Dear Chandralekha

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Yesterday was a special day. Maybe it was the last day at work before you start at another place the coming Monday. Maybe it was just special because it was a Friday. Maybe yesterday was the day you met your spouse/partner. Okay maybe it was not that special for you but I think after all the years, it still is for my family. Haha! Yes, it was my birthday yesterday. 23. Such a weird number. Anyway, I recently read a book titled “Dear me” which is basically a compilation of celebrities’ letters to their 16 year old selves. That got me inspired to write a letter to my 13 year old self. A letter to the Chandralekha in 2007.  A 10-year throwback.
 
Dear Chandralekha,
Happy 13th birthday! You probably just celebrated with your entire family. You got the surprise birthday party that you actually asked for. Since you actually knew about the surprise, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. But you still acted surprised. Haha! You’re 13 and I’m 23. I know that you see people aged 20 and above as adults. Age is just a number. Actually, it’s a word. :X Let me tell you this, they are not adults. Most of them don’t know what they’re doing but they just pretend like they have everything under control. Haha! I am not an adult. I mean yes, I do go to the clinic on my own and manage my monthly finances by myself. But I refuse to attest to being an adult. It’s boring and I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t want to give away too much in this letter but I just want to tell you some important stuff to see you through the years. It isn’t advice per se but just some things I want you to know. Some things that I think you would like to know.

Academics: You’re not stupid!

You will not fail your O levels. You will not drop out of polytechnic. You do make it to NUS and pursue a degree of your choice(maybe you should think harder when choosing the course or maybe not). Something known as the bell curve will irritate you and make learning less enjoyable in university. But you know what? You’ll survive and pursue an honours degree too. Stop worrying too much. You’re not stupid. You might have temporarily strayed slightly away from studies this year but don’t worry you’ll find your way back again.

Tech Updates: Bye Nokia!

Now that that’s out of the way, let me give you some updates. Your cool slide phone, Nokia 6288 will be out of fashion. Phones these days are not as cool in form but they compensate with substance. For example, the cameras are not just 2 megapixels but can be even 20 megapixels. Sorry to drop the bomb but Friendster and MSN will die off. Nokia too will kinda die off. I know it sounds unimagineable. But even the sun sets in paradise, doesn’t it?! Yes, testimonials and bulletin boards will become things of the past. Don’t waste too much time on that. Facebook and Instagram will take over. People will write on walls, like, share and tag. But don’t waste too much time on that too. And I know you seem to get lost all the time. With the advent of Google maps, you’ll get lost less often. Haha!

Self-image issues: You’re beautiful.

You won’t get the tattoos or piercings that you wanted except one piercing on your nose. I know you’re severely overweight now. But you’ll lose weight. For some people you’ll never be enough. Even if you’re skinny to your bones(btw that will never be the case), they will still call you fat. Ignore what others say about you. They are idiots. I want you to remember that you’re complete. Only one of the two teeth, that was extracted just two days ago because of a possible obstruction, will grow. That will leave you with a gap in your teeth even when you are 23. You will feel conscious about showing your teeth when you smile. But no one notices it. Actually, it’s cute. Stop being so over-conscious. The pair of white and green spectacles is a no-go. But I know that you like them for some weird reason so just wear them. You don’t have pimples now but when you’re 23, all that stress will leave its marks on your face. But as Lorde puts it, the pimples are like the craters of the moon, only adding to the beauty of it. Oh who’s Lorde? She’s a singer. You’ll get to know her in the years to come. You don’t like your curly mane that can’t be tamed. Your hair is pretty much like you. Stubborn. But do not rebond. Besides, curly hair will become trendy again. Oh and don’t bother about the hair on your leg too. Oops too much information right there!

Best friends forever? Not really.

I know you can’t wait to grow up and go to poly. But your 4 years in Yishun sec will be one of the best times in your life. Seniors are only cool because they’re older. Don’t put them on a pedestal. Do not put yourself on a pedestal. But do not let people treat you any less than you deserve to be treated too. When you’re 23, you won’t be talking much to any of those whom you identified as best friends when you were 13. And your life would have less drama without them and that’s good.

Complicated love.

There will be some people who will leave your life and then make a re-entry later. Do not forget why and how they exited the first time. You won’t get married at 23. You won’t even be in a relationship when you’re 23. You know that whole idea of meeting that one person, being in a relationship with just that person and marrying that person? Well, it doesn’t happen for you. The princess got to kiss a couple of frogs before meeting her prince, right?! That doesn’t make you tainted or anything like that. Go easy on yourself. You don’t have to take the difficult path. You can take the easier path if you’re not ready for it. Okay, I didn’t say that. It’s a line from the 2016 Hindi movie, Dear Zindagi. Haha! You’ll get your heart broken and break someone’s heart as well. The latter would hurt twice as much but both of it will be necessary for you to grow as a person. However, as with all wounds, you will heal.
Stop pretending to read during the silent reading sessions and actually go read some books. Don’t read too many depressing books though. Same goes with music too. Yuvan Shankar Raja is good but don’t wallow in those emo stuff. I know you feel like a misfit sometimes. You search for a higher purpose in life. That doesn’t really change much in the years to come. The search doesn’t end. But you would meet some nice souls in university who make you feel less like a misfit. Spend more time with your family especially Aatha.

