Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Hot Soup....

"Let me put away my phone first", I said to my friend who wanted me to check whether the spaghetti in the pot was of the right texture.

I am now extra cautious for a few months ago, I was boiling some soup when the phone rang. I had just brought the pot of soup from the stove and placed it on the marble table. Just then the phone rang. With the phone in my left hand, and a ladle in my right, I scooped up some soup into two bowls. My guest was rushing off for an appointment and I had to serve her the soup first. Suddenly, to my horror, the phone slipped from my left hand and landed into the pot of hot soup!

Gone was the whole mechanism of the phone! My contact numbers had disappeared! And so had all the messages received.

Now, I am extra cautious. I hope I will not land myself in hot soup again....never!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Strange mathematics shown in buses and trains!

I was rushing down the escalator as the train was arriving soon. About 8 people got out of the train. Yet, when I wanted to get in, there was no space for me to get in! Amazing mathematics! If 8 people got out of the train, surely at least 8 people could get in! Even one person could not get in. I had to raise my voice and threw caution to self-consciousness, "Please move in, please move in." Only then was there a little space for me to enter before the doors closed. Deep in my heart, I am grateful to toastmasters' training which has enabled me to be outspoken. Also, I guess the desperation to get into the train has also motivated me to speak out.

Ever so often, during peak hours, I notice how people would just stay put instead of moving to the rear of the bus. The poor bus driver not only has to be attentive when he is driving; he also has the uneviable task of taking care of his passengers. In the past, we always had a driver and a conductor. The conductor would collect money for the tickets as well as to make sure that the bus was not overcrowded or that people would move to the back. Is this the reason why fewer and fewer people are opting to drive buses?

Just not too long ago, I was in bus No. 67. It was around the Hari Raya celebration. The bus was jam packed and at every stop, the driver had to remind the passengers to move to the rear. I decided to give the driver a helping hand, and asked the people to move. I also spoke in Mandarin, Malay and Tamil less there were some passengers who could not understand English.!

I hardly passed my mathematics throughout high school. But I certainly know that when 8 passengers alighted from a bus, surely 8 more could enter. But the innate selfishness of people does not make this logic possible.

When will passengers become more considerate and help make travelling by public transport an easier and more pleasant journey?

Gan Chau

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Story to Live By....

I received this following story from my friend, Melinda. Perhaps some of my readers would have read it already.

Papa had said that we can do nine good deeds for someone; but if we were to fail him in one favour, he could wipe out memories of the nine good deeds and only remember our one failure! Is this probably the reason why some people prefer to have dogs as their friends.? For they can bank on the absolute faithfulness of their four legged pets than on two legged homo sapiens.

A Story to live by

> There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She
> hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always
> there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see
> the world, I will marry you.' > One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her.
When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.
> He asked her,'Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?'
The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind.
The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her.
She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life
led her to refuse to marry him.

> Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her
> saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear,
for before they were yours, they were mine.'
> This is how the human brain often works when our status changes.
> Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who
> was always by their side in the most painful situations.

> Life Is a Gift
> Today
> before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.

> Before
> you complain about the taste of your food -
Think of someone who has nothing to eat.
> Before
> you complain about your husband or wife -
Think of someone who's crying out to GOD for a companion.

> Today
> before you complain about life - Think of someone who died
> too early on this earth.

> Before
> you complain about your children - Think of someone who
> desires children but they're barren.
> Before
> you argue about your dirty house someone didn't clean or
> sweep - Think of the people who are living in the streets.
> Before
> whining about the distance you drive Think of someone who
> walks the same distance with their feet.
> And when
> you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the
> unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.
> But
> before you think of pointing the finger or condemning
> another - Remember that not one of us is without sin.
> And when
> depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on
> your face and think: you're alive and still

An Inspiring Letter......

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Some members of Div. U at the Annual Convention of District 80
From left to right: Chooi Ling, Edward Ma, Ed Hearn, Kristina, Anne Barab, yours truly, David Liem and Bee Bee

One of the most prominent guests in our District 80 Annual Convention is Anne Barab. We were mesmerised by her vivacious personality, her positiveness and her humorous and charming personality. Once in a while, I would send her an email and to my pleasant surprise, despite her hectic schedules, she would reply and promptly too.! My pastor had said that when you give a busy person a task, somehow he/she will always be able to get it done. I guess it all boils down to effective time management.

Here, I share with readers her email. I hope that this article will reach out to toastmasters around the world too. What an inspiring sotry about Lashunda Rundles!
I hope your spirit will be uplifted just as mine.

Dear Kam Choo Choo,

Congratulations on overcoming your fear!!! The personal growth rewards of being a brave Toastmaster are enormous. I’m so glad you chose to grow with courage, rather than to give in to your pre-contest nerves. Contests help us grow like no other Toastmaster’s experience.

Would you please be kind enough to forward this message from me to your District 80 distribution list?

Dear District 80,

How wonderful to see your smiling faces and read your names in Kam Choo Choo’s email! I so treasure the District 80 friendships when we visited in May. And it was even better seeing many of you again in Calgary in August.

Speaking of Calgary , perhaps you remember Lashunda Rundles who won the International Speech Contest this year. Well, she is from District 50 here in Dallas , Texas . In her winning speech she mentioned she has Lupus, a deadly disease where the body’s cells attack each other. She spent 8 months in the hospital last year and had several toes amputated. Although she looked so composed at the contest she was in terrible pain and could not keep food down. When she returned to Dallas we had a celebration honoring her. She gave her winning speech sitting in a chair, then drove directly to the hospital and checked in. She’s been in the intensive care unit (ICU) for weeks. Her colon burst open and filled her body with a terrible infection. After exploratory surgery, the doctors told her she maybe had a month to live if she had surgery every 3 or 4 days. Not a promising prognosis. However, she is an incredibly brave and strong soul who is fighting back. She’s still with us and has been able to sit up in a chair for an hour a couple of times. So many Toastmasters come to see her that the hospital is giving us crowd control instructions. So please keep Lashunda in your prayers.

I’ve had a busy summer and fall speaking all over the country, but now I’m home for the rest of the year. My new website is going live shortly. Here’s a link On a personal note, Stu and I have taken up bicycling and I’ve managed to fall off twice, once to the right on cement and again on the left on grass which is much softer. As a result I have some pretty spectacular bruises. Our other big news is we are expecting our first grandchild, due January 24th. Our daughter and son-in-law are naming her Olivia Anne in honor of me. Wow! What joy.

America will be celebrating a national holiday called Thanksgiving this coming Thursday. Families get together to eat turkey, watch a lot of football on TV, and be thankful for our many blessings. Top on my list of gratitudes are all of you in District 80!! Your hospitality toward us was boundless, but mainly you all (y’all in Texas ) are just so darn much fun! Stu and I reminisce about laughing with you so hard our ribs hurt. I still hear from some of you (you know who you are) but I’d love to find out how more of you are doing so please hit Reply and let me know.

From my country to yours, thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU for the family of Toastmasters!!!!!!!


The Resilience Expert

Balancing Attitude, Reality And Behavior

214-349-2777 voice

214-293-9009 cell

Have violin, will travel safely in crowded places!

Although it could be quite cumbersome to carry my violin with me whenever I have to go for my violin class or practice with my piano teacher, I discovered that the solid rectangular case also has its great use. Sometimes, I have to carry my violin with me to the office so that I could proceed to my class after doing some paper work.

When I am in a crowded train, I would not hold my violin case horizontally as it would be easier to hold it vertically. I then discovered that it is best to clutch it like as if you were holding a baby. The case certainly gives you great security and protection.....against lustful men who pretend to brush against your chest. Some pretended to brush against you and they pretended they were unaware, and gave you that innocent look. As a genteel lady, you did not want to kick up a fuss or unneccessary attention to yourself. not so of these days, I may end up releasing my clenched fist, and giving someone a kick in the butt.!

I also discover that carrying an over sized handbag would also come in handy for not only making sure that you do not misplace any of your belongings, but also as a weapon against people with lewd intentions.

