Monday, 28 February 2011

Dannis and Toms

Dannis and Toms are in Taipei.
They were there exactly while I was in Singapore, so I made sure to get the right return date so not to miss them.

I took them to the Shida area, the nightmarket and some of my favourite cafés. We had a delectable time at Awfully Chococlate - by far one of the best place for anything chocolate in Taipei. What they call chocolate here is usually just extremely sweet with not much flavour...
We went to the hotspring in the evening. Perfect weather for that.

They're the best company I could hope for at the moment.
Kind, attentive, affectionate and funny.
Just being together. It's good to have friends like that.

With Dannis

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Disneyland of Asia

The more time I spend in Singapore, the more I realise how some aspects of it really bother me. Indeed, it's perfect, safe, nice, all the adjectives one can find which complete the notion of 'good life'.
As I was talking a lot with Minh, I realised that living here was like living under parental tutelage, even when one is old and experienced enough to build his own life.
Not unlike the US, the fear factor is the best way to keep people under control. I was waiting for the subway and was watching the TV screen displaying advertisements as well as video about safety. In one of them, acts of terrorism around the world were mentioned. "It could happen in Singapore!!!" A sinister, dark skinned (Malaysian looking of course) young man wearing a baseball cap was pictured holding a suitcase and putting in under a chair, then leaving the train at the next station. I suppose everybody watching the video would cry out in their mind: Good Lord, NOOOO!!!! That's terrible!!!
The video ends with a big explosion.

I was at the swimming pool and spent an hour there, trying to improve my breathing and synchronicity. I was wearing a white swimling trunk. As soon as I got out of the pool to go change, the life guard stopped me.
"You have to change your swimming suit" he said, rather unpleasantly.
"What's wrong with it?" I asked.
"It's em... well one can see through. It's indecent. So you have to go change and leave. Buy a new one."

I had been in the water the whole time, no one could have 'seen' anything anyway. Beside I was done for that day. On the opposite side of the pool, two white guys were sunbathing on their beach chair, clad in tiny swimming trunks, leg spread apart.
The next day, Minh lent me pair of swimming shorts, of dark blue colour.
The life guard signaled me to come to him again.
"What do you think you're doing? You don't remember what I told yesterday? Are you messing with me? This ... is not allowed!"
"What's wrong with this one?" This man was really annoying.
He showed me a signboard depicting what was allowed and what wasn't. Swimming shorts were not.
"I see...You know, I'm only here for a few days, I don't want to buy another swimming trunk". I told him.
He remained silent for a while then said: "Ok. You can go to the pool, but you have to play it low key!"
I remembered the two white guys of the previous day, but said nothing.
Later on, he started to strike a conversation. Maybe he realised that my intention was not to show my body and sexually assault young women and innocent children.
His tone softened when he learned that I was from Paris, and a musician.
"It's good to have a purpose in one's life. Young people in Singapore just think of having fun"
I looked at him. Behind his sun glasses, he didn't really strike me as a very old man...
"I think that the young generation is lost!" he went on. "They have no respect for the elderly, for the tradition".
 I came back next day in my white swimming trunk. But I had worn grey underwear underneath, so it was no longer sea through. The life guard couldn't, didn't say anything. He merely nodded at me from the distance. Anyway, I was not parading and walking around the pool... The two white guys were there again, still sunbathing, legs spread apart.

Minh was telling me about his living situation. His wife was apparently the daughter of psychologically abusive parents who never found her good or suitable enough. Actually, according to Minh, nothing was good nor suitable enough for them. Then she turned to religion and let her guilt-ridden mind be filled with tales of crucifixion, words of righteousness, fear of God's wrath...
I don't dare to imagine how that will mould Ben and Jude's mind in the future.
I also learned that it was forbidden to sell chewing gums in Singapore...

Speaking with my friends here, I find that many live in a little shell and are afraid to look outside. A friend of mine who left Singapore to start a new life in China recently told me how shocked he was when he discovered the world outside Singapore.
"We are so sheltered in Singapore" he said.

If on my first visit, I even contemplated the possibility of living here, now I see how impossible that would be for me. Minh says I could have a good job here, make good money teaching... He saw how I loved children.

For me, too much security = death.
However cool that statement may be, that's also a ticket for a rocky ride!

I was amused when I learned that selling chewing gums was banned in Singapore...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Fatherly instinct

Not Hong Kong this time. Singapore!
I had originally intended to go to Bangkok, but many circumstances played against, the main one being that Izac wasn't particularly enthusiastic about the idea of me in this capital of perdition!
So Singapore was the alternative. Safer than Singapore isn't possible, except, perhaps, in Switzerland.
My friend Minh was to host me. We had been in touch for a couple of years now and he had been watching over like a big brother.
I had often talked about his two sons. I saw their pictures and was looking forward to seeing them in real life! And it was also the opportunity to meet Edwin again, whom I hadn't seen in the flesh since 2007.

The week was perfect. I fell in love with Minh's sons, Ben and Jude. Six-year-old Jude, the youngest one is a charmer and the most lively of the two. It didn't take him long to warm up to me and to start introducing his toys to me.
My fatherly instincts were turned on for the whole week. Minh seemed delighted that I loved his sons so much. However, I still wanted to see my friends and some of my relatives, so it was tricky to schedule my time in order to enjoy everyone's company.

Every morning, Jude would come and greet me in my room with one of his toy. We played a lot together. I couldn't stay in my room alone for more than 10 minutes without him quietly opening the door and coming in to chat, to show me something or start a new game.
When I promised him one evening that I would take him to school the next morning, he was overjoyed.
I may never know the joy of fatherhood, but I do treasure every moment I am given in the company of children.

My brother and Mathilde will soon have their first baby. But I'll be too far away to watch it grow up. Ironic...

Jude and his toy creation

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Solitude standing

So now I am in Taipei. It isn't an easy affair. Not as smooth and simple as I imagined it. Administration would drive anyone crazy here - as in any other country, I guess, France and Italy being the winners…
And leaving a country where I was born and raised isn't easy either. I was so busy with all the projects in the first months that I didn’t have time to think of it. Then it fell on me. I started really missing Paris, my family and friends. I am in Taipei and feel so lonely. Of course, I see friends here and there, I have a good laugh, a good shag, a nice night out… But I am lonely. For now, no work, no project. Chinese New Year seems to have suspending everything in time. Of course I was sick for a whole week, not sleeping in my room but in the little guest room, where I feel more cosy and safe. My flatmate had gone back to his family for a week, as has everyone else.
The flat keeps my mind and hands busy and prevents me from sinking too deep in disarray.

The heavy feeling started after my trip to Paris for the French premiere of NINA in December. It had been the crowning of a very great if exhausting year. I had the feeling I had come full circle. But then what? I really had to face some issues I yet had not faced. It’s quite challenging to strip your soul completely bare and look at it in the mirror. Or is it something else then my soul? The projection of myself? My illusions? Whatever it was, I had to face it. It took time. But the process was about true self love. Not loving myself because a particular reason which makes me feel good. Simply love myself. Love. Unconditionally. I guess we’re never taught that. As children, we are always told to do something good to win people’s love or appreciation. Even our parents do that, of course unconsciously.
Being alone in a foreign country is the best way to reconsider one’s life. The idea wasn’t to transpose a former life in a new setting. What didn’t work had to be sorted out or at least questioned. 
Sometime I wish I could delude myself and believe in the comfort of security. But I just can’t lie to myself.