Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To write or not to write

'Oh have you heard, the famous Hong Kong comedy king Stephen Chow, he used to sell vegetables in a market!' my mom-in-law chirped, her sudden revelation jolted me out of the disheartening monologue I was incessantly having with my down-trodden dream.

Unbeknownst to them, I catch more than I listen. I catch messages behind words spoken, looks exchanged, behaviours displayed, and habits repeated.

I turned to my husband and gave him a weak smile. 'I guess the fastest way to recognition, fame and riches is through the entertainment industry - because you get thrown in the public's eye through frequent and broad media coverage.'

I pondered if I should make a quick inroad into fame through other means or simply stay true to my inner desire: write.

I am at the crossroad of a very significant and eventful year coming to an end of its term and a brand new year of relatively bleak economic prospects. The present year has been significant because the journey to my undergraduate studies undertaken two years ago is coming to completion and I have been faring well; I toiled through a year of routine, manual and uninspiring work, no matter how I tried to vary my daily tasks and force-dosing myself with spurts of joy and gratitude; I desperately needed to shed some pounds and successfully turned myself into a fitnes junkie, jogging 5 times a week and swimming 4 times week, shedding 8 kilos in 6 months, and boosted my frailing self esteem; I developed closer friendships with wonderful people in church who have now become my constant suppy of love, joy, support and deep-bellied laughters, Jason's love so overwhelms me I could count with my 5 fingers the few occasions I cried painfully; and finally, a recent participation in a talentime competition got me and my 2 lovely girlfriends a measure of fame and recognition, such that we are now deciding if we should pursue our acoustic singing career seriously and professionally.

Remembering the many rags-to-riches and lousy-to-celebrity stories I hear and read so much about, I resolute to take a different path next year. Except that next year is only a month away. Which means my time is running short. I do not want to squirm around in mud and wallow in darkness no more.

Writing has always served as an objective outlet for me. Bottled up frustrations translate themselves into words that upon second and more reading, could potentially be useful as antidotes and encouragement to others in the form of autobiography upon publication.

Writing releases me to feel and express myself fully and easily, with no fear nor apprehension, because I let myself loose. Like an unbridled horse cut loose to run freely in the open plains, so is my being liberated on paper.

Yet many a times I find myself not knowing how to begin or where to begin writing.

Thus Joyce Carol Oates liberated my frustration, when I read this in her book, "The Faith of a Writer" (pp. 52):

"The writer, however battered a veteran, can't have any real faith, any absolute faith, in his stamina to get him through the ordeal of creating, to the plateau of creation. One is frequently asked whether the process becomes easier, with the passage of time, and the reply is obvious: Nothing gets easier with the passage of time, not even the passing of time.

The artist, perhaps more than most people, inhabits failure, degrees of failure and accommodation and compromise."

I am but human, and I am, as always, searching, for the right words.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Morning hawker fare

I like being here in the morning. To sit in the midst of a quaint hawker centre, bustling with the breakfast crowd. Though the air smelled bad; an uneasy mix of stale foul air from yesterday’s poultry meat and today's breakfast like bread, rice, bak kut tea, wanton noodles, fried fritters and oh, coffee and tea; it is made pleasant by the hustle of human activity that greets a mundane work morning.

The hawker centre however is kept cool (temperature) by the many fans lined up along the age-stained, yellow walls – every piece of furniture you see in this place speaks of an era preserved by our fathers of times past for the current generation of comfort-seeking individuals.

Yet it is this harmonious blend of old and new, past and present, that instinctively evokes a certain gratitude this beautiful Thursday morning, bringing to remembrance the importance of taking in every day as a gift in itself and desiring peace among brothers, families and strangers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In loving memory - Adeline

9 Sep 1970 - 9 Dec 2008

The beauty of life lies not just in the living, but the cause fought for while living. I believe Adeline fought hard to live well, well above her circumstances. May she be a testimony to those who know her, of our need to live life on the line of gratitude every single day and moment.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A survivor's account of the Mumbai terrorist attack

Courage in the face of extreme danger - see especially the last paragraph...

Straits Times – Dec 5, 2008

'I hid in toilet stall for 7 hours'
American Michael Pollack was having dinner in the Taj Mahal Hotel with his wife when attackers struck. He gives one of the first comprehensive accounts to emerge of the terrifying hours that followed. This is an excerpt from his story published by Forbes.

MUMBAI: My wife Anjali and I were married in the Taj's Crystal Ballroom. Her parents were married there, too, and so were Shiv and Reshma, the couple with whom we had dinner plans.

The four of us arrived at the Taj around 9.30pm for dinner at the Golden Dragon. We were a little early, and our table wasn't ready. So we walked next door to the Harbour Bar and had barely begun to enjoy our beers when the host told us our table was ready. We decided to stay and finish our drinks.

Thirty seconds later, we heard what sounded like a heavy tray smashing to the ground. This was followed by 20 or 30 similar sounds and then, absolute silence. We crouched behind a table just feet away from who we now knew were gunmen. Terrorists had stormed the lobby and were firing indiscriminately.

We tried to break the glass window in front of us with a chair, but it wouldn't budge. The Harbour Bar's hostess, who had remained at her post, motioned to us that it was safe to make a run for the stairwell. We believed this courageous woman was murdered after we ran away.

We took refuge in the small office of the kitchen of another restaurant, Wasabi, on the second floor. Its chef and staff served the four of us food and drink and even apologised for the inconvenience we were suffering.

Through text messaging, e-mail on BlackBerrys and a small TV in the office, we realised the full extent of the terrorist attack on Mumbai. We figured we were in a secure place for the moment. There was also no way out.

At around 11.30pm, the kitchen went silent. We took a massive wooden table and pushed it up against the door, turned off all the lights and hid. All of the kitchen workers remained outside; not one staff member had run.

The terrorists repeatedly slammed against our door. We heard them ask the chef in Hindi if anyone was inside the office. He responded calmly: 'No one is in there. It's empty.'

That was the second time the Taj staff saved our lives.

After about 20 minutes, other staff members escorted us down a corridor to an area called The Chambers, a members-only area of the hotel. There were about 250 people in six rooms.

