Friday, January 30, 2009

Signs of Life

"Patience is a virtue much in decline in this instant gratification epoch."
Jonathan Ya'akobi

Growing plants means nurture and care. In simple word, it's all about patience.

Water, wait, water, wait, water, wait....

After first few days of patient watering and looking at empty soil I finally saw signs of life today. Prominent ones. Yay!

One of my Balsam seeds is growing faster than the rests. Seems like the others are still budding on Mother Earth.

Balsam - Day 6
Haha! Cute.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Paradox of Our Time

By George Carlin

The paradox of our time in history is that...

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers.
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less.
We buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families.
More conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense.
More knowledge, but less judgment.
More experts, but more problems.
More medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly,
laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly,
stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little,
watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life;
We've added years to life, not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space;
We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less;
We plan more, but accomplish less;
We've learned to rush, but not to wait;
We have higher incomes, but lower morals;
We have more food, but less appeasement;

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

We've become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure,but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit delete...

Almost Herbivory

I am a fussy eater. And, I am just about a herbivore.

People at home say I eat like a rabbit or hamster. Yep. Despite most of their colors are my favorite green, I am just a die hard veggies' fan and must include them in my daily diet. No veggies in my meal is like eating breakfast cereals without milk. It is that bad.

OK, what I have been eating for lunch at home over weekends or public holiday (like today) is hassle-free, super good and healthy, I guess.

High-Fiber Beef Spaghetti.


2 oz of steamed broccoli (Yes, massive of broccoli indeed for one serving).

1 serving of frozen home made beef spaghetti sauce (Courtesy of my little sister, a far better cook than me)

Wholegrain spaghetti.

Black pepper powder and chili sauce (for additional seasoning)

20 minutes later - It's lunch time!

Oh well, the most important thing here is the of course, the sauce. If y'all don't have this, sadly you have to make it first.

And I am running out of supply of these frozen sauces. Gee!

The Art of Doing Nothing

Work has been crazy and literally worn me out these days.

I have been really looking forward to this slightly long break since the beginning of the month, which marked the end of my Christmas holiday. Ah, this is just an excuse. I just wanted more holiday. Period.

What were the to-do-lists that I set for myself for the Chinese New Year long weekend?

To do N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Lay around and waste time. I thought doing these would melt away my stress.

Mission accomplished.

Outcomes: Muscular Fatigue and Pain.

Yes, I am having severe neck and back pains at this moment.

I pretty much did nothing for the past two days.

Over sleeping.

Extended naps.

Express cooking.


Watching TV.

Spending a lot of time in front of my computer.

[Facebook-ing, Friendster-ing, blogging, reading someone-I-don't-even-know's blogs, browsing, checking Wikipedia and Youtube and completing zillion other good-for-nothing activities.]

No reading books. I bought New Moon almost three weeks ago but I haven't even started touching the first page.

Very very lazy to do stuff.

Holiday should be relaxing your body and soul. But, lazing around combined with aching back and massive boredom are just tormenting.


I should have taken more active breaks and moved around.

Is it about time to sign up for the gym membership?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Lamented Aphrodite

Brazilian Model Who Lost Hands and Feet Dies

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - One month ago, 20-year-old beauty queen, Mariana Bridi, was living the dream of many young Brazilian women, trading her striking good looks for a modeling career that promised to lift her family out of poverty.

Then, she contracted a seemingly ordinary urinary tract infection. The bacteria spread quickly and inexorably through her body, proving to be extremely drug resistant. In a desperate bid to save her life, doctors amputated her hands and feet. But by Saturday she was dead.

It was only last night when I checked on Yahoo! News about this pitiful Brazilian supermodel. She had to be amputated due to her lethal disease. I instantly felt sorry for her. Today the news says she had passed away.

She was so young. She was beautiful. She was blessed with beauty that Greek Goddesses may envy. She had the whole world in her hands. Her life was just about to start when her life was suddenly taken away.

God gave her immaculate physique that other mortals may not fortunate enough to possess. But God also claimed everything back in seconds when she tragically had to lose her hands and feet, and in spite of all, her life.

Why her?

Only God knows why. We may seem to have everything today but tomorrow everything may not be the same.

Psalm 139:16 says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!"

Harvest Moon: Growing Plants in Real Life

I have always fancied playing Harvest Moon. I found virtually running a farm and growing plants very exciting. And indeed addictive. There were times when I just hit my brother's play station every morning once I got up from my bed, just to play Harvest Moon.

God, how I miss playing this game...!!!

