Saturday, March 22, 2008
Inspirational and heartwarming. Life is waiting and I could not agree more. Just reflect back on your life and you will realize how much you have waited for things, for love, for independence, for growing up or things that matter to you most.
I guess I have placed much interest in such movies like this one. Recently, I rented a few DVDs which I have wanted to watch for like years ago but did not have the time (The Lakehouse, No Reservations and Kingdom of Heaven) ... and not forgetting my brother's recommendation, The Simpsons. Each one has their story to tell and they all met my expectations. For your information, I'm not really interested in watching action, thriller or horror movies, so yeah don't even invite me. Free tickets, sorry, I'll pass.
Felt like I want to visit Bali again, the hot sun during the day and the cool night breeze, the sands on the beach, the traditional Balinese delicacies, the picturesque places yet to be discovered... thinking about it just makes me feel so uplifted. Just need to wait for the right time...
Saturday, March 08, 2008
3 months past and it has been the most painful phase in my life thus far. I felt so down and helpless thinking about it already. Things didn't end there, the A level results further dampen my spirits to dust. I can now forget about getting into local universities and start to look elsewhere for opportunities. The saddest thing was not scoring well but it was the feeling that I have failed my parents, dashed their hopes and all. It was a feeling I brought upon myself and trying to get over that uneasy feeling took a lot of emotions out of me. I wept even though I promised myself not to if I did not perform well but I guess I wasn't strong enough...
I need time to heal the scars cardved in my heart.
I need a place to escape from this dark, cold reality.
I need love to accompany me through the rocky roads ahead.
I need melodies to drown my sorrows in.
I need comfort to ease the pain.
I need wisdom to overcome this setback.
All I need is God to take away my burdens and ambitions...
This is a difficult time for me so talking about it is not going to change anything or cheer me up. I have to plan for my next step, on how to move on from here and hopefully, starting afresh. It is perhaps the most likeable route to take and take it I shall.
This post is inspired by "Home" by Angela Aki.
Friday, December 07, 2007
The sun had set as evening drew to a close, welcoming a rather cloudy and breezy night. As usual, he was out alone, searching for a place to dine to ‘tame’ the hunger that has run amok in his stomach. There were 2 options that he could choose. First, a well-lit Italian restaurant that radiated a blissful ambience though its windows, employed well-dressed waiters ready to take orders from paying customers and provided quality service for a fine dining experience that was difficult to resist. Second, just tucked across the narrow lane, opposite the grandeur restaurant was a common food court that was not air-conditioned, lacked the modern kitchen electronics and employed common folks of the heartland. As he was about to enter the restaurant, after being greeted by a friendly door lady, he took a glimpse across the street and something or rather someone caught his attention. It was an unusual sight and he wanted to pursue his curiosity by deciding to dine in a less fanciful place, something that he has not done for quite a while.
He approached a stall and ordered his food, a plain Hokkien prawn noodle, sat down, waited while looking around trying to locate the person who caught his attention earlier. Dressed in finely stripped lines of alternating blue and white linen with a matching white bottom half, she appeared after a while. Her glossy, black hair was well-kept and neatly tied. She was clearing up a table that has been left by customers. Her thin arms reached out to the centre of the table and she grabbed pairs of chopsticks holding them with one hand. She then stacked up all cleared plates after dishing away all the leftover food. Not long after, she returned to her stall, placed the plates and cutlery into a bin and returned to her station where she held a marker, writing down orders by new customers. She carefully noted down their orders to make sure that she did not make any mistake. He saw her from afar and smiled to himself as he realized that she was no taller than a normal primary 3 school student. It was a kid, ever so young and innocent, as her father watched her while tending the stall.
She then was asked to deliver a plate to a nearby customer as instructed by her father. With her two small hands, she carried the plate of prawn noodle, walked carefully but gracefully towards the waiting customer and delivered his meal. After which, she skipped her way back to the stall, eagerly waiting for her next task. He found himself ever more curious and continued to watch her as she went from table to table, from customer to customer. There was once he saw her collecting money from a customer, counting every dollar and returned her the change. She would then carve a faint smile and skipped back to her stall. It appeared to him that the lady had given her a small tip for her service. Instead of accepting them, she returned her money, collecting only how much the food cost. Perhaps, it was a genuine gesture to accept what she actually earned rather than taking the extra dollar that could help filled her pocket.
Next, he saw her being called by a couple sitting behind him; they asked her for additional plate and some soy sauce. She returned to her stall and brought along the necessary items, meeting their demands. The couple then chatted with her for a while. He figured that this couple somehow felt pity for the little girl and just wanted to find out more about her. They probably asked her how old she was, which school she was in and how often she worked here in this tiny food court. She replied with short answers with a few nodding and soon she was back helping her father after excusing herself.
He wondered if the girl has been working here since the school holidays started. After all, with more free time in her hand, she could have decided to help out at the stall unlike during school days where students usually were made to complete their homework in order to prepare them for the following day. He thought, unlike other kids her age, she chose to work to help her father instead of staying at home watching television or playing with Barbie dolls. Perhaps, she saw more value in doing what she could do rather than wasting time at home. In his eyes, few kids could and willing to do what she did. She bore no complaints nor defiance, she carried herself with responsibility to do her tasks well without being forced to, she did them all out of her own free will. Now, it was that moment he realized that his curiosity had paid off.
He then noticed her serving a family of seven. She served the two boys in that family who were younger or somewhat about her age, helping to place a plate of prawn noodle and giving out chopsticks. It was awkward enough to see adults being served by some 7-8 year old kid and now, seeing that same kid serving those of her age and younger only made things more bemusing to look at. From that moment, she won him his respect. No longer did he see her as any helpless little girl, he saw her as an extraordinary human being for her age. Any other kid her age would have refused to work in a non air-conditioned place, sweating it out to work and would rather play at home or complained that it was too tiring or embarrassing for them to work publicly. Compared to some spoilt rich kid whose lives revolves by the dollar, driven by the internet or other entertainment devices, this little girl surely has defined her role, no matter how trivial it might appear; she knew that value of every dollar that she earned by helping her father. She showed neither signs of fatigue nor shame because she knew that what she was doing was to help her father to the best of her ability. Such kid is hard to find or even imagine and to him, seeing her in reality was a blessing, a heartwarming experience. It was not pity or the sight of poverty that melted his hardened heart; it was to understand what she was doing that drove him to feel all warm inside.
Before long, she approached him asking in Mandarin with a soft, courteous manner, “May I take your plate?” He gladly let her took his plate away and smiled at her. He noticed her gentle façade, almost believing that she was an angel in disguise with her demure expression. As she walked back towards her stall, he continued placing his eyes on her until it was time to leave. He walked away and watched her slowly fade from the distance. He did not know if he could see her again the next time he visited that food court but he remained positive that he would. This very cycle that has been ongoing in his daily lives might have left unnoticed had he chosen to dine in that restaurant. He would not have seen this little girl who has taught him that it is never too young to work and learn that every dollar earned is derived from every drop of sweat. But most of all, it was not to see this girl as ‘some’ kid he met the other day, but to see this special little girl as a human being who embraces the ordinary life to the fullest.
This post is based on a true account by the author and dedicated to the girl who took his plate of prawn noodle. This post is inspired by “Angel in Disguise” by Corrinne May.
I thought to myself that maybe kids today are fast changing. If I could describe kids in general in today's era, I would brand them as 'gadget-savvy bunch of dwarves, ever quick to terrorize without regard for others or personal safety, frantically demanding for attention, severely lacking in proper graces that it can drive one into madness just by the shrill of their voices'. Well, it applies mostly for the boys but don't ever count girls out because they too have different set of problems, just that they are less evident. Looking back when I was a kid, I believe I was not as rowdy, perhaps there was a lingering aura of fear that a disciplinarian was around and bound to know my mischief should I misbehave and of course, the consequences of overstepping my boundaries. It seemed that the boundaries today are blurred as kids grow up with a lack of parental discipline, constantly showered with tender loving care, candies and spoilt with all their demands met, thanks to parent's unassuming concern to provide the best for their children.
Maybe kids believe that as they live in their world, everything that they do, will not have much implication to others around them. They are only concerned in fulfilling their self-satisfaction, deriving fun from the process such as 'fighting'. Whatever the case, as parents, they should educate or instill some social graces such as respecting their fellow kids without inflicting pain, keeping quiet when someone is speaking and to give some respect to those older than they are. How? First, by practicing some rules or social graces within family and reminding them when those rules are broken. Second, slowly adapting them to the outside world using the same rules wherever appropiate. And lastly, monitor their progress to find out if they still follow those rules when parents are not looking. In time, it will be easier for the kids to relate such situations with the ongoings of the outside world, apply those rules and who knows, encouraging others to follow suit.
So much mention about the terror of kids nowadays that I think it is only fair that indeed, there are a few who are capable of showing some form of respect and gratitude. In my case, after the camp ended, a girl came to me as others made their way out and she said, "Thank you, 'koko' (not sure if that's the correct word to say brother in Chinese) for the biscuit." The fact that she approached me and thanked me, showed that she was grateful and brave enough to express it when others simply took it for granted. I did not expect to be thanked but that one gesture from her made me write this entry. She was the only one out of the 30 children who actually thanked someone for the effort we put in for this day camp. Now, that is reason enough for me to trust that there is still some form of social grace that kids today can display. It gave me the hope that there will be others just like her and helped me realize that what I did for the camp do make her day more pleasant. Just one biscuit as a consolation prize; hard to fanthom that it could make me smile. But it did...
This post is inspired by "Theme from Dying Young" by Kenny G.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Surviving 2 years in ACJC was not easy but I'm glad I have run this race and completed the once dreaded A levels. Firstly, I would like to express my utmost gratutide to all the teachers who have taught me these 2 years. They really worked hard to equip me with all the relevant skills and knowledge towards the final examinations. Some offered their listening ear when I encountered obstacles while others taught me with leadership values and a few, just wanted to know me better as a student in the college. It was indeed a pleasure to know that these few people do care about a student's well being, be it academically, emotionally or psychologically. For all that you have done to nurture me into a better student and person, I thank you, teachers.
Secondly, I thought of my classmates. 2 years with them have taught me the good, the bad and the ugly. Really, I have seen them all. It was a rough journey with my class, I didn't get along too well. I have no regrets or whatsoever, and why should I? The decision I made led me to what I am today and I would have chosen the same path if I were to experience it again. I came to ACJC alone and I would leave the college with the same note. So much for the bad and ugly, there were a few bunch who have made my college life more bearable. They provided me with comfort and companionship. Many of whom were from another class and some were my juniors. Although this relationship with them were not very close, at least I helped me carry my burden away. To the people who I can call good friends or acquintances, I can only say a little thank you for making my days a brighter one.
With college life all but over, it is time to gear up for the holidays and the inevitable NS in early January 2008. So I want to make my holiday month a relaxing one such as not having to worry about school or work and to let myself loose a little. But mostly, it's about spending time with my family and to catch up on more 'Z' monster for the 2 years of having to wake up at 4.45am on weekdays so that I won't be late for school. Perhaps some cleaning up and packing of the paperwork I have done in JC would not be a bad idea. In the beginning, I thought I could stack them all up and you know, set it ablaze as to celebrate the end of stressful college life but I guess there will be always someone to stop me from doing such crazy ideas, my mother. I guess I would just stash them all away in the store room if I needed them again in the future.
I hope I can cope with morning trainings, running and other keeping fit methods my mother has been nagging at me. Just yesterday, I went to have some short morning run along East Coast Park and here I am, suffering from all sorts of muscle and joint aches. I can't even sit still while blogging this entry. Hope I can manage this pain and start exercising to regain my fitness in time for the basic military training at Pulau Tekong. Better to suffer now than later, right? I don't know what I can expect there but I will have to overcome them anyway. All those trenches I may have to crawl through, high walls to climb, ropes to swing with, downright mean push ups and pull ups, army food and other kinds of physical 'torture'. Gosh, I can't even imagine what pain I would have to endure. My teacher once said that boys like us will beef up quickly when serving the army but once NS is over, all those muscles or six-packs will be reduced to nothing but flab and excess fat eventually. That is why men, as they age, grow wider as all their muscles slowly push their 'meat' downwards with compliments from gravity. The only way to slow the degradation process is to keep fit which many may face some difficulties trying to do so after all, many would have gone back to university and some start working.
Talk about university, I hope I can make it to a local university. If I can't, to faraway land I will go, seeking approval from other tertiary institutions for admission. Not that I do not want to miss out the opportunity of studying overseas, it's just that why go someplace far if one can afford to enrol into the one of the local universities. Yes, their world rankings might have fallen recently but they are nevertheless, acknowledged institutes by other countries.
I guess, it is time to stop right here. Tired and aching badly, hope better looking days are ahead of me and will be looking forward to christmas. Aah, things are looking fine already when I think about December, the month for relaxation and rejuvenation.
This post is inspired by "Sentimental" by Kenny G.
Monday, September 24, 2007
A well deserved break from blogging is not so bad. Now that I'm back 'temporarily', I just want to list done what I have been doing all these while. Let's begin with June, so it here goes.
A bright morning, started my day. All my luggage was ready, checklist done, passports checked, money is already stuck in my wallet and off I go to Bintan for an overseas CIP with my schoolmates, mostly strangers in the beginning. The expedition was to visit a government school in the village of Sebong Lagoi where my college had established a small library on the previous OCIP trips. Mine was the third / fourth batch to continue this tradition and I was more than glad to be part of this team. Partly because I want to find an escapade from Singapore's busy lifestyle. Spent about a week plus 4 days in total. Five days were dedicated to teach English to Primary 3, 4, 5 and 6 students with a manpower of 19, aided by 2 teachers' supervision. First 2 days were reserved for resting and planning for the final touch-ups and the remaining days we had, we spent it on rejuvenating and exploring what Bintan has in store for us.
Details of what we did in the primary school was classified but the bottom line is that we had fun teaching the children with inclass exercises, some indoor and outside games. My personal experience there helped me to see how it was like in a typical Indonesian government school. Facilities were barely adequate, hygiene was minimally exercised but there was this spark of happiness and contentment in the eyes of the children we taught. Their smiles were heartwarming despite the poor conditions they have to live through everyday, indeed it was an exceptional feeling to see life in that manner. There was once an occassion when it was pouring down heavily and the children were drenched. They made a conscientious effort to clean corridor with brooms to wipe of the wet sands stuck on the cemented floor. And there was this boy who removed his socks and shoes, held them in his hands and went home barefooted after the rain receded. It was then, I realized that the simplest things in life meant so much for them. The wet ground would have soaked his shoes and hastened the wear and tear process.
The next part is about my comrade in arms who have made a difference in this trip. Each has his/her own reasons for participating in this trip but from what I saw, they came not entirely for personal gains. Every night we had sharing sessions that over time, developed into emotional revelations and matured discussions. Following that, we would head back to prepare teaching materials for the next day. In our free time, we would mingle around in table games or watch TV, some returned to their bunkers either to sleep early or to study. That was how we filled each day, maintaining focus when it is the time to and at other times, we are just being humans who need a dose of socialization with those around us. And that kept us closer, getting to know a bit from everyone, after all, each one has their story. Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Bintan, working and playing together, exploring the area without a map and still made it back in one piece, getting to know my teachers in charge and most importantly, it has given me a window to see the world out there, places that give peace and tranquility when I needed them most. For that, I'm glad I went and contribute what I can to make this trip an enriching one for myself, the team and the beneficiaries. Others have their own set of stories, one that involved shedding tears of joy and reluctant farewells, so I shall leave it up to them how they want to explain their experiences.
July, another month, another year. I cannot believe I'm going to be called twentysomething from now on. It just makes me so ... old. Never mind about that. The main highlight was the Installation Ceremony where I finally stepped down from my post. A survivor from a year long of duties that gave me headaches most of the time and smiles as well at times. The present i got from the aftermath was a 'caked face', probably an act of 'revenge' after all I have put them through, now that it all ended, there was no holding back. I have fulfilled what I promised the teachers during the interviews and relieved that they are all done. My job ended here, so were my obligations and my authority, it was a bittersweet moment for me.
