Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Datapoints Perth 12.

Subject: Intoxicated thoughts.

So here I am sitting in the Internet cafe in Perth listening to country love songs and missing the SO and blogging. Blogging under the influence of alcohol. Feeling very lightheaded thanks to
Calamariforthought plying me generously with 4.7% alcohol Victoria Bitters and 13.5% wine from Swan Valley. No wonder Australians seem so relaxed all the time - perhaps they are constantly in a state of mild inebriation?

Was browsing in a secondhand bookshop in Perth this afternoon. Bookshops outside Singapore never fail to fascinate me for two reasons. It is always amusing to me to take a look around a bookshop and get a feel for what the local population reads. Bookshops will bring in titles that will sell - it is an economic imperative. Else they would not stay in business for too long. So I figure an established mainstream bookshop would provide a good insight into what the local residents are interested in.

Browsing bookshops in foreign lands also allow me to sample all sorts of topics and ideas that I would not get much chance to get exposed to in Singapore. The world is a very big and diverse place and people read a lot of non-fiction beyond business books and self-improvement books and how-to-make-money books and books churned out by SNP Publishing promoting an endorsed national agenda. In fact the nick "
Knight of Pentacles" was taken from a tarot book I was leafing through in a bookshop when I was wandering around the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.


This whole
quest feels a lot like browsing in that big bookshop. You get faced with an bewildering arrary of choices. What feels like the entire literary output of all of human civilisation seems laid out at the stretch of your arm. You know some of the choices are definitely not for you, but you may choose to sample them to make sure. Or you could stick to the tiny section in the category section that you are previously familar with. You could go wide - and learn a little about everything. Or you could go deep - and learn all you can about a very narrow section. Both are valid choices. My preference is to try to go wide and attempt to sample a bit of everything. Or as AF says, "try everything twice, to be sure you hated it the first time around". And then when you find what you like, you can dig in and sink roots.

It is about knowing who you are and what you need. And if you do not know yourself and what you need, perhaps the first order of business is to look inwards to discover that. Before running all around the world like a headless chicken trying to discover something that you cannot even define. Migration does not solve any problems - you bring your problems with you where you go. No matter where you go, there you are!

The other idea bouncing in the back of my head is the issue of integration. I have blogged before tangentially on the subject of immigrants integrating with mainstream society in
Nation without Nationhood and Ms Han-Sun Bau Ling. Like I mentioned clumsily at the end of my previous post: "if I am to relocate to another city just to replicate the lifestyle I originally lived.. what would be point of relocating be?"

If I were to emigrate to Australia but steadfastly refuse to integrate and blend into mainstream culture here and insist on maintaining my old points of reference and old cultural biases, why even bother? For Singaporean food and Singlish and Singapore culture (is there such a thing?) and Singapore mannerisms and Singapore ways, the best place would be - you guessed it - Singapore. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to try to replicate the original conditions in another land with totally different conditions. Successful migrants become Australian. Not remain Singaporean (or whatever origin country) merely living in Australia. There is a subtle but very important difference. I am not sure if I have made that clear in my current befuddled alcohol-hazed state.

Integrating does not mean denying my roots. There will always be a components of Singapore in me. Not suprisingly since I have spent more than 3 decades with that tiny island as home base. But it does not mean I have to stay "Singaporean". Crystals grow. Plants grow. Animals grow. Even humans grow beyond the confines of the original containers they originated and were bred to grow up in.


On a more practical slant: I am broke. I hate being broke. Credit card bills are going to be due again in a week or two. To quote
Liana: "If money is the root of all evil, I’d like some sin right now, please".


If this entire post strikes a chord with you, credit it to my literary brilliance.

If this entire post does not make any sense whatsoever, blame the alcohol.

Tomorrow Calamariforthought and I do a day trip of about 560km to see another bunch of ancient rock formations (Wave Rock). The day after tomorrow I fly back to the arms of the SO. But for now I need to go back to the hostel to sleep off the wine / beer mix.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: your comments on becoming Australian (I assume you mean truly integrating) vs being Singaporean in a foreign land. If it were me, I'd just focus on being myself - the integration will come naturally, I believe, after some time. Of course I've known people (Singaporean students in Australia and Canada) who seem to have been untouched by the country they're in. But that's because they surround themselves with Singaporeans and form Singaporean societies and shop at chinese supermarkets and so on. If you just relax and let yourself go, I think you'll just absorb things and become a much more interesting person.

Oh, and the correct quotation should be: The love of money is the root of all evil. It's often misquoted.

P.S. I'm proud of you, for not getting drunk!


February 05, 2005 7:33 PM  
Blogger Singapore Calamari said...

Just wanted to make a comment on thing you have written :

If I were to emigrate to Australia but steadfastly refuse to integrate and blend into mainstream culture here and insist on maintaining my old points of reference and old cultural biases, why even bother?

My thoughts, when I think about migration, is that my own lifestyle does not gel with my birth country and thus I am looking for someplace that can accept me for who I am. If I have to blend into the new culture and throw away my old one, doesn't it mean I am no longer myself ?

Wouldn't it, then, be easier to throw away my old self and blend into my birth country in the first place ? Rather than spend time and money to migrate someone else ?

Unless , of course, you are saying taht you do not like the Singapore culture and lifestyle, and you also do not like your OWN lifestyle, and want to change yourself and live the Australian way...

Or it is the Australian way fits your character and lifetyle better ?

Take some time to consider the "purpose" of migration.

February 21, 2005 1:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home