Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My Readership is Growing!

Thanks to Dr. Kumaran Raju who helped me to set up a sitemeter in my blog, I am able to monitor my readership. To my delight, I realise my readership has been growing since the inception of the blog on 15th November 2005. It is also interesting to note that my readers come from all over the world, some from countries I am unfamiliar with eg. Latvia, Slovenia and Guam to name a few. From as far north as Russia to as south as New Zealand and Brazil, it makes me feel that our world has shrunk! My greatest readership now comes from USA, followed by Great Britain and Canada. Singapore used to top the chart, but now it is overtaken by America. Perhaps it is because America is a bigger country with a larger population, but from an article I understand that Americans love to blog, and blogging is a growing interest especially with the retirees.

It is encouraging also to receive comments from readers. It is these comments and growing readership that have spurred me on to push and discipline myself to write at least an article everyday. It is not easy sometimes. After a hectic day, sometimes all I want to do is to collapse on my easy chair and watch my favourite TV programme!!

Since my eldest sister and I are the only writers in the family, I wish to share my writing especially with my 12 nieces and nephews! They always enjoy listening to stories about their parents and grandparents. Since I do not have much to leave the world, I can only "bequeath" my writing, utilising the talent endowed to me by the greatest Creator of this universe.

Wishing all my dear readers a happy balance of 250 days for the year 2006!!!

Gan Chau :-)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Amazing Yam

I like yams, especially steamed yam cakes. My guests often enjoy my steamed yam cakes which I have modified and created my own secret recipe to improve its flavour. Meticulous cook that I am, I even cook my own chilli sauce to go along with the yam.

When Aveline brought me to the vegetables farms near her house, I bought one fresh looking yam. I was planning to invite some guests or deliver some yam cakes to Soh Wah and family as they are fond of the dish. I am embarrassed to say that the yam had been sitting on my basket for 4 weeks before I deicded I should put it in the fridge since I did not have the time to cook it. By then, the stem had shrunk somewhat. I contemplated bringing the yam with me to Johore when I visited eldest sister, but felt bad that I should bring something I had bought 4 weeks ago. Another 3 weeks passed as my guilt increased. Gosh, if I did not start cooking the yam, it would surely turn bad.

Hence on the 50th day, I decided I would cook it in the simplest way... cut into slices and deep fry the yam. To my pleasant surprise, the yam was still fresh, succulent and tasty!! I told Aveline about it, and she was amazed. She had almost forgotten about the yam!

Next week, I am going to buy another yam, and this time, I must make a strong determination to make my steam yam cake within two days from the date of purchase
of the hardy root!! How wonderful if we human beings could be as hardy as the yam!

Gan Chau :-)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know (Adult Version)

Enjoy this.

A pastor once stated, "I always noticed that its was the adults who
chose the children's hymn 'Jesus Loves Me' (for the children of course)
during hymn singing, and it was the adults who sang the loudest because
I could see they knew it the best."
Here is a new version just for us who have white hair, or no hair at
all. For us over 40 (or even those almost there) and all you
others...Check out this newest version of "Jesus Loves Me". It is quite
cute, so read, sing and enjoy:


Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow.
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.
Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand! in His I'll go.
On through life, let come what may,
He'll be there to lead the way.
Though I am no longer young,
I have much which He's begun.
Let me serve Christ with a smile,
Go with others the extra mile.
When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so clear,
"Have no fear, for I am near."
When my work on earth is done,
And life's victories have been won.
He will take me home above,
Then I'll understand His love.
I love Jesus, does he know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day.

.. If you think this is neat, please pass it on to all of your friends.
If you do not pass it on, nothing bad will happen, but you will have
an opportunity to "Reach out and Touch" a friend or a loved one.

The above sent to me by my friend, Janice Lee via email.

Gan Chau :-)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sleep - Quality vs. Quantity

Out of kindness, a friend advised me not to multi-task and to get more sleep and rest. I listened to his advice and tried going to bed around 9.30pm to 10.30p.m. He said that everyone should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

However, I find that each time afer 5 solid hours of deep sleep, I would automatically get up. This is why I end up writing blogs at 3.45 to 4.45 a.m. sometimes. I cannot sleep more than 5 hours! It has been like that for the past 4 decades! Best of all, I have never had panda eyes despite the short hours of sleep!

I remember, once when I was in Primary Six, I decided I would sleep on the bench in the living room as my two sisters had gone to a party and I was scared of sleeping alone in the bedroom. (Thanks to the scary Pontianak (ghost) movie I had watched the day before!) Papa was writing his music in the living room. Around midnight, he heard a loud sound, and in his absent mindedness, he thought a coconut had probably dropped from a tree near our kampong (village) house. When my two sisters returned from the party, they were horrified to find me sleeping on the floor! Apparently I had fallen from the mother-of-pearl bench and had continued sleeping soundly.! Only then did papa realise that the sound he had heard earlier was not caused by a fallen coconut, but by his chubby little daughter!

Guess, I have not altered much in my sleeping pattern and idiosyncracies. I guess when I say I have been sleeping an average of 5 hours a day all these 40 years of my life, it translates into having an extra time of 5 years! Can my buddy, Professor Richard Tam, check my mathematical calculation please?

I am not a doctor or a mathematician. From my experience, I can only conclude that sleepiness and tiredness is all in the mind. Whenever I am bored, I will doze off. This is why I am terrified of attending convocations, boring lectures/sermons/movies etc. My travelling time in the bus, train and plane is always well utilised as I will fall asleep. Once my friends who were travelling with me to Kathmandu, tickled me with a feather as they could not stand the sight of me sleeping so soundly. They told me I never stirred at all!

I find that at home, there are so many interesting things to do that sleep becomes boring. There are so many worthy books to read, articles/letters to write, musical instruments to play and lovely music to listen to, new recipes to try out, great movies/documentaries to watch, etc. etc.! Why sleep and dream? Why not be awake and make our dreams a reality?