Coffee and spirituality

I know you hate coffee and tea but when you’re 23, you’ll be loading high on caffeine just to stay awake through lessons and to finish assignments and projects. There will be other days where you won’t need caffeine to stay awake; your overbearing thoughts will do the trick. I know that at 13, you’re very pious with a thick layer of sacred ash smeared on your forehead everyday. That will change. You would reach a state of being at peace with everything you have and don’t have, and you’ll stop asking God for things. For some years, your spirituality will be like a swinging pendulum. That’s completely fine too. I know it’s funny but your conversations with strangers can be really paradigm-shifting, thought-provoking and sometimes spiritual even. Do that more often.

Some final words

There’s nothing wrong with you. You’ll write a blog and you won’t be the only one reading it. You would have quite a following. The best part is that you would enjoy doing it so much. All I want you to do is to have some faith and believe that it’s all going to be alright. You will do great. Always be true to yourself. Now forget everything that I have said. You’re probably going to make the same mistakes again.
Lots of love,
The older you
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Tinder Tales

Are you judging me?

Are you judging me? How dare you?! I am judging you for judging me just because I am on Tinder. Haha! Okay yes, I used to judge others who were on Tinder too. They’re so shallow. Swiping on someone just because of looks is so shallow. And why are they so desperate to find love? It will happen when it happens. Yet I am on Tinder now. Let me justify myself. One of my friends suggested it to me and I was in this phase of trying out new things. Besides, I figured that I would be able to better judge if I actually tried it out and find out how it works. What’s the worst that could happen? What follows is my musings and realisations while I was on Tinder. If you don’t understand how Tinder works, read this first. Haha!

Why am I not getting any matches?

Okay, this guy looks like a normal human. Swipe Right. This one’s okay too. Swipe right. I remember laughing so much for the live catalogue scene in Sivaji before the Ballelakka song comes. Tinder is almost that. Okay it’s not that bad. Haha! Oh God, put on a shirt man. This one looks like he’s here for fax.(If you don’t get what I am referring to, I think it’s better that way. Haha! :X) Swipe left. This one’s smoking. Swipe left. Wait, why am I not getting any matches? Am I that undesirable? Oh wait, Google says that it’s not instant matching. He might not have swiped on me yet. Anyway, I’m awesome-pawsome. If they don’t see that then too bad.

Tinder is such an ego booster

Oh no! Notifications from Tinder! I got to switch them off before someone sees them. How embarrassing! What is it? Oh, I have 20 new matches. Crap! I can’t handle more than 1 person at a moment. I hope they don’t start a conversation. “Hey beautiful!” He’s talking to me? He’s calling me beautiful. Tinder is such an ego booster. Oh no! Another one. “What made you swipe right?” What should I reply? I don’t know. I thought swiping left meant not liking. Sorry it was an honest mistake. Haha! Okay that’s mean. Another one. “Hey cutie!” I am not your dog. Don’t call me that. You cutie patootie! That’s it! I am going to delete my account and begin again.

Chitti Rajinikanth’s on Tinder!

Okay, you need to be more stringent on your swiping. Only swipe if you like them more than 80%. Okay let’s start. Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe left. You’re doing well. Keeping your standard high. Go on. Wait, this guy looks super familiar. Isn’t he my friend’s boyfriend? Why is he here? Oh God. I feel so bad right now. Or have they broken up? No, she just posted a picture of them with a heart on Instagram recently. Maybe it’s a fake profile. Or an inactive account that he forgot to delete. Yes, that must be it. He seems like a nice guy. He wouldn’t cheat on her behind her back. Or will he? Well, that’s none of my business. It’s not like I like him anyway. Swipe left. I hope I don’t see any of my friends or cousins or my brother. Law of attraction is true! Hi friend. Swipe left. Oh my brother’s friend! Swipe left. Isn’t this the guy I met in my office lift the other day. Swipe left. Hahaha! Why is Chitti Rajinikanth on Tinder? Why would anyone swipe right on a fake picture? Especially Chitti Rajinikanth. :X Sigh. This guy must be a genius. Swipe left. Oh if you press on the picture, you can read the bio. Interesting. I am such a noob. Why hadn’t I figured this out earlier?! Hahaha! “Gym freak!” Swipe left. “Loves adventure.” Swipe left. “Loves sports.” Swipe left. “Enjoys intellectual conversations” Okay this guy looks good. And I can engage in intellectual conversations too. Swipe right. It’s a match! He says “Hi!” Okay, “Hi!”. I thought he liked intellectual conversations. But all he says is hi? Sighpie!

Blue Stars

Why is one in five people on Tinder interested in travelling, outdoor activities, climbing? Or drinking, clubbing, partying? These “cool” people are such turnoffs. I made up that statistics but you bought it, didn’t you?! Haha! Anyways, it could possibly be because of the scoring thing in that article. But what else can they be interested in? Reading, writing, singing, eating. Oh look there’s one. Swipe right. Oh it’s a match. (Update: like a couple of other matches, he doesn’t start a conversation. He just occupies space on my matches list.) Oh why is there a blue star? Google says that it’s a super like. You got to swipe up for that. You only have one super like for free everyday. And he used it on me. How sweet? But hey it’s a little creepy too. But I pity him. No, don’t fall for that again. Hmmmm. Swipe left. Why is there a bike on my Tinder? Oh so they have ads now. Annoying. Swipe left. This is a wedding picture. Why would anyone put their wedding picure as a Tinder profile picture? Wait why would any married person be on Tinder? Fax? Sigh. Disgusting. Swipe left. Oh a Tinder message: ” I read your blog. I admire your guts.” Awkward. What do I reply? Oh thank you. Conversation ends shortly after some small talk.

