Summer reading in CHIJ blue

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Reading 1

A blue pinafore dress by Alice and Olivia in a royal blue that is close to, if not just a slight shade darker than the CHIJ (Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus) school uniform blue I grew up wearing.

Photo © Jan-Erik Nilsson for CMC, 2009

As a student in Singapore, the days in the month of June are always long. It’s that month when most, if not all students in Singapore have their mid-year holidays, and I gather now that my days were pretty much filled with reading, the ocassional bowling session with friends, tennis or BBQ by the East Coast beach.

Red currants ripening, a fairly common sight in high summer in Sweden.

And though I spent a lot of time reading during the school holidays, the concept of ‘summer reading’ didn’t really hit home, partly because the seasons in Singapore were not distinguished as such, but rather with the monsoons, the summer monsoon and the winter monsoon. The summer monsoon brings with it warm rains, deliciously fat raindrops that drenches all in reach, quenches nature’s thirst, and the kind that ruins unsturdy shoes. The winter monsoon is what characterises the Christmas season in Singapore, with rains distinctly cooler than any other time of the year.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Reading 3

In my hand, my latest summer read entitled Shining Hero by Sara Banerji.

After having worn this particular shade of blue for ten years of my life, through primary and secondary school at CHIJ, it doesn’t take much to understand why I’ve refrained from having this particular shade of blue in my wardrobe, until now.

I thought it’d be fun to have this dress in my wardrobe because it was similar yet different enough from the CHIJ pinafore for keeps. The colour is reminescent, the pleats from the top of the dress are in place, but the dress is generally tulip shaped, its silky material ballooning from where you cinch the waist with a belt, parting like petals to the knees.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Reading 2

Draping at the sides, to the knees. The dress is belted by a columbia blue suede belt with silvertone ware. The outfit is paired with an intrecciato weave, chocolate brown Timberland flats.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, blue ribbon

A cobalt blue ribbon in the hair and turquoise stone dangling earrings.

This hairstyle is similar to what CHIJ girls would wear to school on a daily basis, back from my mother’s time till today. I’ve used in this outfit, a cobalt blue ribbon in the hair. This particular shade of blue for hair accessories as I recall however, was not permitted during my days at the convent. Navy blue, white or black were the preferred hair accessory colours and only one colour was permitted at a time for the accessories. So you couldn’t for example, have a braided black and white headband as that would be deemed too ‘fancy’ for the school uniform.

Red currants 2

These red currants will be ready in a day or two, for red currant pie.

There were plenty of school rules to follow in the convent, one of which was that all girls should wear a pair of school shorts under their potentially billowing-in-the-wind pinafore skirts. I thought this school rule disastrous to follow for personal hygiene standards, the tropical heat alone would make the wearing of shorts under the skirt so uncomfortable that any concentrated effort at learning would be impossible. But shorts over underwear, under skirts were compulsory nonetheless and the students were spot-checked constantly for proper attire. The very act of spot-checking under skirts in the name of decency, would leave many a convent girl pondering the concept of virtue versus duty for the better part of their lives.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, reading 4

Reading, indoors.

Shining Hero by Sara Banerji proved a poignant read on livid lives both in high society and children of the streets of Calcutta, India. That so many of the themes in her book were also reflected in Slumdog Millionaire, 2008 was disturbing to me, never having visited India myself. I found Slumdog Millionaire to be much more genial and optimistic in its depiction of street children than Banerji’s work.

Dahlias

Dahlias in full bloom

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