December 31, 2017

A good year

Today is the last day of 2017...  as per what many people felt, I too think that the year passed rather quickly. Throughout the 360+ days, many things happened ... some bad and a few quite ugly but most were good. So for me, I think it is a good year.

On this last writing of the year, I would like to recap ... not on the bad and the ugly ... but on some good things that I think is worth talking about to end the year on a happy note.

“Torng kai pai sun”
At the beginning of the year my son enrolled into a local university ...
yes, I am a proud father because my son is the first in my family to attend university. Maybe for many other families this is normal but to my family, this is a big thing. Really, if my father is still alive, I am sure he will call for a “torng kai pai sun” (slaughter chicken and offer to the gods) session and very likely invite all my relatives over to celebrate.

And just a few months before, my son passed his driving test at the first try (that surprised me) and after getting his driving license and his mother’s car, he is very much on his own. Now he is quite independent in managing his own personal needs and education requirements ... I am happy to see that he has grown into a good young adult.

A journey of great friendship
I went to China with 4 of my very best childhood friends. We went exploring the various parts of this great country. From Xian to Beijing, we spent time learning the rich history of China ... emperors, princes, generals, terracotta, tombs, mausoleums, walls, temples and pagodas. Apart from that we also explored modern China ... places, streets, food, Olympic city, bullet trains, underground rails and glittering skyline of Beijing today.

The trip was not just a holiday outing ... more importantly it was a “bonding” trip of 5 very good childhood friends ... getting together, experiencing, learning, sharing, connecting, discovering and spending time together ... a journey of great friendship.

Cha Cha and Tango
We adopted two cats ... someone left them in a box behind our house when they were just little kittens. First we were thinking of keeping the kittens for a week or two ... just to look and see if our dogs can tolerate them. But after a week, we decided to keep them ... they were just too adorable ... then we named them Cha Cha and Tango ... like the Latin dances that my daughter is learning.

Cha Cha and Tango brought a lot of joy to the family ... cats being cats, with their carefree laid back manners and attention demanding attitude, they can be quite delightful and amusing. Always had us entertained with their mischievous frolics. At times when they are not running and chasing squirrels up the tree ... they will curl up beside you teasingly seeking attention and affection.

We love Cha Cha and Tango dearly ... glad to have them in the family.

My Susan
I bought a car ... why am I talking about it? I don’t know about other people but buying a car is a big thing and a good thing for me. Bear with me on this.

You see ... my wife gave her car to my son and set her eyes on my car ... so, I have to buy another car for our convenience. As I am always on a limited budget ... a used car is the only choice. And so I got me a cheap “pre-loved” 15 years old black Wira.

My son called it Susan ... why? Because like the Susan he knows ... it is big, heavy and noisy. OK, OK ... to all the Susans out there ... you go settle this with my son. Well, my Susan has nothing to shout about but I am very happy with it ... it serves its purpose dependably ... so you will see me with Susan very often from now onwards.

A pleasant surprise
I have two very active teenage kids ... like normal teenagers ... they hate exams, love Marvels and cannot live without Ed Sheeran. On good days they complement each other and do things happily together. On some days ... each were yelling and calling the other an asshole. Yes, they made some noise every now and then but really, they are good kids.

Not too long ago I wanted to buy a newly launched book but the new hard cover version was a bit expensive. I went to the bookshop ... looked at it several times but still I could not convince myself to spend the money ... told myself I will wait for the cheaper paperback. My kids know that I love that book ... so they used their own pocket money and bought the hard cover for me ... wrap it up nicely and let me open it. That was really a very pleasant surprise ... love the book, love the kids ... like I said, they are good kids.

Thank you Mrs Shiek
Throughout the year my wife and I were quite busy running our daily activities to keep everyone in the family well, comfortable and fed. In our daily activities ... we pretty much do everything together ... marketing, preparing, cooking, buying groceries or running errands ... she was always close to me.  

