Friday, October 27, 2006

Books & Writing

I was brought up surrounded by books. As far back as I can remember, books were everywhere in the house, in school, even the Presbyterian church that I attended since I was five. I love reading. By jolly, I do!

My cousin Alinna is 6 years older than I, and being the only child, she was pampered with all she desired. I believe she loved reading too – she had more books than I had clothes in my wardrobe! When she grew older, my siblings and I were at the receiving end of her treasures. I didn’t care about anything else but the tonnes of books which packed my father’s bookshelves in the living room, spilling over to the dining area that we had to buy a bigger cabinet and bookshelf to store them (I was of course happy as a bee).

Besides studying hard, participating in sporting championships in school, playing myself crazy in the evening with my dad and the neighbourhood kids, I was reading all the time. I did not go a day without a book in my hands (no kiddin’!). I especially love lying on my bed reading (a bad thing to do – my vision is badly impaired because of that and there’s no point crying over spilt milk). I read every book that Alinna passed on to my family – Enid Blyton, Alfred Hitchcock, Nancy Drew, Roald Dahl. Reader’s Digests. I love those hot sunny after school afternoons where after a quick lunch and bath, I’ll leap onto my bed (literally!) with a book in hand, all ready to devour and drool all over the yellow stained pages. Dad was very pleased that his little daughter loved reading and he used to come to my bedroom - first he would smile, then he would enquire which page of the book I was at, and then he would ask me when do I reckon I would finish reading the book, and I would tell him in a day or two and I would make sure I kept my word. And I did.

At fourteen, he bought over from Alinna her entire collection of The Times Encyclopedia (I have never finished reading them all – I only like 2 of them – one on Space, and the other on the Mind). Now that I’m much older, I feel bad at not having fully utilised the entire collection that my Dad paid good money for, thus I make it a point whenever I go back home to visit my parents, to read a little if not glance through the pages of some of the other topics.

Love strikes quickly and fatally. I fell in love and never out since – with Penguin’s Classics – great literature by my all-time favourite English writers – Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson. I would say it was literature pieces like A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn that left a deep imprint in my soul and etched an innate longing for English products – books, movies, songs. You’ll probably find this an exaggeration, but please trust my integrity – I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer over 20 times, averagely 4 times a year. I had no sense of boredom reading the adventurous and often mischievous Tom Sawyer trading junks for pearls with his richer, snobbier but dumber friends. If you ask me, Tom Sawyer makes a mighty good businessman!

Sometime later a friend recommended Christopher Pike’s fiction/mystery novels – a whole series of ‘em to get you imagining monsters and believing that chain letters were real. I started checking out John Grisham’s legal thrillers in poly because I majored in law (duh!).

Looking back, I was a more rampant reader. I devoured any book that came within sight. I borrowed books extensively – from libraries of all sorts – school library, church library, public libraries, friends’ libraries. Now I am a more picky reader. I read less and from a narrower range of topics – mostly autobiographies, cultural stories and Black American experiences. I feel for the sufferings of the characters and I empathise with the injustice inflicted upon the weaker ones.

I love to read. And I want to translate my reading (input) into writing (output). I dislike being distracted from what I’m meant to do. Here's a list of distractions that has won me over too many times. It’s adapted from Jane Schneeloch's poem, an amateur writer trained in well-known writing teacher, Pat Schneider’s Amherst workshop.


I stop writing
to check my email
to make a cup of coffee
to read the mail
to put a load of wash in
to play a game of Minesweeper
to straighten out the piles on my desk
to pluck my eyebrows
to cut my nails
to call my mother
to pay a bill
to text a long lost friend
to get another CD to play
to transfer pictures from my handphone to my laptop
to buy lunch
to watch Discovery Travel & Living
to watch the news
to read the newspapers
to take a nap
to dry the clothes
to shut off the computer
and wonder where
I will find time
to write great things.

So don’t be surprised the next time you find me missing from writing for days and weeks on end. The above list is the reason why.

