Saturday, January 31, 2009

Full Moon

The place was noisy. I could hardly hear my own thoughts. Although, what suppressed my inner thoughts was not the noise, it was the freedom bustling at the place. The excitement emanating from people about to fly to places all over the world was magnetic in attracting my imagination aloft. My senses were stretched thin by the captivating atmosphere of freedom. But as high as my mind was from the ground, the softest of whisper of "Baba, I want to go pee-pee" from my six-years-old boy would shut out noises of all kinds, and pull me back into my world.


There is no place that would plunge you deeper into thoughts about the insignificance of life than 30,000 feet above ground, when the continuity of it was dangled finely in balance by the laws of physics.


Two hours later, after countless thoughts had gone in and out of my head, when I could care less about the applicability of the laws of physics, I was no closer to the meaning of life. Though I couldn’t feel more of it from my children’s eagerness to start their holidays outside the gates.


It couldn't get more “lost” than this - surrounded by hundreds of people, each with a different tone of skin colors ranging from fair to dark, eyes of black to eyes of green, blond hair to black hair; incomprehensible words spoken with foreign accents filled the hollows of the place. The one clear direction I had was the one provided by the little hands I was holding leading towards the awaiting family reunion.


Endearing smiles, familiar laughter, children’s yelling, children’s hugs, pats on the back, tears even, at once we were enclosed within a sphere of affection, oblivious to all foreignness around us. For the first time, instead of our hometown, we decided to reunite our families that scattered around three countries at one to celebrate Chinese New Year. Due to timing, distance and costs of traveling, we had not had such a complete reunion for a long, long time; too long, perhaps. The moon was full again.


However strong condemnation, anger, resentment, disappointment, frustration and misery think they were, they stood no chance against the wheel of times and the undying love of a mother. A simple motherly request for a family photo was all that required to melt the last trace of iciness left by times of disagreement, argument, and confrontation.


The best beach in the world could be 10 minutes away by car. For a bunch of 4-to-9-years-olds, the hotel's children pool as interesting as one found at the local public pool would beat the finest sand and the bluest sea anytime.


A meal is when one or more people consume one or more dishes of food on a table. When the people gathered around the table are bonded by family tie, on the eve of Chinese New Year, the meal bears the significance of a reunion dinner. The food on the table could taste as badly as my cooking and it would not have mattered. With lobster, abalone, and oyster, there should not be any discontent, but we wouldn't know when we had chicken, prawn, fish and tom yam kung for our reunion dinner. Luckily for us, the quality of the food elicited no complaints, and was enhanced with talks of fond memories and hearty laughter.


When the kids were able to receive ang-paus in currencies from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in the first morning of a new Chinese lunar year, a family reunion at anywhere in the world was an experience to be cherished.

Oh, when the kids yelled in excitement that they got a 300 dollars ang-pau, it was time to explain the working of currency exchange – between Bahts and Ringgit, and Singapore Dollars.


When farewell could draw tears from as young as a 4-years old, it’s a relief the children were still excited to be going home after an enjoyable and tiring few days.


That was, indeed, a memorable Chinese New Year to be treasured in our family book.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

To My Regular Readers

My 100th post is coming up.

I'm not one who would excitedly jump up and down in celebration of such trivia. No confetti, no firecrackers, and no marching band. But, it will be a milestone none the less.

For someone whose interest in writing was as intense as the warmth of moonshine in a freezing winter night; for someone who exercised his fingers on the TV remote control more than the pen or the keyboard; for someone who had never lifted a pen without the blade of academic grades at his neck, and the noose of dateline above his head; for someone who used the pen as a doodling tool more than a writing tool; for someone whose fingers danced on the keyboard more for resume, reports than for creative expressions; this IS indeed going to be a milestone. *applause* Thank you. *blush*

It doesn't matter what I churned out is not cream of any sorts. But to me, every one of them is a masterpiece. I can hear you laugh. I surprised even myself that so many words had oozed from my brain, fell into sentences, lined into paragraphs and got "published" for others' reading pleasure, or torture. And I didn't have a blade or a noose in sight. I'm actually enjoying the process.

But, of course, the satisfaction of my journey in writing would never had surfaced if not for you guys, my regular readers. Again, I can hear the laughter. But, if you're still here with me. Thanks anyway.

