Monday, May 31, 2010

My Gregarious Friend

Above: M and I posed for a photo shot on her last day in my department.

Isn't M a gorgeous lady? She is not only gorgeous, she is also gregarious and a joy to be with.

M is an architect by training but has taken a slight detour in her career to experience life as a marketer. I am glad that she has done it and because of that I am able to know her better. M is that some people that come to my life and leave footprints in my heart.

An irrepressible lady, she keeps the mood up even in the most dire situation. I am very grateful to her for helping me to put up an exhibition which I had zilch knowledge and within a short time frame. Beneath her happy-go-lucky personality lies a creative streak. True to her architecture background, she is good with drawing and has an artistic flair.

In the last five years or so that I have known her, she is a very capable woman. Like me, M is a working mother. And she has managed her career and family superbly.

The poem below is dedicated to M. On her return to her first love, I wish her health, wealth and happiness.


Some people come into our lives
and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never ever the same.

Some people come into our lives
and quickly go... Some stay for awhile
and embrace our silent dreams.

They help us become aware
of the delicate winds of hope...
and we discover within every human spirit
there are wings yearning to fly.

They help our hearts to see that
the only stairway to the stars
is woven with dreams...
and we find ourselves
unafraid to reach high.

They celebrate the true essence
of who we are...
and have faith in all
that we may become.

Some people awaken us
to new and deeper realizations...
for we gain insight
from the passing whisper of their wisdom

Throughout our lives we are sent
precious souls...
meant to share our journey
however brief or lasting their stay
they remind us why we are here.

To learn... to teach... to nurture... to love

Some people come into our lives
to cast a steady light
upon our path and guide our every step
their shining belief in us
helps us to believe in ourselves.

Some people come into our
lives to teach us about love...
The love that rests within ourselves.

Let us reach out to others
and feel the bliss of giving
for love is far richer in action
that it ever is in words.

Some people come into our lives
and they move our souls to sing
and make our spirits dance.

They help us to see that everything on earth
is part of the incredibility of life...
and that it is always there
for us to take of its joy.

Some people come into our lives
and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never ever the same.

~by Flavia Weedn~

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Little Triumph in Music

It is a pleasant surprise and a testimony of the incredible power of believing. Once taught that I have passed the optimal age to learn music, I have proven myself wrong.

I must say that it has been an arduous journey. I was having a difficult time trying to remember what the note on the music score refer to. It was like learning a new language altogether. At first, I got a little ambitious and attempted more difficult pieces. Only to find myself losing interest and giving up altogether.

Interestingly, it was the urge to prove to my boys that persistence is the key to success that I picked up the books again. This time round, I started all over again with the preliminaries. I referred to the old books that my boys started out with and practised relentlessly until I could literally play the pieces with my eyes closed.

It was then I proceeded to Grade 1 pieces. Lo and behold, things miraculously turned easier. I could play using both hands with different notes and at different counts. I remembered 10,000 hour of practice from Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outlier. It is a very simple theory and it works all the time. Patience, persistence, perservance are the keys.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bird's Eye View from Pinnacle@Duxton

The 50th storey of Pinnacle@Duxton offers a commanding view of the city. I was there a few weeks ago and I was soaked in the panoramic view from the top. Instinctively, I whisked out my trustworthy Sony Ericsson camera phone to capture the aerial view of our cityscape. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Words Move People

A few weeks ago, I laid my hands on Eric Feng's latest book "Get to the Point" through mail. I have responded to his email and ordered the book via Internet.

Written in a simple but powerful frequently asked questions-and-answers manner, I was intrigued by the sheer amount of information the book was power-packed with.

How to Ace a Persuasive Presentation

One of the first few pages of the book shared tips on how to ace a persuasive presentation. The technique is by using the power of emotion. People are moved by pain and pleasure, with pain being more dominant.

I have a Dream

Incidentally, I am currently also studying the speech by Martin Luther King Junior, "I have a dream". This is the famous speech that gave hope to African Americans that they will one day be free. It used the technique of knowing what move the audience, what are their underlying beliefs and values.

For the first one, it was the desire to be free. There were allusions to the pain of being second-class citizens, being brutalized by the police and etc. On their underlying beliefs and values, the speech called upon the broken-promise made in Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address speech which began "Four score and seven years ago...", which was particularly poignant given that King was speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Please see also the excerpt of the speech reproduced below:

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

King could have as a matter-of-factly just said that he was standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. He could throw in statistics such as the date and year the Lincoln made his Gettysburg Address speech, the consequences which Lincoln did it. But he did not for using these data will not help him to appeal to the pain of African Amercians who were "Negro slaves ... seared in the flames of withering injustice". In the same speech, King had made reference to "Mississippi" on four separate occasion as the state would evoke some of the strongest emotions and images for his audience. He could dwell again on data and statistics.

Words Can Convey Substance

I am pushed to write this to prove my point - these words are not just style, there are also much substance. Just because there is not much data and statistics do not make it less substantial in content. On the contrary, it showed the thought that went into crafting the speech through the use of allusions and repetition to bring across what the data/statistics would also show.

So the next time, you need to do that presentation, think about your audience. What are their pain and pleasure? Try to evoke that pain and offer the solution through your presentation. If you could do so, half of the battle is won in a persuasive presentation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rustic Charm at Sebana in April 2010

Our family went for a short two-day jaunt during the weekend in April 2010 to Sebana Resort in Desaru. Located at the southernmost tip of Malaysia, Sebana Resort boasts an impressive sprawling grounds with magnificant marina view to boot.

This time round, I took opportunity to take more photos of the surrounding to share with my readers.

The above was a picture of the resort which our family put up at. It was obvious that the grand dame has seen better times as it still exuded the grandeur of yesteryear.

The interior did not disappoint either. It was simple and tastefully designed. The splendor view which brought Mother Nature up close and personal, soothed my urbanite's soul the instant I set my eyes on it.

Perhaps, human being is often short on unpleasant memories but long on nostalgia. We were quickly reminded by the leaflets on the side tables that amid the tranquility of nature, mosquitoes were lurking outside. With the bloodsucking insects being the bane of the existence of city dwellers, we resisted the temptation to open the windows for a breath of fresh air. Notwithstanding, we felt that we had become one and in harmony with Mother Nature.

Venturing outside of our room and into the other compound of Sebana Resort, we slathered liberally our skin with mosquito repellant - better to be safe than itchy.

The long jetty on the left would lead to a rounded tip whereby hotel guests could loan fishing rods from the guest relations office and wait patiently to see what rich marine life lived in the sea.

The right picture was my favorite photograph of our trip. The rainbow after the passing shower was in full arch.

On the whole, Sebana Resort scores high on being rustic and simple. Its strategic location at the tip of Malaysia and beautiful landscape are hard to beat. No doubt, these are things of beauty, no matter how weather-beaten the structures are. But to a true-blue city dweller, I would be looking forward to some major sprucing up to give this old dame a good facelift.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Mothers Day when time comes to a standstill...

Last Sunday was Mothers Day. Perhaps, that was the reason why I relived the experience of not knowing the difference between day and night. The last time I have had that experience was when I was taking care of a newborn baby more than five years ago.

No I did not have a third baby, I was not ready to take on that challenge yet. And I do not know if I would ever be that courageous. If anything, last week's experience strengthened my conviction to stop at two. Two was and still is a handful.

Day 1 and 2 - Slow and Steady

It started on Thursday. I received a phone call from the school. My elder boy, P was running high fever. As expected, he needed to stay at home to recuperate for two days.

As P was a mild-manner boy, he was relatively easy to take care and would take his medication as instructed. He usually recovered from illness in a jiffy.

Day 3 - Fast and Furious

I would have expected that his younger brother R will also be down with flu as flu was very contagious. However, I did not think that it would be that bad. The pace of the story was about to turn fast and furious.

It was 10 pm when we made our way to the 24 hour clinic in a hospital as it was a Saturday night and most clinics were closed for the day. My younger boy, R had high fever of around 40 degree celsius. He used to have such high fever when he was younger but the last febrile attack was more than two years ago. So much so that I knew by hard that he would need two different fever medication to bring down the temperature. His elder brother's medicine alone was not enough. However, it was such a long time that our fever medication had past their expiry date untouched.

That night we only managed to reach home at close to midnight and I had to constantly check his temperature on a half hourly interval. When he refused his medication or threw out, I had to sponge him.

Day 4 & 5 - Time Came to a Standstill

This went on for the next two days. He was in a state of delirium that at times, made me demented, in part also due to sleep deprivation. Though there were times whereby I was simply too exhausted and had to yak my husband from his slumberland, it was tough job. Most of the time, he would stir slightly and then fall back to sleep. Positioning the hot potato, R next to him did not work. I needed to raise my voice and my limbs too, to ensure that my call for help did not fall on dreaming ears.

R was so sick that he was totally zonked out and the only time, I woke him up, was for medication. Even so, that was kept to the bare minimum as I used suppository to replace some of his medicine. He had two sets of medicine to be taken at different time intervals.

As for his mother, by Day 5, I was too exhausted and could hardly open my eyes at daybreak. So during the day time, my husband took over as the main caregiver while I caught my forty winks. I only needed to wake up intermittently to tend to R's medication.

Day 6 - The Recovery

His body regained strength slowly from Day 6. His high fever subsided into a minor one. R was no more lethargic but energetic. He was also no more sleeping but leaping around.

Of course, I am one happy mother. And yes, a child's health is the greatest Mothers Day's gift.

To all mothers, a very happy Mothers Day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Liao Zhai Rocks!

This was my third attendance to a live musical. This time round, it was to watch a Chinese musical "Liao Zhai Rocks!".

It was somewhat an impulsive decision on Saturday evening. My husband and I just had our dinner and were in the vinicity of National Library Board at round 7 pm. My husband faintly remembered that the musical "Liao Zhai Rocks!" was on and nudged me to go with him. As the call operator was no longer in service, we went to the site and bought the tickets on the spot. As it turned it was almost full-house event and we were lucky to be able to grab two tickets.

About Liao Zhai

So how was the show? On a scale of 0 to 10, I would give it an eight. In terms of content, it was A-star. Wu Xi, Resident Director of The Theatre Practice, Liao Zhai Rocks! brought to us the wonderful world of Liao Zhai Zhi Yi, a famous classic collection of almost 500 supernatural tales. The classic was written by Pu Song Ling (1640 to 1715) who conjured up a mystical world of fairies, spirits, celestials, demons and of course, humans. These beings frolicked in a vibrant cacophony of life, a boisterous world of emotional interplay and every shade was displayed in all its hedonistic glory.

The Story

The story was captivating. Now that the curtains of the production had come down, I would jot down as much as I could recall.

The scene started in Hades where the little ghosts pestered the young Sang Xiao to share his story on how he ended up there. Flashback of Sang Xiao three days ago unveiled in the next scene. Sang Xiao, a philandering scholar was on a spring outing when he was smitten by a young woman's beauty. He pursued her mindlessly into the deep forest where spirits and vixens roamed. The young girl was Ying Ning, a vixen spirt who had just attained the power to transform into a human. She was an innocent girl who was quick with laughter, and had no inkling about love. However, upon tasting the sweetness of love, she devoted herself wholeheartedly to Sang Xiao.

The same cannot be said about Sang Xiao who quickly succumbed to the seduction of Feng San Niang, the gorgeous ghost who appeared out of the pond and was bent on seeking out a human body so that she could be rebornt. Sang Xiao was tricked into drinking a poisonous brew and died. Not knowing, the reason for Sang Xiao's death, the love-strucken Ying Ning, embarked on a dangerous journey to save him.

The three met in Hades, together with a Taoist priest, Cheng Ban Xian (the name played on the sound which also meant "half god"). At which time, Sang Xiao quickly fell in love with San Niang and was torn between San Niang and Ying Ning.

The story unfolded further to reveal that Cheng Ban Xian was Feng San Niang's lover in his previous life. Twenty years ago, Ban Xian and San Niang eloped but the latter died as she was tricked to drink the poisonous brew. Ban Xian, too died of grief shortly. While Ban Xian was recarinated, San Niang was trapped in the spirit realm as she was under the curse of the poisonous brew. To break the curse, she would need another human to drink the brew.

The Halls of Hades were out of bound to the undead which Ying Ning and Ban Xian had blatantly flouted. As punishment, the King of Hades sent Sang Xiao and Ban Xian back to the human world while Ying Ning and San Niang remained in the Halls of Hades. Sixty years later, Sang Xiao and Ban Xian died of old age and the four were reunited in the Halls of Hades. Touched by their true love, the King of Hades sent them back to the world, reversing the 60 years of lost time.

San Niang and Ban Xian were reincarnated as a boy and girl who were betrothed to each other at birth. What about Sang Xiao and Ying Ning? Imagine the following scene in your mind:

"Sang Xiao slowly floated out from the pond, as he saw the women walk off, he became pensive as he sat by the pond. He smiled suddenly and howled like a fox and a white fox's tail promptly appeared in the woods".

After experiencing much tribulations, Sang Xiao finally brought Ying Ning "home", but not where humans lived but to the woods where the fox spirits dwelt. With the flash of the white fox tail at the ending, it brought an element of surprise.


Whoever says that Chinese literature is boring should think again? It is really a world of possibilities. It is a world we break away from the shackles of time and space and through our imagination acquires new inspiration and strength.

I would dare say Singapore is being a more vibrant city. With the proliferation of these productions, it will definitely me less dense and more able to appreciate classics and arts. And yes, Singapore Rocks!