Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kinship and Life in its grand scheme of things

I lost a close kin recently..
My beloved Grandfather,the late Mr NEO BOON CHUAN, after more than 1 year of battling with pulmonary fibrosis, gave in and rested eternally on 10th Oct 2007.

It was a sunny and warm morning that morning.
He was already on Dormicium which was supposed to bring him to a unconscious state so that his pain would be lessened. Seemed like this was the drug to use so that the old man's light would gently dim and go out...

Flashback to 2 months ago, Grandad was in the same hospital, his complaints of breathlessness had the family worried enough to call for an ambulance. His usual doctor told us that it was more serious this time as his lungs had degraded to only 30% functionality. Grandad's lungs was slowing dying, cells not regenerating and just 3 months back, it was still 60%. Doctor Chan informed us that Grandad had less than 6 months to live.

Just slightly a year before 10 Oct 2007, Grandad was already on Oxygen mask, even at home. It was a bad bout of flu and lung infection he had caught while touring in China with his daughters and grandchildren. The oxygen tubes going into his nose meant it was difficult for him to move around. Even during those days, he made effort to come out into the living room to play Mahjong with us during weekends.

Grandma would later tell us everytime he came out to join us for Mahjong sessions, the same night, he'd have respiratory problems due to overexertion. That always broke our heart when we heard that.

During the last 2 months of his life, he didn't leave his room at all. The only place he was able to go was the attached bathroom in his room. Grandma, the maid and his daughters gave him the best care in the world. Us, his grandchildren came regularly even during weekdays to spend time and sometimes talk to him. However, during the last month, we hardly heard any words from him. My last memory of him during one of my afternoon visits was him calling my childhood name "Pang Kin" in his usual loud and low strong voice. That really made me so glad he still sounded so strong. But since then, it was mere sign language as he was too out of breath to talk.

The night at the hospital before the Dormicium was injected, I sneaked out of home and drove to the hospital at 2am. Saw him and all the medical equipment around him. The maid was by his side. He was able to mumble some Bahasa Melaya to the maid asking her if she is hungry or tired. Afterwhich, those few words made him so out of breath, that he was only able to use sign language to ask me to go home and rest. He also gave me the thumbs up sign to tell me that everything was ok.

The night the Dormicium was used, me and my sister Dominique and my brother-in-law, Sam was at the hospital almost throughout the night. Even in his uncounscious state, I could see Grandad struggling for each and every breath. And every breath he took, it seemed his last. It was at this time when I realised his light was dimming and it was anytime that the light will just go out. All the respiratory sensors showed a low heartrate and blood pressure. His hands were cold and clammy.

We went home at about 4am. Last I saw, his breathing though struggling, seemed more constant then and it seemed like he was actually sleeping.

At 7.30am, just as I woke up to get ready for work, I got the fateful call from my 3rd Aunt Alice. In her tearful voice, she told me to inform my dad that my Grandad had passed on and to tell him to go to the hospital immediately.

In my heart, I was deeply saddened. This man, the pillar of our extended family, had passed on. When I reached the hospital, I saw him in his inanimated state.
He no longer looked sick and feeble. He is no longer struggling to get his breath.
On one hand, I felt relieved for him as he is no longer suffering. Yet on the other hand, I felt this immense pain of losing him forever.

The days that followed were filled with things to do, traditions to follow and customs to practice. The wake, the prayers, the friends and relatives coming to pay respects, there were hardly any time to grief. And I am thankful for that. During the day of the funeral when Grandad's body had to be cremated, it was a hard moment for all. Tears and emotions choking in the throat and yet unable to shout or moan, because it will surely affect the others. It was in this light that I realised, the departed no longer feel any emotions. It is the living that have ties that cannot be separated by death.

After the cremation, the whole family returned to the place of the wake for lunch at the void deck. It was a funny thing, the moment we alighted from the bus after we reached, it started to pour heavily. It was as if He wanted us to sit close together for lunch as rain was pouring in the void deck from the sides. Though in different tables, we all huddled closer to each other and savoured the lunch.

In the last 2 months of Grandad's lifetime, we, his children and his children's children were able to make best of the remaining time and gave him the utmost care and attention. I am thankful we were given the chance to do that.

We miss you.... Ah Kong....

Grandad on one of the Mahjong games
Grandad on one of the Mahjong games

Grandad on his birthday with Greatgrandaughters Isabel and Leanne
Grandad on his birthday with Greatgrandaughters Isabel and Leanne

Today is 17 Oct 2007
Time is 10:35 hrs

Death takes away only one,
The rest have to keep living.

