Friday, October 30, 2009

Happiness is ......(15)


The first bloom of adeniums after 4 long years!

Flowers make my world go round!

The adeniums spread out in a circle, and if I were to cut the flowers they would make a natural crown of flowers on a lady's head.
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Four years ago, when I decided to join Dennis Wee Group, I wanted to move nearer when the comapny was then located at Park Mall. I realised that the hdb flats in Chinatown were costly, especially for those where Chinese are eligible to buy.

Hence, it dawned upon me that it would be more realistic for me to get a unit in Little India as it would be cheaper and morever, I could even walk to my office at Park Mall. Hence, when I saw an advertisement put up by my colleague, I quickly called up to say that I was interested to purchase the flat, and that there was no necessity for cobroke, as I would pay my commission as a purchaser.

I confirmed my offer five minutes after viewing, as I found that the mrt station was just about 40 seconds walk away from the block! Yet, the block is quiet and breezy.

The owner of the flat had left behind a pot of adenium plants at the corridor. I had learnt from my colleague that the owner had passed away, and hence the sale of the flat was handled by the surviving sister. It was amazing that three months after I moved into the unit, the adenium plants were still thriving well! It had been watered by the rain that came into the corridor of the block. The sunshine has also strengthened the plants.

As I added more and more pots of herbal and flowering plants, I realised that my adenium plants had lots of white fungus. I almost wanted to throw away the whole pot, but decided to cut off the stems and leaves instead. The plants grew again, and this time became more healthy, as the leaves were shining.

Recently, I discovered some buds coming out of the plants and I was so oooo thrilled!
The plants had started to bloom with flowers after four long years! Everyday, I watched the buds growing bigger and bigger. Now the flowers are in full bloom!
The flowers are very lasting, probably because they have taken so long to bloom. Adeniums are also known as "desert roses" which probably explain their hardiness.

I showed Pastor Singam the photos of the flowers from my digital camera when we had lunch. I shared with him about the plants. He said, "It is interesting. The same analogy goes. When we don't give up on something that seems to be deteriorating or dying, we can give new life! If parents continue to persevere with their delinguent children, one day, the children will realise and change. If teachers don't give up on students who fail, one day, the students will improve and pass their exams.
Choo, now you are reaping the harvest of your labour and perseverance. The flowers are here now for you and your neighbours to enjoy because you had not discarded the plants when they were attacked by fungus."

I usually like to keep my windows and main door open so that more air can flow. From my room where I am typing this article, I can see the adeniums blooming resplendantly. They fill my heart with joy and contentment.

Indeed, we can never quite estimate the power of flowers in our lives. Flowers are a constant reminder to me of the awesomeness of the Creator.!

Happiness is .....(14)


The Matriarch of the family running a restaurant selling pig trotters. Fuxui and Funan as young adults, are so lucky to still have a grandmother living with them.

Fuxiu and his father going to great lengths to explain the complex relationship when his youngest sister, Funan marries his wife's brother, Renyu.

The two ladies who will become in-laws the second time again!

The beautiful and capable daughter-in-law of a well known family, Xiuxian

I am grateful to papa for being a lover of movies. He would often bring me and my second sister, Ean Ean, to the cinema to watch Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Japanese and Thai movies.

Nowadays Korean movies are getting more and more popular in South East Asia, especially Singapore. Our Media Corp has been showing Korean movies on Channel U.
Happiness to me is coming home and looking forward to watching my favourite movies. Currently, my favourite is Daughters-in-Law.

Through the movies, we learn of the culture of the Koreans and how the daughters-in-law get sandwiched between adhering to tradition and moving with the times. I like Fuxiu's grandmother. Although she is stern and could be somewhat fierce, yet she sometimes relents and shows her understanding and compassion. How I envy my friends who still have grandmothers in their 90's! I never had the chance to see both my paternal and maternal grandparents, for they had passed away before I was born. I find Fuxiu's grandmother quite endearing and if I were to meet her personally, I would like to give her a real, big hug!

Blur as I am, I never realised that it is not quite the norm for the Daughters-in-Law to be shown as it is - in Korean language. I only found out when my good friend, Fong Wah brought me some home cooked food for dinner and she asked why the movie was not dubbed in Mandarin.

