Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our block was on fire!!!

But we're fine... No worries.

Mrs Liew was in her early forties. She was a happy housewife. Although she sometimes looked back at her past with a sadness in her eyes. The love of her youth had left overseas, and she did not follow him after he asked. Her Mum told her that nothing good would come from this infatuation. Nothing came out of it at all, he married another woman. She wasn't angry at him anymore, anger had left place to a melancholy in her heart. And when she heard the voice of her son or daughter, then all the sadness was gone and her heart fuelled up again with her love for them.
Her two children, we growing and were on their way to make good studies and build a good future for themselves. Andy, 12 years old, wanted to become an airline pilot, and Sandy 16 had already started fulfilling her dream: she was taking acting lessons besides school. Although her parents did not fully approve, they looked at this phase with a tender smile. She'd get out of this mood and take a real job, administration or sales. Her marks at real school were still good and she took on her own time the acting lessons.
Mr Liew was seldom at home. He drove a taxi, meaning that 12 to 15 hours per day were spent behind the wheel, Sundays and public holidays included. Like Singaporean men are taught, he got married to the first woman accepting him, and he was carrying our his duty in life: to bring money home. When he was behind the wheel on the way to Changi, to Clementi, to Jurong west, to Orchard Towers or where ever, all his thoughts were on his driving so he did not see how dearly he was missed at home. Or maybe he chose not to see it. After National Service he worked in a bank as a clerk. He dreamed of becoming high ranked in a financial institution and was slowly taking the steps to it. Then his wedding came, the kids etc. He needed more money urgently, and he helped himself once in the safe. Then a second time. He was caught fast, so he didn't go to prison. But he had to pay everything back and still had to get money home for his family. No employer would take him on of course, so he hit the road in a yellow cab. His past life wearing a tie everyday, being able to take holidays once a year, and having time to spend with his family were all gone. His wife was very supportive all this while, and it made him feel more remorseful. He unconsciously avoided her as much as he could.
Finally, Denis. Mrs. Liew's youngest brother. He was lost in life and after the army he had nowhere to go, no job, and no motivation whatsoever... His parents threw him out of the house so his sister kindly took him on. For a few months she had said. It's been 1 year, 4 months and 3 days.

So that Friday morning, on 27 November 2009 Mr Liew was not at home. He had started early as he knew that many Muslims would be visiting their relatives and needed to take taxis. It wasn't raining, Mr Liew didn't like rain, he felt it made people more aggressive. And the dull sky did not match Singapore's tall buildings. Mrs Liew had taken the kids out. She wanted to shop for a gift for her husband whose birthday was coming soon.
Denis was home alone. For once he hadn't slept until the afternoon as he had the house to himself. He was smoking on the sitting room couch listening to some music on his mp3 dreaming about a life on a sail boat in the Pacific Islands. He was thinking about the clear blue sea, the fish jumping about. The white sand of the beach just a few hundred meters away. The warmth of the wood under his back, the sun on his face and the sea breeze preventing the heat from getting unbearable as it does in Singapore. The oven clingged, the pizza was ready. He got up, left his burning cigarette in the ashtray lying on the armrest and walked slowly to the kitchen. He was busy cutting the pizza on the table when he smelled some rubber burning. He turned to see if he had left some plastic on the oven, but it was cooling down slowly. Then he saw some black smoke in the sitting room. He grabbed the bottle of iced tea in the fridge and ran to the couch to soak the fire starting in the ashtray and spreading fast on the nylon cover, and reaching the curtains. In a few seconds the whole room was full of smoke, and the fire couldn't be stopped, he was disoriented and went to the place which was less smoky: back to the kitchen. He opened the window and shouted out, but no one was downstairs, only this car reversing 20 meters up the car park. The smoke was brought towards the opening, he started choking and was now trapped. No phone, no exit so he climbed out the window.
The heavy smoke had alerted the neighbours and a crowd was gathering around. Denis was crawling away from the heat and the smoke along the bamboo poles where the few clothes hanging dropped the short two floor height slowly dancing in the air as if to mock him at how it was easy for them to land safely on the ground.
The poles were bending dangerously under his weight and the lookers shouted him to be careful, to stay back, not to go out. In the distance the sirens were getting closer but the pole snapped. Denis fell with a shout, but he felt relieved to be away from the heat and the smoke. He hit the ground on the back, his left arm smashing in pieces like a glass. The pain was so intense that he fainted. Some people ran to him, but none dared to touch him. Some blood was coming out of his mouth and nose. A woman bent down and tried to talk to him with no success.
Half a minute later, the fire brigade and the police arrived. The fire brigade post is much closer than the police station, they should have arrived sooner with their ladder...
The fire was handled pretty fast. Once it had burned the whole couch and the carpet, nothing much was left and the firemen were almost disappointed that it didn't give a good fight. Denis was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Apart from his broken arm in four different pieces and his lungs full of smoke (the doctor laughed saying that he had inhaled enough smoke not to need to have an other cigarette in his entire life) Denis was shocked but fine. When he woke up, he told his sister he was going to buy a boat to always have enough water around him to put away any fire.
Mr and Mrs Liew were on their part really shocked. All their furniture was as good as lost. What hadn't burnt reeked of smoke and the rest was soaked in water. The flat was devastated. They had nowhere to live.
Mrs Liew's parents welcomed everyone in the end, even Denis. The refurbishing of the house was done in order, and Mr and Mrs Liew were glad they had taken a home insurance that paid much of the repairs.
After this event, Mr Liew realised he should've been home when this happened as his day didn't usually start that early. He made, from then on, a point of not over working and stayed home as much as he could. He started talking to his wife again. He was earning a little less, but the happiness was worth every single cent not earned.
After his arm healed, Denis found a job at the Singapore Yacht Club. Nothing fancy, just cleaning the boats and giving a hand here and there when needed, but he could learn to sail, and could save money to get his own boat one day. His parents allowed him to stay with them so he didn't bother his sister anymore. But he visited her often and promised to take her on his boat one day.

Of course, most of this story is invented. I was wakened by Ting telling me "the neighbour's house is on fire" at 1.30pm Friday. It took me an other half an hour to get out of bed so I missed most of the action. The smoke coming out of the building was very impressive though. And a person really fell out the window, but I didn't see that. I sincerely hope the owners of the house are all okay and that they have a happy ending like in my story.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Such a Tinker moment.

My mobile was running low on battery one morning since I had completely forgot to charge it the night before, or maybe I did but forgot to turn on the switch (another Tinker moment). So while in such a rush to get to work on time, I took with me the charger. Only it was the wrong charger... but of course I had not realised it yet. My phone charger's the traditional 3 pin plug with the tiny point at the end. I took my ipod charger with the usb cable.

I went to the office, took out the cables, plugged it into the computer still (I should have realised by now that it was the wrong charger I took because the phone charger is a 3 pin plug. There was no way I could have been able to plug it to the computer), and only realised it was the wrong charger when I tried to fit the other end to my phone!

Asked Julien why he didn't tell me I had taken the wrong charger all this time because he had seen me take the ipod charger not the phone charger with me, when I was already saying I wanted to charge my phone. His response.. nothing. I couldn't get him to stop laughing. All I could grasp through that laughter was "...Still... - ...tried to charge phone... - ...after... - ..cable". *Squint*

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My 12 hour dengue fever...

Yes it's true, I was diagnosed with dengue but I'm fine, let me tell you the story.

A fortnight ago, on Sunday night we had a barbecue a Ying's house (the Tinker's cousin). She has a pit by the swimming pool in her condo. Ting and I had a swim before that and as I came out I was bitten by a few mosquitoes. Nothing alarming in Singapore so far.
The barbecue went well (except it took us over an hour to start the fire, we eventually had to buy new charcoal!) and the food marinated and cooked by the girls mostly was delicious. So was the Tiger beer. We had a really nice evening altogether and I thank Ying again for having us, we should do this again.
Ting and I went home and fell asleep pretty soon.

