Monday, March 31, 2008

Little India - Charming and Colourful!





The above pictures are taken around Little India.

It has been about 8 months since I moved to Little India. I have enjoyed staying here tremendously. The whole place is abuzz with people from all walks of life. What a cosmopolitan crowd!

Best of all, I enjoy the proximity of the MRT station which is just 45 seconds walk from my apartment! I can zip around conveniently in trains and buses, and very often, I walk to my office. I am marketing a few commercial shops around my apartment. Hence, I can just walk to my destination when I want to show clients the properties. My block is reasonably quiet as it is away from the main road of Serangoon. Morever, it is so breezy that I hardly turn on the fan. In fact for the past three months, my electrical bills hover around $38 per month! Sometimes it is so windy that I have to close the kitchen windows or it is almost impossible for me to cook.

I have very good neighbours who keep a look-out for one another. My neighbour, Wendy, helps the couple above her unit with looking after their pet parrot when they go overseas. I will help Wendy to dogsit her mixed Silky Terrier/Maltese, Shufie when she goes away.

I have chosen to live in Little India instead of in Chinatown so that it is easier for me to resist the temptation of food. Since I do not really like Indian cuisine, it is easier for me not to step into an eatery. It also compels me to do more cooking at home rather than dining out. I knew that if I were to stay in Chinatown, I would defintely increase my waistline. But over here, I had not once patronised an eatery or restaurant! For those who love Indian cuisine, Little India is full of restaurants serving Indian, Nepali, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Mediterranean cuisine. The grocery stores here commence business at 6.00am and close at around midnight!

I hope more Singaporeans will get to appreciate this little exciting part of town known as Little India. For those Singaporeans who cannot afford to travel to India, they may enjoy the ambience here. It makes people feel as if they were in India!

Gan Chau

Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Happiest Man Lives In.......

Hi Choo Choo,

The happiest man lives in the Asylum.

Man without any worry,

Man who need not care what will happen next,

Man who need not care about the world,

Man who knows nothing except living in his own peaceful world.


William Lim

It is interesting to note that my blog articles on happiness have elicited so many interesting and varied responses. The above is from DTM toastmaster, William Lim, Division Governor of Division B. I guess William is not wrong either, for who knows, a mad peson could actually be happier than you and me.!

I remember once there was a lady who was not of sound mind in our village. People called her Ah Eng. She would mutter to herself and help herself to left over drinks and food on the tables in cofee shops and hawker centres. Since she was never violent and was sometimes even quite polite, the villagers left her alone. Some kind souls sometimes gave her some money. On some rare occasions, she would scream, scaring the people around her. Otherwise, Ah Eng had never physically harmed anyone.

After I graduated and returned from Canada, I saw Ah Eng again. I noticed that she had not aged much, except for being a little more unkempt. While many of us had
more wrinkles that came with aging, Ah Eng looked like she was when I saw her ten years ago. I remember once mom had said that mad people do not grow old so fast, because they no longer know how to worry, and live in a world of their own, a world which we could never penetrate or comprehend.

When I went to Nepal to give a helping to our full time missionaries who were stationed there, we had a great time. We really let our hair down. We laughed. We joked and we acted crazy. Really, it is not easy for our missionaries to leave the comforts of home and stay in a country which is so different. I remember mentioning to them that we had to be insane in order to preserve our sanity!

I am sure my readers must have come across some people who are so unhappy and depressed that they think others must be insane to be happy! We must learn not to take things too seriously. Only then, can we learn to let go at times!

Do not be surprised if the people in the asylum think that they are the ones who are sane; we are the ones who are insane! Yes, indeed, sometimes we have to be insane in order to preserve our sanity and happiness.

Come on, everybody! Let's all be .......XIAO AH! (Crazy!)

Gan Chau

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Who Wants to Feel Like a Millionaire?

"Choo, I read your blog article on the quarter aire. I like it," said Serene Teng, one of our company's top agents.

"I guess you're many times a quarter aire", I said.

"Yes, I was already a quarter aire at age 26, and today, I am many times over," asserted Serene with a glow in her face.

"But Choo, you're a millionaire in so many ways. You're so multi-talented. You're a good cook, an interesting public speaker, a good teacher, a prolific writer, etc. I'd be happy just to have two quarters of your talent", Serene asserted.

I smiled. Perhaps we should come up with a program, "Who wants to feel like a millionaire?" instead of the popular program, "Who wants to be a millionaire.?"

Feeling rich is just as important as really having the wealth. For there are people who have thousands and millions in the bank or in assets, yet still feel that they are poor.!

Although we just had enough when we were young, I never felt poor. We lived in a big attap house with a huge compound. My siblings would climb the chiku and jambu (rose apple) trees while I waited with a basket in my hand, ready to catch the fruits. We could draw lines on the sand, and played hours of hop scotch and tic-tac-toe. We were happy to wear hand-me-down, and make creative toys out of discarded things that we could find. Having the most wonderful father on earth made me feel very rich indeed! I would never trade places with anyone!

Who wants to feel like a millionaire? Happiness and contentment equals FULFILLMENT!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lessons I learn from a Cockroach!

I had washed the kitchen floor with some vim and bleach. Hence when I woke up the next morning, I was greeted with a sparkling white floor. I must admit I had kind of regretted choosing white tiles as I wanted them to blend in with my white and purple kitchen cabinets. To make matters more difficult, my contractor had made the mistake of not letting the floor slant a little towards the drainage pipe. Hence after washing the floor, I would have to mop dry the whole area. My contractor would incur a great loss if he had to hack the whole floor and retile. Hence, I decided to just let the matter rest.