Inside, the staff was serving sandwiches and alcohol. We were told The Chambers was the safest place because the army was now guarding its two entrances and the streets were still dangerous.

But then, an MP phoned into a live newscast and let the world know that hundreds of people were 'secure and safe in The Chambers together'.

At around 2am, the staff attempted an evacuation. We all lined up to head down a dark fire escape exit. But after five minutes, grenade blasts and automatic weapon fire pierced the air. A mad stampede ensued to get out of the stairwell and take cover back inside The Chambers.

After that near-miss, my wife and I decided we should hide in different rooms. While we hoped to be together at the end, our primary obligation was to our children. We wanted to keep one parent alive.

Because I am American and my wife is Indian, and news reports said the terrorists were targeting Americans and Britons, I believed I would further endanger her life if we were together in a hostage situation. So when we ran back to The Chambers, I hid in a toilet stall with a floor-to-ceiling door and my wife stayed with our friends, who fled to a large room across the hall.

For the next seven hours, I lay in the fetal position, keeping in touch with Anjali via BlackBerry. I was joined in the stall by Joe, a Nigerian with a US green card. I managed to get in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and several agents gave me status updates throughout the night.

After our failed evacuation, most of the people in the fire escape stairwell and many staff members who attempted to protect the guests were shot and killed.

The 10 minutes around 2.30am were the most frightening. Rather than the back-and-forth of gunfire, we just heard single, punctuated shots.

We later learnt that the terrorists went along a different corridor of The Chambers, room by room, and systematically executed everyone: women, elderly, Muslims, Hindus, foreigners. It was terrorism in its purest form. No one was spared.

The next five hours were filled with the sounds of an intense grenade/gun battle between the Indian commandos and the terrorists. By the time dawn broke, the commandos had successfully secured our corridor.

A young commando led out the people packed into Anjali's room. When one woman asked whether it was safe to leave, the commando replied: 'Don't worry, you have nothing to fear. The first bullets have to go through me.'

Anjali and I embraced for the first time in seven hours at the Taj's ground-floor entrance. I didn't know whether she was dead or injured because we hadn't been able to text for the past three hours.

Some may say our survival was due to random luck, others may credit divine intervention. But I can assure you only one thing: Far fewer people would have survived if it weren't for the extreme selflessness shown by the Taj staff, who organised us, catered to us and then, in the end, literally died for us.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Inching Forward

Today I inch toward the dream that beckons. He calls in a still, small voice. Much like the voice of God as described in the Bible. He does not call out loud or screams for you from a distance. Instead, he waves a gentle wave and smiles a sweet smile, as he beckons you to notice him from a distance. If you catch notice of him, which he silently prays you do, he opens his arms wide to accept you into his bosom, and embraces you like a father his child whom he loves so much.

Today there is room for sensitive response to the silent voice of the dream.

He will not sit in a corner of the park and folds his hands in disappointment, nor will he scowl and frown in dejection. He is ever hopeful you will remember, notice and approach him. Though your steps may be small, like a little child’s, he is happy even if all you do is take a tiny step and deliberate a long while before attempting a second move. He is ever patient and gracious. He is your dream.

Occasionally he jumps up and edges you on, when he feels your time is near and you ought to incline towards him. Yet he does not coerce; he steers. If you only listen. If you only obey. He will be yours.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This Day in History

Nov 4, 2008 – this day etches a deep print in history as the day the American people unite in one heart and voice to elect its first African-American President – the man of the hour – Barack Obama.

Obama’s election is historic because here is courage and persistency, which worked hard, endured hardship, shame, ridicule and injustice, over 45 years, to bring the words of Dr Martin Luther King in 1963 to pass:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Obama’s victory has not been a stand-alone victory. He wins, riding on the dreams, pain, blood, and wings of predecessors like Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, and other heroes who fought for justice during the dark days of the United States.

He wins, riding on the faith, love and support of a people who dare to trust their hearts, speak with one voice and act in one spirit to place their nation into the hands of a Kenyan-American descent, to bring about change, not just to America, but to the whole world.

The 44th President of the United States – Barack Obama

Source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/wtMostRead/idUKTRE4A30Y220081105

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama captured the White House on Tuesday after an extraordinary two-year campaign, defeating Republican John McCain to make history as the first black to be elected U.S. president.

Obama will be sworn in as the 44th U.S. president on January 20, 2009, television networks said. He will face a crush of immediate challenges, from tackling an economic crisis to ending the war in Iraq and striking a compromise on overhauling the health care system.

McCain saw his hopes for victory evaporate with losses in a string of key battleground states led by Ohio, the state that narrowly clinched President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004, and Virginia, a state that had not backed a Democrat since 1964.

Obama led a Democratic electoral landslide that also expanded the party's majorities in both chambers of Congress and firmly repudiated eight years of Republican President George W. Bush's leadership.

The win by Obama, son of a black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas, marked a milestone in U.S. history. It came 45 years after the height of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King.

In a campaign dominated at the end by a flood of bad news on the economy, Obama's leadership and proposals on how to handle the crisis tipped the race in his favour. Exit polls showed six of every 10 voters listed the economy as the top issue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The warfare

In the dead after night
Comes a strange after thought
Creepy, crawly, a sneaky fellow
Bright and bold, not the least mellow
He comes to hurt, bruise and injure
To slash, rob and kill
He is the devil in disguise
He is the devil incarnate
He is born with evil in his heart
I, on the other hand, am calm and mellow
I know his tricks and am deceived not
I lord over him with my head
Right on my shoulders, in tact
My heart, a soft pounding –
Not the least thumping or vigorous
I am a calm wave of control
And by this I triumph him over

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Superhuman Incentive

Click this link to read a recent New York Times coverage on Michael Phelps' activities post-Beijing.


Michael Phelps - quipped as a "superhuman" for his feat in sweeping 8 gold medals in the recent Beijing Olympics Games, setting 7 new world records and 1 Olympics record. This article centres on his hectic travelling and media appearance schedule after his mega swim-(star)dom at the Games. But what caught my eye wasn't the media attention he's getting - but the US$ 1.6 million advance he got to write a book.

See? Stories tell. Books sell. And for the celeb author - it all goes well. Especially when one thinks about what Phelps could do with US$1.6 million in advance, plus the balance payment (more millions) and subsequent royalties (much much more millions) from the sale of the book - all of which amounts to countless millions - or if you like - super millions.

And my guess for the title of Phelps' book? "From Pool to Cool". I'm looking forward to his book for sure. ;)

Friday, September 05, 2008

To each we belong

There should be inter-connections
There should not be dis-connections
There should be compassion, warmth and joy
There should be smiles to replace scowls
There should be an asking after; not nonchalance
There should be inclusions; not exclusions
We should all belong - each to another, regardless of differences

To each his own

There are groups formed and gathered all over the room. There is the occasional lone individual seemingly busy, not because he really is; he is pretending to be, so as to disguise his loneness and lack of companionship.

The one who seems to be in the centre of attraction, having more than a couple of people surrounding her at class intervals – she is one who talks loudly, colloquially, and seemingly without a care in the world – the one who is not hard pressed, but easy natured, friendly and not easily offended. She is usually not one who speaks polished English, who behaves civilly, and is well-mannered. More often than not, she is brash, imperfect, and not very attractive – yet holds a certain measure of charm that attracts.

He, on the other hand, is one who similarly, is loud and not quite attractive, but equally possesses a witty charm, earning him much companionship – his personality though shining in the group, gets drowned in the crowd of many like him.

She sits at the back of the class and observes the buzz of college activities around her – the room though crowded with companionships, lacks tangible warmth. Sitting quietly by herself with her hands to the keyboard, typing furiously to produce this note, she concludes that the only warmth and sincerity; reliability and consistency she has experienced, can expect to experience, and knows will always be there – is that found in church.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

From China with love

I spoke to her because she’s a foreigner in this land. She cleans, wipes, mops, flushes and empties without a gripe. Silently, with a forlorn look, she goes about her duties.

I spoke to her because I thought she could do with a little warm conversation. What time do you start work? ‘7.00am.’ And what time do you end? ‘8.30pm.’ Golly, that’s long! ‘Yes.’

Which province in China do you come from? ‘Huqing,’ she replied. And where is that near, in China? ‘Near Xiamen.’ Oh Xiamen, that I know. It’s in the south, isn’t it? ‘Oh, that I’m not sure. I don’t know many places.’

How many children have you got? ‘Two – one aged twelve and another aged seven.’ How often do you go back to China to visit them? ‘I’m not sure’ and fiddles with her pocket, taking out her purse and fishing out a work permit card.

‘It says here two years, yes?’ Yes, that’s right, two years. So your contract is for two years. ‘Yes, and if my employer is pleased with my work at the end of two years, he might consider extending my employment.’

You’ll visit your children in five months’ time, during Chinese New Year, won’t you? ‘Really, I may not. I work very hard here, and if I were to go back for a visit, I will have to spend a sum of hard-earned money. So I may not go back.’ But you’ll miss your children, wouldn’t you? ‘Yes, very much. During the initial months here, I would cry at the thought of them…’ She fishes out two photographs of adorable red-flushed and dimpled faces of a boy and a girl. Oh, they are adorable. ‘Yes, this photograph here, this was taken when he was four months old. That’s his sister carrying him. And this other photograph here, this was taken when he was three years old.’

Her eyes were red as she held back tears. ‘It’s not so bad now. I talk to them once a week.’ Is it expensive to call home to China? ‘Oh it’s alright – it is pretty cheap actually. My international call card affords me some 300 over minutes of talk time.’

Oh that’s good, that’s good. Not wanting to hold up her work, I excused myself, and said I’ll talk to her again. As I turned to walk out of the washroom, she said, ‘Singaporeans are very nice and courteous people. I noticed that in my initial months of working here – people will talk to me and ask after me. Very nice of them.’

Immediately my recent conversation with a Singaporean friend of mine who took a year off to study Chinese in Hangzhou, China, flashed through my mind. She lamented how the Chinese in China lack civility.

And I understand what it means for this Chinese washroom cleaner – to have civility lavished on her, a foreigner, working to provide a little better for her family back in China. As I spoke with her, I reflected on the many blessings I have – not being separated but being near my family and loved ones, working in a land of abundant opportunities that I need not look offshore for work and better pay. This is a place of tremendous growth – and I am humbled by my immense blessings.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two is better than one

A paragraph from a NYT article that speaks so true of my relationship with my husband.

"But from the very start, the Obama marriage was a kind of professional symbiosis, a partnership between two passionately ambitious people who found they could rise higher in the world together than alone."

Separately, Michelle Obama gave a splendid speech in favour of her husband Barack Obama at the opening of the Democratic National Convention 2008 in Denver on Monday 25 August. Please click here to view a complete transcript of Michelle Obama's speech.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beijing Olympics - In a Nutshell

To sum up the grand Beijing Olympic Games 2008, here's a nutshell taken from a TIME article:

To a large extent, China, an emergent superpower, got what it had craved from these long-sought games: a dominant effort by its athletes to top the gold-medal standings for the first time and almost glitch-free organizing that showcased world-class venues and cheerful volunteers to the largest-ever peaceful influx of foreign visitors.

A significant moment in the Games – where sports overshadow politics and brought the world together in unity:

Led by Phelps and Bolt, athletes broke 43 world records and 132 Olympic records during the games. Yet (IOC President Jacques) Rogge, who visited every venue, said the most touching moment for him came after the 10-meter air pistol event, when gold medalist Nino Salukvadze of Georgia embraced runner-up Natalia Paderina of Russia even as their two countries' armies fought back in Georgia.

"That kind of sportsmanship is really remarkable," Rogge said.

Source: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1835682,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Farewell, the Games. Hello, China superpower!


Critics are present everywhere and in all situations. When the Singapore table tennis team players Wang Yeugu, Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei won Singapore a much anticipated silver medal since Tan Howe Liang's bronze medal in 1960, Singaporeans were torn between gratitude and patriotism. Their gripe? The paddlers aren't true-breed Singaporeans, but foreign talents. What makes it even more ironic is that they are Chinese, and they lost the gold to top Chinese players.

When Usain Bolt won the men's 100m and 200m sprint event, he celebrated as a true-blooded Jamaican would – he exclaimed in exhilaration to the cameras that he is Number 1, he danced around the tracks, wiggling and jiggling his tall, broad and muscular stature, and posed the victorious archer's pose of one hand pointing towards the sky and another placed at his chest. IOC President Jacque Rogge criticised Bolt's antics and suggested Bolt should have shook hands and congratulated the other competitors instead of basking in his own glory. A number of divided views have emerged following Bolt's victorious but controversial antics.

Michelle Obama was questioned on her patriotism following her infamous speech earlier this year: “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country.” It is unfortunate that a statement as harmless as that could give rise to contentious views on what could possible by America's first black First Lady. At that point, Michelle Obama's two Ivy League Universities education, her devotion to her husband, family and country were discounted.

When we consider the malicious and injuring spirit of criticism, may we be reminded to hold the reins of our mouth and ponder on the positive before we leash on the negative. If we are capable of building and edifying rather than tearing down and crushing, why not choose the former?

Beginning of Greatness

BOG: Beijing Olympic Games / Beginning of Greatness

It is hard to understand how something so remote as an international sports event could leave such a deep impact in the hearts of many around the world, particularly a Malaysian girl living and working in Singapore for the past 10 years.

From day 1 of the Games, she had her heart lost to the swimming event, barely missing a swimming event which ran for 10 consecutive days. For 10 days she could hardly concentrate on more pressing issues like work and school, with water and flying men and women filling her heart, mind and soul. When she closed her eyes she saw Michael Phelps, Kosuke Kitajima, Darra Tores and Libby Trickett. When she swims in the pool, she sees not her body limited by amateurism, but an expounded spirit able to contain international feats as her new-found water-agile heroes and heroines.

When the swimming events gave way to other sporting events, she found a replacement in water-related sports like the diving events. She found humility and outstanding consistency in a young Chinese diver, He Chong. He was sent to sports school by his construction worker father, simply because it was cheaper than a normal academic school. At fourteen he started diving internationally, but was soon sidelined from the national team due to poor performance. He worked hard in proving himself and within a short time, made his way back into the national team. At 21 this year, he did China and his dad proud by diving his way to gold.

What has the Games done to her? It has made it impossible for her to return to a mediocre life – to go back to what she used to do before the Games. To go back to History Channel, National Geographic or Discovery Travel and Living. To go back to a life of non-tv until the Games hit her world these past 2 weeks.

She is left lost not without a reason. She is left lost that she may find her way to unprecedented passion. A passion for the unachievable, made possible by the human will of perseverance and the tenacity of discipline. Sounds like hard work? It sure is. The road up is never easy.

Hot News

I found a voice today. Here's what it says to me:

I love news because it's fresh – it's like fresh bread in the morning. Best still, fresh bread in the bakery – right where the hot action is. I'd like to work in the news room, right where the hot action of news production happens.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beijing Olympics - U.S. 400m relay team

An incredible highlight last night in the swimming department. The U.S. 400-meter relay team set an Olympic record with a pool-shattering timing of 3:08:24.


Garrett Weber-Gale, left, and Michael Phelps of the U.S. react as 400-meter relay teammate Jason Lezak of Irvine ran down then world-record holder Alain Bernard of France in the final few meters and out-touched him at the wall for the gold medal.

Michael Phelps celebrating with teammate Garrett Weber-Gale after Jason Lezak's stunning anchor-leg swim and letting loose a deep and forceful primal scream.

"My and Garrett's reaction, yeah, I let out a pretty fierce yell. It just shows how emotional it was and how excited we were. It was just an amazing race."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shape up

See the last paragraph in bold & italics – my question is: Oh, and the corrupted and accusatory Malaysian government politics are ‘suitable’ to be watched and replayed to thousands of the young generation? Think about the legacy the country’s current leadership is leaving for its future leaders, the young generation today growing up in a politically tumultuous country divided by its own leaders. A leader appoints another, sings the latter’s praises to the sky, then leashes at the latter’s ability and integrity, and pulls him deep into the pit of alleged corruption and moral wrongdoings. We see this apparent foul-play repeated twice in this one decade alone. Will Malaysia see the brighter light of day where its citizens can truly embrace its Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020) under the leadership of wise, committed and honest men and women?

Straits Times - Aug 10, 2008
PAS wants Avril Lavigne concert banned

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian opposition Islamic party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) has demanded that the government ban pop superstar Avril Lavigne from performing in the country.
It said her concert would be an insult to the Merdeka freedom fighters.

Kuala Lumpur PAS Youth chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said the government should instead hold patriotic and civilised concerts as well as organise history-writing contests and historical exhibitions in conjunction with the 51st anniversary of the country's independence, reported The Malaysian Insider.

The Canadian pop singer was scheduled to perform at the Stadium Merdeka on Aug 29, just two days ahead of Malaysia's Independence Day, as part of her world tour.

Mr Kamaruzaman led his exco members in handing over a protest note to Kuala Lumpur Mayor Abdul Hakim Borhan and a Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry official here on Friday.

The protest note also demanded that the Central Committee for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists (Puspal) not issue the permit for the concert.

Last month, the same PAS group had also protested against Indonesian dangdut sensation Inul Daratista performing in Kuala Lumpur, saying her concert would have been too erotic and almost pornographic, as well as capable of corrupting the minds of young Malaysians. Inul's concert was subsequently cancelled.

The group's objection to Lavigne's concert is that 'the rock and punk elements portrayed by this artiste are not suitable to be shown to the young generation', Mr Kamaruzaman was quoted as saying by PAS-owned Harakah Daily.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The shape of love

The shape of love comes in the form of a man. A man who loves, gives and believes. A man patient in hope. A man who sees good in people. A man not easily wavered by negative remarks or situations.

A man who gives me room to learn, grow and be better. A man who doesn't force me into becoming what I'm not, but who constantly, ever so graciously and gently, helps me become the woman I am meant to be.

A man who gives me a bundle of tools to reach my dreams - a MSI Wind Notebook (so I may write on the go; anytime, anywhere, anyhow), loads of encouragement and unwavering believe in my ability.

