Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moving houses

Two years ago, due to sheer laziness, I didn't renew my domain in time. As such, the domain was held/bought by an unscrupulous company who then wanted to resell it to me for USD $1k. Losing my own domain made me lose my motivation to blog. Hence, the sporadic blogging as of late. But recently, a kind friend helped me negotiate and purchase the domain for me as a birthday present. So hopefully I'll be blogging more regularly.

I'll now be blogging at my old domain: joannekhoo.net. See you there!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

As a child, approximately once a week, I will wake up in the middle of the night in tears because of severe pain in my limbs. The muscles were so tensed that I would punch my limbs and not feel a thing. The pain reached its peak whenever I'm in a state of unconsciousness or semi-consciousness. So what I had to do is get out of bed, walk around and force myself to be fully awake. Needless to say, I dreaded nights and the possible pain awaiting me. I saw several GPs and a specialist but none of them could give me the right diagnosis.

A few years ago,  I decided to consult Dr. Google. I typed in my symptoms and to my surprise, my symptoms were matched to a particular disorder. I took comfort in knowing that whatever I was facing, I wasn't alone. There were others like me. Also, I could put a name to my disorder. It was called Restless Leg Syndrome.

Symptoms

RLS leads to sensations in the lower legs between the knee and ankle. The feeling makes you uncomfortable unless you move your legs. These sensations:
  • Usually occur at night when you lie down, or sometimes during the day when you sit for long periods of time
  • May be described as creeping, crawling, aching, pulling, searing, tingling, bubbling, or crawling
  • May last for 1 hour or longer
  • Sometimes also occur in the upper leg, feet, or arms
You will feel an irresistible urge to walk or move your legs, which almost always relieves the discomfort.
Most patients have rhythmic leg movements during sleep hours, called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD).
All of these symptoms often disturb sleep. Symptoms can make it difficult to sit during air or car travel, or through classes or meetings.
Symptoms may be worse during stress or emotional upset.

source


Fortunately, the pain slowly subsided as I grew older. My limbs still hurt at night but the pain is now bearable. There's two possible reasons for this: 1. my tolerance to pain has increased or 2. the pain subsided. Either way, although I was and am not cured, I was thankful that the situation have improved and I accepted that the pain would always be part as my identity.

Sometime last year, I went on a 12-week fitness challenge. Embarking on that challenge, I improved my fitness regime and more importantly, cleaned up my diet. I eliminated almost all forms of bad carbs (mostly wheat), sugar and any other processed food from my diet. In summary, within weeks, I became fitter and healthier. But the thing I really did not expect was that, without realizing, the pain in my limbs went away. Two months into my health regime,  I had a moment of epiphany as I was lying in bed one day. I realized my limbs have not hurt for a while. I did not want to celebrate prematurely because the pains might come back. But deep down, I was happy that I could possibly have a life without constant physical pain. What that meant was I could enjoy a deep uninterrupted sleep. Which in turn, meant that I didn't have to wake up and feel like I wasted 8 hours, not being productive yet not fully resting. I was also much more alert, refreshed and productive during the day.
I found that my cognitive processes worked much quicker. In summary, I felt quite alive.

But earlier this year, after the Christmas period and the Chinese New Year celebrations, I became more slack with my health regime. I ate more junk, processed food, wheat-based food and exercised less. I was still much healthier than before but definitely not as healthy as few months prior to that. Slowly but surely, the pains started returning.

Last Friday saw me making chicken and avocado wraps for dinner. That night, I had slight pains in my limbs but it was still bearable. I had the leftovers for Saturday lunch and dinner. Saturday night, I went to bed at 12.30 am but could not fall asleep until 3.30 am. I lay in bed in excruciating pain. I haven't felt that degree of pain in a while now. I also haven't had that many consecutive wheat/bread meals  in a while. I made the connection. Wheat was a possible cause of my pain. I once again consulted Dr. Google and found that many other RLS suffers also suffered from gluten intolerance. Months ago, I vaguely knew that "bad food" triggered inflammation but I didn't realize that wheat specifically, was especially bad for my body. So last weekend became a weekend of reflection, planning and visualization for me. I tried visualizing my life without gluten and what that meant - no cakes, no pasta, no bread, no biscuits forever. That also meant a reduction of pain and a good night's rest. That's definitely possible. I just have to redefine what good food means to me. That means, re-adjusting my taste buds and opening myself to the opportunity of exploring different recipes and world cuisines that is not so wheat-based. It will be an interesting and exciting journey ahead.

I'll probably post in another month or so, to let you know how I'm going with this life experiment!



Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Increase energy levels

The past two months, I've been running really low on energy. It doesn't matter how much sleep I get and how much I exercise, I'm still constantly lethargic. I find that I'm only 50% efficient most of the time and I didn't like it. In a moment of desperation, I googled, "How to increase energy levels".

I came across an old article by one of my favourite blog authors, Michael Hyatt. A lot of what he wrote made sense. I'm trying to slowly implement the steps he prescribed in my life. For the past two weeks, I've started drastically reducing my usage of social media. I love most forms of social media and I like to keep up with popular blogs and websites, but I find that it was using up a lot of my time. So right now, I've reduced it drastically, limited myself to a limited session of social media (about 20 mins) per day (blogging excluded). Now that I have a little more time in my hands, I use that time to read. I've been reading a lot more these days. I'm pretty happy with my small change in habit =)

In about a week's time, I'm going to try implementing other steps he suggested in his blog. I'm pretty bad with taking supplements but if I want to increase my energy levels, I just got to suck it up and down them.