Just then I noticed an overturned cockroach. Judging the great energy with which it was kicking its legs, I guessed it must have just dropped from the kitchen counter onto the floor. It legs were kicking frantically in an effort to perhaps save itself from a disadvantageous position. It looked so pathetic, and I could not bring myself to kill it with Baygone. I wanted to observe the little insect.

Two hours passed and the overturned cockroach was still kicking its legs.! However, this time you could see that some of the energy had been depleted. But still, the little insect continued to kick, albeit less furiously. Whenever I went nearer it, the legs would stop moving as if it were dead. When I moved away, it would start kicking again. I wonder how these little creatures know that playing dead might fool the enemy!

In between my work, I went to the kitchen to examine the cockroach. It was still in the same position, on its back. However, this time, it had moved a few inches from the spot where I first found it. At about 1pm as I was having my lunch, I suddenly saw the cockroach, turning itself over, and quickly moving away.

I was so happy, as if my favourite football team had won a goal! Bravo! Roachy! You made it! It had been some seven hours since 6a.m.! Amazing perserverance.! If little insects like cockroaches, ants and bees, just to name a few, could be so determined to survive, what about us homo sapiens, who are the highest of God's creation! Let us continue to press on in the face of difficulties, and never give up. Who knows? Success is always round the corner! Just that little more effort!

Gan Chau

Much Ado About Quarters and Measurement!

Since young, I had never taken a fancy to numbers. Hence, Arithmetics and Mathematics scared the daylights out of me. I did not pass a single Maths test in Secondary School.! Till now, at four years past half a century, I still have this recurring nightmare - I had a Maths test the following day, and on the eve I still could not remember a single formula!

Nevertheless whatever Maths I had failed, I kind of made up for it in practical living! I was protective of papa's hard earned money. Hence whenever we went marketing, which was a daily affair, (we could not afford to buy groceries for the whole week), I was always alert. Once, I pointed out to the pork vendor that he had calculated the total wrongly. Mum was shortchanged by $1.30. He apologised and praised me for my being clever at Arithmetics!

Later on, I found that my mental maths became better and better, even as youngsters became more dependant on the calculator. By the time, the shopkeepers started pressing the keys on the calculator, I would tell them how much change to return to me. "Wow! You're so fast! How did you do it?" "Simple, my fat fingers are too clumsy on the little buttons. Easier to calculate in my head.!" I would smile to much amusement and laughter.

I love the word, "Quarter". Mum called me an ugly duckling, and I would say, "Mum, if I had a quarter of your beauty, I would be the happiest girl in the world!" She'd smile. Not too bad. At least her ugly duckling brought her some joy. Many people were puzzled by the extreme beauty between my second sister and me. She is the beauty. I am the fat duckling in the family, but a happy duckling! When a child received so much love from her father and siblings, she would be the happiest child in the world! I somehow knew that beneath mum's constant nagging and murmuring, she loved me too.

The word, "quarter" suggests contentment. We say," If I could play the violin with just a quarter of your skilfulness, I'd be contented. If I could have a quarter of your muscles I'd be joyful. If my son had half of your brains, I'll thank God,...and so on."

One morning, just as I entered my office, my boss, Dr. Dennis Wee, in his usual cheerful fashion hollered, "Choo, you're now a millionaire!"

"Not quite, Dr. Wee, just a quarter aire! But a happy quarter aire!"

Dr. Wee burst out laughing and repeated, "A quarter aire. A quarter aire." Dr. Wee must have found these words quite cute. Yet, beneath these cute words, implies a lot of contentment! When we have a quarter, we at least have something. Let us remember the man who had said, "I complained I had no shoes, until I saw someone with no feet!"

Cheers! May all the quarter aires in Singapore be as happy and as contented as I am.! :-)

Gan Chau

Monday, March 24, 2008

101 Reasons for Being Happy!

I am so glad to be able to help out as a Language Evaluator in toastmasters' clubs in Singapore. In America, a language evaluator would also be known as a grammarian. As the word suggests, I help to point out good usage of words and phrases, and help to improve words which could be pronounced more accurately, or sentences which can be rephrased more aptly.

I love my volunteer work so much, that sometimes my colleagues tease me for being a full time toastmaster and a part time agent! Perhaps I should even say that selling real estate is my hobby, for someone had said that if we enjoy what we are doing, the work no longer seems like work - it is more like a hobby!

When I help out in the evaluation, I feel like I were back in the classroom. I dare say that I miss teaching. Am glad that I still keep with me some of my students' creative writing. When my students were given the exercise, "Write in point form, 101 reasons why I am happy", I was amazed by their creativity. It also makes me realise how, beneath all that mischief and sometimes even a tinge of rebellion, the students are actually sensitive, sensible, and somewhat more profound than they care to reveal. Here are some of the lists.

