Asian Civilisation Museum- no more!

Asian Civilisation Museum- no more!

Dear boys,

I’m no longer a big fan of visiting museum. Especially the Asian Civilisation Museum.

This happened during my days working at Raffles Place and I would like to have some time to stroll during lunch and since Museum gives free entry for Singaporeans, why not? Free air-con, cultural experience and hey, get to know history a bit better. Why not? Yes, I’m a cheapskate.

So I went, and armed with my Canon camera, I decided to take some pictures during my multiple visits.

Well like most museums, the place has lighting and climate control, as those really old old stuffs are quite fragile, worn down by the continuum of time. Too much UV, and the ink will fade. Too much heat, the fabric will tear. So everything in the place was a little dark, cool and quiet.

I didn’t think about it much.

Faces

I remembered back then, I wanted to take pictures, mostly focused on’Faces’. There are plenty of ‘faces’ in the museum, and at that point of time, there was a lot of statues and artifacts about the Buddha, some hailing directly from India, and these are really old stuffs.

Other ‘faces’ I took picture of are some other Balinese, Indonesians statues and figurines. As with all testament of our violent past, there are weapons of war, such as Kris, the traditional wavy swords, very popular with Javanese and Indonesians, there are also bows, arrows and some old, old flintlock muskets and other stuffs.

Bad vibes

I visited the place a few more times, I think in total 3 times? There nothing obvious about it, but the feeling grew. The place has somehow affected me, or infected me with a kind of dark,. somber mood. I couldn’t put my finger to it, thinking that it’s probably my own dark nature, which I sometimes have. I’m a Piscean, sometimes happy and cheery, sometimes, dark and sinister.

This time it was different.

I think it was after the 3 or fourth visit, I had a dream, one night. It is not so vivid now, but the feeling remains, heavy, dark and deathly. I dreamt of death, not in a good way, but in a bad manner, which I woke up feeling very disturbed. I couldn’t yet understand why I was feeling this way, I trusted my instinct and questioned my feelings.

Eventually, as I look by in retrospection, I came to a conclusion, my visits to ASM!

I don’t really know how I came to that answer, but it did dawn to me, that there is a dark energy in that place that has overpowered me. I’m usually not affect by such things, I have my policy in dealing with the spiritual, esoteric and stuffs that ghosts, spirits and other stuffs. I’m quite sensitive to such things, and they usually don’t affect me much. This time it did, and it did in a way I never expected. The dark energy crept up on me and changed my psyche.

Bad vibes, good side.

I’ve never been intimidated by such an experience and this left me puzzled. The fear is very deep seated, and it does still send shivers up my spine, when I think of the whole thing. The good thing is that my instincts prevailed and got me the answer I was looking for.

There is away a good sense in me that I’ll usually find the answers, as long as I settle my feelings and let intuition take over. The voice in me, most of the time, the wiser one, will prevail and lead me to the right conclusion. I don’t know how this is done, but when I have the answer, I heed it, unquestionable.

So I came some and deleted all the photos I took from the museum. No more faces.

No explanations

I think at the end of the day, I’d probably will not step into ASM for a very very long time to come. How did I get such a feeling from that place? What is so creepy about it? I really don’t know, as what I felt was highly subjective and personal. Perhaps that is a gold mine for a historian or academic studying culture and civilization. For me, it is a place that collects a lot of old, old stuffs, and when things are that old, it could have collect an energy source that gives out vibes. And when you put enough of these things together in one place, these energies will concentrate and perhaps that is what overwhelmed me.

So is there some truth to the movie series, Night at the Museum? Well, I’m not waiting to find out!

Chinese Opera Fun!

Chinese Opera Fun!

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Dear Boy,

Last evening, while we were on our way home after dinner from Waterwaypoint, we were serendipitously drawn to the sounds of drums, gongs, and cymbals. There was a large tentage put up at the open field  next to the MRT station.

The Chinese opera (戏) is in town!

This is a wonderful opportunity for the both of you to experience something that we quite rarely see in Singapore, it is a dying art, and culture. And maybe by the end of your generation, it might no longer be around.

