Thursday, August 19, 2010

APAD 5/365: So I'm just that lil' bit excited...

Just taking a moment to blog as I sit at a kopitiam in Jalan Besar. By a stroke of luck, an ol' buddy of mine had extra tickets to tonight's YOG soccer game between Singapore and Montenegro.

Its pretty obvious as to where my allegiance would lie. COME ON BOYS! ROAR LIONS ROAR! Or should that be cubs? Hahaha.

I think its gonna be tough match for our boys. Whilst I havent exactly seen Montenegro play. The europeans do tend to be bigger and fitter. European football, Spain and Portugal aside, is historically tactical, technical and disciplined. Less flair and more robust disciplined action across the field.

Our boys? I think they aren't as technically astute nor as fit as the Europeans, nonthelesss, they probably will play their hearts out. Which is more than I can say for some of the recent games I've watched of the Senior Team.

The hour cometh and I'm waiting for my buddies to arrive. Gonna try the famous Jalan Besar Sambal Fish and Zhi Char...before kick off at 8pm.

Pleasantly surprised to see the YOG Basketball team with their coach sitting in front of me. These boys are tall. Had a short conversation with the tallest one and he mentioned that it was an off day for them so they are here to support the soccer team. Ahh...such joy to be an athlete in these times. (aside from the gruelling training and balancing of books)

Anyway....decided to buy them a round of drinks. Glad I managed to catch the kopi uncle's eye and told him that I would pay for their drinks. Its only drinks...but its my small little way of saluting them and honouring their contribution to our country.

Enjoy your drinks boys! GO SINGAPORE GO!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

APAD 4/365: What could possibly turn me...

(APAD 4 is just a bonanza of doing 2 posts in a day. keke...)

When I was doing National Service, I learnt to fire a M16 rifle.
While it was a fun thing to do, not to mention the enhancement of one's ego at the ability to shoot and kill...a new found fear soon dawned upon me.

In my hands lay a weapon by which I could decide a person's life. It was a chilling sort of way. So I begin to question if I could actually do it. Could I actually kill another human being? Even in a war...or in an extreme situation of similar nature...could I actually pull the trigger or inflict a mortal wound on another? I dun think I could though...I felt that its like killing a part of your own humanity when u destroy another.

But recently a can of worms was opened by a friend who posted about child rapists. It led me to question again. Were my own daughter or son sexually abused by another...would it drive me to kill out of rage and vengence. Surprisingly...I think I could.

I think the child rapists or paedophiles are the worst lot. I cannot accept that one would be willing to treat an innocent child in that manner. So if someone should do it to my own child I might conspire to kill the person. Come to think of it...if it happened to my might trigger a similar level of rage and violence.

But I dunno. Perhaps it is too hypothetical. I just know that with the above heinous acts, reason enough can be found within me to destroy another's life. Even if it means I end up in jail.

I think some of my friends may disagree with their religious doctrine. let me know if you think it different. Its just something I thought about.

APAD 3/365: To the beautiful people...

Of late I have had opportunity to know at a more personal (but not intimate) level, a few new friends who are homosexuals. More specifically, they were gay men.

Should anyone think this is the start of another purgatory against them, let me state outright and quantify myself in stating that I thoroughly enjoyed their company. I spent 3 days on a road trip with them and had very engaging conversations and discussions as well as a whole lot of fun.

I'm not saying that I begin with a sterotypical view of them which changed through the course of a road trip. Rather I've always known that gays make wonderful friends as well...we are after all human beings. As a friend remarked, race or religion...there are only good people and bad people. (I personally think there are more good people on Earth) So whatever their orientation, this would have been a swell bunch to hang out with.

Instead I write this because I want to quantify a part of me that has some strong aversion to them. But I'm starting to think that it may be too strong a word to use on myself. In particular I am more affected by gay men then gay women. Allow me to explain.