We spent a lot of time together every day ... we talked, we laughed, we joked and we gossiped. At times we argued and sporadically we quarreled ... but very soon we were back to our usual jolly cheery selves. I like doing things together with her ... it is this togetherness that strengthened our friendship, our closeness and our companionship.

Thank you Mrs Shiek ... for always staying close and beside me throughout the year. I am looking forward to the same next year and the many more years to come.

Last ... but not least
I must say I had a lot of good outings, gatherings, meetings, games and treks with a bunch of good friends. Though we do not see each other very often over the year but almost every day I received morning greetings, words of advice or simple courtesy messages from them ... appreciate it ... simple things like this made my days better throughout the year.

Again ... to all those who made my days better in 2017 ... thank you very much. And a Happy New Year to all !!! 

November 21, 2017

Please don't tell me you love me

I was upstairs watching a documentary online when my son (came home a bit late) happily shouted to me through the stairwell ... “I love you Daddy !”. I heard it but then I thought I must have heard it wrong ... I want to be sure so I asked ... “what did you say?” Then he came nearer to the stairs and said again, a little louder this time ... “I - LOVE - YOU - DADDY !!!”

Now I hear him ... loud and clear ... almost immediately my mind went into the “what has he done wrong now” mode and I said to myself  ... “oh shit, something bad must have happened”.

Then I asked him suspiciously  ... “son, which subject did you fail?” He replied confidently ... “NO, I did not fail any subject”. And very quickly my next question was ... “did you damage the car or what? And again he said ... “NOPE”.  And I asked again (very curiously) ... so, what is wrong then? “Nothing is wrong Daddy!” ... he assured me jokingly.

Really? I think to myself ... cannot be, this is strange ... so I went downstairs to talk to him. “Really nothing’s wrong?” ... I asked again. I was thinking ... he must have screwed up something. Since he started talking he has never ... I mean NEVER, told me he love me in any way whatsoever.

And then I found out I was wrong  ... apparently he attended a motivational course organized by his university and the students were told (when they go home that day) to tell their parents ... “I love you, Daddy/Mummy”.

Gosh!!Really, for a while there, I was a bit anxious.

You see, in my family we are not those who express our love and affection openly ... at least I am not. It must have been years (can't remember when) since I last said something affectionate to my wife and kids ... really, I am not the romantic and affectionate type.

Many people openly express their love, thanks and appreciation to their parents and their loved ones on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and many other special occasions ... there will be hundreds of touching messages on various social media ... sent from all over the world. Well and good ... I am sure the intended person will feel very much loved and appreciated by the affectionate and touching words.

For me ... I beg to differ ... come Father’s Day or birthday or other special occasions ... I don’t really need my wife and kids to wish me or write me touching messages ... strange but true, I am kind of awkward with things like this.

You see ... I don’t need good words from my children to tell me how much they love me. I told them this ...  if you love me, don’t tell me ... show me. Show me that you are the person than I expected you to be ... that is all. Like all parents ... whatever I do for my kids is with the hope that they grow up to be a good person ... so, if they can do just that... that is all they need to show.

Same goes for my wife ... I don’t need any affectionate words from her. All I need is her presence ... when I am at home, she is with me ... when I go to the hypermarket, she is with me ... when I go for my roti canai, she is with me ... when I watch TV, she is with me ... she is with me almost everywhere. Every time I look, she is always nearby and every time she look, I am always close. You see ... I don't think both of us need any affectionate words from each other ... our presence in each other's life is a lot more than words can offer.

Yes, I am quite a strange fellow ... so, my dear wife, son and daughter ... please don’t tell me you love me.

October 27, 2017

Eh, where are you sending your kids to?

I was having breakfast with a friend in a coffee shop and next to us were a group of people about my age talking about their kid’s education ... both my friend and I heard them talking about sending their kids to overseas universities for further studies.

