Category Archives: Life

Have you seen this old lady selling pens?

I saw this old lady among the busy lunch crowd around harbour front today. She was approaching each passerby, looking desperate, trying to grab hold of their hands.. I walked towards the old lady and realised she was holding a box of pens, trying to sell each one at 3.50.

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I asked her where’s she from and if she need any assistance.. She just shook her head and mumbling that she is selling pens and no one is buying. Trying to probe further but no further response, I bought a pen and passed her $10. And from a distance I observed the crowd.. Many just shrugged her off.. Some paused for a moment, glanced at her and moved on.

I don’t know her story but her helpless eyes were telling me that she was not there just to earn some extra bucks or as her hobby..

Maybe our government does not have power and reach to help those that fall through the cracks despite all the grassroots effort.. and maybe our government does not have the political will to provide a safety net to the old and vulnerable…

So it will be up to us Singaporean to take action.

If you see the old lady somewhere among the office crowd, pause for a moment, reach out to her and buy a pen from her. It’s really a good pen.

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Update: After I posted this on Facebook, my dear friend Roy reminded me that COMCARE can help. So if you see her on the street, you may want to call 1800 222 0000.

3 sites in Singapore awarded with DAMN IT. They are…

Woo hoo! It’s been a week since our well beloved Singapore Botanical Garden bestowed with the title UNESCO World Heritage site, joining the old timer of Angkor Wat, Borobodur Temple among others. Ain’t we celebrating?

While we rejoice with our new found fame, I also notice that few of our very owned Singapore sites will also be awarded with the prestigious recognition DAMN IT, Demolition Award for Monuments of Not  so ImporTant.

Before I reveal the new nominees, let’s take a look at some of past achievers who have unlocked this prestigious award:

1. Singapore National Theatre

Source: http://awparchitects.com/projects/category/civic-cultural/singapore-national-theatre/
Source: http://awparchitects.com/projects/category/civic-cultural/singapore-national-theatre/

Now:

It was found to be structurally unsafe and obstruction to construction of an expressway (Erm.. Exactly what’s the reason again?), it was awarded with DAMN IT in 1986. Now, two miserable plaques are erected to  remain us of her glory past.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_National_Theatre
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_National_Theatre


2. Van Kleef Aquarium

Van Kleef Aquarium
Source: http://singaporemagazine.sif.org.sg/the-man-who-loved-singapore

Now

Like brother in-arm, Van Kleef Aquarium was awarded same glory as National Theatre, but 12 years late, in 1998.

Van Kleef Aquarium - Now
Source: http://sgfilmlocations.com/2015/02/01/air-hostess-1958/


3. Old Outram Park Housing Estate

Source: http://www.nowhere.per.sg/?m=200610/page/2
Source: http://www.nowhere.per.sg/?m=200610/page/2

Now

No big deal. Come on, it just another housing estate, and was awarded DAMN IT in 2003. A beautiful plot of empty grass is what’s left of.

Source: https://lostnfiledsg.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/pearls-hill/
Source: https://lostnfiledsg.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/pearls-hill/


4. National Library – (The Old)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building

Now
In Singapore, every minute count so in order to save 5 minutes of commuting time within CBD area, old building definitely has to go away. So she made the wonderful sacrifice and awarded with the DAMN IT in 2004 – And a tunnel runs through it… Every brick well damned!

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building

 

And here I am to present the latest DAMN IT achievers. Following the footsteps of those pioneers, these 3 wannabes have certainly done their generation proud.

1. Dakota Estate

Dakota Playground

Just a stone throw away from the new minted Sport Hub, tucked between 2 MRT Stations and within the high affluent Tanjong Katong compound, it’s only matter of time before this plain old Dakota Estate caught the eye of the judge to be selected for the award.

2. Rochor Estate

Rochor Estate
Source: http://wikimapia.org/590434/Rochor-Centre

Following the trends of pioneers making way for better connectivity to the city, the colourful Rochor Estate proudly stands it way and so “Siam Lah”, the bulldozer says.

3. Tanglin Halt Estate

Tanglin Halt Estate
Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/straitstimes.com/files/20140929/ST_20140929_SJTANGLIN29ZP87_697186e.jpg

Another housing estate in the city fringe, part of the now-defunct Queenstown estate. Also a rare gem beside the Commonweath MRT Station, she too make her way to the DAMN IT.

While the nation celebrating 50 years of independence, and thousands turn up at Botanic Gardens to watch SSO performing “Black Swan” and “Benhur”, do let us remember those who DAMN IT, for the seek of progress of the nation. RIP.

Tragic days for Nepal..

Patan Durban Square
Patan Durban Square before the earthquake.
Since the deadly earthquake struck on Nepal last Saturday, it’s beyond words to witness the continuous rise of death tolls, with last count at 3200: Corpses are lying on the streets, homeless people staying out and UNESCO historic sites reduce to rubbles.

It’s a tragic event for the developing country that in recent years have been troubled by political turmoil and natural disasters. Among the poorest countries in the world, it’s lack of resources have been hampering the peoples daily lives; Load shedding of electricity, occasional flooding in urban area and bad pollution and traffic in central Kathmandu. The last thing the country need is another disaster of this scale.