I thought of having a dog or fish would be fun but they can be quite handful to take care in Singapore. Undoubtedly, they'd require quite a lot of money to keep and at this moment, I simply have no budget to afford other living beings than myself. Plus, I get bored easily.

So, I discovered gardening as my latest compelling venture. I have been thinking about growing flowers for quite some time. Not because of Harvest Moon, but I reckon this is just in the genes. I just love flowers. Watching people doing some gardening works has always been fun especially when the flowers have started to blossom, but I have always refused to step in the garden as I'm very much afraid of worms, insects and other possible creepy creatures coming out from the garden.

My Mom loves gardening. Few of my aunts practice this religiously. My cousin runs a chrysanthemum plantation.

I could remember how I enjoyed every bit of my life sucking the beauty of flowers when I was back in the Netherlands. How I miss watching the Narcissus' bulbs bloom in spring after the long quiet winter.

In short, I just can't runaway from floras.

Gardening in Singapore indeed takes a lot of considerations. There is literally no lawn to grow plants other than in small pots in the corridors in front of my unit. There are no good sun and rain exposures in apartments. And I have to be really committed to take care of them.

But today, I just decided to just start doing my new hobby and have finally started my very own minuscule garden. I skipped church (as I woke up very late) and went to NTUC Toa Payoh instead to buy some basic gardening ingredients. I needed soils and flowers' seeds.

I had no idea that there would be many kinds of soils. Deciding which soils and how many soils I might need was confusing. Fastest way was to ask the real gardener with extensive years of experience growing flowers and other plants. My Mom. I had to do some international conference calls with her just to find out what to do with the soils. She said 1 kg of soil is very little. So, I took 2 kgs of soils. One was the normal soil and the other one was the Horti Moss. Horti Moss looked like normal soils with enhanced fertilizers which are supposed to give healthy nutrition to the seeds, so I just grabbed them.

Then, I chose Balsam Seeds and Sunflower Dwarfs Seeds. The latter one better be really dwarf ones as I have no enough space to grow the real towering Sunflowers.

Another biggest issue in starting growing the plants was finding the pots. Could not find any in the Supermarkets. I have been checking three supermarkets in Bishan and Toa Payoh, still could not find one. I came across of using a plastic basins instead but they have no holes on the bottom. How frustrating.

Finally, after some tiring efforts to get some flower pots, I found two in a nearby Florist. S$4 for each. Quite reasonable so I bought two of them.

My new discovery:

Kicking off the planting hobby.

Balsam and Sunflower Dwarf: Day 1.

Can't wait to see them grow!

Movie Review: Ip Man

What to do in a lazy Saturday evening in Singapore? Just two days before the Lunar New Year.

Movies, for sure.

Ip Man was the target today. A long-buzzed movie whose marvelous credits I have heard since a while ago. Turned out, all the good credits were all true. I heart this one. The plot was touching. The martial arts showcased were breathtaking. Donnie Yen's acting and fight scenes were magnetizing. Definitely worth to watch over and over again.

Going home, when we were heading to the Orchard MRT Station, my eyes caught this Chinese man selling Chinese calligraphy paintings. I stood in front of his displays on the street near the station for quite some time. When I was checking on his works and trying to decipher his artworks' messages, an Indian lady needed some translation help to communicate with the street calligraphist. With my poor Mandarin speaking ability, I helped her asking him whether he'd still be there tomorrow. He said 'Not sure'. She finally did not ask the man to make her some paintings as she was in hurry.

Instead, I did.

He said 10$ each. Took about 5 minutes to finish. Then, I just wrote my Chinese name in his scrap book and he began working on it. He was turning my Chinese name into an express art.

While we were waiting for him to finish painting, suddenly there were lots of people behind us watching his impressive painting show.

Few minutes later: Voila!

Looks beautiful, doesn't it? A pretty nice obsession to remember few years from now. Indeed, a small treat from Singapore to celebrate the Lunar New Year this year.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lo Hei Yu Sheng

"Christine, are you joining us for Lo Hei Yu Sheng later at 12.30?"
"Join you for what?"
"Lo Hei Yu Sheng. We have sent you an email about that..."


"OK. Read your email. What is Lo Hei? CNY lunch?"
"Umm, yeah. Something like that. It's a CNY tradition. You have never done this before?"
"No. Never heard."
"Anyway, are you joining us? Then, you'll know what Lo Hei is. $5 for each person."
"OK. I will"

I thought of CNY buffet lunch in the conference room all morning. Yu Sheng turns out to be Chinese raw fish salad. It consists of strips of raw fish (salmon), mixed with shredded vegetables and gingers as well as a variety of sauces, peanuts, crackers and condiments, among other ingredients. According to Wikipedia, it is a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

This dish is served as an appetizer to raise 'good luck' for the new year. It is usually eaten during CNY period. Heavily practiced in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia amongst friends, families and colleagues. But, it's not practiced in China and Indonesia.

