Sunday, May 25, 2008

Good As Gold

Today is a happy day for me. As the island celebrates its first full-blown family day, I celebrated my years at the company with a Long Service Award & Dinner at Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Celebrating 15 years in the company has its fair share of ups and downs. Challenges fought through and mostly won... and the valuable experiences gained. Tonight, I and the rest of the 200 odd employees celebrated our 5, 10, 15, 20 and even 25 years with the company.

Where Are My Friends?

Sitting at table 17, the front row seat to the stage beside the VIPs was not bad at all. The only Muslim food person at the table of 10, as they dug-in to their 8 course dinner, I had my Halal a'la-carte 5-course served with a nice presentation each time. Yes, each tasted deliciously too.

Sad thing is, no spouses were given invitations... which would have been great otherwise, except for those who were given award for serving 20 years and above... 12 of them had the pleasure to celebrate it together with their partners.

3rd course Fish In Sambal Sauce

Coming from a sister company to the HQ, there were not many faces that were familiar to me. I was left standing alone at the reception amongst the mingling clusters of good looking crowd, keeping my cool and waiting for the banquet hall to open to get seated at my table.

That was the time, I thought Wifey would be great company... I always felt awkward without my Wifey beside me.

Do I Really Have To Wear That?

"You have not decided what to wear yet?!" Wifey sounded shocked.

At a certain point, she began to get worried for me because I did not bother to pick which clothes to wear. I guess she did not see me standing in front of the wardrobe contemplating what to wear... she finally asked.

Until the last minute, I had not thought about what I should wear to the event. I would have just grabbed the first pair of pants and shirt that were hanging in the closet. At least they matched, that was my simple plan.

Wifey made a fuss about it... to at least wear something different than the clothes I normally wear to work or weekend outing. She picked out the "combination" for me and had me tried out my "old, glamorous, while-we-were-dating" clothes at the final hour.

A few pants had outgrown me... too tight at the waist, while some were fortunately still wearable. Phew!

She had me posed in my glamorous getup while Sonny snapped some pictures of me before I left to collect my 15 gram gold pendant... the sole purpose I attended. Else I would rather not attend and go cycling and be close to nature... watching nature than the shows at Grand Ballroom.

Well, it turned out that I was overdressed... my most uncomfortable, long, long night solo act.

I was picked as one of the 5 best dressed at the event upon registration. My name was called out first to be on stage amongst the other 4 men while I was about to dig in to the 5th and last course of assorted fruits dish.

Our CEO was also harassed to be one of the best dressed men, alongside us were the 5 best glamorously dressed ladies.

We each had to parade on and off stage cat-walking like a model to win the title for best dressed woman and man of the night. The loudest applause wins.

That was the most nerve-wrecking moment of the night... all that time, I thought being solo at the reception was the worst.

Well, as expected our CEO was the man of the night. He had better win, so that we could get a good bonus next year. The ladies were tied, between two glamorous aunties who in fact, looked gorgeous tonight.

Home, Oh Sweet Home.

I was uncomfortable to leave home looking the way I was, so I took a cab to the hotel to escape the stares that might come my way while I am on the bus and train. However, I had no such luck coming back home.

The taxi queues I could find everywhere in the Orchard area were all long and the fare will not be cheap either... with all the midnight charges.

So I braced myself and took public transport.

Yes, some stares, but none derogatory... I think, without my glasses I am "blurred" to oblivion with facial expressions. Thank God.

I noticed that people nowadays have seen it all. Being a cosmopolitan city with an enormous mix of people coming from all over Asia, minding their own business is a prerequisite somehow.

Something I came to realize now as compared back to my dating days... oh, over a decade ago. It was a relief for this overly self-conscious old brood of a guy.

4th course Rendang with Yellow Rice Entree for Muslim

One qualm though... everyone at the table was happy that the second course was shark fin soup... highlight of the night it seemed.

