Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More excuses

Not just from me. From all the Malaysian politicians embroiled in the current saga, especially. These people are literally talking bollocks again. 

I've just started a new path in my career. Still the same job, mostly, but I will now be more involved in the administration and training of my colleagues. Less time on the road, more in the office. 

Hope to be able to leave my musings here more often. You all take good care of yourselves, keep your eyes on the road. 

And let not the bollocks distract us from the more important things in life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Guilty as charged! I have been slacking, neglecting this spot where I can share views dearest to me. It's just that I've been rather preoccupied with my obsession of getting my new Macs fully operational with all the info that used to occupy my PCs. Plead no contest to the second charge of jumping ship and abandoning Windows after 15 years.

But it wasn't without some - rather - divine involvement. First, my two year-old Acer laptop's screen went bonkers hours before a long trip. Thus came my MacBook Pro 45 minutes before my flight's departure. Then, a severe thunderstorm in PJ three weeks ago fried my home desktop PC. And we welcomed the handsome iMac home two days later. 

I'm awaiting a copy of the Nanyang Siang Pau daily from two weeks ago before publishing the next post. Heh heh, because my accidental crime-fighting exploit was featured on it. And I need the report translated for I'm a Chinese-illiterate Chinese, duh!

Until then.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Sitting here in the hotel room, in Melbourne, I pound the keyboard for the latest post. Has it been that long since the last? Let's see, since then: The Malaysian General Elections have come and gone, in its wake an altered political reality for the country. Arsenal has relinquished its claim on all the possible silver-wares this season. Bear Stearns have gone bust. Locals and monks in Tibet have demonstrated big-time and the Olympic torch extinguished from disruptive protests. Jaguar and Land Rover are now owned by Tata. And I am now a delighted owner of an iPod Touch. Hah! iPod Touch, wallet Ouch!

Yup! It's about time for an update. Also time for the next paycheck, to recover my iPod outlay. I must admit I was nudged on by the fact that I just could not log-in to my Facebook account since arriving here this morning.

The caffeine is slowly losing its influence. An episode I witnessed on a ride on the MRT in Singapore comes to mind:

Yours truly was on his way from the Changi Airport station to the Lavender station on the East-West line. In spite of the availability of seats initially at Tanah Merah station, I opted to hang onto the rail-handle. I'd be compelled to give up my seat to some elderly or lady traveller eventually when the carriage fills up anyway. At Bedok station, a Chinese lady in her late-fifties settled in the seat in front of me. Sporting a checked shirt with cargo-pants, she clutched a knapsack out of which a rolled copy of Today stuck. Then, as passengers boarded or disembarked at Kembangan station, this lady was heard calling "Achi! Achi! " to an Indian lady who had just stepped onto the train. "Sini ada tempat," she said while placing her hand on the vacant seat beside her. This slightly older lady sat down and the acquaintances started chatting. My heart gets warmed easily by instances like this. As I was smiling to myself inside, the nice women's conversation was interrupted by the Chinese lady going "Eyyh... Xiao Pern Yo (little friend)" to a boy no older than 7 standing in front of the carriage doors. The cherub was struggling to fold his yellow raincoat.
The lady gestured him over, which he sheepishly did. The smiling lady then took the raincoat from his hands and, with a loving countenance, started to fold. She apologised to the bemused pakcik to her left for taking some of his 'personal' space while compacting the garment. All, while making the kid comfortable by asking him his age and the whereabouts of his school, his destination. She praised this six year-old dude for his courage to travel alone to school. Before we knew it, the raincoat was now a folded mass of 3" X 3". The kid accepted the rearranged form and, almost dumbfoundedly, back-tracked to his original location. I was close to tears by then. This surely was an earth-bound angel before us.

Once in a while, something reminds us of the kindness and love that humans are capable of. It gives us a different perspective, and with it, renewed faith in the inate goodness in all of us amidst the myriad sufferings and cruelty around the globe.

It may be a scenario like the one for me on the MRT. It may be a book, like The Witch of Portobello, which left an indelible mark on me like the other Paulo Coelho gem, The Alchemist. Or, it could be a movie, like Once.

Once, is a simple movie. And because, rather than in spite of that, it is realistic. I felt every minute emotion nuanced by the characters. The most drawing moments are those complemented by a song. The soundtrack is, as the movie, simple. When it's simple, we relate immediately. Very much like the simple acts of kindness and grace by that lady on the MRT. May God bless her.