P/S: This must be the longest post I've written and published thus far. And I'm only doing so to prove a point - strike while the iron is hot - I got to write while I can before I start losing my heart to a thousand other "important" to-do things.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nitty Gritty

The finest of its kind, woven intrinsically and artfully by skilled hands, Grace Wong's bags, accessories and bag charms are manifestations of her never-ending flow of ideas and fashion sense. Operating under an independent label, Nitty Gritty, she is truly emerging as one of Singapore's up and rising young talents in the fashion landscape, now locally, but prayerfully in time to come, globally. Below are her products at display at 25A Bali Lane.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fat cows

A short paragraph on the wound of false accusation.

There is a plain with juicy green grass. It didn’t use to be so juicy but recently much rain fell upon the area and now the grass is green as far as the eye can see. It’s lovely to hop around and play merry in the field. Until the fat cows came along and tread on the grass. Not just that, the fat cows feed upon the grass and is causing the field to look trodden and quarterly bare. It won’t be long before it’ll be more trodden and half bare. And soon it’ll be badly trodden and very much barren. Something has to be done before that happens. The fat cows have got to go. How? Got to think of a solution. Prayer is one. This is an important one, please. Now, besides prayer, the other possible solution is to unearth the grass seeds across the field, throw the seeds in the air and let the wind blow them to another plot – where no fat animals disturb.

- A.T.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


This my prayer

This my prayer Lord I ask.
I want to be a filial daughter to my parents;
a gentle and gracious girlfriend to him my loved one;
a giving friend to those around;
an efficient employee where I labor.
When I marry, I pray I be an honorable wife and a helpful soulmate.
When I have children, I pray I be a patient parent.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fatal Profession

A major headline taken from BBC News

Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian journalist known as a fierce critic of the Kremlin's actions in Chechnya, has been found dead in Moscow.

The 48-year-old mother of two was found shot dead in a lift at her apartment block in the capital. A pistol and four bullets were found near her body and a murder investigation has been launched.

Ms Politkovskaya's murder has all the hallmarks of a contract killing, says the BBC's Emma Simpson in Moscow.

The award-winning journalist became ill with food poisoning on her way to report on the Beslan school siege in 2004, which some believed to be an attempt on her life.

'Brave defender' Ms Politkovskaya, who worked for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was known for exposing rights abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya. She also acted as a negotiator with the Chechen rebels who held a siege in a Moscow theatre in 2002.

The head of Russia's journalism union described her as the conscience of the country's journalism. She was one of the few remaining high-profile, independent journalists in Russia - and her death will cause widespread anger and shock, says our Moscow correspondent.

"Russia has lost a brave and dedicated human rights defender," said Nicola Duckworth from the rights group Amnesty International.

Ms Politkovskaya "spoke out fearlessly against violence and injustice, and campaigned tirelessly to see justice done".

Amnesty International has called for a thorough investigation into the killing but Russian political analyst Anna Zelkina is doubtful there will be results.

"There is this series of politically motivated murders like hers," she told the BBC.

"I'm afraid that there will be less and less people who would be taking the risk to report... [she's] a very difficult person to replace."


A couple of comments from readers on this piece of news:

I am in absolute shock. Anna was an extraordinary person of an unmatched integrity and drive. Being born Russian, I love Russia with all my heart. This news of a cold blood murder makes me so angry. Can this great country be ever free? Such loss, such emptiness. Arina Kurchina, UK

I'm always amazed by the bravery of journalist who carry on reporting the truth despite threats and intimidation. It saddens me that she isn't the first, and won't be the last, journalist to die for her integrity. For her families sake, as well as the sake of truth, I hope there is a full and fair investigation into her death. Katherine, London

I'm totally gutted to hear this news. She was part of a great tradition of courageous war reporting and investigative journalism who have never been afraid to put their lives on the line in pursuit of the truth. Russia's war in Chechnya is the dirtiest of wars and Russian politics is equally dirty these days. I fear that nothing will change for a long, long, time. Harvey Burgess, US

I am truly sorry for the death of the journalist. I think all those having problems with the principles of democracy and free society resort to guns at the end of the day. This is terrible news and I think it clearly shows how the current administration views freedom of expression. Who would possibly want to kill a journalist? I think the world organisations working in relation to journalism should condemn this horrible act. Abraham, Ethiopia

