About Prionka Ray

I am a writer, workshop-facilitator and a communication consultant. On good days, I am optimistic and on bad days, perfectly human! A listener by nature, learner by choice and an advocate for social cause, I believe collaborations are necessary for a better world. To contribute, communicate or to promote ideas/ events/ books/ cause, please connect at rayprionka@gmail.com.

Events to Catch in Singapore: The Youth Series-2017/18


It’s time to move away from that couch, and put your phone away. Singapore has an interesting line up of events in the next few months, and it’s worth looking into! So, apart from the usual suspects, ( Universal Studio, Bird Park, Gardens by the Bay, and the various malls) that have lined up some great family friendly events, there are few more line up of events that the young at heart can look forward to. So, go on, go on! Book now!

JURASSIC PARK IN CONCERT – FULL MOVIE WITH LIVE ORCHESTRA

When: 22 to 23 December 2017

Where: Esplanade Theatre

Jurassic Park in Concert

Presented by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, Jurassic Park in Concert has been organized in celebration of the 25th anniversary of this iconic Steven Spielberg film. During the concert, the film will be projected on a large screen whilst the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra plays alongside and in sync the movie.

Tickets range from S$108 to S$255, exclusive of booking fees.

 

FLYING THROUGH TIME

When: 09 December 2017 to 21 January 2018

Where: Resorts World Theatre

Fly through time at Flying Through Time at the Resorts World Theatre. Directed by world-renowned Director Choi Chul Ki and helmed by local artists such as Joshua Tan and Melody Low, this non-verbal action comedy tells the universal tale of good versus evil and how love conquers all.

Tickets range from S$30 to S$118, (SISTIC).

 

A TOUCH OF WILD: ADEDANCE AERIAL 2017 STUDENT SHOWCASE

When: 03 December 2017

Where: Gateway Theatre

Presented by Adedance Artistic and Aerial Productions, A Touch of Wild: Adedance Aerial 2017 Student Showcase is their first ever student showcase. This showcase will consist of performances by aerialists, bellydancers from The Angelina Tay School of Bellydance and more. All ticket proceeds will go to SOSD Singapore and finger food will be provided for guests throughout the performance.

Tickets are available at S$35 each and can be purchased via their Facebook page or via call or WhatsApp at +65 9787 6948.

 

A CELEBRATION OF YOUTH ORCHESTRAS: SNYO IN CONCERT

Singapore National Youth Orchestra

When: 12 December 2017

Where: Esplanade Concert Hall

Show our young talents some support at A Celebration of Youth Orchestras: SNYO in Concert – To London From America on 12 December 2017 at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Conducted by Peter Stark, this concert will bring you on a trans-Atlantic musical trip through the works of Gershwin, Copland and Vaughan Williams.

Tickets range from S$25 and S$15, (SISTIC).

 

ZOUKOUT 2017

Zouk Out

When: 08 to 09 December 2017

Where: Sentosa Siloso Beach

The biggest party of the year is here again. Zoukout 2017 is happening from 08 to 10 December 2017 at Sentosa Siloso Beach and this is one of the best ways to conclude 2017. This is the 17th edition of ZoukOut and artistes that you can expect in this year’s line up includes Axwell, Robin Schulz and Claptone.

Tickets are going at S$228 for a two-day festival pass and S$138 for a Day 1 ticket and S$148 for a Day 2 Ticket. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for S$158 for Day 1 and S$168 for Day 2.

 

TREASURES OF THE NATURAL WORLD

When: 25 November 2017 to 29 April 2018

Where: Art Science Museum

Treasures of the Natural World brings you back in time and on an adventure of discovering the various scientific breakthroughs throughout history. A total of 200 prized treasures from the Natural History Museum in London will travel all the way to Singapore for the first time ever. If you intend to visit with children, there will be an ongoing treasure hunt just for them!

