And… part two of the first lifestyle series on Rui Han, where I find out more about his experiences and his tips in getting his busking license! (You can click here for part 1: LifeStyle Series 1.1)
(JEE: Me, RH: Rui Han)
JEE: I guess at this moment, I am really really interested to know some of the experiences you had while being out there, ‘vulnerable’ to the public! Haha! Ok we positive okay, start with the good ones.
RH: More often than not, the good encounters are due to the kindness of strangers. I’ve had random people coming up to me for a friendly hello and compliment, saying that they’ve had a bad day and listening to my music helped. Sometimes I find handwritten notes in my guitar case that were dropped in without me noticing, inscribed with either words of encouragement or appreciation.
JEE: (Nodding in acknowledgment)
RH: And on occasion I find some food or Gongcha placed behind me, attached with a note saying that I shouldn’t go hungry. I only wish I could give proper thanks to these faceless people.
JEE: Sometimes don’t you think like we should highlight kindness and stop being so particular about negative news and stories. Okay sorry for the digression, moving on.
RH: Actually that often comes to mind. In return, I do my best to give value to the audience through my music. It is heartening to see people connect to it – a slight nod of the head, a shift in the eyes, the light tapping of feet to the beat. That’s when you know your music has reached somebody.
JEE: It sounds too good to be true, but I will believe there exists nice people out there. Was there any event that really moved and touched your heart though?
RH: Probably the biggest wake-up call that I’ve had – I once noticed a family of three standing by a corner listening. The girl was disabled and in a wheelchair. She couldn’t have been older than eighteen, and was singing along. Her parents were by her side warmly encouraging her. They listened for about half an hour before coming over to say hi and drop a tip. Her parents told me that she loves music a lot, and thanked me for playing for their daughter. I switched off my equipment to pause and have a chat with them, and knelt to shake the hand of the girl. Her movement was impaired and her speech was slurred, so I couldn’t really understand her, but she had the happiest look on her face. I recognised this as strength, and then I felt slightly ashamed of my lack of it, for if our roles had been reversed, I’m not sure if I’m able to do the same – to continue holding my head up high as she does.
Now this wasn’t some extraordinary encounter but it was a hard reminder to keep my outlook on life in check, and that our actions are not isolated and instead, carry an impact on the people around us. If this is so, shouldn’t we try to make it a positive one?
(This portion was entirely written by Rui Han to really capture the whole story, I couldn’t have been able to scribe this. I think this is worth taking the time to read.)
JEE: Okay come, the bad ones.
RH: I’ve met my fair share of nasty people – some give you the stink eye or scoff at you, but this doesn’t bother me. Once in a while some angry person will come up to disturb me or call the police on me (LOL is it I criminal now).
JEE: (Gasps) whatttt!!! That’s quite extreme leh call the police oh my.
RH: Either because they find me a nuisance, or for no other reason than to piss on somebody’s day. There’s also an old man who harasses me almost every other time that I busk. I usually deal with him by being polite until he gets bored and leaves. Can only kill them with kindness; live and let live.
JEE: Hmmm I was expecting more of such but it’s okay I guess, I shall keep my blog happy and positive. (Haha say say only)
JEE: I know you need a license to operate but… how is the process like actually? There is an audition right?
RH: There are 4 openings for getting a license each year, once every quarter. You first have to submit the application form, then wait to be scheduled for a compulsory “Pre-audition workshop”, before being scheduled for an audition in front of a panel of judges, which you have to pass.
RH: Machiam American Idol. Pretty intense.
JEE: Any tips for the process to getting the license?
RH: Prepare your equipment well before the audition, and make sure you’ve had practice using it! The purpose of the audition is to emulate what you’ll be doing on the streets, and you’ll be assessed in a street context, rather than your act per se.
JEE: What advice will you give to others who might be interested to busk?
RH: Just go for it! And I think this applies to any interest or idea that you might have at the back of your mind, but never really acted on it. I think one of the biggest risks we face to our overall well-being is staying within our comfort zone – the end-line of it is where your life begins.
JEE: Finally, the last takeaway from this venture?
RH: I think there is something about being exposed to strangers and society that makes you realise – there is more to this world than the one you have always been sheltered in.
I don’t know about you, but I find street performers so brave and courageous to be able to perform in front of a crowd, what more an unresponsive crowd (come on we all secretly agree). I guess, if you’re passionate, do whatever it takes that brings you to your goal. So in this aspect, I really give my respect to Rui Han and the other street performers for pursuing what they want to do.
Thank you so much to Rui Han once again for agreeing to let me write about him. I really appreciate it! To support Rui Han, follow him on Instagram @hanhankuah to find out more! Thank you again!!!
Cr: @jeeheng + @hanhankuah