Below is a snippet of Michael Hyatt's blog entry:



Here’s how I keep my energy level high:
  1. Connect with God. This is where I start each day. You were not created to function without a connection to God. He is the ultimate energy source. Trying to navigate life without Him is like trying to ride a motorcycle without starting the engine. You can do it, but it only works downhill. Unfortunately, a lot of life is uphill. The way I connect is by reading several passages from the Bible and then praying. I am also mindful of His presence throughout the day.
  2. Keep a positive attitude. This is crucial. “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Negative thoughts deplete your energy. Positive thoughts replenish your energize. Attitude is not something that just happens; you choose it. Even in difficult circumstances, you can choose to have a good attitude. And, it whether good or bad, it will have a direct impact on your energy.
  3. Watch your mouth. Obviously, your thoughts influence your words and actions. But sometimes, it feels like my mouth has a mind of its own. It just runs out of habit. Someone says, “Hey, how ya doin’?” Without thinking, we say, “Well, I’m surviving.” Or we might say, “Hangin’ in there.”
    Guess what? That becomes our exact experience. We say it, and it shapes the way we perceive reality. That’s why, by faith, I always say, “I’m doing great.” (If you don’t believe this, then you need to practice this gratitude exercise!)
  4. Feed your brain. You’ve heard the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This applies to the world of computers, but it also applies to your brain. I stimulate my brain by constantly feeding it new and stimulating content. Some people complain that they don’t have time to read. Hogwash. You have 24 hours in your day—just like I do. What you really mean is that it’s not a priority.
    I have a friend who recently gave me this excuse. When I probed, I discovered he was spending two hours each evening watching TV. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t tell me you don’t have time to read. You can’t afford not to read, not if you want to grow and be energized.
  5. Exercise daily. I think this is one of the most important things you can do to “turn the tide” and start feeling more energetic. I know it’s counter-intuitive. You think, I don’t have enough energy to exercise or I’m tired now. If I exercise, I will be even more tired. Wrong. Regular exercise will boost your energy more than almost anything else you can do. It stimulates your heart and oxygenates your blood. This directly increases your energy level. Besides, if you exercise, you will lose weight. Those excess pounds also consume energy!
  6. Take a good multi-vitamin. Personally, I don’t think you need a handful of vitamins and supplements every day. But a good multi-vitamin is essential. If you eat a lot of processed food, this is especially important. Most of us just don’t get the nutrition we need from the food we eat. I take Vitamin Code Men’s Multivitamin. It covers the basics. It is a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral. I take two capsules twice a day.
  7. Drink a gallon of water a day. This is another great energy replenisher. You will especially notice the difference if you switch from soda drinks to water. It may take you a few days to notice the difference, but getting sugar out of your system and water into your system will definitely even-out your energy. I find that this also has a way of reducing my appetite. Sometime we think we’re hungry when we are really just thirsty. Drink 8 ounces of water an hour before a meal and notice how it curbs your hunger. More water will also increase your metabolism and keep flushing your body’s waste.
  8. Get plenty of rest. Most people I know don’t get enough rest. Everyone is different, but most adults need seven to eight hours a night. Most people I know are trying to get by on five or six hours. When you don’t get enough rest, all kinds of bad things happen. You get grumpy. You reduce your ability to handle stress. And, according to some research, you may gain weight.
    Perhaps most significantly, you negatively impact your body’s auto-immune system. When you get run-down, you increase the likelihood of getting sick—and that’s definitely a drain on your energy.
  9. Eat high-energy foods. The main thing to avoid here is the bad or fast-burning (high glycemic) carbohydrates. These are the ones that your body quickly turns to sugar. You get an initial boost from them as the sugar hits your blood, but you then hit a “trough” that is lower that your energy was before you ate them. Carbs in this category include white potatoes, white rice, and white flour (or white bread). Worst of all, the energy that isn’t burned gets stored as fat.
    Instead, eat slow-burning carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice, wheat bread, etc. I also to eat more frequent, smaller meals. (I eat five or six small meals a day.) This keeps your metabolism up and your energy on an even keel.
  10. Avoid energy-depleting people. Let’s be honest. Some relationships are toxic. You know the type. Some people are so negative they are a giant energy drain. Others are so positive, you get energized just being around them. Obviously, you want to surround yourself with enough positive people so you can keep your energy level up. And, you want to have this same kind of effect on others. Sometimes, you just have to tell people the truth. Not only for your sake, but for theirs.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

50 Shades of Garbage (Grey): Review

50 Shades Of Grey was a huge let-down. I understand why it is a bestseller although I certainly wish it wasn't. Simply put, it feels like its just an opportunity for women to read erotic porn without feeling guilty about it.

Now, on to why I don't like it: The repetitive and simplistic use of language - The writer uses the words,  " very/too gloriously/breathtaking good-looking", "inner goddess" and "bite her lips" repeatedly. It was as if, she ran out of vocabulary or creative juices to come up with any other description. This sort of repetitive and tiresome descriptive technique is a show of bad technique and lazy writing. She uses sweeping, generalized descriptions that one could easily come up with in a casual conversation with a friend over coffee: "Check out that guy. He is good-looking". I very much prefer well-chosen details that uniquely shapes the protagonists in this story. Although the female protagonist is supposedly a young woman in her early 20s and the story is written from her point of view, the protagonist is so one-dimensional and naive that is almost unbelievable. It's hard to identify with a story that leaves so little to imagination. Simply put, her writing style is boring. Also, its difficult to empathize with Christian Grey who just seem like a sick pervert that needed help and who is not someone most people can identify with. He owns an empire, he is breathtakingly good-looking, is filthy rich and loves a simple lady and in his words, "loves to pleasure". Do you know or remotely know anyone like that? To be able to sympathize with someone, you need to be able to at least, at a certain level, relate to that character. In the first book, although some information was divulged about his dark, mysterious and apparently tragic background, not enough was given to allow the readers to emotionally connect with his character and lend some empathy. In the end, he just seems to be like a insecure, sick pervert with anger management issues that needs professional help.

Summary: uninteresting writing style. Good plot, that can be potentially made into a great movie. Great marketing, hence it sells well.

...

On a similar note, here is a more daring and accurate review of the book I found on amazon:

I really don't like writing bad reviews. I admire people who have the courage to put pen to paper and expose themselves to the whole world, especially those writing erotica. Having just finished this book, however, I feel compelled to write a review.

About half way through the book, I looked up the author to see if she was a teenager. I really did because the characters are out of a 16 year old's fantasy. The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he's not only self made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he's never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic. It seriously feels like 2 teenage girls got together and decided to create their "dream man" and came up with Christian Grey.

Then come the sex scenes. The first one is tolerable but as she goes on, they become so unbelievable that it becomes more laughable than erotic. She orgasms at the drop of a hat. He says her name and she orgasms. He simply touches her and she orgasms. It seems that she's climaxing on every page.

Then there's the writing. If you take out the parts where the female character is blushing or chewing her lips, the book will be down to about 50 pages. Almost on every single page, there is a whole section devoted to her blushing, chewing her lips or wondering "Jeez" about something or another. Then there's the use of "shades of". He's "fifty shades of @#$%% up," "she turned 7 shades of crimson," "he's ten shades of x,y, and z." Seriously?