Verdict

Tinder either makes you feel really great or really low. You either get so many matches or so many rejections everyday. You’re just a few pictures and a couple of words. It’s bad. I’m not denying it. You’ll see a lot of people just there for fun and fax. You need to exercise some skepticism while swiping to avoid wasting time. It gets a bit uncomfortable when you see someone you know in real life, on Tinder. On the flipside, when you see someone you matched with but never spoke to in real life, it feels awkward too. It gets worse if you see more than one of them in the same place. Haha! To be honest, it gets boring after a while. There can be glitches too. There was once I matched with someone and apparently, I disappeared from his matches shortly, indicating that I unmatched him. I didn’t. But he messaged me on Facebook to clarify. So that’s that. Apart from that, hearts get broken. And I don’t like that part of it. But I think that’s inevitable- on Tinder and in real life. Anyways, I am gonna be out of Tinder for now. I am still a kid.
This has been the most purposeless and pathetic post that I have ever written. Nevertheless, thank you for reading. Stay curious! 🙂

One of the best decisions in my life: Acting in Sangae Muzhangu 2017

I am writing after a two month hiatus. Of course, it’s going to be about NUS Tamil Language Society’s Sangae Muzhangu 2017. This isn’t a review. This is a personal recount of some fond memories and the usual thank-you’s and sorry’s. I am gonna jump around here and there. Bear with me.

Please don’t self-sabotage!

Here’s a note to myself. You too can take this advice if you deem it fit. Do not self-sabotage yourself. Do not reject yourself before someone rejects you. It might feel like you have successfully avoided a potential failure and the embarrassment that comes with it. What you don’t realise is that you have also avoided a potential success. I think you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. And if you’re going to give it a shot, might as well go all out. What are you going to lose anyway? Whatever you think you’re going to lose, isn’t even yours. What you see as yours was given to you here. It will disappear into thin air. Stop holding on too tight to them. Obviously, you already knew these(Haven’t you watched the Karnan movie?). But you failed once and you’re letting that stop you from trying again. Know this: just because it happened once doesn’t mean that it will definitely happen again. And so I took a leap of faith. I put aside my anxieties and insecurities stemming from Sangae Muzhangu 2015 auditions and went for the Sangae 2017’s cast auditions. You know what? The unimaginable happened. I got the role that I wanted. That, my kids, is how my Sangae journey began. *Special mention to Suganiah and Priya who told me as it is and gave me that encouragement to go for this.

All about the people!

Getting selected was only half the battle. Juggling Sangae rehearsals and the internship at the same time was intense to say the least. I spent just 4 or 5 hours at home on weekdays. Those hours were spent sleeping. I barely saw my family members’ faces. Thank God for Sundays! It wasn’t easy. What really pushed me through the toughest of times was actually the people. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this cast is a very fresh bunch. This is the first stage acting and/or Sangae Muzhangu experience for a lot of us. I believe that there’s one striking quality about this year’s cast. (Since self-praise is frowned upon, do note that I am talking about the rest of the cast excluding myself.) They are super fun, down-to-earth, and sincere. Each one of them was peculiarly unique. They made me look forward to rehearsals. Even on days where I got scolded, I knew that we were in this together and that kept me going. I would also like to apologise for the times where I was whiny and cranky owing to hunger or lack of sleep. You guys deserve an award for bearing with me. And it wasn’t just the cast. I also met some really nice people from the props, dance, ticketing and technicals teams. I don’t want to go making a list. Sometimes, all it takes to brighten up someone’s day is a smile or a just asking how’s everything going or offering them a bite of chocolate. I am glad that I was blessed with several gems who did that for me.

It wasn’t easy.

One comment that I got too often was that I don’t look like I am acting. It looked too natural and effortless. Maya is Chandralekha and Chandralekha is Maya. That’s far from the truth. I am very different from Maya. The first unmissable difference is that I am about 23 while she’s 35. Haha! Don’t mistake me! I am glad that it looked natural. I want you to know that this wasn’t something that just came easily. There’s something about acting that makes it harder. It isn’t physically strenuous. But it requires a lot of mental work. The dreaded three words, “Get into character”. I listened to Nallathor Veenai, my monologue bgm and talked to myself while walking to get into character. I avoided all human contact to completely commit myself to this. These attempts were usually futile. Towards the end, I think it worked. On the other hand, breaking out of character came easily. There was once I messed up my lines and said shit. I need to stop saying “shit”. The entire cast had to run around the room as a penalty. I remember everyone just did it without complaining. They didn’t guilt-trip me or anything. I think that’s when I felt strongly that we were one strong team. Once again, sorry guys!

