I didn't expect to be so affected by this playlist -- I mean, I made the theme about "home" only because it was so close to National Day -- but somehow, even as I found it funny that some sections of the playlist sounds super "NDP," I had goosebumps listening to these songs about Singapore.
Of course, it remains immensely interesting to see different people from different cultures and countries recommend different songs -- which just goes to show home cannot truly be represented in a single form, resonating so very diversely from person to person. Yet, the ones that continue to worm their way into my heart remains to be all these songs that I have left behind in my years of childhood. I realised I hadn't heard Kit Chan's "There's No Place I'd Rather Be" or "城里的月光” or "小人物的心声“ for so many years, but the moment the song begins, all the lyrics start flooding in. And it's fascinating how there are no specific memories tied to these songs, not like ”我们之间" (batch song from the good ol' DHS days) -- they merely are (songs that remind me of Singapore, or home).
There was no defining moment of change, but rather a process of realisation -- that Singapore is a place I never really want to leave behind forever. We make choices, and as I grew older, it became clear that I loved this place for its hybridity, and the understandings/compromises we all make while learning to live with it. I used to want to go to the UK (home of English Literature, right?), but I left that behind for Singapore Literature so easily. Because the stories about far away places are always more imaginative constructs rather than the fusion of real-life impressions with the imagination that I can fin din SingLit. There are stories that are amazing, indeed, but there are also stories that are wonderous because from its very start, it begins with your self within its world -- and I think we all find this experience in different pieces of local (depending on where you're from) art/works.
I forgot about writing on my Summer School to Malaysia (University of Nottingham), and some of the intense feelings associated with the trip have dissipated. But I always notice the nature of being away from a place I consider precious to me -- in it's own way, definitely, of being considered "home" to me. Singapore always, always, occupies a position of strangeness for me -- eternally because as much as I treasure it, the spurts of desire to escape from it recur. And each time I'm away, I realise how crucial returning is to me.
The same when I was in Malaysia, but of course, I had the privilege (?) of being from a country just across the causeway. Nothing was really awe-inspiring. To be honest, I wasn't exactly feeling sociable or wanting to explore with the bright-eyed foreign students from far away -- having to explain culture is exceedingly tiring, and I didn't want to deal with being on the receiving end of generalisations and being exoticised. But I did come to a realisation about something from a year or two ago about what Singapore and Malaysia means to the individual living in Singapore.
My friend, Malaysian parents but living in Singapore, once told me -- he didn't really feel any difference between Singapore and Malaysia. He had spent a few years of his childhood in Malaysia before moving to Singapore, and the two countries were both comfortable for him. To that I replied -- that is the case for you, but for someone like me (who was born and has lived in Singapore for my whole life), Malaysia is a foreign place to me. I cannot see Malaysia in the same way as he did. Malaysia was not exactly comfortable, and stepping into Johor Bahru still feels unfamiliar, displacing.
But my Summer trip changed my perspective -- Malaysia became so easily comfortable to navigate, un-frightening simply because of its regional similarities -- from the food, to the languages used, and even the mobile apps available. It was so easy to place myself outside of the label of "clueless foreigner" simply by being Singaporean. When I spoke to my Malaysian friends, I did notice the differences -- especially when talking about currency exchanges, affordability of things -- but the disparity hardly popped up when speaking about preferences, habits. And I recalled the conversation I had, as mentioned above.
it really is about circles of inclusion, and exclusion, huh -- something I can't help but end up concluding.
With every piece of writing I wrote there under my creative writing course -- the amount of explanations that went into laying out cultural contexts, relatable only to my Filipino professor but not my classmates from Europe or China, made all these divergences in knowledge so prominent. Especially also because of the (oftentimes) lack of interest I received in return about culture, but also the ease at which we, Asian studdents, could so easily imagine a Western/European story setting -- but what really does an Asian setting look like? A Southeast Asian setting?
The more I type, the more I feel a frown starting to crease my forehead. So I'm going to stop and return to the playlist. Home, Singapore, means so much to me, and it remains so eternally precious despite its many barriers and flaws -- I want so many more people to love it, but it is also so hard to make happen. For all my non-Singaporean friends who tell me they love Singapore, thank you and thank you a million -- here's the playlist of things that make us think about home.
(in order I received these replies
(spotify playlist at the end)
稻香 -- 周杰伦
Home -- Kit Chan
城里的月光 -- 许美静
细水长流 -- 梁文福，刘瑞政，王邦吉
麻雀街竹枝 -- 梁文福
Take Me Home, Country Roads -- John Denver
Wuthering Heights -- Kate Bush
There's No Place I'd Rather Be -- Kit Chan
我的生活在这里 -- 吴佳明
Fried Rice Paradise -- Dick Lee
Bunya Sayang -- Rahimah Rahim, composed by Dick Lee -- only available on YouTube -- x
Munnaeru Vaalibaa -- only available on YouTube -- x
Chan Mali Chan -- only available on YouTube -- x
Di Tanjong Katong -- Frances Yip
Shelter -- Porter Robinson
落叶归根 -- 王力宏 -- (only the live version was on Spotify, original via YouTube -- x)
我问天 -- 翁立友 (only 蔡明过 版本 on Spotify, original via YouTube -- x)
等我回家 -- 薛之谦
我们之间 -- 棒棒糖 (only the 棒棒糖 F live version was on Spotify, original via YouTube -- x)
Seattle -- Sam Kim
Midsummer Madness -- 88rising, ft. Joji, Rich Brian, Higher Brothers, AUGUST 08
93 Million Miles -- Jason Mraz
누군가 필요해 (I Need Somebody) -- Day6
End of the Day -- One Direction
사라지지 말아요 -- 디어클라우드나인 -- only available on YouTube -- x
In My Room -- SHINee -- only available on YouTube -- x
拥抱 -- 五月天
붉은 노을 (Sunset Glow) -- Big Bang
小人物的心声 -- 巫启贤 (插班生 版本 -- x)
歌谣 -- 李荣浩
Paris 12 -- Linying
那些年 -- 胡夏
十年 -- 陈奕迅
겨울이 간다 (Goodbye Winter) -- Day6