"Don't know. It has been like that all the time. I do not mind, because I can learn some new Korean words and sentences," I replied somewhat sheepishly.

After a hard day's work, all I want is to stay at home without having to exercise my vocal chords. Hence, happiness is being involved in activites like watching TV programs, blogging, reading, cooking, cleaning, etc.

"Daughters-in-law " is both touching and hilarious, and gives us an insight into the Korean way of life.

Movies add colors and greater perspectives to my life!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happiness is ......(13)

I have never ceased to be amazed by how much God loves us. For the past three and a half decades since papa passed away, I had been in the habit of just telling Heavenly Papa everything that has troubled me or just things that I am grateful for.

Hence, the hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" has always been my favourite for the tune is lovely and the wordings so real and appropriate. For my readers who are not familiar with the hymn, I will write down the lyrics by Joseph Scriven (1819-1886).

"What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful?
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee,
Take it to the Lord in prayer,
In His arms He'll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

(Readers can also google and there are many different singers and groups on U-Tube).

I will be sharing with my readers little incidents of blessings that have taken place. This has taught me that if God is interested in even little things, would He not even be more concerned with "big issues" in our lives like career, marriage, family, etc." Perhaps it is this understanding that I can continue to sleep and eat well even when there is trouble looming over my head.

Recently, I was thrilled and happy when my ex-tenant, Avinesh, called me to say that since he is getting his own apartment, he would like to take back his subscription of Star Hub programs. Avinesh had moved and rented a room from a Malay family, but realised he would be happier to get a whole apartment where he can have more freedom and privacy. I had subscribed to Cable Vision because of my tenants who want to watch programs from their country eg. Zee TV, Star Plus, etc. I had subscribed under the name of my tenant, Avinesh. After he and Jasmin left, I realised I could not turn on my favourite Animal Planet and Discovery programs. My neighbours tried to help, and they too could not figure out. To my horror, I found that even my Channel 8 had disappeared. The staff from Starhub told me I would have to pay if the company were to send a technician to my home to fix the problem. I did not bother for I am contented to watch our own local channels.

Hence, Avinesh came to my home and he helped to re-tune the television. To my joy, Channel 8 was reinstated and better still, I could get the Okto channel!

If Avinesh had not taken over the subscription, I would have to continue with the subscription till next September! I just love the programs on Okto for I could watch animal programs, programs on mystery and orchestral performances as well.

With so many interesting programs to watch, there is no necessity for me to subscribe to Starhub's Cable Vision. I don't like things to become white elephants in my home.

Frankly, I had not expected this outcome as I thought I would have to keep paying subscription fees till next year in September!

Recently, I have learnt to play by ear "Amazing Grace" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" on the violin. Whenever I practise my violin, I would begin with playing the above hymns. The hyms remind me of God's amazing grace and his love and blessings.

The hymns also remind me that even as I enjoy God's blessings and friendship, I must also be a good friend to the friends I love as well as those I am not too fond of, for if I were to enjoy the amazing grace of God, I too should learn to be as gracious as possible.

Gan Chau

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent? (13)

I am glad that the government is now doing something about regulating real estate agents. I sometimes wonder why this has not been done earlier. Paradoxically, housing involves everyone, for everyone needs a roof over his head, and yet, almost every John, Dick and Harry could just easily enter the real estate market without proper training! So many people want to enter the real estate market because of lucrative commission, but sometimes they do not realise that real estate work is not their rice bowl. It is ironical that man can try to understand the moon and the stars, but he does not understand himself. I made that mistake too when I had just completed high school. Anxious to do something and following the examples of my peers, I had applied to do nursing in England. Eldest Sister Lee Lee discouraged me and told me that nursing was not my cup of tea. I would be more suitable to train as a school teacher. How wise of my Sis.! This is probably why for every 10 real estate agents and insurance agents, 8 will eventually leave the market.

I have often been asked to try insurance work. But I am not keen at all because it is not as tangible as bricks and stones. Moreover, insurance work involves a lot of numbers and I dislike too much of numbers and calculation.