1. I go to school in a Mercedes. (Teacher said the kids in Nepal had to walk for hours to school!)
2. I enjoy the fragrance in the car. (The kids had to smell cowdung along the way).
3. I go to ACS - the best school!
4. My teachers are great!
5. Mum is so beautiful!
6. Dad is great ....and rich!
7. I play soccer well.
8. Everyday I have good food at home.
9. My maid helps me clean my room.
10. Girls like me (I think so!)
11. Am quite handsome (Ahem!)
12. My parents love me.
13. I still have grandparents. (Teacher said her grandparents died before she was born).
14. I have a big and nice room all to myself.
15. I can play the piano.
16. Teacher praised my essay writing yesterday.
17. I scored 90 per cent for last maths test.
18. We have good government although PAP means pay and pay!
19. Our school has a big swimming pool!
20. I am quite popular in school.
21. My dream of becoming a singer/composer will come true. (I just know it!)
22. We're luckier than our neighbouring countries.
23. Dad said he would bring me to Disneyland in December.
24. I'd improved in my Chinese, my once dreaded language!
25. I learn to worry less. (Teacher said worry cripples me.)
26. I just got a new toy!
27. Just started to learn golf.
28. Made up with my best friend. We'll be friends forever!
29. My dog just gave birth to 4 puppies.
30. Mom allowed me to learn some cooking from the maid.
31. Saw dad kissing mum and telling her he loves her! Want to be like dad when I grow up.
32. My busy father was home the whole day yesterday! (He always travels for work).
33. My favourite aunt visited us yesterday.
34. Finally found my favourite pen.
35. I know I am happy like Antonio in Merchant of Venice. Feel happy but don't know why. Just happy!
36. Uncle promised to teach me how to ride a bicycle.
37. Used to dislike English lessons. But now, I like to write.!
38. Had a beautiful dream last night.
39. My birthday is round the corner.
40. Am 14 years old! (Imagine that! 14 years old!)
41. I love my younger brother.
42. Dad sad he would take mom and me to Canada this year. I'm eager to see snow.
43. Mom said I could keep hamsters. We're going shopping this week for them.
44. Just got a new mattress. So comfy!
45. Dad gave me a sip of his red wine. Feel like a real man now!
46. 1st April round the corner. Plenty of tricks in my sleeves.
47. The moon was so round and lovely last night.
48. Jay said I was childish. The person who said others are childish is childish himself. Argh! Who cares. Be happy!
49. Look forward to Teachers' Day concert. Look foward to the teachers' dancing on stage.
50. Our school is so big and new!
51. Lucky to have aircon in the classrooms.
52. I'm studying hard. Must make the most of my school fees. Make dad and mum proud of me.
53. Glad the school's going to introduce Home Economics. We boys are going to wear aprons! Hee! Hee!
54. My dad is my role model.
55. I'm so lucky!
56. I can see.
57. I can hear.
58. I can talk!
59. I can eat.
60. I'm nicely rounded. (Slim guys don't look so macho).
61. I love to watch soccer games on TV.
62. Dad bought me a new lap top!
63. My parents made peace. (So afraid they'd divorce).
64. My maid's curry chicken - best in the world!
65. Mum baked my birthday cake last week.
66. Grandpa bought me a guitar for my birthday. (Now he knows all play and no music makes David a dull boy).
67. Got 80% for art! My first time!
68. Nice weather these few days.
69. I came in first for swimming during practice.
70. Taking up tennis soon. (Hope I'll be good at it.)
71. I overslept and daddy took me to school this morning instead of the bus!
72. My health is improving.
73. Enjoyed singing in my church choir.
74. Now the boys no longer call me sissy. Doing more gym work to build up my muscles.
75. I finished reading the library book I borrowed. First time!
76. Got a total of $1,396/- ang pow this year!
77. I helped a blind man into the mrt yesterday. Felt good!
78. I think I'm a good prefect.
79. My parents decided not to migrate. I prefer here.
80. I shortened my pants on my own!
81. A dog chased after me yesterday. But I ran faster than the dog. The stupid dog
didn't know I'm the school's fast runner. Ho! Ho! Ho!
82. I just feel contented. Let others be the top students. I just do my best.
83. Teacher said my piano playing has improved.
84. Mum bought me a nice windbreaker for my trip to New Zealand.
85. My parents and I will join the school tour to Israel, Turkey and Egypt.
86. I love to eat like Garfield.
87. I'm as lazy and as mischievous as Garfield yet my parents love me!
88. Going to hang around with my friends at Orchard this weekend.
89. I love Fridays!
90. Sundays are even better. Dad often cooks for us on Sundays.
91. Uncle said I'm not handsome but charming! (Will I make more girls fall for me?)
92. ACS boys have the gift of the gab and I'm one of them. :-)
93. I shared my food with my classmate. He forgot to bring his wallet.
94. My friend told me a joke last night. So funny!
95. Secondary life is short. Only 4 years. So I better be happy and get the most out of it!
96. Helped my mom to peel onions yesterday. Now I appreciate mom's housework. Not easy!
97. I found a wallet. It had some 100 dollars and some cards. Brought it to the police station. Dad said he's proud of me.
98. I love my family!
99. I love my comfortable bed.
100. My pimples are now cleared. Mom gave me some good cream.
101. Strangely, I feel even happier now after my 100 reasons!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Nation of Happy People

When I was teaching in Anglo Chinese School (Independent) I asked my Secondary One and Two students this question, "How many of you love dogs? A few hands were raised each time. "How many of you love animals?" Slightly more hands were raised in every class.

"Researchers have found that men who love animals, have a greater tendency to be good fathers and husbands!" I continued. This time ALL hands suddenly shot up!

I smiled. For even if some of the responses were fake (due to kiasuism), I was just glad that I could elicit a positive response from the students. I hope that my question would stir up the innermost, best quality and potential in each of my students. For as a man thinks, so is he! It might even be the start of an interest and love for animals in my students.

Hence, after this, I always gave my students this exercise. "Write in point form, 101 reasons why I am happy." Each time, I was amazed with the answers and creativity of my students!

Hence, in their quest to help Singaporeans to be happy, I hope Mr. Philip Merry and his committee would come up with a national exercise - something like what I have done with my students.

When people start to write down the reasons why they are happy, they will begin to feel that life is not so bad after all! Gradually, more people in this little dot will be able to start to count their blessings, naming them one by one.

I am not a psychologist or philosopher, but a humble ex-teacher, who had managed to make my classes more mesmerising, thought-provoking and fun for my students.

May Singapore gradually be known as a nation of happy people!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy, Happier, Happiest!

