Hustler is back! 1st round of shots fired.

I took a quick glance at the blog posts this year, and not really sure if I would recover that fast from my Mum and Granddad’s passing the past 8 months. But I have to say, it has been manageable; hanging out with family and friends help, going out with Cheryl a lot helps, praying regularly helps. Praying calms the soul. There was a period of time I was just reminded of death every single day, and there were nights I cried myself to sleep, I amaze myself at appearing normal in public. Twitter helps too, for the occasional rants.

Anyhow, after spending ~a month at Grandma’s, I decided to go home on 13th August. Though, I’ve to say, I still sleep over, but for short 2/3 days now.

Since then, I have;

  • A bit too much chats about SYCA and #LepakInSG offline and online it got overwhelming.
  • 17 Aug: Applied for a job I want.. I actually drafted something for that job back in May, in between my Jogja and Sungai Tohor trips in Indonesia. I found out there was a vacancy at that place I was eyeing and I went for it.
  • 20 Aug: Applied directly to ClimateForce: Antarctica 2018 Expedition. The trip is planned for 27 Feb to 12 Mar 2018. J said the selection committee will look over it the next few days.
  • 21 Aug: Applied for the #OCBCCares Fund for the Environment training happening on 24 Aug. Application was confirmed the same day. I need to focus and see how I can expand SYCA and #LepakInSG
  • 21 Aug: Applied for YSEALI Summit 2017 happening in Manila Oct 17-22. If I get accepted, online engagement starts 8 Sep.
  • 21 Aug: Applied for CDL E-Generation Challenge 2017. The top 10 finalists will be shortlisted by 30 Aug, expected to present mid-Sep, results released 6 Oct, and winner announced 3 Nov. The winner will win a sponsorship opportunity for the Antarctica expedition. // My eyes are on Antarctica. If the ClimateForce team gets back to me earlier then I’ll start my fundraising efforts first. If I get the sponsorship, then that’s a bonus.

Writing out ClimateForce application and YSEALI Summit essays made writing the CDL E-Generation challenge writing much easier.

  • 21 Aug: I also double confirmed with Yi Han I will be participating in the PM. Haze PEEP trip to Selangor, Malaysia, happening 7-9 Sep. Cheryl is also going, and we are both planning to stay back in Kuala Lumpur till 13 Sep to meet other youth who may be going to COP, and to meet people in the environment sector in general. So yeah. Hello Selangor and Kuala Lumpur in 3 weeks time.

Proud of myself for sticking to the laptop and get things done today.  Especially when I’ve always avoided doing anything on a Monday. Next GTD day on Friday.

Peace out.


Regret is Love Unspent

It was two Fridays ago, after the Friday prayers, that my granduncle, whom I call ‘Tok Busu’, was carried out of Masjid Almukminin. It was quite a sight; after the Friday prayers, quite a number of attendees stayed back for the Solat Jenazah. And later, quite a bit of people rushed to carry his coffin into the funeral van. Maybe it’s something about playing a part in sending someone off to the after life. Maybe it’s the beauty (or belief) of someone passing away on ‘Malam Jumaat’, and being able to have his body pray with the Friday congregation. Whatever it was, I thought that scene was slightly magical. And perhaps, unconscisouly, meaningful for me and the people who knew he was the Bilal there in the 80s.

It was around 1am earlier that day that I realised Tok Busu had passed away. My Dad entered my room to tell me of the news. I then checked my phone and saw that an hour earlier, my aunt, whom I call Kak Comel, texted to say she was on her way to the hospital. I did not think much of then, and just made my way to the hospital with my Dad.

“Die tanye kau kat mane Nor..” (He asked where you were Nor..), my Grandaunt said, upon seeing my face in the ward.

How do I respond to that?

That week, when I returned from my Kuala Lumpur trip on Sunday, I think I managed to visit him twice in the hospital. But not that Thursday night.

It was recorded that he passed away on 14 July 12.20am. 20th Syawal. How many times did I visit him during Hari Raya, other than the 1st day of Raya visit? How many times did I have dinner with him during the Puasa month? How many times did I visit him since he fell sick last August?

