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)

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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)

 

Getting Wed in Singapore


This write-up is about weddings and all those beautiful little things that come together when two people do. Behind each wedding, however, there are many people, hard at work, trying to make the event perfect for the love birds. I truly enjoyed writing this piece. It’s about dreams, magic, love and the creative elves behind the scenes. It all seems like a fairytale in the real world! presenting a little round-up of information about wedding planners, venues etc. for those who wish to tie the knot in Singapore.

Getting Wed Singaporean Style (Source: Sun Media)

The Orchard Experience

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If I have known you long enough or even if, you and I are recent acquaintances, chances are that I have met you at Orchard road for a coffee or a meal at some point of time. I love Orchard and I can’t get enough of it. I love its vibe, its grace and its familiarity. My personal favourites there? I like Cedele at Wheelock, Wild Honey at Mandarin Gallery, and PS Cafe at Palais Renaissance for their feel-good food and ambience. I have also developed a new fondness for the Korean dessert, Bingsu at 313. If it’s shopping, then it is Paragon, Ion, Tangs, and 313. My daughter was born at Mt Elizabeth Hospital, so a special mention of the friendly Doctors and nurses there and finally, I really like the stretch near Zara and Wheelock. That’s the place where I love to sit and watch the world pass me by. Yes, I love Orchard, and if I get to write about it, I kinda love it even more.

(Read the original article here, page 5).   

The Orchard Experience (Source: IndoConnect)

The Orchard experience (Source: IndoConnect)

The Orchard Experience (Source: IndoConnect)

And if you flip over to page 17, you will find my interview with Prita Kemal Gani (Founder of LSPR). It was a beautiful afternoon at Mandarin Orchard where we chatted with Ibu Prita. Yet another memorable rendezvous at Orchard!

Interview with Prita Kemal Gani (Source: IndoConnect)

Fearless


What is fearless (to you)?

When I asked this question to those around me, the answers differed.

“It is the ability to speak the truth without hesitation.”

“It is the belief that I stand with the truth.”

“It is the ability to share my emotional and vulnerable moments with those close to me.”

“It’s when you are not scared of anybody or anything, and even if you are, you don’t show it.”

“Freedom.”

“Fearless… is to be able to feel and act consciously from state of awareness and to own responsibility for everything that comes under it.”

What is fearless (to me)?

My favourite movie character is Mulan from Disney. The eponymous character brandishes her sword and saves her nation. In my eyes, she’s fearless, not just because she charges in to a battlefield, but also because she has the courage and the guts to break stereotypes and break norms of the society. She has the courage to stand by what she believes in. Fearlessness comes in many forms, and I have met great warriors of everyday life. They are resilient, sometimes quiet, and sometimes not, but they all have faced the battles of life, and won over demons, both outside and inside. That’s fearless to me.

Here I present to you my most recent definitions of fearless. These are two women I interacted with recently. One a mere teen, a young girl, who was bullied once but who, now has returned to fearlessly face her demons, and overcome them through her book and her performances, and the other, a 46-year-old international personality, TV host and speaker, who fearlessly tramples on every rule book, to say and do what she believes in.

Aija Mayrock: Author, Performer, Activist 

rent.com/aija-mayrock-interview-bullying/

Aija Mayrock Interview by Prionka Ray

Aija was bullied as a child and as a teen. That kind of experiences affect most people negatively. However, Aija turned the same experience as a motivator to help others. I got to know Aija when I came across her very powerful anti-bullying performance. For someone to overcome the feeling of not being good enough, to overcome self doubts and hesitation that comes with being bullied, and still to be able to give such a power packed performance on her experience is fearlessness indeed! But she is not bitter. On the contrary, she was friendly, enthusiastic and prompt, when I approached her for an interview. Read the interview here

Anita Kapoor: TV Host, Media personality, Speaker.

