Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Leroy Seminar at Port Dickson

My friends invited me to join them at the Leroy Seminar at Port Dickson over the weekends. I am never keen on multi level marketing but since my friends claimed that the 3R flex nutritional drink could help to promote healthy hair, skin and bones, I became interested. Of late, I noticed that my hair had been coming off easily and I had pain in the knees and back. True enough after trying one packet a day for one month, my hair began to become healthy again. The pain in the knees and back had been considerably reduced.

I thought the seminar would give me more exposure to the company's operations and products. The two days seminar were really enjoyable. There were three language groups altogether and the English group had about 20 Philippino participants! During the games and dancing, many of us became like little children once again. I guess inside all of us is a little child waiting to get out, and we must always retain that childlikeness in us, regardless of our age. Only then can we truly be enthusiastic and excited about all that is happening. The games also were aimed at promoting team work.

I set my alarm to wake up at 6.00a.m. so that I could go to the beach to do some exercise as well as to hear the roaring of the waves. The tide was quite high, and already the waves were quite overwhelming! I tried to imagine what a tidal wave would be like ... the tsunami that took so many lives on 26th December 2004. I remember that when I first took my dogs to the beach, they were terrified of the waves! Dogs have very sharp ears and the waves must sound much louder to them!

The 3R flex is a nutritional drink that gives good intake of collagen which is so necessary for the bones. The product speaks for itself and many have been relieved of joint problems, back aches, arthritis, etc. If you are intereted to know more about the product and company log in on www.leroyinter.com

No matter how enjoyable a trip or holiday is, there is nothing like home sweet home!
I am so glad to be home and to be able to type on my computer again, play the piano, listen to music and go back to my real estate work and teaching. But of course, having enjoyed the benefits of the Leroy products, I would want to share with everyone so that they too can enjoy better health.

Gan Chau

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lost puppy

My neighbor has lost her puppy and is desperate in finding him. She does a lot of traveling and always brings her dog with her.

Yesterday, she was sitting on the couch watching TV when she realized she hasn't seen her pup in a while and can't even begin to think when or where she last saw him.

She has been putting up signs everywhere. (See the picture below). If you have seen this dog, please let me know and I will notify her. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The New Productivity Campaign

When I was studying in the University of Alberta, I noticed that many of the Caucasian students did not like to have children for fear that it would impede their career paths. There were many childless marriages. It made me think of the "Stop at Two" campaign in Singapore. I wrote a letter to the Press, urging the government not to have this campaign because I could foresee history repeating itself. What happened in the West could also materialise in Singapore.

A few years later after graduation and settling down in my teaching at River Valley High School, the Stop at Two campaign was taken off. Our government realised that not enough children were born and hence the encouragement to have more children.

Again I wrote to the Press the following. My little niece of 8 years old helped me to draw some cartoons.


Two is enough,
Three is even better,
Four is excellent,
Five is patriotic!

Gan Chau

Monday, February 20, 2006

Off Campus Life - Life Lesson on Ski Slope

My good friend, Chris Yang, was from the Geography Department of the University of Alberta. Since her lecturer and a few students were going to Banff for skiing during the Reading Week, she invited me to join them.

I love downhill skiing. After falling down for the umpteenth time, I finally managed to ski first the beginner's slope and finally the intermediate slope which I consider as quite satisfactory for someone from the tropics!

The moment I was seated on the chair lift, I lost the grip of one of my ski poles. I felt a foreboding of impending trouble. As we were ascending, I felt uneasy, as if the loss of the ski pole was a kind of bad omen. Suddenly the chair lift jumped and I thought the J hook which suspended our chair was going to fall off but luckily it did not. All the chairs came to an emergency halt. I tried to be positive and told myself that it was not everyday that you get to see such a majestic view of the lovely mountains. The winds became stronger, and we were swinging like trapeze artists in the circus! I was on the windward side and hence received the coldest brunt of the strong winds which sometimes even gathered some snow. I did not wear a scarf because I heard it could be dangerous as one of the skiers had suffocated herself when her scarf was caught in the ropes and she was accidentally strangled to death.

It was getting colder and colder. In Canada, you can sometimes have 4 seasons in a day! It was shining brightly and the temperature was only about minus 7 degree celsius when we started skiing. Shortly after the sun had disappeared and it became cloudy and windy soon after, the temperature dropping to minus 15 degree celcius!

Rescue operation was slow because of the height at which we were suspended. By the time the rescuers reached us, I was semi conscious. Someone carried me piggy back to the centre where a nurse tried to rub my arms and legs with her hands in an attempt to bring my body temperature to normal. I had hypothermia and the doctor said it could be fatal if I had been rescued 30 minutes later.

The above narrow brush with death had not deterred me from downshill skiing. The line between death and life has made me treasure family, friends and associates even more. The very uncertainly of life has made me aware that it is important not to take people for granted, but to treat each day as if it were my last on earth!

Downhill skiing, anyone? Would be glad to provide free lessons if you are interested.

Gan Chau

Friday, February 17, 2006

Glimpses of Campus Life (2)

It was the first day of our prose writing class at the University of Alberta. In walked Dr. Woolsworth, an elderly, plumpish lady with a ready smile.

"Ladies and gentlemen! The first snow has just fallen! Right, get your pens ready and write on the topic "Snow" for the next twenty minutes," smiled Dr. Woolsworth.

