May 26, 2017

Later became too late

A very close friend just passed away ... she was taken away so suddenly, so unexpectedly and so unjustly. Both my wife and I are very sad to lose a good friend ... it is difficult to accept that a good person can be taken away just like that but life can be so cruel. There were so many things for her to look forward to ... a good life to live, a good husband and a great family to spend time with. But all is not going to happen now ... taken away by an unsuspecting tumor.

Thinking about it ... it underscores what I always say ... spend time with your kids, spend time with your spouse, spend time with your old folks, spend time with your friends and spend time for yourself. Don’t wait ... do it now, at this moment!

But then again we always hear people say ...” aiya no time lah, have to work” ... “still can work mah, why retire?” ... “wait, still got plenty of time” ... “don’t worry, age is not a factor” and the easiest said of all ... “later lah”.

We must have heard so many times that people were taken away so early, so suddenly, so fast, so unfair ... they were supposed to live a good life, there were so much for them to look forward to and there were so much they wanted to do.

The thing is ... we don’t want to believe that it can happen to us or someone close to us. But the reality is ... it can, without warning. Before we could even think of settling down to live the way we worked so hard for ... life can throw a hard curve at us and send everything down the drain. I hear it again and again, so many times, the things that were regretfully not realized ... it is always the things that we said that we will do later ... the retirement that was set back, the family holiday that was postponed, the get together dinner that was supposed have, the gathering that was going to happen, the hometown trip to visit the old folks that was delayed ... and so on and so forth.

People procrastinate ... somehow they will find reasons to do so. I can still do it later or I will have plenty of time to do it later, they told themselves. Then suddenly it is not going to happen anymore and later will not be the same ... later became too late.

April 27, 2017

What is happening Shiek?

Recently someone whom I have not seen for a while called and asked me ...”What is happening Shiek?” He was asking about what I have been doing since I retired. He continued ... “Hey Shiek, come on, you can be more 'happening' man”. And from there onwards, there were a few lines in the conversation where he suggested that I should make my life more interesting ... more “happening” as he put it. A simple conversation but the tone and manner of his words more or less implied that there were really nothing much happening in my life.

So, I am not 'happening' ...  I guess that is quite true. Well, let’s see what I have done since I stopped working.

The very first thing I did was trekking ... quite a fair bit but I did not go trek the great mountains of the world, did not experience any tough jungle adventures, did not summit any high peaks and I will never be able to trek ABC or EBC trails at the Himalayas. Just managed to trek a few small mountains, some short jungle trails, a few waterfalls and some easy forest paths.

So, nothing much really ... old uncles like us are just recreational trekkers. We are small timers in the trekking community ... very small, so much so that a self professed super “geng” seasoned hiker branded old uncles like us “Wawasan and Gasing Hill trekkers” ... meaning, we are only able to trek Wawasan forest and Gasing Hill. In his opinion, that is how good we can be.

Then I traveled a bit but I did not go very far. No back packing around the world, no exotic cruises across the oceans, no exciting adventures in big countries ... only a few budgeted holidays to nearby countries ... nothing to shout about.

Some days, I worked on my recycling wood hobby ... again, petty things really ... made a few simple household items, a few wood art pieces, some simple table and chairs ... no big deal!

When I am in the mood, I put up an apron and cook ... no expensive recipes, no fancy cuisines, no chef styled gastronomy challenges ... just simple home cooked meals and local hawker food ... food that everyone can cook and can cook better.

I spent quite a bit of time with my wife but no romantic outings, no honeymoon trips, no lover’s getaways ... we spent time at hypermarkets, wet markets, shopping malls, day trips, family dinners and a lot of time at home ... nothing exciting, simple day to day routines.

Occasionally I participate in some small social awareness programs and that is all ... nothing to shout about. I did not join Bersih or other street demonstrations, not in any big charity organizations and I am not active in sending and sharing major breaking news and philosophical or motivational videos all over the social media.

In my free time ... you find me in my garden idling to the breeze and sound of birds, sipping a pot of tea while watching “wuxia” dramas, trying to screech out a song on my erhu and sometimes I just do absolutely nothing, letting my mind wander to strange places.

So what is happening Shiek? Well, as you can see ... nothing much really.

I don’t have the resources and energy to be like those very 'happening' people who seem to be everywhere, doing everything, incessantly on the surface to see and to be seen, always have plenty of news and videos to share and have lots of photos to be liked by friends and friends of friends on social media.

Yes, I am not 'happening' at all but that is absolutely OK ... I can live with that. In fact, I like it this way. I am at my best and most happy 'unhappeningly' doing what I like, at where I am most comfortable, with people I love, with friends that are true, in groups that are humble and on relationships that are unpretentious.

March 23, 2017

I cried

I was watching a reality show from China last week ...  the show helps famous actors and actresses arrange for surprises to thank certain people who made a big difference in their lives. I watched every episode ... I cried every episode.

Oh yes I cried ... I cried a lot, I must have cried thousands of times in my 55 years of life.

I can remember when I was 10 years old, I wanted to join a school trip during the holidays. The trip cost 25 dollars and I begged my mother to let me go. She did not have the heart to say no ... so she agreed.

I was really happy but that night just before I went to sleep, I heard my mother telling my father that she needs to go my Aunty house the next day. Why? Because she have to borrow money from my Aunty to pay for my school trip. I couldn’t sleep ... my mind was troubled. I so wanted to go on the school trip but then I felt so bad that my mother have to borrow money to pay for it. I don’t know what to do ... I cried.

At last I went ... it was a trip down south to Malacca. That morning, my mother gave me 5 dollars and packed some food and water for me. We all excitedly boarded the bus and very fast the noisy bus was on its way. After about an hour into the journey, the teacher told us that we will stop for a break at a restaurant and when we reached the restaurant, everyone was eager to get down from the bus to buy some drinks and snacks ... everyone except me. I was determined not to spend what my mother gave me ... I wanted to give the money back to her.

From the bus, I watched my schoolmates having their soft drinks and snacks. I remained in the bus ... ate the biscuits and drank water that my mother packed for me. As I was eating and watching my friends silently ... I cried.

I was not the studious type but my parents were hoping that I could make it far ... they were hoping that I could make it to university. Being a religious person, my mother prayed to all the gods she thinks that will help me in my exams ... even asked our Indian neighbor to seek blessing for me during Thaipusam.

But I failed ... I did not do well in my MCE. The day when I saw my results, I told myself ... it’s alright, I did my best. I even went to a movie with friends and then I went home. When I told my parents that I did not pass my MCE, my father said ... it’s alright, you did your best. But I know, they were disappointed ... very disappointed. The whole evening my father was unusually quiet and I could see my mother was not her usual self. I went to bed but I couldn’t sleep and I look at my results again ... I cried.

During my early 20s, I was a young energetic guy making a living in the booming 80s ... like many men in their 20s, I fell in love. Like many first loves, I thought it was going to be forever. But as time went by and as we both grew and experienced many different things in life, it was clear that our choices in life were different. So we parted. That evening I went out to drown my sorrows in a neighborhood pub ... somehow there is a line in every song the band played that seems to be talking about me ... I drank a lot and I cried.

Then I got married ... life was good for a while but then one of my lungs collapsed. I was smoking like a chimney and one of my lungs decided to pop. In the emergency ward, the doctors punctured a hole in my right side and put in tubes to drain blood from my lungs ... I was drowning in my own blood. Decisions were quickly made to prepare me for a thoracic surgery and as I was wheeled into the operating room, I was trembling, I was scared, I was confused ... just before they put me to sleep ... I cried.

My brush with death changed me ... mellowed down and started living a simple life. I was already in my late 30s when son was born and two years later, my daughter came along. I remember when they were 4 and 2 years old, we were at a shopping mall when my son was quite annoyed with his sister. He was making a fuss and refused to be with her. I told him that if he don't want his sister, we will leave her at the mall and go home without her ... he nodded almost immediately. Then I grabbed his hand and walked away leaving my two years old daughter behind and see what happens. We walked for just about 20 steps and then my son stopped, immediately turned around and ran quickly back and hugged his sister who by then was crying uncontrollably ... he cried, she cried, I cried.

As the years went by I finally retired and took on a more easy and simple life. My son got into university, got his car license and learning to take care of himself while my daughter is also learning to be more independent. Most of the mornings I will sit in my garden with my coffee and my wife will be watering the plants. Funny, I did not notice this before ... maybe it was because we were too busy taking care of others but now I see, she has been through a lot ... she aged. As I watched her silently ... I cried.

And lately I went on a trip with a few of my best friends ... we have known each other for more than 40 years. I was looking at the many photos of the trip and then I took out some old photos of us in our younger days. Looking at the old and new photos side by side, the memories started to fill my mind. The schooldays, the good days, the bad days, the heydays ...  the friendship that bonded us together for so many years and many more to come. And the memories brought emotions ... I cried.

Yes, I cried a lot ... tears of guilt, tears of shame, tears of joy, tears of love, tears of appreciation, tears of fear, tears of pain, tears of all sorts and I will keep crying ... for I am what I am today because I cried.

February 27, 2017

It doesn't take a lot

I am writing this from the hospital bed … have been here for 2 days already ... admitted for severe throat and stomach infection. At this moment, only with pain killers stopping the misery, I am able to write. Not sure how long I will have to be admitted ... the good doctors are still running some tests … I hope I it won’t be long as I have a trip to China with my best buddies very soon.

Funny … I thought I was healthy and I felt like I was at the top of the world just a few days ago … that is, before some nasty little bugs decided to come mess me up.

Whether you are a regular body builder or a season marathon runner or an avid mountain trekker … you think you are strong and healthy but the unfortunate fact is … one tiny bacteria, a nasty virus, a small insect or a slight misstep can mercilessly bring you to your knees.

I am probably one of the lucky ones … it is not life threatening but is causing a lot of pain and misery. The good doctors are confident that a strong course of antibiotics will solve my problems. Let’s hope soon.

But some people are not so fortunate … I was told that a patient in the next ward was fighting for her life due to pneumonia brought upon by a nasty bacteria.

I have seen a healthy strong man slipped and fell a just couple of steps but unfortunately the damage was semi-paralysis.

Someone I know who used to lead a very active and healthy life but was brutally destroyed by malignant tumor growing quietly until it shows its deadly form.

And not so long ago … a very experienced trekker was killed by some hornets while going into the jungle for nature photography.

As healthy as we think we are … running marathons, conquering high mountains or trekking tough jungles … really our body can be very fragile and delicate when exposed to certain elements.

So, it doesn’t take a lot to bring one down … in fact, a lot lesser than we think. When we read or hear about unfortunate illnesses, accidents and mishaps … many of us tend to think it won’t happen to us or our family … we hate the idea that it can befall upon us because every time we see or read these … it only happened to others.

Very conveniently we ignore it or we refuse to accept it and take things for granted. Maybe you say ... “don’t worry, I am healthy” ... “I still have years ahead” ... “why worry, still got time” ... believing that you can still go for more. Maybe you already have than enough ... if you think you don’t have enough, many are more than happy to settle for half of what you have.

Like I always say ... I live an easy, simple and healthy life and it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. But then again ... it doesn’t take a lot to mess up my life either.

Remember, no matter how healthy you think you are or think that you still have much time ... don't fool yourself, it is not guaranteed, things can change in a snap ... go spend more time with your loved ones, your friends and maybe some time for yourself too.

January 20, 2017

I beg to differ

The year started with everyone wishing everyone the best of everything ... thousands of greetings, good words and wishful messages were sent conveniently from smart devices and posted all over the social media.

Smart devices and social media provide a lot of conveniences and these technologies have somehow become a necessity in our everyday lives ... many are quick to say that they have become more “connected” with the people in their lives.

Really? I beg to differ.

It has become very common to see a group of people (whether family or friends), sitting at the same table and everyone is communicating ... with someone who is NOT EVEN THERE !!!

If we look at most of the messages or glamorous photos posted on social media ... it looks like all of us are living our lives very well and having a good time. In reality, some are really in deep shit but on Facebook ... everything looks so good.

Are we really more connected? Looks more like we are disconnected from reality !!!

Then I see people expressing their love openly to their loved ones on social media ... especially on festive seasons, mother/father days, birthdays, anniversaries ... telling their parents, siblings, spouses how much they love them ... from within the country or half way across the world.

Telling someone how much you love them on FB ... really ???

I beg to differ ... I think at best it is just a half hearted effort. Call me old school or call me old fashion ... from what I was taught when you love someone, you want to be with them. That is why we see millions of people all over the world travel back home to their loved ones every year on festive holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and other celebratory occasions ... some drove the whole day, other took a few days and some took more than a week to go home.

Why did they go through the trouble? Because like me, they believe that if you love someone, you want to be with them. Not DIGITIZE your love and send it conveniently by smart devices or expressing your love on social media ... to me that is just a show, just to let people think that you care. Maybe you do love them and maybe you do care ... but not as much as you think, definitely not enough to make you want to be with them.

And nowadays many parents encourage their kids to go out to see the world ... that is absolutely wonderful. Young people should take the opportunity to go explore outside their countries. With smart technologies, the world have become so small, so accessible, so connected ... that is why many parents feel that it is more affordable, more convenient, more safe and more easy to let their kids go out to discover the world.

Really, I am also thinking the same and I am also telling my kids to do that too. But I beg to differ a bit ... there is also one important thing that I am telling my kids ... remember to COME HOME.

Yes, the young ones should be taught to be independent, to expand their horizon, to explore global adventures and to seek opportunities outside but they must also be taught the values of a family, the bond between loved ones, the respect for the elderly, the duty as family member and if they are taught well ... they will want to COME HOME.

