Sunday, May 30, 2010

Poetic Justice

May 29, 2010 (yesterday)Poetic justice?from KoSong by KoSong Cafe
Excerpts from Lim Kit Siang's 'An Inspirational story' by Justin Hong:

I was 18 in 1997. I came home, half completed my high school in England because my father became a bankrupt. He was a contractor bankrupted because the licensee, Taib’s uncle, defaulted on paying royalty to the Government. He pocketed all the money my father had given.

Together with 6 of my friends we went to Komat in Sama Jaya to look for jobs as they only required MCE. I wanted to help out the family.

The HR lady was an Iban, on our turn she refused to give us application forms and demanded to see our qualifications. Without even understanding us, we were turned away. On further enquiry from us, she said, the 250 posts were all filled. It was 10.25am and the application counter had just opened at 9.30am. She asked the guard to show us out.

Komat repeated publication for the posts for another week. We went back again and again were rejected. This time she asked us to look for jobs in China.

My uncle promptly helped the six of us to look for jobs from his contacts. Ironically, we all ended up in Shenzhen China, working in a micro circuitboard plant.

Today my company has been operating in Penang for 6 months. We are employing 200 people.

I was conducting interviews for senior staff for the jobs. One of the people that came in for the interview was the same Iban lady from Komat 10+ years ago. The lady who turned me away. The lady who told me I was not eligible for the job. The lady who told me the posts were filled when yet to select the first applicant of 250 and the lady who asked me to go to China to look for a job.

I had the satisfaction of telling her all these if I wanted to. Instead I listened to all her talk about how great she had done in her former employment and now she was out on a huge VSS. How well she will do for me with her experience and how much she would like to work for a Chinese boss. She said she is the daughter of an influential bumiputra man and her husband is doing well in business. I let her rave on with her diatribe.

Finally, when she realised she the one doing all the talking and I was not even asking questions, she stopped.

Finally I said, I know her. She was shocked, for now I was properly suited up and not in T-shirt and jeans like the first time we met.

I simply said I like to thank her for asking me to go back to China to look for work. I did, I made it and what she is seeing today and the brochure I placed infront of her is in fact the SUCCESS from disgust and disappointment of being a Malaysian Chinese!!


It was also an excellent example of how an apparent setback in life could be a blessing in disguise! I am sure there are many more such success stories resulting from our unfair system of administration.

The more the government favours certain people, the less fit they become; those discriminated against would come out tougher and get going when the going gets tough.
It is probably the law of nature, and can be seen even in family situations.

I came across the above posting in one of my followers' blog by KoSong Cafe. The blog has many interesting articles.

The above article reminded me of the time when I just came back from completion of my tertiary education at the University of Alberta. I visited my eldest sister in Kuching, Sarawak and had the intention of finding perhaps a temporary teaching job to while away my time while on a three months' vacation. To my surprise, the Malaysian Government did not recognise my B.A. degree, and as I had only completed my studies up to Form Five with a Malaysian Certificate of Education, the government would only recognise the MCE and the pay offered to me was a paltry sum. I told my sister I might as well enjoy my vacation .

When I visited my eldest brother in Singapore, I was surprised the Regional English Language Centre immediately gave me a part time teaching post and the pay was attractive. When I applied for training with the then Insitute of Education, I was immediately accepted and a year after graudation, the government offered me citizenship! Malaysia has not welcomed her own physicians; can she blame the brain drain of her people.? The standard of English in the country is so weak, and now Malaysia has to spend so much money to employ English teachers from England and the West!

KoSong Cafe was right to say that an apparent setback in life could sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Hence, it is important that we always keep up our spirit, for when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Papa has always reminded us that life is not always a rose garden; we have to prepare the beds of soil and grow the rose plants, and in the process be somtimes pricked by the thorns. However, if we persevere, we would soon see the beauty of the roses in the garden of life.

Gan Cao

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Flowers - Huge and Small !




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My friend, Bilora Chowdhury sent me pictures of the world's largest flower!

LARGEST FLOWER IN THE WORLD . It's amazing. Enjoy.

"the most beautiful things in the world must be seen from the heart"
Alta Rahman

Largest flower in world....

The largest flower in the world was blossoming in Blanco , Veracruz , Mexico .

2 meters high and weighing 75 kilos, it has the peculiarity of blooming only

during three days every 40 years.

You'd only see it once or twice in a lifetime!

Shouldn't this qualify as the "8th Wonder of the World"?

The small blue flowers were taken by me when I took Toby, Gayatri's cute pug for a morning walk with Suffie and Wendy.

Observe how perfectly shaped each petal is. I can never be sad or upset for too long for when I see God's handiworks in His creation of flowers, animals, rocks, etc. I feel His sweet presence, and my spirit will soar like an eagle! Thank you Lord for your wonderful and awesome creation!

Gan Cao

Lessons We Can Learn from the Swallows!


Here his wife is injured and the condition is fatal.
She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road. The husband tried to feed
her with food he had found.


He was shocked to find her lifeless and not responding to his calls.


The swallows cried for his loved one. "Wake up, wake up, my precious one!"

The husband cried and mourned for the deceased partner.
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The above email was sent to me by my animal lover friend, Melinda. For my readers who have yet to read the above article, I hope you will be just as touched as the millions who have read the article.

"Millions of people cried after watching this picture in America and Europe and even in India . It is said that the photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the most famous newspaper in France . All copies of that newspaper were sold out on the day these pictures were published. And many people think animals don't have brains or feelings."

I hope that as homo sapiens, God's highest form of creation, we will excel better than the living creatures in our attitude towards our family, our loved ones and even the four legged creatures and birds of the air.!

What a beautiful world we live in, and the world will be made even more beautiful if we treasure everything in it, and take good care of everything, big and small.

Gan Cao

Friday, May 28, 2010

Current Account Balance

My friend, Shan Chin, sent me an email on the current account balance of countries
in the world. I remember once my sister's friend commented that I was too stingy, and that I should spend to make the economy grow! Hence, whenever I take a taxi, I would tell the taxi driver what my sister's friend had said, and the taxi drivers would always give me a smile. I am someone who would rather take a bus or train than to spend on taxi fares.

Singapore is No. 10, Malaysia is No. 17.. check who is No.163?

INTERESTING ARTICLE on Current Account Balance (please read the article below)
Rank Country Current account balance (million US $)

1 People's Republic of China (PRC) 179,100
2 Japan 174,400
3 Germany 134,800
4 Russia 105,300
5 Saudi Arabia 103,800
6 Norway 63,330
7 Switzerland 50,440
8 Netherlands 50,170
9 Kuwait 40,750
10 Singapore 35,580
11 Venezuela 31,820
12 Sweden 28,610
13 United Arab Emirates 26,890
14 Algeria 25,800
15 Hong Kong 20,900
16 Canada 20,560
17 Malaysia 17,860
18 Libya 14,500
19 Brazil 13,500
20 Iran 13,130
21 Nigeria 12,590
22 Qatar 12,510
23 Taiwan 9,700
24 Finland 8,749
25 Iraq 8,134
26 Angola 7,700
27 Oman 7,097
28 Belgium 6,925
29 Austria 5,913
30 Argentina 5,810
31 Chile 5,063
32 Denmark 4,941
33 Philippines 4,900
34 Luxembourg 4,630
35 Trinidad and Tobago 3,259
36 Azerbaijan 2,737
37 Egypt 2,697
38 Korea , South 2,000
39 Bahrain 1,999
40 Gabon 1,807
41 Botswana 1,698
42 Yemen 1,690
43 Indonesia 1,636
44 Peru 1,515
45 Israel 1,643
46 Uzbekistan 1,410
47 Burma 1,247
48 Republic of the Congo 1,215
49 Vietnam 1,029
50 Ecuador 727
51 Bolivia 688
52 Papua New Guinea 661
53 Namibia 572
54 Ivory Coast 460
55 Cameroon 419
56 Morocco 389
57 Bangladesh 339
58 Turkmenistan 321.2
59 Equatorial Guinea 175
60 British Virgin Islands 134.3 (1999)
61 Kazakhstan 113
62 Cook Islands 26.67 (2005)
63 Palau 15.09 (2004)
64 Tuvalu 2.323 (1998)
65 Samoa -2.428 (2004)
66 Tonga -4.321 (2005)
67 Comoros -17 (2005)
68 Kiribati -19.87 (2004)
69 Swaziland -23.13
70 São Tomé and Pr íncipe -24.4
71 Vanuatu -28.35 (2003)
72 Federated States of Micronesia-34.3 (2005)
73 Anguilla -42.87 (2003)
74 Cape Verde -44.43
75 The Gambia - 54.61
76 Burundi -57.84
77 Haiti -58..72
78 Tajikistan -73.95
79 Lesotho -75.44
80 Seychelles -78.59
81 Antigua and Barbuda -83.4 (2004)
82 Guyana - 84.3
83 Rwanda -104.1
84 Honduras -160
85 Zambia -165.4
86 Republic of Macedonia -167
87 Belize -173.4
88 Malawi -186
89 Ghana -219
90 Armenia -247.3
91 Togo -261.9
92 Zimbabwe - 264.6
93 Kyrgyzstan -287.3
94 Paraguay -300
95 Chad -324.1
96 Benin -342.7
97 Guinea -344
98 Cambodia -369
99 Mexico -400.1
100 Uganda -423
101 Eritrea -440.5
102 Mozambique -444.4
103 Fiji -465.8
104 Panama -467
105 Madagascar -504
106 Laos -404.2
107 Belarus -511.8
108 Syria -529
109 Moldova -561
110 Uruguay -600
111 Burkina Faso -604.6
112 Mauritius -651
113 Albania -679.9
114 Georgia -735
115 Tunisia -760
116 Slovenia -789.2
117 Nicaragua -883
118 Senegal -895.2
119 Thailand - 899.4
120 Tanzania -906
121 Malta -966.2
122 Jamaica -970
123 Cyprus -1,051
124 El Salvador -1,059
125 Sri Lanka -1,118
126 Kenya -1,119
127 Dominican Republic -1,124
128 Costa Rica -1,176
129 Cuba -1,218
130 Guatemala -1,533
131 Bosnia and Herzegovina -1,730
132 Estonia -1,919
133 Ukraine -1,933
134 Colombia -2,219
135 Serbia -2,451 (2005)
136 Latvia -2,538
137 Lithuania -2,572
138 Jordan -2,834
139 Croatia -2,892
140 Iceland -2,932
141 Ethiopia -3,384
142 Slovakia -3,781
143 Czech Republic -4,352
144 Sudan -4,510
145 Poland -4,548
146 Bulgaria -5,100
147 Lebanon -5,339
148 Pakistan -5,486
149 New Zealand -7,944
150 Hungary -8,392
151 Ireland -9,450
152 Romania -12,450
153 South Africa -12,690
154 Portugal -16,750
155 Greece -21,370 ?!!?!?!?!! (should go further down south by now)
156 Italy -23,730
157 Turkey -25,990
158 India -26,400
159 France -38,000
160 Australia -41,620
161 United Kingdom -57,680
162 Spain -98,600
163 United States -862,300

Saving is sin, and spending is virtue...
Interesting article written by an Indian Economist

Japanese save a lot. They do not spend much. Also Japan exports far more
than it imports. Has an annual trade surplus of over 100 billions. Yet
Japanese economy is considered weak, even collapsing.

Americans spend, save little. Also US imports more than it exports. Has an
annual trade deficit of over $400 billion. Yet, the American economy is
considered strong and trusted to get stronger.

But where from do Americans get money to spend?

They borrow from Japan , China and even India .
Virtually others save for the US to spend. Global savings are mostly
invested in US, in dollars.

India itself keeps its foreign currency assets of over $50 billions in US
securities. China has sunk over $160 billion in US securities. Japan 's
stakes in US securities is in trillions.


The US has taken over $5 trillion from the world. So, as the world saves for
the US, Americans spend freely. Today, to keep the US consumption going,
that is for the US economy to work, other countries have to remit $180
billion every quarter, which is $2 billion a day, to the US !

A Chinese economist asked a neat question. Who has invested more, US in
China , or China in US? The US has invested in China less than half of what
China has invested in US.

The same is the case with India . We have invested in US over $50 billion.
But the US has invested less than $20 billion in India .

Why the world is after US?

The secret lies in the American spending, that they hardly save. In fact
they use their credit cards to spend their future income. That the US
spends is what makes it attractive to export to the US . So US imports more
than what it exports year after year.

The result:

The world is dependent on US consumption for its growth. By its deepening
culture of consumption, the US has habituated the world to feed on US
consumption. But as the US needs money to finance its consumption, the world
provides the money.

It's like a shopkeeper providing the money to a customer so that the
customer keeps buying from the shop. If the customer will not buy, the shop
won't have business, unless the shopkeeper funds him. The US is like the
lucky customer. And the world is like the helpless shopkeeper financier.

Who is America 's biggest shopkeeper financier? Japan of course. Yet it's
Japan which is regarded as weak. Modern economists complain that Japanese do
not spend, so they do not grow. To force the Japanese to spend, the Japanese
government exerted itself, reduced the savings rates, even charged the

Even then the Japanese did not spend (habits don't change, even with taxes,
do they?).. Their traditional postal savings alone is over $1.2 trillions,
about three times the Indian GDP. Thus, savings, far from being the strength
of Japan , has become its pain.

Hence, what is the lesson?

That is, a nation cannot grow unless the people spend, not save. Not just
spend, but borrow and spend.

Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, the famous Indian-born economist in the US , told
Manmohan Singh that Indians wastefully save.. Ask them to spend, on imported
cars and, seriously, even on cosmetics! This will put India on a growth
curve. This is one of the reason for MNC's coming down to India , seeing the
consumer spending.