Hence, this is why I often prefer to walk if I could, rather than to take the crowded train. I can enjoy the fresh air, space and freedom.!

Gan Chau

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mr. Rock's Life Journey


Taking a pose at Artfolio Gallery - from left to right
Jasmin, yours truly, Anu and Avinesh

One of my favourite paintings - Mr. Rock at Mt. Fuji

Would readers like to interpret this painting of Mr. Naoya Oka?

Collection of paintings by the talented Japanese artist, Mr. Naoya Oka

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I received an invitation from Artfolio Gallery to attend the opening ceremony of "Mr. Rock's Life Journey" by a talented artist, Mr. Naoya Oka. I decided to bring my tenants along as they are also quite interested in things artistic and musical.

What colorful and lovely paintings. Mr. Oka's paintings is a blend of the East and the West. His cherry blossoms remind me of oriental art while his figurine paintings remind me of Picasso.

I wish I had money to be an art collector.....but for now I can only be an admirer of great paintings. A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

Gan Chau

Sunday, November 23, 2008

District 80 Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contests


Winners of the Humorous speech contest

Winners of the Evaluation contest


Taking a pose with some members from the Braddell Heights Advanced Toastmasters' Club
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What a great and exciting time.! This time, it was more mind-boggling for me as a first time participant in the contest. Thanks to the generosity of Kin Fung, the Div. U champion for both humorous speech and evaluation contests, I was asked to participate in the evaluation contest so that Kin Fung could concentrate on his humorous speech. Fellow toastmasters like Cher Khim, Ban Peng, Kelvin and Geok Cheng were very encouraging. They gave me useful tips on what a good evaluation is all about. I am very grateful to them.

However, on the eve of the contest, I nearly chickened out. I was nervous and felt that perhaps it would be too stressful for me to take part. I was tempted to phone Dr. Barry Tan to replace me, but felt it would be unfair to give him 11th hour notice. I would also be letting my mentors down by not even having the courage to try. However, I overcame my fear and decided to taste the experience the following day!

I did not end up a winner, but I was happy to get very useful feedback from my friends and members. I realised I was afraid of going overtime and my conclusion was too brief! My friends thought I did well for my analysis and recommendation!

What a wonderful feeling! I am glad I did not chicken out and experienced my first time in a district contest! It was so enlightening to learn from great speakers and leaders.

I felt like as if I had gone through a tsunami experience, so that it strengthened me to face more storms in life. After having experienced the intensity and wonder of a speech contest, it made me feel that the next time, it would be easier for me to overcome my fear. It is like as if having experienced a tornado, all other smaller storms would appear to be like droplets of rain!

Frankly speaking, I thought I was going to resign from my club and to take a break from toastmasters' activities next year. However, when I see so much passion burning in our great leaders like Kim Siong, Wei Khoon, Ban Peng, Michael Rodrigues, Aziz Mustajab, Neil Sy, Dr. V. Chanyasak, Dickson, Panomporn Vajirakachorn, just to name a few, I am motivated once again. Learing is a life long journey, and I should continue to fan the little flame in me so that it will not be extinguished and in burning, I can continue to ignite the candle for others.

The next convention would be held in Hongkong.! I want to emulate our International Director, DTM Poh Kim Siong who had the courage to be the test speaker at the contest, even though English is his second language. Kim Siong was right.....
attending a convention gives us added exposure and enlightenment!

Thanks everyone in District 80!

Gan Chau

The Night the Taps Went Dry.....

I had just finished watching my favourite television program, "Women of Times" at midnight. I was drenched with perspiration, as I had been both exercising and watching the program at the same time. When I went into the bathroom to take my shower, lo and behold!!! There was no water coming out of the tap. I went to the kitchen sink, and there was also no water! Gosh! Did I forget to pay my utilities? I would need to take a powder bath if I could not get a shower.! If I could not get the water back on time, I would have to go to Raffles Town Club to have my shower the following morning.

I decided to go to the nearest 7-11 store to buy some mineral water, as I was somewhat dehydrated with all the perspiration. I met a neighbour and he said, "Water is coming!" Only then did I realise that there had been no water supply for the past two hours.

While waiting for the lift, I met another neighbour who complained to me. "I was having a shower and had just applied soap all over me when the water was cut off! I thought I had forgotten to pay my bills!"

I tried not to laugh. With his scowl and his roly poly figure, he somehow reminded me of the comedian, Moses Lim. At least I was luckier....not caught in the middle of a shower.!

Amazing how we easily take basic things like water and electricity for granted. We always miss something acutely when it is removed from us. This is even more poignant in a relationship because people have feelings, unlike objects. If we lose something material, we can try to replace it. But it is difficult to replace people, especially when they go six feet under. Hence, let us treasure the things and people around us.

Gan Chau

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gross National Happiness


The owner of this lovely motorcycle - bohemian yet free and happy!

The founder of Noah's Ark, Raymund - happy and contented with his great love for animals

Toastmasters - happy people who volunteer their time and talent! Ed Hearn, Anne Barab and organising committee of the District 80 Annual Convention in Singapore
My Indian tenants from India - Jasmin, Anu and Avinesh - happy people who enjoy simple pleasures of life

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I attended the newly formed toastmasters' club at Pico. It was the first time that the club was trying out their first meeting during lunch time instead of in the evenings since it is a corporate club.

The Seargent-at-Arms asked everyone to introduce himself and to share his feelings on the day. Someone said, "It's ok." Another said, "Nothing special", and another one said "I am dying". When it came to my turn, I replied, "I am very happy...everyday." I thought I saw some people frowning, as if I was trying to be fake or funny. Of course, for friends who know me well, they know I have this attitude that happiness is a state of the mind and that it is never dependent on circumstances. For if it were, then people in third world countries would be the most miserable on earth.! Whether is is raining, shining or snowing, I will never let anything depress me.

Hence, you can imagine my attraction to the front page of Life of Straits Times dated 18 November. "Simple, Happy People - In Bhutan, they do not care about Gross Domestic Product figures - it is all about Gross National Happiness." The writer, Tan Dawn Wei, had given an interesting account of her trip to Bhutan and how she was mesmerised by the beauty of the country and people. Despite ranking No. 127 in the gross national income per capita world stakes, the country has one of the happiest people on earth. They score high on Gross National Happiness! Her guide, Dolay Tshering, a cheerful 26 year old speaks nothing of wanting to make lots of money, but of desiring more flexible time to help out on his family's potato farm in Haa. He seeks simple pleasures in life, such as archery, the national sport, or going hiking and fishing with his friends. Indeed, everywhere you go in Bhutan, shy smiles greet you. No one will ask you for money or even try to sell you anything. Everyone readily poses for pictures, and village kids will reach into their bags for a fruit for you. The writer was overwhelmed by the infectious happiness and contentment of the people.

We who are enjoying great amenities and wonderful infrastructure here in Singapore have much to learn. I guess for me, I do not have to travel to Bhutan to experience what Dawn had seen. Right here where I am, living in Little India, I am surrounded by so many happy people. Sunday after Sunday, I see busloads of our foreign workers arriving in Little India, and they remind me of school children, excitedly getting ready for their field trips. Eldest sister had observed how our foreign workers seem to be happy and contented as they stand and chat with each other, or sit down on the open fields sharing some nuts and beer. They enjoy their rest day, catching up with friends, and buying their provision for the week.

In sharp contrast, we have some well-to-do Singaporeans living in luxurious properties, who spend more of their time complaining and worrying about tomorrow that they actually forget to enjoy the present ie. the gift of today - the sheer ability to just being able to breathe without tubes attached to our nostrils, to walk without crutches, to see without walking sticks and to hear without hearing aids or sign language.!

Let us all enjoy the golden splendour of Autumn - that we do not miss the colorful hues of Autumn and let Winter take care of itself. Even when Winter comes, let us also enjoy the crisp, cool air and wonder at the beautiful and unique snow flakes and fluffy snow in Winter. Let us remember that the Creator who clothes the little birds will also look out for His highest form of creation! Life has many seasons, and whatever the season, let us always remain positive and remember that being happy is a decision, and only you and I can make the decision to increase our gross personal happiness.