Friday, 23 January 2009. Last day before the long weekend.

Two boxes of Lo Hei Yu Sheng from Sakae Sushi had arrived. One for admins and producers and another for the marketing side.

The admin girls covered the entire meeting table in the conference room with newspaper. One box of yu sheng was opened.

"Can we start now? Is everybody here?"
"Grab your chopsticks"

Then, the admin girls started pouring all the sauces on the yu sheng (salad). Covered the salad with smashed peanuts and crackers.

After that, we all gathered around the table, with chopsticks in hand, we proceeded to toss the shredded ingredients into the air while saying these out loud repeatedly:

"More delegates"
"More money"
"More bonus"
"More speakers"
"More advertising"
"More budget"
"More database"

It appeared to be something like this. I forgot to take pictures.

The higher you toss, the greater your fortunes! Scream louder too!

We heard some of the marketing girls screamed:

"More boyfriends"

Should not wish for these in a business-setting environment, I think. No wonder the delegates number is always down the drain.

That was new (to me) and that was fun!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Sailor and the Three Sirens

"When you're curious, you find lots of interesting to do."
Walt Disney

Tonight we were running out of agenda on what other things we could do in Orchard other than shopping, movies and eating; so we kept on walking along the Orchard Road. Then, we found Orchard Towers area on Orchard Road as an interesting playground to explore. We were curious and wanted to play detectives there. We wanted to know how the sirens lure the weak-minded wandering sailors along the Orchard Road at night.

A Sailor and The Three Sirens

"For every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing"
Friedrich Nietzsche

"On Saturday night, an old Caucasian sailor was walking along the dark Orchard Road. He was scouting the area in front of the Thai Embassy. Alongside, he met three "exotic" sirens sitting on the bench ready to bait any available sailors. When they saw the old sailor, they sang alluring songs in a language that he was familiar with but in different accent.

Once he heard the song, the poor old sailor could not resist the sirens' lovely and beautiful voices. He was soon trapped amongst the three long-haired sirens. Two sirens just sat on the bench and the other one stood up. She was standing next to him. This particular siren was proactive. From afar, we could see how the long black haired siren flirted with the old sailor, touched his hand many times (finally held his hand) and did her parley to spend the night with him. Needless to say, she won. The weak old sailor surrendered and was immediately led to doom. Soon, they walked away leaving the other two sirens to keep looking for other sailors."

As we walked along the Orchard Towers and Orchard Hotel area, one of the business center in Singapore for this particular sector to satisfy our curiosity on how a famous 'entertainment' industry runs their business at night, we managed to observe how some entertainment associates professionally attracted buyers (i.e. sailors) - clearly, the more exposure, the better.

Acting cute (though they do look quite far from cute), being very flirty and seductive (most men are instantly carried away once they hear their venomous phrases), giving a lot of physical contacts and sweet talking are proven to be powerful in alluring buyers. Once we saw how an associate successfully closed a deal with her buyer, to fit the idea as amateur detectives, we wanted to know what would happen after that. So we followed the couple. We were curious to find out to which hotel these random hook-ups will end up.

Too bad the detectives were too tired tonight. We decided that home was the best route to follow at night. Hence, we called the instant investigation for a night and didn't really close whatever case we were trying to prove.

Sometimes it is too dangerous to satisfy our curiosity. But to all wandering (old) sailors out there, you lot better stay at home once the sun sets and stay healthy. Why eat burger outside when you have steak for dinner at home?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers are technically powerless but in many occasions, they do play a very powerful role in damaging your projects, and life. Mostly, they come in the forms of executive secretaries, operators or simply receptionists. If you are lucky, you'd interact with the nice and helpful ones. But, sometimes you'd meet the ones who are very tactful in filtering your objectives to the top, hence makes everything more difficult. Or, you'd get to talk to the very dumb ones that almost make you vomit blood.

In general, what they do definitely waste your time, energy and patience. Most of the time the way they treat you makes you boiling hot, though sometimes they also make you laugh hard until your stomach hurts.

See how bombastic gatekeepers can tease you and practically ruin your peace:

A brief conversation with a non-English speaking secretary who only mastered a single English word.

Country called: China

Christine: Hi, can I speak to Mr. Tan?
Secretary: No.

Christine: Umm, is he in a meeting now or out of the office?

Secretary: No.

Christine: Err, so what time can I call him back?

Secretary: No.

Christine: Do you know his email address? I mean... can I just drop him an email instead?

Secretary: No

Christine: Actually, do you speak English?

Secretary: No

Christine: (Speechless) Hmph.. Thank you. Bye.

A conversation with a Secretary from a Government-Owned Company who was either damn lazy to print out some information or in the midst of saving the forest.

Country called: Indonesia

Christine: Halo. Selamat Siang. Bisa saya bicara dengan Bapak Direktur?
Bapaknya sedang keluar, Mbak. Ada pesan?
Hmm.. sebenarnya saya ini telpon dari Singapore, Bu. Kebetulan saya sedang menyiapkan sebuah event di Singapore dan berniat untuk mengundang Bapak untuk jadi salah satu pembicara di acara ini.
Secretary: O
h gitu. Wah.. Bapaknya sedang nggak di tempat tuh.
Err, OK. Kalau saya kirim proposal acaranya lewat email gimana, Bu? Bapak atau Ibu ada email address kan?
Ada sih. Tapi, di fax aja lah, Mbak.

Christine: Emang kenapa, Bu? Emailnya lagi down atau rusak ya?
Secretary: Ya nggak sih.. Emailnya bisa kok. 
Christine: Kalau gitu, gimana kalau saya email aja Bu.. Kalau saya fax kayaknya kepanjangan. Attachmentsnya lumayan tebal.
Yah... kalo di email kan nanti saya mesti print emailnya lagi buat Bapak. Di fax aja lah Mbak.. Biar saya bisa langsung kasih ke Bapak.
Christine: OK....... (Whatever!)

An executive secretary from an International Oil and Gas Powerhouse who doesn't believe in the existence of the cyber world.

Country called: China

Christine: Hi. Good Morning.
Secretary: Morning.

Christine: Yes, can I speak to Mr. Darcy, the Director of Gas and Power, please?

Secretary: He is in the meeting right now. Who is calling?

Christine: Oh yes. My name is Christine calling you from ABF Singapore.

Secretary: OK. What is the purpose of calling?

Christine: Well, I am currently putting together a Conference in Singapore and would like to invite Mr. Darcy as one of our guest speakers.

Secretary: But Mr. Darcy is still in the meeting right now.

Christine: Yes, I know. So, how can I send him the proposal? Can I drop him an email?
Secretary: No. Please send us a fax.

Christine: I have a lot of attachments in my proposal. I think it's better if I can just send it via email. What is your email address? I can just send it to you and you forward that to him.

Secretary: No. Please send the letter via fax. I think email would be inconvenient.

Christine: (Unbelievable!) OK. What is your fax number then?

Another silly conversation with an operator who was trying to be funny with me and made me speechless for five seconds and swallowed my saliva after hearing her bloody stupid response.

Country called: Japan

Christine: Hi, can I talk to Mr. Sugaya?
Sailor Moon: Mr. Sugaya is still in the meeting now.

Christine: OK then.

Sailor Moon: Is this urgent? Can I take a message for you?

Christine: Yes. In that case, can I know his email address then?

Sailor Moon: No.

Christine: I really think it'd be much better to have his email address so I can contact him faster. Do you know his email address?

Sailor Moon: Yes. I know his email address but I have no authority to tell you.

Christine: Can I just have his email address please so I can drop him my proposal via email? I've been calling your office like three times today and he's always still in the meeting.... So....

Sailor Moon: Yeah... so.. Mmm.. so... so what are you going to do now?

Christine: So, I am going to send him email now! Will you give me his email address? Haha.
Sailor Moon: No...

Christine: Hmm.. So how am I to contact him then?

Sailor Moon: Ohh.. What if I give you my email address and I will forward your email address to him...

Christine: OK. That's fine. What is your email address?(Why didn't you say this way early on, woman!?!)

Coupled with their fantastic English and annoying thick accents which often make my stomach in distress; spending some time speaking to them and having to deal with them several times in one single day, do really make my head so dizzy and abstain from practicing forbearance. Yet, still most of the time I hear nothing after a couple of days, am unable to reach the top part and likely, being turned down too.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Quest

A mentally disturbed 70-year-old threw thinner and lit fire to a Member of Parliament in Singapore. Kate Winslet won two Golden Globe Awards for her role in The Revolutionary Road. Heath Ledger wins posthumous Golden Globe Awards. Fergie and Josh Duhamel finally got married.

Those were interesting. But, amongst all of the breaking news and articles today, the following article from Yahoo! News this afternoon indeed caught my attention best and definitely intrigued me to make some commentaries.


BEIJING (Reuters) – A 107-year-old Chinese woman who was afraid to marry when she was young has decided to look for her first husband and hopes to find a fellow centenarian so they will have something to talk about, a Chinese paper reported.

Wang Guiying is worried she is becoming a burden to her aging nieces and nephews since breaking her leg when she was 102 and had to stop doing chores like washing her clothes.
"I'm already 107 and I still haven't got married," the Chongqing Commercial Times quoted her saying. "What will happen if I don't hurry up and find a husband?"

Born in southern Guizhou province the child of a salt merchant, Wang grew up watching her uncles and other men scold and beat their wives and often found her aunt crying in the woodshed after an attack, the paper said.

"All the married people around there lived like that. Getting married was too frightening," she said of an era when Chinese women had few rights and low social standing.
Many also had their feet bound in an excruciating process aimed at making them look more dainty and marriageable.
After Wang's father, mother and older sister died, she still shied away from marriage. Instead she moved to the countryside and survived as a farmer until she was 74 years old and no longer strong enough to work in the fields, the report said.

Her nephew in the booming city of Chongqing then took Wang in, but she is worried he and her other nephews and nieces are too old to take care of her now even the youngest is 60.

"My nephews and nieces are getting older and their children are already tied up with their own families and I am becoming more and more of a burden," she said.

Local officials have said they are happy to help Wang search for a 100-year old groom, and suggested her family get in touch with old people's homes to find candidates, the paper said.

After reading the article's last paragraph, what came to my mind were:
1. Realistically, how many available +/- 100-year-old males (who are willing to wed her) in China Mainland now? Also, keeping in mind that geography and different languages spoken are the strong barriers to find love on the other part of the world. Not that many.
2. How much time she's left to find and finally feel love? Not much.
3. Love is blind, I understand. But, whoever centenarian man, if any, who finally weds her must be really blind.
4. It's going to be a hard search. Requires a perfect horizontal fate. Takes heck of lucks and prayers to find her groom.

How to find love after 30s. How to find love after 50s. How to find love after divorce. How to find love for single parents. And many more how tos find love. Seems like the whole universe can't get enough to grill this topic over and over again.

Love is hard to find.

I might be the last person who can explain much about love or share the tips and tricks in successfully finding a soul mate, as I have yet to be successful in finding mine either and am a far cry from the Love Guru's qualifications. However, after reading the afore article, I kind of get this woman's misery in continuing her life and finding a friend of life just to spend the rest of her life in this earth.

She constantly shied away from finding love, let alone from marriages. She grew old fulfilling, I bet, ultimately nothing and pleasing no one, but herself. She got lonely. She dangerously felt the need to have a 'friend'. She became too dependent on her big family who might not supposed to take care of her forever and considered herself as their potato sack at the end of the day as she gets weaker and useless on daily basis.
Why she only realized this after almost 100 years? Who is it to blame then? Herself? God? Her family? The old circumstances? Can't say. Maybe it's just her path. Maybe her life is meant to be this way. *Knock on wood three times* But again, I must say that she's got the guts in announcing her wish to find a groom at her current three-digit age to the whole world.

From what I heard, saw, noticed, experienced and read, there are two major views on the quest of finding (hopefully eternal) love:
One, those with the subtle or passive thinking say don't try to find love. When it happens, it happens. When it has not come, it has not come. Besides, love happens when you least expect it. Two, those who belong to a more assertive type believe that we have to get active in finding love. Don't just wait. Do something. There is nothing wrong at all in being aggressive (for girls). It's now or never. Use some strategies to win love if necessary.
I personally still think both ways are kind of difficult to apply in real life. Just waiting like a sitting duck is wrong. Being a way too aggressive in finding the right one doesn't sound correct either. Therefore, ideally, the mix of both views would be just nice to successfully find love.

There is a time for everything under the heaven. Humans cannot escape from divine intervention. Those sayings could not be any true. But, let's not forget that the law also says ora et labora. You back up your prayers (or dreams) with actions.

I always feel that some people are lucky to find the right one, or at least the quite right one, early. Some just aren't that lucky and have to wait longer. Though, in this 107 years old woman's case, the waiting part has gone way too long.

I've actually been analyzing some possible causes why some people have to wait longer, like myself. Below are the top four reasons that I could think of for the time being.

1. God's willing or just merely fate. In this case there is nothing any mortals can do to intervene the divine's purposes. It's just not your time yet, my children! Fret not.
2. Personal characters. He or she could be genetically a "difficult" person to live with hence not many normal people would like to be around. He or she is very fussy or picky, too shy, too quiet, too introvert, etc. No one can help the first mentioned character. It's beyond our league. But for those with one or many of the characters in the second statement can start changing her mindset and attitude in relating with others.
3. No time to find love. In a hectic life like nowadays where 24 hours seem barely enough to meet the endless deadlines, where there seem not enough steps in climbing the corporate ladders, where employees are forced or deliberately sell their souls to their clients or bosses - finding a time to find love is quite a challenge. Even though we meet a lot of new people at work, those people are simply not the right 'target market' for us half of the time. So what to do? No one to chase.
4. We're just not that into the opposite. It does happen when someone falls for us and chases us but sadly, we don't feel the same way. When they show their feelings and start their aggressions but we still feel nothing, what is the outcome? We'd feel annoyed and rather keep a distance. For some extreme cases; the farther, the better. When we're not attracted, we just are not. No need to push.

Then, shall we just wait for the right time, always keep our eyes and heart open and grab the opportunity fast once we see 'someone' who excite our eyes and heart?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chain Reaction

Lazy Sunday. Did not have much to do so I was just checking incoming SMSes and deleting some old useless texts from my cellphone's inbox. I like to keep some memorable texts I receive from people.

Then, I came across the SMSes that my little brother, Juan, sent to me on 7th of October 2008. His 19th Birthday.

In the past few years, especially since I have been living abroad, I am hardly able to celebrate my family's birthdays or mine with them. Can't have birthday dinner with them or whatever as their Birthdays don't fall on or near the times where there is any Public Holiday where I can take leave and go home.

Juan and Christine. Malang, 3 January 2009.

7 October 2008

7th October 2008 morning, I told my Mom to prepare some fried noodles that noon as it was my brother's birthday. A small reminder of his birthday would be good, I uttered.

I sent a Happy Birthday SMS to my brother. He was at school that morning so the least I could do was sending my birthday wishes via text message. I meant to ring him later on when he has reached home.

In the late afternoon, I was busy working in the office and got his SMS reply. He said thanks and mentioned that the Ice Cream Cake that his then girlfriend delivered to our house was already melted by the time he came back to school as my parents were not aware that the cake was from Ice Cream and thus, did not put it in the freezer. He was very upset, especially since he said no one gave him Birthday present other than his then girlfriend. I immediately called and comforted him as I believed there was no one to blame in this situation. My parents did not know that it was an Ice Cream Cake and the delivery guy did not inform them. It was just a pure sad regretted occasion I explained. Then, he understood and sounded okay. But I pitied him.

After he called, I felt so uneasy. I kept thinking: This is so sad. What should I do? How to make him happy on his Birthday? How to send a birthday cake from Singapore in last minute? I didn't think any Cake House in my hometown has any credit card facility or online services. Duh!

Then, I remembered Astrid. I rang this good friend in Malang whose aunt has a renowned Cake House in Malang. It was almost 3.30 in the afternoon. Usually, she is pretty hard to reach, but that day, she picked up my call. I immediately told her that I needed her help. She asked back, 'What is it?' I told her what happened.

"Could you help me order me a cake and deliver it to my house, like now? I'll pay you back when you come to Singapore next month".

She said, "Cool, OK. I'd make a phone call and order one. What cake do you want? What message will you write for him?". I thought hard. I didn't know what cake my brother likes. Amongst all of his favorite food that I know he likes, I just never paid attention of what cake he likes.

Then I jokingly answered, "Whatever available. Black Forest is good too. I don't know about the message. Just write anything you like. Happy Birthday. Whatever". Astrid said,"Sure. I'll get the price quotation and inform you again via SMS soon".

Minutes later, I got her text message, asking me how big the cake I wanted to send. What my address was and how old my brother was. I told her my address, asked her to get "19" candles and informed her to get the biggest cake available and not to care about the price. She said "OK" and teased "How nice this big sister is, buy me a cake too when my birthday comes, OK?" I said "Yes, I'd get you a chocolate tart on your birthday in Singapore". I thanked her very much. I really really appreciated her massive help and still do. A saying that goes "A friend in need is a friend indeed" really holds true on her.

I nervously waited. Then, 16.49. Slightly faster than I thought. My bro's SMS came. He sounded very surprised to get a birthday cake from Christine in Singapore that afternoon. He cheerfully asked if I sent him a cake and wondered when I sent it. He could not stop asking how I did it. At 16.54, my parents texted me too and asked me if I ordered a cake.

I was so happy, as happy as he possibly was maybe, when I heard him so grateful and was over the moon to get the biggest cake he ever received. Three-layered Black Forest with Brandy. A very thick one. I was very glad too when my parents told me that he has smiled again then.

I felt literally joyous throughout the evening. The feeling of giving a surprise like that to someone you care the most was exhilarating. I was yet to reveal how I did it to him and my family and never could thank Astrid enough for her help that day.

And I wanted to know how my cake looked like.

20 November 2008

It was Astrid's 24th birthday and she happened to be in Singapore as she was attending a conference organized by City Harvest Church. After work, I got my self to find her a chocolate tart from POLAR as I promised her earlier. I presented it to her when I met her that night in Bugis. She was happy and pretty surprised that I really brought her the cake. Too bad she was too busy with the conference and due to limited time as well, we only got to see each other in Singapore twice during her 1 week visit here. So sad, huh? By the way, I paid my brother's birthday cake to her the day before on her first night in Singapore.


Few days before I came back home for my Christmas holiday, she wrote me in my Facebook's wall that she's prepared 'something green' for me. Very fishy information. Green is my favorite color and she is well informed of that. I was curious.

2 December 2009

During my 10 days holiday in Malang, I did not have the chance to see Astrid at all. I did not go to church for two weeks there as I fell sick and was busy packing. Timing was no good to meet up with her. Then, two days before I had to come back to Singapore, I casually texted her - Where was my something green? She replied "Ah, yes. It's with me. What is your home address? Will you be at home tomorrow? I have particularly prepared it for you a while ago. I will send it to you tomorrow." I was still curious as she never told me what it was. I thought of a green doll, green photo frame, green book and other possible green gift or humored stuff.

3 December 2009

Next evening, my father called me and passed me something in a white plastic bag. From Astrid, he said. A courier just delivered it. I opened it.

It was an English Bible. Its cover was green.

I never thought she'd remembered me and gave me something like this. English Bible. Green. English Bible was something that I wanted to get for so long but have not bought it yet. And she knows well of how I can stare at something green for quite some time.

She told me that when she was at the Asia Conference in Singapore, she saw this green bible and thought of me. So she bought one for me. I know English Bible was quite pricey. I felt so bad as I did not prepared any Christmas present at all for her, so I could only thank and thank her again for this.
Astrid and Kur2 - Singapore Excursion Study, April 2005.

Astrid, a close friend of mine since 2002, has always been a strong Christian youth leader at Church. She was the one who was by my side when I decided to convert myself as a Christian in Christmas 2006. I deliberately asked her to accompany me when I had my pre-baptism consultation. She and her boyfriend were the only friends, other than my siblings, who accompanied me and witnessed me being baptized on Christmas Eve 2006.

Before I came back to Singapore last January, she reminded me to read the Bible regularly. She said she has chosen the New English Version Bible for me so I can easily follow it. Don't have to worry so much on how to differ Thee and Thou. Gosh, I was and am still moved by her thoughtfulness. I responded, "I'll cover the Bible first with some plastic so it won't spoil and yes, will try to read it as often as I can". I must admit reading the Bible regularly nowadays can be quite a challenge to keep up.

Chain reaction does exist. What goes around, comes around.

John 2: 10: "Everyone brings out the choice of wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but You have saved the best till now".

He always saves and has saved the best for me until now.

Welcome, 2009!

I should have done this (i.e. updating my dear newly blog) exactly last week, but I have been so knocked out readjusting with my back-to-normal routines in the past 6 or 7 days. My office work has pretty much driven me insane last week.

Today is exactly one week after I officially returned from my longed holiday at home. As expected, after boundless desire to have my Christmas Holiday, I finally had it in a blink and now, here I am, back to my normal life in Singapore again. Hectic and stressful life as usual. Don't follow my path, people. Not good for your health.

Resolution for 2009: Stop worrying about the things that you can't control! Don't be so hard on yourself.

Before these beautiful recollections fade away, here are the great things and habits that happened prior and during my just-over-holiday in my beloved Parijs van Oost Java that I want to record:

1. Diving into the euphoric of going home soon. It is indescribable and addictive like morphine. I just always want it more and more. It came in the forms of the euphoria that I had as I was really looking forward to see my folks, big family, old friends and of course my siblings back home. I had this feeling at work, home (in Singapore), shopping malls, airport and wherever. It starts usually 2 weeks before my departure day and lasts to 1 hour before my flight lands to Surabaya Airport. Not mentioning, the shopping craze that I love to do before going home. Buying some stuff as oleh-oleh for my family back home for me is the best retail therapy ever.