I am not against tradition... but mentality wise we are still far, far away from eco-friendly, here. A friend remarked "Not sure what quality this shark fin is... most probably low grade..." I just wonder how many low-life, low-grade sharks had to die to deserve that critique.

Driving a certain species of sharks to extinction is still "not our problem."

I sound political. Though I do not like sharks... or snakes or crocodile or spiders, but no humans have the right to drive another being to extinction the way the... Dodo bird did.

As for a more selfish perspective, the average price of 916 gold is S$35.00 a gram, 15 is worth S$525.00. Not bad for a night's dinner 15 years after.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Family Fun E!Hub

Today is Vesak, a holy day for Buddhists across the world and most Chinese here. A holiday for the rest of us in Singapore.

What better way to spend a Monday than a family outing, instead of being stuck at the desk at work.

We headed down to Pasir Ris where the infamous Downtown East leisure theme park has always been, a stone's throw away from where the beach and barbecue pitches are, and the new attraction to add on to the place... called E!hub or Entertainment! Hub in the east.

Spotting a giant indoor ferris wheel, the largest in Singapore no doubt, once we entered the mall's main entrance. A lot of eateries there and I have to say that I have never seen so many tanned teenagers gathered in one place than at the morning flag raising ceremony in high school.

All three of us... yes, Wifey and I were fortunate that Sonny agreed to follow along for shopping, solely because Wifey wanted to get new walking shoes for our vacation to Indonesia next month.

The only lure that sealed the deal with Sonny was that we watched Iron Man movie at the Cineplex on the top floor.

Surprisingly, the show was rather interesting... including the service at the cinema.

We booked the tickets and ordered the Super Large Popcorn and Coke Combo together at the ticket-counter. The snacks were sent directly to our seats when the show started. The first such service I have ever encountered with a movie theater here.

Somehow, we got more than we actually bargained for... literally.

When the movie started, the staff started sending the orders to the movie goers. The family seated beside us somehow miscommunicated to the staff that the snacks sent to them were not their.

I then thought it was for us, and accepted it. Only to realize that it was regular-sized... but after Sonny had dived into the popcorns and sipped the Coke.

Wifey made a trip to the counter to clarify and they sent the correct combo snacks immediately while we got to keep the regular ones too. Worked for us!

Robert Downy Junior was cool in the movie. Surprisingly, the movie was not childish of sorts, but action-packed with lots of explosives... our kind of movie. Well, Wifey did say she enjoyed it too, so yes.

The only thing that bothered me was when he dotted down from the sky super-fast much like a missile, with nothing but his first prototype iron man suit... he so deceiving constructed in the cave somewhere in the desert while being held captive... dove right into the desert sand, but he survived with some nasty scratches and a broken arm.

I would think his head would have exploded inside his un-cushioned iron helmet. Not so sure some protective rubber buffering his head would be of any help either falling at that speed... into sand or water, regardless.

Then again, if hero dies at the start of a movie, there will not be a movie. Hey, its the movies... anything can happen... so stop over-analyzing things.

It is selfish of me when I say that fortunately Sonny came along, so we guys got the majority vote to watch Iron Man instead of "Ayat-ayat Cinta" or "Verses of Love," an Indonesian love story... set in modern times about friends and couples of moderate Muslims in love with a guy from a different faith... or so it goes.

Interesting, but I would rather go with Iron Man. Phew!

Iron Man was interesting to watch and I am already a fan waiting for a sequel. Yes, Downy admits he is Iron Man to the press. Personal secretary Gwyneth Paltrow almost gets her man, while the US General will probably become his side-kick cum adviser.

Yes, today turned out great!

And no, Wifey could not find the perfect pair of shoes for her there... still 3 weeks to go, so the search is still on.

Happy Vesak Day

To All My Buddhist Friends

May This Day Bring
Lasting Tranquility
In Your Daily Lives

Thoughts & prayers for victims in Myanmar & China

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Clear For Takeoff

Mom brought more good news about Dad.

She has diligently been calling me back to inform that Dad has since been back to his usual routine and is now back active helping Mom doing house chores and tending to his garden like he always does.