'Saving is sin, and spending is virtue.'

But before you follow this neo economics, get some fools to save so that you
can borrow from them and spend!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Happiness is .......(37)

Happiness is when I don't have to rush off for an appointment early in the morning.
That means I can turn on my computer and check my emails. Happiness is when I receive interesting articles that tickle my funny bones and make me laugh! What a great way to start a new day!

This morning is such a day. When I read the email from my doggy lover friend, Melinda, I burst out laughing! I am sure my readers' funny bones will be tickled too. Laugh and have a great day!

Whether you own a dog or not, you must appreciate the efforts of this owner to sell her dog. Read the sales pitch below!

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Dog For Sale

Free to good home. Excellent guard dog. Owner cannot afford to feed him anymore, as there are no more drug pushers, thieves, murderers, or molesters left in the neighborhood for him to eat. Most of them knew Jethro only by his Chinese Street name, Ho Lee Schitt.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent?......(25)

It is good that now the government has tightened some of the rules such as compulsory courses for agents to undergo and putting the minimum of four O levels as the basic qualification.

I would also appreciate if the authorities could come up with more rules to help make it more viable for agents in their service to clients.

My recruit, Adeline shared with me that she took some clients from a foreign bank to look for a studio unit for rental. She drove them around to view some seven units, and the ERP charges came to quite a substantial sum. She asked if the bank would cover her expenditure on petrol, ERP, etc. However, the bank officers asserted that they would not have to pay, to which my well-informed and witty agent asked why the bank would charge for almost every little service they provide to customers.!

Another agent who does not drive, had to take her clients around in a taxi for three consecutive weekends, incurring a few hundred dollars in taxi fares. At the end, the clients found a rental unit with another agent.!

Once, an acquaintance from a toastmasters' club called me to ask me for help to look for an apartment as her apartment had been enblocked.

"You don't drive, right. That could be a problem."

I told her I don't drive, and if she expects me to chauffeur her around, that would be her problem. Because my problem is to find a good unit for my clients, a unit that is of good value and which will definitely reap them a good profit should they want to sell in the future. I decided not to serve the acquaintance from the toastmasters' club. I join the toastmasters' club and the church for the love of public speaking and worshipping God, and not as avenues to get more business.

I believe in working smart, and not just hard. My clients who understand my knowledge and expertise are not concerned about my not being able to drive; to them it is more important that I recommend them good properties.

Perhaps it is time that the authorities come up with a rule that when agents bring their clients to view a property, the clients would have to pay a token sum of say, $30 per viewing. Then agents would not be taken around for a ride, for free viewing could translate into indecisiveness and indifference on the part of buyers or tenants. I know of one diligent but overly enthusiastic agent who took his clients to view some 65 HDB the end the clients decided to buy a brand new unit directly from HDB!

Whenever I have a viewing, the clients will meet me at the units. When clients make an effort to go on their own for a viewing, they would take the viewing more seriously. I do not drive because of my vertigo problem, but I guess even if I do drive, I will focus more on my knowledge and understanding of the property market, so that I will give sound and honest advice to clients at all times. This is my priority and my absolute duty, for I am dealing with clients' hard-earned money.

Gan Cao

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happiness is ......(36)


Dayton has a strong fighting spirit, despite his disabilities.

Dayton's love for dogs is obvious.

Off he goes, like a pro!

Look ma! Dayton and his balancing act!
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My friend Shan Chin had forwarded me the above email - an inspiring story of Dayton
Hennessy. Happiness is when friends, despite their busy schedules, forward me worthy materials for reading - articles which are uplifting and inspiring.

The above pictures are of an 11 yr old boy, Dayton Hennessey from Virginia. He sets a remarkable example of will power and courage. Due to a severe bacterial infection he was on the brink of death but was saved by amputating both arms and legs. Although he is without arms and legs, but in spirit he scores higher than us who have intact arms and legs. What a wonderful zest Dayton has for life!

I just had my violin lessons earlier this evening, and I was happy for despite the pain in my hands, I managed to play quite well for my teacher. It is extremely challenging for short, little fingers like mine to play third position on the G string, but I was determined when I practised to overcome the difficulty. I practised very hard the past few days and went through the scales again and again, until I could play them well. As the duration for my violin lessons is only thirty minutes, I want to ensure that I will play well enough so that my teacher could pass me and I could progress to learn new pieces.

I am thankful that my beloved papa had encouraged me to play the piano. I guess when playing octaves, my fingers must have been stretched and hence the continuous stretching had helped a little in the growth; otherwise I might have ended up with even shorter fingers! I remember when I played, "The Maiden's Prayer" on the piano for my school concert, one of my friends complimented me when she realised that my fingers were really short. She had much longer fingers than me, but found the piece difficult to play. I guess it is mind over body.

I had once complained about having short fingers and yearned to have longer ones. However, each time I remember Nick Vujicic and Lena Maria, and peace and contentment fill my heart. Now I will also remember Dayton Hennessy and the joyful expression on his face and his huge zest for life!

Portraits of our lives we paint,
meandering through difficult paths.
Will our lives be colorful or faint,
It's for us, the artists to carve!

Gan Cao

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happiness is .....(35)


My two recruits, Jack and Adeline
A lunch treat from Division Group Director, Aveline Tan, seated next to Jack.
The gentleman beside Aveline is William, Aveline's husband. Yours truly standing
behind Maya.

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Our Division Group Director of Dennis Wee Group, Aveline Tan, insisted on giving me and my small group of recruits a lunch treat. She had suggested lunch at Laguna Park, but I thought it would be more economical to lunch at the Cafe Terrace at Raffles Town Club. Moreover, the location of Raffles Town Club is more central and accessible to everyone.

Happiness is when we have a good relationship with colleagues. Happiness is also when I leave my company at the peak of my performance and not when I am not doing well. My client, Geok Sim, shared how she left her company at the peak of her career. Happiness is also when my bosses understand that even when it would be wonderful to retain me, it is also time for me to move on to other pastures to try new things. And in this instance, when I would try my hands at training, something close to my heart. For teaching is and will always be my first love, as much as I enjoy selling real estate. Happiness is being able to teach and sell simultaneously.

My working partner, Dickson, with whom I often cobroke has often asked me to join his company at OrangeTee. However, as the office is located at Lower Delta Road and is not so easily accessible, I only decided to join Dickson when the office is relocated at Toa Payoh. Since I do not drive, it is of paramount importance for me to join a company which is near an mrt station.

Frankly, it is easier to stay put as I am so used to the system. Change is something many of us do not welcome as much, for it requires effort, adaptation, re-learning, etc. Yet change is imperative if we want to move around to try new things.

Gan Cao

Happiness is .......(34)

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I had observed a number of times that little birds with sharp pointed beaks and feathers with shades of yellow, light brown and orange have been hovering around my plant. This plant has sprouted with a luxuriant growth of healthy, green curry leaves. The plant was given to me by my best friend, Amu about two years ago.

