Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A-praise Me Not?

All this time in my working years, this year is the strangest of all when it comes to the annual Performance Appraisal.

This year, I was asked to give myself an appraisal, along with the people under my charge that I have to do appraisal for.

Self-appraisal? Always something new... at least in my book.

A few unsettling and sceptical thoughts spontaneously ran through my mind...

You don't know what I have been doing this whole year?
You're too "busy" to do my appraisal?
You really want to know what I think of my work performance?
Blah... blah... blah...

I guess I should not be too concern because I learnt that everyone who reports to the boss has to do his or her own self-appraisal.

Very "innovative", very convenient, very strange... those bad thoughts again. Sigh.

I know how I have been performing, but I would rather hear it from my boss, objectively:

What are my strongest & weakest traits you have observed?
What expectations are required of me?
What immediate, medium or long-term goals do you have for me?
What is planned for me in this establishment?

The actual questions I have for my boss to answer. Sigh.

As reluctant as I was, I submitted the sheets of PA form today, together with the others that I had done. I saw myself objectively, I rated myself and I gave myself the score I deserve each with justifications on how I arrived at each score.

Again the looming thoughts I have...

So this is how they do it in the HQ or the boss' own brilliant idea?
Blow your own horn... the louder you blow, the more they hear, the better the score philosophy?
How can they tell the truth from false or embellished fabrication of one's performance?

Hope I do not get busted for writing this. Will the judge me... rate me or axe me? Will see.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hari Raya Gathering

Imran's Family Photo Raya 2006
Celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year seems to go on a slow start.

Maybe because it falls on a weekday, so there seems to be a lull period of a few days until the weekend arrives. Most probably so because the exams are on for the Primary students.

This year seems to fall short on mandatory visiting to our parents homes - Wifey's at West Coast and mine in Woodlands.

My mother-in-law was not coming back to Singapore this year, but celebrating it in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where she has settled in her new home a few years already.

So, the whole day was spent at my parents home instead. Good thing we were there as this year was my parents busy year somehow.

Right after we took our traditional annual Raya family photo in our home, we headed to my parents place after lunch.

Within just the first day, they both have received visits from far away relatives in big groups. Wifey and I helped out at the kitchen preparing drinks and food while our parents entertained their guests.

It was like Mcdonalds' with lunchtime crowd. It was tiring, but fun. We were like working in a busy Chinese restaurant. I did the dishes, while Wifey prepared the food and drinks as family after family came visiting.

It made both my parents so happy that they remembered them and did a wonderful gesture to actually made them their priority to visit on the first day of Aidilfitri. A day traditionally reserved for parents, grandparents and close relatives.

It made me proud to have my parents be regarded that highly.

Selamat Hari Raya Mom and Dad!
Maaf Zahir Dan Batin

EidulFitri Family Portraits

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Subconscious Blots

Tickle Test - Original Inkblots Test
Muhammad Imran, your subconscious mind is driven most by Curiosity

This means you are full of questions about life, people, and the potential of your future. You spend more time than others envisioning the possibilities of your life — things that others are too afraid to consider.

Your curiosity burns with an almost physical need to know and do more. It's only through new experiences that you feel a greater understanding of yourself or the world — which ultimately is the greatest way for you to feel satisfied.

It is possible that the underlying reason for your drive towards curiosity is a deeply rooted fear of boredom. That means that you are probably more susceptible than others to feel like you're falling into a rut when life slows down into a comfortable routine.

You need to make sure you have stimulation in your life — that makes you feel like you're innovating or being exposed to the ideas and experiences that truly inspire you.

With such a strong orientation towards curiosity, you're also prone to a rebellious quality that shows up when you feel you are just going through the motions, and are unable to really influence the world around you. But interestingly enough, your drive towards novel experiences also indicates an openness others don't have, but wish they did.

Unconsciously, your curiosity presses you to learn more, experience more, and get the most out of life.

Though your unconscious mind is driven most strongly by Curiosity, there is much more to who you are at your core.


Tickle Test - Curiosity Inkblot
Yes, yet another test I took from Tickle Test.

This time is about what my subconscious mind is telling me about myself.

A series of questions to describe what I see or feel about each of the 5 inkblots shown throughout a quite extensive test.