After twenty minutes of writing furiously, all the 18 students in the class had to exchange their writing. I happened to exchange mine with one foreign student from Nigeria. His name was Ilori. As he was marking my article, he frowned at me, looking dismayed. I was marking one Canadian student's article and learnt from him that the Eskimos have about twenty words to describe the word "snow".

We had to read out the written work we had just edited. Ilori read mine to the class. I had written everything positive about snow, for I just love snow... it is so white, pure and pretty. The snow on the roof top of houses looks like icing on cakes! There are so many fun things that I can do with snow....downhill ski, cross country ski, skidoo, etc.I thought the frost on the trees in the morning looked so beautiful and made me feel as if I were in some heavenly place! The winter landscape is so innately breath-taking!

When Ilori's article was read, the class laughed because Ilori had the extreme opposite of my views. He disliked the white powdery stuff that created so much inconvenience to traffic and pedestrians, etc. Dr. Woolsworth pointed out that it was interesting both Ilori and I were the only students from the tropics.... yet we had such contrasting views on snow! The winter in Edmonton could be as cold as minus 30 to 40 degree celcius.! I would not blame Ilori if he disliked winter and snow.

The following Sunday some friends brought me to church. I was surprised to find Ilori attending the same Baptist church! Have you experienced how the more you want to avoid someone, the more you bump into him? Despite our contrasting views on snow, Ilori and I gradually became good friends. Beneath his serious countenance, he was actually a very compassionate and humorous biochemist!

It was a pity that Ilori passed away about 5 years after he graduated. He was killed in a road accident while on his way to work in Nigeria. He was only 33 years of age. I am glad that Ilori had lived a rich and meaningful life in Canada as well as in Africa.

Gan Chau

Campus Comedy (1)

Valentine's Day is just over. Valentine's Day always reminds me of this particular incident in my Canadian Literature Class. Our lecturer, Dr. Smith, was a fortyish bachelor who looked older because of his balding head.

Dr. Smith was a stern looking but excellent lecturer. His interpretation was illuminating. However, the class noticed he had an unusual habit. During lectures he would either look towards the ceilings or pretend to look at his notes. The references to his notes were unnecessary because of his long years of teaching. We noticed that he seldom looked at us!

One day, one of the life wires in class, an American student, decided to play a trick on Dr. Smith. Jane shared her idea with us. Since it was a harmless joke and a creative idea, the class decided to co-operate with her.

On Valentine's Day of February, 1981, all the students eagerly awaited Dr Smith's arrival for class. As usual he began, "Margaret Atwood's works......". Dr. smith noticed a card addressed to him. It read, "Dear Dr. Smith, if you could kindly look at your students at eye level and find a student holding a red silk rose, he/she is in love with you!"

Dr. Smith looked up nervously and turned red when he saw all the 26 students holding a silk rose! The class burst out laughing, and for the first time, we saw Dr. Smith breaking out in laughter!

Jane's idea worked. After that, Dr. Smith looked less at the ceilings and at his notes!

Gan Chau

Dr. Smith looked up nervously, and lo and behold, all the 26 students in the

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Glimpses of Campus Life (1)

I decided to sign up for a Creative Poetry Writing Course at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. To apply for the course, students also had to submit a portfolio of some of their written poems. When I met Professor Swettenham, he lamented that my poems were very Chinese. He said, "You've put me in a difficult position. Your poems are not good, but they are not bad either. This is the first time I have an Asian student in class. I have to warn you... I will tear your poems into pieces with my criticisms... you must be able to take it and not cry!" I told the professor I would be glad to accept his challenge.

Almost during every class, Professor Swettenham would harp on my being very Chinese in my poetry writing. I wondered how this could be so. Yes, I am a Chinese but I had never studied Chinese in school. Perhaps he meant the thoughts, and not the style to be very Chinese? For some reason, I noticed that the professor particularly liked one Canadian student's poems which were constantly strewn with four letter words! I wondered if the four letter words made the poems appear more cool and contemporary in style?

Students had to submit 15 copies of their poems and placed them in a tray on a table which was placed just at the doorway of Professor Swettenham's office. Hence a set of different poems by 15 students were collected prior to the class, so that students could pre-read and be ready to give their comments in class.

One day, out of exasperation, I decided to put my professor to the test. I went to the library, and borrowed a book on African poetry. I plagiarised three poems by three different writers and submitted them as my own works. I told all my classmates about the African poems and we eagerly awaited Professor Swettehnham's
reactions and criticisms. "Ideas are better this time, but the style is still very Chinese!" Everyone roared with laughter!

I wonder if the three African poets also had some Chinese blood in them! Thanks to them, my confidence in poetry writing was restored.

Gan Chau

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day Gift

Gosh! Time flies! A year has passed since the last Valentine's Celebration at Rialto.To always make dining fun at Rialto, this year, we are doing something different. Leave it to the owner chef to do what he wants. But some customers remember the poem I wrote last year, and they have asked me to give them a copy again. So here it is, and a little of the background of how the poem came about.

Miss Kelly Koh of Singapore Press Holdings asked what we have as special gift for the ladies. In response, I have written a poem for her to decipher. Hence to make it more interesting, I am also asking all couples to guess the mystery gift for ladies. Every couple is given 3 chances each. Give your answers to the cashier when you make your deposit of $50/- to book your table. The couple with the correct answer will receive another special prize.