I smiled when I read the article, "Hunt for the Happiest Person in Singapore". A big smiley face smiled back at me from the article. I couldn't resist laughing when I read that the person in charge of searching for the happiest person in Singapore is a Mr. Philip Merry, CEO and Founder of Global Leadership Academy. What a sheer coincidence that his surname, Merry, makes him the most appropriate choice!

I smiled even more as I thought, "Mm...Given my looks and stature that looks like a jolly Santa Claus, I would never have the chance of winning a Miss Singapore contest! But I just might be able to win the "Happiest Person in Singapore contest"! The lady sitting opposite my table at the coffeeshop smiled and said in Hokkien, "You look so happy! Did you just strike 4D?"

I flashed her the article with the yellow smiley face. No, they are looking for the happiest person in Singapore!

"Xiao ah.!" (Crazy ah!) How to be happy? Everything so expensive in Singapore! Life is getting harder lah!"

"Aunty! We're still so much better off than so many of our neighbouring countries.
Life is good!" I said, much to her consternation.

I thought of how the moment I landed at the bus station in Penang, my second brother greeted me with a strange question, "Sis, are you happy!?"

"Of course, koko, (brother) I have ten thousand reasons not to be unhappy!" Brother had asked me this question because he had read that Singaporeans are the unhappiest people in South East Asia!"

Wait a minute. I am a very happy person, and I am contented to be this way. Would I dare say that I am the happiest person in Singapore.? What would Mr. Merry use to measure or can happiness be really measured? I was taught in primary school, "happy, happier, happiest!" In Primary Five, I made my English teacher somewhat annoyed when I asked her how she would measure or weigh happiness. If we say someone is the richest man in the world, we could count his worth in money and assets. But happiness?

Anyway, I am glad that readers have been telling me that they get uplifted every time they read my articles. I have to thank papa for inheriting his genes of optimism and contentment. The researchers at Scotland's Edinburgh University have found that genes affected happiness levels by up to 50 per cent. Like papa, I find joy in simple things even when walking in the rain or hot sun. We are both hopeless optimists. Every morning, I wake up and thank God for at least ten things. Count our blessings and name them one by one!

My best friend, Amu, once told me that if she had gone through the hell that I went through at one phase of my life, she might have committed suicide.! I told Amu that it did not mean I must only be happy when things are going well for me. I still believe that all things happen for good to those who believe in the Lord. It is God's blessings and approval I covet, not man's opinion, for man's praises do not send me to heaven; man's condemnation and criticisms do not send me to hell either. In brief, I would never allow anyone to rob me of my joy.!

At my toastmasters' speechcraft in Changi Prison, I always encourage the inmates to be positive and to make the most of their stay in prison, by reading and writing. I shared with them how once I ended up, stuck in the chairlift in Banff, Canada, and dangling for a couple of hours, braving the strong wind as the wintry weather became colder. I thought it was not often that one had a chance to be high up in the mountain with a bird's eye view of the wonderful scenery. (In Singapore we have to pay $29.90 to have a bird's eye view!) My professor and classmate who were with me on the same chair lift were somewhat annoyed with my optimism! I knew somehow that God would not let us perish and help would arrive shortly. Indeed help arrived on time. I almost died from hypothermia! But I guess God wanted me to live long enough...... to write this essay on happiness!

Mr. Merry had mentioned that everyone searches for happiness - be it in success in career, in relationships, or in life. To me happiness is not conditional. For if it is conditional, then, why are most of the millionaires still unhappy? Why would some of the successful and rich movie stars kill themselves? Ponder over what the late Howard Hughes had said, "If I could turn the clock back, why, I would be happier when I was a shoe-shine boy".

Happiness is being contented with whatever state we find ourselves in. For eg. in the MRT, instead of complaining how crowded the train is, I enjoy observing the commuters around me. I was tickled pink when some commuters vacated their seats for me when they saw the "Area Governor" toastmasters' badge on my outfit.! They must be thinking I am some kind of important governor!! When I go to my clients' luxurious homes, I enjoy myself. When I market some of my clients' humble hdb homes, I also enjoy myself. Like papa, I am at home with royalty as I am with prisoners and gangsters.

At home, I enjoy the peace and quiet, and being single, the freedom to do whatever I like - playing the piano and violin, reading, learning Tamil and Hindhi, writing, watching the TV, cooking, watering my plants, etc. Though living alone, I have never felt lonely in my life. There are so many interesting things to do and think about. I want to give bouquets to others while they are still alive, not when they are six feet under. I always remind my friends to come to my funeral, dressed in pink and purple or lovely pastel colours, for to us Christians, death is a celebration.

Some people say, "I would be happy if I were married; if I strike the lottery; if I were promoted, etc. "We are so obsessed with the future that we forget to enjoy the present! It is like some Canadians who worry so much about the forthcoming winter, that they forget to enjoy the golden splendour of Autumn.

Hence, Singaporeans, be happy. Stop complaining and whining about your neighbours' fault. Enjoy the great infrastructure in our little nation, and remember that our government is also made up of people who are not perfect. Do not compare yourself with others, but be at peace and at ease with yourself. Above all, be grateful to God and man. My papa had always taught us that gratitude will put us in the right perspective of things and a grateful person is always a happy person. He also taught us that whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well. That includes sweeping the floor and working for our bosses. Let us all make the most of our precious lives on earth.

Cheers to happiness! Be happy! It's the only way to keep our medisave funds intact! :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar

Having suffered from food poisoning once, I am now very wary of taking food that does not seem right. However, my morbid fear has vanished ever since my second sister, Ean Ean, told me this story.