I was touched. And I hope I am better for it.
Oh, and the song that had a stronger effect on me than caffeine was 'Falling Slowly', from Once soundtrack.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Mom gave me these two photos to scan for posterity. I then undertook to clean up the photos digitally to enhance it, possibly make it look new.

The photo on the left is of (from left) my maternal grandmother, her mother and MY mom. Three generations of maternal link. The other photo is of my mom, HER mom, HER dad, HIS sister and HIS mother. My Koong-koong (or grandfather) worked for the same British mining company until he retired. And he kept his hairstyle until he passed on.

What set me in a contemplative mood and hence, this posting is the fork in the road that my grand-daddy found shortly after taking the studio photo on the right. HIS parents had decided to return to their village in Guangdong with their young daughter, who was merely months older than their grand-daughter, my MOM. The seniors reckoned they'd have saved enough to live comfortably back in the hinterland, and even contribute financially to the community there. Koong-koong chose to remain in his country of birth, Malaya, with his young family.

Fast forward SIXTY years.....

My mother is a retired teacher whose children were not required to support financially. She made a trip to the village from where her roots originated, with her husband and siblings. The village is served by basic amenities and almost everybody there are farmers. An uncle who went along recalled the awkward feeling that everybody there seemed, and literally looked like family. Later, he was told that almost everybody in the village shared the same family name. There is a dearth of people in their twenties as most have gone seeking better prospects in the cities.

There was a family reunion of sorts at my grand-aunt's abode. Though constructed of brick and mortar, it was of dirt flooring. But these simple folks made certain their distant relations (from the distant, promised land that is Malaysia) were comfortable, slaughtered their best livestock and soon a modest feast was served. Grand-aunt kept praising the Gods for fulfilling a life-long wish: That she would meet her sibling. Though Koong-koong passed away in 1990, to her, the presence of HIS children was representative enough.

It turned out that upon his arrival, great-grand-daddy was The Man in the village. He bankrolled constructions of small, but vital bridges and roads. He was known to be a charitable man with the community's interests at heart. But sadly, as the old adage goes, no good deed goes unpunished. When the communists came into power, he was somehow accused by certain envious quarters to be a corrupt bourgeois citizen. He was tortured and died from his injuries.

His family then languished as farmers. Two generations on, they are still tilling the land for a meagre living.

The uncle mentioned earlier decided to fund the education of his cousins', aged 8 and 12. He concluded that the difference in fortunes was solely due to the stark contrast in education. While Koong-koong's offsprings flourished in the Malaysian education system, his sister and her children were denied learning beyond the basic which was made worse by the Cultural Revolution.

Now, here I am, blogging about this filled with immeasurable gratitude for my Koong-koong for making that particular turn in time. But then, I could have been the dude who started or mayhaps turned out to be some celebrated dissident writer living in the West. Or a successful farmer. Or buried, after being shot for stealing food.

Conjectures all. We are here, now. Let's cross the bridge, take the turn when we get to it, right? And may God guide and bless whichever path we take, as He has blessed my Koong-koong's.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Greenland and Chinese New Year

Last month, during the crossing of the Atlantic westwards, the flight was routed way up north to avoid the strong jet streams blowing against us. We were high enough on the latitudes for us catch a glimpse of the world's largest island (2,166,086 km² /836,109 sq mi). Well, the southern tip anyway. We were about 200 km south of the town of Nanortalik, so there was no trace of life. It's winter, so temperatures must be something below zero Celcius down there. It was minus 60 where we were. But, of course, we were 32000 feet above the frigid surface below.

Nanortalik means 'place of bears' and it is the southern most town in Greenland. Looking at the landscape, it is easy to fathom why there is not any town closer to the Equator here.

Jagged coastline

Alarming sight of melting ice sheets in winter. Global warming!

The view northwards - more inhospitable terrain.

A United Airways jet that crossed the Atlantic 'with' us.

It's quite ironic for this huge island to be thus named, being covered by massive ice sheets most of the year. Was it to signify hope in a severe land with a harsh climate? Much like the Chinese of who subscribe to the symbolic or connotative significance of a name. A sickly newborn would be named after an ox or dog so he may become strong like one. The number 8, it sounds exactly the same as the word 'fortune' in Chinese. Hence the preponderance of the number in phone numbers and car registration plates. In some Cantonese households, sweet and sour dishes are served regularly with the hope for an arrival of a grandchild as the word 'sour' sounds like the word 'grandchild'.

