Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
Weblog about cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore.
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Fri 07 Jul 2006

Picnic at the National Library ( Meetup No. 3)

Category : museum

Thu 06 Jul 2006 - The editors had our third meeting this evening (second meeting was on 07 Apr 2006). There have been some additions to the group of editors, we did a round of introductions and TWK presented us with two of his pitcher plant books, a nice surprise!

We then began a discussion about "Mid-Autumn", a story by Tan Hwee Hwee that the library has included in its Read Singapore! programme.

I had read the story twice earlier and found it sad. Why would anyone want to recommend this for a national reading programme? It reminded me of a schoolmate who asked of Catherine Lim when she spoke to us at SAJC in the early 80's - "why are your stories so bleak?" I cannot remember the answer; a pity since Catherine is the antithesis of the sort of bleak character she was talking about.

Anyway, I generally steer clear of stories of this nature. There is enough sadness in every street corner, so I like to stick to the cheery stuff when I read fiction. Rambling Librarian, who led the discussion, was nonplussed at my comments. He was, in fact, encouraged! He said part of their objective was to expose us to literature we would not have otherwise read. Hmph.

When Rambling Librarian got us started on the discussion, I watched with some fascination - how did this work? The experience was new, sharing stories amongst the plants with traffic sounds from the street above filtering into that open space in the basement. Well, Hwee Hwee's story got us talking and some began to relate personal stories. So it did work and got us engaged. It was especially sweet to see the older guys chipping in quickly and easily.

Rambling Librarian took some notes for High Browse Online. For every plan that emerges amidst much fanfare, a civil servant somewhere writes a paper for, generates output during and finally consolidates reports after events. That has kept the libraries bustling in a phenomenal way! I was particularly amazed to hear about the walk-ins for the book club sessions they conduct. These are such an alien concept to Singaporeans, yet members of the public who would walk into one - kudos to the library!

Photo by acroamatic.

As 9pm beckoned, we had to shift to the open space in front of the library entrance. Wee Kiat surprised us with his harmonica and immersed us with the notes of "Negara Ku" which apparently has its origins in a popular song of the time [1957] called "Terang Bulan" [see and Negara-who? By Shanon Shah. Kakiseni, 17 Nov 2005].

We then chatted until the lights went down, talking, amongst other things, about the abandoned old railway in the west, Pasir Panjang Village, therapy by autobiography, mrbrown's Today column getting canned (se also and how to initiate heritage meetings without the editors running away screaming! While listening to all this (and more), I chipped in with news about the Dinosaur blogging contest that is hosting in collaboration with the Raffles Museum. Toycon informed me that the advert page was live, so while the pastry was being passed around, I hastily put up a post at Raffles Museum News.

While someone remarked about feeling young again when we plonked ourselves down on the ground, many of us struggled when we finally got up later!

Somehow the sadness of Hwee Hwee's story stayed with me. On the walk and bus journey back, I thought about the last days of my old friend Giro. I wished I could have been with him at the end.

Posted at 4:59AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .