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Last Saturday, I had the privilege to go for a curated tour of a special exhibition at the Peranakan Museum. It’s called Baba Bling: The Peranakans and Their Jewellery and it’s an exhibition of the jewellery worn by the Peranakan Nyonyas (younger women) and the Bibiks (older women).

Speaking of which, remember Bibik Belacan? I vaguely remember watching it on tv, but the details escape me.

Anyway, the exhibition featured over 300 pieces of Peranakan jewellery from the 19th century till today. Those Peranakan women wore a whole lot of jewellery back then man! (And maybe even now?)

the mirror behind her is a little freaky

the mirror behind her is a little freaky

From the top of my head, a typical Nyonya would wear:

  1. necklace, usually more than one
  2. bracelet
  3. rings
  4. kerosang (like fancy ornate gold brooches used to fasten their blouses)
  5. hair pins
  6. anklet
  7. belt (can’t be seen, but they wear a gold, fancy one anyway!)
  8. keychain (serious!)

Yeah…I think they might just be more that I missed out.

Anyway, the curated tour was pretty awesome. Our tour guide (oops I forgot her name!) is actually a voluteer guide and is a medical doctor on weekdays! She was really knowledgeable and made the exhibition much more interesting.

To be really honest, I think that without the tour guide, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the exhibition that much. I’m the kind of person that always gets the audio guide when I’m in a museum, so I think that’s just me. It just makes the exhibits come alive, don’t you think?

But of course, you can visit the exhibition without going on the curated tour. There are tons of videos and information boards telling you the significance of the jewellery and explaining the history behind it all.

In fact, if I had more time I’d have watched all the videos and read all the information boards, but I’m anal like that (or typical Singaporean? Wanna get my all my money’s worth, hehe)

the forgotten babas.

the forgotten babas.

Here’s some reasons to go for Baba Bling:

1) Find out what it means when a Peranakan lady wears jewellery that’s made of silver with pearls or why why it’s rare to find hairpins in sets of 5 rather than the original 7 that they came out in

2) Look at photos of old Peranakan families and couples and try and get fashion inspiration

3) Get awesome printed gold stickers with different symbols that hold significance to the Peranakans –> This is actually meant for kids, but you should try and get your hand on it too! It’s so fun to go to the different machines to “collect” the different symbols!

4) The jewellery is so rare and their designs authentic that photography isn’t even allowed in the exhibition, for fear of copying. Hardcore!

5) Check out the building. I think the design is so lovely!

lovely place

lovely place

All in all, it was a charming way to spend Saturday afternoon. I’d recommend going for this exhibition, as well as the Peranakan Museum Collection. For me, it was an eye-opener to learn more about a culture I don’t know much about.

All bling-ed out

All bling-ed out

Went with Sherms who brought Squid along, and Ingrid came as well. I brought my friend Iris with me, who was visiting from Canada, and she enjoyed the exhibition too, especially since she’d never heard about the Peranakan people before. We also met Kanika and Dorothy from SMU as well!

Thanks to Riley from NHB for inviting!

More information about Baba Bling:

It runs from 29th May to 13th Dec

Peranakan Museum is at 39 Armenian Street

Opening hours: Mon 1pm – 7pm, Tues-Sun 9.30pm -7.30pm (till 9pm on Fridays)

Admission charges available here. Did you know that on Friday nights, charges are half-priced, at $3 for adults and $1.50 for students. Awesome!

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cat

The Unguarded Moment [taken by Erfen]

As many of you (ok, the three of you that read this blog) know, I’ve been heavily involved in the Month of Photography Asia, being part of the media relations team, helping out with Facebook and Twitter as well (follow us @MOPAsia!) I’ve had the honour of meeting renowned photographers like Francoise Huguier, Bertrand Meunier and of course Steve McCurry, as well as local photographers like Jean Loo, Then Chih Wey and Deanna Ng.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from this experience has been the importance in storytelling in photography. I have to say, I’ve taken a lot of photos but I can’t recall even one where my photo managed to tell a story or provoke a thought. Which is kinda sad if you think about it.

While viewing the Steve McCurry exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum (which is excellent, and I say this in a completely objective way, well as objective as a person could be), I stopped at a couple to think about the picture and what it could mean.

I guess it is this ability to draw the observer in, to invite a thought, a smile, an appreciation of something we often overlook, such as the colour of someone’s eyes (as in the case of the famed Afghan Girl), that has made Steve’s works so highly-regarded and yet highly relatable at the same time.