Which is quite unfortunate, but cultures will always evolve with societal changes. Some will die off, some will thrive. Chinese opera (戏) ins Singapore sense is very unique like many things in our little island state. We always add our own little flavour to make it unique to our own.

Welcome!

More than just letting you both stand there and watch, which will be pretty much meaningless, since lingua fraca on stage is Hokkien. While my command of the Hokkien is not bad, I can cuss and curse quite proficiently in it, holding a conversation in 100% Hokkien is another matter altogether. The folks on stage is, of course, running the whole script in that. You boys have much less proficiency in Hokkien, so their on-stage dialogue will make no sense to the both of you at all.

So we walk alongside it and came to the ‘backstage’, like all 戏 I know, the backstage is highly porous, you can peep up, look at those performers do their make up, the musicians play their 二胡, and other instruments. I always makes a point for the both of you to see the ‘complete’ picture in everything, not just the show, but what it takes to make the show happens, the mechanics of things, so that the both of you can appreciate the trouble and effort to make something happen. So we were kind of watching up, at the performers putting up their costumes, make up and this fine elderly man smiled warmly at the both of you and waved.

The both of you of course wave back.

And he invited us, up, to the backstage.

How can we say no?

So with the aid of a plastic red chair, the both of you, and you parents climbed up and get a glimpse of this beautiful, dying culture, from the back.

Things from the back

There were piles and piles of Chinese opera costumes and make up strewn all over, and a quite buzz of activity as the performers rushed from the left to the right side of the stage. Some were putting on make up, costumes. It looked like an organized chaos. It is but it’s more than that, you see a well oiled team working together, everyone knows everyone and despite of that tight knit culture, we didn’t feel like strangers intruding at all. That fine elderly gentleman who invited us up, even encourage us, over the din of the music, to try their costume. We didn’t, too shy lah.

One of the kind uncles, who had a serious fierce  looking make up on, silently passed some snacks to the both of you. He didn’t say anything, he probably still have his microphone turned on, so if he were to say anything, it’ll probably be picked up and broadcast out to the audience!

I spoken with the gentleman and he told me in they will be here till end of the week. While he did acknowledge that it is a dying art, there is no sense of loss or regret. He is so positive and full of life. His warmth and openness allows us to embed ourselves into his world. Obviously an extrovert!

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The nice uncle in white who invited us up, along with one of his colleague
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backstage passes!

We obviously couldn’t stay long and bid our farewell.

Back to the front row

I bought the both of you to the front again to see the performance, and explained to the both of you, this is what ‘passion’ is about. They obviously don’t do it for the money, how many gigs must they do to earn a living? These folks are elderly, with no new blood joining them, these fine artisans will have no one to pass their skills to. I asked you, Ian will you want to do something like this? The answer is an obvious ‘no’.

The whole performance wouldn’t have made much sense, it’ll probably bore you, but after that backstage peep, the both of you wanted to stay on, and perhaps watch out for that nice uncle to come on stage and perhaps cheer him on.

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Now that the both of you has gotten that sneak peek, the content onstage has taken a little more depth and context. It is no longer ‘just another show’, as you both have somehow become ‘part’ of the show. You see from the back to the front, how these things are done. Its not easy, and these folks, doing it, has more life, driven by a sense of purpose to make this dying art as live as it can possibly, until their very last breath.

 

Real Aikido in NUS

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I enjoyed my Aikido class this evening.

Firstly, I partnered Teck Lim for Katate-dori Gyaku Hanmi-Shihonage Ura waza. The flow between the both of us is good, and although Teck Lim is holding a junior grade, he does hold his technique well, sans a few mistakes here and there, he is technically robust, at least robust to develop a rhythm in our exercise. We can go on non-stop, and this gave us both a good work out. More importantly, we get to work at a pace that is faster and more intense.