 

Shawn Mendes Illuminate World Tour 2017

Shawn Mendes

When: December 9, 2017, 8 PM

Where: The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre

Multi-platinum singer-songwriter and global sensation Shawn Mendes is bringing his acclaimed ‘Illuminate World Tour’ to Singapore.

 

Laneway Festival Singapore

Laneway Festival

When: January 27, 2018 10 AM /

Where: The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay

As with previous years, the 2018 festival – also the 8th Laneway in Singapore – promises to be a full sensory experience for music fans, with a focus on the best new and established live acts in the game.

2018 Line up: Aldous Harding – Amy Shark – Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals – Billie Eilish – Bonobo – Father John Misty – Loyle Carner – Mac DeMarco – Moses Sumney – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Slowdive – Sylvan Esso – The Internet – The War On Drugs – Wolf Alice

More about Laneway Festival

 

Art from the Streets

Felipe Pantone (b. 1986).
(Untitled mural in Montreal, 2016. Spray paint)

When: From 13 January 2018

Where: ArtScience Museum

From 13 January 2018, the galleries of ArtScience Museum will be invaded by some of the world’s top street artists in one of the boldest exhibitions to be shown at the museum in years. Art from the Streets traces 40 years of Street Art, from its countercultural beginnings to its extraordinary rise as a major phenomenon in contemporary art.

The show features the world’s best known street artists including Banksy, Shepard Fairey (aka Obey), Futura, Invader, JR, Blek le Rat, Swoon and Vhils among others.

Curated by Street Art expert and gallerist Magda Danysz, Art from the Streets reflects the evolution of street art, charting the diverse artistic techniques employed by artists through the decades and showing how technology has created new expressive avenues for artists. One of the highlights of Art from the Streets will be a series of live paintings and installations created on-site by iconic names from the field. Nearly a dozen artists, including upcoming new street art sensation, Felipe Pantone from Spain, have been invited to take over the galleries of the museum, creating new artworks especially for the show. Illustrating the vitality of and diversity of the movement, the show also includes large-scale mural paintings, installations, videos, prints, archival material, drawings and sketches.

 

 

 

 

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My First Ever Human Library Experience!


The Human library

 

I was intrigued the very first time I had heard, or rather read about the Human library. The Human Library, for those who don’t know, is a concept birthed in Denmark in 2000. It is now organised all over the world. In a Human Library, real people are on loan to readers, giving readers the opportunity to listen to their stories first-hand. The hope is to break down social barriers by providing a safe platform for individuals to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that they may have.

I was so enamoured by the very concept, that I wanted to experience it first-hand. It all sounded so dynamic and empathetic! And so, I waited for the next event to take place. Finally, I got my chance last week, when I heard about The Human Library @Duxton, Singapore. All I had to do was register through email, and let them know my preferred time slot, and my preferred human book. In two days, I had my conformation. I was ready for my experience.

However, as I made my way to the event after a long day at work, I began doubting my intention to attend. What if I am disappointed? What if it’s a hype? What if I don’t reach on time? I was agitated enough as the taxi uncle slowly, and very cautiously inched towards the address that he clearly didn’t know. Eventually, I got down from the snail-like-car, and made my way, flustered and late to 99 Duxton Road.

The place was abuzz with activities. “Are you a book or a reader,” I was asked. The question was both intriguing and unexpected. I smiled. My very first Human Library experience had begun. “Reader,” I replied. The volunteers at the registration table handed me my library card, and I made my way to table 4. The book title was, Single Mum. As I hurried to my designated book, I had company. Another lady was late, just like I was and we happily spoke to each other, both glad to have company as we entered the “library” late.

 

 

My first thought was, wow, this place is full of bright energy, and lively conversations! There was absolutely nothing dull, or forced in there. What kind of people would come here? Who would want to be a book, and who would want to be a reader? I looked around at the room awash with warm light and smiling faces. There were people of different age groups and backgrounds, but they all had one common trait it seemed, they were all open to know more, and they were all open to share. Yes, that is exactly what was striking in this room. Everyone in the room was a communicator in some way or the other.