I lived with Tok Busu, Nek Busu, Kak Comel, and Abang Yan since young. Nek Busu is my paternal grandma’s younger sister. And I was living with them since I was a baby till I was about two. Apparently, when my mother was pregnant with my sister, decided to quit work, and decided to take me back. But it did not stop me from going over regularly, including my emo-angst primary and secondary school days, when I would get angry with my mum over the smallest things, pack my bags, and go over to their house.

That said, I know, as I grew older, the visits became less; over special occasions, and dinners. Even the last few years, when Tok Busu and Nek Busu decided to organise tours to Malaysia and Indonesia, and invited me over, I declined, because I simply did not want to travel with relatives and the older folks they were having. Where was I on Tok Busu’s last day?

We probably brought back his body from the hospital around 3-4am that day. And long story short, things moved on quite fast, for me at least. From the funeral preparation to the burial to the prayers on Day 1, 2, 3, 7 and now Day 20 on 2nd August. (There’s Day 40 and 100 too before we do the annual ones). Accompanying Kak Comel to the cemetery to put fresh flowers there and accompanying Nek Busu at home- since 14 July, I’ve been spending my time 4 nights here, 2 nights home, 6 nights here, 1 night home, 2 nights here. Sometimes I question if my being here is to make up for all the times I wasn’t.

Things moved fast for me, and I ‘blame’ it partly to the fact that I have been through this back in December.

Things are moving slowly for Nek Busu. She still continues with her daily household activities, albeit alone, because Tok Busu is not lying down in the living room anymore. Each day she says “Hari ni dah xx hari Tok Busu tinggalkan kita. Die pergi jauh dari Nek Busu, Kak.” (Today is the xx day Tok Busu left us. He’s getting further.” I sometimes find her seating at the balcony crying. Today I found her eating the ice cream that Tok Busu usually eats- the old school lime and vanilla flavoured one.

Between my Dad and my Mum, they had about 30 years with each other. Between Tok Busu and Nek Busu, it was 40 years. 30, 50, 70 years.. Would the length of one’s relationship affects how much we grief we have when we lose the other person?

Being here with her, and seeing how lonely one can get in their old age, it makes me imagine what my life would be one day. If I get to live that long. Would I also be receiving daily calls from my two sisters, like what my Grandma and the other grandma is doing for Nek Busu, to check on me, asking the most mundane like “Have you eaten?”.

The past two weeks, I’ve been thinking about my relationships more in general. With my Dad, whom I talk to more since Mum’s passing. With my married sister, whom I didn’t speak to for about 10 years, and only recently, especially with the birth of my niece who is now 3, that I acknowledge her existence. With my two other siblings. With friends- those I make the effort to meetup, those I don’t mind cancelling out on, those I don’t reply to. I question my decision to cut contact with my best friend since junior college days (since 2006) whom in my eyes got too emotional after our London trip in Dec 2015. I question my decision to cut contact with someone who loved me unconditionally, just 6 weeks into it, because I felt I had the other person was also emotional and I had to be practical. (Maybe I just cannot handle emotional people).

Time is just too limited to allow hate or regret enter our hearts.

May I always remember to fill it with love and goodness.


Not sure why the title is “Sparrow” (for now). It’s a word which has been on my mind for the past weeks. Tonight I searched for the symbolic meaning behind the word and found this. And I haven’t figured out what to make out of it yet.

And since I’m on this topic of ‘symbolism’, for the record, I had two readings done recently. One was a tarot card reading, and the other was a calculation based on my birth date. I know my religion tells me I am not supposed to believe in such things and predictions and such, but me being me, I did it anyway, and I can’t help thinking how accurate the interpretation was (in relation to what was already going on with my life).


I have been a bit too active on Facebook and using it more as a discussion platform, and I’m not sure how I want to continue using Facebook.


