Monday, July 24, 2006

I Hear with My Heart

By now, those of you who have been following my blog, will know that when I sleep, I sleep like a block of wood!! Once I sleep, I am transported into a different world, oblivious to the noise around me. It could be the loudest thunder clap or the Chinese opera songs in motion.... I would slumber peacefully.

Yet whenever my pet dogs bark or whimper, I will be able to hear them! I think most mothers are like that too. The moment their newborn babies cry, they will stir from their much needed sleep!!

Right now I am dog-sitting my client's dog, Chelsea, for three months. The moment Chelsea barks, I will call out to her to reassure her it is alright. Like most mothers, I hear with my heart where dogs are concerned!! The power of love!!

Gan Chau


My buddy, Richard Tam, from the University of Alberta, sent me this email which I thought might interest readers. I am always crazy over learning new words. After all words make a language, and we will take a life time to learn all the words in the English Language!!


The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to
take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the 2005 winners

1. Cashtration (n): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

2. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until
you realize it was your money to start with.

3. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

4. Bozone (n): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

5. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
getting laid.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
person who doesn't get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is, like, sending off all
these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's, like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when
they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n): The frantic dance you perform just after
you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your
bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n): The color you turn after finding half a worm in
the fruit you're eating.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Think twice, Mr. Terrorist!

When I was at the Causeway on the way to Kuala Lumpur, the bus driver told us to just get our luggage and we could leave the edible staff in the bus. I was secretly overjoyed when I heard that for it meant I could buy tons of foodstuff from Penang on my return to Singapore. I wanted to give treats to my friends and colleagues, and these stuff could weigh a ton!

My brother was concerned about my baggage, but I gleefully told him I could leave them in the bus and only carry my luggage. Hence I was surprised when the bus driver, with arms akimbo, asked if the bags of food were mine. "Yes," I replied sheepishly. "Why didn't you take them with you? You know, the officers came up and wanted to haul your bags away, but I pleaded with them, and after checking they left them for you. If not, lady, you will have to go back all the way to claim them, and this would mean delay for everyone in the bus!"

I apologised profusely, explaining that the previous driver had said it was not necessary. "It is ok, when you enter Malaysia, but not ok when you enter Singapore! You should know, lady, for you are a Singaporean".

I felt my cheeks turning warm with embarrassment. At the same time, I felt very proud of Singapore. By golly! The officers left no biscuit unturned!! I was relieved that my 12 boxes of Penang Tau Sar Piah (popular Penang biscuits) and 20 packets of nutmegs were still intact. My pride swelled when I saw officers with machine guns patrolling the Immigration check point with some Alasation dogs in tow. The terrorists better think twice before they think of bullying us in Singapore. Our vigilent officers would surely not leave any biscuit or nutmeg unturned!!!

While we are grateful to the Army, Police and Ministries, let us all also play a part to help keep our little country safe by being alert at all times.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Home Sweet Home!

After 5 days' break in Kl and Penang, I am now back, all charged up for work.

It was difficult to find an internet cafe in Penang, and I was surprised that few people in Penang had internet access!!! Even though my relatives have computers, they use the computers other than for internet!!

Hence the first thing I headed for was my computer upon my return!! First to check for Mindef's reply concerning Ike See's deferment. Since I had no reply yet, I wrote to the officer to tell him I was looking forward to his reply. He kindly replied me soon after to let me know that Mindef has not yet reached a conclusion. I am still very hopeful for a positive reply.

My beloved brother had not wanted me to come back because I was not well but I insisted as I had an appointment with my clients at the Housing Development Board. Since I was acting for both buyer and seller, I had to be present. Also there was my first project at our company's Toast Master Club. Despite feeling somewhat exhausted, I won the Best Speaker's prize!! Frankly I am more comfortable typing at this computer than standing before a group of people to deliver my speech. The butterflies still remain in my stomach despite having been a teacher for 10 years.!

The committee members were going for karaoke after the meeting. I declined to join them as I was utterly exhausted. I literally collapsed onto my bed, thanking God for a roof over my head and for all His blessings which I don't deserve! His Grace is sufficient for me. Little things make me hapy and contented. The parcel which my Canadian friends had sent to me at my office, had arrived. I had left my antique china porcelain at Mr. Dunlap's garage for 28 years and had forgotten about it.
The Dunlaps even kindly packed and paid for the postage for me. I felt so proud when my office staff remarked what wonderful friends I have. I am also happy as I was informed by the office that I am one of the top 30 agents for the month of June, this time from 30th to 11th position. All thanks and glory to God!

