG Press Centre website):

1. Lee said, "I would become messy selectively. There are some areas where you must accept that you cannot do things in a linear or hierarchical way."

In other words: We have a hierarchy of what can be done in a hierarchical way, and what cannot.

2. With respect to the government's ongoing deliberations about how to manage wild boars in our nature reserves, the prime minister said, "In the old days, we would have just said solve the problem and tomorrow they would be literally gone. But now it has been discussed."

I smell a new catchphrase for pacifying the masses: "But now it has been discussed!"

This is what happens when things are discussed: "But we have to go through this discussion and engagement, and explanation and in the end, it takes longer but it will be done."

Same conclusion, just that it takes longer and "it will be done." [emphasis mine]

Lee said, "We invite graffiti artists, by invitation, to perform on designated walls -- with permission. But if you decide to freelance, extra, I'd better do an investigation on how it came about. We want to do this in a controlled way. If the Pandora box is open, then we can't put the demons back."

Artists and others who push the boundaries of freedom of expression are unleashing demonic forces.

Can't wait to read the full speech. And then it can be discussed!



Going Past Forward

So (part of) the reason I've been absent lately from my blog, is I've been pulling together this event as part of the upcoming Singapore Heritage Festival:
Past Forward: A Blogging and Social Media Workshop
Saturday, 14 July, 2:00 - 4:30 pm
(optional tour 4:30 - 6:30 pm)
The Arts House (Old Parliament House)

Interested in local heritage? Enjoy sharing information online? Come and meet some of Singapore’s most interesting heritage enthusiasts and bloggers, as they share how they have used blogging and social media to share their passion for Singapore’s past and present. You can also sign up for a special neighbourhood tour of either Chinatown or Queenstown, which will take place immediately after the workshop. The tour will be conducted by a heritage blogger.
Why you should come if you're interested in heritage and/or sharing online:
  • We have cool speakers who have been blogging, writing and sharing about heritage online for several years at least, if not for a decade in some cases.
  • Everyone really loves what they write about, whether it's 1960s music, photography or their own neighbourhoods.
  • Some of our speakers don't write "typical" heritage websites, but they've all found interesting ways to make connections between Singapore past and present, their own family histories/cultures and the wider world out there.
  • We have speakers from different age groups and generations in Singapore --- it ain't gonna be just "young punks" or "oldtimers" telling stories here.
  • If you can spare an extra hour or so after the event, you can go on a one-time only personalised neighbourhood tour conducted by two of our blogger-speakers, which will show you a different side of either Chinatown or Queenstown.
Our delightful speakers for the afternoon:
I will be moderating the main panel and two sessions; the smart and savvy Pooja Makhijani will be moderating the other two sessions.

Full details are at the Facebook event page. The event is free; register at this Singapore Heritage Festival webpage (including booking your seat for the tour).

Questions? Leave them in the comments or stick them on Facebook.


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