Being Intellectual ... and Not

Hello peeps. Christmas is like in a few hours away. Merry Christmas to you and may your holidays be merry and great. My christmas present came early this year. Last Monday I saw an envelope on my table from Alliance Française and I knew it must be my DELF B2 test result. I didn't expect it to come this fast. I was expecting to get the result in January, but there it was and I was so nervous. It was a bit like opening the envelope about my NUS admission decade ago. What's inside the envelope can be something good but it can be something devastating as well. I was kinda wishing it's not there, but open the envelope I must. As I took the piece of paper out, my eyes just ran. I didn't go through the letter from top to bottom, I just kinda went searching and I saw that my total score was 78 and that means I pass. Oh my God!!! I was jumping up and down upon seeing the result. I think it's crazy. It was totally unexpected!

As I got through the score breakdown, I was even more stunned. I scored highest in the production orale / speaking part. I scored 22 out of 25. You can go Hannah Montana's "say what now?!?" because that was kinda what I felt. Seriously?!? For me, 22 is like almost perfect and I didn't think I was coherent at all. I mean I wouldn't be able to understand myself if I watched myself there. So that was crazy! Well I believe there is always some leniency from the persons marking the orale test, since they really don't want to see the students fail, but I really think the score was really generous for me. The second highest score I got was for the reading comprehension, in which I got 20.5 out of 25. I'm glad. I did well, also unexpected. The questions can be pretty tricky. I remember during our classes when we went through the exercises and Mr. V asked me the answer to a question, I normally got it wrong and even though I got a second try, it was still wrong. So that was how hard it was to understand for me, but it turned out my brain truly did light up during the test. Then I got 20 out of 25 for the writing part. This was supposed to be the part in which I should have scored really well. Not that 20 is bad, it's pretty good. I guess I was just stunned it scores lower than the other 2. I did purposely simplify my writing in the hope that I would make less grammar and spelling mistakes. So perhaps that's the reason I couldn't score higher since I lacked nuance in my writing (as Mr. C liked to put it). Oh well.

I have to admit that I secretly did hope that I would score 80. However it didn't seem possible. That would mean all the parts have to score 20 at least or some parts have to score higher than 20 to lift the weaker part and that is difficult because to score more than 20 means it's close to perfect and I'm not there. So I was right, I didn't make it to 80. For the listening part, I score 15.5 out of 25. It was still good especially considering I barely made it to the required 5 during practice in class. So I actually did really well. However it was too much for the rest of the parts to carry even though they scored more than 20. There was a disappointment in me because I was just shy of 2 points. Still, I didn't expect this result and I actually did really well. So I'm thankful. It's incredible and amazing. That evening I was feeling so good. It reminded me of how awesome I can be and I haven't felt that for a long long time. It was a real good thing that came after so many shitty things over and over again. It also felt amazing that by passing this test, on paper my French knowledge is the same as my Italian, since DELF B2 is equivalent to CELI 3. I actually made it. When I started learning french, reaching this point seemed too long to be foreseen but there I am now, completing my journey. It feels really good to achieve this. I also have to say that I am thankful for the classmates that accompany me in this journey, I am particularly thankful for XF.

However, as I said, that feeling good didn't last long. Life has taken a worse turn. In the last post, I said that I thought I was pretty intellectual. Well to know how worse my life has taken, I actually got hooked into Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It started when I stumbled upon Toddlers and Tiaras. It was already low no that I watched that? Anyway, I ended up watching Honey Boo Boo and I actually love it. I cannot wait for newer episodes to come. Much has been said about them. Well they are not refined, that I can say. However who are we to say what is proper and not. I am sure my manner will be considered as not refined as well for the royalty of England for example. I wonder how much it matters. Honey Boo Boo and her family always seem happy and they seem to have a lot of love and they always support each other and that is more than what some people like me have. So perhaps they are not so refined but they are happy. I perhaps have more things in my head but I am obviously unhappy in life. There I have said it out loud. That is the truth. If you have known more about that truth, I'm sure you will feel sorry about me or perhaps worried. Maybe, maybe not. I realize that some people whom I thought will care, apparently don't care.

Let's talk about something else which is less depressing. Went to watch Jersey Boys on Saturday. I enjoyed it very much. It was entertaining and nice. I think the guy who played Tommy DeVito was handsome :P The theatre wasn't full though. I wonder if the cast feel bored doing this over and over. After the break, there were these 2 little kids who decided to sit at the front row and I think it's such a treat for the cast, because they were always clapping enthusiastically and they were really cute. The ending was great that I actually felt like standing up, singing and moving, but of course here in Singapore, everyone is boring so noone did that :( I think it's actually bad for the cast since people didn't seem to be responding much but they were really good despite of our lack of appreciation.