Initially, I was an awkward turtle who had a very restricted body language. I didn’t know how to act. I am indebted to four people for helping me out. The first one goes out to director sir, Ganesh who taught us a lot of the basics of method acting and gave us all the freedom to change the dialogues and do what we wanted to with the character. The second one goes to our dear associate director, Sasi who gave us a lot of suggestions and went into the nitty gritty details like how I was putting my hand on Arul’s shoulder. Haha! The last two important people are Indu and Saravanan. They explained the scriptwriter’s vision and even acted out for me. So a big big thank you to y’all!

Popping and locking

I was in Indian dance in primary school and secondary school. But I was mostly doing Dappanguthu(folk dance). Even if I didn’t get selected for cast, I would have been glad to dance for Sarattu Vandi or Local boys. But I got into cast and I had to dance to Kadhal cricket. I have a special talent of irritating choreographers and P.E. teachers. I would turn right when they say left. I would do a full turn where I am supposed to do a half turn. A choreographer once wanted to throw the radio remote at me. So you can see why I was nervous about dancing. I was lucky to have Lishanth and Shiva as the choreographers. They were really cool. They never once said that we were bad. They didn’t scold us either. In fact, they said that we looked “cute”. Haha! That must have been a tough lie to say but thank you for that!  Perhaps, that’s why I enjoyed doing the dance and that entire scene so much. In fact, that was my second favourite scene.

Spot on!

Like I said, I was in Indian dance. But I have not performed in front of a big audience. Besides, I was usually hiding at the back. Haha! I also sometimes have the problem of stuttering when I get nervous. One of the reasons I joined the cast was to overcome this issue. Of course, I didn’t tell this to anyone as it could have jeopardized my chances. Oops! Big reveal there! My stage fright was at its peak. I used to get anxious during the initial rehearsals. I am not sure when exactly it happened. But somewhere along the way I did not feel nervous. The feeling was good. Truth be told, my heart wasn’t beating very hard on both the show days. Heck, I can’t even remember much of what happened on stage. But I remember two things distinctly.

“Auntyaaa?” The moment I said this in disbelief, the entire crowd just burst out laughing. And it wasn’t just restrained titters but a nice boff. I learnt that the audience laugh at the most unexpected things. But that moment was special. I could feel the energy. It was such an exhilarating experience. I am doing a bad job at explaining how I felt at that moment. Top of the world. Well, even that doesn’t do justice but I guess you get the idea. This was my most favourite scene. Of course it was! I had a spotlight on me and I really felt for the lines. And oh the bgm!

Love scenes are hard. It was even harder since I already know Arul. He was the President when I was the Treasurer. Haha! An excellent combination, it was! Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I have devoured almost every other English romantic comedy movie. I also love Mani Ratnam and Gautam Vasudev Menon(GVM) movies. I also have an insane crush on GVM(GVM>Suriya) but I will leave that for another post.  I really enjoyed doing the Arabian restaurant scene. I loved all that awkwardness in that scene. “Officerkku illaatha akkaraiyaa?” was the hardest. Maya had to put her hand on Raghavan’s lap. It shouldn’t be flirtatious but really casual. My awkward hand! The struggle was real! Haha! I think it went okay because I remember people laughing. More than that, I loved when the audience went ohhhh when Raghavan leaves and I stand there looking at the audience dejectedly. I remember that another reason I wanted to act was because I wanted to make people cry. Okay this is not crying but for them to relate to what I was feeling and go ohh was close enough. Haha! *Also special mention to the excellent calefare in this scene. Thank you to Reuben especially! You did an excellent job dropping the plates and cups. Haha! Perfect timing!

What I hated about acting in Sangae

“Micing-up” is a short process of having to put on the microphones, the battery pack. I hated the securing part where we had to stick tapes and clip it on. I dreaded it. It was especially hard with costume changes. I wish I could just act wearing one costume throughout. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. I also hated having to wear foundation. It was a growing hatred since my Indian dance days. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I need to thank the costumes people for making me look good on stage. 😉 And special mention to Haripriya and Kalpana for helping me out with the saree! Thank youuu!

Love and Marriage

This year’s script made me ponder about my own love life(or the lack of it). My decisions. I have kind of given up on love and marriage. Okay not exactly. I do hope some miracle happens and I can get married to GVM or one of his characters(Read: Kaakha Kaakha Suriya). Haha! I am not sure if it’s just me. I do have crushes here and there. But nothing deep. I am fine with not getting married. What’s interesting is that seeing the alumni couples and in one instance hearing them speak to their kids(I wasn’t eavesdropping; I just happened to hear), actually made me wish that I could one day have a cute family like them too.

If you feel like someone is taking a video, they probably are. Abort mission or pose for the camera! Haha! 😛

Through this Sangae, I got to understand myself better. I got to just let go of my inhibitions and go completely crazy. I think I got too comfortable with my cast members. Btw for those asking me why I put tea bags on my eyes, this link might help answer your question.

Can’t touch this

I read the reviews. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you do. The naysayers. You can’t control them. But you can control your response to them. You can choose to ignore them and keeping doing what you’re doing. But of course, you should reflect on your own work and make the neccessary improvements.

Whether or not this Sangae was a success,  whether or not it was better than the previous Sangaes, whether or not it’s better than other theatre productions, it just doesn’t matter. Because what do they know. Haha! Oops. Okay no! Wait, what do I know.

