Book Review: All Our Yesterdays

pic

“I tell her everything I wish I had ever known. I tell her I love her, and I realize as I say it that I love me, too.”

All Our Yesterdays traces the stories of Marina and Em. Em found herself being repeatedly transported back to a dingy jail cell. Yet this time, she is determined for it this to not repeat again. In this exact jail cell, she finds a note written by her stuck to a drain. She has no memory of writing it, except that she knows she has a quest left behind by all the previous times she was being transported back to the cell. She has to do whatever it takes to stop James, a prodigy in science, from creating a time machine capable of changing history bring about the possibility of a worldwide apocalypse. Parallel to Em, Marina, Em’s younger self has a different story. She would give it her all in protecting her best friend, James, even after she had learnt about James’ darkest secret. They were never supposed to meet but with the creation of the time machine, the past and present intertwines into two parallel yet connected goals, where only one party can succeed. All Our Yesterdays is a reflection of love, a hope for the future, and a priceless opportunity for self-discovery. Many have also praised Terrill’s novel as a story about ‘the infinite complications of our every choice’.

After reading till the very last word of this novel, I found myself unable to return to reality and it really felt as if time had stopped. It is a fast-paced novel as it is a race against time. The narrative dragged me in instantly and was constantly giving me surprises as the plot never failed to develop and factor in twists at the most strategic points in the story. It was also interesting how it was narrated in first person, and the overlapping events narrated turned out very differently from two different perspectives. What was most satisfying about finishing the book was that it turned out to be different and even better than my initial impression of it. The idea and fragility of time travel and manipulation of time intrigued me when I first picked this book out of other books on the shelf. However, as the storyline quickly catapulted me into Marina and Em’s story, I realised that the essence of the story goes much deeper than the sci-fi aspect of it as well – Terrill’s debut shone as it presented complex human emotions throughout the entire novel, and every word she penned had a raw emotional quality to it. This novel is one unlike any other as the essence of the story does not really lie in the facts about time, but in the effects time travel might possibly bring to human beings if this does come true in the near future.

Although the theories and rules of time travel can lead to confusion at some points in time, it does not compromise the overall quality of the story because while it might be a sci-fi adventure novel, stitched into it is also a tinge of sentimentality that is very well represented through the way Em looks at Marina and discovers so much more about herself. This also accurately reflects how we feel all the time – how we often look back and hope that we can turn back time to undo or redo what we hope we should not have done, or the hope that we should not have been so naive. Out of the dozens of books I have managed to read over the holidays, this book left the deepest and most lasting impression in my mind. There is only one word for this novel – mind blowing – but even this is not enough to do justice to a great book with such rich emotions encompassed in every word of this novel. This book is certainly worth your time and sometimes even worth the heartbreak to read. Thus, I would definitely urge you to check this book out of the library whenever you can!

References:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13514612-all-our-yesterdays

Renee Ong (3U)

Preservation of Singapore’s Historical Sites

pic

Under the guise of land shortage and the rising demand for developments to fulfil the needs of a growing population, many historical landmarks around Singapore that are reminiscent of our shared local heritage have been swept aside ruthlessly to make way for new projects that will continually urbanise our garden city. Yet, the last of these monuments that signify the era that has long passed are not spared a thought for in this crazed pursuit of modernisation. Admittedly, Singapore has to continue developing its scarce lands to flourish and maintain its much admired global status as a highly liveable city in this competitive 21st century.However, it pains me to see how historically significant places in Singapore are disregarded despite their rich heritage, and realising that I cannot prevent the demolitions.

 

For instance, Rochor Centre, an iconic rainbow-coloured HDB estate, was slated to be demolished in September 2016 to make way for the 21.5 km long North-South Expressway. Residents bid a heartfelt farewell around the end of last year to the estate they have lived in for most of their lives and closely identified with. Uniquely constructed, Rochor Centre has a common courtyard-like space right in the middle of the centre that is towered by a few housing blocks, which has allowed residents to interact freely with one another over the years and forge a strong sense of camaraderie and kampong spirit amongst their neighbours. Being one of the oldest public housing estates in the city district, it is no surprise that old coffee shops and shops selling pots, pans, plates and other knick-knacks are located on the first storey to serve the residents’ needs.