My result is Curiosity. Yes. So true! I am amazed at the accuracy of the result to describe me.

Like just the other day, as my office friends and I were going from the canteen back to our office after a morning break, I saw a beautiful yellow butterfly with black and brown dotted wings on the tarmac as we walked pass it.

It was still. I stopped and reached down to touch it, as everyone else went passing bye looking at it with indifference when I told them. They just continued walking.

The butterfly had two of its legs broken for some reasons, and could not fly after I tried to stir it away for fear it will be driven over by a passing vehicle.

Yellow Butterfly
It flapped its wings but fell flat instead. It could not fly away. I believe it was dying. Maybe it was already reaching the end of its lifespan. Such a beautiful insect. Quite uncommon to see such a butterfly with those beautiful patterns.

That is life, I thought to myself as I left it be and joined my friends.

I was thinking to myself...

Why am I intrigued by such things; stopped to take a look and try to make sense of it, while the rest of my friends do not have the slightest interest?

Am I considered a normal adult who is maybe quite intensely curious about the things around me, or have I not out-grown my child-like traits that get people around me baffled at my "antics"?

I am not embarrassed for my antics, but I just want some kind of explanation for it.

The Tickle Test of Original Inkblots Test revealed the answer to my second question.

Sometimes, it is worth to take the time for such tests and get explanations for some of our life's chronic questions for free. Of course we take it with a pinch of salt.

No shrinks needed here. Thank goodness.

PS: I am not getting any commission from Tickle for the commendations.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My Divine Inspiration

Tickle Test - What is your dream theme?
"You're dreaming about feeling deeply connected to the universe and to those around you. While you sleep, your mind gravitates toward scenarios in which you feel free of burdens or constraints.

Your dreams tell stories of positive relationships that don't hold you back. This means that you're likely tapping into a sense of uplifting freedom and awe of the greater things in life.

There are a wide variety of dreams that fall into the category of Divine Inspiration. You may dream of being surrounded by lush or expansive natural beauty.

Many people dream about being embraced tenderly or of making love. Flying is also common in Divine Inspiration dreams.


Above is the result of a test I took from Tickle about "The Dream Interpretation Test."

It seems there are 7 universal dream themes psychologists can group together:

  • Mastery - maximizing opportunities & achieving well-deserved success

  • Life's Reward - see yourself in a favorable light

  • Order & Balance - you are coping with difficulties & their consequences

  • Empowerment - situations that are threatening to diminish your personal power

  • Self-Reliance - not ready to take full advantage of life's opportunities

  • Divine Inspiration - deeply connected to the universe & to those around you

  • Spiritual Connection - revolve around various stages in the cycle of life & death

Mine is the 6th in the list as Divine Inspiration. This theme has 3 main dreams that fall under its thematic umbrella - Flying, Beauty of Nature and Physical Connection.


  • You sail through the air, feeling free as the wind. You can go anywhere you wish — nothing is holding you back. In these dreams, you may fly away from threats or troubles, transforming difficult situations into beautiful experiences.

  • In these pleasant and sometimes exciting dreams, psychologists believe that your unconscious mind is expressing a feeling of ultimate freedom. In your waking life, something in particular is going very well. You feel connected and supported, and nothing is keeping you from soaring through life and reaching your greatest goals.

The Beauty Of Nature

  • In these dreams, you may find yourself surrounded by lush vegetation or blooming flowers. Perhaps you're walking through a forest of tall, comforting trees, or gazing at a valley from a safe vista. No matter what the exact scene, everything around you is beautiful and calming. These dreams can often have a mystic or miraculous element to them.

  • These rare dreams are a gift from your psyche. Analysts believe that such extremely beautiful surroundings are a sign of feeling joy and exaltation in your waking life. They may be related to a spiritual experience or practice, or indicate a truly special connection.

Physical Connection

  • In these common dreams, you connect physically with someone in a way that's pleasurable. The person may be your partner, someone else that you know, a stranger, or a celebrity or public figure. In the dream, the person may embrace or comfort your physically, or you may enjoy a passionate connection with them.