The writing is just not up to par, the characters are unbelievable, and the sex verges on the comical. I don't know what happens in the remaining books and I do not intend to read them to find out. But given the maturity level of the first book, I imagine that they get married, have 2 perfect children, cure world hunger, and live happily ever after while riding into the sunset, as the female character climaxes on her horse causing her to chew her bottom lip and blush fifty shades of crimson. Jeez!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Musings on the Art of travel by Alain De Botton

I Introduction

1.        
The past week, I've spent most of my time on the subway, lunch sessions and other stolen leisure moments indulging in Botton's book, the Art of Travel. I caught wind of the book years ago when it was freshly published but any enthusiasm was dampened when I heard that the book was about the philosophy of travelling. 

The word "philosophy" lent such serious undertones to the book that I assumed that it would be a little too dry for my liking. However, through the cunning and evil "one-click-away" amazon, I purchased the e-book on a whim. Once again, my whim did not fail me.

Botton's style of writing is one that I rarely encounter (or this perhaps could just mean that I'm not well-read). It's not a novel. It's not a biography. I suppose it's a book reflecting his observations and musings while he embarks on his travels through paintings in art galleries, people, and books and of course, through the literal sense of the word, to different places.
Many parts of the book struck my heart and made me nod my head vigorously in agreement while grabbing the adjacent person by the shirt and shouting in tearful relief, "I finally found a person who could describe exactly how I felt throughout my travel experiences but could not articulate without either being branded a fool, sounding ungrateful or have my tongue tied in knots.” 

II Anticipation of Travelling

1.         Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel, 2002
It was not that the painting had lied, there had been some simplicity and joviality, some nice brick courtyards and a few serving women pouring milk, but these gems were blended in a stew of ordinary images (restaurants, offices, uniform houses and featureless fields) which these Dutch artists had never painted and which made the experience of travelling in the country strangely diluted compared with an afternoon in the Dutch galleries of the Lourve, where the essence of Dutch beauty found itself collected in just a few rooms.

2.        
In the late 2010, I travelled to Inner Mongolia for 4 days. The itinerary looked promising – green grasslands, horse riding sessions, camel riding through the dunes of the desserts along with a one-night experience in a traditional hut. I googled up pictures of Inner Mongolia and saw exactly what I have pictured in my mind – the dessert, the horses and the vast grasslands. Our bags were packed, we hopped into the overnight train, full of anticipation and curiosity of the journey ahead. 

Naturally, on my return, friends asked me questions of my trip and how Inner Mongolia was like. I replied that, “it was beautiful but it was not a place I would go twice.” Why not, they asked. Well, I did see the vast grasslands against the sky painted in a beautiful primary blue colour, bringing with it a sense of freedom and expansiveness. The grass was luscious, surrounded by mud and water, an optimal condition for vitality of life. We rode on horses that galloped across the lands – into puddles and soft soil that smelled earthy, unlike most of China that smelled of smog and human development. I felt connected to the land, knowing that the freshest and best quality meat in China came from Inner Mongolia. The animals must have thrived on the land here. Being on the infinite desert made me feel small and humbled. The desert was barren from any protection and shelter to hide our vulnerabilities. The sand between our toes was blistering hot when the sun was at its highest in the day.  Without warning, a massive dip in temperatures occurs as soon as the sun removes his badge of duty for the day. It was beautiful but harsh. The expansiveness and the mysteries of the desert only made me feel humbled and in awe of our Creator. 


Pictures from the trip:
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Fields of corn

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Grasslands

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Silhouette of camels in the infinite desert

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Horse riding through the grasslands

Ending the description of my trip here might render me responsible for future unfulfilled expectations of travellers to Inner Mongolia having heard a bias account of my trip.  By no accounts have I falsified any pictures or details of my trip. However, the pictures I showed are only a selection of the trip of what I would have liked to immortalize in my mind. I picked only the good pictures, when place side-by-side and condensed together, made it seemed like an extremely worthwhile journey. 

Like photographers exhibiting their pictures in their portfolios, I would not want to bore you all with pictures of the mundaneness of the other parts of the trip, which would have diluted the description of my beautiful travel experience. The pictures and account of my trip above have left out details of the long 4-hour bumpy van ride across Inner Mongolia from the grasslands to the desert. Nor did I mention the sad little town that seemed to be rashly developed without much thought to the local culture. The town was sprawled with a rowdy crowd at night. Many of the locals there are less educated than the people from the more affluent cities in the East side of China. While the traditional hut stay was a unique experience, the massive drop in temperature and the lack of basic heating amenities left me shivering throughout the night, despite my heavy winter jacket and two layers of blanket. 

We are familiar with the notion that reality of travel is not what we anticipated. The pessimistic school, of which Des Esseintes might be an honorary patron, therefore argues that reality must always be disappointing. It may be truer and more rewarding to suggest that is is primarily different [Alain de Botton, the Art of Travel, 2002]


III. Closed

1.         Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel, 2002
THE OUTSIDER

Tell me, whom do you love most, you enigmatic man: your father, your mother, your sister or your brother
I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.
Your friends?
You are using a word I never understood.
Your country?
I don’t know where that might lie.
Your beauty?
I would love her with all my heart if only she was a goddess and immortal.
Money?
I hate it as you hate God.
Well then, what do you love, you strange outsider?
I love the clouds…the clouds that pass by…over there…over there…those lovely clouds!

2.
My brother and I used to play this game with my parents on long car rides on the highway. We used to point at fluffy cloud-formed animals, dancing in the sky. Sometimes I saw a rabbit, sometimes a dragon, sometimes a horse and other times an entire farm of animals. We would point to the sky and draw out the rabbit’s eye and ears with our fingers. We would ask our parents whether they saw the rabbit too. They nodded their heads in enthusiasm, probably just to humor us. The other day, I squinted at the sky and tried in vain to locate the animal farm. I felt a tinge of disappointment when all I saw was clouds that looked like…clouds. At best, they were fluffy cotton candy with streaks of pink, gold and red. Like the inconspicuous change in season, I crossed over to the adult realm. I think the animal farm was made visible only to children with open hearts. Sometime back I must have without realizing, passed through a rite of passage and my heart closed up. 


Australian skyline with clouds beneath us

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Life with instagram


Ive recently been pretty hooked onto instagram. My big camera lies in dust while I happily snap away with my sub-par smartphone. Here are some photos:

Plantation Cafe, Melbourne Central. Love the coffee here.


Spent Easter Monday hiking at Cathedral Ranges. Of all days, by a stroke of luck, we chose to hike on this fateful day. It was hailing and cold. My fingers were numb from climbing up cold rocks. But it's all in the name of good fun. 

Our reward after the big hike. Innocent bystander. If you squint at the right of this picture, you'll notice a scribble board. On it, it's written how many coffees have been served that day (updated hourly). 


 A year and a half ago, a friend of mine told me about this healthy breakfast food that her friend was starting up. Today, I see it on the Coles shelves. Dream big.



Lunch on a Saturday

 While taking the toddler and dog out for a stroll at Port Melbourne
 I love Starbucks salad.
 Rockclimbing. My 3rd favourite sport after muay thai and tennis.

Lunch-ing at the Temple Restaurant. Used to be a temple, but refurbished into a French restaurant. Amazing concept. 

 Main: Some sort of grilled fish. With pea sauce.

A book stolen from Kenneth.


Blessed by a wonderful spread. The host husband is a gourmet chef. 
 Embarrassingly, that was my first time patting a cat. I was warned that cats can scratch your eyes out. This one was too cute to resist.

 I can resist everything but temptation.
 Many Chinese locals love to eat their raw tomatoes with sugar. Quite tasty actually.


Bookworm cafe: I love this place. It's a lending library, a cafe and a bookshop all-in-one.

Coffee time.
 Gym time. 
 Current favourite colors: Mustard and royal blue.

On a balmy night, after a 5 km run. 

Quirky signboard at Innocent Bystander, Victoria, Australia.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A kidnapping incident and the power of caring


A facebook note that has been shared a couple of thousand times a few days back caught my eye and arrested my attention. It was yet another kidnapping incident in Malaysia. Fortunately, the victim had a narrow escape. Her courage and quick thinking allowed her to live another day and stand as witness to Malaysia's tragic state of affairs. Her testimony stirred the hearts of many Malaysians. The people's emotions were evoked. Many teared at the story of her close encounter. Many cried, imagining that it could be them, their sister, daughter or mother in her shoes instead. But above all, many people cried for their country they were born and raised in - and what it has became of it.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, we could hop on our bicycles, pedal to the local park, unchaperoned by our parents to hang out with the neighborhood gang. I remember the ice cream man with his bicycle would always swing by. We anticipated his arrival by the familiar ice cream song coming out of his speakers. When I was older, I would walk my dog to the park and together we would watch my brother play soccer. My brother always asked me to remove the dog because my dog's excited state watching the ball being kicked around, would scare the other kids. My dog, being a retriever, loved to retrieved balls. Naturally, he was excited.

It was hard to say when the crowds in the playgrounds dwindled to a mere trickle. The decline was gradual, like the change in seasons. I don’t just blame the technology. If I were the parents, I would rather my children inside, with their eyes glued to the telly and risking diabetes, rather than risking abduction and rape, when unaccompanied out in the playgrounds. Unfortunately, this is the country's current state of affairs.

Malaysia has hit the heartbreaking point where violent crime has almost become a passing, unremarkable story in the daily newspaper. Every month, a new case is reported – missing child, girl raped, man slashed by a machete. These days, I cannot walk the streets where I'm not  vigilantly inspecting my surroundings. A foreigner might mistakenly admire my curiosity of the world I'm living in. But in reality,  I'm on the alert for the low bass hums  from the exhaust of a motorcycle; On the lookout for a potential white van; A group of shady looking men; Or these days, even an old, fragile woman. I ensure that my car is parked near the entrance door when in the basement of a shopping center or, at least not in a dimly lit area. I do not sling a bag across my shoulders, lest a thief on a motorcycle grabs the bag, and me, along with the bag. When I dish out safety advice to my foreign female friends, they think I'm exaggerating the danger and I'm being overly cautious.

But one can never be too cautious in Malaysia. In the past decade, I've had a close shave with a snatch thief on a motorcycle. Fortunately, I also had a narrow escape. My mother was held at knife point, bag and wallet stolen and subsequently pushed into a deep drain. Her ankle was broken and was on crutches for three months. My adjacent neighbour's grandpa's pants pocket was professionally and swiftly slashed by a machete, not-so-coincidentally revealing a thick wad of cash. They trailed his car all the way from the bank. It was the Chinese new year festival. The cash was to be inserted into red packets for his grandchildren. Instead, it landed in the hands of unscrupulous monsters. My house was broken into a few months ago. The entire house was ransacked and most things of value were stolen. My father said break-ins are bound to happen, sooner or later and we were lucky that no one was home at that time. I agree and like how he views a situation with a glass half full. On the flip side, it's sad, that we have resorted to toasting our champagne glasses despite the huge damage done and consider the lack of physical harm, good luck.

 And these are just a few stories, of what comprise of "normal lar" stories in Malaysia. I must admit that I do not live in constant conscious fear in Malaysia, but in some way, out of necessity, I have become  semi-consciously fearful. I ask myself: am I truly living or surviving?

Before my recent trip to China, some of my friends gasped at me with huge eyes and said, “It’s not safe. You’ll get kidnapped. Your organs will be sold in the black market.” I can guarantee you that China is much safer than Malaysia (unless you are a political activist, perhaps). Once I saw a piece of evening news on the Chinese telly, in which a police interview took place. The spotlight was on an 18-year old unemployed boy who was recently arrested. He apparently broke into a house. Unfortunately for him, the house owners came home in the nick of time while he was performing the deed. Struck with fear, he deadlocked the front door from the inside and called the cops. The police officers asked him why did he turn himself in. In between tears, he said that he rather face prison than the beatings of the neighbors. House break-ins are extremely frowned upon in China, almost equated to murder. The neighbours will possibly beat you up, break your ribs and the police will pat them on the back for it.

This piece of news, gave me a few insights. Firstly, break-ins must be few and far in between (at least, less than in Malaysia) as its able to make the news headlines. Secondly, this news was used a example by the police to deter other youngsters from committing similar crimes. It proved how diligent the police officers were in trying to eradicate petty crime (I know I'm probably generalizing here, because there are instances where it shows otherwise). Third, it was just slightly over a decade ago since my first my trip to China. I remembered the poverty. How many were living in what seemed like unfathomable conditions. Little sheds with aluminum roofing and hay as incubators from the sub-zero temperatures. The land fertilized with human feces. The number of children beggars with dirt on their faces. I vividly remember the fruits at the local grocer - nicely stacked in a basket, black and rotting.. Yet, they were being sold. Although I was young, I realized that they were still being sold because this was probably as good as it got for many of them. Rotting fruit was better than no fruit. What I'm saying is that just over 10 years ago, China was so under-developed in comparison with Malaysia, yet today, I can personally say, is in many ways safer than Malaysia is today.