The news of the disaster struck me hard as as I was there just a few weeks back. Although I’m glad that I have avoided the disaster, I know that this is not the time for me to feel lucky. My heart are still with the people I have met: The shop owner selling the painting that I bought from, the waiters from Black Olives Cafe, the guides and friendly villagers I met along the trek, police in Pokara. I hope they are all ok.

Living in the comfort of Singapore, we often measured the severe of the event through the number of fatal casualty and it’s easily fall into the trap of “this disaster is not as big as the previous one and since I have not made any donation to that one, why should I do it for this one?” logic. The thing is that just because there are bigger disasters happened before  doesn’t make this disaster any less tragic.

Let’s start now, it’s always at these very moments that we as Singaporean, need to take a step forward and show empathy to the less fortunates around the world. We have never experienced tragic event of such scale and we may never apprehend how it’s feel like losing love ones, our home and our living, and I hope that we never would. The least thing we can do now is to make a donation to Mercy Relief or other charity organisation who are out there saving lives.

I hope the country will recover well from this disaster and emerge as strong as ever. Namaste.

A week from sadness to solidarity

A week to be remembered, when a giant left us, a nation cried and awakened…

22nd April- Well wishers leaving flowers, gifts and cards at the “Quad” in Singapore General Hospital, wishing Lee Kuan Yew well

23rd April- Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away…

24rd Nov- Lee Kuan Yew passed on.. A memorial tribute in Tanjong Pagar Community Club

 

Penning down our thoughts.. no words can describe out gratitude, sadness to our founding father

 

A photo that brought out much tears to my eyes.. A frail old man still insisting to stand up, right arm to his heart and reciting the Singapore pledge. Sir, you have far exceed the fulfilment of the pledge

 

25 April- Queuing up for State Funeral. A student giving out free drinks. under hot afternoon sun

 

Office workers, house wife, executives, retirees, Singaporean from all sort of lives queueing up, and the queue formed a long snaking queue at Hong Lim Park

 

The queue passed by Fullerton Hotel where flags at half mast

 

Final lap of the queue before going into the Parliament House for a 2 min glimpse and salute to Mr Lee

 

29 April- And pouring rain, and we drenched, and we stood firm on the muddy soil, our soil, to pay our respect.

 

We postponed our Nepal trip by a day so that we can witness the state funeral. Glad that we did .

老李,您走好

3月23号凌晨5点,正想起来上厕所,看了手机。虽然早有准备但还是哭了,Eve被我吵醒,问我怎么了,我说李光耀过世了,她哦了声,催促我再睡一会。

早上八点起床,打开Channel 8,看着李总理的演讲,打给老妈说李光耀过世了,放下电话,我又哭了。应该是他最艰难的一次演讲。

早上八点半,没什么心情上班,也怕在同事面前按耐不住情绪,还在犹豫要不要去公司。Eve穿了黑色衣服准备上班,问我穿得怎样,我说不错,她走前我们拥抱了下,我又哭了。

早上九点躺在沙发上,打开公司电脑,发了些邮件,在微信上update下,想着呆在家里更难受,决定还是去公司。

早上十点,先在Old Airport Road的咖啡店叫了云吞面和Kopi Siewdai,边吃,边刷刷手机,看看Facebook,Twitter上的updates。

十点半,上了30号巴士,扫描了下周围的人,和平时一样,大家没什么表情。

十一点到公司,电梯播着Channel News Asia的update,同电梯的老外也盯着看。

进了办公室,有意避开同事,先去找IT想把刚买的iPhone6 byod一下,IT说要老板批准,罢。没和同事打招呼就回到座位。

发了whatsapp给小B说今晚没心情去健身,Fitness First的卡今天不用换,他回了叫我开心点,我没回复。

尝试上悼念网站,发些悼念语,发不出。继续处理邮件,把下午会取消。

十二点,上海来的尹宏亮lync了我下,说他在新加坡,可以和北京来的Jennifer一块吃饭。我马上答应,正好可以不用和新加坡同事吃饭,避开话题。选择了泰国餐,

餐馆里,我们嘻嘻哈哈,八卦,瞎聊,我轻扫描了周围,大家也是嘻嘻哈哈。

下午一点半吃完回到座位,开始写些ppt,和Edina讨论印尼媒体投放和网站的问题。Celeste lync我说她听说我哭了,我说是,寒暄几句。

看了calendar,晚上有concall,但不想外国同事问起,就发给美国老板Denise说晚上没心情参加concall。然后又看了看Facebook的update,眼里又流下来,隐约擦掉,装着若无其事的样子去厕所。看到Caroline在位置上,我知道她也很难过。

下午五点半,想要准时下班,Melissa临时说要和vendor讨论budget问题,马上concall,我说好。Concall上把vendor说了一顿后。打给Eve说晚上我去Old Airport打包。