I found table 4. My human book, Sherlin, was a bright and vivacious lady, who introduced herself: “Hi, I am a a single mom. A widow.” Then she went on narrating her experiences of loss, pain and of bouncing back. The bouncing back bit was emphasised. She was clearly a lady who enjoyed communicating. The questions poured in, one after the other. The readers were clearly people who enjoyed communicating as well! There were no awkward pauses, or lack of interest. Those 20 minutes were enriched with constant and seamless sharing of ideas, thoughts and experiences. Questions directed at her ranged from financial situations, to grieving process, to even dating experiences, and oh my, my book was not shy! There were no euphemisms and no pretenses. There were also no barriers to communication. The books were there to share their stories, and the readers were there to know these stories. The goal was achieved brilliantly!

By the end of it, I started feeling a kinship with my book. I was proud of her, and thankful to have heard a story that was this personal. Few things stayed with me though, from that conversation. They were my lessons learnt that day.

First was on loss and grieving. Most people are uncomfortable around those who have suffered a loss, she said, and having lost a parent myself a few years ago, I could empathise. “Also, most people don’t know what to say to the one grieving”, she added. I agreed to that too. “I hate the phrase, stay strong,” she finally said, exaggerating the woeful face of a sympathiser trying to deliver a condolence message. We all laughed, guilty of having said that phrase to many people ourselves. “ You don’t have to say that, you know. Because, grieving is allowed, and it’s okay to be sad, and vulnerable, and weak sometimes.”

Lesson learnt in what not to say in a condolence message.

​Secondly, she spoke about volunteering as an act of empowerment. According to her, the act of volunteering made her feel good about herself, and infused her with a feeling of positivity. “The more you help others, the better (and stronger) you feel about yourself.”

Lesson learnt in empowerment and volunteerism

Lastly, I couldn’t help but notice, what a positive and bright energy she was. “How do you maintain this energy in spite of all the problems that you face in your personal life?” I asked. “I have a role model, she said, my mother.” Her mother, she informed us, was bright and active, and lived life to the fullest, inspite of many personal setbacks. Sherlin had learnt to do the same. “I want to be a role model too,” she said. Well, Sherlin, I already think you are!

Lesson learnt in living life to the fullest, in being inspired by those you look up to, and lesson learnt in aspiring to be an inspiration to others.

And thus my first experience of being at the Human library ended. If I had known it would be this invigorating, and informative, I would have registered for few more slots. There was so much more to learn, and so many stories to hear. And like always, the more I know about new experiences, and new things, the more I realise how less I know.

Lessons learnt in humility.

Read Sherlin’s story here

Learn more about The Human Library SG here

Origin of The Human Library

I lingered a bit more to take pictures, to speak to the organisers, and to look around at many new conversations that were breaking barriers, shattering the stereotypes, and bringing people together. After all, we are all stories separated by barriers of ignorance.

 

 

Happiness is… an Updated Happy List!


As the year approaches its end, I look back like I often do at the way I had planned life, and at the way life planned its own course, ignoring me in an impudent show of might. As always, I end up with a list that I update each year. It helps me understand myself and those around me. It also helps me understand how I have changed in the course of the year, and how some things still remain universal to the core of who I am, year after year. So, here’s a simplified version of things that made it to my ‘happy’ list. Oh, what a year of learning it has been!

