Nostalgia Strikes

I know sometimes I make myself sound like a real timer with the kinds of things I can say (like my Ingey paaru boyyyyyy and all that). But this time, I’m starting to feel old. Okay, not exactly old since I know I am just stepping into my prime. But is it just me or does time start flying way faster as you grow up? I remember being so excited when I was 16 about turning 21 and it seemed like it was eons away. Now when I did turn 21, it just flew and I can’t seem to even remember so much about the year. Putting aside my timer tendencies, I also realised that in August, the batch of boys that enter NUS are going to be younger than me. It’s weird because even when I was in my 2nd and 3rd year of study, I was used to the boys being older (they do 2.5 years of NS). And now, they will be thambis (little brothers). How weird is that?

Of course, when I compare myself to my 60 year old mates like Mesh and the old folks like Ruben (who deserves a long service award ūüėČ ), I still feel chirpy. Nevertheless, this was not supposed to turn into a complain post about me hitting my peak. Instead, I have been surfing through Facebook and I have come across many of these notes things – the ones where you write 25 random things about yourself or stuff that starts with the same alphabet as your name. There was one in particular that grabbed my attention and that was the one about memories. It asks the readers who have been tagged to share a memory of the post-er. Thereafter I also saw millions of pictures of some of my juniors taken during their days in St Margarets’ Secondary as well as some from Nanyang Junior College. Boy did nostalgia strike.

Being a Cancerian, I’ve always felt pretty sentimental and I think I can be a total karanguni (waste collector) when it comes to keeping objects of sentimental value. I still have my PSLE confirmation letter for my choice of schools, my Kindergarten progress reports, ticket stubs from my first movie with my first love, birthday cards, letters, posters and loads of autograph books (it was a very girls’ school thing to do).¬† I think its amazing the kinds of things that can remain etched in our memories sometimes and I truly relish whenever one of those memories at the back of my mind strikes me. They make you laugh, they make you cry and sometimes remind you of a certain part of yourself you may have forgotten. These memories have made us who we are today and although we might feel urged to forget them to spare ourselves the embarassment, I think they are our essence and our spirits.

I figured I’d share a few of my sweetest memories, some funny, some painful some simply golden. I haven’t thought of a structure for this blogpost and I hope to post it onto Facebook later for more people to share these memories. Pardon me if this entry seems disorganised because its a true expression of my mind and I’m typing just as it flows. Do feel free to leave a memory of your own, it doesn’t have to include me, just something you¬†remember with great fondness and I hope it makes you smile for the rest of the day.

The Polka Dotted Days

I remember my Secondary School days the most vividly of my entire education experience. As much as I grew up a lot during my JC days (which I’d save for a later part), it was in being in SMSS that I truly learnt about myself, learnt to love myself, gained confidence and understood my strengths and weaknesses.

I remember the temporary building at Commonwealth, with the creaky swing and how we girls used to run for it. I remember Mabel’s major accident with the scissors. We had just spoken about attempting suicide and stuff like that and my friend and I had gone to submit some DnT homework. We come back to seeing our friend Mabel being rushed to the sickbay with blood all over the place. She had accidentally cut herself while doing some work with a huge scissors. I swear for a moment we were certain she was trying to attempt suicide.

I remember Miss Usha from the computer lab and how we girls used to traumatise her. There was once a case of a pornographic picture found in one of the computers and everyone was banned from surfing and downloading for awhile. I remember IRC-ing after school and all those crazy things we used to do. We had a #smss channel. I remember taking trains from Commonwealth to Bishan but I always took the line that went way past Jurong, Woodlands then to Bishan just so that I could hang out with the girls longer. I remember being punished for wearing ankle socks or in my case my SMSS socks were so loose they’d fall right into my shoes by being told to remove my shoes and walk the day shoeless by Mrs Lee (God bless her soul). I remember that little atap hut that was our Tamil classroom and how we could never gauge accurately when Mrs Subra would appear. (when she did, the class would be in chaos, all of us would get punished but I often got only half the punishment).

I remember the move back to the original school after renovation and how we had a walk-a-thon. Mrs Lee rode on a Harley Davidson and there was even a scale down one of the school buildings. I recall how I was late pretty much every other day ( I just bumped into one of the junior prefects who used to book me all the time and she’s now a tutorial mate). I remember that every single day, all I ate was 1 prata, 2 hashbrowns (soaked in curry, it was crazy fantastic). I also remember how we girls used to do crazy things around that school. SYF practices where I got to bully the juniors to a large extent till preparing for the O levels with classes through the holidays. I miss every little moment.

I remember exploring my love for Literature and the languages, spending hours in the beautiful library we had going through pages of history books that were so colourful. I remember awaiting my Literature results the most and loving English compositions that allowed me to write for one-word titles or were open ended. My proudest moments were often topping Mrs Seet and Mrs Raj’s Literature lessons. I remember Mr Hoo telling my mother that perhaps I had a different route and was not cut out for the academics. Wherever he is now, I hope he sees what I’ve chosen to do. I recall topping my class for the mid-years in Sec 4 and that was when I felt that push I needed to excel.