I could not take photos of the birds because they are very shy for when I go near them, they would fly away and would not return. Hence, I could only have the joy and pleasure of observing them eating the curry leaves.

Once my neighbour asked me, "Choo, why don't you shoo the birds away. Your plant is becoming bald."

"Don't worry, Mrs. Pandu. Let the birds enjoy the leaves. If they like the leaves it means the birds must be feeling unwell, and the leaves are like medicine to them.
Living creatures know how to find their own medication.!"

The birds don't always come for the leaves, only occasionally. Interestingly, the leaves will grow back even more luxuriantly than before! Indeed it is more blessed to give than to receive, for like the Sea of Galilee, the curry plant thrives even more healthily and luxuriantly!

An email from a friend, Bilora Chowdhury, confirms my thoughts about the goodness of curry leaves. The above article reveals the goodness of curry leaves.

Even little creatures like birds know the goodness of curry leaves! What a wonderful world we are living in, and happiness is knowing that the Creator has provided so many types of plants and herbs for his Creation!

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Man Mountain, Man Sea!"

The huge crowds of passengers that could be seen during the peak hours of the day!

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I first visited China in June 1988, just a year before the Tienanmen Massacre. I could still remember my culture shock when I saw so many people on bicycles in Shanghai. "Ren san, ren hai!" declared plump Uncle Hsu who was one of the group members. I was only starting to learn some Mandarin, and I translated literally, "Man mountain, man sea". Oh! I see. What an accurate and vivid description of the massive gathering of people.!

Of late, I have noticed that our little island of Singapore is also getting very crowded. I remember that when one took a train during the non peak hours, one would still be able to find a seat. Now it seems that the mrt is always crowded with people the whole day long. During peak hours, the trains are like containers of packed sardines.

I guess in China it is still alright to have "man mountain, man sea" because the country is enormous. However, in our tiny island of Singapore, some people like myself, might feel somewhat claustrophobic. Even my best friend, Amu, just shared with me that she often prefers to take a 15 minutes walk to the mrt station to taking the crowded bus during the peak hours.

Even for someone like me who is not familiar with buying stocks and shares, I dare to bet my three beloved doggies, Kamlette, Kambobo and Kam Xiaobai, that MRT shares are definitely good to acquire - the price will definitely go up and up, as more lines are added and cars are getting beyond the reach of many.

Gan Cao

Just to Ponder.....

I received an email from a friend, Pradeep, an eloquent toastmaster.....naturally for he is a shrewd lawyer as well. I appreciate how he still finds time to forward
interesting emails to his friends.

"Worth reading!

For those who missed this article in the Straits Times.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Probably the best ST Forum letter I've ever read!

"I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Diary of a reformed elitist

I AM as Rafflesian/Raffles Girls' School (RGS)/'elite' as they come. My father was a Raffles Institution boy; I went through Raffles Girls' Primary School (RGPS), RGS, then Raffles Junior College , then on to the National University of Singapore, boarding at Raffles Hall.

My sisters went through much the same route. My little girls are in RGPS.

I recognise the syndrome Ms Sandra Leong talks about ('Scoring high in grades but not in values', last Saturday). I live it, breathe it. Most of my friends are like me, graduates. Most of us live in landed property, condominiums or minimally, executive condos or five-room flats. None of us talks about making ends meet, or how we must turn down medical treatment for our aged parents because we cannot find the money.

But I will add to her essay: that those traits, that aura is not unique to RGS girls. It resonates within a social group, and its aspirants, the well educated or well endowed. I hang out with so many, I have stories by the barrel.

- My doctor friend, non-RGS and one would even say anti-RGS, was shocked when she found out how many As I got in my A levels, since I opted to do an arts degree. In her words, 'I thought all arts people were dumb, that is why they go to arts'. Her own family boasts only doctors and lawyers - she said they would never contemplate any other profession - and by implication, all other professions are below those two.

- A church-mate who lived in a landed property in District 10 - definitely not an RGS girl, and I venture to guess, not even a graduate - once, in all sincerity and innocence, prayed for all those who had to take public transport and live in HDB flats, for God to give them strength to bear these trials.

- Another friend, also non-RGS and a non-graduate, shudders when she recounts the few months she lived in an HDB flat. And that was a five-room flat. Imagine the culture shock if she had lived in a three-room flat.
I continue to meet people who never visit hawker centres, who wonder why the poor people do not work harder to help themselves, who fret if their children do not get into the Gifted Education Programme (reserved for the top 1 per cent of nine-year-olds).

The pattern repeats itself in the next generation. When my 11-year-old had to go on a 'race' around Singapore, using only public transport, the teacher asked for a show of hands on how many had never taken public transport (bus and MRT) before. In a class of 30, five raised their hands. I think if the teacher had asked for those who had taken public transport fewer than 10 times in their young lives, the number would have more than doubled or tripled.
Many of us live in ivory towers. I know I did. I used to think Singapore was pretty much 'it' all - a fantastic meritocracy that allowed an 'HDB child' from a non-graduate family to make it. I boasted about our efficiency - 'you can emerge from your plane and be out in 10 minutes' - and so on.

It was not that I thought little of the rest of the world or other people; it was that I was so ensconced in my cocoon, I just thought little of anything outside my own zone. 'Snow? Yes, nice.' 'Starvation in Ethiopia ? Donate $50.' The wonders of the world we lived in, the sufferings and joys of those who shared this earth were just academic knowledge to me, voraciously devoured for my essays or to hold intelligent conversations at dinner parties.

Then I lived in China for seven years. I looked on in amazement as the skinny tree trunk in front of my yard blossomed and bore pomegranates when spring thawed the ground. And marvelled at the lands that spread east, west, north and south of me as we drove and drove and drove, and never ended. I became friends and fans of colleagues and other Chinese nationals, whom so many Singapore friends had warned me to be wary of.

I realised it was not the world and other people who were limited in their intellect, in their determination, in their resourcefulness; it was me and my world views which were limited. I also know full well that if I had stayed in Singapore , in my cushy job, comfortable in my Bukit Timah home, I would have remained the same - self-sufficient. I had always believed that if I put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. For example, I used to look at sick people and root: 'Fight with all your willpower, and you will recover.' And when they did not, I'd think they had failed themselves. I, like Ms Leong, believed 'mental dexterity equated strength of character and virtue'.

But those years in China taught me terrible lessons on loneliness. I learnt that money (an expatriate pay package) and brains (suitcases of books) did not make me happier than my maid who cycled home to her family every night in minus 20 deg C on icy roads to a dinner of rice and vegetables. The past few years, I have known devastating loss and grief so deep I woke up in the morning and wondered how the sun could still shine and people could go on with their lives.

And so perhaps I have learnt the humility I lacked. Humility about how small I am in the whole schema of things. About how helpless I truly stand, with my intellect in my hands, with my million-dollar roof over my head. To remember, in the darkest valleys of my journey, it was not Ayn Rand or other Booker list authors who lifted me, but the phone calls, the kindness of strangers, that made each day a little less bleak.