 

Rochor Centre is merely one of Singapore’s vanishing spaces – one more crushed building block that had melded Singapore’s identity, and one more rip in the fabric of our history. Others like the Old National Library, with its distinct brick-red British infrastructure, the Van Cleef Aquarium and the National Theatre have been demolished eons ago, and the lack of sentimentality the younger generation who have never heard of these places possess only demonstrates clearly how the demolition has almost entirely erased them from our shared memories. Nonetheless, conservation efforts have been made by the government, albeit only in certain cases, specifically the Capitol Building and Cathay Cinema. They may not have been wholly preserved, but at least relics of some semblance has been left behind in remembrance of their historical quality, and for these little mercies, I am hopeful that all hope is not lost.

Chloe Kho (3T)

Poetry: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

pic

mischievous yet adorable nifflers

treasure diggers prized by goblins

unleash them in a bank to wreck pandemonium

tickle their magical pouch upside-down;

you’ll find sickles and galleons raining down

 

bowtruckles, a locksmith’s aide

with their deft long sharp fingers,

twist, turn, click – access granted

camouflaged, these tree dwellers are

sought after for their nimbleness

 

erumpents’ attacks prove fatal

with a horn containing deadly fluid

it’s humongous and spell-resistant

yet erumpent musk and a mating dance

prove to be its undoing

 

thunderbird; magnificent beasts

feathers shimmering with cloud-like patterns

majestically arching their wings,

thunderstorms follow their flight;

blinding the city with electrifying light

Reflection:

I was inspired to write this piece as I felt intrigued by the abilities and distinct personalities that each magical creature in the film had. Through poetry, I wished to capture their uniqueness in terms of appearance and other distinct characteristics. As such, the reader would hopefully find them more endearing, and have a better insight into the range of magical creatures Newt Scamander possesses in his brown leather trunk, as well as the depth of understanding he has regarding these creatures.

Chloe Kho (3T)

Food Review: Sunday Folks

pic

Love delicious Belgian waffles topped with mouth-watering soft serve ice cream? Love cosy hideouts with good food as well? Sunday Folks, located at 44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-52 Chip Bee Gardens, 278116 is the perfect place to go!

The soft serve is available in 6 different flavours: Summer Strawberries, Roasted Pistachio, Earl Grey Lavender, Madagascar Vanilla, Sea Salt Gula Melaka, Dark Chocolate. Having a soft serve stacked on two square waffles costs $11.80, or if you prefer a petite size, go for the single slice with ice cream at $8.80. Or, have your tasty ice cream concoction in a cup (S$7.20) or handmade cone (S$7.20). Available for weekdays only, Sunday Folks also offer tea sets at $10.

Café hoppers and foodies alike flocked to the spacious café to sample Sunday Folks’ delectable offerings of freshly baked Belgian waffles and mouth-watering ice cream. The one-year-old café’s menu is fairly limited – there are only six ice cream flavours – yet sees no lack of customers till date.

The sweet treats at Sunday Folks do not just look good – they taste good too. The folks at Sunday Folks aim to present their desserts in the freshest form, and this vision had soon became their winning recipe. To ensure freshness in orders, waffles will only be baked after your order is taken and the same applies to the preparation of the freshly churned ice cream. As a result, a minimum waiting time of 15 minutes is required and subjected to increase when volume of orders is high.

If you have a sweet tooth like me, or you are just looking for a sweet treat, head over to Sunday Folks this weekend! They are open on Tue to Fri from 1pm – 10pm, Sat to Sun: 12pm – 10pm, and they are closed on Mondays.

Germaine Ong (3P)

The “Old” Hits

The music scene has come so far and transcended the path of time to be what it is today. What we mostly appreciate in this day and age would be the pop songs that get us moving along or tapping our fingers to its heart-thumping beats. Sadly, this has also meant that the classics of the 1900s and 2000s are slowly fading away into the past and many of us have lost our appreciation of these old hits. Many think the old hits are black and white, thus they assume it is boring, but I beg to differ – it might surprise you to know that the oldies actually have a beautiful musical quality unique to their genre, so here are some suggestions that I hope you will try listening to, and hopefully, you will change your perception towards old hits!