  • According to psychologists, these dreams are all about connection. You may desire a deeper or more satisfying connection with the person in the dream, or your dream may be expressing an already-satisfying connection. You may also want to connect with or adopt some quality that this person stands for in your mind.
I am pleasantly surprised as the result and explanations are very true and meaningful to me. Some lingering questions of my dreams are answered here. Cool Tickle Test! Try it!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Brain Damaging Habits

10 Biggest Brain Damaging Habits - Click To EnlargeFor a couple of months, I have been receiving emails about the damaging habits we do to our brains, but in different versions.

I deleted them after reading about the same thing, but his one stops me from doing so. This time it makes me want to post it in my blog.

I am not a superstitious person, but I keep getting about the same information so many times that it seems to be "telling" me something. Take heed, maybe?

Yes, there are some bad habits I am guilty of as stated in the attachment.

For one thing, I always skip breakfast. I would leave home for work with a cup of coffee only, but I eat breakfast at 10:00am instead. Does that constitute as breakfast or brunch?

I take lunch at 1:30pm though. Hmmm...

From the last email I received, I started taking cereal and protein drinks since I do my morning workout.

I must "doused" these down with a cup of coffee, black. I need my morning coffee or I will not function.

Anyway, these are 10 good pointers that serve as reminders. These are logical enough explanations for me to not ignore and take heed.

Always something new to learn and practice good habits to keep my sanity. Something everyone can practice if they think it is good for their health... brain health.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Back To Work

Tampines NE Council Raya GreetingsAfter four days off work since last Saturday, I had to drag myself off my bed and into the shower to get ready for work. Sigh.

One of the toughest mornings in my life. Tougher than to wake up every 4:30am in the early morning everyday to eat sahur or early breakfast for the fasting during the day, for the whole of the Ramadhan month.

Yes, I took a cab to work. Someone had to get me to work fast as I took a whole lot of time getting ready. Every thing was a slow-motion replay this morning.

One nice thing did happen when I was about to step into the factory, though. I met a colleague at the door who greeted me with "Selamat Hari Raya" and shook my hand.

A nice gesture, from someone I did not expect to get anything beyond an acknowledging nod when we pass by each other.

The day was looking up for me. That guy just gave me an uplifting boost to my spirit.

Why did I not take longer leave off work like the rest of my Muslim friends at Production?

Well, I have used up most of my paid leaves when my Dad fell ill and diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and many more used up to accompany Mom when she had to go for her physiotherapy sessions.

Fortunately both are well now. Dad was given a clean bill of health during his annual endoscopy last June 2006 and Mom is off her routine physio as she can now walk upright and spared from the sporadic leg cramps she used to have.

These are the best rewards for my annual leaves well spent. I would not trade them for the world.

The day went smooth, even though there were no one else greeting me in the office. Being the only Malay and Muslim in the office tend to make you "forgotten" by the rest of your special day.

Then again, no one actually bothers about anybody's birthday, so this is about the same thing once they come back from the Hari Raya public holiday...

I was so ready to leave work at 5:30pm sharp. My nephew was coming to visit us tonight as he will be leaving for a 3-month boot camp at Tekong Island.

I was all packed up and about to leave when a friend came to me with his work problem.

I had to give him a listening ear and shared my thoughts, and advice of what I would do or handle the situation... if I can call it that, after an hour-long talk. Sincerely, I hope it helped him in some small way at the very least.

So glad to finally reach home at 10 minutes past 7:00pm. Beautiful home... all clean and decorated, excitedly waiting for relations to pop by...

Well, none today, unfortunately. My son and I had a peaceful dinner instead. Wifey tending to the shop. Business was brisk as she mentioned over the phone earlier. Good news.

My nephew over-estimated his travel times between his other uncles' and aunties' houses he was visiting and had to skip mine to get home to psych himself for the army the next day.

I did not get to give him moral support to face the tough and trying, physical and mental endurance he has to undergo, but I wish him all the best! He is a strong-willed teen anyways.

As for the rest, I guess everyone was just too tired after their spring cleaning and visits to their parents and in-laws. Tired like I was this morning.

Things... well, activities will definitely pick-up these weekends for sure. Syawal is after all a month long celebration.