Aikido as a more developed level, goes beyond the physical, and technical, it also goes beyond the breath, with Teck Lim, I can push this, as he is already fundamentally sound in the movement, tempo and awareness. Of course, I tire him out and from that fatigue, we can explore another level of training, which is to push on, and through the experience of fatigue, you draw the energy deep within you to continue, then the technique will improve, marginally. It is not unlike weights exercise, where you train to failure.

Train to failure

In Aikido sense, you don’t develop large muscles when you ‘train to failure’, instead your partner, with the incessant attack, compels you to move, force you to hold true to the technique and not lose focus and form. Sometimes, you train until your hands are jelly, and you can barely catch your breath, that is the ‘sometimes’ where you have nowhere else to go, except to keep going on. It is not easy, but this evening I think I managed to achieve that with Teck Lim.

It is important, but often lacking in a beginners class; the intensity of training. For beginners, there are is technical crutches, speed at slow, moving and getting the hang of thing, the principles and basics of Aikido. To add speed into a technically unstable environment is a recipe for disaster, and in our case, Injury.

“Aikido can be practiced by all age and gender.”

This evening, I can trust Teck Lim to take care of himself, while I take care of me, and when it comes to my turn to be a nage, I am able to execute the technique with him already sufficiently proficient in taking an ukemi, so I can be relatively hard with my move, knowing that he can take it. For a technique in Aikido to work flawlessly, both the nage and uke needs to trust each other, and trust themselves. Teck Lim and I have that trust and proficiency, that makes things work really well for the both of us.

It was a wonderful feeling, since there is little to talk about except action. It is the doing that makes Aikido comes alive, and that happens this evening.

Katate-dori Ai Hanmi-Shihonage omote waza

The other person that brings so much joy to my training this evening was Karen, who has always been a  quiet and shy girl. The thing about Aikido is, you can be anyone, and Aikido as an art, a community will accept you. Karen is a girl who comes to class and goes home, she seldom mixes around, but personally, I appreciate her quiet presence. In Aikido, I’ve learned over the years, anyone and everyone in class is there to teach all of us in class something, never mind if you are introverted or not. As long as you turn up in class, there is a beautiful opportunity to learn something from each other.

So Karen came late, and I decided to partner her. She is still white colour in belt, so I go extra slow. She did her technique like a beginner, but she did it without a pause or stoppage, which is unlike a white belt. She didn’t check herself, check her move. when I held her hand, she moved, slowly, smoothly, from beginning to finish. There is no speed, but there is technique.

It goes without saying that, Karen as a junior belt, will expect little or no resistance from me ( ask the more senior belts, they’ll tell you a different story!). I am usually very cooperative with white colour belts. That said, she does not need coaching, perhaps once or twice at the beginning, then she is on her own.

It was a very beautiful feeling as she is naturally shy, so she don’t talk much, so we are only left with action and relation. That’s great, as it is what Aikido is all about, irrespective if my partner is a junior belt or not.

This is the very reason why they always use the well worn cliche “Aikido can be practiced by all age and gender.” This evening, this cliche came true, as Karen showed me that she knows Aikido, when she own the movement and both of us gets lost in the technique. We both come into the technique and allow the technique to happen, naturally and harmoniously.

You see it don’t take a senior belt to really master and enjoy Aikido. This evening, both Teck Lim and Karen has shown me, and I think more importantly themselves that Aikido is real, and when you are proficient to a certain basic fundamental level, there is harmony in the spirit of Aikido.

I was told quite recently that I should go ‘back’ for training, since in NUS, I only learn the basics, and the students come and go. Well, this evening, my decision to train with a bunch of boys and girls half my age is proven to be a good one, not to mention, totally enjoyable and wonderful.

Your Dad, The Dog Whisperer II

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Your dad is that scrawny boy in the middle

Dear boys,

During my National Service, there were plenty of time for me to come into contact with dogs. While as a Regimental Policeman, I have to duty to ensure the integrity of the camp I’m guarding are robust. Dogs on the other hand, will always have their ways to get around chain linked fence. If all else fails, they simply stroll into my camp via the very main gates we were guarding.