I like to look at designs of buildings and houses, and hence real estate work is more appealing to me. I have also realised that a good agent has to use a lot of initiative to analyse and think through issues, and not just go around working perfunctorily. It is very frustrating for me to cobroke with agents who do not really know what their clients want, and whose idea of showing properties is to bring their clients around to view a host of buildings. Sometimes these agents will line up one viewing after another, and they confuse the clients even more. When they are delayed with one viewing, it affects the rest of the appointments like a stack of fallen cards!

Once an agent insisted on a 3p.m. appointment. I asked her to make it at 4.00p.m. but she was adamant. I rushed to be on time, only to find that she was late. After 15 minutes, I called her, and she said, "On the way. Soon." Another 20 minutes, and she was nowhere near the building. I sent her an sms and she said 5 minutes. Her 5 minutes implied 15 minutes. In exasperation, I smsed her, "It's almost 4p.m. now. You're impossible! I am leaving now." Just then the phone rang, and a strange voice answered, "Susan is coming up now. We detoured to view another unit. She's not impossible".

When the agent arrived with her client, there was no apology at all. Such arrogance and ignorance.! I told her it is not a crime to be late, but if it was not so "soon," then I would appreciate she could let me know just how long it would take. Of course, her "keen" client turned out to be not so keen after all. Agents like such would appear to be more like tourist guides or chauffeurs. They are in the momentum of working hard, but not achieving results. They take their clients on a merry-go-round of viewing after viewing, and their clients do not purchase because they have not quite understood the clients' needs and requirements.

Real estate work is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding and it is imperative for an agent to work not only hard, but smart as well, so that he does not burn out too easily.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flower Power at Beautiful Pierce Reservoir Park





After having lived in Singapore for the past two decades, I am ashamed to say that I had never been to Pierce Reservoir Park until that fateful morning, when my neighbour, Wendy, took me and Toby for a morning walk.

I had only driven up to Upper Thomson Road to visit my friend who had adopted my Rough Collie, Bobo. She lives quite near to where Fann Wong, Singapore's famous actress from Media Corp used to live with her parents. I discovered the fact because once when I was driving, I saw Christopher Lee and Fann Wong coming out of the house. At that time, tabloid gossip had mentioned the popular actor dating Fann Wong.

If only I had known how close Pierce Reservoir Park is to my friend's house! However, I did enjoy the ride where there is so much greenery to admire. Now and then, we could see monkeys on the trees.

The Park has two reservoirs - Upper and Lower Pierce. It is so beautifully serene and green! I took some shots of the flowers that I could find.

I will have to be contented with visiting McRitchie Reservoir or the Botanical Gardens which are nearer to my home. I am so happy that Singapore has been so well planned. There is still so much greenery and lovely spots in the island.
I am now making it a point to discover more of such interesting places, now that I have a little more time on my hands.

Gan Chau

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Happiness is ......(12)


Bright sunflowers from Holland! Beautiful flowers that always look to the Son (Sun).

Blueish purple petunias, one of my favourite flowers!

Can anyone help me with the name of this lovely plant with little red flowers?

White Jasmine flowers that ooze with such fragrant aroma!
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I love the wide corridors of my apartment block. It is so wide that I can grow herbal and flowering plants on both sides and still have space for a little round table with two chairs. For some reason, it is constantly breezy here, and this is my best friend, Amu's favourite spot. Happiness is drinking coffee and chit-chatting with Amu while basking in the breeze. Amu is also a keen gardener. In fact, it was partly because of her and eldest sister, that my interest in gardening became more enhanced. Amu had given me a curry leaf plant, and now it is growing so beautifully. Sometimes, I eat the leaves raw or use them for curry. It is said that eating raw curry leaves will help in strengthening the hair, and prevent it from greying! Now I understand why Indian ladies have such beautiful crowning glory!

I always use recycled water for my plants. Water from rice, barley, dahl, etc. is very good for the plants. Even when washing the blood off fish, etc. it is good to keep the water, although it is best to do it at night so as to minimise the pungent smell. I water late at night, so that by morning, the smell would have been greatly reduced. After rinsing off the soap from my plates and cups, I would save the water from the rest of the rinsing which are used to water the plants. The soapy water will be recycled and used for flushing the toilet bowls.

Happiness is waking up in the morning, and giving the plants their "little breakfast" of water. Sometimes I talk to my plants and sing, for I heard that plants love to be communicated with! A little bit of afternoon sun would stream into the corridor and even when it rains the plants will get watered too. Hence, on rainy days I don't have to water the plants.

