I have been interested in looking at photos for a while. I can wander the halls of art museums around the globe, past the Old Masters and the New Provocateurs (not a real term, though it should be), and always be more captivated by a good photograph. I’m intrigued the most by street photography, that ill-defined genre that encompasses a multicultural and thus wide-ranging view of the mundane, whether it be a child jumping over a puddle or one taking shelter from a daily barrage.

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In an era of easy street photography, namely the craft which utilises a phone’s camera and a little bit of editing on an app, I haven’t been so invested as to be able to tell a professional’s shot from a budding amateur’s. Yet, I’ve joined ranks with the latter, perhaps pointing my nose up by acquiring a camera.

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The ethics of street photography aside, I have also been back in the ESL game, wherein most students of mine will call what I do—write, take photos, listen to music—a ‘hobby.’ When did we remove this word from our lexicon? Why do I think of kids flying kites, collecting seashells and stamps, and origami? When did what I like to do become an ‘interest’ and cease being a ‘hobby?’

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Many things irk me about Japanese English speech. Students will say “I’m going to my part-time job” instead of “I’m going to work.” “I will study my major” beats “I will study [major].” “I’m a 3rd-grade student” is preferred to “I’m a 3rd-year student.”

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Yet, while these can be filed away as habits that are tough to break, “my hobbies are playing music and watching movies” is one that I’m hesitant to call out. For the time being, I let it slide.

In any case, I hope that segues smoothly to my promoting a new piece of mine that was just published at Mixtape Memoirs. In it, I reflect on the Malaysian national anthem, managing to restrict myself to just one political statement. Read it here.

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