Finally today, Wifey and I are able to make the decision and booked our intended Java Overland Tour package with Halijah Travels at Golden Landmark Shopping Complex.

As the itinerary goes, we will be touring Indonesia.. my first step onto its mainland after going Padang Sumatra and Bali Island for our first and second honeymoon respectively and then to its nearer island resorts in Bintan and Batam for shorter holiday trips.

It will be everybody's first except Wifey's to visit its capital, Jakarta for one day on Friday, then onward to Ceribon, JogJakarta, Wonosobo and then Bandung... each for a day before heading back to the capital for another day before our flight back home on the following Thursday.

We will fly off early June 2008 a week after school holiday starts... well after Sonny finishes with all his clubs and extra curricular activities at school.

This 7-day tour is ideal especially because its full-board. Lodging and all three meals a day have been catered to, so its hassle-free for my old folks and especially Mom who is wheelchair-bound.

At S$704.00 per person, inclusive of airport and security taxes, except that we have to fork out about S$20.00 or $100,000.00 Rupiah airport tax each at the Indonesian airport.

My parents will only have to worry about how much they will need to bring to spend shopping there as I am treating them with the tour... for being the loving parents they are to us, all their lives.

Wifey is exceptionally excite about this vacation, simply because she is an avid fan of South-east Asian history... Indonesia in particular, thus this trip she suggested.

Her love for history stemmed from when she studied history in high school and excelled in it. Her testament to her interest is her effective tuition to Sonny who has been good in this subject and has scored first in class again from his mid-year exams a week ago.

Indonesia is rich in history and culture; Wifey's buried interest is just waiting to be dug-up rediscovered when we reach there. I personally felt that Wifey should have pursued this field which she would excel, definitely. If only we can turn back time.

Then again, I may not meet her... which will be to my detriment as she is the one who keeps me sane and keeps my faith close to The Almighty. As selfish as this may sound, I am glad that we cannot turn back time and I am happy that I have her.

As always, whenever we travel, I am the self-appointed cameraman and bellhop... beside being the banker. I thrive wonderfully when I am away from work and adult responsibilities.

Traveling is one of my top favorite things to do as with anyone. The extra bonus is sharing the privilege that I get with family and parents... the experience of enjoying the world and its wonders.

I am pumped to see new things, well, very old things but with new perspective personally and lots... I mean tons and tons of digital photos that I will be taking. Thank you technology... no film will be wasted, just shaky pictures.

In the meantime, having lunch at Victory restaurant in Jalan Sultan where Golden Landmark is situated has its own stash of historic buildings, splashed richly with Malay and Arabic cultures.

No Lumix FZ10 camera in my hand, but I guess my iPhone camera will do...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cancer Warning Signs

Click To Enlarge

Not intended to spoil your day, but...

Just Be Aware

Early Detection Is Prevention

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What A Relief!

My cell vibrated in my trouser pocket. It was set in silent mode while I was in a meeting with Customers at their Alexandra Road office.

It was Mom. My heart was pounding, but I had to ignore her for a while, while the Customer was talking and addressing the issues at hand for a resolution.

Yes, a resolution to settle this pounding scare. I had my personal issue myself that I had to address after the meeting.

Once we left the customer's place, I called Mom... anxious about what Mom had to tell me...

"Your father has decide not to go with you to Indonesia this year," Mom said and paused, "he's worried he might fall sick while we're there."

I Need To Know.

A simple, one-word-question "why?" opened up a series of fresh concerns that had been weighing heavy on me these past few days... I know it is even tons heavier on Mom and especially Dad.

"He still has not pass motion and is feeling uncomfortable now." Mom replied.

It had been 4 days since he felt this way and two days since the medication from the GP had been taken but without any improvement. He still had not gone to the toilet yet.

"OK, Mom." I paused, composing myself before I continued, "I'll call Junior's wife to help make Dad an appointment for tomorrow morning."