It is quite comforting to me to find out that most of the great politicians in the world also make do with 4 to 5 hours sleep a day. However, I am no politican lah...
just a kaypo (busybody) who is interested in too many activities in this beautiful world of ours.

Gan Chau

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What is Globalization? (Improved Version)

My buddy from the University of Alberta, Richard Tam, had written to

help enhance the original "What is Globalization?" Hence

here is the improved version. Hope you enjoy reading it, and

through the process, realise how small our world has shrunk!

Hence it important that we all live and let live, forgive and

renew, and learn from one another to make this world a better

and lovelier place to live in.

Gan Chau :-)


" Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Answer: Princess Diana's death.

Question: How come?

Answer: An English princess

with an Egyptian boyfriend

crashes in a French tunnel,

driving a German car

with a Dutch engine,

driven by a Belgian who was drunk

on Scottish whisky, (check the bottle before you change the spelling)

followed closely by Italian Paparazzi,

on Japanese motorcycles;

using gasoline refined by Russians,

from the crude oil extracted by Iranians,

shipped across the ocean,

manned by a Phillipino crew

and macho Norwegians officers.

treated by an American doctor,

using Brazilian medicines

as well as Chinese acupunture.

This is sent to you by an American (Georgian),

using Bill Gate's technology,

and you're probably reading this on your computer,

that use Taiwanese chips,

and a Korean monitor,

assembled by Bangladeshi workers

in a Singapore plant,

transported by Indian drivers,

hijacked by Indonesians,

unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen,

and trucked to you by Mexican illegals.....

That, my friends, is Globalization ."

Adapted from

Gan Chau


-Subject: 4th May 2006 --Very unique

On Thursday 4th May next month, at two minutes and three seconds after
1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be

01:02:03 04/05/06.

This will not ever happen again.

(Above info. sent by Mr. Albert Phuah via email.)

Gan Chau

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rialto & the Chef who Cooks with her Heart

I am an untrained chef. I have subconsciously learnt to cook Italian food by observing my chefs all those years when I operated Rialto. When the original owner wanted to pack his bags and go back to Italy, I took over Rialto from him more out of compassion. Now I want to laugh. As a chef by crisis and who improved with each crisis, I must have received more publicity than many a trained chef!

I nominated my ex-student's mother, Mrs. Ram, for the Senior Citizen's Award. She qualified for the semi final round, and the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports must have found me interesting, for I was a teacher-turned-entrepreneur. Then, the goverment was encouraging her citizens to develop a spirit of entreprenuership. As a result, I was interviewed on Prime Time Morning TV as well as in the Straits Times and Today. My aim is to encourage readers that if someone like me can cook, anybody also can lah!

Indeed it is a far cry from my student days. Mom, a fastidious Nonya cook, had never allowed me to cook. Hence when I went to Canada for my undergraduate studies, I shocked my potential employer by attempting to make coffee with huge coffee beans. "Is that how you Malaysians make coffee? " Mrs. Heavenor asked, flabbergasted. "You must first grind the beans into powder?" I thought that would be the end of the interview. How could I convince her that I was capable of looking after her house with 4 children and 2 dogs while she was on vacation in Sweden for a month!

I was fortunate that Mrs. Heavenor had a sense of humour and still hired me. Hence, I learnt by trial and error from the recipe books.

Today, not only can I cook the food in Rialto but I am also able to whip up a satisfactory dinner of local dishes for my staff in 20 minutes. I have also created some of my own menu. The most popular one is my Penang Char Koay Teow. As one of my guests, Uncle John had commented, "It is out of this world!" Since it is out of this world, I should be more down to earth and write down the recipe to share with readers. Please find the recipe in my "Laugh and Be Healthy Blog". The address is

Whenever you are frying either rice or nooodles, always remember that every strip of noodle and every grain of rice must kiss the wok! A big fire is very essential and the noodles or rice must be fried plate by plate. It takes only about 3 to 4 minutes to fry each plate; hence there is no necessity to fry in quantities.

Bon appetit! Buon appetito!

Gan chau

Funny Goldy

If you think I am referring to a gold fish, you are wrong. I am referring to my students' Golden Retriever, Goldy. Mondays are special for me for it means I get to not only tutor my two students, Zhi Yi and Zhi Wei, but I also get to see their lovely pet, Goldy.

After having been given some treats, now Goldy associates me with food! No wonder she is all smiles whenever I am at the gate, calling out to her. She will wag her tail with enthusiastic, yet lady-like fashion, as if saying, "Ah! Here comes my good friend, and there will be food!" The furry bundle will park herself comfortably beside his master, Zhi Wei and later, his older brother, Zhi Yi. Whenever Goldy hears the opening of plastic packets, aluminium foils, etc. she would get up and is all alert. She would give you her paws without being asked, as if saying, "Don't forget my share!" Sometimes I try not to give her extra food because, Goldy is already somewhat overweight as she is, but she melts my heart especially when she gives you not one, but two paws, and I have to catch her two paws or she will be off balance!

Yesterday, I was teaching Zhi Wei the use of euphemism in writing and speaking. For example, it is not very nice to tell a person, "You are too fat and greedy!" Goldy suddenly barked, and Zhi Wei and I burst out laughing! "Oh! Goldy! I'm not referring to you!" Later when I narrated the incident to the boys' mother, Mrs. Jan Koh, she laughed and said, "Goldy probably recognised the words, 'fat and greedy', for indeed she's a very greedy dog".

The maid, Leah, is a very good cook, and would often give me a bowl of her delicious soup. I would often give Goldy the meat and vegetables which she would eat ravenously! She would also take fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and anything that is edible! How nice if everyone is like Goldy. Then mothers and maids would have less headaches when serving food on the tables!

I guess when Emerson said, "Everyone I meet is my superior in some way; in that I learn of him" he probably included dogs! Sometimes when I am fussy about my food, I remember sweet natured Goldy and I would just give thanks for the food and stop complaining!