After which, me and YeeMaggio went to Gardens by the Bay. I have the annual pass that I really need to make use of and I want to check out their winter theme. It was interesting though I felt that some of the plants and decorations were looking rather miserable. We also managed to watch the OCBC Rhapsody in the super trees but yet again I didn't have the chance to go up to the super trees. We didn't have the time. Anyway, here are some of the pictures. To see more, you can go here.

You gotta have poinsettia, of course.

I took me sometime to get that these suppose to be penguins. Green penguins are just not my kind of thing.

Then there were these cute Teddy Bear Santa.

Christmas commercialization won't be complete without presents ...

... and santa ...

... and let's throw in some sparkling flying reindeers.
Okay, I gotta admit this was cute.

Of course we need a big christmas tree. So there you go, christmas in The Gardens by the Bay.

The following 2 pictures are the super trees during OCBC Rhapsody.

:) eKa @ 11:22:00 AM • 0 comments

This Earth of Mankind

How are you guys doing this Saturday? Today I will actually be spending the day in my room. It's kinda strange because I can't remember when the last time I spent the Saturday in my room. I used to have Saturday classes. Then when I don't, I usually have the movies. This week does not have any movie that I like, so here I am, just gonna watch something in my computer. I will still go out later though, I need to feed myself.

Today's choice is the Italian movie, La Prima Cosa Bella. I'm not sure if there's a subtitle but the whole purpose of choosing an Italian movie is to make sure my knowledge of it is not totally gone. Last week, I watched Habemus Papam. Love the idea but really didn't like the ending. It made me so disappointed and it added to my depressed feeling. I like to believe that such a case will not happen to a real elected pope. He will not waiver from his task. I guess what I wanted to see was the belief and faith that God will sustain you and if someone who was elected pope is not believing it, well as I said it added to my depression. However it's fiction, so I shouldn't let it ruin me much.

Anyways, the title of the post is the english translation of Bumi Manusia. It's a book from Pramoedya Ananta Toer, which I had finally finished reading. The story was first told verbally to Toer's fellows inmates when he was a political prisoner. It was then written 2 years after he started telling the story. I found it to be really remarkable. I wondered if the story evolved as he told the story or he knew from beginning how it was going to play out. Since the book is the first in a tetralogy, it is really something if he had seen how the characters would develop throughout. The books were written before I was bornt but the setting of it happened even way longer, during the time of Dutch colonization in Indonesia and that made for a very interesting feeling in me when I read the book.

You see, I had come to think that the Westerners are not necessarily better than us Asians. I mean you just need to cite something out of American TV as a proof. However you cannot deny that many Asians still kinda look at the Westerners as rather superior, even here, in the modern state of Singapore. Reading the book, I was just kinda shocked seeing how the main character, a javanese boy, felt that the European education and culture to be way more superior than his being as a javanese. He did feel differently as the story goes. However, I still had a hard time to relate with his thoughts and idea and also the perception at that time. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that even the so called noble javanese family thought very highly of the Dutch. I guess Indonesian history is really pretty long and complex. When we were young, we are always taught that the Dutch colonialized Indonesia for three and an half centuries, that is 350 years. We learnt about the wars, the heroes, the treaties. We also had lessons on the kingdoms before colonization. Then there was the independence period and kids these days may learn about the reformation period. So with all those to remember, who had time to look at how people lived and the perception of the people on a personal level into what was happening. Reading the book, at this period, it seemed the Javanese were just embracing the Dutch control of their land.