The teachers told us time and time again to cherish our days in Secondary school where we were still spoonfed knowledge and where we were young and could get away with our mistakes. But just like every other girl my age, it was one ear in the other ear out. I miss being able to be a girl and be free, to sit any way I like, to walk any way I like and to look silly anytime of the day. I miss the itty heartbreaks, the itty joys and all the other crazy things.

The First Love

My first love was not my first boyfriend, but I would go so far as to say he was my first REAL boyfriend; this meant a relationship that lasted more than just a few months and where we went out and did things together instead of just chat online. His name was Alvin Thomas and he was and in some ways still causes the tingling of many pubescent hearts. I remember meeting him at a debate through a friend whom I cherish till today. I remember how he made my heart do a little flip while I was in the midst of my debate speech. I won best speaker that round and I won his email address through my friend. We dated for a fairly long time and we’ve had many makeups and breakups over the years. But I gained this sense of self confidence being around him, knowing a guy as goodlooking could like a ugly duckling like me (bad hair,braces, pimply me). We had the craziest, kiddish moments, saving up money to eat at Macs or just taking the train randomly. I remember our first movie together, our first kiss and a lot of other little itty bitty details that taught me so much more about myself. I loved meeting him after SYF dance practice just so that all the girls could see my famous and handsome boyfriend. Although things never worked out between the two of us, we are still great friends and we’ve met up a couple of times since (not at MACs, we actually promoted ourselves till Jacks’ Place).

Dancin’ Queen

These are by far the most long lasting memories since I’ve been doing this since I was so young. I love dancing and I don’t think there’s anything in this world that can give me the joy and the outlet that dancing does. I remember watching my sisters dance at Cairnhill CC under Mohana Akka, preparing for birthdays and all those other little fun things about class. I was certain I must learn how to dance just like my sisters and that I did. I remember Kallang CC and Naga Akka and Vijaya Akka. We had by far the funnest class with Vish, Arya, Rekkha and the entire gang. I remember chicken rice after dance class and being made to run around the CC as punishment for coming late for class. I remember suffering with theory classes just before exams. (Dhyana Slokam would look like Diana Slokam).¬† I remember Commonwealth games with Rekkha, Harsheeni, Padmini, Kogila and Priyadharshini. It was our first ever overseas dance experience and we were treated like movie stars wherever we went. I also remember how I was traumatised by those damn peacock feathers that I couldn’t remove from my waist in time for the next part of the performance and how I pretty much danced with them and got “featured” on the big screen as well.

Now I’m older and dance means so much more to me. At some point it was a bit of a love-hate relationship, dance often bringing out the most intense, painful memories, tapping on all the things I try to compress and avoid sharing. Now, I’ve learnt to use it as an outlet, a safe way of letting off steam and frustration. I fondly recall the crazy things we do after performances, our occasional escapes to having a drink, neo-Bharatham experiments, making fun of little things. Most of all, I know I treasure every single thing Maami, my guru has taught me over the years. I know I can never be as loving, as inspirational and as passionate as her, but I will strive to possess at least a little bit of each of that. Her greatest lessons aren’t in the adavus she teaches or the items I’ve learnt, but in the little bits between classes where we speak. With Maami, you know she’s always listening, she’s always proud of you and she’ll always love and understand where you’re coming from. I’m also lucky to have such fantastic girlfriends at my dance class. You hear of politics,rivalry and competition between likeminded girls in the performing arts sector but at my school, we are more of a sisterhood than anything. It helps that we are all incredibly girly, crazy and love the same things.

College Days

Those 2 years were probably my toughest and depressing years. Battling with heartbreak, isolation from a group of people who used to be my closest friends and then my Dad’s death all around the same time. It made it hard for me to cope but it also taught me so much more about my mettle. I was lucky to have some friends, Sadhana, Sonia, Sunil, Hari, Joshua, Jesreen, Jasmine and Durga in particular. After bumping into Durga yesterday I just remembered our kindred souls, our conversations about nothing that were so profound, so emotionally intense and so beautiful. She’s one of the most beautiful people I know. I remember the ICS chalet at Aloha Loyang and how we went crazy with all the hide and seek nonsense. My hiding place was ace thanks to the guys who carried me up into the top of a cupboard. No one found me, I suspect they weren’t intending to.

I remember Mr.Bong asking me to draw the demand curve (this was somewhere in Year 2) and I drew a supply curve. I don’t think there’s a greater sin when it comes to Econs. I remember Miss Victors’¬† literature class and how we used to fight for the sofa. I remember Mrs. Teo’s class and how we used to hide burgers under the table and munch on them during lesson time. I remember Sunil and myself running across the field being late for a lesson once having¬†gone out of¬†school to eat,¬†and how Mr Bong asked us why we were late and our uniforms were all messy. I remember Puyal and all the fun that tagged along.

I remember my two pseudo-Dads, Mr Thiru and Mr. Teo, the two men I cannot thank enough for being there for me when I needed them the most. Mr. Teo couldn’t speak much English. I was lucky that I was fairly proficient in Mandarin (you have to be when you’re in a Chinese-y school), yet he always made the effort to care for me and the other minorities. We were never marginalised or made to feel like we didn’t belong. I remember going to eat Air Batu (that coloured ice) outside school and how we used to skip P.E.