Gan Chau

Monday, April 17, 2006

Multi-Tasking - A Way of Life

My fellow blogger Daniel, has written in his blog that he almost cut his finger while his attention was somewhat distracted by the television program. That reminds me of multi-tasking. In today's hectic world where time is never enough, it is always a good idea to multi-task but perhaps with the right combination, or you may risk ending up like Daniel. His big Chinese chopper could have done a surgical trick on his finger!

I do not have sofas before the television. They would always be put by the walls of the living room so that the space in the centre is always empty for me to do my aerobics exercise or belly dancing. I cannot sit down on the sofa and watch the TV. Must always exercise at the same time so that I do not end up falling asleep on the cozy cushion. This is probably the reason why I hardly go to the cinema. Once, my best friend, Loh Soh Wah, brought me to the cinema. Since it was the first day of Chinese New Year, there were very few patrons. I decided I should get up from the comfortable chair and exercise. Soh Wah laughed and laughed and told me I was funny like Mr. Bean! I needed to stay awake as I did not wish to waste her $8 ticket treat.

Whenever I am cleaning the apartment, cooking, ironing, sewing or driving, I must listen to music or talks from the disc. Whenever I am in the shower, I will always exercise my vocal chords. It will also help me to continue remembering words of my favourite songs. Once my cousins heard me singing, and complimented on my voice and suggested going to the karaoke lounge! I told them I only karaoke in the bathroom!

In the bus or MRT, I will always read my book or newspapers. Before you realise it, you have reached your destination! Sometimes, if I am very tired, I will sleep and I reallly mean sleep with dreams included sometimes. However, when I am very tired, I try not to fall asleep for there is the danger of overshooting my desired destination. Once I ended up in Marina Bay and would have continued dozing if the staff had not woken me up!

Sometimes friends and clients asked me how I managed to do so many things. The secret is in multi-tasking! If readers know of any combination of good multi-tasking, please share your ideas. Thank you. Terima kasih. Hsieh hsieh. Kamsiah.
Merci. Danke. Dhanyaabad. Shukria. Nandrei. Kam sa ham ni da. Arrigato. Spasiba. Kyae zuu tin par dae. Daayrallaa. Selamat bo. Grazie!

Gan Chau :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another Blog : Laugh and Be Healthy

April 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Laugh and be Healthy

Since so many people have requested me for my personal recipes, I have decided to set up a blog on "laughter and health". Things that promote good health.... good food, joy, attitudes, etc.

I always enjoy talking to my eldest sister, Lee Lee. She is a very well read lady and would often share with me articles and information which she has gathered from books, magazines, etc.

Sister told me that laughter helps to clean out body toxins. It helps to build up the body immune system so that when a person laughs and is happy, he is able to fight sicknesses and diseases.

If readers would like to contribute articles and recipes, they are most welcome to write to me via email and I will post the articles in this blog.

Choo Choo Train :-)

posted by The Oriental Express | 7:30 PM | 0 comments

Hi my dear readers,

I have started another blog : Laugh and Be Healthy and hope to post jokes, recipes, etc. under this blog. Can you believe it? I managed to handle the computer aspect of this blog on my own! The first time I did without help! For some of you mechanically adroit people, this is "kaching putih" or "peanuts" as they like to say in our country, but to me, it was quite an achievement, and I feel so ooo oooooo proud of my little feat! However, I am stuck now... don't know how to link it to the main blog of Oriental Express. Will have to write to my buddy Richard Tam for help again. Hope he will "tahan" or bear with me. Richard would probably tell you that I am one of the most mechanically helpless persons he has evercome across since his undergraduate days at the University of Alberta, and 3 decades later, I am still as helpless as ever! However, my Indian customers, are surprised I could still remember the Hindi movie, "Haathi Mere Sathi" in such great details and this movie was shown 35 years ago! I guess the Creator has given all of us different talents and hence make us all dependant on one another! C'est la vie! For all the help that Richard has given me, I will be more than happy to cook him a lovely dinner of our local gourmet dishes of char koay teow, Nonya curry chicken, fried lice oops I mean fried rice, etc. etc.

Hence, please feel free to email me jokes, recipes, etc. so that I can post on this blog. After all, life is all about sharing..... it only takes a spark to get a fire going.....

Choo Choo Train :-)

The above blog is
My email is

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Parking Idiots, Watch Out!

Soh Yah, one of my ex-customers of Rialto Italian Cuisine, often sends me interesting emails. Her latest email mentioned about a blog created by someome who is concerned about the inconsideration of car drivers who park their cars anyway and anyhow they like! Please look into

Once I parked my little Fiat Uno at the Copthorne King's Hotel at Havelock Road. After lunch, I was furious when I found a white Mercedes had been parked so close to my car that I could not even quite open the door. Even if had to deflate myself by 30kg, I would still not be able to enter by the driver's entrance. In the end I had no alternative but to enter by the passenger's door. If I had known of the existence of the blog for parking idiots, I would have taken a photo. However, I left a piece of paper on the screen of the Mercedes with the words, "Dear Driver of this Huge Mercedes, you have a very big car but a very tiny brain. As such, you only deserve a ride a bicyle!"

Hence, do be careful how you park your cars for Big Brother is watching you. You would not like to see your car featured in the blog which has been set up by one responsible, creative resident in Singapore.

Gan Chau :-)

The Unforgettable Khar-Kiak Man

Just as I came out of the Overseas United Bank at Orchard Road, I noticed a young man holding on to a metal walking bar. With saliva drooling due to his somewhat twisted and contorted face, he was coercing passersby to buy some lottery tickets from him. I decided to give him a $2 note. Just as I was about to cross the street, I spotted a $2 note on the floor. I picked it up.

