Thursday, August 13, 2009

Remembering Daisy. Chapter 1: Fragrance Flowers

Chapter 1: Fragrance Flowers

"And then he stood there simply rooted for the moment- her name was Daisy. "

The "Fragrance Flowers" shop has been there for as long as he can remember. Right opposite Midday Cafe, sandwiched in between the numerous other shophouses down at Living Street. The good old tree was on the left of Fragrance Flowers and right under its canopy is none other than the couple's wooden bench. And of course, the ever present street lamps lighting up the street.

He was around 5 years old when he first entered Fragrance Flowers; his dad had sent him to collect a bouquet of flowers for his mum. The date then was definitely none other than 12th August,his parent's wedding anniversary. He recalled trudging down in the evening, admiring the sweetness of the night for with its magnificent street lamps lining up at the side and the chimerical feeling in the air, Living Street could not have been more beautiful as the sunset rays pour into the horizon.

A young girl around his age was sitting at the shop counter. She was fiddling around with the various flowers placed at the cashier; watering this one, flicking another a little, shifting another...

He stood there watching her play with the flowers and then she suddenly looked up.

"You are new here aren't you? Never seen you before."

The voice was high and chirpy somehow with a touch of aroma.

"Yea, just moved in sometime back. argh, I am here to collect my dad's order." He replied.

She then flipped through a notebook at the cashier counter, trying to find something when he heard footsteps approaching from the rear of the shop. It was the shopkeeper.

"Daisy, could you go water the plants at the side please, reminded you to do so just now already. (turns to him) and what can I for you young man?"

And then he stood there simply rooted for the moment- her name was Daisy. Daisy. And just at that same moment, the white petals with its yellow pedicels lingers ever so vividly in tinted glass of his imagination.

"argh, em... Madam I am just here to collect an order my Dad dropped off. Should be signed off with a P. I think."

His eyes still observing her, watering the plants so gracefully at the side. The shopkeeper then passed him the bouquet of flowers.

"So your family just moved in here? Things been well I hope? Well tell your parents to let me know if they need any help settling in here."

He nodded. To be honest he has not gotten over things in the past yet- but then again a new start now awaits him. However right now, for reasons he was unsure of, it occurred to him that he may have taken an uncanny liking for the shop.

"Oh just curious, you will be attending school at Hearts I presume?"

He nodded yet again. The fragrance from the shop has now settled into him completely. Simply put, it's a good feeling, light, sweet, bliss, all combined into one.

"Daisy will be going to Hearts as well. So yea, don't worry about not knowing anyone there."

His eyes lit up once more. Like the sort of glow that dragonflies emit so readily, it's partially mild, but yet again trying hard not to completely let out the glow. He was almost absorbed into it when he suddenly realises-

"Oh, Madam do you mind telling me where the postbox is?"

"Postbox... the nearest one is right near Sunset River, I tell you what, Daisy why don't you help show the young boy the way there?"

"Okay mum. I have watered the plants for you already!"

"Good. (pauses, and then turns to him) Now have a good evening then."

The sun has set by now, night has fallen and the street shined even more brightly than before. Daisy walked lightly, her tiny feet pattering on the stone steps of Living Street.

"Should just be right in front. Turn left at the end of the street and you will get there!"

He replied with a feeble "okay".

"Nice flowers you got there. But my favourite ones are daisies. (she pauses almost as if waiting for a reply) Alright then, I will see you in school soon! Goodnight."

And as the pattering footsteps meanders away daintily against the backdrop of the horizon, Living Street has truly never been more beautiful.

For the smell of it all has never been more fragrant and sweet. And at that instance, perhaps the wait for school to start or even life itself, has never been truly sweeter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Super Yoyo

“Long sleeper!”, exclaimed Shunichi Demoto, as he slickly executed the move on his powerful Hyper Dragon yoyo in front of a cheering crowd.

Young Chan Seng was soundly asleep, lost in his own world where he was Shunichi Demoto, where he owned a slick Hyper Dragon yoyo and everybody looked up at him in awe.

It all started that fateful afternoon.