Rialto, forever "bay toh",
Unless the Lord says so,
For lovers who come to Rialto,
The ladies get a gift also.

"What's the gift?" asked curious Kelly,
Good food, wine, Singapore Sling with cherry,
Looking into each other's eyes, return late,
A gift from Rialto, for sweet memory sake!

Choo doesn't like to follow the crowd,
A red rose is mundane and definitely out,
Nothing that withers, for love is strong,
A gift that must last at least a year long.

To find out the mystery gift,
Kelly's partner must give her a lift,
To Rialto, to book a table for two,
May their love be forever true!

The Management and staff of Rialto, wishes all our romantic
customers a Happy Valentine's Day!

Gan Chau

All That Glitters is Not Gold

Shortly after my graduation, I visited my eldest brother in Singapore. I was accepted by the Institute of Education to do a year's teaching diploma. I decided to stay at the YWCA Hostel as it is located at Fort Canning Road, a more central location. I shared a room with a Malaysian student , Karmali. YWCA had not yet undergone renovation. If you wanted to lock your room, you had to push a mechanism to lock from inside, which meant that even with a key, the door could not be open from outside. Karmali was a TV addict who would watch TV till 3 am almost every evening. Since I am the type who cannot wake up easily once I have fallen asleep, I never locked the door.

One evening, after taking some flu tablets, I went to bed earlier than usual. Shortly after midnight, one of the hostelites saw a man entering my room and alerted the management. The staff made a beeline for my room but the thief had escaped.

"Choo, wake up! Wake up! A thief had entered the room! See if you lost anything!"
I was too drowsy and tired, and told them not to worry and fell asleep again!" Next morning when I woke up, Karmali asked me to check if I had lost anything. My violin was still intact. The record player which my student lent me was still on my table. The lovely jewellery my mom had given me was still intact in the box which was partially hidden in my somewhat messy and unlocked drawer. Nothing was stolen. Karmali told me that the thief had taken her big jewellery box with all her costume jewellery. Indian jewellry is usually full of heavy gold designs.... the thief must have thought they were genuine. Suddenly I thought of Shakespeare's play, 'The Merchant of Venice' and the sentence "All that glitter is not gold!" and burst out laughing. Although upset that some of her favourite jewellery had gone, Karmali also started to laugh.

"Not fair, not fair. The thief only took my things, never took yours", Karmali pretended to be upset. Knowing that I am someone who is not easily woken up even by fire alarms or earthquakes, I have no alternative but to pray for God's protection everyday.

I hope the thief had done some Shakespearean plays in school. When he saw the fake jewellery he had stolen, he would say,

"Alamak! All that glitters is not gold!"
The jewellery from YWCA which I stole!
Old Willy Shakespeare was ever so right,
My greed has put me in such a plight!

Gan Chau

Love is an International Language

My eldest brother shared with me a true experience. When he first went to London to study, he was awfully miserable because he was limited by his English vocabulary. Since he was from a Chinese school in Penang, his English was far from fluent. It was a struggle for him to understand his lecturers.

His Violin Professor noticed that he was often quiet and unhappy. In an attempt to be caring and approachable, he enquired about my brother's well being. "Go away! I hate you!" my brother declared. Professor Forbes was not deterred by his student's uncalled for rudeness. His understanding and patience soon won my brother's trust and affection. As my brother's English improved, he became a happier person as he was able to express himself more.

During the Royal School of Music Examination in Singapore, Professor Forbe's son, Michael, was one of the examiners. He shared that his father liked my brother so much that he called their cat, "Kee Yong Kam". My brother told Michael to let his father know that he called his pet beagle, "Professor Forbes".

Love, indeed is an international language that everyone understands and transcends all cultural and geographical barriers.

Gan Chau

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Have Faith Will Blind the Eyes of Passers By

I had just collected some rental from my tenants who occupied the other two rooms in the apartment. I was rushing to ACS where I was teaching in the afternoon session. On the way I decided to drop by to pay my telphone and water bills. When it came to my turn, I realised I had queued up in the wrong place, the POSB Savings Bank, when it should have been the General Post Office which was just next to the Bank. I rushed to the Post Office and had to queue up again. When I needed to pay the cash, I realised that the stack of $50/- notes was no longer in my pocket! Gosh, the $800/- I had collected and which I had put in my pocket had vanished! I told the officer I had to go off but would be back later.

I thought I would go back to my car to check if I had dropped my money while coming out of the driver's seat. Holland Village is a very busy shopping area, and I prayed that passers by would be "blinded and not see the stack of $50/- if I had dropped it along the way. Some 40 minutes must have elapsed with all the waiting at the post offices.!

When I went to my car, I could not find the money at all. I was begining to feel disheartened when I suddenly saw a stack of money just in front of my car in the opposite lot! A lady had just passed by and she did not see the money! One man was waiting in his car parked next to my lot. He too had not seen the cash! I picked up the money with a grateful heart. All $800/- was intact! I rushed back to the post offices to pay the bills and when I came back to the car, I found that the empty lot now had a car. If the car had come in earlier I would not have found my money!

As I was driving to school, I felt as if I were forty feet in the air! I shared with my students about the lost and found money. Suddenly, one of my students raised his hand and said, "Not fair, Madam, you can pick up people's money; but people cannot pick up your money!"