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I met Anita at an event where she was the main speaker. She spoke on being fearless. According to her, the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to embrace whatever you feel, is what fearlessness is all about. On the surface, this seemed like a paradox. You could either be strong or be vulnerable. Right? But she proved it otherwise. And she proved it with a personal story, so poignant, that for the first time, I was blinking back tears in a live talk, and in a hall full of powerful, and successful women. Anita eloquently spoke of her bereavement, her fresh loss, and her journey of grief. However, she did it fearlessly. Anita is not new to such fearless show of vulnerabilities. Her documentary on living with the elderly touches on the same personality trait of hers. It’s raw, it’s sincere, and its powerful.

The above are just two definitions of fearlessness. They are not the only ones. As I meet new people, both men and women, my definition keeps expanding, keeps growing.

And then of course, Taylor Swift sings…

Source: Imgrum

So, maybe being fearless is also about being able to take a leap of faith. My definition continues to expand…

(This post is dedicated to the fearless. Thanks to The Asian Parents Magazine for endorsing the interview, and thanks to Primetime Business and Professional Women’s Association for the beautiful evening with Anita).

Social Commentary through Films: Interview with Regional Filmmakers


Every region has its own narrative, one that offers a glimpse of its pulse. Dipping in to each narrative, I have felt involved and yet distant at the same time. As if, I am submerged in to a deep body of water, but unable to fathom its depth. However, the more dips I take, the more my view clears. The more I linger, the more I view. My introduction to films of the region was initiated this way and very soon, I concluded that despite the uniqueness of each culture, the shared story of humanity remains the same.

Presenting my interviews with two acclaimed film makers from Indonesia, Nia Dinata and Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo. On the surface, they both are different, but both their film-making styles involve the same need to weave in stories from the society we live in. Both are experts in making their audiences think, feel and ponder at the rules the society makes, the rush for power that divides us as people and the values that make us who we are. The original magazine link is available here

# Interview 1

Nia Dinata 9Source: IndoConnect)

Nia Dinata (Source: IndoConnect)

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#Interview 2

Film maker, Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo (Source: Indoconnect)

Film maker, Wicaksono Wisnu Legowo (Source: IndoConnect)

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These are exciting times of collaborations and shared narratives. I am greedy for more and looking forward to exploring more and more of these regional treasures!

 

Singapore International Film Festival: Fantasy & Female Empowerment


The longest running international festival in the region, the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) is back in its the 27thedition to offer a ‘feast for the senses,’ with films that narrate unique stories from the region. This was announced by the Festival at a media conference held at the National Museum of Singapore on 27th October, 2016. This year, SGIFF will screen 161 feature and short films from 52 countries, with 16 world premieres, 9 international premieres and 18 Asian premieres.

Yuni Hadi and Zhang Wenjie at the SGIFF Media Preview (Credits: 27th SGIFF)

Yuni Hadi and Zhang Wenjie at the SGIFF Media Preview (Credits: 27th SGIFF)

SGIFF Executive Director, Ms Yuni Hadi said that the SGIFF continues to be a discovery ground and platform to connect independent films in Asia and beyond. As the leading international film platform in Southeast Asia, the festival strives to foster the understanding of regional cinema by giving a voice to individuals through stories and dialogue. SGIFF is part of the annual Singapore Media Festival (SMF) that brings together a rich mix of independent filmmaking talent to showcase the region’s stories through film, throughout Asia and beyond. SGIFF also allows established and emerging filmmakers and industry players to interact and exchange ideas, in order to contribute to the growth of cinema in the region.

(More on my write up on SGIFF. This article was first published in Indoconnect)

SGIFF by Prionka Ray (First published in Indoconnect)

SGIFF by Prionka Ray (First published in Indoconnect)

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Cultures of the World: Javanese Baby Shower


Presenting Tujuh Bulanan, a traditional Javanese baby Shower where many of the age-old traditions are still maintained.

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I remain amazed at the beauty of rituals and traditions from around the world. My heartfelt thanks to Aster Lita, her friends and her family members who patiently explained each ritual to me and thanks also to IndoConnect for this wonderful opportunity.

