(She took a million pictures of me, most of which are ugly. This is one of the few nice ones.)
It is a crying shame that 1) the last time we went to the beach together was in 2008 when we went to Crete, Greece; and 2) we don't do this more often. The beaches in Singapore don't have the best of views; after all, the average person probably doesn't consider it all that pleasant to stare out not into a vast open sea, but at ships and tankers. Still, the water is pretty nice: it's clean, the waves are not too strong, it's of a decent depth, and it's warm. It's good enough for a quick beach fix without flying to another country, and so I will definitely visit Sentosa more often the next time I'm back.
It was also really awesome to hang out with Mag on a lazy Monday afternoon and do nothing. Although I spent half our beach time swimming while she sat on my towel (she forgot her own towel; how typically Mag!) and read Alain de Botton's Essays in Love or On Love (US version), we were forced to escape to the nearest F&B establishment - which was Bikini Bar - when it started pouring. We ordered a mojito each, felt a bit oozy from it after a while, and talked about love, life, everything, nothing, took a lot of photos, had a lot of fun.
Like she said, it is a blessing that our friendship has survived the test of time and distance. She and Rui are probably two of the most important people in my life. I think my life would be a lot emptier and poorer and less fun without them. Rui and I are watching Macbeth on Saturday; I can't wait! Not only has it been freaking ages since I last went to the cinema, it's also been ages since I last went to the cinema with Rui. In fact, I can't remember when we last watched a movie together. This will be fun!
I need to say this: I googled Alain de Botton to confirm the spelling of his last name, and I found out that he did his undergrad in Cambridge. Oh my god, I still cannot believe that I am doing a PhD in Cambridge. It is actually really crazy. So many famous and intellectual and creative people have passed through the hallowed grounds of the university (though of course, there isn't just one main campus, so this description isn't true to life at all, but let's pretend otherwise) that it is scarcely believable that I am really a student there. I will take my PhD more seriously when I get back; no more fooling around like I did in my first term. This is probably one of the most exciting things to have ever happened to me, and I must suck the marrow out of it, every last drop of it, and give myself the best experience that I can possibly have.
Sentosa was successfully (more or less) disassociated from the unworthy person. There are still some places left, but I haven't the time, but no matter, because it will be half a year at least before I come back, and by then, all traces of this person will be gone from memory, certainly from my heart. Slowly, but surely.
I had lunch with Prof B, then met Prof Chu@ Beng Hu@t at NUS to talk about Singapore and the PAP's communitarian ideology. It was a very, very interesting talk; before I knew it, 1 hour and 45 minutes had gone by. I thought I would talk to him for maybe an hour, and then I would go to the library and look up something, but no, it just went on and on, and it was so interesting and enjoyable. It certainly helped that I read half of his book before I went.
The thing is, now I'm not sure how much politics I should incorporate into my thesis. I think I can't leave it out entirely, but I don't know how much attention to give it. I liked, however, his suggestion to take the communitarian claim seriously (which is what I've been doing all along anyway) and test it to its breaking point, as opposed to either defending or critiquing it.
What will probably be interesting about this process is also the act of putting my beliefs to the test. I remember how, during one of many intellectual conversations with Nicolas in London, I told him that liberal democracy is superior to all other forms of government. Maybe I still believe that, but I certainly can't take it as a given, I think.
Anyway. I was actually really tired the whole day. I will sleep early (or try to) and get to the library early-ish tomorrow. It's never too early to start taking one's PhD seriously, I think.