And perhaps finally, to really see other people, and understand - not deflect, nor reflect their anger and viewpoints, but see their shyness, pain, struggles, joys. Just because I was 'fortunate enough' to have trawled the bottom levels. And perhaps that is the antidote to the oft unwitting elitism so many of us carry with us.

Sim Soek Tien (Ms)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MM Lee Kuan Yew on Aging

"Wow, he's still going strong....sound mind and physique ..." These were some of the comments I heard when MM Lee visited Tekka vicinity. Good health does not come by chance, but by a great determination to take control of our habits. After reading this article sent by my friend, Fernanando, a committed toastmaster, I realise the extent of the effort that had been taken by our beloved MM Lee. Hope my readers will benefit some good pointers from it.


MY CONCERN today is, what is it I can tell you which can add to your knowledge about ageing and what ageing societies can do. You know more about this subject than I do. A lot of it is out in the media, Internet and books. So I thought the best way would be to take a personal standpoint and tell you how I approach this question of ageing.

If I cast my mind back, I can see turning points in my physical and mental health. You know, when you're young, I didn't bother, assumed good health was God-given and would always be there. When I was about -'57 that was - I was about 34, we were competing in elections, and I was really fond of drinking beer and smoking.. And after the election campaign, in Victoria Memorial Hall - we had won the election, the City Council election - I couldn't thank the voters because I had lost my voice. I'd been smoking furiously. I'd take a packet of 10 to deceive myself, but I'd run through the packet just sitting on the stage, watching the crowd, getting the feeling, the mood before I speak. In other words, there were three speeches a night. Three speeches a night, 30 cigarettes, a lot of beer after that, and the voice was gone.

I remember I had a case in Kuching, Sarawak. So I took the flight and I felt awful.. I had to make up my mind whether I was going to be an effective campaigner and a lawyer, in which case I cannot destroy my voice, and I can't go on. So I stopped smoking. It was a tremendous deprivation because I was addicted to it. And I used to wake up dreaming...the nightmare was I resumed smoking.

But I made a choice and said, if I continue this, I will not be able to do my job. I didn't know anything about cancer of the throat or oesophagus or the lungs, etc. But it turned out it had many other deleterious effects.
Strangely enough after that, I became very allergic, hyper-allergic to smoking, so much so that I would plead with my Cabinet ministers not to smoke in the Cabinet room. You want to smoke, please go out, because I am allergic.

Then one day I was at the home of my colleague, Mr Rajaratnam, meeting foreign correspondents including some from the London Times and they took a picture of me and I had a big belly like that (puts his hands in front of his belly), a beer belly. I felt no, no, this will not do. So I started playing more golf, hit hundreds of balls on the practice tee. But this didn't go down. There was only one way it could go down: consume less, burn up more.

Another turning point came when - this was 1976, after the general election - I was feeling tired. I was breathing deeply at the Istana, on the lawns. My daughter, who at that time just graduating as a doctor, said: 'What are you trying to do?' I said: 'I feel an effort to breathe in more oxygen.' She said: 'Don't play golf. Run. Aerobics.' So she gave me a book, quite a famous book and, then, very current in America on how you score aerobic points swimming, running, whatever it is, cycling. I looked at it sceptically. I wasn't very keen on running. I was keen on golf. So I said, 'Let's try'. So in-between golf shots while playing on my own, sometimes nine holes at the Istana, I would try and walk fast between shots.. Then I began to run between shots. And I felt better. After a while, I said: 'Okay, after my golf, I run.' And after a few years, I said: 'Golf takes so long. The running takes 15 minutes. Let's cut out the golf and let's run.'

I think the most important thing in ageing is you got to understand yourself. And the knowledge now is all there. When I was growing up, the knowledge wasn't there. I had to get the knowledge from friends, from doctors. But, perhaps, the most important bit of knowledge that the doctor gave me was one day, when I said: 'Look, I'm feeling slower and sluggish.' So he gave me a medical encyclopedia and he turned the pages to ageing. I read it up and it was illuminating. A lot of it was difficult jargon but I just skimmed through to get the gist of it.

As you grow, you reach 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and then, thereafter, you are on a gradual slope down physically.
Mentally, you carry on and on and on until I don't know what age, but mathematicians will tell you that they know their best output is when they're in their 20s and 30s when your mental energy is powerful and you haven't lost many neurons.. That's what they tell me.

So, as you acquire more knowledge, you then craft a programme for yourself to maximise what you have. It's just common sense. I never planned to live till 85 or 84! I just didn't think about it. I said: 'Well, my mother died when she was 74, she had a stroke. My father died when he was 94.'

But I saw him, and he lived a long life, well, maybe it was his DNA. But more than that, he swam every day and he kept himself busy. He was working for the Shell company. He was in charge, he was a superintendent of an oil depot. When he retired, he started becoming a salesman. So people used to tell me: 'Your father is selling watches at BP de Silva.' My father was then living with me. But it kept him busy. He had that routine: He meets people, he sells watches, he buys and sells all kinds of semi-precious stones, he circulates coins. And he keeps going. But at 87, 88, he fell, going down the steps from his room to the dining room, broke his arm, three months incapacitated. Thereafter, he couldn't go back to swimming. Then he became wheelchair-bound.

Then it became a problem because my house was constructed that way. So my brother, who's a doctor and had a flat (one-level) house, took him in. And he lived on till 94. But towards the end, he had gradual loss of mental powers.

So my calculations, I'm somewhere between 74 and 94. And I've reached the halfway point now. But have I? Well, 1996 when I was 73, I was cycling and I felt tightening on the neck. Oh, I must retire today. So I stopped. Next day, I returned to the bicycle. After five minutes it became worse.

So I said, no, no, this is something serious, it's got to do with the blood vessels. Rung up my doctor, who said, 'Come tomorrow'. Went tomorrow, he checked me, and said: 'Come back tomorrow for an angiogram.' I said: 'What's that?' He said: 'We'll pump something in and we'll see whether the coronary arteries are cleared or blocked.' I was going to go home. But an MP who was a cardiologist happened to be around, so he came in and said: 'What are you doing here?' I said: 'I've got this.' He said: 'Don't go home. You stay here tonight. I've sent patients home and they never came back. Just stay here. They'll put you on the monitor. They'll watch your heart. And if anything, an emergency arises, they will take you straight to the theatre. You go home. You've got no such monitor. You may never come back.'

So I stayed there. Pumped in the dye, yes it was blocked, the left circumflex, not the critical, lead one. So that's lucky for me. Two weeks later, I was walking around, I felt it's coming back. Yes it has come back, it had occluded. So this time they said: 'We'll put in a stent.'

