This afternoon I met Barbara. A woman in her 70s who has singlehandedly been managing the archives at my internship. She knows exactly where the pieces are to any narrative whether they were displayed on exhibits or shared as inside stories in the pantry. My supervisor introduced me as the digital asset management intern. Barbara smiled very kindly at me but also a little too long which seemed to suggest something along the lines of “ah so this is the new little punk with a computer whose pushing me to retirement”. A few minutes later she did mention retirement twice throwing me a smile intermittently. While we were looking at various collections whether it was the famous ones or the most obscure ones Barbara knew exactly where they were. Most of them were in unnamed boxes with codes only she could understand. She had been working with the museum for 40 years, building and managing the archives. I was puzzled the entire time how she could dedicate so many years on this massive project. My friends and I are constantly pushed towards seeing destinations as stepping points to something better. How could someone put away half of their lives to being away from the limelight and doing the work necessary to bring these artifacts and fossils to life?

One of the reasons I had come to New Haven was the possibility of extending my comfort zone. To be in a different environment , to learn technical skills and live in country that claims to be great and is constantly looking at reviving some mythical status it had achieved. Living in a new place can be hard. It’s like starting from scratch each time, not only reaching out to others but at the same time reinventing yourself in a new environment. When I was on an exchange I met my friend Jessica who was also an exchange student. She was exchanging in Utrecht for a year and that semester she was juggling two theater internships. Over lunch, we discussed why we constantly wanted to push our comfort zones. What made us want to reach for more when we could have easily chosen a place of comfort? Life doesn’t always have to be that complicated. We both came to the conclusion that it was each chance we take that we feel a 100% just by relying on ourselves. I was reminded of my British Council teacher and her great advice.   “TV can be fun. But these are just 2nd hand stories. Rather than living vicariously through these fictional characters make your own stories. Actually, do something.”. For some reason, over these 6 years, I have held that advice as a golden rule to make things happen, to write my own stories.

Barbara didn’t just archive what was given to her at the museum. She actively sought material and stories to fill a small room and let them overflow till they gave her an office. Most things she gathered, were searched and earned. I think for us to truly be happy with past experiences that are archived down memory lane we need to have created stories for our own selves. We need to have lived.

Curry (con)Fusion : Should it be eaten alone or with company?

Depending on which part of the world you are from, you might associate curry as solely belonging to the Indian Subcontinent. While curry is a celebrated staple that comes a close second to rice in many south asian households, curry is more of an asian phenomenon. Burmese curry, Japanese curry, Peranakan curry and some orange paste stuffed in fancy glass bottles named ‘Tikki masala’ or ‘authentic thai curry’ are different variations on the many Curries one can find. Even if curries were just an Indian phenomenon it can still be confusing. Within each indian state, different communities cook their curries differently. Depending on your bloodline, which part of the river your family is from or if you had a culinary genius down your ancestry path you would make curries differently.

When I had gone on exchange to Utrecht I had missed curry so much. It wasn’t just curry, but I missed the spices mixed in a warm flood of ecstasy entering your mouth and sliding down your throat. But many Dutch lunches were as cold as their winters with meat and cheese stuffed in between slices of bread. For the first time in my life it became necessary for me to cook, seriously. Which meant cooking beyond omelettes and fried rice dishes. The spice search began in dutch supermarkets as I google translated spices from dutch to english to its indian form. I judged bottles of pre-made mixes for their shade of orange (very patriotic of the dutch) only to decide that I will stick true to the challenge and make my curries from scratch. On different accounts based on the amount of enthusiasm, yogurt and tomato puree I had within my vicinity, each time they tasted slightly different. As an unspoken rule I never made curry just when cooking for myself, it had to be shared with someone else. It almost seemed as if it would be an over indulgence to cook curry just for myself. Just like eating in a michelin three star restaurant by yourself or pouring yourself glasses of champagne while watching the most boring documentary mid day on Netflix in bed.

On one of the last few nights in the Netherlands I was appointed as the designated onion chopper to make curry. The curry contained chickpeas, potatoes and an entire can of coconut milk in it.The warmth of the curry was like a hug on a winter day and I absolutely enjoyed it. I knew for a fact that the hippie chef had found this recipe while surfing the net for vegetarian or vegan curry. If I had learnt anything back home, it was that no matter what curry you made if it wasn’t for an entire village there was no reason to pour an entire can of coconut milk in any pot. On top of that, curry is usually traditionally eaten with a side of rice or roti.

But this curry was self sustaining. It was a testament to western individualism and self love that had been promoted by philosophers, modern day self-help gurus and therapists. Although curry has been fused into many cultures, it still is primarily an eastern tradition. While self-love and self sufficiency is possible and admired by  ‘eastern’ people, we rather enjoy having company while learning to love ourselves.While it is beautiful to be alone, waking to your own alarm and having an uninterrupted view of your balcony just for yourself; having some carbs on the side to soften the rawness and heat that comes with just being yourself is to be appreciated as well. Maybe if we had just the right company we wouldn’t have to tame or numb ourselves with a can of overflowing sweetness and coconuty happiness. We then will learn to make curry as spicy, pungent and overwhelming as being ourselves is suppose to be. I finished off one of the last few curries I would have in 2016 with some chocolate celebrating the bittersweet end of my new found unfettered independence and freedom while discovering Chance rapping in his excitingly untamed verses,

Don’t be so judgmental, even though I’m reminiscing
If I don’t know what I miss is
I’ma end up figuring out that it’s home
And my mother and my grandmother cocoa butter kisses

sturdy trees

Sturdy trees with your heavy branches

you’re still in roaring chill winds

you’re untouched when grubby children push their feets on your trunk

climbing, falling and laughing on you


On the other side of the world

the branches are lighter

they sway and shiver in esctatic dances

they lower their heads so that children can take elephant rides on their backs


Is it the chillness in the air

or is it the years you spent reaching for your own spots of sunlight

that made you

so sure

so unmalleable

so immovable





Colour closer toward extending lines

On days I'm tired of running 

I rest under the trees my great great grand father had planted 

The branches have grown strong and wide

Casting a huge shadow of comfort 

When restlessness sets in 

my body is numb 

But my ears are filled with a constant buzz 

I run after the buzz and take a leap

Dressing myself in nomadic clothes 

Shedding eccentricities and

previous identities like aged skin 

If I ever become whole  

I will brood over the lightness with which this neck carries 
this heavy head 

Or measure the negative spaces between the arch of my back and the 
softest sheets 

Because the only way to feel complete is to fill voids 

And to constantly colour closer and closer toward extending lines

The works are ahead


The art of understanding anyone 

One of the many things I learnt at creative fiction class, is that people are made of contradictions. When constructing a character, contradictions and paradoxes are good to have, but they have to be streamlined so that the readers are not too confused.Writers often alter the contradictions a character possess for easier reading.In our daily lives in an attempt to understand one another we tend to overlook contradictions. We forget that unlike characters everyone is complex and our paradoxes are not meant to be trimmed but to be understood and celebrated.
 We forget that unlike characters everyone is complex and our paradoxes are not meant to be trimmed out but to be understood and celebrated.
Because what we are, is not a character and our lives are not a logical story. What we are, what we want changes and how we narrate our stories will always change.
When it comes to friends and relatives I have consistently attempted to understand them better. I have known to be transparent and a very good friend once told me that I preferred people who I could read and understand over ones who seemed impenetrable. As such, I have shared many of my stories, allowed many to see ‘me’ and draw their conclusions. However, I am always surprised by the short attention spans of several individuals who have tried to get to know me better. With time, the responses get shorter and the response times gets longer. After a while I’m known as that ‘girl who looks quite but actually talks a lot, writes, likes tea excessively, studies liberal arts and only talks about literature and theatre’. It also amuses how knowing my interests and weekend plans suddenly makes them an expert of who I am.
As most people do, I show facets I’m most comfortable with, and share narratives I have had the mental strength of processing and making sense of. When people are just content with scraping the surface of getting to know me I’m often shrouded with self-doubt. I start to question if I’m shallow person or whether there was’nt much in getting to know me anyway. After much thought I have realised many people have very short attention spans and it is easier to just scrap the surface and not have to take a second look. To those people, I say: ‘Just because you know my social media activity, my weekend plans, my favourite movies and my upcoming projects, does not mean you know me. Most of me is hidden under these crazy curls, which only patience can untangle.’
Just because you know my social media activity, my weekend plans, my favourite movies and my upcoming projects, does not mean you know me. Most of me is hidden under these crazy curls, which only patience can untangle.
These quick facts and trivia that we share readily about ourselves at interviews and with acquaintances over dinner parties make up merely the surfaces of ourselves. Everyone including myself are much more than just the sum parts of our interests and plans. There’s this whole parallel universe of thoughts and emotions that may tell a different story.
It was with seven years of friendship that I got to understand an unknown side of one of my best friends. She comes across at first glance as the composed, calm and responsible eldest daughter. Which she is, but one evening when I made spontaneous plans I realised how flexible and spontaneous she is. I also got to know that the despite her goldilock curls and her seemingly quiet disposition she was an aspiring biker chic! If our friendship had been short lived and we never reached a level of comfort I would never have known her adventurous side.

Main take away :

You don’t know anyone yet, unless you’ve spent a significant amount of time with them. As simple as it sounds getting past the rehearsed introductions and getting to the phase of comfortable silences and random conversations is the start of getting to know someone. But most people loose steam before they reach that part.
It’s one layer to let someone talk about themselves and for you to listen. To reach a deeper and more meaningful understanding we need to listen and observe when he or she doesn’t intend us to.
It’s a process that no three of even four hour seated conversation can suffice.
The works are ahead!
The works are ahead. Take that leap and go to the museum, make spontaneous plans, sit in silence and watch a show. Be invested in your time and energy.That’s how you understand people. If not you’ve only touched the surface. And what a pity when there was so much more you could have known.
 Be invested in your time and energy. That’s how you understand people.

Patience is key to the art of knowing someone and ourselves.

Patience is key to the art of knowing someone and ourselves.


Playing Telephone

Sometimes it’s a parent’s birthday

or a  project rotting alongside the

morbid tick tock of a deadline


This time

it’s a speeding car knocking you off

you body flatlining

in defiance with gravity for seconds


The car is dented

You were unscathed with feet back to the ground


I’m holding a paper cup to my

ear trying to understand the

nothings you mouth on the other end

The child in you muses whenever someone

pretends to listen

You’ve been playing telephone for too long


We’ll play hide and seek

I’ll go hide

You come find

We'll take turns playing dead till you pick up

A real phone

dial a real number to a

Real person


Look I’ve been scathed

I’m healing

I’m breathing


Let me breathe life into you

Because I wish the car had knocked life into you
Playing telephone

“Let me breathe life into you”


To turn on and off like a switch

With a click I'm on pause and replay

like an entertainment system

I disguise under a compressed file with the tag 'work'
I slide into archive during busy afternoons
But make a reappearance between tobacco and expresso charged 
mid day breaks 

I fill in two hour lunch slots
as I part good bye just before the last bus leaves

When you sleep I wrap around your feet, to keep them warm
And dissipate once they touch the carpeted floor in the morning

When I'm too quiet to bear
I somersault to the rear end of your brain 
the weight of unknown words might smash the concrete platform 
I tread tonight softly

The leash around my neck lies loose
As I jump, run and spin

I can't move too far
the sides of my neck are chaffed
But if the other option is to be slotted and forgotten till replay

I'd rather bleed and walk 

Photography : Kimberly Jow 

Big Hair Wisdom- My Story

big hair wiz

Photography: S Divya

The hair grew out sleek and soft

straight, long falling down to young knees

during two californian autumns

It curled and frizzled

under the hot spiced tropics of new home; Singapore

The milk laced tongue got used to laksa and peppered curry

her ears filled with the constant laughter of elderly wisdom

The hair absorbed new found knowledge well beyond its years

most of them borrowed

And it grew longer, thicker

the straight strands curling into one another in a maze

whispering questions:

Will I be pretty enough? 

Will the other kindergarten kids like me? 

When would I finish climbing the monkey bar? 

Why does sand get into my hair? 

Why is my voice too soft? 

why does the unbrazen brown boy like pulling my hair? 

The stray strands

were weaving into one another

cuddling for comfort

Over the years they were trimmed and cut over and over

puzzling hairdressers island wide with a shock of black curls

they tried the U-cuts the straight-cuts and begged 

that she opted for thinning

she refused and medicated them with coconut oil

the awkward hair didn’t hide her rounded shoulders, broad hairline

and wallpaper she mistook for clothes

She found her eyes expressive her nose permissible

better bejewelled with a diamond nose stud

and she found The hairdresser who tamed the split ends

making them flow from her forehead like divine black waves

framing her cheeks, parting at the right axis of her face

he refused to thin the spillage

it was brimming with bottled rage and curiosity

to wash over anyone she met and to make the town fall in love with her

The curls weren’t just pretty

they were Her

big bursting loud but tender

waiting to answer questions any eyes sought to ask her

The big hair wasn’t just pretty

it was Her

it was Her story.


Bloated tummies

Sometimes we wake up with bloated tummies.

Heavy and sore from fired coal

tossing and turning

filling our stomachs with hot air


We throw amber coals to others’ windows

The blinds are drawn

We are invisible but no one can ignore our heat


My tummy has been dormant for months

Today it ignites with familiar evil

I’m lining a trail from your window to my tummy with ashes

It’s safe to draw the blinds up now


Amber coals have been crushed to grey ashes.