Indeed, have faith will "blind" the eyes of passers by! If only you believe!

Gan Chau

Friday, February 10, 2006

Have Faith Will Find a Lost Friend

At the airport in Kathmandu, our Nepali pastor asked me whether I could help to provide accommodation for one Nepali who was on his way to visit his elder brother in Sydney. For some strange reason, the airline that Ramesh flew in, did not provide accommodation in Singapore. I readily agreed to house Ramesh for two days. Extended some Singaporean hospitality to Ramesh...took him to sight see a few intersting tourist spots.

On his way back from Sydney to Kathmandu, Ramesh again stayed for two days at my apartment. He told me that he lives in Pokhara, a small town on the mountain which is famous for her lake - Lake Pokhara. Ramesh gave me his postal address which showed a letter box in the Post Office. He told me he lives opposite Lake Pokhara, and that should I visit Nepal again, I must give him the opportunity to return hospitality.

My missionary's wife, Esther, decided to deliver her second child in Singapore. Shortly after, I decided to accompany her back to Kathmandu so that she could have extra help during the flight. It would not be easy to travel with a baby and a three year old child.

Our missionary, Guan Cheng and his wife, insisted on taking me to Lake Pokhara to spend a few days, since I misssed it during my first trip. I was astonished to find that Lake Pokhara is quite big and there are many houses around the lake. How was I going to find Ramesh? While we were rowing the boat, our missionary teased me, "Choo, you have such a loud voice.... shout for Ramesh... probably he might hear you!" I knew that Guan Cheng was pulling my legs, but I prayed that indeed if God wanted Ramesh to meet me, He would bring Ramesh for the reunion.

Back at the Hotel, we decided to have our tea in the garden instead. Our missisonaries are great jokers and I was laughing heartily at their jokes. I am well known for my earth-trembling laughter and loud, clear voice. Just then, a young Nepali walked up the few flights of stairs to the Hotel and there was Ramesh!
He told us that he had just come back from Mount Everest where he was a tour guide. He was walking past the hotel when he thought he heard a familiar voice and found me!

Ramesh was overjoyed and brought me to meet his family. His house was just a short walk from the hotel.

Have faith indeed will find a lost friend!

Gan Chau;

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Have Faith Will Complete Last 8th Position in 10,000 Musical Chairs

Our school, ACS (Anglo Chinese School, Independent) decided to hold a 10,000 Musical Chairs Fund Raising Event. It was an innovative idea by one of our teachers, Mr. Ng Eng Chin. It was the first of its kind in Singapore. This event was also mentioned in the Guiness World Record.

My friend, Carrie, as usual also participated and coerced me to join her too. I had a phobia for sports/games that involve a group of people no matter how big or small. Ever since I hurt my last finger in a netball game in Primary Six, I had avoided all types of sports like basketball, hockey, etc. I decided to join just to please Carrie. I also told her that I would meet her at the school gate within an hour's time because I would surely be knocked off after the first few rounds.

As we were dashing for the chairs, I saw the little school children, enjoying themselves and suddenly realised my phobia was quite silly after all. I was so much bigger than these kids yet I was so afraid of being injured!
I prayed that God would remove my fear. After each successful round of getting a chair, I became more and more excited. It was fun after all. We played continuously for two and a half hours as the crowd dwindled from about 10,000 to a few hundred. Carrie looked for me everywhere but could not find me. Then she suddenly realised I was still playing musical chairs with the then less than 100 participants. As the number reduced, it became more tough and challenging to fight for a chair. Soon there were 18 chairs left. I thought it would be the end of the game for me when I spotted an empty chair at the end. I plonked myself on the coveted chair, with one guy missing just by a second.! This was captured on video and my students were so happy as they saw me dashing for the chair. "That was fast, Madam!" I finished eighth position and won a special prize that was each given to all remaining 40 surivivors out of 10,000! The weather was very hot and humid and I was almost dehydrated after almost 3 hours, but happy that I had finally overcome my phobia!

Have faith will complete last 8th position in the 10,000 Musical Chairs.

Have Faith Will Complete Half Marathon!

My friend, Carrie and I often enjoyed participating in 10 km runs. When you particpate in such events it will kind of force you to exercise.

After the second drinks station, we were surprised that the end was not in sight. It looked like we were heading more northwards towards Changi Airport. Drinks stations were usually placed at every 5 km apart. We asked the police officer on duty if it was a 10 km run and to our surprise he said it was a 20 km run! Not wanting to give up, although we were quite exhausted, we prayed for strength and decided to continue till completion.

Hence when my friends invited me to participate in their 21st Neptune Orient Lines' Anniversary 21 km run, I did not hestitate. I joined the veterans' section and came in 12th position, winning a gold medal souvenir as well as a $50/- cash prize!

Carrie and I decided to join the Mobil Half Marathon Race. Again when my school principal heard of my intention to join the half marathon, she called me to her office. "Sure you can cope? If you are too tired, do not complete the run. We do not want to lose a good teacher like you, Ms. Kam", advised my kind boss. Carrie and I both completed the 24 km run in 1 hour 48 minutes. This would be my last race in public events.

I know that if I do share with others about all the vertical and horizontal marathons, there would definitely be some doubting Thomases. I have my medals and certificates to prove, but these are not so important. Eye witness accounts are more important. However, more vital to me is that if a non-sporty, short-legged, un-athletic looking person like me can run, anyone also can, if only he believes.