The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel

pic

Simon and Garfunkel is a duet comprising members Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. They made their debut of The Sounds of Silence in 1964. It is a soft lilting acoustic song with a very folk-like style. The meaning of this song is definitely not to be overlooked as it was written back in the 60s when many problems in society such as treason were starting to surface. This song is very much like a poem to me with its strong use of metaphors and its carefully selected word choices that encompasses so much meaning, embedded within the lyrics. Overall, it is a very strong reflection of society and the prevalent problems at that point in time. Even though Simon and Garfunkel had not made other major breakthroughs after this, they have already created a masterpiece that is timeless, and even until today, thought-provoking to many. Even until now, it so accurately describes what our society is becoming and how it is really time for us to speak up, even though this silence continues to overpower us.

There are many versions of this song, but I would strongly advise you to just listen to the vocals with just the guitar as the accompaniment, instead of the electrified version which might have overdone the music a little. After all, a simplistic melody with lesser melodic decorations can sometimes bring out a better effect. Although it may sound depressing due to the sad meaning behind the song and tune, I would still strongly recommend you to expose yourself to this music style as it will be sure to trigger you to reflect upon its meaning.

500 Miles by Bobby Bare

pic

500 Miles is another one of the oldest hits dating back to the 1960s, the very first and original version written and performed by Bobby Bare. It was also featured in the 2013 movie Inside Llewyn Davis. It is a country-style music that was popular in the European region back then and this style of music brings about a very strong sense of longing and nostalgia as it depicts a traveler who is very far away from home. In some sense, this music is also very relatable to the journeys we all have to go through and how far we will venture out of home like the traveler in some point in our lives to face challenges on our own. This country music is particularly touching to me as it has this note of optimism that keeps me going whenever I feel tired. Furthermore, it is a song shared by many as it has a simple tune and a repetitive structure, thus it is also considered a folk song, except that compared to The Sounds of Silence, it holds a cheerier note in its tune. However, both tunes are equally meaningful in their own way as they depict different voices of the people at certain points in history, and up until now represent the voices of every person.

Seasons in the Sun by Westlife

pic.jpg

Westlife was the first boy band I listened to ever since I was as young as 6 and I personally feel that it is their debut album, Westlife, that comprises a collection of their best songs. Sadly, they disbanded in 2012 but the songs they have made together never disappeared from my playlist. Among these songs, Seasons in the Sun is my favourite which I have been listening to for 10 years now, and it sure does not get old. Seasons in the Sun speaks very personally to me as it traces a childhood long gone by and the amazing times I had together with my friends and family. The deeper significance in lyrics are further enhanced and brought out with the emotion from the vocals and the tune. Therefore, what truly sets Westlife apart from most boy bands are their vocals and the chemistry the group of five shared. Their harmonisation produces this clean and clear tune that soars with emotion thus their tunes never disappoint. It never fails to soothe and calm me when I am feeling despaired and there is always a note of hope in their music and their voice that causes me to replay the music over and over again. Apart from Seasons in the Sun, another song that is really very representative of their amazing vocals would be their version of You Raise Me Up which will definitely trigger your tears to flow right out!

So put on your earphones and start listening to these amazing tunes now!

References:

http://www.scoutsongs.com/lyrics/five-hundred-miles.html

Other background information from Google

Images:

Google Images

Renee (3U)

Dialects

The more one learns dialect words, the less space there is for Mandarin words or English words, or multiplication tables or formulas in mathematics, physics or chemistry.”

– (Speech on ‘Mandarin must replace dialects as the mother tongue’ on 25 October 1981, by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce 1991)

pic

Do any of you know how to speak dialect? Even if you do, do you know how to speak them fluently? The founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew discouraged the usage of dialects as he felt that learning dialects would minimize the space in the brain to learn English, Chinese and Mathematics. After the “Speak Good Mandarin” campaign, his point was brought across, and the usage of dialects decreased rapidly. Although many parents do know how to speak dialect, they hardly use it in front of their children.