2. Seeing my Dad picking me up at the Airport in Surabaya. This is also one of the rarest good thing that I only manage to experience twice a year. I always look forward to see him first before seeing my whole big family and hate the times when he has to send me off in the Airport when I have to go back overseas. That's why, this time around, I opted to go back to Surabaya with the courtesy of a friend's ride. Anyway, we all love Hellos a lot more than Good Byes, don't we?

3. Dinner for 3 at Pizza Hut Malang footed by me. It is just a normal dinner that I usually spend with my dearest little brother and sister. I don't know why but, on the first night of my coming back to Malang, I always choose to dine at this international-widely available restaurant with my siblings. Two must have menus: Salads and Super Supreme Pizza.

4. Catching up with my hilarious cousins and siblings: Juan, Lidya, Cie Siu Yun, Lia and Fandy. We can joke and laugh out loud all day until my stomach pains. Only then, you'd see the true me.

5. Visiting Dampit. The euphoria of visiting this village is always there. I just love to go there: see the wet market, my grandma's house and small shop, my aunt's place, etc - There's just too much childhood memories in this place. Finally, I had the chance to visit my beloved Grandpa and Uncle and my recently departed Aunt's grave in Dampit.

6. Karaoke with siblings and cousins. This is the first ever singing activity that we've ever done. Started just last year. Bored at home, we just decided to go out after 9 pm. So we drove out and tried to find a room in any Karaoke place available. The first night, we spent 2 hours in Happy Puppy Karaoke and I dominated the microphone. Not so bad and really fun, especially my duet part with my baby bro. We sang his fave song: MLTR's 25 Minutes. So cheesy. Second night, I refused to give up the microphone in NAV Karaoke until morning and demanded 1 hour extension after the second hour finished even though initially I hesitated to join them and they literally had to drag me to go out that night. How ironic. Anyway, we ended up singing for three consecutive hours. As a result, my voice became so hoarse like a wolf and I had a sore throat on the next day.

7. Intensive Culinary Marathons. Bakso, Pecel, Rujak Manis, Nasi Campur, Pangsit Mie, Nasi Goreng, Bistik Kakap, Chicken Steak, Pizza, Es Campur, Es Kacang Ijo, Kolak and so on. No wonder, I got chubbier after going home for only 10 days. I was very well fed.

8. BBQ. I initiated this gathering, but ended didn't do much except lending my hands to fry the 1 kg French Fries. I liked the grilled sausages the most though.

9. Visiting Sarangan. This was also my plan. I was the one who suggested this family reunion as we last had this place to visit back in 2004. Sarangan has become our big family's favorite (annual) place to visit during holidays dated back when I was about 8 years old. Sarangan's pecel, bakso, ronde, horse riding, vegetables, wet markets, batik, pants, cold weather - they are just alluring. However, I was knocked out during the whole visit in Sarangan. The super cold weather had made me a bed-ridden girl for 2 days and missed the New Year Celebration. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ended celebrating the 2009 New Year with me. Now I wonder how come I survived riding out the bone biting Winter in Europe few years back.

10. Catching up with old pals - Shierly and Lily. Three of us are childhood best friends. Inseparable. We've been closed since we were so young. I could barely remember when I first met Lily but we were always together since babies as we lived nearby. I heard our Moms used to take us for evening walks together when we were still babies. I met Shierly (again) when I was 12 and always considered her to be my closest friend, aside Lily, until now. Shierly was engaged last December. My dear friend now is ready to be a wife. Wow. We grew up together, know each other so well and had gone through a lot together for the longest time I could recall. I only get to see them few times a year. We always make time to catch up whenever possible. What more can you ask for a friendship like this?

11. Practicing the old pieces with my Organ. I was musical. Did you know that? I religiously played violin and Organ for years when I was younger but school triumphantly took over my time to freely hang out with my music instruments when I entered University. Finally, my Organ was fixed last December after losing its "voice" for quite some time as the "owner" is barely around. I felt so much relief, relax and satisfied after playing all the old songs that I used to play to ease off few years back. Doing what I used to do with my old loyal 'musical friends' was the biggest ambition that has been recently coming back to me. I feel the strong will to start dwelling on the notes again. Maybe I shall start joining some classes.

12. Shopping with my family, having dinner with family, seeing my Mom's cook, eating the food that my Mom's prepared, watching DVDs in my Bro's room, chilling out with my siblings, helping out at my dad's store and other million little things I used to do at home.

No wonder this year's homesick is quite terrible. There is just so much things at home to enjoy and I've only got 10 days to maximize everything there. Holiday is never enough and now it's 2009 already. Back to work. Nobody's rich enough to buy back our past.

Hope for big changes and great things to happen in this 2009! Happy returns to come!