When I was about to take the escalator at Sommerset MRT I saw a man in a white T-shirt. He was juggling three tennis balls, and at the same time playing his harmonica to the rhytmn made by a pair of wooden clogs or what is called khar-kiak in Hokkien dialect. The almost balding busker was playing Jambalaya. I smiled and decided to put the $2 I picked up into the busker's stainless steel kettle for donation.

When the elderly man took a break, he realised I was smiling and encouraged, he said in Mandarin, "Just now I performed and I enjoy performing.!" I told him he was very good and entertaining and asked him for his name. "Gn Kok Lin", he said and pointed to his paraphernalia of two framed up photos taken of him and some write up in Chinese. He had a mini totem pole which had a sticker of the Goddess of Mercy. Mr. Gn also told me proudly that he had been asked to perform in Tan Pin Pin's short film, Singapore GaGa, a documentary featuring the various sounds of our little island nation. "Ok. I better continue performing now", and he took his harmonica and started throwing the tennis balls into the air.

Soon, more people gathered round to watch his performance and some put in donations into his kettle. During his break again, I asked him about his family. "I live alone in a small flat in Chinatown, as my wife and daughter had left me. I miss them but what to do? Life goes on and I hope to marry again. Hope to find a young and pretty lady... you know", he smiled. "When I'm not performing, I'm at home listening to music from the radio or watching TV. Hope to find my ideal woman to keep me company and I'm confident of finding her", said the gutsy busker with an air of confidence.

I left the place and suddenly felt very happy. Just as I reached the end of the escalator, I found another $2 note! When I reached my apartment, I took my harmonica and borrowed my flatmate's tennis balls and with my wooden clogs I tried to imitate Gn Kok Lin. It was not easy doing three things at one time. My tennis balls kept dropping as I could not co-ordinate my movements. After a while, I decided to play on the piano instead. I felt so much richer for the experience of having watched a humble, elderly man bringing joy to pedestrians with his creative performance. Music has power to soothe many a stressed and overworked Singaporean, and I am definitely one of them.

Thanks, Mr. Gn for reminding me what life is all about. It is about being resilient, truthful, simple and giving for it is in giving that one receives even more abundantly.

Gan Chau :-)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For the Connoissuer of Dogs and Words

New dog cross-breeds?

They crossed a Collie and a Lhasa Apso. The new breed is a Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport.

They crossed a Spitz and a Chow-Chow. The new breed is a Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot.

They crossed a Pointer and a Setter. The new breed is a Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet.

They crossed a Great Pyrenees and a Dachshund. The new breed is a Pyradachs, a puzzling breed.

They crossed a Pekingese and a Lhasa Apso. The new breed is Peekasso, an abstract dog.

They crossed an Irish Water Spaniel and an English Springer Spaniel. The new breed is an Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean.

They crossed a Labrador Retriever and a Curly Coated Retriever. The new breed is a Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of laboratory researchers.

They crossed a Newfoundland and a Basset Hound. The new breed is a Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors.

They crossed a Bloodhound and a Labrador. The new breed is a Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly.

They crossed a Malamute and a Pointer. The new breed is a Moot Point, owned by....oh, well, it doesn't really matter.

They crossed a Collie and a Malamute. The new breed is a Commute, a dog that travels to work.

They crossed a Deerhound and a Terrier. The new breed is a Derriere, a dog that's true to the end.

They crossed a Bull Terrier and a ShihTzu. The new breed is a ………naw, that’s too easy......

Above sent to me by my buddy from the University of Alberta, Richard Tam. If you know of any other cross-breeds, please share. Thanks.

Gan Chau :-)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sister, Are You Performing in a Circus?

Despite its intermittent coughing especially durng rainy days, my faithful little Daihatsu Cuore served me well for one whole year, after which I had no alternative but to scrap the car. My friend, Carrie, recommended me to buy her employer's car as he hardly drove and the mileage for the 5 year old car was quite low. It was an automatic, apple green Toyota Carina. Gosh, at 1600 cc, it was twice the size of my little Cuore. It provided more space to ferry my two pet dogs around Singapore. Kamlette, my mixed Golden Retriever, loved to stick her head out to feel the breeze as the car sped along. On the other hand, my Rough Collie, Kambobo, was contented to spread himself comfortably on the back seat of the car.

One Saturday afternoon, I was rushing to show a client a property. As I was driving along Braddel Road, I began to feel quite uneasy, and hence decided to pray as the car sped along in the heavy afternoon traffic. Just as I reached the trafffic junction between Braddel and Bishan Road, the light turned red and I applied the brake. To my shock, the car spun one round and I shouted out, "Oh God, my doggies have not eaten their dinner yet!" The car came to a halt at another three quarter turn. Fortunately, for some strange reason, there was no vehicle behind or in the next three lanes. Only a van was on the 4th lane, and the driver wound down his window and hollered, "Sister, are you performing in a circus? You're so lucky!" He grinned. I smiled back sheepishly, a little shaken. I was grateful that I had not hit any vehicle or the tree along the road divider! I reversed my car back and brought it to the right position.

When I brought my car to the mechanic and shared with him about my close shave with an accident, he immediately checked the wheels. He was shocked to find that the tyres of the car were too smooth for safe driving. I never knew that car tyres must be rotated or changed after every 5,000 km.! I thought one could carry on driving until the car is scrapped after ten years!

My university buddy, Richard Tam, recently wrote to me, "I noticed that you had several accounts where you were dealing with mechanical things which were particularly obnoxious, such as an eccentric, aged car driving through water. But you came through with flying colors where many a mechanically-adroit person in his right mind wouldn't have dared to tread. You attributed your success to your prayers being answered by the Almightly in whom you place your faith. There's the saying: "God helps those who help themselves". In your case, Sister, it sounds more like "God helps those who can't help themselves and ask for help". Allelujah!"