I remember the care and love my friends provided me with in what was the most pressing and painful moment of my life. I recall with fondness those little moments we’ve shared and the ways in which they love and care for me in their special ways till today. I remember my first clubbing experience in Cheeky Monkeys and of course the many moments of drinking at coffeeshops with Sunil and Hari.

Early Uni Days

Of course I’m not able to speak of my University experience in totality since I have about a year and a quarter to go but I must say, it’s seeming like a fantastic journey. I still remember my first ever performance with NUS – it was at roadshow a gazillion years ago (okay not really gazillion). I barely knew anyone and now I feel like I’ve danced and performed so many times with these people. I’ve met some fantastic friends through and in NUS and I’m so lucky to be a part of this culture.

I’m also extremely lucky to be studying what I am studying and to have found my niche. I was just chatting with the teacher in charge at the school I teach dance a few days ago about Indians who seem to drop courses or lose their passion for whatever they initially want to study. I’m glad that my mother never forced me to do triple sciences or go into a specific faculty. I’m glad that she supported me in everything and anything I’ve wanted to do. Till today, there’s never been a time my family has not been behind me; from my decisions to Dhool, to¬†wanting to take charge of ICS to even wanting to major in Sociology. I recall how they had an entire cheerleading squad, ready with banners and pompoms at Dhool and how till today my mother still supports every one of my events. I am truly lucky for that.

University days seem to fly by the fastest since there’s no real system or a proper compulsory curriculum. The semesters aren’t very long and most of it is up to the individual. But I seem to have thoroughly enjoyed and am enjoying this entire experience and I love what I am studying. Perhaps two years down the road, I’d reminisce further about my university days.

 

There’s so much more I have failed to write here, from memories of my family, to my memories of my childhood days, to my memories from failed relationships and heartbreaks, to even my experiences with this blog. But that’s the point of life right? I mean we’re never going to be able to cap the extent of our memories or be able to recall and document every single moment, but those moments would come just when we need a little reminder or a little smile or maybe even a little humbling.

So, if you have a memory, any memory at all, of your own, of us, of someone mutual, of anything and everything or even nothing, do leave it as a comment here. I bet it’ll be fun!

Putting some Perspective on Vizhigal

Many of you have probably already read my entry on what I deem to be one of the major flops of Vasantham, “Aanaa Penaa?”. Please do not mistake me for being a wet blanket. I do appreciate that Vasantham has made so much headway since they first started out. I am glad we have our own channel and I for one ask everyone to stop watching so much of SunTv, Vijay Tv, Vannathirai and what not, and support our local artistes. I have friends who work tirelessly to provide us quality entertainment and we should be proud that despite being non-native speakers of the language (since Tamil is not a first language to most of us), we have fantastic programmes with really good Tamil being spoken (granted there are one or two stars and starlets who have thoroughly killed the language with their inability to discern between la and zha but let’s not go there. It still beats having to go through the excruciating Tinglish (Tamil + English) that you get on the India channels).

I add this very huge and obvious disclaimer before I begin this entry because I am very certain many people enjoy this show that I am about to take and stab into pieces (if I could, the host would be first on my list, or at least the person who writes his damn script).¬† Again, please if anybody from Vasantham reads this (which scarily enough I found out many do), please take this in the best way possible. Do not give us half past excuses and comments such as “you only know the difficulty once you try to produce a show” – If I need to be able to produce a show to be able to appreciate or criticise one,¬† you’d lose pretty much 90% of your audience. Let us be mature and accept that those of us who can appear on screen and those of us who cannot, still have the right to maturedly and reasonably criticise what we see. Likewise, its only fair for us to give credit where its due. (I for one happen to think Guru Paarvai, Taxi Engey Poguthu and the likes are doing pretty fantastic).

The point is, I am thoroughly disappointed with this specific show called “Vizhigal”. With a fantastic name¬†such as ¬†that, great trailers and such interesting topics, I was expecting a social commentary of sorts. Let us first establish that social commentaries do not impose any moral judgements on what it seeks to discover and just not believe there is a right and wrong. Rather, it tries to put issues in perspective and provide the audience with the alternative viewpoint as well as sometimes “shock” you with the facts you never knew existed.

I should have known to switch off my television the moment I saw the last 5 to 10 minutes of the Health show that was before the episode of Vizhigal. It was some sort of an ominous sign. Mind you this is a Health show (Udalum Ullamum) – you’d expect to gain simply medical perspectives (that’s why we call doctors and not our Grandmas) so this was quite hilarious. A lady called in to ask if she got an abortion will there be any tell tale signs from which her husband could figure out she had an abortion. I would have accepted it, if the doctor first explaind whether or not there would be any tell tale signs and then explain to the lady that it is important to share such information with her husband. Instead, the doctor never went to the aspect of explaining whether or not there would be any tell-tale signs and straight jumped into how she must tell her husband and how abortion is a BAD thing. Yes, there you have it. Judgements judgements judgements. I am not about to go into a discussion of pro-life or pro-choice but I believe that as a doctor – your priorities are first to be scientific, factual and display objectivity and respect for one’s choices.

