Saturday, September 13, 2008

Do you believe in Ghosts?

I've been asked this many times ... okay actually it was just once by a colleague who I arm-twisted to read this blog – something I'm sure she has since regretted ... right Sylvia?

Short answer to the question ... sure! What's not to believe!

Basically I'm old enough to realise that there are lots of things we don't understand and perhaps never will. (like how according to a certain person who said sometime back, my G2000 shirts and spiffy hairstyle which I've had since I was six, ain't no longer in vogue) but I digress ...

Back to the legions of the netherworld, we've all seen and experienced things we can't explain – a fleeting image from the corner of the eye, that indefinable sense of dread (like the boss is walking by), deja vu, feeling a connectedness to a place you have never visited before, having the hairs at the back of the neck stand for no apparent reason, feeling a presence comforting or otherwise ...

It happens ... okay maybe not very often ... but still when it does, it gives you cause to pause and think if only for a few seconds, that there may be something else out there. Then of course, our rational mind takes control and we scoff at the thought.

Ghosts, spirits, the afterlife – they could exist whether in this realm or another. In every religion and culture, humankind is linked to those who live in another dimension, souls who once walked the earth, who have touched our lives and since departed.

I guess all of us would want to believe that we will one day, in some place not too far away, rejoin family and friends who have gone before us. And if you believe that, then it is not too hard to imagine that for whatever, some of these “souls” (or their energy) choose to remain in this world – presumably their business yet unfinished.

I personally think it is comforting to believe that there is more to life than well ...just this. Would I ever want to come back in spirit form? Sure! At least a brief visit would be great – you can't be sitting on clouds playing the harp (badly) all day. Hell I've already got a long list of people to spook, to slap the back of their heads, to push down a flight of stairs ... yeah that kinda thingy.

So if one day many, many years from now you glimpse out of the corner of your eye someone looking like an extra from That 70's Show , wearing a G2000 shirt from the late 90s, supporting a hairstyle reminiscent of Ronald Reagan, then you’ll know … I’m back!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Praise of the Ugly Duckling

Compared to the majestic architecture of the National Museum, the grandeur Singapore Art Museum and the understated opulence of the Asian Civilisations Museum, the tiny Singapore Philatelic Museum must surely be the runt of the litter.

Collecting stamps in Singapore is for all intent and purposes, a fading pursuit surviving only within the hallowed ranks of purist collectors. Housed in what was once a bookstore, I returned this old building on Coleman Street a few months ago after an absence of many years simply because I was passing by and had some time to kill.

I never professed to have any interest in stamps. To me it was nothing more than a bit of printed paper you stuck on the corner of an envelope without a second glance. I had intended my return visit to be a quick one – just poke my head in, see what has become of one of my old stomping grounds and be out the door in 10 minutes.

Then I met Jocelyn – a nice lady who works there. She offered to take me on a tour. Okay – I could be out of there in 15 minutes, I figured. The galleries were small but the tour, with all the details thrown in, seemed like it would never end. Still I was struck by two things.

One, the place didn’t look anything like your typical stuffy museum. Quite unlike the dark corridors of the National Museum where I always fear I’m going to trip over a dead body (see In Search of ...), here there was a comfy sofa, nice soft music and a warm, inviting atmosphere.

The other thing I like about the Philatelic Museum was the passion of its staff. They genuinely believe that every stamp has a story to tell if only we took the time to listen. Thanks Jocelyn, you didn’t exactly make a convert out of me but the next time I’m licking a stamp, I’ll at least pause for a second or two to appreciate the picture – promise!