The shape of love comes in the form of my man – the love which God gave – my husband and amazing leader, teacher and friend, JO.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Piece of Kenya

He left home with the only currency of exchange he could afford: a bag of dreams. At 25, the vision of a better future throbbed his heart so he refused the “can’t do” attitude and seemingly kind advice of fellow Kenyans to deter him from embarking on this journey of a lifetime. A year down the road he thought himself na├»ve; silly even to do something so rash as to leave home without a dime to his name.

Now on hindsight he is glad his youthful courage served him well to run his course and do what no other Kenyans before him has done before – to step out in ra
w faith into uncertainty – to pursue a year of postgraduate studies in a foreign land, without the certainty of sufficient financial resources to pay his course fees and living expenses.

Now he’s gained knowledge, earned his Masters, made new friends, and returned home.
A Kenyan friend come and gone.

A man of persistent dreams. A man of potential, no doubt, because in his soul lies a restless, fighting spirit that refuses to bow to the dark circumstances around him – instead he stands tall and proud, towering above obstacles, to reach for what he knows belongs to him.

To Abraham - may you reach high, stretch your tents far and take possession of your dreams.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A few things

Re-listening to Barack Obama narrating his first book – ‘Dreams from my Father’ is an act of nostalgia for me. The past few months juggling between my lost of interest in my studies, as my term of studies draws to an end with half a year left to completion; a re-fuelled motivation in my work simply because I spend 9 hours at work and if I am not fruitful, where else do I plant my seed?; trying to be a little more active in serving other people’s needs; running and swimming 7 days a week, relenting not a single bit because I need my sports medication much as I need at least 5 hours of sleep daily; attempting to read and write daily but honestly I have been found wanting in this area because my nights shrink shorter with the persistence of my sports medication; and finally, the painful but needful work on my character development – this requires more than just mental power, it requires a considerable dose of stress, frustration, irritation, agony (evenly mixed) and did I mention high doses of hard work?

At the threshold of this second half of the year, I stand at the verge of the cliff of my world, with my back to the hanging cliff and the surging waters below – I look ahead to the open field, flat and stretched into the horizon far beyond my sight – and see in my mind’s eye – a train ride through an open country to the highland of my destiny. As breathtaking as the green hills and plains of the Irish Isles, so will the memories I am bound to collect along my journey.

I am excited beyond words and enthralled beyond description – at the thought of this amazing train ride. I hop aboard, and I am off. Till then my friend, adios!

Pic: my current reads

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Found wanting

In time she grows increasingly tired. She looks often, over the thick wall and wonders what the other side has to offer her unfulfilled life. She has heard stories of merchants trading, actors performing; she has heard of men acquiring gold and silver, and women held in high esteem by men.

Her heart flutters with each passing thought of greener pastures.


Monday, July 07, 2008


Crisis brings people together. In the wake of the rising cost of living, sub-prime crisis, incredulous oil/fuel hike, shortage of and rise in price of rice, borderless jihad and terrorist attacks, frequent suicide bombings in the Middle East, tsunami sweeping through the east and west parts of the world, the devastating earthquake in Sichuan, political unrests in countries all over the world, corruption among ruling parties, child trafficking and prostitution – the earth is brought closer together.

It is like the earth has shrunk, simply because citizens from across countries, borders and geographical distances know what is happening on the other side of the world through news and reports in the mass media. And with this shrinking of the earth, picture this: the arms of men and women across each others’ shoulders, huddling together, facing inwards, heads bowed low in prayers or silent observation – we, as brothers and sisters, are brought closer to one another.

We are bound in one spirit of hope – hope for ourselves, our children, our world. Hope that rests in love. And love that overcomes fear, discrimination, injustices, hatred and murder. Because love conquers all.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Maria Shriver

My inspiration for the day - to be 2 things: (1) a journalist, and (2) a good mother.

Here is an excerpt from an article I read in Time Magazine on Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California, aka Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife.

Source: Time
Q: Do you ever find yourself at odds with being from a prominent Democratic family and being married to a Republican?

A: It's definitely different to be married to someone from a different political party. It has really taught me to look beyond labels, which is something my dad [Sargent Shriver] was really adamant about. Get rid of all that and look at who the person is, and you're much better off.

Q: If you didn't get into broadcast journalism, what do you think you'd be doing today?

A: I have no clue. Maybe writing poetry. I was so relieved when I discovered journalism. When my dad was running for Vice President, [I would] sit in the back of the plane with the journalists, and it opened my eyes. I thought at the time that politics and how people view politicians will be made by the people in the back of the plane a lot more than the people in the front.

Q: Now that you've written a book about becoming who you are, how do you help your children become who they are?

A: I try to say to my children, I love you for who you are. You don't have to get into some fancy college. You don't have to go off and become President of the United States. If you want to go off and open a coffee shop or a bakery, I love you. And you, and you alone, are good enough.

Q: You credit a lot of your success to your relationship with your parents. Do you use the same techniques with your children?

A: I try. I said to my mother, I pray to God that I'm half as successful with my children as my parents have been. For any parent, to sit back and see your kids really enjoying each other, understanding each other, accepting who they are, is a huge joy.

Q: What do you want to be doing in 10 years?

A: At 16 I said, I want to be a journalist. I want to work on a newsmagazine. I want to do a documentary. I had it all planned out. Now I'm gentler with myself. I say, I'm a work in progress. I could be writing books in 10 years. I could be living on an island. I could be traveling around the world.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quotes for today

"What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality."

- Greek author, Plutarch

"If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."

- JK Rowling

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

War Journalism

Dealing with dangers of war reporting

As a new memorial is unveiled to journalists killed while carrying out their work, BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen describes how war reporters deal with danger as a routine part of their job.

Source: BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/7456018.stm)

If you asked most journalists whether a story was worth their life, they would say absolutely not.

But then I have never met a journalist (and in that I include all varieties of news people) who goes out on a day's work in a dangerous place expecting to die.

I am always struck by what is left of a person's last few hours when I see bodies in mortuaries and back alleys and wrecked buildings and all the other places where people end up who have died violently.

Small, even trivial thoughts can find their way past the overwhelming and hideous fact that their lives are over.

What about their clothes? Did they think they were going to die when they put on their socks? And the knots in their shoelaces, tied by fingers that now are dead. What were they thinking when they were doing them up?