I was digressing, so now back to Vizhigal. I will admit I have only watched 2 episodes of the show thus far and I am basing my entire observation on these 2 episodes alone; as such I must make it clear that this might be an unfair and hasty analysis. Nevertheless it pains me and I don’t think any amount of coaxing could make me change my mind.

The first episode I watched was the one about Social Escorts. This is indeed a racy topic. I thought it was exciting that Indian programmes were trying to tip the edges of controversy and were seeking to push issues that were formerly considered taboo into the public realm and shed some light on them. Instead, what I saw was a badly put together show.

Firstly the host mentions in his lead-in that these women lack “acham, maadam, naanam” – things that are essential to women. Second he makes them sound like immoral sluts who sleep around or have traded their morals for luxury. Even if they are, I don’t see how this is anyone’s judgement call. As long as one does not steal or rob from you or cheat you to make a living, they are living an honest and respectful living right? I think that as a host of a social commentary – his lead-ins can be made less extreme, less judgemental and less alpha male centric. I felt myself snorting and going “Oh my god did he just say that?” more than once. I thought perhaps it was just me until during the next episode, I got an sms from my eldest sister telling me that the script writer deserves a good smack. I’ll come back to this later. He said many other things that were very hard to digest.

My point is this, if you choose to do a show about racy topics that are very out of what is considered polite behaviour, don’t do it just for the sake of gaining viewership – do it with an open mind and a genuine desire to make a close-knit and conservative community start talking and discussing pertinent issues rather than relegating them to the private sphere and acting like these things don’t happen.

My second grouse was the fact that through the entire show, no social escort perse was interviewed. Instead, the friend of a social escort – that too, a friend who “powtoh-ed” the escort to her parents was interviewed. From the fact that this interviewee was a tell-tale – its evident what her views on social escorts are. In this case, isn’t she then a biased person? What’s the point of doing an entire show on social escorts if you do not even at one point interview a real social escort? If you couldn’t get a social escort, why did you then choose to put together an episode on something you have no first-hand information about? The other research that was done involved calling a few social escort agencies from a magazine to ask how many Indian girls there were as well as getting one of the crew to meet a social escort – (this was done just to prove that there are Indian social escorts not to ask her any questions or anything of that sort). If its too hard to find women who are escorts – why not interview men who do employ their services and ask them why they do so?

Thirdly, I am tired of people making false assumptions that social escorts are all sexual workers. For the lack of a better word, they are called escorts. Whether they provide sexual services is very much their own perogative. While the show did make mention of this, they failed to break the myth entirely. Neither did they also touch on the fact that most social escorts are escorts because they are intelligent, educated and conversationalists. Instead they chose to harp on the fact that these women are in the industry because of the amount of money it can make. If that’s such an issue, why don’t we do an episode on the millions of people joining insurance companies as financial consultants in the hopes of raking in the millions? Why criticise these women alone for doing something which is so innate and instinctual to everyone – find the best way to make the big bucks?

I was very disturbed by the fact that the re-enactments constantly made it seem like social escorts are ruining their lives, changing their lives or becoming different people, going to suffer from some unknown repercussions because they do such a job. To this, I say its time we open our eyes and accept the fact that as long as there is a demand for escorts, there will be that many people willing to be in the job.

Make no mistake, I am not in any way condoning their work neither am I condemning them. I just wish that as a social commentary, the production house, producers would look at trying to explain how they are no different from the rest of us, and how labels such as “social escorts” do not reflect anything but the person’s occupation. It would have been fantastic if they had simply looked at the phenomenon as detached observers, stated the facts and interviewed some of them with some mindblowing questions and left the audience to be the judge. (If you think this is not possible, I strongly suggest you watch Vijay Tv’s Ipaddiku Rose – its a great example of this).

The second episode I watched was that of the abusive wife. Again, a racy topic that is bound to set a lot of tongues wagging. Yet all I saw was a psychotic wife. I have to admit Kavitha did a fantastic job playing a psycho wife but honestly I know this phenomenon of abusive wives and what was portrayed was that of a mentally disturbed woman not a woman who is insecure, hurts her husband because of this inescurity or inability to trust . Nothing about that character was normal in the re-enactment but abusive wives ARE normal people. They abuse out of insecurity.

Firstly, again in his lead-in the host mentions the traditional family dynamics Рwhere the husband is the sole breadwinner and plays a dominant role. He almost sounds like a relic in the museum and I swear if anyone gave me one of  his dialogues in reality, I would kick him in the nuts.

Secondly the portrayal of abusive women was a little extreme. Just as we should never portray abusive husbands as completely hurling things about and being evil all the time, we have to accept that abusive women are different from psychotic women. This time they did have a guy they interviewed but oddly enough I felt that what he seemed to say in his interview and the sort of wife he described seemed rather different from the psychotic wife that was re-enacted. But this again, might solely be my own opinion of the entire issues.

Lastly, yes they are abusive, now what? What has caused them to be as such? What can one do? Are laws too slanted towards protecting women that we have assumed they are completely incapable of causing hurt and harm to men? Do we need changes to be made to legislation to recognise the fact that women can be a threat to men too? Is this a small group of women and if so, could it be due to stress they feel at the realm of home? Post-natal depression? Insecurity ? What about tackling all these issues instead of riding an entire episode just on the raciness and the “tabloid-ness” of a certain topic?