I am ready to visit my siblings and friends as they are to my home. I feel blessed to be able to celebrate Hari Raya in peace, happiness and abundance with my family this year too.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Syawal Is Here!

Aidilfitri Morning Prayers at Darul Ghufran Mosque
Today is Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Month of Syawal is here.

Woke up this morning with glee, always very pleasantly different from any morning.

A sense of personal accomplishment of spiritual goals set in the month of Ramadhan. I felt I did a pretty good job at all. So did my family.

On the more tangible task, I managed to reduce my weight 4 kg to 66 kg now at the same time. Yes!

I am especially proud of my son for completing another year of challenging fasting as a child. My Wife for having faith in me while she was stuck at the shop most times. The downside to retail.

Aidilfitri Morning Prayers with Ghuran Minaret
Went to Darul Ghufran Mosque for Hari Raya morning prayers this morning.

The weather was cool and fresh despite the persistent haze shrouding over Singapore. The sun was out but not hot nor humid.

A respite from the hot and hazy weather we have been having when we got our first rain to cleanse the air and nourish the trees and grasses that have since turned brownish.

Oh, the colours of the male worshipers with their traditional Malay Baju Kurong for Hari Raya.

Cheerful and smiles across their faces. Just like mine. Tired from the spring cleaning and fasting, but the smiles tell a million blessings to be celebrating this day.

Like every year, the number of worshipers grew more as more and more people live in Tampines.

Since we came about 15 minutes before the prayer started at 8:00am, there was full house in the mosque's main building and annexes, so we settled for the makeshift outdoor mats for the prayer.

In fact, I prefer the outdoors to perform the Raya prayers since all other prayers were done in the mosque. A nice change to have done with hundreds others outside, in the open field.

Will take breakfast and get ready to go visiting to our parents place. But before that, we have our own family forgiveness session, where Wifey and our son will seek my forgiveness for the past deeds while I seek theirs.

Aidilfitri Morning Prayers Ended
We will do the same... to seek forgiveness from our parents for our past deeds, of the hurtful or harsh words we may unintended have said to our folks and our siblings too, as we visit their homes.

The children will be the most happy because they get "green packets" once they seek forgiveness. A fitrah for the children when they get money in the packets.

Selamat Hari Raya!

Wishing All Muslims The World Over
Happy Eid Mubarak!
Wishing The World
Peace & Happiness

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Happy Deepavali Friends!

Happy Deepavali To All Hindus
To All Hindu Friends
The Festival Of Lights Is Here
Wishing You
Happy Deepavali

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hari Raya Hunt 3

Finally, we were at Geylang Serai Ramadhan Bazaar.

From our shop in Bugis Street, we took bus Service 7 to Geylang Serai after we closed the shop.

I was excited as always to go to this yearly event. A makeshift night market full of Raya stuff in one place. The buss and festive Raya atmosphere can be seen as far away with the street light-ups and can be felt as soon as we alighted from the bus.

This year light-up is more extensive and elaborate. The mood for Raya shopping is definitely in the air. There were people everywhere, but instead of frustrations with tightly packed crowd, everyone was actually busy bargaining and buying stuff from annual Raya cake and cookies, to baju kurong and fake flowers.

This year, Wifey's baju kurong dress was found in this bazaar without much hunting around. It did not cost above S$100.00 either. She fell in love with it regardless of the price tag.

It is set, we are going visiting in light blue colour.

Geylang Serai Ramadhan Bazaar '06
Next hunt was for matching colour baju kurong for my son and myself...

Found! Matching colour and both my son's and my sizes were available. Great too was the price tag. We bargained mine from S$65.00 to S$55.00 while our son's at S$40.00. Totalled to S$95.00 which was also less than S$100.00. Amazing!

What took a lot of time hunting around though, was the matching Kain Samping for both my son and I. A good complement to our plain, light blue baju kurong.

Whenever we found a good one, there would only be one left. And when we found a good match again, the kain samping was not sewed yet. There was no time time to do any sewing with Wifey's busy schedule between the shop and home.

One last burst of hunting instincts, we found a stall that has, yes... balance 2 sets of kain samping that was a good match for our baju kurung. Only then Wifey bought her headscarfs that matched our kain samping. Yes!

