Dear Boys,

Sometimes, you can get bored of life, you get the same mundane thing again and again, after a while you lose that spark of life, wondering what’s next that you can look forward to.

Materials or?

Your mum and I agreed that we ought to give you boys a life focused on experiences, not material gratifications. That said, we are not short of material comforts and possessions, however we feel that the value an experience can bring to our lives far outweighs the brand attachment our modern consumer-driver lifestyle can bring. We are not crazy over LVs, Pradas, top tier mobile phones, $300 latest wireless ear buds from Bang & Olufsen, or the latest Apple products.

While these items can bring about a level of pride, satisfaction and happiness, after a while, the novelty of these items will dull, and we are back to the shallows; chasing for the next latest craze again. This kind of chasing after material attachment is tiring and mentally draining, not to mention the financial blackhole that sucks money with impunity. So we do not chase brands names, or material possessions.

Keeping things fresh- My first Cappuccino

I remember my first cup of Cappuccino, my friend Sebastian bought me a cup, when I was 15 years old, working in Changi Airport. It was a Delifrance cafe at Terminal One Arrival Hall (Long gone!), and if I remember correctly, it was also the first time I have such an expensive, classy cup of coffee. I never knew coffee came with a biscuit. Since then, I silently expects a biscuit every time I order a cappuccino, and will be silently disappointed if I don’t get one.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

The point of bringing this up is life is full of firsts, but the daily routine grind can make us become careless and miss the beautiful first experiences everyday, every moment. That is when life gets you down, you’ll see the same old thing again and again.

The ‘Best’ isn’t the first

Don’t get mistaken, sometimes the best isn’t what you need, there is a business function called Marketing, which makes people need the things they want. So marketers goes all out to position their products, services and solutions to make you want them, desire for it, and will do whatever it takes to get that experiences, and bring the first to get it is often the bragging rights that they brainwash you into.

Photo by Krizjohn Rosales from Pexels

So we will never queue for the latest iPhone, concert tickets to BTS or other hype. We are not going to line up overnight just to get the latest Hello Kitty toy from MacDonald’s. Being the first to get those extrinsic and material items is a waste of time and adds little or nothing to enrich our life experiences.

Ironically, the very first iPhone you get being the first in queue, might not be the best set to have.

The Small Thing Matters

Wild Durian at Pulau Ubin June 2014

So be particular about how you want the things in life, so far your parents has tried our best to give you life experiences, memories and stories to share, which will last long after your material items are worn down and thrown away.

When you both are older, learn to observe these fresh first experiences, which will be personal, intimate and unique to you as an individual walking the Earth.

Ian with a puppy at Pulau Ubin, June 2014

My First *Bagel

There was a scene at the end of the 2014 WW2 movie The Monuments Men where Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney said to the captured German Colonel Wegner: “Every morning, I walk there and I get a cup of coffee and a bagel, and I read the newspaper.” The rest of the conversation went on to other grimmer agendas of the film, but this line captured my curiosity.

How does a bagel tastes like?

While it’s commonly available, but I just never got around to buying one to try, on top if that, Bagels are just too expensive and gourmet to eat. It’s just a fancy bread, with a hole in the middle, kinda like a donut.

Cheese Bagel

So recently, curiosity got better of me and I bought a bag of 6 Bagels (expensive!) and as you can see, I over heated it in the oven and it turned out slightly charred, and hard, since it went straight from freezer to oven, anyway I think all bagels are hard, they look hard-ass.

So that’s it, my first Bagel at 45 years of age, what significance does it makes, all I can say is that I’ve checked off a little culinary list of mine, and satisfied a craving I held for a long time.

Never chuck those things, the to-do lists that you are curious about, and when you can the first chance to try it, remember that first experience and that’s what makes our lives well lived and filled with stories.

(*I just learned that Bagel is of Polish Jew origins, and perhaps that’s why it’s mentioned in the movie, the irony that the American Officer Frank Stokes will go home to eat a Jewish bread while The German Colonel Wegner will be executed for war crimes against the Jews )

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