Last weekend I called out for a meetup to chat about some green collaboration stuff, and that happened earlier today. I realised I forgot Hari Raya was tomorrow and people will either be busy or away for the long weekend. And then I realised I wasn’t thinking about Hari Raya last weekend because it was something I just did not think about. I know my married sister was baking cookies the past week. But that’s about it. I didn’t bother buying new clothes or do anything special. Dad said he was not in the mood to celebrate Raya this year. The other sister and brother got clothes and nada. Nothing else happened. Yesterday while I was texting my paternal uncle I said I didn’t bake anything, and tonight I found myself collecting 2 cakes, 3 bottles of cookies, and 2 packets of crackers from my paternal grandma. She even threw in 8 long dresses for me to choose from, and I ended up picking 2 for my sister and 2 for myself. Earlier in the day my sister found some clothes in my Mum’s wardrobe (for some reason, both of us have not seen the particular items we picked out), and if it goes as planned, we’ll wear that tomorrow. Tomorrow, Dad said he’ll go “ambil Mak” / “pick up Mum” first before proceeding to our regular Raya outings (we usually do 8 houses on the first day). I guess there’s always a first time for everything.

Selamat Hari Raya.

Apr + May 2017

I thought I’d wait till end June and do a 2nd Quarter 2017 wrap-up. But I think lots of things happened since 26 March, that it’s time to record them down.

In the past two months I have:

  • Sort of started a ‘try-to-cook’ days. Think fluffy pancakes, and failed Churros that looked like pieces of poop. I can cook good Nasi Goreng and Telor Masak Kicap though.
  • Went to Jogjakarta, Java, Indonesia, with my youngest sister, 27 Mar to 2 Apr. Photos on Flickr here.
  • SYCA hosted a water-talk.
  • Joined a ‘how to pray as beautiful as the prophet’ class, every Thursdays in April.
  • Went for a music event each weekend
  • Joined a breathing workshop and cried.
  • SYCA had a community brunch meetup.
  • Participated in a social media contest and won 3rd prize. Watch the clip here. As at 31 May 2017,  the clip has received more than 4500 views and 43 shares.
  • Went to Sungai Tohor with People’s Movement to Stop Haze, 10 to 21 May. Photos on Flickr here.
    • Joined as a participant to build the canal-block. Ended up as a photographer most days.  And social-media updates person. Sprained my ankle real bad on the 4th last day. Met the most beautiful community.  Some of my personal posts can be seen on my personal FB page still as they are ‘public’ for now.
  • Came back to Singapore and found myself sitting in at some meeting. Luckily I had things to say.
  • Found my TEDxNUS talk back in March published. View it here.
  • Went on a 3 hour mangrove kayaking trip at Pulau Ubin. Sort of a replacement for the sunset kayak trip I organised but ended up not being able to go because I decided to go for the longer Sungai Tohor trip.

Too much words to describe my experiences.

June awaits.

Wrapping up 1st Quarter 2017

~9 weeks since this blog post, i.e, things that happened between 19 Jan and 26 Mar.

I used translation activities to keep myself mentally busy.

I translated 38 articles between 2 Jan and 15 Feb (44 days) for Berita Harian Panas-Panas, and separately did 7 more between 23 Jan and 16 Mar for other purposes. The act of waking up early just to scan through the BH (I did ask my Dad if he wanted to unsubscribe to it, since technically Mum was the only person in the house who would read it, he said ‘no’ with reason being price was cheap, and if anything we should be unsubscribing to the cable and internet services which was at least 10x more expensive..) gave me some motivation to at least make sure I got out of bed. The reading and translating bit itself was alright, although there were words or phrases I thought was weird to translate just because I did not know how or just because I felt it was something I rarely use myself. It was quite a learning journey to be reading and writing in Bahasa Melayu on a regular basis. The project on the whole was fun while it lasted.

I took lots and lots of pictures for myself and others.

I have this snap and record habit, and then dumping it onto Flickr for personal records. On 18 Feb, I decided to uninstall the Flickr app on my phone, and became more conscious of what I was recording, and if it serves any purpose other than for records. Having that mindset made me more aware of the present and how I wanted to record and share things. My personal favourites from 18 Feb are there 3 pictures below.

Sneak peek. @nadisingapura will be performing later! #WOWourKampung

A post shared by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) (@groundupinitiative) on

Our guests and visitors at the Gathering Space today. #WOWourKampung

A post shared by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) (@groundupinitiative) on

That said, when I found myself not using Flickr, I was/ am using Facebook to share more picture posts. Some of the posts are public and can be seen on my personal FB. Some photos are not kept on Google Drive instead.

I met friends, one-to-one, more in these 3 months than I have the past year.