Sis is an advocate of apple cider vinegar. Everyday, she would take a glass of apple cider vinegar. She uses three tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and mix it with a glass of honey. Sis shared that she started taking apple cider vinegar after she heard of how one American was the only one in his tour group who did not have food poisoning, while the rest of the 30 tour members suffered.

Whenever I feel like throwing out after taking some food, I would quickly take a glass of honey with apple cider vinegar, and the nauseated feelings be eliminated. Since then, I have never suffered from food poisoning.

Apple cider vinegar is known to be good for those who have high cholesterol and obesity. It also helps in chronic fatigue, sinus infections, acne, arthritis, sore throat and gout.

It is amazing how the Creator has given mankind the right food to take. There are so many wonderful herbs that we can take. Now I have a penchant for growing herbs which help in diabetes, cancer, sore throat, and general good health. I prefer herbal cures rather than synthetic drugs.

If my local readers need any of the plants, please email me and I will give them to you. Freely I receive, freely I give.

Wishing all my readers great and abundant health in 2008!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Joy of Working From Home!

I attended the Toastmasters Club of Singapore at Sheraton Towers Hotel. It was my first time at the popular club. The table topics master had a topic. "Working at home is better than working in the office."

As I was the Language Evaluator for the meeting, I did not volunteer to speak even though I was aching to do so! I feel that others must be given a chance to speak, especially the non project speakers and guests.

I used to work from the office until recently when I decided to give up my office table space and work from home. I would only go to the office for meetings and paper work or when I have to meet my clients.

Right now I am just thinking I must be one of the luckiest ladies to be able to enjoy her work. As a real estate agent, my main paraphernalia would be my phones, note book and computer. I also enjoy sharing with others about the goodness of the quantum science pendant which exudes scalar energy.

I can wear pyjamas and old clothes at home. Often I am dressed in shorts and loose blouse so that it is more cooling. I can turn on the music softly or stand on the yoga board while talking on the phone. Sometimes I can also watch my favourite Chinese serial even while talking on the phone because I can read the sub-titles.
Ladies are well known for multi tasking, and I just love to do two to three things at one time. For some fresh air, I sometimes help my neighbour, Irin, to walk her two dogs.

If I work in the office, I am more likely to have my lunch or dinner in the cafeteria. Whereas if I work from home, I am more likely to cook simple yet healthy meals.

As my voice is naturally loud, I have all the privacy in the world. There is also no danger of being a noise pollutant! There is also the likelihood of not being caught up in office gossip and politics which are prevalent in most companies.

Best of all, I can avoid the cold airconditioning which tends to dry up the skin. I prefer the cold, but dislike having to apply moisturisers! Hence, the moving fan is sufficient for me.

Of course, one needs great discipline when one works at home.....or the bed is just too tempting and we will sz sz sz sz s n o......oze! Oops! There goes my deal!

Gan Chau

Monday, March 17, 2008

Much Ado About Sharp Noses and Tongues!

Aha! My readers must be thinking that I am referring to the lovely and sharp noses often found on the faces of Caucasians and Indians. I am referring more to the acute sense of smell in all noses, sharp or flat, well defined or rounded.

I am also not referring to people with sharp tongues which imply acidity in speech. I am referring to the acute sense of taste.! Got you!

Yesterday, as we were arriving Somerset MRT station, I told my friend that it was raining heavily. She stared at me and said, "Choo, you think you're a doggy ah! The weather was fine when we left Changi Airport.!"

"Alice, wanna bet.? Buy you lunch!" I replied.

My confidence shook Alice somewhat and she mumbled, " you're right."

When we came out of the station, we were greeted by pouring rain. My friend marvelled at my acute sense of smell.! I was always the first to smell some leaking gas. I guess, God must have compensated my less than sharp hearing with acute sense of smell and taste. This is the reason why I often find food cooked in restaurants somewhat too salty and spicy for me. This is also why I abstain from meat like beef, mutton, lamb and duck. I take minimal amount of pork and chicken. Due my acute sense of smell, no amount of herbs can envelope the smell exuding from these meat. Even when I cook fish, I have to use lots of garlic and ginger to disguise the smell. I enjoy inhaling the aroma from Starbucks and Coffee Club although I hardly patronise these up-market cafes. I enjoy inhaling the aroma from the various Indian restaurants around my apartment, although I have never once entered the restaurants as I do not particularly take to Indian cuisine.

Ah the blessings of sharp sense of smell and taste! Wait a minute! Who has just let out some German gas!? Argh! I feel like I've been hit by a tsunami! Well, I guess we can't have everything wonderful in life! We have to take everything in our stride, and enjoy the salt as well as the sugar and spice of life!

C'est la vie! :-)

Gan Chau

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What a Life......With Scalar Energy!

I am so grateful to my best friend, Amu, for having introduced me to the quantum pendant. Since the day I started using the pendant, I have been enjoying a great sense of well being which I have not experienced before.

I notice that my legs no longer have pins and needles when I sleep. Ever so often, I was awoken by the pulling of the ligaments in my legs. The pain could be so excruciating! With the sound sleep I could get every night, I would wake up absolutely fresh and rejuvenated!

Now I also save a lot of time as I no longer have to wait for the "antique" lifts in my block of flats. The authorities are going to upgrade the lifts and the new lifts would stop at every floor. However, before we could enjoy the new lifts we would have to undergo the mess and inconvenience of renovation and retrofitting works. Hence, one lift would be working at one time as the other one would be dismantled and fitted with new lifts. It makes me exceedingly happy to be able to run up and down five flights of stairs everyday. In the past, due to the pain in my knees I had to be dependant on the lifts. Walking slowly down the steps made me feel like an old lady. Now, I am exhilirated each time I run down the stairs! I certainly feel ten years younger!

The scalar energy has helped to improve my blood circulation. Now my complexion looks rosy and radiant. Moisturer is the only costmetics I use daily, but some people think I use rouge! Since young, I have given up using eyeshadow, powder, rouge, etc. because my perspiration would clear off whatever is on my shining face!
I often joke with my friends that if I have to get married one day, I would have to be a bride in winter, so that the cold weather would preserve the make up on my face and the hard work of the beautician!

As I have benefitted so much from the benefits of scalar energy, I have been introducing the products to many people, so that they too can enjoy renewed strength, diminishing of pain, youthfulness and vitality!

Perhaps readers might like to have a look at the products. The bracelet is stylish and I like it as I always prefer to wear different chokers. However, the pendant has dual can be used to energise my drinking water, when I put a tumbler of water on the pendant for twenty minutes. The titanium flask energises the water within 1 minute. I do not have it because I am afraid of losing it as I am quite absent minded.

Best of all is the affordability of the products. Unlike health products which need to be replenished, the investment is only one time of $288/- or when a consumer buys three, he gets two free products which could be a pendant and a bracelet or flask. Hence it works out to be about only $172/-. If a consumer accidentally breaks the pendant, he can exchange for a new one with a payment of only MR100/-. All he has to do is to present the broken pieces with the certificate.

My siblings were not wrong when they sometimes called me a busybody. That's me. When I know of something good, I must tell the whole world, and that includes the saving grace and salvation of our beloved Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

For those of you who wish to read more about the testimonies from other users, please log into or email me at

Cheers to great health!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lessons We Can Learn From Animals!

As Singapore is a concrete jungle, it is not surprising that many are quite ignorant where animals are concerned. Some primary school students have not even seen live pigs before. Probably this is why, now schools and even community centres are conducting farm tours for the children.

The headlines in yesterday's New Paper read, "3 Hours of Monkey Mayhem". Some monkeys have invaded the homes in Bukit Timah, grabbing whatever food they could find in the kitchen and garden. In a bid to deal with these uninvited guests, a family put a cage with fruits, but the clever monkeys refused to be trapped. Except for a little baby monkey. Of course the monkeys fought hard in a bid to rescue the little one.

It is amazing how protective most animals are towards their young. I learnt this some two decades ago. My second sister, Ean Ean who lived in Melbourne, had misunderstood the advertisement. She thought she was bringing her dog, Max, to exchange for some rabbits. Her children, had without her permission, adopted the dog. Sis felt that it was beyond her family's budget to keep a dog. We drove to a home in the suburbs. It was a home in a farm. As sister was talking to the owner, I was suddenly taken aback when I saw a cat chasing Max around the farm. The cat was ferocious. Max ran for his life. I could not help laughing because it was really quite hilarious! A cat chasing a big dog! What a sight! The owner then explained to us that the cat had just given birth to some kittens. Max had unknowingly wandered near her kittens. From then, I realised how wonderful animals were to love and protect their young.

Back home in Singapore I had another experience. I rescued a cat from the dustbin in my neighbourhood. I had caught some naughty teenagers putting the cat in the bin and gave them a piece of my mind. To my surprise, the cat followed me home. I told the cat that I could not let her in because she would not be welcome by Kamlette, my pet dog. The cat heard some barking from inside the apartment and understood. She decided to sleep outside the entrance of my flat.! Later I decided to put a basket with some cloths to make the cat more comfortable. One day, to my pleasant surprise, the cat gave birth to some kittens. The mother cat was quite comfortable and never once moved the kittens to another place. Soon the kittens grew bigger.

One morning, as I was going to the market, I saw a young cat. I wondered how it could have come down from my apartment and strayed so far away from the mother cat. I picked up the cat and brought it home to the mother. To my shock, the mother cat spanked the newcomer and was aggresive towards it. Only then did I realise that it was not her kitten!

Once I was walking Kambobo, my rough collie, around the neighbourhood. Suddenly a cat sprang from nowhere and attacked my dog! Bobo was a gentle giant who did not believe in fighting with an animal one quarter his size. I had to use my shoe to ward off the cat in a bid to protect Bobo. My loud voice must have scared off the cat. Though I could not see her kittens, I knew the cat must have just given birth.

What lessons can we learn from bitches? They can put some human beings to shame. Especially those people who do not protect their offsprings. Some ladies with unwanted pregnancies had no qualms about flushing their newborn down the toilet or throwing them down the rubbish chute! If mothers could not keep their babies, they should at least put them up for adoption!

Animals! They are lesser than man, yet we can learn some lessons from them.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Much Ado About Advertisements!

Yesterday, I was reading the New Paper when an advertisement by Burger King caught my eyes. In big colorful print it read, "CLAW IN. New BK Fish with Honey Mustard Sauce (Even the Cat Wants It!) Then at the lower part of the ad it said, "Get Your Claws Into These Irresistible Snacks Too!".

Why annoy customers like me with the word "claws" when "fingers would be a better word? Does the copy writer of the ad think customers are cats or dogs? Copy writers should be professionals who should be most sensitive to the connotative and emotive innuendos in words and meanings.

As I had mentioned earlier, viewers and readers do not ask to watch or read advertisements. As such, it is even more annoying when ads are done in bad taste. I remember when I first came to Singapore, I applied for a copy writer's position due to the encouragement of the students in my evening adult class.

The interviewer asked me if there was any particular ad on television that I disliked. I told him and his panel of 4 interviewers that I disliked the "Breeze" advertisement. I could not stand the obese housewife who was panting even as she was carrying a big tub of dirty clothes. She heaved a loud sigh. Suddenly a box of Breeze detergent appeared before her. She opened her eyes in mock surprise and poured the powder into the washing machine. The ad was so unnatural and unconvincing. The jaws of the interviewers dropped. "Then, how do you propose to improve the ad?" asked one of the interviewers.

"Have you seen the cartoon of Snow White and the Seven Dwarf?" See how happy Snow White was as she was washing and hanging out the clothes to dry with the little birds helping her to hold the edges of the clothings.! Snow White made washing seem so much fun. It made me want to go back and wash my clothes!

Later, as I made my way out of the premises, to my surprise and amusement, I saw some huge boxes of Breeze detergents and other related paraphernalia. "Gosh, please don't tell me this company is the one that has produced the Breeze advertisement!"

As you can guess it, I did not get the job. I ended up in the National Institute of Education as a trainee teacher. I do not think I want to make copy writing my career as the work is tough. While I am critical, I also realise that writing good advertisements that appeal to the masses is very challenging. However, some of these popular advertisments have appealed to many. For example, the Visa ad, Tiger Beer Ad and the AXA Life Ad just to name a few.

Copywriting, anyone?

Gan Chau

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why I Love Staying in Singapore and Malaysia!

My fellow toastmasters, Mike Rodrigues and Aziz Mustajab sent me the email with the u tube production featuring Comedy Court's latest hit. I had not taken my lunch yet and after watching the short clip, I laughed till my hunger vanished!

That's it! I love the colorful life that we have in this country, and with Malaysia being our closest neighbour! Every year I visit my relatives in Penang, KL or Kuching. In fact, the two countries are so closely intertwined for we have many Malaysians now working in Singapore as well. And of course, some Singaporeans working in Malaysia too. It is so natural for Singaporeans and Malaysians to pick up dialects and languages easily. My nieces and nephews in Malaysia speak English, Malay, Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese fluently. I remember many Canadians were quite pleasantly surprised when they realised how multi lingual students from Asia were generally.

When I was studying in Canada, I found Canadians speaking mainly French in Quebec and English in other parts of Canada. Of course, there were some Canadians who could speak French, German, Russian and other languages, but somehow English seemed to be widely used in the country. I signed up for French courses because I had thought it was important to be fluent not only in English but also in French, if I were to chose to live in Canada.

Once, I was shopping in Chinatown. The shop owner was collecting money from me at the cash register when he suddenly looked up and said to the man behind me, "Do you understand what she is saying.?" "No don't understand no Chinese!", he blurted indignantly. I turned around and greeted him, "Bonjour! Cava bien?" He was momentarily taken aback and mumbled, "Bien, bien".

When I shared with my classmates about the incident, only then did I realise how ethnocentric the French were. It had been so many years. Hopefully things have changed as the world becomes smaller and more accessible with the advent of computers and internet.

I am so glad we were made to study another second or third language when we were young.

Growing up with people of diverse races makes us learn about the different cultures and habits of homo sapiens. It really adds colour to our life. I remember the surprise of an American couple when they patronised the Italian restaurant I was operating. My customers were of different nationalities, and the American couple were tickled pink to hear me switching from one language to another. They were curious to find out how I had picked up Korean, Tamil, Hindhi, German and French. I need not be super fluent in these languages......I learn enough to serve my customers....service related words that break the ice and add warmth and friendliness.

Gan Chau

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Just to Ponder (2)

I was surprised that my article, "Brains - A Must for Committing Crimes" was mentioned in the Onlinecitizen and the highlight of my article was on "No need for heads to roll - to err is human". I would like to add, "To err is human; to believe in God divine".

Many of us in this little dot have taken the government to be an almost perfect government, forgetting it is human beings - not gods that are looking after the welfare of the nation. As such, mistakes and carelessness can be expected! It is interesting to watch the reaction of the public towards Mas Selamat's escape from detention. While some look at it in a positive way that it is a lesson in complacency, others immediately demand for heads to roll; for the minister and various heads of department to resign to show their remorse, etc. Yet, how many have thought of the many years of good works and performances of these very people in their service? This is the perversity of men! Someone can do nine good things, but the moment he fails, people can forget the nine good things and just remember and take to heart that one failure!

Two days ago, I met Hari, the amiable and shortest Malay man in my block. "Choo, when is the world coming to an end?" he asked me in a sad and serious note. "Why, Hari? What has happened? Has some disaster or earthquake taken place again? " I asked, wondering how could I have missed such a major event.

"Choo.....people are terrible. No point being helpful and kind. In the end you end up in trouble and get all the blame," Hari said with a loud sigh.

"Hari.....just do your best. As long as God sees your heart, it is enough. Man's opinions don't matter. I always tell people that man's praises don't send me to heaven; man's condemnation doesn't send me to hell either. It is God's blessings I covet. His rewards are all that I want. Failure or success ......I give them all back to God. No sweat. No stress. Hari, now you understand why I am always cheerful."

Yes, Mas Selamat has escaped! Yes, Malaysia and other countries in the world may be laughing at our so-called top-notch efficiency. Yes, a limping criminal has brought embarrassment to our little nation. But let us look at the bright side. As MM Lee had said, it is certainly a good lesson in complacency for us. Sometimes when things go smoothly, we begin to rest on our laurels and it takes a limping but clever detainee to shake us out of our comfort zones. Compared to Septemebr 11, Mas Selamat's escape from detention is a little setback. Have we thanked the Authorities that his plot to bomb Changi Airport had been foiled? As MM Lee had said, so long as he is still in Singapore, we can still try to nab him. It would be more worrying if he had escaped to Indonesia! However, if Mas Selamat has escaped to Indonesia, the upside is that the Authorities throughout the world will be even more vigilant against terrorism.!

