Monday, January 31, 2005

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Nobody Knows (2005) by Hirokazu












Childhood is such a lovely, carefree time of utter innocence. A period of marvelling at everything around.

One thing that struck me was that none of the children shed any tears. They don't cry over themselves so don't cry for them either.

Another thing that struck me, all children have dreams and desires. The blessed ones get to pursue and fulfill them. What's your dream today?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

With New Breath



When you realize how fleeting life is, you sit up and remember the important things.

Often I thank God for waking up each morning with new breath. But of late, I question what I do with this lease of life.

Yes, that's what it is - a lease.

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25) tells us "use it or lose it".

Use your daily new breath wisely.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Coffee & Scrambled Eggs & More...



And that's breakfast.

Definitely a Chef Wannabe.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Domestic Wilderness



A few days ago, my mom expressed her craving for mushroom soup. Of course, she only did so indirectly by asking me about the ingredients that went into it.

So Ed the filial son cum house-husband-to-be took it upon himself to prepare a sumptuous dinner of Western food for his beloved mother.

The day began with a vague vision of Western food.

Nothing too fancy, I thought to myself, yet a dinner that will certainly satisfy my family.



Menu
  1. Creamy Mushroom Soup
    Using with fresh white button mushrooms and pure cream

  2. Panfried Herb Chicken
    With creamy mushroom sauce made with brown button mushrooms, lightly boiled carrot sticks, steamed broccoli with garlic and olive oil dressing and juicy ripe tomatoes




Grocery shopping was enjoyable (somebody say SNAG). But upon discovering the dearth of fresh button mushrooms was NTUC, my emotional rollercoaster went the gamut from disappointment to shame to rage to single-minded determination that drove me onto a mushroom hunt.



'nough said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Life and Living



I caught the Spanish film, Mar Adentro (2004), translated as, The Sea Inside.

It's a true story about Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic who, after 20 odd years, now wishes to die. Though the topic of euthanasia and its ongoing debates is not new, the award-winning film is certainly thought-provoking in how it questions both the meaning of life and the meaning of living.

It also reminds us how people are quick to judge others, based only on what they do see and presume. When other characters voice out their concern and attempt to change his mind, Ramon is quick to point out that they are judging him and his decision to quit life.

What is sobering is that Ramon is not depressed and irrational, instead he comes across as intelligent, witty and seemingly positive. In the 2 decades of his paralysis, he's learnt to deal with it both physically through various contraptions and comforts that makes life possible for him albeit confined to a bed and also emotionally in how he receives and acknowledges the love and kindness of his family members.

Yet he feels no dignity in being alive and is thus determined to die. Ironically a woman who meets Ramon, does learn to treasure her life and even falls in love with him. But her story is only one in the kaleidoscope of human lives reflected in the film.

There is Julia, Ramon's lawyer, who is stricken with a degenerative disease. At first, sustained by hope and determination, she tries to cope with her condition but later Julia decides that she wants to die too and conceives a plan to help Ramon and herself reach this goal. When the day comes, she backs out and never sees Ramon again, abandoning Ramon to despair.

There is Jose, Ramon's brother, who is angry at Ramon's decision to die. We later realize that actually he is inwardly bitter that he had to leave his seafaring life to become a farmer so that he can take care of Ramon.

For me, the most breath-taking scene was when the protagonist fantasizes about leaping out the window to soar across the sprawling hills and valleys towards the sea that he loves, and then to land and kiss Julia, the woman that he falls in love with.

Ramon succeeds in dying but as G pointed out, it's not a sad ending and in fact, it's a happy one. Happy ending or not, I'm again reminded of how life can lose its meaning and we eventually become unhappy and unfulfilled.

Review by Roger Ebert, well-known film critic.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Waltz

At half past 6 in the eve, I was on a bus.

Along Tiong Bahru road, I spied an old man on the road.

Steadily he pedalled his trusty bicycle along the bus bay, one exposed knee following the other.

A load of cardboard trailed behind him, occasionally wavering like a koi's tail.

I gazed at him from the cool of the bus and wondered about this man.

Was his life difficult?

Is he unhappy?

At 10 past 10, I was on an escalator.

Along the sheltered walkway outside AMK MRT, I spied a basker.

It seems that every night without fail, he sings here with his trusty electric guitar.

Tonight, it was a country waltz.

In my mind, I imagined the old man on his bicycle and all these words would be the lyrics to the waltz.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Clothes Maketh A Man?



