Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Concert


Forthcoming Christmas Concert on 6th December with Yume Fujise as soloist

Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra music director Yan Yin Wing will be conducting

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It's year end again, and as usual, it will be the highlight of the Bradell Heights Symphony Orchestra. On 6th December 2009, the Orchestra will be conducted by Mr. Yan Yin Wing with child prodigy, Yume Fujise, on the violin as soloist. The works will be lovely with Sibelius' "Finlandia", Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite", Bruch's "Violin Concerto No. 1 and Arthur Harris' "Christmas Medley".

I have invited my friends, Elaine and Amu to come along to the concert. I am proud of my soft-spoken teacher, Mr. Yan Yin Wing who is not only a good conductor, but an excellent and patient music teacher as well.

If my local readers have time, please do not miss the concert. I am sure you will greatly enjoy the concert. The tickets are subsidised ranging from $12 to $24 and passion card holders also enjoy 20% discount on the tickets.

See you at the concert!

Gan Chau

Happiness is ......(21)


My beloved friend, Soh Wah, with her goodie bag for me!


Soh Wah won a lucky prize and she gave me the lovely prize of handmade boxes

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

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While I was heaving brunch with my client, Amelia Ching, at our favourite food centre at Pek Kio Market, I received a call from Soh Wah, my best friend. She wanted to meet up with me at Dhoby Ghaut after her errand later in the day. I agreed to meet her. It was only later that I realised I should watch the Hindi program at 4p.m. Hence, I called Soh Wah to tell her that perhaps I should meet up with her at her office during lunch on week days.

To my surprise, Soh Wah said that she did not want to lug the bag of things around and hence would take the train to Little India. Soh Wah usually drives her Mercedes, and hardly takes public transport. I was concerned she would lose her way and gave her directions. Punctually, she arrived, and I took her photos.

"Aiya, you make me feel like a tourist!", exclaimed my bubbly friend.

"Here you are! Two tickets for the concert at Victoria Concert Hall this coming Friday. I want to give you this lucky prize which I won and this is the book I know you'll enjoy. The "Art of Racing in the Rain" is written from a dog's point of view.
Great book. Please read and return to me. Bought you some snacks from Chiengmai".
Soh Wah explained that her family would buy books from a store and after reading, these books could be returned at a discount. Hence their collection of books would be minimised.

Soh Wah is not your typical Singaporean. She never has a television in her home all these years. Her two sons, including her husband, Yew Tien, love to read. There are two grand pianos, an upright piano, twenty over violins and some other Chinese instruments and a huge collection of books in her home. Her two boys are also musically talented and play many instruments.

I had asked Soh Wah not to check out of the station, so that she could continue her journey home. I noticed an MRT officer watching us with keen interest. The authorities do not really allow people to hand over things in this manner, but he reckoned it was a one time off, and hence he left us alone. I bade my friend, goodbye, with a spring in my steps and a song in my heart.

I continued watching my Hindi movie. As I was in a somewhat lazy mood, I did not bother to cook, but enjoyed the snacks Soh Wah had given me for dinner. Happiness is when we have good friends who go the extra mile for us! And mind you, Soh Wah is a very, very busy lady as she is one of the top ladies in her bank, and her aged mother also lives with her. Apart from her busy work at the bank, she also helps her husband in his work eg. when he produces cds of his works and when he has important functions and concerts to attend. She finds time to drive her two boys to school and music classes.

When Soh Wah works, she dresses very smartly. I always tell Soh Wah that she should give talks on time management for I am sure, many people will be inspired. Soh Wah tells me that she has daily plan, weekly plan, monthly plan and even yearly plan! She reminds me of what Pastor Derek Hong had once mentioned in his sermon, "Give a busy person a chore, and somehow he will find time to complete it." Indeed, Soh Wah is one lady whom I would like to emulate.

Gan Chau

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Give thanks........

My friend, Arun, sent me this email at an appropriate time of thanksgiving throughout the world. In Canada, I was always invited to a Canadian home for a Thanksgiving dinner, where we would gather for a time of thanksgiving to God for everything. I am so grateful for the hospitality of my Canadian friends who always try to make us foreign students feel at home in their country.

The article reads, "Saying "Thank You" is good for the health.

"ST. PETERSBURG , Fla. - Bill Golden survived more than 20 years in the Army and another 30 in law enforcement. He fell sick with colon cancer, and at 86, he has an artificial hip and arthritis in his knees.

Golden still gives thanks, though, and researchers say that appreciative attitude can be good for you, too.

Academics have long theorized that expressions of thanks promote health and happiness and give optimism and energy to the downtrodden. Now, the study of gratitude has become a surprisingly burgeoning field, and research indicates being thankful might help people actually feel better. There’s a catch, however: You have to say thanks more than just once a year.

“If you don’t do it regularly you’re not going to get the benefits,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California , Riverside . “It’s kind of like if you went to the gym once a year. What would be the good of that?”

In recent years, researchers have tried to measure the benefits of gratitude. In a National Science Foundation-funded study, Northeastern University psychologist David DeSteno had participants complete an arduous data entry task only to have it lost by computer malfunction. Then, a lab assistant, seemingly unconnected to the study and claiming to be in a hurry for their own experiment, restores the lost work.

The participant is dismissed, and bumps into the lab assistant, who asks for help. DeSteno found those who had been helped by the assistant, and were grateful for it, were more likely to return the favor, and did so for longer than those in a group not helped.

“Gratitude leads people to act in virtuous or more selfless ways,” said DeSteno, whose research was published earlier this year in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. “And it builds social support, which we know is tied to both physical and psychological well being.”

Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California , Davis , said those who offer gratitude are less envious and resentful. They sleep longer, exercise more and report a drop in blood pressure, said Emmons, who wrote “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”

Brenda Shoshanna, a New York psychologist, agreed.

“You can’t be depressed and grateful at the same time,” said Shoshanna, the author of “365 Ways to Give Thanks: One for Every Day of the Year.” “It makes a person physically, mentally, in every way healthier.”

As for Golden, he doesn’t pay much attention to the academics. He simply acknowledges he’s “one lucky dude,” grateful for his two children, two grandchildren, and his 89-year-old girlfriend.

So on Thursday, he and his family will gather around the table, hold hands and say thank you.

“It’s surprising what those two little words do for a person,” he said. “It’s easy to say and it does a lot of good.”

Every morning, when I get up, I would greet PAPA and thank him for all the things that had taken place the day before, including troubles and problems, and thank him for all the food I am going to consume during the day, and for the people and animals I will meet along my way.

It is true that thanksgiving puts me in the right perspective - the realisation that I am so small and insignificant in this huge universe, and that the line between life and death is so thin, and that we are all indeed living by grace, and grace alone. Consider the lady who suddenly lost her baby, her limbs and eventually her job as a nurse, all within a matter of a few weeks! Life is that fragile!

Hence, let us not take things for granted, but to relish even the mundane things lest they be taken away from us. So that when trouble comes, we will be even stronger to stay thankful and cheerful, and continue to trust in the Creator.

As someone has beautifully put it in a poem:-

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses;
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes;
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears;
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean;
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

I remember my tenant, Chung Hsien once asked me, "Aunty Choo, every morning, I hear you singing and praising God. God won't get tired, meh?"

I laughed, and asked him, "Next time when you have children, and your daughters keep saying, "Papa, you're our most wonderful daddy, you're so great and we love you so ooooooo much!" will you ever get tired?

Chung Hsien shook his head. "The same with God! He loves to hear our praises and He dwells in a loving relationship with His children".

I have learnt many years ago, that in my work as a real estate agent, "Unless the Lord builds, I build in vain; Unless the Lord watches the city, the watchman watches in vain."

In everything, I can only do my best, and leave God to do the rest. Only then can I relax and not strive, stay cheerful and optimistic throughout the day.

Gan Chau

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And now a Husky saying "I Love You!"

Amazing Husky! His sentence, "I Love You" is quite clear.

How wonderful if man's best friends could talk.! Though dogs can't talk, most of them are in tune with their owners. Somehow they know what is going on, and are extremely sensitive to their owners' moods.

What is this world without dogs? It will be a square one for me!

Gan Chau

Salsa Dancing Dog

I received an email featuring a sala dancing dog! What a wonderful and intelligent Golden Retriever! The dog looks happy even as it is dancing! Kudos to the dog's trainer! Maybe this dog is also specially endowed by the Creator with a special gift for dancing! Maybe just like people, some dogs are more musical and artistic than others!

I am sure the video of the dancing dog will cheer everyone up.! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happiness is ........(20)


Popular Bollywood superstar, Amitabh Bachan

Aishwarya Rai - she is as talented as she is beautiful.

Dancing with Amitabh and Abishek Bachan - father and son
Aishwarya Rai, with Miss India and Miss World titles to her name.

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Happiness is staying at home on a lazy Saturday afternoon watching my favourite Vasantham channel which always features a Hindi movie between 4.00 to 7.p.m. However, I am rarely at home because Saturday is usually a busy day which is filled with house viewing or toastmasters' meetings and contests.

Hence I often try to arrange for viewings either on weekday evenings or Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon so that I could have the opportunity of watching my favourite Hindi programs.

Once I realised that my favourite movie, "Tare Zameen Pare", a movie directed and acted by Amir Khan was going to be shown on television. It is a story about a little boy who, unknown to his parents, was suffering from dyslexia. Even his teachers and classmates were unaware of his problems. It took a new arts teacher to spot the boy's problems, and encouraged by the teacher, the boy soon learnt to read and write, and won the best prize for his painting which was chosen be the cover page of the school's magazine.

I smsed to as many friends as I could, as I wanted to encourage them to watch the movie. One of them, Foon, later told me that she enjoyed the movie, and cried a bucketful of tears. She never realised that Hindi films could be so wonderful and it dawned upon her that the actors and actresses are really good looking and beautiful! My friend, Jeanelle Tan, enjoyed the movie so much that she started asking for more titles.

When I realised that "Ghajini" was going to be shown, I again smsed to my friends.
When Jeanelle realised she had to miss the program, she went to borrow a vcd from the National Library. I was extremely happy when some of my friends from toastmasters' clubs thanked me for recommending them the Hindi movies when I met them during one of the speech contests.

I had been privileged to be introduced to Hindi and Tamil movies by my parents. Hence it is also my happiness to recommend the movies to my friends so that they too will start to appreciate and realise that Indian movies have improved tremendously.
Gone are the dances around coconut tress. They are now portraying beautiful dancers with intricate steps and brilliantly-colored costumes. What I enjoy most about Indian movies are the plots that sometimes even confound me.

I guess when we watch Indian movies, it is value for money. We get an extra hour or two with the same price for the tickets to other movies.! "What is Your Rashee?" showed for 3 hours and 45 minutes! Watching movies at home gives me the opportunity to exercise at the same time, while watching movies at the cinema is great for the eyes and ears, with the big screen and good sound effect. The movies are not only entertaining, but they always leave spectators with an important message to carry home.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happiness is .......(19)




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For the past 26 years that I had stayed in Singapore, I only started visiting the cinemas regularly the past one year when I reached the age of 55, a special number for it means entitlement to 50% discount on tickets sold on weekdays for daytime showing.

You may describe me as stingy, frugal or even impractical, but frankly, watching movies and paying a hefty price for the tickets was never my priority. After all, I could watch interesting movies and serials on the television. While watching the programs I could also kill two birds with one stone by doing some aerobic exercises in the comfort of the home.

Yes, once my best friend, Soh Wah did take me to the cinema during the 1st day of Chinese New Year. Like a greenhorn, I was flabbergasted with the price of the tickets of $8.00 when I thought it should be only $4.00` "When was the last time you visited the cinema?", asked my friend. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the seat so spacious. "This is a lovers' seat lah", explained Soh Wah.

Halfway through the movie, I felt my eyes closing and decided to get up and do some exercise as the cinema only had a few patrons. Soh Wah laughed and said that I reminded her of Mr. Bean! My lively friend had a great time narrating the incident to her colleagues and family!

Happiness now is when I visit the Jade or Rex cinema for Hindi or Tamil movies! Happiness is walking to the cinemas as they are within walking distance from my apartment. Happiness is when I have a whole row of seats to myself, but I will be happier if the cinemas are filled up because it means more profits for the movie producers and cinema operators. However, in the day, most people are working, so it is not easy to fill up the seats, unless it is during school vacations. Hence I am fortunate that as a property agent, my time is flexible and I can watch movies during the week days, as most viewings are on weekends or during the evenings.

Recently I went to watch, "Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani", "The Amazing Story of Strange Love", a romantic comedy starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif as leading actor and actress.

"Prem's (Ranbir Kapoor) mission in life is very simple - be happy...make others happy...keep the town happy... But these supposedly simple actions usually result in disastrous consequences for Prem, the members of his Happy Club, and the town!

It may have been a case of mistaken identity that led Prem to kidnap Jenny (Katrina Kaif). And it was sheer greed that made Prem try to pull a fast one over her father. As for sweet and simple Jenny, brought up by indifferent and uncaring parents, all she longed was to love and be loved in return.

And it was love and only love for Jenny that made Prem turn over a new leaf. From being a flippant vagabond he began working hard to make money... From a besotted Romeo, he becomes a mature and thoughtful Majnu who put Jenny's happiness above everything else...As for Jenny...she was so much in love with the idea of being in love that she was blinded by the reality that was staring in her face. That's when she realises that she had made a mistake with her love." (From Wilkepdia).

Watch the movie to find out more.! I enjoy Indian movies because the plots are usually good and the dances and music are mesmerising. Some of my friends think that
the dancers only dance around a coconut tree, but Indian movies have progressed very much where the dance steps have become more intricate and artistic, and the clothes colorful and elegant. My tenants Jasmin and Avinesh told me that dances and songs are crucial in Indian movies. Without them, the movies would fail to attract viewers. I noticed that in "Slumdog Millionaire", the directors added some singing and dancing at the end of the movie.

My next movie will be "Kurbaan" (Sacrifice). The punchline of the film is, "Some love stories have blood written on them".

Join me, anyone?

Gan Chau

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Much Ado About Dogs and Punctuality!

If any of us has the habit of always being late for appointments, let us learn from dogs and their instinct of punctuality! Yes, you read me correctly. Dogs are not only able to feel the time but they are punctual to the very exact minute! I will share with you some real life examples to illustrate my point.

Every morning at about 11a.m. from Tuesdays to Sundays, our dog, Bobby, would leave the house and head for the market at Jelutong, Penang. He knew how to cross the busy road and walk towards his favourite butcher stalls where he would rest and wait for some butcher to throw a piece of dog bone for him to take home!

When he returned, he would take a rest under his favourite granite bench beneath the guava tree where he would rest for a while before enjoying his gift of bone or meat. The butchers have grown to love him and to accept his familiar sight at the market.

Strangely Bobby would never go to the market on Mondays because the butchers rested on Mondays! Gosh! How could he tell the time and days of the week? Doggy instinct, I guess.

My neighbour, Irin, shared with me that her two dogs, Bobby and Bibi, would eagerly wait by the door at 5p.m. onwards until kind Aunty Helen brings along her home cooked food. Helen has only started to cook food for the two dogs when Bibi was nursing her puppies.

To share another example, is the story of the famous dog, Hachiko. Every evening, Hatchiko would turn up at Shubuya Station to wait for his owner, Professor Ueno to return from the University. The faithful Akita did that day after day for ten years. After Professor Ueno's death from a stroke, his family gave Hachiko away, but the faithful dog escaped to return to Professor Ueno's house, When he realised that the professor was no longer living in the house, he would turn up punctually just when the train arrived at the station. Hachiko became a national icon, a dog famous for his loyalty and seen as a quality that all Japanese should emulate.

I am sure that other animals and insects too could instinctively feel the time, but I am not a zoologist. You can find the details in Google. Human beings too once had the same great instinct of time, but we gradually lose this instinct after we learn to look at clocks and watches!

My beloved dog, Kamlette would eagerly await my return when the sun started setting.
Sometimes, if I knew I was going to be very late, I would phone my tenant and he would bring the phone to Kamlette, and my tenant told me she would wag her tail when I spoke to her. "Be a good doggy and see you later in the night." My tenant told me that after the call, Kamlette would be less fretful and would put her head on the floor to rest.!

Let us as homo sapiens, excel over the animals with our punctuality of time!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Much Ado about Communication with Pandas and Dogs

English a must for S'pore-bound pandas

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 The New Paper

IT is time for her furry charge to learn a new language: English.

Attendant Xu Yalin has been caring for - and speaking in the Sichuan dialect - to the 2-year-old male giant panda cub she has named "Wujie".

Together with a 1-year-old female cub, Wujie will be sent to Singapore for joint research in 2011.

And Ms Xu is worried that Weijie will not understand his new attendants here if they speak to him in English.

Now, when she calls out to him in Sichuan, "Wujie, Wujie, come out to eat!" he immediately responds and leisurely ambles out of his "house" within the Ya An panda reserve in Sichuan province.

The moment he spies the "wo wo tou" snack Ms Xu has for him, his movements speed up and he runs to the centre of the outdoor yard, reported Lianhe Zaobao.

A "wo wo tou" is a small, cone-shaped steamed bread made of corn.

Wujie then grabs the snack with his paws, plops down onto the ground and starts munching.

As the crumbs drop all over the cub, Ms Xu explains that giant pandas have poor sight and have to relyontheir hearing and smell.

She says that she has always spoken to Wujie in the Sichuan dialect and wonders how he would adjust to English-speaking attendants in Singapore.

"It is now time for the attendants to train them to understand English," she says, glancing over as Wujie starts licking the "wowotou" remains off the ground.

Ms Xu and Wujie were both transferred to the Ya An panda research centre from the Wo Long centre after the massive earthquake destroyed the latter.

Many pandas had run off during the earthquake.

When things settled down, many of the pandas returned to the centre on their own.

For their safety, the Chinese authorities decided to move all the pandas to Ya An.

Ms Xu is in charge of caring for four pandas, including Wujie and his twin brother, Wujun.

With a smile, she says: "Wujie is lively and more obedient. He likes doing these little actions, like licking his feet and kissing other pandas' faces."

She says Wujie's father was born and bred in the wild so the young panda is of good stock.

Of Wujie's imminent move to Singapore, she says: "I feel very emotional and can't bear to see him go. If I have a chance, I'll definitely visit him in Singapore."

I smiled when I read the above article in the New Paper. What a relief! The male panda is called Wujie, and he is going to be bilingual in Chinese and English. Animals are clever and they learn fast!

My first pet dog, Kamlette, a mixed Golden Retriever, which had since passed away was multi-lingual! She learnt the words, "Kai kai." Later, she associated "Jalan Jalan" (Malay meaning walk, walk). As I did not want to get her overly excited, as it would take me a while to get ready, I decided to use different words when communicating with my siblings, so that Kamlette would not understand. However, Kamlette was a clever dog and soon picked up all the words in different languages associated with going out!

Once, I was going to send my ex-student, Carrie, back as it was quite late. However, I could not find her leash as it was not in the usual place. If I could not find her leash, it meant, I would not be able to take Kamlette for her favourite car-ride as well. I always took Kamlette along when I sent friends home or off at the airport. Kamlette loved to feel the wind on her face.

Seeing that I was desperate, Carrie suggested, "Ask Kamlette where her leash is", and she started to giggle, laughing at her own ludicrous idea.

Half in jest, I asked, "Kamlette, where is your leash?"

To my surprise, I could see her bending her head down as she squinted her eyes and racked her brains, and soon she lifted her head up and ran to the kitchen and started barking at the window panes.!

True enough, there was her leash, hanging from a handle on the window pane.! Carrie and I laughed with joy. It suddenly dawned upon me that dogs can think and recall!
I later found out that my tenant had taken Kamlette for a walk earlier in the day, and he had hung the leash at the window pane, instead of putting it back in its usual place.

Once I visited the Spastics Association in Ipoh, a centre established by Datuk Jeyaratnam. I visited one of the member's home. He was Raju, an Indian man who had fallen down while climbing a rambutan tree. His leg was badly injured and he had to be on wheelchair and crutches. Suddenly his pet dog, Shanti, was excited, and Raju said something to her in Tamil, and the dog got even more excited and ran towards the windows and started barking. Raju had told him that mother had come home. Shanti loved Raju's wife, and would always eagerly await her return from work.

How I envy Xu Ya Lin for her wonderful job of looking after some giant pandas. She will definitely be sad to see the pandas leaving for Singapore. Pandas are such gentle giants, and they will certainly bring joy to visitors at the new River Safari.

I am happy that we have so many things to look forward to in Singapore now - the new Integrated Resort, Entertainment Parks, new and additional MRT lines, and of favourite - the gaint Pandas!

Gan Chau

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Little Miss Bollywood


Cute and winsome Ayana



Ayana with her proud parents, Anu and Avinesh

Since I live in Little India, I thought it would be nice to take in some tenants from India. I can learn some Hindi from my tenants and perhaps learn to cook some Indian cuisine.

For about one and a half years, I have Ashok, Avinesh, Anu and Jasmin staying at my apartment, albeit at varying periods. When Anu was expecting her first child, she returned to India for a while so that her family could help to take care of her. Now both mother and child have joined Avinesh, who has since got a whole rental apartment for his family.