With this post, firstly, I want to express my most sincere gratitude to my most rock solid faithful readers, who has stood by me since the early stages of my writing adventure; read every word I typed, frown at all the rypos typos, giggle at my choices of structure-made-from-variable-numbers-of-alphabet, sigh at my grammatical mistakes, smile at the so-called humour, get excited in seeing me trying out different twist and turn in my writing, and laugh with me at the punchline. As a gesture of my gratitude, I promise I'll get around during the coming Chinese New Year break to take down the long obsolete 2008 calender, dust off the picture frames and the clock, remove all the unused blu-tacks, and I'll even repaint you, yes, all four of you, if time permits.

And how could I forget you, the reflective one. I promise not to be forgetful again and keep assuming you had laser vision to see through those drapes. And thank you for the scenic view that at times provides me with much inspiration. And your wooden friend, who has been firm in keeping out the distracting TV in the next room from my frail mind.

And of course, to you, who has been soothing when the going get hot and humid. When I feel too frustrated in this sometimes unbearable tropical weather to continue, your cooling wind always calms me down. We've got to do something about the squeaky sound when you sweep the room from side to side.

And most importantly, you. Yes, YOU! YOU with the white T-shirt; YOU with the long silky hair; YOU with the mesmerising smile; YOU with the gorgeous looking eyes; YOU with the pretty blue dress; YOU with the macho moustache; YOU, who are sitting too close to this screen; YOU, who are slouching; YOU, with your chin on your hand; You, who have spent 9 hours in front of the laptop; and the rest of YOU, who are reading this sitting on your chair. A big THANK YOU!

And if you're reading this standing up, you are probably my first "irregular" reader. Congratulations!

Even though you might not leave any trace in my blog. I know you're here - I think - reading this and all the previous posts - I hope. And if you're here for the first time. Welcome!

To all my readers who don't need a paint job, a cleaning or an oiling, I hereby wish all of you a Happy Chinese New Year. To those who are not celebrating Chinese New Year, a heartfelt thanks in advance to you for your well wishes to me : )

To all my regular EC droppers, Chinese New Year is coming up, I'll be away from the computer for a break, and the madness in Entrecard dropping will relent for a few days. I'll see you all in a few days.

During the break, I'll drag my soul into the interrogation room, blind him with a 10000 watts spotlight, and beat the crap out of him. Hopefully, after some soul-searching I'll be able to write on why I write, why I blog, why I hate onions, why I never get around to exercise, why I dislike the dark, why I like to smile, why I pick my nose, why I ....

Until then,

Happy Chinese New Year!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wake Me Up

I knew them as Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers.

Them, as Mork and Mindy. Nanoo-nanoo.


The Cunninghams and friends and, the Fonz. Whoa ...

And, of course, the Ingalls.

As we grew older and saw these characters appeared in other shows not as Steve, Jamie, Mork, Mindy, Richie, Fonz, or Laura, our perception of these shows started to change. Steve Austin became Lee Majors; Mork, no longer, but Robin Williams; Jim to James; Laura was actually Melissa; the Fonz ... was mere Henry, a good name none the less, but just not that cooool. And, of course, the realisation that I couldn't lift my father’s car even if I did it in slow motion while uttering the sound effect of a rusty spring stretching in echoes was a big, big let down.

As we grew older and learned more about these characters and what was behind them, we would start analyzing everything that appeared before our eyes. Instead of accepting them without much of a doubt, we started to query.

Happy is no longer just pure joy. Behind the happiness, there always lurk worries about something else. Sadness no longer comes to us unimpeded by certain effort of restraining. Affection is checked with caution. Compassion is shrouded with doubts. Fear is countered with denial. Anger is suppressed with reasoning. No emotions are accepted as they are anymore. We do not embrace them as whole-heartedly as when we encountered them the very first time. We detach ourselves from them.

Not only do we question and analyze how we feel towards the happenings before our eyes, we started to be critical of the plot, too.

Does it make sense? How did we get here? Which turn did we take to reach here? Should we have taken the other route? Do I have to accept this? Why?

Starting from four paragraphs ago, I was not writing about TV shows. I was writing about LIFE and our emotions towards it.

Whenever I observe my kids watching TVs nowadays, it always makes me ponder how they would accept unreservedly what’s on the TV, and their complete absorption into the show. How straight and direct was their reflection from the show. How easily they show their joy, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. with laughter, tears, frowns, curses even. And I wonder was I ever like that. Should I be like that now? And perhaps LIFE should be like that? I wonder.