Nevertheless, I am super happy to have been part of Sangae Muzhangu 2017. Just as I sometimes refer to some people by the Sangae they were involved in, I am going to be referred to as Sangae 2017 cast. That’s a label that I am going to carry with pride. This is going to be my last Sangae under the limelight. I think I will probably help out in make-up or technicals in 2019. Or I might surprise myself and come back again! 😛 Either way, I am going to make sure I come back to support the crew and shout “Kathi sollu kathari sollu, Sangae Muzhangu”!

Thanks for reading and stay curious! 🙂 

 

Reflecting on my poly days: Part Two

It’s been 17 days since my previous post (Do read it first, before reading this). I would explain the reason for my delay at the end of this post. Haha, so read on till the end!

After

Do I regret going to poly or taking a diploma in accountancy? Of course not! I don’t regret it now (but I did at one point. :X). No, I didn’t get to play cards during breaks. MSN died off (together with Friendster) and I can barely remember ever using them during my poly days. Carrying around my 2.5kg-heavy laptop was such a burden, literally. The hair that I dyed golden brown was dyed back to black because I realised that I preferred black hair. Perhaps, the reasons underlying my decision to go to poly wasn’t logical at all. Poly was not all that cool. Nevertheless, in hindsight, I think it has molded me and given me a good foundation. The books that I had read and the movies that I had watched during that time guide me when I write and sometimes even in the way I lead my life. I am where I am because of that decision and I still stand by it. If I could go back in time, will I change my decision? NO!

What have I learned?

Sometimes you would think that you badly need something, but you don’t. You can exist without it. Remember, you came into his world with absolutely nothing. Sometimes, you not getting something might be the best thing that could happen to you. Maybe if I had not gotten my first choice: Accountancy, and gotten my third choice: Arts and Social Sciences, I might enjoy studying more. I don’t know. Most of my friends have completed their degree programme or are going to complete soon (before me, haha!). One is in Australia and probably getting settled there. Another is an air stewardess and flying around everywhere. Each of them is successful in their own way, doing what they want to do. It’s interesting because we used to talk about how we were probably going to go to a local uni, get the degree, work for three years in an audit firm and move on to do an accounting role or something. Only one of us is actually going to do that. Even that, I am not too sure. How our lives have turned out is all very surprising! It hasn’t always been what we wanted but it has definitely been what we needed. I haven’t figured out what I want to do yet. It’s funny because I don’t feel the pressure yet.

Some ask me why I wasted a year in poly when I could have just gone to JC. Everyone around us is trying to make it sound like life is a race and you have to finish it first so as to get the prize. There’s no prize! What is time? You have all the time in this world in your hands. We’re still young(and wild and free. Haha!) Nothing in this life is ever a waste. In movies/books, they sometimes show you some insignificant detail about the character which turns out to be an important factor in the subsequent scenes. That’s called characterisation. I learned this in my sec 1 literature class and I can still remember it. Haha! Similarly, all these experiences build your character, personality, and attitude. The most important thing is to learn, make new friends, acquire experiences, skills, and knowledge. At the same time, have some fun. Your experiences might be useful in the future. Or maybe not. But as the late Steve Jobs said, we can’t connect the dots looking forward. We can only connect the dots looking backward. We have to have some faith that the dots will connect and that you will find some meaning. Till then, keep going. Be positive!

 

On that note, there are three reasons for my long departure from writing.

Firstly, I have started on my internship and that drains a lot of my energy and time(of course, it should!). Secondly, (drumrolls please), I am acting in Sangae Muzhangu! I am so excited for this. My nights are taken up by Sangae rehearsals and my days are taken up by my internship so the only time I can write is during my train rides. But during my morning train rides, I am listening to and getting completely absorbed into songs and during my night train rides, I am playing Paatukku Paatu(song games) with my friends. Hence, I write during weekends and my past few weekends have been pretty packed. Thirdly, I don’t want to write too often. I need to tease a bit. Make y’all wait for a while. This is just me following the words of one of my lecturer in SP; “If you’re worth it, they will wait”. From now on, I will write when I really feel like saying something and not obligate myself to write every week. My next post will be continuing from the Anjadi Kuppeh and Kuthu songs post.

Till then, stay curious!

Reflecting on my poly days

This post is about my polytechnic education and experiences. I think it’s the right time to write about it especially since it’s the graduation season now. Congratulations to all of you! To some, polytechnic education was just a stepping stone towards university education. To others, it could have been their greatest achievement in their life. Whichever the case, you did it and that calls for a celebration! The tears. The joy. The memories. The flood of posts on social media. The dabbing on stage before collecting the certificate. It’s all coming back to me. Not too long ago, three years to be exact, I graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Accountancy. To really talk about my polytechnic experience, I think it’s important to talk about what happened before, during and after it to really give you the full picture. I have tried to write each section based on how I felt in that various periods.

Before: 4 reasons why I chose the poly route

Because it’s cool, duh!