Next hunt, Raya cookies!

Not hard to find as there were so many stalls. We were soon heading home, fortunate to get a cab as soon as we reached the road side. Thank you.

Mission complete! Now for spring cleaning.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hari Raya Hunt 2

In the spirit of Hari Raya celebration, the preparation is the most fun time I think.

Went out with my parents to accompany them with Raya preparations, the shopping day out was good, though quite hectic at IKEA.

4 of us were there, my parents, my son and myself were caught-up with the huge crowd at IKEA. Totally huge that the whole place was packed with shoppers who actually make purchases.

So crowded that there were less items on displayed because many were sold out!

Mom wanted to buy some canisters for her Ray cookies, but upon our arrival there, the whole pallet of the canisters were swiped-off clean. So did the spade which Sister asked to buy for her.

As for me, curtains were the most important item to get, though many choices, there was none that coordinated with our sofas. Wifey has put her trust in me to choose the curtains this year, since we now have our little shop for her to tend to.

A great leap of faith in me on her part. I better not screw it up.

Mom did get a few more stuff in her shopping list, but the queue was incredibly long, until it stretched all the way back to the self-collection centre. The rows and rows of checkout counters were jam packed!

IKEA Gargening Section
Thought it was going to be a long wait, but something wonderful happened.

A lady in the front queue from the next line saw me pushing Mom on her wheelchair, and Dad pushing the cart, started calling us out.

"Come over! You have old folks there queueing. Come over!" the lady called-out to us.

"It's OK, thanks. We are OK" I replied. Mom just waved and said thank you.

"No, no. Come over to this line. Just go to the cashier and pay," she insisted, looking at others around her in the queue to seek their approval "OK right? Poor madam and his father standing there."

"Just go lah..." one man from another line replied and waving at me to come over to her line. The rest of the people in the queues nodded and smile, giving their approval.

I was feeling quite embarrassed, but wheeled her over to the lady's line and went straight to the cashier. A good jump of 8 people before the cashier.

As I wheeled her and passed those nice people, I nodded and thanked them. Dad followed behind wheeling the shopping cart along in between tightly packed people in queues with carts of bulky items, nodding his head, grateful.

The cashier just smiled and say "Good day, Sir."

After payment and before we left, I waved and thanked all the people again. A very nice gesture and a totally unexpected pleasant surprise.

There are still plenty of beautiful and selfless people here in Singapore. Graceful still.

As for the Raya hunt. My parents got most of what they wanted. As for me I have to continue the hunt for out home.

Delifrance Asian Delights Ramadhan Briyani
We spent so much time at IKEA, we could not make it to VivoCity in time for buka puasa or break fast at about 7:00pm.

We decided to go to Anchor Point Food Court across the road from IKEA for dinner. Mom settled for Delifran where they served Beef and Chicken Briyani... an indian yellow rice with thick curry, but with a touch of French. A dish that is popular among Malays.

Mom had her Chicken Spaghetti, Dad and I had the Briyani, while my son had seafood croissant for buka. Delicious. A perfect end to a hectic shopping day out.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Winds Of Change

Satellite View of ASEAN - Singapore as Red Dot
Yes! Thank you for the reprieve even if it is only for a day.

Woke up this morning and the scenery out the window is back to where I remember it and definitely prefer. The haze has cleared... for now at least.

The winds direction has changed and so Singapore enjoys the clean air it has continuously advocate with its strict pollution control measures.

Last check with NEA's Meteorological Service online showed that the PSI reading has gradually dropped from the unhealthy range of 150 at 11:00pm yesterday, the highest in 10 years, to 27, well below the tolerable range... the way it should be always.

It is a wonderful and timely reprieve for me since I am going out with my parents again today ... as promised since she wanted to get a few things.

We are going shopping in preparations for Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, marking the end of a month-long fasting and self-cleansing when the month of Syawal arrives on 24 October 2006.

Clean Air For Singapore
First stop, IKEA. A must for house-proud Malays.

Geylang Serai is the best place to be during this fasting month of Ramadhan since all the needs for our Hari Raya celebrations are all there in one, huge, make-shift market.