Then my friend asked me ... “Eh, where are you sending your kids to?” I looked at him and asked ... “You mean going overseas to study?” He said ... “Yes, which country?” Within a few milliseconds I replied ... “Here ... in Subang, Malaysia!!!”

Our conversation went on about the need for children’s education, we talked on the subject for a while and then he said to me ... “Come on, you can send your kids overseas ... why not?”

So the question is ... can I send my kids to study overseas?

Yes I can ... maybe I have to make a few financial decisions which will probably affect some of my life decisions and with a bit of prudence, yes I can let my kids study overseas.

Now the next question ... do I need to send my kids to study overseas? My answer is NO.

My point is ... why popular universities in USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China and a few other countries are affiliating with local universities and setting up their campuses here?

They are here to cater for parents like me ... these universities came here to provide education facilities so that average parents like me don’t have to dig deep into the pockets to pay for good education for our children. That means average parent like me don’t have to make financial decisions that will somehow demote their life decisions.

Don’t get me wrong ... I am not against people sending their kids to study overseas. Many are financially successful so they don’t have any problems sending their kids to the best universities around the world. A good friend of mine told me he will have to spend a million and a half dollars to send both his kids to UK for tertiary education ... he has no problem with it.

And then there are people who worked very hard, struggled and saved for the whole life so that they can send their kids to study overseas ... they did it at the expense of their own well being. I admire the sacrifices they made ... they must have their own reasons why they are willing to do so and I respect that.

For me to send both my kids overseas to study, I will have to sell my house and move into a smaller apartment ... I will also have to use quite a bit of my savings and cut down on our normal living expenses. That means both my wife and I will not be living as comfortable as we want to be. So, call me a selfish father or call me stingy ... I am not going to send my kids to study overseas. I will not make this financial decision that will adversely affect an essential part my life.

For me and maybe some parents like me ... I don’t see the need to send my kids to study overseas. There are already a lot of good education institutions here that provide a very wide of education courses and programs. As a matter of fact ... parents from countries in the region are sending their kids here to study. For all you know, some of these parents are a lot wealthier than you thought.

And to my son and daughter ... guys, I have to make a life decision rather than a financial decision here ... so, I am not giving you the best the world can offer but I will give you the best I can afford ... you guys will have to make do with it.

September 27, 2017

Make my day ... even if it is the last day

Before I start to write my thoughts in this article ... I must say please read this with an open mind ... it touches on matters related to impending death ... these matters are taboo to many people.

Here it goes.

In one of my previous writings about terminal disease and death, a reader asked me ... “What do you say to a person who is about to die of cancer?"

The big C ... I am sure all of us must have known some people who have lost their lives and maybe some at this very moment who are fighting against this deadly disease. I have seen how several of my close friends and relatives suffered while fighting the agonizing battle against the deadly cancer.

And back to the question ... what can you say to these unfortunate people?

Well ... I don't know.

Of course we all will try to avoid talking about the impending death ... the unfortunate ones don't want to be reminded that they are going to die. It is easy to tell you what not to say, but what to say ... I really don't know. Really, in this kind of situation there is not much to say anyway ... other than a few careful words of concerns and comfort.

Look, it is not about what to say or what not to say ... rather it is how those directly involved (the dying and his or her loved ones) deal with it ... that will have a huge impact at this final stage.

Let's twist things around ... say if I am suffering from the deadly disease and I am going to die ... how I am going to deal with it? And how will I want my loved ones to deal with it? Again, please look at this with an open mind ... whatever I am saying is based on my own views and beliefs.

OK ... say I am dying from cancer ... how?

So, if there is no cure ... all that needs to be done is done. Then fine, let it come ... let the disease take its course. There is no need to do anything to prolong my life ... there is really not much to look forward to anyway. Don't tell me about miracles ... don't pray for one. I am not a religious person, I don't believe in praying and miracles. If science cannot help me ... nothing can.