In fact, between 14 Feb and 8 March, I was meeting friends over lunches and dinner almost every day. We talked everything from work to personal life, some were 1 hour short, and one even stretched to 8 hours long. Everyone had a story to share and different perspectives to bring. It was fun just eating and catching up, and sometimes learning a totally new thing.

I went back to the Ground-Up Initiative to volunteer and even took up some assignments with WOW Kampung.

The 1st time I went to the Kampung in 2012 was when I thought I needed a change in environment (my internship gave me quite an experience). The Kampung and its community did give me a different environment and experience. And so with all the happenings in Dec 2016/ Jan 2017, in Feb 2017 I think I unconsciously went back to the place and the community which I knew was able to lift me up emotionally and spiritually. I did some cooking (Yay to a working kitchen and people who will eat whatever vegetarian food I came up with) and facilitation work (Secondary school kids were a tough bunch), and talked to a some new people (I even have a favourite one I enjoy talking to each time).

I had 4 talks in March, and one of them was a TEDx talk!

Woohoo! If I remember, I’ll update this post in about 1-2 months time.

In general, talking to secondary, university, members of the public (mostly non-converteds I feel), and the converts, was a good reminder for me to always talk in a language my audience can understand. I have a basic core slide which I edit depending on the audience, and the depth depends on the time I have as well. Although.. I think what scares me more is Q&A sessions- in the last one especially, I found myself ‘floating’. Not even sure what’s the word for this.

Today, I chose to remove a friend from my social media.

I reconnected with an old friend around Aug 2016 ( I had blocked this person out somewhere between  mid 2010 and mid 2016- that’s 7 years) and by Jan 2017 I thought history was repeating itself. I decided to give myself some time before making a clear social-media-cut. I suppose it was a culmination of all the good things happening in life and being aware that I do not need this person in my life.

I still take forever to reply to emails or texts.

Since December, I have just been taking forever to reply to emails or texts. And I realise it’s OK, because if it’s super important, people will call you (or keep emailing and texting). I pretty much enjoy the interactions offline/ in person, or just being by myself.

In my email signature (which one would see if I sent it out using the laptop, and not mobile phone), I have this line “Follow your bliss” by Joseph Campbell. There’s a story behind that- this interview with Bill Moyers may shed some light. And on that related story, Campbell also mentions on this need for a “sacred space”.

[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

I’m still figuring out and marking the boundaries of my sacred space.

One thing’s for sure- embracing life’s experiences and rediscovering myself every few months, and the ability to wake up and face a new adventure every single day, is something I am and will always be grateful for.

On 20th March, I uploaded her photo on FB and captioned it “”What kind of guardian are you? Never change my clothes for months. Never bring me out.” #Blythe #BlytheDoll” But I swear it’s so apt over here. She’s saying her thanks 😀


a few mins late but it’s ok.

happy birthday me!

you came out from the mothership on thursday 19 jan 1989 at 12:28 and have been rocking it since!


punctuation, punctuations adds more excitement!

Life Is Larger Than This

There was a period of time whenever Xiang Tian and I chat, and when I felt overwhelmed, I would use this phrase “life is larger than this” as a way to put things into perspective; that whatever was going on was temporary, that if anything I should be grateful I had the opportunity to be involved in whatever that was, that things will pass and better things will come along.

When I was dealing with my mum’s passing in December, I was also dealing with other personal decisions I made then. I remember when Chris had a stopover in Singapore, I made a passing remark, “I made a stupid choice”. Over the following weeks, up till 3rd January I was thinking, “Yeah you know what, it was a small tiny stupid mistake”. Until yesterday- 17th Jan, where I realise maybe it was not that tiny, and it was a big deal for me because then I realised how everything was orchestrated. And at the same time, I could not really feel anything because I was reminded that it was not the first time this is happening. It happened 7 years ago, and it happened again now.

I find it hard to tell myself “life is larger than this”.


This blog was started 5 Apr 2014.

