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activism

game theory

game theory

conversing dolls i came across on my walk home. since no one was tending to them, i think they have been disowned.

they told me that at the end, everything can be distilled down to what “she said he said”. a million and one ways to proceed, each more complicated than the one before, and more unpredictable.

all i have to say regarding this epic chess match, is that i hope i never stop seeing and feeling something new, bizarre or unexpected everyday.

because if i do i’d rather fall off the board.

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i almost forgot about him.

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25 going on 90

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self-portrait in exercise ball

(before i begin and spoil the rest of this post, i’d like to thank my friends and family (and facebook reminders) for their generous outpouring of love and well-wishes on my birthday.)

and so, i was rudely transformed yesterday into a quart-centenarian, silver jubilator, 2 dozener + 1, etc. i think turning 25 is more significant than turning 21, because 21 is an arbitrary figure that begs to be shrugged off, whereas 25 is a nice, round number (alas, not a prime number!) that is more a milestone of mortality (i’d like to see this milestone at least 2 more times, if it’s ok. if not, 3 more also can).

this time last year, i was in the heights of nepal, and high in more ways than one. i remember very clearly the dutch apple pie (warm, not cold) which doubled as my birthday cake – a gift from 3 good friends and fellow travelers – and then freezing our asses off as we left the warm confines of summit hotel, heading home to our swindling landlord and also on to the rest of the mind-blasting internship experience (and the even crazier month in india).

that was the best 6 months of my life, and i have a sneaky suspicion that i might never be that happy again, though i certainly hope otherwise. if there is ever an appropriate time to bandy the tired expression “must try, no regrets!!!”, it is at this point. and though it still pains me a little to say this, i would never have traded it up for anything. no, not even love.

(i hope i don’t end up like one of those people who lives in the past, though retrospection seems to be in my nature, and almost compulsively so. i try hard not to imagine this embittered beast that has taken on a life of its own, growing ever hungrier and larger by the day, though i’m sure it is. so far, i have a handle on things, i’m still on top. who knows for how long though.)

from that back to singapore. safe, sterile singapore. a model of stability and efficiency no doubt, but still one gigantic hospital where people come to give birth and to die (i’ll have proof of that soon enough). back to my 4x4x4 room in my parents’ house, which is increasingly beginning to feel like a jail cell. why not get your own place? you may ask. well, last time i checked, all prices pertaining to property looked unpalatable. this has also, among other things, raised in me a desire for a swift exodus.

all is not bleak though, and there are things to be glad for. for one, my parents have yet to signal their intent in crowbar-ing some grandkids out of me. for that i’m grateful.

so here i am, 25 and at the edge of the chasm. so much uncertainty, too much in fact. when we were kids we used to tremble with sweet anticipation for the future. at 25 one can only quake with fear.

make some resolutions man, you say. strive for solid ground… achieve!!! i’ll tell you now that i hate resolutions. rather, i hate having to face up to the unfulfilled ones 2 times in the first month of the new year. it is the great burden and curse of being a january crybaby.

regardless, i did try for resolutions this year. the list ended at 1 – to get healthier and fitter (which actually makes the photo above a bad joke, haha).

on that note, i’d like to wrap up my yearly allowance for self-indulgent pity mongering. see you guys next year.

and life, see you when i’m 90.


hipstamatic, plastic bullets and such things

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the obligatory silhouetted self-portrait, as ET in this case

if the terms above are familiar to you, you must be an aficionado of photography with an iphone like me. i adore my 5dII and all but frankly, lugging it around all day everyday (with all the lenses and accessories) is a real pain. in fact, i find that i only shoot with the dslr when i absolutely have to (for the resolution and image quality).

sometimes, all i want is a little device for capturing whatever i fancy without drawing attention and poking a giant lens into somebody’s face. i guess that something is called a leica or a compact point-and-shoot, but what’s not to love about having your camera, phone, music player, social media center and gaming device all rolled into one? besides, where built-in cameras used to produce barely usable images, that of the iphone 4 is impressive.

there are also dozens of camera apps for the iphone to toy around with. personally, i use hipstamatic (with the john s lens and blackeys supergrain film mostly), plastic bullet (for borders and color effects, randomly generated) and camera plus pro (this one enhances the original camera app). below are some of my images shot with the iphone.

with hipstamatic —

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processed with plastic bullet —

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the next 5 were shot during a dinner at my auntie’s kampung house in malacca (with a bit of noise reduction and sharpening in adobe lightroom 2) —

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not bad considering the low-light condition, i think.


last stop

this series was made a while back in february, and i am at liberty to only share it now because it just got published.