Strange but true ... we go out looking for things we wanted only to find them when we come home.

December 22, 2016

What's up 2017?

Yes, the year is coming to an end and what most people do around this time is talk about what they will like to do in the coming new year … their plans, ambitions, resolutions, goals and dreams. Very good, it shows that many people have so much to look forward to in the year ahead and maybe also the many years to come.

What about me? Do I have anything to look forward to?

Hmmmm, let’s see ... I don’t have big plans nor do I have great ambitions and I don’t make resolutions. I have achieved most of my goals already … quite easily because I did not set anything difficult to attain and I am not the kind who shift goal post frequently … you can say I am an easily contented person. And now I seek memories rather than dreams.

So ... what to look forward to?

Well, I think I have a lot of time … yes, a lot of time since I don't have much to chase after ... so I will look forward to spend some time. So really, for next year I will just do exactly what I did this year and the few years before … just continue to spend my time doing what I like … simple, easy and happy.

In the last few years, I have spent quite a bit of time with my wife and kids. So I probably will continue to do that … make time for each other and make do with the time we have to talk to each other, laugh at each other, make a fool of each other, joke with each other, poke at each other and last but not least (at times) annoy each other.

Family time at the beach
We cannot afford to go on long overseas holidays or expensive family outings or generous celebrative occasions but we can have many spans of time in our everyday activities. Maybe it is just a drive to school, a bite at McDonalds, a quick teh tarik and roti at the local mamak , a pep talk over dinner at home, a trip to the hypermarket for groceries, a movie on weekends or maybe a short escape from the heat to the local malls ... the important thing is that in those spans of time, we talked … about this, about that … about everything. Our conversations vary from schools to markets, clothes to movies, food to books, friends to pets and sports to fashions. This is how we bond and how we constantly stay connected. I am happy with these moments … this is my idea of spending quality time.

Others have different thoughts about quality time … whatever it is, it is important to build a bond and stay connected. But very often I see, though the people are together ... everyone seems to be corresponding, engaging, interacting and somehow connected only to their smart devices. Sad but it is happening.

Anyway ... apart from my family, I would like to spend time with my friends. Whether it is for our usual trek in the jungles or our foodie trips to small towns or budgeted overseas tours or pot luck parties with our families or just a boys’ night out to talk about anything and everything under the sky … I want to continue doing what we have been doing for the many years to come.

You see, we are a bunch of old uncles who have known each other for almost half our lives and a few I have known for more than 40 years. We don't have to gather in “happening” places or have expensive sumptuous meals or attend some posh events so that we can have “glamour” photos to post on social media … nope, we are comfortable drinking coconut water under a tree or having a cheap beer in a coffee shop or cramping in our old cranky van on an outskirt road looking for small town street food.

Boys' night out
Even though among ourselves there are those who are well-off and affluent but when we meet, we don’t equate ourselves in material status and we don’t compare our monetary worth … there is one simple thing that we valued very high between all of us and hold close to our hearts and it does not cost anything at all ... yes, absolutely free … it is what we called friendship.

So to my friends … whether you like it or not, in the coming years you will see me very often.

After allocating time for my family and friends … I think I still have some time to spend … time for myself. I like having personal moments … I mean apart from those I spent sitting in the toilet every morning.

A quiet moment over a cup of tea
I like the cold breezy moments of some days where I can have a pot of “puer” while relaxing in the midst of the greens in my garden, listening to the sound of the water fountain and letting my mind wanders into memory lanes. I look forward to rainy days where I can just step out for a rain shower that reminds me of my younger days basking in the rain half naked or just sitting in my garden, looking at the rain drops falling and idling into nothingness … strange but this is how I recharge.

Sometimes I have the house to myself for a few hours ... the time to bring out my erhu and try to screech out a new song to the annoyance of my three helpless dogs. Very often, I will suddenly flip into karaoke mode forcing air out of my lungs through my cheap ‘pasar malam’ cordless mike that makes it sounds like someone pulling a cow up the tree … ok, ok that is an exaggeration ya … so far I think I must have sounded quite alright as the neighbours have yet to complain.

Working on my wood art
If I get my hands on some wood and pallets … I can indulge a bit of time trying to put what I learned from art school to good use … cranking loud noises on the electric saw and drills to the curiosity of my very tolerating neighbours hoping to churn out some recycle art pieces or some DIY furniture.

And after all that and if I still have time left ... don’t worry, my wife will make sure I put it to good use with a list of chores and errands to keep my butt away from the chair.

