And When His Shield Broke

And there was once a boy from the East Coast. Who had dark brown eyes. And jet black hair, that covered his head like the branches of the palm trees from his hometown. With his black hair, he donned his black rectangular eyeglasses that complemented his lightly-tanned face like grills to a window. And he had a wide smile that never failed to frown be it in the darkest storms of the night or in the brightest sun of the day.

But what nobody else did know was that wherever he went, he would carry along his shield in the pocket of his dark blue jeans. He would carry it to school into his classes, downtown as he hung out with his friends, and into his bed when it gets cold after 10. His shield served as his only protection. His only protection from his enemies; the canon fire, the swords, and the torch arrows that lay siege to him every single day. And at the end of every attack, the shield would always remind him in an assuring and calming voice, “I will always be there to protect you.”

And by the belt of Orion in the equatorial night sky, and the monsoon clouds of the South China Sea, the shield never failed to defend the boy; the one person it unconditionally loved and supported for years. However, the love wasn’t surprisingly mutual. The two never looked eye-to-eye with each other. The boy was pretty much discarded by the cracks on the shield’s metal plate and the blows it took to make sure that he was able to breathe through life safely and soundly. And never did he ever thank the shield for its service to him as his protector because he knew the shield was merely observing its God-given responsibility.

But then came an unfortunate time, when the boy’s Golden Age had begun to fade away, and the invasions and attacks became stronger and stronger. And although the hordes came pounding and knocking on his walls, the shield held firm unwillingly to surrender. But as the walls begun to crumble, realisation hit the boy like a twenty-pound sledgehammer — the shield he held on to was not going to hold out any longer. In desperation, the boy closed his eyes and waved his shield in the air knowing that it was his only last line of defence against the invasion. Wave after wave the shield took the blows of longswords that mercilessly strike at it, and the arrows that puncture through its already cracked-filled weakened skin. And this was when not even hope and love could keep the shield together. And when a clamorous thud of canon fire was heard, the boy opened his eyes to only see ashes in his hands. The shield he had held firmly in his hands for years had been broken.

Danish Danial on the staircase shot.

And when his shield broke, nothing else could protect him from the continued attacks. And all he did was vigorously spread his arms, looking left and right in disarray trying to pick up the ashes of the shield and hoping that it would come back to shape. And all of this was pointless and the boy knelt down crying burning tears of hopelessness as the attackers crawled their way into his heart and begun hammering it down ferociously. As cracks expanded like creases to paper on his heart, and as spears impaled through like sticks to a fruit, the boy did nothing and only stood there hoping for a miracle to happen. As his heart was starting to break, the dark brown eyes had begun to turn blood red. His jet black hair that covered his head began to shed like trees in autumn. His eyeglasses dismantled into countless pieces. And for after a long time, his wide smile began to frown.

But he knew deep inside the very same heart of his, he shouldn’t let the attackers break him. He knew that if he just stood there, the cracks on his late shield’s metal plate and the arrow blows it took was all for nothing. And he didn’t want to disappoint the shield that loved and cared for him all of these years and continue the legacy that his shield fought and protected for.

And by the belt of Orion in the equatorial night sky, and the monsoon clouds of the South China Sea, he stood back up, clenched his fists and fought back the invaders. His enemies went down one by one, repelled away, and started to retreat. And as he saw the invaders run away like an army of ants from a gust of wind, he realised that all this while he was able to protect himself and he took his late shield all for granted. And finally he glanced at the ashes of his shield, with love and tenderness, and in the same calming voice, he replied, “I knew you were always there to protect me.”

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The Fall Of Societies

PREFACE

Personal Dwellings

I have to disclaim that writing about the functionalities of communities ain’t my forté, and what I’m doing here is simply publishing right out of my alley. I’m no doctor nor professional analyst, for what most would call what those people do, but I’m just one of them who had been intrigued by this topic of study for a couple of years now, and I believe I wanna write down what I had found so far. I have to admit though that my thoughts can go all over the place so, some headings seem not to kinda link to each other. My language isn’t proficient as well to express my ideas.

An Introduction to Technology

It has become increasingly obvious to anyone that with the advent of rapid advancements in technology, our human-to-human interaction started to fall apart. These advancements in technology would essentially include the usual social media platforms we use everyday, the addictive mobile games that we have on our phones, and entertainment applications such as YouTube. These mobile applications are accessible anywhere so long as you still have some of that charge on your mobile phone. It is no doubt that in the oblivion of the masses of people utilising these, not only do they play a huge part in our modern lives, they also consume the social aspects of them. Well, if you are unaware of how troubling this is, if by any chance you are at the dinner table with your friends or family whilst reading this, I bet that a majority at the table are staring at their mobile screens at the current moment.