Chan Seng was watching Tom and Jerry on okto when on flashed this new cartoon series, Super Yoyo! The fast moving images, cool characters and thrilling storyline gripped him, and soon he was hooked. All he could think of during dinner was the yoyo. He started doodling cartoons of Shunichi Demoto and his Hyper Dragon on his maths homework, wishing that he could, too, one day have a yoyo that he could call his own.

He went to sleep early that night, images of him performing tricks on his yoyo for an audience flashing through his head endlessly. In his world, he was Shunichi Demoto, and everybody looked up at him in awe.

But alas, the unrelenting ring from his bedside alarm clock jolted him rudely back into reality. He woke up, upset that his fantasy could only last a few hours each night. Nevertheless, he got up and trudged dejectedly to school.

Entering through the magnetic gates, Chan Seng could not believe his eyes! Almost everyone in school seemed to be playing with a Super yoyo! Mark and his clique of cool friends were playing with the newest, most sophisticated Stealth Raider, which has flashing lights to boot. The kids beside his class were playing with Golden Fire. ****, even Tan, the most nerdish boy in school had a $9.90 Hyper Russell with wooden axles to play with. Yet he, Chan Seng, had nothing.

“Hey guys, you all wanna play catching?” Chan Seng asked his friends innocently during recess.

“Nope sorry. We wanna play with our yoyos” his friends replied matter-of-factly.

Apparently the novelty of yoyos trumps catching any day. His friends were deserting him to go play with their yoyos.

Chan Seng felt sad and lonely.

“No way!” Chan Seng could not stand this anymore. “I am gonna get my very own Super yoyo too!”

He went home that evening and told his mother: “Mum, I want a Super yoyo!”

“But why?”

“Because I need it! “

“Yoyos are not a necessity.”

“But everyone has one!”

“Good try. Give me a better reason.”

“All right, I’m lonely and I need a Super yoyo to play with. Is that good enough? Are you going to deprive a 9-year old of his childhood?”

“Come on. You are only 9-years old and 130cm tall. The yoyo string is way too long for you to use; your yoyo will only hit the floor when you play. You are just too short to handle a yoyo. “

“I don’t care! I just want a Super yoyo! I will bear all the consequences myself, I promise!”

Eventually, his mother relented. “Ok, so which model do you want?”

Chan Seng was stumped. Stumped at this seemingly simple, yet amazingly profound question. Something he has never thought about before.

There were Golden Fires, Fire Stars, Stealth Raiders, Aqua Dragons and a whole array of other different yoyos, yet he did not know what he want.

Perhaps he did not want a Super yoyo because there was one he really liked, one that he knew he would play with for the rest of his life. He did not mind having one, because everybody had one. He convinced himself that he needed one, because he was lonely. He wanted to have one just for the sake of having one, to tell other people that hey, I’m not a loser. I have a Super Yoyo too.

Chan Seng needed time to think over this issue, so he told his mother:” Mum, I think I need a few days to decide which one I want. “

And so he thought. And thought. And thought and thought and thought and thought and thought. Eventually, he managed to convince himself that the Super yoyo that he really genuinely liked was the blue Aqua Dragon.

And so on a sunny Saturday afternoon, young Chan Seng trudged happily to Takashimaya with his mother, eager to buy his new yoyo. Alas, as luck would have it, all the Aqua Dragons have been sold out in the last few days. Chan Seng could not believe his luck, and was sorely disappointed and angry with himself that it is because of his uncertainty the last few days that has cost him his Aqua Dragon. In the spur of the moment, Chan Seng even contemplated just settling for a $9.90 Hyper Russell which he didn’t really like, but he didn’t.

Chan Seng was dejected and depressed for the whole of the next three days. He kept to himself the whole day, skipped meals and even missed all his favourite cartoons on okto. But amazingly, as soon as it came, he got over it. He realised that he did not feel that sad anymore.

Perhaps, he thought, the obsession over the Aqua Dragon was only a short term crush.

Perhaps, it was just never meant to be.

Or maybe, just maybe, he did not really need a Super yoyo after all.

Or so we all try to console ourselves.

Remembering Daisy.

Prologue: Intersection Points

"Because in his heart, he knows he will always remember Daisy."

The table top was brown in colour, patches of scratch marks, casual vandalism of words and drawings filled it top. In other words, just like any other tabletop. And on top of it, as we all would have expected, the usual students pack of inventory- pencil case, water bottle, calculator, rough paper, mathematics notes and a rather delicate stalk of daisies.

He poured through his set of complex numbers just wondering seemingly how everyone around him find nothing really complex about it and work through them in a wistful breeze. Modulus of that, conjugate of this, argument of ... Things just didn't make sense, not only is it complex, it is also variable in nature.

He looked up once more. Some were on question 17 already while some have even moved on to vectors. But he was looking beyond that enclosure, for outside on the busy street was what he has always been used to. Young kids playing with no worries whatsoever, secondary students having fun after school, adults returning home after work and the usual elderly couple at the bench. And among all these, the flower shop was just across the street.

And across the page, Question 10 Part (i) asked for the minimum distance. Part (ii) then asked for the maximum argument. Almost as if they are just concerned about the turning/defining points, where things began, where things conclude, and of course where things are at the peak of conversion. Never does it take into account all the other points in between. He is at like the perpendicular bisector point now, stuck in between of nowhere. Right where 18 is, a sort of intersection point if you like, hanging there by the balance, trying hard to equate itself, but knowing very well eventually its one way or the other- so much like question 8, either more than or less than, there is no equal in the range- its a range. In some ways as ridiculous as it seems, the never ending flow and variety of life is just so characteristically reflected in the sine graph on his graphic calculator.

And almost seemingly so, the flower shop sells that range of flowers that you can imagine- roses, sunflowers, carnations,chrysanthemum, poppies and of course, daisies.

Daisy. Yes, Daisy.

Perhaps amongst all the complexity in life at the moment, his heart yearns for what he has always remembered. Through the innocence of childhood, to the teenage years in secondary school and beyond into the life of the future- he longs for that rain of sunlight. And as he stare at the mess of equations in his workings he knew that things had never been smooth right on the first try and they never will be. They will always be sinusoidal in nature. And as he attempts to restart his workings, his heart too traces back to time-zero(t=0) when things first began. Back when it started with a minimum before the very complexities which we all know of now.

Because in his heart, he knows he will always remember Daisy.

And in due time, you will too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Singaporean Dynamics

There are certain things in life that have through the passing of time taken a form of their own, becoming almost a definite kind of phenomena that people become accustomed to. Through repetitive in-building, overt indoctrination or even through the ever popular historic words of "mass propaganda"; certain ideals, values and beliefs are naturally constructed into the minds of individuals.

And before we know it- such things become a basic part and parcel of life.

On this day that we celebrate National Day, it is worth revisiting the very fundamental parts of this inherent in-built ideals and traditions. The National Pledge is one such example. And along with it the list includes that of the National Flag, the PAP, National Day Rally and even the National Day Parade itself. Or as an cumulative adjectival noun would put it- simply as tools or defining symbols of the Singapore Identity.

Yes, the Singapore Identity. Now contrary to popular belief, I actually do believe that such an identity exists. Many people will instantly associate things like the HDB flats, ERP, GST, the 5Cs etc. as part of the Singaporean persona.

But I am not talking about those things here. I am talking about the heart of being Singaporean. There is a major difference between inborn nature and developed preferences for an individual. In a simplified sense, its like saying force can be defined as mg, kx, GMM/r^2, PA etc. etc. but we all know it all comes down to just 1 thing- MA. Now those of you going blank now, fret now, it simply means that of total resultant force. Or in other words, it just means the core idea or in our current context, the main persona. And very interestingly but aptly, you will notice the idea of resultant force itself is always neglected. Say take a TYS question on forces, asking you to label all the corresponding forces in a system, theoretically speaking you won't label "MA" in as it is the resultant force. How peculiar you may ask!

