Tuesday, March 20, 2007

:: itching for a weekend trip ::

photo credits : patrick mooney/Toerisme Brugge
even though belgium is next door to holland, i never thought much of it as a holiday destination. yes, brussels is an important city of EU, being the HQ - and the idea of having lots of belgian chocolates and the sights and all that. while antwerp is famous for its 'happy' parties , but i am considering of going to brugge.

brugge is described as the 'venice of the north' and it is one of Europe's most important landmarks as the city centre has hardly changed since the Middle Ages

and i think i'm sold by simply looking at these gorgeous photos. but then again, it does look like the hague, netherlands too.... :)

and you know that the fictional supervillain, doctor evil, from the austin powers movie series, is also supposed to be from the bruges ;)

Monday, March 19, 2007

:: no longer 'youth' & foreign talents ::

today is my birthday (woo!) and i was in the middle of the long haul 13-hour flight from singapore to amsterdam when it happened (1.23 am singapore time, the exact time that i was delivered YEARS ago).

and yes, i have been back home in singapore for the past 4 weekends (friend's wedding in KL, partying, dinners, lunches, shopping, being sick, and my cat giving me a hell load of attitude - well, that will be another blog entry, i hope)

to be honest, i have forgotten totally about the significance of today, only to be reminded by the numerous sms es when i switched on my mobile phones upon landing in schipol airport. thanks to those kind friends who remembered, when i (want to) forget.

have you heard the stories of people - who decided at a certain age, that was the turning point 'year' for them?

i have one - a casual friend from high school, who decidedly, at 20, have decided on what age to get married, having kids and buy a house. and from what i know (or heard), he has succeeded in achieving all those as what he has planned. the latest news that i heard is that he (and his wife, also a friend from high school) have moved in to a brand new condominium somewhere in the western district of singapore. even though both of them did not have the same level of education as me, but i am really proud of the fact that i think they are doing well with the planning of their lives together. who says paper qualifications are everything?

i guess the reality of this struck me while i was asked (in dutch) by the immigration officer whether i had my resident card with me. quite taken aback, i replied (strangely in dutch) that it was not ready yet, and i have been traveling solely on my multiple-visa (based on the highly skilled migrant scheme imposed here). he smiled and advised me to get it soon (by constant inquiry to the relevant authorities) since he realised that i am quite a frequent traveler (from the looks of my tattered and multiple visa stamps in my passport).

i really never though about it - the thought of being a 'resident' in netherlands. but back home in singapore, i have been reading a lot about the debates about foreign talents and the divide between "the haves' and "haves nots" - and to a large extent, i am getting disturbed and have started to question my 'worthiness' as a singaporean.

many singaporeans felt that, if you are not some-hotshot-scholar, then the government would have not have high regards of you as a 'talent' - compared to any foreigners (even those without much talents), but to many public servants - they are after all 'foreign talents'. i shall not argue about the context of talent here (go to sammyboy.com forum to read them) but the point is that many locals are becoming disillusioned and feeling marginalised in a bloody competitive society that being local (and serving NS) do not seem to matter much. and it did not help that local media and government seemed to place them in different pedestal whenever this issue is brought up - it just will not achieve the desired integration that singapore desperately needs.

i read in today's ST forum page, about how this guy was told off (apparently by a student from china, who had jumped the bus queue) by saying that "i am better educated than you, so you don't tell me what to do" - or something in that context. if you are not articulate or confident enough, then simply you just have to endure the humiliation and kept quiet - just like what the guy has experienced, but only to write to the press to complain, after the event.

i had similar experience once (in holland), where this guy (from china) spoke to me in mandarin about some tram directions, etc. i replied to him (in my minimal mandarin, that i cannot understood much and asked if he could speak english instead. but that fucker simply turned around and ignored me and stared to walk away. pissed - i tapped his shoulder and told him straight on his face to 'fuck himself and to learn some manners, like speaking thank you, for example). i even scolded the chinese vulgarities KNNBCCB - so much of trying to be kind - some people just do not have manners in their blood. i guess i was so angry that he became afraid and started to run away, most probably an illegal alien.

as i am technically no longer categorised as 'youth' in surveys and statistics, and have gone into category z in NS IPPT, i guess its time to seriously decide on my next move.

shall i remained in holland (as a foreign talent, and an expat), or move back home (not considered a much of a talent since i'm local, no useful mandarin language skills, serve reservist always!)?

i know there are other feel-good considerations like family, loved ones, friends, pets, familiar space, etc - but i just want to talk business-consideration facts.

talking about familiar surroundings, my heart broke as i was driving along the 'penang road tunnel' where singapore authorities have decided to demolish the old national library in exchange for that 'convenience'. i just don't get it, i really don't. why can't i just wait for 2 traffic lights and a quick turnaround to reach the same destination - is 5 minutes really worth it at the expense of the old national library - where fond memories, attachments and personal history were built for many years. they say that tokyo is 'cold' and 'concrete', and i really like to think that singapore has become much colder than that.

i like the plant above (which was a house-warming gift from a friend). it was some kind of plant that looks like a banana flower, but was sprayed to reflect the colours of netherlands flag. it was specially made for me, as a way of welcoming me into living with the dutch society. and i have to say that i think, i have integrated very well here, even more so than many non-dutch that i know.

and its time to go, i have still to finish up my dutch language homework for tomorrow - with or without birthday celebration. the heavy rain (with ice) now is simply too tempting for me to enjoy my afternoon slumber, so, please wish me success - cheers!