 

There is a huge variety of dialects such as Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka and so on. Although Mr Lee Kuan Yew discouraged Singaporeans from speaking dialects, I feel that learning dialect has its benefits. For instance, learning dialects can patch up the ever growing communication gap between the young and the elderly. The older generation of Singapore grew up speaking dialect, some of them do not know how to speak English. This creates frustration between the 2 generations for they are not able to understand each other. In some situations, the confusion will lead to misunderstandings, creating tensed relationships between a grandparent and grandchild. If only we knew how to speak dialect, wouldn’t it be great to hold an actual conversation with your loved one? I believe that learning how to speak dialect will strengthen family bonds.

 

Dialects arrived in the early days of Singapore when the settlers arrived on our island’s shores to make a living. It is imprinted deep into our history and when a person recalls the past with its constant usage of dialect, they feel a sense of belonging. It would be a shame for such an important part of our history should go extinct. Without dialects, we probably wouldn’t have the Singapore that we have today. I feel that dialects are imprinted deep into our history and we shouldn’t let something so significant go missing. It would be as though a part of Singapore died.

 

Even though I agree that we shouldn’t let dialects die out, I am not saying that we should make learning dialects part of our main curriculum. For those who truly want to learn dialects, I feel that the Ministry of Education should provide an additional course for it. It would be an optional course that is similar to learning 3rd languages.

 

With so many dialects, I feel that it would be an interesting to learn them with their rich history and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with mastering it. Surprisingly, it is not the elderly who are trying to bring back dialects, but the younger generation. They object to letting this colourful part of our history dying out and have started taking the initiative to bring them back. Some create online tutorial videos on learning the language while others try to communicate with their grandparents in dialects as much as they can.

 

Although dialects are on the brink of extinction, I am sure that we can bring them back with enough effort. Dialects should stay and we should not let any campaigns or opinions take them away from us.

Rachel Goh

S2P

References:

The Death of Dialects in Singapore

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asian-opinions/are-dialects-dying-out

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/03/30/reintroduce-dialects-singapore/

EXO-L

pic

I think I am crazy,

to be writing about them.

But let me be me,

for I can’t function without this band.

 

Two thousand thirteen,

November twenty second.

That Friday evening,

at 11.44pm.

 

They danced into my life

without a single warning.

And their voices like knifes,

got me crying.

 

The love of a fan,

is like that of a parent,

we do what we can,

this is apparent.

 

They stole my heart,

but not to keep.

What I think is art,

is simply for their keep.

 

Honestly, I stopped caring,

along the way,

I grew to be daring,

against what people say.

 

Judge me for all I care,

EXO is my idol.

I just need them to be there,

so I won’t be suicidal.

 

Ang Yen Chi

2 Unity

Crème brûlée

pic

Originated from France, the crème brûlée is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base made from a simple combination of cream, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla, topped with a contrasting layer of caramel. Served in individual ramekins, sugar is sifted onto the custard and then caramelized with a blow torch or a broiler.

To many, it may seem to be merely an egg custard with a hard, toffee crust, but to those who’ve tasted this classic dessert at its best, the crème brûlée is a symphony of sweet, creamy perfection.

The first recordings of this delicious dessert in its French form were in 1691, but, its origin might not actually be French at all. While eggs had been used as binding agents in cooking in Ancient Roman kitchens, it was not until the Middle Ages that custards were widely adopted as sweet fillings and binders for tarts, flans and other desserts.

Trinity College in Cambridge, England claims to be the birthplace of the dessert. In fact, their kitchen possesses a special hot iron used to burn the college crest onto the sugar on top of the custard. It is said that a young college student came up with the dish — a creamy unsweetened custard with a caramelized topping, sometime in the 17th century. The cooking staff then replicated the recipe and dubbed it ‘Trinity Burnt Cream’. While it really cannot be proven that the Trinity College in Cambridge had anything to do with inventing the delectable treat, the kitchens there are still well known for making and serving their version of crème brûlée.

Besides that, the French version is very sweet, whereas the British version is unsweetened, and usually has a thicker and crustier topping. Early French versions of the dessert also had a separately prepared caramel disc layered on top of the custard, rather than the British method of caramelising the sugar directly onto the custard.