Fiji [Continued]

So no thanks to the check-in counter staff of Singapore Changi Airport, I was in and out of the arrival gate twice as I had to run back from Departure Hall of Nadi airport to the Arrival Hall which was a 300m dash. All this within 30 minutes as the plane headed to Suva takes off in less than half an hour after I land in Nadi.

In any case, I got to know more about Fiji in Suva.

Most prominent sport : Rubgy
Indian and Chinese population are aplenty in Fiji and some are already 4 to 5th generation immigrants already.
Locals native males have curly hair, of which they like to stick pens into their hair and keep it there [ in case when pockets are full ]
Fijians speak English as one of their main languages as they were once a colony of Britain. Even for now, their currency still flys the union jack.
Indian food is fantastic in Fiji.

I manage to meet the famous Rugby player in Fiji, Wasales Serevi. It was quite an honour to meet the sporting legend and he is very friendly too! He'd walk across the street to shake a fan's hand if the fan had called out for him!

Fijians are friendly and just like Singapore, they are multi-racial and even in the midst of a military coup, there wasn't any racial incited riots or chaos though the coup was racial in nature..

Thank you Fiji...
Vinaka !

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tales from Fiji

My career had me taken off again, this time to Fiji in the Pacific Islands.
Travel time was more than 20 hours, all thanks to a 6 hour transit time in Sydney Australia. Not wanting to spend time snoozing at the airport, I headed to Sydney city aka Circular Quays to take some photos of the famous Sydney Opera house and the equally majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge.

within the 6 hours, I had also managed to visit the Sydney aquarium by taking the ferry to Darling Harbour. Sharks, seals, starfish, corals, clownfish, etc etc.

After my 6 hour fiesta with Sydney, went on my 2nd flight to Nadi, Fiji. Fiji's famous location for tourists seeking sun, sand and sea. Unfortunately, my time in Nadi was only for less than 30mins of night before I had to take my propellor plane to Suva. Almost lost my lugguage in Nadi as I exited without collecting lugguage from the plane that landed in Nadi..[ Changi Aiport check-in attendant actually told me that my lugguage will go all the way , yeah right]

Back to the propellor plane.... [ tbc ]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Taiwan : My Trip

Republic of China and yet not so China..

Apparently, a place where this political figure ran to when he lost out to the incumbent in the "real" China and in this place, Taiwan, he called it the Republic of China as it wasn't the Communist China..

So, when Chiang Kai Shek went there, along with him was supporters, scholars, farmers. businessmen etc... They brought along with them the real "Culture" of China which fortunately survived the "Cultural Evolution" in China where religion and superstition were abolished..

Luckily most of the Chinese culture were still preserved in Taiwan.

Taiwan, being between 2 tectonic plates, has lots of earthquakes.. In fact, it was formed because of these earthquakes. Molten Magma coming out of the cracks between the 2 plates formed this island. And with the fertile land, Taiwan has the perfect soil for agriculture. It's abundance of fruits has its people enjoying fruity delicacies such as their mango ice desserts amongst others. With the fertile soil, some farm produce even evolved to be different from those grown in other parts of the world. The bittergourd for one, is white in Taiwan. And mangoes grown in Taiwan have a reddish exterior.

Being between the 2 plates, Taiwan has also many real natural hot water springs.
These springs were exploited to be spas. Bath-houses for the people. It's popularity probably also gained during its 50 years rule by Japan, whom were also spa lovers.
Even till now, Japanese living in Taipei, prefer to live near areas which have an abundance of such spas.

As Taiwan is an island, multiple coastal treasures can be found along their shores.
These "treasures" are cliffs and coastal rocks carved by the natural forces of the environment, namely, wind and water. These rocks have been shaped by the environment to resemble icons like the Queen's head. Some look like shoes and with some creative imagination, resemble almost anything. The country is trying to preserve these monumental cliffs and rocks but unless they house it or build a brick wall around it, there's no stopping Mother Nature.

In Taipei, there's no short of old streets with shops peddling the local delights.
Amongst them, there are also the aborgines peddling their produce and wares. Taiwan was not originally a Chinese country. As mentioned above, it was a place where the Chinese escaped to. The original people living on the island were tribal in nature. Until today, about 12-13 tribes survived the times and are still around. Their produce includes wild honey, tribal wooden wares and also rare mushrooms aka "LingZhi" which is a very popular herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating diseases such as cancer.

