Sunday, 3 April 2016

Why Do We Work So Hard? by Ryan Avent

A friend once commented to me: Milestones fade into years.

Here's an article that really got me thinking, from the Economist. It speaks of work, life, and the lines between the two.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Mang Guo

I wrote in my previous post that a script I wrote was being made into a short film. It is finally out. I hope you enjoy it. Constructive feedback is most welcome.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Mango(steens)

Five years ago, I was part of a devised play called Lost & Found at The Actor's Studio (when it was still at Lot 10), directed by Joe Hasham and Gavin Yap.

It was where I met Justin Wong, who not long after the play ended said he wanted to make a piece I wrote for the play into a short movie.

He's finally made it, and I had a chance to be part of the rehearsal and shoot. It was certainly a little surreal.

Unfortunately, the title fruit was out of season when we started shooting, so we substituted it with mangoes instead. #closeenough

It seems my creative writing with fruits in their titles seem to be going places.

Watch this space guys!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Moonfruit

So sometime ago, my short story "Moonfruit" was read on my favourite radio station: BFM 89.9.

You can find the podcast here.

I hope you like it!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

"You can never really heal from being an experiment."
My sister

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Note to Self for 2015

Treasure time. Treasure now.  
Simplify (but not too much). 
Dance (even if it's just hopping to the car). 
Read more, listen more, see more. 
Fear less, worry less, criticise less. 
React slowly, help quickly. 
Give abundantly, without expectation. 
Act to change, don't whine. 
Keep learning. 
Keep moving. 
Keep improving. 
Create, create, create. 
Serve, serve, serve. 
Count blessings. 
Love more completely, more fearlessly, more selflessly, always. 

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Prince and the City

The Prince gazed out the window
He could not, would not, be moved
By the reluctance so poorly hidden
In the words of the Council. 

I need not listen to a Council of Fools! 
Was it not clear as the summer sky? 
A child would have heard my words
And comprehended better than they.

Snub out the light, and the moths will no longer come!
Take away the honey, and the flies will disappear!
Then the glory of the City will be revealed threefold
And those afar will yearn with envy
For our streets cleared of the jetsam
Our roads free from flotsam
Our temples cleansed of  fallen souls.

His swift decree by sundown 
Left no doubt between the lines
This City will no longer cover
Those who must not be sheltered
And he who lights a candle
Shall too be sent into the darkness.

And so it was, the glory of the city
So sought by the Prince
Never shone, never glittered
As each lamp and candle and fire 
Was put away and blown out.

In the bitter cold the Prince learnt
That the glow of the city
Had come not from the ivory towers he built
But the love in the hearts of its people.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Cartographer's Lament

By the same stars we navigated,
We intertwined our paths
And layered our maps
Like the blankets we shared.

I marked the miles
As he measured the hills,
New streets we drew with borrowed lines
We didn't know could turn
Overdue.

I knew right from his left,
My landmarks were his,
Plotting the fate
Our constellations had designed.

The light in the horizon
Covered cracks on the road,
Perhaps I ignored the warning
That at times even stars 
Don't stay their course.

He kept silent miles before
He took the sudden turn,
The edges could not bear
The pull of divergent routes:
It tore our atlas in two.

Left with fragments
Of a once familiar map,
I go down wrong paths often,
Blank spots aplenty and
Lampposts too few.

The routes I take
Are now disconcerting,
Part familiar, part foreign,
Half still the same, half all new.

My landscape has been relaid,
The scale is all askew,
The directions erased,
Buildings wrecked and
The once bright horizon 
Now wavering lines of gray.

I pass the old clocktower;
The minute hand lags,
The library is half crumbling, 
And the town hall melting
Into the square,
Now not quite a square.

I am a stranger in my own town,
Half-hidden faces pass in view,
I fear I may see him at the turn
And fear that I never will.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Anamnesis

I took my things the day I left you, 
I left you to the left,
Or was it to the right?
The left, I think that's right
I can't recall anymore.

But besides the things I took,
I think I forgot to take
Some thing, or things,
(I can't recall anymore)
Which I left behind, to your right.

What was it? I can't recall,
What they were for, even that
I can't recall anymore
Was it that many things
Which we shared?

Looking back I suspect that,
That which I left behind
Was something (or things)
Which helped me remember
The things I forgot,
Things I can't recall anymore.