I just love flowers for I see God's mighty handiwork of creation! Flowers are like extra beautiful ornaments on a lady. Flowers are like beautiful decorations on a Christmas tree! Flowers are like God's little presents to cheer us up! I enjoy watching the flowers grow from buds to full bloom!

After watering my plants and singing to my flowers, my spirit cannot help, but be uplifted. I know I have the strength to face whatever troubles or problems I may face during the day! Indeed, all of King Solomon's clothes cannot be compared to the beauty of flowers for their colorful petals are perfectly made!

Gan Chau

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Choo Choo Jetoy


The persuasive and amiable sales staff at Choo Choo Jetoy stall at Singapura Plaza.

Choo Choo dressed as Snow White asking "Mirror! Mirror! On the Wall!? Who's the fairest amongst us all?

Stickers creatively designed and packaged

Choo Choo vocabulary? Meow! Grrr! Tskk!

When Carrie bought me a Choo Choo notebook, I was touched but surprised for it costs $19.00! "Very expensive for a notebook!"

"But it's designer notebook by some artist in Korea."

When I was in Singapura Plaza, I came across the stall with the Choo Choo Jetoy goods. "We're the only one marketing the Jetoy products", proudly declared Li Li, the sales personnel. She is so chirpy and cheerful and looks like the most suitable person to be standing amidst the display of cute, colorful and charmingly designed products.

"Now we give 10 per cent discount for all products."

"If I were to tell you that my name is Choo Choo, do I get extra discount?"

Li Li looked at me, a little dumbfounded. She took a closer look at my company's lanyard with my name on.

"Ya cute! You're the first two legged Choo Choo I've met. I always thought Choo Choo is a nickname for some little kids. Ok, will give you another 5% discount. Am sure my boss will not mind."

I had already been to the stall three times, browsing through the items but left without buying anything. With $19.90, I could buy many note books from Value Store for the kids in Nepal. When I watched the Korean movie, Daughters-in-Law, on Channel U, and saw how Fuxui's mother, had gone to the shoe shop four times but left each time without buying, much to the frustration of the shop owner, I laughed. This was the fourth time I was at the stall, and my heart softened with Li Li's charming persuasion. Morever, having asked her about discount, and since she had given me 15% off, I felt it was not nice for me to leave without buying the tote bag. If I were to buy it, it would be the most expensive purchase for me at $49.00 after discount. Of course, with the price also comes the quality -the tote bag is well made and looks like it will be able to undergo much wear and tear.

I left the stall and a happy Li Li, grining from ear to ear, bade me goodbye! I left with a lighter wallet, but with a song in my heart. Now when people ask me for my name, I could just lift my tote bag and point to the name on the bag, "Choo Choo Jetoy, a lady full of joy!"

Gan Chau

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My Beautiful and Beloved Sister


Eldest Sister Lee Lee resembles my beautiful mother. Hence, she is attractive and beautiful too.

Making a pot of "Ren" tea or what is nicknamed as "Birdnests for the Poor".

A bottle of home-made peatnut jam with olive oil - a healthier version than peanut butter and just as tasty!

Every drop and every fibre is not wasted with the use of the M Plan Fruit Juicer and Food Processor
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When I hear of siblings fighting like dogs and cats, I thank God for my two wonderful older brothers and two beautiful and capable older sisters. Now my readers know my ranking or pecking order within the family. As the youngest, I am spoilt in some ways, especially in the area of domestic activities. As a young student, I was good at helping mama carry heavy baskets when she went marketing, and I was swift to oblige whenever I was asked to run to the grocers. However, cooking and house-cleaning bore me to tears. Hence, I never learnt to cook until I was a student in Canada! As Singaporeans like to say in Hokkien dialect, "Bo pian" or Mandarin, "Mei yiu fang fa." (Can't be helped- no choice).

