Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Reaching Out

Mr Brown's fairly recent article about Instant Messenging got me thinking. Sure, as a veteran of IM to pass away dreary hours in the office, it's great fun. However, it's taken on a whole new edge here, 8000 miles away from home. It's no longer a luxury.

It's a need.

As romantic as the notion of leaving home and pursuing your dreams is, there is very little romantic about homesickness. It hits you hard. It hits everyone who leaves home. It's that lurking feeling in your gut, that little parasite in your brain that asks "What the hell are you doing here?". It's a natural thing. I am just thankful that I was not brought up macho-shit, and have no qualms about expressing my feelings - I think that a different upbringing, one less well-adjusted, would have broken me.

Still, one MUST find ways of coping with homesickness. I've mentioned an aspect of this in my previous blog entry - keeping busy. I say with some authority that this is mere denial. Sooner or later, you feel a need to renew a connection with home.

That is where IM comes in. Today, I had my first Skype conversations. The previous days where I had my computer hooked up to the Internet had been first marred by the inability to get my sound card working, then by a fried chipboard. In days before this I had to rely on my trust phone and Singtel roaming connection to keep in contact, then by silent webcam.

I can't quite describe the feeling of seeing your family lined up in front of the webcam. It's exilarating. It's a small window to their lives, a faint connection to home that, despite distance, refuses to die. More important, that lurking shadow of guilt over roaming charges just vanishes. One is more willing to speak freely when one does not feel like he has to compress everything in as short a time as possible. IM, for me, in the form of MSN and Skype, made this possible for me.

We talked a lot, my wife and I. She expressed her fears on her scholarship. I tried to reassure her as best I could. She brought Junior in front of the webcam. Junior looked slightly perturbed, but was a real trooper.

I promised my wife and my technophopic mother to wake up early in the mornings to speak to them. I am only too pleased to comply. Leisure and family, for me at least, has merged into a happy muddle.

For a while every morning, at least, I can quell those nasty voices in my head.


Linda Chia said...


Stay strong! We are still reading about you from here!

All the best!

vandice said...

Hey anthony. 加油!Gambate! As Yoda will put it, with you be the FORCE! But really, what are you doing leaving your wife 8000 miles behind? She gonna join you soon? Both of you must miss each other terribly...

Anthony said...


Thank you so much. Believe me when I say reading your blog (and other blogs from Singapore writers) make the distance just that bit shorter.


My wife will be joining me in August. She's finishing up her contract so she doesn't forfeit her gratuity. I've come to Berkeley first to set up the apartment.

Ironic part is...I'm not even enrolled in Berkeley. I'm enrolled in Santa Clara. :D

And yes, we miss each other lots.

Mythical said...

Oy! All two of us?? Well... I was just giving you time to settle in. *grin* I've decided that there ought to be a Darth Sidhe simply because Sidhe-Lords were around long before Sith Lords. And I suspect a link...

vandice said...

SC? Ah, you doing a PhD? In? Sorry, think I'm being too nosy.

Anthony said...

Darth Sidhe,

Nice! I liked Wanderer and Autolycus more though.


I'm doing my masters, my wife is doing her PhD. And no problems being nosy.

The Legal Janitor said...

hi anthony!

good luck with everything, and hope you're doing well.

Power to you to for living the dream! I wanna go to California too!


Anthony said...

Hey Shianux,

Thanks for the wishes and good luck for the exams!

Anonymous said...

I also Singaporean in the SF area. Just want to let you in on another method to keep in contact. www.phonecardsforsale.com has great calling cards with great rates. The one I use for SG cost 20 dollars and gets you 24 hours worth of minutes! Cost about 0.7 cents a minutes on a 1800 number. That way, you can call from school, public phone or anything in between.

One other tip is since I do not get much local calls anyway, I have a vonage VOIP home line for 14 bucks or so a month using my cable high speed. ALOT cheaper than most of the other calling plans. Sure save you a buck or two!

Anthony said...

Hey Anonymous,

Thanks for the tips!