Think most of us could do with a session on personal fashion sense, grooming & deportment any time. Attended 1 today and was most entertained and learned a lot too. You know, how to dress appropriately, how to match colours and clothing items, how to sit, how to tie your hair (for the ladies), how to greet people etc.

As sartorially and socially savvy as we'd all like to think ourselves to be, most of us are sometimes uninformed or even completely misguided! But I'm not going to ramble about about how I've discovered how to project a confident self-image.

Last friday, I went through a day of team-building and I've come to realize that some people, not only trainers, have a knack for sizing people up quickly. And this is mostly through observations of one's behaviour, including what they say and how they say it.

Initially I was surprised when the trainer commented about my personality - that I'm a diplomatic person - without having interacted with me directly. And quite rightly so, as you may gather from the lack of highly personal entries that really reveal my real inner feelings or offensive entries that are politically incorrect on this blog.

But, as accurate as these astuteness-gifted people may be, I believe they view individuals through readily imposing a set of profiles and grouped characteristics after making observations. And this is what enables them to size up people quickly and usually quite accurately. Just look at the various personality tests that categorize people using unique labels. It's just a little unnerving knowing that some can see right to your inner most being.

One interesting topic the image consultant did touch on today was about how compliments build up self-esteem and yet dishing out compliments is incongruous with Singaporean culture. Interestingly, this trainer didn't equate self-esteem to confidence - actually self-esteem is a deep-rooted sense of self and identity that forms a core pillar in a person's personality. And this goes beyond the clothes that one wears or the possessions that one acquires.

Yes, clothes maketh a man, but self-esteem maketh a character.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Monologue

Every week I click around on my friends' blogs and the blogs of their friends too. And I've come to realize one thing about my blog, I hardly get any comments.

Guess that's what I'm missing from the blogosphere huh?

And this brings me to my next question: Is my blog boring?

Don't answer.

But like any other blog, mine is definitely self-indulgent.

I say what I want, put up pictures that I like, feel little bubbles of glee when people actually comment (sad huh?).

Fine, you want a report of today's mundane activities?

I went to work today. Unexciting.

Went to Orchard library. Magazines I want have been taken. There was a talk about maintaining relationships - incidentally there was this attractive girl sitting at one corner. Why on earth is she there, I wonder? I pretend to read recommended books on display but listening to what was being said (sad huh?).

Got bored. Went to Taka food court for dinner with imaginary friend.

Half-heartedly browsed through shop selling streetwear and remembered what friend said about dilemma in deciding to buy work clothes or casual stuff.

Sauntered home... Ah, the life of a single 25yo S'porean male.

Motorcycle Diaries


for G: poignant music from the film

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Man Stand With Mouth Open

Why do you speak? Do you have a point to make?

No really, do you have a point to make?

When we speak, are we simply trying to make our presence felt? Why are some oblivious to the subtle show of discomfort by others when these unpopulars open their mouths to speak?

Why do some persist in making their opinions heard? Why are some the first few to open their mouths in a group discussion?

Why do others keep quiet? If I keep quiet, will others begin to ignore me?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Remembering



As part of a Mindef orientation programme, I visited the Changi Chapel and Museum today.

The sobering visit certainly met its purpose of reminding me about the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II.

After all, when confronted with faded images of skinny POW's, you cannot help but realize how close to home the horrifying realities of war.

Friday, January 07, 2005

TGIF Once Again...

Attended a Mindef orientation course today. Activities were fun thought inane but was interesting meeting new people.

Was feeling spent after leaving office so I wandered into Borders.

Met friend for dinner.

Friend brought me to salsa session. Funny seeing his hips getting all jiggy - such a grown-up thing *teehee*

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Blogs That Never Came

Every once in a while I get struck by ideas for most wonderful & excellent blog posts, usually through some kind of experiential stimulation.

Here's a list of blog ideas:


  • All by Myself - Playing the Horn:
    After attending a series of recitals by the YST Conservatory of Music, I'd so much to say abt my emotions and experiences in making music as a professional amateur (go figure). Particularly, how I veered off the band path and ventured into orchestrael/chamber music. During one recital, an acquaintance played a horn solo with piano. Technically he was definitely there, but his performance lacked soul - guess he was nervous (I've been there). Another time, this Chinese (prodigy?) violinist played a super fast piece - impressive but forgettable. My main point was that playing an instrument solitarily can be a very enjoyable monologue - one of my favourite music is Bach's Cello Suites played by Yoyoma...

  • The Art of French Horn Playing:
    I used to practise so hard during my ACS(I) & ACJC days (to the frequent annoyance of teachers in nearby classrooms/staff offices, once I was politely told off by Prof. Lawrence Chia aka Man of Long Speeches). I was also frequently struck with swollen tonsils. And my desire to play the horn started in primary school with a spark of envy when my best friend switched from the cornet to the quirky yet cool-looking mellophone :)

  • The Great Singapore Commute:
    Every morning I simmering in my quiet anger at: one, the rushing, unseeing, crowd of office-drones that I'm a part of, and the other, at poor urban planning, evident in the bare patch of land where the AMK bus interchange used to be, which will remain bare for quite a few years to come. But once at clementi MRT, as I trudged along with the crowd down the stairs, I suddenly realized the crowd was being waylaid behind a troop of grandmas plodding down the stairs achey-step-by-achey-step in their walking sticks while bemoaning something in cantonese. Instead of getting mad, I was actually quite amused and couldn't help by smile at the thought of being stuck in a Mr. Bean situation (one of the episodes lah).

  • SG Idol Fever:
    Had something clever to say abt William Hung, the anti-idol. And also about why the Idol phenomenon was so interesting: because of how everyone reacts to it, me included.

  • The Me Generation
    Read a seminal yet quite irrevent essay by Tom Wolfe where the term "Me Generation" was born. Even did research abt social trends in collective thought.


There's more but that's it for now, because my bro needs the comp...

Pool Anyone?



It's official, I suck at pool.

And it's ironic that I hanker after a pool-cum-dining-table in spite of my inability to control where my balls go.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year?



So how did you usher in the New Year?

I was at a party with long time friends, but it wasn't the drunken revelry I used to have just a few years ago.

Because I'd promised myself never to get so drunk that self-control fled out the window and my consciousness took a backseat a la Being John Malkovich. Eh, especially when your gf hears things she's not meant to.

Of course at this party, there was alcohol to loosen tongues and boogey and there was music to groove to and hence there was dancing... at least people attempted to.

But this year's party was unexciting and seem more like an adherence to the tradition of partying together with friends. Guess I ain't 18 no more - in fact, I'm 26 this year.

Why do we NEED to USHER in the new year anyway? Why do we need wild celebrations and mass countdowns that culminates in 5 minutes of enthusiastically hugging and kissing everyone around, total strangers included??

Of course, there are those who just wanna have fun, like a part of me.

Does the human psyche really need to think in terms of years and invariably starting each year on a fresh slate?

Admittedly man is a creature of habit. No wonder resolutions get made and abandoned just a few weeks in.

The best way to live life is to periodically reflect upon your deepest and most worthy desires and to work towards achieving these goals.

Until we give in to the inner sluggard who's always beckoning to stop to smell the roses or to take a leak.

But as I've been telling G this simple fact of life: if you really want to, you will.

If you really want to be a millionaire, you'll scrimp and save.

If you really want to lose weight, you will.

Don't bother protesting, just ask yourself deep down within, do you really want it bad enough?



As has been repeated many times in the past few days, this year's NYE celebration is understandably muted and somber in remembrance of more than 150,000 souls who perished.

Quite expectedly, Straits Times columnists like Sumiko Tan remind us not to take life for granted and even lament how in a matter of weeks, people will simply forget about this entire disaster and the massive loss of lives.

At east coast today, I stopped to watch waves lapping the shore. Instead of the usual refreshing feeling of relaxation, the sight of surfs and swashes, even at such a small scale, brought dread.

Perhaps I've read many news articles and seen too many pictures of bloated bodies and utterly decimated villages and locations. Pictures of people fleeing particularly fill me with a blended feeling of panic, sheer helplessness and a sickening expectance of certain death.



I read this recently: the loss of an individual life makes you sit up and notice whereas 150,000 is simply a statistic. Tell this to the teams bringing international aid to death-saturated Banda Aceh.

But we can't carry on with our lives burdened with sadness and guilt. Life must go on and as cliche as this sounds, hope and dreams displace these heavy feelings and are what keep us going.

My brother asked me why did God allow this to happen? I can only offer that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

Therefore live everyday like it's your last. Don't regret it in your afterlife.

For all my attempts at guilt and sympathy, I know that I would decline any invitations to fly to the disaster-stricken areas to provide aid. Lacking of medical training and crisis management skills would be my main excuse but more than that, when faced with countless, nameless, bloated bodies, freaking out would be my instinctive response.