Most of my cousins went to poly and you know when you’re young you want to grow up and be like your older cousins. Apart from that, the whole idea of carrying around your laptop to school, doing work on it, chatting on MSN during lectures and tutorials (MSN was still alive when I was in secondary school: 2007-2010), and playing card games appealed a lot to me. Also, have you seen those publicity materials of these Polytechnics? They made polytechnic life seem really cool. On top of that, the Channel 5 show, Light Years was what really made me think that poly life is cool. Also, there’s no physical education and that brings it to cool level 1000(at least for me). Haha!

Because I can wear my own clothes, dye my hair and do whatever I want.

Having been picked by my school Vice Principal and Discipline Master for my nose piercing ever since I got it done when I was in sec 2, and other minute stuff, I was tired of the whole school environment with unnecessary rules and enforcement on attire, and grooming. Why does it matter whether I wear a blue rubber band or a pink one? You just want everyone to look the same and boring. And what has my black coloured shoe lace got to do with anything? My school held spot-checks during assembly to check top-down to ensure that we were not infringing on any of these very important rules. Since I had not had the opportunity to do all these for so many years, why would I go and put myself through another 2 years of school environment. Apart from that, I didn’t want to wear those ugly uniforms. I wanted to dress up and dye my hair(which I did) a week after O’ levels was over. I was a rebel! :P(I later regretted it. I think I look better with black hair. Now, I think I need black dye with all that white hair that I am starting to have). Most importantly, I had thrown away my secondary school uniform shortly after O’ levels was over. Even if I later changed my mind and decided that I wanted to go to a JC, the thought of being that extra girl not in her secondary school uniform made me uneasy? Okay, just disregard this. It’s just one of my impulsive move at the thought of I don’t have to go to that place anymore. Good riddance! I also liked the freedom that I could have. I could go anywhere after school and mum won’t know nor ask me what took me too long. I could just say that I was just doing project work.

Because I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket!

Most people didn’t know this but the year that I took O’ levels I broke down. I felt so stressed and pressurised to do well and get A1s for all subjects. It doesn’t help when you have a smart elder brother who had set the bar high for you. He had already won me in PSLE, albeit by 10 points. You know that you would inevitably be compared with him. My teachers were also putting a lot of pressure too. There was so much work to do and it was never-ending. I think I stopped doing all work about 5 months before the exams. I would just sleep when I came back home and even in school but discreetly of course. Eventually I did well with distinctions in all subjects except combined humanities. But that made me think of how the work done in the four years is completely disregarded and all that people care about is that paper that you get at the end of it. It all boiled down to that one exam that I am sitting at the end of the four years. I didn’t want to put myself through that again. In poly, we would have modules so the risk is less concentrated, unlike JC which would have me write an exam at the end of the 2 years.

Because everyone asked me to go JC

A lot of people told me that if I go to poly, I can’t make it to local uni. The people who told me this said it out of concern more than a doubt of my ability. Back then, it was believed that only the top 5% of the cohort can make it to university. Going just by probability, my chances were low. It was the year 2011. SkillsFuture and the closure of JCs hadn’t occurred at that time. People were still going gaga over getting a degree, particularly from a local uni. They did make sense but since young whenever someone said that I cannot do something, I try my best to prove them wrong. Like how Bruno Mars would sing: I sang,

“DON’T BELIEVE ME JUST WATCH!”

Wait, the song didn’t exist then. But you get the idea. I just was rebellious. I always liked underdogs especially after watching Rocky haha! I think that I am one too! I went to neighbourhood primary and secondary school. I did pretty well in my O’ levels and I wanted to prove everyone that you can take the poly route and still make it to local uni and enrol in the course of your choice. Of course, I could have just gone to a JC and reached that same place. But that would be boring and where’s the challenge?

During

While I liked dressing up to school and having all that great food options(SP had 6 canteens, McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Burger King, Starbucks, when I was studying there. I am not sure if that’s still the case.), I did not really enjoy my time there initially. I had chosen to go to SP Accountancy together with one of my friends but we were placed in different classes and rarely got a chance to see each other. The rest of my sec sch clique had gone to NYP. During the initial phase, I really missed them. On top of that, I hated the 1-hour long train rides to school. I liked the freedom but I missed the way the teachers connected really well with me. But of course, there were a couple of lecturers and tutors whom I was personally close to. I hated that the number of public holidays(no school days) had drastically decreased. Sigh. Based on the NUS Indicative Grade Profile then, I had to get 3.87 to make it to NUS Accountancy. My GPA in my first semester was 3.714. I remember so clearly because I was that affected by it. While I had confidently made the decision to study in poly, I was suddenly questioning whether I had made the right decision. Perhaps, everyone else was right. I should have gone to JC. Most people do the opposite(JC to Poly), but I was considering transferring out to JC. But after talking to my parents and some people, I stood by my decision and completed my 3 years.

However, by my third year, having gone on an internship and with the passing of my grandmother, I think my perspectives had changed drastically. I started appreciating what I have more. I realised that I had three very good friends(who also were great project mates). They are Julia, Man Ping and Yi Shen. Haha, I sound like I am revealing the winners for some award show. They had made my poly life more bearable. The train rides back home. The lunch chats at Foodcourt 6. I also had another awesome friend, Sharmila. While I was so fixated on achieving that GPA to make it to uni and only involved in one or two activities outside of school, Sharmila was involved in so many CCAs. She was the lively and carefree one who was both extremely fluent in Tamil and English. The only person I could have good conversations in Tamil. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

Apart from the people, another thing that made me enjoy my poly journey was the library. The Hilltop Library was my favourite place in SP. They had all the good books which were always on loan in the NLB Libraries. I remember devouring so many books when I was studying there. It was my escape from reality. Whether or not I had my lecture notes, I always had a book in my bag. Apart from that, I also borrowed and watched so many movies(mostly of the Romantic Comedy genre). I think that’s when I started seeing how much I loved words, drama and movies.