So what’s up for 2017? Nothing much really ... no plans, no ambitions, no resolutions, no goals and no dreams ... just plenty of time to spend.

November 22, 2016

Do something for people to write or write something for people to do

Recently one of my favorite writers (from a local newspaper) passed away … I read almost all the articles he wrote on every Sunday and even though I don’t relate to every article … I must say I found great insights in many of his writings.

Soo Ewe Jin was one very remarkable writer … cherished by his readers and respected by his peers. He wrote with the simplest approach on ordinary things in life and yet able to create very meaningful stories. His writings have influenced me in many ways and I believe have also inspired many others like me … rest in peace Soo Ewe Jin.

Really, I wished I could write like him.

Someone once told me this … to be known, either you do something for people to write or you write something for people to do. I believe there is some truth to these words.

In my 50+ years of life, I have done all sort of things … “jack of all trades”, one can say but “master of none”, I must admit. You see, up to this point of my life, I have not really done anything and I don’t think I will do anything probably for the rest of my life that is worthy for someone to write about.

Then how about write something for people to do?

OK, let’s put it this way … I like to write and I must have wrote at least a millions words in hundreds of articles but for me to write something that people will do … I think it is a very far shot … very likely it will not happen.

Whatever I have written or going to write, are just things that I have experienced, things that I have learned from others, things I have read from other writers (like the late Soo Ewe Jin and a few others) and things I like to see happen before I leave this world. So there is nothing special and there is nothing new in what I have written and what I am going to write.

So no … I don’t think people will do what I have written. Really, it is the other way round … I am actually doing what other people wrote.

I like to write … to share my thoughts, to put across my views, to seek ideas, to challenge illogic conventions and maybe also to satisfy some of my curiosities in everyday matters. I write in simple words … with candor, cheeky at times and can be acerbic in certain matters. More importantly, I write in honesty, facts, science, logic and reality.

I am not a good writer like those who can weave words and create meaningful stories with the simplest of things … I tend to stir the hornet’s nest, I am controversially curious and I can be brutally blunt at times. From the comments I received … I believe many don’t like my approach. Maybe they don’t like my writings with direct words, maybe they don’t like my blunt approach, maybe they don’t believe in what I believed in or I don’t believe in what they believed in … hence the many displeased comments.

Look, we all have our own beliefs, we all experience things differently and we all have different approach in how we should live our lives … so we are all entitled to our own opinions. I respect others' opinions and accept their comments.

I will continue to write with simple words, with the same direct approach, with the same candor, with the same blunt logic and with the same acerbic tone … maybe many will find my writings difficult to relate to but I hope people can respect and accept my approach, my beliefs, my views and opinions with an open mind.

October 24, 2016

I should be in heaven


Hey Shiek, just a month ago you said you will go to hell … now you say you should be in heaven? What talking you lah?

OK, this time let me get straight to the point … I promise you, no beating around the bushes.

The belief is … good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell right? And a good guy hangs around with the good guys in good places and a bad dude will mix with other bad dudes in rowdy places. Isn’t that what most people believed in, isn’t that what we see in movies and isn’t that how most people were brought up and taught to be?

So, the guy who is in charge of heaven, the lovable Mr Able, the goody goody fella … probably the best of all things good and what he (maybe she) likes? Good people of course! So he (or she) welcomes all the good people to heaven and all the good people become friends and live happily in heaven … so far so good?

OK … on the other end there is this guy who runs hell … that mean looking red fella with two horns and an arrow headed tail holding a menacing trident … he is a badass right? I mean this fella is the badass of all badasses … he is the devil and the king of hell. So what he likes? He likes badass people of course … the more badass you are the better and he invites all the badasses to turn hell into a crazy frenzy badass place … hence the saying … “it’s hell of a place”.

So, my simple reasoning is … (like I was told) if you are a good guy, you will go to heaven where all things are of good nature and where all your good peers are so you can live among them in the good ways that you always wanted right? 

Then the same must apply … if you are a badass and when you die, you go to hell and in hell, you will live in a freaky fiery world that fits badasses like you, where creating havoc is the norm and you will live among your badass peers. So really, you are just doing what all badasses are expected to do … then why should you get tortured?

I was told many times that I am a bad person by many people. They said because I don’t believe in the “good invisible guy” aka god, then I don’t have morals. Really, they said that in the exact words. And they told me I will go to hell and my soul will be tortured there. Well, if that is what they want to believe … let’s play along.

So when I die and if it is as per what I was told, then I will go to hell … but, I don’t think I will be tortured like many would like to believe … instead, I will be welcomed probably with a big party by the devil himself. And I will strive well in hell … you see, if I am as bad as they say I am … then hell is an environment where I will be at my best.