When I first saw Ayana, I smiled. She is so cute and adorable. Dressed in colorful clothes with silver trinkets on her little wrists and legs, she reminds me of the actresses and dancers from Bollywood! She is so lively and is ever ready to smile! The Indians are blessed with very lovely features - big, sparkling eyes, sharp noses and lovely complexion and raven black hair.

I am indeed grateful to my parents for having introduced Hindi movies to me ever since I was able to read in English for I could read the subtitles and enjoy the movies, and this memory of Bollywood movies has been etched in me all these years. Now, I am adding more movies to my repertoire, as Jade Cinema is within walking distance from my apartment. Best of all, I am blessed with the opportunity of meeting and living with the people from India in cosmopolitan Singapore! Indeed, I am looking forward to attending Jasmin's forthcoming wedding in India!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happiness is .......(18)

Everyday, I receive forwarded mails from my friends. I always feel happy when I read the forwarded mails.

In days of yore, I had seen some grandmothers putting spoonfuls of porridge into their mouths to cool the porridge before feeding them to their grandchildren. Of course, it was not the most hygienic thing to do, but people were less informed in those days. But the gesture was certainly one of love. I get the same feeling when I read forwarded mails by friends. It is as if they have already read and digested the articles, and felt that they were worthy to be passed on to be read.

Hence, I know that the articles must be interesting and worthy of being read. There are so many reading materials to be read, and choice becomes easier when friends forward the articles. In turn, I would also forward to some friends and relatives. Some of my friends who are not so computer-savvy, have even requested me to forward my blog articles to them. Some of the articles that my friends forward to me are so wonderful that I save them in a separate file so that I can re-read them when I have time or when I want to look for some information.

Hence, I am puzzled when a couple of friends have written to me, telling me not to forward them articles. Of course, I comply, but it often more than not, means an eventual non communication for a great length of time, and at the end, absolute non communication and the friendship gradually tapers off!

It is my belief that everyone who is literate must always carry on the habit of reading. No matter how busy a person is, he somehow will always find the time to read, for reading is like eating....sometimes a perfunctory action, but is nevertheless, a crucial habit. For as Sir Francis Bacon had said, "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."

It is ironical that people who have missed out on the opportunity of education, yearn to be able to distinguish the alphabets and Chinese characters. My two good friends, Amu and Rose who are illiterate wish they could read. Rose is taking up elementary Chinese and I try and help Amu to recognise simple words. Sometimes I would read out interesting articles to her, or show her interesting pictures on my computer. When I mention her in my blog, I would read out the article to her. Happiness is seeing the glow on Amu's face. Sometimes when I told Amu that I have appeared in my company's top thirty agents' advertisement, she would buy the Straits Times and cut out the advertisement and show it to her friends!

By now, having read the 18th article on happiness, my readers must be convinced that happiness can be gleaned from simple things - simple action such as receiving forwarded emails from my friends and relatives - for it means they love me and remember me and want to share with me what they have enjoyed.

So, my beloved relatives and friends, keep on forwarding articles to me. And remember to smile too, when you receive my forwarded mails.....

Gan Chau

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happiness is .....(17)

When I woke up, I saw that I had three sms in my mobile. One of them read, "Division D Champion Ng Cher Khim won!" and another read, "Your blog on pandas was quoted in the Sunday Times". It was so sweet of Geok Cheng to inform me via sms.

I phoned Amelia Ching to enquire about her sister-in-law, Geok Sim, as I was concerned about Geok Sim's health. Amelia told me she had just returned from Macau, and she told me that at the District 80 Convention Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contests, all the three top prizes were won by Singapore! Hip! Hip! Hurray!

I am so happy and though it was quite cloudy I thought the weather looked so bright! Psychological lah! When we are happy, everything looks extra brighter and more colorful! I am so oooo oooooo proud of our toastmasters! Kudos to the following for their wonderful effort:-

Humorous Speech Contest

1. Ng Cher Khim
2. Eric Feng
3. Wong Kok Wah

Evaluation Contest

1. Darren Tay
2. Wekie Tay
3. Pradeep Kumar

Without a shadow of doubt, the level of English in Singapore is quite high. I hope that more people will be able to participate in toastmasters' activities, so that they will continue to improve and become more articulate. It is a crying shame that there is so little publicity about toastmasters' activities. Many of my clients and friends have not heard of the toastmasters' movement, and even some of those who do, have a vague impression that it has something to do with toasting bread with butter!

If there had been more publicity about toastmasters' activities, I would have become a member decades ago, instead of only learning of the existence of toastmasters' clubs when my manager, Aveline Tan, invited me to join the Dennis Wee Group Toastmasters' Club. This is why I was so passionate and determined to complete all forty projects as soon as I possibly could, and am now on my journey to achieving the DTM award. Toastmasters' activities have also helped me to be stringent with my own time management and committment because once I make a promise that I would accept the role as language or project evaluator, I would fulfill my role. It is so wonderful to learn from others even as I contribute the little that I know.

Many of us have been brought up by conservative parents who believe that children should be seen and not heard. Hence, some adults - even the brilliant and educated ones are often tongue-tied in the company of strangers or people they barely know.
Toastmasters' activities will help people gain more confidence when they speak in public, be it on stage, or just mingling with the crowd.

Thank God for the late Ralph C. Smedley, the founder of the toastmasters' movement in 1924. It is now 75 years and the movement is still going strong throughout the world. I would encourage my readers who have yet to join a toastmasters' club to start looking for one near your home or workplace. May you enjoy your journey of lifelong learning.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Growing Up Together .....


Gloria and Phoebe enjoy playing with the puppies

Sophia is going to beg his parents to get them a dog soon!

United we sleep, together we wake up!

Puppies always have winsome looks!

On one of those rare Saturdays when I do not have house viewing, I enjoy staying at home to watch my favourite Vasantham Channel which shows Hindi movies. Hence, I was surprised when my nieces turned up at my door.! They had wanted to go to Sentosa Island but lost their way. Hence they decided to visit me instead!

The kids were actually eager to see Bibi's puppies. When they last saw Bibi, she was heavy with pups and was due to deliver soon. Now the pups are able to walk and even spar with one another! They have tiny teeth coming out and as Bibi is weaning the puppies, Irin also starts giving them soft food. They particularly love food made by Caesar. It gives me much joy just watching the puppies romping and playing with each other! Amazing! Just a few weeks ago, they were still sleeping most of the times, unable to open their eyes. Irin said that when she calls the pups by their names, they respond and would walk towards her!

Helen, my neighbour is adopting two pups and everyday, she would cook food for Bibi. Around the 5th of December, the puppies would be given to the respective adopted "mummies". Till todate, neighbours who have heard of the puppies have been popping around to ask Irin for a puppy! Hence I am fortunate that I will still be able to see four of Bibi's puppies growing up as Irin is keeping two of them and Helen is adopting two puppies. The puppies all look alike to me but Irin and Helen can differentiate them. I dare not go over everday to see the puppies for fear that I would be tempted to adopt a puppy.

What is this world without four-legged creatures? They make our lives more interesting and colorful!