Life changed for this javanese boy when he fell in love and eventually married a girl who's half Dutch and half Javanese. It is also an interesting story to note about these kids who are half Dutch, half Indonesians. I imagine it would be like the stories of the kids who were bornt out of African slaves and their white masters. The Dutch government refused to acknowledge the marriage and the girl was considered as Dutch and the Javanese mother had no right of her. At the end of the story, she was shipped to the Netherlands. Drama! I'm looking forward to know what happened next. The girl was not my favorite character in the book. I thought she was disappointingly mentally weak, but then I thought maybe she has just reached the state where she just couldn't go on anymore with all the problems in her life, and since I am currently feeling something like that, I sympathize with her a bit. I'm sure she's this great wonderful girl. The character whom I had much more respect for is Nyai Ontosoroh. She's this strong Javanese woman who learned to stand on her own feet and be a person whom everyone can lean to. It reminded me of my favorite character in 100 Years of Solitude, Ursula, who was also a mother. Toer did give her some flaws which is something that he gave to all his characters. Noone was perfect in his book. Everyone had some demons that they had to deal with. It is an interesting read because it is really so different. It's like a world which I thought would feel familiar for me since it's Indonesia but it turned out to be quite foreign. I did have some disappointment like there's a murder whose resolution is not so satisfying for me. I don't know if it would be explained more in the next book. I think it would make a nice movie actually, but I kinda don't have much confidence that Indonesian movie makers can do it justice. Maybe I am underestimating them.

So I completed my goal of 5 books for this year, I had read Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk, Plum Spooky, The Night Circus, Lord of the Flies, and Bumi Manusia. I am currently reading What I Did On My Holidays. Not a book I would chose for myself. It was given to me. It's about a girl who got dumped the day before she supposed to go on a trip to Majorca with her boyfriend. She supposed to turn 30 during the trip. There I was thinking that the time I turned 30 was miserable, this girl had it pretty bad. So far in the book, she decided to just pretend to be in Majorca than to go there alone. So she just holed up in her London apartment. Truly not a book I would chose for myself. I like to think of myself as kinda intellectual. I know that's an arrogant thing to say, but really I would be embarrassed if I get caught reading twilight or the 50 shades book. Some of the things I had in my little collection consists of things from Kahlil Gibran, Paulo Coelho, and Gabriel García Márquez. Of course since I love Harry Potter, perhaps some people who love Lord of the Rings would think of that as a very dumb choice. Anyways this kinda book has its attractive feature, just like how I am attracted to watch chick flick. I cannot deny that. At the very least, this book is easy to read. Reading this girl moping around turned the pages faster than reading the boys in Lord of the Flies moped around about being deserted in an island without adult supervision. I wonder if I can finish this book before the year ends. I kinda like this whole reading thing. Of course my isolation helps me a lot in forcing me to read. May next year be filled with more interesting find.

Before I leave, let me leave you with something. When I was preparing for DELF, Mr. V told us to listen to radio france to improve our listening skill. He was refering to the news channel but I went to the one which played songs all day with a tiny bit of news update every hour or so. There I chanced upon this french singer, Ben L'Oncle Soul. I think he's so talented and I love his music a lot. He would define it as soul. Whatever it is, it's kinda off the main stream. It's kinda the type of music that I really love to listen. I find it more meaningful that pop music. Currently in my ipod playlist, I'm putting him together with the American Raphael Saadiq, Italian Nina Zilli, and the Indonesian band whom I also just recently discovered, Soulvibe. I love them a lot. Soulvibe feels like what happened when you mix the Indonesian band RAN and Maliq and D'Essentials. 2 other bands which I also love. Anyway when I listen to Ben L'Oncle Soul's album, I just kinda want to sway a bit and the heart smiles a little. To show you how great he is, I am leaving you with this clip of him singing, Barbie Girl. Dig your memory a bit and remember this song actually exists. Unfortunately, your head will remember some of the lines of the song. Sorry about that, I promise that this one is really good :)

:) eKa @ 1:00:00 PM • 0 comments

A Big Chunk Floats Away

Hey peeps. I did my DELF test on Thursday. So how did it go? Well it went much better than I expected it to be sauf (except) for the orale part which as predicted went horribly bad. The part which I was worried the most, listening comprehension, turned out to be manageable. I think I will get the required 5 points for that part. I'm not sure why it didn't go bad for me. Maybe God was really helping me. Maybe it was easy. Maybe because thankfully our invigilator decided to start the listening part after the reading comprehension, which is a great idea since we wouldn't be so shocked and it's like immersing ourselves slowly into the pond of death :P Okay, overly dramatic there. Maybe also all the exercises that I had been doing daily really helped. This brings me to the 2 resources which I want to share with you, if you're learning french. I found it hard to prepare for it just by listening to radio or watching movies without subtitles which I did. By the way, Intouchables is a really awesome movie, go and watch it. For me, I think I was just focused in preparing for the test. So those 2 methods may help you understand things as a whole but I found that it requires a higher level of skill in capturing the detail and then retelling what you know in your own words. For me, I just want to be able to find information related to the questions. Often, I may not even have a full understanding of what's happening but then the questions enlighten that for me. I don't know if I am making any sense. I don't think my method is a good method. You should make yourself better for real not just to tackle some test. Still, let me just share the resources. The first one was actually used in Mr. N's class one time. It's 7 jours sur la planète. Once you reach the page, click on Téléchargez les activités pour la classe. It's a really good resource with levels that match up the DELF test. The bad point is, they only keep archives for 2 weeks and each week there are only 3 sets of exercises. So I found it not enough for me. The second resource is Canal Académie. I only did the Ecoute Attentive part, because it has the suggested answer key. The exercises are not as good as 7 jours sur la planète in terms of the questions variation and details, but they have a lot of resources. I don't know if they update it, but I found myself not finishing many of it. I guess it's also because I started late.