I'm one of the first few in Singapore to have the stent, so it was a brand new operation. Fortunately, the man who invented the stent was out here selling his stent. He was from San Jose, La Jolla something or the other. So my doctor got hold of him and he supervised the operation. He said put the stent in. My doctor did the operation, he just watched it all and then that's that. That was before all this problem about lining the stent to make sure that it doesn't occlude and create a disturbance.

So at each stage, I learnt something more about myself and I stored that. I said: 'Oh, this is now a danger point.' So alright, cut out fats, change diet, went to see a specialist in Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital. He said: 'Take statins.' I said: 'What's that?' He said: '(They) help to reduce your cholesterol.' My doctors were concerned. They said: 'You don't need it. Your cholesterol levels are okay.' Two years later, more medical evidence came out. So the doctors said: 'Take statins.'

Had there been no angioplasty, had I not known that something was up and I cycled on, I might have gone at 74 like my mother. So I missed that deadline.

So next deadline: my father's fall at 87.

I'm very careful now because sometimes when I turn around too fast, I feel as if I'm going to get off balance. So my daughter, a neurologist, she took me to the NNI, there's this nerve conduction test, put electrodes here and there. The transmission of the messages between the feet and the brain has slowed down.

So all the exercise, everything, effort put in, I'm fit, I swim, I cycle.. But I can't prevent this losing of conductivity of the nerves and this transmission. So just go slow.

So when I climb up the steps, I have no problem. When I go down the steps, I need to be sure that I've got something I can hang on to, just in case. So it's a constant process of adjustment.

But I think the most important single lesson I learnt in life was that if you isolate yourself, you're done for. The human being is a social animal - he needs stimuli, he needs to meet people, to catch up with the world.

I don't much like travel but I travel very frequently despite the jet lag, because I get to meet people of great interest to me, who will help me in my work as chairman of our GIC. So I know, I'm on several boards of banks, international advisory boards of banks, of oil companies and so on. And I meet them and I get to understand what's happening in the world, what has changed since I was here one month ago, one year ago. I go to India, I go to China.

And that stimuli brings me to the world of today. I'm not living in the world, when I was active, more active 20, 30 years ago. So I tell my wife. She woke up late today. I said: 'Never mind, you come along by 12 o'clock. I go first.'

If you sit back - because part of the ending part of the encyclopedia which I read was very depressing - as you get old, you withdraw from everything and then all you will have is your bedroom and the photographs and the furniture that you know, and that's your world. So if you've got to go to hospital, the doctor advises you to bring some photographs so that you'll know you're not lost in a different world, that this is like your bedroom.

I'm determined that I will not, as long as I can, to be reduced, to have my horizons closed on me like that. It is the stimuli, it is the constant interaction with people across the world that keeps me aware and alive to what's going on and what we can do to adjust to this different world.

In other words, you must have an interest in life. If you believe that at 55, you're retiring, you're going to read books, play golf and drink wine, then I think you're done for. So statistically they will show you that all the people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners die off very quickly.

So we now have a social problem with medical sciences, new procedures, new drugs, many more people are going to live long lives. If the mindset is that when I reach retirement age 62, I'm old, I can't work anymore, I don't have to work, I just sit back, now is the time I'll enjoy life, I think you're making the biggest mistake of your life. After one month, or after two months, even if you go travelling with nothing to do, with no purpose in life, you will just degrade, you'll go to seed.

The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere: Keep yourself interested, have a challenge. If you're not interested in the world and the world is not interested in you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that's real torture. So when I read that people believe, Singaporeans say: 'Oh, 62 I'm retiring.' I say to them: 'You really want to die quickly?' If you want to see sunrise tomorrow or sunset, you must have a reason, you must have the stimuli to keep going'.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TGIF! Thank God It's Friday!


A great way relax on a Friday evening at a pub!

Sitting at a table opposite Market Street Carpark and observing everything
around me!

It's so lovely, walking along Robinson Road and realising that old buildings
have made way for new ones.
While others chill out by drinking beer, I chill out by drinking soya milk.
I just love the tissue pancakes!

After I met my client at the International Plaza to sign a tenancy agreement, I decided to walk to the Raffles MRT Station. I did not want to take the train at Tanjong Pagar for it meant that I still had to take another train at Raffles MRT Station.

The weather was cool and breezy, and it made walking a joy. As I was walking along, I noticed that some new buildings have sprung up. I also noticed that quite a number of restaurants were still offering dinner. I was happy when I saw how happy and relaxed people were as they were coming out of their office buildings.

Suddenly I remember it was a Friday! No wonder! People were in the TGIF mood. The pubs were quite crowded with customers wanting to let their hairs down. I also noticed that quite a number of ladies were smoking. It was lovely to see people relaxing after five days of stressful work. Since I don't quite like beer, I decided to buy some soya bean milk and tissue pancakes. My client, Amelia, had given
me a treat of the pankcakes before and that was how I realised how delicious it was.

I met a friend from the Katong Toastmasters' Club, Elaine. She is also one of the volunteers at our Changi Prison speechcraft workshop. Elaine was rushing off for her piano lessons. Rush! Rush! Rush! Life is certainly hectic for some.

I thought of walking all the way back to my apartment in Little India, but as my back was starting to ache again, I decided to take the train back instead.

For us agents, we certainly don't celebrate TGIF! Indeed, Fridays and weekends are
the busier part of the week for us who are dealing with sales and rentals of properties. For some agents, it is TGIM! Thank God It's Monday!

I guess for me it is TGED! Thank God every day!

Gan Cao

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BMW - Bring More Worries!

A friend of mine, Soo Kiat, sent me the email below.

Dear Valued customer.

"Thank you for your interest in the new BMW.

BMW acknowledges your dream of owning one. We however regret to inform you that after looking at your payslip even after your Bonus, your application was unsuccessful and you can never afford a BMW in the near future.

We appreciate your dreams and your desires but our brand is not for people like you. We would be appreciate if you didn't insult us with your pay slip again and we have re-attached it to this email to rid ourselves of it.

General Manager: BMW Brand Management
Lawrence Ncube





Your pay, like peanuts, will never buy our BMW!

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My reply to the General Manager, Lawrence Ncube,

Dear Mr. Ncube,

A person's pay could be peanuts to you, but to the person it could mean a lot for the peanuts feed his family, pay for his children's school fees, pay for food on the table and in brief, provide him with quite a decent life. What is wrong with him having a little dream.? Do not underestimate the likes of Susan Boyle. These people too could have a dream.

How did BMW end up with a manager like you who writes in unrefined and somewhat broken English? Shouldn't BMW hire someone with immaculate English to match their equally immaculate cars?

Your BMW stands for "Bring More Worries!" If a man were to drive your BMW into the Johore Causeway, you can be sure someone would tailgate him and target him for robbery! In Singapore, he has to drive oh, ever so slowly, even though the meter says that the car would still be very stable past the 250 km mark! His new BMW would also attract many green eyed monsters who would be itching to give the gleaming coat some scratch marks. If he were to live in a landed property with a car is fine. But if he were to live in a HDB (public housing) flat, he would worry constantly about his beauty in the car park. He might probably end up like this client of mine, a Mr. Tan who owns a lovely Lexus. To prevent his Lexus from being attacked by green-eyed monsters, he parks his beauty on the highest 5th floor of the car park where there are fewer cars. He does not mind walking up and down the flight of stairs in order to protect his beauty.

