080 my grandmothers’ story

Life never came easy, and it never did for most of our grandmothers. 

The title says it all. I have always wanted to sit my grandmother down for a good chat and just listen to her life story. After all she is one of the oldest person whom I know personally. The elderly can in fact get carried away talking about everything under the sun. This was a long chat but I was truly amazed at my grandmother’s willpower.

That evening when she was at our place, I asked her: “Mama, can I interview you?” “Of course!!!” she replied enthusiastically. She was more than happy and even more ready for the interview than I was.

We were in the living room with the television beaming in the background. She shared all about her struggles as a teenager and how supporting her family was what she did her whole life.

“When I was very young, I lost my father. He passed away and my mother didn’t know how to run the goldsmith business so she sold it off. It was a hard for her,” my mama started her story. My great-grandmother, chor-chor, had to work painfully hard to raise her daughter and son, so she sent them to her brothers’ place to live.

However, one-day mama decided she wanted to return to her mother, leaving her brother to stay on with their uncle. “I love my mother, so I followed her and then we rented a house,” she said. At that time, rental was only $15 a month but it was still hard-earned money for a small food business that chor-chor did for a living.

When she flung her PSLE, she decided to stop studying and found a sewing job. “I told my mother ‘I don’t want you to work, stay at home and I will work,’” she said. That was the first job my mama had to support her mother and herself.

The two of them shifted to another apartment when she turned 17. At that point of time, chor-chor had decided to match-make mama and that was also she met my grandfather. “At that time you cannot look for boyfriend, you go out to work and then you come home immediately,” she explained.

Soon after she was pregnant with her first baby and yet as a housewife she did the laundry for her clients as a business and her husband worked at a Chinese medicine shop. Together, they worked hard to support the family as well as chor-chor, who was still ill.

After having two sons, the hard worker was in her twenties when she found a waitressing job at a hotel where she actually enjoyed what she was doing. She did not just stop at one job as she coupled herself with a second job at an office doing administrative work. Being hardly home, her mother helped with looking after the children.

“When I earned the money, I could buy a black and white television for my children and a refrigerator,” she said joyfully. Then she shared with me another story.

Back then, usually only one household in the block had a television. Whenever the neighbour (with the television) felt like it, he would leave the window opened for the children to watch. But if he wasn’t in the mood, he would close the window.

So one day after work, her four children ran up to her complaining about how the neighbour had closed the window. Heartbroken, she said: “So I said never mind! I will buy a black and white, 19-inch for my children to watch. Do you know how happy they were when I brought one home?” Mama had tears welled up in her eyes while she shared that story with me.

My mama never once complained about her hardship. Even after I was born, I still saw her running around working or cooking for people. She started work young to support her mother; worked two jobs for her children; and even when her husband fell ill she supported him with small jobs. She never failed to support the people around her.

A grandmother’s story never ends off with a moral of the story isn’t it? Mama told me to be thankful for my parents who pay for the school fees instead of making us go out to start work. At the same time, whatever we ask for we get it while she could not fulfill everyone’s wishes even as she juggled two jobs in the past.

“It is a tough life, but you can’t ask for a comfortable life because you have to work for (a comfortable life) it,” was what she told me sternly.

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069 10 Tips for an Intern in a Fashion Magazine

Well I have had my take as a fashion intern and now I must say, it was an interesting ride during the 6 weeks. My eyes have opened up wide to see and realize what really goes on behind the scenes of a 100-plus page magazine that women buy to read to either kill time or to check up on what’s the hottest trends in the world. It is something a girl can never imagine, especially with my Nylon magazine collection, I just can’t believe this goes on.

There is only one sentence that a fellow senior colleague said that is still rings in my mind: ‘Same shit, different month.’

Here are some things I have learned that may come in handy:

  1. First things first, if it is your first time interning at all. Maybe you don’t want to be too discouraged that you’re not being assigned with much work to do. Because the following week, you’d be asking yourself: ‘Really? Did I actually want the work to come?’
  2. Patience, you will meet your Miranda Priestly. Trust me, someone that orders you around, is not cool at all. I’m sure every magazine has someone like her. I even had the chance to spot another publication’s Miranda during my work stay… Boy oh boy, she’s scarier than the one I had to face. All you have to do is, smile, suck it up and fetch her food. Take it as a time of relaxing from sitting in the office and rotting.
  3. Go around asking for work, don’t let the work come to you. The senior colleagues tend to be able to sense your unwilling aura of not being interested. And if you’re not being proactive, you lose out. I once had an editor from the Men’s publication hand me a stack of paper, then with hesitation ask: “Hmm, tell me are you sure you want to do this? It’s fine you know?” I was taken aback. But I think it was because I was in a food coma that late afternoon, seemingly uninterested when he offered the task.
  4. It is best to keep a calendar, or even an organizer. There will be times where you need to take down what you have done and even write down when the assigned task is due, or if you have a photo shoot the following week. Sometimes you may have too much workload if you’re helping more than one editor or writer. It gets messy.
  5. When asked to join for lunch, JOIN THEM. Don’t be a loser. It’s nice to hear what they talk about and sometimes (most of the time) it is politics, but at least you are there so that you can learn not to be that person they are talking about.
  6. THEY HATE LATE WORK. They won’t admit it, but they do. I had 3 interviews to transcribe, and I took 1 day to finish them. But my fellow intern had 2 interviews and he took 1 day but submitted to her 2 hours after I did. She gave him a bite and I think the senior writer chose her favourite from then on. Yikes.
  7. You will have to do sourcing/pick up of the clothes from boutiques and PR offices, be professional and friendly. You will be seeing them a lot and you don’t want to be treated nastily. Beware, there will be tonnes of bags to carry, not just 2 or 3 bags of clothes from high-end labels, but too many to count. And it weighs tonnes as well.
  8. When you’re at photo shoots, you really need to act fast and be by the stylist’s side. Whatever he needs, you must remember where it is and be fast to pick it up. Even if you start in the morning, and the shoot is only for 4 frames, there will be 100 over shots just for the 4 frames. It can last for the whole entire day. Even better when the stylist decides to scrap the previous outfit. Tiring, very. It doesn’t just end there, you need to return the clothes right after the shot.
  9. Be open to making new contacts. Whenever you’re at an event, be it a media or fashion event, just go around and make new friends. Usually the publication will send you down alone, so you don’t bring your friends or go with a colleague. So what you do is talk to others and make friends! Some will really come in handy in the future. Just get their name cards and such. It will be a great opportunity to get new numbers.
  10. Don’t take things for granted. And they won’t take you for granted. I think as students we may tend to just not be proactive but being fed at all times. But this experience really made me go out to do things that I would be too lazy to do. I put in extra effort to make things perfect, and felt horrible when I know I could’ve done better. On the last day of being at the event, I saw how one senior colleague really appreciated my effort and I was greatly touched by how thankful he was for my contribution. I felt his sincerity and I think we have to be on the ball constantly and be willing to learn.

I hope somehow this list of things helps someone. Being in a fashion magazine is not easy at all. It is tiring and repetitive. Time flies and you don’t realize that you’ve been doing the same thing every 2 weeks with different content. Ha-ha. So I have helped in 3 issues and I see the pattern of the work. Making it fun is a choice and this experience really pushed me to be more proactive. I had fun and I was glad that with just 6 weeks I learned so much more than 6 months of being in a journalism module.

 

063 Make way for Laneway Festival 2013

IMG_9486

12 o’clock and with the glazing hot sun, it was indeed a good day for Laneway because it was promising that the rain wouldn’t hit Gardens by the Bay, at least at that point in time it was promising and indeed it was because there was not a single drop from the sky.

Got in, got the wrist tag, and it was time to rock and roll. First up was Kings of Convenience. It was amazing, the perfect start of Laneway because with Erland and Eirik and their band on stage, it was a welcoming and warming entrance to all the attendees. Slow and steady songs really starts the day well and right.

After meeting up with my friends and Kings of Convenience’s performance, we decided to go out to MBS for lunch before coming back just in time for Divine Fits and the other up coming play sets. When we were back at about 3.20pm the Divine Fits had already started and under that sun, it was humid and stuffy, plus being up front close to the stage it was so difficult to breathe. But their music was just as good as what can be heard on their album.

Of Monsters and Men was up next. Without being able to withstand that unbearable heat, my friends and I moved out to the back where there was fresh air and even our own space to bop to the great music. Amazing, they lived up to their stage presence and performance that I have watched on Youtube before. It was great :-)

After dinner, Kimbra was on. I think Kimbra’s performance struck me the most. Well in terms of stage presence. It was her first Asia performance and repeatedly says she loves Singapore. She shares that she wrote Settle Down when she was 16 and asked the audience to be quiet for her at the start of the song because it was going to be a special just for Singapore. With her charismatic stage performance, she throws her body to and fro, and her hands up high with her tambourine. It was nice to see when you see your favourite artist enjoying herself as much as you are.