Gan Chau

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Favourite Photo


The above photo was taken by my niece, Incy from Melbourne, when she was visiting Singapore. Xiaobai, a Chow Chow who simply detested the camera, was caught on camera while in deep slumber. It had never been easy to take photos of Xiaobai. The first time, I put him on a high table when he was younger, and the photographer took many photos of him, much to his delight, but Xiaobai's depression! After that, my rotund Chow Chow would run amazingly fast, the moment he saw someone with a camera!

The above is my favourite photo. It would make me smile as I think it is really cute! I had sculptured the same photo while I was making the pizza dough. After the dough had risen and explanded, before dividing the dough into 130 gms. each, I would scuplture the head. I would put a cut olive as Xiaobai's nose.

When my client, Mrs. Irene Lim, first saw the photo, she thought that Xiaobai's ears were his eyes! Hilarious! She laughed when she realised they were actually his ears!

The Creator of these creatures is so awesome and brilliant!!! He has such a huge array of ideas! How can anyone be bored for even one second on this beautiful earth? Hence, you can guess favourite channels on television are Animal Planet, National Geographic and Discovery!!

What a beautiful world we live in!

Gan Chau

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Monday, November 17, 2008

A Season For Everything


Little Jassy, in his kennel

Showing off his little tail!

Jassy's winsome face, walking and wagging tactics make me smile!

I love the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, especially Chapter 3, Verses 1 to 9. The writer must have been quite a humorous, yet mundane person. Someone extremely down to earth and I love people like that! They are not up in their ivory towers or people who are so spiritually high, that they are of earthly insignificance and irrelevance.! Notice my present tense for the verb "discover"? I am still discovering .......

In case some of my readers are not familiar with the Book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, I will write out the verses so that you can follow my train of thoughts.

CHAPTER 3 Verses 1 to 9


1. To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.

2. A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A Time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted.

3. A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up.

4. A time to weep,
And a time to laugh.

5. A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from

6. A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away.

7. A time to tear,
And a time to sew.
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak.

8. A time to love
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

9. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?

The above verses help me to understand why sometimes things happen and that man proposes but God disposes.
They remind me to take each day as it is and to maximise the "Now" and the "Present" - each brand new day that God has given me. Sometimes I lament that I am a late developer - I discover my panache for cooking at age 23; discover my ability to run and participate in half marathons and vertical marathons despite my short legs and oversized body at age 32; discover my love for dogs at age 35; discover that you cannot trust people too much at age 48; discover my interest and talent in speaking at age 52; discover my musical talent at age 54 and a half, etc. etc.

I am glad that I discovered my love for dogs when I was teaching at ACS (Independent). My students had brought back 3 puppies out of the six they had discovered while on a geographical expedition at the mangrove swamps at Pasir Ris. My adoption of one puppy, Kamlette, saw me reading up books on dogs. I treated my puppy like my student and spoke to her in full sentences. Surprisingly, Kamlette, like her owner, (ahem) was also quite linguistic! She understood when I said, "That is quite enough!" She would quickly put her head down on the floor, and looked forlorn. "Ok, you're forgiven!" and she would leap at me and try to lick my hands and face to express her joy! "Where is your leash?" and Kamlette would run excitedly to the door, knowing it was time for her walk. Now I laugh when I found out that trainers would only use one or two words when they train the dogs! I had made a linguist out of Kamlette, for I had to try to say the word "walk" in so many languages. I realised I could not use the words "kai kai" and walk anymore. At first I told my friend that after dinner we would take the dog for a walk. It would be some time before we could get ready but Kamlette was ever so ready at the door for she recognised the word "walk". Hence, I used "kia kia, (Hokkien for walk); makan angin (Malay); faisons nous une promenade (French), and somehow she picked up the words! We resorted to sign language and Kamlette also picked it up. Finally, we resorted to writing on a piece of paper! What an amazing dog! I wish I had a video camera then.

After Kamlette, I also adopted Bobo and Xiaobai. I had to put Kamlette to sleep when she was 16 and a half years of age. Although, an old dog, she still looked very beautiful and youthful. She had kidney problems and blindness. Bobo passed away at the age of 9 and Xiaobai at the age of about 8. Bobo is a Rough Collie and Xiaobai is a Chow Chow. I guess Mongrels like Kamlette have a longer life span. After having enjoyed being the owner of 3 lovely dogs, I am now very contented. I will not be adopting any more dogs. There is a time and season for everything. Now it is too difficult for me to bend down and shower a dog. I am contented with dog-sitting for my friends and clients when they travel overseas. I am also contented to help out now and then with dog-related organisations like the SPCA and Noah's Ark.

Recently, my tenant, Jasmin bought me a toy dog for my forthcoming birthday. The lovely little dog could walk and wag its tail! Cute! As they say in Hokkien, "No fish, prawns also delicious mah! No live dog; a toy dog is also wonderful lah!"

I am glad that I had travelled round the world in my younger days. I am thankful that I climbed the Great Wall of China and parts of Himalaya and skied down the mountains in Banff in my thirties. Now, I enjoy staying at home, reading, writing, watching TV and cooking, more than anything else. A time to slow down after all those years of chugging round the tracks.......Toot! Toot! Oh! Gosh! Am not so sure after all comes the Choo Choo Train again! :-)

Gan Chau

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Most Impressive Group of Speechcrafters !

Our leader, Michael Rodrigues, had requested me to help out as a language evaluator at Cluster A2 yesterday. When I am in a group, it is always my principle to oblige for I understand how difficult it is for a leader if his members do not cooperate with him.

I decided to try a new route ...instead of taking bus No. 67 and connect via MRT at Kallang Station, I decided to take the bus to the Bugis MRT as I reckon it would be faster! There are more buses to Bugis MRT. To my surprise, Bus 980 was not quite the right one and I decided to alight at Beach Road, and dashed all the way to Bugis MRT. I messaged Elaine to give me ten minutes grace to arrive at the Tanah MRT Station where she would give me a lift.

My clothes were drenched with perspiration. On the way to Changi Prison, I asked Elaine about her group members and she told me that this group of inmates have a fairly good command of English.

Elaine was right. I enjoyed the well-delivered speeches. The speakers had put in a lot of preparation and effort and I had a difficult time selecting the best speaker. The Table Topics Master wrote down 15 movie titles, and his topics were connected to each movie title! How innovative.! I was even more surprised when I heard that he was asked to take over the role from someone who could not be at the meeting! Fast thinking on his part!

Saint Thet (our member from Myammar) was sensitive and asked me whether I would like to be a project evaluator as well, as she knew I wanted to have more practice on evaluation of speeches in preparation for my forthcoming contest.

We had a new volunteer, Nick Chua. It was timely for him to join us as we would need more volunteers. Nick was excellent in his speech evaluation and was voted the best evaluator!

I was impressed when I gave them the words of the day...."versatile and panache". The toastmaster-of-the-evening could spell the word for me after I had given them 3 letters and the rest for them to fill in. So far, he was the only one who knew the word!! This is quite a rare and bombastic word as it originates from French. As it would be my first and last time in the group, I encouraged them to press on with their language learning by reading more. I confessed that I had not watched any of the 15 movies on the board, because I had only been to the cinema three times in Singapore. I prefer to watch shows in Chinese, Indian and Malay on the television. However, I would make it a point to visit the cinema more often after my next birthday, as I would only pay $4 for a ticket as a senior citizen! I encouraged them to make full use of their time and opportunity to read as much as they could. I said that should I ever be thrown into prison one day, I would make the most of my time reading and perhaps watch more movies. These are luxuries which many of us cannot enjoy due to time constraint.

As usual, I receive much more when I give. I learnt so much from my friends and inmates yesterday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

902 and Still Counting !