Gan Chau

Have faith will cover 24 km run

My friend, Carrie and I often loved to participate in 10 km runs. Hence, as usual we signed up for one 10 km run on a Sunday morning. After the second drinks stall, I thought that would be the end because the organisers usually put up drinks station at every 5 km. We kept running and seemed to be going up to Change Airport. On the , we met some police officers on duty and asked how long was the run for. "20km" said the polic officer. Gosh! We had signed up for the wrong event! However, having completed half way, I decided we would press on till completion.

When my tenants who worked with Neptune Orient Lines asked me to participate in their company's 21st celebration I agreed. I partipated in the 21k run to commerate their 21st Anniversary.

The final event which I participated and which would be my last participation was the Mobil Half Marahon run. Wen my principal heard of my intention, she called me into her office again. "Do be careful, Ms. Kam. If at any time you are too tired, do not complete the race. Don't want to lose a good teacher like you, you know," my kind boss smiled.

I managed to complete the half marathon within the allowed time of 2 hours. I managed to clock in 1 hour 40 minutes.

Have faith, will complete 24km run. This is the last of my "Have faith series"

Gan Chau

Have faith will run Like An Athlete

It was our Annual Sports Day and one of the highlights would be the Teachers' Race. This is the race that would get students and spectators most excited. It was also my first year in River Valley High School. To be co-operative, I joined the race. A 4 X 100 metres event. I was in the last third lane. When I turned around I saw the long, lanky legs of the Physical Education Teacher, Catherine. In front of me was my vice-principal, Mr. Chong. I prayed I would overtake Mr. Chong and that God would help me to run fast and not let Catherine overtake me.! "Yes, Lord, help me to run like those two guys in the movie, Chariots of Fire. Harold Abraham and Erica Liddell. Just for today, Lord."

When the gun went off, I ran as fast as my somewhat short legs could carry me! I overtook the Vice Principal. Catherine did not overtake me.! The students squealed with delight! Our team came in first, with the runner up way behind us! Later one of the Chemistry teachers, Mr. Leong, came to apologise to me. "Ms. Kam, when I saw that you were in my team, my heart sank. Sure to end last! But you ran like lightning! Sorry for having misjudged you."

Later one of my students told me she was nervous when she saw that I was going to participate. "I was so afraid you'd make a fool of yourself and I prayed so hard for you. Ms. Kam, you ran so fast... unbelievable!"

I am not the sporty type. I could never handle tennis or basket ball. Once I shot the basketball inside out of the net! Yet, the unforgettable teachers' race would be imprinted not only in my mind but in the minds of the spectators too. Have faith will run like an athlete!

Gan Chau

Have Faith Will Go Up 73 Storeys

My second sister in Melbourne was hurrying me up with my application to migrate to Australia. I thought I would do something for Singapore before I left. As it was quite a last minute decision, I found I had only 8 days left to raise funds for the First Vertical Marathon held at Westin Hotel. I asked my Sec. Two classes in River Valley High School for help. To my surprise, the students collected about $760/- in donation in just 3 days.

"Wonderful! How did you do it?" I asked the students who were glowing with pride. "Very simple Ms. Kam. We used the technique of persuasion you taught us. We told the donors our English teacher is so ooooo fat and she is participating in the vertical marathon! Don't you think you should support her?"

Somehow my school principal found out about my intent to participate in the vertical marathon. She called me to her office, "Sure, you can do it, Ms. Kam.? Can be dangerous you know....stroke, knee-injury, heart attack, etc."

I smiled sheepishly and told her with whatever confidence I could muster. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".

We had to run up 1,336 steps of Westin Hotel, then the tallest hotel in the world.
I knew it would be too taxing for me to run, so I chose to climb briskly as fast as my legs could carry me. After 19 minutes I reached the helipad at the top.. What a on "top of the world feeling!" What a panaromic view of the city! Found out that the fastest time achieved was 9 minutes and the slowest was 59 minutes. I was a little above average. The final amount raised was about $1,200/- because some of the sponsors had pledged $1/- per floor, thinking perhaps I could only complete, at most 10 storeys!

You can imagine my joy when I wore the event's T-shirt with the wordings, "I climbed the world's tallest hotel and took the lift down!" Have faith, will go up 73 storeys!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Have Faith Will Climb Nanglay Mountain

Our missionaries in Kathmandu decided to bring us to Nanglay, which is a small village on part of a range of Mount Everest. It is a continuous hike of about 4 hours. We affectionately called it "our Nanglay Mountain".

"I think it should not be a problem for five of you ladies to climb the mountain.... but I'm worried about Choo", our missionary Guan Cheng declared, like an army commander. I am used to being grilled about my bulk. I smiled sheepishly and mumbled to myself. "Oh! Lord! He will be in for a big shock! Have faith can climb any mountain!"

Guan Cheng, our leader, was indeed very surprised at my agility! My excess double insulation had belied the determination and perseverance of a fit body! All my five friends were exhausted by the climb and had to nurse sore muscles the following day. The following Friday, they did not want to climb Nanglay Mountain again, leaving me to accompany our missionaries to my favourte spot on Mount Everest! Have faith will climb mountaints!

