26 December 2005

my little bit of xmas

i'm not a christmas fan, not a subscriber in the christian faith, but i really appreciate the christmas holiday for what it really is. it's a holiday !!since my return from overseas, i've been trying to catch up with my friends, many of whom have assumed i'm awol ... and i've managed to latch to one group ... my former rotaractors !

me & kenneth

we had a gathering at fong's bakery in seri hartamas on xmas eve. saw all my old friends there, had a good time. happy to hear that many are about to end their days of being single. congrats to them. the ones who've got hitched and are living miserable married lifes, i managed to see their little ones - a reminder to myself that i'm not really into having kids. (but they're so adorable !)

anyways, that and some high calorie mamak meeting too. haven't had any high calorie meeting for some time now.

the people (and ex-people) from avaya who're not on leave (or who have nothing better to do on xmas eve)

earlier in the day, i was with my colleagues (and one ex colleague who defected) at Chili's in KLCC. had a good time, talked a lot of cock, and had a splendid time. we should do this more often. also had a good time after that checking out lcd tvs .... i wanna get one to put into my study room post renovation.

yes, i'm thinking of renovating the study room. put aircond, put nice shelfs, put some study desks, create a little bit of an atmosphere in there. should be good.

21 December 2005

cold, dark, taipei

i was in taipei on business in early december, when winter was just starting ...

now i understand the hype of winter fashion. unlike the malaysian idea of cold weather clothing, which is just some sports jacket that makes you look very uncle or auntie, winter fashion is actually cool. people dress up in dark shades, with jackets, boots and scarfs that really look good once you're somewhat competent at color coordination. but how hard izzit to coordinate black and black, seriously ?

taipei 101 has now surpassed klcc's petronas twin towers as the tallest building in the world, so i couldn't help but visit the observation platform on level 89 ... you pay NT 350 (RM 39) for the visit ... just don't visit in the winter when the skies are normally cloudy and somewhat hazy. i had one good day of sunshine in taipei, but work kept me away from visiting. you can even go to an outdoor observation deck on level 91 (but must pay extra NT100 ~ RM 11) when weather permits.

on the one day when i was free from work, the weather wasn't all that good, and visibility was restricted to the surrounding areas only. still, it was a good and worthy visit ... highly recommended and definately topping the petronas sky bridge visit (which is only at level 41 vs taipei 101's level 89 + 91).

david took me and raymond to the pub districts near the shangri-la far eastern. not too bad. ended up having some nice beer at this place called carnegie's where the patrons dance on the table top ... it's ok .. for a place like taipei, i expected a wilder pub scene.

david also took us to a very nice taiwanese restaurant hidden away at a basement. it's so different ... unlike most other restaurants, its doors are locked away and you need to know how to get in there ... :-) ... most unusual place i've been to.

also visited the shih lin night market. like most night market nowadays, it's mostly food and clothing you'll find there. i couldn't find a single store selling taiwan tea :-(. the cold weather didn't deter the locals from turning out in force, and there was plenty to see. the local vendors can pack all their goods in 30 seconds ... it's amazing to see how quickly things can be stuffed and packed and ready to go when the police comes a calling. i need to ask the taiwan girls how come they all so slim and tall one ... what they eat ?

the weather this time of the year reminds me of the british isles ...somewhere between 10 - 15 celcius. not seriously cold, but still chilly enough to make my round the city walk very pleasant indeed. i took a walk from the taipei 101 down to my hotel at jen ai road via zhong hsiao east road, walking past the old haunts i used to frequent when i worked in taipei. so much have changed, yet so much stayed the same.

i regret not being able to visit the news room at UDN, but being a working trip, there really wasn't much time for any social activities.

taipei 101 at night looks .... cold ... you can see the chill blowing off its face ... soon after this photo was taken, they actually put up lights for X'mas. too bad i didn't get that.

and during the day ... 101 looks different. opinions in taipei are divided over this tower. some say its unnecessary, some like it, some think it'll be good for taiwan, some don't ...

the sinyi district from the 89th floor on taipei 101. taipei is just crowded.

here's the famous zhong hsiao east road. looks very docile, but looks are deceiving - it's one of the hotspots in taipei after dark. the lanes behind this main artery has a lot of good eating places and also some entertainment.

