Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The City of Dreaming Books By Walter Moers

Where shadows dim and shadows mate
in caverns deep and dark,
where old books dream of bygone days
when they were wood and bark,
where diamonds from coal are born
and no birds ever sing,
that region is the dread domain 
ruled by the Shadow King.
...Walter Moers

I am completely, hopelessly and heads over heels in love and I think I may have very well found my current all time favourite book even though I am only at page 21 of this 455 paged speculative fiction- something new I learned today, this genre called speculative fiction, but I digress.

Imagine having an authorial godfather once you are old enough to read. Imagine him to be 888 (a very auspicious number for Chinese) years old when he died. Then imagine being bequeathed a piece of perfect writing, so immaculate that you might find reading it "a terribly traumatic experience. It will dash all your hopes and tempt you to abandon a literary career. You may even consider doing away with yourself." Finally, imagine travelling to a city called Bookholm, in search of this genius of a writer.

I am starved of the words required for me to describe every tingling down my spine and every single sweet sensation I experienced as I savoured the jewels of the 1st 21 pages. Let me show you why.

In Western Zamonia, when you've traversed the Dullsgard Plateau in an easterly direction and finally left its rippling expanses of grassland behind you, the skyline suddenly recedes in a dramatic way. You can look far, far out across the boundless plain to where, in the distance, it merges with the Demerara Desert. if the weather is fine and the atmosphere clear. you will be able to discern a speck amid the sparse vegetation of this arid wasteland As you advance, so it will grow larger, take on jagged outlines, sprout gabled roofs and eventually reveal itself to be the legendary city that bears the name of Bookholm. 

You can smell the place from a long way off. It reeks of old books. It's as if you've opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop- as if you've stirred up a cloud of unadulterated book dust and blown the detritus from millions of mouldering volumes straight into your face. There are folk who dislike that smell and turn on their heel as  soon as it assails their nostrils. It isn't an agreeable odour, granted. Hopelessly antiquated, it is eloquent of decay and dissolution, mildew and mortality. But it also has other associations: a hint of acidity reminiscent of lemon trees in flower; the stimulating scent of old leather; the acrid, intelligent tang of printer's ink; and overlying all else, a reassuring aroma of wood. 


Is there any wonder why mere mortals like me find it hard to review this book? What possible words can I string together to do all that justice? Maybe I should just resort to sounds like sighs or oohs and ahhhs . 

So for the next few days if you don't see me hanging around on blog land, you know where I'll be.

Bookholm, of course!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Will Not Stop Running

I am a runner. I don't run like one, I don't look like one but I am one. 

December 2006, I ran a full marathon in just under 6 hours. It was the most grueling race of my life. It was also my most exhilarating. I couldn't walk for 3 days after that and I stopped running for 2 years. 

In early 2009, I resumed running again with a group of friends who have become like family. Thanks to them, I haven't stopped since. 

For some of us, we harbour dreams of running what we deem the most prestigious of all marathon races, the Boston Marathon. For me, the dream is a distant one as it is near impossible to make the qualifying time. Yet,  I continue to harbour that dream because running a marathon is precisely about overcoming what we often think is the impossible.

Because a marathon is a race to celebrate a super human will and tenacity,  it generates a goodwill beyond boundaries. It is not uncommon for people to withstand extreme weather for hours waiting at the finishing line to see their friends or family run in. Or for strangers to stand by at the half way mark, with bags of bananas, handing them out to runners swishing past. Runners who can probably only manage a  fleeting smile and a single word of thanks and who they will likely never meet again. 

What happened in Boston yesterday shocked and saddened me. It felt really close to home. In fact, I knew these people. They were the people I ran with in all those races, they were the spectators who cheered me on. I mourn their passing; I cry for their loss. 

And that is why I will not stop running. In their honour, I will continue to run for as long as I can.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Art, Artistry, Artisan- Mary Leu

Every stitch, every fiber, every stroke, she painstakingly carved out of wood.

Her gallery,  呂美麗精雕藝術館 or The Mary Leu Fine Arts Carving Gallery was one of the highlights of our trip when we were in Yilan, Taiwan. 

Forgive me, Mary for taking these pictures but I hope more people will visit your gallery when they see them. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rain by Jonas De Ro

Digital art by Jonas De Ro 

In this sweltering heat, I am yearning for rain....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Art Running Routes- Gardens By The Bay

From Inside The Flower Dome, 24/6/2012

Very few things here make me love my country the way our Sunday morning runs regularly do.

It might be while I was witnessing a miracle of nature over the quiet waters of our most famous river;

Original Photo by Cher Kuan- 24/6/2012

and then behold, a 100 year old romance coursed through.

25m tall super tree grove with a sky walkway- photo courtesy of MSNBC

It could be that moment of marvel at the super scale of a nation's vision, made possible by the effort of thousands, realising what might had seemed an impossible dream.

Summer display of Mediterranean flowers- Flower Dome,24/6/2012

Or on a very special morning like this one, the surprising greeting of a colourful burst of vibrance, 

details-flower dome, 24/6/2012

with promises smelling of hope and happiness,

African Garden-Flower Dome,24/6/2012

adventure and awe.

These are often how I feel while running with friends who have become like family in the many beautiful places in Singapore. This swelling of pride and sense of immense well being; a sensation I have come to recognise as love for my country, my home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Art Artistry Artisan - Mrs Lee Gek Khim

Peranakan beaded slippers, also known as kasot manek,literally meaning shoe beads, is a type of shoe that dates back to the early twentieth century. It refers to beaded slippers worn by a nyonya to complete her Sarong Kebaya outfit, together with chained brooches (kerosang) and a silver belt (tali pendeng). The slippers are made of Peranakan cut beads (manek potong), which are treasured as these beads are no longer available. Vintage kasot manek are intricate and finely stitched, a testimony to the fine workmanship of yesteryears. The intricacy and fine workmanship of a pair of beaded slipper is also a hallmark of highly accomplished Peranakan women, also known as nyonyas, whose skills in embroidery and beadwork are highly valued.-----Wikipaedia

I don't think I have ever seen my housemate FaiZ as excited as he was 3 weeks ago, at the prospect of hosting a guest. It is after all the legendary, much loved and very respected Mrs Lee Gek Khim, FaiZ's secondary school English teacher. FaiZ attributed his As in Literature, a subject which might well be Greek to him to this remarkable but now retired teacher who has relocated with her family to Australia. To this day, many of her ex-students regarded her as their best teacher ever! In the short time I have known her, I have come to truly enjoy her company. 

Mrs Lee or Khim as I addressed her since I was not her student, is a true blue nonya and to my delight, I found out that she loved beading. This pair of beadwork is for her 9th pair of kasok manet. She brought them to Singapore, hoping to find a cobbler specialising in Peranakan slippers. 

I could not stop admiring her work 

 and even love the back.

Khim made me feel like stitching again and I actually did last night. 

I will miss her sorely when she leaves.