Friday, April 30, 2004
I had a coupla conversations lately relating to depression. I can't write about depression properly. If I could form coherent thoughts about it, I wouldn't be doing it justice. To describe it would be too twee. The conversations I had with friends dealt with reactive depression, that is, the conversation revolved around the situational circumstances (as opposed to say, biological) that directly caused their depressive states. Exempli gratia: "I don't know if I should hang on or let him go" I don't know either. The person that cares has left the room. Go outside, make a left, and then a right, then straight on to the median strip and play in traffic. I'm harsh because I know what I'd do given the same thing to face. Bleeding obvious. If, for example, the situation were something I haven't faced, or have faced but crumpled in the face of it, my reaction might be something different. E.g.: "I don't know if anyone would accept me for this "thing" that I have". Stumped. Stone motherless silent. Make lame joke and change subject, such as, did you hear about so-and-so and her silly boyfriend problem? And then there is Death. The deepest, darkest and most desolate place to be, is to lose someone to death. Your history with that person is erased (and don't tell me you have memories, they count for fuck-all). That person does not exist. Has not existed. Will not exist. That is the gravity of this kind of loss. And I will still make lame jokes, change subjects a hundred times, talking about so-and-so's and their silly bf problem, because you're still here.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
It ain't over till the blind man sings
$100 for the cheapest tix to Andrea Bocelli's 2004 Tour! And the ticketing page (sistic lah) adds this instructional blurb: Please add to above price $2 SISTIC Fee for tickets above $20 and $1 SISTIC Fee for tickets below $20. Charges include GST. Pay me $100, I sing the entire La Boheme for you er!
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Wurl Best Muslim Food (working the abs from inside out): Hajah Maimunah
After a particularly uneventful day doing adminstrative tasks (phone calls, web updates et cete-fucking-ra), me and the boys went and tortured ourselves in the gym. It was a particularly long workout, which made us real hungry, so we decided to 'grab a bite' before going home. Grab a bite we did, at this restaurant on Jalan Pisang, near the Arab quarter, near Arab Street (duh), called Hajah Maimunah Restaurant & Catering. Hajah Maimunah's is one of those Nasi Padang type restaurants, where you order rice per person, then pick the dishes which you will eat to your death. It definitely isn't fine dining, and Hajah Maimunah herself wasn't there (she probably just supervises the cooking), but I'm quite she wouldn't have disapproved our 'whacking' the food the way we did, even if she's the pious woman her title suggests. While we would've liked to have tasted every dish on offer, we settled for beef rendang (probably better at lunch, so you don't get the bottom of the pot hard bits), panggang chicken in sweet gravy (wurl best), goreng chicken, (very) spicy sauteed clams, and a generous helping of sambal (wurl best), and we ate ourselves to death. (I died a second time later, owing to my delicately balanced digestive system - you know what they say - it ain't a good curry unless it burns twice). We're gonna go back there for seconds someday soon, probably just before normal lunchtime. And order some vegetables too. It is a nice area to browse around, the Kampong Glam Conservation area. Just that the buildings and streets are a little tricky to navigate around because they're mostly in the process of being Conserved. So Kandahar and Baghdad Streets do, at this moment, look a little like the places they're named for, I'm sure. There's the magnificent Masjid Sultan to look at and take pictures of, and the lesser looking Masjid Malabar down the road (nice in it's own blue bathroom mozaic tile sort of way). Also probably worth a look at is the Istana Kampong Glam, once home to Singapore's only royal family (ah so desu ne area called Kampong Glam?). Now about to be turned into a museum, apparently. Will visit once the dust settles. In all, not a bad evening. Got exercise, got food, got kulcha!
I haven't embraced texting shortforms as much as other people have. I think I am a stickler for more formal forms of language. Even my mother can text 'Sup'? and 'cmg hm 4 dnr?', which, although easy for the texter to text, is a bit of a pain for me to decrypt. Even worse when I'm hiccupping and having a severe migraine. Not that I'm deadset against txtg. C? I cn do it 2!
Monday, April 26, 2004
O Lordy help me I can't stop hiccupping!