That is my point precisely. As a society, we have become so immersed in all the minute tangible creations like the idea of a Singaporean dream in the form of the 5Cs, that we have forgotten what our core identity really is. We remember the esplanade/durians, we remember the F1 grand prix, we remember the National Stadium, but we forget the very basis of all these "forces". We have forgotten the magnitude of the heavy laden mass that our founding fathers had to carry. We have forgotten the direction of the envisioned acceleration of our country by our founding fathers.

We have failed to resolve the net force of it all.

So what then is the heart of our identity?

I thought through that question for a really long time and I realised that nothing illustrate the concepts involved better than the NDP theme songs.

Now think about this: Looking back at all the past annual NDP songs, have you ever asked which of these songs does not have the word "Singapore" in it? Huh? What has this got to do with anything?

If you were to look deeper, many of those songs that involve "Singapore" all reflect the various forces very very well. But as I have repeatedly said, there is no resultant force.

Hmm, so you can probably throw away the really cheesy ones like "Singapore Town" and recent ones like "Shine for Singapore" are out too.

Then what about classics like you know- "Stand up for Singapore", "1 ppl, 1 nation, 1 Singapore"/"We are Singapore", "Count on me Singapore"?

Seems decent you may say to reflect the Singapore Identity? No. The lack of subtly utterly deconstructs the purpose of such songs. Its like in physics the question always asks "so whats the force on blah blah", they don't bold or even put the word "resultant" in.

Nah I am overenforcing the metaphor but the point is the concept of an identity should be an obvious matter that need not be probed and hammered across like a chunk of propaganda. It should be a natural characteristic that people immediately resonate with when they feel it. Its just like bees get drawn naturally to honey, earthworms to the earth, leaves and plants to the sun and guys to girls(no just joking about the last one).

And in that sense, for the matter of NDP songs, Singapore should head in the direction of subtle yet recognisable songs that people can identify with immediately without direct references to Singapore itself.

On a broader context, just like a good piece of art, literature or for that matter music should contain a level of nuance and intricacy; the construct of an identity must be a delicate, subtle yet instinctive feeling that all Singaporeans should have.

For Singapore, I think it all goes down to its unique place in a deep yet young history, characterised so much by minor(as viewed by others) yet significant struggles and differences that we all went through. And as cliche as it seems, it is truly the common ground and heart that all Singaporeans have that really defines us as who we are. You may not admit it, but comparatively speaking, Singapore has a lot to be proud of in terms of its small yet united nitty community that has seen so much truimphs over the ages.

And on this National Day, as we consider all external forces and influences such as the economic crisis or Swine Flu epidemic that have affected our country, let us remind ourselves that for a system like ours that has attained prosperous growth in so many aspects, we must not forget the substrative laws and ideals that have shaped our nation. And in physics terms, I daresay our determined and united self, always firm in the face of foreign adversities simply concurs partially to that of Newton's first law of inertia- that our system will always continue in our state of motion,even if external forces existed.

Over these 44 years, many Singaporeans have come and go, been to places all around the world, achieving pinnacles in their respective fields. But I am sure many of them will always go back to this inherent dynamics question of what the Singaporean Identity really is. And as long as we do not forget this search for the resultant force, we will find our answer. For that is what home is really, a place where our identity is the strongest.

We, the citizens of Singapore

09/08/09, 8.22 pm. The largest flash mob in Singapore’s history. Where every Singaporean, regardless of where they are would stand still, put their right fist over their hearts and say the Pledge with fervour and pride.

The exact time at 8.22pm does not symbolize, perhaps, the day of independence, or how old Singapore is. To quote from The Newpaper, “The chairman of the National Day Parade (NDP) executive committee, Brigadier-General Tan Chuan-Jin, 40, said: 'We did think of 8.44, but it was a bit too late in the NDP show. We also thought of 8.09 in honour of 9 Aug, but that would have been too early on in the show.”

Perhaps the choosing of this time is symbolic in itself, reflective of our nation’s often lauded principle of pragmatism.