Gan Chau

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Have Faith Will Carry Things Over

In December 1992, five friends and I decided to go to Kathmandu for three weeks to give our missionaries a helping hand. Since I was the cook, I decided to pamper our missionaries with local cuisine like char koay toew, fried hokkien mee, etc. Knowing that some of the ingredients could not be obtained in Nepal, I bought fresh prawns, koay teow, bean sprouts, etc. I also knew that the people in Nepal are generally quite poor and collected a lot of old, but good clothings, toys, books etc.

At the airport, I met one of the ladies and both of us waited until it was almost close to departure time. We no longer wanted to wait and proceeded to the check-in counter and there we saw the rest of the group who were waving frantically to us as they were about the close the counter! It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we were allowed to check in my excess baggage of 200 kg! We pleaded with the officers that the items were mainly donated things for the underprivileged.

Once, Dr. Home, the Nepali doctor who worked closely with our missionaries was in Singapore for his medical examination and stayed at my apartment for one month. Again I packed a few boxes of used clothes, toys and books for him to take back to the church members. You should see the face of the officer! He was flabbergasted by the grossly excess weight. Again I pleaded that we should not be taxed because the excess items were for the poor. He walked over to talk to his boss, an Indian lady dressed elegantly in sari. I could see her head going sideways and my heart leapt with joy! When Indians shake their heads, it means "Yes!" Dr. Home's faith was also uplifted and I was extremely happy when he told me how glad the people were to receive the gifts!

Dr. Home came once again for his final set of medical exams. As usual I packed extra boxes of donated items. At the airport, the officer was very adamant on our paying for excess baggage charges. Just as I was thinking hard, another officer, with sleepy eyes, spoke loudly in Mandarin, "Move! Move! Hey, you are not the only ones travelling! Move!" I was annoyed at his rudeness, and when I get annoyed, I get anointed! I became extra fluent in my spoken Mandarin! I spoke in an equally loud voice, "I'm sorry if you have just woken up and are still tired. But it does not give you the right to be so rude!" Suddenly I heard someone calling me. I turned around and there was this lovely young lady grinning from ear to ear!

"I recognise your voice Ms. Kam! Wow! Now you speak good Mandarin!" the young lady exclaimed.

She was Hui Ping, my ex-student from River Valley High. I found out that she was also heading for Kathmandu and that she was working as a director with the then Television Corporation of Singapore.

"Going to Nepal for missions too?" I asked.

"No, for a fashion show! There are seven of us in the team".

I burst out laughing because I think of the half-naked children and inadequately dressed women in Nepal. A fashion show - of all places!

Hui Ping volunteered to ask her boss whether they could help us with the excess baggage. Since I was her teacher, her boss readily agreed. Imagine our joy!
I was even more excited when I found that one of the team members was Fann Wong. I had just seen this new star in her first movie, "The Challenge" and I knew in my heart that her natural acting talent would let her shine brightly as a star. Since I am not one of those who go around chasing movie stars in concerts, roadshows, etc. I was so thankful that I could have the chance to meet Fann Wong and 3 other stars in the quiet of Changi Airport at 6.00 o'clock in the moning!
My friend, May Cheong and I went back from the airport, our faith greatly uplifted!
Faith can certainly move mountains and carry things over!

Gan Chau

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Lady with the Dogs

The line between life and death is only a thin line. Yet, it is amazing how some people can just take their life for granted by being unnecessarily careless or ignorant.

When I was staying at Clementi Estate, I would often take my two dogs for walks around mid night or sometimes as late as 2.00a.m. My dogs were toilet trained and hence it is necessary to take them out for their walks twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. No matter how tired I was, I would walk them in the night.

Ever so often I would notice taxis parked at car parks with engines running, and inside the taxi drivers would be sound asleep in the cool comfort of their vehicles!
This is dangerous as they might die from carbon monoxide poisoning! Many of my students in River Valley High School have fathers who work as taxi drivers. I would often telephone the police to report the taxis and our wonderful police officers would come almost immediately to wake up the taxi drivers. This went on for a number of years until the officers started to nickname me "The Lady with the Dogs"!

I always tell my friends since I can't join the army, police force or navy, this is my little "national service" to the country - that of helping to save precious lives.

I would appeal to readers to do likewise if you were to see taxidrivers sound asleep in their cars with windows wound up and engines running. Driving is taxing work and our poor taxi drivers sometimes drive very long hours if they do not have relief drivers.

Gan Chau

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What a Lovely Transformation!

Dear Ms Kam

I am very glad to run into you this evening. Being your student has given me a great foundation in English and I remember your stories vividly. It has been a long time and I have grown quite a bit, haven't I? ;-P

There is much to learn about the spoken and written form of the English language still. I often fear that I 'speak funny' for a Singaporean who is born and bred here. I would like to think that I have a 'sing-song' way of speaking. A little more animated and lively than most Singaporeans. Hence, the perceived 'un-Singaporeaness' or accent. In any case, I hope to truly develop my own way of speaking plainly and accurately for all to understand me.

The last fifteen years have been challenging in many ways. My parents' bankruptcy was a big blow, and I lost my directions for a few years. I joined the workforce at the tender age of seventeen. I was a junior office administrator, a flight attendant with United Airlines, a Personal Assistant to a Director and HR Executive in large multi-nationals etc. There were many bad days and I despaired and blamed all the Gods in the world for the obstacles in my life. I remember walking forty minutes to save a few cents. Thank God that there were also showers of wonderful moments of joy in the miraculous opportunities and blessings that would come in the nick of time to console me and encourage me onward in my life journey.