Back to the old streets of shops, it's hard not to notice the whiff of peculiar stench in the air. It is almost symbian in every such street. Apparently not due to bad sewarage but because Taiwanese have a passion for this particular food they call the "Smelly Toufu". The Toufu or beancurd is allowed to ferment in a vat before they are fried to a crispy exterior. The extreme heat from the oil fries the exterior beancurd skin but at the same time, the fermented toufu gives off its "fragrance". It almost smells like being in a farm where the animals defecate all at the same time. Perhaps that's the best description of the "fragrance"

Taiwan, besides its mentioned charms, is also a high technologically advanced country. In less than 100 years after urbanization, Taiwan is now one of the most advanced nation in Asia. Several PC components brands have their humble beginnings in Taiwan before being listed in NASDAQ.

It's teen culture mimicks that of Japan, with fashion that is loud and shortlived fads that have masses of followers. Some of the older generations still speaks Japanese due to its 50 year rule by Japan previously. Japanese food is also very popular in Taiwan and still made with a certain level of authenticity.

In its short history, it's had the Dutch colonial rule, the Chinese overthrowing the Dutch, the Japanese ruling it for 50 years and now with its current democratic government led by its first President, Chiang Kai Shek, Taiwan has come of age.

It is a colorful place to make port and for some, even to sink their roots and start a new life. To soak into another culture, to make new friends, to shop, to pray and to enjoy..

Today is 20th May 2007
Back from Taiwan for 3 days.
Can't wait to be back there again!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My new nickname

My alter ego...

I shall name her


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wishes Came True

After graduation, my first job, was as a technical support engineer, looking after all the electronics on the buses and later on, taxis. This was in a public transport company.

After a while, I started looking for jobs and actually wished that I could have more chances to travel overseas in my future job.

I had been looking for a new job for more than 12 months when my prayers has finally been answered. I now work for a wireless IT network products vendor and I go overseas almost 3-4 day per week...

To Johor Bahru... just less than 30mins away from my office.

Wishes can come true..
Spend good time detailing these wishes..
Just so that you can get it right and not repeat the mistakes others had done.

Today is 6th May 2006
Time is 0216hrs.

Indigestion causes insomnia..

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jakarta or Jarkarta

The old name for the Indonesian capital is "Batavia"
The name was given to it by its colonial Dutch owners.

Much of the Dutch heritage and language can still be seen there..
The buildings, railway stations, etc etc..

Though it is not much of a place to visit..
But the seafood is delicious there!

Thanks to my pal, Rusli Wardjojo Maryono, whom brought me and my colleague around during our stay in Jakarta. Thanks for the fantastic dinners!!!

Today is 2nd May 2007
Time is 0954hrs.

A third world country didn't raise its taxes for the past 10-20 years.
A developed nation raises it taxes every year.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Every 8th Day of the 1st lunar month..

Just wanna let all know that we, Hokkiens prevail...

After so many hundred of years since the Hokkiens were almost decimated in China due to hounding pirates, we still follow the tradition of using sugar canes to pray to the Heaven God..

For it was this day so many years ago which our ancestors fled to a sugar cane plantation that caused the pirates to lose their chase...

We prevailed!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sorry seems to be the HARDEST word..

It takes tons of effort to say sorry..

And it only needs a little bit of sincerity to make the words real.

No one can coerce anyone to say the word.

One can also choose not to say it to completely ignore the feelings of another.

Bottomline is that, one can choose to be blind to others...
The reverse also holds true.

I am but a mirror... reflecting the good of mankind and at the same time reflecting the negative human nature.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ethics : Are they necessary?

In the recent months, as I become more involved in the business aspect of the company that I am employed, I have come to know that some deals come with conditions which requires one to be flexible when it comes to ethics..

So what are the ethics or in simpler words, the proper way of doing things?
If a deal requires one to not be honest, is it right?
If the working ethics of an individual clashes with the business processes of a company, which one should bend?

Even more recently, I encountered a fair share of ethical and unethical taxi drivers. These drivers could be considered business owners, a one-man-show, confined to his vehicle, with any passengers within his taxi considered to be his customers.

This country that I had to visit quite regularly had an abundance of taxis awaiting outside its immigration customs, all eager to pick up fresh visitors. At the point, I should probably note that all these taxis though fitted with a meter, they are hardly used. Most of the fares are already decided even before the engine starts. One wanting to take a taxi needs to negotiate the price with the driver after informing the driver of the destination. Along the way, I noticed the taxi meter is still turned on and its numbers jumping happily away. Also, whenever I alight, I noticed , each time and everytime, the meter will always reflect a lower fare price than what was negotiated.

When selecting a taxi, it was noticed that also with each driver, comes different rates even when the pickup and destination location is relatively the same. And when it comes to popular taxi waiting areas like the Customs or close proximity to a major shopping landmark, the rates increase as the drivers proximity to these landmarks decrease. I had the chance to discover this fact when I tried to compare the given fares from the point where I reach the outside of the Customs and when I travelled about 100m inwards beyond the exit of the Customs.. The fares quoted was amazingly 100% different..No prize for guessing which was the cheaper quoted fare.