Perhaps the day was already going badly. Was fear already pulling at their minds and their guts? Or did they have no idea what was coming?

The answer is that when the day began most of them did not expect to die.
If, as a journalist in a dangerous place, you worry that you are getting dressed for the last time every morning before you go to work, then you are probably in the wrong business.

You need to know the risks, and to take precautions, but to be calm about them too, and even to deny them.

That cannot be done without believing that you will make it through the day, and that if you have some close calls you will be able to make jokes about them when you are having dinner.

You have to believe that you will stay alive because you are being careful, or because your experience will see you through, and it helps too if you are young and feel indestructible and the sun is shining and you just know it could not possibly happen to you.

When journalists no longer feel at least some of that, they tend to stop covering wars.

Listing the dead

The chances are that it will be OK. Most journalists who work in wars do not die, and do not get wounded. But some do, and these days more people target journalists, when in the past the main problem was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With so many risks out there, the unfortunate truth is that surviving in a war, even for the most experienced and best trained, requires a strong element of luck. And people's luck runs out.

Sometimes they do not have it at all. Journalists need to know that if they go to places where people are getting killed they could get killed too.

Every journalist who has made a habit of going to wars has a list of dead friends and colleagues, people who did the same stories in the same places until they went to work one day and were killed.

The other night a photographer who covered many of the wars of the 1990s told me that about 10 years ago he was one of six ushers at a wedding. All of them were in the news business. Now only two of his fellow ushers are still alive.

Permanent memorial

My list has more than a dozen names. I only include people who were friends or close colleagues. If I added the names of people who I knew only by sight the list would be longer.

I had to do obituaries for some of them, and everyone who works in news knows how the caravan moves on to the next story. It is good that there is going to be a permanent memorial to our dead friends in the middle of London.

My friend and colleague Abed Takkoush had been a driver and fixer for the BBC in Lebanon for 25 years when he was killed by a shell fired by an Israeli tank crew on 23 May 2000.

With Malek Kanaan, our cameraman, I got out of Abed's car a few minutes before the shell hit it. He stayed in there because he was on the phone to his son.

The area did not seem dangerous, but it was. Abed did not expect to die that day.

I could have been in the car with him, because I had been on the phone too. But my call ended as we parked, and his did not. That is the only reason why he is commemorated by the new sculpture, and I am not.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Human beings are not things – you don’t ignore it when you are upset and pick it up again when you are fine. Human beings have emotions, thoughts and reservations – that once bruised or broken, can only be bridged with communication. You don’t just stroke it – you have to take a step further to talk, communicate, apologise and make up. Words can either mend of break. But silence - it only damages potential make ups.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life on the Line - A Tribute

An Afghan journalist was shot dead over the weekend (7-8 June 2008). Below is a news story/tribute lifted off BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/7443669.stm).

A tribute to Abdul Samad Rohani

Abdul Samad Rohani, the Pashto service reporter for the BBC in the Afghan province of Helmand, was shot dead at the weekend. His friend and colleague Bilal Sarwary pays this tribute.

"Fish is fresh when it is in the water," Rohani used to say.

It's an Afghan saying which means here that Rohani felt most alive when he was working in the field.

In the eight years that I have been with the BBC in Kabul, I have been constantly in touch with BBC reporters located in some of the most dangerous and remote areas of Afghanistan.

These brave reporters work tirelessly away from their families so that the world may come to understand the desperate situation faced by the people of Afghanistan.

Rohani began working for the BBC in 2006. As well as reporting in the Pashto language, he provided crucial support and information to the BBC's English language staff.

Helmand province is one of the centres of the Taleban insurgency. Because of the large number of British troops there it is a particularly important news area for the BBC's audiences in the UK.

Household name

Rohani knew Helmand better than anyone I have ever met.

He was born in Helmand and, as well as being a journalist, was a poet of some local renown.

Hardly a day passes without an incident in Helmand and sometimes he would be on the phone to me all day. I will always remember his bravery.

His compassion drove him to travel into the Taleban-controlled areas to report about the lives of people there.

Sometimes he stayed at my house in Kabul, entertaining me and my roommate with his romantic Pashto poems.

But our evenings were constantly interrupted by his phones as he took calls from tribal chiefs, government officials or a local trader complaining about corruption.

He had a way with words and became the voice of the people of Helmand.

There would also be entire days when his cell phones were off when he would be travelling in a wolaswali (the Pashto word for district) where there is no network coverage.

First to call

At present I'm spending a lot of the year studying in the US.

Rohani would phone me regularly there - always calling in the early hours of morning US time when I was asleep. Whenever I pointed it out to him, his response would be simple: "It's day in Afghanistan." And then he would chuckle.

I always liked talking to Rohani and over the years our working relationship altered into something deeper - a friendship.

Whenever I returned home to Kabul, he would be one of the first people to call.
"Welcome to our Afghanistan and I am sending my regards from this village in Helmand province," he would say.

On Saturday I grew alarmed when I did not hear from him.

I enquired after him and was devastated to learn that Rohani was missing and his phones were switched off.

I knew something was wrong, but I was hoping that Rohani was again on a trip to some remote village or district, reporting the story of his people whom he loved so dearly.

Then the bad news came in.

An unknown caller contacted another BBC colleague in Helmand, asking for Rohani's body to be picked up.

As soon I heard the news, I felt the weight of a thousand broken hearts and I felt as if the entire world had come crashing down.

My memories of Rohani will always remain with me.

As an Afghan I will always be proud of being his friend and colleague.

He dedicated his life and time towards telling the truth and helping Afghanistan.

I don't know who it was who killed Rohani, but I know one thing for sure - there will be more of us telling the truth and truth will always protect itself.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

He could be the one

I think the American mindset is shifting towards the Democrats - particularly towards Obama. They could be tired of the ruling Republicans who disappointed them time and again (Clinton, Bush).

And now along comes Obama - a fresh, new face - a voice that speaks differently yet one that could identify with the people regardless of color. I think in the course of the next few months till November when Americans votes, the people could be persuaded to give Obama the opportunity of a lifetime - to be the first black president - and change the course of not just American history, but world history, leaving a powerful legacy for years to come.

