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.