Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It had been raining cats and dogs for several days last week. Hence it was with some apprehension when house moving day drew nearer. I had originally intended to move on a Saturday, but knowing that Little India would be crowded on weekends, I decided to choose a Monday. I prayed hard that it would not rain on the day of moving, for the rain would be detrimental to my brother's paintings.

Thank God. He answered my prayer. The weather was so beautiful on Monday...breezy and not so warm as the sky was somewhat downcast at times, but the rain did not come down.

Happiness in life is in small, little things....it is heartwarming to know that God takes care of little things. Hence, would He not even take care of big things in life that matter to us such as our career, single or married life, our family and our health and safety. Let us carry all the things that matter to us to God in prayer. :-)

While we are on the topic of weather, I also notice that during all these 24 years of living in Singapore, it has never rained during the National Day Parade. Sometimes, the sky could be downcast, and it would rain, but somehow the rain would always stop at around 4pm, an hour just before the parade! I wonder if my readers in Singapore notice this too?

Papa had always reminded us never to take things for granted and to always be grateful to God and people. Only then can our life be enriched with meaningful living, realising that there is only so much we can do.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ganchau is still alive and kicking!

I have disconnected my internet today as I thought I would be moving today. However, it has been postponed to 30th July.

Hence I am typing at my office. I will not be posting articles on my blog, for the next few days I will be busy packing, moving and sorting out the moved-in boxes. This is the 14th time I am moving house in 27 years! I hope this is the last time!
I remember when I phoned Enoch to help me move, he said, "What? Moving again!"
Enoch had helped me move just 2 years ago!

My best friend, Soh Wah, told me that she often checks on my blog to read the latest article. By reading my blog, she knows I am still alive and kicking.

Back to work! Moving house.....arghh!

Laksa, laksa, laksa!

I am someone who is fond of laksa. I have learnt that what Singaporeans refer to as laksa is actually what we Penangnites refer to as curry noodles. For Penang laksa is entire different, being cooked with sourish assam soup, fish, pineapples, and special herbs. You either love it or hate it. However, for some, it could be an acquired taste as one of my colleagues, Sally, had testified. At first she did not like Penang laksa; but now she loves it.

The curry noodles in Penang are less rich with coconut milk. In contrast Singaporean laksa has too much coconut milk. So far the best laksa I enjoy is at Block 94, Toa Payoh Lorong 4. The stall, Lik Ming, has been in operation for two generations. Mr. Chen told me that his father taught him the secret recipe. Cheap and good at $2.00 per bowl! Die, die, must try!

My other favourite laksa stall is at Singtel canteen. I read in a review that this stall is also the favourite of Lee Hsien Yang. The lady who cooks it is an attractive lady with an equally attractive daughter who works as an air stewardess with SIA. At $2.00 per bowl... a rare treat in the heart of Orchard!

Today I passed by Killiney Road and realised there is a new operator in one of the shops - Depot Road Claypot Laksa. I had read about the famous Depot Road Laksa, but had never tried it. I am one of those who would not bother to travel out of the way just for food. I thought I would try the Depot Road Laksa to see why people like it so much. I found the coconut milk too thick for my liking, very much like Katong Laksa.

Laksa - an easy dish to cook, but one that is difficult to perfect! It is like the piano - easy to learn, but difficult to master!

Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore

I like the coffee and kaya toast in Killiney Kopi Tiam at Killiney Road. However, I dislike the stuffy coffeeshop and feel that the many fans on the walls do not really help to cool down the place. Perhaps the heat from toasting the bread only adds on to the warmth.

Yet I often wonder why customers do not mind the sultriness. I remember when I used to run Rialto along the same stretch of Killiney Road, woe to us, should our airconditioning ever weaken or break down. Customers would complain about being too warm.!

I am glad that Killiney Kopi Tiam has started franchising. Most of the franchisees have airconditioning. I often patronise these outlets as I find it more comfortable to drink coffee in a cooler place.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Peep into the Original State of my Apartment




Posted by Picasa

Since some readers have been asking me to have a peep of what I have been busy renovating these few weeks, I decide to post some pictures of the apartment in Little India.

Nothing much to look at now but it will be better after renovation. Being the frugal type, I renovate only that which is necessary. Thank God for the lovely granite flooring which is still in excellent condition. The windows and grills can remain as they are still good.

What I like most about the unit is the airiness and breeziness. My colleague Vincent who had kindly helped me to paint told me that the breeze comes from the sea as it is not too far away. There is no blockage from the bedroom windows because most of the houses in Little India are two storey conservation houses. Hence from the bedroom windows I can see the city lights and lights from tall buildings. The lovely scenery looks like a picturesque postcard!

I love Indian movies, music and dance....but I do not quite like Indian food. This is a blessing in disguise for me, for I will not be tempted by the many Indian restaurants and food stalls near my apartment. I find the spices that are used in Indian food somewhat too strong for my nostrils. Anyway, with my excess weight, I should cut down on curries and bread.

It is just one minute walk to the Little India MRT Station and Tekka Market. I can easily get fresh meat and vegetables from the market. Hence, I have little excuse now not to cook everyday. For the past 2 years I have been eating out mostly because the market is quite far away from my current abode. Hence, it will be easier for me to help cook for our toastmasters' and breakfast meetings at our office. My parents have imbued my siblings and I with the spirit of hospitality.
Hence, it means I will be more likely to cook and invite friends home for lunch or dinner.

I intend to walk back home from the office in the evenings so as to avoid the crowded MRT during peak hours. With this forced destination for a walk, my readers can expect.....ahem! a slimmer Choo!

I will post the new look of the apartment after I move in! House moving! Arghhh!!

Gan Chau :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


"Aunty, are you using some kind of soft saree materials as curtains for your new home?" asked my niece, Yann, in her email. Yann lives in Kuala Lumpur, and being an arty farty type and someone who loves the aesthetics, will be coming to Singapore to help in her husband's art exhibition. Chin Hoe will be holding a one man art exhibit at Art Folio, Raffles Hotel in September. He is famous for his still life paintings on Chinese porcelain, furniture and fabrics.

"My dear, there will be no curtains. In fact, aunty has been "curtainless" for as long as she can remember since moving to Singapore," I informed my niece.

Curtains are lovely to look at. In fact, they dress up a home. When a home has no curtains, it looks less cosy and complete, like a half-dressed lady. Maybe the practical part of me has taken over the aesthetics part of me. I am too practical. I love the daylight and the moonlight to stream into the home. I am also someone who has the tendency to look out of windows whenever opportunities present themselves. Being the type who gets warm easily, I like windows to be open to admit all the breeze that can come in!

Also, being so busy, I try to cut down on my housework. :-) Curtains are heavy and difficult to wash. It is also too costly and troublesome to take them down to the dry cleaners. I always avoid curtains and carpets as they gather dust easily. I prefer to mop off the dust on the granite and ceramic floors. However, in Canada, it is imperative to have curtains and carpets because of the extremely cold weather.

Thank God that my flat has no blockage as the nearest high rise building is quite far away. Unless people use powerful binoculars! The two bedrooms get some morning sun, but I always get up before sunrise. Perhaps I may put some curtains for my guest room, as I would not expect others to wake up as early as me.

I wonder if any readers are like me.... curtainless or almost!

Happy housekeeping!

Gan Chau

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Have an Exceptional, Superb and Powerful Life!

These past few days have been filled with activities from early morning to late night as I try to cope with work as well as seeing to the renovation of my flat and packing up! It never rains but pours, but on the positive note, I love powerful jets of water to flow down on my head! Refreshing and rejuvenating!

I received an interesting email from an ex-customer of Rialto, the faithful Chin Shan. I have posted the tips for a great life to share with my readers too. Happy Living!


Gan Chau

40 Tips for an Exceptional, Superb & Powerful Life!
These are really very powerful. Implement whatever you can.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimat e anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. Buy a PVR tape your late night shows and get more sleep.
4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, "My purpose is to ___________ today."
5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.
6. Watch more movies, play more games and read more books than you did in 2006.
7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less foods that are manufactured in plants.
11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Clear your clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.
Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.
18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
21.You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
24. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie (not you guys.) Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
33. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
34. The best is yet to come.
35. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
36. Do the right thing!
37. Call your family often.
38. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: "I am thankful for __________." Today I accomplished _________.
39. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
40. Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

May your troubles be less, May your blessings be more. And may nothing but happiness come through your door!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

With GST, Now Toilet Paper Also Must Buy!

Feeling somewhat hungry, and yet not wanting to eat anything heavy, I decided to patronise my favourite Cafe, Qi Qi, at Rochor Road as it was nearby. I specially like Qi Qi's mee Siam.

This time, I noticed that the price of $3.00 has been increased to $3.20, presumably to cover the 7% GST. I do not mind to pay slightly more for the mee Siam. The government has raised the GST and everyone is trying to cope with the new tax increase. Qi Qi is quite popular for its tasty local fares.

However, I was not prepared to find the washroom barren of the most crucial item ...toilet paper. When I asked the staff, she said, "Want paper, must buy ....30 cents!

I told the staff that it is imperative for owners, especially restaurateurs to supply toilet paper and soap in their toilets. These are two very essential items for the purpose of hygiene, especially in eating places. Instead of being reciprocative or teachable, she gave me an angry look.

Just then, my colleague Aveline called me on the mobile, and I told her about the toilet paper. "So how?" asked Aveline. "It's not urgent. I'm going to walk over to the MRT Station to use the toilet", I said within earshot of the staff.

Gosh! I realise that there is nothing we can do about the GST, but at least we can use the free public toilets instead of succumbing to the 30 cents charge for what should have been provided free anyway.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

An Idle Mind is the Devil's Workshop!

I was already rushing for time. I had to buy some paint and brushes so that my colleague Vincent could help me with the painting of the flat. I had to push the shopping a day earlier because I had an unexpected meeting for our toastmaster's activities - launching of a new club at Shenton Way today.

I had put up two advertisements. Normally when I advertise, I would prefer to be at the office so that I could answer phone calls. It was not easy to be carrying things and at the same time, answering phone calls as I was walking. Hence when a call came with a private number shown on my phone, I answered, "Choo speaking!"

"Hello! Darling! How are you?"

Before I could even reply, the voice continued, "We are doing body massage for ladies. You will feel soo wonderful...can I...."

I cut him short, "Sorry, not interested," and hung up the phone.

On another occasion, I received an sms, "Hi, cn I get to no u better?" and when I did not reply, the person persisted with sending the same sms several times.

It is incomprehensible how some people could be so free with their time in hectic Singapore!! Don't they have better things to do than to be a nusiance? I wish there were 48 hours in a day, and these people could waste their time in senseless and annoying activities!

I guess this is the price I have to pay for being one of the top agents in my company. Every month, our company will publish the photos of the top 30 agents in the Classified. We sometimes get unnecessary attention from unwanted people!

No wonder people say that an idle mind is the devil's workshop. It is important for us to be gainfully occupied. I would advise these people to volunteer their time to help in the home for the aged, the orphanage, SPCA or some other charitable organisations. It will help them to stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

God's Delightful Creation - Children!

If you want to know how handsome or pretty you are, ask a child! He will definitely give you an honest answer!

Since the time I read, "The Emperor's New Clothes" four decades ago, children have still remained the same.... brutally honest. For those of you who do not know the story, I will give you a summary. Someone wanted to teach the vain emperor a lesson. He told the emperor he was going to spin some gold fabrics and made a great suit out of it. Only the good and kind would be able to see the suit. If people could not see the suit, it implied they were people of vile character. The emperor was very excited. Although he could not see the material being spun, he pretended he could.

When the suit was completed, the emperor had to wear it and parade around town to show off his new suit. Many people could not see the suit but pretended they could. Suddenly, a loud voice burst out, "Mummy, the emperor is not wearing any clothes....only his underclothings!" cried a six year old boy.

I love children. They are so pure, winsome, innocent and cute. I used to babysit babies and children when I was studying at the University of Alberta. I also enjoyed helping my sister Ean Ean at her kindergarten.

If I find anyone abusing any child, my "fangs" will come out. Once I saw a frustrated mother spanking her child too hard at the bus stop. I gently advised her that she needed to improve her ways of handling her child and asked her to go for help and counselling.

Below is an article I received from "Send It Out Newsletter". Hope it will tickle your funny bones and convince you that children are God's precious and delightful gifts!

"You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming."
Alan, age 10
"No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with."
Kirsten, age 10
"Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then."
Camille, age 10
"No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married."
Freddie, age 6
"Married people usually look happy to talk to other people."
Eddie, 6
"You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids."
Derrick, age 8
"Both don't want no more kids."
Lori, age 8
"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
Lynnette, age 8.
"On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date."
Martin, age 10
"I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns."
Craig, age 9
"When they're rich."
Pam, age 7
"The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that."
Curt, age 7
"The rule goes like this: if you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do."
Howard, age 8
"It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them."
Anita, 9
"Single is better, for the simple reason that I wouldn't want to change no diapers. Of course, if I did get married, I'd just phone my mother and have her come over for some coffee and diaper-changing."
Kirsten, age 10
"There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?"
Kelvin, age 8
"You can be sure of one thing - the boys would come chasing after us just the same as they do now."
Roberta, age 7
"Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck."
Ricky, age 10

Monday, July 16, 2007

It Never Rains But Pours

I am sure many of my readers have gone through heavy rain many times. Yet, despite the heavy downpour, it is like God has extended an even bigger umbrella to shelter us! None of us has gone through the most excruciating pain of the Lord Jesus, as he was nailed onto the cross, with a crown of thorns pressed down his bleeding head amidst the jeering of the soldiers, "If you are are the son of God, prove it to us!" He had been whipped with the cat of nine tails as he laboured and stumbled to carry the heavy cross. These touching scenes were well depicted in the movie, "The Passion of The Christ".

Hence, no matter how stressful things can get, I always remember the Cross. It makes my problems and challenges pale in comparison to the intense sufferings of Christ. Hence, I am still able to smile and be cheerful in the face of adversities! I know I can only do my best; God has to do the rest.

July is one of the most challenging months for me. I have to see to the renovation of the little flat as well as packing up, giving away or discarding some junks. This is also the busiest month for toastmasters' activities with club officers' training, area governors' meetings, installation of new exco members, etc. I still have to see to my clients' properties for sale, rent, etc.

I only pray that I will not be bitten by a dengue infested mosquito. So long as I am hale and hearty, I can cope with the chores and responsibilities. I am always positive .... I have so many blessings to count and name them one by one. I had just come back from Ikea and Courts Mega Store in Tampines. As the bus plied its way to Ikea and Courts Mega Stores, I marvelled at the beauty of the greenery. There is hardly any ugly patches of ground to be seen. The grass is neatly cut and the trees look so lovely. There is still so much land.... I am grateful that Singapore is not hilly like other countries. If I have to keep counting my blessings here, my article will run into a few thousand words....hence I will leave my readers to count their blessings and name them one by one.! :-)


Gan Chau

Sunday, July 15, 2007

If I were a Millionaire....

If I were a millionaire...an essay topic that was often given when I was a student in Secondary School.

Now 4 decades later, I am still not a millionaire, but now I think I would like to be one so that I can dish out help to the poor and needy. If I were a millionaire
I would reach out to the family of 12 who cramp themselves in a small HDB flat. I would clothe and house the men who slept on the streets of World Class Singapore. I would go the extra mile to set up an emergency request centre, so that deperate people in need of help like Huang Na's mother could be accommodated. Her daughter would not be left to fend for herself while the mother returned to China for a short trip. I would dream of all the great works of benevolence .....

How many millionaires are like me, dreaming of all the great charitable works they would perform when they had the money.? Yet, why are there people still sleeping on the streets, and tons of people on welfare, receiving $290 a month for their monthly needs? More and more Singaporeans are joining the millionaires' row as announced by the Straits Times. Yet when these people achieve their dreams, why are some still as unhappy and dissatisfed as ever? What caused the late Howard Hughs to say, "If only I could turn the clock back, I was happiest as a shoe-shine boy!"?

Talk is cheap. When I really become a millionaire, would I still be as generous as I am now, even though my giving is little, like the widow's mite? For some strange reasons, the more we have, the harder it is to part with our money! We want to save more and more, and to accumulate more and more. Probably this is the reason why Jack Neo came up with the movie, "Money, no enough."

Very few millionaires are like Warren Buffet who lives in an old house, drives himself around without body guards and whose favourite pastime is to munch on popcorns and watch television after work! He does not care for branded items nor socialising with high society. If I become a millionaire, would I end up like Warren Buffet or like the late Nina Wang?

Mm... now I think I am happy to be where I am .... living a simple life, striking a balance between work and play, and doing my little part, to help make life a little better for those in need. I am contented to have time to smell the flowers; hear the birds sing and find joy in simple things. For I come into the world with nothing; and with nothing I will go back to dust.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Uniquely Made (1)

Tonight, I am beginning my new series on the topic "Uniquely Made". God has created everyone of us in his own style and fashion....none of us has similar finger prints. When you look at finger prints, all you see are swirls of patterns, yet in this heavily populated world, no two people have the same finger prints!

Some people are made more differently from others. Due to this they are labelled as freaks. I do not wish to label these people as freaks. I would rather say that they are uniquely made.

Hence, what better way to begin than to write the first article about myself. Every morning, I must have a cup of coffee before I begin the day. I can go without bread or noodles, but that one cup is a must have. If not, I will feel somewhat sleepy. The cup of coffee is like a "perk-me-up" and sets me in a great mood to begin the day.

Yet, in the evening when I am sleepy, no amount of coffee can make me feel awake. I can go to bed right after a cup of coffee! Some of my friends tell me that after 3pm they would not dare consume tea or coffee or they would be unable to sleep later in the night! Since the day I was born, I never had a day of insomnia. Problems might be rampant; I might have just ten cents left in my pockets; problems lurked at work; all these would never affect my peace. I would still be able to sleep as soundly as ever!

When I am tired or bored, I would be able to sleep right in the living room with the television still on. Once I fell asleep during a karaoke session! My friends shook their heads in puzzlement.

I thank God for this ability to fall asleep so easily, when others would just turn and turn on their beds. Perhaps my maxim is, "Sleep well into the night; let the following day take care of its own worries!"

Who is the Real Bitch?

A friend, Elena Ho-Tan, sent me this interesting email which I thought might be of interest to readers. Everyday, we keep looking at things from different perspectives.

A new perspective of who is a Bitch

When I stand up for myself and my beliefs, they call me a bitch.
When I stand up for those I love, they call me a bitch.
When I speak my mind, think my own thoughts or do things my own way, they
call me a bitch.
Being a bitch means I won't compromise what's in my heart. It means I live
my life MY way. It means I won't allow anyone to step on me.
When I refuse to tolerate injustice and speak against it, I am defined as a

The same thing happens when I take time for
myself instead of being everyone's maid, or when I act a little selfish.
It means I have the courage and strength to allow myself to be who I truly
am and won't become anyone else's idea of what they
think I "should" be.
I am outspoken, opinionated and determined. I want what I want and there is
nothing wrong with that!
So try to stomp on me, try to douse my inner flame, try to squash every
ounce of beauty I hold within me. You won't succeed.
And if that makes me a bitch, so be it. I embrace the title and am proud to
bear it.

B - Babe
I - In
T - Total
C - Control of
H - Herself

B = Beautiful
I = Intelligent
T = Talented
C = Charming
H = Hell of a Woman

B = Beautiful
I = Individual
T = That
C = Can
H = Handle Anything

Send this to 5 women to put a smile on their face!
"If you can't do something right, get a woman to do it."

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Bloody Dilemma

Gosh! Many of us in this little nation are shocked by the woman who died from profuse bleeding after the birth of her twins. I would not go into the medical and
technical details of why the mother died. I would prefer to explore on the bloody dilemma the husband faced.

The hospital authorities told him that if the wife needed more blood they would have to ask from the Higher Authorities. I wonder in a situation like this, whether it would be of necessity to ask from the Higher Authorities. Shouldn't one use his own initiative in order to save a life.? It is almost like a student seeing his friend drowning in a pool. Must he ask his father for permission to save his friend? I like rules and regulations but not when they suffer from worms by becoming too stringent and constipated ....red worms known as red tapes!

In his desperation and anxiety to save his wife, the husband rounded up some 200 friends to donate blood, arrving at the hospital at 8.50a.m. It is shocking that a staff could say that it was not the time yet! The woman later died that evening.

In a way, I marvel at the husband for being able to round up 200 friends even though he must be tormented with anxeity. I remember when papa had a stroke and was unconscious on the hospital bed, I already became numbed with grief and tears. It is somehow not morally right to ask a grieving husband to rush around for blood. The Authorities claimed they have enough blood for such emergency situations. Could the husband not be asked to look for blood donation from friends AFTER his wife had been administered to? I am sure anyone in his civil and grateful mind, would want to repay, especially when his loved ones had been saved.

I have donated blood some 75 times. Does it also mean that I must look for donors too when there is an emergency? I do not have any relative living in Singapore.!
Now I must build up a good network of faithful friends who will want to save me should a bloody crisis appear!

Someone had suggested that the Red Cross and Blood Bank should come up with more innovative ways to ensure sufficient supply of blood at all times. I remember many years ago, I was somewhat annoyed when I received a letter from the Red Cross, enticing people to donate blood by giving a lucky draw! I wrote to the Red Cross telling them that motvation to give blood must truly come from the heart. One gives blood out of love and civic mindedness...not in the hope of winning some kind of lucky prize!

Perhaps I could attribute my consistency and perseverance to donate blood 75 times to my pet collie, Kambobo. When Bobo had tick fever and his platelets were very low, a donor dog saved his life in the nick of time. In my anxiety to save my dog, I told the vet I was a blood donor, and could I give blood to my dog! The vet smiled and said that dogs could only give blood to dogs. "What blood group is Bobo?" I asked sheepishly. Thank God that dogs have no blood group like human beings.! In my gratitude, I put Bobo as a donor dog so that he too could help other dogs in need. A donor dog must be on heartworm tablets/injection for at least 6 months. This experience of almost losing my dog has also made me realise I must do my part for "National Service" as a regular blood donor.

I guess we all learn all the time...only if we are ready to admit our mistakes and to improve and relearn.

Investment Tips

Watch out for these consolidations in 2007.

1.) Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W.
R.Grace Co. Will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.

2.) Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and
become: Poly, Warner Cracker.

3.) 3M will merge with Goodyear and and become: MMMGood.

4. Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge
and become: ZipAudiDoDa.

5. FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.

6. Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will become: Fairwell

7. Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become: Poupon Pants.

8. Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will
become: Knott NOW! And finally .

9. Victoria 's Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge under the new
name: Titty Titty Bang Bang

I was extremely exhausted and was in bed by 10 pm last night. It was nice to wake up at 3.00.m. and to find that Vanessa had sent me an email on investment tips. Just what I needed or so I thought.

I laughed so hard that I hope my laughter did not wake up anyone. This is the effect words have on me.

Ah! The beauty of languages!

Gan Chau

Have You Ever Wondered Why or How... (2)

Have you ever wondered why or how.....


Some couples were so in love and married each other. Their love could turn into so much hatred that they could even harm or kill each other?


Some single people yearn to get married, while those who are married yearn to get out of it and yearn to be single again. My pastor said that marriage is like a fly trap. Those who are out want to get in; those who are in want to get out!


The grass in the next field looks so much greener. Yet when you are in the field, it does not look so green after all.


The lake looks so calm and inviting. When you jump into it, you find it is deeper than you can ever imagine! "Still water runs deep".


When you don't have the money, you yearn to be a millionaire. Yet when you have the millions you are just still as unhappy and dissatisfied. Perhaps this is why Howard Hughs said, "If only I could turn the clock back, I think I was happiest when I was a shoe-shine boy!"


The blind can "see" and the deaf can "hear" much more sharply than many of us who have eyes and ears, yet neither see nor hear!


Some Singaporeans cannot pass by a day without complaining. They find fault with everybody and everything .... except themselves.


If the Creator intends for us to be carnivorous, why, we will have fangs like Mr. Wolf too. So let us enjoy the multitude of fruits and plants that the Creator has given us. They are better for our health too.


The moment we have a headache, we pop in a panadol. Panadols are chemically made.
Let us go back to the basics of herbs. We spend tons of dollars on "Essence of Chicken", etc. forgetting that ren herbs or "Birdnests for the Poor" can be so easily grown in our garden and pots of soil. While the Easterners go for Western medicine, the Westerners are looking East for medicinal cures!


The people who are really clever and wise tend to be quieter, while those with a little knowledge tend to talk so much. Is this why someone has come up with the saying, "Empty vessels make the most noise"?


Westerners with fair skin like to be tanned and spend hours under the sun on the beaches, while Asians want to be fair and carry umbrellas to shade against the hot sun? Voluptuous ladies like to have smaller boobs; while whose with smaller boobs want to go for enlargement? Chinese yearn to have bigger eyes while some Indians think their eyes are too big?


We forget that Singapore is not ruled by the Gods but by human beings who try to be perfect like the Gods. Hence to err is human; to forgive divine.

Who? When? Where? What? Why? I guess these W5 will always make our life more colorful and interesting. If we always have answers to everything..... life will indeed be dull. The questions will always goad us on to accept life's challenges and to make the most of everything.

"Oh! God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can!
And wisdom to know the difference!" (adapted from "Anonymous")

Gan Chau :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Glad I was born 5 decades ago!

I feel sorry for today's kids. They are bogged down with tons of homework. During my time, my siblings and I conveniently threw our school bags into the house after school, and after gobbling our lunch and changing into our shorts, we would run out and play till the sun set. I only did the minimum of homework required of me. Maths - a subject beyond my understanding! Hence, I would go earlier to school the following day, just to copy down everything from my classmates who were clever in Maths.

We were too poor to afford a TV. Hence, I would often sneak into my richer neighbour's house so that I could join in to watch programs like "Charlie Chaplin and Little Rascals". I guess my siblings and I were little rascals ourselves, the way we were so wild and free! Second sister was adept at climbing trees and was responsible for all the guavas, papayas and rambutans that looked down on us as if sneering "Come, get us, if you can".

We did not play computer games but we played rough and tough games like "hitting the ball" and the loser had to have his whole face painted with a Chinese brush and black ink! It was amazing that none of us grew up with bad complexion! We played whole day in the sun and yet did not suffer from skin problems! The drainage system was quite bad, and there were plenty of containers that must have collected tons of mosquito larvae, but thank God, none of us ever had dengue fever! We were like the wild flowers that grew on the mountain side, and the Creator saw to it that we were protected from the storms of life.

My siblings and I never had a Barbie doll or any toys. Whatever we lacked, we made up for it by being creative. We would sew and make our own dolls and played "masak masak" using unwanted pots and pans to pretend to cook vegetables made of leaves and ferns we could lay hands on. It was such ecstacy when we role played, with "guests" visiting us and enjoying our home cooked leaves and ferns.

My siblings and I grew up all right. We were still able to pass our important examinations and eke out a reasonably good career.

We really had a life and a very creative one as well! :-)

Have you ever wondered why or how.....

Have you ever wondered why or how :-


Some mothers can spend 9 months painstakingly carrying a foetus in their wombs;
yet they do not treasure their babies when they are born.

Once I did not realise that a mother cat had just given birth to some kittens
and were taking shelter in a covered drain. I walked my rough collie past the drain and suddenly, this ferocious mother cat sprang on my dog, as the kittens were too close for comfort. The cat was small, but the maternal instinct gave her courage to fight against a dog much bigger than her. Fortunately, my lassie was a gentle dog, and though shocked, he did not fight back at the cat. I had to protect my dog by shooing away the cat!


When property prices were low, there few takers; yet so many want to buy when the prices have gone up a lot now.


When you are not waiting for a particular bus, you keep seeing it arriving at bus stops. Yet the very same bus seems no where in sight when you are waiting for it?


The more you dislike to meet someone, the more you are bound to meet him or her in the most unearthly places!


Why most husbands and wives are so contrasting in character and personality. I guess it is a matter of unlike poles attract? Yet, like my pastor has said, it is this contrast that often creates lots of problems in the marriage later.


How some of us are "poor" but actually have tons of savings tucked in our CPF Accounts?


How banks keep asking you to take up credit cards with them when you do not need money; yet the very same banks take away your umbrella when it is raining very heavily for you?


How when you put up a sign, "Wet paint; please don't touch", people will want to touch it?


Singaporeans abide by the rules and regulations in Singapore; but the moment some cross over to Johore, they forget all the rules and do not behave in a civil way?


People do not mind the warm air in Killiney Kopi Tiam at Killiney Road; but they complain the aircon is not cold enough when they enter an air-conditioned cafeteria or food court?

I guess there are many more I can add; but for now the above will suffice. It will be great if my readers can add on more to my list.

Some Interesting Aspects of Warren Buffet's Life

My colleague, Vanessa Yong, sent me the email of Warren Buffet. It has set me in a deep thinking mood. Hence I am posting the interview on my blog and hope that it will also set my readers in a deep thinking moood. :-)

There was a one hour interview on CNBC with Warren Buffet, the second richest man who has donated $31 billion to charity.
Here are some very interesting aspects of his life:

1. He bought his first share at age 11 and he now regrets that he started too late!

2. He bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers.

3. He still lives in the same small 3-bedroom house in mid-town Omaha , that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. His house does not have a wall or a fence.

4. He drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him.

5. He never travels by private jet, although he owns the world's largest private jet company.

6. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 63 companies.
He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of these companies, giving them goals for the year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis.
He has given his CEO's only two rules. Rule number 1: do not lose any of your share holder's money. Rule number 2: Do not forget rule number 1.

7. He does not socialize with the high society crowd. His past time after he gets home is to make himself some pop corn and watch Television.

8. Bill Gates, the world's richest man met him for the first time only 5 years ago. Bill Gates did not think he had anything in common with Warren Buffet. So he had scheduled his meeting only for half hour. But when Gates met him, the meeting lasted for ten hours and Bill Gates became a devotee of Warren Buffet.

9. Warren Buffet does not carry a cell phone, nor has a computer on his desk.

His advice to young people: "Stay away from credit cards and invest in yourself and Remember:
A. Money doesn't create man but it is the man who created money.
B. Live your life as simple as you are.
C. Don't do what others say, just listen them, but do what you feel good.
D. Don't go on brand name; just wear those things in which u feel comfortable.
E. Don't waste your money on unnecessary things; just spend on them who really in need rather.
F. After all it's your life then why give chance to others to rule our life."

Gan Chau

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Priorities and Balance

Some people think that because I am one of the top agents in my company, I must be a workaholic. On the contrary the secret to becoming a top agent is not only to work hard, but to work smart.

With experience, we will learn how to assess a client and a property, and we will know whether or not to take on a property to sell. It is not easy to serve some clients - they are either wishy-washy or insincere. These are the ones who will waste a lot of our time and resources - it is best not to even start working for them.
I prefer to focus on a few clients who demonstrate their trust in me by giving me exclusives to market or rent their properties for three months. I will then be able to focus on their properties with my fullest attention, and hence will be able to monitor the best offer for them. A property without exclusive will have many agents rushing in to close the deal - the fastest man wins. Hence this may not turn out to be the best result for the owner.

When people say they do not have the time, they imply they do not have the priority.
After all, we get the same 24 hours a day. It is a matter of what we consider as most important. In this article I will just share with you my priorities.

Whenever my siblings come to visit me in Singapore, I will work only part time. I will not take on new cases when they are here, so that I can spend more time with them. I hardly see my siblings as they live in different parts of the world.

Once I am committed to delivering a speech project or taking on an assignment for my toastmasters' activities, it takes priority over work. A keen buyer may say he wants to view my clients' property and I will tell him I have a toastmaster's meeting. Once a client suggested that he and his wife would pick me up after my meeting. I agreed. They saw the property at 11 p.m. and we closed the deal at midnight! I have learnt that when a client wants to buy a property, he will pursue you for it. There is no necessity for us to pursue after clients!

My pet dog takes priority as I am committed to looking after her. No matter how tight my schedules, I will always ensure she gets her walk twice a day without fail.
Now writing on my blog at least four times a week takes priority. Todate, I have been able to write almost everyday and this is my 445th article since I started my blog on 15 November 2005. I know I will not have billions of dollars to leave behind as my legacy. If I keep on writing consistently, I will be able to leave behind billions of words as my legacy to the world. I am not a great philospher like Socrates; but I hope to make full use of the little talent that God has given me. :-)

Perhaps apart from the word priority, the next important word is "balance". I do not want to work from early morning till late at night, no matter how hot the property market is. I need to balance my time for work, play, and rest. Some one has said that man spends his whole life to get his wealth; at the end he spends all his wealth to get back his life. Till today, I have not yet spent a single cent in my CPF medisave account; I hope I will not have to touch it for a long time.

I do not have to join the 99 Club. I am contented with living in a little flat where I can spend just 30 minutes daily to clean up the flat. I can have time to play my piano and violin; to write on my blog everyday, to read and learn everyday without fail, to walk my dog, to mentor my proteges, and above all, to invite my friends and colleagues home for a simple, hearty meal. Every year I must make time to visit my siblings in Malaysia and other parts of the world.

Yes, Singapore is a pressure cooker. But we can chose not to be cooked by the Jonesess. Everything boils down to .... PRIORITIES and BALANCE in life.... and CONTENTMENT.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Incredible Parenting!

Although I have to leave my flat at 9.00a.m. I will just miss my breakfast in order to air my views and frustrations in my blog. It was horrifying to read in the New Paper about the two toddlers who have to spend day and night outside of their home. Why? Just because their parents want their 9 year old sister to study in peace at home! The plight of the two toddlers has aroused the curiosity and pity of their neighbours.

The sister is only 9 years old! Is she preparing for her PH.D? Children are very adaptable to their environment. I grew up and learnt to study and do my homework, with my eldest sister playing the piano or my family watching TV - all within the same living room.! Sometimes, we could even hear loud strains of the Teowchew Opera when it was staged in our Village in Penang. I am now so immuned to noise that I can fall asleep in the midst of a karaoke session! I can continue to write on my computer right now, even though I can hear the din created by the school children from Beatty Secondary School which is just next to my flat. I thank my parents for not spoiling me. It would be unthinkable if any of my siblings had to leave the house, just because I needed to study.

As someone has pointed out, the family must be reasonably well off to employ two maids. Hence, the parents could easily make a sound proof room with airconditioning and let the toddlers sleep and play inside the room. This would be better than staying out in the void decks the whole day long. The weather is so hot nowadays. I feel sorry for them and for the maids as well. The two little boys are also exposed to more threats of dengue fever as they are out the whole day long. As someone has pointed out, the sister has to go to school. Why can't the two boys return to the flat when the sister is away? Two year old kids need proper sleep to grow up physically and mentally strong.

I suggest that the parents buy a penthouse or a masionette, so that the maids can look after them at the upper floor. I had written about the dog owner who tied his dog to a leash the whole day long in his courtyard, simply because he did not want the dog to poo everywhere. It is even more infuriating when parents handle their children with inhuman ways. The toddler's parents think of the most stupid solution to their problem...they are probably unteachable because when the reporter tried to talk to the father, he slammed the door at her face. Worse, now the maids have to bring the children as far as six blocks away from the flat!

Children are bound to be lively and noisy. If the parents want quiet children, they might as well not conceive and buy some lifelike toys.! It is ironical that so many childless couples yearn to have children; and those who have, should not treasure their God-given presents! The parents seem to use their 9 year old daughter as an excuse for the toddlers to remain outside. I half suspect that the problem lies with themselves.

The parents' treatment of the children is tantamount to child abuse. I hope the Ministry will look into this matter. If the parents find it such a chore to have the two toddlers, I suggest they give them away for adoption, where they will be greatly loved, often hugged and be given proper housing and nurturing.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Fragrance of Beauty - Contentment

Once upon a time, there lived a King who, despite his luxurious lifestyle, was neither happy nor content. One day, the King came upon a servant who was singing happily while he worked.

This fascinated the King; why was he, the Supreme Ruler of the Land, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly servant had so much. The King asked the servant, "Why are you so happy?"

The man replied, "Your Majesty, I am nothing but a servant, but my family and I don't need too much - just a roof over our heads and warm food to fill our tummies."

The king was not satisfied with that reply. Later in the day, he sought the advice of his most trusted advisor. After hearing the King's woes and the servant's story, the advisor said, "Your Majesty, I believe that the servant has not been made part of The 99 Club."

"The 99 Club? And what exactly is that?" the King inquired. The advisor replied, "Your Majesty, to truly know what The 99 Club is, place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it at this servant's doorstep."

When the servant saw the bag, he took it into his house. When he opened the bag, he let out a great shout of joy... so many gold coins!

He began to count them. After several counts, he was at last convinced that there were 99 coins. He wondered, "What could've happened to that last gold coin? Surely, no one would leave 99 coins!" He looked everywhere he could, but that final coin was elusive. Finally, exhausted, he decided that he was going to have to work harder than ever to earn that gold coin and complete his collection. From that day, the servant's life was changed. He was overworked, horribly grumpy, and castigated his family for not helping him make that 100th gold coin. He stopped singing while he worked. Witnessing this drastic transformation, the King was puzzled. When he sought his advisor's help, the advisor said, "Your Majesty, the servant has now officially joined The 99 Club."

He continued, "The 99 Club is a name given to those people who have enough to be happy but are never contented, because they're always yearning and striving for that extra 1 telling to themselves: "Let me get that one final thing and then I will be happy for life." We can be happy, even with very little in our lives, but the minute we're given something bigger and better, we want even more! We lose our sleep, our happiness, we hurt the people around us; all these as a price for our growing needs and desires."
That's what joining "The 99 Club" is all about!

The above story was emailed to me by an ex-customer of Rialto, Chin Shan. I am sharing with readers because it is indeed a good illustration of how easily dissatisfied and uptight with life we can get, when we miss out on the simple joy of contentment. Perhaps this discontentment is so obvious that it has inspired Jack Neo to come up with the comedy, "Money, no enough".

Perhaps one of the reasons why I am always so cheerful in the face of adversity is contentment. I am contented with wearing clothes costing below $10/- and shoes below $15/-. I do not have to have that branded dress or bag to feel or look good. I guess the joy in me will already enhance my facial expression and quicken my spirit, so that those around me will forget that I am defintely not one of the most glamorous around. My joy will uplift their spirit. A student in River Valley High once commented, "Madam, when you first came to class I thought you were so fat. But now, I find you actually look quite pretty and charming!" :-)

I am contented to give some of my precious time to whip up a delicious meal for my toastmasters' club members and friends. As I cook, I sing - a habit. Once Devagai Sanmugam did a program with me at Rialto and she called me "The Singing Chef"!

Being human, I may sometimes have my failings. Whenever I start to become unhappy and murmuring, I will remember the above story on the 99 Club and will start to count my blessings and name them one by one.

Perhaps the Apostle Paul had put in succinctly when he wrote in 1 Timothy Chap 6:6 - 8, "Yet, true religion with contentment is great wealth. After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Help! I can't get up!

I told my tenant that I would be installing ceiling fans in the bedrooms of the new flat so as to have more ventilation. He told me that he was more concerned that the squatting toilet bowl in the common toilet be changed to a sitting bowl. I told him I was definetely changing as I did not like it either.

I do not know if you have noticed it. I wonder why most of the toilets in coffee shops would still have squatting toilet bowls? Are the proprietors expecting their patrons to be only young and tough? Once I was in the washroom, and heard someone shouting, "Help! I can't get up!"

"Are you ok?" I asked.

"Please help to lift me up".

Fortunately the door was not latched. I gently pushed the door and found an elderly lady in pain, and unable to get up. I lifted her up. She had arthritic pain in her knees.

I advised the coffee shop proprietor to change the toilet bowl, only to receive an admonishment from him. "You think coffee shop business so good ah?"

It would not really cost that much to instal a sitting bowl. A nice and clean toilet would also garner better sales and loyal patronage. I remember when I first came back from Canada, I was not used to the unkempt public wash rooms, and would prefer to walk a few hundred metres just to find a cleaner toilet in any hotel nearby.

Perhaps the Ministry can look into this area and be more stringent on hygiene and proper installation of sitting bowls, cleaning detergent for the hands and electrical dryers or paper towels. Somtimes, some of these items are missing in public toilets.

If people can keep their homes and toilets clean, yet why must public toilets be often filthy? If everyone could help play a little part, the work of the cleaners would be made much easier.

Mahatma Gandhi said that the success of a nation is measured by the way her people treat the animals in the country. Perhaps I could also add that the success of a nation is measured by the way her people treat public amenities, and keep them really clean.

Gan Chau

Another Sad Tale .....

I hate narrating sad tales....yet they are sometimes necessary for us to to wail over them. I remember my pastor once mentioning that it is sometimes better to go to a house of mourning than a house of celebration.... because at funeral wakes, we become more reflective and begin to take stock of things that we sometimes overlook and take for granted.

My manager, Aveline, wanted to see my little apartment in Little India. Since it is very near the office, I brought her to view it. Aveline was very sharp. She noticed that my neighbour had removed the store-room in her flat and wanted me to do the same, so that the living room could be more spacious. Aveline suggested that I relocate the store to the kitchen. I am the frugal type. Hacking and rebuilding means more costs. Hence, I will just leave the store-room as it is.

The neighbour noticed that we were trying to look into her flat and greeted us. We introduced ourselves and she invited us in. Irene has been staying there for ten years and knows almost everyone in the neighbourhood. She told us that the flat I had bought was once owned by an elderly bachelor, Uncle Lim.

One day, Irene noticed her Shi Tzu behaving strangely. She kept looking at the wall and kept barking and jumping around. Irene wondered if her pet was trying to tell her something. She then realised that it had been a week since she did not see Uncle Lim outside his flat, watering his plants. Just then another neighbour came and asked if she could detect a stench. Irene called the police and immediately some policemen came and broke open the gate and door. Uncle Lim had passed away, with his body badly decomposed. It had been a week since he died of a heart attack.

I felt extremely sad upon hearing the story. Not sad because Uncle Lim had died...none of us is immortal. However, I was sad at the way he had passed away for a week before his death was discovered. His sister and family live a few roads from his block, and he has other siblings in different parts of Singapore as well.

As we were heading for the carpark, Aveline told me that it is important that I keep in close contact with friends since I am living alone in Singapore. I jokingly told her that the same might happen to me and she said it would never, as she would call me if she does not hear from me after two days! My best friend, Soh Wah, told me that she called me less often now, as she would go into my blog to read the latest article. If I stop posting articles in my blog for a few days, she would phone me to check if I am alright. I am grateful to God for blessing me with such wonderful friends!

I have also been blessed with wonderful siblings and relatives who often phone me from overseas. I also go on my yearly vacation to visit them. Once I was in a seminar from morning to night and could not pick up the phone. Immediately my eldest sister called my best friends to check on me! Hence, you can see that it is not how near or how far one is located. It is the caring heart that matters most.

I called up a colleague, Vincent, a bachelor boy in his mid-forties. Vincent had been down with the flu for the past week. He came for our toastmaster's thanksgiving dinner at the Chinese Swimming Club but fell sick again the following day. I told him about Uncle Lim's story and that I was calling him to check if he was feeling better!

I guess Uncle Lim's case is not an isolated one. In the papers, we have read how some of the old and lonely folks had passed away before their deaths were announced by the stench that greeted the neighbour's sense of smell.

These couple of weeks will be quite busy for me as I am getting ready to move. I will attempt to write an article everyday, but if you do not see my post for a little while, please know it is due to the constraints of time....I am still alive and kicking! Unless God decides it is time that I draw nearer to Him! :-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Singapore is the Diamond of My Heart

If Penang is the pearl of the Orient and the apple of my eyes, Singapore is the diamond of my heart.

I originally came to Singapore for holidays after my graduation in the University of Alberta in February 1983. Being the type that cannot sit still, I helped out in my brother's music and art school, and at the same time taught part time in the Regional English Language Centre. The Ministry of Education gave me a place at the then Insitute of Education to be trained as a teacher. The government offered us teachers citizenship upon graduation and since then I have been blissfully "stuck" in this little dot on the world map.

It will be too boring for me to list all the wonderful things about Singapore which readers already know and which other writers have written about. The most important thing to me is safety! I feel so proud when I see our men in uniform at the mrt stations and immigration check points on the look out for potential trouble makers. I feel so proud when the police men bothered to respond immediately to my call to wake up sleeping taxi drivers in vehicles with engines running. Trivial? But their action could save lives! I once tried to do that in Penang, and the police officer scolded me, "Gila kah? (Mad ah!) You wake up the taxi driver yourself!" I told the officer I dared not do so in case the taxi driver thought I might want to rob him. I guess I am quite "fanatical" about safety, for as I had written in my earlier blog, I had witnessed the May 13 riots in Penang as a school girl.

Since young, I had witnessed corruption even amongst the police force. My eldest sister was learning to ride a bike and did not have any licence yet. After all, she was only riding in the kampong (village). One day a police officer stopped her and realising she had no licence, wanted to fine her. "Paper work - $50/-. No paper work $20/-". Paper work refers to official fine. I am sure readers know what no paper work implies. My witty sister told the police officer that she had just won first prize in the Malay essay contest, and would not mind writing about her encounter with the policeman. He got the hint and said, "Baik lah. Kawan kawan ya."
(Ok. Friend, friend yes.) My sister got off without being fined. I giggled as we sped off. I was on the pillion and I was 9 years old.

Some people complain that Singapore is such a boring place as it is so small with nothing much. I have never felt a day of boredom for there is so much to do. Best of all it is because of the smallness, that it makes it easy for me to zoom around the island. I do not think I can still do real estate work in America or Australia or even in Kuala Lumpur as the area is too widespread and travelling from one place to another is tedious. I do not drive now, yet find it convenient to go around with my ahem! BMW No. 11 (Bus, mrt, walking.) At times when I am in a rush or am loaded with too many things to carry, I would hail a taxi. Great transportation system we have here!

I am one of those who are lazy to carry umbrellas. Hence I am grateful for our garden city which is full of shady trees. Of course, I am wise enough to take shelter in concrete buildings when there is a heavy downpour.

For the past 24 years I have my ups and downs. I do not have to keep up with the Joneses. I am contented with what I have and what I can achieve. The lady groomer at our office said, "Go for good clothes .... spare no cash in getting a few designer clothes!" I wrote a note to my colleague, "I am wearing a $3/- blouse now and my pearl ear rings cost me 90 cents and my shoes....$9.90". We smiled. I live happily in my small 3 room flat as I want to spend less time in cleaning up the flat. I do not want possessions to possess me. I want to be free.... so that at any time, I can just pack my bag and go for a trip overseas to unwind. I do not have to eat out at expensive restaurants.... I can whip up healthy, delicious home-cooked meals. I enjoy inviting friends to have dinner at my home or when I cook for our toastmasters' meetings and company breakfast meetings.

I treasure my good friends and clients. I have some great colleagues with whom I have developed great working relationship. I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of my real estate work. I do not have to rush during peak periods ....I go to the office at any time I wish to, as I can also work from home. As I have said that if we thoroughly enjoy what we are doing, it is no longer work but would appear more like a hobby! I am glad I have enjoyed my teaching, cooking and real estate work all these years. Who cares about what age one has to retire? As papa has always said, "Whatever you do, do it with all your heart and enjoy it!" As I have advertised for recruitment in the Staits Times, "Selling is no longer work when it is fun; it is like basking in the sun!" I enjoy my toastmastering activities and the many opportunities to learn from seminars, etc. I can watch English, Chinese, Indian, Malay, French, Korean and Japanese programs on the television. It must have been 3 years since the last time my friend, Soh Wah, brought me to the cinema!! I can listen to world class concerts at the Esplanade or can walk along the Esplanade in the evenings and listen to the lapping of the waves nearby.

A permanent resident commented in my blog that she too has grown to love Singapore and would be getting her citizenship soon. She realised that Singaporeans are often complaining and whining, taking things for granted. I remember once having shared over devotion at ACS that many of the boys came to school with long faces, even though they were driven in Mercedes, Jaguars, Lexus, etc. Yet the children in Nepal were always so cheerful, despite having to walk for an hour or two over dusty roads filled with cowdung and pot holes, just to go to school.

Let us all be thankful for the things that we are enjoying here. As National Day is approaching, while we hang the flag outside our homes, it is even more important that we carry the flag in our hearts, proud to be Singaporeans and thankful to God for His blessings and favour upon this nation. Let Singapore be small in size, but abundant in blessings, peace, and joy. Let us always be appreciative and be happy. Let us always remember all the good things that people have done for us, and forgive that one small little failure for we have our failings too. Let our hearts be always filled with gratitude to God in Heaven and people on earth and even to those six feet under, who have left many legacies for us to enjoy.

Singapore - the diamond of my heart! Let us all continue to polish this little diamond so that she will always shine beautifully and brilliantly.

Gan Chau

Monday, July 02, 2007

Everyone Loves Her!


One of my most beloved relatives is my sister's mother-in-law, Chng Ah Giam. She is now in her early eighties and lives in Penang.

Though illiterate, Aunt is a spunky lady. She managed to get her licence to ride a motor bike and to drive a car. (In those days, theory tests were held orally in Bahasa Malaysia). Aunt is kind and helpful, and is always very positive.

Aunt worked very hard when she was younger. She helped out in her husband's provision store. Uncle was somewhat miserly, and aunt had to scrimp and save to buy what her eight children needed. While her husband was the one who nagged, aunt was the one who kept the peace for the family.

Being a traditional businessman, uncle never believed in insuring his shop. He kept reinforcing his padlocks, putting three instead of one when he noticed that someone had attempted to break into the shop. The thief must have been angered for he suddenly arsoned the shop in the wee hours of the morning.

Aunt was fast asleep when he heard people shouting "Fire!" She woke up to find herself surrounded by fire and the heavy smoke made her cough badly. She fainted for a few minutes. By some stroke of blessings, she felt someone waking her up, although there was no one around her!. Aunt rushed to the windows and saw two men beckoning her to jump down. Fortuntely one of the iron grills had not been reinstalled and aunt jumped while the men tried to catch hold of her. The following day the reporters of the Star Tabloid wrote about the arson, and splashed across the front page was the heading, "Super woman jumped down to escape fire!" Aunt's left arm and upper back were badly burnt and she spent a few months in hospital for endless skin grafting. All this had taken place when I was studying in Canada.

When I returned to Penang, she greeted me cheerfully, and when I saw her badly burnt left arm, then healed and thickened, I burst into tears. I have doted on aunt. I remember how, despite not being rich, she had given me a lovely gold chain with a cross before I left for my tertiary in Canada.

Aunt loves travelling. Once I took her with me to Melbourne. I had not booked the tickets early with Alitalia Airlines and hence all the tickets were sold out. Yet, aunt had the faith that somehow God would bless us with the tickets we needed. I smiled when she said, "If it's for Choo, God will grant her heart's desires!" We got our tickets at the eleventh hour, because some passengers had pulled out when they discovered the delay of the flight due to a strike in Italy!

In the plane, I was very happy when I saw her enjoying her Western meal. I am averse to cheese, and joyfully gave aunt my cheese and bread. Suddenly I heard her complain, "Aiyo, the coffee is so salty!"

Poor aunt! Being illiterate, she had put salt into her coffee instead of sugar. When we arrived at Melbourne, I asked aunt to push one trolley of luggages without edible stuff as I had to go to the "red" section. While lining up, I saw an officer asking her, "What's that?" "Sooes", replied my spunky aunt. "Ok, go", directed the officer. I smiled at aunt's effort to speak English...she meant "shoes". As long as the officer understood, it was wonderful.

Aunt suffered stroke a few years back and is slowly recovering. She would only remember the names of the people she loves. I fought my tears the first time I saw her, and she could remember my name. During my last visit to Penang, she kept holding my hand, and we chatted. At times, she would remember; at times she would forget. At times she would be very child-like.

I pray for aunt's continual progress in her health, both physically and mentally, so that we could go travelling together once again. May God bless her with a speedy recovery.