Perhaps that's for the better,
and I'll just use what's left, 
To make right, what I can recall,
And leave together behind,
To the left, or the right
It doesn't matter anymore.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Calcium

Hello wayfaring readers who wander here. I know I link this blog to a lot of places with public access but rarely ever update it. Legal life does that to you. You write so much at work you have little willpower to string more than two words into a sentence once you leave the office.

This is a bit of a cop-out, but it's better than nothing: I wrote this piece a long time ago and found it lying in one of my desktop folders a few days back. Rather tellingly it was my office desktop (I rarely use my home laptop anymore). 

It’s date mark is 29th November 2013 but I am fairly sure it was written sometime before and just edited in November.

It is obvious I was not in a good place. I’m not there anymore. I may not be on cloud nine right now but I'm glad I’m not there. That’s not to say I won’t end up there again. In fact sometime in the future I'm sure I will.

Reading it again, I find the piece (somewhat embarassingly) overworked and heavy handed, but I know that when you feel your body ache both literally and figuratively, when you struggle to find hope, you aren’t entirely sensitive to subtlety—you just want to pour it out rather than worry about poetic merit or quality.

I hope this helps someone out there who may feel the weight of the world on his/her shoulders. You are not alone. We all go through this. And for instant comfort, read the beautiful Psalm 121.

Calcium
by Joshua WK Chong

My bones are caving in
Sunken in morning drudgery
Sun oppressed
Trembling
Even under moonlight

Invisible burdens
Weigh my frame
Sag my shoulders
Hidden fractures
Corrupt my composure

Silent aches drain
Just as palpably
But where is the respite
To heal unseen cracks?

Will I withstand crumbling –
Not sudden demolition –
But fine dust ground daily
Gnawed away bit by bit?

Will the cage
Turn so brittle
It heaves under
A fearful whisper?

Who knows?
Who knows?
Who knows?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Why I Really Dislike This Year's Merdeka/Malaysia Day Petronas Advert



This year's Petronas Merdeka and Malaysia Day Advert (a two-for-one value deal) is wonderfully made. More than 3 minutes long, it is a sweeping panorama of multiple communities, varied Malaysian locations, and intergenerational histories. Filled with wide angle slo-mo shots set to sweeping music, it is epic in scope and has been variedly praised as "moving", "beautiful" and "the best advert Petronas has made in a long time".

Allow me to be a contrarian here: I am not a fan. In fact, I'm surprised not more people find the underlying narrative and subtext of the advert deeply disappointing.

"Our lives may be different, but our hopes and dreams are the same", goes the ending slogan.

At first this seems both a fitting and reconciliatory reminder that deep down we as Malaysians are all one and the same despite our surface differences.

But when you look at the advert closely, you notice that the main characters (all from different ethnic groups) really do live different lives; they simply happen to live in the same country.

They do not have friends from other races. They live apart from each other. They do not intermarry. The only time they "mingle" at all is in a bus on their maiden voyage to university (Universiti Petronas, naturally). Then they each focus on their own courses and after they graduate, they move on with their own lives.

If art is a mirror to life, then perhaps this advert mirrors a deeply saddening truth of contemporary Malaysia: after 56 years of independence and 50 years of nationhood, we have nothing to show other than different groups of people who share nothing in common besides citizenship in the same country. We live parallel lives that do not intersect and we know and care very little of each other. We are our own "Others".

According to this advert, our hopes and dreams are the same only on a superficial level: we want our children to do well academically and career-wise, to enjoy stability, to have families of their own. There is no hope for anything more than a better life for our kids. Not a better life for all Malaysians, just our kids. There is no shared Malaysian future, no common aspiration, no intersecting lives.

There is no Malaysian dream.

How can we not notice this deficiency? How can we lap praise at this advert? It's showing us our shortcomings as if it were our strengths.

Yasmin Ahmad, in her short advert where two women spoke to each other in different languages yet understood each other perfectly well, showcased a far more humble but beautiful and (genuinely) moving vision of our country, one which perhaps, in the time since her passing, has unfortunately become more like the Petronas Merdeka/Malaysia Day advert of 2013.

Happy Merdeka Day, and Happy Malaysia Day, my fellow Malaysians.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Return to Sender

Some years ago (yes, years) I discussed an idea with a friend, Justin Wong. That idea became a film script which we co-wrote, and Justin ultimately made that script into a short film.

The film has been out for a while; I honestly don't remember why I did not post it here but anyway, here it is.



It is admittedly a flawed end-product, but we (especially Justin) learnt a lot from the process of translating a script into film. Nabihan, who plays Vanessa, is a gem in this one.

It will be sent to some local screenings here and there.

Tell me what you think.