Category Archives: General

The Dance of Impossible Dream

She misses one arm. He misses one leg. Together, they wove a dance of love so intricate with love, hope and determination, one could not helped but moved by how they made the impossible a reality.

Everyone has their flaws. It takes courage for another person to accept him the flawed way he is, and it takes even more courage for him to admit his flaws. When acceptance and change happen, chemistry sparkles, and their combined universe change.

Watch how this couple dance their way to victory, spreading the message of hope and love to all who was moved by their magic.

In a Chinese modern dance competition on TV, one very unique couple won one of the top prizes. The lady, in her 30’s, was a dancer who had trained since she was a little girl. Later in life, she lost her entire right arm in an accident and fell into a state of depression for several years.

Someone then asked her to coach a Children’s dancing group. From that point on, she realized that she could not forget dancing. She still loved to dance and wanted to dance again. So, she started to do some of her old routines, but, having lost her arm, she had also lost her balance.

It took a while before she could even make simple turns and spins without falling. Then she heard of a man in his 20s who had lost a leg in an accident. He had also fallen into the usual denial, depression and anger type of emotional roller coaster. But, she was determined to find him and persuade him to d ance with her.

He had never danced, and to dance with one leg….are you joking with me? “No way!”

But, she didn’t give up, and he reluctantly agreed thinking, “I have nothing else to do anyway.” She started to teach him dancing. The two broke up a few times because he had no concept of using muscle, how to control his body, and knew none of the basic about dancing. When she became frustrated and lost patience with him, he would walk out. Eventually, they came back together and started training seriously.

They hired a choreographer to design routines for them. She would fly high (held by him) with both arms (a sleeve for an arm). Flying in the air. He could bend horizontally supported by one leg with her leaning on him, etc.

In the competition, as you will see, they dance beautifully and they legitimately won the competition.

The couple in this inspiring story is Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei

Ten Achievements As I Turn 30

How do you even try to summarise ten years of your life into a list of ten? As I look back into my life in preparation for a retrospective moment as I marched into the unknown realm being 30, I spotted so many memorable moments, both big and small, worth mentioning in my list.

Yes, in mere hours I will bid farewell to the carefree gang of 20s (you lucky bastards!) and hope to be welcomed by the community of 30s. And yes, my life in the recent years have been colourful indeed, interwoven with beads of memory and strings of nostalgia made up of people, places and moments.

I thought it will only be fitting for me to blog my thoughts of my achievements in the past ten years of my life as my 30th birthday approaches.

Are you ready for a stroll down memory lane with me? Here goes:

#1 Coming to Singapore

The Singapore Flyer

Possibly the biggest decision I ever made in my life, and one that I have never, ever regretted. Yes, I did leave behind truckload of memories back home. But when the opportunity came knocking, offering me a chance for a better life in a country I never even dream of living in, I took a deep breath, took the plunge… and I never looked back. In a blink of an eye, I have spent ten years of my life in Singapore and grew up from a clueless young man to a slightly less clueless not-so-young man. I dare say my life would never be the same if I stayed put where I was in Malaysia.

#2 World Music Contest 2001

My life had always revolved around school bands. Without a doubt the pinnacle of my musical life was when, as part of the NTU Symphonic Band, I went to participate in WMC 2001 in Kerkrade, Netherlands, and emerged a First Prize winner in the First Division. After months of endless rehearsals, logistical nightmare (I was the band’s welfare officer) and fundraising effort, together with some of my dearest friends, I stood tall at the top of the (band) world. The feeling of being crowned a winner was truly euphoric.

#3 Getting a first class degree

NTU Convocation Ceremony 2003

I remember the endless nights when I braved the humidity and piles of lecture notes, trying to cram it all one month before the dreaded exams, in pursuit of something that even I myself have no clear idea of – a good degree. Truth to be told, I do enjoy studying. I enjoy stressing my brain into doing mental gymnastic and coaching my friends into understanding complicated algorithm. The day when my final semester results were announced, when I got my straight As and first class degree, was understandably the best day of my life. And as if that is not enough, I went on to do another diploma in a totally different field… just for the heck of it.

#4 Good career progress


After a month of frantic job hunting upon graduation (it was during the horrific SARS period when everyone was paranoid and the job market plunged), I landed my first job in a field that was totally unrelated to what I studied. My career kicked off in the recruitment industry in a small company which gradually expanded at dizzying speed, enabling me to literally sprint up the career ladder. Since then, I have dabbled in the conference sector, which saw good money but was wayyy too political, and then I was back in recruitment again but infused with the Internet. And now here I am in Hong Kong, paving my way to be a good web product guy. I have come a long way from the geeky mechanical engineering graduate who was hell bent on NOT being an engineer, to become a manager with a combination of knowledge and experience which, apparently, few candidates have. I call that a blessing.

#5 Staying on my own

The living room

Yet another decision I took which I have never regretted is to move out from a shared flat, stood on my own feet, sacrifice a big part of my income and rent a place to call my own. After years of sharing different abodes with different housemates, an opportunity came along in the form of a dirt cheap yet new flat in Toa Payoh, and I took it. Living alone has taught me a lot of things. Total freedom in building your home life comes with a price you might not be entirely willing to pay. But I learned, and preserved. And without these independent living, I would not be able to throw the endless small dinner gatherings and large birthday parties over the years.

#6 The Singapore Idol Fever


How could my list ever be complete without the mention of what was one craziest thing I ever done? What started as a past time watching Singapore Idol season 1 had quickly exploded into a flurry of late night blogging, furious debates on fandom rivalry, and eventually the birth of the official site of the first Singapore Idol, Taufik Batisah. Getting to know the man himself and running his fan site and fan club were no joke. Had it not been for a gang of die hard supporters, I would have fizzled out long time ago. After three years of toiling for the Fiknatics, I called it quit together with Cheryl and Shafik, my two BFFs whom, without, I would not have the blessing to be acquainted with. The three of us have sure come a long way from dabbling in that dreaded forum to be at where we are today. Aren’t you glad? I am eternally grateful.

#7 Losing weight

Shafik's 21st Birthday Celebration Night Out

It started at the start of 2008, when a date commented how I need to change my wardrobe, and I realised I have not been buying new clothes since, like, forever. The reason was that I told myself I will buy new clothes when I lose weight, which of course never happened. So I signed up at the gym, got myself a personal trainer, and worked hard. Coupled with my various diet plans (some successful, some not), I achieved what I wanted to do – to stop being a dumpling only a 40″ pants can fit. Today, I no longer tip the scale at 90 kg, and I can wear jeans of 32″ comfortably, and at times t-shirts sized S fit nicely too. I shudder to think if I ever go back to the way I was. Don’t believe me? Check this out. This was taken back end 2007. How time flies.

#8 Falling in love

Devilmisu @ TCC

Ahhhh… the four letter word. What can I say? Everyone fall in and out of love at some point of their lives, me included. Perhaps I am more melodramatic than most when it comes to affairs of the heart. I have had serious relationships before, as well as pseudo-relationship (you know, the ones you thought you are in one but the other person don’t). Flings and dates came and go, and through all the ups and downs, I have learned what it meant to be in love, and to know what I am looking for in life. And I can proudly say that, when the right person comes along, I will know. I am not a perfect person, but I hope eventually someone will see the imperfect me, perfectly.

#9 Joining Singapore Men’s Chorus

As I look back at my blog entries, I was amazed by the number of times I said I can’t sing. The truth is… I can’t. Yet I made it through the auditions for the Singapore Men’s Chorus joining the stellar line up of bass singers. Though the SMC I got to know friends whom are very dear to me. Despite my short five months with the lads, I truly enjoy the time spent singing and dancing with them. I was sorely disappointed for not being able to perform even one season with them, due to my relocation, but the friendships we nurtured, hopefully, will last for life.

#10 Travel the world

Excursion to Oia

After saving very hard during the first few months of my working life, I embarked on my very first holiday on my own terms – it was Bangkok – and the travel bug got me for good. Since then, I have been spending most, if not all, of my savings on traveling to places near and far. I relish the feeling of packing up for a trip, the journey to the airport, the facilities on the flight, and of course, the adventure in an unknown land where everything is new and foreign to you. Phuket was my favorite, having been there for seven trips in a space of 1.5 years, but nothing beat my winter holiday last year, when I spent three days at the magical Santorini, Greece. And yes, I will be back.

The Conclusion

So there you have it, the ten achievements of my life in the past ten years. Do I feel proud of myself? I do. I would not have done things any differently, given a choice. Through my years, I have my friends and family to thank for helping me shaping the person I am today.

As I move into the unknown future of the 30s, I know things will be different and exciting at a totally different level. Life will pan out in ways I could not imagine, and the road ahead will be paved with bumps and potholes I can’t be prepared for. It could only mean one thing – an adventure.

Happy birthday, me.

The Meaning of Being Independent

The Meaning of Being Independent

(Image by Capannelle)

Being independent means you study day and night to get good enough results to secure a scholarship for your own education

Being independent means the very first business shirt you own is the one you bought for the scholarship interview, and the one you still wear for years later

Being independent means putting up with staying in cramped dorms and with smelly neighbours at a god-forsaken place for four years, and not having a whole apartment to yourself

Being independent means your two legs are your main mode of transport, not a set of four wheels

Being independent means you go home to your family with nothing more than S$2 in your pocket, because you know if you tell them, they’ll worry

Being independent means you endure weeks enduring plain rice with luncheon meat and fried egg as you stretch your already-tiny daily budget of S$1.20

Being independent means getting As is reward enough for your own benefits, and not because your family needs to reward you for something that is not even for them

Being independent means you slog through your first month upon graduation trying to find a job because your survival depends on it, and not enjoying a long holiday like everyone else

Being independent means you wear your father’s office clothes when you do your attachment, and when you first go out into the working world (and get laughed at)

Being independent means you work hard, get a top degree from a reputable university, get a good job, impress your bosses, get promoted, provide for your family, travel the world, hang out with your friends, buy pretty things… on your own terms.

So stop complaining that you are being compared to me. You are NOTHING compared to me. You are given a chance to have a stab of being partially responsible for your own life, and you are throwing it away.

My patience is wearing thin.

Farewell Singapore

The Singapore Flyer

Thank you, Singapore. You have been good to me for the past ten years. Goodbye now.

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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.

Siblings for Life

Because of my name, many friends and acquaintances often wondered aloud about my family. The Malay name seems to fascinate them to no ends. The background of my name is too complicated for me to explain everytime some asked, so I went for the mixed parentage route.

But that did not satisfy the more curious ones. Which one of your parent is Malay? They’ll ask (good-naturedly, of course). Wait, don’t tell me, it’s your father, right?

The fact is my family is no different from many of you out there. Yes, it is kinda dysfunctional, but for some reasons we managed to hold everyone together. As of now, my mum stays in the States, my brother and his father alternate between Penang and Ipoh, where my aunt and her family live, and me in Singapore.

My sis, who bores the same curse of a Malay name as I am, and was born two years after me, stays in Johor Bahru. Had been so for as long as I can remember. She moved there from Ipoh not long after I have left our home for Singapore.

As we grew up, my sis and I didn’t really get along well. I am not one to air my dirty laundry (or, in this case, my family’s) in public, so let’s just say we contradicted each other a lot, wanted very different things in life, and have drastically opposing characters and personalities.

I was the model student. Studied like there was no tomorrow. Do all sorts of activities in school. A stickler for law and order (afterall, I was the Head Boy in my primary and secondary schools). Always try not to upset anyone, always gentle, always forgiving.

She was a rebel in every sense. Developed a headstrong character and always spoke her mind. Very outgoing, have loads of friends, learned to drink and smoke wayyyy before I do. Had been in (minor) car accidents more times than I could count.

Even to this day our characters remain very different from each other. What changed since then is how I feel about her, and in some ways, I sensed it is the same on how she feels about me.

We learned to respect what each other is doing, and for daring to be the person we want to be. We learned to appreciate that both of us have come a long way to be at where we are today, and that we are both successful in our own ways.

Yes, we may not be in touch as often as we should. I might not always remember to call her during her birthdays (for what it’s worth, I did remember for the past three years!). She might still speak to me in that crude way of hers.

Recently I went to visit her in JB. I couldn’t explain why, but I was very delighted to see her. And I was very proud. More proud than I ever was about her. To see the way she works. To see the home she built for herself. To see how much she cares about our family. To see how she made me feel welcomed in her own way.

And I know she is reading this. For some reason she found my blog (and I am not sure if I should feel happy or worried).

So this is for you, my dear sis. Your brother here is very proud of you. For better or worse, we are always siblings. For life.

My Sis & I

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.

Back in Singapore, back to reality

For those who don’t yet, I am back from my dream trip. Three weeks in Istanbul, Santorini, Athens and London has done me a world of good. I have seen so many different things and met so many different people… it made me question my own life, and if there could be better things out there.

There are things I want to blog about, like self discoveries from this trip, but this may not be a good time… yet. I have 1000+ photos to upload and tens of blog posts to complete.

For now, I just want to say… hey, I am back. Half relieved to be back in familiar surrounding, though half my heart was left where I had the most fun last… for some reasons I dare not divulge here.

To all my friends in Singapore, I am looking forward to see you guys. And to my new friends from all over the world, hope you guys are enjoying yourself, and it was an honour to know you.

In the dining hall of Christ Church, Oxford, where the Dining Hall scenes in Harry Potter movies were shot. It was an absolutely moving experience to be here.

It’s London babyyyy!

Hey guys,

I have arrived in London, having spent the last nine days in Greece. The weather here has been all wet and gloomy, making the exploration of Santorini and Athens less fun than it should be. Nevertheless I had loads of fun getting to know and hanging out with fellow backpackers here in Athens. We spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day together. It was awesome.

More pictures when I am back in Singapore. And right now, it is time to explore London!

Happy 2009, everyone :)

Sunset at the town of Fira at Santorini, Greece.