So anyway, yeah, I found myself not so riled up during the listening part. The reading comprehension was not as I expected it to be. The thing is we've been practising with pretty much the same structure and type of question but during the test, they were different. So I did feel slightly annoyed but I think it went okay. The writing part was also manageable. For the orale part, thank God they changed the schedule to remove all the people who didn't come, so I didn't have to wait until 4pm. Many people bailed. LF and Phil bailed. I don't know if Phil is still in the country, haven't seem him for so long. LF felt she wasn't ready and she had some issue that she had to deal with. It didn't stop me from being disappointed. She should just have come. It wasn't as difficult as we thought it would be. XF actually made a good case on why we should just do it. We paid for the test, we paid for the class, we should just come and try our luck. Maybe we'll pass which I think there is a good chance all of us will pass. I'm not so worried about failing each section. I think that should be fine, but I am worried if I get the required 50 points. I would like to be confident, but I don't know, I'm very unlucky this year.

Anyway, let me talk about the orale part. I was praying to get a subject with a very obvious opposing view, but out of the 2 I had to choose from, I didn't get the second one really well and I ended up choosing the same topic as XF about the lack of sleep. I presented my case in a problems - solutions form, but after it was done, I thought it was actually more like causes than problems :( I was supposed to do it with Ben and F who were my teachers at one time. I ended up not doing it with them. I don't know why. Maybe Mr. V made a mistake of bringing another girl to my slot or maybe because they were my teachers. I ended up doing it with Mr. V's team, but Mr. V was changed because (I distinctly heard this) he also knows me. Whatevs. I just want it to be done. I was the last batch. So I guess everyone wanted it to be over. I did badly. I'm pretty sure I did it after Sam and Sam is like awesome :( We supposed to talk for 10 minutes but I think I only did 8 because I spoke damn fast. One of them said ça va though. I really hope it's alright. Yes it's just my tendency to speak fast, even in broken french. There were questions that I didn't get. The guy was speaking softly actually that I didn't really get him :( Then there was the awkward silence when they didn't know what to ask me, err ... When it was over, I was grinning because it was over then I quickly texted XF. She met me in the library when she was done, saying the nerves was still all over her. For me, I was just darn happy it was over, but then the wave of disappointment came over me. I feel like one of those athletes who have a lot of potential, but can never win. XF told me she didn't have time to prepare all her thoughts in the 30 mins given to us. I had enough time. I had 2 pages full, but the execution was horrendous. It was like my mouth talked without my brain. It's always like that with orale. I blank out. I found myself being able to answer the questions (that I understood) with more ease but my monoloque was just awful. Alright. I hope I'll pass. Please God, let me reach the required 50. Please God, please.

So DELF is done. No more french class. I've packed all the notes. I felt this emptiness suddenly. Yesterday as I was getting home, I was thinking for the first time in a long time, I have nothing to occupy me. There's this sudden big emptiness for me to fill, which can be easily filled catching up on all those tv series and going back to crocheting. The past few months were filled with DELF preparation. Even way before that, before preparing for DELF, I usually have homeworks to do or the end-of-term test to prepare. Last time, my weekend would only start on Saturday afternoon. Now I have all these free time and no burden of anything. I like the fact that I don't have things to memorize and homeworks to do, but I do miss the "fellowship", if I can call it that. I had many many bleak days that meeting up with my classmates and teacher on a Saturday morning were often the things that I love the most about my weeks. I guess I'm pretty lucky that in every state of my class, I always have a group of people whom I was close with to do this together. Of course they came and were replaced by new people, but I am thankful that there's always someone. I don't know what I will do next. DELF result will come out in January, I think. So far, the plan is to go back to Italian class next year to make sure that they don't disappear completely and maybe after that back to french class, also for the same reason. I don't foresee myself doing any of it intensively though. I would love to do language #5, but I don't think it's wise to squeeze new things in my head when the previous ones don't have a stronghold. Whatever it is, it would be after Chinese new year. In fact, I feel like I don't want to think about anything until after Chinese new year. It's like there will be some sort of revelation after Chinese new year when the truth is I guess I just don't want to deal with stuff. Well maybe I can hope that the year of the snake will be better for me than this roller coaster year of the dragon which is draining me emotionally :(