Since she had already been there with my 3rd Sis and Brother-in-law last week, IKEA will be her next hunt for some canisters for the many Hari Raya cookies and other decorative stuff for her home, while I will look for drapes for mine.

Yes, this year, I will do the shopping for the home instead of together with Wify, since she is stuck in Bugis Street tending to our shop.

We are expecting better sales this month and the months to come leading to Christmas and New Year as the shopping spree of Singaporean heats up.

VivoCity Opens on 7-Oct-2006As for our home preparations, of course we have discussed what exactly I should be looking out for with the colour and style of curtains for the living as well as the bedrooms.

She is trusting my "interior deco instincts" for our home. A huge leap in faith on her part, so I better not screw this up.

Since the shopping should be a breeze at IKEA, I wish to surprise both my parents by bringing them to VivoCity at Harbourfront.

It has just opened for business yesterday. Currently touted as Singapore's largest shopping mall to date. We can have our break fast at dusk there. A photo-snapping opportunity for me too.

Should be an exciting outing today for all of us.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hari Raya Hunt

Suria Raya Karnival Bugis Open Field
Two weeks into Ramadhan, we still without our traditional Malay Baju Kurung clothes for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration.

Wifey now extra busy with the shop as the festive shopping heats up, while I am doubly busy with work as two of our major Customers are here doing pilot runs almost at the same time.

That leaves us very little room for any preparations for Hari Raya.

Our home needs much cleaning-up and dressing-up for the visiting from relations, as ourselves need new Raya clothes to go visiting our parents as well as siblings homes.

Open house at every Muslims' homes to welcome families, relatives and friends for the whole of the month of Syawal as we celebrate the triumph of self-control with fasting and mind and body-cleansing of all things bad... habits and character.

Suria Raya Karnival Poster
With very little time left, we finally got our chance on Saturday night after our shop closed and headed down the Suria Raya Karnival.

Mission: Hunt for Raya cakes and cookies as well as that perfect, but elusive ensemble Hari Raya baju kurong for Wifey, our son and myself.

The place was cheerful, but many of the stalls have already closed... strange for a Saturday night. Unlike Geylang Serai Ramadhan Bazaar which will open and still buzzing with shoppers till 2:00 to 3:00 am in the morning.

The people seemed to be there for the show with Suria celebrities giving concerts and free giveaways, than shopping.

Suria Raya Karnival Traditional Malay Welcome Dance
As with every year, finding Wifey's dress will be the toughest challenge. The colour, the style, the cutting... women... nonetheless she wants to look her best for me. For that I am honoured.

Once found, we will then know what colour our family will be wearing for the year's visiting.

The next challenge will be to find our son's Baju Kurong. It will be tough to get the right colour that matches with Wifey's dress in his size... that has the same cutting as mine. I have the easiest choices available.

The perils of matching clothes for team Imran & Family.

After about an hour there, we unfortunately did not get a single thing that we like. That makes the hunt still on. This time will be at Geylang Serai Ramadhan Bazaar, next weekend.

Mission continues.

Sumatra Is Burning

Haze Over Tampines Courtview
Hazy days are here again!

Yep, hazy days. Wish it was "happy days are here again" but not so when I woke up this morning. A nice weekend marred by the noticeable burning smell of charred wood.

Sumatra is continuously burning again, it has been burning every year it seems around this time of the year. Singapore is affected with its PSI level at 80 yesterday - at moderate range; a range above 100 as unhealthy.

Did not really noticed the deteriorating air quality yesterday until I went out of my office to cross over to the Production floor in the next building.

My son was the worst affected it seems, his eyes were itching and red from rubbing. The smell of charred wood was quite strong that we decided to turn on the air-conditioning in our room to get some reprieve from the irritating and unhealthy air.

All was good, in our "self-contained panic room" watching TV until we went to sleep. The whole nasty air pollution was all forgotten.... until I woke up this morning. Argh!

Wify was feeling too cold in the wee hours this morning, so she turned off the air-condition and opened the windows. The air was quite good then even with the haze blanketing the usual view out of our bedroom window.

Haze Over Tampines - Burning Smell
My nose picked-up the charred smell as fast as my eyes opened when I woke up this morning. That was how strong the smell had gotten from last night.

Outside activity is not recommended because of this, so any outing will be limited to indoor shopping malls.

Met Wify at our shop and helped her with some displays of newly arrive ladies bags.

Before that, my son and I had to take the cab to the shop to escape the haze. The journey it seemed, like the of whole Singapore was in a dreamland. A nasty dream of chocking air.

All was good at the shop with steady inflow of Customers despite the haze, most probably they had to stay indoors to get out of the haze.

The reality hit me again when we went out to have dinner. The air quality should have worsened and should be at an unhealthy range as the smell was very much stronger.

Haze Over Tampines - Bad Visibility
The whole Bugis area was covered with a blanket of smoke. It was depressing to see. It was bad to breathe in, but life seemed to go on with the tourists there. They were out and about outside.

Looks like we have to spend more nights in our "panic room" until the haze clears up around mid October as mentioned by the NEA's Meteorological Services.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Something About Mom

Mom & Dad with Merlion At Fullerton One
I may sound like a Mama's boy, but being Asian and a Muslim, filial piety is the utmost virtue one can have. No amount of repayment is surmountable the love and kindness they have showered on us during our growing years and even now.

I just love my parents, love them dearly.

Being the third last child in the family, I do not really get to know them until I left the "nest" to build a life with my own family.

So spending time with them during outings, sit-down lunches and dinners really give me the time and opportunity to get to know them well.

Bumboat Scenic Cruise Along Singapore River
Well enough to know the things they went through, the hardship, the joy, the better-sweet experiences when they start to reminisce.

I learn a lot from their life's lessons which sometime reflects the current predicament I have, sometimes the devil in me... and that motivates me and keeps me in positive mind to tackle it, face it upfront.

With every time spent, every tiny detail known, I learn to appreciate them even more. My love for them deepens and I can never take them for granted.

Just two Saturdays ago, an outing with them at Esplanade and Marina Bay, I go to know a bit about her childhood, before the 2nd World War...

"Is that Clifford Pier?" Mom, pointing her finger to the vacant landing steps of the pier.

"Yes, but now it is closed for conservation and will be turned to a leisure spot with the building of IR at Marina Bay" I answered as I pointed to Marina East across the bay.

Mom & Dad At Fullerton One With Clifford Pier Background
Mom just nodded and was recollecting her memories from the old times, "You know... when I was about 5 or 6 years old, you grandfather used to take me for a sampan ride around this waters."

Sampan being a small row boat in Malay language.

"This is the first time I step onto this place since then" she said, looking out to the bay.

Wow! Sixty over years and she returned to her happy childhood place before the Japanese bombed Singapore and occupied it.

She lost grandmother during the occupation when she was just eight. Staying with relatives after relatives most of her growing-up years, while her grandfather was out at sea for months at a time.

"If not for you, I would not have remembered that fun time I had with you grandfather." She looked at me with a grateful smile carved in her face.

I just melted, but somehow did not show my emotions, instead just snapping picture away.

With a little smile casted, Dad was quiet. Yet looking very far in his thoughts as he soaked-up the afternoon sea breeze. Dad is the person who does not speak much. I just wonder what childhood stories had the place evoked in his mind.

I did not know it was that sentimental a place for Mom, but I guess I will never know Dad's story for now.

Fullerton One Boardwalk
I just love the place because it is a tranquil spot to be in the afternoon, when the sun is blocked my the Shanton Way skyscrapers, leaving the place cool and breezy and quiet.

That day's casual outing, I felt, has rewarded me greatly when I was able to make my Mom so happy. Rekindled fond memories with her father, a man I hardly knew as I was too little when he passed on.

The place made Dad left his worries behind for the time at least. For the first time in a long while I got to see him in such a totally relaxed mood.

Three of us just stood there and were quiet for quite a long while... so tranquil... our minds so rested.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Like The Dinosaur?

An Asteroid Deep Impacting Earth
I received a disturbing email from a friend a few days ago, but did open it until today.

It was about the end of life on earth as we know it. It was speculated that dinosaurs were extinct because of the aftermath and the after-effect of an asteroid impact on earth.

The email states that NASA's Near Earth Object or NEO Program has predicted that the mighty humans who controls the earth may very well go to extinction like the mighty dinosaurs who then ruled the earth plane.