I can’t possibly talk about my polytechnic experience without talking about academics right. Haha! Honestly, my favourite modules weren’t accounting modules. That shouldn’t come as a shock since I talked about how I didn’t like accounting much in my first post. One of my favourite modules was called Personal Effectiveness Skills for Accountants. It’s prety cool because among other things, I learnt how to deliver a TED talk and…. Make-up! I loved it! Haha! Other modules which I thoroughly enjoyed are part of the General Education series. These modules are pretty much the poly version of General Paper. Assessment for this modules was mainly conducted through projects and reflective journals. I learnt so much about issues affecting Singapore and the world. Things that I had been completely oblivious about. I also started thinking critically and developed a sense of empathy too. I know there were people who hated it but I think I enjoyed these modules the most.

To be continued… (This post is going too long. Will continue on the After in the next post.)

Thank you for reading. And stay curious! 😉

 

Mummy and Appa

I was six when I realised that my family was not perfect. Six years later, I realised that the normal, let alone perfect family does not exist. Each family has its own hardships concealed by all that wide smiles. They have issues that those glossy photographs hanging on the walls aren’t going to show. Anyway, what is normal? An average of all the madness? I don’t know. Normal seems to be just what every family is pretending to be amidst all the chaos. But a family that is not normal, nor perfect is far more beautiful than a (hypothetical) perfect one. Wabi-sabi! Despite all the mess, we stuck together as a family. Despite the differences, we supported each other. Despite the difficult times, we survived together. The strong pillars in every family are usually the parents. April 12 was my parents’ 26’th wedding anniversary. I think I speak for myself and anneh when I say that both of you have been great parents and we have a lot to thank y’all for.

A big thank you for producing us! I know Mummy that pregnancy must have been a painful and difficult process. But I think raising us up(especially me) must have been an even painful and difficult process. I am so grateful that both of y’all generally did not resort to beating as a means of disciplining. I know so many of my friends got physically abused in the name of disciplining. I have even heard one of my friend’s parents say that nothing works as well as some good old spanking. Even if I did get low marks in a spelling test or something, you made me do Thoppukaranam instead of beating me. Y’all often also explained why something was wrong and made us reflect on our actions. Mummy sometimes gave me the silent treatment to show that she is upset and to allow me to think about why she’s upset and later apologise to her for it. Even when Annae and I fought, we had a case hearing headed by the both of you(Mummy mostly) and all disputes were fairly settled without any beating. Thank you for also being great role models. I think I learnt how to be genuinely nice to people from y’all. Thank you for being patient while teaching me how to tie the shoelace and other things. I still don’t know how to tie it perfect but I don’t trip on my own shoelace so I guess I am doing great. Thank you for not pampering us too much. I received 50cents when I was in primary 1 and it has gradually increased over time. It was never more than what was neccessary and I always saved the residual amount to buy notebooks(I used to collect notebooks as a hobby). I think I learnt good personal financial management from my Mummy even before actually learning about these stuff in poly and uni. Thank you for bringing me up as a budget princess. I didn’t always get everything that I asked for. But y’all always got me whatever I needed. I have generally been a clumsy child. Mummy used to call me CC: Clumsy Creature. Haha! I think it’s a well-deserved accolade. I need to thank you for not scolding me when I broke your lipstick and smudged it all over my kindergarten uniform(What a vain child I was!). I was really scared that you were going to scold me but you didn’t. That made me feel even more guilty and I never broke any of your lipsticks after that. (Though, in retrospect, I suspect that you were actually glad that I broke your lipstick because you could get a new lipstick in a different shade. Haha!) Thank you for not scolding me when I choked the tap with tissue papers. I don’t know what I was thinking. There are so many other things to thank y’all for but I think I should stop here.
I am also sorry for many things. I know that I am not a sweet daughter. I do get angry at times and I do vent it towards y’all. The thing is you are the only people who would go through all of that and still love me the same. I am sorry that I neither satisfy nor try to satisfy all the expectations that you have of me. I am sorry that I don’t always listen to y’all. I am sorry that I don’t agree with most things that you say and I am always arguing with y’all. Maybe I should just agree to disagree hereon. Haha! I am sorry that your daughter sometimes dresses like a Pichakaari (female beggar). I am sorry that I don’t spend enough time with y’all. Sometimes, I just like being alone.
I want y’all to know that no matter what happens, I will still be your daughter. Regardless of what decisions I make regarding my career or my personal life, I am still your daughter. Your baby girl has grown up now.(Actually she has grown way too much, haha!) She is not the same person that she used to be. She wants to try new things. She wants to explore a bit. She is still trying to find herself. Wait, why am I writing in third person perspective now? Haha! I am changing but beneath all the layers, I am still the same little girl and I will love y’all the same. 🙂 I can’t wait to start working and send y’all both on holidays. Haha! 🙂