Gan Chau
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Much Ado About Names for Dogs and Pandas

My friend, Rose, visited me yesterday. She would visit me at least once or twice a month when we would have fellowship and a meal together. Sometimes she would buy or prepare some food or I would cook lunch and we would chit chat or listen to music. Rose used to be a hairdresser, and though retired, she still retains her skill. Hence, she would trim my hair for me whenever necessary.

An animal lover, Rose is also excited about the prospect of the gifts of two pandas by the President of China. I shared with her my worry about the panda having the same name as me. "Ya, hor. Possible leh. Moreover Choo Choo is such a cute name, and you also remind me of a panda....yuan yuan, round round!", teased my mischievous friend.

I told Rose they already have a panda named Yuan Yuan. I really hope the name of Choo Choo will not materialise, or history will repeat itself! I will get teased all over again just like when I was in primary school. Friends would say, "Hey Choo, I thought I saw you at the zoo last week!"

I shared with Rose about sister Lee Lee's smugness and confidence that her name will never be used for the pandas.

"Am not so sure about that. Don't forget our Prime Minister's surname is Lee, and so is his papa!"

"For diplomatic relations, the Chinese will never name their panda Lee Lee lah," I said, and hence eldest sister is quite right!"

I told Rose about Irin's six puppies. She is keeping the eldest pup. Irin calls the first born, Brian. Her god sister, Carol is adopting a female pup and she is called Urn Urn, quite a nice name. I have urged Irin not to use Brian for the dog, but as his parents are called Bobby and Bibi, she wants to continue with a name starting with B.

"Maybe you can call him Bong Bong, but not Bang Bang. If you happen to shout for Bang Bang, someone might think there is some shooting going on!"

I also shared with Rose about our deceased beloved mongrel with the name of "Lai Im". Mum was adamant with the name she had chosen. One day, seeing that Lai Im had run off, mum shouted, "Lai Im, come back!" Suddenly a lady passing by kept turning her back, and she walked towards mum. "You call me?"

"Oh no, am calling for my dog....her name is Lai Im".

"Why must you all use names meant for human beings?" asked the lady, somewhat exasperated.

I can never forget that day, and promise myself that should I ever have a pet, I would give it a real doggy name. Hence my three pets are called, Kamlette, Kambobo, and Kam Xiaobai."

I hope the pandas will be given names like Puan Puan (for the female panda) and Gao Gao or Kuan Kuan (for the male panda). Gao means intelligent. Kuan means tall and majestic).

What's in a name? Plenty!

Gan Chau

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happiness is ...... (16)

Hip! Hip! Hooray! I scream with joy when I read that Chinese President Hu Jintao is going to loan Singapore two pandas! The pandas will arrive in the second half of 2011. I wonder what their names will be? Hope none of it is Choo Choo, as the Chinese have the tendency to name their pandas with repetitive single syllable names eg. Tuan Tuan, Xing Xing, Yuan Yuan, etc. Sister Lee Lee said that she is quite safe, as the Chinese would never call any Panda with a name that is often associated with actresses and cabaret singers! Now that I think of it, Choo Choo is a possibility because Choo in Chinese means "pearl" and Singapore is sometimes thought of as the Pearl of the Orient! If the name materialises, it would probably be spelt in Hanyu pinyin as "Zhu Zhu".

I have never seen a live panda before, and have been thinking of going to Chengdu to see the pandas. Now I don't have to travel that far. Pandas are so cute and huggable, especially the baby pandas. I have even been toying with the idea of being a volunteer at the Panda Reserves in Chengdu in the near future!

Sister Ean Ean is sometimes somewhat exasperated with my love for animals. "Everything also want to hug. Want to hug me or not?", she would tease me.

I detest poachers who kill pandas, tigers, leopards, etc. for their skin. If the Creator wants us to wear the fur of animals, I guess, He would have let all of us grow lovely fur on our bodies! Vegetarians also believe that man is made to consume fruits, beans, nuts and vegetables for we do not have teeth like wild animals which need to hunt for their prey. I do not blame the people of yore for hunting animals for their food and fur, but now, with modern technology, we can make lovely coats with synthetic materials. Hence, the poaching of animals should stop! Let us refrain from buying fur coats, because when the buying stops, the killing will also stop!

I just can't wait to see the pandas! I am happy that the Chinese Government is doing a great job to preserve the pandas. I thank God for having given us such a cute and unique creation of an animal that looks like a gentleman with dark glasses and white shirt and black waistcoat!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vietnam Toastmasters' Club


Amelia Ching, one of the humorous and wonderful evaluators with her excellent stage presence

Some of the participants at the Vietnam Toastmasters' Club

Daniel, the creative Table Topics Master

"Dear Lord, if you can't make me thin, at least make my friends fat!" This is my secret prayer too!
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One of my favourite clubs must be the Vietnam Toastmasters' Club, because each time I attend the club chapter meeting, I leave with renewed vigour and enthusiasm to continue with my toastmasters' journey. As the membership is quite big and many are keen to present their speeches, we have chapter meetings twice a month on Saturday morning.

Quek Geok Cheng, the current Division D Governor, was very kind to invite me to be one of the mentors of the club which she founded. Geok Cheng wanted to help me in this respect so that I could finally achieve my Distinguished Toastmasters' Award. I had at first thought of leaving it at that - completion of my Advanced Toastmasters' Gold, having completed 40 projects. I am the easily contented type, and perhaps need someone like Geok Cheng, to push me along the river of life. Seeing how passionate she is about the toastmasters' journey, I have also become more motivated.

Some visitors have shared that they thought it would be easy to evaluate since it is a club where the majority of the members would have Vietnamese Language as their mother tongue. However, many are impressed with the high level of English and presentation produced by the members. Most of the members are very diligent and passionate in what they do. You can see that they prepare their speeches with dexterity and are tenacious in their desire to present their speeches to the best of their ability. Most of them are young professionals working in Singapore.

During the previous chapter meeting at the SMU campus, I was the Language Evaluator. I noticed that the members have improved tremendously from the first meeting when I was their Language Evaluator some six months' ago.

I often enjoy preparing food together with Geok Cheng. If I had the time, I would cook. If the week had been a busy week, I would then order some food from my lovely neighbour, Helen. She makes excellent noodles and "lor mai fan" (glutinous rice) which the members like very much.

I shared with the members about the poster of the little baby which I placed outside my bedroom door. The baby pinches his little extra "blubber of fat" and the wordings read as "Dear Lord, if you can't make me thin, at least make my friends fat". This is also my secret prayer.!

Everyone laughed and it suddenly dawned upon them why I am like one of Macbeth's three witches who love to hang around the cooking pot! Happiness is seeing people enjoy the food I have prepared! I love attending toastmasters' meetings because there is always good food for the brain as well as for the stomach!

Gan Chau

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Never judge a person by his clothes!

I read with interest the article in the Newpaper yesterday about Madam Cheng Toan Ngor. Madam Cheng scavanges for cardboard boxes and even sleeps on them for fear of losing them. Agence France Presse (AFP) produced a less than two minutes video clip on her plight, on how she has to continue working despite her arthritis, etc.

I was extremely interested in the article, because I had met Madam Cheng before. The first time when I saw her, I was overcome with compassion and wanted to give her some money, but something held me back. There was that grim determination on her face, and she suddenly reminded me of a very old lady in a bus I met some 25 years ago in Edmonton. I had woken up at dawn to take the very first bus to do my part time work as a cleaner. Since I had the keys to the church, I thought it would be lovely to begin my day early, so that I could have more time for my research work in the university library. The old lady was seated at the seat nearest the entrance, and I noticed that her coat was not buttoned, revealing a blouse made of thin materials. It was snowing and the cold air was seeping into the bus each time the door was opened. I decided to help the old lady button her coat, and had a shock when she spanked my hands and boy, was it painful! So much strength coming from a frail, old lady! I was somewhat embarrassed, and fortunately there were only a few passengers in the bus.

I continued the rest of my journey thinking about the old lady. Where did she come from and what was she doing, taking a bus so early on a cold winter day.? I reminded myself that I should never judge a person by his clothes!

Likewise, when I first met Madam Cheng, I suppressed my good intention, and wondered about her. For all I know, her children could be doing well, and like some elderly people, she would prefer her freedom, despite her hard work. My guess was quite accurate for the report revealed that Madam Cheng even owns a private property and has children who are doing well. Her children who care for her but are helpless about her stubborn and independent streak.

I once met another lady, who looked somewhat unkempt with her thick, grayish hair and untidy clothes. She came to view the apartment that I was marketing. There were eight people talking in loud, excited tones in Cantonese, and I thought they were from Hong Kong. I was polite even though I did not understand Cantonese, and tried to be as professional as possible, and when the young couple, who had just started selling insurance, wanted to put down a cheque for the unit, I advised them to hold on. I was worried that having just started on the new line with less than three years experience, they would have difficulties getting a bank loan. I promised them that I would check with the banker first and if they were able to get a loan, I would let them have the apartment. "Even if you have a higher offer?" the elderly lady asked.

"Yes, I keep my promise. My word is my honour, because this is the price my client will definitely accept."

The following day, I told the couple that the bank insisted on looking at three years' of income tax returns on their latest profession, and to my surprise, they said, "Don't worry. My mother will be our banker. She will lend us and pay in full cash for us. Please come now to collect the cheque."

When I went to their home to do the paper work, I was pleasantly surprised by the huge bungalow sitting on 65,000 sq. ft. of land. The mother was very hospitable and served me coffee and cakes, and she told me she liked my transparency and straightforwardness, and taking care of her daughter's interest. She asked me to help her look for another unit for her in the same development.

Hence, we must never judge a book by its cover. We must never judge a person by his clothes and appearance! Sadly, many people are inclined to jump to hasty conclusion!

Gan Chau

Friday, November 06, 2009

Project Accomplished!


Toby - a good and quiet dog

Nicely rounded, Toby is huggable!

Toby with her expressive eyes
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Toby is so far the dog that I have taken care of for the longest period of time. I ended up looking after Toby longer than expected, for due to the delays in getting their new home ready in Dubai, Gayatri had postponed Toby's flight.

Of course I was happy when that happened, because it meant Toby could stay longer in Singapore. Gurion Ang, the toastmaster who is studying Zoology was right when he said, "Many people do not keep pugs. But once you have pugs, they grow on you!"
The first time I saw Toby, I wanted to laugh. For she reminded me of the three little pigs! Later I found her not only cute, but quite pretty too. In Mandarin, they say, "nai kan", meaning something looks more attractive the more you look at it.

Looking after someone's beloved dog proves to be an even heavier responsibility for me. How would I account to the owner should anything untoward happen to Toby?
Hence, every morning, I would pray for God to bless Toby. That Toby would not get sick. That Toby would not get diarrhoea, as she had the habit of picking up food she found on the ground whenever I took her for a walk. That Toby would be safe from danger and be not harmed. I was always vigilant and would stop Toby from picking up food whenever I took her out for a walk.

Whenever I was out of the home, I would hurry back to stay with Toby. Toby disliked to be alone in the home.

Thank God that by the time Toby was ready to fly to Dubai, she had always been healthy. She was never sick. Animals cannot talk, and I would be grieved if Toby ever fell sick. She would not be able to tell me where the pain was. I only had to worry about her diet, for Toby just loved food.....anything that is edible! Unlike my neighbour's dog, Bobby who is always suspicious of food, Toby would be just game to try anything that I ate. She must be thinking, "If it's good for humans, it must be good for me too". Nevertheless, she is an intelligent dog who seems to understand what I am saying. Once I said to her, "Toby, chocolate is tasty, but it is a no, no, for doggies, understand?" She looked at me with her expressive eyes, and walked forlornly away. I just love Toby!

When I learnt that eggs are good for prevention of cataract, I decided to give Toby some eggs twice a week. I would cut the egg into smaller pieces and press them with a fork after which I would mix her dry food with the egg.

Time seemed to fly! It was already three and a half months that I had looked after Toby! By then, the kids in my block had grown quite attached to Toby for they would come to my apartment to look for Toby. Each time I came back from an outing, Toby would dance round and round as if to welcome me home and to tell me how much she missed me. My ex-colleague, Mr. Ong, once told me that his dog would bark and jump with joy, eagerly awaiting his presence at the door, while his two teenage sons would just ignore him! "Better to have a dog, than children", he would lament.

It took me a little while to adjust to life without Toby. I miss her so much, and her photo is a wallpaper on my computer screen, so that I can see her photo before I start typing. May God continue to bless and protect Toby in her new abode in Dubai.

Though I decide not to dog-sit for a while, I know my heart would soften when someone requests me to help look after his dog again.

Gan Chau

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just to Ponder......

A friend, Soh Yah, sent me this email, and it sent me pondering over the issue.
My readers can read the email and start pondering too, and form their own opinions.

However, I must confess that ever since I read of how doctors always recommend chemotherapy for cancer, when it could be a better alternative to let patients try to get healed with the soursop fruits, or tea made from soursop leaves, I have become quite suspicious of drugs and vaccines. Is this the reason why so many doctors from the West are now coming to the East to explore and learn about herbal remedies?

"Hi everyone,
This is really important message. Please read it and pass on to everyone
you know, especially your loved ones and your friends. Do not fall into
the trap of these pharmaceutical companies. They are only interested in
their financial gains and not our health. They literally own our health
from the day we were born and as such are controlling our health
throughout our lives. They inject us with various types of vaccines from
the day we were born and they try to feed us with all the various
patented drugs throughout our lives. This is probably the main
why there are so many types of sicknesses and diseases now as compared
to 50 or 100 years ago. Please continue reading the message below and
you will get the picture.
Best regards,
-----Original Message-----

Guys, I'm Emailing you because I'm
bloody scared about something.

I created my Facebook group for fun, and to use it to market my
businesses to people. What I'm doing now totally
kills my ability to do that, but I don't care. This is important.

I'm a qualified pharmacist. I've been researching the swine flu vaccine
that our government has bought for us (using our money, by the way) and
its DANGEROUS AS. Its easy a hundred times more dangerous
than the swine
flu itself, Imo.

Something that freaked me out is that several swine flu vaccine
manufacturers have asked governments to give them an exemption from
lawsuits, in case the vaccine caused harm in people. If you made a
vaccine that you knew worked, then
why would you need a legal exemption in case it hurt people? Massive
warning sign. They don't believe its safe.