And don’t we sometimes wish that we would be waken up by the sound of running water from our bathroom and found out that it’s all just a dream? Don’t we?


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There and Now

"Get up, boy!"

His thoughts interrupted. Chilled by the coldness of the remark, he lifted his head. A man was staring down at him, his gaze as cold as his words. Perplexed, he looked around the half empty bus, not sure he was the intended recipient.

"Get up, boy!" The harshness increased, with added tones of impatience and authority that seemingly demanded total obedience.

The man standing next to him was around forty, without any hints of a disability, and did not seem the kind that required assistance of any sorts. Unreasonable, he thought and returned the gaze of the man in defiance.

He had never backed down from such adversity, not at school, not at work. He was well brought up to ably defend what’s his, and respect what not. But, as strangely as how he felt when he stepped on the bus, and in spite of the firmness within him, his body left his seat; even though his mind was still hesitating on his next reaction.

His choice of action puzzled him, as much as the unfamiliarity that he had been feeling since he got on the bus. The scenery along the bus route seemed familiar enough, but the people on the bus just seemed oddly out of place. He was trying to untangle the awkwardness within him before he was so rudely interrupted.

Still not sure why he gave up his seat, he spotted another vacant seat at the back of the bus and walked towards it. Though nobody turned and looked at him, he could feel the collective disgust directed towards him. A sense of humiliation sipped into him, right before his anger towards the treatment received and the ensuing indifference. As he sat, a lump was forming in his throat.

"Get up, boy!" Another man's voice pierced into his thoughts again.

Slap on the face, twice.

Faster than a lightning, the anger that was felt and suppressed before, struck down all other emotions within him. Rising from his guts, the anger turned into rage. Trembling, he could feel the hairs on his face stood up roaring and his pupils widened. Tightening his fists, he was going to stand up and confronted the man's with his fists. Just as he was going to transform the uncontrollable rage into a furious frenzy, a voice rang inside his head. Not his. The voice commanded respect and echoed with wisdom. He couldn't make out what the voice was saying. It was firm but not aggressive, mild but uncompromising. He was listening. As the voice faded away, calmness returned. Rage reined in.

He remained seated, looking straight into the contemptuous faces of all on the bus. Pride, propped him up.

Cheers suddenly erupted. It did not come from the passengers at the front, who remained motionless, and was beginning to fade into a sea of whiteness.

Amid his blurred vision, he rubs his eyes, sees a character in the television in front giving a passionate speech, "... where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

As he turned his attention to the speaker and his speech, his thoughts still wander to the strange dream he had when he dozed off.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Like A River Flows

“Conversation” – the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words (Oxford Dictionary)

I’m an expert in conversation. For instances, “Nice weather, isn’t it?” – “Ya.”; “Watched American Idol audition last night, and it’s damn funny.” – “Ya.”; “I really admire how Britney can make a comeback after all the mess she’s in.” – “Ya.”; “I think the price of petrol was and will never be determined by the factor of demand and supply.” – “Ya.”; “Despite all the economic crisis, I believe it will rebound by the middle of the year.” – “Ya.”; “My name’s Michael Jackson, what’s yours?” – “Ya.”. See?

I’m an expert in conversation, if it sticks to the strict definition of the dictionary – “exchange” of ideas, instead of “exchanges” of ideas.

So, when it comes to the more accepted definition of “conversation” – which is the “exchanges” of ideas, for an extended period of time - mind you, my expertise sucks.

It was for this reason that when I went to get my haircut yesterday, as always, I paid close attention to the two ladies who were having a conversation behind me, trying to uncover the secret of the informal “exchanges” of ideas by spoken words ... for an extended period of time.

While my hair was being cut, with my eyes half-closed, and my ears turned towards the source of interest as closely as possible, I studied, with admiration, how the ladies could turn their conversation around, upwards, downwards, left, right, and any direction as smoothly as the river flows to the sea; from matters of their children, studies or works or being sick, to the weathers, to the newly launched Honda City car, to the trend of this Chinese New Year fashion, to the scandalous photos of Zhang Ziyi, to the Hong Kong drama currently running, to the prices of vegetables in the market, to everything under the sun, over the moon, and deep within the galaxies.

At some point during the long ride from the North Pole to the South Pole, and half way on the return trip from South Pole, my mind was beginning to get weak and tired, losing its grips on the ride, and vaguely, the conversation was going something like this:

“You know, nowadays, you can never tell a person’s age by their looks anymore.”