Anjadi Kuppeh and Kuthu songs

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This is going to be a really light-hearted post with completely no purpose. Or maybe there is a subtle purpose. It’s actually a lead up to another post but I don’t want to spoil too much for you. Anjadi kuppeh aka Anjack according to Urban Dictionary refers to Tamil male gangsters. From my conversations with expert analysts(I am just referring to my fellow Indians), I hear that back in those days, Tamil male gangsters used to hang out in a place like void deck kind of place which was of five foot(literal translation for Anjadi) height. Kuppeh means rubbish in Tamil. Hence, the word was born to describe these group of gangsters. I am not sure how true that is. But it does make some sense. I am in no way supportive of gangsters and what they do- whatever the race. But the word Anjadi Kuppeh is now commonly used to describe people who engage in a schedule of some things that characterise the new “Anjadis”(but they might not necessarily be gangsters) as stated below:

  • Smokes and/or drinks regularly
  • Hangs out at the void deck or coffee shop regularly
  • Clubs regularly
  • Has tattoo(s)
  • Has multiple piercings
  • Wears coloured contact lenses(especially in blue, or grey)
  • Has hair dyed in striking colours
  • Sports a “tail” hairstyle
  • Member of dance groups(not very common now)/Urumi melam groups
  • Plays soccer
  • Makes remixes of songs and by virtue of just that becomes a DJ XXX
  • Wears bling-bling earrings
  • Wears floating caps
  • Wears skinny pants
  • Wears sunglasses for the head and never for the eyes(even at night)
  • Listens to Kuthu songs
  • Uses words like “sarakku”, “mootai”, “billa billa XXX”, “makkal”, “paaru”, “jokaa”, “jumpah”, “machi”, “mike”, “ponna”, etc.
  • Member of Indian Cultural Society/Group in polytechnic
  • Has a Facebook name with a fictitious last name(E.g. RealName OnliHysGurl)

Obviously, these are generalisations and not every Anjadi does all of the above. And obviously, not everyone who does even one of this is an Anjadi. I DON’T SUPPORT SUCH STEREOTYPES! But that’s how people are being labelled.  Sometimes, these people are also described as “Typical Indians” and a negative connotation is attached to that label. Sometimes, they say Pakka Tamilachi or Tamilan to refer to these Typical Indians too. To be honest, the labelling doesn’t affect me much because I don’t engage in most of the activities except two of it. I shall write about one of it: Listening to Kuthu songs. I love Kuthu songs and I can’t stop myself from dancing to it whenever I hear them. There I said it! I think being in Indian Dance in Sembawang primary school and Yishun secondary school where we danced a lot of folk dance(a nice term for Kuthu dance) was where my love for Kuthu songs began. I think hearing my dad and uncle play the beat of some Kuthu song on the steering wheel of the car when it gets played on the radio are other instances where my love for Kuthu songs continued. But I am so tired of getting judged for listening to them by people who only like AR Rahman songs or English and Hindi songs. Oh God! I have recently learned that I am not alone. There are some others in uni who love Kuthu songs secretly. Kuppeh songs(as what one of my friends called them; literally means rubbish) are a guilty pleasure for us. Hence, here’s a listicle of 15 Kuthu songs that I love. Recently, I started doing a daily routine of Kuthu Therapy to just loosen up a bit. It’s really cool. Go to your room, lock the door, play one of the songs below and dance. Yes, I am pretty sure you would not be able to control yourself when you start listening to all these. Don’t listen to the lyrics. Just listen to the beat. Lol.

1. Kolusu Kadai Orathile(~1980s) by Vijalakshmi Navaneetakrishnan

This is a classic. It turns out that this song is not from a movie. It’s just an authentic Tamil folk song. Yet it has reached so many people and has even sparked off another Malaysian song by the name of Kolusu Shop. The highlight of this song is the Jing-chak! Haha!

2. Maanguyilae Poonguiyilae from Karagaatakkaran(1989) Music: Ilaiyaraaja

3. Vethala Potta from Amaran(1992) Music: Adhityan

4. Mocha Kotta Pallazhagi from Ulavaali(1994) Music: Sirpy

5. Otha Roobayun Tharen from Naattu Purapaatu(1996) Music: Ilaiyaraaja

6. Kanangathey Meenu from Adimai Changli(1997) Music: Deva

7. Kaasu Mela from Kaathala Kaathala(1998) Music: Karthik Raja

8. Aalana Naal Muthalaa from Kaathal Kavithai(1998) Music: Ilaiyaraaja

9. Kaathu Posaposanga from Ethirum Puthirum(1999) Music: Vidyasagar

10. Oothikinu Kadichikavaa from Ninaivirukkum Varai(1999) Music: Deva

11. Malai Malai from Chocolate(2001) Music: Deva

12. Variya from Pudhupettai(2006) Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja

13. Kathala Kannala from Anjathey(2008) Music: Sundar c Babu

14. Madura Kulunga from Subramaniapuram(2008) Music: James Vasanthan

15. Makka Kalanguthappa from

Dharmadurai(2016) Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja

 

I hope you enjoy dancing/listening to these songs.

Thanks for reading and stay curious!