The Spanish claim that their dessert known as ‘crema catalana’, is the true predecessor of the crème brûlée and that they invented it in the 18th century (about 100 years after England’s claim to custard supremacy) It is also a rich custard topped with caramelised sugar, often flavoured with lemon or orange zest. However, the crema catalana, unlike the crème brûlée, is not baked in a bain-marie and is generally served as a cold custard with a hot topping. No one truly knows if it is the genuine predecessor of the crème brûlée, or just another variation of a custard that has been around for hundreds of years.

Whatever its place of birth, the iconic combination of a smooth and crunchy texture has kept the crème brûlée unchanged for centuries, and has perpetuated its popularity internationally. The wide availability of high quality kitchen equipment has made crème brûlée as popular in homes as it has always been in restaurants, and many interesting twists on the recipe, such as the inclusion of lavender, pumpkin, saffron, tea or seemingly any fruit imaginable, have kept boredom from setting in.

The crème brûlée is a great example of simple, classical cooking. It is memorable, delicate and yet simple to prepare. It is one of my favourite desserts and I prefer it when it is served warm. The crisp layer of caramel and the smooth consistency of the custard is simply irresistible as it melts in your mouth, tantalising your taste buds.

For those of you who love cooking, why not try making your own crème brûlée? Pair it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a handful of berries and you’ll be on your way to seventh heaven!

Laura Zheng (4U)

Makoto Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai, born on February 9, 1973 in Nagano, Japan as Makoto Niitsu, is a famous Japanese director, writer, producer, animator, voice actor, manga artist and former graphic designer.

pic

Shinkai has been hailed by some as being the next “Hayao Miyazaki”, whose name is almost synonymous with anime and has been credited with bringing Japanese animation to a global audience. His most famous works, notably, Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho (The Place Promised in Our Early Days) (2004), Byousoku 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007), and, most recently, Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.) (2016).

 

Out of all his movies, my favorite is Kimi no Na wa., currently one of the most famous animated movies.

pic

Released in Japan on August 26th 2016, Kimi no Na wa. received critical acclaim and was praised worldwide for its animation   The tear-jerking film was praised for its beautiful animation and emotional impact, The film received critical acclaim and was praised for its animation and beautiful animation.

 

With its wonderfully animated scenery bound to blow you away, Kimi no Na wa. is a story about a boy and girl who exchanges bodies as a comet is about to hit the Earth. The bizarre occurrence builds a connection between them, and they communicate by leaving notes on each other’s smartphones, distance seems to be the only thing keeping them apart…or is something It is a stunning masterpiece about time and the hearts of two souls intertwined with the red thread of fate. As of January 16th 2017, Kimi no Na wa. became the highest-grossing anime film of all time, overtaking animation genius Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 classic ‘Spirited Away’. Similar to Freaky Friday, this brilliantly plotted supernatural love story is certainly a movie that absolutely cannot be missed!

 

I am definitely a fan of Makoto Shinkai’s movies and I strongly recommend you to watch them!

 

Laura Zheng (4U)

Poetry: Leukaemia and Loved Ones

pic

mama’s eyes are milky chocolate

ringed in the grey of Snowy’s fur;

a white-turned-dirty grimy smudge

the well-worn marks of the loved.

mama’s eyes are pain-free, sting-free.

 

(i want to squeeze Snowy against my chest, but she’s at home on my bed mama says, “At rest”)

 

i reach out a pointed finger,

trace the hollows brimming

with salty pearls I try to catch-

they are splashing silver fish

that slip silently down my wrist.

 

(they tickle a little and thread past my arm, a second set of shiny tubes)

 

i want to tell my mama

to shut those eyes,

catch those shines;

before they pelt my

heart and hurt.

 

(a hurt deep in my belly, it pulses like another heart, grips my bones wrenches me apart)

 

but i can’t-

i’m too tired-

from holding

back my own

salty tears.

 

(my bones are screaming my stomach flipping)

 

i’m sorry

i’m sorry

i’m sorry

 

(i would hold my pain a hundred times over, if it would make my heart stronger)

 

i don’t-

i didn’t-

want to leave either

 

(somethin’s pressin’ down on me)

 

Chloe Wong, 3P