Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The loss of a friend or a family member through illness is always a traumatic experience. At times like these we become aware that life is very fragile and unpredictable. Our hectic lifestyle and our constant pursue of material gains and other creature comfort often blinds us to the fact that there are other more important things in life. Only when such losses happen that we are temporarily brought down to earth. Suddenly we become aware that relationships between friends and family members have often been neglected in our now very hectic and unfriendly way of life. We realize too late that we could have been closer to someone. We regret that we could have done more to show affection or we could have said something to bring a little more happiness in someone’s life. We regret not being there to help in times of need or for being away too long without contact or simply taking someone for granted. As Frank Sinatra said in his song My Way, “ Regrets, I’ve had a few “, - no one can go through life without having regrets.

Unfortunately, when the time comes for us to have regrets, it is often too late to put things right. I was with this friend of mine in April when she organized a reunion for our Class of ’62. She was undergoing chemotherapy for her illness. In spite of her ailment, and with the anxiety she must have been experiencing, she almost single handedly took on the responsibilities of the coordination, catering and making sure all who wish to attend were well informed. Little did I realize then that that was to be our last get-together. On reflection, I could have given her a few more words of encouragement. I should have told her how much I appreciated her for organizing the reunion party. I could have told her I value her friendship and that I still remember the happy childhood years we spent together in school. These are all the regrets I now have, but it is too late for me to tell her or show her that I valued her friendship. All that I have left is the hope that she knew I was a good friend.

Very often, our resolution to be more caring towards our friends and loved one cools as the pain of our loss subsides. We tend to forget quickly and return to our less caring ways. The loss of this friend has made me more aware that we are all extremely vulnerable and we are here only for a very short while. With this thought, I sincerely hope that I would be able to look at life through more compassionate eyes. I like to think that I have become a more caring and humble person than I have been before.

So to all who read this, just take a few moment off your busy schedule to reflect. Is there someone who would welcome a few words from you? Is there a friend who needs a helping hand? Is there someone who you have taken for granted for too long? A kind word, a smile, a helping hand, a simple greeting to someone you meet along the way, all these go a long way to brighten someone’s day.

We must from time to time stop and reflect and re-calibrate our lives. We must never take things for granted. Tomorrow may be too late to say the kind words we like to say to someone we care about. Time is precious and once gone will never return.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A sad day

I have just received the sad news that our dear friend who has been inflicted with cancer has departed from us this morning. She passed away peacefully. Let us take comfort knowing that she is now at peace with God.

The Class of '62 had a reunion in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. She was the organiser and thanks to her, old friends were able to meet to renew friendship. It was a joyous occasion. She will be sadly missed and we will all remember her with fondness and as a very special friend, always happy and generous.

Farewell dear friend. Rest in Peace.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


We have decided to travel to Segamat for an overnight stay on October 25th. Have not been back for more than a year. It would be nice to see the family again. I am really looking forward to savouring the famous Segamat durians again. I have it all planned. When we get to Segamat, the first thing we do would be to go for our koon-lo-mee for lunch. I usually have double helpings.

I guess I better call my brother to book dinner at that famous new restaurant in Segamat. Have to tell them to get me some soon-hock fish. I am really looking forward to this trip. I have been to many countries, seen many cities, but Segamat my little hometown still hold a very special place in my heart.

On a sadder note, a classmate of mine from Segamat has been suffering from stage IV cancer. I have been told she is getting weaker and she wants her remaining time with her family. She is in KL. We are planning a KL trip in early November. Maybe we will pay her a visit then.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Travel Agenda

The next two and a half months is going to be rather busy for us. We are planning a trip to Segamat to see the family and another to Kuala Lumpur to meet up with some school friends and also for some shopping. KL has always been a place where we can literally shop till we drop. Things are cheap and the ringgits go a long way. Hotels are first class. We always pamper ourselves staying in 5 star hotels for around 50 GBP per night. The last hotel we stayed at was the Royale Bintang adjacent to the Curve in Petaling Jaya. It is a top class hotel with a hugh shopping mall next to it. Another part of the complex houses all the restaurants serving cuisines from many different countries. It is a convenient hotel and I think we will return to stay there on our next visit.

After KL we will be spending a week in Pattaya, Thailand. We have been to other cities in Thailand but this will be our first to Pattaya. On the return trip we might spend a night or two in Bangkok. After Thailand we are considering a few days in Hong Kong and Macau before Christmas. Christmas and the New Year will be spent in Singapore. We return to UK in early January.

Garden Renovation - The Saga

The garden renovation promised by the contractor to take no more than 4 days has gone into its 6th day with no end in sight. Bad weather was blamed for the delay, but if you ask me it is just bad planning and management. Over the last few days they have been on the project, I have noticed that the 2 Bangladeshi workers were not putting in their share of the labour. One of them was sleeping on one of our garden chairs most of yesterday afternoon when the contractor was away. I guess one should not expect work dedication from the imported labour force. As they say, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

I will be glad to see the back of this lot and get my life back to normality. The floor of the house is filthy with sand and mud and I have to walk around in shoes in the living and dining room.

It has been raining all morning - another day delay on the card ?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Garden Renovation

We have decided that our garden here in Singapore needed a facelift. The mango tree at the centre of the garden has stopped producing fruits and we have decided that the leaves that accumulate on the ground while we are away could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

It has taken them 2 days to remove the tree with a chain saw that broke the first time out of the box, (made in China), and with lots of screaming and shouting the only remain is the hugh stump protruding from the ground. The plasterer has been busy cladding the wall but it rained heavily and some of his effort has been washed away. The concrete slabs that are to be laid have not even made their appearance. Completion has been promised for Wednesday night. At this rate of progress I would be pleasantly surprised if it is half complete by then. Thursday is my day in JB so they will not be able to work.

The team of workers on the job is made up of 2 Bangladeshis and 1 mainland Chinese. The Chinese has done his share of the work all morning but the other 2 took time off as soon as the contractor was absent.

We have decided to have a mosaic of concrete slabs seperated by 2 inch gaps filled with granite chips. It will be quite nice. We hope that we will not have to spend hours removing the weeds and fallen leaves each time we return to Singapore.

The plasterer has just completed plastering the walls - it is going to rain again and by the look of the sky it is going to be a heavy downpour. Poor fellow, he has to replaster the washout bits again.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Trip To Johor Baru

On Thursday 4th October we journeyed to JB for some shopping and to check on the house. Not much have change to the house and the neighbourhood. Although situated near the Senai International Airport, the area is still not quite developed as expected. When the government of Johor announced the development of the Iskandar Development Region, a 900 sq km site, we envisaged a great transformation to the region. Our house is well within this region, so we had great expectation for the regeneration of the whole region. A year has passed since the announcement, but nothing noticeable has happened. We wait and see what the next few years would bring to the region.

Our house in JB is still the same, except maybe the grass in the yard has grown taller and more overgrown. Our watchman still makes his daily round, so we expect no damage to the property. The Indian lady across the road keeps a watchful eye over the property. For this I have always shown my gratitude. She has a mentally handicap son who stays home. Each time we visit JB I would bring him breakfast of roti prata, some sweets, cakes and drinks. He has become a great friend of mine. From a very shy and reserve boy during the early days, he has become a very smilely person and always rushes to the door to greet us on our arrival. Good to see a smile on his face on each of our visit. We visited the usual spots to shop, buy hooky DVDs and lunch. We decided on fish head curry which was very good as always.

My 2 weeks visa ends on Thursday 14th October. Looking forward to another trip.