Saturday, December 29, 2007

May your marriage and your life together...

be as beautiful as the love that brought you to this day.

Hobby: Wedding Speeches!

13. I’ve spoken at 13 weddings.

It’s great when someone asks you to speak at their wedding. It’s something which I love doing. And my friends and family have given me the honour to do it that many times.

The preparation is exciting. I get to speak to the bride and the groom, sometimes together, sometimes separately. I get to ask all sorts of questions: how they met, what attracted them to each other, how they knew the other was the ‘one’…

“I really don’t know what attracted me to him… I just knew he was the one.”

“She doesn’t know this, but that one time, when she…”

“We’ve known each other for many years, but when he appeared on my doorstep that day, I knew this was the man I wanted to marry.”

And one couple, when I separately asked them to describe the other, they both used the exact description! :-)

Sometimes, I get to chat with the parents too! Their take on their children is amusing as well. A friend said that a parent’s greatest happiness is when they see their children happy. And at every wedding I attended, the parents were happy.

It’s amazing some of the things these people did, the time they were willing to wait, the ups and downs they experienced… but I guess certain things are that worth it.

Some of the stories are normal, some of the stories are amazing, and some of the stories can be made into movies…

All are wonderful though – coz it has led to a marriage.

Weddings itself are fun, although it can be stressful, what with wanting it to be perfect, and having so many people involved. But we gotta remember that behind every wedding, there’s some sort of magic that has brought two people and two families together…

As much as it’s for the guests to get to know the couple, when I speak at a wedding, I try to make it something special for the couple. A gentle recollection of how they came together and a sharing of their family and friends’ joy with their decision to take, god willing, the eternal promise. Something the couple can cherish… (hopefully!). And it’s usually easy to do when you’re talking about people who are close and important to you too.

I’ve got some good friends who are getting married in 2008, and it looks like I’m going to be missing most of their weddings.

It’s ok :-)

My wish, as always, is that their marriage and their life together will be as beautiful as the love that brought them to their wedding day.

To those who are creating their stories now, you may not know how it’s going to turn out, but one day, you too may get to share your stories with some of us, happy ending and all...

Happy 2008!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I'm like a spider...

who's ice-skating.

In Canada, when your team makes it to the play-offs, the men stop shaving. It’s supposed to bring luck to your team… so that they do well in the play-offs.

We’ve got a Canadian classmate here.

We’re in our ‘play-offs’ now too.

We need lots of luck.

And so the pact was made…


The last time I did something like this…

…I had to reintroduce myself to some child-hood friends,

…one friend did not notice the difference,

…and one colleague asked if I was happy with what I’d achieved in my career as I approached my 40’s...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

History does not repeat itself...

but it sometimes rhymes.

A few years ago, I was involved in a reality TV show. An adventure race that was called the extreme journey.

In the first race, we did quite well, despite a few disasters that happened along the way.

I had completed the first task and was on the bus to the location of the second task, which I found out later was to harvest pineapples.

Now, every participant had two people following them, a cameraman and a director. The director told me that I was too quiet, and that I should speak more, as it won’t be much fun watching a quiet race on TV.

Speak more?

Ok, I’ll give it a go. I’ll give the producers some speak to show on TV.

I saw a lady seated nearby, and approached her, but when she saw the camera behind me, she turned away.

This was not going to be easy.

I saw two girls in school uniform seated towards the middle of the bus. They were giggling, so I thought I’ll make their day by talking to them :-) Further, it was mid-morning on a weekday, so what were they doing not in school anyway?

As I approached them, I could see they were excited…

This… is gonna be easy, I told myself, suddenly having a burst of confidence…

“Pergi mana dik?”

A good question to break the ice, don’t you think?

Amidst the giggling and their obvious shyness, one of them answered:

“Pergi sekolah, ada kelas tambahan SPM…”

I was on a roll. Keep it going dude! You have them eating out of your hands already…

“Ahh… abang pun dulu buat SPM…”


I went silent.

The two girls went silent.

The first one to baulk was the cameraman, Chris Jericho. I had a small mike attached to my shirt, and he could hear every word I said, crystal clear, through his headphones. He looked up at me, while struggling to keep the camera steady… and seemed to will me to continue.

The two girls then burst out giggling.

Thank god they had to get down a couple of stops after that.

Of all the things to say… I should have asked about the weather.

That was bad. Could there have been a worse reply?

Apparently not, according to the producers.

They told me they had wanted to bill this the romeo’s race, for that quote and another incident later on in the day involving a girl in a taxi. They decided to focus on some other more entertaining bits eventually, especially the part where we gobbled down raw ostrich egg, the near fall into the crocodile pit, the blood, and the car crash at the finishing point.