902 and still counting ! No, I am not referring to my age lah, of course ! Now if any of us can live up to 139, we will hit the Guiness World Record.! I have a couple of friends who have told me that they would love to live up to a hundred. For me, I am contented with a short but sweet life. With the chronic ear problems I have suffered since the age of 9, I am amazed I have survived 54 years and 349 days!
In fact I was thrilled to have passed my 50th birthday - half a century of age! Now I am even more thrilled to be getting a new title soon - SM - not Senior Minister, but Senior Member of Singapore! Just 28 days more!

Tomorrow will be my 3rd anniversary of blog writing!! I have wanted to write at least an article each day....but sometimes my hectic schedule was taken up by other priorities. I cannot use the sentence, "I have no time". It is more correct to say that I could not make writing my blog a priority. However, I tried to make up for it by sometimes writing two to four articles in a day, especially when my creative juices are oozing like a succulent orange! I am happy - about 35,000 hits on my sitemeter!

902 articles on my 3rd anniversary!! I am so grateful to my computer-intelligent friends like Winnie, Dr. Kumaran Raju, Jerlynn, Ashok, Jasmin and Avinesh, who had taught me how to use the computer, hence saving me some money to attend computer classes. If only Mr Diego Bincoletto, my Italian client, could have the chance to read my blog! He gave up on me where computers are concerned. I remember his frustration at my sheer inability to comprehend anything mechanical and robotic!

I am glad that readers have been encouraged and uplifted. I must give papa the credit for being a pain in the neck of some people - by being hopelessly optimistic.! I am one of those who always believe that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Hence, by worrying, I am only crippling myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I will not be able to walk, able to feel and think and worse, able to pray!!! My intense worries would only make me walk around like a zombie!

Today I make a new resolution. I will make greater effort to try to write 365 articles in this coming year.

Cheers !

Please Blame the Owner, Not the Dog!

"Rottweilers to blame for many dog attacks", was the headline on page B8 in yesterday's Straits Times. I am somewhat amused by the headlines. Has the writer personified the huge, black dogs?

As a dog lover who is almost a little walking encyclopedia on dogs (by my own standard lah), I think all dogs are capable of biting. I feel that there are no lousy dogs ....perhaps only lousy owners. The behaviour of the dog will reflect very much on its owner.

Once I saw a lovely Silky Terrier in my neighbourhood of Dover. Interestingly the Silky Terrier looked as grumpy and as snappy as his unfriendly owner. I would not even want to go near the little pet, as much as I love dogs. Before I pat any dog, I would always ask the owner whether the dog is friendly. If the owner tells me the dog is not friendly and is inclined to moodiness, I will not go near it. Dogs are like human beings. They have their own idiosyncrasies and temperament.

Once I was at Ericsson Pet Farm. I met a young man with a lovely, shiny coated Rottweiler. The dog was very well trained. The owner said, "Alex, play dead.!"
Alex immediately fell and was very still for the next few minutes. I laughed. Later I patted Alex on its head. Alex was such an amiable dog because it was very well trained.

Hence, I would urge all dog owners to read up as much about the breed of the dogs they intend to keep. Responsible dog ownership is the key to enhancing safety and enjoyment for animal lovers as well as the general public. Therefore, if a dog bites, please blame the owner, not the four legged one.

Gan Chau

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who is Roger ?

Our Company, Dennis Wee Group, has just relocated to Tao Payoh from Park Mall. Hence, it would appear that we would not be able to hold our usual Toastmasters' meeting at the new premises, as the meeting rooms are not fully organised yet. Our club president, Walter Lee, decided to have a joint meeting with another club. He had asked me to get speakers for the meeting.

I sms-ed him to tell him that for this month, I would not be able to help as I have to concentrate on my evaluation contest in ten days' time. He replied, "Roger, will keep u posted. Let me call them."


"I hear u. I will do up the program. By the way, next week I will be going for my reservist."

"Who is Roger? Which club?"

"Roger means I got your message. Not referring to the name".

Of course, I know the meaning of roger but in that frame of mind and concentration, I had miscommunicated. If only Walter had said, "Ok", instead of "roger".! Gentlemen must remember that we ladies do not have conscription and "military language" is seldom in our minds. :-)

I remember a lady friend from a church shared how she almost did not want to marry her boyfriend. At every date, he would share military experiences and tactics with her, not realising that she was bored to death! After some counselling from the pastor, he began to change his topics of conversation.

This is why I often encourage my students to read as much as they can, so that they can be versatile in their knowledge. This will help them to hold interesting conversation with anyone they meet - whether it is a lady with an hour glass figure, an arty-farty architect, a bohemian actor or a mundane school teacher.

Gan Chau

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Will Press On to Write....

I was happy when I received a blogger's comment in my mail.

"June has left a new comment on your post "Flawless and Timeless Beauty !":

Hi there! i found your blog while searching for something. and i enjoy reading your blog so much! you definitely have an interesting blog! i can't believe you are 55 years old. you sound just like any of my friends and I'm 21 (: really encouraged by your vibrant lifestyle and positive spirit. God bless you sister!! "

Often I would forward mails to friends whom I feel would find the articles relevant or interesting, and I am glad to receive a comment on "A Woman in a Few Billions' from Elissa Chan, a toastmaster from Hongkah North Toastmasters' Club.

"Hi Choo Choo I had read the article too. And I share your sentiments. In life, we should help one another.It is our good fortune to meet such people. I also believe that good deeds are rewarded in other ways. It does not have to be materials or things. God has his own way of doing the intangible, silently and quietly, like the gentle flowing of the wind. Such as events moved without a hitch. Such as people being kind to us ......

Well done Choo Choo. May god bless you for your kind thoughts and deeds. Best regards Elissa

I do not receive much feedback, unlike Xiaxue who would have hundreds of readers giving her comments. Hence, when I receive comments from readers, I am very happy.
I am glad that readers can be inspired and encouraged by my articles, and this will goad me on to write.

Cheers to creative writing!

Gan Chau

Posted by june to The Oriental Express at 8:35 PM

Flawless and Timeless Beauty !

I received an email from my brother-in-law, Joseph Teoh, from Melbourne. It was his very first email to me whereby he had forwarded a slide show on Audrey Herpburn. I was a little amused when someone had put the title as "Audrey Herpburn - the Truest Beauty." We cannot blame whoever had put the adjective as "truest", for after all, we have hard, harder hardest. Since true is only a one syllable word, why can't it follow the pattern of true, truer, truest.? I guess, logically if something is already true, it is absolute and final. This is why I dislike churches with names like, "The True Jesus Church", implying that other churches must have false Jesus and that the church is the only one with the true God!! It is interesting how when we try to use too many superlatives in our lives, we lose our attractiveness and authenticity.

Hence, you can see how words have within them so much connotation and emotion? Feelings can be aroused by words....hence this is how important words are in our lives. This is why, as a Language teacher, I would always coax all my students to make it a point to master whatever language they are studying, so that they can be happier people. Language for mental health! Especially in the English Language, where words abound in richness and beauty.

Now back to Audrey Herpburn. I enjoyed the slides and the wordings. Audrey Herpburn is one of my favourite actresses and I still remember her role as Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady". I saw this movie about 80 times, but only paid the price of one movie ticket, because every year, I would show the taped movie to my students after their term or final exams in River Valley High School and Anglo Chinese School (Independent). I naturally remembered most of the lyrics and script and still remember them to this day!!

As I do not know how to put slides in my blog, I will just write out the words of Audrey Herpburn so that my readers will be encouraged. However if any readers would like to have the beautiful slides of Audrey, do email me and I can forward to you.

When Audrey was asked for her secret of beauty and timeless elegance, she said,

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
For beautiful lips, speak only words of knowledge and encouragement;
For a slim figure, always share your food with the hungry;
For beautiful hair, let a little boy or girl stroke it at least once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it is at the end of your arm.

As you get older, remember you have another hand. The first is to help yourself, and the other is to help others.

A woman's true beauty is not in her figure, in the way she dresses, in the clothes
she wears, or in the way she does her hair.