I’m quite lucky to have served National Service in days where there is no Al Quaeda, no Daesh(ISIS), and security in camps isn’t as tight as it is now. I was posted to the guard room, and technically served as a security guard. I got Mondays to Fridays 8.30am to 5.30am. which was great, the night shifts was covered by the guys in the camp. Life was easy, the only ‘security threat’ was not properly registering the visitors.

Bibi

So there was this brown mongrel. My friend Jerome, called her ‘BiBi’ as she kind of looked like one of the Chief Clerks in the camp. Actually she don’t, but the name stuck. Bibi came and went, like all free roaming dogs do, we feed her when we can and the relationship was very laissez faire. She came into the guard room, we feed her; she leaves, she leaves.

But she was pregnant. we knew that and didn’t think too much of it. Well, we were eighteen then, what do we know about doggie parenting?

Bibi does.

We came to camp one day and the guys who manned to night guard duty told us that Bibi did something in our cell.

You see, back then our guardroom has about 12  holding cells for prisoners, but most of them were unused, and became makeshift storerooms. although a couple of them were clean and unoccupied. Other than the stacks of newspapers we put there.

So Bibi went into that cell, made herself cozy, by spreading the newspapers out. Promptly gave birth to her offspring there.

It was the most b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l thing to me. The experience is not anything I could have had. Bibi was there, there was 11 of them, but 3 died at birth. the rest of the 7 scurried to Bibi’s nipples for their suckle of life. They all scrambled like hungry little rodents, and despite of their eyes has yet to open, they know where the nipples are, and homed in on it. There were one or 2 weaker ones, who couldn’t get to the nipples for refuel, I helped moved them a little and positioned these weaker ones for their nourishment.

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Bibi with her brood

Bibi trusts me.

I didn’t know maternal instincts until I met Bibi. Of course her giving birth wasn’t a total secret in camp, many of the camp guys camp to see and yeah, that’s all they get, a look, they couldn’t touch the pups, they could try and all they got was a low warning growl from Bibi. These guys were strangers; for me and my RP friends, we held her, we could hold her children. There was no issue. For me, to have a dog trust me instinctively and intrinsically is one of the greatest honour I could have as a human being. It is a big deal as an 18 year old then.

The pups were small, I can hold one in my hand, and as pups, they grew fast and grew so full of energy. And so playful too.

Unfortunately, sometimes, ignorance and playfulness can cost them their lives.

Puppy vs 3 Tonner

I came to camp one day and learned the unfortunate demise of one of the pups. The night duty guys told me that one of the puppies, a lovely little brown patch of furry energy, decided to take a nap on the road, just outside my guardroom, the wee hours of the morning.

A 3 tonner came and went, unfortunately didn’t see the puppy, well it was night and dark, the little mutt was barely visible. The result was predictable, road kill.

Blackie

I think the most fortunate of all the pups was this little black thing called ‘Blackie’. He was picked up by a Commando Major, and the soldier took it in ever since. Even when the Major retired and joined the Police Force, Blackie followed him. I’m sure the Major would have given the mutt a good life, all the way to the end.

I’m still in touch with the Major every now and then, and he does tells me Blackie’s still with him, but that has been a couple of years since I last caught up with the old soldier, I wonder if Blackie’s still alive, or old age has finally caught up with the mutt.

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Jerome is that big guy.

 

The melancholy man @ 41

The melancholy man @ 41
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It is quite a challenge finding 41 pictures of me to do this montage!

Dear Boys,

I’m forty one this year, and unlike your mum, I was never a big fan of celebrating birthdays.

It is not as if your mum has big birthday celebrations, but the least was she has it, every year, her family would celebrate her birthday, even the lunar one. Me? The only birthday I vividly remembers was my 12th birthday, that’s it.

While I grew older and earned my own money (I started working when I was fifteen), birthday, as I know it is a significant day, especially when it’s mine. There is something special about me, on that day, but I couldn’t figure out what. So I started taking leave from work on my birthday, not to celebrate with cakes and parties, but to spend time with myself. That was until I met your mum. She usually fuss over my birthday, not me.