The swine flu itself has killed about 2/3000 people total. The regular
flu kills 40 000 plus per year - so why are we
freaking out about swine flu, and not normal flu? Does that make sense?

If the regular flu kills 40 000 plus per year, and the swine flu only
killed 2/3 000 - then why are governments
it in advance, giving it to us for free, and giving drug
manufacturers immunity to legal cases against them?
Does that make sense? No.

The swine flu vaccine contains 2 horribly dangerous compounds - one is
called thimerosol. It is made 50% of mercury.
It binds to receptors in your brain, and basically causes brain damage.
Is it smart to be injected with thimerosol,
and get brain damage, dropping 10 IQ points and going dumb, in order to
avoid getting a flu that kills 95% less
people than regular flu? No.

The other horrible ingredient is called squalene. Squalene
accidentally tricks your immune system into killing your own cells,
which creates autoimmune diseases like asthma, multiple scelerosis,
diabetes, and a bunch of diseases that we don't have a name for yet
(because squalene hasnt been used for that long, and we have little
on its effects)
- is is smart to inject yourself with that stuff, in order to avoid a
relatively mild flu, like the swine flu? No.

If you're a pregnant mother about to take Panvax, ask yourself this -
why would you take Panvax, when it contains
Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfate - both of which exhibit positive risk
to unborn children - so as to avoid what? A
mild flu, that kills 95% fewer people than the regular flu?

Look, I'm a funny guy. Yeah, I make good Facebook groups. People join
them by the thousands, and laugh. But I'm also a qualified pharmacist.
I scored in the top 0.1% of my state in school. I'm expert at critical
analysis of drugs and their effects on humans. And let me be blunt - if
someone came up to me with a syringe full of swine flu vaccine, or
came near my family with one - I would take the needle off them
poke them with it myself - followed by several
very hard punches. This stuff is poison. Don't take it. Don't let your
friends take it. Don't let your family take
it. If some idiot in a lab coat asks you if you want it, ask them about
thimerosol, squalene, and why the company
making it wants legal exemption from being sued, and watch their face
go into "OMG! I'm being asked serious questions
that I don't have the answer to" mode.

Anyway. I hope you're all well. Chat to you on Facebook sometime :)"


George Mamouzellos

Bachelor of Pharmacy

University of South Australia

Frankly, the above should not bother me, for I too am a believer of natural healing. The Creator has given us so many herbs, fruits and vegetables that help us to fight diseases, etc. that I am wary of having intake of things that are chemical. For example, instead of taking panadols when I have a headache, I would prefer to massage my forehead with tiger balm oil or go for foot reflexology.

Sister Ean Ean taught me a remedy for gout. I do not suffer from gout, but I will share with my readers the recipe which again proves that the Creator has provided us herbs, vegetables and fruits for our good health.


Wash two medium sized potatoes Brush it to ensure all dirt is removed. Cut into small pieces with the skin intact.

Pour seven coffee mugs of water into a pot. Bring the water to a boil.

Lower the heat, and simmer for one hour. Drink the water. After three to four days of intake, the excruciating pain from gout will be eliminated!


Boil two sweet potatoes with the skin intact. Mesh the potatoes, and add some honey and serve.

The sweet potatoes and honey sooth the stomach, and help to ease the discomfort from gastric pain.

I often brew Chinese herbs instead of always heading for the pharmacy. I believe in the old fashioned way of maintaining good health and that is to have sufficient exercise, sleep and good and healthy food.

I am reminded of the wordings, "Men spend their whole lives to get wealth; at the end they spend their wealth to get back their lives."

Hence it is vital for us to learn to let go; to learn when enough is enough.
Let others have the chance to create their own wealth; we do not have to earn all the wealth in the world because man is merely a mortal.

When Plants Are Deeply Rooted ...


The Adenium plants standing firm and proud, with the flowers intact.
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Just after the Division S Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contests at the Whampoa Community Club, the sky looked dark and formidable, with a storm in brew. My apartment is not too far, probably about 30 minutes walk. The weather was cool, and I decided to walk home.

As I was walking, I kept praying that it would not start to rain. "Oh God! Please hold the rain until I reach Pek Kio Food Centre". When I reached the Food Centre, the rain came down and soon, it was raining cats and dogs!

"Why are you so cheerful," asked the lady operating the fruits stall.

"I got here in the nick of time from the pouring rain! God answered my prayers". I replied.

As usual, I ordered my favourite dong dong juice, and spent my time reading the newspapers and classified advertisements. I knew it would be quite some time before the rain subsided. After about 90 minutes when the rain no longer came down in torrents, I decided to continue my journey home. I was wondering about my Adenium plants. Would they be broken? Would the flowers all drop off from the stems in the face of such strong winds?

When I got out of the lift, I noticed that my neighbour's clothes and hangers had dropped onto the floor. I was quite nervous about the fate of my Adenium plants.

Lo and behold! I was so happy to see the plants in just in the same condition before I left the apartment. Not a single flower had dropped! I felt as if I saw a rainbow after the storm!

That evening, I learnt an important lesson. The plants are able to face the storm because of the deep roots embedded in the soil. It had taken four years for the flowers to bloom, and hence, the resilience of the flowers. Likewise when we are deeply rooted in our foundation, we too will be strong in the face of adversities and troubles. We will not give up so easily, but will continue to persevere and our tenacity will give rise to success and strength.

Gan Chau

Monday, November 02, 2009

Ban These Contests!

I detest contests that are organised without taking into consideration the risks that contestants are subjecting themselves to. Worse, very often, these contestants are not screened for their health condition before participation.

Contests that promote gluttony in the name of speed not only make a fool of the contestants, but also promote food wastage. The unnecessary amount of food consumed by the contestants should be used to feed the starving children in third world countries. Eldest Sister Lee Lee told me that she once watched a program where a very fat man was able to consume many hamburgers. It looked like he was going to be the champion, but suddenly his stomach burst, and out came the burgers together with his intestines. What a horrendous ending, all in the name of competition.

Recently we read of a mother of three who participated in a drinking competition. She drank more than 7.5 litres of water, and worse, in order to win, the contestants must try not to go to the washroom. So much input! How can there be no out put? Brainless organisers with ridiculous rules and regulations.! The prize was a Nintendo Wii which she had hoped to win for her children. In the end the organisers were asked to pay millions of dollars in compensation for the death of Jennifer Strange, the mother who joined the senseless contest because she had hoped to win the Nintendo Wii for her children.!

The latest contest in Singapore, The Impreza Challenge, should also be banned. Contestants must put their palm on the car and must not move. The winner would be the one who clocks the longest time with his palm on the car. Last year's winner was someone who clocked in about 81 hours! Though many of the contestants are young people, we never quite know who may have hidden illnesses. Otherwise, how do we explain young people collapsing and dying while out jogging? Over exhaustion can kill if one is not in good health, eg. the Japanese lady who died of exhaustion because of 80 hours of overtime.

I hope all organisers will explore carefully, and come up with more creative ways for people to win prizes without endangering their lives. Must we wait for someone to join the heavenly choir before we finally realise the flippancy and futility of such contests?

The other contest which I dislike very much is the one where contestants are dared to sleep with snakes and scorpions, eat live worms and the raw intestines of fishes,
etc. Yucks!