There's also a second part to the kidnapping story that I have not mentioned. The victim wrote that she was extremely thankful for the people who ran out of the car to help her.

"Strangers who didn't know who I was, came forward and offered me tissue paper, water, cellphones, and general comfort.Malaysians, please care for one another. You already do. Just keep on caring. Keep watching out for each other. Don't worry about being thought of as "busy body" or "overreacting". The world can be a cruel place, but all it takes is for people to care for one another to make all the difference."

This is a call of action to all of us. We should care enough to send smses to female friends who drive home alone late in the night, asking them if they have arrived home safely. Male friends should care enough to accompany their female friends to their cars. Or perhaps, drive them when possible. Large business owners should care enough to install extra CCTVs, lighting and hire more security guards for the parking lots. We should care enough to thank police officers, when a job is well done or even offer them a smile. Because we know that mere salary does not equate to job satisfaction, but appreciation can add a mile to job fulfillment. Parents should care enough to provide the love, support and education that a child requires, in hopes they grow up to be good citizens. The government should care enough to install more CCTVs on the public streets.

And very importantly, we should care enough, to be politically aware and cast our votes during elections to keep our politicians on their feet. When governments fear their people, there is liberty.

I'm not a huge optimist but I do believe small changes do go a long way. Sikit sikit lama jadi bukit.







Monday, May 28, 2012

top 10 food choices

Yesterday I was thinking if I had a choice to live off only 10 types of food for the rest of my life, what would they be? Not very deep thoughts, I know. But still....

Here goes:
1. Beef
2. Wild salmon
3. Spinach
4. Avocado
5. Olives
6. Cheddar cheese
7. Chocolate
8. Coffee
9. Broccoli
10. Oysters

Friday, May 18, 2012

When I was 10: New neighbours

That year was a year of significant change in my life. I not only moved schools that year but my family also moved houses. New houses meant new neighbours. Our left door neighbour had a daughter who was coincidentally the same age as me. We coincidentally went to the same school and was supposed to be in the same class that year (that is till I moved schools that year).

I clearly remembered my first encounter with her. I was playing in our house compound, running barefoot with mud between my toes when I saw her over the fence. My parents nudged me to say hi. I went over and we introduced ourselves.She said her name was Yvonne. She then invited me over to her house to play. I told her, I'll ask permission first. My mum said I shouldn't go over because I was muddy and dirty. She suggested that I invited her over to our backyard instead. She declined the invite. Perhaps she didn't quite like the outdoors or perhaps because I declined hers first. I still do not know.

But that was my first and last encounter with her. I never really saw her again after that. I heard that she became a doctor.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

For the life she lived

Note: This was written a while back
 
Not remembered for her death but for the life she lived. That was how Prince William and Harry wanted their mum to be remembered.

Death. Still a taboo word in most societies. I dare not mention her name anymore. It was as if her existence was wiped out from our memories. I cant quite remember how she looked like. I was probably a little too young back then. But i clearly remember her presence. I remember how she gave me a tiny gold bracelet. I thought it was the prettiest thing i ever seen in my life because it glimmered in the light and its refine detail made it seemed fitting for an angel. And my last gift from her a boardgame. I was probably 6 years old back then. The day i received the gift was the last time i ever saw her. If i knew her candle would have stopped burning then, I would have savoured every moment spent with her. But i remember her not for her death but for her life. So i try to capture every fading memory I have of her and jot them down in words.

Yesterday in cell group, we had a session where we would write an obituary for ourselves. It was kinda freaky at first. Something our grandparents would disapprove. But, it really made us ponder on what we would want to be remembered for - a billionaire, the first person who stepped on Mars, a peacemaker, a person with integrity, a person who gave his 110%, a person who loved unconditionally, a person who walked the footsteps of Christ. I once read this in a book - "Imagine you were lying in a coffin and all your close friends and family were at your burial ceremony. What would they have said in their speeches? What would you have wanted them to say?"

When I was 10: the pork buns

My tummy was grumbling. It was recess time and I removed the lid off my lunchbox. I was excited because everyday a different food item was packed for me. Today, two white fluffy buns stared back at me. Char siew bao (roasted pork bun) - one of my favourite snacks in the world. The pork meat was succulent and coated with a dark sweet and salty sauce. There was a slice crunch from the condiments. And the bread was soft like fairy floss. As I about to grab one, a friend peered into my container and quickly shot a look at me. Her eyes were wide open, like I had a broken human finger in there or something.

"You can't eat cha siew bao in school. You cannot eat them in front of Muslims," she said.

That revelation was completely new to me. I never knew Muslims could not eat pork. I was not told in my old school. My family certainly didn't warn me. Did they even know? If they knew, why would they pack pork buns in my lunchbox then?  I was extremely embarrassed and pushed it aside. I can't seem to recall whether I actually ate the buns that morning or suffered through my hunger.

In my old school, we had only a few Muslim kids and one Muslim teacher in my year. Because Muslims were such a small minority, most of us were oblivious to the Muslim rules and practices.

One other time, I undid my bottle cap to drink water in class. As I swallowed down my first few sips, a Malay girl, who had short curly hair and round silver glasses, sitting right behind me told me, "You're so rude. You shouldn't drink water in front of Malays (who are Muslims) during Puasa (fasting) period."

I was in disbelief and shocked. I didn't even know what Puasa meant. I think I went home that day asking my parents what Puasa was and why couldn't I drink water in front of them.  My parents explained the situation and that day was the last time I performed that "rude" act.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When I was 10: the new kid (part I)

"You will be going to a public school from next year onwards," my dad told me during one school holiday.

"What? Why? I don't have any friends in the new school. And all our neighbour's kids go to my current school. I'm suppose to be in the same class next year as our neighbour's kid," I replied with a petrified look.

My dad gave his explanations and the paper work has been done. There was no turning back. That school break was spend buying new set of school uniforms and in dread of the year to come.