Perhaps instead, the choosing of an arbitrary time to take the Pledge is unplanned and sudden, just as how Singapore’s separation from Malaysia was unintended.

But whatever the case, this rallying call for Singaporeans to take the Pledge to reaffirm our national identity, to recognise the sovereignty of our nation state, to celebrate Singapore’s success and to unite the nation in face of future challenges is a move that is to be applauded, not only for its novelty but also for what it stands for.


Sometimes, when I watch an overseas drama serial and hear the word Singapore mentioned in it, I feel this weird sense of warmth and national pride. When I watch young children sing National Day songs on TV, I feel this same sense of warmth and national pride. When I see my grandfather hanging the Singapore flag outside our window, I again feel this sense of warmth and national pride.

The red and white and crescent and 5 stars on the Singapore flag does not only reflect our core values and ideals as a society; it symbolizes our independence, our sovereignty as a state, and more importantly, that we are no longer colonial slaves to some Western master, that today, we have the right and ability to control our own destiny. Like a part-timing teenager’s joy in achieving a certain level of financial independence, Singapore’s independence as a state is something to be celebrated. But amidst the frenzied joy and excitement of the National Day Parade, it is easy to forget what we are celebrating for, even why we are celebrating. So when we are singing along to the National Day songs or reciting the Pledge at exactly 8.22pm, it is important to reflect upon what it truly means to be a Singaporean, for you.

We have been reciting the Pledge almost everyday for the past 14 years, yet, or maybe because of this, we seem to forget the true meaning of the words of the Pledge.

It is then extremely apt how the Sunday Times phrased this statement by a Singaporean.
“Recent graduate E.Chin, 24, said he forgot the Pledge after studying overseas the past three years.”

In this case, what they are saying is that he has forgotten the lyrics of the Pledge. But forgetting the Pledge is not merely failing to remember what the contents of the Pledge are. It is losing sight of the ideals of our nation.

In our increasingly globalised world today, the age of cultural imperialism has arrived. We have lunch at McDonalds’, have a drink at Starbucks and wear I Love NY shirts proudly on our sleeves like a true, blue, fake American. Americanisation is so assimilated into our society that when I type McDonalds’ without the capital D, Microsoft Word autocorrects it into McDonalds’. Try typing iPod with a capital I and small p or Starbucks with a small s and the same happens. You get my point.

Sometimes, I feel ashamed when I see Singaporeans overtly worshipping foreign cultures over our own. Singaporean girls proudly wearing I Love NY T-shirts, and Singaporean men and their adopted Premier League football club cheering for Liverpool when they scored against Singapore. Ok, I “adopt” a Premier League football club too. But that’s because it is more fun to watch when you are supporting one side than when you are a neutral. But anyway that’s besides the point.

Yes, and you have the ultimate mockery of all. Elite students in school speaking with fake American accents, exclaiming that “I hate Chinese!” and wanting to migrate to some Western country once they have the chance. The irony of it all? These are the exact people who will be flying to UK or the USA on some government scholarship, the cream of the crop, the people supposedly groomed to be the future leaders of our country. Well, that is, if they don’t leave the country and migrate right after they finish serving their compulsory 6 year bond in some Ministry.

Enough of all these white supremacy nonsense. Worshipping foreign countries, foreign cultures and foreigners like they are some god. Ultimately, this overly used, supposedly “propaganda” National Education message summarises it best. “Singapore is our homeland, this is where we belong.” You might be laughing when you read this quote, and I don’t blame you. It is extremely easy for the cynical youth of today, like us, to hastily dismiss every overt National Education message as propaganda. I am often guilty of that. Yet when we look beyond the superficial words into the true intention and meaning of the message, we know we agree with it.

Anyway, back to the point. Yes, you can speak like an American, watch American TV, study in America or dye your hair blonde. But therein remains the bare facts that you were never, and will never become a true “American”, or for that matter, a true “Westerner”. So to all the white worshippers out there, I’m sorry. You can try your best, but you can never change your skin colour, your heritage and where you were born.