Hiccups can come on at any time, so says this article, which I was hoping would tell me how to stop this fit I am having now. As I write, I am still hiccking and cupping. It's gone on for the best part of the hour, and I'm afraid it might destroy any chances of a reasonable night's sleep. Still here. I hope it doesn't break my long-standing personal best of 2 days, which happened in '91 while kayaking to Tioman. A long bout of seasickness related vomiting triggered the phrenic nerve to convulse, and I think the body couldn't find the 'off' switch. I kept hiccuping till we reached Tioman, and continued to do so for half a day after that. It was the most tiring physical exertion I've ever experienced. Loud one. Still here. I hiccupped till I cried then, much to the amusement of my kayaking buddy, who found it really funny until he was kept awake by my sporadic whoops. Goddammit. The other uncomfortable effect of hiccupping is that you tend to swallow more air than you should (assuming you should even be swallowing any). So you bloat. And then you try to burp but while you do you hiccup again, and that's pretty painful on the throat. Fuck I can't take it anymore. Have you tried taking a business call while you're having a rapid hiccupping fit? Hope I don't have to do that in the morning.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
She sells sea shells on the E-Bay not too far from the sea shore
E-Bay has launched its Singapore portal. So I suppose that means I'll rummage through my room to see what I can sell that people who have lost their marbles will buy. (Replacement marbles, maybe). When online trading first appeared (online), I went on a rampage, putting things up for sale left, right and centre. And sold all of them too. DIY books (how to make your own kayak, woodworking encyclopaedia, how to make your own fishing lures), racquets, hunting bows, home-made fishing lures. You name it, I've bought it - things I never really needed - and I've sold it, to people who, while online, suddenly decide they need DIY books, racquets, hunting bows and home made lures. It was great. I had a trading account of good standing on this site called GoFish (Australia), it had nothing to do with fishing, all to do with online selling, and unfortunately for them, not much to do with profit. My infatuation with selling trivial miscellany online died with the company some time in 1999. My entrepreneurial streak was overshadowed by my brother's far greater tech know-how at that time. He had, I swear, one of the world's first CD burners, and together with a part-time DJ part time drag queen friend of his, compiled audio CDs of Madonna's greatest hits, and sold them online to Americans who shelled out US$25 for each pirated CD! He made so much money he bought a 4X CD burner, which he used to make more CDs faster. Unfortunately for my brother, his was one of the many stories of success leading to greed leading to unsound business decision leading to end of success. Instead of sticking with the tried and tested market favourites, he decided to 'make' and sell pirated serial VCDs of every episode of every Star Trek television series ever made. Apart from tapping the (to him) surprisingly small nerd market, he couldn't make enough to put towards his enormous capital outlay of renting from the video shop every single videotape of every Star Trek episode ever made. He and his friend never partnered on another (pirate) venture. His friend was last seen behind the clerk's counter at the local Ezy Video library at Katoomba. Whether or not he's a drag pirate still, I don't know. I haven't heard any reports of whether he's been added to the Three Sisters either. A friend who caught the online selling wave and has been surfing it ever since is the greatest exemplar of how one can make a tidy sum selling to idiots. She can sell any damned thing and turn in a profit. If I remember correctly, she last sold one of her used pair of sneakers. She's also bought things from me and sold them for a profit. Like my car for instance. It has just dawned on me that the secret of her success is that she buys things from idiots first.
Saturday, April 24, 2004
That's when the earth's tectonic plates slide under the crust in a sort of large scale recycling, and which is why the sea doesn't get saltier. Or something. I read this in Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I am most likely wrong. I'm just hazarding a guess where my brain cells, in particular, those that are responsible for memory, logic and generally getting a grip on reality, went. I can't remember most of what I've read from that book, though I'm thoroughly enjoying it each time I pick it up. I suppose that means I could re-read it from time to time and still enjoy it. Good thing I bought the hardcover. The blunders I've made at work this month are kicking me in the arse everyday, and it would've been worse if not for the fact I have business partners with a semblance of a sense of humour. I'm still waiting for the day they give up and say 'what the fuck is wrong with you?!', though. Tomorrow (or rather, this) morning, the electrician comes to my house to replace the power switch board that has served our household for the last 22 years, but has recently had more outages than a Malaysian state. There'll be no power for the whole day, he reckons. No power. No aircon. No television. No fridge. No internet. How like that? The power better come back on by the time I'm home. Else I might have to go out all of Saturday night! Catch a movie or something. Wouldn't that be radical?