I have always been up for shows that are insightful, bold and those that provoke you to think. Yet, I feel that this specific show seems to engage controversy only to garner viewership and doesn’t actually sit down to tackle these issues objectively or in-depth. If that’s the case, you’re better off producing another run-off-the-mill dance competition or cooking show.

2008 in retrospect..

Hello my dear readers. I returned safely from India on the 21st (shortened my trip). I would blog about my trip soon enough though for those of you who are truly interested, you can check my pictures out on my facebook at aarthisankar@hotmail.com

As the year draws to an end, its only fair that each of us reflects on the year and consider what we have learnt, unlearnt and relearnt. It is impossible for a year to go by with any new lessons and honestly with every passing year I feel that I learn more than the years before. If I had to sum up 2008 into one word; it would be contradictions. Nope, I take that back, it would be complications. I wouldn’t say that 2008 was a painful year or a year I regret, but I must say it has been filled with complications and every single choice I’ve made has been difficult and in many cases left me suspended between extremes.

I have learnt that men are extremely complicated creatures. That at one point in time, they could love you to no end and the next minute they could not want to see you ever again. That at one point in time, they could tell you it was love at first sight, and the next minute you’re taking it too fast just by merely expressing interest. I have learnt never to take a man’s words at face values. Likewise, I choose not to waste my time analysing anything they say because I am certain they don’t spend even half the time we do processing their thoughts before it leaves their mouths. I have learnt not to mope over any man except my hero. I have learnt that the only time they push towards you, is when you pull back. Call me cynical, I call it experience.

I have learnt that the best friendships are the ones that involve a tad bit of distance. I have learnt that male friends are better than female friends. At least for my personality. I have learnt that complete honesty doesn’t pay in friendships and sometimes the best thing to do is to just step back and not care so much. I have learnt that there will be very few people you’d be willing to give your life up for, but those very people make it all oh so worth it (special mention to 4 people in this line: R,T,S,L).

I have learnt that money doesn’t bring you everything but it can make you happy. I have learnt that the highest level of euphoria can only be achieved doing something you truly love and for me, that’d be dancing. I have learnt that love at first sight exists only with the one you give birth to; and I saw that in my sister’s eyes the moment Baby Gaurav was born. I learnt that family ties can be complex at times but they are the only people who would see you through crap anytime anyday. I have learnt that at the end of the day I am my own best friend and that my gut instincts will never go wrong.

I have learnt that I will keep getting stronger no matter how hard I get beaten down. The harder I hit, the higher I  bounce.

 

Much love to my beautiful readers. Thank you for another year of fantastic support and wavering but undying readership.

I’m leaving on a jetplane…

And I do know when I’d be back again! Just felt like letting all my dear readers know! I’m going to be flying off to Chennai on the 9th and I will be back the 23rd latest!

I’m all excited for my trip. If anything pressing crops up, please feel free to email me and I’m certain I would reply soon enough.

I’m gonnabe gone for 2 weeks, so my dear readers, BE GOOD and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do (which erm is pretty much nothing, so have a blast!)…

I’m gonnabe back in time for Christmas, and we shall all party hard!

Cheers! Happy Holidays!

A Born-Again Singaporean!

hisnric

Dear readers, I make it a point to share my ups and downs with you through this humble blog. And today my friends, is a monumental moment in my life. If any Christians are offended by the title of my entry, I am deeply sorry. My experiences on Vasantham speaking about blogging has taught me not to hurt anyone’s feelings so please cover your eyes and get the hell (oops) out of here.

To the rest of you, today I became a Singaporean again. As many of you might already know, I am probably the most careless person to exist on the face of this earth. In the last year, I have lost my wallet 5 times, my ez link card twice, my NUS card thrice, my ATM card four times and my mind a million times. The point is, I am careless. Its a wonder I make it home without leaving my clothes at school. Reminds me of a time when I was 8 and left my schoolbag on the school bus. I never stopped to think why my back felt so light with no trolley bag lodged against it. Yes, trolley bags were in fashion at that time. My school even had their own “St Margarets” bag. But my mother being the fashionista she is insists we buy a cheaper trolley bag sold outside. It was cheap and a tad cooler but the trolley handle, I swear felt like 15 kg. It was pure metal or at least felt like it to a 24kg boney thing. Ah sweet memories. Anyway I digress… (See how bad my intellectual capacity is. I have the attention span of a goldfish)

Back to my story. Remember how we all get our ICs when we are 15 (if you got yours at 12, you belong to my sister’s generation – she’s gonna kill me for this). That proud moment where you go get your fingers pricked (which they don’t do anymore so that’s the new generation) and proudly get a card that marks your freedom to erm..virtually do nothing. (I always thought the IC was a useless card till this week). Speaking of bloodtests, when I was young, my sisters always cheated me with stories. I think it made them feel better about themselves given how incredibly cute I was. (again, I’m asking to get killed). One of the stories involved how the names we were given at birth are temporary and that at the age of 7, my mother was going to change my name to my permanent name which was Kuppama. Another, was that during bloodtests, the nurses actually suck out a syringe of your blood, then they use a straw to taste it to decide which blood group you belong to. I lapped it all and believed it amidst many tears and fears.

Again, I digressed.

Point is, I got my IC when I was 15 and I think I lost it between the ages of 16 and 17. It was never a big issue since I lost my Secondary school ezlink card when I was in Sec 2 and I used coins everyday and that didn’t bother. I never needed to show identification because being a geeky, braces wearing, bad hair, scrawny girl, no one figured I’d be anything else. So I was free..free of the need to be identified. Free from being tagged like a goat (do goats get tagged?).

It never bothered me when I went to college that I didn’t have an IC. By then I had a student card. When I came to the University, I had a tertiary card. There were that periods in time when I lost my cards. I remember having to show my passport to gain entry into Hard Rock once, much to the disgust of my ex boyfriend. I have done the same in Jeanz, Celebritys and a few other places, having been identified by my friends as the girl from India who carries her passport around.

But all good things come to an end, and so did this. In June, just before I turned 21, my passport expired (which of course I didn’t realise and still carried around my passport for identification). I noticed this lapse recently when my mother and I were planning a trip to Chennai. It was then, that I realise I needed to go there…

ICA. It feels like its in a land of its own. Lavender doesn’t quite feel like Singapore. The only times apart from having to make my IC that I went there, was when I was learning tuition from a cool center in that area. Point is, I dreaded making that trip. That trip I managed to evade for 5 years. So last week, I dragged my feet into ICA and submitted my passport application. It only required me to fill up a form as further identification only needed to be provided at time of collection. At that same time, I lost my ATM card again (only to realise I didn’t lose it but I had left it unclaimed at some place which my friend conveniently forgot to. by then the card had been blocked for safety).

With an expired passport, my birth certificate (left my student pass in school) I approached the staff of POSB in Textile Centre (near ICA) about this. They ask me for my IC to which I show them my passport. At that point in time, I am certain they thought I was half stupid. The lady attending to me was new so she turned to the mother hen of the counter staff and asked her whether this was acceptable. She was way too sharp… She noticed the expiry date. She asked me for some other form of identification. To this, I shoved my birth certificate across the counter. She looked at me in half disgust, half incredulity and said, “You are above 21. Don’t you know you can’t use your BIRTH CERT anymore?”

I was shocked, dismayed, disappointed and appalled. Okay no, that’s a tad too extreme. I never realise my birth certificate was that obsolete. She told me to go to ICA and get them to validate my existence and my identity. I had just walked painstakingly from there to get my card so that I could pay for my passport. I begged and pleaded with her. Went down on my knees and shed a few tears. Okay no, I didn’t. I just told her that I had just come from ICA and I really needed my card to pay for any sort of identification and that it couldn’t be coincidental that I had so many forms of obsolete identification – that I AM AARTHI SANKAR S87*****E ( I blanked it out in case you guys try to report me to authorities for having been an illegal immigrant for 5 years).

She sighed and said okay and let me get my card with a stern warning that I should go do something about this. It was then that I realised…

I need that damn pink card.

So I walked down to ICA to collect my passport and to push my luck a little to see if they would insist on an identification card for documentation. They did stare at me when I showed them my birth certificate. They told me I could collect my passport, but I would first have to go make my ic and bring along that little slip as proof that I have arranged for my IC to be made. And so I did. Hundred dollars to validate my existence. Seventy dollars to travel the world. The joy of being reborn: Priceless.

And thereafter, I collected my passport and in a month’s time I will have my IC as well which I am certain I will lose within the year. But I have a plan. Have you guys seen a chastity belt? I intend to create the world’s first identity belt. My most intimate belongings, my identity cards, my debit cards, my MAC powder will be locked and would always stay close to me. Imagine how fun that would be. Everytime its my turn to settle the bill, I would get up to unlock my belt and one of you would have paid for me already. Ah I am loving the sound of this. Either that, or I am stitching my cards to my skin. I will have to leave one end of my ATM card hanging so that it can still be swiped though.

The point is, I am a Singaporean once again. Ah the smell of freedom (with its limits of course!). Its revirginisation of my citizenship and it feels great. I am Sing-char-poh-ren.

To end off, here are a few replies I got when I told my friends I was Singaporean again and said Jaihinth! Vande Mataram!

“You mean they actually gave it to you? They didn’t deport you to Andamans? Wow the government is quite slack”

“Don’t bluff ICA la. New passport la, new IC la. You didn’t have these stuff in the first place because you’re an illegal immigrant. Shoo shoo! ”

“Vanthathey muthiram. Welcome welcome”

My favorite: “Anu runs to Malaysian High Commission in Singapore and replants the Singapore flag at the top of the building to symbolise Aarthi’s patriotism”

“Haha I say that calls for a celebration. Wadya say” (don’t mind her, she’s going to Alcoholics’ Anonymous)

A police friend who has been threatening to arrest me for the last week sent me a section of the penal code through facebook – National Registration Act (Chapter 201). (same guy who claims he’s gonna arrest me and shows me the keys to his handcuffs but keeps the handcuffs at home)
Tsk. Now that I have renewed my citizenship, its time to find new friends.

The Ifs and Buts..

What is happening around here? I think I’ve pretty much lost most of my readers since my comments and hits are slowly but surely dwindling. Sigh. The woes of growing up and having too little time to surf the net I guess.

Anyhow, I have been reading this book titled, “Things I want my Daughters to Know” by Elizabeth Noble”. The story is basically about a lady who finds out she has terminal illness and the letters and preparations she makes that change her daughters’ lives forever. She leaves each of them a letter with all the things she wants them to know as well as all the advice she wouldn’t be around to provide them with. She had 4 daughters and she prepared everything such that when her youngest girl turned 21 the year after, her husband was there to pass her a gift she had chosen before she passed on. Its a pretty good book and honestly, its as usual put me into a pretty contemplative mood.

I always have been curious about death. No, not in that is there an after life or do we just get swallowed by the ground kinda curious but more of a what death means and what would be the best way of dying. I know it sounds pretty sick but trust me that’s so not what I’m pointing at. I wonder if it would be better if I died suddenly, so I never spent days in pain or days worrying about an impending death. I wonder if it would be easier if I died knowing it was going to happen, being able to tell all the people I love and loathe what exactly I want to. I wonder if I would be missed, if tears would be shed, if secretly someone had regrets; an untold romance, an apology or even a complaint.

My friends often chide me for thinking about all these things and tell me not to think about my death which I hope is very far away (hell I intend to get married, give birth and do loads of things before game over!) But I am not worrying about it, I just wonder.

I wonder what I would if I knew by some stroke of chance my deathday.

I think I would spend a little more time cherishing you. Not snapping at you so easily when you ask me unnecessary questions. I would appreciate all you went through to get me where I am. And I would hug you and kiss you, something we seem to have forgotten to do all these years that it feels awkward.

I would thank you for putting up with my unnecessary requests since the time I was 4. For the various hairstyles and makeovers. For the moments at the swing and for always demanding to know what was wrong. For never letting me mess it up. For the times you stood up for me. I would spend a little more time trying to understand who you have become and I would insist on a margarita or a martini with you again. I would hug you tightly and tell you that while I may not always know why you do what you do, I will always stand by your choices and be happy for you.

I would thank you for snooping all the time because I always knew I had to behave cos you were looking over my shoulder. I would tell you to stop fretting about being right all the time. I would tell you its okay to fail once in awhile. I’d tell you that that time when I was 14 and told you I wish I didn’t have you in my life, I was wrong and I am sorry because there has never been another day I regretted it. Okay, I lie, there are days I wish you weren’t so sneaky or so fierce but I love you for that and I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I would tell you that I am sorry for hurting you despite the many times we tried to make it work. I would tell you that I could never learn to love you the way you love me. I would tell you that I don’t understand what it is you saw in me to stay so smitten. I would tell you that every one of those times, I genuinely wanted to make it work. I would also tell you that I was often so afraid that one day you might wake up and realise I’m not worth it. I will tell you that honestly Valentines Day only got exciting the moment we tricked an entire restaurant. I never wanted you to become my fallback plan, the person I’d be with to just settle. I want a crazy love story.

I will tell you that it is you whom I loved from the moment I met. You had me getting butterflies the morning after wondering if once the intoxication fades you will remember me. You made me swoon and although I don’t swoon anymore as much, I know you were the one I loved in abundance. I would tell you I wish it didn’t have to end but that I understand why it did. I would tell you that every minute of it was magic yet a terrible nightmare. I would tell you that the times you were away, I cried a lot and sometimes I felt it will never get better.I would tell you that as much as I liked lilies, I lied when I said they were my favourite flowers. I didn’t have a favourite flower then, I said it to be smart. But now I do, and they are lilies. I would ask you if you still read my blog.

I would tell you that I wished we never stopped being friends. That you made me very happy and feel so girly. You got me excited and you got me to be positive. But I would also tell you that you have become so negative, if I dared sit through one of your emotional tantrums. I would tell you that there were many things I hid from you, but it was all because I wanted to protect you. I would tell you that you let far too many things have more impact on your life than yourself. I would tell you to fall in love, really.

I would tell you that I hate your guts. I hate the way you always turn out to be right. That if you’ve read thus far, you’d have spotted enough errors for me to want to kick your ass. I would hug you and tell you that you made the last two years so much easier. I would gain the courage to tell you that I wonder if we could have been anything more than what we are. That secretly, everytime we talked about what others say, I enacted the itty fantasy of us together in my head. I would also, if i dared, tell you that the fantasy seemed nice. I would tell you that you were perfect and that you always smell very nice. I would tell you that you’re the bestest buddy in the wholewide world.

I would learn how to cycle and swim. I would learn how to drive and hone my skills at Daytona. I would dare to wear that denim skirt that makes my butt look a tad too big.

I would dare to go out there and take those silly videos of me dancing and pretend I can make my own little Youtube performances for all the happening Tamil songs I adore.

I would admit that I do worry what people think of me though I pretend not to care. I would admit that I still have girly crushes despite how I try to evade all questions about them. I would then try not to care so much and blog everything that comes to my mind. Hmm maybe that would make for more exciting posts that you would actually feel like reading.

I would tell you two that you’re perfect for each other. In all the time I’ve known you both which hasn’t been very long, I’ve hardly seen a large display of affection but in your eyes I always see that concern. The way you stay close because you don’t want him to worry and the way he despite being the life of the party, often looks out to see if you’re doing okay .

I would tell your mother to let you live your life not based on any horoscope of yours. I would delete all your profiles on any matrimonial site and tell you to start treating yourself better so that someone could come treat you the same.

I would tell you to make up your mind. I would tell you that you’re free to cheat and lie but to pretend like you’re the good one after that just isn’t fair.

I would want you to know that I could never be like you. Be able to let everything else go for a dream which seems more like a fantasy to many. But I would also tell you that I wish I could do what you do. Give up everything and perhaps dance all my life? I wish I was like you but I know I am much too pragmatic to be able to do that.

I would tell you not to be so hard on yourself. But I would also tell you to quit brooding and acting like its all your fault.

I would tell you that I had the greatest fun lining up your presents. I enjoyed going through your 22 years of memories to pick the best and I can tell you from a completely neutral perspective that you’ve lived a fantastic 22 years. I would also tell you that your Dad is proud of you. And I would tell you to quit waiting it out and just get into a damn relationship with her.
I would tell you that as much as I always claim you two bully me, if I was lucky enough to have younger sisters, I would steal you both from your brother and make you all mine.

I would tell all of you thanks for giving me the chance but I am much too arrogant for my own good that I shut people off the minute they say or do something that irks me. I would tell you that on a normal day, you would have made me swoon, but I think no amount of charm can make me swoon anymore.

I would kick your ass at Air Hockey. Maybe if I’m lucky, Daytona too.

I would tell you that I don’t really like sushi very much, but subway I adore. I would tell you that though we joke about it all the time, the possibilities never left my mind. I would tell you that I do wonder what’s going on in your head when you seem so lighthearted about relationships and love. I would let you choose all the ice cream flavours and force them down my throat however badly they suck. I would tell you that I was flattered and am always flattered by your remarks and that you make me feel very pretty and talented.

I would perhaps not worry so much about whether the Honours is a good idea and follow myself. Join the police force? Join the prisons force? Do whatever it is I feel like doing, regardless of whether you think its a good idea.

I would dance a little more. I wouldn’t worry so much about stretching my legs a little further lest I fall when I bend. I would lose myself in the song just so that at least once my bhava is perfect. I would thank you for guiding me always and for all the side advice you’ve given me. I would tell you that you were the embodiment of love and that I yearn to have half of your zest for life.

I would visit my Primary School again not to see my teachers or reminisce, but just to drink that Chocolate milk and sit along the drain. I would not worry so much and carry you in my arms. I would daringly go for a facial. I would tell my hairdresser how incredibly hot I think he is.

I would dance in the rain once more. I would tell you that I don’t care if the words I love you are too serious and strong, I’m gonna say them anyway. I would tell you not to bother calling him if he doesn’t want to talk to you. I would tell you to walk away cos you deserve so much more.

I would want you to know that its fine to get hurt.

I would watch a lot more of Gossip Girl and Samantha Who? Maybe even pay to subscribe to Megavideo so they don’t cut my serials in between when I’ve watched too much!

I would tell you that I never liked you. I would tell you that I was envious of your ability to always be right, to always do the right things, to always be approved as the epitome of what a girl should be. I’ve tried doing that, and I never felt quite so comfortable being judged against a template of what I should be doing.

I would tell you that I do get jealous but I am just a much better actress than yourself.

I would tell you that I lie, that I have hurt, that I have done some things I have not been proud of. But that I would never regret them. Wait, I lie, I do regret them and I’ve spent hours wondering what it would be like if I hadn’t done them.

I would get that tattoo. That same one I’ve been pondering over and considering as an after arangetram thing.

I would tell all you girls how much I adore teaching you. How I see a small part of me and my friends in each and everyone of you.

There are days I feel like I say too much and there are days I feel like I hold back. Today I know I’ve said far too much but it still doesn’t feel like I’ve said enough. After all, if I were to base my entire life on this one entry, it just doesn’t say much about the life I’ve led.

To all those of you were mentioned here or not mentioned here, please do not come ask me if this was you or this wasn’t you. If the glove fits, wear it. (Is that even the right expression? Is it shoe? cap? Ah you get the point) I’m not about to name people one by one and in some instances one statement could have referred to more than one person. If I wanted you to know, I would have put your names there.

Oh and if you’re wondering why parts of the post keep changing and keep getting longer, its because I’ve decided that this post will keep changing. It will keep changing till the day I decide it will not change anymore or till the day I’m certain I live with no regrets.

Butterfly Kisses

I was going through my files and found a video my eldest sister compiled for my 21st. Many of my friends haven’t gotten the chance to see this so I thought I’d share it with you guys here. Its probably the sweetest way one could document my memories and I’m lucky to have an amazing family to whom I’m always a little princess.

Its amazing how just looking through these pictures gets me a little teary and more importantly reminds me of how precious my family is to me.