傍晚下午六点,上了30号巴士,坐在二楼的座位,想脑袋空一下,玩了下2046,没破纪录。看了个远在欧洲的新加坡旧同事在Facebook update 说Feeling Homesick,车上眼泪又流了下来。

傍晚六点半到站,Old Airport Road Market在清洗没开,打给Eve,她说不如她打包,我说好啊,然后回家。

七点前到家,打开Channel News Asia,看看老李的事迹。半小时后,Eve打包回来,四美的肉圆米粉汤,不错。吃完继续看电视,查了下去尼泊尔的事宜,刷刷Facebook。

接着收到Denise的邮件说you can take as long as you want to mourn.. Take care. I can’t imagine how Singaporean are feeling now (大意)。我又哭了。

晚上十点半,Eve说早点睡,也催促我早睡,躺在床上,睡不着,又上网看看各国媒体对老李的报道。还是睡不着。

凌晨两点,更新博客。

老李,我小时候,我爸是这样称呼你的。老李,您走好。

岛的儿子

Sir, thanks for everything, really everything…

Image Credit: http://jamalrafaie.com/
Image Credit: http://jamalrafaie.com/

[Update: Mr Lee passed away on Mar 23 3:18am]

With each update from Prime Minister Office, it seems Singaporean are drawing closer to accept the facts that we are now on the final journey with our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

As a born and bred Singaporean, “Thank You” seems to be the best words that I can find in this very moment.

Thank you for leading Singapore out of British Colonial rule, that my maternal grand parents could bring up their nine children, selling Teochew porridge along the old Clark Quay, without constant harassment and raid of British police officers.

Thank you for leading Singapore out of Malaysia Federal, to become an independent republic, defining the country as a meritocracy society, that my grand parents, parents and generation of us can earn a living and prosperous by equal opportunities.

Thank you for transforming our lives, that my paternal grandfather could move from an old cart which he pushed every day for a mile from River Valley to No.4 Road (四马路),  to a stall of his own at Albert Street Food Centre, where my uncle continue to master his trade selling dessert.

Thank you for transforming our lives, that my newly-wed parents could move from attap house where whole village sharing a single toilet to a 3 room flat in Depot Road, where they raised their family and have an asset to rely on, during their retirement age.

Thank you for the vision that I am able to converse well in both English and Chinese, and the chance to experience the beauty of both languages, and given me the added advantage to survive in this interconnected world.

Thank you for the vision that allow us to survive without the mercy of our neighbour, that we can have our own sustainable water supply,  surrounded by beautiful city scape of Marina Bay.

Thank you for nurturing a nation from impossible into miracle, from slums into metropolitan city, that expats all over the world desire to live in.

Thank you for dedicating your life so that I can write this blog in the comfort of a place called home.

Sir, thanks for everything, really everything…

It’s time again for… mooncake

(Courtesy of Peony Jade)

It’s time of the year again for Mid-Autumn Festival and to quote Mr. SGAG:

Yes, for me, mooncake fall into this category alongside rice dumpling, pineapple tart that I will only remember them once a year, and stay dormant for rest of the year. These are type of festive food that I don’t really have a craving, as compared to say bah kwa, that I will eat it all year round just because I simply love it!

Speaking of mooncake, I know that mooncake are getting more creative these days, when I can see fusion of mooncake and cookie, tart, ice-cream, fruits, custard, with a mix of cheese, chocolate or truffles. Add in a western or hotel brand, slick packaging, and here we are: 4 pieces of small cakes, which can easily sell more than $40 per box. BTW, check out the wide range here for latest, most trendy 2014 selections.

But something more innovation I would like to talk about here, the act of giving mooncake, without giving actual mooncake! Instead, mooncake will be given in form of mooncake vouchers, made by many mooncake manufacturers, and only available in China.

Say if you are a recipient of mooncake voucher, there are 2 ways you can do about it: Redeem the voucher for mooncake if you happen to really want to eat a slice of mooncake, or, if you like me, are not mooncake lover,  you will probably want to sell the voucher to black market and get some cash.

And yes,  in China, there is a black market that willing to accept your gift voucher at a lower face value. And this turn out to be a pretty good economical and environmental sense.

There was a weibo post circulating around for quite a while that best describe the scenario:

  1. Mooncake manufacturer print $100 worth of mooncake voucher and sell to retailer for $65.
  2. Retailer in turn sell the voucher to A for $80.
  3. A give the Mooncake voucher to B.
  4. B resell the voucher to black market buyer at $40.
  5. Mooncake manufacturer finally buy the voucher back from black market buyer at $50.

In this process, mooncake manufacturer earns $15, retailer earns $15, A earns a favour from B by giving mooncake, B earns $40, black market buyer earns $10. Mooncake manufacturer just print vouchers and nothing else. And we called this? Securitization of mooncake. Reduce food and material wastage and thus environmental friendly.

Of course in reality, mooncake will still going to be around for quite a while. What else can beat that moment of family and friends gathering, admiring the moon, children playing lanterns, while the adults figuring out the taste of fusion of mooncake and cookie, tart, ice-cream, fruits, custard, with a mix of cheese, chocolate or truffles.