Tag Archives: Life

The End of Something Golden

Devilmisu @ TCC

It seems only yesterday you sat across me sharing a pitcher of beer. Life stories, common interests, insider jokes flowed smoothly that night. It seems like we have known each other forever.

How would I known our fairy tale will take a turn for the unexpected??

And now you are sitting across me again sharing a tiramisu (well, almost). Same laughter, same knowing look, same understanding. Perhaps, had you decided differently, my decision today would not have been the same.

I wouldn’t know, and I shouldn’t think about the possibilities.

I thought it was the start of something new… but it has become the end of something golden.

10 Things I Wish You’ll Say At My Funeral

Pardon the blog post title, but you’ll see my reason in a minute.

I have been seeing mentions on this television commercial by MCYS Singapore all over the place on Twitter and Plurk. Usually I ignore such video sharing tweets/plurks, but when one particular Plurker whom I despise and like in equal measure shared the same video on his Plurk, I was amused.

If the most cynical person on Plurkville is motivated enough to share the YouTube link, there must be something about it, no?

So, I watched it. And I think you should watch it too before continuing to read this post.

I cried. Of course I did. What did you expect?

There are many things that you could learn from the ad. Perfect imperfections. To hold on dear to something valuable to you until the very end. Family bonds. Racial harmony.

I could go on and on, or you could hop over to the ad maker’s blog to read the flood of comments on the ad. One particular comment struck a chord in my heart , and effectively captured the power of the ad’s message:

I used this short film with my civics class, after I asked all 28 of them to share what they couldn’t stand about their family (they loved talking about that!). After viewing this film, the hyperactive 18-year-olds became really sombre and I peeked to see one of my boys actually tearing a little. We then talked about family and also the notion of perfection in their future life partners. I think they learnt some lessons today.

Finally, a Singapore government ad worth blogging about… although it was made by a Malaysian.

It made me reflect on myself, on things I hold dear in my life. And… it made me think, of how I might be something dear to the people around me. And I wonder – what would these people say during my funeral?

(You see, there is a reason for the morbid title of this blog post!)

That I value above all, honesty. I might not be 100% honest all the time. I hate lies – I don’t like being lied to, and I don’t like to lie. Because of that, I try to let my life be a lie. That explains some tough decisions I have made… and it’s because I do really think that honest is the best policy

That I have many friends. Close friends, dear friends, bosom friends. From school, from neighbourhood, from online, from work. While I may have drift apart from some, even my best friends (at any point of time in my life), I do think back of you, and I smiled. I smile at our shared memories. For that, I want to thank you. You made my life beautiful

That I love my family. Even if I seldom affirm them. Even if I hardly utter or write it in words. I might not be very close to my family members, but we share a connection that will last forever. Blood ties. My love for you, my family, has always and will always be unique and irreplaceable.

That I have utter love for books, and that sometimes I act or speak weirdly because of the tales I read. Chick lits, sci-fi, self improvement… I am a tried-and-true book worm. Just read my most loved books, and you’ll know why I behave in certain ways. Yes, you literally can read me like a book.

That I treat the world as a book, and it is the longest book I ever read. My travel tales span years and years, covering all sorts nooks and corners of the world. I read them a chapter at a time, in leisure, in its full color and glory. And I cherish these memories above all. And that’s why my holidays are precious to me.

That my age does not equate to my wisdom. Despite growing older by the day, there is still, and always will be, a child in me. Who gape aloud in wonderments of life, who still laugh at things you don’t find amusing, who still be impulsive and do things “adults” won’t do. Life is too short to be too serious.

That despite my confident front, I am insecure in parts. That I am still affected by how people think or judge me. That I won’t say bad things about you if I have nothing nice to say to you, and I expect you to do the same for me too.

That little things make me happy. Like a muffin you offer me despite only having one on your own (and even if I told you I am on a carbless diet – but it’s the thoughts that count,hehe). Like when you remember I like sweet popcorn on top of my salty ones, and will order it just so. Like how I like nothing than roaring down a steep hill on a motorbike, grinning like a mad man while watching the beach rushes by.

That most, if not all, decisions I made in my life are in the quest to be happier. Yes, you can be happy, but how do you be happier. Yes, I am happy with 75 push ups, but I’ll do another 25 to make it a hundred to make myself happier. Yes, I am happy to watch a musical on my own, but I’ll be happier if I share the magic with another friend.

That I truly believe that happiness is a personal decision, whatever your circumstances. So when I seem to be unreasonably harsh to you, I just want to be a true friend and speak my mind… and that it pains me that you unknowingly make decisions that only sadden you.

