Stories of Art & Inspiration


Once in a while, you find inspirations when you least expect them. These little stories remind you that life is full of possibilities. All you need to do is notice.

I have always been fascinated by people who express through words, colours and artistic forms. Their stories, if inspirational, have that additional beauty, which the others may lack. This story is of Singaporean artist, Ziyue Chen, and it is indeed one of those stories that is enriched by both the person and her artistic creations.

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Community colouring of Ziyue Chen’s poster. Source: Little Events

I stumbled upon Ziyue Chen’s work while looking for a coloring piece that would bring people together for our Little Events community event. Ziyue’s work on Singapore fit the bill just right. (Available on Scribolo)

However, that piece was not where I stopped, I ventured in more to find many heart warming and endearing illustrations. Ziyue works with challenging situations, and not being able to hear is one of them. But that does not change the fact that Ziyue is an artist first and foremost.

One must look at art without bias, and the truth is that I got to know of Ziyue’s challenge much later (when I was writing an article about her in The AsianParent Magazine). Read the article here.

I would like to judge her as an artist. And that’s all. She stole my heart with the vulnerability and the warmth that make her art. I agree though that her story is indeed an inspiring one, one that needs to be told to inspire many others. It is also inspiring because her art reflects nothing of what she can’t hear. It’s about what she can see and what she can feel that matters. It reflects only of possibilities.

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Self Portrait by Ziyue Chen

And so I present to you,  Ziyue, who would like you to know that her name is pronounced as ‘Zzz yuair’ or you can call her Angeline.  Ziyue is a Singapore based Illustrator and a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. She works mostly on Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print. See her work here

Her life goal is to have an emotional connection with those who view her work. Well, it certainly connected with me! She is an inspiration, not only to those who are faced with challenges in life, but also to those who would like to follow their hearts, Ziyue Chen makes it seem possible. So from all those she touches through her art (including me), a big thank you!

Stories connect people. If you wish to connect through stories or art, do write in to me. Meanwhile, Here’s another event where art broke barriers.image1-3

Being part of the Bukit Timah Community Club volunteer’s committee has been an exciting journey for me. I would like to thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Sim Ann for always being encouraging and for connecting me to wonderful people in the community. This time, it was to Jiaman who organised the community gathering at Clementi.

Inspirations, they are everywhere. Look around and find them. And if you do, don’t forget to share those beautiful stories!

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Celebrating Partnerships & Human Links


India’s mega diaspora show, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, was held in Singapore on January 6-7, 2018. A joint effort by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the High Commission of India in Singapore, the event celebrated 25 years of ASEAN-India Partnership, and explored centuries-old cultural, social, and human links. The theme of the PBD was “Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN India Partnership” and was aimed at promoting closer ties between India & ASEAN and deepen the diaspora’s relations with India.

It was exciting enough for me to be part of the official ‘Ancient Route, New Journey’ writing team, but what made it even more exciting was the fact that I could (with this writing piece) have my own little symbolic celebration of partnership and human link. As ASEAN, India and Singapore celebrated their long term partnerships, I celebrated my own long term collaborations with Sunmedia and Chitrakala (Chitra Shankar of Chitrakala is featured in this article through sheer coincidence, thanks to our photo editor, Mr J).

Partnerships, collaborations and friendships are not just words that sound nice in theory, but they according to me, form the very core that sustain human success, both professionally and personally. This piece remains an ode to that.

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This article was first published in Shikhar

Veere di Wedding: Review


Now I don’t generally write movie reviews here, but there’s always exception to rules. So here goes my take on this new Bollywood release.

To know more about the cast and the other details, click here.

Movie Trailer

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So, this movie was suggested to me as a fun movie to watch with my girl group, which is exactly what I did. It was indeed a ruckus movie about 4 friends and their take on love/ sex, life, & marriage. A good watch with my girl pals. But it doesn’t have to be a girls only movie!

Coarse language alert! The movie has all the makings of a ‘how to cuss’ language class and ‘how to go about casual mentions of romps’ tutorial. So, if you can’t stomach that, stay away please!

Having said that, what really intrigued me is the way the makers of the movie completely eroded the gender lines, and challenged every gender-based stereotype. There’s nothing that a man can do that a woman can’t (and vice versa) throughout the movie. The girls here do everything that probably guys would have done and gotten away with too: from the language, to the topics of discussions; the drinking and smoking, to the commitment issues. It’s the male archetype delivered by the female characters. Similarly, the role of chacha’s consort is feminine, sensitive and very ‘wifey’. Even John’s desire to unite the family is traditionally a women’s role. These are female archetypes, delivered by the male characters. By doing this, the director has completely reversed the roles. And obviously, that reversal challenges what you know or what you have been conditioned to know. So, you (the audience) either allow the mind to accept this fluidity of roles or you reject the idea. The choice is subjective.

Of course, I have to say here that that the movie showcases a society which is quite casual, non-committal, hedonistic and impulsive. But then again, it’s a reflection of our society, or at least a sizeable section of it. You either acknowledge it or be in denial. It’s again the audience’s choice. So, I guess, the movie is about choices.