What an apt conclusion, Richard! In Penang, we often say in our Hokkien dialect,
"Kiang lang chiak gong lang; gong lang chiak Thi Kong". Direct English translation is "The clever people eat up stupid people; the stupid people eat up God". The Mandarin equivalent is "Sha ren yiu sha fu" Direct English translation is stupid people have stupid luck. I am sure Forrest Gump will definitely agree with the above statements.

I guess for people who are very clever, the brains often stand in the way of taking those little steps towards having a mustard seed of faith.

Gan Chau :-)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

For the past three and a half decades, I have been a night owl, usually going to bed around 2 to 3a.m. and waking up about 7a.m.

My brother's childhood friend, Mr. C.K. Yeoh is in his late sixties now but looks fifteen years younger. Despite his busy schedules as a top executive where he has to entertain a lot, he always disciplines himself to go to bed by 11p.m. the latest and would wake up at dawn to play tennis. No wonder his youthful appearance belies his real age.

Recently a client, Mr. Edmund Ong, bought a two room condominium from my vendor. He told us that he is moving to a smaller flat as he is getting old. We thought he is in his forties and were very surprised when he told us he is a grandfather at 60 years of age! Still with a headful of hair, trim figure and sporty looks, he is ideal material for a very good advertisement for any slimming centre. Like Mr. Yeoh, Mr. Ong believes in going to bed early and having a daily exercise of at least 30 minutes. Since he is retired and beaming with energy, I suggested that perhaps he should start a business, helping people to look like 40 when they are 60. With so much obesity and stress around, it could prove to be a lucrative and beneficial business.

Recenly I read an article which advocates going to bed by 11 p.m. The liver cleanses the body toxin between the hours of 11.00p.m. to 3.00.m. Hence I decided to heed the advice given in the article and am now in the habit of going to bed before 10.30p.m. and waking up at about 4.00.m. I find my health improving and I also feel more energetic and alert.

It is interesting to note that the Creator has built in us natural mechanisms to help us keep ourselves in good health. So to my dear readers who are night owls, "Please try to retire ealier for the night.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Little Ironies of Singapura (1)

I am starting a series of little ironies that I see taking place in my beloved nation. Since Catherine Lim had written "Little Ironies of Singapore", I shall entitle my collection "Little Ironies of Singapura" so as not to confuse my local readers.

Let's begin with the first one. Yesterday I advertised my client's 2 storey penthouse unit for rent. It is one of those rare HDB (Housing Development Board) unit beside the Yew Tee MRT. The advertisement generated a lot of response. One agent, Richard Wong from Coldwell Banker Properties, called me and asked to co-broke. I am always willing to co-broke even if I earn less commission, but it means my clients can get their units sold or rented out quickly. My clients' interest must come first.

I mentioned to Richard that actually one couple from India had seen and liked the apartment very much, but decided against taking the unit because the lady was expecting their first child, and hence a two storey unit would not be suitable. I had persuaded the couple that the "compulsory" stair climbing would actually aid in an easier birth of their first child, for exercise is always good for an expectant mother. Richard laughed and said, "Ya, these people complain of climbing one flight of stairs, but the next thing you know, they pay thousands of dollars to exercise in the gym or special pre-natal and post-natal exercises!"

When I first came to Singapore, I was not sure of my directions, and once I asked a stranger where C.K.Tang Departmental Store was located. "Just down the road", the stranger replied. I asked if I could walk to my destination, and she said, "No, very far". Found out it was only one MRT (Mass Rail Transit) stop away, and it took me only 12 minutes to walk to my destination. I know of many Singaporeans who would exercise one hour in the gym but would not walk if the desination is one or two bus-stops away. Of course, it is understandable if it is during the hot afternoon, but here, I am talking about evening and night hours.

On the other extreme, Baaska Caantuul, a Mongolian student who used to stay with me, would hardly take public transport. She could walk for one to two hours from her school because she found our public transport to be too costly for her liking. Yet, to my surprise, I found that she had no qualms spending S$300/- on a Gucchi handbag and S$350/- on a branded outfit! (Could not remember the name of the brand).

Baaska often complained about our hot Singapore weather. Nevertheless, she could walk to school everyday in the sultry heat. Yet whenever she was at home, she would turn the aircon to full blast, as the cold from the aircon was never cold enough for her!

It could be exasperating to put up with people with their peculiar reasoning and habits. Yet is is these idiosyncracies that make life more interesting and colorful! The world is a stage, and we are all but actors and actresses on this big stage of life, so said wise, old, Willy. (William Shakespeare lah).

Gan Chau :-)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Jokes - In the Courtroom

Reported in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal, the following are questions actually asked of witnesses by attorneys during trials and, in certain cases, the responses given by insightful witnesses:

1. "Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?"

2. "The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?"

3. "Were you present when your picture was taken?"

4. "Were you alone or by yourself?"

5. "Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?"

6. "Did he kill you?"

7. "How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?"

8. "You were there until the time you left, is that true?"

9. "How many times have you committed suicide?"

10. Q: "So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?"
A: "Yes."
Q: "And what were you doing at that time?"

11. Q: "She had three children, right?"
A: "Yes."
Q: "How many were boys?"
A: "None."
Q: "Were there any girls?"

12. Q: "You say the stairs went down to the basement?"
A: "Yes."
Q: "And these stairs, did they go up also?"

13. Q: "Mr. Slatery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn't you?
A: "I went to Europe, sir."
Q: "And you took your new wife?"

14. Q: "How was your first marriage terminated?"
A: "By death."
Q: "And by whose death was it terminated?"

15. Q: "Can you describe the individual?"
A: "He was about medium height and had a beard."
Q: "Was this a male or female?"

16. Q: "Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice
which sent to your attorney?"
A: "No, this is how I dress when I go to work."

17. Q: "Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?"
A: "All my autopsies are performed on dead people."

18. Q: "All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?"
A: "Oral."

19. Q: "Do you recall the time that you examined the body?"
A: "The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m."
Q: "And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?"
A: "No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy."