‘The updated list of Happy’

Happiness is…

  • Spending time with your nieces and nephews.
  • Being able to stand next to your mom on your dad’s death anniversary (at the temple your dad preferred to go to).
  • Going to your alma mater and telling seventeen year olds what you wish someone had told you at seventeen.
  • Being able to hop on to a flight because your grandmother misses you.
  • Allowing your little sister to guide you after spending years guiding her (and secretly feeling pleased to see her grown up and reversing the role).
  • Your daughters’ small, big and major achievements.
  • Mint tea on a lazy afternoon.
  • Conversations where you are not judged.
  • Talking about your book, the characters you created, and your observations on society and its bias… for the first time ever.
  • Meeting people who inspire you and energise you.
  • Knowing that even if some people leave your side, there will always be a few who will stand by you when the going gets tough.
  • Validation (fair and just).
  • Unconditional support.
  • Increased steps on fitbit and a decreased number on the weighing scale.
  • A remembered song from your childhood.
  • Standing up for others when no one else would, and standing up for yourself, however hard, and yes even publicly if need be.
  • Finding your mojo.
  • Being your family’s emotional and moral support.
  • Being there for people who pretend to be strong and independent.
  • Standing in front of a crowd, microphone in hand, knowing that people are listening to you intently.
  • Working for yourself.
  • Gathering wayward thoughts, fractured relationships, abstract ideas, and messy stalks of flowers, and turning them in to beautiful arrangements.
  • Food that is served with love.
  • Airports, travel, new places, new ideas, new perspectives and new understandings.
  • Laughing at the silliest of things.
  • A prayer sent your way.
  • Coming home.

 

 

The Dancing Lights of the Dark Nights


This post is dedicated to the warriors who shine their brightest when the night is at its darkest.

It is somewhat myopic and perhaps, superficial to think of lights, colours and music in terms of happy spaces, effervescent emotions, and expressions of many beautiful intangibles. Because by relating happy to beauty, we leave out the beauty of the spaces that are vacuous, the music of the silence, and the emotions that are dark, and yet beautiful. It is impossible to ignore darkness in a world that stays dark half the time. So, today I applaud the, ‘not so bright and happy.’ After all, shiny is a facade, happy is momentary and success is fleeting.

Beauty this week has presented itself in the darkest of places. I have witnessed souls that shine in the dark, music that’s made out of nothing, and brilliance that emerges from melancholy.

The first set of warriors came on a cadence of music that was built on the world of silence. At the MSF Volunteer Awards night, the group, Redeafination enthralled the audience. The deaf dancers danced, and oh so gracefully to the music they couldn’t hear! Or maybe, to the music they heard in their hearts. And thus, the music of the silence became the happiest dance that I had seen in a very long time. Here’s Singapore’s Deaf Dance Crew, Redeafination

Next came the play that explored death, and dealt with loss through metaphors, symbols and a performance, so raw and powerful, that it left the audience sobbing. Yes, me included. With an uncomfortable name like Poop, I had expected humour or worse, an attempt at humour, but what I encountered was an exploration of darkness, both on the stage and also in the crevices of human minds and hearts. The most melancholic and heart wrenching subject of death and loss became the most sublime form of artistic expression. Though the topic was devoid of colours, the storytelling, the acting, and the stage direction of Poop by The Finger Players was anything but colourless.

Poop. Source: The Finger Players

Poop. Source: The Finger Players

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another form of beauty presented itself  through the dark narration of pain, longing and yearning in Rupi Kaur’s poetry. The poems are too raw in places, too uneven to be conventionally pretty, and yet its honest exploration of the secrets of human yearnings took my breath away. It’s candid and how!

 

Thus, in the acknowledgment of failures, and blemishes in our lives, the beauty lives on and the warriors of the night, stay relentless in their efforts to turn their darkness in to beautiful light. They turn failures of life in to successes of a different kind. And I am fortunate to have witnessed the darknesses turn in to dancing lights!

Teach Kids about Empathy


Empathy. I can’t stress on it enough, and I can’t stop talking about it. Thanks to TheAsian Parents Magazine for publishing my article. Read my original article here.

 

(Text: Prionka Ray. Source: TheAsianParents)

(Text: Prionka Ray. Source: TheAsianParents)

Stories



Stories: 

They should come with a manual.

We should be warned before they begin.

And told exactly 

When they will end.

Stories:

They shouldn’t catch us off guard like this.

They shouldn’t leave us floundering,

Astounded,

Hanging by the threads.