In any case, I'd also heard of cases where passengers were seriously overcharged because they weren't aware of the standard rates or they did not ask for a quote before going into the taxi...

Which brings me to the next few questions.
It is amazing that for some, even in the confinement and solitude of 2 persons, 1 being the customer and the other being the business owner and knowing that the chances of pickup up the same customer again in future is virtually 0%, ethics are applied and withheld proudly by the business owners.. Of course on the other side of the argument, there are jackals and hyenas waiting to pounce and tear the customer to shreds knowing the fact that their customers will definitely only be a 1-time customer..

So, in the scenario where there is no one but 2 persons and 1 of them lacks the knowledge and tact, would one still be ethical?

In a world where everything is regulated by laws, rules and regulations, must proper business ethics be specified?

Can ethics be taught?

Or more specifically, is there a 10 Commandments of Ethics?

Today is 15th Feb 2007.
Time is 09:14hrs

I am off work thinking about work.
Am I ethical?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

An Erotic word


Humanity's worst enemy!


Because with stupidity, humans will not be able to see whats ahead of them even if you hang it in front 2 inches from their eyes..

With stupidity, humans are not able to differentiate good and bad.

Stupidity clouds vision, judgement and removes the brain away from the thinking process .

I hate such people whom are imbeciles..
Stupid people in this world should just be extinct before they let their genes affect the future population and affecting the race aversely.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Tough Description for a 5 Year Old

Recently a young niece of mine was eating satay.

She was holding a stick of satay while she was asking me to join the rest of my family on the dinner table to savour the satay together.

Out of pure cheekiness, I asked her what meat the satay was made of.
She replied quickly ,"Chicken lor".

So I asked her how she knew it was chicken and not lamb or any other meat.
It took her quite a while to answer.

Her answer was ," Because I know it's chicken"...
To which I asked her another question, "How did you know its chicken?".

After that, she ignored me.

Reviewing my question to her, a simple "how" question that is very difficult even for myself to answer.

The question of taste, smell, texture and reproducing it in your own words.
So does chicken taste the same to everyone?

Would my description befits the way how others describe how the chicken meat taste like?

This question was once brought up in the movie "Matrix" when one of the characters in the movie asked if the taste of chicken was just electrical signals sent, from the tongue, teeth and mouth, to the brain. In a way true in some sense that all our sensations are merely small electrical currents sent to the brain.

But the real question is ...
Are these sensations standard to everyone?

ie, if chicken taste and texture means an output of 1ms of sine wave current of 25KHz to my brain from my senses, will it be the same as of another person?

Food for thought..

Today is 4th Jan 2007.
I love diversity for it is diversity that makes me different from anyone else.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Art of "Troubleshooting"

"Troubleshooting is an art"

That was what was told to me during the interview of the first job that I had.
I was knowledgeable in computers then and had no issues diagnosing PC related problems so it didn't really mattered that I had a manual or guide to assist me in find the root cause of the problem.

A computer is made of up several core components.

1)The Core Processor
3)Video card
4)Storage disk
5)Main board that all peripherals is connected to
6)Miscellaneous cables that acts is the interconnect between peripherals and mainboard

The fools [aka sure to work] method of locating the source of the problem would be to replace each item, step by step, until the problem is solved.

That of course is the most basic step of troubleshooting....
Provided that you have enough spares to swap around with...
This, of course, deals only with the hardware aspect of PC related problems, not dwelling into the software related problems which would open up to another world of possibilites where there is no easy or direct method of swapping out peripherals one by one..

Software aside, relating only to hardware troubles....
Humans are somewhat like that also.
The PC is a partnership of several core components.
A human relationship is a partnership of 2 beings.

A faulty PC can be repaired by swapping out faulty parts..
In finding out which is faulty, each part is swapped until the combination works again.

In a relationship, objectively speaking, the only way to troubleshoot is to swap to another person to share the relationship with. However, if the problem still remains even when the "supposedly" faulty component is removed and swapped with another one, what can it say about the unchanged component?

I recently shared an old thought with some old friends about marriage..
"The final girlfriend whom the swinging bachelor playboy married, isn't exactly the best, nor may she be any different from the first girlfriend, but simply the fact that he is tired of finding flaws and chooses to settle down with what he had at the moment and relentlessly works to make her the woman he wants and at the same time,constantly improving himself to be the man she desires."

So, if swapping isn't solving the problem, probably one should review what exactly needs to be changed...

Today is the 2nd day of 2007.
Someone had to spoil my first day of 2007.