For those who wished that I will go to hell and if they really think that my soul to be tortured in hell … you guys have got it all wrong. Hell don’t torture badass like me … on the contrary, the devil likes badasses. Like I said earlier … he is the badass of all badasses.

As a matter of fact, I am already associated with him now … I have a small cheeky red little devil in diaper with two horns and an arrow headed tail holding a menacing trident tattooed on my chest … I call it the “devillet” ... my slang of a small cheeky devil. In all my social media correspondences, my sign-off emoticon is the purple two horns cheeky smiling creature and my favourite symbol is of course the devil hand sign. You see, I think I probably will be invited into the devil’s inner circle of badasses when I go to hell.

Really, if the devil wants to torture anyone in hell … it should be the good guys. That is why the good guys don’t want to end up in hell. And vice versa, the bad guys don’t want to go to heaven … so, if people believe that I should suffer and I should be punished for all the bad things they said I have done … then I should be in heaven.

September 23, 2016

I will go to hell

I am going to hell. How do I know? They told me. And who are they?  Well, there is a long list of people who want to see me go to hell.

First on the list is my wife … every now and then when I make her real mad (intentionally and unintentionally) … she will be fast to retort … “Go to hell” … in a menacing tone and manner. It’s OK, after living with her for so many years, I am used to that … like many women, what she says and what she really means is totally different.

Then there are those who said that if I don’t believe in what they believed in … I will go to hell. They sounded very convincing and they are very sure I will be there soon enough.

And I know there are a few whom I may have offended bad enough to curse me to hell. Hey, I am not a saint … I don’t have to pretend. In my 50+ years of life and especially during my working days … I did offend quite a few people. Call it corporate politics but that is how one needs to survive in the “dog-eat-dog” world.

Last but not least, I know a few crazy ones who wish that I will go to hell … "meet you there" ... they said. This bunch of people are more or less like me … they think that they are more likely to end up in hell than anywhere else when they die. Good to know that I will have a few peers with me when I am in hell.

So I am going to hell … what‘s the big deal? What am I trying to say? Stop beating around the bush … get to the point!

OK, OK … bear with me, I will get to it soon … indulge me for a short while, I need to build an elaborate setting to my message to make it interesting mah.

Alright, here it is … you see, they say that the soul will be tortured in hell … let me repeat, the SOUL will be tortured … not the body or anything else. Hmmm, it is just the soul that the devil wants. So when I die, there is no need to bring my body and everything that is in it to hell right? OK good … if that is the case, I might as well do something with my body and whatever in it.

So what can I do? Donate … yes, donate my organs. Since they think I have not done anything good (that is why they say I am going to hell remember?) when I am alive, I might as well do something good when I die. As a matter of fact, I have already signed up for organ donation. And for that matter, take my cadaver too … I am sure they can make good use of it in medical schools. Maybe after the good medical students are done with my cadaver, I hope they can process it into fertilizers … I read something on the internet recently that bodies can now be processed into fertilizers … do it, don’t let it go to waste.

Look, the gist of this long “go to hell” story is to get to the point about organ donation and maybe even body donation. The point I want to make is … many are not willing to donate their organs or body for medical needs or studies because their faith and beliefs won’t allow it … it is a sin to do so. I don’t know why … I don’t know the religious reason behind this sin.

My simple reasoning is … if someone can believe there is heaven and hell … they can believe that it is their souls that will go to heaven or hell when they die … then they really don’t need their organs and bodies which most likely will be left to rot or burnt to ashes. Then why not donate their organs and body to good use?

I don’t believe there is heaven or hell … so for me, it is just a practical reason why I want to donate my organs and my body when I die. But for those who believe there is heaven and hell, there is one more reason for them to do so. Let's put it this way, if you did good while you are alive and your soul will go to heaven … why not walk that extra mile and do good one more time when you die … heaven don’t need your body or your organs, so donate them to those in need. Or, if you have done bad while you are alive and your soul will be in hell … might as well take the opportunity to do one last good thing when you die. Hey, you will never know … maybe the devil will go easy on you for the one last good thing that you did.

August 24, 2016

The truth is ...

Most people are aware that their physical well being will start to decline when they reached the half century mark (maybe even earlier) … as a matter of fact, it is actually declining faster than they think. But many choose to ignore that or refuse to acknowledge it … some even say they actually feel better than when they were younger. They know very well that is not true.

So what do they do?