Nobody’s stopping you though. You can go be your pseudo Westerner or second-class citizen in your adopted Western country for all I care. But for me, I know that wherever I study or work in future, I will always be a Singaporean. Often,I may criticise the education system, the political system, the lack of media freedom or any other aspect of life here in Singapore, but ultimately, I know that I love Singapore for its own sake.

Because “Singapore is my homeland, this is where I belong.”

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The facade of meritocracy

I find it amazingly funny how so many people naively think that meritocracy is this wonderful concept that eliminates all inequality and makes the world a wonderful place to live in.


The whole concept of meritocracy stems from the idea of “self”. That everything I achieved is due to me, myself and I. No help from others, no lucky break, no rich supportive parents. Just me. Convenient, isn’t it? Attributing every single success to your own inherent ability, your own hard work, your own tenacity in face of failure, your own initiativeness and creativity, your own…. And the list goes on

The classic rags-to-riches story is then used as the ultimate argument for the benefits of meritocracy. How this young boy born to a farmer dad and housewife mum in a kampong was able to rise above all odds and become the Prime Minister of the country.

Wow! We exclaim. Look at him! He was able to succeed because he was smart, hardworking and had a never-say-die attitude! Nothing to do with how his father sold his old bulldozer to raise money for his education, how his inspiring primary school teacher always gave him her old books to read because he can’t afford to buy them, how he was lucky to be talent-scouted and given a scholarship to further his studies etc, etc, etc. Absolutely nothing to do with them.

My point is, nobody can ever succeed by himself.

With this in mind, let’s look at meritocracy. Or for that matter, meritocracy in the Singapore education system.

In our supposedly meritocratic society, it is easy for the academically inclined, or on a larger perspective, the rich and powerful in the country, to attribute their success completely to their own hard work, and look down on those struggling in studies or in life and say that it is all their own fault because they are "lazy and don't want to work hard". What they fail to understand is that for a meritocratic society to truly be fair, everyone must be on the same starting point.

Unfortunately though, the world is unfair.

If anyone finds it hard to accept this, I’m sorry. Maybe you should get out of your ivory tower and have a look at the world outside. Contrary to popular belief, the most devastating thing that can happen to a person is not forgetting to do your maths tutorial. Yes, I know, you might find it hard to accept this at this point in time, but it’s actually true.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the point. Yes, the world is unfair. Everyone is born with different attributes, into different family backgrounds. I’m sorry if this discourages anyone but it’s just so much harder for a kid born into a modest family to get into a top university overseas than a child of a CEO of some MNC. To assert that anyone has the chance to succeed as long as he or she works hard is either painfully short-sighted, or just plain delusional.

Success is, unfortunately, not based solely, if at all, on how hard you work, or how intelligent you are for that matter, but on the opportunities bestowed upon you, your family background and all the myriad of external factors.

When the child of a CEO father fails a paper, his father would say: “Come on you know this is not your usual standard. Go for it again and show me what you are worth!”

When the child of a taxi driver father fails a paper, his father would say: “Never mind lar maybe you are not cut out for studying. I never used to pass my exams anyway. “

In his free time, the child of the CEO father goes for phonics lessons, piano classes while learning taekwondo. All in a day.

In his free time, the child of the taxi driver father sits in the house and play with power ranger figurines. For the whole day.

When he got older, the child of the CEO father goes for plays and musicals with his father, attending social gatherings and company functions.

When he got older, the child of the taxi driver father watches Channel 8 dramas with his family, sometimes attending the community events at the RC on the void deck.

The child of the CEO father was unable to get an undergraduate scholarship. His father sent him overseas on a parent’s scholarship anyway.

The child of the taxi driver father got a place overseas, but was unable to get an undergraduate scholarship. He settled for a place at NUS instead.

The thing is, meritocracy is only “fair” for those benefitting from it, those blessed with talent or opportunities or a good family background, those sitting comfortably at the top of this hierarchy of sorts. Who cares about the majority of people piled at the bottom of the pyramid, those paying the taxes for you to enjoy your 4 years of undergraduate studies in the USA on some government scholarship?

