Poet of colour

I’ve always thought of myself in these terms (in no particular order): writer, artist, educator, editor, and so forth.

At most, I’ve included the adjective “Singaporean” in front of the first two nouns, or “based in Singapore” behind the latter two to provide a sense of context.

But never in a million years have I thought of myself and my work in terms of race.

So I was pleasantly surprised – and very amused – to find myself being described as a “poet of colour”, as seen from one of the hashtags on this post:

Apparently, I'm a poet of colour 😂
Apparently, I’m a poet of colour 😂

It’s one of the few times – beyond form-filling and direct or indirect racist comments made in my presence, because people are occasionally unable to grasp my ethnic makeup – that I’m forced to confront the fact that race matters a lot more to other people than it does for me.

Chindian New Year 2014 to be celebrated over 12 Jun and 13 Jun

Tue, 8 Apr 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHINDIAN NEW YEAR 2014 TO BE CELEBRATED OVER 22 JUN AND 23 JUN

  1. The Ministry of Manpower has confirmed that Diwali 2014 will fall on Wed, 22 Oct 2014.
  2. Chindian New Year will thus be celebrated on 1.5 days – from Thu, 12 Jun 2014 till noon on Fri, 13 Jun 2014.
  3. Chindian Chap Goh Meh will be celebrated on Thu, 26 Jun 2014.

MINISTRY OF CHINDIAN AFFAIRS

FAQs about being Chindian and Chindian New Year

Some people have expressed curiosity about Chindian New Year.

As the foremost authorities on matters concerning the Chindian race, we have prepared a list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about being Chindian as well as Chindian New Year.

FAQs about being Chindian and Chindian New Year
By Lynn Lee, Prem Vadiveloo and Laremy Lee

  1. What is a Chindian?
    A Chindian is someone with one Chinese and one Indian parent.
  2. Am I a Chindian? / How do I find out if I’m a Chindian?
    Don’t worry – people will let you know, even without you asking.
  3. Who are some noteworthy Chindians?
    • Nicol David (world #1 squash player);
    • Vivian Balakrishnan (not quite #1 Singapore flood preventer);
    • Bernard Chandran (world renowned fashion designer and general stud); and
    • Priscilla Shunmugam (world renowned fashion designer and general hottie)

    to name a few.

    Their achievements are, doubtlessly, aided by their genetic diversity.

  4. What is Chindian New Year?
    It is an annual festival to honour ancestors as well as celebrate Chindian-ness, whatever that may be.

    Chindian New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chindians, and as such, has been decreed by the Minister of Chindian Affairs as a public holiday.

    The date of Chindian New Year is calculated by taking the midpoint between Chinese New Year and Diwali. As Chindian astronomers are busy discovering new planets and the community does not rely on priests to determine public holidays, we use Microsoft Excel to help us with this calculation.

  5. How is Chindian New Year celebrated?
    Very well, with festivities drawn from the Chindian community’s mixed heritage and informed by their belief in preserving important elements of the past.

    These include traditions such as:

    • Throwing things for a specific purpose
      The Chindian tradition of throwing mangos into the sea on Chindian New Year is derived from the age-old Chap Goh Meh ritual.

      In northern parts of Malaya, Chinese maidens threw mandarin oranges into the sea on Chap Goh Meh – the 15th day of the Chinese New Year – in the hope that the act would result in a good man finding his way to each of them.

      The Chindian version is more inclusive – you do not have to be a maiden, or Chinese, or endure having to live in Penang. Furthermore, not everyone wants to get married to a “good” man/woman – how boring is that?

      By throwing a mango (or any part of a mango) into the sea on Chindian New Year, all sexual mischief committed since the past Chindian New Year is forgotten and the thrower is absolved of any sexual transgressions*.

      This is a far more useful and pertinent tradition – you may not find true love, but at least you’ll be able to live with yourself (for the next year, at least).

      * We would like to stress that it is only sexual mischief of a non-criminal nature that is absolved. If you have committed some sort of fraud or aggravated assault, you ought to be jailed even if you throw a plantation into the sea.

    • Using one activity as a front for many others
      Gambling is an integral part of Chinese New Year and Diwali celebrations as a means of inviting fresh luck into one’s life.

      The Chindian community generally views gambling as a tax on those who do not understand probability. However, like most taxes, there are always legitimate ways to avoid having to pay.

      During Chindian New Year, games of chance using cards, dice or any other instruments are encouraged but with the penalty or reward delivered in a strictly non-pecuniary manner.

      We strongly suggest alcohol given its abundance at most Chindian New Year gatherings but we leave it to revellers to be creative (even when Chindian New Year is celebrated in Singapore).

      Ultimately, we take a modern, holistic view on luck; gambling for money is a zero-sum game but gambling to get each other tipsy may yet result in… synergy.

      In other words: a perfect opportunity to engage in other pleasurable activities under the pretext of creating good fortune. Take a chance!

    • Inexplicable rituals for the fun of it
      The use of pyrotechnics by our Chinese and Indian forebears (and counterparts) to celebrate their respective festivals is an exciting and colourful experience.

      However, it has resulted in many unfortunate incidents, such as blindness, loss of limbs, and unwanted pregnancies – when the fireworks distract the others long enough for amorous couples to sneak away and get it on.

      As a responsible people, we Chindians prefer not to pay higher insurance premiums and for our pregnancies to be planned.

      Hence, we have adopted the tradition of playing with crackers through a ritual we call “Release the Crackers!” i.e. attempting to eat 3 Jacobs Cream Crackers in 1 minute without drinking any water.

      Not only does it symbolically remind us of the trials and tribulations our Chindian heroes have gone through; it helps to soak up the copious amounts of alcohol that our livers might be unable to deal with. We are, after all, half-Chinese.

    • Bling for multiple purposes
      Despite the bears, gold is and continues to be a favoured asset class and metal of choice for bodily adornment by members of both the Chinese and Indian community.

      Chindians agree with the enduring monetary and aesthetic value of gold but have eschewed its usage as a means of proving one’s status in the community, as some of their ancestors and surviving family members are wont to do at family gatherings.

      Instead, Chindians believe that gold can be worn fashionably and serve multiple purposes as well. For instance, the jangle of a gold bracelet or a set of bangles can be used to remind the host that one’s drinking glass is empty.

      In the later part of the night when festivities move onto the deck, gold accessories will serve as eco-friendly ambient lighting for those with hazy vision (caused by Indonesia and progressive partying).

There are countless other traditions we’re unable to list here, for reasons of space, time and the fact that they haven’t been invented.

Nevertheless, to all Chindians and honorary Chindians alike, do not let these limitations hinder you from fulfilling the greater aspects of your Chindian nature.

Have a great Chindian New Year this weekend!