Until now I still cannot understand what birthdays is all about.

Birthdays depresses me

In fact, as the years pass, I get more depressed.

Depressed that at my age, I hadn’t accomplished anything ‘big’, nor did the things my peers are doing. Yes, keep up with the Jones to get to me sometimes. Of course the consolation is, that I lived a mediocre life, free from worries, debts, major diseases, war, poverty, and all those things. I should be lucky, contented and happy!

I am not, and I can’t figure out why.

So what’s the surprise?  

I don’t see the need to figure it out, so what if I do figure my life out? I’d never be able to get out of it alive! So what if I created a solution that save the world? I’ll still die?

Legacy? What’s that?

At the most selfish level, nothing I can ever do, can save me from death. Death is certain. but people are busy celebrating ‘birthday’ and not too concerned with deathday. Well, death is the ultimate storm on anyone’s parade, huh. We’d all rather looked at the happy, dandy side. Focus on the birth-day, nevermind that death is on the opposite side of the same coin.

It is at this juncture, I get stuck. Even in writing as of now. Death kills my writing…

Death kills everything I can possible think of. It is over before I can even think about the beginning. I simply don’t have the upbeat optimism good vibes to overcome death, no one can, I guess. So why even try so hard?

And yet, I cannot reconcile with the reality that I am put on earth to just convert Oxygen to Carbon Dioxide. I am made for something more, I just don’t know what. Hell, I’m such a genius.

I live for you

One thing for sure, I think I am here for the both of you boys, and your mum. Other than the three of you, there is no one else. No one else who knows that I really existed, whom I really matters in their lives. It is the three of you whom, if I for one reason, disappears, dies or get kidnapped by alien, will grieve for me, worry for me, thinks of me, and cares about me. And for I play a key important role.

I’m always grateful for your mother’s love. She has been the most incredible woman, at the same time, dumbest to follow this melancholy man. I guess that is what love is all about, she believes in me  more than I believes in myself, and she takes my shit, all the time, dust herself off and continue to love me. I cannot be here if it is not for her. Sometimes, I let her celebrate my birthday, not because I am important, but it is because I am important to her. And my birthday is an important day to her, much more than it is an important day to me.

So the big Four-One is upon me, and I’m still here, doing what I am doing, everything looks the same, for me. The only thing changing is the both of you boys, growing up, while your dad is growing old. I hope us celebrating your birthdays year on year will give the both of you some meaning. This is what is blog is all about, a dad’s introverted hope that you can make better sense of your lives, and use my life and folly to make sense of yours.

41

 

 

Your Dad, The Dog Whisperer

Dear Boys,

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Nancy, my Pug

Back when I was still staying at Bedok South, I cam across a little dog that was left at my block’s provision shop. The auntie at the shop say someone left the dog there and she was feeding the dog water.

It was an affable creature, totally lovable. I was probably 16 years old? There was only one response, bring it home!

It was a pug. True pedigree Pug. not a mongrel, not any street dog.

Fat little bitch. My mum and I named her ‘Nancy’, well for a good reason, my mum thought she looked kind of like the recent First Lady of US, Nancy Reagan. So we called her that ever since.

And it didn’t occurred to me why would anyone want to throw such a lovely dog away. It didn’t occurred to us to bring her for a medical check up. We just took her in and she became part of us ever since.

I’ve always been a dog person. Before Nancy came along, I was kind of frolicking with dogs and mutts. Back then they served a more utilitarian purpose, more like guard dogs. Those dogs I came across and played with are all mongrels, average size, hardy creatures, totally lovable.

Lucky

There was a ‘Lucky‘, a mongrel who actually belonged to my dad’s neighbour. He had a shop/warehouse in Eunos, and the next door guys makes roller shutter doors, the company was called ‘Standard roller shutter’. I think they are no longer around.