MECHANICAL GRAVEYARD: Trolley buses lie in a decrepit state of disrepair at their depot in Min Bhawan. The trolley bus system, when started in 1975, was touted as a key component of public transportation in Kathmandu. They were taken offline in 2001. A peek into its past and present:

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MAOIST MANIFESTATION: Maoist slogans and graffiti can be spotted all around the bus park. The bus park was home to members of the Young Communist League up till recent times.

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SELF-ANNULLING PROPHECY: A bold claim plastered to the side of a trolley bus.

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MAKE YOUR OWN BED: An unmade bed inside a trolley bus suggests continuing utility. This ‘makeshift hostel’ was probably how YCL cadres were accommodated once.

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OLD SCHOOL, NEW SCHOOL: The bus park has been transformed into a terminal where electric tempos are charged and serviced after work.

look here for more posts direct from nepal.


blowtorching a chicken & maobaddies in pokhara

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well, stranger things have happened. i was sitting in sujit’s hot sandwich shop (opposite my hotel in pokhara) minding my hot tuna and cheese sandwich when the lady in the butcher shop beside started working her limp and very dead chickens with a blowtorch.

given the recent shenanigans of the marauding maoists, i suspect that she was trying to make the following points, that (a) she could use a blowtorch and (b) she would use said blowtorch. nice, i like when women take action.

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between sitting in the garden with a badnewspaper or in bed contemplating geometrical variations while nursing a bad stomach, i managed to find time to visit a maoist feeding centre by lakeside and attend one of their rallies. given the kind of people they are, i can understand why they like bandhs (strikes) and rallies so much – they only have to eat, sleep, scream and shout, thrash things and people upside down and most importantly, not shower. nothing like satiating the baser instincts to keep a caveman happy.

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maoist feeding and general r&r zone by lakeside. they couldn’t have chosen a better spot for a picnic. a storm was brewing and lightning exploded the sky when i made this picture. how appropriately ominous.

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under a lobster-red tent, they fed on daal bhaat and “simple foods”, according to one of the them, and them according to him being “simple peoples”.

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they say hunger makes a man mad. this guy was more mad then hungry, i think.

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today marks the end of a bandh that lasted 6 days, much to the chagrin of some maoist cadres who still have the fight in them. the guy in the photo above can put away his cap. frankly, they are facing a dearth of popularity. reports from several parts of nepal told of folks retaliating against maoist force. forcing people against their will to participate in the bandh is not exactly the best way of making friends.

getteth thyself into the ol’ photograms below, ye maoists, for obstinate and obsolete thou have becometh.

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i shot this from the second storey of a half-constructed building. to get there, i had to navigate through seething cadres lining the spiral staircase, agitated by mr. i-have-the-runs-of-mouth below. i have never heard a diatribe so long or irritating in my life. nevermind that i couldn’t understand much of what he was saying. i did catch the names of some locations in kathmandu, so i surmised he was delivering an after-action review to his dear comrades. much like how communist leaders overstated grain harvests and poultry output – same same but different.

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mingling with the crowd, who stared at me and my camera like i was either the bubonic plague or the san franciscan (according to nick cave & the bad seeds) gold rush, i saw crazed youths with young communist league headbands and sticks in their hands. at the other end of the spectrum, there were old men brandishing sticks as well. not walking sticks, mind you, but the kind that goes bam-bam over your head.

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a standard shot of the grand ole standard. only in nepal and with love, xoxo.

p.s. trying to write like kunda-ji is so much fun, reading his stuff even better.

for more crusty (mostly not) posts direct from nepal, click here.