5 things you might not know about the Afghan Girl:

1. Her name literally means Rose Sherbet (so pretty!)

2. When National Geographic found Sharbat Gula, 17 years later, she was only 30 though she looked almost 10 years older, due to the harsh environment she had grown up in.

3. Steve McCurry’s encounter with her was the first time she had ever been photographed

4. As an adult she had no knowledge of how well-known her photo had become, eventhough there was a store near her home which had her poster hung on the front window.

5. The photo of the Afghan Girl was taken using Kodachrome film, which has been discontinued by Kodak as announced today. Steve McCurry will get one of the last rolls of the film to shoot with, having used Kodachrome for many of his colour photographs.

“I want to take (the last roll) with me and somehow make every frame count … just as a way to honor the memory and always be able to look back with fond memories at how it capped and ended my shooting Kodachrome,” McCurry said last week from Singapore, where he has an exhibition at the Asian Civilizations Museum.

As a parting shot, here’s a photo of me holding Steve’s camera, signed by the man himself. I feel very privileged to have met him, and I’m struck by how nice and humble he is. If anything, his photos have made me really really want to go to India.

steve camera

Btw, Steve has a blog!

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Last weekend was amazingly awesome. Besides getting to hang out with friends, I managed to catch two very different, yet very good arts events.

Etiquette by Rotozaza (UK) part of Singapore Arts Fest 2009

Etiquette

I went for this with Erfen. Originally we were supposed to go with Sherms and our other friends, but we had to go for another timing because the 1pm slot was full. At first I thought that meant that they were all lot of people wanting to watch the play during that slot, but turns out, there are only 4 people in one slot. It’s experimental theatre, because basically you’re your own actors as well as audience, but I definitely find it very relatable and enjoyable as well (unlike some other kinds of experimental theatre).

Although I found the idea intriguing, I had no idea what we were in for. When we first came, we were told to take a seat at a table which had  some props on it and a glass of water for each of us. There were 2 sets of headphones, one for the ‘male’ character, and one for the ‘female’ character. You can also participate in the play with a stranger (could be exciting) if you come alone or in an odd number.

Once we put the headphones one, the performance started. A soothing, English woman told me to take a deep breath,  she knew I was nervous. I was now peeking from the wings of a stage at a packed theatre, waiting to take my cue in the performance in which I was the lead actress.

The voice gave me the lines I had to deliver, every move and facial expression dictated to me in that crisp, English accent. I was an actress.

Yet at the same time as I listened to my own lines as well as the words Erfen was saying, I was piecing together the characters, setting and plot. I was a spectator.

It was kinda awkward, as you know the words are borrowed, not yours. Sometimes, it was hard to listen to what Erfen said above the directions being supplied into my own ear.

The props elevated the performance even higher, bringing to life our lines and there were even times where I had to use the props without knowing why. It turned out that Erfen was hearing a story during the same time, and my actions had made total sense to him. It was really, really cool.

The play runs till 13 June at Dome Marina Square. More details can be found here. It’s highly recommended by me!

The Politics of the Popular (POP) Station Kill Your Television (KYTV) Singapore

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After the play, we joined our friends to make our own music video at The POP Station at Jendela at the Esplanade. Sherms told us about this as her professor was part of the crew. When I first heard about it, I was a bit skeptical.

“Make your own music videos with Singapore’s most off-beat artist collective. Take the chance to sing and dance to a pop-song while being filmed in a fantasy world. Within 24 hours your very own music video will be uploaded on YouTube for the world to enjoy.” – KYTV (taken from the Esplanade website)

It sounded crazy.

And you know what? It was crazy. But it was crazily fun as well! I did a weird song with my friend Shal. Perhaps I might post our video when it’s uploaded onto Youtube. But we also took time out to do this. Wondergirls ain’t got nothing on us! 😛

(I’m the one in pink with the weird Nacho Libre-esque mask by the way)

Unfortunately, the music video-making segment of the event has ended on Sunday. But from 10 June – 5 July, you can view an exhibition of videos from “POP-tizens” in Singapore as well as Berlin, Jakarta, Bangkok, Vienna, London and Jogjakarta. It’s on at Jendela at Esplanade, and is free.

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Talk about a lesson on maintaining your online identity! Haha.

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I’m at Starbucks Tampines right now using Wireless@SG, and it’s my first time blogging on the go! Is this considered mobile blogging?

Anyways, just came back from a run at Bedok Reservoir and something weird happened while running. See, when I run I find great pleasure in overtaking other runners (my competitive streak rarely rears its ugly head, but there you go). Having ran from my house to the reservoir itself, I was already feeling a little tired, but I decided to pick up my pace anyway.