I don’ talk much to people on the bus these days.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Ten Commandments are 100 words or so...

and the European Union regulations on the imports and exports of ducks eggs? About 30,000 words.

Thank god I managed to get out of the way of this beast in time...

I was staring at a group of about 15 ducks on a hill one day, as I was waiting for the bus. I was staring at them, they were staring at me... and it became a staring game.

Suddenly, they lunged forward... spread their wings and flew. Over my head and towards the park, landing spectacularly on the lake.

Show offs.

We're at war.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


that would make the Sphinx incontinent.

If a + b = 6, what is c + d?


This happened about 10, 11 years ago, when I was in college.

I was walking back to my hall of residence, after a mathematics lesson, with a good friend, Alex. We were 18, and between the two of us, we controlled the all-boys ‘house’. We ruled the place. The biggest argument I ever had with him was when he wanted to change the colour of our house shirt to black, from the existing bright pink. I completely disagreed. I felt, among many other feelings, that nothing beats a mean looking group of boys winning a rugby match in their pink shirts.

We walked past a post-box. Alex, who now delves in multi-million dollar deals and is expecting his second child, asked:

“Why is the post box red? Why not blue?”

“So that we don’t confuse it with the sky!!” I replied, laughing my head off at the brilliance of my quick wit.

“Why is the sky blue?”

Why is the sky blue?

That question shut me up.


I don't know.

It got me thinking…

Thus it began, my quest.

If a + b = 6, what is c + d?

I’m serious, that’s how it began!

That night, I asked many of my hall-mates that question. I asked 11 year-olds to 19 year-olds. A few months on, I went to university, and continued asking that question. A few years down the line, I started working, and asked that question. And till today, I still ask that question.

And I’ve got fascinating answers throughout the years.

The younger ones at college were usually quick to do some maths in their heads, and come up with an answer. They were prepared to get the wrong answer. Of course, the looks on some of their faces when I tell them they’ve got the right answer, were priceless. Add to that a comment that they’re set for pre-university mathematics with such intelligence, and you have totally confused kids.

The more mature ones, if they don’t tell me to get lost, or completely ignore the question, would give it a go. Some went to great lengths to try and solve it, and I’ve come across some truly amazing efforts. I’ve been introduced to some pretty cool maths formulae I’ve never heard of before, statistical analyses, theorems…

c + d, to me, is anything you want it to be.

Whatever answer you give, is the correct answer. Absolutely whatever.

As long as you’re happy with it.

I've got cold stares, scoldings, threats of actual bodily harm and stuff like that when people hear my answer… Obviously, they were not as amused as I was :-). Some laugh, some insist that there must be a mathematical solution to it. Some, after finding out my answer, were equally intrigued by their own reaction to the problem. Interesting, how people react…

I don’t know what I’d set out to prove, but it doesn’t matter I guess. It can be for any reason, as long as I’m happy with it!

And 10 years on, those mean boys are still wearing pink…

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The world is your oyster...

but most oysters are found in the sea.

"Hi sir, how're you doing?'

I looked up.

Two burly uniformed police officers stood before me. I was cornered. I had nowhere to run. Of course, I had no intention to do so. But the fact of the matter was, I had nowhere to run.

"Sir, we have the right to search you under Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act."

Have you ever seen a duck in water before? As it moves along the surface of the water, it looks most serene. But just beneath, it's feet will be flapping wildly, trying to keep itself afloat... that's how I was.

I looked around, not sure what I was looking for. I had been in the quiet corner of the concourse, reading the fare guide intently, minding my own business. Most of the people who were coming from the direction of the train station, where I had come from, went down straight to the tube platform.

For the next few minutes, they searched my rucksack, and took down my details.

Hair : Short black

Clothing : Upper : Black Jacket; Lower : Black Jeans

Footwear : Brown Shoes

Build : Medium


Throughout, I remained calm, answering the questions they asked, trying my best not to look like a duck. Forgetting how to spell the name of the street I lived on didn't help.



"Here's your record. You're free to go."

I took the pink slip, and kept it in my pocket.


Well, at least I had an excuse for being late to meet my friend...


It wasn't too bad actually, they were polite, and had gone to great lengths to keep me comfortable.

Got to take it on the chin.

Was I insulted?

Nope. It happens.

Keep up the good work guys!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Courage is not the absence of fear...

it is acting in spite of it.

Imagine you are doing a safari in Kenya.

A lion starts running at your direction.

25 seconds.

Two paths...

What do you do?

20 seconds.


15 seconds.