Gan Chau

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Choo Choo Train still chugging down the Tracks

Wow! I am writing my 200th article today since I started writing my first article "What's in a Name" on 15th of November 2005! I am writing my 200th article from my niece's lovely home in Kuala Lumpur! Again thanks to my lawyer friends, Yeow Choo and Lilian, I was encouraged to "expose" my writing to a wider readership via my blog. The ladies told me they enjoyed my writing and I thought perhaps since they are in the legal profession they will take to words like fish to water. But will others be just as keen to read my blog? I am so thrilled to discover a whole world of interesting bloggers and readers not only in Singapore but throughout the world!! Through my blog I met interesting bloggers like Daniel and James Bevan from England, Thanh from Australia and Michael from USA. Being a dog lover, I am thrilled to read Jaffeboy's blog created by his doting owners, Chris Graham and his wife. I enjoy the comments from them. It makes me happy to know that my worries and apprehension are also shared by others, and that I am not a freak after all!!!

I am also grateful to my university buddies, Moshin, Richard and James who have been faithfully reading and commenting on my articles. Thinking of me as a train, Moshin came up with the name of "The Oriental Express". They act as my editors, and together with Thanh, also help me with my problems on the computer.

From being computer-phobic, now I just love this amazing invention!! I always thought I could only write with my pen. I am so excited that I can create a piece of writing within twenty minutes because typing on the computer is made so easy!! All these 200 articles would not have been possible without the encouragement of readers who give me positive feedback about being inspired by my articles! Yes, I have a great papa whose wonderful teachings I wish to impart to readers. Although physically 52, I feel I am mentally and emotionally 152! I thank God for my rich experiences of having travelled to some 37 countries and 160 cities.

It is increasingly getting more difficult to write as my work load increases. However, I must make it a point to press on with my writing consistently. I hope God will bless this Choo Choo Train with good health so that she can continue picking up passengers and offering those who are down, a lift on her little train.

Choo Choo Train, a chugging down the tracks..... Toot! Toot!

Gan Chau :-)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Little Break

Tomorrow at six in the morning, I leave for Kuala Lumpur. I would actually prefer to leave Singapore at night, but that would mean arriving Kuala Lumpur at the unearthly hour of four in the morning. As Kuala Lumpur is not a safe city for a young lady to drive in the early morning, I decided to arrive during the day so that my niece, Tyng, would pick me up at the bus station around noon. Tyng would drive the following morning to Penang to spend some weeks with her parents before she flies off to Chicago to pursue her tertiary studies.

I look forward to seeing all my relatives, especially my beloved brother, cousins and aunty. I also look foward to climbing the hill to my friend's fruit orchard and have a feast of different types of durians, rambutans, mangosteen, etc. All these are seasonal fruits, and due to the hot weather, the harvest is abundant.

My brother does not have a computer at home, and I hope to be able to find an internet cafe. I have been nagging my brother to learn the computer. I will be also anxiously checking for Mindef's reply concerning their approval of Ike See's deferment.

Penang is well known for her cuisines.... gosh... there goes my diet. Oh well, as Thanh, my fellow blogger from Melbourne had said, "Look into the slimming mirror and enjoy all the food". Many of my Singaporean friends also know about the fantastic cooking skills of Penangnites, and have asked me to buy them some delicacies. I have decided to buy some delicacies to give our agents a treat at our weekly breakfast meeting. During the last two days, I was given four new exclusive listings to market my clients' properties. Hence, I will play with all my heart these few days during the break and come back to work with all my heart!!

Gan Chau

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"Going Bananas !! "

"Bananas are good for your health, eat one everyday....", coaxed my papa.
We grew some banana, papaya, chiku, jambu, guava and rambutan trees in the
huge, fertile compound of our kampong house in Penang. Ever so often, my
relatives from Taiping, Perak, would bring tons of bananas and other fruits
which we happily distributed to some of our neighbours. Ever so often, on
weekends, we would climb the hill to my uncle's fruit ochard, and happily had
a feast of durians, and all the other seasonal fruits.