Reminiscing Good Ol' Times

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The J. Tan Family Lineage

Recently I did a backgrounder on my family history for one of my class assignments. I decided to do it in the following style. I hope you are as amused reading it as I was writing it. (P/S: By the way, J. Tan stands for Johnson Tan, i.e., my father's name)


Tracing its roots back to old Malaya, the J. Tan Family lineage presents an unlikely union of two prominent but rival families from the fishing village of Stulang, beside the mouth of the Johor River. Johnson, the eldest son of the Tan family, though an intelligent scholar and expected to teach in the local school, was a poor match for the fair and lovely Rosalind whose family owned the village’s only provision business. Yet a brief introduction at a tea party quickly set sparks flying between the two youths and before long, the charming Johnson had won the heart and hand of the enchanting Rosalind, much to the disapproval of their elders.

Current Members

Not long after their joyous union, the couple gave birth to their first born, a chubby and bubbly Wilson Tan whose witty nature and street-smart ways won him the hearts of the villagers and school teachers who graded him excellently in his subjects.

Next in line came Willy, though born prematurely and sickly most through his growing years, much to Rosalind’s worrying concern, he eventually outgrew his frail health into a fine young man; handsome with strong chiseled features.

A daughter then came along, Irene is her name. Petite and demure, she is a tender-hearted girl whose soul is filled with much love and compassion for people around her, especially her family members.

Finally, the youngest and most adorable girl, Angeline, added to and completed the family tree. Like Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, her inquisitive nature often brought her many an adventures that strongly defines her extroverted personality.


Johnson is a semi-retired private tutor who currently tutors still in the comfort of his quiet home in Taman Pelangi. In his leisure time, he does gardening and reading.

Rosalind is a retired nurse who serves actively in the church choir and manages a comprehensive lifestyle of morning tai-chi exercises, afternoon karaoke and tea sessions with the neighborhood ladies and the occasional baby-sitting for Willy’s young children.

Wilson, being the dream-driven man that he is, is on the active look-out for decent business opportunities in Thailand where he enjoys the sour and spicy food as well as the rich ethnical culture.

Willy is a responsible and fulfilled family man who adores his wife and dotes on his two young children, Isaac, aged 7, and Eunice, aged 3. He shuttles between Singapore and Johor Bahru for work as a technician in an engineering firm.

Irene takes residence in London with her British-born Chinese husband, Martin, and her young daughter, Sheena. She is a full-time housewife with little personal time and energy left at the end of each day – her little daredevil, Sheena, being the reason why.

Angeline is living out her all-Asian dream of holding a prestigious job in a huge, internationally renowned firm as well as pursuing her childhood dream of mass communication studies. Though easily tired out by mid-week due to work and studies, she finds time to play music as well as write, being strongly inspired by her favorite author, Maya Angelou, of the famed, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Anger Management

I hate silence. I hate being the object of unhappiness and not told of what my wrong is. I hate to be looked at with disdain leaving me with no room for rebound because I am not privy to the mind of another who needs much cajoling in order for the truth to be squeezed out of.

I hate to be so demanding yet so imperfect. I expect of others what I am not able to give. I expect tolerance and patience when I have a short fuse and long memory. I hate jumping to conclusions and not giving others a proper chance of explanation which very often prove me gravely wrong and overtly judgmental. I hate to be so explosive when wronged. I hate not being patient and loving and kind.

Guilty! Guilty!

Guilty, like a commanding officer, screams at me.

Guilty! Guilty!

Guilty, like a sharp javelin, pierces me sharp in my innermost being.

Away from me!

Conviction, like a friend, appears suddenly. I am so engrossed in my pent up negative emotions I am caught unaware. She stoops right next to me and puts her gentle arms around me. She places a hand over my sore heart, pounding with anger… and without much prompting, my heart beat slows down. The haze in my mind starts to clear. I stop breathing hard and start to feel and understand her message. She has come to bring a message of release, forgiveness and love. I was not able to do it by myself. But she came prepared. She brought with her an important tool called “grace”. With that I am able to receive from above...

"Be angry, and DO NOT sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath.

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

AND be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. - Eph 4: 26-32