My eldest sister Lee Lee has aptly said, "Even if the prize were $1,000,000/-, I would never participate. I would prefer to live simply, contentedly and with dignity.

Gan Chau

My Charming, Clever and Comical Sister


Sister Ean Ean posing at Bengawan Solo

From the photo, you can tell that Sis is a natural comedienne.

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Recently, my Sister Ean Ean was in Singapore for a short vacation. We went out for lunch and later some shopping.

Perhaps it is Sister Ean Ean who has fueled my burning desire to master the English Language. Being six years older than me, she was already in school, while I was still awaiting to be enrolled in Primary One. I often envied my sister and cousins for carrying big school bags and knowing how to read and write.

One day, Sister Ean Ean said to me, "Choo, you dislike Ah Pong, right".

I nodded my head, affirming my intense dislike of my cousin, Ah Pong, who at 12 years of age, was a real bully. If you beat him once, he would beat you back ten times, and he could run like a horse!

"Ok. Sis will teach you a sentence in English and you memorise this sentence, and when Ah Pong comes back from school this evening, you will say the sentence loudly and forcefully. Ah Pong will not dare to beat you, but will run for his life. Then
you will be victorious! "

Hence, I spent the whole day memorising the sentence in English. As the sun was slowly setting, I eagerly looked out for my cousin's return. Just when I saw him entering the gate, I eagerly called out to him, "Ah Pong, come, come here!"

"What? What?" Ah Pong replied in his typical sneering and sarcastic manner.

"Ah Pong, today I want to tell you I love you very, very much!" I declared, hoping that my forceful voice would scare him off.

And to my surprise, it did. Ah Pong ran for his life, just the way Sister Ean Ean had predicted. I flexed my right arm to show my muscles so as to demonstrate my victory! Alas! Pride before the fall!

Just then, I heard laughter from Sister, my older siblings and some relatives.

"Ee ee, shame on you, Choo. You'd been tricked!", Second Sister Ean Ean said, laughing like a hyena.

When I realised the gravity of the situation, I was so embarrassed I ran to hide behind the chicken coop, since there was no hole big enough to swallow me in.
When the mosquitoes came a-biting, only then did I come out and rush to my room, in tears, and with a promise that I would learn and master the English Language so that no one would trick me again.

Sister Ean Ean is very musical, being able to play the violin, piano (self taught), drum, guitar, ukulele and accordion. She sings well and is also a natural actress and comedienne. It's a pity she does not live in Singapore or I would urge her to sign up with Media Corp. With her natural sense of humour and mimicry, she always sends me roaring with laughter. My older siblings are also comical, but Sister Ean Ean is the creme de la creme! By now, my readers must be convinced that I am bloated with air of laughter, not obese with intake of food!

Sister is also an excellent cook, again a skill she picked up after her marriage for she certainly believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Hence it is not surprising that brother-in-law Keat Seng has a conspicuous tummy!

Before her retirement, Sister taught in the kindergarten. She never had any formal training, but produced great results with the children she taught. Sister Ean Ean has given me a few wonderful recipes for healing of gout and gastric pain and related stomach ailment which I will share later on.

As a pastor's wife, she is a wonderful partner in helping in the area of Music in the Evangelical Chinese Church in Melbourne. Like Sister Lee Lee, she is a natural speaker and again, should be able to be a champion in public speaking contests.

Second Sister Ean Ean like Eldest Sister Lee Lee, resembles mama - hence she is beautiful and attractive too. Now, she is enjoying the fruits of her labour, and is travelling more often to visit Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the world.

I thank God for my siblings, and especially for bestowing Sister Ean Ean with a rare gift - that of bringing joy and laughter where ever she goes, just like our beloved papa. Her maxim is as you can guess it, "Laughter is good medicine for the body and makes a person healthy."

Gan Chau

Bibi's puppies are now learning to walk!


One little two, little three, little four steps!

Bobby, the proud father, giving his little one a piggy back ride.

Bobby, looking so proud and contented with Bibi and newborn puppies!

I look great, because both my papa and mama are also good looking dogs!

"Wow! The puppies have grown. Didn't see them for a few days and they are so big now. And can even walk!" exclaimed my lovely neighbour, Helen.

Helen has been very kind in often cooking delicious food for Bobby and Bibi whenever she has time. Irin, the dogs' owner proudly told us that now, Bobby has accepted the puppies! Amazing animal instinct.

The puppies look so cute and adorable. It is amazing that Bibi would lie down contentedly for the puppies to have their meal times. Sometimes, the puppies would pull at the nipples a little too hard, and it is wonderful that Bibi never snaps back but demonstrates her mother's love for her pups.

When I look at the pups it reminds me of the stray dog in Clementi where I used to live. The dog, whom everyone affectionately calls Lucky, is very clever and obedient and dog lovers in the neighbourhood just dote on her. I had been extremely busy at one period and hence did not get to see Lucky for a while. When I saw Lucky again, I realised that she had enlarged breasts which meant that she must have given birth!

I also found out that she has been adopted by a kind neighbour, Uncle Lim, a retiree, who lives in the next block. Lucky's new owner told me that she had given birth to 8 puppies in the void deck and the Authorities had taken the puppies away! How cruel! They should at least have waited for Lucky to breast feed her puppies so that her milk could be taken by the puppies who could have a better chance to fight for themselves. This was the reason why he decided to adopt Lucky.

It is amazing how Lucky could go up and down on his own using the lift. He would wait till someone gets in. By then, all the neighbours know her new owner lives on the 12th floor and they would press the button for her. I am glad that Lucky can still roam around on her own, and still have a home and food to come back to.

As my friend, Melinda, likes to say, "I'd rather have a dog for a friend than ten human beings as lousy friends."

Indeed, over the years, as I become more interested in animals, especially dogs, I realise I have learnt so many things, especially on what it means to be faithful, forgiving, and loving unconditionally.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent? (14)

My client, Miss Ong, had sent me an sms, informing me to get in touch with the developer's contractor, because her tenants had complained of white ants attacking the parquet flooring in her brand new condominium!

When I called the developer's contractor, to my surprise, he asked, "Are the ants small or big? If small, no need to worry lah. Some people, hor, also complain about small ants."

"Oh no! You should get rid of the ants when they are small. If they get bigger, all the wood in the apartment would be gone. And if they get any fatter, why, the building, may even collapse! You don't play, play, hor," I replied somewhat exasperated and amused at the same time.

Poor Miss Ong. As a high flyer, she jets around the Asia Pacific Region, and I do not want her to worry unnecessarily while she is still in the Philippines on business, handling tough clients and an unfriendly weather.

I was relieved when I received my client's call, just before the commencement of the Division S Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest that she had arrived in Singapore, despite an impending typhoon that threatens to hit Manila on the very day of her departure.

Never underestimate the power and danger of white ants. Little insects like ants are even more cooperative than human beings. They are tiny yet tenacious and united, and an army of hardworking ants can destroy furniture and buildings, if not exterminated on time!

Sometimes when I am lazy or feel like giving up, I think of ants and their unique characteristics and I pull up my socks again. I am God's highest form of creation, and I must never allow any of his lesser creation be more diligent, united and tenacious than me!

Gan Chau