Knowing not whether they unravel

Or whether they keep weaving new strands.

Stories: 

We make them, 

We break them,

We flow in them,

We float.

And sometimes we soak in them

All the weariness of this world

The tiredness of the souls

And the lethargy of many half-dreamt dreams.

Stories:

They fascinate us,

They terrify us.

Stories: 

They lure us,

They seduce us,

They gnaw at us.

Stories, stories, stories! 

Take away the stories!!!!

 

No! No! Don’t listen to me!

Give them back!

Please?

Stories:

Give me those bitter-sweet stories

Let me live in them

Let me get lost in them

Forever. 

By Prionka Ray ©

 

Children’s Safety and the Swimming Pool


It’s impossible to be around kids and not to worry about their safety. As a parent, educator, or even as a policy maker, the safety of the children remains a top priority.  Here’s my write-up on the policy response to unsafe home pools. The article appears in Telegraph, Harvard University. Read the full article here.

Text by Prionka Ray (Source: Telegraph, Harvard University)

Text by Prionka Ray (Source: Telegraph, Harvard University)

Text by Prionka Ray (Source: Telegraph, Harvard University)

 

Bringing People Together


A community is where people reach out to each other in different ways, for different purposes, and in the process create something lasting and beautiful. There’s nothing more heart warming than people coming forward as a community, as a society, exactly as humanity should be. There’s much happening in our community as well. A quick look at few events in Singapore:

The Human Library

The largest Human Library event, termed, “Moving Foreword” took place on 27 August at Taman Jurong Community Club, and it brought 234 Readers in conversations with 42 Books and 11 Community Partners. Organised by Human Library Singapore, the event  aims to provide a safe space for conversations to occur between various groups, and in the process, create positive experiences and mutual respect amongst individuals.

Among the Human Books at this event were a wildlife rescuer, solo female travellers, an atheist, a vegan, ex-offenders and suicide attempt survivors. Care was taken to curate as diverse a range as possible as all identities naturally come with stereotypes, not just those that are typically thought of as stigmatised. A first-time Book, Rolinda, Foreign Domestic Worker, added “As a Book I come to share what I had learned; but in the end, I learned more than what I shared. Empathy begins with a conversation.”

More information about Human Library, Singapore

Click here for other community programmes in Singapore

Coming up!

Star Wars Force Friday II

At the stroke of midnight on Friday, September 1, 2017, the Force will be strong at ION Orchard with the launch of Star Wars: Experience the Force Singapore festival. The 10-day festival will take place from 1 – 10 September and will kick off with the worldwide celebration of Star Wars Force Friday II. All festival experiences along Orchard Road are free-of-charge. The festival culminates with an immersive experience over at STGCC, where an entire zone has been specially dedicated to Star Wars. The fans will be offered the chance to get up close and personal with fan-built vehicle replicas, games, releases and collectibles!  Click for more information on Star Wars Force Friday.

Bringing people together. That’s today’s theme and the need of the hour. This large hearted living has been expressed by the poet, playwright, short story writer, and essayist LeRoi Jones, better known as Amiri Baraka (October 7, 1934–January 9, 2014).

Want to do your bit? 

Direct help to Houston

Donate to North East Flood in India

Volunteer in Singapore

So, bring people together, stay united and reach out! Till we meet again!

 

Letting Go


It’s never easy to let go.

Sitting at the threshold of my now vacant house, I found myself swamped by emotions. The memories came in like tide, overlapping each other and in quick succession. I remembered the laughter that filled this place, the chatter, the stray shout of “have you seen my phone?” I remembered the sonorous tinkling of the wind chime that gave a background score to everything that transpired here. My eyes travelled to the empty hook. That was exactly where it stayed, where it was tied up, where it swayed. It wasn’t there anymore.