Yours truly,

The search is over

Straits Times - June 4, 2008
Obama wins historic Democratic nomination
Clinton signals she would take VP slot

WASHINGTON/MINNESOTA - MR Barack Obama captured the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, capping a rapid rise from political obscurity to become the first black to lead a major United States party into a race for the White House.

Rival Hillary Clinton, a former first lady who entered the race 17 months ago as a heavy favourite, did not concede to Mr Obama and said she would consult with party leaders and supporters to determine her next move.

A surge of support from uncommitted delegates helped give Mr Obama the 2,118 votes he needed to clinch the nomination and defeat Mrs Clinton.

Mr Obama will be crowned the Democratic nominee at the convention in August and will face Republican John McCain in November's election to choose a successor to President George W. Bush.

'Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another,' Mr Obama told a cheering victory celebration in St Paul, Minnesota, at the site of the Republican convention in September.

'Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.'

'Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America,' Mr Obama vowed as US media said he had clinched the party's nomination by securing the 2,118 delegates needed.

'America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past,' the Illinois senator pledged as he claimed the Democratic crown to run in the November general elections against Republican presumptive nominee John McCain.

'Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.'

At the end of the gruelling 17-month primary campaign, the longest and most expensive ever, Mr Obama, 46, was effusive in his praise for his defeated rival, former first lady Hillary Clinton.

'Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight,' he said.

And despite their bitter differences as they tussled to secure the party's nomination, Mr Obama paid tribute to Mrs Clinton's 'unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be'.

But he rounded on Mr McCain, warning voters that the Arizona senator would represent four more years of the same policies of outgoing President George W. Bush.

'There are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them,' he said.

'Change is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that should've never been authorised and never been waged.'

Longest and closest fight

Mr Obama's win over Mrs Clinton, projected by US networks, came in one of the closest and longest nomination fights in recent US political history. Five months of voting concluded on Tuesday night with votes in Montana, won by Mr Obama, and South Dakota, won by Mrs Clinton.

Mrs Clinton, who would have been the first woman nominee in US political history, won more than 1,900 delegates over the course of the campaign.

She told New York members of Congress she would be open to becoming Mr Obama's vice-presidential running mate, and her backers began to turn up the pressure on Mr Obama to pick her as his No. 2.

Mrs Clinton congratulated Mr Obama after he clinched the nomination, and told a cheering crowd of supporters in New York City that she would work for party unity. But she did not concede.

'This has been a long campaign and I will make no decisions tonight,' she said. 'In the coming days I'll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and my country guiding my way.'

Mr McCain held a rally in Louisiana to kick off the race against Mr Obama. He sought to distance himself from Mr Bush and questioned Mr Obama's judgment and his willingness to put aside partisan interests.

'He is an impressive man, who makes a great first impression,' Mr McCain said of Mr Obama. 'But he hasn't been willing to make the tough calls, to challenge his party, to risk criticism from his supporters to bring real change to Washington. I have.'

Mr Obama questioned the extent of Mr McCain's independence and tied him to Mr Bush.

Not that independent

'While John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign,' he said.

'There are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.'

Mr Obama, 46, is serving his first term in the US Senate from Illinois and would be the fifth-youngest president in history. He was an Illinois state senator when he burst on the national scene with a well received keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention.

Mr Obama's campaign had urged the last 150 or so undecided superdelegates to make their endorsement before the voting ended, so the delegates he wins in the two states voting on Tuesday could allow him to clinch the Democratic race.

A steady flow of superdelegates complied, making their announcements throughout the day.
Mr Obama lavished praise on Mrs Clinton after beating her.

'Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who inspires millions of Americans,' he said in his prepared text.

'Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honour to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton,' he said.

Mrs Clinton and her campaign have sent mixed signals over the last two days about how long she would stay in a presidential race that she began as a heavy favourite.

During the conference call with New York lawmakers on Tuesday, she was asked about running as the No. 2 to Mr Obama and said she was open to the idea.

'She said she would do whatever is necessary in order to make certain that we win, and serving as vice-president would be one of the things she would be willing to do,' Representative Charles Rangel of New York, a Clinton supporter who was on the conference call, said in a phone interview. - REUTERS, AFP

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


My heart leaps each time I read of people taking the step of faith to reach for their dreams; to reach for what they've always wanted to do - despite the odds.

Question is... will I rise to my call?

Straits Times May 26, 2008

77-year-old sets record for Everest

A NEPALESE climber has become the oldest person to summit the world's highest mountain, breaking the previous record held by a Japanese man.

'Min Bahadur Sherchan, 77, reached the top of Everest on Sunday,' Mr Ramesh Khatri Chhetri, an official at Nepal's Tourism Ministry said yesterday.

'Sherchan is in good health and is slowly descending from the summit. He will probably reach the base camp on Monday,' he said.

The previous record was held by Mr Katsusuke Yanagisawa, 71, just last year.

Various records have already been set this spring season as 32 expedition teams push for the summit.

The official said about 220 climbers, including 87 foreigners, had scaled the summit by yesterday morning.

Last week, Appa Sherpa, 48, broke his own world record by getting to the summit of Mount Everest for the 18th time.

The same day, at least 86 climbers successfully made it to the top, which was another record, the official said.

Since it was first conquered in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the 8,848m mountain has been scaled more than 3,000 times.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Carry You Home - James Blunt

Trouble is her only friend and he's back again
Makes her body older than it really is
She says it's high time she went away
No one's got much to say in this town
Trouble is the only way is down
Down, down

As strong as you were, tender you go
I'm watching you breathing for the last time
A song for your heart
But when it is quiet
I know what it means and I'll carry you home
I'll carry you home
If she had wings she would fly away
And another day God will give her some
Trouble is the only way is down
Down, down

As strong as you were, tender you go
I'm watching you breathing for the last time
A song for your heart
But when it is quiet
I know what it means and I'll carry you home
I'll carry you home

And they were all born pretty in New York City tonight
And someone's little girl was taken from the world tonight
Under the Stars and Stripes

As strong as you were, tender you go
I'm watching you breathing for the last time
A song for your heart
But when it is quiet
I know what it means and I'll carry you home
I'll carry you home

Friday, April 25, 2008

I have a dream

I was in Melbourne with Jason. We walked in to Gloria Jean’s at the airport – lo and behold, I found Condoleezza Rice staring back at me from behind the front counter! She was working there! She was in her early 20s – frizzy hair tied up, skin tight and flawless, face youthful. She was wearing an Abercrombie & Fitch-type white tee, and blue jeans – looking just like your average girl on the street – except you know and you know, this is no ordinary girl, but a powerful being dressed up in a young girl’s body – man, this is Condoleezza Rice, the most powerful woman on earth next to the current most powerful man on earth, George W. Bush (right, keep your reservations on his ability out of mention here, aite?)