Lucky was a great dog, he know his way around Eunos and live, came and went as he pleases. He eats whatever we feed him and I will always remember, cycling to the Eunos wet market to buy $2 worth of slop; scraps of food from the mixed vegetable stall and bring the big bag of rice+whatever the hawker have left, mostly meat. Lucky will eat them all up. Oh, yes, he eats ice cream too, but with a brain freeze look after that. Lucky also chases cars, trucks and anything that has 4 wheels on.

He was as loyal a dog as it can be, even though the mutt don’t technically belong to us, he followed me everywhere; he often followed me and my mum to the bus stop at the main road, which will need him to climb and cross an overhead bridge. He would wait with us at the stop, watched us board the bus and went his way. The very next day, we will always find him back at the shop.

As a mongrel, he’s not the cleanest mutt, and has his fair share of dog’s breath, stink, fleas and ticks. I would pluck them off him, take a hammer from my dad’s tool box, and put that flea out of its misery, between concrete and hammer. blood would splatter on some of these big fat, juicy blood sucking fleas. The fleas couldn’t flee fast enough from me. Ha ha.

Back to Nancy

So Nancy came to stay with us. and by then she was already a fully gown dog, so our attempts to house train her failed utterly. She pee and poop almost all over the house. We would get angry and beat her after she she mess up doing her business; she would give us the most sorrowfully sweetest look. We cannot be angry with her for long.

While she was with us, she is just the sweetest dog. My parents were going through a divorce and she was our constant source of comfort. Pugs are generally mild tempered, and Nancy was just that. Not the sharpest tool in the dog world, but she is certainly the sweetest. Sometimes, she do earn her keeps as a ‘guard dog’, as she would know the presence of a person before we hear them. And if it was me coming home, she would wag her small curly tail, happy like only a dog can be.

On quiet days, she’d be happy just to sit with you, while you rub her tummy, message her face, play with her fats. You can rub her chest, that little cluster of pointy fur that bunched up there.

It was only good for a year.

One day, Nancy wasn’t her usual self one day and we couldn’t figure out why. She lost her appetite and drank a lot of water. I was working then and I just couldn’t get my mind off her. She was not the jumping cheery self. Just tired and lethargic.

I bought her to the vet, and they checked on her. They pinch her and the skin sort of clumped together, a sign of dehydration, which could goes to show some kidney problems. They would have to keep her there overnight to observe her.

So I left.

She never came home.

The next day, the vet called my mum at home (those were the days mobile phone isn’t that mobile yet) and told her that Nancy’s condition has deteriorated overnight, and they will have to put her down.

That was that.

I never get to see Nancy, never got to say good bye.

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Nancy, basking in sunlight, I often laugh at her doing this, it is as if, she is solar powered, recharging, her leash is like a power cord. LOL.

I have very little pictures of Nancy, these were the days digital imagery wasn’t prevalent. But my memory of her is deep and still is. Having a dog changes a person. You cannot be a complete human being if you have no relationship with an animal.

I finally can understand why she was left abandoned at the void deck by her previous owner(s). They’d probably knew about her condition, and couldn’t afford the maintenance. Or she has grown up, and they have grown tired of her. But even though she was only with us for 1 year, I’m sure we gave her the best possible life all the way to the end.

Snatch thief!

Snatch thief!

Dear Boys,

This is real life story and it happened to your Ah Ku’s friend.

Once upon a time, your Ah Ku’s friend was driving, on his way back from Johore Bahru (JB) to Singapore and he was stuck in a long traffic jam trying to clear the immigration, which is quite a frequent occurrence; then he had make a poop.

  • He was in a traffic jam;
  • There is no toilet nearby;
  • His poop has reached the ‘custom’;

lv-paper-bagThere is no other alternative, he gathered some bags from his car, and put them in an empty Louis Vuitton paper bag, it will do as a makeshift poop bag. He came out of his car, and ran to the bushes by the road side to do his business.

It wasn’t nice to just leave the bag there, so he held the on to the bag and walked back to his car. He didn’t notice trouble approaching, a motorcyclist with his pillion.

The bike zoom past him.

The pillion grabbed his LV paper bag.

And zoom off before he could respond.

SNATCH THIEF!

poop