But the next morning when I woke up I was covered in tiny red spots. Mostly on my hands and feet. Just a small allergy I thought, I would get to the Doctor's later in the day to get some Zyrtec or something. I had to go to the office that morning as my N+3 was in Singapore and I didn't imagine myself not being there to meet him (I had not met him before, that's an other story).
So all morning I was happily working and my hands were still covered in red dots, but I was feeling pretty well and alert. So lunch time came, the doctor was forgotten and only when I looked at my hands did I think, "Maybe I should show this to a doctor". My N+3 came and went and later as I was relieving myself I noticed that the spots had covered almost my entire body. But it's when I spoke to my mother on the phone that I started panicking.
I phoned her that evening from the office, and told her about my allergy. Her reply was that it was probably nothing except if my tongue swelled. As she said this I imagined myself chocking in the office in front of my helpless colleagues so I took the decision to get to a doctor immediately. All the medical centres around where I work were closed by this time, and it's at the one across from my block that I ended up after a long panicky train ride.

I didn't wait too long at this late hour and when I saw the doctor (I didn't really see him as he was wearing a mask during the whole consultation. I couldn't recognise him if I saw him in the street) he started asking me all these unusual questions, "do you have fever?", "No". "Do you have a sore stomach", "No". "Do you have any joint pains", "No". "Did you get any nose bleeds", "No, but why so many questions Doc?". "Ah, this looks like a dengue rash." My heart skipped a beat and I looked at him with a smile, "you're kidding right?". He wasn't. He asked me if I wanted to take a blood test at that point. As the results would not be available before the next day; and as I didn't have any of the other symptoms he described; and as I couldn't get my mind to believe I had dengue, I declined the blood test and was sent home with some Zyrtec, "for the itch" he said...

I got home and told Ting that the doctor said it could be dengue. Even if she'll deny it, I saw fear in her look. I was quite uneasy myself, but my mind kept telling me that the doc was wrong and that I had nothing of the sort. I realised at one point I had completely forgotten the possibility of chocking on my own tongue.

Bedtime arrived soon and needless to say I didn't sleep much that night. It's funny how my mind (I'm sure I'm not alone in that case) seems to put me in these bad situations. I kept imagining myself in a hospital bed telling Ting not to worry, that I was going to be fine, over and over again. And I thought about never recovering. And what would Ting do if I died and all that stuff. It seems really stupid now, but I was genuinely worried.

The next morning came and once again, as I had an appointment with my N+3, I put my job first and went to the office. Except for being tired and covered in red spots I was feeling pretty well (i.e. no fever, no nose bleed, no joint pain...). But at lunch time I decided to see an other doctor across from my office. I waited long and when I showed my rash the doctor just laughed and said it was "hives, probably caused by something you ate or touched. It's going to go away soon, but I can't tell you when as it really depends on individuals". My heart started beating normally after 12 hours of high frequency and I was feeling stupid for trusting the other doctor of the previous night.

So this was my 12 hour dengue... Quite scary really, but it also made me realise something else. As soon as the second doctor told me it was nothing I believed her without a doubt although she could have been wrong. I trusted the one with the good news rather than the one with the bad news. It goes to show that a human is ready to believe anyone who's going to predict a good future even of the one predicting bad stuff ends up being right.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Time off for a longer journey ahead!

Work's been really really crazy. But I love it. I love what I do. And I'm happy to be able to do what I do. Everyone who's met me has told me that this is not something that everyone can do. Haha. True I suppose.

I was working non stop 3 months before the wedding in August, and I must say that I was actually a lot more productive. Knowing that I was going to have a one month break, motivated me to do more in that 3 months than the rest of the year combined! I was really amazed at how the human potential can be stretched beyond limits set by our own human mind. After the wedding, I went straight back to working again. This time, it was because I know I have another 3 months more before a 3 week long break in December. I was doing pretty well until around the 3rd week of October where somehow, my spark kind of just fizzled out. And I didn't really understand why at first, because I was really enjoying myself at work for quite a while, and I didn't want it to end.