Everyone has a role to play by being vigilant while taking the bus and mrt. Even when we are at the airport or train station, we can be on the lookout of suspicious characters. Indeed the peace and prosperity of this little nation is dependant on everyone of us. Most of all, in our daily lives, let us always have that heart of gratitude towards God and people. And when someone fails us, let us remember all the good things he has done for us so that it is easier for us to forgive and love that person. By doing so, we become happier people, bearing in mind that, as human beings, we, oursleves, sometimes also fail others.

Gan Chau

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Importance of Language in Advertisements

I have always shared how important it is that advertisements must be attractive and worth the viewers' and readers' time. When you are watching an interesting program it is quite irritating when advertisements appear. It is even more annoying when the advertisements are done in bad taste. Now with the use of mobiles, we get junk ads coming in. Sometimes you are in a hurry and a message beeps on your mobile! It is troublesome reading an unwanted ad. It is even more irksome receiving an ad that makes you feel worse than you are already feeling!!

Yesterday morning, I received one such advertisement which read as follows :- "Overhaul your body for $50. Top up $18 to renovate your dusty face. Call Scent Discovery at 62565288 to book your massage/face spa. End 30 March 2008....reply x to unsubscribe."

Being mischievous, I decided to reply, "Please use appropriate description. Your language stinks even as clients may discover that your Scent is most fragrant!"

Later, I decided not just to be an armchair critic, but to give constructive criticism. I smsed again, "May I suggest that you say, "Rejuvenate your body at only $50/-! Add $18/- for a more radiant facial complexion! Promo ends on 30/8/08. Don't miss! Hurry!"

Amazing how the company must have sent thousands of sms to everyone in the island. Since the sms is of such a massive scale, shouldn't the company get someone to improve on the wordings?
The company could have spent thousands of dollars on renovating the premises, yet it is so careless in its sms advertsiements which could turn off potential clients.

Though I may sound somewhat harsh, I hope my rewording of the advertisment will help the company. When they read this article, my siblings will chide me again, "There you go again, kaypo Choo." :-)

Gan Chau

Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore (16)

There I was at Changi Airport, eagerly awaiting the arrival of my university buddy, Clara.
I was as usual, quite proud of our army officers patrolling around the airport, this time in greater number because of the escape of Mas Selamat.

Just then, I caught sight of Clara. It had been almost two decades since we last saw each other. Clara is as slim and as agile as ever. Just then, I received an sms in my mobile phone. It was the photo of Mas Selamat, sent by the police.

"Wow! Your boyfriend is so handsome!", Clara remarked.

Momentarily I was dumbfounded. "No, Clara, he's not my boyfriend. He's Singapore's most wanted man!", I explained when I gathered my composure. I could not help laughing. I did not blame Clara for jumping to conclusion.

I went on to narrate Mas Selamat's getaway from detention. Clara was impressed with the authorities' determination to track down the limping convict.

Clara even sent an sms of Mas Selamat to her parents. telling them to inform the Singapore police if they were to see Mas Selamat in their hometown in Edmonton!! A little far-fetched?
Well, we never know.....

Gan Chau

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Autumn in Singapore?

I am not sure whether it is a figment of my imagination but these days we are experiencing much cooler weather. The weather reminds me of autumn in Canada. The long long plant which my neighbour, Irin, had given me for my birthday has also dropped its yellow fruits and leaves, reminding me of the golden splendour of my favourite season.

It is now so cool and breezy on most days so much so that I do not need to turn on the fan or airconditioners. Even my granite flooring seems to be so icy cold in the early morning. I find that I am more productive when the weather is cooler.

I hope the weather will continue to be like this for a few months, till June, which is supposedly a hot and humid month in Asia.

My colleagues tease me for being so happy and easily contented. My best friend, Amu, even commented that it is a pity I never settle down, for I will defintely make my spouse a happy person. I do not need diamonds and luxury to make me happy! Just some cool, breezy days.!!

Gan Chau

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Brains - a must for committing crimes!

The whole nation of Singapore has been alerted to the escape and manhunt for JI fugitive, Mas Selamat bin Kastari. In the midst of all the excitement and tenseness, the New Paper's headlines read, "He's everywhere but nowhere!" And I received this picture in my email from fellow toastmaster, Aziz, which suggested the possible way of Mas' escape! Suddenly I burst out laughing. I can imagine the smile and laughter of all those who received the picture too. If there is one thing, I have learnt, we have progressed as a nation because we can learn to laugh at ourselves.

Please do not get me wrong. Mas' escape is not to be taken lightly. Some citizens are nervous about this fugitive on the understandable feeling. Mas' escape from detention has created a furore of emotion in this little red dot. He has also wasted a lot of manpower and nation's time! One man who probably was suffering from boredom decided to make a hoax about Mas Selamat. Some have absolute faith in the authorities to nap the slippery criminal in due time. It certainly takes brains for anyone to commit crimes.

Through this, we also learn that we cannot be complacent. Singapore is well known for her efficiency and thoroughness. Yet, a limping criminal could still escape. There is no necessity to demand for anyone's head to err is human! Through this experience, the whole nation is reminded to be always vigilant!

Hence, I do not understand why some people with chicken brains would dare to tread where even angels fear to tread. For example, the maid who killed her employer and threw the body down from the apartment. Did she expect the police to buy her story? We also have the dumb and dumber thieves who stole credit cards and got caught after partying in the very same club.!

If anyone wants to commit a crime, be sure to be smart enough not to get caught. It would not be challenging for the police to solve simple cases! If one does not have the brain to escape from being caught, then one should try to lead a simple, happy and contented life and breathe in the fresh air of freedom!!

Gan Chau