I will accept it. For me, acceptance is the best way to deal with the anger, agony and suffering. Don't ask ... “Why me? I am still young ... I am so kind ... I am so healthy ... I have done so much good ... why me?” Accept it ... the more you ask, the angrier you will become and that will only increase the agony and suffering both mentally and physically ... for you and your loved ones.

From there onwards ... with acceptance, I think I can manage myself psychologically. I don't think I am afraid to die ... really, I am more afraid of the pain. So, help me manage the pain ... give me morphine ... I want to get high!!! Eh, I mean legally and medically ya.

Then it is about letting go ... letting go of worries and uncertainties. I am worried ... my kids are young, they still need me ... my family will struggle financially without me. How about the elderly ... who will take care of them when I am not around? And so on and so forth. I don't think I will have much time left to make things any better ... so, I will have to let go and trust that my loved ones will be able to learn to manage by themselves.

Very soon the end is near ... maybe it is tomorrow ... come see me and if I am alert, talk to me. Tell me about the good old days and make me laugh ... hey, for that matter, make me cry too ... really, it doesn't matter. Make my day ... even if it is the last day.

August 28, 2017

You want to live a long life?

As people approach their retirement years ... many will wonder how old do they think they will live to be. And the obvious answer is ... as old as possible.

Then the question is ... what can they do?

Many will suddenly became super fitbies ... they run marathons, they trek mountains, they cycle long distances and they work out endlessly in the gym. They do it diligently because they want to get fit and getting fit means getting healthy and getting healthy means living longer. And yes, scientifically it is accepted that a fit person will live longer.

Then there are some who are diehard fans of health recipes, supplements and therapies  ... they will scour the internet for formulas, remedies and methods to cleanse the body to become healthier so they can live longer. Believe it or not ... someone once told me that if I consume a glass of a certain mixture of leaves, roots and oil for a month ... it will extend my lifespan for a year!!!

Though it is not scientifically proven ... people like to think that strange recipes and remedies will cleanse their body and help them live longer.

There are many ways that people will try so that they will be able to live longer ... some will pay for expensive medications and supplements to help them stay young ... they believe “anti-aging” works as advertised and some even claim to be able to “reverse” aging.  Others seek divine intervention and a few stepped into the realm of strange concoctions and magic potions ... all because people want to live longer.

Really, how long do you want to live?

Look ... all of us must have seen videos and heard stories of old people who are still very active ... a 75 years old man in great body shape modeling for commercials, a 95 years old man who can still run and do long jumps and an 85 years old lady dancing stylishly in a dance competition. There are also videos of a 90 years old lady gracefully performing “tai chi” like a pro and a 105 years old granny alertly playing mahjong in China ... and of course our very own 92 years old ex-prime minister who is still sarcastically vocal in political arena.

The immediate thought is that these people are living a long life. Yes, they are very old people but think again ... if you really understand and see the way they live and the things that they are doing ... they are not trying to live longer but instead they are making their lives more meaningful. You see, they are not living a long life ... they are living a good life.

So what you are doing now ... are you doing it because you love doing it or are you are doing it because you think it will make you live longer? Are you running marathons because you have a passion for running? Are you trekking because you love the nature? Do you “live to eat” or you “eat to live”?

Really, ask yourself ... you want to live a long life or you want to live a good life.

July 24, 2017


In many of my writings, I talked on my life after I stopped working ... on why I took an early retirement, living a simple life, taking things easy, contented, spending time ... so on and so forth.

I got a lot of feedbacks and comments from these writings ... some said I have a knack for always asking people to stop working. One comment went on to say that I am “anti-working” ... now, that is the first time I saw this word ... is there such word? Anyway, it doesn’t matter ... I know what it means.

Look, I must admit that at times I do suggest that maybe some people should retire ... but NO, I am not “anti-working” ... as a matter of fact, go work if you need to ... work HARDER if you still don’t have enough.

I have worked for many years and worked very hard in those years ... in many junctions of my working life, I worked harder than many people in order to have financial stability and comfort for me and my family. When I came to the point where I thought I have enough already ... I stopped working for more and make do with what I already have.