I worked and studied for over 5 years to get a diploma in Mass Communications, a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a Graduate Diploma in HR. Thinking back now, I do not know how I made it. I think God was truly carrying me when I needed Him most.

After almost eight years in Human Resources, I became a headhunter over a year ago. I focus on mid to senior level roles in all functions within the IT and banking industries.

My corgi, Sydney, is just over five years old. She is a real darling and is very dear to me. She is not well-versed in performing stunts and little tricks but we have a genuine connection and she shares my pillow with me at night.

Here's a photo of us taken recently for your collection. Thank you for the address to your blog, I will be checking it out real soon.

In the meantime, here's your River Valley High School student Huang Huiling signing off. May you be blessed with good health, friendship, love and success in your ventures in the year of the dog.

Best wishes

The above is an email I received yesterday from an ex-student. I stopped teaching in 1994 due to constantly losing my voice. I miss my students and often wonder how they are faring after graduation. Hence I would always be so thrilled when a
young man/lady comes up to me and asked, "Are you the Ms. Kam who taught me English in Secondary school?" When I taught English in school, I had often reminded the kids that it is not English for O level exams only, it is English for life. Language is such an important tool for expression and helps in healthy and effective communication. It is also an important tool for problem solving because as a man thinks, so is he.

It is heartening to know that some of my ex-students like Hui Ling have managed to overcome life's adversities and achieved not only success but the realisation that despite their sufferings and hardship, they are precious to the One who has created them and has the best plans for them, and that through their toils, they actually emerge stronger and more victorious. It is like you have survived a tsunami; the next torrential storm would appear like little showers of rain!

I hope Hui Ling's email will be an encouragement to you. I hope that my ex-students could drop me an email to share how they are doing. If possible, I would encourage them to start a blog.... to continue their creative writing which they had once excelled in.

As someone has so rightly said, "A teacher touches eternity. He does not know where his influence stops". Teaching is and will always be my first love.

Gan Chau

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wonderful Creation

I was at the Pacific Mansion lobby and about to take the lift when I noticed two cages of hamsters at a corner. Thinking that someone had left the cages there and would come back for them, I took the lift and showed my client's unit for rental. After the showing, I noticed that the cages were no longer there, yet I felt compelled to ask the cleaner if someone had taken them. "No, thrown away! Rubbish dump!" All my adrenalin surfaced, and I requested that the cages be given to me, so that I could find a home for the hamsters. One of the cleaners smiled widely, relieved that I was going to take away the cages rather than let the poor creatures be cruelly killed in the incinerator!

I advertised for pet lovers to adopt the hamsters. The best place would be the notice board at Cold Storage, Centre Point. Three days later, and I still had not received a single call. Getting worried, I decided to approach a pet-shop to see whether they would adopt the hamsters.

On the fourth day, to my relief, a young student, Jay, phoned and adopted one pair which appeared to be the parents of the babies in the other cage. A mother with two young daughters adopted the other cage of 6 hamsters. I was relieved that Jay, despite his youth, is an expert on hamsters. He also keeps rabbits and gold fish. An obvious animal lover! Shortly after, Jay wrote to me that eight baby hamsters had been born. I wanted to go immediately to see the baby hamsters, but doting and knowledgeable as Jay was, he explained that the babies could not be removed yet, as they still needed to suckle their mother's milk. The mother hamster would eat up her babies if she thinks that she and her babies' lives are threatened, or if she reproduces so fast and feels she cannot provide enough milk for her babies.

When the babies could be viewed, the timing coincided with the lunar new year. What an auspicious time! When I visited Jay, I was most delighted that the mother hamster just had another bumper of newly born babies! Wow! Our Senior Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, would be delighted if our population could grow at this rate! Jay is a generous boy. When my friends wanted to adopt some hamsters, he readily agreed to give them four of the babies.

There were four dainty hamsters running happily in the cage. Their colour was a soothing beige and Jay told me that the other four babies could have been eaten by their mother. Jay pulled aside the cloth covering the cage and fleetingly showed me the mother with her batch of eight newborn babies. Amazing. They were so tiny ... about two and a half cm and their bodies were almost transparent and hairless. Jay explained that at this stage, the mother hamster was highly sensitive and nervous and that was why he draped a cloth over the cage to give the hamsters more cosiness and privacy.

After conception, hamsters are born after about fifteen days! Wouldn't it be nice if this could apply to humans too? Then mothers would not be heavily laden with child for nine full months before the child sees the world! But I guess, because man is God's highest form of creation, he has to be carefully and painstakingly made.

Jay's parents were very hospitable and it was indeed a great visit. Jay's mother told me that they would usually do their shopping in their heartland mall, but during the Christmas period, they decided to shop at Orchard Road. That was how Jay noticed my advertisement.

Truly, if something is meant to be yours, it is yours. I went away, having learnt a lot about hamsters from a young student.

Emerson had so rightly said, "Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that I learn of him."

Gan Chau

Durians vs. Smelly Tofu, Blue Cheese and Kim Chi

It is interesting that my article on "The King of Fruits" had garnered a lot of interesting feedback. My university buddy, Richard Tam, had encouraged that if you had tried smelly tofu, you should not have problems with durians which are actually comparatively more tasty than smelly tofu. Another Canadian buddy, James Dunlap, had tried durians once. Although he found the smell somewhat offputting, he would try durians again.