20. Q: "You were not shot in the fracas?"
A: "No, I was shot midway between the fracas and the naval."

21. Q: "Are you qualified to give a urine sample?"
A: "I have been since early childhood."

22. Q: "Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?"
A: "No."
Q: "Did you check for blood pressure?"
A: "No."
Q: "Did you check for breathing?"
A: "No."
Q: "So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the
A: "No."
Q: "How can you be so sure, doctor?"
A: "Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar."
Q: "But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?"
A: "It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere."

More jokes to help my dear readers laugh their way to excellent health!

(Jokes adapted from Send It Out Newsletter)

Gan Chau :-)

Jokes - To Tickle Your Funny Bones

Marriage - Part I
Typical macho man married typical good-looking lady and after the wedding, he laid down the following rules:
"I'll be home when I want, if I want and at what time I want and I don't expect any hassle from you. I expect a great dinner to be on table unless I tell you that I won't be home for dinner. I'll go hunting, fishing, boozing and card-playing when I want with my old buddies and don't you give me a hard time about it. Those are my rules. Any comments?"
His new bride said, "No, that's fine with me. Just understand that there will be sex here at seven o'clock every night ......... whether you're here or not."

Marriage (Part II)
Husband and wife had a bitter quarrel on the day of their 40th wedding anniversary!
The husband yells, "When you die, I'm getting you a headstone that reads:
"Here Lies My Wife - Cold As Ever "
"Yeah?" she replies. "When you die, I'm getting you a headstone that reads:
"Here Lies My Husband Stiff At Last"

Marriage (Part III)
Husband (a doctor) and his wife are having a fight at the breakfast table.
Husband gets up in a rage and says, "And you are no good in bed either," and storms out of the house. After sometime, he realizes he was nasty and decides to make amends and rings her up. She comes to the phone after many rings, and the irritated husband says, "what took you so long to answer the phone?"
She says, "I was in bed."
"In bed this early, doing what?"
"Getting a second opinion!"

Marriage (Part IV)
A man has six children and is very proud of his achievement. He is so proud of himself, that he starts calling his wife, "Mother of Six" in spite of her
One night, they go to a party. The man decides that it's time to go home and wants to find out if his wife is ready to leave as well.
He shouts at the top of his voice, "Shall we go home 'Mother of Six?'
His wife, irritated by her husband's lack of discretion, shouts right back, "Anytime you're ready, Father of Four."

Marriage (Part V) The Silent Treatment
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM." He left it where he knew she would find it.
The next morning, the man awoke, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't awakened him when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.
The message on the paper read, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."
Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.
God may have created man before woman, but there is always a rough draft before the masterpiece.


This email is sent by a friend. Post it here to share with readers. It is important to laugh your way to good health. Laughter massages the internal organs of the body!

Gan Chau :-)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Roger, Invigilate and Proctor

My brother's childhood friend is a police officer. Hence, we communicate more by email than by telephone lest we interrupt him in his work. Email will also give him the time to reply at his own pace. I wrote to him to confirm his lunch appointment with my brother and to my surprise and amusement, he replied, "Roger". I grew up hearing this word, "Roger" being uttered by police officers and organisers using walkie talkies, and somehow could guess the meaning of the word. Hence I decided I would look into the Oxford Dictionary to verify the word, "roger". To my surprise, it has two meanings :- 1) in communication by radio, to show a message has been understood; 2) British English slang (of a man) to have sex with somebody. My brother's friend laughed and said he has never known of the second meaning of "roger."!

I wrote to my buddy, Richard Tam, who is now living in the States and asked him if there is an American slang for the word, "Roger". Richard informed me that the only meaning given in the American dictionary is to show that a message has been received and understood. He also has never heard of the British slang for "Roger." I am curious to find out how many of my readers know of the two meanings of the word "Roger". Please let me have your feedback.

Earlier Richard had asked me about the meaning of "invigilate" which I mentioned in my article, "Adventures of a Little Daihatsu Cuore". Since he could not find the word in the American dictionary, he deduced that the word meant "to supervise an examination" and he was correct. I grew up hearing the word "invigilate" that I had never bothered to check the meaning in the dictionary. From Richard, I learnt that the equivalent of invigilate in America would be the word, "Proctor".

The English Language is so rich and beautiful. I have been learning English for the past four decades and am still learning new words and meanings all the time.

So gentlemen, do exercise caution when you say "Roger!" to the ladies!

Gan Chau :-)

Blood Donation Please, Anyone?

One day, my student at River Valley High, Choon Mui, approached me and asked if I could donate blood to her mother who was undergoing surgery. I had never donated blood before, and like a heroine, I trudged to the Blood Bank. Pride before the fall! To my dismay, I found out that my haemoglobin was below the passing mark of 12. The nurse was very encouraging and gave me some packets of iron tablets.

The following month I went back to the Blood Bank and was delighted that this time I could donate some blood. They would take 330 cc of blood, equivalent to a can of coca cola. As my veins are tiny and well protected by layers of unnecessary fat, it is often difficult for the staff to draw my blood. I would particularly look out for a Nurse Lim, who is the most skilful. At first attempt, she would succeed, whereas others might have to try a few times.

Once a young doctor who looked like as if he was going to take the medical world by storm was preparing to take my blood. Seeing that his confidence somewhat smacked of arrogance, I did not want to warn him of my tiny veins. Dr. Wong poked his needle to draw.... no blood! He tried a second time and still there was no blood coming through. A third time.... still the same result and this time, it was apparent he was turning pale in the face! "I think you better come back again the next time!" he said. "No, Doctor Wong, the Blood Bank is quite far away from my home. Am not going to go back until you manage to take the blood. Please try again," I coaxed.
After the 5th attempt, Dr. Wong heaved a sigh as he saw blood going through the tube.

I am sad that after having donated 75 times, now I have to stop donating blood because of high blood pressure. But the Blood Bank is always so generous. The Bank still gives me ten years of free medical treatment at the various Polyclinics! As a blood donor, I am also given priority to see the doctor, without having to queue up.