Then I started to fall a little ill. I would be okay after a good night's sleep, but when I got to work the next day, it would start again. Was wondering if I was starting to develop an allergy for work?! This started to stress me out a little and I began to feel frustrated easily and irritated for no apparent reason some times. It took me a few days before I figured I should take a few steps back and evaluate the situation again.

I'm glad I did that because I realised that I was starting to be burnt out at work without even knowing it! I started to get a little too optimistic about planning my schedules that I couldn't handle it time management wise. And this caused me to feel like I was giving up too much of my personal time for work. So, this is the best part that my job allows me to do: I took 3 days off work and just relaxed. Did the things I wanted to do for a while, that I was always pushing to "later" or "another day" or "when I have the time". I stayed home to read a book, cooked dinner, went out to the hairdressers', spent more time with Julien, basic things that make me happy. And it felt really really really good!

One value I learnt in life: To take time to do the things that make you happy! It refreshes the soul!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The last minute surprise

This post is coming late, very late actually as it relates an event that happened on the 25 September...
For those who are passionate they will know right away that I'm referring to the first trial of the Singapore Formula one grand prix! It would be quite spooky if you made the link before I told you because even I, who assisted to it, would not tie that date to cars going fast, but to Caroline's birthday (hey, how are you by the way?).

Back to the subject... It all started a few days before when I told Tinker that I'd like to see the grand prix, but it was too late to get tickets and anyway $200+ to see this was not worth it. But it was still hanging in my mind despite my striking out the possibility.
Then that Friday 25 September, around 4pm if my memory serves me right, I had a call from my dear wife, as usual on Fridays around this time. I was expecting the usual chat about our plans in the evening. And indeed it was the same, except Ting simply told me:
"I can get tickets for the trials tonight, you wanna go?"
"You're kidding right?!?", replies the Yeti with a tinge of excitement in the voice
"No, no, I can get tickets, you want to or not?", throws back Tinker pretending to become impatient.
Of course my reply was to not wait an other second and we got the tickets. The cherry on the cake was that not only she had one ticket for herself and for me, she also had one for Jimme (remember how I told you to pronounce that? Yehmeuh) who would be a welcome male company in this kind of event.

So the appointment was set to meet a few hours later and head to see the cars turning and turning and turning more... Needless to say I didn't work much after that phone call as I was busy checking the map of the track on internet, the drivers, the cars, and I was pondering whether to go home now, or wait a little to save face in front of my colleagues... I had to fetch my camera you see?

I left about 20 minutes later with a loud smile on my face and a broad "I'm off to see the F1 girls!" addressed to my colleagues.

I picked up Tinker at the MRT station (the bike stayed in the parking that week, you can't imagine how bad to the traffic it is to build a race track in the middle of the city) and we went home. We stayed about long enough to change, grab the camera and left again.

We then picked up Jimme at an other MRT station and here we were on our way to City Hall MRT to enter the arena. I was expecting a large crowd, but strangely not that many people were entering... On the contrary, I wasn't expecting that much noise, you can't imagine until you hear it how loud these cars are. I thought night clubs were bad: I was wrong.
I took the noise for the first few cars, regretting bitterly not to have bought the earplugs selling at $2 at the entrance. Very soon I couldn't take it. The walk to that first shop was long and on the way I passed a Ferrari outlet. I went to the girl at the counter asking for the price of the earplugs with a broad smile knowing that it was going to be damn expensive, but heck I'd still buy them. $10 was the answer with an equivalent broad smile. Mine faded and I walked away grumbling bad words against Ferrari.

The rest of the evening went pretty fast, I'll pass on the overpriced chicken rice, and the overpriced beers and the bad view of the track.
We stayed on the field in the middle of the race track during the break where we enjoyed a concert of Ozomatli, a good band playing raga.
There was also an exposition of old cars, really nice ones.

Here are the few not too bad pictures we managed to take. It was overall a great evening and next year I'll try to see the race sitting in the grand stand!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cultural Differences?! Belony!!!