Friday, April 23, 2004
Someone or some group called the 'Yellow Red Organization' says they will conduct some serious terrorist activity from 20th - 30th April at some interesting places in eight countries including Singapore. (Note also that our Channur News Ayzure has conspicuously omitted our nation's name from the headline. Scared share prices plummet again.) Fear not, me and my fellow troopers from the 433rd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment, will be keeping you safe. The Marder Cheebye terrorists always pick our mobilisation manning period to zho luan! (Jokes aside, I am keeping fingers and toes crossed nothing happens. Would-be terrorists note: I will be really angry if you cause me to be recalled next week. So angry I will really want to kill you). And I can't remember what my recall codeword is. Flying Oyster Omelette or something. As if I didn't have enough things to worry about. Work has been hell because of the number of mistakes I've been making. It's hard when you're your own supervisor. The conversation at dinner tonight might have shed some light on why I am so absent-minded. Mum was comparing my nephew's upbringing with me and my sibling's 3rd world one. Apparently, I had a nanny (we were quite well to do, by 3rd world standards) who happened to be an opium addict, and who would lock herself in the room, with me, aged 1.5, and languidly chase the dragon. I said maybe that's why I've such an active imagination (read: collection of phobias). Mum countered with, 'No lah. Your nanny and Kenny's (my brother) nanny locked up the house and took you all to Haw Par Villa to see all the demons and sculptures of disembowelled sinners'. Solved. In one fell swoop. Why I am absent minded and have a heightened sense of guilt.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
'The film in its quest to informate the audience use voice over'. -from a (very recent) National University of Singapore undergraduate exam script.
Asia's Leading News Network
I came home from beer (again) and promptly fell asleep in front of the telly, which was on CNA (Channur News Ashia), which was on repeat mode cos being CNA, they don't do 'live' feeds from disaster sites. Big mistake. I got increasingly irritated in my sleep as I kept hearing the awful, awful voices of Diana Sur, Haseenah Koyakutty and Glenda Chong. Diana has what I call the 'rolling hills syndrome' of speaking. She's afflicted by the tendency to over-compensate for her Chinese As A First Language manner of speech. Very sad. Haseenah sppeeeaaaks ssssoooo ssssslowwwwly sssshee baaarrrreely saayyyyys thrrrreeee worrrrdsss innnn onnnne minnnnnutte. Glenda over enunciates. It's alright to want to speak clearly, but not to the point where your lips look like they're gonna flap over your cheeks. I also have to remind myself not to tune in to CNA in the arvos, cos that's when my favourite newscaster with the porn star name comes on. And she is awful! Pauses in the wrong places so often I'm surprised she doesn't cock up with the teleprompter by reading 'the accused was charged with Man's Laughter'. Enough CNA bashing. CNN has a newscaster called Christie Lou Stout (very pretty, not stout at all) who jerks her head when she wishes to emphasize something. Cool trick, that. Anyway, I was irritated enough to wake up, get out of bed, feel hungry, and drive out to Adam Road to buy mee goreng, come back, eat, and write this here blog. There are a million things to do workwise, and with them a million attendant things to worry about. But there are also a million different ways to kiss the ground, and maybe blogging is one of them.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Getting my ears lowered
I went to the barber's at Holland Village last night and paid $12 for a haircut that has taken a substantial weight off my head. The barber seemed to enjoy the experience more than I did as he took to the electric clippers and sculpted my hair with it. And gave me a G.I. George haircut. I would've liked to have gone back to Cheryl at Next Hair (also at the Village) and enjoyed, for $40, a hairwash, a funky haircut and a pretty young thing (Cheryl)* to talk nonsense to. But the wallet was already a little on the light side. *not Cheryl the Beryl (see previous entry)
Monday, April 19, 2004
A most familiar meeting
There must be a blog-writers' manual that says, "Never say 'Just when you think...' and fill in the rest with some tired cliche/coincidence/cliched coincidence (July 14th)".... But it's time to buck anti-convention convention. Another woman in my life has a(nother) doppelganger. I did not get her name, as I was pretty much content with having a dozen quiet beers with an American Chinese Actor friend who was providing the requisite background conversation about work and how he is now content with being an ethnic Chinese situated in a culturally appropriate locale, which, translated, means he's happy to be pulling chicks because he's an American Chinese Actor. He's just about going on (we had allocated 3 hours to this our monthly outpouring of guts and much beer) to how he'd like to further immerse his goodself in his roots by studying Mandarin in Beijing when his female friend walks in. This is the female friend he had planned to be spending the next coupla hours, after spending three hours with me, trying to learn Mandarin with her. I did not get her name properly - I always like to know people's full names - but it sounded something like Teenie or Tinny or Tinneee, depending on whether you ignore the local habit of putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. First impressions, while I wouldn't say she was nondescript, didn't set off fireworks or anything. Perhapss the beer wuz gedding to me a bit. Then the rugby on the telly finished (with the Auckland shits losing by a large margin), and my pub company had my full attention. Tinny started to speak in a most familiar manner. I think we were on the subject of fluency in Mandarin, when I said to her 'You're a Nanyang Girl'. Correct. How can you tell? 