October 28, 2008

inSingapore: The Peranakan Museum, October 27th 2008

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , at 1:12 pm by myrlinn

It was Deepavali yesterday, and as is often the case on a major public holidays, people can  visit many of the museums in Singapore, absolutely free. And if you’ve read my blogs, you know how I love free stuff 🙂

So off my family went to the Peranakan Museum, newly opened in April this year. And it was as interesting as I expected.  I would definitely have to go again some other time, on my own, so that I can read and examine various items at my leisure.

The more memorable:

(1) Gallery 1 featured “faces” of many Peranakan people from all walks of life. I loved that — makes the whole museum relevant and gives an immediate impression of continuity to the Peranakan culture. Something I didn’t know before — that there are Indian Peranakan (Chitty) and Indian Muslim Peranakan (Jawi Peranakan).

(2) Letters written in Baba Malay. How interesting that it was a language used for correspondence, both informal and more formal among the Peranakan.

(3) Handwritten cookbooks by a nonya. Reminds me of how we used to write recipes when I was young — in ruled notebooks.

(4) I was also charmed by the capturing of the voices of many Peranakan people who tell of childhood memories, who talk about what the objects belonging to their forefathers mean to them, who tell of the various ways big and small they strive to continue traditional crafts like beadwork.

I won’t go into detail about the galleries — check out the museum website here for that.

What I do want to write about is my general impression of the museum. I thought it a well-conceptualised museum, with items tastefully displayed. The displays have a contemporary feel, with audiovisual and interactive elements, yet it doesn’t feel Disney-fied. A situation which I really appreciate. It’s not an easy balance to achieve these days with so many museums trying to attract crowds by making their exhibits more entertainment-focused. Also, the use of various anecdotes, recollections and comments/thoughts by members of the Peranakan community brought a warm human element. You really get the feeling that much passion went into the making of this museum. In short, a gem of a museum.

The only thing I was disappointed by: that there weren’t many people there, even though it was a free admission day. We went before lunch, so maybe it was too early in the day? I do hope that traffic increased later … I find it so sad that so many Singaporeans trek to museums overseas, but never to ones on their doorstep.

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October 24, 2008

Tribeca’s blog: “Why I Love Clay Aiken”

Posted in Music tagged , , , at 8:52 am by myrlinn

Just wanted to point people to my friend tribeca’s blog. She has quite a story to tell:

http://www.americanidol.com/myidol/blogs/view/?un=tribeca&eid=261866

October 23, 2008

InSingapore: UNIT ASIA Jazz Concert at the Singapore Conference Hall, 22 October 2008

Posted in Music tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:34 am by myrlinn

So, my friends and I were lucky enough to go to the Unit Asia concert last night. Not the tightest performances ever (understandable since this is the group’s first performance together, from what I understand), but even a layman would be able to tell that each of the individual musicians – Isao Miyoshi (guitar), Koh Mr Saxman (saxophonist), Tay Cher Siang (piano), Hiroyuki Noritake (drums) — are immensely talented. They certainly shined in their solos.

One of the things which really stood out during their concert is that the musicians have such different personalities. Isao Miyoshi on the guitar was just this “cool dude” type with his floral-print shirt and tight pants. Koh Mr Saxman from Thailand clearly had a flamboyant, outgoing performing style, while Tay Cher Siang from Malaysia on the piano had this scholarly vibe about him.  Not too sure if that’s an unusual mix for jazz groups, but it certainly makes for intriguing contrasts. Especially as their personalities are reflected quite clearly in their compositions as well.

The program started out slightly disappointing, with sound issues, but picked up for me with the third piece, Elephant Vanishes (composed by Tay Cher Siang). The piece had interesting variations, and it suited my taste that there were darker sections to the music. I would have loved to find out why the piece is titled Elephant Vanishes.

The other standout for me was definitely Adventure of the SANCHIKI (composer: Isao Miyoshi). This piece had a very strong melodic theme, and a distinctive bass line that anchors it all through the various parts. A very enjoyable piece to listen to. And it helped that Miyoshi and Mr Saxman stepped out and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I was also impressed with the piece before that — Walkin’ Around “K” — with its infectious rhythms.

This group will no doubt  get tighter as they play and perform together. Would love to see them a few performances later, but I guess that’s not on the cards since tonight is their last performance in Singapore.

A couple of improvements that could be made:

  • Isao Miyoshi should have a translator — it would be interesting for the audience to have some background on the music.
  • The musicians could step from behind their stands more, and earlier in the program, to establish a connection with the audience.

October 18, 2008

Failure can spur you on

Posted in Musings tagged , , , at 7:57 pm by myrlinn

Yup, I recently rediscovered the fact failure motivates me like nothing else can.

I’ve never really had much interest in growing plants. Until I killed a couple of money plants recently. Very stupid, really, I overwatered them. So stupid that that made me determined to redeem myself. Spurred me on look up how to make plants thrive, and why they die.

I’m slowly growing different plants – chilli, more money plants (epipremnum), a grass-like plant that I don’t know the name of… and I’m trying to grow mint.

And the best thing? I’m actually enjoying watching the different plants grow. And I found that it’s much more rewarding to grow a plant from seed and cutting. When you buy a fully grown plant, you’re just maintaining its growth, but when you grow a plant yourself, it’s exciting when you see the first new leaf, the first shoot coming out of the earth. Just think… I would probably not have actually got off my butt to start growing things if I hadn’t actually cause those money plants to die in the first place. No wonder many people believe that everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff.

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