I've come to realise many things as of late - The conclusion being that my Yeti is the best husband in the world.

Lesson 1: Julien and I have a lot more in common than perceived.

Our journey wasn't always an easy one. I would understand if people were apprehensive while we were dating - there's always a chance that Julien might decide to up and leave for France. Since we've been married though, there have been some good meaning people who have come up to me and told me that there might be some issues that Julien and I might face in the future due to our cultural differences. Thank you for the concern but here's where I would like to set the record straight. Julien and I have more similarities than any other Chinese man I've dated. I've never seen our different cultural upbringing as a challenge, but I rather find that it adds value to our lives in general. It makes life so much more exciting! It's because we come from different backgrounds that we are more inclined to be understanding towards each other. Not all the time of course. Having said that, the fact that we don't agree over something cannot always be attributed to our cultural differences. It's just merely a difference in opinions, this can happen between anyone.

This also helps us to learn how to compromise with one another or even brainstorm on situations to come up with more creative solutions. There are more positive attributes to this than there are negative in my point of view.

Lesson 2: As long as we both are happy, nothing else really matters.

I've been very blessed at work and was privileged to even qualify for a company holiday trip that would be fully paid for to Korea for 3 days. Of course I was to share this with Julien. Unfortunately, the timings just coincided with our pre planned Paris trip and after much discussion, we both decided to pass on the Korea trip. Much to my dismay, not everyone agreed with my decision at work not to go for the Korea trip.

It was an easy choice for me to make. I always ask myself these 2 questions when I feel stuck sometimes. Q1: Is there anything to lose? Q2: Will you regret this for the rest of your life?

For Korea, yes there is something to lose because this is a company paid trip and we're talking about 1st class treatment during this 3 days. Good hotel stays, good meals, etc. But I can always go for another company trip the next time, I just need to make sure I qualify. As for Paris, there is everything to lose, because I don't want to spend Christmas or New Year away from Julien and I know that he would want to spend this season with me too. And nothing means more to me than to make my husband happy. I mean, he already travelled more than 10,000km just to be with me. So yes I have everything to lose and yes I will regret it for the rest of my life because no one else can give me back this experience, not with all the money in the world. Sure I can still make it happen by travelling to Korea from France, but why should it be at the expense of my own happiness or Julien's happiness even?

I've come to learn, thank goodness quickly as well, that in every decision that we both make, as long as we both come together in agreement on something, and are happy with our final decision, nothing else really matters. I will definitely apply this in our future decisions.

Lesson 3: It's important to communicate.

For the longest time, I had this misunderstanding towards Julien with regards to my work. I realised it's very important to talk with one another. Regardless of cultural background, misunderstandings can arise when not clarified. Julien had previously made a statement about work that made me feel he was not being supportive. That honestly put my morale on a low. Each time he made the same statement I would feel inadequate. Recently, I found out though that his statement was not in relation to me personally. It was more a general statement. You probably do not understand what I'm saying but it doesn't matter. I'm glad that we both managed to clarify with one another about this. He is actually very supportive & understanding towards my working hours and just work in general.

We all define things differently. Even words, we perceive them differently. It's very important that I understand something in a way that Julien would want me to understand it. And only communication can allow us to do so.

Lesson 4: Time once passed cannot be re-wound.

I've been in a very reflective mood as of late and just the other day, this question popped up in my head out of no where: "If you went to Heaven today, is there anything that you would regret?"

My answer: No, for work. No, for friends. Yes, for family.

I seriously need to do some rebalancing of my time management with regards to family time. I mean, heck! I just got married! I guess this also attributed to my decision to drop the Korea trip altogether. I'd rather spend quality time with my husband and my loved ones than leave all this for some fully paid company trip. I know I work hard. And I want to play hard too - It's my entitlement.

Lesson 5: Julien's a very good natured boy...

Says my mother since the first time she met Julien. And she is right. Patience and understanding are truly a part of his virtues. This has helped us avoid quite a number of conflicting situations. Or rather, it helped prevent these situations from escalating. We're not altogether saints. We do fight like every other normal couple. I think the right word my mum was trying to look for was "Gracious".