Jason found a couch pretty near the counter, and I ordered coffee for us both. Condoleezza Rice stood tall at the counter, all smiles and friendly. She took my order professionally, like she has been doing this for years. After serving a few more patrons, she took her dark blue apron off and sat herself down at a couch next to me. Not one to let an opportunity slip by me, I struck up a conversation with her and immediately asked if we could pose for a photograph together. She obliged my request with a charming smile and immediately stretched her arm across my shoulders.

She must have been expecting her cousins over because immediately after, her cousins walked into the coffee joint. She got off the couch, bid me farewell and joined them. They crossed the underground street to a convenience store right across the coffee joint. Her cousins were a pretty loud bunch and they looked like they have a pretty good time hanging out together. Condoleezza Rice stood head above shoulders, even among her tall black cousins. Throughout the time she was with them, I noticed that she was always maintaining a calm demeanour, like a posh American college girl. She rarely bends forward; she was always maintaining a straight back and walking tall.

Jason and I lingered across the street from them till they came out of the store and disappeared into the streets.

You never forget a Condoleezza Rice experience. Not even in your dreams...

Gee… I could dream of Barack Obama next… ;)



A usual morning finds me awakened tired, lethargic, slugging through the day and looking at my world through un-inspired eyes.

An out-of-the-ordinary half-hour swim at 5.15am this morning sets my world ablaze and opened my eyes to the goodness all around:

  • My heart swells with delight at the willingness of a loving and sacrificial spouse complying with my crazy antic of waking up at 5am
  • The feeling of euphoria is akin to that of attending a high school summer camp
  • The joy of seeing the gym in use at 5.15am - which serves to confirm me and Jason aren't the only crazy ones
  • The gratefulness of finding the pool water surprisingly, warm, and not chilly as would be expected at such an early hour
  • The sympathy towards a clearly drowsy domestic helper walking an old man around the perimeter of the pool to fulfil his daily dose of morning exercise
  • The spouse who patiently and caringly attends to me when I slipped and fell the staircase
  • The many people going about their daily activities - children going to school, hawkers setting up their stalls, market vendors selling and housewives and domestic helpers buying fresh produce
  • A renewed love for Singapore - realising that this is after all a very liveable and comfortable place to settle in
  • My overwhelming gratitude and inner joy in realising that God meant every word when He assured me that He would make a way where there seems to be no way, and with His word, comes the assurance of peace

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This Ordinary Night

How times have changed
Have far we have progressed
Such that the modernity of times past
Are now starkly intolerable...

- of MTV's 90s Flashback

He lies down next to me
Pressing his forehead close to my left arm
Snuggled comfortably on bed
Feet tucked underneath the sheets
Fast falling asleep
In the bliss of blessed union.

- of the man

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Chase

There must come a time when she stands up for what she wants to become. The day will come when she stands on the threshold of the incumbent and know that her choice of her dreams may cost her everything, laying bare on the ground the foundation of which she now clings on dearly with her life - it's everything she's got now. She must battle the monsters that attack her from every side, with one goal of bringing her down to the pit of despair. Will she recognise the impending threat upon her sacred life and search for a way out? Or will she lose her way in the winding dark maze of hope lost and dreams afar off?

She looks down into the gurgling waters and closes her eyes. She is yet to be.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Great Eastern Man - Part 2


I saw him today. Up close and personal this time. I was rather surprised to hear his daughter speak to him in Teochew. I had expected his surrounding to be English speaking. He looked sadder that I thought; so did his maid. The only one who looked a little happier was his daughter. He ate well - 3 pieces of toast with scrambled eggs. In saying well I meant he handled his utensils well (fork and knife in hand to handle the toasts and eggs). The bakery is generally a quaint place - patrons spoke in soft volumes, as the lull and lounge music play over the system. I must be looking over my table so much over to the table of three that I finally caught a small piece of interaction between two of them. The daughter said something; the maid looked up and released a small smile.

I realised after a while, the harder I tried to enter his world and that of his family, the more I didn't want to do so - it's like I'm afraid I'd lose my sense of intrigue-ness surrounding this man, like I'm afraid to be disappointed at how uninteresting his life story really is. It's like the mass public's intrigue-ness of a celebrity's life. You want to read about them, you want to adore them from a distance but when the rubber hits the road, you don't want the details. You want to keep your distance and maintain the bubble in which you contain the celebrity. You don't want to ruin the halo above their heads.

As I mused over this, his driver arrived in the usual metallic grey Mercedez. I caught the number plate this time, much to my joy (the number of which I will not divulge for privacy sake). The last thing I noticed was that his driver was a plump bespectacled middle-aged man.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

An hour and a half

An honest, down to earth and easily digestable view on Senator Barack Obama.


The Great Eastern Man

He’s a constant patron of the large, uptown and cosy bakery. Every morning at 8.10 am he arrives in a chauffeured-driven metallic grey Mercedes Benz (which number plate I have not managed to catch, despite my trying a few times). Dressed in a light blue, short-sleeved shirt and grey pants, both of which are neatly pressed, matched with a warm, grey cardigan, he bears a striking pose at 1.8 m. Hunching a little as most elderly men (who are tall) do, he is aided by a walking stick and an attentive maid. As I watch him arrive at the bakery every weekday morning and going about his daily routine of a 20-minute breakfast, flanked on both sides by a helpful maid and a patient daughter (or daughter-in-law?), I’m reminded of how short life is, and how simple it should be.

Life’s simple pleasures: to nourish the body with food, the heart with good relationships, the soul with purpose-driven activities, the mind with knowledge and wisdom. And oh yes, if you are a caffeine-addict like me, coffee too.