And above all, I wish the people who loved me will see me perfect in all my imperfections.

What would YOU want your loved ones to say about you at your funeral?

A Journey with Shafik

My journey with Shafik started years ago… on a specific night dated 19th April 2005. He was only17 back then. We met because of a “common purpose” which (I think he will agree) I shall not repeat here.

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Yes, I know, he is a skinny little fella, isn’t he?

Fast forward a little, and there was my surprise 26th party organised by him and a few others… one whole month in advance. I mean, how can I not be surprised?

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End of 2005, when we paid a Raya visit to a certain someone’s house. This is my favourite pic of him. Of course, nowadays he looks nothing like that skinny fella he was before.

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For some reasons, I can’t find any photos of him and I taken in 2006. Whatever happened? Ah… that was the year I was working as a conference producer, when life was a nutcase of stress and late nights and… anyway. Fast forward to end of 2007, when we have our own Christmas party at my old place.

Shafik, Cheryl & I

Yes, I know, right. Such a big difference. But to me, he was still my skinny little fella.

Soon it was time to say goodbye to 2007 and welcome 2008. Of which we spent together at some countdown party at VivoCity.

Dinner @ Breeks, HarborFront Centre

Over the years, we went out together many, many times. Cheryl, Shafik and I spent many evenings together, like this one, when we laughed our collective assess off at Kumar’s show at Hard Rock Cafe.

The trio - Shafik, Cheryl & I

Being the party animal that I am, I threw a good many gatherings at my place. Every single time, I will invite him and Cheryl to attend. There was only one party they missed out, and that was because of a certain someone too… anyway! This one was at the housewarming party of my current place.

Shafik and I

As if I can’t get enough of him *puke*, I got Shafik working with as an intern in my company. No, not as an office boy – I have more respect for him than that! – but as a graphic designer. In which he excelled at. And, from what I told him, he got a perfect GPA mostly because of his internship with him. I am still looking forward to my big thank-you treat.

The Family Portrait

Shafik is always the epitome of style and consistently dress better than me… even when we were in costume. Like this Halloween party last year.

Shafik & I

But, nevermind. Despite that he always stole my limelight from me whenever we were out together, we still go out every now and then. He needs someone matured like me to keep him in check. Hur.

Shafik & I

Together with Cheryl, we even took oversea trip together. Singular. Yes, only once, and that’s only to KL. I am a lone traveler, and I can’t imagine going on a trip in a group, and it’s a miracle that we didn’t kill each other during our trip. Maybe the copious amount of alcohol helped.

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As we all grew older, we started to be nicer to each other. Birthdays were remembered, MSN conversations were meaningful, hugs and kisses were heartfelt. Like the time we pulled out all stops to throw the celebration of birthday celebration for Cheryl’s 2xth birthday. All black-tie and poshness and wine and steaks. We looked the part, didn’t we?

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Without meaning to, Shafik (together with Cheryl) started to impose his presence on many major milestones in my life. I didn’t really mind… they always beautify the photos I took in commemorating those events. Like at this time, when I was flying off for my winter holiday end of last year.

Camwhoring in the lift

And suddenly, Shafik turned 21. No longer a kid. An adult. Legal to do many things. I shudder to think of the possibilities. His possibilities. LOL.

As I look back at the past four years, I felt a mix of emotion for him. Sense of pride to see the man he is today. Tokens of gratitude thinking back to the time when he was there when I needed someone. Tingles of excitement when we were out sharing a jug, a joke, a smoke (not!).

Shafik's 21st Birthday Celebration Night Out

People come, people go. That’s a fact of life. Only a few significant ones will leave permanent marks in your life. That’s also a fact of life.

Shafik has left his in mine. This post is dedicated to him as he celebrates his adulthood. Thank you, brother, for your unconditional friendship and unreserved love. Friends are forever, eh?

Happy 21st birthday. Let’s hope we won’t kill each other in Seoul!

P.S.: In case you haven’t realise, many of the things I said in this post were meant to be cheeky! Go figure out which is which, hehe.

The Secret of Happiness = Selective Memory

The Secret of Happiness = Selective Memory

(Image by Manfromsun)

My back is aching, and I can’t block out the pain.

As my mind wonders back to the various incidents happened recently in my life, I marveled at how little I remembered. It was as if someone put a gauze across my eyes as I peer hard into my recent past.

No, I don’t exactly forget everything. I remember the touch of your hand on my face. I remember the melodious voices bursting my heart with pride. I remember the crunch of diced celery and crispy ayam penyet.

What I don’t remember is what made me upset. Yes, I remember being upset. Just that I don’t remember why.

