Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Perfect Timing

My eldest sister has been goading me on to make a trip to Kuching, Sarawak. My last trip to Kuching was about 5 years ago. Since Singapore is in such a central location, my sister and friends have often visited me here. Hence I did not feel the need to travel to Kuching. Sister insisted on my coming and she asked my neice, Esther, in Kuala Lumpur to book a return ticket for me with Air Asia, a budget airline. Really cheap....MR170 return Kuching/Senai. A return ticket to Kuching from Singapore used to cost $420/-!!!

Hence I am scheduled to fly tonight at 7.30p.m. Fortunately I will be back on 4th October, in time for my next contest for public speaking which will be on a division level on the 14th of October.

I seldom do HDB sales as I handle more sales of private properties. My clients' first HDB appointment was on the 25th of October. Though my group director could help me with the appointment, I would prefer to handle matters on my own, instead of troubling others.

What perfect timing!! When my sister bought me the ticket, I was not yet a member of our company's toastmasters' club. I also never expect I would participate in any competition. I guess God knows better what lies ahead for us. In Phil.29: 11-12..."I alone know of the plans I have for you; plans of propsperity and not of disaster, and plans to bring about the future you hope for."

I hope to influence my sister that it is not difficult to learn how to email. I will spend some time to teach her how to use the computer so that we can communicate more regularly. I will tell her too of my toastmasters' activities and perhaps rehearse my speech with her as my critique.

Gosh..... I better start packing my luggage now....May God bless the hands of the pilot of the plane this evening.!


Monday, September 25, 2006

The Blessings of Giving

When I was in the Primary School, I was often sent by my family to run to the grocery store to pick up groceries. As we were quite poor, we only bought the daily necessities. In those days, rice was sold by the gantangs. One gantang was about the size of one milo tin. As I love my father very much, I would not allow anyone to cheat him.... no... not even of one grain of rice! I would tell the shopkeeper, "Please shake. Press. Shake again." Sometimes I would help to shake the tin much to the anoyance of the shopkepers. Each time they saw me approaching the shop, they would say, "Oh! Here comes the shaker!"

Imagine my surprise, when I came across this verse in the book of Luke. "Give and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. With the same measure that you give unto others, it will be given back unto you. This truth is embraced by everyone, regardless of race or religion. In Hokkien, they say, "Oo leong, oo hock. In Malay, they say, "Sesiapa yang berkasi, sesiapa yang menerima." In English, it affirms "It is more blessed to give than to recieve".

All these years, I have won a total of about 167 lucky prizes from different organisations. I hope to convince you by my sharing that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive.

It first started when I was shopping at the NTUC. I bought two packets of M & M chocolates. The cashier gave me a lucky draw form to fill in. I looked at the form sceptically and filled it in anyway. After two months I was surprised when I received a letter informing me that I had won a carton of M & M chocolates. As I had just arrived in Singapore I was not too familiar with the roads. Anyway, from my size, you can see I don't need to eat a whole carton of chocolates. Hence I decided to give the chocolates to my host family in my cell group. Joseph Krishnan had 5 children. The children later nicknamed me "Chocolate Aunty."

Soon after I received many prizes. Each time I gave away one prize, I received another. Once I wanted to go to England to visit my classmate. My ACS boys told me to buy a windbreaker. As I found it cost quite a lot of money, and I might just use it one time, I decided not to buy it. My flatmate's mother came to visit us in Singpore and I took her to Chinatown to do some shopping. I bought some digestive biscuits and was surprised when I was given a coupon to scratch. Guess what? I won a windbreaker! Just the very thing I needed!

When I went to China for a tour, I decided to give away my windbreaker to our excellent tourguide. After my trip from China I found I won a few more prizes.
I wanted to go to Nepal for a short term mission trip. Knowing how poor the Nepalis were, I bought tons of tooth brushes, food stuff and clothes. I bought some medicine as well for our missionaries. When I came back from Nepal, I was surprised that I had won an air ticket to Bangkok with complimentary 4 days 5 nights stay at the Bangkok Palace Hotel. I felt as if God was saying, "Since you have roughed it out on the mountains in Nepal and inhaled all the cowdung smell in the country, you can now live like a princess for a few days at Bangkok Palace Hotel. !

One day, my good friend, Carrie phoned me when I was about to go to work. She asked me which countries would come out tops in the Asean Games. I was not someone who enjoyed sports and I did not bother to read the sports column. I blurted out to her, "First China. Second Japan. Third Russia." Later she called me to say that her friends were laughing at her. These countries were not even participating. Realising my mistake, I told her to put first, Indonesia since she is famous for her bandminton players. Second, Phillipines. Third Thailand... I guess Thais must be better sports people since they are darker than Singapaoreans. I was surprised to find that I had won a gold plated watch. The lady from the SPH told me that there were 1.8 million entries for the contest. I was just so lucky. Only a few days ago, my friend complained her watch had spoilt as she often took the disabled childen for swimming. Hence I bought her a water proof watch.

One day while shopping at Marina Square, Carrie persuaded me to buy a Carven watch. She nagged at me for being frugal as my most expensive watch cost me $30. To make her happy, I bought a watch and was given a lucky draw form. I was surprised to find that a month later, I won a pair of air tickets to Rome.

Since I had already been to Rome, I decided to sell the tickets and used the money to help pay for my brother's hotel stay at Copthorne King's for his two weeks of art exhibition. I bought him some fruit drinks and put them in the fridge for him. I later found that I had won a mountain bike from the fruit drinks company. I had just given my old bicyle to our HDB block cleaner as I saw that his own bike was falling apart.

Once a good friend wanted to borrow $500/- from me which she wanted to give to her nephew in China to buy a motor bike. This elderly lady friend worked very hard as a maid and I was not happy that her relatives were kind of sponging on her to buy them luxury goods. But to make her happy, I told her I would not lend the $500/- to her, but would give it to her as a prsent. Was surprised to receive a registered mail and I thought it must be from the income tax department. To my surprise, I won the second prize in the Daisy Slim milk contest. My student had brought a form for me to participate. It was a bubble speech contest where someone had fallen into a pothole and her little pomeranian was jumping up and down. I was supposed to write what the dog was saying and what the lady was screaming about! I remember scribbling something and filling in the form. Was surprised with wining a second prize of $500/- and a hamper of Daisay Milk products which I shared with my students.

There are many more hilarious incidents on lucky prizes but if I were to share them all with you, I will disqualify myself with time, and all of us will not be able to go back till 12 midnight.!

Hence I will conclude by saying that it is indeed true that it is more blessed to give than to receive. From my sharing I hope you will be encouraged that it is indeed a joy and a pleasure to give in terms of our gifts, time, talents, etc. By giving, we actually become more blessed and enriched.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My 1st Speech Contest

Our Toastmasters' Club at Dennis Wee Properties did not have the time to organise an inhouse contest, so my Vice President for Education asked if I would like to represent our club at the District 80 Division U3 Humorous Speech Contest.

As usual, gungho that I am, I agreed. Gosh..... it was tough. I prepared my first speech, Dogged Determination, which my evaluator literally tore into pieces and left me confused and confounded. Fortunately, all these years my skin has grown thick and well cushioned against attacks of any kind, whether verbal or physical. Frankly, if I could survive my four years at the University of Alberta, competing with students whose mother tongue is English, I could withstand lots of setbacks. Dogged Determination emphasised more on the humour in language. Hence I decided to write on a topic that people may find easier to relate to. Something mundane... like driving.

When I first delivered "Driving Me Nuts" at the Singhealth Club, it brought the house down. The theme was "Colorful and Humorous Night of Laughter". I had to find the most colorful outfit I had in the wardrobe. Most of my clothes are in plain colours of dark blue and black. I found a blouse my eldest sister bought for me but which I hardly wore. It made me feel like Empress Dowager Wu when I wore the blouse which was in bright red and orange. I suddenly felt very shy and found protection behind the lecturn. Gradually I came out of the lecturn but had very little body language. Hence I was surprised when I won the best speaker's prize as the other speakers were very good and natural.

I presented the same speech, but this time with more body language in two more clubs but the laughter was very much subdued. On the eve I almost wanted to chicken out, giving the excuse that the ringing in my ears was getting unbearable and driving me nuts. However when I remembered that Allan Pease had mentioned that the No. 1 fear in England is Public Speaking, I decided to carry on. Also I like to keep whatever promises I have made to others.

At the contest, I prayed hard that I would not forget my lines or suddenly had a stage fright. Thank God for helping me to overcome my nervousness and each time the audience laughed, it gave me time to compose myself and think of the next paragraph!

Wow! The rest of the speakers were very good. It was indeed a humbling experience for me to win the Champion award! I must thank my Vice President, Vanessa Yong, Jerlynn and Abigail Chay. These three ladies gave me the most encouragement for the contest. Also, my thanks to my overseas buddies, James, Richard and Mo Shin, for their comments and editing of my script.

Gan Chau

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The No. 1 Fear!!! Argh!

At the Allan Pease's talks, organised by Toastmastmers in Singapore, I was somewhat taken aback to learn that the No. 1 fear in England is the fear of public speaking!! If the British found it frightening to speak in front of an audience in their own mother tongue, how about people like us in Asia where English is not our mother tongue.

I wonder if the founder of Toastmasters had realised that people are by nature, terrified of public speaking, and hence, came up with ideas and methods to help train members to speak. As my Vice President for Education, Vanessa Yong, had said, "Toastmasters offer you the most comprehensive as well as the most economical way of improving your language, both spoken and written. For S$200/- a year, you can visit clubs 365 times a year if you have the time everyday. That works out to be about 55 cents a day!!! Or it translates into $16.66 a month. Some people pay $500/- a month for twice a week of 2 hours of English Language tuition!

Also Toastmasters' activities help us to polish up our social and leadership skills as we take responsibility for various appointments in club activities.

When we have to prepare speeches for different projects, it motivates us to push ourselves to craft our speech and to rehearse it effectively. Table topics also enable us to think on our feet and speak off the cuff.

All our members would tell you that they have improved since Day One of joining the club. Now that I know that speaking in public is the No. 1 fear, all the more I want to conquer this fear and excel in it.

If any readers in Singapore wish to know about Toastmasters' activities, please let me know. Will refer you to a club that is nearest your home.

Let's toast to Public Speaking!!

Gan Chau

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Just Do It!

It was such a pleasant surprise to find Jerlynn attending our last Toastmasters' meeting at our company premises. By the way, Jerlynn was the first Singaporean blogger whom I met online. She had read my blog and as was my habit, I often clicked on "referral" of my site meter to check on my readers. I was delighed when I clicked on and found out that the blogger is also a fellow toastmaster!!! Most of my readers with blogs are usually from overseas. Hence Jerlynn is indeed a rarity.

I had to deliver my speech "Driving Me Nuts" at my own club meeting so as to get more exposure and practice. Jerlynn told me she was surprised that the laughter was quite subdued and thought that if the speech had been delivered at her club, it would bring the house down! I told her that even though I was stiff like a bamboo when I delivered my speech at the Singhealth Nurses Toastmasters' Club, the audience laughed heartily, but my speech with more body language this time, had garnered subdued laughter at the Sony Ericsson and my own club.!

I practised my speech in the taxi as it made its way to Clementi Park The taxi driver spoke excellent English and was congenial. Both he and my Australian friend, Peter laughed. I mentioned the above incidents to Peter and he had also mentioned that it depended very much on your audience. If I were to deliver to members of a comedy club for example, members would be generally very ticklish.... they laugh at the slightest hint of humour!

Jerlynn, like my overseas buddies, Peter and James, told me she preferred the humour in "Driving Me Nuts". She felt that speeches with language jokes are too common.

This Saturday will be the contest proper and I will just do my best. This is my first public speaking contest. Indeed I have come a long way from the time when I was coaxed by my classmates to speak on behalf of the floor in a debate. To my horror and embarrassment, I could not proceed after my salutation of "Ladies and Gentlemen". I suddenly became tongue tied.! Yes, I could still remember the laughter from the audience when my teacher asked me to go back and sit down!!

I would encourage readers to press on with whatever is being attempted. Adopt a never say die attitude. Do not be afraid to make mistakes for we learn and become better all the time. All the members in toastmasters' clubs will tell you they have improved from day one. Just like the words in Nike advertisement, "Just do it!"


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Laughter or Tears ?

I attended a meeting at the Brilliant Advanced Toastmasters' Club. The members here are advanced toastmasters meaning that they have completed their first ten projects and are now embarking on their next ten advanced projects. As such, most of them are good speakers.

At the end of the meeting, we were asked to give our feedback. I told the members that this was the first time that I was made to laugh by their first speaker in his humorous speech and then made to cry by their second speaker!! The first speaker spoke about the funny aspects of language when words were wrongly used. The second speaker shared about a very sad incident when he was a policeman. (I will share his story in my next blog). Maybe I am an emotional person. Sad movies always make me cry! This is why I always have to bring a pair of dark sun glasses whenever I go to the movies in the day!

My dear readers, which is easier? Is it easier to tickle the funny bones of your readers or audience? Or do you think it is easier to make people cry over your sad narration?

Mm..... guess when Miss Abigail Chay, our popular Media Corps comedienne, comes to our club this Monday, I will also ask her the above questions.

Gan Chau

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Are You Performing in a Circus?"

As I was rushing to show a client a unit in Avon Park, my heart became uneasy as I was driving along Braddel Road. The sky was turning dark and it had just started to drizzle. I began to pray. I always found solace in prayer, especially when I felt uneasy for no reason.

Just then as I was reaching the Braddel/Bishan road junction, the traffic light turned red. I stepped on my brakes. My car started to spin one round. I burst out, "Help Lord. My doggies haven't eaten their dinner yet". The car came to a halt. Miraculously the car did not hit the tree that was planted on the road divider. It was a busy Saturday afternoon, and yet there were no cars behind me. I guessed the drivers slowed down when they saw my car spinning! One man who stopped at the traffic junction three lanes away from my car quickly wound down his windows, and hollered to me, "Miss, you are so oooo lucky. You think you're performing in a circus?" he grinned, shaking his head at the same time.

As I was feeding my three dogs in the evening, I told them how blessed they had been. If anything happened to me, they would have no food to eat that evening!

I took my car to the mechanic for inspection. He told me that my tyres were too smooth. No wonder my car skidded. I never knew we had to change car tyres now and then. I thought they would last for ten years!!!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Singhealth Nurses Toastmasters Club

When my Vice-President of Education, Vanessa Yong, asked me to speak at the Singhealth Nurses Toastmasters' Club, I went "Urgh!" Twenty years ago, I was hospitalised at the Singapore General Hospital after an ear surgery, and I was quite terrified of the stern looking nurses. Even the ones I met at the polyclinics also appeared prim and serious.

Hence it was a pleasant surprise when I found the nurses at the Singhealth TMC to be quite different. The President, Flora Yong, gave an impressive opening speech on humour with quotes from Abraham Lincoln. Their first speaker, Farzeeda, was entertaining, with no hint of shyness for someone doing her first project speech. Even more impressively, all the nurses did not once refer to their notes.... a feat for all public speakers. The second speaker, Cheah Le Le was also quite good and Chen Xiao Rong had all of us fooled with her topic, "My lover" who turned out to be her precious, little son.

It was quite a big crowd, and all of a sudden I felt very shy. Believe me, I would rather sit for 10 hours by my computer and whip up article after article than to stand for 6 to 7 minutes to make my speech! Although I was nervous, I tried to hide my nervousness by speaking loudly and clearly and at the beginning of my speech, I took shelter behind the lecturn. Gradually as I warmed up, I moved out of the lecturn. The crowd roared with laughter after laughter. Whew! As I went back to my seat, I could feel beads of perspiration breaking out and my blouse was drenched with sweat!

The guest speaker, Miss Abigail Chay, celebrity comedienne, made us laugh continuously for half an hour with her humour and antics. She was naturally hilarious! What a great gift from God!

Despite the butterflies in my stomach, I won the best speaker for prepared speech. My evaluator had commented that everything was excellent except for my body language which could be improved by my standing in front of the lecturn. I guess it was the humour in my speech that appealed most to the audience. Most people enjoy a good laugh.

At the end of the meeting, guests were invited to comment on the meeting. I told the audience that if we were sick, we would not mind being nursed by this group of fun-loving, humorous and entertaining nurses! It is amazing what Toastmasters can do to help people discover their potential and to overcome their inhibition and fear!

My eagle-eyed Vice President, Vanessa, had noticed I was more nervous than when I was delivering my previous speech in my own club. Now I understand why some members would not venture to speak in other clubs. Making a speech is already quite frightening but making a speech at unfamiliar terrain is even more scary.

Now readers have to really believe that I am actually shy by nature, and being the youngest and quietest in my family, I have to make a concerted effort to speak in public. Indeed I have come quite a long way from the first attempt at public speaking when I was in Secondary One. It was disastrous. I became tongue tied after "Ladies and Gentlemen". My teacher had to ask me to go back to my seat.!

I learn that the more I practise, the more confident I get. I remember my pastor once said, "Having courage does not mean we are not fearful; it means that despite the fear, we press on!"

Monday, September 11, 2006

What is this Life if Full of Computers?

Each time I go to the bank, I am reminded of my little post office savings bank book which I had some 4 decades ago. Everything was handwritten by the teller who received your deposits or gave you your withdrawals.

I wonder how agents used to work in the past when there was no pager or handphone!

Life is now made so much easier with the advent of all these fantastic electronic and mechanical gadgets!

Communication across the oceans is made so much easier and swifter.... and even cheaper, and in the case of the internet..... absolutely free!!!

I came across an article on the current use of words that still retain their original meaning, but with the advent of the computer, adopt a new meaning.

- Memory was something that you lost with age
- An application was for employment
- A program was a TV show
- A cursor used profanity
- A keyboard was a piano
- A web was a spider's home
- A virus was the flu
- A CD was a bank account
- A hard drive was a long day trip on the road
- A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
- And if you had a three and a half inch floppy, you just hoped
nobody ever found out.

(Adapted from

I can NEVER, NEVER understand how handphones or computers work. The moment the word "virus" is mentioned I think of germs and flu. I cannot understand how my computer can get virus. Anway, I will just enjoy using my computer and mobile phone. One cannot understand everything in life..... I will leave it to the experts.

Gan Chau

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Driving Me Nuts

I just thought I would share with readers my project 5 speech for my company's Toastmaster's Meeting. Project 5 emphasises on body language. Hope you enjoy my speech, and that it will tickle your funny bones :-)


How many of you can drive or are learning to drive at the moment?

Good! I hope my speech, "Driving Me Nuts", will not drive you nuts, and that no one will be discouraged from learning to drive. I want to convince you that if Choo can drive, so can you.!

Good evening Mr. President, fellow toastmasters and guests.

I have always been clumsy. Mechanical and electronic things scare the daylights out of me. Nevertheless I decided to learn to drive. That was some 35 years ago. My helpful friend, David, decided he would teach me how to drive his car... on a quiet road in Air Itam Village, Penang. As I took the wheel, my heart was beating very fast and instead of pressing the brake, I pressed the accelerator as I was turning. I lost control. The car hit a small granite bridge as it went into the ditch. The granite bridge broke into two. The car was badly dented but miraculously, there was not a scratch on us. Quite shaken, David said, "I think you better register with a driving school."

So I paid MR130 for a driving course which came with a guarantee that they would keep coaching you till you pass. . When I had to take my theory test, which was done orally, I was quite nervous. The examiner asked, "What do you do when you come to a roundabout?" I was so relieved. So easy, and without thinking I blurted, "Oh, just go round and round!" Result? I failed!

During the second test, I was trying to park the car. So far, so good. "This time, I'm sure to pass," I thought. Alas! Pride goes before a fall! I forgot to put the car in reverse and bang, all the poles fell down. The crowd laughed and my instructor was furious."You knocked down not one, not two, not three, but four poles - what a record!"

When I first started teaching in Singapore, I converted my Malaysian licence to a Singapore licence. I bought an old little Daihatsu Cuore with a 650cc engine.

When I was driving the car back along the highway, I noticed that people were turning their heads around to look at my car. Getting worried, I asked my friend, Carrie, "Why is everyone staring at my car? Is the car so cute or am I the one who is cute?" Later I found out that the number of the car, 6263, had just won first prize in the 4-D. !!

However, my little car had a big problem. When the weather was fine, it would also be fine. But when it started to rain, the car would also start to cough like an old man with bronchitis, and the engine would stall! Going uphill was a little strenuous for my "old boneshaker." To have more power, I would have to switch off my air conditioning.

Once my eldest sister visited me from Kuching. I took her to Mandai Zoo. Suddenly the weather turned cloudy and it started to rain and my old boneshaker started to cough again. It suddenly stalled .... just a few metres from the zoo. "Aiyo. Your car is so lousy one," grumbled my sister
"Sis, don't worry. When the sun comes out, the car will move again. Let's walk to the zoo and enjoy ourselves first." I wrote on a sheet of paper, "Dear Mr. Policeman, please don't fine me hor. Blame my car... don't blame me. My car has the flu. It will get well when the sun comes up. Am at the zoo with my sister now. Be back soon!"

When we came back from the zoo, I saw a piece of paper on my windscreen wiper, "You're funny one. But I excute you! I think he meant "excuse" not execute! Make sure your car is in good health or don't go gallivanting. Next time no more chance hor.,,, fine $70/-!!

Most of my ACS students came to school in big cars. Hence they found my little car a great novelty. One day, as I was walking towards my classroom after recess, I heard three boys talking among themselves while peering into my car. "Teacher's car is so small one. Must be very light. One push and it will go down the slope!" I coughed and the boys turned around . "Madam, your car is so cute", said one boy with a grin.

One evening, after school assembly, my colleague, Mr. Tan suddenly asked, "Choo, can send me back or not? I need to rush home". It had just started to rain and I dared not tell him that my car was problematic. As I was driving, the rain became heavier, and when I reached Farrer Road, the flood was rising. Sensing my anxiety, Mr. Tan said, "Don't be afraid, Choo. Put to first gear all the way".

On the other side of Farrer Road there was a traffic jam and I could see a car half submerged in water. As the water level was rising, I prayed that my faith level was not decreasing! I prayed really hard. Gradually, I came out of flooded Farrer road...... Hip! Hip! Hooray! Thank God! I felt like Moses, who had just crossed the Red Sea!!

The next morning, I was surprised when my colleague told me that her brand new 1.7 litre Subaru was stalled in the flood. Yet, my 9 year old little Daihatsu Cuore with its 650cc engine survived the flood. !

One day, I was washing the car in the parking lot just below my HDB flat. An old man was staring at my number plate. Suddenly he said, "Ah Moi. Lu huat tat lioa! Tio tao biao" Miss, you have struck it rich. Won first prize " I told him that I did not buy 4D. He said, " Lu jin gong.Tua pek kong ai bo bi lu." You are so stupid. The God of Prosperity wants to make you rich!." I told him that Jesus had blessed me and I'd always been happy and contented. I shared with him about the adventures of my faithful little old car.

The old man smiled. "Ho ah, Ho ah. Lu bo gong. Jin hok ki" Good Good. You are not stupid but very lucky".

Hence, ladies and gentlemen; In conclusion, I'm sure you are now convinced that if Choo can drive, so can anyone! Don't drive nuts; just drive on!!

Toast master of the evening!

Gan Chau

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Is our English Language deteriorating?

Some years back I came across an interesting article in the Straits Times. The writer mentioned that SIA (Singapore Airlines) was seriously thinking of re-training their air stewards and stewardess in the area of speech. After these two incidents, you will understand why.

A stewardess was serving dinner. One of the American passengers in the SIA asked her, "What were you doing before you became an air stewardess?" "Study lor", she replied.

"Wow! You are clever to study law. You have both beauty and brains".

"Cannot meh?" she asked.

Another stewardess asked her British passenger with a voice loud and clear for all to hear, "Sir, do you want chilli on your balls?"

Now with handphones in vogue, many people sms using short forms. Our government is trying so hard to ensure that the standard of speaking and writing in English does not deteriorate.

Gan Chau

A Page from the Past .....

Sometimes I like to look into my sitemeter to find out who is reading my blog and where readers have googled. I found someone had googled, Kam Ning, violinist, and the person found my blog. When I checked it, I found that it was a classmate of my niece, Kam Ning. Hence I sent the article to my niece and I hope both of them will have a good reunion. My niece's classmate, Amilia, makes fantastic costume jewellery. You can see the lovely pictures in her blog -

I began to think of my classmates from Green Lane Convent, Primary and Secondary School. My best friend, Koh Gim Hong, who used to live at Green Lane area, and who was a teacher, is someone I remember most. She is tall while I am short. In fact, she was the tallest in every class we were in. Unlike poles attract. When she visited me, my relatives always referred to her as "your tall friend".

Of course, there was this cute, chubby Cecilia, whom the whole class nicknamed, "Fei Lo". I wonder if she is slimmer now and is in great health.

Then there was Yoke Heen, the genius in our class. She was the head prefect and top girl of the school. I used to marvel at the great number of things she could do simultaneously.

If anyone from Convent Green Lane is reading my blog, please reply me. No one has any excuse not to remember me! My name, "Choo Choo" should ring a bell in your memory. Remember, I was always laughed at during Malay lessons, because Choo Choo sounds like chuchu, the Malay word for grandchild. Of course, some of you cheeky ones called me "Choo Choo Train... Toot...toot".

Remember our beloved principal, Sister Adrian, who was as pretty as she was capable.?
We called her "the Singing Nun" because like the movie character, she was often zipping around on her motor bike with a guitar in tow.! She played field hockey and netball very well. She was everyone's idol.

Please drop me a line and we can talk about the good old days, about school events, our most beloved and detested teachers, etc. etc. Life is full of sweet memories!

My Ex-Classmate! by Amilia

When I was Primary One in MGS, I made a few really close friends... One of them is Kam Ning.

Abit about Kam Ning when I first got to know her...
She is tiny, short, nice smile and has very nice big eyes. Her father is a violin and piano teacher, who owns a music shop/school in Peace Centre (Selegie). She started playing violin and piano at a very young age. She will always walk down to her dad's shop after achool for lessons.

She left school sometime in Primary 3 or 5 (can't quite remember now)... I was quite sad cos' she is a very nice girl and fun to hang out with. When she told us that she was going overseas to study music, I was envious and sad at the same time. After that, we've lost contact with each other and no one else in school could get in touch with her. Even though it's been years since she left, I can still remember her.

A couple of years back, me doing my usual lazing on the couch and switching tv channels, this particular programme caught my attention. I hardly watch Central cos' it's usually cartoons or some boring opera/orchestra... Anyways, there was this violinist playing with the Singapore Orchestra. I thought to myself, she's pretty good! Then she reminded me of Kam Ning... strangely, I watched the whole show. At the end of the show, I realised it was none other but my old friend, KAM NING!

I was like "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"! She's famous!

Out of the blue today, I decided to search on the internet on her... and I found her website - KAM NING. She has her own CDs too... My goodness! I really would love to meet up with her again... Wonder if she still remembers me!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Day I Rescued a Caterpillar

I was taking Chelsea, my cocker spaniel, out for her usual morning walk. I was a little later than usual, as I wanted to complete my project speech on my computer.

Just as I was walking on the pavement, something caught my eyes. A cluster of tiny black ants were moving along with a small caterpillar. At first I thought the caterpillar was dead and the ants were hauling it for a feast. However, I realised that the caterpillar was still alive, as it turned its head now and then as if to fight off the ants. I quickly tied Chelsea's leash to a neaby badminton pole and went to investigate further.

The caterpillar was moving as fast as it could with the army of ants in tow. Suddenly I felt it was unfair that one small caterpillar should be attacked by so many ants.! I decided to take the bottle of water that was meant for Chelsea to drink, and I poured some water on the caterpillar. Immediately the ants let go of the caterpillar as it made its way as fast as it could. The ants quickly regained their composure but by then the caterpillar had slipped away from their grip.

After taking Chelsea for her walk, I returned to check on the caterpillar. It was still moving along the pavement, but this time, it was all alone - safe and sound.

I find it boring to exercise at the gymn and prefer destination walking which I find to be more interesting and meaningful. Instead of taking the train or bus to my office, I will walk there instead as it is only three bus stops away. This way, I compel myself to exercise. At the same time, the money I save, could go to supporting a child at an orphanage in Nepal. When I walk, I get to see more interesting things along the way. Everyday, I spend about 45 to 90 minutes walking from one point to another.

Sometimes I do get somewhat lazy and give myself all kinds of excuse not to walk. The weather is too warm; the sky is turning cloudy; I have too many things to carry,
my bones are aching, etc. etc. During such moments, I think of the little caterpillar which has to crawl almost quite pathetically to reach its destination. I realise it had taken the caterpillar 8 minutes to cover the distance which you and and will take only 5 steps! Yet the little insect persevered.

Hence, I will also persevere in all that I do. In my real estate work; in my tutoring; in my learning of French, in my cooking of new dishes, in my effort to improve my public speaking at Toastmasters' Clubs, etc. etc.

Life, indeed, is really a splendoured thing. The Creator has made us, homo sapien, the crown of His creation.! We do not have to crawl like a caterpillar or wag our tails continuously like Chelsea, my dog. We are equipped with a powerful mind and have a choice in all that we do. We are given a big heart to feel all that we have to feel. Luckily, God did not make me a caterpillar or a dog. I will be bored to death. It is so much more interesting to be a human being.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Much Ado About Mobile Phones

I have noticed some of the less favourable manners of people when using their mobile phones.

One day, I called my colleague, Aveline, and to my surprise, she was still asleep at 10a.m. She is someone who is usually up at the crack of 7 am. She told me she was utterly exhausted, because her client kept her waiting for one and a half hours while she conveniently talked to someone on her mobile phone!! Aveline had an appointment with this client at 10p.m. and did not get to converse with her till 11.30p.m. and her meeting ended at 1.00a.m. Despite the 3 hours, Aveline still did not get the exclusive listing to sell her client's property, because she was put in a tight spot between her loyalty towards her agent who has been a great support to her curtain business and Aveline as a good friend. It is extremely rude to have an appointment with someone and then keep her waiting. I would never pick up my mobile phone if I am have someone with me. When the person is with me, he is like the most important person for he has given me his time, and hence the person who happens to call me can wait. Unless, it is a matter of life and death.... awaiting for news about someone's condition in the hospital etc. calls can be returned later.

I always tell my friends with private numbers that if they want me to call them back, they have to sms or I will not be able to return calls.

I wonder if any of you have received 5 to 8 missed calls of the same number? It is extremely rude to do that for the person is implying the following :-

1) That his recipient MUST pick up the phone immediately regardless of whether he
is in the shower, having a nap, taking a flight in the plane, having a meeting,

2) That his recipient is like a "runaway" .... avoiding calls for reasons best known
to himself.

3) That he is superior to everybody... his call, must, at the crack of ringing,
be answered immediately.

Once I had a client who owns many huge bungalows. Perhaps by virture of owning some bungalows, she feels as if she owns the whole world with everyone in it. When she calls you, she gets uptight and frustrated if her calls are not picked up immediately. One day, I told her, "I am sorry your bungalows don't make my world go round. My three-room HDB flat owner is as important as my bungalow owner. I know when I can return calls."

My papa had always advised us that if we do not know how to manage our time, others will manage it for us!!

Then there are some people who speak into their mobile phones as if they were in their comfortable home. Their loud voices could be heard for miles around. Once in the restaurant, my friend and I heard this man narrating his exploits on the phone!!

Perhaps readers can add many more pointers to the topic of "Mobile phone etiquette".

Gan Chau

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mobile Phones that are Immobile!!

I am sick and tired of people who give me their mobile numbers. Yet when you call them, the phone is either in the "off" mode, or the receiver never picks up the call. Granted that in this hectic world, the receiver could be in the shower or meeting when you call..... yet he never returns calls. A missed call would have registered the caller's number, unless it is a private number.

What is the point of carrying a mobile phone? It is quite frustrating to the caller to have a call unanswered especially when it could be an urgent call.

Some people even have the notion of wanting to save $$. There was this client from China - a researcher at the National University of Singapore by the name of Mr. Wang. He came with his wife one Saturday morning to view a unit that I was marketing. The couple liked my client's ground floor apartment. As I had just started marketing, of course, my owner was asking for the highest price he could possibly get. Later, when my client relented on his pricing by another $25,000/- I tried to call Mr. Wang, but his mobile was always not in service!! Even after I sent a message to tell him about the new pricing, there was no response. In the end, I sold the apartment to my regular client, Mr. Djoko from Indonesia. By hoping to save those few cents, Mr. Wang had actually missed out on a very good deal! A case of "Penny wise, pound foolish?".

I also get frustrated with private numbers unless the call is made from a public phone. Sometimes, I have a "missed" call but it is registered as "no number" because it is a private number. I am not able to call back and it is annoying. I dislike secretiveness of any kind. If a person wants to communicate, why be so secretive? In hectic Singapore, I believe others are not free to make a call unnecessarily, unless they are up to some pranks. So far I never had problems even though I hold two mobile phones. I have found out that it is actually cheaper to have two mobile phones than one! It is also more convenient for me as a real estate agent, because sometimes I have more than two advertisements and I can use both numbers. Sometimes callers cannot even remember why they call you, and I can immediately ask if they are referring to a particular property.

I thank God for the invention of mobile phones which are now small and light enough to be put in my pockets. I recall the first Nokia phone which I had. It was as big as a handbag. It could also be used as a "weapon" to knock on the head of a would-be molestor or snatch thief, because the weight of the phone could render the person senseless for a moment. But the reception of the phone was excellent. It was donated to me by my god-daughter, Carrie, who found it embarrassing to carry such a huge phone when there were smaller and more stylish ones in the market. Once in the MRT, my Nokia rang loud and clear. I realised some customers were staring at me, especially this youth sitting across me. After the call, I smiled at him and asked, "Boy, why are you staring so hard at my Nokia? Don't you know that our future coffins will be shaped just like this handphone?" He was momentarily taken aback, and some passengers were trying to stifle their laughter.

Oh! Mobile phones! Since day one, I have only been using Nokia phones. If you were a Nokia staff reading this article, won't you nominate me for the "Most faithful Nokia user award"?

Nokia mobiles! I can't leave home without them!

Gan Chau

Saturday, September 02, 2006

To Be or Not To Be

My student, Zhi Wei, told me this joke when I went to their home to give them tuition. The joke was told to him by his father, Mr. Koh.

Two men and a lady were stranded on an island.

If the two men were Thais, one of the men would say, "I'll kidnap the lady and sell her to you for 1 baht."

If the two men were Dutch, they would say, "Let's have equal share of the lady. Let's go Dutch".

If the two men were from the Middle East, they would say, "Let us bring the lady to Osama bin Laden first and see what he says."

If the two men were Chinese, they would say, "Let's challenge with kung fu. The hero will get the lady."

If the two men were French, they would say, "Let's see who can woo her with the most romantic ideas and tactics.

If the two men were Americans, they would say, "Let's be democratic and see who the lady prefers".

If the two men were Singaporeans, they would probably stare at each other. They wouldn't know what to do. They were still awaiting instructions from the government.

I remember when I first started teaching 12 years ago, my two friends from Penang and I shared a flat. One of them, Tong, who was quite an outspoken teacher, was often exasperated with Singaporeans. She found the men who tried to date her to be absolutely boring. They made poor conversationalists. One day, she blurted out. "Singaporeans are people with few ideas and little imagination. The moment LKY releases German gas, Singaporeans will agree it is very fragrant!" Though Tong was somewhat exaggerating, and (perhaps quite crude) nevertheless there was some truth in what she had observed.

I myself too, found it hard to carry on an interesting conversation with some Singaporeans. In sharp contrast, I could enjoy talking with the man on the street in Canada. Even the toilet cleaners had many ideas what they would like the government to do for them.

It is great and encouraging to see Singaporeans becoming less apathetic now. I enjoy reading their comments on the various issues that affect the livelihood of Singaporeans. However, writers must remember to be constructive in their criticisms so that their ideas will benefit all round. It is even better to put your thoughts into action.

However, of late, to my delight, more and more Singaporeans are beginning to be more in-depth in their analysis. Many are expressing themselves very well in their blogs. We have great writers like Mr. Brown, Mr. Miyagi, Mr. Wang, etc. who will continue to inspire youngsters on the importance of reading and writing. Most important, to instil in readers the ability to laugh at themselves and at things that will even make Ah Meng, the Orang Utan, smile. :-)

Gan Chau