Don’t get me wrong ... I am not asking people not to work ... if one understands where I come from, I am saying that people should stop working WHEN THEY HAVE ENOUGH. But then the question is ... how much is enough? This is so subjective ... each of us have different ideas on when it is enough. Maybe I come back to this later ... let’s talk about work first.

I have a friend who stays in a 5000 square feet landed semi-detached house with his wife, two preteen daughters and two hamsters ... he owns a fleet of luxury cars, the cheapest being the X6. He is about to reach retirement age and when I told him that he should stop working then ... he was very quick and firm to reply NO ... not only he needs to continue to work ... he needs to work HARDER ... not enough yet.

Well, there is nothing wrong with that ... but really, that is not working harder ... that is working for MORE. And if that is not enough ... it will never be enough.

Yes, people need to work for MONEY ... unless you have parents who have worked their asses off and left you with a huge fortune or you want to stay in the jungle and live like Tarzan, you need to work. And you will need to work harder if you are struggling with the ever rising cost of living.

I can understand why a civil servant continues to work after retirement taking on Uber to make some money or a young couple working extra hours to raise a family ... they simply don’t have enough, so they needed to work and work harder.

But many people who already have enough and they still work well beyond their retirement age ... just because the money and benefits are easy to come by ... the temptation is strong, the lure is sweet and the desire for more is addictive. But then they don’t admit it ... they like to say that they work because they want to past time.
I work to past time

Strange ... they have to work, if they don’t, then they have a lot of time. So they continue to work because they need to past time. REALLY? Come on, that is BFS! People don’t work to past time ... it is like ... oh, today I have nothing to do, so I go to work to past some time. Does this sound right? Not only this doesn’t sound right ... this is absurd!

People play golf to past time, people watch movies to past time, people take their family out to past time ... people rest, people sleep and some people do absolutely nothing to past time. That is why we have weekends and rest days ... where we do what we like to past time ... not WORK.

People go to work because they get PAID ... they work because there is MONEY and benefits for them ... they are not going to work to past time. And please don’t come tell me you go to work for fun ... there is no fun working!

But let me say this again... there is absolutely nothing wrong if people want to work for more money and “past their time” while working ya ... just that it sounds strange to me.

I said earlier ... I am not “anti-working” ... I know a few who are in their 70s and are still working. Most are actively working in social programs and organizations ... contributing their services to the needy without any remuneration. And one doctor I met in Hong Kong worked until he died in his clinic ... I think he was 85. The good doctor was running a free clinic and offered his services to those in need. These people work but they are not paid ... as a matter of fact, at times they have to use their own resources to do what they are doing. They are working to help make things a bit better for the society ... I admire these people.

What I am trying to tell people is ... when you have enough, maybe you want to think of retiring and spend some time with your spouse, children, parents, friends or spending time on yourself ... better if you can spend time and resources doing something for the good of the society ... think about that.

Well, somehow one will have to stop working finally ... some will stop when their health and well being is affected, there will be a few like the good doctor who worked until the day they die but for many, it will boils down to when they think they have enough.

So when do you think it is enough? How do you measure it?

By my opinion ... how much is enough should be measured by time, health and contentment. If it is measured by wealth and possessions, riches and opulence, titles and recognitions  ... it will never be enough.

June 30, 2017

I talk rubbish

I talk rubbish ... that’s what people tell me. Why do people say that? I think there are a couple of thoughts about this.

First ... yes, I admit sometimes I really talk rubbish ... just a few days ago in a small gathering among friends at my house ... I talk rubbish again when I met a 12 years old ... hey, it’s whisky I am talking about ya, don’t let your thoughts wander too far away.

Whisky and I somehow gets stuck together when we meet ... looks like we cannot have enough of each other and the end result is a lot of rubbish talk ... plus a severe headache the next morning. So after the last bottle, I think I will stay away from 12 and 18 years old for a long time ... you see, when I am drunk, I really talk rubbish.