Julien always told me of the "mirror effect". Basically to treat others how you want others to treat you. Which I find to be true from our own experience. In most situations, even during my worst days, with my own insecurities, he treats me with utmost respect, and I in turn am filled with respect for him.

Lesson 6: Love is not just gazing at each other; it's looking together in the same direction - Antione de Saint-Exupery

This phrase that was on our wedding programme, has been a huge part of our lives. What this means to both of us in short, is that in a marriage, we both have our imperfections. Instead of focusing on each other's faults, we both need to focus and be filled with God's love for us before it over flows to one another.

Spend less time staying angry. Spend more time living.

Lesson 7: I married the right man.

Enough said. =)

Feeling melancholic today. Maybe it's because my Yeti's away for 3 days. *Whine*


I noticed that I love to create things. I'm pretty much a hands on person generally. Even for the wedding. With the help of my cousin, Ying and my sister, Min, we made: the boutonnieres, my march-in bouquet of blood red roses, the bouquet of tulips for the day, as well as the brides maids bouquets of lilies. So on and so forth. Even with food. I love to create new things with food.

My recent muse was scrapbooking. We recently got our wedding pictures from the photographer and since then we have been cracking our heads as to how we want to send out our thank you cards, in what format we want to, and how it should all come together to look like. At first I used the scrapbooking tools to lay out the pictures just to have a feel of how we want our card to look like, but it was such a success that we decided to use that instead! I can't show you our finished thank you card for the moment, you should receive it in your mail in another month or so... since we have yet to go through the guest list again. But I can show you one that I did about Julien.

I loved it so much that I decided to do one for myself too!

I did a page of Julien's childhood pictures too in the end. He's just too cute as a toddler.
Trying to have some fun without my yeti at the moment... He's in Thailand on a business trip at the moment. Whine...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

When Toys Were Simple

We decided to head down to the Mint Museum today, something that has been on our want-to-do list for quite a while now, but we never managed to strike it off because either the weather was not good, or we just preferred to do something else that weekend. So today, we both decided it was a pretty good weather and a good occasion to make that trip to the museum.
Julien was very motivated to take a walk down memory lane also because he had taken his old Minolta film camera along with him and was pretty eager to test it out. We went, we saw, we loved it - it's something not to be missed. Everyone should try it once.

I had taken out the digital camera that day too and was more excited to compare the pictures between that of the Minolta and the digital camera taken from the Mint Museum. Julien was very enthusiastic with the Minolta as you can see at the start of the day. Unfortunately, the "photographer" felt that there was not going to be enough light at the museum to take nice pictures with the Minolta, so I ended taking over on the photography business after.

That's not a party hat he's wearing. We were standing in front of the lift lobby with a huge rocket picture on it, and it was just mere coincidence that Julien picked a spot just where the tip of the rocket would stick out above his head. At least he's happy.

I went snap-snappin away so fast that there are too many pictures to upload at one go. But I've selected a few of my personal favourites.

I've never really played with these toys in my time, but I thought there looked real cute all lined up like this.

Julien took this pic. It's his favourite. Of course I was way too short to have seen it.

Tin Tin is one of my personal favourites. His name's almost like mine. I used to watch tin tin cartoons when I was growing up. I still do!

I learnt from Popeye that eating spinach helps you grow stronger. Even though I didn't know what spinach was then or how it looked like.

Bruce Lee played the role of Kato in the Green Hornet. Did you know?

Cats! A Tardivat favourite!

That machine was tiny!!!

All these were displayed in a frame. They were tiny! About the size of the little green plastic soldiers that boys play with these days.

This car was about the size of a roll of film.

This one was even smaller!

There was this lovely little cafe in in the museum so we thought we'd stop for a drink before heading back. The food there smelled really divine, but we never ordered. Think we'll drop by the next time just to try out the food.

I love the weekends!

I don't know how our day ended this way.... But it DID.