And since I can’t remember why, I might as well not be upset, right?

Right. Selective memory is the secret to happiness in life. It is a skill I honed since young. While it may be increasingly hard to practise it as I age, I found it to be extremely useful especially at times like this.

My back is aching, but it is nothing compared to the pain you are causing me. I just don’t remember why.

So, for now, I’ll suffer from my back pain with a smile on my face. After all, I don’t have anything to be upset about.

Do I?

Happiness is not by chance, but by choice

(Image by barnsley anna)

Did you know… that I reduced my waistline from 40″ in early 2008 to 32″ right now? Many of my friends complimented me on my new “figure”, and of course I am happy and flattered.

However, my happiness is not because of the compliments, but because I choose to be happy.

When I was at my bigger size, I agonised over everything I eat. I missed having McDonalds’ big breakfast meal (upsized no less). Whenever I was faced with the option to eat what I want or to eat what is healthy, I faltered, and will most likely opt for the latter.

But I was sad, because I believe my happiness depends on what I eat. My value, then, is to equate my joy with the ability to eat what I want.

Now at my new size, I still agonise over everything I eat. But the difference is that I am happy not eating rice, only lean chicken meat. I am happy not eating at fast food outlets, but to cook my own meals three times a day.

I am happy now, because I believe my happiness depends on how I feel about myself. My value, now, is to equate my joy with the ability to choose what I eat.

Happiness is not necessarily dictated by your circumstances. It depends on the choices you made. If you have a wrong set of values, and you live by them, inherently you will lead a miserable life.

To have the courage to admit that your values are wrong, and make a change, is to learn to be happier. Your happiness is no one’s responsibility but your own.

Accept that responsibility and be happy. You owe it to yourself.

5 Easy Steps for Better Anger Management

I need to control my anger!

( Image by danorbit)

And so I was angry today over something that was beyond my control and someone’s seemingly childish behaviour towards what I was doing. Coupled with my recent stress and packed schedule, I snapped.

My close friends will tell you that I seldom get angry. I am always so calm and logical, you will be hard pressed to find me in a huff of the-world-has-something-against-me attitude.

A couple of angry, long and loaded SMS-es ensued between the “offending” party and I. In the end, he said sorry and I stopped myself from continuing my tirade. I realised that… perhaps, just perhaps, my anger was not justified. My outburst does not help the situation I was in, and at least two person were then upset.

I need to manage the situation. I need to gain control. So I did what I have to do:

#1 – Stop whatever I was doing. I know if I continued on berating on how I felt, it will never end and my anger will not abate. So I did nothing. And started the long journey home.

#2 – Took a deep breathe, and looked far, far away. I know this seems very cheesy – heck, even I did not believe in such crap – but to my amazement, it helped. My fast heartbeat subsided, and my palms felt less clammy.

#3 – Vented my anger elsewhere. At places where no one can understand the context of my anger, and yet help was on hand to calm you somewhat. I don’t know about you, but venting online (like on Plurk and Facebook) and the resulting comments helped.

#4 – Start to think about “what’s next” instead of “what happened”. There is little point to dwell on the who said what and when, really. What I need is a way to take on the next step, to make things better.

#5 – Look at the big picture. It was indeed just a small thing. There is always next time. And chances are the other party’s friendship is more important than this… qualm. After all, it is only because he is important enough to make me feel provoked in the first place.

If you like me, a can of beer (or two) will definitely make you feel better. Listen to your favorite music – Olivia Ong is playing on my iTunes right now. Oh, and blogging about it (like what I am doing now) is a really therapeutic way to manage your anger.

And to you: I am sorry for the outburst. I really am. We arrange for the next time ok?

Best Friends at Crossroads

(Image by LostMyHeadache)

Everyone needs a best friend.

A best friend is someone you can always count on to be there for you. To offer you comfort when you are down. To listen to you when you have to rant. To share your joy when great things happened. To learn and grow together, to be better friends.

It is often said, to remain best friends, two have to work together at it, just like in a love relationship. You have to spend time together, to learn and grow together, to be better friends. And in that process, you find yourself, what you have to offer, and what you can receive… and how to be a better person.

You probably have a friend like that right now. Or if not, in the past. Often you will feel grateful to have him/her in your life.

You don’t feel so alone.

But as time goes by, people change. You change. He or she changes. I change. We strive for our personal identity in our own ways. We heed our callings listening to our own hearts. We lose ourselves in the daily tirades of chores, commitments and promises.

It happens to everyone, including your best friends. Sometimes, they change in a direction different from yours. One moment you are having the best time in your life, and suddenly you are displaced by a strange feeling you have not felt for a long time.