I don't think gay men are bad people. It's merely their sexual orientation. As I interacted more with them, I come to think its more of nature as opposed to nurture. I don't think there's a choice about being gay. Maybe to some...but for my new found friends, it doesn't seem that way. Yet I do not deny to feeling a little sickened at displays of affection at one another. It's wierd to see a guy being intimate with another. On the other hand...they may feel the same way about me and my partner in our heterosexual relationship.

Perhaps I am grown on a steady diet of strong machosimo man. Alpha Males who take charge. Masculinity is virtue. Like a lion strutting its mane, or an elephant with its manly tusks. And when I see man acting world folds inwards upon itself. I can't understand it. And as the history of human beings have shown...what we dun understand...we often fear.

Homophobic? Probably not. Perhaps a fear of what I don't understand. A fear of male impotence and fragility. Of coming to terms with a fellow man who expresses himself in a totally different manner from me.

And yet so many similarities abound between us. That we are all human beings who seek to build healthy relationships with others around us. We share common goals for our career and personal life. We cry when we are sad, shout when we are in pain, laugh when happy and above all else...struggle to live a good life. And as gays...they might even face a tougher struggle of prejudice and acceptance.

Forgive me if I cannot take it when you display your intimacy to your similar gender partners. It still raises the hair on my neck. But know that I gladly accept you as my brother or sister, to stand beside me should the hour cometh.

Oh...and the part about gay women...hee hee...maybe there's some raging male hormone filled fantasy about it. Go figure. HAHAHAHA!

And one question remains to be answered:
What if my son or daughter were to turn out gay one day?
I probably have an answer in mind...but I still think its too hypothetical. I will only know should the day arise.

Good night gentle folks and beautiful people. May the sun shine warm upon your face as it always does to me every morning.

Monday, August 16, 2010

APAD 2/365: This is home truly...where I know I must be

Recently a friend remarked to me that he had no loyalties to Singapore. He simply felt that Singapore had done nothing for him and that he owed Singapore no debt. Given a chance he would probably move to another country or should something tumultous occur within this region he would migrate to a separate country.

I am not sure if he truly meant what he said. Or could he be influenced by a wave of contemporary feelings amongst his peers? I do not know. What I do know is that as he said these words I felt a chill run down my spine. It made me question the value of loyalty to one's country. I won't even define it as patriotism, which seems to be too strong a word. Just a love or a sense of belonging to one's nation. Is it so hard to cultivate? Why did my friend feel this way?

And interestingly enough...why do I feel so strongly for Singapore. What burns in me? Happy and proud to be Singaporean. Why have I felt that my roots are here and that this is where I will build my life. Why do I stand unwavering about my nationality? Why do I feel I am able to stand and defend it if necessary?

By the way...same friend above has a cushy job, drives a luxury car and recently bought a luxury condominium unit. Clearly the notion of loyalty to nation has nothing to do with material wealth. is not doom and gloom. I still have friends who clearly state their love for the country. And I secretly thank them for sharing my belief for our tiny nation. It reinforces my views as well. One friend always shares how she hears the song "Home" by Kit Chan everytime her plan approaches the tarmac at Changi Airport. Unabashedly...I hear the same song and others as well. And its not just at the airport. At the the Causeway...coming home inadvertently makes me hum the tune to some good ol' Singapore songs.

Then I also have friends who like to ridicule me if I declare my love so boldy. Which makes me wonder why as well. When is it funny to make fun of someone who cares dearly for his tiny strip of land? Why do you tease me if I say that I am proud to be Singaporean? If you truly do not like this nation...why dun you just leave and find another? If you have so many things against this system and government...pack your bags and find another then. Me? I am happy to work my way with it and around it. I also find ways to critique it and put in my opinions to be heard so that the system can be improved. I have a cause and you have no right to judge me upon it. Then again...I have never been one to care for the jokes and insults of others. So long as my heart bleeds true and continues to bleed the red and white of my flag I have no fear of the small thinking of others.

Here I stand then. Declaring my love for this tiny nation. I sing its song with pride. And even though I may have heard the anthem a thousand times over...I still get goosebumps when it is played. My heart swells with its chorus and yes...I know the lyrics to most of the old national day songs. And should the day come, when cause becomes action, I will draw arms to defend what is my land, my home and my country. I have no recourse about it. I just know it.

I am Singapore, so it is and so it shall be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

APAD 1/365: Ode to the GAME...(and my grandmother)

When it comes to soccer...I gotta admit that my grandmother is pretty good at it.
Nothing spectacular...just that I happen to have a grandmother can score goals better than any striker if presented with a glorious opportunity to shoot.

Yup. Better than the Van Nistelrooys or the Rooneys or the Torres or the Ronaldos.
My grandmother knows how to position herself in the goal area and unleash the most technical of volleys or toe-pokes in order to ensure that the white orb enters into the crevice behind the line.

I've lost track of the number of times I have said out loud," Even my grandmother also could have scored!" Therefore...if the Fergusons or the Mourinhos are reading this. They should sign my grandmother. I'd probably price her at 30million pounds.

Enjoy the game guys! Its back!

PS: SINGTEL...I still hate you. MIO TV sucks. Your remote control is so tiny with miniscule lettering...even I have difficulty looking for the right button to press! Have you not heard of ERGONOMIC designs? I pity my grandmother...even though she is the world's best striker.

PSS: You'll never walk alone...(even if I have become jaded)

A post a day...(maybe even two?)

Revelations, massive waves of thoughts, solutions to problems, moments of inspiration, paths to get the idea...often come to me in 3 scenerios.

1. I am in the shower and the water is pouring over my head.
Something about the goblets of cool water as they rush down in waves upon my head and ease the tension of the day or awaken me from my slumber causes a flury of activity to take root in my brain. I have lost count of the number of times that inspiration in the morning has provided me solutions to problems.

2. Driving on the open road.
Take the PIE or AYE-ECP at 4am in the morning and you'll know what I mean. Wind the windows down and breathe in the crisp early morning air...and ideas just fill my head.

3. Poo Poo.
What is commonly known as number 2 or big business in the toilet. Seating on my throne and easing the tension in my colon also helps me think. I also read a lot in the toilet.

Judging by no. 1 and probably realise where I would spend a lot of money in my home design.

Inspired by a friend who did "A Photo A Day" (APAD)...I had one of my revelations and decided that I shall religiously update my blog. A POST A DAY.

I mean...why have a blog if you leave it to fester right? So ok...I shall set a task for myself and that is to update this blog RELIGIOUSLY everyday. One post a day...just to see what it would be like. Its kinda like Julia Childs who cooked a receipe a day. (Yes...I watched Julia & Julia and thoroughly enjoyed it)

I also say religiously because I'm gonna liken it to saying my bedtime prayers. Except I'm not praying of course. Just rambling about thoughts that come into my head as the day passes.

I won't write about my day...although I may sometimes. But I prefer writing about little things that seem to come and go in my head.

I shall start.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On this would have been six

A day to remember what could have been.
Thoughts come and thoughts go,
Invariably they end up going back to when things were.

I never intended it to end this way
But it did.
Regrets, I've had a few;
This would be the biggest.

Wishing you well in whatever you do.
We'll pass each other someday
I wouldnt know you and you wouldnt know me by then.

Good bye though memories will linger.
They always do.

Friday, July 30, 2010

"I can smell the germs" - A story of no sense or sensibility

Every once in a while, in the short existence of our meaningful, meaningless or meandering lives, we inadvertently stumble upon certain individuals who stretch the boundaries of common sense and sensibilities. Individuals, who through the narrowness of their minds and their own self-centred universe, cause us to react in disgust, loathing and even pity. For such is the tiny state of your little mind that I pity you for being blind to what is the true beauty of the world we live in.

