Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week 22 of year 2009 on the double bass

24 May 2009, Sun: I practised the second movement at slow tempo with the metronome. The goal was to improve the intonation.

25 May 2009, Mon: I merely practised scales and open notes on the double bass simply to experience the vibrations of the double bass.

27 May 2009, Wed: I practised the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D at a very slow tempo with the metronome at home. Health constraints make it such that I take a break from orchestra rehearsals. I hope I would heal from the trigger finger syndrome. At the same time, I would need to learn ways to deal with remarks that hurt...

28 May 2009, Thu: I practised a study from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One. Time was spent playing the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D. It was an energising work. I later got guidance to learn how to give a rendition of quick study more convincingly. It was easier to imagine how the quick study would sound if I sang it before playing. I need more practice.

29 May 2009, Fri: I practised selected passages from the first movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major and Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. The goal was to achieve a steady rhythm and better intonation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Read: Go put your strengths to work

I have just finished reading the book titled Go put your strength to work written by Marcus Buckingham a few days ago.

This is quite an insightful read, and I hope that with time to come, I could learn to identify what my strengths are and spend more time contributing to this world by actively using my strengths.

This online site gives a fairly concise summary of what one will learn by reading the book: http://www.getabstract.com/ShowAbstract.do?dataId=9026

The examples in the book are thoughtfully chosen to demonstrate the concepts. It's quite a thoughtful read for anyone who wants to learn how to better put his or her strengths to work.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A break from the city: Farms in Northwestern Singapre



17 May 2009: Dear Eastcoastlife very generously and graciously treated me to a delicious lunch after our visit to Kampong Lorong Buangkok.

After the lunch, we headed for the farms in the Northwestern part of Singapore. This website of the Kranji Countryside Association (http://www.kranjicountryside.com) offers a glimpse of the recreational and educational value of the farms in the Kranji countryside.

Of particular interest to me was that the ignorant part of me finally realised that the dragon-fruits that I know of are actually fruits of specific cactus species. Such fruits are known as pitaya. Eastcoastlife pointed me to a farm that cultivates a species of cactus plant that bore the dragon-fruits. I was fascinated simply to see dragon-fruits bearing cactus plants!


The cactus that bears the dragon-fruit.


A dragon-fruit.



One of the farms that we had visited was the Hay Dairies Farm. This farm currently produces fresh goat milk for sale. Visitors could have a chance to view the milking demonstrations from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the morning. Due to imposed restrictions, we were not allowed to walk too close to the goats during that visit. I was rather intrigued how the goats have learnt to drink from man-made taps.




The last farm that we visited for that day was Bollywood Veggies Singapore. Eastcoastlife pointed me to the signboards that were placed outside the farm. Don't they look simple and pleasing?




Many different kinds of plants were being grown in Bollywood Veggies Singapore. Entry to this farm is $2 per person. One gets to view plants such as banana, fig, lemon grass, padi, papaya, rambutan and lots more. The Poison Ivy Bistro in the farm serves various food. The vegetables served at the Bistro are gathered fresh from the Bollywood Veggies Singapore farm.





My words of appreciation to Eastcoastlife and her husband for taking the time and thoughts to accompany me to a few of the farms in the Kranji countryside area. The visits to the farms helped me get close to the land. It was a refreshing break from my usual tours of the Singapore city.

For the folks who would like to find out how to visit these farms using public transport, you would be pleased to know that there is a shuttle bus service that is known as the Kranji Express that will operate daily to take visitors to the Kranji Countryside from Kranji MRT station. For more information, please visit http://www.kranjicountryside.com.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 35



On 2 Apr 2009, I passed by the Seasons Reasons restaurant and noticed that it serves an interesting kind of mashed potato called the cheesy potato.

This cheesy potato is actually fork-mashed potato with grated cheese. Bacon and spring onion were sprinkled on the top-most cheese layer. The cheesy potato will be something that cheese-loving mashed-potato lovers are likely to be delighted with. It is best eaten while it is hot. There is a nicely rich and thick layer of cheese that covers the bottom layer of mashed potato.

Honestly speaking, while the mashed potato was smooth, it was pretty plain, average and of no surprise. What stole the show was the cheese layer. As such, I recommend that this cheesy potato would taste better if the mashed potato layer was eaten together with the cheese layer.

The serving of cheesy potato is rather large for a person. I recommend that this dish be shared between at least two person. Otherwise, one can greatly experience the law of diminshing returns if one were to finish the entire dish on his/her own.

I recommend this cheesy potato for cheese-loving mashed potato lovers. If one were to solely go for the mashed potato and not the cheese, there would be other better options.

This cheesy potato costs $8.50 before taxes. Generally the service is thoughtful.

With this post, I wish my dear friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to: comfort and joy.

***
Seasons Reasons restaurant
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Shopping Centre
#B1-72/73
Tel @ 6100 0122
Website: http://www.seasonsreasons.com.sg


Updated on 21 Sep 2009: I was at Raffles City Shopping Centre, and found that Seasons Reasons restaurant is no longer at #B1-72/73. Does anyone know where it has moved to?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A break from the city: Kampong Lorong Buangkok



Eastcoastlife has a most creative way to celebrate yours truly's birthday, and that was to take yours truly to a kampong (village) and farms in the rural area of Singapore. It was a refreshing break from city life for yours truly. Many thanks to Eastcoastlife and her husband for their time and thoughtfulness.

17 May 2009: For the special trip to the rural parts of Singapore, we visited Kampong Lorong Buangkok first.

This village is possibly the last surviving village on the main island of Singapore. Blogger, Victor Koo, wrote a blog-post on Kampong Lorong Buangkok quite a while ago.

The weather was bright and sunny that day. It may not be a kind weather for folks who would prefer shade and breeze. However, it was a great day for photography.




The village, was possibly a Malay village from the structure of most of the houses in the village. At the very least, when I showed the photos that I had taken that day to my maternal grandmother, she claimed that the houses were of the Malays. To better appreciate how is it that there could be different kinds of villages, I would suggest that readers please read More than 1 type of kampong in Singapore found on the blog Good Morning Yesterday. Frankly speaking, yours truly would need quite a bit of help to tell the difference between a Malay village and a Chinese village. How does one do so with mastery?




I have made a couple of observations while I was at Kampong Lorong Buangkok. There was a sense of community spirit in the community. I saw for myself how one of the families shared part of its food with another family which is living in the same village. It appeared to me that to some extent, people look out for each other.

I also took note that although internet access was possibly not easily available in the village, the fresh air and the large spaces of land in the village probably make up for the lack of easy access to modern-day convenience. The plants in the village acted like air-conditioners to help make the environment a little more cool and less hot.

While I was at Kampong Lorong Buangkok, Eastcoastlife pointed me to two of the houses which looked relatively new. I wonder how much it would take to build and rent a simple house there?

Life itself can be simple.



For the folks who could do a bit of walking, Kampong Lorong Buangkok is within walking distance from Gerald Drive. One could alight at the bus-stop along Yio Chu Kang Road, opposite the Church of St Vincent de Paul. Afterwhich, take a relatively leisure walk into Gerald Drive. Lorong Buangkok is within walking distance from Gerald Drive. Bus services 70, 103 and 854 ply along this stretch of Yio Chu Kang Road. Look below for a snapshot of the bus-stop to alight at in order to walk to Kampong Lorong Buangkok.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The herbal test

Try this test and let me know if you think it is accurate, please?
I care. The challenge for me is to learn to manage when the intensity gets too strong.

For now, I need some care myself to heal. Maybe whatever I am experiencing are signs to ask for a respite?




You Are Basil



You are a mild mannered person. People feel naturally calm around you.

You are warm hearted and loving. You have a close knit circle of friends and family.