Junior's Wife returned my call after 10 minutes. She informed that SGH suggested that Dad come straight to A&E bringing with him this appointment card, the GP referral letter and the medications that the GP had given.

His yearly colonoscopy appointment set for 23rd June may very well be done within the same admission day if necessary.

"OK, Mom." I paused after explaining to her what we should do... somehow this scenario was played out before, reminiscent to what I had to say next, "Have Dad and you be ready by 9:00AM tomorrow morning... I'll pick you up to go to SGH."

I applied leave off work for the whole day tomorrow for that.

"Yes. Your father wants to go to the hospital too," Mom agreeing immediately "he said he is feeling very uncomfortable." Dad hates hospitals.

"I should be OK tonight, Imran. Don't worry." Dad trying to lighten the situation, said over the phone when I requested that he talked to me, "We go tomorrow morning... I am OK."

That Much The Heart Can Take...

"Imran..." Mom called me over the phone crying...

Oh My God! I screamed loudly in my heart.

What Mom? What is it?!
What happened to Dad? Has he collapsed?
Why did I wait until tomorrow?

All those questions running through my mind. I was scared for Dad. I was regretting my decisions already.

"Oh, Imran.... your father has just past motion." Mom said excitedly, yet crying at the same time, "he showed me... he is smiling now." She continued crying over the phone... happy.

Oh My God! My heart stopped a beat there and suddenly jumped for joy. Thank you!

I do not know how anyone would take it, but I guess... on the lighter side of it, you will never appreciate and be this happy to seeing so much crap if you are not in this situation... really. It was a lot of it... Mom said, 4 days' worth.

"That is great, Mom." I replied happily. I let off a long sigh of relief.

I requested Mom to monitor Dad's condition for another few days. Just to know and be sure that he was back to his usual routine before we could say he really was out of the woods.

If all is well, Dad would only need to go to his scheduled colonoscopy this next month.

You know what? Constipation is not a bad word at all when you know what is at stake here.

Oh, Dad. We are so relieved! You gave us a scare for a while there.

Not taking any chances for now, so no drinking tea for you, Dad. Phew!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Not That, Dad!

"So... Mom, discuss with Dad and see if he is up for traveling again," I told Mom over the phone, "we'd love for you to come along."

This year, Wifey wants to tour Jakarta, Indonesia during Sonny's June school holiday. Like every year, their health permitting, we would ask my parents to go on vacation with us.

It is their golden years, they should enjoy... traveling with us at least.

We will be touring Ceribon, JogJakarta, Wonosobo and Bandung as well... the many Indonesian states with historic significance for the people there. Borobodur is one of the ancient highlights there.

"I'll tell him when he wakes up." Mom replied, but sounded concerned.

"I'll call you again tomorrow to confirm, then we'll book the tour." I replied... "Don't worry Mom, the places are wheelchair-friendly." I reassured her.

"Err... why is he asleep at this hour?" I asked Mom picking-up on her concern over Dad.

Dad hardly sleeps at night. Yes, he dozes off on the sofa in front of the TV often during the day, but never actually goes to bed to sleep at this hour. It was only 8:00PM in the evening.

Mom told me that Dad had not cleared his bowels for the past 3 days. It was definitely not a normal thing for him since he goes through the routine daily like clockwork.

He was feverish and appeared weak. He was complaining of nausea.

"Do you want me to take him to the doctor tomorrow?" I asked, concerned... and silently praying that it was not a repeat like 3 years ago.

It may most probably be a simple constipation... but knowing what Dad had and gone through, I was pretty scared inside for him but kept a casual tone while talking to Mom.

"I'll see if he is alright after taking the prune juice. He'd taken several times already." Mom replied...

The Day After.

My cellphone rang in the morning.

I picked-up the call concerned. My youngest brother's number was displayed on my iPhone.

He was already at the doctor's with Dad. Apparently Mom had called Junior for help since he lives closest to them and drives.

"Dad is given two days for the medication to work..." my Brother explained, "else he will have to go to SGH to check for any thing wrong with his stomach."