Alt-J was beautiful too, by then the sun had set and the music hits made my hair stand. It was so so good, in the crowd at the front was nice because each person had their own space. Girls were dancing and having a mesmerising time with their songs from their albums! After them were the Yeasayer.

It was unbelievable, I went to Laneway with the expectance of being excited for Alt-J and OMAM, don’t get me wrong I did enjoy myself for the two bands, however I didn’t expect myself to enjoy Yeasayer as much. BUT I DID. I loved every bit of it. Chris Keating was amazing. And his band! It is difficult to explain the feeling of happiness during a concert, but it was something that made you want to jump high and scream. It was just dancingly amazing. I knew there and then that the sun-hot wait was worth it. The wind just blew, and the space around me allowed me dance so freely.

I ended my night with Bat For Lashes. I didn’t get to listen to all her songs, but I waited for the last song. Daniel. It was perfect, that song was beautifully performed. Overall, I ended my day with listening and enjoying 7 bands. It was wonderful.

I have another music festival, Big Night Out this Wednesday. But all in all, I cannot wait any longer for Laneway Festival 2014. My first one was great, the next will be better.

Laneway Festival!
Laneway Festival!
Lovely Weather
Lovely Weather
Beautiful Sunset
Beautiful Sunset with Real Estate
Kings of Convenience
Kings of Convenience

Kimbra

Kimbra and her fans
Kimbra and her fans
Of Monsters & Men
Of Monsters & Men
Up front seeing Of Monsters & Men
Up front seeing Of Monsters & Men
Alt-J from afar :-(
Alt-J from afar :-(
Alt-J again!
Alt-J!
∆
Will miss this band!
Will miss this band!
Yeayeayeasayer!
Yeayeayeasayer!
Happy crowd!
Happy crowd!
Happy me!

 

Goodnight
Goodnight

037 behind the scenes: dryness for mama

it started out with nothing, my mind was completely blank with no words to type out to express the idea for this work. i felt tired and empty. given 3 weeks to produce something but there was just nothing to write about no inspiration, no motivation to carry on or in the first place to begin the first sentence. i did attempt though, but there were many underlines to fill in. i tried my online research and still it was not enough for me to even create my story.

took a trip down to seah street, and it is a place that could’ve been easily missed, but we just happened to be curious cats and found ourselves walking up three flights of stairs with cute little white animal figurines placed along the stairway up. it really takes an observant one to notice them placed there. really thoughtful! 

anyway once we were inside, we took a quick walk around and entered the ‘sales’ room. we were just admiring this pair of earrings that was basically clippers that clipped dried flowers. the sales assistant noticed and approached us sharing that the designer that came up with this concept was actually trying to portray that young children like to pick small things up, and they can be the simplest of things but still be fascinated. so by doing this it is like saying you can do display anything you’d like or whatever that interests you. after she explained what it was to us, she went on to ask if it was our first time here and what brought us here so i told her that i was supposed to write about this place and i am here to find out more about it. she was being so nice, she directed us to the founder/owner of the shop. (who was clearly having a small tour with the new intern) so we had a short interview/q&a session, it was really fruitful, i felt like the bottle cap to my head was unscrewed, and opened my mind to fill it with another person’s input of ideas and sharing of thoughts. it was fulfilling and inspiring. that later will be revealed actually in the feature article in obscured. but what else that was not included in the article is what i am about to share.

we saw a couple of notebooks, exercise notebooks to be precise. there were many different designs, we were told that it is featured because it is the idea of what exercise books meant to these local designers. and it was their way of expressing their thoughts. one intrigued me the most, it was titled “national education”, and the lines of the exercise books was actually words like: integrity, compassion, virtue, conscience, honesty and so on. so you would be writing on these words and be reminded. it was a very interesting concept i must say.

the owner also talked about books that they carried. these books are mostly picture books, probably meant for children but she shares that when she has friends that are feeling down or upset, she will give them a few of these books as gifts to cheer them up and brighten their day. and it helps! so she says. she opened a random page of this book and said that they actually have deeper meaning that allows children and even grown ups to ponder about. it really makes you rationalize things in your head and weigh it out in some sense. ” i see the man lifting weights, and i feel weak. i help my mom carry the laundry basket, i feel strong. ”

she gets one of the interns to explain and tell us about his work. so it is basically a dried up plant that is placed in a plaster shaped pot. he tells us that people don’t usually look close into details especially nowadays, and they just see plants for just what they are and move on. but by placing these tiny dried up plants and sealing them into the white plaster, it makes the person go closer and get a better glimpse and even admire it. looking into the finer details of such a simple matter. i asked him if there was anything special about the plant, and mind you, he said he picked them up along the roadside! how amazing, just using something we don’t happen to even notice along the streets, and making it stand out by positioning it in a manner where people will stop to take a closer look!

well lastly, we were just taking a final walk around the exhibition room and we realized that what was supporting all of these products/creations/art pieces was a door. it was an old school door! they used the flaps (my mom told me what it was called but i forgot the name) as a CD rack. real interesting. and i think i would add in a bit of my logic? it is as if saying open the door of your mind, to be flexible and accepting. to be more observant and really slow down and take a step back to look at the least expected things, simplest things in life. appreciate what we have.

after we left the place, we just kept talking about what we really enjoyed about that place, and we were pointing out almost every detail in the shop. i guess it really lives up to its “mission statement” hoping that each person that enters the shop would take a little bit back home. it has fulfilled its purpose, yay! (and of course my drive to therefore complete my task for writing an article about it)

this is what i call, simplicity at its very best

027 Bombarded with youth

Jack Steadman & Jamie MacColl

FILLED with aplenty of youthfulness, four gentlemen formed a band when they were only 15 years old. Now only in their 20s, the Bombay Bicycle Club have already released three albums in the past three years. One of which has actually won them the Best New Band award for the NME Awards in 2010. How is it even possible to continuously release albums, some artistes have difficulty finding their inspiration to write their songs but for these guys it is as simple as that.

Jack Steadman, the lead singer, shared with me that when they are on tour, his laptop is with him all the time which allows him to write songs on the go. ” People tend to say, how is that possible? They usually write in their studios. When in fact, what’s there not the write about? “, he says as he gestures to his surroundings, ” Look where we are! ” We were seated at the highest level of Marina Bay Sands with an extraordinary view of Singapore from above. He has also added cooly, ” If Lady Gaga can write at the back of her tour bus, it shouldn’t be a problem for us. ” As a matter of fact, the most recent song they wrote was done in Jack’s iPhone.

I have actually read that these guys have been banned from a few places in the UK, so I asked them how are the live performances like? Guitarist, Jamie MacColl tells me that the most wild and insane performance was in Amsterdam where they had a lot of fun. But he also added that they are trying to calm down to be less crazy during their performances.
Jack recalls his wildest incident would be the time when the crowd was almost in his face. ” There was this girl, that was all the way up close,” he puts his hand a few inches away from his face and shrugs, ” I don’t know what happened but I hit her by accident with my guitar and there was just blood all over on her head. ”

A few of the band members have completed their A levels, I wondered, has it always been juggling both studies and music for them back then? Jamie shares, ” Nah, it was more of studies first? Because music can wait, we just saved it for after the exams. ” But he also added that they did manage to jam in between and come up with a few singles.
I was curious to find out whether they would actually be interested to further their studies or stick with music forever so I went on to ask them. Jack’s eyes opened wide at the question and said, ” Wow, its the only thing I’m good at… So yeah.” ‘Its’ meaning music. However, for Jamie he stated that he might consider taking evening classes and such. He also revealed that Suren, the band’s drummer, had in fact secretly taken a degree in becoming a nutritionist and they just found out very recently.

Lastly I asked them, what was the craziest thing you guys have done together as a band? This question seemed to be one of the toughest question for them so far. Jack and Jamie were both, um-ing and er-ing with hesitation trying to recall one of the craziest things they had done together. It seemed as if they had too many experiences. After a while, Jamie finally spoke, ” There was once, three of our touring members were locked out of their hotel rooms and they were naked… They had to go to the hotel reception naked as well. ” He was quick to add that he was not one of them. Wonder what had really happened that day. To sum it up, Jack plainly said, ” It was a lot of high school stuff. ”

These boys seem to have it all, being young at heart and still having their fun wherever they travel as a band. Bringing great music and crazy wild moments to the crowd during each gig they have. They sure have taught me that you can get your inspiration from almost everywhere, and usually at its best when you’re travelling, as you get to see life as it is from each perspective. This band is still young, and sure they’d grow to be a greater indie band with more of the unexpected for their fans out there.

– Nicole Yeo, 15 Jan 2012

Awkward me with the 2 members! A pity Ed and Suren weren't in it though :(