I looked around and remembered the frantic steps through the hallways and the rooms before each of their classical dance performances. I remembered struggling through the ornate ensemble, the elaborate hair-do and the gaudy make-up on little faces. I remembered my exasperation and, “this is the last time!” And yet after each show, I remembered lovingly folding the costume and arranging the bits and pieces back. I remembered strewn books, guitar and roller blades here. I remembered little girls that grew up. I remembered the pitter-patter of doggy steps. I remembered doggy licks and woofs and vigorous swishing of tail. I remembered the sounds of laughter as guests walked in.  I remembered lazy afternoons, the sounds of breeze, the birds at a distance, and the gentle rustling of the leaves.

The rustling reminded me that time has passed. Considerable time.

A yellowed leaf floated in gently and landed somewhere near. At another point in time, I would have picked that leaf up, an intruder to my space. This time, I smiled at it. It was an intruder, just as I was. The afternoon stretched in to the vacuous space, derived of warmth and breath. It was time to let go. I glanced back one last time, and walked away.

 

Art Review: Yayoi Kunama


(This is a guest post by our teen reviewer, Anushka)

The National Gallery of Singapore’s new exhibit showcasing the many artworks of famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is yet another testament to the seven decades she has dedicated to them. Separated into four different galleries with its own separate identity, there are sculptures dated from 1972, standing still, next to a glorious explosion of spots. It was completed this year. I personally was more affected by the many boxes and rooms that greeted me with each step.

Gallery A’s display of the Infinity Nets series is not only a perspective into the artist’s eccentric mind, but also a glimpse into history, given that their first exhibition was in 1959. The paintings lack a structure, but rather all take up a canvas in a somewhat dizzying and hypnotic manner. Kusama’s past with hallucinations throughout her childhood is an inspiration for all her artwork, but Infinity Nets is a very clear product of it.

yayoi_kusama_infinity_nets_1959_d5995012g

Infinity Nets (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

Gallery A also explores Kusama’s fascination with pumpkins, which personally, was my favourite theme. The vibrant, youthful colours conveyed a theme of innocence and radiance. Not only were there paintings across the walls, but also interactive installations, where a box is placed inside a room that seemed much like a bumblebee’s home. When I peered into the box, I was greeted with mirrors aligning the walls within, and the bulbous pumpkins aligning the floor.

the_spirits_of_the_pumpkins_descended_into_the_heavens

Bulbous pumpkin (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

Gallery B is the home of the famous installation where many photos have been taken. Unsurprisingly, there is a line to enter this house of mirrors, where lights are hang from above crating a kaleidoscope of types. The lights shimmer and change much like Christmas lights, the darkness illuminated by what seem like tiny colourful stars. Gallery B also introduced two video installations, however, one being R18 prevented me from seeing it. The one further along shows that Kusama’s creativity was not only explored through paintings and fine art, but also through poetry and music, as a projector broadcasts her own song named the “Song of A Manhattan Suicide Addict”, where she uses her own experience dealing with depression to get across an eerie and uncomfortable song with the familiar pumpkins behind her, a strange contrast of the youthfulness before and this sudden talk of death.

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Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

In Gallery C, we are met with hundreds of paintings adorning walls, some intricately drawn and others colourfully painted the deeper you go. Once again, another room installation meets you, this one transporting us to our childhood days where polka dot stickers are covering a white room, and two sculptures of tulips are placed inside. While yes pumpkins were youthful, this seemed more innocent, and it is a weird jump from restricted videos and images into the mind of a child once more.

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With My Love For All The Tulips, I Pray Forever (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

Finally, Gallery H is a room full of stainless steel metal balls on the floor, and we are clearly instructed to not touch them, to not lie down with them, and to not interact with them in any other way aside from a glance down. The story behind this installation was one I was particularly interested in, and I later learnt that Kusama had acted as a street vendor with these balls all around her in the middle of a street, and tried to sell people passing by their “narcissism”, and it was only then when I realised these were reflective balls. It seemed a poignant way to end the exhibit; after searching through Yayoi Kusama’s mind, we ended up looking at ourselves.

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Steel balls (Source: Anushka)