An asteroid scientifically named 2002 NT7, measuring 1.24 miles across will come into earth's path and collide on February 1st 2019... 13 years from now.

The impact will be equivalent to 1 million megatons of explosion that can destroy an entire continent upon impact. A gloomy predicament for all life forms on modern earth.

Asteroid 2002 NT7 & Earth Trajectories
I had to check the website and articles from CNN and BBC to confirm the truth of this claim. For my own sake. I just had to know.

The good news is that it is confirmed by NASA to be a low-probability after they have enough data to determine its trajectory.

The bad news is that I am far behind. Far, far behind in the world of being aware of this "near-life-extinction" news. Four years too late!

I think I am like a beam of light from a distant star, taking light-years to reach my awareness of what is happening now.

Earth to Imran... Earth to Imran, come in!

Guess this fast-paced place where I live has left me oblivious to the global and even universal happenings... whether trivia or life-threatening such as this real-life occurrence.

I am very much focused on the daily concerns, what will become of me, how will my family be better off in the future. The immediate concerns that directly affect me.

I think most of my countrymen would share the same sentiments. I can be wrong.

Then again, better late then... ever happening. The scientists still do not rule out the same possibility of impact in 2060. How old will I be then?

Hope my son and my grandchildren will still inhibit this earth happily after that date.

Else, we really need a Bruce Willis and his team to fly out to the asteroid and blow it up to smithereens to save humankind from Deep Impact and delay Armageddon... The Almighty willing.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Life Before Death

A funny thing happen very early this morning.

Well, something that was suppose to happen did not take place early this morning... at 4:30am actually.

The alarm clock rang, and I woke Wify up for her to prepare our Sahur (Ramadhan breakfast). She said OK and I dozed back into slumber... so did she.

I woke up at 5:33am and finally... after my grogginess dissipated, I came to realize that we missed our Sahur and the fasting for the day has started.

Guess no food or drinks for us today until 6:52pm when we break fast this evening. Well, we missed Sahur several times before last year and the year before last. In fact, is quite common for everyone to miss it because we overslept.

Nothing major. It is a part of life of being a practising Muslim.

But something major did happen!

I read a full page advertisement in Life! section of the The Sunday Times newspaper.

The Ad was from the Singapore Hospice Council which read "Hi, I've got lung cancer. How are you?"

It is about death or the terminally ill.

In the main section on page 14, was a sad, yet shocking... a whole lot of mixed feeling I felt for one individual named Mr. Mohammad Abdooh Md Ali. He has lung cancer, and is blind because of the disease. He is in his final stage.

His terminally ill condition is brought about by his heavy smoking habit since he was a teenager. In June last year, he coughed-up blood and six months later he was diagnosed with cancer.

A Chicken Rice stall owner, who now depends on his wife to care for him when she gets home from tending to their stall. He has 3 children aged 15 to 22 from his previous marriage.

He intends to turn his dying moments to a positive effort to make others aware of the disease and prevent it as other may still have a chance to learn from his mistakes.

The Singapore Hospice Council is doing a video clip of him and his family every two weeks until his last day. The first episode is already available online from its website www.lifebeforedeath.org.sg.

"The second video clip to be uploaded in two weeks' time, will feature his wife talking about how she takes care of him and how she copes emotionally.

Sadly, there is no way of knowing how many episodes there will be." quote from ST's reporter Sarah Ng ngsls@sph.com.sg

A little more about Singapore Hospice Council in this photo essay.

Ironically on Friday, 29 September 2006, one Technician who came back to work just explained to me his reason for the urgent leave he had to take.

His father was diagnosed as having liver cancer and in his last stage also. His was brought about by heavy drinking since he was 15. And now he has dementia too.

Life is just too short to waste in our later years from abuse of bad habits to our body from our younger years. The price to pay is ourselves that involves our family and loved ones too.

The best we fragile mortals can do is to keep a positive mind and attitude, practising healthy habits. Love our loved ones and spend time with them as much like there is no tomorrow, as we take each step forward on our life's journey... building career and family and our faith.

We must enjoy a balanced life before death, with The Almighty as our guide on earth and the hereafter.