I had the rare occasion of stumbling upon aforesaid individual during the course of my work and it warrants a long blog post about it.

Almost a year ago, I was posted to a school specialising in education for autistic children. I was to be there for 4 days to help invigilate the pupils in a nationwide examination. It was an eye-opener for me and an enriching experience providing me with insight into the otherwise reclusive world of autism. It was an incredibly interesting 4 days and I was very happy to have been posted there.

The nature of autism is such that the pupils take the examinations in individual rooms. They are separated from each other because in a highly strung situation like the national examinations, some may "act up" in a need to release the tension and stress that builds up in their bodies. When a pupil "acts up", in invariably increases the stress levels of those around him. As a precaution the pupils are allowed to sit for the exams in individual rooms. In my role as the invigilator, I will accompany a teacher and the pupil into the room and ensure that the examinations are conducted in a proper manner. So there are just 3 of us in a classroom. The pupil, an internal invigilator (a teacher) and an external invigilator (me!). It is a non-threatening environment and works well for the pupils. After each paper, the external invigilator returns to the main room to submit the papers and to have a short breather. (You try standing in a room for two hours, looking at the same pupil and nothing else...the break is a welcome relief!)

Day 1 of my assignment starts out pretty well. I am in-charge of a young boy and he is proving to be quite humourous to talk to. After the paper, we would spend some time chatting about his life and what he plans to do after the examinations. Something about a birthday celebration and what his folks intend to do. I'm glad I could connect with him and he seems pleased to see me as well. End of the day he even has the courtesy to wish me a good day. I am bemused and secretly wish him all the best for his papers.

Day 2 begins with the Chief Examiner giving out our assignments to us. For the sake of familiarity, we are likely assigned to the same candidate on the second day as well. The Chief begins calling our names and telling us which pupil we are assigned to. Suddenly, a commotion draws my attention to a lady talking animatedly to the Chief Examiner. I shall try to recreate the conversation below.

(names are kinda changed to protect identities...but I so wish I could say who she was and which well known primary school she taught in Ang Mo Kio!)

Chief Examiner (CE) : Ok, Flo, same as yesterday, you will be invigilating Pupil A.

Lady : *eyes widen* Pupil A again! No! He's very sick you know! I think he has the flu and he keeps wiping his nose. Yesterday I invigilated him and it's so bad I can smell the germs in the room! Very bad leh! He is very sick!

CE : *in comforting tone* Oh...don't worry. We have isolated him and we are checking his temperature now. He will be taking the examination away from the main population and he will be wearing a mask. Both invigilators will also be required to wear a mask.

Lady : *reacts in paranoia* No...No...No! He is really sick. HE IS SO SICK I CAN SMELL THE GERMS YOU KNOW! Can you change me? I don't wish to invigilate him.

CE : *gives in, does not want a scene* Errr...ok la. We see if anyone can replace you ah.
*addresses the room* Ok, invigilators...anyone wishes to change with Flo?

At this point in time, I am seated on a chair nearby and I am shocked beyond words. Flabbergasted...utterly disgusted by this lady's behaviour. I am revolted by the scene happening in front of me.

Is it not bad enough that a child with autism lives with prejudice and labels his entire life?

Is it not bad enough that a child with autism has to deal with the nature of his condition?

Is it not bad enough that a child with autism has to deal with how the public perceives him?

Is it not bad enough that a child, autistic or not, is sick?

Is it not bad enough that a child, autistic or not, is in a highly stressed situation of completing a national examination?


Every child has feelings. And most certainly he or she can tell when you despise or do not wish to be close to him or her.

And here...we have a teacher. A PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER!

She is afraid of him...because he is sick? She can SMELL THE GERMS IN THE ROOM!?!?!?

Here's the scene as it appeared in my imagination...

*Eugene walks over to the teacher and SMACKS her HARD on the HEAD. Then Eugene delivers a string of profanities and vulgarities in her direction to show how much he loathes and hates her. Takes over her duty and says in her face...