'No, just that Nanyang girls have a good command of the language, and it's not Mandarin'. Oh thank you thank you. Meandering conversation, blah blah, and she's reading from 8Days' horoscopes, and I notice she has a most familiar habit of holding court by interrupting any stream of conversation, even her own, with little offerings, such as the outlook for Cancerians for the week ending April 17th. Then while we're talking about the outlook for Cancerians for the week ending April 17th, she starts to poke me (with her index finger) in the shoulder in a most familiar way, saying as she did, something to the effect of 'wah, so you're a gymnast?' in a most familiar 'you gotta be mocking me but I can't tell for sure way'. 'Waaah, you look like a gymnast, waaah', a coupla times just to the brink of complete annoyance, and then backing off in a most familiar way. She starts to gesticulate in a most familiar way while I checked the alcohol content of the Stella Artois and tried to figure out if I wuz toasted maaaate. I then called a number in Boston, knowing I'd get an answering message, just so's I could compare the voices and manner of speech. Spooked, I ventured a guess of her birthday, purposely going off by coupla days hoping I wouldn't be right. I was wrong, I was right, and it was a most familiar birthday. The rest of the evening, the American Chinese Actor didn't get to practice his Mandarin very much, while I continued observing Teenie. Cheryl the Beryl you are come back to haunt me in a most familiar fashion.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
You'd be mad to test the Singapore fortress
You'd be mad to test the Singapore fortress, so says this columnist. I also say. 700 soldiers to your 3 bandits. You send one thousand soldiers, we send 233,333. You mad, we madder. Your crack troops may survive on coconut water and little jungle critters, our soldiers have mastered the art and science of the takeaway: we have MREs of tandoori chicken and rice, pulut hitam for dessert, and cereal bars for some fibre. You tell me, who's gunna be the better fed, and better energised one to fight a war?
The beer and chicken wings have got to stop
It's not often a long day is also a good day. But today is one of the rare ones. We put in a good 9 hours at work, and rewarded ourselves with beer and junk food for the next 5 hours. We also got invited to my ex-colleague's 'event', as they like to call these things, at this place called Rouge. It was some two-bit fashion show, with some two-and-a-half bit 'host', as they like to call these people, hosting it. The beer was free, so it was good. Then I came home, and blogged. And decided not to say any more lest I jinx myself.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
This TVC is stuck good and fast in my head, thanks to its being given ample air time on a lot of channels. It's one of those things I hate liking. And I like. Maybe it's the cute Jap thing - I have no fucking idea what the cute girly voice is singing, but it's cute. (I hate that I also have a one-eared blue cat doll called a Qoo).
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Beckham's Singapore Fling: My friend scored but not sure if anyone else did...
A friend of mine attended that party that Sarah Marbeck claimed was where she hooked Becks. I remember that party too, mostly because I wasn't invited (I quit my job at the actors' agency a few months earlier. Even if I didn't quit, I wouldn't have been invited, whether I look like Rob Schneider or not). My friend doesn't remember her and doesn't recall any of the Man U players fraternising with any of the local celebs. The players were polite but uninterested, says my friend. The other people who were invited were local football stars from the 70s such as Quah Kim Song and his brother Kim Tiong (although I'm not sure if Dollah Kassim or Samad Allapitchay were there - the party would have looked like the set of an Austin Powers movie if they were). Local media outlets have been in a frenzy interviewing people who attended the party. They managed to interview two local telly 'personalities', who, being Singaporean, said nothing by saying a lot - oh the party was good, the players were friendly polite and gentlemanly, and it wasn't an adult party at all, there were churren.... These two local personalities happen to be very well known on the party circuit for doing things (and I mean rooooolly nasty things - I caught them in flagrante once). I did meet an model slash actress acquaintance of mine before she went to the party, and she cupped her ample but not very clad breasts and said 'these puppies are gonna go make some friends'. My friend, although excited about going to meet the players even though he didn't know any of the other players apart from Becks, settled for one of the local football ex-stars, making off and making out in his (the ex-star's) car before coming back to the party. So I says to him, wah lau, you damn loser, can? Man U party and you dapat one of the Young Lions instead? He says, what to do? none of the Man U boys seem gay, not even Beckham. And I don't think them puppies made any friends that night, I reckon.
Ego vs reality
"You know who you remind me of?" "Who?", I ask, hoping it's: a) someone famous b) someone good looking c) someone good looking and famous d) someone clever e) someone clever and famous all the while just knowing the answer's gonna be somewhat disappointing. This time, the answer was "Rob Schneider", a version of option (a). It hit me like a brick. I was filled with much indignation, and though I couldn't bring myself to say them, I shouted in my mind: "I don't look thaaat bad?" "I don't make animal noises whaaat!" "I don't keep going 'youuu can dooo eeeeet'!" "I am not Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo (slated for 2004 release)". She then says, probably sensing my disappointment, "It's your mannerisms lah". It doesn't help any, babe! I am wounded (though not like a wounded animal that makes wounded animal noises the way Rob Schneider would). Chronology of My Nicknames and People I Remind People Of: 2003-2004: Rob Schneider (mannerisms, lah). 2000: Richard Chee Quee (The only ethnic Chinese to play cricket for NSW)(Spitting image, friends say, though he's 6'2 and I'm not). 2000-present: Mr Miyagi (Bastard rugby captain at my last club gave me this one and it stuck). 1989-1991: Buddha (compliments of Encik Ang, company sergeant major) 1988: Garfield (platoon mate) 1988-1991: Fun-Sized (As in Fun Sized Mars Bars and Snickers) (platoon mate) 1988: Speedy Gonzales (quite proud of this one, given by an All Black who was giving a coaching clinic) 1988: Detective Chin Ho Kelly (Hawaii Five-O) (bastard classmates!) 1987: Tom Cruise (I shit you not! There was this girl who wrote me saying she watched Top Gun and there I was. Days were the those. This girl's now on the tele as some award-winning presenter on CNBC Asia, so she must know something). Something went wrong between 1987 and 1988. Something I ate?
Saturday was a blast. (I only ever recall things at least a few hours after it's happened) Me and the boys went to the gym, then went to Ice Cold Beer for a quiet beer or ten (hopefully). We did ourselves in with three beers and two dozen chicken wings. Much mirth for Easter Saturday. Untold Scandal Thursday night I went to the movies with E. After she promised not to pick a fight. She was happy as larry because she got promoted this week to "Visiting Fellow" at university. It is an appropriate title. She's hardly at her office. The movie, a Korean adaptation of Les Liaison Dangereuses, was infinitely more watchable than the last Korean movie we watched, which, of course, was spoilt by the ruckus E caused more than the thin plot, which involved much nudity and not much else. Then again, I like Korean movies. I like Korean movies with pretty Korean chicks. Even better if they're nude.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Engrish as she is singed
If you haven't already heard A-Do's cover of Lionel Richie's Hello, you must. Only don't listen to it while driving. I can see it in your ice, I can see it in your smy...you're all I ever wonnit, my ums are open why!
Not gonna be a good Monday
'Cos I'm gunnawanna fall asleep. Die lah. 5am still haven't sleep. Jia lat or whaaat? What happened to the weekend? How come so short?
Friday, April 09, 2004
The latest drama to grip Singapore, once again, had an element of adventure-in-the-tropics. It involved a hitherto satisfied citizen of our isle doing what she was supposed to do: be a satisfied citizen. She just suddenly went berserk, flew her coop and headed helter skelter for freedom. Tragically, folk who do this seldom survive outside captivity. Ramba drowned after being tranquilised. Can't get out, can't get in.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
I only just realised that the two dispensers in the shower stalls, one marked "Moisturizing Shampoo" and the other "Shower Gel", dispense the same thing. (I swapped, using the gel to shampoo and the shampoo to shower, and like I suspected, no discernible difference). Because I pay only a measly $800 a year for membership, I have to share the gym with an assortment of users: Bodybuilders: Wear scraps of cloth that resemble tank-tops, and shorts that run up their (very tight) bum cracks, lift very, very heavy weights that they have to drop with a clang every now and then. They also spend the other bit of their gym time (something like 6 hours) chugging protein shakes which they spend a few hours shaking in their tumblers. Gay boys: Wear scraps of cloth that resemble tank-tops, and shorts that run up their (very tight) bum cracks, lift very, very heavy weights that they have to drop with a clang every now and then... Sweaty bastards who don't use towels: There's this one gayboybodybuilder who sweats profusely. He leaves puddles everywhere, and is probably under the mistaken impression that sweat is sexy, and therefore sweats more to be sexier. He doesn't realise that his quest is irreparably stymied by his very large nostrils, which flare even more on exertion. He also stinks to high heaven. Couples: There's this one couple that has been working out regularly since I joined the gym. They spend a lot of time handling each other. Very distracting. Also, the weights don't seem to be light enough for them. Skinny schoolboys: They do 100 bicep curls in an hour, then spend two hours flexing in front of the mirror. Fat schoolboys: Sent by their parents to be tortured by a $60 per hour personal trainer. Power Ang Moh Tai Tais (occupation: married to rich man): You know? The tanned and taut ones? They grunt and groan with every exertion just to show they're alive? Usually with a $60 per hour personal trainer. Someone should tell them (though I won't, 'cos I'm afraid of getting pummelled by Zena Warrior Tai Tai) that they don't have to try to grab attention. Hallo? You're Ang Moh OK? Sarong Party Girls: Tanned and taut ones in tight and skimpy outfits that appear painted on. Also grunt and groan with every exertion so they can attract pudgy Ang Moh men who only have to attend the gym without working out to attract the SPGs. The SPGs use the treadmill and various cardio machines a lot, even after attending six body combat classes in a row. Pudgy Ang Moh Men: See above. Frizzy haired (indigenous/local) tai tais: Not so tanned and not so taut ones who generally, and thankfully, don't wear tight and skimpy outfits. They're also often with their $60 per hour personal trainers, and appear tortured by these personal trainers too. Shy girls: The ones who use the closed off area for privacy, and are so shy they only run on the treadmill in there for five minutes, (literally) throw in the towel and go home. $60 per hour personal trainers: Them who personally train frizzy haired tai tais, power Ang Moh tai tais and fat schoolboys. These select few who earn $60 per hour have to undergo a stringent job interview process that includes: a) walking funny: make your arms look like they're on splints, always at a 45 degree angle to the body, and walk ONLY on the balls of your feet, NEVER the heels. b) can count up to 15 reps. c) (bonus) can count up to 15 reps in local vernacular for the frizzy haired tai tais and fat schoolboys (wan, too, tree, four, fai, sik, sewwen, ache, nai, ten, illewen, chelve, tertin, fotin, feeftin) AND in affected Ang Moh accent (yeah, yeah, there's a supurrmarrket on the base-murnt level yeah parse the escaladurr no, no not the sevurn ellevurn) for the power ang moh tai tais. The "I like standing naked by the locker talking loudly on my mobile" gym member: This species isn't so common, so perhaps that's why sightings are often startling. Last sighting was two days ago, of one who was dripping wet, sans towel and completely starkers, and talking very intensely on his mobile about ordering some ceramic tiles. He spoke for a very long time in that state (I went to the changeroom post workout, showered, changed, dried hair, and he was still at it).
Beer, satay, ice-kachang and the beach
I've just come home from supper instigated by a friend who's recently returned from Australia after having completed his flying studies there. He's still very much getting reacquainted with local food, and to our detriment, has been egging us on to eat out with him every other night. Gainfully unemployed because of his unfortunate distinction of being a Muslim pilot, something not in great demand on the open job markets these days, he's nonetheless been chirpy and energetic, though probably owing to the fact he doesn't do much during the day. So we went to East Coast Lagoon Food Village, which used to be the East Coast Hawker Centre. I think, now, they've (our 'garment')started to think that "Hawker Centre" isn't a very glamourous term. I remember my GP teacher in JC telling us not to use the term in our essays for the GCEs, because the examiners in Cambridge wouldn't have the faintest why there would be food sold at Hawker Centres, even if just for the hawks (and how 'killer litter' would be misunderstood as being a clutch of man-eating kittens). Anyway, the place looked great! You'd (especially Malaysians, poor thing, still trying to pretend that your roadside stalls have great ambience and the dirt in your food makes it taste better and is actually good for you) have mistaken it for Club Med's food court, if they had one. It was spacious, it had a nice boardwalk linking the seating areas, lightly dusted with sand for effect. And the food was not bad either. We had an ice-kachang, some satay and two beers. The ice-kachang was topped with ground peanuts, to distinguish it from other ice-kachang sold at mere hawker centres. It also caused me to be accused of having dropped the ice-kachang on the sand before bringing it to the table. So, if you're feeling peckish and want to eat something by the sea. Go there. And three cheers for the hawker centre upgrading project (HUP. As in Hup, Hup Hooray).