I would also encourage my Korean friends to try the durians because if you can take Kim Chi (with the pungent, fermented garlic smell) durians will not be too difficult to swallow.

I remember I was first given yogurt as dessert when I was studying in Canada. I wondered why my landlady, Anne Smith, had given me something that had turned sour. Not wishing to be impolite, I asked my landlady if I could bring my dessert to my bedroom to eat. I flushed the yogurt down the toilet, thinking the cream had really gone bad! Yogurt and durians would pale in comparison when blue cheese comes into the picture.

My Rialto customer Niketan Rao, had written to say he would try some durians as soon as he is able to overcome the smell, since he had heard that the taste is divine. So hurry, my friends. Don't waste another day like I had wasted 16 years! Try the durians! The divine taste is the reward. After a while, you will gradually even think the smell is actually quite uniquely fragrant after all.!

Interestingly, another university buddy, Moshin, from Taiwan but who now resides in the States, has shared that it took him 26 years before he ventured on his first bite of sashimi with wasabi. Now he loves the Japanese delicacy! It has also taken him 35 years before he tried his first rare Steak!

I guess, it is all in the mind. Beer drinkers will tell you how they first disliked beer and gradually grew to like it. Once the initial inhibition is over, the taste of anything edible on earth will gradually become acquired.

My university buddies and I are planning to have a reunion... venue yet to be decided. But if Singapore were the venue, you can be sure durians will be on the menu!

Gan Chau

Singer Elly is big-hearted too

This is one of the most well written articles I had read in the Straits times. Nancy Koh had shown her prowess as a journlist. Her article was often used by me in my English classes when I wanted to show students how an excellent vocabulary could literally help them to write more vividly. I am sure readers will enjoy the article.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What is life, if full of cares? (Computers are Really Essential, Sweetheart)

Gosh! A decade ago, I bought a computer from my student tenant, Vincent. He had to cash out some money urgently and could think of nothing but his computer. Since he would be upgrading anyway, he thought he would dispose the computer to realise his cash. I gave him the price he wanted.... hate to bargain with someone who is in need.

It is absolutely no problem for my arty farty family to learn to play any kind of musical instruments but we are terrified of things electronic and mechanical.
I was absolutely fearful of the computer! There it sat in my living room, looking so formidable and cold, like some bomb waiting to be detonated if I as much as pressed the wrong button! Vincent had taught me how to use the computer, but my mind just could not register the process! It took me ages to type one letter... eventually I gave up. Hence the computer was literally left to rot and gather dust and dogs' hairs. In the end, it protested and died a premature death and was donated to the karang guni man. I had literally killed the white elephant!

A few years later, a friend, Andrew Lee, donated his old computer to me. He kindly helped me to set it up, and taught me how to use it. I used the telephone line to do email. Hence the speed was rather slow, but the slow speed was suitable for me, because I was equally slow to manage the machine. With so much coercion from my nieces and nephews who egged me on to communicate with them by email, I forced myself to persevere. Soon I was progressing and found the dial up speed too slow However, the computer decided it had enough of me and bid me goodbye. It died a premature death like my earlier one.

It was timely that I won a lucky prize... a computer with printer, scanner, all intact. I had to learn how to use the printer and scanner. My friends taught me patiently. This time the speed was faster as we subscribed the usage of broad band.

Now that I am more familiar with the computer, I am able to type at about 150 wpm.
How wonderful to be able to communicate with friends all over the world, and do away with the tiring trip to the post office to weigh your letters and purchase stamps. With the set up of my blog, I am able to communicate and exchange ideas with other blog writers and readers locally and in different parts of the world.

I have been pleading with my older siblings to learn the computer, and sister Ean Ean told me she does not even know how to turn on the computer. "Aiyoh, old already... what for learn", she lamented. Although we could communicate by phone, it is so much more expensive. Whereas with the computer, you can write endless pages of communciation! Not only that, you can organise and chose your words carefully. With the phone, you may run the risk of saying words you should not be using.
Whereas on the computer, you can rethink and rewrite.

I was very encouraged by my friend, Peter Richardson, who came all the way from Brisbane to take a one month computer course in setting up web pages. He is in his fifties!

I started learning the computer when I turned half a century years old. I am still learning more aspects of the computer. Hope my article will encourage all those of you who are terrified of the computer like I used to.
If Choo can handle the computer, so can you! Try it! What is life if full of cares? (Computers are really essential, Sweetheart).

Gan Chau

Mother of the English Dung

What an interesting response to my article, "Murder of the English Tongue" which I received from an old university buddy, Richard Tam. His "Mother of the English Dung" would be interesting to share with readers.


Applause! I kudov darnsed all nite!

Someone sent me this, should try it on your friend's father (try speaking in Cockney):

Subject: Old country preacher and the teenager

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young men, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table three objects: a Bible, a silver dollar and a bottle of whisky.

"I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to himself, "and when he comes home from school this afternoon, I'll see which object he picks up. If it's the Bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be! If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a businessman, and that would be okay, too. But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunkard, and, Lord, what a shame that would be."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's footsteps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room. He tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.

Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped it into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink. . ..

"Lord have mercy," the old man whispered, "he's gonna be a politician!"