The ladies in VDW are strong characters, not all their traits are likeable, but they are strong characters nevertheless. At the end, the message I got was: if you love a person, you go ahead with the marriage (or relationship) despite societal pressures and norms that can be stifling.  However, if you don’t, you shouldn’t stay in that relationship, despite the societal pressure to do so.
A tad overboard, a tad too bohemian, but a good one time watch with like minded adults!
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Bringing Families and Communities Together This June


It’s not everyday that one gets to bring people from different walks of life, and different age-groups together. However, that’s exactly what I am in for. It began with a simple idea of bringing people together through art, play, fitness and food, but it soon became more elaborate with a trustworthy collaborator. We began reaching out to more people from different walks of life. We also wanted to promote family bonding and initiate the idea of giving back to the community as a family. June happens to be special for fathers, and thus the event, Dad & Us was conceptualised. I dedicate this event to all dads, especially mine (who is an angel somewhere, watching over me).

I have always believed in collaborations, and this event proves the power of collaborations. A big thanks to all who are participating, and thanks also to Families for Life and Dads for Life for endorsing this event. So, here’s presenting an event that I am looking forward to, an event when families will stay away from gadgets (hopefully) and make memories through interactive activities.

The event will power start with Muay Thai Family Fitness. There’s also community colouring of the Singapore landscape poster by Singaporean artist, Ziyue Chen.

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Especially for the dads, there’s a stand up comedy show by a dad, and he calls it, ‘Dad’s Special’. For a little father-kiddo bonding, there’s a 2 minute Talent Showdown (happening at 11.45 am and again at 2.15 pm). Moms can cheer their home teams. It’s not a competition though, it’s just a celebration of togetherness. There’s no age restriction and the only rule is to have fun. There are shopping booths, interactive play stations, food stalls and face painting at the event too.

There’s also an awareness talk for the parents, where physicians and therapists (from traditional medicines) will talk about simple massage techniques that can ease common ailments in kids. Free consultation will be available for the day.

Parents are children’s first role models. Therefore, it is apt that families give back to the community together. A charity gift drive has been initiated to give back to those who might do with some help. Dad2Dad Charity Gift Drive will be collecting gifts for dads (transient workers in Singapore) who are away from their families. This charity drive is in collaboration with Transient Workers Count Too. 

Gift Wish List includes: International Phone Calling Cards (for them to call home), basic supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, shaving kits etc) and items of clothing (new). If you wish to contribute, head over to the TWC2 booth at the event between 11 am to 5 pm. Present also at the event will be the animal rescue awareness booth. So come over and join us!

Register for the event here

It’s on 2nd June at No 2 Stadium Walk (Waterfront), right next to Kallang mall. The nearest MRT is Stadium.

Dad & Us: Know more about the event.

Endorsed by:

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Deciphering Conversations


There’s so much that can be revealed through conversations or the lack of it. I have spent a lifetime, it seems, trying to decipher people based on conversations. The journey has not been a simple one.

When I was younger, I was shy. That meant I listened more than I spoke. I noticed. I observed. It was back then that I realised that much of the communication was unspoken: It was in the shift of the weight from one leg to another, it was in the pauses, it was in the expressions. As I grew older, my understanding changed and morphed, and often I had to correct myself in the light of new information and new understanding.

My fascination with communication led me to study it further. I moved beyond the initial university courses to expand my understanding. I took up further courses in Speech Communication Arts, where I understood communication through drama tools. And then I explored components of language, language systems, language acquisitions, and psychology of language, especially in social settings. Each new journey led me to understand conversations differently.adventure-backlit-clouds-772665.jpg

What was revealed to me at first was beyond my superficial comprehension. In simple words, I had opened the pandora’s box and I was trying to make sense of what came out. It had consequences. What does one do with the knowing? What if you get to know more about people than you had bargained for?  Do you react differently? Do you get more empathetic? And what if you are wrong? I had never thought that I will be faced with such questions. But here I was. Trying to answer it in whatever way I could. Conversations were complicated enough but online conversations and social media conversations complicated things even further. How do you know what you know? How do you trust it? After all, you can’t see the shift of stance, the glisten of eyes, and the change of tone. The navigation points needed change. Again.

Somewhere, down this journey, I looked inwards too. It is of course harder to decipher oneself than to decipher others. But it had to be done. Communication is a two-way process. If I don’t understand myself, I won’t understand others. This was the hardest part of the journey, and perhaps this one will last the longest.

Conversations are often layered and communication, usually problematic. However, it fascinates me still. I have built my entire life around it now. The questions continue: What was said? Why was it said? Why were some things left unsaid? And most importantly, what does it reveal about those we speak to, and what does our reaction to them reveal about us?

The most important learning of the journey is that some conversations will never be deciphered. Perhaps, that’s the beauty of it, knowing that one can never know it all. And yet understanding that volumes can sometimes be spoken and collective wisdom can be passed from one being to another, without conversation. According to historian, Yuval Noah Harari, this is the basis of our evolution as well.

My fascination with conversations continue, but I know that not all conversations are understood, and not all communications need conversations.pexels-photo-247195.jpeg