You have the courage to be who you are in life, even if others disagree. You're proud of your uniqueness.

You are good at caring for and healing others. You are naturally soothing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Black Earth Art Museum


Earlier this month, I was celebrating Eastcoastlife's birthday along East Coast Road. Eastcoastlife very graciously and kindly took time to accompany to a nearby museum that was located in a red building.

I was quite into visiting museum and was curious to take a look at that museum which I have never visited before. Located at 352 Joo Chiat Road, the Black Earth Art Museum is housed in a building whose walls are painted red. That certainly will catch the attention of any passerby. It looked like a boutique hotel initially, but if one could just enter, one finds himself/herself in a non-commerical art gallery.

I learnt from Eastcoastlife and this blog named Void Deck that the Black Earth Art Museum is opened by the owner of Ho Kee Pau.

The gallery is simple and unpretentious. While I felt that there was still a limited number of art works on display at the Black Earth Art Museum, the far-sighted vision of supporting the arts scene in Singapore is definitely worth commending.

The Black Earth Art Museum is opened from Tuesdays to Sundays, from noon to 9 p.m.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Week 21 of year 2009 on the double bass

17 May 2009, Sun: One of my double basses was sent for repair, and so I practised on my previous double bass. The goal for the session was to have a steady rhythm, and I practised the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major with a metronome.

20 May 2009, Wed: My health needed time to recover and I was on medical leave for the day. I took some moment to practise on the double bass. It began with practising a few orchestral excerpts. Afterwhich, time was spent playing Faure's Apres Un Reve. I could play part of this work from memory.

21 May 2009, Thu: During double bass lesson, I worked on sight-reading and it proved to remind me that I need a lot of work in it. I need to work on playing in steady rhythm and to read and play notes written in tenor clef. After the sight-reading exercises, I worked on the first and second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major.

In the evening, I continued to work on a few sight-reading pieces and realised that I need to improve the way I pitch notes that are written in tenor clef.

22 May 2009, Fri: I practised just a short passage from Dragonetti's Concerto in A major. For much of the practice, I played the passage at slow tempo. Eventually, I increased the tempo so as to play it close to the actual tempo. I wish I could have more inspiration and care.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 34



I visited the NUS Arts Canteen on 13 Mar 2009 and I noticed that the Western Food stall of "The Deck", NUS Arts Canteen serves mashed potato for $0.50 per serving, so I ordered it in addition to a plate of Fish and Chips. If not for my hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, I may possibly not have considered the Western Food stall.

The mashed potato was rather cold when it was served. The brown sauce was not too salty, but had a thick after-taste. It was not fabulous and just barely average, but for the price of $0.50 I shall not attempt to give it too much critique. Anyway, I am not likely to go back to the stall just to eat the mashed potato. It was not good enough for me to go back just for the mashed potato.

The Fish and Chips, without the mashed potato cost $2.60 per plate if I've recalled correctly.

****
With this post, I wish for my friend whom I dedicate this series of posts to: contentment and wisdom to find delight in the way things are.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dawn or Dusk?

Yours truly is taking a blog-vacation for the week so as to spend less time using the internet while at home. I want to spend a bit more time reflecting and living in the real world. There are many questions and issues on my mind. I hope to be able to manage them better.

If you should see any post that are up during the week, those are scheduled posts written before their actual date of publication. Please take good care meantime.

Back to the results of this test, I prefer the morning more than the night. How about you?




You Are Dawn



You are a naturally energetic and optimistic person. You can't wait to start each day.

You hate to waste any time, and you jump out of bed in the morning ready to face the world.

You enjoy working and have a fulfilling career. For you, nothing feels better than the sweet victory success.

You are goal oriented and successful in every aspect of your life. You're universally ambitious.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week 20 of year 2009 on the double bass

10 May 2009, Sun: I practised a few studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One. I played Faure's Apres Un Reve but felt a lack of affinity to the work during the practice. Hopefully it is just a temporary creative-block.