02 December 2005

tribute to my grandma

my maternal grandmother passed away on tuesday, 29th november 2005.

while we all in the family are sad and misses her terribly, we all take solace in the fact that with her passing, her sufferings on this world has passed too, she is now free and cured of her illness.

my granny was a mother to 9 children, all of whom were brought up under difficult times in difficult situations. my mother, her first child, was born during the times of the japanese occupation in malaya. those were desperate times and it must have been tough.

i remember the stories my mother used to tell me about life back in the tougher times in the 40s and the 50s. granny migrated to malaya from china with my maternal grandfather. he was a coal miner, and she was a mother, housewife, maid and farmer. earning a living in those days were difficult, and grandpa toiled for days and weeks at the coal mine in batu arang, selangor, while granny was a maid in an english rubber plantation manager's home. they lived in a makeshift house in batu arang. they were so poor, the house didn't have any real walls - they couldn't afford to buy enough planks, so there were gaps all around the house.

grandpa wasn't the best of providers, so at a very young age, my mother, my second aunt and my third aunt all worked in various jobs. my mother was a maid in her early teens, and later, a rubber tapper. 2nd and 3rd aunt all did rubber tapping and odd jobs such as grass cutting and washing clothes. due to the hardship, non of the first 3 children ever got much formal education.

my 4th aunt, and 1st uncle, the eldest son in the family, all got education thanks to my grandma and my mum's far sightedness.

things did not work out in batu arang, and grandma moved away to find a better life.

she ended up in a new village in mengkibol, kluang, where she set up her own food and drinks stall. she stayed there ever since, with my 6th aunt.

my half-uncle, and two half-aunts were all born and raised with proper education there.

in her time, my granny was a tireless worker, who provided for the family. it's no wonder there are so many strong woman in my family. from my mother to my half aunts, i respect all my grandma's daughters, who are strong willed and street smart people.

my grandma's compassion and unconditional love for all of us is a benchmark i don't think will be surpassed. when my mother ventured into the food business for the first time some 10 years ago, my grandma didn't think twice about leaving kluang for an extended stay with us. she taught my mum everything she knows about running a restaurant. and while she was here with us, she loved us all dearly, always dispensing advise to me and my sister generously.

in our youthful callousness, we often dismissed such advise as nags, more irritating than educational. little did i realise that in the years to come, i've started dispensing advises such as those to younger members of my family too ....

grandma had her health complications later in her life. she had some operations to her hips, where she had screws attached to her hips. she had hypertension. she had diabetes. yet through all her pain and suffering, whenever i find time to take mum to see her, she smiled happily at me. it's like the pain was never there. still, the wrinkles don't lie ... grandma was clearly not in perfect health. i now sometimes regret that i did not make enough of the 3 hour driving trip to kluang with mum to visit my grandma.

it was easy to see that grandma's happiness was all in the simpler things in life. seeing her children getting married, holding her grandson, seeing her grandsons visit her unannounced.

after her passing away, i had some time to reflect while her funeral arrangements were made. i know i've inherited her knack for making the best maggi mee kering ... my mum has that too. and i inherited her dark little toe nail ... (for some reason, my mum's family all have dark little toe nails). i'm happy and proud to be of her bloodline.

through her hardwork and her strong will, all her 9 children have grown up to be law abiding citizens who are contributing to the society. some, like 4th aunt, hit the bright lights in singapore and is now a successful businesswoman. some, are simple housewives. some are executives in public listed companies, some own their own metal plants.

however, they have all made lasting impressions, and their children, in return, are all doing well. i think for grandma, there is nothing like knowing that we have all made it in our own ways.

i wished i could have written a better tribute to my grandma, but i really think you have to know her to do understand what i'm trying to convey here.

the last thing i could do for her, was to observe her last rites and ceremonies the best i can. i only hope she realises how dearly i miss her.

i'm hoping she would now be happy where she is, free from her pain, free from her diseases and free from her worldly worries. we all are sad she had departed this world, but i take solace in my believe that she is now enjoying her time up in heaven, where she can finally take a rest and just enjoy.