Reading now:

1984 by George Orwell

Shakespeare in the Park: A Review


Photo credit: SRT

Photo credit: SRT

Recently, Singapore Repertory Theatre staged, The Tempest, at Fort Canning Park and it invited the audience to immerse themselves in Prospero’s world of sorcery. Charmed at the prospect, I marched in to the park, armed with cushions, sandwiches and a sense of growing anticipation. I was definitely not disappointed and as the sky darkened, the actors emerged and brought to life a storm. The world of revenge, love and music came alive and how!

Catching Shakespeare in a park is joy in itself. The play unfolds against the beautiful city skyline and the wind lulls you in to a land beyond the mundane. Stretched out on the picnic mat, the experience is both delicate and relaxed though one must admit that there is nothing relaxed about the play, The Tempest. Considered Shakespeare’s last work, the play, is multi-layered and varied. It is replete with colonial undertones, power struggles, Jacobean court spectacles and magic. It even spills genres, by being serious and comedic in equal measures. Moreover, it is a love story and political intrigue all at the same time. The beauty is that though the characters are corrupted by greed, power and revenge, they yearn for reconciliation. In that sense, there’s a hope for redemption as Shakespeare offers a final spectacle to his audience before he retires.

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Prospero and Miranda (Photo Credit: SRT)

Doing justice to such a play is difficult, but the SRT actors slipped in to their characters quite effortlessly, or so it seemed. Simon Robson as Prospero was extremely believable and it was most easy to imagine the playwright himself trying to connect with his audience through the protagonist. For me, the Prospero on stage was as much the character as he was the playwright hoping for audience- support. For that matter, each actor on the stage had a credible presence and Julie Wee as Miranda was as adorable as Shane Mardjuki as Trinculo, was funny. It was also a delight to see the actors using their bodies to enhance their dialogues. In fact, Theo Ogundipe as Caliban added such a physical dimension to his character that all his movements seemed to pay obeisance to a carefully choreographed dance piece. It was also a pleasant surprise to see my ex- colleague, William Ledbetter seamlessly morph in to Sebastian’s role.

Propsero with Ariel (Photo credit: SRT)

Prospero with Ariel (Photo credit: SRT)

The elaborate set, the costumes in white and the powerful performances were all praiseworthy. However, what impressed me most was the character interpretation of Ariel, the spirit. The script as such does not specify Ariel’s gender and there is much ambiguity on Ariel’s  characterisation as well. In fact, most interpretations that I have seen presented Ariel as a delicate and waif-like creature. However, it differed here and refreshingly so. The Ariel on this stage had a distinct stage presence, a melodious singing voice and very noticeable bird characteristics! All I can say is that Ann Lek is as brilliant in her musical abilities as she is in her whimsical movements!

I thoroughly enjoyed Shakespeare in the Park and I am quite eager to see what SRT brings up next. About SRT

I am reading: A fast paced thriller, Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi and the evergreen classic, A Passage to India by E M Forster

Organisation: AG Home, Singapore.

The organisation featured this month (see side bar) is one that I have been closely associated with since 2013. I make frequent visits to the place and needless to say that I am extremely partial to their cause. It’s through the girls, I believe, that a better society is possible in the future.

Link to my recent publications:

Your-gateway-to-international-education

Jokowi, The Charisma of the People’s Person

 

 

Spreading love


Come February, there are songs of love, thoughts of love and gifts of love. And of course, there’s the love itself. February is the month when lovers rejoice, reminisce and revel. But whereas some hearts flutter, a few break, rejected. Nevertheless, love remains, somewhere, somehow, in some fluttering heart somewhere.

As the world celebrates the month of the lovers, I am here to celebrate love, whether it’s as friends, as parents, as siblings or as human beings in general: love for the weak, love for the brave, love for the soul and love that’s beyond all the boundaries and beyond time. So, lovers, keep growing your love and my dear cupids, continue to spread love.

Here’s an article that I had written for Femina. It’s dedicated to those selfless cupids around the world.

Femina bonding article

Let’s spread love!