The feeling of losing someone important. And realised you and your best friend have drifted apart.

Is it your fault? His fault? Our fault? No one’s really. People come and go in your life all the time. Of these, some leave behind footprints. These are the people worthy of your memory.

When you realised you and your best friends are at a crossroad, stop and take a deep breath. Remember the time you had together. Smile to yourself on the silly jokes and life stories you swapped. Be grateful that your life has changed because of him/her.

At the crossroad, between heartfelt hugs and fond farewell, believe that when you meet again, you can pick up where you have left off. To be best friends again… even if it is just for a moment.

And believe in yourself that, someone new will come along. Who can share your unshed tears, unspoken tales, unuttered laughter. Making new memories together.

Because everyone needs a best friend.

P.S.: This post is dedicated to all my best friends in the past, present and future.

For The Price of One Pint of Erdinger

I have always been a very sympathetic kind of guy. When my friends got into trouble, I will always try to help. When I read about some noble charity work, I always try to find out how to pitch in.

The trouble in the past was that I was financially incapable to help. The occasional loose change for some school flag day would be the extent I can go.

Recently I realised that I could help and make a difference. But I also come to term that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be helping everyone and everything. Money does not grow on tree, and I need to see if the cause deserves my sacrifice. Yes, it may be a small sum, but it’s still sacrifice on my part.

In the past week, I have randomly helped a biker who was diagnosed with cancer to keep his beloved bike; he wanted to sell it off to fund his treatment.

And just today I reread Marian Keyes’ “Further Under The Duvet” (I lost count of how many times I have reread that book) and was moved (again) by her journalistic piece on the charity body, Concern. Snippets of it keep coming back to my mind.

“One of the many people I met was a beautiful woman called Darma – by and large the Ethiopians are extremely good-looking. Darma has nine children, her husband is ‘gone’ and she’s younger than me. With great pride she ushered us into her new house – a ten by ten room with a packed earth floor, no electricity and no running water. With a smile she indicated the roof, – ‘no holes so no rain gets in’. Which would turn the mud floor into a quagmire. I was beginning to understand. The sturdy walls provoked another smile – ‘secure against rats.’ Gotcha.”

“When I asked her what her parents had died of, she bowed her head, began to cry and didn’t answer. Later the director of the programme told me that she has never said, but he suspects they died of Aids. Despite at least one in ten and maybe as many as one in six adult Ethiopians infected with HIV, there’s such a stigma that few will admit to being affected by it.”

“Back into the four by four and after another bumpy hour on muddy roads we arrived at the three roomed clinic. At the same time a young woman called Erberke showed with her husband, Bassa and their sick baby girl, Jelsalem. They’d walked for forty minutes in their bare feet to reach us because Jelsalem was passing blood; she was fifteen months old, but she was so stick-like and shrunken that she looked a good year younger. Bassa was wearing what might have been Farrah slacks once upon a time but was now a collection of rags held together with yellow twine. I’d seen so many sad things but for whatever reason this was the one that did it for me. I couldn’t stop crying.”

“She is constantly coming down with infections. She’s ostracised by her peers. (She wouldn’t let me take her photo because she got harassed enough, she said.) There are anti-retroviral drugs which can cure her but aren’t available in Ethiopia because they’re so expensive. And the number of those infected with the virus – particularly women – continues to escalate. “I’m angry,” she said with vehemence. “I’m always so angry. Will you tell the people in Ireland we need their help,” she asked. I said I would.”

You can read the full piece by Marian on her website.

Feeling the knots in my stomach again, I went online to check on the charity work done by Concern. They strive to tackle problem of the world’s poorest, in 26 different countries.

The more I read, the more compelled I felt that I could make a difference. So I signed up for their monthly donation programme. For the price of a pint of Erdinger – and that’s S$15, or USD10 – I could feed a malnourished child for a month.

It’s a small gesture in a world of pain. But hey, a little bit of help makes the world a little better, one good deed at a time.

So, would you? Better that than funding someone golden-plated water tap in the name of “charity”. Pffft.

Crapping on a Broken Heart

That is how I am feeling now.

The Price of Valentine’s Happiness

Home-cooked fresh garden salad and creamy clam pasta – S$48.95

A bottle of Chardonnay of forgotten origin – S$24.50

The look of happiness on your face & the glimpse of contentment in your eyes – Priceless.

No matter what happens down the road, babe, you will never lose me. That’s a promise I made to you, and I intend to keep it. Thank you for the best Valentine’s Day dinner, ever, even if it’s a day late.

Between you and I, numbers and dates no longer matter. To me, you do.