Finally, the first day of school arrived and I was placed somewhere in the middle of the class. I was extremely quiet that year. I only spoke if spoken to. I tried to hold my pee in as much as I could because I didn't know how to excuse myself to the toilet in the native language, Malay. I was unfamiliar with the language and the culture. The kids were playing games that I've never played nor seen before. One game was called "tiang" (pole). Till today, I'm uncertain about how to play the game. But I think, its something like musical chairs. There were poles supporting our corridors leading from the classrooms to the main area of the school. So five girls would be playing the game, but only four poles were available. At the count of three, everybody had to switch poles.

Another game the girls played were "batu seremban" (5 stones). It resembled mini beanbags that could be fitted in the palm of your hand. Mini pouches were hand-sewn together and filled with rice. You would then, throw one in the air, while catching the rest. There were various stages involved in the game. I was an initial observer, soon participated and got pretty good in the game. I even made my own 5 stones.

At one stage, all the classes took a sudden interest in animals. I was placed in the second class. The second class took an interest in tadpoles. The first class were busy catching ladybirds from the school garden. The third class...hm...I can't seem to recall. Tadpoles were an interesting lot. I recalled their transformation from little wriggly fishes lookalikes, to seeing them sprout tiny legs and watching their overnight transformation to tiny frogs. We always let them go before they got too big and ugly.

And of course, we played "getah" (literally translated as rubber). Much to his surprise, I asked my dad to get me a large packet of rubber bands from the local supermarket. The rubber bands would be looped together (sometimes two rubbers per loop to strengthen the bond) to form some sort of elastic skipping rope. The game is played as such: We were divided into two teams and two people from the opposing team would hold up the rope between them. First the rope was held right up to their ankles. The team members would then all have to jump across without touching the rope. Next, the rope will be up to the hips. Everyone jumps across. Next, its up to the waist. Everyone has to jump across, but we can touch the rope. The next measurement was the underarm, the shoulder, below the ear, the head, and the last one would be, one hand above the head. Most people were very flexible and skinny back then. That coupled with our lack of fear for falling made us superheros. Our legs would defy gravity and go above our heads and across the rope.

At one season, the entire class took an interest in hopscotch. The moment the recess bell rung, all of us ran out like madmen into the sun and onto the sand. We would take sticks and start drawing boxes in the sand. One of us would find a pebble and start the game.

That year, recess was playtime rather than a time to eat and chat. No wonder most of us were scrawny. But nonetheless, we were happy. Some of my good friends till today were in my class that year. You play together, you stick together.


When I was 4: Dumbo

My favourite cartoon as a young child was Dumbo. I would watch it a few times a day, from start to finish, rewind, and press play again. My mum said, because of my addiction to Dumbo, I was an easy child to look after. Pop in Dumbo and I can be left alone unsupervised. I suppose that a lot of our character traits have been developed since a young child. I know that if I like a certain thing/project, I'll be able to work on it hours on end, with full concentration. I've sat down and work on certain projects for 12 hours straight before (with just a few toilet breaks) But give me something too mundane or not to my liking, I'll find it hard to focus for even a mere half hour. Unfortunately, life doesn't just present us with cake, chocolate and everything sweet. Sometimes, lemons are thrown in the mix, just so we will never forget and take for granted what sweetness taste like. With that being said, I'm still learning how to deal with the lemons.

Recently I've come up with an analogy about "life". I've always enjoyed hiking. It's one of my greatest passions and I always feel very much alive when I'm out in nature and on a hike, conquering mountains. I try to look at life as one big hike. There will be times where I'll be asking, "Why am I doing this torturous exercise when I could be sipping lattes at a cafe?" and at times, I just want to give up, turn back and go home. But over the course of the hike, I stop, look around me and admire the breathtaking view and our Creator that painted that view. The most satisfying part comes when we finally arrive at the peak. I'll have a huge grin on my face, knowing that the journey accompanied by cuts and bruises and sometimes, threats from wild animals is worth it. I guess, life should be like a big hike. I will have down times and up times, but at the end of the finish line, I want to have that sense of satisfaction and contentment that it was a journey worth going on and a hike well done.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Touching Australian soil

Finally, I managed to send off whatever I needed to do. The last 16 hours have been torturous but it's all worth it, cause now, at 2 am, I just need to pack my bags, cook, clean the house, shower, find myself a cab, drag myself through the airport terminal and slum in one of the passenger seats. I don't think I'll be a very interesting nor chatty passenger companion tomorrow. But I do need my shut-eye!

It's been one year since I've left Australian soil and I cannot wait to head back, breathe the fresh air, run around Alexander Gardens, let grains of St Kilda beach sand run through my fingers, go penguin spotting at the pier, climb the thousand steps at the Dandenong ranges and best of all, spend Easter with my loved ones and friends.

People say you don't know what you missed till its gone. I think sometimes you won't know what you've miss till you're back.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Conflicts

The past few days have been pretty emotionally draining for me. By nature, I’m not a very confrontational person. If I was upset with a friend or a close one, I will ponder upon it for days, months and sometimes years. Nowadays, I would try to firstly ask myself, whether I, objectively speaking, had a part to blame or whether I blowing the entire thing out of proportion. After my somewhat objective analysis, then I’ll perhaps confront the person if its worth the cause.

This week, I’ve encountered a conflict with a friend, discussed past conflicts that I had with another old friend and also listened to a story about conflicts between a different friend and her partner. So when I try to analyze all three scenarios, I summarize that the conflicts are caused by two main reasons: unmet expectations and clash in values.

Everyone has his or her own strength and weaknesses. Perhaps, you may be a good listener but your friend is not. Then, you wonder why is that person so selfish? Why does he/she only talk about himself/herself as if the world revolves around that person? But perhaps listening is not one of their strengths or if you look at it in a positive light, perhaps they like ranting out to you because they are comfortable with you, that’s why their problems always end up being the table topic. Or perhaps, a person is not good at maintaining friendships. Maybe for that person, friendships, like the seasons in a year, work in cycles. I used to hold close to my heart who I believe are my close friends. So I used to get really affected if they don’t keep in contact as often as they should. But I’ve let that expectation go. I realized that everybody is busy with their lives and I bask in the happy memories and lessons I’ve drawn from having them once in my life.