There will be some who will go to war with nature … an anti aging war. Though it is a very misleading term in the health and beauty business but “anti aging” is also one of the most believed terms for those who desperately want to think that one can stop growing old. From hiding gray hairs to enzyme supplements to cosmetic treatments to complex procedures … many faithfully submit to these processes thinking that they can stop or even reverse the effect of time.

Come on, don’t kid yourself … when you have lived more than 50 years, you should know better. The truth is … going against aging is a costly and frustrating war you will never win.

This is what I think … to see gray hair is fortunate … some people don’t get to live old enough to see gray hairs. Wrinkles? That is absolutely fine too … it is just on the face not in your heart.

Then there are many of those who said … look, I can still run a marathon! They boast about hiking the G7 mountains.Yes, many in my age group have this urge to participate in challenging activities. Not that they love the sport or they have a passion for it … quite a few have not even engage in anything that includes running or hiking in their younger days. But when they grow older, there is this urge to show or to prove to themselves (really, it is more to show others) that they can do it.

Strange but true … many think that by being able to run a marathon or hike up a mountain means that age has no effect on them … they like to think that if they can still do what a 30-year-old does then they have not aged at all. That is just bullshit but still there are a lot who want to think like that.

The truth is … if you feel that by being able to do what a 30-year-old does and that means physically you have not age at all … you have just wasted the last 20 plus years of your life.

Running, hiking or trekking (plus other challenging activities) is not about proving what you can still do or proving that you are still able to do what a younger person does. I salute those who run because of their genuine passion for marathons, those who hike because of their lifelong aspiration to conquer the peaks and those who trek simply because they love to bask in beautiful surroundings of the natural jungles.

And it gets stranger … there are quite a few of those who think they can take the easy way to just buy back their youth, their health or their well being. I will come back to this point … first, allow me to build the setting for the story.

Look, we all need money … no money, you are in trouble. That is a fact. So go make money and make as much as you can. But remember this … there is no freebies in this world. You give some, you take some and the question is … what are you giving in return for what you take?

The problem is … people just don’t know when to stop in the race for money … when they make some, they want more. It is always a bigger car or a bigger house or a better lifestyle and it is very hard to say enough. Over the years, they continue to remain oblivious to what they are giving away until it starts to affect their health, which in turn affects their families … then, it is too late already.

Here is my point … with the money they made, they willingly pay for the best medical treatments hoping that they can buy a cure that will bring back their health. The unfortunate truth is ... the best medical treatments have no guarantees.

And then there are stories about “magic potions” and “miracle cures” … luring those who are desperate enough to pay thousands of dollars believing that they can bring back their youth with magic and solve their health problems with miracles. The sad truth is … in modern time of science and scientific facts, there are still those who believe that Snow White and the seven dwarfs actually exist.

A lot of people simply did not plan out the various stages of their lives … maybe they are busy trying to make a better living … when they realized how quickly time passes by, they whine about time running out.

So maybe now you want plan what to do with the last remaining few chapters of your life and live accordingly. Don’t fool yourself trying to be young ... thinking that you can pluck another 20 years out of thin air.

Look, the truth is … from the half century mark onwards, things will go downhill faster than you think … regardless of what you want to believe. Yes, time is running out and many will complain that life is too short. But come to think about it … is life really too short? Did it ever cross your mind that maybe you took too long to start living it?

July 21, 2016

Before I die …

OK, the title looks like it is going to be one of those peculiar writings on the taboo subject of death … nope, rest assured this one is not … so no worries here.

And here it goes.

Everyone … errrrrr well, almost everyone have a bucket list. A list of things one must do before one leaves this world … kick the bucket, so to say.

I have seen many so called bucket lists … list of “must do” things and many of course are famous places to visit around the world, exclusive sports and recreational activities to engage in, exotic cuisines to savor and some common challenges in life like run a triathlon or climb some famous mountains.

And some strange ones too … one guy told me he wants to experience death. What? He wants to be (in his exact words) “put in a state of death” and be revived! Really, I am not joking ... so I told him he should put that as the last item on his bucket list … just in case, you know.

For me, it was never on my mind to say that I must do this or do that before I die. Famous places to visit? Visited a couple of the world wonders and many other popular places in various countries but they were not the places that I must go to before I die … it is just that I chanced upon the opportunity to go there and so I went.

Exciting sports? Not that I really wanted to do it … just happened to be there at the time. Like diving … I was told I must try diving before I die … it is an out of this world experience, they said. And I dove … one time at Sipadan and when I was just several meters down, I said to myself … I am F**KED! I was scared and I was not breathing properly. And the words came back to haunt me … “out of this world experience” they told me … of course, I was going to die! So, I got back onto the boat in no time. Look, diving is not something I must do before I die … more like something I should do if I want to die.

How about exotic cuisines? Kobe beef, Beluga caviar or Fugu sushi to name a few … nope, cannot afford any of those. Then a friend told me about foie gras … absolutely delicious and very expensive from what I was told. Again, must try before you die he said … I found out that foie gras is actually goose (or duck) liver. I consumed chicken livers many times before ... so, goose (or duck) liver should taste more or less the same I guess. 

Then at a dinner on a trip to France, foie gras was on the menu. Expensive dinner on company’s expense … the menu was about E$200 per head. Wow, almost RM1000 (then) … that was the most expensive meal I ever had in my life. And when the foie gras was served, (remembering what my friend told me) I took a good look at it … at first I wasn’t convinced but when I took a bite … I was sure, I must be participating in a Fear Factor reality show. One bite was all I had … errrrr, I will stick to chicken livers with chili sauce. Foie gras … must try before I die? Actually, I rather die than eating what looks like an enlarged diseased liver. OK OK, to be fair to all foie gras fans out there … it is just an exaggerated personal opinion ya.

Really, I don’t have a list of “must do” things before I kick the bucket … in my younger days I was busy doing things to help my parents, (when I got my own family) I have to put a roof over our heads, schooling for the kids and gather enough for my wife and I to live decently in our later years. Nor do I have a list of “must try” exotic food and cuisines … the “must eat” for us are mainly simple food on the table … maybe better varieties on celebrative days and festive seasons.

After I retired, I don’t have any “must do” challenges … I try staying active and doing just a bit of everything to keep me busy for as long as I am still able. And no, I don’t have a “must visit” list of places … only occasionally short breaks with my family to where the budget allows.

Many people have a bucket list but I don’t.

However, I do have a few things that I would like to see happened before I die. A few things that people are working on now which I hope will be realized in the near future.

So before I die, I hope to see astronauts on the moon again … that will certainly be new steps for further space exploration … like sending man to Mars. Before I die, I hope deep space scientists searching for extraterrestrial intelligence will be able to detect other intelligent life form(s) … that is to tell people not to be so arrogant to think that we are the only intelligent ones in the whole universe. Before I die, I hope physicists will be able to solve the mystery of Higgs Boson … that will bring new discoveries of how everything works in the universe. Before I die, I hope archaeologists will open and study the tomb of Shi Huang Ti, the first emperor of China … that will be a great opportunity for historians and the world to learn about one of the greatest early civilizations. Before I die, I hope medical researchers will find a cure for cancer … that will end the suffering of millions of people in the world. Before I die, I hope to see people having greater understanding and tolerance of various beliefs (whether religious or not) … then there will be real peace to all in the world.

And why do I want to see all these happened before I die?

Because then I will know when I leave … the world will be a better place for the generations to come.

June 27, 2016

I am not a likeable person

A lot of people don’t like me. Yes, no joke. I tell you why … I am not a likeable person.

Why is that so?

OK, let me explain. You see half of the people who know me don’t like me simply because I don’t believe in what they believed in. Yes, it is true ... the minute I tell them I am not a religious person, somehow I suddenly morphed into a reddish being with sharp ears and two horns holding a menacing trident.

I am not a religious person but I am not anti-religion. Too bad many people don’t see it this way. The way they see it … as long as you don’t belong to any religion, you are not going to be liked. More so if you are not in the same faith as they are.

So there you go … half of the people I know don’t like me already.

Then there are those who don’t like me for being direct … they say I am rude. There is a huge difference between being direct and being rude. If you are wrong, I tell you in your face that you are wrong … that is direct, not rude. I don’t tell others … why? Because it is YOU that need to change, not others. Unfortunately, some people cannot accept that.

And that makes another quarter of people who don’t like me. Not much left right? Wait, there is a few more.

From what is left, there are some who said I talked too much and they don’t like people who talked too much. Yes, I am a very vocal person … I don’t hide my opinions. The real reason why these people don’t like me is not because I talked too much, it is because what I said is different from what they wanted to hear. Sad but true … you don’t get ‘likes’ for honest opinions.

So you do the math and add up everything … you will see most people I know don’t like me. Now, what about the remaining few?

And here comes the gist of the story … like all my stories, I will take you go one big round before I come to the few lines to stress my point.

You may ask … “So, how about the few left … they like you?”

Well, these few are my close friends.  Do they like me? Errrrr … I don’t know. Put it this way, they did not say they like me … but, (here is my point) we get along very well because we are open to each other’s thoughts, opinions and frankness … because we can understand each other’s feelings, sensitivities and sentiments  … and also because we hold a certain tolerance level of each other’s beliefs, faith and devotions.