Thursday, April 9, 2009

Submission to join the BRATS camp

     My name is Tristan Toh Soon King. Having been born in a predominantly Chinese community in Teluk Intan, Perak, it was unusual for me to have an English name as my parents were not Christians. When I was old enough to care about far more important matters than cartoons and toys, I often wondered the reason for my name. I developed a swagger when I thought I was named after a similarly named Knight of the Round Table. I started walking normally again when my mum told me that she just wanted to be different from other mothers in the neighbourhood. 
     Both sides of my family are of Hokkien descent, therefore our hardy features and our ability to get easily tanned after a short while under the sun. The male members did not mind as they thought they looked really macho. The same cannot be said for the female members, thus their overwhelming support for the cosmetics industry. However, there were a few downsides to being Hokkien when I was a kid. For one, many a cartoon was interrupted by my grandmother and her sisters who felt it was their civic duty to watch every Hokkien soap available on tv. Although I was raised in such an environment, I am a true blue banana. Until now, the only time I can be found using my very limited grasp of the Chinese dialects is when I am ordering food at Chinese eateries. According to my mum,I never bothered to acknowledge her when she spoke Mandarin to me but I pay full attention when spoken to in English.

     When I was a wee seven years old, my parents had a divorce and my mother took my sister and I to live with her in Subang Jaya. Every weekend, I would visit my dad in Cheras and stay overnight at his place. I was not really affected by them splitting up and moving apart. In fact, I found it exciting to have two homes. However,many teachers blamed the divorce for my being a rebel in my first three years of primary school. I never did my schoolwork and exams, not because I was being a jerk, but because I never found the teachers’ lessons interesting. This changed when I was moved to a better school in SS15. I excelled in my studies and usually placed in the top ten best students in class. But my true expertise laid in the English Language. Since Standard Five, I have never scored less than an A in my English Language exams. My English teachers encouraged me to participate in various essay writing competitions and the yearly editions of The Star’s Best School Newspaper Contest. I also enrolled at British Council and was once considered for the secondary level classes but was deemed too young. As I scored 5 As for my UPSR exams, I was placed in a good class in Form One. 

     Teenagehood was an awkward time for me. While I watch my male friends grow beards and start smoking to attract girls, the only indication that I was going through puberty was my sudden growth spurt. I was not interested in girls and I only started developing a deep voice at fifteen. Because of this, my dad thought I was a poof and regularly made me watch love scenes from movies on tv. It has now been turned into a family joke, retold every birthday or so. Like many teenagers, I had too much free time and often found myself bored. Unlike many teenagers, I used my free time for co-curricular activities. I am an active member in Leo Club and Christian Fellowship as well as holding the post of Den Warden in Scouts and President in English and Debating Society. I am also the Assistant Head of the English Department of my school magazine’s ed board. From ten years old till now, I have never lost interest in pursuing my goal of working in the field of mass media. I enjoy writing and I often write to escape from my problems. When I pen articles or conduct interviews for the school mag, I feel good. It never seemed like work to me. I was always eager to accept any duties from my editor and teacher advisor. Thanks to my presidency of the English and Debating Society, I was given numerous opportunities to organise major events whether in school or out. 
     I really hope I am accepted to join the BRATs programme as I feel I need more experience, to do more field work and to practice working under enormous pressure and time constraints. Working in mass media is a dream to me, a dream that I have long set out to achieve. My interests are plenty. I love watching movies, especially gangster flicks. I am constantly on the lookout for original DVDs of my favourites, such as The Godfather, Goodfellas and Infernal Affairs.I also read a lot of Mario Puzo and a variety of other books, no matter what the genre. I even occasionally sneak a few reads off my sister’s romance novels. Therefore, I have a mixed writing style, though I try to gravitate towards humour and cynicism. Dislikes? Plenty. But my main pet hates are Maths, boy bands, decaffeinated coffee (I mean, what’s the point?) and people who break their Kit Kat into two. The last one never struck a chord with me.

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