What I’ve learnt from all my reflection is to not be so affected by people’s shortcomings. What they lack in some areas, they make up in others. At the end of the day, it’s their strengths in the other areas that drew me close to them in the first place. And perhaps, their strengths are my weaknesses. If I had to really sum up all my lessons in one word, its “grace”. When we were young, we were naïve and believe all was good in this world. Then, we realized the world is not all rainbows and butterflies. Then the real test of maturity arrives, when we realize that the world can be ugly but we still choose to practice “grace” and believe the best in everyone. This test is what I call the test of adulthood.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Candles

Every now and then I meet someone who would leave an impression on my life and even when we only had a brief encounter, that person would unknowingly change me a little. And that person does not necessarily have to be someone I’m close to. I might not even know their last name. It could be the way they carry themselves or the way she bites her lips as she carefully ponders the next question or the way he seem to ask the right questions at the most opportune time. It seems like they have this insight to a whole new world that I’ve never seen before and so I’m drawn to what I call their “x factor”. Once in a while I think about these people who have marked my life and I wonder whether they are doing okay. I wonder whether are still carrying that light in them and unconsciously lighting the candles of others as they did mine.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Formidable place

One of my worst days last year happened when I was sitting on a cold leathery chair for five hours. Although the incident happened over half a year ago, I still clearly remember the smell of metal, burning flesh and gushing blood. I remember the sound of the drill. The bright light in my eyes. The whispers of uncertainty and curiosity in the room was almost drowned by the shouts of fear in my heart. Above all, I remember the sickly clinical smell of anesthesia.

I haven't been back to that place. But today, I suddenly recalled that dreadful day because I might, against my will, need to re-experience that day.

I was at the dentist attempting to remove my left bottom wisdom tooth. The dentist had injected the gums at the back of my mouth with anesthetic. We then watched the clock tick. 20 minutes passed, and another large syringe entered my mouth. Nothing I couldn't handle. It was a little more than an ant bite. We then spoke and exchange stories. She has been in practice for over 20 years, she told me. Countless wisdom teeth have been yanked at the mercy of her hands. Another half hour passed. She poked around my left cheek and asked if I felt anything. Nothing I said. What about here, she asked as she touched my lips. I said, I felt nothing. Great, she said. Let's begin. She clapped her hands in glee and grabbed her electric saw. Her shadow overcast my slumped body in the chair. But no, I still wasn't scared. I told myself that at any moment in this world, someone else would have their wisdom tooth being removed too.

My tooth was half impacted - that means she had to cut through my gums before she could yank out that unnecessary part of me (which reminds me that I need to ask God why humans are given useless appendixes). I could smell my own blood and burnt flesh. Hmm...yummy, bloody saliva. But all was still good, no pain.

Finally, the sawing has been done. My flesh was ripped. It's down to business. The dentist took out what looked like a miniature metal spade. Similar to forcing the roots of weeds out of soil, the tool is used to force teeth out of gums. She started exerting a little pressure when I suddenly felt pain. I told her to stop and I told her that I felt pain. It can't be, she said. Your gums are numb. I know, I said. It's illogical but I do feel pain. Perhaps its psychological. Just continue, I told her. So she continued. I then screamed, grabbed her hand and told her to stop.

No, it's nerve pain. My tooth is not numb at all. Definitely not pain from pressure.

It can't be, she said.

Then another anesthetic needle was injected. 30 minutes later, she continued her work. But I still felt the pain.

A more senior dentist came in to intervene. She picked a small tool with a metal end as thin as a toothpick. Can you feel this, she asked as she gently tapped my wisdom tooth. I jumped because it hurt. If you were numbed, you couldn't havent felt that she said.

Finally, she said, sew her gums back up.

I'm sorry, we don't know what went wrong. We can't help you here, we have to refer you to a more experienced specialist. We have done this work for over 20 years and have never seen such a case.

So, my gums were stitched up and like a child, unwilling to remove his face from behind his mother's skirt, my tooth remained.


Unfortunately, where I'm living now, GA is not allowed for normal dentist work. I don't think I can bear going through the experience of using LA once again. But I still have to get my wisdom tooth out as it has been causing me problems. So I might try getting them removed under IV sedation.

I read up on reasons why local anesthetic might not work and a few reasons were cited over the net:
1. Poor technique (although I doubt that this was the case because my dentist waited for a reasonably long period before attempting to remove the tooth. Also, my left side was numb all the way till the middle of my lips)
2. Anatomical Variation -that means, "you have some unusual nerve connections which mean that extra nerves supply the feeling for the tooth"
3. Raging infection - I didn't have any infection at that time
4. Anxiety - Perhaps, that's the reason.



Here's are links for failed anesthesia if anyone is interested:
http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v186/n1/full/4800006a.html
http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/fears/not-numb/#ehlers-danlos

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 New Year Resolution

I've been doing resolutions as far back as I can remember. January has always been the month of excitement. Everyone anticipates a fresh start. Everybody is filled with hope that this year will be a year of success. But how do you measure success if you don't have a goal to begin with. So that's where resolutions come into the picture.

But this year, I started becoming more intentional with my resolutions. Before that, I used to have a list of about 10 items on my resolution sheet. Be more punctual, be fitter, run more often, read at least 12 book a year. But then I hardly ever achieve my resolutions, simply because many of them are written without any strategies in mind or in the grand scheme of things, many of them (like read 12 books a year) is not really that important.

I think resolutions should be called goals. Goals are less flimsy and more intentional. To have a goal is to have an aim. Resolutions is more of a list of what you should or should not do. There's no real aim.

I also believe that your yearly goal should fit somewhere within your life plan. If your life plan is to be financially free by 45, fit enough to run 10 km at any given moment, have a good relationship with your family and friends, have a business, own a house etc, then your resolutions for the year should align with your life plan. Your yearly goal should also be accompanied with strategies and a list of potential barriers.

So this year, instead of having a million different resolutions, I have only 4 resolutions (goals). This covers career, fitness, my own business and improving my Chinese language skills. The fewer goals, the better it is I say.

One of my overall strategies is to organize my life a bit better. I realized that been disorganized has caused me a lot of unnecessary stress. I started with my e-mail. I have a lot of unread mail in my inbox. The first thing I did was to archive everything. I then re-organized my labels and ensured that nothing ever stayed in my inbox. E-mails were either replied or sorted. E-mails that I left to reply later would be starred. If I don't reply within a week, I probably won't be bothered after that, hence it will be taken out of inbox into another folder or discarded.