Compared to your new BMW, my "BMW" is as good as, if not, better than yours. Yours stands for "Bring More Worries" or you might like to add, "Bring More Women"! Someone has said that after God created the universe and everything in it, He rested. But after he created women, He no longer rested! Got my point?

My BMW No. 11, stands for "Bus, MRT and Walking!" My B and my W are better modes of transport for they are not self-centred like your BMW - they could carry many passengers at any one time, hence helping to reduce pollution and global warming. My W is by far the does not pollute or heat up the earth. It does not require more expenditure on huge insurance, and in case of traffic jam it actually moves faster than all the four-wheelers. Your BMW has a short lifespan, but my W actually grows stronger with more usage.

Strangely, with my BMW, I always arrive punctually for my appointments, but my clients and some agents with BMW often arrive late.

Life is already so complex and I don't need you to bring me more worries! Go to the people with fat bank accounts and help to bring more worries to their endless worries.

Gan Chau

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where is God ?

I received the following email from a friend, Fernando Young, a committed toastmaster. I hope it will tickle my readers and help them massage their internal organs via laughter.

"Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew all about it. If any mischief occurred in their town, the two boys were usually involved.

The boys' mother heard that a preacher in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The preacher agreed, but he asked to see them individually.

So the mother sent the 8 year old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the preacher in the afternoon.

The preacher, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Do you know where God is, son?"

The boy's mouth dropped open , but he made no response, sitting there wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open.

So the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?"

Again, the boy made no attempt to answer.

The preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "Where is God?"

The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him.

When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "What happened?"

The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time,

I just LOVE reading this next line again and again)

GOD is missing, and they think we did it!"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Know the Media Workshop


What a great way to laugh! Lynda Neo and Gea Ban Peng laughing their hearts out!

The attractive and vivacious Loo Mei Mei, engaging her participants
in a lively discussion.

Our humorous district champion, Ng Cher Khim, as usual, posing his humorous and witty question!
A group photo before we sing "Auld Lang Syne".

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As a property agent, my weekends are particularly the busiest and most important.
However, there are times when I feel that other matters are more important than my work. One such matter was the Media Workshop conducted by Loo Mei Mei at the Braddell Heights Advanced Toastmasters Club which was held on a Saturday afternoon.

The versatile and attractive Loo Mei Mei was an ex-beauty queen, SIA stewardess, media veteran, professional emcee and a veteran toastmaster, who now wants to give back to toastmasters.

The participants were mostly ladies as the topics would probably appeal more to the ladies as it also involved grooming and image. However, we had a few gentlemen who wanted to improve their forte in handling the media.

We were divided into three groups and everyone had fun. One group launched the brand new model of Toyota Lady's Camry, and another group role played the key personnel at the opening ceremony of Marina Bay Sands Resort. Much creativity was displayed especially by the group launching its own brand of lingerie - Sensuous. Our Vice President of Education, Goh Sor Hoon acted as Madam Ho Ching. There was much laughter and the observers who acted as journalists from different organisations were witty and sharp with their arrowed questions.

Everyone went back, feeling that it was a well spent afternoon of learning, fun and laughter. Everyone felt a little more equipped to handle the media in the near future.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happiness is .......(33)

Hip! Hip! Hooray! I received my first email from my second sister, Ean Ean, from Melbourne. Sister wrote, "This is my first time using the computer and email. People had walked, run, climb, swim,etc, thousands of miles and here I am at 62 just starting to crawl. Well, never mind, Better be late than never,right?

Of course, it is never too late to learn anything! I started to learn the computer four and a half years ago; learn the violin 16 months ago, learn Hindi two years ago, learn public speaking in toastmasters' clubs four years ago.... and hence "huo dao lao; hsueh dao lao" (life long learning).

Being the youngest, I am the first one to learn how to email and blog. Thanks to the encouragement of my nieces and nephews, I gradually overcame my phobia. I had been persuading my siblings to learn how to email so that we could all communicate more easily. Eldest brother is the second one to learn how to read emails. Then it was followed by eldest sister, Lee Lee, after much coercion. I kept pestering her until I received a scolding. I even bought her and second brother a note book each. Luckily Sister Lee Lee has learnt and is thrilled with her computer. I remember how she would phone me up and ask me how to do this and that. I advised her to get help from someone in Kuching, because I too am not very good with the computer. Second brother Kee Seng has still not yet learnt. Hence I would print out my blog articles for him to read. He has promised to learn soon....soon and very soon.

Hence, you can imagine my great joy when I received my first email from my Second Sister. I prefer to communicate via email as it is free. I do not like to use the phone as there is often ringing in my ears, and the ringing sometimes causes me to feel dizzy. I have lived with my chronic ear problems since time immemorial, and I try not to be affected by it too much.

Like all curious children, once a neighbour's little boy asked me, "Aunty Choo, what is the meaning of "ringing in the ears?"

"Oh! It means listening to music free of charge", I said, smiling.

Justin had overheard me telling his mother about my ear problems. This ringing of the ears can manifest itself at any time of the day. This is also one of the reasons why I gave up driving, as the ringing causes imbalance and it is risky to drive. Sometimes the "music" is quite lovely, like a huge gathering of crickets singing a melody. At times it is a strange cacophony of "music" made by a variety of insects and birds.

As a property agent, I have to answer phone calls ever so often. Hence, when I return home, I just want to be quiet, "resting" my ears and vocal chords. I prefer activities like writing, reading, gardening, cooking, playing the violin or watching my favourite television programs.

If my siblings could handle the computer, they could read my blog articles and communicate via email. There are still so many things more to learn about the computer eg. skype, web design, etc. etc.

The globe is getting smaller because of computers! At first I was also terrified of the computer; but now I can't live without it! Happiness is being able to communicate with a click of the mouse!

Gan Cao

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Noble Friend


Amu, dressed in her lovely pink saree for lunch at Tung Luk Restaurant

Amu with her beloved sister Maya and husband, Nathan at DWG Dinner & Dance
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I thank God for my precious friends. Among them is a very special lady, Amu. I still remembered the first time when I met Amu when she came to Rialto for an interview. Someone had recommended her to work as a dishwasher. I took to Amu the first time I met her. I like her personality and I instinctively sensed she would be a good staff. I was right. Amu is one of the best and most loyal staff. Although
Amu could not read, I promoted her and taught her to make salad, pizzas and desserts. She soon learnt to cook pasta as well. She committed everything to memory.

Through the last twelve years that I got acquainted with Amu, we went through thick and thin. Recently Amu's ex-husband, Sarjeet passed away. Amu divorced him because he had another woman. The woman left Sarjeet when he became broke and ill with cancer. Amu still helped to look after Sarjeet at the Hospice, visiting him everyday after her work.