Obviously, my Brother had informed the GP of Dad's medical past. He had colorectal cancer Stage 3 about 3 year ago this April 2008, which had since came under remission after the surgery.

Both Mom and Dad do not know about the cancer bit. With the consultant's agreement, we only told them about the benign growth that was successfully removed.

The GP also gave a referral letter if the need arose to have him checked at SGH or Singapore General Hospital. His next yearly appointment for a colonoscopy is on 23rd June 2008...

That Long Tomorrow...

"So how is Dad doing now, Mom?" I called from the office to ask about his condition.

"No difference yet," Mom replied and sounded concern... slightly angry even, "I told him not to drink so much tea but he doesn't listen." Her voice cracked, she sounded sad.

Drinking thick tea to relief diarrhea-like symptom is Mom's home remedy. That was what Mom felt was the cause for Dad's constipation. Please let it be just that...

"Don't worry Mom." I consoled Mom, "Drinking too much tea and eating not enough fibre can easily cause this condition." Almost lying to myself inside.

I have to give it two days to see how Dad is doing...

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Leaky Plan

I have to admit that I have not dived fully into planning our outing for Mother's Day yesterday.

Talked about it with friends for the possible nice restaurants to treat my two special ladies in my life, Wifey and Mom. Had some suggestions on the gifts I could give... but how many watches, or bracelets or necklaces could a woman wear...

A lady colleague suggested giving cash instead... they can do whatever they wish with it. Well, good idea, but a little too practical and impersonal, I thought. I would use it as a last resort if I could not figure something out.

I finally planned to treat them at Bali Thai at Causeway Point in Woodlands and then do some shopping with them at the mall getting something they actually chose and want.

All was well, Sunday was the day and it came...

"Ayah!" Wifey shouted and awoke me from my wake-up-late Sunday sleep. "The sink is flooding with water!"

It sure was. Fortunately the water had not flooded down the woodwork of our vanity sink.

It was not as bad a leak, but the tap had to be changed nonetheless as it trickled water slowly, but surely wetting the glass top.

I had to wrap a towel around the lever where the water was leaking from. There was nothing that could be done to the 5 year old tap, the time we renovated our toilets.

Guess it was high time to change, I thought.

And it sure was!

I noticed the kitchen tap was leaking water from its mid section where the spout can swivel, but only when the tap was turned on. Great! Sigh!

Yes, the kitchen tap was 5 years old too.

We renovated our kitchen and both the kitchen and the master bedroom toilets together. The taps had lasted that long and that was fortunate enough.

That was about that length of time before the taps break and start to leak, said the sales person when we asked him for its lifespan.

We had to get the same design to not complicate matters and avoid fitting problems if the newly bought ones could not fit the glass-top and clear off the floating glass bowl.

Thus the pictures I took to show the sales guy the exact design we wanted.

I called Mom to inform her of the crisis we were having and to postpone the outing. As beautiful as Moms are, she was nice to accept it.

In fact, I was a little too zealous with the celebration. The rest of my siblings were coming over to celebrate with her... not exactly a surprise. In fact all my siblings seemed to not inform each other, but visit our parents with pot luck food they cooked and bought for her. This happens every year, and I never learn.

Mom told me that some were already there, while some were on their way to her place. The house was noisy with children's voices playing in the background. It would have been fun there than being at the store picking out facets.

It struck me as being selfish to take away our parents from the rest of the siblings to celebrate. It turned out that I was the only sibling not there with her. I will make up for it another time. She knows that.

So, Mom was happy. Great! Phew!

I got to focus on Wifey alone to having a good time out with her after we settled with the taps we wanted from HomeOne Euro... on a Mother's Day. Sigh.

I had to spend S$400.00 on the two taps and the plumbing service to fix them.

I got to give Wifey a dinner treat... at Arnold's. And got to buy her two of her favourite CDs by the Indonesian Divas she so admires as a gift for being my son's favorite Mom of all times.

The day was saved and I learnt a lesson... amid a leaky grand scheme of things.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

For The Special Ladies In My Life

The Mother Of My Child,
My Dearest Wife
For I Am Humbled,
The Sacrifices You Make
The Happiness You Bring.
I Will Always Love You

The Mother That I Admire,
My Only Mom
For I Am Grateful,
The Guidance You Showed
The Unconditional Love You Showered.
I Will Always Love You

Today was planned to be extra special, but a domestic abnormality skewed that plan to smithereens. That story in my next post. Sigh... off all the days, it has to be today... not one by two!

Nonetheless, the day was not a total loss at all. The planned outing was partly salvaged with a dinner treat for Wifey at her choice of all the restaurants... Arnold's Fried Chicken.


"Yes, since we are here, I would love to go to Arnold's." Wifey replied.

Well, it has been quite a while since we eat at Arnold's... my first favorite Halal Fried Chicken place. KFC comes second.

Anyway, we were at Geylang Serai vicinity, the best food place since we were teenagers and the first few years of my working life, Arnold's have hosted many of my birthdays with my friends from work.

It tasted as nice as I remembered. It was even nicer being there and just watching Wifey eating her favorite fried chicken surreptitiously with both hands. She just loved it.

Yes... eating healthy is important. Exceptional for today only, we eat without the chicken skin.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Surprise Party's Surprise

Today is his 38th birthday.

Since he has been working here for the past 17 years, I believe he never had a birthday party celebrated at work before. He has never fussed about it all this while... probably the reason why we always do not remember his special day.

I do not know what came over me, but I thought I would give him a little birthday surprise, just among the 5 close tea-break friends this year... to let him know that we remember.

So off I went at lunch time to buy him a cup-cake, but somehow my sixth sense told me otherwise and ended-up with a half-kilo Citrus Cream full-fledged birthday cake... complete with candles and a birthday sign for our birthday boy.

I requested a colleague to email our tea-break buddies to meet at his cubicle at 3:30PM to surprise him, but somehow it turned out to be a larger group than I had intended.

About 20 odd people started to congregate at his cubicle which surprised not just our birthday boy, but me too. The word-of-mouth is much powerful than technology, I guess.

Nevertheless, it was wonderful to see so many people came and celebrated his birthday.

The 2nd floor office seemed to stop working for about half and hour, busy tending to the birthday boy... singing birthday song, candle-blowing, with loads of pictures taken that made him smiled from ear to ear. It was simply great!

I was relieved that there were enough birthday cake for everybody, with even two slices to spare. Phew!

He also received a custom-made, hot-off-the-press birthday card created by another colleague using Greetings Island on-line software complete with a picture of everyone and him taken at the party earlier.

I believe this is the start of a nice office tradition... it should have been done long ago, but it is better late than never, I say.

Happy Birthday Joe!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dreams Have Sequels

Friend's Northern Light-like phenomenon taken at work on 14-Mar-08

Not sure about everyone else, but mine sure does.

Not the kind of dream you set your goals to achieve, but the dreams of the nightmare kind.

My Dream Part 1

Woke up dazed on Wednesday morning. Looking at the dawning sky a little strangely than most mornings. Looking for it but saw everything was the way it should be. Phew!

Took my shower, got dressed for work and went by my day as any other day without thinking about the dream I had the night before. It was a silly dream anyway.

My Dream Part 2

I woke with a cold sweat the next day. Shocked. The sky was dawning like every other morning would be.

I looked out of my bedroom window and actually looked for it for sometime before I realized I just woke up from a dream... a nightmare was more like it.

You know. No matter how silly the dream you had with mix and illogical moments in it, the dream often seems realistic to the dazed almost conscious mind when you awake from your sleep. Well, it was quite real to me most times.

And The Story Goes...

Alright. Here is the silly and illogical dreams that went for two nights in a row.

The first night I dreamt of UFOs. Yes, those little green men from Mars. Silly now, but scary in the dream then.

I was looking out of my bedroom window and saw the rounded, rather dome-shape aircraft hovering above the block of flats after the Primary School.

It was there for a while and suddenly tilted to one side where I could see the bright glowing green light under the aircraft... ready to zip away out of earth's atmosphere when a shot was fired at it by the by the Singapore Airforce fighter jets.

The spacecraft took a direct hit and fell from the sky and onto the top of the block of flats.

There were scores of people coming out from their homes. The police and civil defense trucks were there too cordoning the area.

"They may have came in peace. Why shoot them down?" I remember thinking in my dream.

"This should be a dream... because I don't hear the impact sound of the missile nor the sound when it hit the block of flats." My mind was justifying as I regained composure after waking-up scared.

That was that. It was silly. UFOs. Why UFOs?

There was nothing of that nature to lead me to dream of such "topic." Silly me. That was that.

Then came the sequel the following night! Sigh.

All I could remember about the dream was looking at the night sky out from my bedroom window. All was quiet and calm.

Then I saw little green lights far into the night sky. The light got nearer and soon after the spacecraft could be seen. Then more of them came hovering filling up the night sky.

I called out to Wifey and Sonny to close our door and all windows quickly as I rushed to close the bedroom window.

"Stay under the bed and keep still!" I told both of them as I called my parents over the phone to tell them to close their door and windows too.

I somehow sensed it was an invasion. A revenge for the down spacecraft, maybe?

I grabbed our radio and joined my family under the bed.

I woke up in cold sweat and looking straight our of my window looking for the UFOs.

At work, I started to recall my dreams and thought it was that scary and silly at the same time. I could not figure out what I do or see during the days to trigger such a dream... a sequel even.

A few days have passed, no Part 3 so far. Interesting to have it, but I somehow become scared-silly after that. Just like when I had weird nightmare of ghosts after watching Fright Night.

From a scientific perspective, what subconscious issues do I have to conjure such dreams? A question I can only know I will not have answers to.

Monday, May 05, 2008

My Private Lightshow

Sunday nights are my most dreaded nights of the week.

Yes, you guessed it right. Fun is over, now getting ready to be the responsible adult again throughout the workweek starting the next morning.. and the next four mornings to come.

This weekend has been extremely hot. I am not complaining, I like sunny days that are breezy, but unfortunately the breeze was warm air... almost like in a sauna you cannot get out of.

I am surprised there are no reports of wild bush fires to date... maybe I am ahead of myself on this. It may take time to dry up the low-lying grasses and bushes before the heat can ignite it.

Last evening was totally hot and humid. A clear sign the rain was coming when the wind started to pick up... rattling the leaves as the trees outside bent with the wind. Blowing the curtains up high and sounds of neighbors windows blown shut.

I thought it would be a reprieve from the heat... get a good night's sleep with cool air to enjoy, accompanied by the rhythm of raindrops to lullaby my nightly retire.

Yet I ended up sitting up at the edge of my bed, elbows "perched" on my widow sill and watching the spectacle of light show in the night sky... dripping in sweat even with the fan turned on.

Thunderstorm showed a promised date to arrive with its colorful rake-like lighting strikes, but eventually the rain never did come... just passing by overhead. The thunderous roars slowly softened into the night as the dark clouds moved farther away.

This event will not be as interesting to imagine without snapshots of the light-show itself.

Worth the private window-seat anytime.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Crabby Time Alone

Mud Crab on its 3-feet high mud-mount tunnel entrance

There was a mid-week holiday this week. Labor Day in May.

Well, it was on Thursday. It would have been that much sweeter if I had taken leave off work on Friday and make the weekend a longer one. Frolicking outdoors with family... at the beach, maybe. Just outdoors.

Alas, there was not a need for such a time. It was a holiday spent a indoors at home. Nothing much to do, nothing to brag about, nothing memorable.

The first half of the day was slow. Really, nobody is to blame. It was just the timing of this holiday was not ideal for this family this period of time.

Cotton Tree with fluffy fruit ready to burst

Sonny has his mid-year exams coming next week. So he is stuck in his room doing revisions with the close watch by Wifey. I could only hear intervals of laughters coming from his room when he played his online games and chatting with his friends during his study breaks.

Wifey is restricted to light duties at home for now until her next check-up with specialist doctor Imran at CGH in June. So no family biking outdoors... the most adventurous of Wifey's suggestion of taking-up roller-blading had to be shelved indefinitely.

So while Sonny was confined to his room, both Wifey and I was confined to the living room and the kitchen... between watching holiday movies on TV and stocking-up the coffee table with snacks while watching the programs.

Great family fun only if it is rainy day, but not on a glorious sunny day outside!

Wifey then retreated to her SoHo corner doing her crafty Swarovski-crystals-and-fresh-pearls jewelery making time, while I was left to my own devices... I was dumbfounded there for a while.

Pasir Ris River leading inward to housing estate

I escaped from the confining four walls and into the wide-open spaces outdoors. I could watch Wifey do her creations only for so long before I was on my bike paddling on a cycling route that led my to Pasir Ris Park.

Armed with a bottle of water, insect repellent and my trusted Lumix FZ10 digital camera, I explored the park routes where we have not taken before.

Surprisingly, the path led me to a stable in the park for pony rides. Well, it has been there for years but we have never actually been to that part of the park before, so it was more of a rediscovery.

Gallop Stable Coffee House & Resting Station

Gallop Stable was a large place with many ponies and horses especially for rides within its compounds. The white pony attracted my attention. It was receptive to humans and seem to like it when I touched and stroke it.

Looking at the ponies, I suddenly remembered Donna from Just Me. I could learn a lot about horses, and in this case ponies from her if she was here.

Mr. Brown posing for me

I spent quite a long time at the stable just observing and admiring the ponies there. I remember when Sonny was smaller then. We took him rides on ponies and elephants at the Singapore Zoo.

I remember from years back, all three of us rode on horses around the highlands somewhere in Lake Tahoe while we were in California, coming back from Las Vegas back to Fremont, I think.

My afternoon companion I named Whitey

I had to bid Whitey goodbye and promised to come back with Wifey and Sonny on our bikes one day to see it again.

I went on off the beaten track... well, it was still a cycling path that led to a Mangrove Swamp boardwalk.

The first sign said "No cycling" and to stay "quiet and be patient" to witness rustic nature doing its wonders among the mangrove floor.

Pasir Ris Mangrove Swamp Boardwalk

While the different birds sang their different tunes among the top branches and leaves of the trees, the floor dwellers were busy with their daily food scavenging and territorial defenses.

The boardwalk winding and forking in many directions deeper into the mangroves. It was surprisingly extensive and would have been ideal if the tide was coming or going.

Bakau or Mangrove trees with boardwalk across

It was low tide long before I reached there, so the floor bed had dried-up and not as many variety of the inhabitants could be seen on that one afternoon. It took lots of photos and spent a lot of time there too experimenting with taking shots with different settings I had not done before.

Not many were good shots, though it would have helped if I had brought my tripod stand for stability especially when zooming in at the far-end of the inhabitants.

Red-eared Slider Non-native inhabitant

It was getting dark as I could see the sun's rays flickering among the leaves. The add-on flash was a great help but was too dark to spot for anything else... not with these poor sighted pair of eyes of mine.

Being alone, as anticing as the sign stated, I was not too keen to wait for the fireflies to come out to showcase their "mating dance" to me. I would have been late to come home with packed dinners for my two hungry darlings at home.

These two places were definitely a great to place to revisit and be there especially with the Wifey and Sonny together. We could spend countless hours just observing and listening to the daily routines of the inhabitants of the park and swamp.

Alas, going back to work on Friday after a day off and into the weekend, unlike the working animals - the ponies and crustaceans on Labor Day.

Time spent alone in the afternoon was not so... crabby at all. Actually it was worth the experience for me... as long as it was outdoors.