Second ... maybe people think I talk rubbish because they don’t see things the way I do ... or they don’t want to see the way I do. Also maybe because people don’t like the way I interpret things.  You see, I am a very direct person, I tell it like it is ... I don’t mince my words nor do I sugar coat what I say ... that means I tell you the truth, the fact, the reality, the exactness, the common sense, the rational and the logic reasoning of things.

Let me illustrate ... some time ago I went to a temple with my relative because he wanted to make festive offerings to the deities. At the temple, I saw many beggars begging at the courtyard ... then we went into the inner hall where people make their offerings. There were many people making offerings and I also noticed that these people were also asking the deities for something  ... good health, fortune, wealth, business opportunities, good exam results, lottery winnings and so on and so forth ... I am sure that everyone was asking for something.

 As we were leaving the temple, I saw a donation box at the doors and there were a few words on the box asking for money to upkeep the temple ... it was at that moment I made a remark based on what I observed at the temple. I told my relative that the temple is not a place for worshipping or praying ... it is just a place for begging. At the courtyard, the beggars were begging ... inside the hall, the people were begging and at the doors, the caretakers of temple were begging. And there was a guy (probably one of the temple’s caretakers) standing behind the donation box ... he heard what I said and I can tell you he was not pleased ... when my relative saw this, he quickly told me ... “eh shut up lah, stop talking rubbish”.

But I was just telling what I saw at the temple but maybe people don’t see things the way I see it and people don’t like to hear how I tell it like it is ... so they say I talk rubbish.

Let me tell you another story ... also in a temple many years ago but this time it is in a temple where they worship the deity of General Guan Yu. While walking around, I saw the caretaker of the temple putting up electric candles at the altar of the deity. You know, those plastic candles with a flickering bulb at the top? I don’t know why but I asked the caretaker ... "Uncle, why use electric candles?" He gave me a cynical look and then said (something to this effect) ... “young man, we are in modern days now, we use electricity, we move on with time and technology and we are not those old fashion temples ... have you not watch Star Wars? ... you are so lack of knowledge young man”.

Wow, I was taken aback for awhile but when I regained my composure ... I snapped back with my acerbic tongue ... “Uncle, really ah, modern ah, move on with time and technology and Star Wars ah ... then why General Guan Yu is still wearing ancient clothing and holding an ancient sword (a kind of halberd) ... he should be like Darth Vader, holding a powerful lightsaber and maybe on top the altar there should be a banner that says “May The Force Be With You” ... come on ... General Guan Yu need to move on with time and technology too ... why only the candles???”.

The caretaker was speechless for a while and when he recovered from my acerbic lash, he shouted ... “you don’t talk rubbish in my temple” and told me to get out.

So I want to ask ... did I talk rubbish at both incidents? Not really, I just look at thing in a different perspective and maybe I interpret things in other probabilities.

Like when people ask me what do I believe in ... I tell them that I believe in asking questions and I can accept that there may not be answers but I cannot accept just being given answers and not ask any questions.

For me to believe in something that exist or existed ... there must be some scientific proofs, logic reasoning, archeological findings, proper research, factual evidence or written historical facts to verify its existence. I can accept and understand that many things cannot be explained now ... so I just leave it as it is and hopefully someday in the years to come they can be explained and proven by the same criteria that I mentioned.

When I tell people that even though at this moment no one in the world have solid proofs that higher intelligent beings exist or existed but based on many high precision ancient engineering finds, logic assumptions and archeological investigations in many sites around the world ... there is a possibility that the so call “god” actually came in a spacecraft. For saying that ... I got a long list of feedbacks from many people and almost all said  ... “you are really talking rubbish”.

So you see ... people say I talk rubbish just because of the way I see and tell things. I don’t think I want to change the way I see things and I will still tell it like it is ... or like what many people say it is ... rubbish.

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.