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Post Script We did lose grandma's grave, and only discovered that last year.
Superstitions: Can the Chook Chucker Chuck Chook?
I found the nailclipper. Relief is at hand. My father once told me never to clip nails at night. He said it in such a tone I mistook it for a superstition. Like "never point at the moon (or your ears will fall off)". Yes. Huh? Most of my friends have never heard of this one either. When I was younger (say, a coupla years ago), I used to marvel at the moon, imagining I saw the princess and the hare (another improbable Chinese legend that leads to much celebrative eating) cavorting on the Sea of Tranquility, and would excitedly and absent-mindedly point at it before realising with shrinking horror that I might have to wake up the next morning, earlobes under the bed. So, every so often, I'd do this little charade-dance where I'd point skyward, look horrified, cover my ears, and run indoors in tears. The more run of the mill Chinese superstitions like "never sweep the floor on the first morning of the (Lunar) New Year (or else you sweep away your luck, presumably together with the rest of the kua chee (melon seeds, for you ang mohs) shells)" were seldom heard around my family. We had weirder traditions. I used to put it down to our being Hainanese, until I heard from other Hainanese that they never did ritualise behaviour as odd as our family's. For the record, I'm only half-Hainanese, which affords me the ability to view Hainanese behaviour from a largely objective position. All I know when I grew up was that Mum was Hokkien, and spoke English, Sis spoke English, my nanny spoke Teochew, my brother's nanny spoke Cantonese, so my brother and I communicated in sign language. Dad spoke gobbledegook, Grandma (Ah Por) spoke gobbledegook, as did Dad's brother and his sons. Ah Por passed on, aged 100, in 1999. In keeping with tradition (so the gobbledegook-speakers tell me), they "marked up" her age at passing to 104, four more years because she had "earned it" by living to 100. That's not the bizarre bit. We had a Taoist ceremony lasting three and a half days at the old house in Seremban, where Taoist priests chanted in gobbledegook, struck gongs, shuffled around the casket, and then later, burnt paper models of a mansion with servants, a car with a chauffeur, a DVD player with DVD titles (Ah Por liked to watch the wrestling, so my cousins bought the paper player - at a bargain, I imagine), before which the priests actually christened (for want of a better word) the paper servants and the chauffeur with nominatively apt Chinese names - Shun Feng (safe journey) for the papier mache chauffeur, and some Chinese term for obedient servant for the servants. These rituals done, and having parked my (real) car further down the road so it wouldn't get licked by the bonfire (quite big, three storey paper house with electrical appliances and servants), we had a grand but sombre procession down the old road to Port Dickson to lay Ah Por at her final resting place. It would have been more sombre if not for the funeral procession band picking out tunes from old colonial songsheets such as "happy days are here again". I think I also heard some Cole Porter numbers. They've got a good repertoire, this band. I'll get their number if you want. At the cemetary, I was expected to and had expected to complete some of the rituals, as I had been known as Ah Por's favourite grandson. Then we were briefed by the priests on what we had to do, and I passed the buck back to my cousin (who was older, and actually the one who was supposed to do all this spirit stuff). The instructions were beyond bizarre: the Chief Mourner was supposed to stand on one side of the grave, holding a live chicken (!), mumble something, and toss (!) that chicken across the grave to the priest, who had designated himself the live chicken catcher. Then the grave was filled, and all was done. Simple. I remember seeing my cousin holding the chicken, which squawked and tried to escape his clutches a few times, glaring back at me (for passing this onerous task to him), then aiming very carefully, giving room for in case the chook tried to fly, and then finally chucking the chook, which let out a god almighty loud squawk as he did, across the void at the priest, who, to his credit, managed to catch the struggling bird which half-flew to his left, which probably was as bewildered as we were. I'm still glad my cousin did the chook chuck. I'd probably have stumbled, dropped the bird, and condemned Ah Por to an eternity without chicken rice or something. I've asked around. No one else has witnessed this ritual, Hainanese or not. If anyone has come across this, I'm interested to know if it's a real tradition or if the Taoist priest was having a meltdown that day. Oh, and the reason my Dad asked me not to clip my nails at night? Because it's a little dark, and I might cut myself. Serious.