Once my rough collie, Kambobo, needed blood transfusion very badly because of tick fever. "I'm a blood donor, doctor. Can I donate to my doggy?" The vet smiled and shook her head. "What group is Bobo's blood?" The vet told me that for dogs, there is no grouping. A healthy dog that has been taking heart worm tablets for 6 months could donate to any dog. The vet later decided to allow her own dog which she adopted from the SPCA to donate blood to my pet. How great is the Creator! If dogs had to have different blood groups, my Collie might not have been saved on time.

I can identify with the feelings of those who look at their loved ones lying helplessly on the hospital beds, and crying out for every drop of blood that could be donated to them. My pet dog's great need for blood transfusion has enhanced my realisation of the crucial necessity of having a ready store of blood in the bank so that every precious person in our country can be saved. I cannot serve in the Army or Navy; the least I can do is to donate blood, which I see as a small form of "National Service" to my beloved nation. I appeal to all healthy citizens and residents: "Please give the 'kiss of life' to your fellowmen. You may one day need it too. Blood donation plese, anyone?

Gan Chau :-)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Day my Fiat Uno Became a Motor Boat

My friend, Judy and I decided to go shopping at Johore Bahru. I decided to drive there. Since I am mechanically sub-normal, I decided to take my Fiat Uno 1000cc for a check up so as to have minimal risk of the car breaking down in my neigbouring country.

Just after shopping at the hyperstore, Giant, we drove back. It started to rain very heavily. Visibility was quite poor, with the rain pelting down. Before I realised it, I had driven into the most heavily flooded area of the city! Other more experienced and alert drivers must have avoided that flooded section, but where angels feared to tread, I had driven right into the waters. Pedestrians and motorists who took shelter in the shops looked at us and some were grinning with amusement. For some strange reason, I was actually quite happy... for it is not everyday you find yourself in such a situation.... my car had become a motor boat!
I thought it was quite fun and Judy and I giggled like flippant schoolgirls!

Judy quickly pulled up her long skirt. "Oh! Oh! The water is coming into the car, Choo", she lamented. The engine had stalled and I was trying to get my mobile phone from my handbag to call for help, when Judy said, "Don't worry, Choo! Let's pray!"

"Rev the engine.... turn on the engine!" I turned on the key but it gave a discouraging cough and suddenly, the car moved slowly but steadily out of the flood. In front of us were two stalled vehicles.... a mini bus and a van!

Judy and I felt jubilant and grateful when we were driving. We knew our prayers had been answered. When we went into the shopping centre to have our tea, we could not contain our joy, and had to share our experiences with the sales personnel.

The following day, I brought my Fiat Uno to the mechanic to clean up. He could not believe his ears when I told him of our little adventure. "Impossible to rev the engine... impossible!", he said. Judy and I knew better. Our faith had been greatly uplifted! To the Creator of this lovely universe, nothing is impossible!

Gan Chau

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Beautiful Mondays

I love Mondays. It is the start of work for a whole week. I feel invigorated after a lovely weekend, especially after service at church where I feel refreshed and rejuvenated by the sermons and the inspirational singing. It is like having my batteries recharged so that I have "new cells" and energy to tackle the challenges that present themselves for the next seven days! On Sunday evenings I like to take stock of all that had happened during the week, and analyse my mistakes and make new resolutions for the following days ahead.

Now my Mondays are even brighter. I look forward every evening when I tutor Zhi Yi and Zhi Wei. They are both bright kids and as much as I am teaching them, I am also learning from them! It is amazing how well informed today's generation is! The older generation sometimes think that today's youngsters are nonchalant. I suspect young people like to act cool, flippant and "tidak apa" (nonchalant), but deep inside them, they worry about their families, the government and their future! Zhi Yi and Zhi Wei are very sensitive to the environment around them. When I asked them what they would do for Singapore if they were in the PAP (People's Action Party), their answers were quite astounding! The two brothers are mature beyond their years!

I also look forward to seeing the children's pet dog, Goldy. This is the first time that I came across a dog who loves to eat anything that is edible! Goldy even loves fresh cuts of apples, cucumbers and tomatoes..... he would make good advertisement material as the Singapore government is encouraging her citizens to eat more fruits and vegetables. Sometimes I would arrive some 30 minutes earlier, so that I could walk Goldy together with Zhi Wei. Goldy would sit next to his favourite master during lessons and observe all that is going on. How wonderful if dogs could also speak! The maid, Leah, would often give me a bowl of delicious home cooked soup.

Sometimes I wonder why Mondays are often described as black or bleak Mondays. Let us paint Mondays with blue skies and sunny weather. Even if it were cloudy or rainy on Mondays, let us remember that there is always a silver lining behind every cloud!

Gan Chau

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Adventures of a Little Daihatsu Cuore

When I saw the little black Daihatsu Cuore 650 cc, I knew it was just the right car for me. After a year, I could scrap the car at $8,500/- which was the purchase price!
For the enlightenment of my overseas readers, all cars in Singapore are scrapped after ten years and certain amounts of refunds, depending on the capacities of the cars, will be made to the owners. Owners can still choose not to scrap the cars, but higher taxes will be levied on the cars.

When I was driving the car on the expressway, I noticed that many motorists on motorbikes and even drivers of luxury cars would turn to look at my car. I was getting a little nervous and asked my friend, Carrie, if the drivers found my car so cute as to warrant a second look. Or maybe they found the driver so oooo cute! It was only when I met my friend, Mr. & Mrs. Tham, did I discover the actual reason. The car number plate ES6263J had struck first prize in the 4D lottery the previous week! No wonder the owner had disposed of the car cheaply and bought a brand new car.