Last week I went to a student production where Anwar was a trainer. I was texting Anwar after that and it occurred to me how I could not really remember how we got to know each other. He mentioned it was through Agnes. I went back to an old public blog (1 Jul 2010 to 23 Jan 2012) and read my review of a play he was acting in and I attended and where the three of us had dinner after in late 2010 , and there I realised I actually know of him early 2010. And then it occurred to me I did have an old public blog that was privatised halfway (31 Dec 2009 to 9 Jul 2010). I only read one blog post from each of those blogs- and I was reminded of how young and immature I was (I was 21 in 2010), and that I wrote freely and emotionally (you have no idea how much screening I do for this blog, or how much screening I do in real life).

Writing on a blog has always been a platform for me to record and self-reflect. I compartmentalise things in general. Even for social media- Facebook mostly for advocacy, Twitter to re-share interesting current news and sometimes rant, Flickr for visual documentations, and Blogs for personal memories, mostly of things I want to remember. Although I have to say, this blog is super sanitised. So, I know what I write or how I write things have changed. And this is how I write now.


This January has been difficult for me. From questioning my own character, to being reminded how things were slightly dejavu, to interacting with people and realising some people just don’t change and will always disappoint you in various ways (just when you think “it can’t get worse than this” it actually can! and this is coming from me- a generally calm and patient person who thinks she can handle all sorts of characters and situations), to not being able to sleep because I just can’t, to not being able to get out of bed on some days because I just couldn’t, to cancelling meetup with close friends saying I was busy when it was because I just didn’t want to talk to people, to forcing myself to go out- for cycling, and walks, to CCA yesterday and later this weekend, so that I at least continue doing things that makes me happy, to distracting myself with translation works for BHPP- that is the only time where I know I will be focused for at least 2 hours on some random articles.

After working so hard the past seven years to build myself up, things just happened in 2 months, and I was/am at the lowest point now. At least this is what I think. For now.


This morning during the walk, I remember I stopped twice, because I got mentally distracted. It was one of those shittiest moments this week. Then again, I also remember, the first text I got this morning was from Magda: Good morning! How are you? Hope u had good rest of the day. Wishing you a good and full of energy week” (we had lunch together yesterday when I was at CCA and had a small chat) and then there was this uncle who wished me “Good morning” as I walked up the terrace garden, and during lunch later with Kah Hwee we talked about some spiritual stuff,  and late afternoon when I met Farheen where we talked about life in general- and I realised how blessed I am to be surrounded by people with beautiful thoughts all the time.

I’d like to believe that for every 1 unkind person I meet, I will meet 1000 kind persons. And that’s that.


I’ve always had this thing where I just don’t know what to answer when someone asks “how are you?”. And the past two months have been especially awkward- I don’t really have creative responses to someone who knew I was dealing with the passing of a family member, to those who didn’t, and just in general when I want to tell them how I was really feeling but I couldn’t because some things are better left unsaid.

I remember this article I read last year.

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

My heart has been hammered a few times the past weeks, and I think I need time to reconcile with myself.

At least I know life is larger than this.

Things can only get better from here.

of january babies


Mama and I when we were 30 and 2.

Funny how the dates worked out.

She passed away on the night of 7 Dec and was buried in the morning of 8 Dec.

Yesterday (7 Jan) was her 1 month death anniversary and today (8 Jan) she would have been 56.

My parents got married on 19 Dec (1987) and my mother gave birth to me 19 Jan (1989).

She was a 1.45pm baby and I was past 12.28pm baby.

To Have A Love As Strong As Yours

Saturday. 19 December 1987. 6.05pm.


Today would have been their 29th wedding anniversary.

I think I realised quite late how well my parents brought us up. 4 very different individuals who would stretch their patience differently. They still love us all the same.

I feel my parents also set the benchmark quite high, in terms of their length of relationship, and in terms of the love they have for each other and for us. While father was the main sole breadwinner, mama would be the main caretaker. In the past three years she had cancer, father tried all means to help her. In the last few weeks especially, he stayed up all (if not, most nights) taking care of her. For me, mama even delayed one of her chemo session a day later so she could attend the NEA awards ceremony. She even sent me off to the airport, even when she had difficulties breathing.

I see older female cousins divorcing, friends getting married and divorced. I think it subconsciously made me more choosy or careful the last 7 years, and that is why I was disappointed with myself for the choices I made recently. I had second thoughts and withdrew again- only this time, I couldn’t really feel anything.

“To have a love as strong as yours” – I still have lots more to learn.