11 May 2009, Mon: I played Eccles' Sonata in G minor out of pure amusement and leisure. Afterwhich I worked on the first movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major with the metronome so as to work towards achieving a steady rhythm and to, where possible, play the work from memory.

13 May 2009, Wed: Orchestra rehearsal resumed. The orchestra played the first and second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. I think Beethoven writes beautiful music. I wish I was more technically competent to play his works.

14 May 2009, Thu: Double bass lesson got me to work through the entire Marcello's Sonata in G major. My tutor wanted me to work on technical competency for these few weeks. In addition, I worked on the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. Hopefully I can pick up my confidence in playing the double bass soon enough.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My recent sketching trip



11 May 2009, Mon: One of my good friends graciously went along with me to do some sketching. I realised I actually did not do any sketch at all on my sketch book for the year of 2008! I do remember carrying my sketch book out in the year 2008 on a few occasions but I had end up not doing any sketch at all last year.

Anyway, I am pleased to share that I was in the inspiration to sketch when I was out on my recent sketching trip on 11 May 2009. I did two sketches that day. In this post, I shall share one of the sketches that I had done that day. I sketched it from Esplanade Promenade.




Many thanks to my friend for accompanying me on my sketching trip and for her generous treat to a post-birthday dinner. She even did a lovely sketch for me as a gift! All these thoughtfully gestures are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 33



Mashed potato from Cosafe Maid Bar & Restaurant.

Like Aerin's, Cosafe Maid Bar & Restaurant serves mashed potato that is chunky and textured. The earthy potato taste of the mashed potato was delightful.

The mashed potato here is however served with less dash of oil and is drier in texture compared to that of Aerin's. I would have normally like a drier version of mashed potato, but I realised that a drier mashed potato left the tongue rather dry after the sampling. It then made me better appreciate why Aerin's mashed potato could have been made moist, for a reason. It would have been nice if the waitress at Cosafe Maid Bar & Restaurant was more thoughtful to serve water with the mashed potato but that did not bothered me much since I carried plain water along with me.

Each serving of the mashed potato from Cosafe Maid Bar & Restaurant costs $3.80 before GST and tax ($4.45 inclusive of GST and tax).

The open-air dining concept makes the restaurant a stress-relieving place to enjoy chunky mashed potato.



With this post, I wish for my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to, optimism and good health.

***
Cosafe Maid Bar & Restaurant.
Location: CHIJMES.
30 Victoria Street, #01-11, Singapore 187996.
Opening Hours: Daily, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Read: First, Break All the Rules

I was reading First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.

In short, it is a book about how the best managers handle employees. I was not drawn to read it from a management's point of view. I had picked up the book in hope to learn how I could better manage myself as an individual.

I am particularly drawn to the concept that great managers often follow this insight:

"People don't change that much
Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out.
Try to draw out what was left in..."


In short, the book discusses how great managers would select an employee for talent rather than for skills and experience; how they would define the right outcomes; how they would motivate people; and develop people.

It took me close to two weeks to finish reading this book, yet it was quite an insightful read.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A fairly new local walking tour to check out



Friends who know me well enough would have realised that I have a liking to tour Singapore. Is there so much to visit in Singapore? Why not? There is still a lot to learn about Singapore even if many things seem to be so familiar already (that we could take for granted).

On my birthday recently, I went for a walking tour by the Society of Tourist Guide. The tour was named Hainan Kopi Tales. The key reason to go for this walking tour is that I am a Hainanese, and in fact, my parents and grandparents are too. Yet I realised I need to know a bit more, so I decided to go for the tour.


Middle Road


It gave me a better appreciation of the lives of the Hainanese immigrants who came to Singapore before the 1960s. After the tour, I have learnt more about the context that have led people to refer Purvis Street as The Second Street of the Hainanese. Then, the connotations that my elders had used to refer to some parts of Singapore starts to make more sense.



Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan


The Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan (Hainan Clan Association) is an essential place to visit for such a walking tour that is about the Hainanese community in Singapore. Admittedly, I had visited it a few times, and on one occasion, I had visited it while I was on another walking tour in Mandarin led by Mr Han Tan Juan. Anyway, inside the Singapore Hainan Hwee Kuan is a Chinese temple that is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea.

According to a source from SingaporeInfopedia, this Chinese temple, as well as the clan associaton, was "first built in 1857 in three adjoining shophouses at No. 6 Malabar Street. It moved to its present location along Beach Road in 1878 and later underwent renovations in 1963." As best as I could make out from another SingaporeInfopedia article, Malabar Street connects Middle Road and Malay Street.


Seah Street


Purvis Street


By the way, the famous cocktail, Singapore Sling, was concocted by a Hainanese, Ngiam Tong Boon, who was the bartender at Raffles Hotel's Long Bar. I suppose while the Hainanese is considered a minority Chinese dialect group in Singapore, they contribute in their own ways too.


Raffles Hotel


Walking tours like Hainan Kopi Tales give one a deeper appreciation to Singapore and the various communities living in Singapore. I have learnt a couple of interesting things about the Hainanese community after the tour.

At the same time, it made me realised that I should actually find time to talk with my maternal grandmother and my elders who are Hainanese to learn about the Hainanese culture because there is no better way to learn about the culture than to learn it directly from the people who actually practised it.

Information about the walking tour, Hainan Kopi Tales, can be found on: http://www.societyoftouristguides.org.sg/home.htm. Advanced booking to the tour is required.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week 19 of year 2009 on the double bass

3 May 2009, Sun: I began with playing a few studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One. When that proved to need more effectiveness, I switched to practising selected passages from Lennox Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro and that gave me a moment of high.

4 May 2009, Mon: It was double bass lesson day. My tutor came to assist me to do some setting up on my instrument. I am impressed by his love for music and the double bass. When he played on the double bass, his rendition simply touched any listener's heart. I wish I could play like that one day.

Much of the lesson was spent working on Capuzzi's Concerto in D major.

7 May 2009, Thu: During the double bass lesson, I worked on Lennox Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. I need much more work to appreciate this piece of composition, and to give an adequate rendition.

Afterwhich, I played Marcello's Sonata in G major. My tutor asked that I should practise this sonata with the metronome on a regular basis.

9 May 2009, Sat: I practised selected passages from the second movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major and the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major with the metronome. The aim was to achieve a steady rhythm and a good intonation.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A simple way to spend the birthday


8 May 2009: It was yours truly's birthday. My first birthday greeting received on 8 May 2009 came from one of my good friends, XS. Many thanks to the friends who have sent in their well-wishes. All these wishes brightened my day.

The evening before my birthday, my dear maternal grandmother cooked a dinner with care and love. It came with a serving of mashed potato. Since I have already reviewed the mashed potato that my dear grandmother makes in my series of The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, I shall not attempt to review it again in this post.

A few days ago, one of my good friends, Mystic, met up with me for a birthday celebration. She graciously obliged to my request to visit Brotzeit that sells mashed potato. The review will be up in a month's time on this blog. Anyway, here's a preview of Brotzeit's mashed potato:


On 8 May itself this year, I visited the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to re-register my identity card. There was relatively no queue in the morning in that period of the year so that meant less waiting.

In the afternoon, I went for a walking tour titled Hainan Kopi Tales organised by the Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore). This is a relatively new tour that had started earlier this year. I have learnt quite a bit from the tour. Many thanks to the tour-guide for her personalised tour.




After the tour, I visited the Singapore Flyer to treat myself to Popeye's biscuits.