The previous owner of the little Daihatsu Cuore had also installed a little fan. It was sensible because of the small capacity of the engine. I noticed that whenever it rained, my little car would cough like an old man and if it rained even more heavily the cough would become worse and the engine would stall! Once I drove my eldest sister to the zoo, and it started to rain and my poor little car started to cough, and refused to move! "Your car is so lousy!" complained my sister. "Don't worry, sis, we can walk to the zoo; it's quite near and when the sun comes out I will be able to drive the car again." I tried to comfort my sister.

I had to park the car on the roadside, and left a big piece of paper on the windscreen with the words, "Dear Mr. Policeman, please do not fine me. My car has rheumatism because of the rain and cannot move. Owner is at the zoo with her sister from Malaysia. The car will move again when the sun comes out. Thanks for your great understanding!"

Despite the rain, we armed ourselves with umbrellas and enjoyed visiting the zoo.
To my relief, the police had not fined me and the car started moving again two hours later when the rain stopped.

One evening after school, I was trying to rush home as someone was coming to visit me. Just then, my colleague, Mr. Ong, asked me for a lift. Soon afterwards, it started to rain, but as I was in a hurry, I thought I would take the risk with my little bone shaker. As we were driving along Farrer Road, I was horrified to find the road was flooded as the rain had suddenly become very heavy. Mr. Ong realised I was very worried, and said, "Don't worry Choo. Just put in gear one all the way.... don't shift the gear." I was praying very hard for in front of me was a Mercedes Benz and I could see the four wheels churning the flood waters as the car moved along. From the corner of my right eye, I could see a car half submerged in rain water on the opposite side of the road. I kept praying that God would see us through the floodwaters. Eventually when I came out of flooded Farrer Road, I felt so joyful... I could almost identify with the feelings of Moses when he crossed the Red Sea!

The next morning, a colleague told us that her brand new Subaru Legacy 1800 cc was stalled in the flood at Geylang Serai.

I was asked by my colleague to help him invigilate the O level examinations. He had promised to take his family for a holiday during the December holidays. Since I was not travelling I decided to oblige him. I asked to invigilate at the school nearest my home without realising it was the biggest examination centre as private students had to take their examinations at Fairfield Secondary School. It was not easy to prepare the time table for some 24 invigilators as I did not have the experience of Chief Presiding Examiner.

December is also usually a wet month in Singapore. My assistant and I had to go to the Ministry of Education at Tanglin Road at 6.00 am to collect the question papers and to handover the papers at around 6.00 pm everyday for a month. Everyday, I prayed that my car would not stall. On the last day of the examination, after handing in the papers at 6.00 pm, my little Daihatsu Cuore broke down. I was so full of joy. My assistant was very puzzled and confused for she had never seen anyone so happy when her car broke down.! It was only later that she realised the many precarious journeys of faith she had taken with me in the amazing little car!

Once I was cleaning my little car, and I saw an elderly man staring at my number plate. Suddenly he spoke loudly in Hokkien, "Ah Moi, you have struck it rich! Your car number came out first prize." I told him I was not in the habit of gambling. "Why are you so stupid.... the Money God wants to prosper you and you don't know how to be prospered". I shared with him the above adventures of faith I had taken with my little car, and that this kind of joy and blessing can never be replaced by even the first prize in the 4D. I would not know what to do if my little car had broken down in the morning, with the rain and traffic jam, and 630 candidates waiting for their O level examination papers! Even though my little Daihatsu Cuore had been scrapped some twenty years ago, whenever I feel discouraged or pessimistic I would think of my little car, and my faith and spirit would be uplifted.

Gan Chau :-)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Little Get-Away

My eldest sister, Lee Lee, phoned me from Johore and asked me to visit her and her son. My nephew, Samuel, a specialist engineer, has been transfered from Kuching. As I no longer operate the restaurant, Rialto, my time as a real estate agent is now more flexible. I can chose to take off from work any time. I also wanted to use the opportunity to teach my eldest sis how to write letters via email and how to start her blog. She writes very well in Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia and taught these two languages in the secondary schools before her retirement.

I asked the bus driver which would be the best stop to get down as I wanted to choose a station that is not so crowded. He suggested "Kota Raya". When I reached the station, I tried to use the public phone. Strange! The equipment was faulty, but it could still "eat up" my ten cents coin!

When I reached my nephew's rented condominum in Plentong, I was very impressed. Beautiful building! However, my heart sank when I heard that the phone line had yet to be installed! Hence, it meant my nephew could not even use his computer, even though he had already paid for the telephone line in January! Plentong is only 30 minutes drive from Johore Bahru. I thought perhaps I might teach my sister at an internet cafe, but there is no such cafe in Plentong. I am so sad that although Johore is so close to Singapore, yet the authorities are so slow to emulate their friendly neighbour. Please do not misunderstand me, readers. I do not wish to have that "mightier than thou attitude", but it will bring me great joy if I could also share in my neighbour's progress and well being. When we see our neighbours doing well, we also want to rejoice with them in their success.

Never mind. Since I could not use the computer, I spent the time learning how to cook new dishes from my sister who is an excellent cook. My nephew has a huge collection of videos, and we watched a number of movies - Pride and Prejudice and movies by Jacky Chan. I also danced along with my sis and her four winsome, little grandchildren.

In all my travels, I have learnt to adapt and to get the most out of every visit. I try not to complain what I cannot find, but to make full use of what I can find in all the cities I had visited. In China, it did not bother me that the CAAC (Civil Aviation Authority of China) often cancelled or delayed the flights.... I would go around the airport and look for people that I could chat with. Jokingly, I said that CAAC stands for "China Airlines Always Cancel".

In Nepal, especially in the remote villages, we had to learn to use "toilets without walls" and despite the cold, mud floors, I could sleep soundly. The mountains are so lovely and the locals are so warm and friendly. Although the Nepalis have little, they are so generous and hospitable!

I enjoy travelling. Each time I come back to Singapore, it makes me more appreciative of the privilege of living in this efficient, well-planned, clean and green city.

Gan Chau