Let's move on to other things. I watched Pitch Perfect last week. It was entertaining but somehow I thought it would be better. Today I watched The Life of Pi. I had wanted to watch it in Imax 3D after I finished my test but I had the worst bus driver ever so I missed the time. I of course can only blame myself for not moving faster. Today I was actually late for the movie, again I can only blame myself for being slow. It sucks when you paid so much more money for Imax 3D and you're late and you're ended up in a bad seat. I was so dizzy after the movie :( and I didn't enjoy the movie experience. The movie itself was beautiful I think. It's just my whole experience was awful :( The movie didn't follow the book exactly. I particularly hate the part that they added a girl there. I think Ang Lee made India looked awesome. There were some beautiful dreamy scenes in the ocean but I'm just very sceptical that it's possible for the ocean to be totally still like a piece of glass reflecting the sky. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there is really a science behind it. I think the boy did a great job playing Pi. By the way, when I watched the trailer on tv, I was confused if it should be pronounced "pee" or "pie". I have been pronouncing it "pee', because π in Indonesian is pronounced "pee". Then I remembered that "pee" is the correct pronunciation because it's short for Piscine, which is the full name of the boy, but even in the movie it was pronounced "pie". Piscine by the way is the french word for swimming pool. When I read it for the first time, my brain took a split second connection to the word piscina in Italian which also means swimming pool.

So back to the movie, there were parts which I would have liked to see more, like the dramatization when there was a ship nearby. My heart was breaking when I read that part in the book because it seemed to be so near. In the movie, it wasn't that near, so as much as it was sad, I didn't feel that heartbroken. They also removed the whole blind conversation which I thought didn't make sense in the book. So in a way it was a good decision, but it was bad as well because that part could actually give us opportunity to hear what Richard Parker would sound like talking. They did keep the final part when the boy was telling the alternative story, but it wasn't depicted, which I think is a good decision since at least it leaves very little room to shake anyone's "belief" of what actually happened. I know that when I read the book, I was rather shaken that I actually hated this inclusion by the writer. Overall, I would love to watch it again, but I think I will not. It's beautiful really and do watch it peeps.

Let me end this post with my thoughts on a news that I heard today. You see there were some bus drivers from China who went on strike this week because of dormitory condition and salary. Apparently they're paid lower than the Malaysian bus drivers counterparts. In Singapore (and also Hong Kong), people from mainland China are not that loved, if I can say so. So I don't know how my Singaporean friends feel about this strike. I didn't really dig much into the story to know if the drivers had tried talking to their bosses many times of their condition, etc. It just became something that really caught my attention when some of them were actually charged by the police. Then today I heard that 29 of them will be deported back to to China. I think it's crazy. I think it's totally crazy. Indonesians took the street all the time for every little things that they don't like. Not that I like this kinda behaviour and since I was affected with hours of train delay due to a strike before in Europe, I do feel that the whole things are sucky for the people who are affected. However, I feel that voicing one's opinions is important and sometime one do need to take a rather drastic action. Lucky you if you have never had bosses whom you feel paid you unjusticely. For those who have, don't you ever wish that you can just go on strike? I guess in the end, I feel like the way the Singapore government deals with is it totally unfair. I have many things that I disagree with with the Singapore government but I think this is my first time writing about it. I know they have to mantain that reputation of being efficient and strict and most importantly ensures that this will frighten the people so they wouldn't do the same, ever! The transport minister was saying strict action is important because if they're seen as lenient then it will affect investors' trust in Singapore's capability. Still, I just cannot accept this punishment. I think it's just too harsh and it's awful. I see it as these people expressing their opinions and yet they are shut down unfairly. If they had taken it to the bosses without the strike, I think one of the outcome which may happen would be them losing their jobs for complaining. Now they are also losing their jobs, so they lose either way. I don't know if there are Singaporeans who feel the way I feel. Maybe? Maybe not? As I said, mainland Chinese are not exactly loved here, so perhaps many will feel good riddance for them?

:) eKa @ 9:27:00 PM • 0 comments