The doctors and staff at the Hospice were impressed by Amu's compassion and dedication. I was glad that Sarjeet realised his mistakes and reconciled with and appreciated his ex-wife albeit a little too briefly before he passed away.

Amu also dotes on her nephews and nieces, children of her younger sister, Maya. They in turn also love Amu.

Amu will be celebrating her birthday soon and I have arranged to celebrate for her at the Raffles Town Club. I thank God for bringing Amu into my life and for giving me the opportunity to learn many things from Amu. Though Amu may be illiterate, she is wiser than many educated people that I have met. I guess wisdom is gleaned from knowledge learned from rich experiences.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Than Skin Deep......


The papaya looked so ripe and succulent!

Alas! The flesh was pale and not sweet!

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When I went to the new NTUC at City Square, I decided to buy a succulent looking papya at $1.80 and these papayas were from Hong Kong, as could be seen from the labels on the fruits.

As the flesh was still firm, I decided to wait for a couple of days before I cut it.
When I cut open the fruit, I was so disappointed! The flesh inside looked somewhat pale, and I knew it would not be sweet.

It is important that we do not judge a fruit by its skin at times, just as we cannot judge a man by his outward appearance. Eg. When anyone sees Mr. Chiam of the famous defunct Mitre Hotel, he might see Mr. Chiam as a karang guni man, with his trolley of newspapers, plastic container, coconut, umbrella, etc. No one would guess that he is a multi millionaire and a graduate with not one, not two, not three but four university degrees!

Once a middle aged man, a Mr. Tan, came to view my client's condomium. He was in T-shirt and slippers. I treated him just as cordially as I did the other more well-groomed clients. Hence I was extremely happy when he was the one who bought the unit. He even shared that he would not be taking any bank loan, and that the property was a wedding gift to his youngest son! What a lucky son!

Though Mr. Tan spoke in dialect and appeared rough and weather-beaten, I would not judge him because if he had taken the trouble to view the property, it implied he must have the ability to purchase the unit.

"I like your friendliness and down-to-earth attitude. You are not proud like some other agents. They see me wear slippers and t-shirt, they think I got no money.
Lim peh oo lui! (I have the cash!) Mien gun tang (Don't need the bank!) My company - public-listed one," Mr. Tan almost roared.

It would be good for us to constantly remind ourselves never to judge a book by its cover. A cover may sometimes expose some unexpected and surprising revelation!

Gan Cao

Monday, May 10, 2010

One Man's Sashimi is Another Lady's Jewellery!


Soh Wah, discussing with Nelson about our trip to London for Ning's wedding.

A lovely picture quartz. Intricate carvings of a three dimensional floral arrangement can be seen on the quartz.

Lovely semi precious stones which cost less than S$40/-! God's wonderful creation!
Lovely South Sea pearls with their natural lustre

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After church service on Mother's Day, I went down to Chinatown at ASA Travel and Tours to meet my best friend, dyanamic Soh Wah. She was working for half a day at her office even though it was a Sunday, and a Mother's Day to boot. A friend wanted me to join her and her family for mother's day celebration, but I turned down the offer because I was afraid I might cry, just thinking of my late beloved mother.

Soh Wah is as usual - bubbly and chirpy like a lark. I never ceased to be amazed by her abundant energry and stringent time management. A high flyer at her bank, she still has time to drive her two sons around for school and tuition, entertain relatives from overseas, etc.

As Soh Wah had not yet eaten her lunch while I had mine at the church, we went to a restaurant run by some people from China. I told Soh Wah that I had read in the papers about a Japanese Restaurant offering some set lunch at $750/- per person! We have heard about some Reunion Dinner that costs $2,000/-per diner. Gosh! I would never be able to bring myself to spend so much money on food which would be enjoyed momentarily and soon excreted from the body! The $2000/- would buy me some lovely jewellery which I can use and reuse and continue to admire and let others admire for a long, long time. I can even pass on these pieces of jewellery as an inheritance.

Witty Soh Wah immediately said, "Choo, I understand. One man's sashimi is another lady's jewellery!"

We both ended up laughing very hard! "Very well said, Soh Wah," I declared.

When friends are of the same mind, they connect like the three main wires in a cable!
Happiness is being one of the three wires.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

What a Facial Treatment!

I invited a friend of mine, Chong, for lunch. He had worked for me as a part time cook when I was running the Italian Restaurant, Rialto.

Knowing that Chong has a good appetite, I invited him for buffet lunch at Pu Tien
Restaurant at City Square.

Chong always has many interesting yet bizzare stories to share. He used to be a monk and even spent a few years in the monastery in Taiwan until he met with the Lord in a dramatic way and changed his faith. Sometime later I will share his testimonies in my blog.

Chong told me that once a Malay man in Johore gave him a facial treatment.

"Guess what he used, Choo?"

"Fresh cucumbers, or other types of vegetables?" I made a guess.

"No, try again."

"Maybe be pounded some rice, barley, wheat or nuts?" I volunteered.

"No....I think you'll never be able to guess".

"He pounded live cockroaches which he reared!"

"Yucks!" I almost screamed, forgetting that I was in a restaurant. I felt goosebumps on my arms.

"He would then paste the pounded cockroaches onto the face. After 5 minutes, my face was very itchy. The man then put a piece of paper on the table, and with my head slightly bent, I could see little maggots dropping off from my face. When the
itch stopped, then I knew that my face was clean and rinsed it off with water."

It is indeed true that the world is full of germs and parasites which we cannot see with our naked eyes. The least we can do is to try to keep things clean to the best of our ability. Even if the cockroach treatment were free, I would rather not go for it. No thanks.......yucks!

Gan Cao

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My Favourite Haunt.....


My favourite haunt - Clarke Quay, just 3 mrt stops away from my home.

I enjoy sitting on the steps by the river, and basking in the beauty
and serenity of the atmosphere.

Bridge over clear water. The Singapore River has been cleaned up!

The tall, round building was the former Westin Hotel! I climbed 1336 steps to the helipad!

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The Government has been attempting to make Singapore a city where one can live, work and play. Of late, many changes and improvements have been made. This is particularly noticeable to someone like me who lives right in the heart of the city in Little India.

Now I can just hop into the train and arrive at a particular place easily where I can enjoy my shopping as well as eating out. I must say that Clarke Quay has become my favourite haunt. From Little India MRT, it is only 3 stations away. Central has a good variety of shops as well as resaturants and cafeterias.

Sometimes, Amu and I will just sit on the steps by the river, and there we can enjoy some pumpkin seeds, nuts, and other treats. It is fun to enjoy the river scene where river taxis with many tourists will pass by. I like the shimmering river as it dances with the beautiful colours of neon lights.

Sometimes, I would even walk back to my apartment, especially when the weather is cooler and more windy.

Gan Cao