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein

Social Media

My Take

While I do agree that this advancement in technology brings some benefit in bringing our loved ones far away closer, at the same time, it does in a way push those close to us farther. Saying this, I still do believe that it is a double-edged sword starting to grow sharper on one side, and blunter on the other. This is something that I personally take as an extremely worrying issue because not only does it eat up our lives, it is starting to integrate into our lively routines as if it had always been. It is integrating to the point where we are dipping into an age where passion becomes only interest. Interest becomes routine. And routine becomes chore.

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Take for example the role of social media for instance. I have to admit it’s something closer to me since I am a victim myself. Social media is a place where I find most of my comfort. On Facebook especially, I can find funny videos and pictures all at one go on my news feed, and Instagram where I can go all out creative with my photos. The problem here is that initially, from platforms that help me update my friends on what I’m currently doing, they turn into popularity-greed tools. With reference to the popularity idea, over time, social media start to appeal to the narcissistic side of people which start to grow and overwhelm them. This means that users don’t go to social media for information on their close ones’ well-being, but rather go there to check on the number of likes or followers they have. Contrary to some belief, these numbers do actually result in users worrying about the syntax of how these numbers grow and fall. It’s funny because eventually the amount of concern they put into these numbers grow to become much more significant than the amount of concern they put into the issues they are facing in real-life, and this is already an example of how social media is already starting to occupy a huge part of our lives. As a consequence, these users tend to post content that would get a lot of attention to maintain their “numbers”.

On Passion and Sincerity

Nowadays, content that would get a lot of attention are those that appeal to people’s pathos, or the emotional aspect. A really good example would be volunteer work. While volunteer work is a good thing, making it a big thing over on social media can spoil it. Taking reference to the idea of popularity, obviously, the insincerity of the person doing the work can be highlighted in the over-emphasising of the “good” work he or she had done in the bid to get more attention. This is an example of how passion subsides to become a chore. A chore in trying to attend as much volunteer work and get as much media coverage as possible to share it with people online. Social media does a great job in a way in creating a barrier where people pretend to be someone they are not. How does this contribute to the fall of a society? Well, if social media already set the trend, we can only expect more “insincerities” in the next generation thereafter, and we can only watch this tradition grow. This is a bad thing especially if we want to see a harmonious community in the future connected by strong passion and belief to help one another in terms of volunteer work.

With relation to content-making, in the light of a couple of funeral events for the past few years, you can see huge numbers of people whipping out their phones to record almost every single moment of the funeral. This is starting to be sort of the trend now, and it’s sad because the tradition and the elements of sorrow and forlorn in the funeral service would just eventually disappear over time. Life will just turn into one whole concert. The problem here is that once a community abandons its traditions, you can only expect its downfall.

“Social media sites creates an illusion of connectivity .” – Malay Shah

Human Interaction

On Comparison

In the past year, my family and I went on trips to a couple of cities overseas which included Bali (well it’s technically an Island), Busan, and Seoul. For me, there was a really huge contradiction between these cities, and it came to me as a big surprise.

Bali

Bali, the most technologically underdeveloped region among the three, consists of quite a number of villages that are still trapped behind time amidst all of the development of the top-tiered cities of the country. We cycled down Mount. Kintamani and followed a tour where we passed by a couple of traditional Balinese villages and communities. It was quite a heart-warming experience. As we passed by houses, children and people would come out and flail their arms in the air and greet us, and this happened not only in a particular single community, but multiple communities as we cycled down the roads. We would also see kids running around the fields and pathways playing their own mini games as they should be, and grown ups grinning at them as they play.

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It is quite evident here that instilled in every villager here is the sense of community, working together to get through with life affairs, and at the same time, striving to become happy while doing so. It’s surprising that they don’t need the help of technology in doing so.

Busan

Moving on to Korea, we visited the cities of Busan and Seoul. Although both of the cities are situated in the same country, the two cities do differ quite significantly in a number of ways. For Busan, I noticed that there was a higher percentage of elderly people as compared to Seoul. Keeping in mind the higher proportion, usually, we would assume that the elderly are not the kind of IT savvy group of people, and so largely, Busan’s population is not really hyped with all of the technology. In the subways of Busan, I had a very unique commuting experience. Most of the commuters didn’t really have their phones with them. Instead, they would talk to the person next to them and ask about how they’re doing, how they’re coping with life, and sometimes, they would share stories of their own as well. As an added bonus, there were multiple times when the elderly would actually offer to have my youngest sister on their laps throughout the train journeys and I thought that it was something very sweet.

I remember finally getting a seat next to this elderly man after standing for a long period of time. Well, I was minding my own business staring blankly towards the floor when he started gently tugging my black glove that I was wearing on my left hand. In my head I was thinking, “What is this guy trying to do?”

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I mean it was out of nowhere and I didn’t know the man at all. So I turned my head towards him with the “confused-stare” look and he immediately asked me with a smile in a soft, frail voice, “Cold?” I replied with a simple nod of the head.

He went on to ask, “Where you are from?”

“Singapore,” I acknowledged.

With a heart-warming grin on his face, “Welcome in Busan.”

He continued by asking for my age and he started talking about the things that he did when he was my age. He also shared about his work life and stories when he was transitioning into his work life. It was evident he was not proficient in English but he did make the effort to form coherent sentences for me to understand. I went ahead to ask for his age and to my surprise, for such a fit looking person, he claimed that he was 72 years of age. For me the fact that he was 72 is surprising for me since he probably saw the war happened when he was a kid.

After a little bit of story sharing, the train finally reached his intended stop. He gave a small bow, stepped outside of the train onto the platform, and waited for the train to leave. Only when the train left, he gave a small bow and waved at me with the same heart-warming grin on his face.

I guess I can say that what really made my trip here in Busan memorable was the people. How they made me feel like I’m no stranger here, and made no one else feel like a stranger here. I really do believe that the impact the people and then culture left on me here is really something that I will not forget for a long time.

Seoul

Seoul is probably a city that I would safely compare with Singapore. A city going through rapid development, having a very tech-savvy population, and behind the concrete urban jungle, there’s all sorts of cultural elements. To my shock, when I arrived in Seoul from Busan, I notice that there was a change in culture, I would say. It had begun to remind me of Singapore. Commuters all focused on their mobile screens. I didn’t at all have the same experience and hospitality that I received in Busan (not that I expected really).

Precision

On The Smallest Of Things

Thanks to analog, we now have good degree of precision be it in calculation or checking the time. In precision, we tend to care for the smallest of digits, and the smallest of things, and in this, we make the smallest of things look big, in a way. Sadly, while precision does have its benefits, we human tend to take the psychology and thinking from this and apply it wrongly to real-life. Take the time to scroll down Facebook and read the comments sections of articles that mainly talk about “new measures” or “new initiatives”. Even if the article talks about initiatives that actually benefits the community and public, there are bound to be comments that actually find a way in complaining about the matter. This growing culture of complaining is worrying since it is drowning out the amount of appreciation that we have for the good things that we have currently, and this is just something that deviates us from the golden principles and traditions that we had.

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Fin

What This Means

I read this article on The Straits Times last week about how Singapore isn’t the same as it was back in the 1960s. It described how development destroyed the “kampung spirit” that we have in Singapore. In a way, this can be attributed to the advancements in technology that we are currently experiencing. How so? As I described, technology such as social media plays a part in drenching our minds in self-interest, and it is this self-interest that leads to the breaking up of communities. Along with this, without us knowing, it invites us to slowly walk away from our past traditions, as well as moral values.

So What

We need to pay attention and study the human-to-hardware interaction, and make ourselves understand that whatever happens in the hardware itself is something separate from how we get through with our lives. In gaming terms, it’s sorta like an extra DLC to a game. In order for our next generation to not be consumed by such a technology, we need to make them understand the ethics and morals of such technology usage in a bid to not allow them to be faced with these extra negative side-effects.

If this were to continue, in the future, we can only see ties of kinship be severed, and people will only free those whom they only know, and we will witness the fall of societies.

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TapakBesar

COLLEGE’S BEEN A PAIN.

…and it’s only Week 1. However, to add on to the pain, I created a new Instagram account to showcase Cityscape and Street Photography in Singapore. However, the stress comes in when there is almost close to no engagement on the account whatsoever. So, I have been pulling my hair out for the past few days trying to publicise this.

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Actually… the main reason why I created this account is because my current one is too… messy. There’s personal stuff mixed in with some of my photography work. So I thought that creating a new account with just my plain photography work can make it well… “clean”. On top of that, since most of the youth nowadays are so hooked on to Instagram, Instagram is probably a great way to inspire more youth to work on creativity because I believe that creativity can leave a huge impact on our future.

The name for the Instagram account is inspired by my physical appearance. For a long time people called me “big foot”. …and big feet produce big footprints. …and so I translated this into Malay and that’s how @tapakbesar came about. I actually had a lot of trouble with the profile picture for the account. I initially wanted to have the letters “T” and “B” in Arabic combined together in a logo but this didn’t really look attractive. In the end, I was happy with a picture I took of myself in front of a bunch of HDB blocks in Rochor Road.

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I tried to create a unique identity for the personality I have on my new Instagram account. For example, I decided to type all of my sentences without the use of capitalisation. Also, I try to cut my sentences as short as sweet as possible without losing any of the substance. As for my biography, I added in an “amen kau” next to my email which is a slightly aggressive Malay phrase which translates to “take that”. Or something along those lines.

Hopefully I can get some publicity soon with some advertisements. I guess we will see how this works in the next few weeks.

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instagram.com/tapakbesar

The Heck Am I Doing Here?

It’s been more than a year since I’ve started this whole thing. So why the heck did I start The Amygdala Of Mine in the first place?

Well.

A year ago, I started to have interest in photography. Looking back, honestly, the photos that I produced then were kinda bad looking. However, in my head during that time, I thought my photos were great. So, I thought I wanted to write stories behind the photos that I had taken through this blog. On top of that, I had a lot of free time after my major ‘O’ Levels examinations.

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The main reason why I thought my photos stood out from the rest is because I did street photography. Street photography usually involves taking photos of strangers on the streets doing their own thing so… it involves a little bit of sneakiness. For that fact, of course not that many people do street photography and as a result, turn to other forms of photography like architecture or maybe landscapes and scenery. To add on, I had (and still have) the challenge of doing all of that in a smartphone because I didn’t (and I still don’t) have the money to get a Professional Camera.

I knew I was doing something different.

…and therefore, to give more feeling to my photos, I added a little bit of story. This also gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts about things like school life and possibly social life.

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I’m a person who likes to get a lot of attention. HAHA. Trust me. I know myself. If I don’t, I’ll start to get a little lonely and slowly slip into that sad state. In real life, if I wanted some attention, I do it in a form of some emotional gesture or body language. Sometimes, I share emotionally appealing stories too.

Actually, I do have a personal journal, but sometimes, it can get a little boring because you don’t have anyone “alive” in my journal to comment on the things that I had written. But you can always give your journal to your friend next to you and ask them what they think, right? No. It’s just plain weird. HAHA!

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Like I said, most of my posts are going to be accompanied or based on my amateur photography work. For me, the reason why I do street photography is because I kinda like to explore the way different people live and you know… kinda explore their cultures a little bit. So, my posts are going to be largely be on things like Social Issues, Travel, and occasionally, Food. I’m probably going to write about my personal life once in a while if I feel like it too. I mean it’s MY BLOG right? I can do whatever I want.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

To be honest, I have no specific target audience, neither do I have anyone specifically I would love to connect to via my blog. I’m happy as long as there’s some readership here and people commenting their thoughts and sharing their ideas on my posts.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

I’m a guy with no goals. I just go with the flow. I really don’t hope to accomplish anything much… except maybe to get some recognition for my photography work and the stories behind them, and probably get other bloggers to have an exposure to the different things that I see for myself everyday or in my travels.

How… should I end this?

Hmm… well I’m just a teenager doing what most other teenagers do; sharing everything about their lives on the internet. But the reason why I chose blogging as compared to other social media sites is simply because the blogging community seems to a very vibrant community and blogging is less confined or restrictive as compared to other forms of social media. I mean… there’s a whole blank page for you to write whatever you want to write about, with endless possibilities!

Oh. and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Aidilfitri 1436 A.H.

Aidilfitri! The happiest time of the year! Well my family and I did lots of stuff to prepare for this occasion. Recently, I got a job so I had some independence on the use of my money. Might as well use it to decorate my bare room. Got a bunch of wine boxes from a nearby wine store, gathered all of my souvenirs from my travels, and mounted a little display on the wall. I also had painted some black acrylic paint at the side of my workstation and did some chalk art.

Mounted some new stuffz!
Mounted some new stuffz!
My new chalk art!
My new chalk art!

Afterwards, I went to the store room to help my grandmother to sort out some stuff. I found this old keyboard that can’t be used no more so I kinda made good use of it.

Turned my room into a mini music studio haha!
Turned my room into a mini music studio haha!

On Aidilfitri, mostly, I look forward to tasting the food. On the eve of that day, my grandmother started cooking loads of dishes from Rendang to Ketupat. As for the Ketupat, before we can actually steam it, we have to weave the “shell” of it first using some sort of leaves-which-I-don’t-really-know-what-it’s-called.

A box full of weaved Ketupat
A box full of weaved Ketupat
Some vegetables for the dishes
Some vegetables for the dishes
Leaves used to weave the Ketupat
Leaves used to weave the Ketupat
Rendang!
Rendang!
Rice grains used to fill the Ketupat
Rice grains used to fill the Ketupat
More Ketupat!
More Ketupat!

It was like 11pm at night but our house wasn’t ready yet. We still had to paint the living room white and do some gardening. Traditionally, we would hang colorful lights in our backyard.

“Lampu kelap-kelip”
My younger sister painting the living room :)
My younger sister painting the living room 🙂

Haha I slept at 3am the following day. Arranging books, dusting the living room, et cetera.

At a nearby mosque, we started Aidilfitri prayers at about 8:15am. The mosque was kinda packed with people so we actually had to pray in the middle of the road.

Aildilfitri Prayers
Aildilfitri Prayers
Haha right in the middle of the road.
Haha right in the middle of the road

Actually the best part of Aidilfitri is that we get to spend time, and ask for forgiveness from other family members. Honestly, I hadn’t cried for a long time.

Eid Mubarak!

Selamat Hari Raya!
Selamat Hari Raya!

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My First 5 Weeks At Temasek Polytechnic

Well after a 6-month long holiday, orientation for my new school started. And so I got my stuff ready.

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Preparing for Week 0!

I was kinda excited since I didn’t keep in touch with friends in a very long time. And also, it was going to be my first time cycling to school. Thankfully, on the first day, the skies were clear, and there weren’t any signs of the weather raining anytime soon. My grandfather told me the easiest way to cycle to school was this park connector which runs through a canal, and that I have to cross three junctions.

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Greeted with this sunrise!

Of course, I took a couple of photos on my journey to school.

On the first few weeks of school, I would usually park my bicycle in the void deck opposite school, then eat my favourite Egg Prata with a glass of Milo in the coffee shop nearby.

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Breakfast!

After Breakfast, if I have the time, I would sit in the benches in front of the block of flats and stare blankly at the traffic.

Actually after a few weeks, I found a much faster route to my school, which was through another canal which runs behind this forested area. Sometimes you can find monitor lizards and snakes and stuff. In the canal, you can find otters too!

 

By the time school ends, it would be like around 6 in the evening. So, I kinda have to cycle in the dark sometimes.

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Oh look! It’s the highway!

If I choose not to cycle home immediately after school ends, I would stay in school until 9 at night and probably do fun stuff with my friends.

I remember that Friday on Week 0, when I made really good friends with a guy named Jian Shun. We sat together during a School Olympiad and we did all the sneaky photo-taking and cheering together.

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One engine!

Our recess times are like, on average, 3 hours long. In the three hours, normally we would go to the library to study.

Haha there were times we would also goof around in the library like the time he broke my watch.

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Watch looks cooler now though…

I remember there was this Co-Curricular Activity fair and the both of us signed up together for like 7CCAs. One of them was Music Vox. I signed up as a vocalist. Actually, I didn’t know what I was thinking. I have never performed in front of people before, neither do I have any vocal experience. So during the auditions, I screwed up here and there, and as a result, I didn’t go through the first round.

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Mungkin by Anuar Zain HAHA

Every Friday, at 1 in the afternoon I would have to go to a nearby Mosque to do my prayers.

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Praying in the rain

Thankfully in the school campus there are spaces where we can do our obligatory prayers too.

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HAHA, spooky, right?

So far after my 5 weeks here, this school’s amazing. You have awesome classmates (who are like soccer fanatics), and little kittens that run around the corridor.

This school’s huge too. There are a lot of hidden rooms and passages to explore. My seniors would also share spooky ghost stories. Like that time tables and chairs turned over and stuff. Actually, the more I explored the school, the more fascinated I am with the school’s architecture.

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I’m actually afraid of heights

Like the seniors, many of the staff here too have lots of stories to tell on their experiences here in this school.

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Janitors need rest too (:

Haha so those were my 5 weeks of school so far here in Temasek Polytechnic. Sadly I’m going to be transferring into a University in a few weeks so I’m definitely going to miss all of this. 😦

Well, just recently I set up a Twenty20 account to see if it can help me with my university fund hahaha :p. https://www.twenty20.com/mddanial100

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