“Ya. With all the beauty care products available, and with regular exercises, like Yoga, Taichi, people can maintain their youthful look much longer than old times.”

“You know, I always feel that you keep yourself much better than Wendy.”

“Yes? Thank you. Hahahaha ….”

It was the first time I visited that salon. Around here, about two weeks before Chinese New Year, most salons would raise their prices for the festive season. Due to time constraint, and not wanting to participate in the highs of the hairdressers’ festive celebration, instead of my usual hairdresser whose salon is about half an hour from my house, I came to this nearer salon.

My weary mind did not pick up anything at that point of the conversation. About 9 seconds later, it struck me …

“God, Dear God, please, please don’t let the lady who’s cutting my hair be Wendy …”

I was wide awake during the rest of the haircut.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You Know ...

I can tap my index finger 332 times in a minute, my middle finger 278, my ring finger 248, and my little finger 196 times.

I can tap my left foot, on average out of 6 attempts, 136 times before starting to get the feeling of a cramp. And my right foot can last 12 taps longer, 6 out of 8 times.

I can turn my head slightly less than 90 degrees to my right, and my left; but I can tilt my head upwards to about 93 degrees, before falling on my back.

I can roll my eyeballs up and down faster than left and right. And it's more difficult to roll them in circular motion. And to roll them in a perfect oval line along the edge of my eyes is a totally different matter. And I can cross my eyes for as long as 29 seconds before I would get worried that it might be irreversible.

I can exhale non-stop longer than I can inhale, by more than 2 seconds, which is 8 seconds, according to the stopwatch in my mobile phone, the clock on the wall, and the watches of my two kids, on separate count. And I can hold my breath for as long as 1 minute and 3 seconds, before my face starts turning blue. And I bet even if my face turns purple, nobody around will notice.

I think I can get up and do a MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This", and not one person would turn their head ...


For the sake of the sanity of my restless mind, the next time the wife wants to buy Chinese New Year clothes for the kids and asks me to come back and fetch them at the boutique, which is located 5 minutes from our home, when she calls, BANISH the wisdom used when she thinks we're lost and I know we're only on a short-cut and reject her advice to ask for direction, and DO NOT doubt her senses for such complicated task and volunteer to wait, thinking this deceivingly short and simple assignment will add to my ammunition during a you-never-go-shopping-with-me argument, and DO NOT, in a sky-might-fall or sun-might-burst kind of way, valiantly turn down the offer.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Resolutions 2009

Thought I would kick start 2009 with a post that has a bit more resolve. A post that’ll make me hold my head high, chin up, shoulder back, chest out, tummy in, hands on the hips, and eyes gazing ahead, cape fluttering against the wind of future challenges, and all pumped up for the road ahead.

Following is my list of resolutions for 2009 (at the end of the list, I’m also sharing ideas on how not to break our resolutions):


Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 is going to be a Good Year!


Firstly, “good” is relative.

Secondly, “good” is subjective.

As we see the rear of 2008, each of us will brand it with different stamps, “good”, “bad”, “success”, “failure”, “heaven”, “hell”, etc, the choice of which determined by our different yardsticks.

If somehow we drew a rather negative conclusion, let us not forget the ultimate objective of these yardsticks. We gauge our past performances so that we can better our future performances. It’s only natural that we feel bad if we failed in certain area, or areas, or every area, or in all and everything that we did, what happened can never be altered (unless you have a time machine – if you do, please give me a ride! PLEASE!!). While we can’t change the deeds, we can certainly change the way we see the deeds.

As we wave goodbye to 2008, I hereby wish that all of us have the humour to embrace the past with optimism, the bravery to face up to our failures, and the wisdom to turn the negatives into positives for our future successes. And may we be appreciative of all that we did manage to achieve, and be thankful for surviving yet another year.

As we welcome 2009 (which, by the way, is the year of Ox in Chinese Zodiac), events are going to unfold. To some extents, we can never control what’s going to happen around us. But the angle from which we see these future events, the willingness to extract the positive elements from them, the feeling or emotion that we let grown within us in observing them, however difficult, is certainly within our command.

Therefore, on top of wishing you a prosperous 2009 and a successful 2009, I would wish all of you all the best in making it a Good 2009, a Great 2009!

May we welcome the challenges brought by 2009 with wisdom, courage, and a fearless spirit. And regardless of what is going to happen in 2009, may we all be the masters of our hearts.

Happy 2009!!



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