Hence, it should not be surprising that when marketing, I am more inclined
to buy more fruits than meat!! I literally grew up on a fruit diet!!

My best friend, Choon, recently sent me an interesting email on bananas
which I would like to share with readers with the hope that ater reading,
my dear readers would be convinced to take more fruits. I bet, you will
NEVER look at a banana in the same way again.

Stay pretty, stay handsome and stay healthy!! :-)


Bananas. Containing three natural sugars - sucrose,
fructose and glucose
combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant,
sustained and substantial
boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide
enough energy for a
strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is
the number one fruit
with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us
keep fit. It can also
help overcome or prevent a substantial number of
illnesses and condition! s,
making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by
MIND amongst people
suffering from depression, many felt much better after
eating a banana.
This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of
protein that the body
converts into serotonin, known to make you relax,
improve your mood and
generally make you feel happier. PMS: Forget the pills
- eat a banana. The
vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels,
which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the
production of haemoglobin in
the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is
extremely high in potassium
yet low in salt, making it the perfect to beat blood
pressure. So much so,
the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed
the banana industry to
make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce
pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex)
school were helped
through their exams this year by eating bananas at
breakfast, break, and
lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research
has shown that the
potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making
pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including banana! s in
the diet can help restore
normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem
without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a
hangover is to make a banana
milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the
stomach and, with the
help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar
levels, while the milk
soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in
the body, so if you
suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for
soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals
helps to keep blood
sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite
cream, try rubbing the
affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many
people find it
amazingly successful at reducing swelling and

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm
the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?! Studies at the Institute of
Psychology in Austria
found pressure at work leads to gorging of comfort
food like chocolate and
crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients,
researchers found the most obese
were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The
report concluded that, to
avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control
our blood sugar levels
by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours
to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against
intestinal disorders
because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the
only raw fruit that
can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler
cases. It also
neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by
coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas
as a "cooling" fruit
that can lower both the physical and emotional
temperature of expectant
mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat
bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help
SAD sufferers because
they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

>Smoking: Ba! nanas can also help people trying to give
up smoking. The B6, B12
they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium
found in them, help
the body recover from the effects of nicotine

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps
normalize the heartbeat,
sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's
water balance. When we
are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby
reducing our potassium
levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a
high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in "The New England
Journal of Medicine,
"eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the
risk of death by
strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that
if you want to kill off
a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on
the wart, with the
yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place w!
ith a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills.
When you compare it
to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the
carbohydrate, three
times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and
iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.
It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best
value foods around.

So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so
that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

PS Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all
the time! Also probably, why I grew up a happy and contented

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Importance of Being Fragrant

It was a great evening. I had been corresponding with Sylvia Khoo, a Penangnite who had lived and taught violin in Singapore for the past 20 years. Sylvia invited me for an evening of SSO Young Performers Concert featuring Pan Yi An and Jonathan Lim on the piano. I got to know Sylvia because of our common interest in helping Ike See with the petition for deferment from National Service. After all, Ike See is Sylvia's student. Sylvia also graciously invited me for a Japanese dinner. I told her my good friend, Amu, would also be coming along. "Why, your name all so funny one, hah?" asked Sylvia. "There is Choo Choo, Bo Bo and now Amu". "Who is Bo Bo?"

I told Sylvia that Bo Bo was the name of my rough collie which had passed away two years ago. I guess Sylvia could probably guess that Amu is an Indian name.

The young pianists, Yi An and Jonathan, were really great. Such display of dexterity on the piano. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra has also improved tremendously since I last heard my niece, Kam Ning, perform with the Orchestra As the taxi queue was quite long, being a Friday night, I decided to take bus No. 56 home. I was thinking over the day's events and how thrilled I was to have finally met Sylvia. Suddenly an Indian lady with quite prominent buttocks plonked herself onto the empty space next to me. I found myself squeezed aginst the side of the bus. She looked at me and smiled apologetically. I smiled back. She was a fair Punjabi lady, well dressed with her hair combed neatly and a big bunch of white flowers were cascading down her long hair.