But hey, you would say. Don’t we often hear an occasional story about how this boy from a single-parent family from a neighbourhood secondary school was able to rise against all odds and eventually secure a scholarship to some prestigious Ivy League university? See, I told you meritocracy is wonderful. It allows these people, who would otherwise be unable to make it, to be able to rise to the top based on their own hard work and resilience!

Erm, I don’t know if you have ever heard this word before, but for your information, these people are called anomalies. Take it this way. Pit the Singapore football team against Liverpool for a 100 games and I’m sure they will win at least one. Ok maybe not. This is a lousy example, but you get my point.

The thing is, just because a few supposedly disadvantaged people were able to succeed because of this whole meritocratic thing does not mean that this system benefits all equally.

To quote from an article on the Channel News Asia web, “for the 2008 batch of PSC scholars, 47% reside in HDB housing, 27% in private non-landed property and 26% in landed property”. And to borrow an argument from commenting on this article, “Since more than 80 per cent of residential dwelling units are HDB flats, the proportion of scholars from private property is disproportionately high."

This exactly illustrates the point I’m making. Some people might actually find it hard to understand this, but it is about the concept of PROPORTION, people. There is a disproportionate number of scholars coming from richer families. Ok to make it simpler for you, this means, like it or not, it is easier for a student staying in private property to obtain a PSC scholarship than one living in a HDB flat.

Do not misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that scholarship boards perhaps prefer to offer the scholarship to people with better family background. I’m just saying that students from richer families typically have a better upbringing, better opportunities for learning and growth, and thus end up in a better position to vie for these scholarships because we are operating in this so-called meritocratic system.

Does anyone not see something strangely wrong with this? No? Hmm let’s see. The people who are getting sponsored for their overseas education are exactly those who don’t need it. And these people would then most likely end up the elites of society and become rich and powerful, while those at the bottom of the pyramid settle for a nine-to-five job and just live life as it is. Then they all get married and have children. And the whole cycle repeats again.

This is meritocracy for you, people. The modern day caste system masquerading as a beacon of hope for the 80% of people busy trying to pay off their housing loans.

Special Moments.

Yesterday was 7th August 2009.

At the 34th minute and 56 seconds past 12, the time and date read:

12:34:56 07/08/09

A thousand years' phenomenon as many puts it.

Wonderful isn't it?

For much of men's history people have always been amazed by numbers, particularly those with a certain progression and follow a set of defined formulas and rules. Its almost a kind of fascination over the very thing of time and dates that men himself invented.

And along with such special dates and time, people will inevitably ask, so how will you spend that time? What will you be doing at that very special moment?

Because for unbeknownst reason, people associate special moments with special events. For instance, on birthdays, on christmas, on new year's eve, or like recently on a day of an eclipse. its almost as if to say that such special occasions are opportunities or even a basis for doing something unique and different.

Now fundamentally there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. But I guess my point here has to do with the power of one's ability to create his destiny. Alright, that may have seemed a bit far-fetched and sort of unrelated to what we are talking about. But let me explain.

In the many situations that I have mentioned about date and time coming along with opportunities, people will always be saddened if they have not made use of that opportunity fully. Its almost as if they wasted that good/unique day by not doing anything unique/special themselves. Or it need not be unique things but just symbolic gestures like coming up with a set of new year's resolutions right before the start of the new year.

And here's where my point come in. IT DOESN'T MATTER. A lot of people always forget that time and date are just some of men's creations for a more structured world. They are just nothing more than a little part of our lives that we have become so accustomed to. But really, eventually when it comes down to it, its up to you to decide what to do with your life. You don't have to wait for those special moments in life to do that something special. You can do that something special RIGHT NOW.

Traditional Chinese always say pick a good date for marriage or a good day to register your business, to get a house etc. etc. The list goes on. But like I have said, don't let dates and time make or break you. You make and break time and date. Be the master of your own destiny.

Eventually what I am also saying is- DON't WAIT. Life aren't about waiting for those special moments, its about making those special moments yourself.

That said, I felt completely assured when I was sleeping through 12:34:56 07/08/09. :)