I must have travelled quite a bit during the day that exhaustion led me to get an early rest for the night.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Birthdate test

When I was a teenager, I figured that I won't study Business because I have yet to envision myself as a businessman, for I do not define success as being rich in cash. If I were to make it rich one day, I hope to find ways to initiate a few social enterprises and movements that would benefit the people. I would also want to simply travel about places to understand the world that I am living in.

On the other hand, I do agree with the test results that I am an individualist and being in a corporate job may not be best for me. I simply need autonomy. My thanks to the kind friends and folks around me who have been patient and understanding with me being an individualist.

Meantime, Happy Birthday to Yours Truly. I am in the mood for a peaceful birthday month so that I can have time to reflect.

I hope I can learn to manage and overcome my life challenges with stride, courage and hope.




Your Birthdate: May 8



Watch out Donald Trump! You've got a head for business and money.

You'll make it rich some day, even if you haven't figured out how yet.

A supreme individualist, you shouldn't get stuck in a corporate job.

Instead, make your own way - so that you can be the boss.

Your strength: Your undying determination

Your weakness: You require an opulent lifestyle

Your power color: Plum

Your power symbol: Dollar sign

Your power month: August

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 32



Aerin's mashed potato:

On 6 Apr 2009, my friend, Mystic, accompanied me to Aerin's to specifically sample the mashed potato. I thank Mystic for being so obliging to my spontaneous request.

The mashed potato from Aerin's was $5 per plate before GST and tax. The mashed potato had a textured feel to it. It was described by Mystic as "wholesome and chunky". It was lightly flavoured with fragrant oil. While the mashed potato did not come with garlic bread, it was quite a good idea to eat it with garlic bread. The garlic bread complemented the mashed potato.



The mashed potato must have been made from scratch after it was ordered. Mystic and I waited close to 20 minutes for the mashed potato. I wonder if Aerin's had realised that I was trying to sample the quality of its mashed potato and therefore was willing to take pains and time to make a fabulous dish of mashed potato for me? Anyway, the wait was not in vain.

The mashed potato used was of good quality. For my personal taste, it would be good if slightly less oil was used. I generally prefer food that is not too moist. Then again, the humble dash of oil did help make the potato not too dry.

I would recommend Aerin's mashed potato to anyone who likes their mashed potato to be textured, chunky and slightly moist.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts was dedicated to, lots of blessings and pleasant delights.

Aerin's
http://www.aerins.com.sg
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Shopping Centre
B11/12
Singapore 173103
Tel: 63372231
Opening hours: 11.300 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. daily.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Music delights



On 26 Apr 2009, I visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens to catch an outdoor concert performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). The concert is sponsored by CIMB in celebration of the SSO's 30th birthday.

Earlier in Apr 2009, I had attended an outdoor concert by the Singapore Chinese Orhcestra at the same venue, and it was very clear that there was more audience attending the concert by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. I wonder if it was due to the better weather or the better publicity. Whatever it is, it is a joy to be out in the open-air to listen to music. Many of the members of the audience brought along champagne and food to have a picnic in the park while listening to the concert.

There will be another concert at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage. Details are as follow:

17 May 2009 (Sunday)

4.45 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.
Philharmonic Youth Winds
Adrian Chiang conductor

6.15pm - 7.15pm
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Lim Yau conductor
Programme:
GERSHWIN - An American in Paris
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS - Fantasia on Greensleeves
IRVING BERLIN - A Dance Tribute to Irving Berlin
MASCAGNI - Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana
KANDER, JOHN - Chicago (from the film “Chicago”)
TCHAIKOVSKY - 1812 Overture, Op. 49

Admission is free.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Week 18 of year 2009 on the double bass

26 Apr 2009, Sun: The mood for practising needed more encouragement. I worked on two studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One simply to focus on improving intonation and rhythm.

27 Apr 2009, Mon: To coax myself to practice, I worked on a few simpler studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One. Afterwhich, I played the third movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major simply to work out my fingers and to get some pleasure from playing.

29 Apr 2009, Wed: After work, I spent about 15 minutes to practise on the double bass. My philosophy to practising is that it is far more productive to practise for 15 minutes on a few different days of each week than to practise 10 hours on just one of the days of the week.

I was not in the mood to practise any works from the examination syllabus for much of the week, and I continued to work on a few studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One.

30 Apr 2009, Thu: The week needs more productivity and better mood. Anyway, I did a few quick study and struggled so much with sight-reading in tenor clef that I had to stop and write out the notes on the staff of the tenor clef.

Prior to that I had played selected passages from the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major and the exercise seemed to remind me that I dearly need a lift of my moods and drive. Would it help simply by being patient and hopeful?

Friday, May 01, 2009

A window to Europe's rich culture: The European Union Film Festival

Photo courtesy of Eastcoastlife.


I had the honour to watch a preview of a Swedish film, Wolf, directed by Daniel Alfredson on 29 Apr 2009 (Wed) at the Swedish Embassy Residence. Wolf is one of the films that will be featured during the 19th European Union Film Festival. The festival will be held from 7 May to 17 May 2009 at Golden Village VivoCity.

Wolf is a film that is scripted by Swedish author Kerstin Ekman. In this film, other than getting a brief view of the vast landscapes of Northern Sweden, audience could be offered a glimpse to the language, culture and way of life of the Sami, who are the indigenous people of Northern Europe. I learnt that a large part of the Sami's culture involves the herding of reindeer. Two days after watching the film, I found a website that gives an introduction to the Sami people and found myself reading about the Sami people's way of life. That is possibly an example of how films can be a platform to encourage the learning of another culture.

Other than having to awe at the vast and beautiful landscapes of snowy Northern Sweden, I have learnt a little more about Sweden through the film. Thanks to this film did I get to know that the killing of the wolf is illegal in Sweden. Wolf poaching in Sweden is a crime that is punishable by up to four years in prison. This is because the wolf is considered one of the endangered species in Sweden.




While subtle, tension and conflicts can be fairly easily identified in Wolf. Essentially, as the synopsis to the film has suggested, Wolf shows the conflict between tradition and modern-day society. I would see that these tensions and conflicts are rather universal. They do not simply confine themselves to the Swedish society.

When it would have been more expected for the 18-years-old male character in the film to be interested in computer games and modern-day entertainment, he was instead interested in the reindeers, the traditional way of life for the Sami. Modern needs suggest that the 18-years-old male character should go to school to receive formal education yet his interest is in taking care of the reindeer. It makes me wonder, should we as individuals put the needs of the modern society before our own, or should we follow what our hearts lead us to?

At a more macro level, I would see that there is an inherent conflict between the legislation and the Sami's herding of reindeer. Like any herdsman, the natural instincts would be to protect one's herd from predators. Yet again, to kill the wolf, which is the predator in this film, is an offence in Sweden. Reconciliation seems to be an act requiring delicate balancing. At times, it seems that something has to be sacrificed as a result of the conflict.

If you would like to find out what had been sacrificed in this story, it may help to watch this film at the upcoming European Union Film Festival. It was touching for me to witness how one can make sacrifices for another human being.

****

In the meantime, for anyone in Singapore who would like to have a glimpse of Europe's rich culture, the European Union Film Festival will be an event that should not be missed. The film festival showcases critically acclaimed films from European countries such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and more. For more information, please visit the following websites:

European Union Film Festival
ENCORE! The European Season in Singapore

Tickets are available at S$10 at GV VivoCity box office, online at www.gv.com.sg and at AXN stations islandwide.

All movies are subtitled in English.

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Last but not the least, my words of appreciation to the Embassy of Sweden for organising the private movie preview of Wolf and to Eastcoastlife for making it possible for me to attend the event. Eastcoastlife has blogged about the 19th European Film Festival right on her blog. Do take a read of it.

It happens to be Eastcoastlife's birthday today, and I would like to wish her Happy Birthday here. Cheers.