Suddenly I could smell something unpleasant and somewhat pungent... it smelt of diarrhoea. I wondered if the lady next to me had stomach ache and had a bit of diarrhoe on her clothes. Then I realised that the smell was actually caused by the decaying bunch of white flowers. I took a closer look and realised that the flowers were somewhat faded and stale. I guess with the perspiration from the lady's hairs, the flowers were fighting a losing battle to remain as fresh as they possibly could.

Flowers look nice on the hair.... but only if they are fresh. In our hot and humid weather, people must remember that the flowers don't last long on the hairs. It would be better if people could buy silk or non-living objects for decorating their hairstyle.

The bus was jam packed and there was no way I could get out of my seat to go to the back. I was trying to hold my breath during the journey but when I ran out of energy, I decided to use my tiger balm and tactfully rubbed some on my forehead and nostrils. Sigh!.... I really wish people were more sensitive to their surroundings. Especially in our crowded, air conditioned bus, the air is easily permeated with odours. This is why I dare not board the bus, MRT or taxi if I do not take a shower after a bout of exercise at the gym. Others would have to tolerate the odour and would be too polite to voice out just as I could not voice out to the Indian lady sitting beside me. I guess we all would need to spend a little more on cologne, perfumes, talcum powder and body spray. It is perhaps ideal to shower twice a day especially when the weather is hot and humid.

Gan Chau :-)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blog Templates

Whenever I read a blog that has white print on a black background, I get a headache.
I find that my eyes start to feel uncomfortable and I begin to see "stars". Hence even when it is an interesting blog, I find I could not carry on for too long.

From young, I had been advised by my family not to watch TV in the dark, because the brightness from the TV screen in the midst of a dark room is bad for the eyes. I get the same feeling when I am reading an article with a black background. I think Gayle Goh graciously changed her blog template when someone commented that it was hard to read her long articles in white print against a black template.

It would be great if bloggers could change to templates with lighter backgrounds so that readers can be encouraged to carry on reading the otherwise interesting articles.

Gan Chau

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Jewel in the Family

Last Wednesday, after the end of the Toastmaster's meeting at Dennis Wee's office, I insisted on taking the train back on my own, and not trouble my colleague, Aveline, for a ride. I enjoyed taking my leisurely ride in the train and reading my book. This was such a far cry from the previous month when I had hurried Aveline to rush me home, just so that I could be on time to watch my favourite program, "Jewel in the Palace" or in Korean "Dae Jang Geum".

I seldom make time for watching serials. I prefer to watch Animal Planet, National Geographic and Discovery Channels. During my last trip to Penang, I had noticed that my brother and sister-in-law were watching Dae Jang Geum on TV, but thinking it was some costume serial, I was not interested. However, when I read in the papers how even some of our Malay and Indian folks were keenly persuing the serial, I thought I must join them too! After the first evening I was hooked! Since then, I had never missed an episode. My clients laughed when I told them dinner had to commence early as I had to go off at 9.30p.m. when I invited them for dinner. All my friends and clients knew they could not phone me between 10.00p.m. to 11.00 p.m. as I would not pick up the phone. I was following this marathon serial with the same intensity as "Oshin" which I watched some 18 years ago.

Perhaps it is for this reason that I do not often like to watch serials To me, either I watch with all my heart and soul, or not at all. Hence, now I limit myself to watching Hindi or Tamil movies. Every Saturday or Sunday afternoon, if I do not have to view properties with clients, I will go to the club, and the staff there will know my request to switch to Central Channel. It is less boring to exercise when you are watching a movie at the same time.

Once I called my sister-in-law to tell her that I was watching Jewel in the Palace.
She told me that my brother was also like me - never missed an episode if he could help it, and literally all his entertainments on weekdays came to a standstill.! I am glad that my beloved elder brother and I are so similar!

I have learnt so much from "Dae Jang Geum". I am not great like my heroine, but I hope I can at least be the Jewel in my family!

Gan chau :-)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Romancing the Property

Very often, clients and others ask me about my work as a real estate agent. Whether it is difficult to sell a property and how I feel about my job.

I have tried to write a poem - a haiku on this topic but it is somewhat difficult.

As brevity is the wit of soul, perhaps let me try to put it succintly, using similis.

Showing a property is like courting a lady,
Negotiating a deal is like making love.
Closing a deal is like having an orgasm.!

Gan Chau