So it all started all well, and I overtook a few people, and at the 500m mark I ran past this dude who had been walking but decided to run after seeing me catching up with him.

So I passed him, and suddenly after a couple of metres or so, I heard footsteps behind me. Thinking it was a runner wanting to overtake me, I continued running as per normal. But the weird thing was, the person (I suspect it was the guy I had passed) never overtook me.

I started speeding up and even as I passed the 1km, 1.5km, 2km markers, the pounding still continued behind me yet the person never passed me at all.

I guess I could have turned behind to see who exactly was following me, but for some reason I didn’t.

I reached the 4km mark, and decided to sprint the rest of the 400m. At this point, I couldn’t hear the pounding on the gravel behind me anymore, so I figure he/she must have slowed down. I completed the run, and headed straight to the water cooler, where I tried to see who it was who had inadvertently made me run slightly faster than usual (24 minutes). This was useless, because there were so many people milling about plus I never turned to look at the person (D’oh!)

And so, I still don’t know who it was who was behind me the whole almost 4km of the run. The damsel in me (for lack of a better word, because I am hardly a damsel) says psychostalkerrunner, but I suspect (actually Erfen suggested) that it was probably someone who was using me as a pacesetter. Which I am cool with.

So there you go. Is this a normal practice for runners? I dunno, but it sure was interesting. I guess I don’t mind being used as someone’s pacesetter, although I would have appreciated being asked first. Is it just me? There must be some sort of running etiquette, no?

If he/she was simply using me to set their pace, then I’m glad I didn’t turn around and yell “What’s your bloody problem, stop following me!” as I was tempted to do a few times during the run.

Oh wells!

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I’m listening to the Genny Podcast #1 right now and they covered an interesting point about Gen Y and our attitudes towards work. Despite it being an economic recession, the team feels that we are still discerning about jobs and value job satisfaction over job stability. Yinqi (I think! I tried to distinguish the voices but apologies if I’m wrong)  shared that two of her friends recently quit their jobs because of the desire to earn higher pay. Kris shared the opinion that Gen Y is not afraid of the economic downturn.

I found myself echo-ing their views. As a job seeker, I still prioritise finding a job that aligns with my interests and is challenging and interesting at the same time, and that forms the basis of my job search, as opposed to going for something, anything, with a decent pay. Some (my parents, other people) would say that this is a foolish approach, given the kind of environment we are in now. But you know what? I don’t care.

Some call us selfish, others say spoilt, indulgent, etc. But really, what’s the harm in going for what we want in life? Talking to my friends, it appears that more and more of us are pursuing what we are really passionate in. If not in our jobs, we derive satisfaction in other pursuits. We want to do something we believe in.

At the Flea-tique! flea market last week, there were many people that set up shop selling clothes, accessories and other assorted knick-knacks. While the concept isn’t new, I found myself reflecting on how entrepreneurial Singaporean youths have become. The internet has helped to popularise the concept of a blogshop, and some businesses are so professionally-run that they could set up a physical store the very next day if they wanted.

Thinking about this entrepreneurial streak that us Gen Y-ers seem to have cultivated, I am almost floored. People used to lament that Singaporeans don’t take risks, aren’t entrepreneurial and go for the safe option whenever they can. It seems that Gen Y is slowly staging a coup d’etat on the way things have been done here in Singapore. I for one see this as a positive change.

I find that with this economic crisis, I’ve been questioning what I truly want to achieve in my life, not just in terms of a career, but bigger questions like how I can make my mark in this world, using my talents to make it a better place.  I think that in better times, I wouldn’t have scrutinised myself so closely and in a weird way, I am glad for this lemon of an economic recession.

Now if you ‘scuse me, I’ma gonna make myself some lemonade.

The Genny podcast is brought to you by Daryl, Krisandro, Yin, Yinqi and Dorothy. The Genny podcast #2 is also out now, do give it a listen.

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I went to the library today to pay my fines and borrow books. I couldn’t pay with both my Nets cards (long story) and I didn’t have a cashcard with me, so I asked if I could pay by cash instead. I was politely told that they didn’t accept cash. Dismayed, I left the library.

I know that NLB has gone cashless and all that, but is it really that difficult to accept cash from people? I’ve read of people complaining about book borrowers who don’t clear their fines even when it is worth less than $1, but I have a feeling that like me, if they were allowed to pay in cash, they wouldn’t leave their fines unpaid for so long.

Not to make it a bigger issue than it is (and yes, it can be) but I don’t see why we make things complicated when they can  be simplified.

“NLB, why you dowan to accept my cash?”

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