insomniac’s block

It’s 2.31am. Just watched a dvd – The Bridge of San Luis Rey – starring Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates and Harvey Keitel. I bought it because of the usual suspects (De Niro and Keitel), thinking it’s a piece with a twist at the end, ala Reservoir Dogs. It was, but the twist didn’t really have the oh-I-should-have-seen-that-coming, but rather an attempt to espouse on how God works in mysterious ways. I’m not religiously inclined so that didn’t really enamored me in anyway. However, I did enjoy the eye-candy costume design and flowery language. The latter was especially good – I wanted to quoted something here but my inexact recollect will not do it justice – and made me think how much we’ve deteriorated linguistically, “hi, long time no c, wanna do lunch?”

Anyways, did I say I’m blogging ‘cos I couldn’t sleep or work? Think I’ll just blabber away.

Back to the Bridge… the story was set in 18th century Lima, Peru. Hmm, maybe at that time, life runs at a much slower pace, so folks had time to read and refine their prose. In the movie, Kathy Bates would write letters to her daughter in Spain and they would take 3 months to reach her. Today, an email gets to the recipient almost instantaneously and if the he happen to be online at that time, you could jolly well get a reply even before you could start on your next email. Of course, the reply would read something like “np, how about 12.30? mrt tktg. cya.”

I’m writing a lot more these days. Nope, not in SaMiSh (sms shorthand), but on a more serious note. Just wrote a piece on Why I Believe In Peak Oil. Didn’t really like it though. It’s too matter-of-fact-ish and lacked emotions. It’s a piece I hoped that people would read and get sufficiently interested in the subject matter that they would go on and spend some time looking into it. Without the emotions, I didn’t think the piece would work as well as I’ve hoped for.

Earlier this evening, I chatted with an online acquaintance about the article and asked for his comments. He came back with “ok”. I asked “Ok, and?” and he apologised that it’s really hard for him to respond because being Singapore, he just cannot express what is in his mind. Hmm, this guy is either trying to be polite or …

As I thought about this further, recounting my other similar experiences with other acquaintances, I realised from the correlation that this guy do have a point – most of our fellow countrymen do have a problem with expressing what they think and how they feel. Racking my brains harder, I’m not even sure if it’s a problem with language and expression or that people generally don’t have an opinion on anything anymore.

Tell me if I’m alone here – in your conversations with colleagues/friends/family for the past 2-3 months, was there any that you truly enjoy in a sense that it was invigorating and challenging? How many times did these conversations degenerate to either NS or shoes in less than 30 minutes? Do you see the pattern that I am seeing?

Earlier this afternoon, I went to Sim Lim Tower for a browsing stroll. I pass by this electronics components retailer and noticed a group of 5-6 50-year-olds hanging out. It’s quite a rare sight to me because I have this preconception that electronics engineers tend to be younger. As I close in on them, I overheard their conversation – I had expected electronics-geek talk but instead it was about how one of them missed by some number in last weeks’ 4D draw. I don’t understand it. Assuming they are seasoned electronics engineers, wouldn’t a gathering like this be a good time to talk about their latest projects, tips and tricks and other electronic-geek stuff? 4D was a really weird conversation to have, isn’t it?

Come to think of it, Singaporeans seem to be running away from something. During lunches with colleagues, talk shop and you’ll get a “Do you have to talk about work? We’re eating here.” In a pub with friends, talk serious politics and you’ll get a “Erm, I’ve decided not to engage in politics since 3 elections ago because my vote don’t matter anyways.” Over mahjong, bring up US troop movements in the Middle East and see how they’ll throw you a curve ball and change the topic to SingaporePools’ odds for tonight’s soccer match. At a barbeque, ask a banker where he sees the market going and you’ll get a “hey man, I’ve been up to my head with numbers and analysis all week, let me enjoy my weekend, will ya?”

I’ve done this other test with a number of people I know: I chatted them up on the industries that they work in. Guess what? Same results. It’s not that I’ve stepped into a topic that the other person didn’t had an interest in, the problem is that people just don’t have passion in anything that mattered anymore. At the end of the day, it’s just so much easier to engage in a conversation about food, travel, shopping and sports (FTSS).

If FTSS is what Singaporeans talk about and if you infer from there that that’s all they care about, where would our country go?

And seriously, how did we come to be like this?

Perhaps I should end on a lighter note. Was tagging my flickr and came across this delicious pic. Hmmm, I think it’s time for another steamboat party, don’t you think?


  1. david leong

    Hey Shoop, its good that you start blogging again. and I totally agree with you man, I have been following the war in lebanon for a while and obviously have my views on the Mid-East crisis, but you know what no one in SG seems to be even remotely interested about it, except those watching out for equity/commodity traders (but their voice is not a political one) so we are really in a apolitical land. the few people i can talk shop about the goings on in the world aren’t even in singapore (except for Ling. I guess i sometimes miss our once-upon-a-time work environment at aretae when we do have more interesting discussions.

  2. Hey David, good to hear from you again! Well, you’re always welcome to pop by anytime and have a current and definitely political discussion with me and dunpanic anytime. Dunpanic now rents a desk from me. One more thing, maybe you should get on IM too… that’s how ppl keep in touch nowadays. Cheers! BTW, read my other blogs too.

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