August was rather a fast month to fly by so easily. One thing I did was to involve myself at TJC Leo Club Installation, met a friend of mine and bid my final farewell to the place where it all began, my journey into my former CCA in my present college. To summarize the month of September that is almost over, it was alright. Had its ups and downs but overall, I'm alright with it. Nothing much happening, I'm looking forward to the holidays after A levels. Now that I recalled, I visited my secondary school on Teachers' Day, met Mr Oh on the bus one evening so I decided to pay him a visit after the long absence. I met my former fellow PSLs there and unexpectedly, I met some of the exco members who I had long lost touch with. Caroline, Cheryl and Michelle were there and it was good to meet them again. We did not plan to meet, it just so happened that we came on the same day, at the right moment when I was about to head back home. So I stayed a little longer to catch up with them. And thanks for the cinnamon doughnut bought by Caroline and Cheryl.
One last note, I do not know when I will blog again so yeah, I guess only time will tell. I had this dream to go away from all these things and find myself a quiet spot in the corner of this world, where time ticks slowly and I can just lay on back on the green pasture. Paradise on earth? Highly unlikely but somewhere close to paradise, there is always a possibility. Just like the one I found in Bintan, hopefully, I can find that place where I can settle down in peace, away from modern civilization. I will miss lots of things but you know, sometimes, you are can be so tired from city life up to a point that you just want to get away from it all for good. That time will come for me, one fine day, and I will bring my memories and mementos along to my dwelling place. Would I be lonely? Perhaps i might, but you can always visit me when you have the time. Then, I won't be so lonely, right? Otherwise, memories are enough to keep me alive and sane. Perhaps, what I just said is an elusive dream but deep down, I really wish I could at least experience it in my lifetime.
This post is inspired by "Five Loaves and Two Fishes" by Corrinne May.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Last year, I was given a job to do, a job that I never really wanted to have. And so I began to do my job to an extent that I would give up many things in order to do my job well. I have lost many things along the way. I lost my friends, my freedom and my feelings. My sense of duty was the root of all these losses. But now, when the time comes for me to be free from these chains, I felt that I want to remain this way. Regrets? No, I guess I was partly to blame, I did not savour the moments, I did not live life to its fullest. I have lost so many things and now I'm left with nothing but myself. I'm not trying to pity my current state, I just want to let myself know where I am today and how do I proceed from here on. My final moments, I want them to be meaningful just like it used to be "To finish what I started" so that at least when I leave, I shall bear no burden.
A friend of mine said that I should not think too much that it will only make one feels sad. Frankly speaking, I do feel some kind of despair as I write this entry but if feeling sad makes one stronger emotionally, then when sadness do occur, I would be able to guard my feelings, I won't feel so sad. Selfish thoughts perhaps? Maybe. Speaking of friends, I do not have plenty. Friends are just friends when you are happy, when you are sad. And in the end, you are left with nothing but yourself. Introvert, anti-social, individualistic? I guess I can live with people branding me as such because no one can be liked by everyone.
People want to be accepted, a form of seeking refuge from loneliness, but if your shelther is taken away, you are left with nothing and are likely to seek a new place for conformity. That is why, interdependence is such a powerful tool that binds us together so that it can conquer loneliness. We may not like each other but so long as you help me and I help you, we are alright. Sometimes, I do wonder, is being lonely that bad that it can drive one on the verge of insanity just like in the movie "Cast Away"?
Sigh, another bleak entry filled with random, sorrowful stuff. This always happens when I think too much, trying to explain the unexplainable. Maybe I should just stop thinking...
Sorry to ruin your perfectly beautiful day if you do have one before reading this.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Don't ask me why I posted that picture up there. I have no valid reason for it, maybe a nice gimmick to me at the spur of that moment. And by the way, it was not taken in Singapore, last December when I went back to Indonesia in a shopping mall.
March holidays are over and it's 'wartime' again. Come to think of it, the holidays were not much of a relaxing period of time because of the exams when school reopens. Life is getting harder every passing year. When I looked back, I did not realize how fortunate I was when I was younger in secondary and primary school. Holidays were the time to explore the shopping malls all around Singapore from East to West, North to South. Windowshopping with my family was the ultimate 'eye-refresher' compared to staying cooped up at home. Ah, those were the days... Maybe that's the reason why I no longer go out often nowadays. Have seen enough malls that it became a bore. I will only go out if it is absolutely necessary and I have time on my side. Otherwise, sorry, I will not be available.