My two older sisters are great cooks. For this article I will focus on eldest sister. Sister is both motherly and sisterly. As mama had the habit of spending most of her free time at the gambling tables, eldest sister took the initiative to help look after papa and her younger siblings. She often brought me with her to the church and other interesting places. Even when she was dating, she would sometimes bring me and Sister Ean Ean along to Penang Hill and the beaches at Batu Ferringhi. What a generous sister! Sister, Lee Lee was a self taught dress-maker, and often sewed pretty frocks and blouses for me. Sister knew that I feel warm easily, and hence would often use cotton materials for they enable my skin to "breathe". I particularly remember one pretty white frock which she sewed and which was my pride and joy. It was pretty enough to be a dress worn by flower girls at a wedding. Once, sister asked me to lend this pretty dress to one of her students who was selected to participate in a singing contest. I readily obliged because most of the students in sister's school were from humble homes.

Sister taught me to give. I had always thought that since we were quite poor, it would be the rich who ought to give and help the needy. But Sister taught me that I could also give the "widow's mite". She taught me that if I could stinge on myself by not spending money on unnecessary things like sweets and chocolates, I could still afford to give!

Eldest sister is 12 years my senior and has taught me so many wonderful things. As a herbalist, she taught me the great value in taking herbs and better still, to grow them. Hence I began to take a keen interest in gardening.

Recently, Sis introduced me to an amazing kitchen gadget which could blend fruits and vegetables into drinks. The fibre is not wasted, and hence, the drinks are filling and help to reduce weight and cholesterol. Sister taught me how to make peanut jam with olive oil. After this bottle of jam is consumed, I will try to make almond jam with olive oil. When Sis came to stay with me recently, she also brought a bag load of "ren" plants. After boiling the leaves, I replanted the stems. I had so much of the tea that I was able to share with my neighbours Irin, Wendy and Helen.

Eldest Sis is a natural speaker. Whenever she speaks, her audience will be mesmerised and inspired by her. Sister has never joined a toastmasters' club before. I always tease her that should she join one, she could easily become a champion!

She is keenly observant and analytical. When I continually failed in my Mathematics and Science subjects in school, Sister would encourage me to persevere. Sister is my role model, and I am encouraged that even when I was in the abyss of despair and grief, Sister never once doubted my character or capability. Like my two older brothers, she thought I was too obliging and helpful like papa. Sis taught me the importance of wisdom, and reminded me of the advice from the bible that we are to be sharp like the serpeants but gentle like doves. When I pondered over her struggles and perseverance as a daughter, wife and mother in the past, I was uplifted and this is why my maxim is, "Life is not about falling down. It is about picking ourselves up again." (Vince Lombardi). This is why I never allow myself to be disheartened for too long, but to find things to be thankful for. Even when things don't work out, I still thank God for He always has a purpose for everything. With my constant cheerfulness and Sister's excellent cooking and love, it is indeed hard for me to lose weight !!! :-)

Whenever Sister comes to stay with me, she will help me to clean up my apartment. I am inclined to be messy and disorganised. However, recently I tried my best to be neater so that when Sister comes again, she can spend more time telling me stories and sharing new things that she has learnt, and I can take her to visit interesting places like Hort Park, etc.

Sis is mesmerised by the world of nature. She once shared with me about the uniqueness and beauty of snowflakes - how every snowflake is uniquely different, just like our finger prints. Sister has never seen snow before and I know she yearns to see snow flakes. Hence I am planning to take her with me for a skiing holiday in Korea this coming January.

May God bless my eldest Sis (whom I affectionately call Chieh Chieh) with continual good health, joy and energy so that she can continue to serve Him in various churches in Sarawak and West Malaysia. As a pastor's wife, she has been such a blessing to countless people as Chieh Chieh always likes to help others and share her knowledge and talent.

Whenever anyone gives me compliments for being capable or versatile, I will say, "Wait till you meet my eldest sister. I pale in comparison." I love my eldest sister and am extremely proud of her. Everyday I thank God for having given me a most wonderful sister.

Gan Chau

Our First Glimpse of the World!


The puppy's eyes are now open!

Just can't wait to grow up!

The world is certainly brighter and bigger than mummy's womb!

Looking at the world from a comfortable position!
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The puppies have opened their eyes after 12 days! They look so adorable and innocent! I feel so happy that I need not travel far to Pasir Pet Farms to look out for cute puppies. I am so privileged to trace the growth of the puppies by just hopping over to my neighbour's flat. Sometimes, when I am reading, I could hear the cries of the puppies. Interesting, the cries sound more like the purring of little kittens. The soft meowing sounds like music to my ears!

The youngs of all animals are so cute! What a wonderful world we live in!

Gan Chau

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happiness is .....(11)


Specialist Clinic H is busy, yet efficient

The apples look so succulent on the basket. Fruits donated by Specialist Clinic H.

Cheerful volunteers helping to raise funds for needy patients.

The super-clean and "chic" toilet at Specialist Clinic H
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I had woken up early and sent an sms to Dubai to enquire about Toby's arrival.
Gayatri replied that she has not heard from the agent yet. I had gone to sleep early the night before. Even when I am worried, I can still eat and sleep well!
Now my readers will understand why it is difficult for me to lose weight!

When Gayatri informed me of Toby's safe arrival I was so ooo ooooooooo happy. I thanked God for having given Toby a safe trip. I was so engrossed with Toby that I almost forgot my appointment with the Orthopaedic Dept. of SGH at Clinic H. The pain in my back and leg has greatly diminished and I almost thought of cancelling the appointment. I was afraid my good friends, Soh Wah and Jasmin would nag at me again. Hence I decided to quickly hail a cab and phoned the clinic, informing that I would be late.

In my rush, I had forgotten to bring my referral letter and the staff informed they would have to ask the Bukit Merah Polyclinic to email/fax the letter.

It was quite crowded and I thought I would have to wait for a long time. To my surprise, someone called my name, and after gathering my bag, newspapers and books, I could not find the person calling my name. I thought she might have come from Room 2 and I was wrong. Just then I heard my name being called and found out the specialist was at Room 11. The doctor had the ex-ray emailed to him and he showed me the bone that was pressing on my nerves. He did a test on my back and leg, and to my surprise, I did not have any pain. The exercises that Wendy and Jasmin had recommended were excellent and instrumental to my recovery. The orthopaedic surgeon asked if I would like an MRI and I told him I would not want any surgery. Hence the doctor recommended me to come back to see the physiotherapist. I had been so cheerful because I was so relieved about Toby and in my absent-mindedness, the staff found my "blurness" quite amusing. When I came out of Room 11, I found out the the reception had closed for lunch, but when a staff heard my request, she obliged to help me fix up another appointment.

To my surprise, I did not have to pay a single cent, as I am a blood donor. I found out that I am limited to $25/- per day at specialist clinics. The specialist's charge is $25- for consultation. I was given some prescription. However, I noticed that the prescription was the same given by the doctor in Polyclinic. Hence, I decided not to take the medication, as I still have some.

Wow! In all, it had just taken 30 mintues! Since I had time, I decided to help myself to an apple. The staff told me that the apples were always put on the reception after 11a.m. in case some outpatients are hungry. So generous! The apples on the basket reminded me of the baskets of fruits that are put out on the reception of some hotels in Taipeh. As I was munching on the crunchy apple, I observed that the staff was always polite and cheerful.

Even the toilet in the Singapore General Hospital are so clean and fashionable. There is even a floral display on the wall.

On my way out, I saw some volunteers manning a stall which sells lovely blouses, earrings, bags and other accessories. They help to raise funds for poor patients who visit the hospital. I bought a lovely blouse for my sister Ean Ean and some other earrings so as to give some support.

I went home, feeling extremely happy. We are so fortunate to have such great amenities. The hospital staff is efficient and on the ball. I had brought my newspapers and two books to read, thinking I had to wait for hours on end!
Life in Singapore is indeed a many splendoured thing when we count our blessings and name them one by one.

Gan Chau

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happiness is .....(10)


Toby, getting ready to fly to Dubai.

The people and company responsible for sending Toby off to meet her mistress, Gayatri in Dubai.

A rare teddy bear - souvenir limited edition of Singapore Post

Mustafa Membership Card

My heart was very heavy as the day drew closer to Toby's departure to Dubai. I was worried about her safety as Dr. James Tan had said, we could take a 50-50 chance of flying Toby as she is a pug with a short nose, is overweight and is 6years old. However, since the vet who serves the animals sent by Mitchville K-9 Kennel had convinced Gayatri that Toby would be alright, her owners decided to take a chance. When I carried Toby up to put her in the cage, she tensed up and her body stiffened. I had to pacify her and talk to her gently that it was alright and that soon she would meet Gayatri, her mistress who misses her so much.

Prior to Toby's departure, I had cried buckets, as I could feel Toby's fear and stress. It would be her first flight. Would she think that I have abandoned her? Toby had to visit the vet twice and the first time, she was beside herself with joy when she returned, as if relieved that she had not been abandoned.

I walked to the Post Office at Kitchener Road to post and register some letters. I saw that the cd/radio player on sale was quite cheap and bought it as it also came with a free gift of radio/alarm clock. Just then, a cute little bear caught my attention and I asked the staff for the price. She told me that the bear was just a decorative item, and not for sale. However, seeing that I liked it, she spontaneously told me that she would give it to me as a gift. Wow! How generous! The lady was also very nice when I told her that the cd player would be too bulky for me to lug to my violin class at the Braddell Heights Community Centre. I asked if I could pick up the items after class. Though the post office closed at 5.00p.m. the lady assured me that I could knock on the door between 5.00p.m. to 6.00p.m. as she would stay behind to do some work. Wow! How accommodating. As I was walking towards the MRT, suddenly the heaviness in my heart was lifted up. I was extremely happy as I felt so blessed. I like soft bears but am particular about designs and purpose. I specially like souvenir bears like those given out by hotels and during special functions. Though the toy could never replace Toby, I felt comforted by the surprise gift.

During the violin class, Clement, Mr. Yan's nephew, accompanied my teacher and me on the piano. I enjoyed playing "Minuet" by L. Boccherini. The piece is so beautiful and happiness is when Mr. Yan gives me a tick which implies I have passed, and can proceed with learning new pieces.

On the way back, I saw that Mustafa was advertising some kind of membership card. My sister, Ean Ean, is an ardent shopper and fan of Mustafa. I decided to register for the card, and was impressed with the efficiency of the staff. No forms to fill in ( I detest filling forms). Just hand over my identity card, and give my contact number orally while the staff keyed into the computer. The staff asked me to put my index finger on a little glass, I was asked to look at a camera on the computer, and hey presto! the card was ready! I was told that I need not even bring the card when shopping. I could just put my index finger, and the record will be shown! This suits me fine, for I am one forgetful person where cards are concerned, which explains my phobia for credit cards. Shoppers will be able to earn points with membership cards and some other privileges will be given. However, all these will be confirmed in November when the use of the cards will commence.

Who says Singaporeans are the most unhappy people in Asia? Sure, we have our ups and downs, but with so many things to be thankful for, life in Singapore is indeed a many splendoured thing.

Gan Chau
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Precious Friends


This plate of vegetarian fish in sweet and sour sauce looks so real.

Jasmin and Amu

Phoon Yew Tien and Jasmin Patel

Jasmin carrying Ning, (my grand-niece), and with niece Yann and husband, Yap Chin Hoe at Art Folio. The lovely paintings on the wall are by Yap Chin Hoe.
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As usual, when Amu heard that Jasmin was going back to India, she wanted to give him a treat. Since Jasmin is a vegetarian and has grown to appreciate Chinese vegetarian dishes, we went to a Chinese vegetarian, Forest Dew Restaurant, located near the Boon Keng MRT station. Wendy, my kind neighbour, had brought Jasmin there once and he likes the food. To me, it would be a nice change, because I had often brought my tenants to Anda Bhavan or Komala for Indian vegetarian dishes. Through my Indian tenants, I learn to appreciate Indian vegetarian cuisine. In fact, Jasmin learnt to appreciate Chinese vegetarian food when he first tried it at a charity dinner in Chinatown, hosted by my friend, Patricia Chew, a devout Buddhist.

I always thank God for my good friends. I have known Amu for well over 15 years, and we have been the best of friends. Though Amu is illiterate, she is wise and kind. Amu teaches me Tamil while I teach her some English, especially spelling and recognising some words for Amu is very fluent in spoken English. Many people often mistake her to be a well-educated lady.

I have been fortunate in always having good tenants all these two decades. Whether they are from China, India, Mongolia, Malaysia or Australia, my tenants are made to feel at home, for I am easy-going. I hate to be possessive of my belongings, for to me, people are more important than things.

Jasmin is probably one of my best tenants. He treats the home like his own, helping to clean the apartment whenever he has time. He also helps me to walk Toby and look after him when I out of the apartment. He has also taught me many things pertaining to the computer, mobile phone and television, for I find it difficult to handle electronic gadgets. While I nickname Toby, "Moorti Moorti, (Fat, Fat), Jasmin calls her "Nalu Nalu" (Small One, Small One). Amazing how Toby responds happily to both names. I suspect it is not so much the words, but the loving and gentle tone with which the names are being called. Animals know instinctively when they are loved.
Jasmin is like my younger brother. He nags at me when I don't bother to see the doctor about my ailment and when I don't have enough exercise. Like Wendy, Jasmin is also good at yoga and he taught me some breathing exercises to improve my health.

Jasmin enjoys some Korean and Chinese TV programs while I also enjoy the excellent Hindi movies from Vasantham and Zee TV. We often went to the Jade cinema to watch some excellent Hindi movies, namely, "Ghajini, Rabne Bana Di Jodi, (Marriage made in Heaven) What is Your Rashee (What is Your Horoscope). Frankly, I seldom enjoy English movies because I sometimes could not catch the words perhaps due to the strong accent and my less than good hearing. However, through Jasmin, I learnt that we could play video tapes of English movies with English subtitles. Hence I learnt to enjoy movies like "Rambo, Mummies l,2 and 3, etc. Many of my friends also like Jasmin for he is pleasant and amiable. My best friend, Soh Wah and her husband Yew Tian, also gave Jasmin a farewell vegetarian treat at Lingzhi Restaurant, run by the Tung Lok Group.

My previous Indian tenants, Ashok, Avinesh, Anu and Jasmin have taught me some Hindi as well. Hence, it is a thrill for me when I try to speak both Hindi and Tamil. Once I was surprised when an Indian whom I met confessed he only spoke English. At that moment, I certainly felt more Indian than him!

Soh Wah and I are looking forward to attending Jasmin's wedding. He promised that he would start looking for his "Rashee" (bride with the matching horoscope) after Deepavali celebration. We wish Jasmin all the very best, and may God bless him with a "Rabne bana di jodi" (A marriage made in heaven).

Without a shadow of doubt, our world becomes more interesting and meaningful when we relate well to both homo sapiens and four legged creatures.

Gan Chau

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wonderul Neighbours - Wendy and Sufie (2)


Wendy with Sufie at Pierce Reservoir Park

A poem beautifully and persuasively written

Pierce Reservoir Park - Lovely and serene

Wendy with Sufie and Toby at East Coast Park
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Wendy is a dog lover. She loves all types of animals which probably explains why she is a vegetarian. A health-conscious lady, it is no surprise that she looks good and vibrant for her age.

Wendy is quite versatile for it is through her that I become inspired to eat more healthily. As a yoga instructor, she has also taught me some breathing exercises, and when I shared with her about the pain in my leg, she showed me some exercises to improve blood circulation. A gardener, she is knowledgeable about plants and herbs. She grows so many herbal and flowering plants in the corridor of her apartment. Wendy has given me many useful tips on growing healthy plants.

Wendy's 13 year old dog looks just as good as his mistress. His eyes and gait are excellent for his age. Wendy shared that she often gives her dog massages. It is amazing how Sufie understands his owner's words. The first time when Wendy invited me to go to the East Coast with Toby, Sufie was kind of jealous and barked incessantly. Wendy said to him in a stern voice, "Now, Sufie, if you don't behave yourself, you're not going to the East Coast, ok." To my pleasant surprise, Sufie stopped barking and remained quiet throughout the outing!

When Toby's flight was delayed, we went to the Pierce Reservoir for a morning walk. Sufie did not quite like the place, and refused to walk. It could be due to the weather. The air was still with hardly any wind. Can you imagine wearing a fur coat in this weather? We can understand how the animals must be feeling in this heat. Wendy shared that she bought a car because of her dog, Sufie. She wanted to be able to drive him around. What a lucky dog!

A good cook, I have tried some of Wendy's delicious vegetarian food. Once she gave my tenant and me some Indian vegetarian good, and Jasmin was impressed with the authenticity.

When we hear of some neighbours fighting like dogs and cats, it makes us happy and appreciative when we have wonderful neighbours.

Gan chau