I'm also measuring progress by jotting down many aspects of my life. I'm going to start keeping a food diary where I write down whatever I eat. Since middle last year, I've kept a fitness journal where I wrote down every workout routine I've done (including weight, reps and timing). I am also writing down whatever I do during a day, how much I weight and my body fat % (if and when measured). I estimate that this will take about 30 minutes of my time in a day but I think it will be worth it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

When I was 4: Honey stars

I am able to recall many moments of my early childhood. I always assumed that this was a normal phenomenon, only to realise that many don't recall much of their early years. I don't believe that I have a special ability or memory. I'm able to because every so often, when I'm unable to fall into the slumbers of sleep, I play a game with myself - I force myself to recall memories of my life, starting from my earliest memories. I believe that earliest memory I can recall is probably when I was 18 months old. So I'm starting a new series on my blog called: "when I was".

I've always been called butterfingers since I was young. I guess I deserved that title. Meal after meal, I'll tell myself, "Don't drop it. For once, don't drop it." But it always happened. I always spilled my rice, milk, cereal, you name it. Once, I was eating a bowl of cereals. I don't remember the name of the cereal. But it was golden in colour, shaped like stars and tasted sweet, like it was coated with honey. (Perhaps it was called, honey stars?) I remember it being yummy and I was in euphoria. But my euphoria moment didn't last long, before I knew it, I was sent into the fast-speed elevator and descended back onto earth. I had dropped the entire bowl of honey stars cereal. Unlike Van Gogh who painted the sky with stars above Cafe Terrace, I painted the carpet of the apartment with my stars.

O no. Big blunder. I would be scolded for sure. Lucky for me, being a lactose-intolerant baby, the cereal was dry. Otherwise, I might not be here to write this entry. Anyway, having grown a long white beard, I twirled it with my right index finger and in my infinite wisdom, came up with a brilliant thought, "I shall hide the cereal under the beanbag. No one would know. After all, it could have been anybody in this household."

So I did just that. I dragged the beanbag across the hallway and placed it on top the evidence. Problem solved.

A few days later, my mum discovered the evidence. "Who did this?" she asked. I kept quiet. After all, my brilliant coverup had no loopholes in it.

Little did I know, I was the only one in the household who ate honey stars.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When I was 4: Ribena

I am able to recall many moments of my early childhood. I always assumed that this was a normal phenomenon, only to realise that many don't recall much of their early years. I don't believe that I have a special ability or memory. I'm able to because every so often, when I'm unable to fall into the slumbers of sleep, I play a game with myself - I force myself to recall memories of my life, starting from my earliest memories. I believe that earliest memory I can recall is probably when I was 18 months old. So I'm starting a new series on my blog called: "when I was".

I've always loved cooking and having high teas from a very young age. But tea wasn't tea when you were 4. 4 year old children sip air from plastic cups and cooked plastic pasta on stoves without heat. Still, it was fun all the same.

I was having one of usual play dates with my father, cooking and eating plastic food with plastic cutlery on plastic pans and plates.

"Can I have ribena please?" I asked my dad.

"Sure. Here you go!" he said as he handed me over a purple cup.

"hahaha!" I laughed and squealed. "No, I mean the real ribena!" I said.

"It's real ribena!" he said as he continued holding out the cup.

"No, no, no!" I laughed till my sides hurt because the 4 year old me found it hilarious that I couldn't quite explain what real ribena was.

It is weird that I'll still find it funny today? =)


When I was 4: Life

I am able to recall many moments of my early childhood. I always assumed that this was a normal phenomenon, only to realise that many don't recall much of their early years. I don't believe that I have a special ability or memory. I'm able to because every so often, when I'm unable to fall into the slumbers of sleep, I play a game with myself - I force myself to recall memories of my life, starting from my earliest memories. I believe that earliest memory I can recall is probably when I was 18 months old. So I'm starting a new series on my blog called: "when I was".

My first brush with death was my dead fish that jumped to its death from an ice cream container. Earlier that night, my family and I were dining at our usual Chinese restaurant. We were usual patrons there and I remember that we always received a warm reception from the staff there. I guess the head waiter/manager must have liked me or perhaps, it was a seasonal gift, but I was presented with a tiny fish in a tied up plastic bag. It was my first "pet". That night, we (or rather one of my parents) untied the bag and placed the fish in an empty ice cream container. Later, before bedtime, I went to check on my pet fish but found it lying limp on the carpeted floor. It must have jumped out, my dad said.

When I was 18 months old

I am able to recall many moments of my early childhood. I always assumed that this was a normal phenomenon, only to realise that many don't recall much of their early years. I don't believe that I have a special ability or memory. I'm able to because every so often, when I'm unable to fall into the slumbers of sleep, I play a game with myself - I force myself to recall memories of my life, starting from my earliest memories. I believe that earliest memory I can recall is probably when I was 18 months old. So I'm starting a new series on my blog called: "when I was".

I don't recall too much of my 1.5 year life. I have only two mental snapshots of that period in my short life. The first snapshot was in Mt Buller, Victoria, Australia. My extended family were up in the mountains for a ski trip. I was obviously too young to ski. All I remember was the dark sky with heavy snow. I remember it being cold and gloomy, with a wooden signboard in front of me. We must be standing in front of a restaurant or a hotel.

My second memory is being in Singapore. I remember being on an escalator in a shopping centre in Singapore. I remember that my parents had bought a large Mercedes toy car for me, one that I could sit in and pretend I was legal to drive. It came equipped with batteries and pedals. All I can recall was my dad carrying the car (probably in the toy box) and the long escalator ride. Sometimes, when I'm gallivanting the shopping paradise island, I still find myself looking around, hoping for something to "click", to see whether I can recall the exact shopping center we were in, the long escalator engrained in my memory.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An evening adventure with a friend’s 4 year old child.

“Jesse, let’s catch some stars together!”

“Weee!!!” He bent his tiny knees and leaped like a little frog up into the sky. He had his arms spread open, reaching for the highest star he could.

I grabbed an invisible star and placed it in my mouth. “Yummy!” I exclaimed.

“What is yummy?”

“The stars are so yummy! I can taste…mmmm…chocolate and strawberries. What do you taste?”

He grabbed the wind and clutched his tiny fingers and brought them to his mouth. He opened and closed his mouth, grinded his teeth, made a chewing motion and licked his lips. He paused for one second like a little professor in deep thought. His eyes then lit up and he said, “I taste chocolate too! And strawberries. And ice cream. I love ice cream! I love stars!”

“Let’s grab more stars,” I said excitedly to him.

We ran along the pedestrian pathway and leaped up like little frogs. We leaped and leaped till we reached the moon. There, we sat by the pond covered by lotuses eating ice cream, chocolate and strawberry flavoured stars.