A woman's beauty is seen in her eyes, because they are the windows to her soul, the
place where love dwells.

A woman's true beauty increases with age.

A woman's true beauty is reflected in her soul, in her kindness and loving care, and in the passion she shows.

It's that wonderful old fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.
This was the whole ethics by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so don't fuss dear, get on with it.

Cheers to timeless beauty and elegance!

Gan Chau

A Woman in a Few Billions !!

The heading in the New Paper on 5th November attracted me. "She sees woman crying, so buys home back for her". What a great Samaritan. One in a few billions!!!

Mrs. Marilyn Mock went to an auction and saw a lady crying. Mrs. Tracy Orr showed up to watch her house being auctioned off. Mrs. Mock decided to bid for the house with the intention of buying it back for Mrs. Orr, reported WFAA TV.

Mrs. Mock had turned up to help her 27 year old son bid on a house, but on the spur of the moment decided to buy Mrs. Orr's house. She did not even know where the house was or its actual value. A surprised Mrs. Orr told CNN, "She said, 'I'm doing this for you. You just look like you needed a friend...All this happened in five minutes. She didn't ask about my financial situation. She had no idea what the house looked like. She just did it out of the graciousness of her heart, just a Good Samaritan. It's amazing." Mrs. Orr bought the house for US$80,000 in 2004, but lost her job a month after taking out the loan. She fell behind on her payments and lost the house this year.

A humble Mrs. Mock, who has a small business selling flagstone and other rocks in Rockwall, Texas, said anyone would have done the same thing.

I am not so sure. As a property agent, I only saw greed in many of the buyers. Some only wanted to buy "properties with suicidal prices". These people with ready cash would come in mercilessly like vultures to capitalise on the situation. Few have compassion and generosity like Mrs. Mock.

I remember once a buyer approached me and told me he would give me one per cent commission, provided I helped to bring down my owner's price from $700,000/- to $600,000/-. I told him that there was no necessity for him to give me commission, as my client would be paying me the commission as a vendor, and if he thought it was a good property worth his while to buy, then he should offer my client the $700,000/-which was already very reasonably priced.

Once I saw an owner advertising his apartment at River Valley Road for sale and asking for $550K, way below the market price. I phoned and told him that I had just sold one apartment in the same block for $830,000/-. If I were not honest, I would have just bought from him and made a subsale profit. Subsequently I helped him to sell at the market price of $850K. What a relief for Mr. Tan. The bank was after him; his wife had died, and his only son was not filial. He told me he was lucky to have met me, or he might end up owing the bank if he had sold his unit at $500K. I told him that most of my happy and satisfied clients would refer their associates and families to me, and I had never cold called or put flyers into mail boxes. Integrity and good service are my loudest advertising means.

Some owners try to save costs by marketing their own properties. It is better to spend a little to pay a good agent to sell the property at a reasonable price.

My spirit has been uplifted by the rare and wonderful deeds of Mrs. Mock. It has restored my faith in homo sapiens. For those of you who have quietly demonstrated your kindness and generosity, I am sure you know what I mean when I say that people in the likes of Mrs. Mock truly get the most out of life. They fill their lives with rainbows, rushing for the pots of gold so that they could use them to bless not only themselves but others as well, so that the world will be filled with beautiful colours.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hort Park - A Must to Visit!


Some interesting plants found at Hort Park

Regina posing beside the Lion King

Interesting and creative containers for flowering plants

A huge variety of plants to be admired
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After walking through the Alexander Waves, Sally, Alan and I arrived at Hort Park! Wow! What a beautiful place.! We walked through a path lined with flowering plants and the whole landscaping is unique.

Sally told us that there are many types of gardens and flowering plants. At the meeting room where we held our Retreat, there were many glass bottles featuring miniature gardens. How creative.!

After our meeting at 6.00p.m., we decided to walk through the gardens. This time, another colleague, Regina, also joined us. When she realised we had so much fun walking in the rain, she regretted for not joining us. Sally had thought that Regina would be driving and hence did not solicit her participation.

Anyway, it is never too late. Our exuberant and fun loving colleague, Sally, is just too happy to find more buddies who could go climbing and walking with her. Next on the agenda would be hiking up Bukit Timah Hill and exploring Labrador Park and Pulau Ubin.

I guess, hort is the short form for horticulture. I am looking forward to taking my foreign friends to hike up the hill and to show them our beautiful parks. It would not be a bad idea to call it "Horelax Park" - a coining of the words Hort and Alexander - as the park is along Alexander Road. "Horelax also sounds like relax."
Aiya! There was so competition for naming. As usual, why am I such a kaypo?(busybody). I just love flowers, trees and plants.

Gan Chau

Timely Proposal !


Sally and Alan - all geared up to start the hike!

Sally and I at the Terrace Garden

Going through the Forest Walk. Steel bridges perched high up!

The Henderson Waves - an architectural delight!

Before my friends are fooled by the title, no, it is not referring to a marriage proposal. It is a proposal of a great idea from my colleague, Sally Tan. She said, "Choo, are you game to climb and walk.? If you are, why don't we walk to Hort Park from Telok Blangah.

"Sure," I said, mumbling my thanks to God who always knows my needs. I did not have the foggiest idea where Hort Park is located, and being the type who will worry only when I have to cross the bridge, I thought that I would take a taxi to Hort Park on the day of Dennis Wee Group's Annual Retreat.

It was raining cats and dogs and I called Sally to check whether we would still be hiking to Hort Park. "Yes, we will meet at Redhill MRT and then decide". I was happy to find that another colleague, Alan, had also joined us. It is always safer to have a masculine figure around when one is outdoors. We braved the rain and started our uphill climb at Henderson Waves. What gorgeous scenery! "The hills are alive, with the sound of music", I started singing!

Sally, as usual, was well-armed. She gave Alan and me a raincoat each. There was hardly a soul around the park, and we enjoyed the serenity and coolness of the rain. Sally and Alan hardly perspired, but I was drenched with perspiration. Finally at a pavilion, we met a gentleman, Mr. Tan, who was reading his papers. We could see that he was well-prepared with coffee, umbrella, magazines, etc. Mr. Tan told us that the park is his favourite haunt, and everyday, he would drive all the way from Serangoon Gardens to Telok Blangah to enjoy the greenery and fresh air. As a retiree, he has plenty of time on his hands.

When we reached Hort Park after a two hours walk, our colleagues were quite shocked to see us in raincoats. My hair was all wet, as if I had just taken a shower!

What a great walk! Thanks Sally! Thanks Alan for helping me to carry my bag. I am grateful to have such a wonderful colleague who is full of fun and life. I will now be able to be a "tourist guide" and take my foreign friends on a lovely hike.

I want to thank our Government and the Park Authorities for making the park so beautiful. I was told that soon, many parks will join together and we can even hike for one whole day!! Hee! Hee! Look out for a slimmer Choo in the near future! Have legs will walk!

Gan Chau
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Have Garbage Bags, Can Travel !

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I was rushing to meet my colleague Sally at the Redhill MRT. At the Little India MRT, I saw a group of tourists and was attracted by their creative attire.

They were dressed in raincoats, made from huge garbage bags! How innovative! I smiled and told the five tourists that I liked their creative idea. The young ladies, Juliana, Marianna, Rochi, Vera and Camelia are friends studying in a univeristy in Brisbane. They hail from different parts of South America. What an interesting and lively group.

I shared with the young ladies that I have travelled to many parts of the world, but have yet to visit Africa, India, the North and South Poles and South America. They coaxed me to visit their beautiful countries in South America.

I found out that the students were heading for Sentosa Island. As it was their last day in Singapore, they did not want the heavy rain to deter them from sightseeing. I warned them of lightning strikes and advised them to be careful.

In sharp contrast, some of us Singaporeans let the rain deter us from getting the most out of life! How often have you witnessed empty tables at wedding dinners or parties because some guests just conveniently did not turn up because of the heavy rain, oblivious to the fact that their hosts had paid lots of money to cater for the food? How many more empty pews in churches could you see on a Sunday because of the rain? The poor pastor had spent hours preparing his wonderful sermon!

I remember whenever it rained during my childhood days, I would be happy and excited because it implied that my sister and I could fold paper boats and sail them on the flooded compound of our attap house. We would number the boats with colour pencils and see whose boats could sail faster.

Have you seen children enjoying themselves playing with water fountains and in children's pool? Let us all continue to be like little children whose spirit is never deterred by rain and who can continue to have curiosity and fun in life.

Gan Chau

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Things We Take For Granted


Posing with Aunty Kang at Vivocity

Aunty Kang's first visit to Vivocity

Aunty posing with the reindeers

The magnificent Christmas tree - Christmas is round the corner!

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Aunty Kang works as a cleaner in our company. I took notice of her when I realised that at her age, she should be basking in the twilight of her years, instead of slogging away as a cleaner. To help her son and family, she also took on a part time job in the evenings. I marvelled at her seemingly great health and energy.

Once she requested me to sell her 3 room hdb flat. As usual, I often like to ask my clients questions so that I could understand their need and why they are selling their flat, and where they propose to move to. Aunty Kang told me that she wanted to help her son. I advised her to rent instead of sell, because once her property is gone, it would be difficult for her to buy another flat, given her age. She lives with her son no doubt, but if one day, should anything untoward happens to her son, where would she be staying.? At least with a roof over her head, she could always rent out a room and get by with her rental income. Fortunately she heeded my advice.

Yesterday, her tenant, Jayeeta, came to my home to visit me and at the same time to pass the rental to me. Aunty Kang also came by so that I could immediately pass her the rental. It was Aunty Kang's first visit to my flat and she told me that probably, she need not have to work. Hence, I took the opportunity to take her to Vivocity and Harbour Front where she could see the cable cars, boats and monorail.

"But I don't have my passport with me," Aunty Kang lamented.

"You don't need a passport", I said, trying to stifle my laughter when I realised how small Aunty's world is.

She was very excited when she was in the mrt because being illiterate, she preferred to take the bus. We stopped by the lovely Republic Foodcourt to have some tea and dim sum. While I like the retro ambience of the decor, Aunty prefers something brighter and more contemporary.

At night before I slept, I was grateful to have the opportunity to give a little joy to an elerly lady. The outing was impromptu as I had been planning to have a little nap in the afternoon, having woken up very early in the morning.

We sometimes take things for granted.....the mrt, shopping malls, and our ability to run around independently because we could read. My best friend, Amu, was also like Aunty Kang. For years, she only knew how to take the bus to her factory at Changi and back to her home in Redhill. When she worked part-time for me at Rialto, an Italian restaurant I used to operate, I learnt that it was her first time to Raffles Town Club when the staff gathered there for a Christmas dinner celebration. She proudly took back some paper napkins with the logo of the club, as she wanted to show her sister's family that she had been there!

This is why every morning, I thank God for at least five things. It puts me in a good and appreciative mood, for I am aware that many others are not as fortunate as I am. It also helps me to be sensitive and to flow along with the events of the day. I will not strive or be disappointed if my plans do not work out, for man proposes, but God disposes.

My First Time Hearing Dick Lee!

I have often heard of Dick Lee as a popular singer but never had the privilege of hearing him sing. When my little Wei Tung sent me an email asking me to look into some u-tubes, I discovered this u-tube featuring Dick Lee and his creativity.

I was hungry and had not eaten my breakfast yet. I laughed so hard that I became full. Hence, am posting the u-tube to share with my readers. Enjoy!

Gan Chau

Change of Life Style!

After hibernating for a week, I felt somewhat refreshed, though still somewhat weak and prone to sneezing and tiredness. I am impatient with myself for being sickly. Being sickly means reducing my violin practices, and looking at the world through a thin layer of mist. You know what I mean? My feet seem so heavy when I sometimes drag myself when I move around.

Hence I have decided to change my lifestyle. Now I try to be asleep by 10.00p.m. even though this means sacrificing my favourite television programs. Unless I go to toastasters' meetings or concerts, then I try to be in bed by 11.30p.m. All these years I have got by with an average of 4 hours of very deep sleep a day. Hence I have gained an extra 5 years of time.! This is why I sometimes tell others that I am fifty five plus five.

I will also reduce my intake of food and ensure I have sufficient exercise everyday by walking to my office or doing areobic exercise while watching television programs. I will try not to pack so many activities in one day so that it leaves me utterly exhausted when I fall onto my bed to sleep!

Just as Michael Rodgrigues, our leader of the speechcraft program in Changi Prison, had asserted, "It's great to take time to smell the flowers!"

Gan Chau

Saturday, November 08, 2008

My name in Japanese! What's Yours?

Thanks to Jerlynn Ang of, I found out my name in Japanese. Neat!

秋本 Akimoto (true autumn) 三千代 Michiyo (three thousand generations)

My name is associated with autumn! No wonder I have always been attracted to the golden splendour of autumn when I was studying in Canada. Nothing made me happier than to go jogging and taking in the sight of gorgeous golden leaves and brilliant
blushing of maples leaves! I love the sound made when I stepped on dry papery leaves. The whish whoosh sound made me feel so secure to be in close touch with nature!

Hence, next time when I meet my Japanese friends in Japan or Singapore, I will tell them to call me Akimoto Michiyo!

If my readers are keen to find out their names in Japanese, log in on these sites:

My authentic japanese name is 秋本 Akimoto (true autumn) 三千代 Michiyo (three thousand generations).
Take your real japanese name generator! today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

Cheers to the Land of the Rising Sun!

James Bond Again?

I had a pleasant surprise when my tenant, Avinesh told me that they had arranged for me to go to a movie, "Quantum of Solace" this weekend. "Very nice James Bond film.....lots of action!" he coaxed.

I had to decline because I must take my clients for viewing. Morever, I am not particularly fond of spy thrillers. I can still recall the very first time eldest sister Lee Lee took me to the cinema to watch James Bond in "From Russia With Love". I was ten years old and could not quite understand the movie.

I remember this gentleman sitting next to me who kindly volunteered to explain to me. He was actually more interested to get to know eldest sister, and tried to win sister's heart by being kind and helpful towards me!

Gosh! The things that guys would do to attract the attention of the ladies they fancy!

I will wait till mid December to visit the cinema on weekday afternoons because I will only need to fork out $4/- for a ticket! Now I am beginning to love the number - double five!

James Bond movie again? Ah! Ah! Pas moi! (Not for me!)

Gan Chau

No More Flying Fox !

This coming Monday will be our company, Dennis Wee Group's annual retreat. Last year
we had the Flying Fox and my article was heavily googled. What a pleasant surprise.!

I understand that there will be some new challenges arranged to test our endurance and team work....something to do with wall-climbing. I am not good at climbing. I remember when we growing up in the village of Jelutong in Penang, my siblings and I would climb some coconut and fruit trees. As usual I would always be at the lowest rung of the coconut tree. In those days short pants were quite broad at the hems and of course, when I looked up, what did I see?

Dr. Wee and his management team often come up with innovative and fun ideas in the Retreat. I hope to be a little more agile this time, as I have shed some weight. I must try to get sufficient sleep the night before. Hope my engine will continue to run smoothly. Toot! Toot! Here comes the Choo Choo Train!

Gan Chau

Friday, November 07, 2008

When We Water Others......


Bee Choo Herbal Hair Treatment at Clementi Ave. 3, Blk. 433

The saloon is bustling with customers, referred to by friends.

One of the Chicken Rice outlets of Qi Le F & B Holdings in Clementi Central
A generous serving of chicken at $3.30 with free soup of the day

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When I wrote my article, "Man Proposes, God Disposes", I received an excellent email from a toastmaster friend, Michael Chu. I am posting his comments to my article below:

"My say is that those who are in business, public or private, need to live not by excessive profits alone, but by doing what is right and fair; be responsible for not aggravating costs to society, i.e., people so that they do not have to serve mammon -- the god of debt. It irks me to read of the excessive profits made by corporations coupled with the unacceptable news that they need to increase prices (e.g. SingTel's fixed line, public transport, etc.). The greed for excessive profits need to be tempered, and leaders in corporations must excercise the moral courage to think right and show the way. Our society does not need to live by excessive profits alone; we are not Wall Street."

Michael Chu

I totally agree with Michael. In this article, I am highlighting three businesses which I hope many people will emulate, because by emulating, success is guaranteed.
The founders of these business come from all walks of life, but they have been practising what has long been advocated in the Book of Proverbs 11:25, "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself."


Recently, due to lack of sleep, the hairs on my head have been thinning. I had been wondering whether I should try treatment at 101 or at Yunan Hair Centre, but their exorbitant prices put me off. Even if I could afford the money, I hate to indulge so much on myself when there are millions of hungry kids around the world.

Hence, I was delighted when I found a blogger, writing under featuring an article about Bee Choo and her wonderful and economical herbal hair treatment. Yesterday, I visited the saloon at Clementi and was delighted with their efficient and cordial service. As my hair is slightly longer, beneath my ears, I paid $30 per treatment. The staff was proud to say that the boss is able to keep costs low, because Bee Choo does not spend any money on advertisement. It is all by word of mouth. Readers can also log in her website at

I guess Bee Choo must have realised the pain and agony a person goes through by losing her hair, because she too had once lost much hair and had tried all kinds of treatment which did not seem to work. Her chance meeting with a Chinese doctor in Hongkong gave her the opportunity to try out the herbal remedy which she in turn recommended to a friend. As they say, the rest is history. Bee Choo also realises that this is a gift she must share with those in need, for not everyone with hair loss is necessarily rich enough to patronise 101 and Yunan who charge more because of heavy advertising in the papers and television. Bee Choo also saves costs by running her saloons in HDB shops. Her shops are a few minutes walk from MRT station; hence the rental is lower.

Satisfied customers in turn recommend their friends, colleagues and family. In a short time, Bee Choo has established 3 outlets in Ang Mo Kio, Clementi and Pasir Ris. The saloon does not take booking; it is on a first come first served basis, but the service is organised and efficient. Customers will get a metal number tag which is put on the wrist. I was at the saloon at 11.30a.m. and I was already the 12th customer. By 12.30p.m. the saloon was almost full. I almost forgot we are having a recession now! The treatment is two hours and I was out by time for my dental appointment in Clementi.


When I moved to Little India, I was delighted to find Sheng Siong Supermarket at Tekka Mall or what will soon be known as The Verge. The supermarket is often crowded for obvious reasons...the attractive pricing. I am sure my local readers would know much about the founder of Sheng Siong who is a frugal man. He is someone who is stingy with himself but is generous to his family and staff. He waters others and is watered himself. Sheng Siong now has many outlets throughout Singapore.


Just recently, I took my client, Joyce, for a viewing at Clementi. Since it was around dinner time and we were still early, I decided to give her a dinner treat at a kopi tiam near the Clementi MRT station. I noticed this chicken outlet because I was attracted to the free soup of the day. To my surprise, I was given a huge bowl of herbal chicken with plenty of peanuts. What a generous serving.! The food was tasty, and the chicken, laid on top of a bed of bean sprouts, was quite substantial. The second time I was there, the soup of the day was chicken with sweet corn. Qi Le also has a few outlets in Singapore. They also provide catering for parties. You can call Terence at 82221010 or email him at

I do not have much business acumen. Being the arty-farty type, I am more prone to day dreams, messiness, forgetfulness etc. However, I am now beginning to wonder why Power Supply, Singtel, etc. cannot keep its costs low like Bee Choo. In fact, I even read in the papers that Power Supply has asked not to be blamed for the 21% increase in utitlities because they cannot help it. Bee Choo also has to use a lot of electricity and water for her business. Her saloon is air conditioned, well-lighted and she uses lots of water to wash off the herbs from her customers' heads. Yet she can keep her fees so low? Like Bee Choo, Power Supply also does not have to advertise because it has monopoly of the business. Everybody in Singapore immediately knows he has to head for Power Supply the moment the sale of a purchased property is completed. Not everyone will lose hair and need treatment from Bee Choo, but everyone, rich or poor, need to use electricity and water everyday.

As I have always said before, I cannot understand Economics or Mathematics. Can someone help me to explain the extremes ie. why the above three businesses can thrive without charging excessively and why Power Supply cannot help the increase in costs?

Gan Chau

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Tip for Home Remedy

I hate wastage of any kind. Especially when it is food. Every time I think of the sunken eyes and stomachs of famished children in Africa, I shudder at the thought of daring to waste any morsel of food. Hence, whatever food is left will be refrigerated to be consumed the following day.

Sometimes when I am not sure about the freshness of the food, I will take a glass of honey with some apple cider. It works! Apple cider helps to combat any potential dairrhoea which I may suffer from should the food be somewhat contaminated.

A remedy that is simple to concoct and drink. Try it!

Gan Chau

God Must Have Been In His Best Mood....


Posing with Anul outside my apartment.

Pretty Anul with her better-half, handsome Avinesh

Avinesh, always sharp and helpful with the computer.

My tenants, Jasmin, Anul and Avinesh

37 days more to my 55th birthday! Having travelled around the world and having stayed for a reasonable length of time in some of the countries with various ethnic groups, perhaps, I am a little qualified to say that the Indians are one of the best looking people on earth? It would be wonderful to receive my readers' feedback.

I have told most of my Indian friends and tenants that God must have been in His best mood when He created them! :-) Of course, some of my friends would humbly deny and say that we Chinese are good looking too. Sure, if you take the overall picture and personality of a person, somehow the person still looks presentable. For example, my good friend from the University, Pit, looks attractive overall. However, if you were Dr. Woffles Wu, the famous plastic surgeon, you might want to make her eyes bigger, nose higher, and cheekbones more pronounced. Here, I am talking about facial features and physique. For us who are not so fully endowed we are often full of admiration of the Indians with their deep set and expressive eyes with long eyelashes and sharp noses.

Of course we also have other races like the Caucasians and Egyptians, just to name a few, with pronounced features, but I still find that on the whole, the Indians have been blessed with good looks. I will not be able to describe in detail like what Dr. Woffles Wu would say when he describes a well crafted face. But I am sure, my readers will know what I mean by the above paragraphs.

Nevertheless, we should all remember that internal beauty will always outshine external attractiveness. I once met an elderly lady of 83 years old. I told her she was a charming old lady and must have been pretty when she was young. However, Aunty Siew assured me that she was a plain Jane. Yet Aunty Siew is one lady that all the kids want to hug and get close too because she is oozing with kindness and gentleness, and that makes her very charming. Compare Aunty Siew with the wicked lady in 101 Dalmatians or the scheming stepmother in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Now you get the whole picture?

This is probably why we have an expression in Mandarin, "Nai kan". It means that a person appears more and more pretty and attractive the more you see her and spend time with her. "Bu nai kan" is the reverse for a seemingly beautiful woman somehow appears less pretty and attractive the more you look at her!

Let us all remember the Creator as the Potter who is still shaping His handiworks. Let us all remain pliable and teachable, so as to continue to allow the Creator to shape and mould us into the beautiful people that He wants us to be.

Gan Chau
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Beauty and Uniqueness of Every Language

As a child, I found it hard to understand English grammar. The teachers merely explained but had not made it exciting and interesting for the children to understand the grammar. Hence most of us learnt by rote. Fortunately for me, I was a voracious reader, and I was able to write and speak good English even in Primary School. Constant reading had enabled me to have a natural flow of sentence structure.
It was only while I studied French in the University of Alberta that I understood the purpose and meaning of grammar. My appreciation of languages was enhanced when I took up Chinese Literature and Comparative Literature.

English tenses are important because of the sequence of events. Construction of sentences is also important, because words put before or after could completely alter the whole meaning. For eg. My mother wants to hire a baby sitter for my brother who is 40 years old. It looks like as if the brother is 40 years of age, but the mother wants a baby sitter who is mature and at least 40 years of age. English punctuation is also important because it will also alter the meaning of the sentence. It is important that we punctuate well as it will make reading easier for the person reading our article. Hence, I am somewhat appalled when I came across a blog by piggymoopi who writes in his/her blog "there's nothing meaningful to write up here". Words just roll on and on, with little proper punctuation. Obviously Piggymoopi is quite prolific, judging by the diligent posting. Hence, why not make the most of it for your readers.?

If we complain about English grammar, try French. Then we will realise that we are spared from having to remember the gender of objects! With each gender, the verb also changes. Yet French is such a lovely language. It is really worthwhile to learn the language although it can be quite frustrating, because sometimes we spell what is not being pronounced, and yet, do not pronounce what we clearly see! I love the French words for mother and father-in-law. "Ma belle-mere" translated literally means my beautiful mother, and "Mon beau-pere" translated literally means my handsome father. Hence even when you are somewhat bald and toothless, with sagging breasts at age 85, you are still the beautiful mother! Isn't that wonderful?

The difficulty in Chinese is the writing. There is little grammar in Chinese. Although there are only four tones, we must be careful with getting the right tone or the whole meaning of the sentence is altered.

One needs excellent memory to learn Korean, because the Koreans like to use many words to say the same thing that other races could say in lesser words. For eg. we say "Bonuit" (good night in French) and Wan An (good night in Mandarin) but in Korean it is "Ahn nyong hee ju mu sip si yo". "Wo ai ni" (I love you in Mandarin) but the Koreans have to say it in seven words, "Na nun sa rang ham ni da".

My tenants and some Indian friends have taught me a little Hindhi. I am surprised that the adjectives will change when they are used to describe men and women. For eg. fat for ladies will be "moorthi" and for the men it will be "moortha".

Languages like Malay and Swahili are not so difficult to learn because you pronounce what you see. Hence most of my classmates had no problem passing our spelling tests. I specially like the word "Terima kasih" in Malay. It means "Thank you" but translate literally, it means "Receive love". Isn't it beautiful? I like Swahili because it is such a musical language.

I guess the trick of learning languages is to understand the uniqueness and hopefully, to also appreciate the beauty in every language. Acute interest in language learning so as to break all barriers in communication will help one to gradually master a language.

If all of us could pick up some words in other languages, it will add more warmth and a personal touch to communication. I remember how I went around greeting all the sales staff in Seoul when I went shopping. The staff were so thrilled with my greeting that many of them gave me little souvenirs as gifts - Korean flag, dolls, scarves, handkerchief and pen.

Cheers to better communication!

Gan Chau

Making $ense of Horrendous Halloween Celebration!

By RAMIT PLUSHNICKMASTI,Associated Press Writer AP - Thursday, October 30OIL CITY, Pa. -

For 16 years, real horror overshadowed the make-believe terror of Halloween in this Pennsylvania town, where trick-or-treating after dark was banned after an 11-year-old girl was abducted off the street and murdered.

But on Friday, pint-sized witches, princesses and vampires will once again be shuffling from house to house at night, thanks to a petition drive by a fifth-grader.

Elizabeth Roess gathered signatures, wrote an essay outlining her argument, and persuaded City Council two months ago to bring back nighttime trick-or-treating.

"I was a little scared that happened," Elizabeth said of the 1992 slaying of Shauna Howe, who was kidnapped while walking home from a pre-Halloween party. But she added: "I did this and now I'm so happy."

For weeks now, children and their parents in this struggling, working-class town of 10,000 about 80 miles north of Pittsburgh have been eagerly anticipating Halloween's return, though not without some trepidation.

Shannon Goodman got a tether to make sure her 2-year-old daughter, who will dress as a witch, doesn't wander off while they go door to door. "It's going to be a lot of fun, but every parent who cares about their kid should have that fear," she said.

Fifteen-year-old Braden Craig said: "I have a gut-wrenching feeling something bad's going to happen."

The police department plans to have seven officers on duty Friday night, or about twice the usual number, in addition to four school security guards and all 10 of the town's crossing guards.

"If this all goes well, that's great, that's fantastic. I long for those days, too. But the world has changed," said Police Chief Robert Wenner, a father of five who was a patrolman when the murder occurred.

The local radio station has been running a public service announcement by Wenner urging parents to accompany their children, examine any candy before it is eaten and make sure kids wear reflective material.

The police chief said Shauna's murder shattered the "Mayberry attitude" many people in Oil City had toward their hometown.

Shauna, whose family no longer lives in the area, was abducted on Oct. 27. Three days later, her battered body was found under a railroad trestle eight miles away.

With the town gripped by fear that a child killer was on the loose, trick-or-treating the next day was held in daylight for the first time. Police watched from helicopters as parents led their children from house to house along quiet streets.

Residents also began locking their doors and driving their children to school. And every year afterward, the City Council voted to allow trick-or-treating in the afternoon only, a move duplicated around the same time by many other U.S. cities and towns worried about children's safety.

The Oil City murder remained unsolved until a witness came forward four years ago and police turned to DNA evidence. Two brothers were arrested and convicted of murder and sexual assault. A third man pleaded guilty to murder.

Hoping to move Halloween back to night hours, Elizabeth, her mother, grandmother and family friends gathered 175 signatures. The 10-year-old also wrote a paper in which she made her case. Among her reasons: Halloween decorations are best appreciated at night, and many people aren't home during the day to give out candy.

The council vote was unanimous. Elizabeth plans on dressing up as a Goth princess bride.

"Unfortunately, Shauna's tragedy seemed to define Oil City for many years," Oil City blogger John Noel Bartlett wrote on his Web site. "It's time to move on."

When I chanced upon the above article in the Yahoo news page, I was reminded of the first time I went to Canada for my tertiary. My landlord, Dr. Smith and his wife, together with my classmate, Elizabeth King, wanted to go to the pub. I was the goody goody type who always preferred to stay at home to do her studies. Dr. Smith handed me a few packets of sweets, and said that when children came to ring the door bell I was to give them some sweets. That was the first time I heard of Halloween.
Just as I was about to sit down and study, the door bell rang. On opening, I saw some cute children dressed in the most creative yet most horrendous costumes one could imagine. There was this cute little girl dressed up like a witch and she annouonced proudly, "Tick or Teat". She could not proncounce the "r" because of her missing front teeth. "Treat!" of course, and I dug into the packets of sweets to give the children. Throughout the whole night, I could not study in peace, for every few minutes the door bell rang. I wished I had gone out with Dr. and Mrs. Smith, instead of staying at home.

Seeing the children screaming for joy also made me happy. But I wondered what all this Halloween was about. I must admit that till today, I never like the idea of Halloween, especially when I heard horrendous stories about some people who abused it. My landlady told me that somebody had put in needles in the cup cakes that she gave some children. And someone had poisoned the apples which killed some children. Was the person thinking of herself as the wicked stepmother of Snow White?

What is the purpose of Halloween? Why tarnish the beauty and serenity of this world with something so ugly, scary and fearful? Can't people enjoy clean, good fun?

Of course, the manufacturers and businessmen love Halloween for it means more ideas for business.

I really hope this Halloween celebration can be wiped out from the face of this earth for I do not see it benefitting anyone except the coffers of manufacturers of Halloween costumes and products.

Gan Chau

Monday, November 03, 2008

More Pics on the Big Walk


"It is finished", An and I said jubililantly at the end of the 5km walk. We were drenched with perspiration!

The amiable participant with his "fans". He is so obliging to pose with everyone!

It is never too young to join the Big Walk. A little girl walking tall.

The Big Walk on Water! Who actually walked on water, but the Lord Jesus!

I can only put 4 photos each time in a blog. Hence now I put another 4 photos for my readers to view.

Don't miss the Big Walk next year, ok?


Gan Chau
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