Now...that was my imagination...I didn't want to create a scene. So I merely told the Chief Examiner that I would swap with the teacher. The look on the CE's face was priceless. And seriously...I wasn't bothered if the child was sick. He deserved a shot at the examinations regardless of condition. And no child should go through what he did yesterday - having to take a paper and sensing that the invigilator shuns you.

Looking back. I wish I had exploded and taught Flo a lesson. I was sooooo angry.

At the end of everything I found out that Pupil A merely had the sniffles. A common cold. Everybody gets it once in a while. And while doing the exams with a mask I noticed he had to remove it every few minutes to wipe his nose. It was bothering him. Immediately I asked the internal invigilator if she minded that Pupil A be allowed to remove the mask. The internal invigilator was glad to hear it from me. So with clearance from the CE, we got pupil A to remove his mask to continue his examination in peace. As a precaution, both the Internal Invigilator and I had to stay masked though.

The Internal Invigilator was very thankful to me. She even mentioned how paranoid the previous invigilator (Flo). This made me seethe in anger again. I could feel my blood boil.

But deep inside I was glad I did what I could for this child and made him more comfortable.

End of the day, the child could complete his paper in peace and both me and the internal invigilator were none the worse for it. So the rest of the days invigilating passed by without incident...and it seems that we could all do our jobs and go home happily.

So I figured...just didn't realise that I had to contend with you-know-who...

Here's what happened...

LAST DAY OF INVIGILATION...we are done for the week, eagerly waiting in the room as the scripts are checked and counted to make sure that all submissions are completed. I am seated at the corner of a table where the Chief Examiner is busy with counting and admin. Flo is seated two chairs away from me on the same table. I tell myself I will leave in disgust if she moves near me. Suddenly there is movement, a door opens and the Vice-Principal of the school steps into the room. The room lightens up. Her appearance signifies that all is well and almost all checks is complete. Flo begins chatting with VP. Here is an account of what happen. (will try to be still sticks in my mind)

Flo: Ms VP (name protected)...have you been in this school long?

VP: Oh couple of years.

Flo: are you under Ministry of Education?

VP: Oh yah, now I am. I was actually a succesful business woman and I started by volunteering at this school. Then couple of years ago, they decided that I was suitable to be a VP and approached me for the role. So I reviewed my life and decided to earn a little less money but do something more meaningful. That's how I became a VP here. *smile*

Flo: Wow, you are a great woman. You must be a CHRISTIAN right? (Flo has a necklace with a go figure)

VP: *smiles and declines to answer...goes about her tasks*

Eugene : OH MAN! *point at Flo* You ignorant fool! What kind of a comment is that?
*string of unpublishable profanities directed at Flo*
Are you implying that it is only the CHRISTIANS who know how to be magnaminous and generous and kind? What about my mother? She does kind deeds all the time and she's Buddhist? What about my best friend? He's a Muslim and he's a gentle soul.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? I know you are Christian.

Ok...that didn't happen. I wished it did. But somehow I held my tongue. I dunno why. Maybe its cause I dun have the courage to do it. Or maybe its because I always remind myself to stay happy and that the world is too beautiful to let the little things or the little people hurt you.

Whatever the case...I will always remember this incident.

It reminds me that I made a difference in a young boy's life, no matter how fleeting the moment.
It reminds me that life is beautiful and there are beautiful people.

It reminds me that some people are just not worth it. Leave them be.

It reminds me that sometimes....I should pluck the courage to tell idiots off.

Thank you for reading. It was great sharing this.

Be well and stay healthy and happy everyone. Tomorrow is always a better day. =)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Helping Haiti

An old favourite tune of mine re-done for the Haiti survivors.
Poignant lyrics.

When your day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go, 'cause everybody cries n everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
If you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on

'Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. Oh, no. Don't throw your hand
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you're on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone