Short & snappy

  • I have no tears for you in case I need them for myself
  • Cars with sun tops are for drivers with bald pates
  • Why should a fact of life always be something nasty? Why can’t it be something good
  • When life is less than thrilling, even French lessons can give me a frisson
  • Anticipation is better than the real thing, but I’ve always had inferior taste
  • I sell the best hours of my life @ $100 per hour for 8 hours a day. Many things sell for a lot more
  • We waste most what we can least afford — Time
  • Enemies should be treated like termites. Send for the exterminator
  • Insecurity is declaring you aren’t free to accept an invitation — before you’re even asked, for fear you won’t be asked at all

Post teen drivel?

my eyes meet yours across the room
my thoughts are so sure
our lives should intertwine
shroud them my lids
before they betray a secret so intimate
as to bring a blush
more red than mao’s thoughts
to my unfamiliar cheek

stealing another look
my eyes catch yours
spinning thoughts spin on
do you like brahms
or maybe bach’s haunting harpsichord
an Icelandic tale of love revenge
coffee on a windless afternoon
and love on rainy days

what impulses are dancing through your mind
strangers to each other’s emotions
we cast another glance
my lips are parted to mouth
messages in a language
which only yours can translate

One S’pore with Lee Kuan Yew

One country, one nation, one Singapore!

FOOD fuels me to talk...

Below is the kind of photograph (taken on May 21 @ the Istana) that the likes of Temasek Review, Feed Me to the Fish, Singapore Notes, Singapore Statistician and the 1,001 one anti-PAP/Government bloggers would never dream of including, highlighting or even mentioning in their regular vitriol.

united we stand behind you

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Celebrate SG50 by gifting needy with $2 or more?

Today is the day when many of us wish one another a good year ahead. I have received and sent out my share of wishes for sweet surprises for 2015.

Today is also the day when we are counting down to the 50th year of Singapore’s reluctant independence from Malaysia.

Today is the day when we are on the cusp of the biggest national bash in Singapore’s post independence history. It will be SG50 with everything within a few hours.

Today is the day when I recall again — have done so on and off over the years — where I was when I heard that Singapore was no longer part of Malaysia.

I was outside Victoria train station in London one late August afternoon when I saw a newspaper poster screaming “SINGAPORE OUT”.

As a teen-aged student who followed the news only sporadically, I wondered what it was all about. Bought a copy of the evening newspaper — Evening Standard or Evening News, can’t remember which — and found that Singapore was out of Malaysia. Couldn’t understand the implications nor did I really try.

In fact I learned how upset former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was only years later — in 1968 to be precise when a colleague in the Straits Times newsroom in Kuala Lumpur waxed lyrical about Mr Lee’s tears.

This colleague was a Malaysian student in Perth and vividly retold what she saw on TV on the faterful day of the Malayisa-Singapopre separation.

“I admire your prime minister,” Yeoh Phaik Kim declared again and again.

Even that conversation and that colleague and I have been separated by more than 40 years.

Much has changed. Yet little has changed.

I returned from KL to work in Singapore. One day after work, I saw an old man sleeping on the five-foot way opposite where I was living (which incidentally like many buildings in Singapore has been demolished). I remember seeing him there when I left for work.

Asked him why. I was too young to understand that he might be hungry or had no home to go to. Or if I did, I assumed it was par for the course.

After all, when i was growing up in the same neighbourhood, I had witnessed beggars going from house to house regularly to ask for something to eat. My family always spared them a few cents which in those days could buy a bowl of noodles from the street cart vendors.

So I spared the old man some loose change. And even gave him some biscuits. And sure enough, he wasn’t there any more when I looked out my window later that night.

Wish I can say the same for the generic poor in Singapore. Today, although no one (other than scouts or other trick-or-treat rich kids) comes to my door to solicit something to fill his own stomach, the poor are very much with us.

Two weeks ago, one thundery wet afternoon, I saw a tiny waif of a woman picking up discarded cardboard outside the back door of the Fairprice outlet in Blk 280, Bukit Batok.

I had gone there for a GP-friend to give one of the family’s helpers her MOM mandated check up.

The cardboard picker was soaked even though she did wear a flimsy plastic poncho with hood. The cardboard she was collecting was soaked and disintegrating even as she tried to bundle the lot together.

I felt compelled to hand her a little something that would make her cardboard scavenging unnecessary — at least for that day.

But the pain of pervasive poverty didn’t leave me that afternoon.

I went to the OCBC ATM outside Fairprice to withdraw some spending money. Someone before me had left his/her withdrawal slip where the input keys were.

I am a kaypoh.

I picked it up and the numbers gave me yet another reality jolt.

The person before me (552XXXX203) had withdrawn $20. The available balance was just $34.49.

Fine if it was a domestic helper or a young student with employer or family to fall back on. Not so if it’s an adult, with no family support or worse, has a whole family of dependents!

So amidst all sorts of SG50 celebrations to spend money to mark the occasion, I would like to propose my favourite.

To celebrate SG50, let us adopt this habit to gift $2 (or more) to someone in need or looks in need we come across.

Of course, do respect their dignity. Make sure to smile and say “please let me buy you a coffee?”

A few may say no. Try to persuade. If they still say no, then say something like “another time? Bye”.

In my experience, persistence works in all cases.

So if they say no, try, try and try again. It’s not a waste of time to convince these aunties and uncles that someone out there actually wants to share a tiny something with them.

Pioneer perks and pains

First, I was pleasantly surprised today when I visited my GP — an ex-neighbour with a clinic in Bukit Batok — to consult about a suddenly super itchy throat and occasional coughing.

After the consultation and receiving three types of medication, I was told that no payment was needed as I hold a Pioneer Generation card. 🙂

Second, I was pleasantly surprised again at the Bishan Fairprice Finest outlet to be told that I would get a discount on my purchases if I had a Pioneer card. This was the Monday bonus for us Pioneers!

Well, I have and showed it with alacrity.

Only to be told: “And now your IC”.

Huh? Why an IC?

The cashier auntie deadpan: “to confirm you aren’t using someone else’s Pioneer card.”

I duly showed my IC but the pleasure that Mr Lim Swee Say hoped to give us Pioneers was destroyed in one go.

For heaven’s sake. It’s only a 3% discount!!

Would I, or anyone, be so desperate to get 66 cents off our bills (that’s my discount) as to borrow someone’s Pioneer card? And if someone elderly (but doesn’t belong to the Pioneer Generation) and so desperate would it kill Fairprice to let them have that discount just once or twice?

Today’s request reminded me of the days when I was asked for my bus pass to prove that I qualify for the Tuesday 2% elderly discount, even though I have a union member card.

As I don’t have a bus pass, I had to show my IC. There were even a couple of times at an outlet with unbending cashier aunties when I was refused a discount with my IC as the bus pass was the stipulated proof!

Thank goodness that ridiculous demand has long become history.

Hopefully our good Lim Swee Say will now mandate those who man cash machines at Fairprice be more flexible and not ask for our IC. If nothing else that is showing true respect for Pioneers and not start by implying we would be so cavalier with our Pioneer privilege from NTUC as to let others use our card.

Wrongly charged 3 times for one meal…

… at Ichiban Boshi at Great World City.

Incredible though it may sound, this is exactly what happened when I went to pay for the lunch that mum, my sister D and Picky Siti consumed today.

The first bill that the cashier punched out looked suspiciously overloaded with the number of plates of sushi we consumed. Although the sashimi we ate was correctly tallied.

When I queried, the cashier said X were the sushi dishes we had taken from the conveyer belt.

As we had ordered all our sushi direct from the kitchen, I asked the cashier to double check.

She did and came back to confirm I was right.

The next bill she presented me with then looked suspiciously low in value.

Aha! Our gindara set lunch had been omitted.

Although I was a bit irritated, I couldn’t make myself not tell since the set cost about $25 be4 service and GST.

So I got a 3rd bill, this time with the gindara set included.

Then I realised the hot sake we drank had been left out! 🙄

I asked for that to be included.

And voila!

I finally got the correct bill!

Which makes me wonder how often diners are uncharged or over-charged in that restaurant! 🙄

$2 can buy happiness!

I was at the Kwan Im Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street on Feb 5, after a sumptuous lunch at the Ritz Carlton, courtesy of the Association of Banks in Singapore which always throws a grand event to mark Chinese New Year.

And I always like to go to the Waterloo Street temple when I am feeling good, après or before events that make me feel good.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, what I witnessed before I entered the temple — and after I left it — made me feel even more at peace with the world.

I saw a handful of uncles, aunties, young men and women, handing out $2 notes to the elderly and sometimes handicapped tissue paper sellers who are always around the temple.

Some took the tissues in exchange. Others just gave outright.

Why did I feel good to witness such gifting?

Because it’s always my view that most of us can spare $2 to someone apparently in need. Better to be cheated by 10 fakes than let a genuine needy case go unassisted. Better to be cheated by fakes of $2 a piece than by one mega-fake about which we keep reading in the Straits Times 😆

I hope my $2 non-campaign campaign would catch on.

Most of us can’t spare anyone a million bucks but there must be at least 450,000 Singaporeans who can spare $2 a day for a needy stranger?

Meanwhile do read (below) what I shared with some friends who were knocking our G for not being able to clear the poverty mass from our view.

Me: We all can rave, rant and rate G lowly for the continuing mass of poor in our midst. But didn’t Jesus himself say the poor will always be with us when Martha rebuked Mary Magdalene for wasting money on precious oil to anoint the Son of God, when the money according to Martha could have been better spent on the poor?

And he is not wrong: the poor will always be with us, because in a pyramid, the base will always be larger than the apex. Also, if you think of it, the Bible also says, to those who have, more will be given.

It’s pure maths. The rich having a critical mass will naturally become richer, even if they do no more than sit on their backsides. The poor even if they work hard may not make a lot of headway — or not the same amount of headway unless they experience a windfall through their own acumen or through pure random luck.

I think the more effective way to help this naturally skewed distribution is for those of us who can spare a little is to arm oneself with plenty of $2 notes n give to the ah mahs n ah peks one comes across in all corners of SG to buy snax n kopi. U wld b surprised how they all accept gratefully, if you treat the “gift” as a treat rather than a hand out!”