The other day, my mother gave me a lecture on 'how to find a good future wife'. It was one of those lecture series she compiled over her years of experience and analysis of the current society be it in Singapore or somewhere else. I really enjoyed her lectures because it was really motivating and made a lot of sense. The delivery was entertaining with jokes and several case study were presented. Now, that can be a reliable source if information. Nevermind what she told me because I am never going to disclose it anyway. But I think the main highlight is important and I will not mind sharing it. A good future wife has to be able to accept her spouse's family and work towards her goal in building the family's harmony and nourishing the future generations.
If you take a look at the society today, women have so many roles to play. As a mother, a wife, a breadwinner of the family and sometimes, a career ladder climber. I agree that women are better in multi-task arena compared to men. But this multi-task somehow leads to the uncertain role women have to prioritise. Think about it, multi-task equals division of time. Either to spend less time at work and spend more on family matters or vice versa. How successful a woman can manage her limited time when faced in situation like these? Most of the time, a woman, no matter how much she tries to hold on multi-tasking, she will burn out one day. When burnt out, work became a burden and family seems to be an obligation. Things get worse from here on and eventually, family is the usual victim who suffer the most.
Next problem. Just a question for the ladies out there. How many of you can cook and cook well to prepare a delicious meal for the family? Recent observations have shown that women in Singapore cannot cook well enough. Yes, they can prepare instant noodles, fry the egg, cook the rice, fry the chicken nuggets, boil water, cut the carrots and such. But prepare a meal? I don't think many can come up with different menus everyday. Most would just stick to cooking the usual stuff and humans being humans, get bored pretty easily thus, the desire to eat at home will soon degrade. Solution is simple, eat out at fast food outlet, hawker centre, foodcourt or posh restaurants that charge a 'bomb' when you foot the bill. Another fact, those households with extremely clean and tidy kitchen usually have women who cannot cook. Because they cannot cook, the kitchen is not used, only cleaned to wipe off the accumulating dusts. There is this translated Dutch saying, "The only way to make your husband happy is to fill stomach with delicious food that he can crave for more." Not being able to cook is not a sin but it certainly may not guarantee the husband's and children's happiness. Relate this to "A hungry man is an angry man." You will see that men get pretty upset when he finds out that there's no food on the table when he returns from work. Men can be a better chef compared to women but only their wives can make the best dishes these men (or chefs) like.
Next problem. There's this saying, "Once your husband steps out of the house, he is no longer your husband." What I mean is that men can be a different person when he's not at home and it is true most of the time. I can understand why some women hire private investigators to check on their husband. Trust between spouses is important. Lose that trust and you can throw away that wedding ring and forget vows you make. How to deal with this problem, well, the only solution is to quality spend time together more often. Some may find that romance dies off after marriage, so it is essential to relight that flame. It is not easy when you have kids watching you but simple gestures of affection will help maintain that trust. Some resort to 'doing things behind closed door' if you know what I mean. Health professionals said it contributes to a healthy husband-wife relationship and I agree to that statement to some extent. However, to ensure long term perfect marriage is to treasure those little things you do together as husband and wife. Warm conversation with jokes here and there, remembering wedding anniversary and going to places you dated before are just some of the things that can be cherished.
Well, enough said about all these. So Ladies, step up to reality, the popular trends and claims about women being good all doing many things at one time may not be necessarily beneficial after all. Some might have suceeded but in the end, women will eventually do want to have a loving family with her husband. This post has to end somewhere otherwise I can go on listing things that may contribute to the divorce rates in Singapore or perhaps the low birth rate based on the social aspects. Singapore's economic drive in some way can have caused these problems too but then again money can't buy happiness. Fortunately ot unfortunately, money can solve many things in life but happiness is another different ball game.
"Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping." Take Singapore for example, there are plenty of shopping centres like Vivocity, Wisma Atria, Takashimaya and all but are we really happy when we have the purchasing power to buy all the things our heart desires? Humans are humans after all, seeking happiness in the wrong places when all they want is to have a good life fulfilled. I believe that harmony within family is the happiness we have been searching for. Family will not leave you behind when your friends do so. Family cherish you for who you are when others judge you. Family's happiness multiply while happiness in other things disappears when you desire another. Unfortunately, some of us may not have this kind of family. But you can make it happen when you start your own family, depending whether you have the courage to start anew with your very own ideals in life.
This post is inspired by "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Michael Buble.
This post is dedicated to my mother whose birthday falls recently.