10 seconds.


5 seconds.


An imperfect but fast decision-making process is better than a perfect but time consuming one.


Thank you, Dr. Laure Cabantous, you are brilliant.

L'espoir pour vous voir encore!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

If you weren't real...

I would make you up


I read it. I understood it perfectly well. She read it as well. She understood it perfectly well, as well. The only problem was, we understood it differently.

There were three ways to do this. One was to pour it into the left cup. The second, into the right cup. The third, and this was how I understood it, was to just splash detergent on top of my laundry.

"This is detergent actually, not bleach or softener... so shouldn't we pour it straight onto my clothes? That's what the instruction here says..."

The Greek sweety shook her head and asked me to wash the left cup she took out from my machine. "Trust me. Your first time doing laundry?"

Hmph... not that again.

She kindly offered to pour my detergent into that left cup, and then slammed the drum door shut. There was no turning back, and nothing left for me to do. Coins into the machine, and I just had to wait for 39 minutes...

But right now
Everything you want is wrong,
And right now
All your dreams are waking up,
And right now
I wish I could follow you
To the shores
Of freedom,
Where no one lives


The next time I was in that laundry room, I was all set to splash it into the centre, right on top of my clothes. There were three other people around, one doing her laundry, the other two, just hanging around.

Like wet laundry... :-)

Just to confirm, why not?

"So, you'd pour the detergent into the middle, right?"

The one doing her laundry turned to me, and began to walk towards me, and she got closer, and closer, whoa isn't that too close to answer a laundry question...

and she took the detergent bottle from my hand.

Dude, get a grip of your life!

And you can start by holding on to your detergent bottles like a man!

"This you must pour into the right cup."


I tried to diplomatically protest, but she was quite sure of herself. She looked like she'd been to the laundry room many more times than I'd been there, so, in a way, I guess she had the right to dictate how it operates...

I poured it this time, into what I was sure was another wrong cup, and she pressed the setting for me. Whites and colours. And an extra button, 'permanent press'. No idea what that does.

But right now
Everything is turning blue,
And right now
The sun is trying to kill the moon,
And right now
I wish I could follow you
To the shores
Of freedom,
Where no one lives


This time, I was determined. No one was going to stop me. That blue liquid, all 125 ml of it, was going into no cups. No way. It's gonna go straight on top of my clothes. No one could make me do otherwise.

And I executed my plan, successfully.

I smiled to myself. I was happy. I slammed the door shut.

A bit too hard.

Whites and colours. What the heck, permanent press too.

Too bad no one was around to see me do this...

We're made out of blood and rust
Looking for someone to trust
A fight
I think that you came too soon
You're the honey and the moon
That lights
Up my night


If we do something with the right intention, it doesn't really matter how we go about doing it - left cup, right cup or in the middle - we'll always come out smelling like fresh laundry :-)

Coz when we do things with the right intentions, the world somehow conspires to help us.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

love ~ the one game you lose...

if you refuse to play.

It was close to midnight, and I was furiously typing. I reached the end of the sentence and I gave the return key on my laptop a mighty tap, nearly a punch, with my muscular index finger...

And that set-off the fire alarm in my room!

I looked at the ceiling, and the alarm was blinking. And wailing...

I contemplated reaching up to see if I could shut it, but I guess the fire brigade was probably on it's way already, knowing how efficient they are in this country. I better evacuate.

Hmm... I must've been hallucinating... I couldn't possibly have caused the fire alarm to go off.

I headed for the door, and remembered that in this country, it would be freezing outside. So I put on more clothes. Headed for the door again, and remembered my mobile phone. Headed for the door again, and remembered my wallet in the drawer...

Oi, it's midnight and you're going to be gathering in a car park! What do you need your phone and wallet for??

I left my room, and saw the rest of my hall-mates slowly making their way down the fire escape. As we gathered in the carpark at that cold and windy and damp and dark hour, I realised that it was the first time I was seeing quite a number of my 150 hall-mates. This was certainly a good way to network! Most of us had nowhere to go for the next 15 minutes, we were in our sleeping gowns, pyjamas and other stuff I don't see often... and all generally pissed-off. When moods match, conversations flow.

And for a bunch of people who were preparing to go to bed or were already sleeping, we looked quite good actually...


The next morning, the following notice was pasted near the main staircase of the hall (name, I censored):

"Reason for false fire alarm:

Who did it?....... M****K

'The Uncensored Story'

1. M****k sets off the alarm.
2. Why?
3. Because he really likes this girl...
4. Who?
5. We don't know either :-) ... but...
6. Apparently his friends say that she doesn't look too good without make-up... so
7. To prove them wrong, he sets off the alarm by smashing the fire safety glass...
8. So that she comes out without make-up...
9.We all hope that M****k managed to prove his point and is happy.

n.b. M****k along with his friends were first to come down and stand near the door to check her out."


They should have just told me. I would have got Michael from the job-agency or Chantelle from Paris to sort it out...


An old saying, Spanish I think:

Occasionally, the train goes past and you must catch it because it will never come back, and that's true even when it is passing at an inopportune moment.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Only fight battles...

that can be won.

The smoke billowing was overwhelming.

The sound emanating was worrying.

My grips I made stronger...

My life flashed by. My mind wandered to those people who I know would probably do anything to get me out of this perilous position I find myself in. A sense of regret began to creep in...

I must perservere. I simply must. My life probably depends on this.

A sharp pain snapped my mind wandering any further.

Another battle scar... as I examined the damage on my right arm.

At times like this, I am thankful for the 5 years of rigorous army training I had in my teenage years. I knew the hours of marching under the scorching sun, the skills in handling and firing M-16's, Styer AUG's and vehicle mounted armament and those days and nights in the jungle would come in handy someday - and today was one of those days.

Suddenly, an alien sound began to pierce the surroundings. As quickly as a leopard waiting in hiding for it's prey, I spun around in the direction of the sound...

"Is this your first time?"

I nearly dropped the ladle I was holding, but the oil began to drip... drip... drip...

I put the ladle on the counter.


And I flashed a light-bulb smile.

She smiled back and went about to prepare her dinner.

I quickly returned to my beef patty that was cooking, I hope, on my non-stick frying-pan. Embarrassed, I thought I began to blush a little.

Or was that my cheeks getting fried as well?

How did she know? Did I look that pathetic? Was it my posture? Ladle the wrong way? What what what?

Damn this kitchen. I can adapt in so many places, but here, I'm lost...


It got fried, I poured ketchup to neutralise the burnt bits, slapped it between two slices of bread, and had my first self-made meal.

Now, what do I do with this hot excess oil?


A few days later...

I was back in the kitchen, frying another beef patty, which was fast becoming my favourite meal. Of course, that was also pretty much the only thing in my freezer that I could fry, and I was beginning to get kicks frying... flipping on the stove, heating the hob to level '4', then non-stick frying-pan on hob, some oil, hand hovering gingerly over pan to get a feel of the heat, then the meat, a dash of pepper, before I stand way back to enjoy the sweet melodious sound of frozen meat meeting boiling oil.


"You cooking dinner?"


Question from one of my flat-mates who had just walked into the kitchen.

Look lady, I'm standing here in front of the stove, in the kitchen, ladle in hand, smoke pretty much coming out of my ears, oil jumping from the pan, two slices of bread on a plate beside me... and you want to know if I was cooking dinner? What did it look like?? What the heck did it otherwise look like??


And I flashed a light-bulb smile again, which I seem to be using whenever I get questioned in the kitchen.

I probably would have said I was "frying toothpaste, want some?" or something like that on a normal day, but it looks like my kitchen buddies still haven't gotten over the fact that I've begun to cook. So, I'll give them the benefit of doubt.

Get over it, I've arrived!

My beef sandwich is getting better by the day. Next time, I will experiment by adding some cucumber perhaps.

But I still haven't figured out what to do with the hot excess oil though...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Maybe surrounded by, a million people I...

still feel all alone.

I was driving home from work late one night, listening to my favourite song on the radio, when my sister called. After chatting a few minutes, she said:

"You forgot Sue's birthday."


"Who's Sue?"

"Your niece!"

Oh yea, we do call her Sue for short, sometimes.

"When's her birthday?"


14 September.

"She's upset."

"Upset?? She's one!"

"Well, she's upset anyway."

There are some things which you shouldn't bother explaining.

"Technically speaking, I didn't forget her birthday. She was born last year, so this is the first time her birthday has come around, so I didn't really forget it... coz I didn't 'remember' it in the first place..."

"Whatever, she's still upset with you."

Yep, I just shouldn't have bothered. Nothing could justify it, though I did try.

Well, I made it up to my niece, and if a one year old could get upset coz her uncle forgot her birthday, than she was surely happy to get my belated birthday gift.


Sometimes, we should just apologise. There are times when we may have an explanation for what happened, but, apologise anyway.

Unless people want to know why it happened, what the heck was the thinking behind it. Then, perhaps an explanation. Which may make sense. Sometimes.

But don't forget to apologise...


It'll all be alright
I'll be home tonight
I'm coming back home

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What unites us...

is more than what divides us.