During Chinese New Year, certain dishes are featured much for the symbolism of their names. One particular dish I like is the Hou Si (Oysters) Fatt Choy (Black Fungus). They are cooked together with mushrooms in oyster sauce gravy. The name is in Cantonese and the former can also mean 'All things' while the latter, 'prosper' or 'become rich'.

I will be missing those dishes this festive season. And, mostly, the gathering of kin. This year, there are other oceans and seas to cross as the year of the Rat begins.

My hope is that the year will bring good health and blessings for everyone. And prospering some in wealth won't do any harm. And that Greenland does not turn green and tropical.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Distractions, attractions and infections

Posting here has been tough lately. Has been so for the past two months, especially. I have a slew of drafts for publication but they remain half-baked, or less, until touches are applied. The show must go on. So here goes the blame game:

In early December, whilst helping the wife set up her Facebook account, we hit a snag. The system would accept not all versions of her name that we could come up with. She then suggested I experiment with mine. That was probably the single most significant event in 2007 for me, on the net anyway. Facebook is fun! I made Facebook-friends with a few cousins and friends within a few days. In that same interval, the wife and two kids got their Facebook accounts, too.

In mid-December, on my way back from Frankfurt, I developed a fever. Upon arrival, I limped straight to the clinic to be told that I was nursing a 39.5 degrees Celsius scorcher due to viral infection. The limp was caused by the swelling of a lymph node in reaction to the infection. For a week, I lived on a pear, two biscuits and a Milo a day. The appetite just wasn't there. Still, it was during this miserable week alone that I mustered up the Unagi posting - over four days.

The end of the year came, and my dad-in-law was bed-ridden due to a suspected spinal injury. We ushered in the new year with him. Good news is, the doc says his immobility is temporary. Great prognosis for this spritely 75 year-old who never sits still, until this hit him.

Beginning of 2008, I find myself making so many friends on Facebook, most of them gorgeous! At home, everybody fights for their turn on the PC. So, I will only get to blog when I'm on the road.

Unless, I'm on Facebook.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Craig Charles in the middle.
1. Name one person who made you laugh last night.
Craig Charles, who plays David Lister in 'The Red Dwarf', dvd of which I watched alone in Frankfurt.

2. What were you doing at 0800?

Sleeping. And snoring, I'm sure.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?

Reading blogs.

4. What happened to you in 2006?

Adjusting to residing in PJ after 15 years of living in Singapore. Wonderful!

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?

"Alles gut, danke", to the grocer who offered me a plastic bag which I declined.

6. How many beverages did you have today?

Water, chocolate-oat drink, wine, berry juice.

7. What color is your hairbrush?

Ain't got one.

8. What was the last thing you paid for?

2 boxes of blueberries, a carton of berry juice and a bottle of yoghurt drink.

9. Where were you last night?

On a Boeing 747 from Singapore to Frankfurt.

10. What color is your front door?

Dark brown.

11. Where do you keep your change?

In my key-pouch and in the pocket of my pants.

12. What’s the weather like today?

Foggy and cold - between -3 to 0 degrees Celcius.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?

Rum & Raisins.

14. What excites you?

Soccer results, cliffhangers, deadlines and sometimes, sex.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?


16. Are you over the age of 25?


17. Do you talk a lot?


18. Do you watch the O.C.?


19. Do you know anyone named Steven?

A few.

21. Are you a jealous person?


22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’.


23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’.

Khairul Ridzwan.

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?

Ah Fook.

25. What does the last text message you received say?

I send this tree with all the best wishes for you and your family this X'Mas and New Year!

26. Do you chew on your straw?

Only if it tastes good.

27. Do you have curly hair?

Only in three places.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?

An Iranian kebab joint for a Shawarma dinner.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?

Probably myself.

30. What was the last thing you ate?

Tagliatelle fruti di mare & spinaci aglio.

31. Will you get married in the future?

Errrr......... errrr............. umm.......

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?

Namesake. Directed by Mira Nair, stars the still-babelicious Tabu.

33. Is there anyone you like right now?


34. When was the last time you did the dishes?

Tuesday night. One plate I used.

35. Are you currently depressed?


36. Did you cry today?

Almost, when finding out that Arsenal couldn't get 3 points at Portsmouth and Man U now leads the table.

37. Why did you answer and post this?

Because d.n.a.s. tagged me.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey.
I don't comply to more than 37 instructions.