... and oh so true

Monday, October 30, 2006

PhD Submission

Hot off the press - Ste submitted his tome to Senate House this afternoon and can now start a new chapter of life as A Normal Person. Well done, Darling :) Now we just have me to worry about.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Nitaenda safari

I started this blog nearly a year ago, with a single, externally-motivated mandate - to practice writing. In one of our first university seminars on writing style, it was suggested that we keep writing throughout the 3-4 years of the PhD programme, be it in personal journals, for publication or leisure. That would purportedly hone our writing skills and keep the momentum going (hopefully) till the final year, for the decisive writing-up phase.

At that time my writing style was in obvious distress, in dire want of more polish and less patchiness. It's not immediately clear how far the situation has progressed since then, but at the very least, blogging has been an enjoyable way of keeping friends and family clued in on my neuroses ... the unexpected (and mostly unwanted) freebies with the doctoral package (buy 1 get 10 free - for life!).

This time tomorrow, my flight will just have landed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I'll be there for six weeks or so, till mid-December, for fieldwork in Dar, Zanzibar ... and possibly the capital city, Dodoma. I'm more excited than anxious about the trip now (it was the reverse until a couple of days ago), so if anything at least we know the Larium's kicking in.

The London chapter of our lives is still very much open while the drafts for Zurich and Dar are concurrently being scribbled in the margins. When I'm next back in Zurich it'll be just in time for Christmas, then New Year's ... and all-too-quickly, January. I am in pre-emptive shock.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The new academic year has started

Photos from the recent LSE-Cambridge PhD workshop at Sidney Sussex College ...





Sunday, October 08, 2006

Faster than a paddling swan

No, I haven't left London - we're only releasing our flat on 19th October. Yes, I'm in Zurich right now, arrived a week ago. No, I'm not really based here ... yet. Yes, I'm continuing my PhD programme at the LSE. No, my field research will actually be in Tanzania. Yes, I'll be back in Switzerland ... in time for Christmas. No, I'm definitely keeping my Singaporean passport. Yes, there'll be more fieldwork in 2007, possibly in China as well. Nein, Ich spreche kein Deutch even though my partner is Swiss-German. But yes, I speak some Mandarin and am hobbling along with 1 to 10 in Swahili.

The trouble with me is that I take questions too seriously. My response to a friendly and innocuous, "How are you?" is the stampeding moral compulsion to brimmeth over with gory -albeit bone-janglingly precise- details. Judging from the perplexed looks I've been getting this past week, I should either opt for a more sedentary existence or cultivate a modicum of diplomatic self-restraint.

As I'm left to sort out that grand dilemma, here are photos from our first week in Zurich ... from cousin Matthias and Ursina's wedding, moving into Minervastrasse 27, assembling furniture, to welcoming our very first houseguests, Erina and Takahiro, who made their way over from Munich!

Undoubtedly Dotty

Ladies, PLEASE check out The Dotted Line when you get the chance - Dorothy (Puiming) has some of the prettiest designs in town! International orders taken (mine have been logged in) and for those based in Singapore, free alterations for the next month!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some photos from the Nanjing programme, July 2006





Those salad days

I used to love visiting friends' homes when I was a kid. It allowed for some juvenile investigative behavior on my part. From my general survey it appeared that many of my contemporaries were stellar athletes, academic brainiacs or bemedalled uniformed group members. Their living room display cabinets were more often than not crammed with sports trophies, book awards, embroidered badges, shiny pins, a veritable fest of everything gilded and ribboned.

In my thirty-one years as a sentient and partially productive being, I have only ever won 1 trophy. And what an almighty one it was, all of two-feet tall with a bulging thorax of plasticky gold (the strikingly same shade as the foil on chocolate coins), obligatory school crest, ribbons on each ear (in green, black and white), all perched on a laminate wood pedestal.

The inscription at the base of the trophy proudly declared,

SECOND PRIZE
Lower Secondary Salad Making Competition
Illustrious as that might sound, my leaf-tossing partner and I hadn't actually taken the competition all that seriously. Our end-product was some unfortunate mass of chicken mayo laid to rest on a bed of leafy greens. It was quite possibly Puiming's aesthetic touch which saved the day ... and the vinagrette.
Not entirely convinced by our own stab at the culinary rankings, we christianed the project 'Chicken Hoohah' - a half-dare with Fate so that if by some fluke (or sensory disability on the judges' part) we should win, then the MC would be pressed to announce the nonsensical name. Such is the arcane impenetrability of teenage humour.
As it turned out, Hoohah did us proud. But there is no chance for a replay of those salad days now I'm afraid, unless it's with mock chicken.

Rah rah

There cannot possibly be a more inauspiciously titled book than this, but heck, it's a surefire winner as far as I'm concerned. Please put your hands together for the launch of The History of Financial Disasters 1763-1995, Volume I edited by the inimitable Stefan Altorfer, no less.