An annual day of celebration of victory, accomplishment and reflection. Usually with family.

This time, 6000 miles away from home, the day started off with many others who observed the day as well. It ended with a bunch of crazy people of over 20 nationalities, different in many ways yet similar in certain other ways, who have come together for the next 12 months with like-minded goals and wanting to achieve it together. And along the way, getting to know one another, finding out what is important, closest and dearest to each, and crucially, respecting and celebrating differences.

I never doubted that we had it in us, but finding it out for yourself is always refreshing :-)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Relationships are everything...

without relationships, you don't exist.

Why do drug-dealers live with their mothers?

Your english is like... literature...

I know it's just the first week, but I'm already three weeks behind schedule.

The opposable thumb.

You sound afro-caribbeanny...

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
does love blaze less from afar?

50 more weeks like this...?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dreams are free...

but realising your dreams always comes with a price.

A friend recently got what she really, really wanted. She had set her sights on getting it, did all she could to get it, and she got it in the end. I was at a graduation ceremony a few months back, and the speaker at the ceremony said that sometimes, acting like you really, really wanted something, may actually help you get it... well, it's such a nice feeling you have inside when people close to you, or anyone actually, achieve what they aim for. It's not easy, to have these feelings of happiness for others, especially when things are not going well for you, but it's something which I nowadays look forward too. Feeling happy for friends and family when they are happy too.

My friends are most happy when they find that special someone. For whatever reason, somehow the other details in their lifes fall into place once this personal aspect is ... in order? :-) Try talking to people about how they met him or her. What attracted them to each other. What they saw in each other. How they knew that was the one for them. Fascinating stories will emerge. I was on a long-haul flight recently and sat beside an elderly couple from Essex. The had been married for over 30 years, and it all started at a Young Farmers Party in a bar that many years ago when Steve went up to Catherine and asked, "Can I buy you a drink?" Hah! I've heard so much about that immortal line but this was the first couple I met that got married after that!

It's great to be living out a dream. The past three years, I was living out a dream. Absolutely fantastic. I could make it what I wanted it to be, and I did. It was beyond my expectations. I already have stories to tell my granchildren (...why do we always share stories with granchildren? Why not friends and family?).

I paid a heavy price to live out this dream. But I don't regret the decisions I made. I don't regret a single day. What's important is that I decided to move on, from living out my dream, to... something else, and I'm not too sure what this monster will turn out to be.

Whatever it is, I'm looking out for my free ride now!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Life is like an onion...

you peel it layer by layer and sometimes you cry.

Every new chapter in our life can be likened to an onion, maybe a big red one. Which will have many layers of course.

Which reminds me...

When I was a young boy, my mum asked me to go buy some onions. I got on my bicycle, and got to the shop. I spent about a quarter of an hour picking those onions, which I knew were going to be used for dinner. I got home soon after.

About the time when I figure my mum was going to chop the onions, she screamed for me. I'm sure she asked for onions only... so what could be the problem? I went into the kitchen, and my mum showed me the onions that I painstakingly picked.

"What's this??"

I could swear they were onions (what else could they be?), but at moments like that, you begin to doubt yourself. You should never get a woman in a kitchen angry. Here was one, a very livid one at that.


Not the answer she was looking for.

"They're all spoilt!"


No way.

"But I made sure I picked the softest ones..."

My mum was very angry.

If I remember correctly, she then burst out laughing. I was very confused. She managed to ask me to go away. I did. Still confused.

Later in the day, after my whole family was told about the 'incident', I found out that onions, at the point of buying, should be firm. They get soft at the point of cooking...

It's been nearly fifteen years since that.

I never imagined that buying (the wrong) onions will teach me so much.

It was the first (and till today, the only) time my mum ever asked me to buy onions, and I had never bought onions before that. So things could go wrong. I secretly still blame her for it.

I was poring over and caressing each bulb of onion, feeling it's texture and gently squeezing it to find the ones with the right level of softness. I can imagine the amazement of the other shoppers, a young boy with such particularity over his onions.

The cashier-lady. What was she thinking of, me bringing the abolute worst ones to the counter?


Always know clearly what people want before helping them with it. People who seem to be very deft and assured doing whatever it is they are doing, may not always know what they are doing... though pretending to be is a good way to impress people! People will not always tell you if you are on the wrong path. They may just encourage you along, due to indifference or ingnorance. And it's always good to allow a laugh at your mistakes, provided you get the joke.

My onions and I :-)

I've got a big fat red onion in front of me now. Let's see how well I peel it. I hope a little better that the last big fat red onion I had not too long ago...