I have a tongue
I can't sleep. I am aware I have a tongue. I'm very glad I bought "A Short History of Nearly Everything", because it's the most interesting book I 've read in a while. I'd have said it was 'unputdownable', but it isn't, because it is quite heavy. Not only will you become quite knowlegeable about the only planet you'll ever live on, but you'll probably get toned forearms as well, from propping the book up to read. I'd also put this book as a case for the promotion of the study of literature and language in Singapore, not in place of, but with the sciences, which, for the past decade or so, have been viewed as the only fields of study with any practical usability. Read this book and realise science comes alive only when you have the tools of expression. You can put billions of dollars into technopreneurship (a term I detest), and all you'll ever come up with is a company called "Creative Technologies", which makes glorified radio-clock-like devices like a PC coupled with a piano keyboard. (Stay tuned for the PC guitar, and for the Asian market, the PC Angklong). Same shit, different bucket. More Steve Jobs and fewer Sim Mong Hoos please! If we don't up the emphasis on our ability to express ourselves better, we* are dead in the water. Chaotic thoughts from the old milennium indeed^. *Sadly, I'm talking about Singapore. ^Though I've nothing against this man's business acumen, but that is just it: business acumen. Nothing to do with creativity or world-shaking, ground- breaking achievements.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Not bad for a Monday
It's Monday, but I think I had a good day at the office, followed by a good hour and a half at the gym, followed by a good dinner cooked by, of all people, my mother. She had been having a bad run with cabin fever setting in good and fast, but bless her heart, she managed to put some of that restless energy to good use, with the help of Jamie Oliver's cookbook, and we had the best dinner at home for the longest time. It would be closer to the perfect Monday if I could find my nail clippers. My fingernails are long enough to annoy me at this point. You know how it is when you suddenly become aware of some part of yourself, and it bothers you no end? Like when you're about to fall asleep, and you suddenly and inexplicably realise you have a tongue? Gotta find them clippers.
Funny how the google ad banner is blank at this point. I know I must have been damned gorblok not to realise the google banner shows ads based on keywords their search engine finds on the page. Yesterday it advertised for pest control products here. And just now when I was browsing someone's blog, and found that the google banner there was displaying ads for anti-depressants. Then I read the blog, and found that, yes, the blogger really needed some of those. What does your banner say today?
Sunday, April 04, 2004
Blog writer's block
I don't know what to write about! Not that much has happened over the weekend, and the things that did occur are hardly noteworthy. I did spend an inordinate amount of time fiddling with putting some bells and whistles on the page, so maybe that's why nothing else happened. There are still ants on and in my car.
Saturday, April 03, 2004
Mercedes Benz 0, Ants 20,000
This afternoon, I reverse-parked the tank against shrubbery growing on the fence at Chatsworth School, and twenty colonies of ants decided today was a good day for an exodus, and the tank looked like the Promised Land. Three hours later, there are several black masses (which l fortunately managed to pick out against the dark blue of the car) on various parts of the tank's surface. It looked worse when the doors were opened. Black streams picking out choice resettlement locations under the rubber seals, seat pockets, et cetera. I'd have been mesmerised if not for the fact it was my car they were looking to possess. And PP thinks ants in her water jug is something to shout about. Bah! You call that an infestation? After a good half hour swatting several dozen off my limbs, I managed to sweep off the majority of the exodus onto the road, and some while trying to drive quickly. Am waiting for it to storm heavily so the rest will be swept off. The rest of the diaspora can suffocate in the car, hopefully. (Ben's Benz: Mercedes-Benz 300SEL , the original MPV: you can fit 20,000 ants, 4 golf bags and a mini-trampoline in the back seat. Not that I play golf).
Friday, April 02, 2004
"What if it rains?": A series on questionable building materials: #001 Somewhere on Balestier Road: House of Tau Sar Piah
Handy Latin Phrases (The Original): "Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure." "I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear."
Lawrence of Arab Street
“You wonder what I am doing? Well, so do I, in truth. Days seem to dawn, suns to shine, evenings to follow, and then I sleep. What I have done, what I am doing, what I am going to do, puzzle and bewilder me. Have you ever been a leaf and fallen from your tree in autumn and been really puzzled about it? That's the feeling.” - T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), 1935.