Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's in a Tag?

Forgive my suaku-ness but I don't have any idea what a tag is. I only remembered about the tag by Jo after reading someone else's blog and her tag.

GillieBeans kindly explained to me as like: "the game tag. You tag someone and they have to do what you did so in this case, someone tagged Jo with that list of questions so she answered it then she tags someone else and that person is supposed to answer the same set of questions."
If I got it wrong, don't look at me.

10 Things That Makes Me Happy (in no specific order):
1. A newly found hobby - baking! I surprised myself because I swore that I'd leave baking to Michelle. When we were growing up, she would make all these yummy cakes and cookies but totally sucked in cooking. So as not to compete with an expert, I decided to draw attention to myself by being good in something else. It's all very Freudian.

Anyway, if it wasn't for Chic I wouldn't have experimented with food-blogging. It's given me a new joy to combine old passions i.e. food styling, photography and cooking.

2. My family. I cannot even express in mere words how gloriously fortunate I am to be in this brilliantly, nutty family. My parents are incredibly folks who did their best in bringing me and my siblings up. It was hard for them - two struggling young adults to feed three monstrous children (the youngest being a brat) with limited resources. And now that Michelle and Mike have their own family, the Roots have extended itself to their partners and babies. My family is nothing short of extraordinary.

3. I say this with a blushing maiden's coyness. Mr. G makes me very happy. In fact, today marks our twelve months benchmark. That's the longest relationship I've ever had but it still feels like the first day. He is a kind man with a heart of gold. And I'm incredibly grateful that he's in my life. Thank you Mr. G for making this monkee so happy.

4. Friends. People like Jo, Carrie, Gi, Koons, Lyn, Yanti, Ai Hoon... and so, so many more have enriched my life with laughter, tears, love and shared embarrassments. Without them, I am a dull person. They make me laugh at myself; they keep me insane; they bring out the worst in me and that's the essence of good friendship. If I ever forget myself, this people would be the first to slap me back in place. Well, close.

5. Long walks. I love lone, silent walks in the botanics or anywhere with lots of trees. There is a sort of peace that settles in the crazy mind and quietens it. Huuushh.... There's plenty of thinking to be done, but later. Later.

6. Books. Books are like doors to meeting interesting people and ideas, experiencing journeys and adventures that aren't yours but somehow becomes yours. It's like having intellectual conversations with authors that you have little chance of meeting and yet, still grow in depth, mind and spirit. To me, words are magical, beautiful and invisible creatures.

7. Mathematics. I actually find them quite pleasurable. I used to detest them. But I don't so much now. As long as it doesn't become too complicated like Advanced Mathematics of Engineering. It's strange but many things I find to be of bad taste (in the same category with leek and umbrellas) as a child are slowly becoming manageable.

8. Oh how can I even forget this? Photography. I am happy when I'm snappy.

9. Traveling and connecting with people. My recent solo visit to Cambodia was an amazing adventure where I met even more amazing people. Having gone alone forced me to do things I wouldn't normally have done; making conversation with strangers are quite often daunting for me (yes, even I can be shy) but once crossed the barrier it becomes wonderfully rewarding. Culture is always an eye-opening experience.

10. Finally. I was breaking into cold sweat. Uhm....
Freedom. Freedom makes me happy. As much as I complain of not having a job, I enjoy having the time to do the things I like doing anytime I want. There's often conflict between security and freedom of which I'm learning how to bridge... however, I am fortunate to be free.
I have good health - therefore, I am free from sickness.
I have good family - therefore, I am free from family-related stress.
I have good friends - therefore, I always have support and love.
I have a good partner - therefore, I am always loved and cared for.
I have my sanity - therefore, I am always free to be responsible over my actions and choices.

Well. There you go. Tagged.

However, this tag will end here. Merely because, I don't know who I can pass this on to.

Love, your friend,

Food Project

I started a food blog with two other food lovers and experimenters. Check it out, you might want to add a thing or two yourself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Things That Goes Bump - 2004

I'm not adding these to fill the space. I reckon as old as they are, these writings were rather well-thought of reflections. I can still relate to them now and I see them as reminders. Enjoy.

"You Are Riding a Horse in Unfamiliar, Beautiful Terrain.
You were told that you would have to jump a tall stone fence (a substantial obstacle or big-deal project) five miles down the road (later in life). Distracted by the scenery (life) you forget about the fence, until it looms suddenly in front of you. You don't feel ready to jump (take a risk). You cannot imagine going over that fence and surviving! This is a big stretch for you! Yet, it symbolizes something you want to do, so you feel conflicted (fear vs. wanting). Perhaps you momentarily panic or try to stop. However, the horse (your inner power) has been trained to jump and before you can pull on the reigns, you find yourself flying through the air. The horse is doing it for you. You land perfectly. The horse is fine and so are you--but you feel Shaky.
[courtesy of astrologyzone.com/forecasts/eclipse.html]

Things That Goes Bump

I Used To Be Afraid of the Dark. But I discovered the science of light. I was afraid of driving. But I learnt the mechanics of pedal pushing and gear shifting. I am now a road tyrant. The art of fear is never about an object or a person or a place. Fear is a psychological temperament that we fool ourselves about, or rather, I, fool myself.

And I don’t take that sort of nonsense (fear) easily. Life is far too short to be feared. So the one great fear I have would be myself. Yes, the same person who warrants fear is the same person that is typing this.

Me: the only person who can tell me what I can and cannot do.

I would float my way to North Pole on an iceberg. I would fall in love with the man that I have always wanted to say ‘hello’ to. I would jump into a pool in a pink florescent bikini. But me – the very thing I fear of – tells me I cannot. So I sit and wished I could. Did I tell you I was the first person who invented the roller coaster? No, really. No kidding. I have all the blueprints up here (points to head). I have a sit in it every now and then. My invention is better than any (of which I shall not name). It swings through the whole grill of emotions: pain, misery, anger and self-pity.

Self-inflicted heart attack would make quite a medical discovery.

I like to think I become uncomfortable when I am comfortable in life. I hit panic when I realized that these days, I am settling for discomfort. Fear grips me in the gut, my instinct tells me to make a run for it, and my blood is rushing so fast to my brain I cannot steady myself. When I see myself succumbing to complacency, I feel like I’m watching my soul wither.

GREAT FEAR #1: Not living life to the fullest.
Settling is not my idea of a good life. No, I do not want to want to graduate from university so that I could find a job, pay the taxpayer, meet a man, borne his babies, wash his skit marks, feed his children, have my heart broken because that bastard found a new (younger) sex buddy while I die in an alien foreign place without ever having my dreams realized. I have that fear, of dying without a name, a face, or even as a mere whisper. I do not want to live without living. Breathe without breathing. Think without thinking.

My greatest fear would be living less. Having no freedom to be a person or the power to think, speak or, develop as an individual is like snuffing the light out of a burning candle. It is easy to believe life as a birdcage. A gilded aviary of beautiful birds with dazzling feathers. Hmm… perfect. Not only do we have no place to fly (what’s the point of having wings?), we’re also birdbrains.

GREAT FEAR #2: To live without loving.
It comes as simple as reaching out to another living person and enriching it for an unknown better. Imagine that having born with a brain, movable parts and sensory devices, how much good we can all do. But how we seldom do good. We do the selfish. We avoid the beggar. We snub the garbage men. We curse the DBKL workers. We ignore, we dispense, we avoid, we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to cries of help. My second to greatest fear is to be yet another drone in this beautiful, enchanting world. No matter how charming, a person without compassion is like someone without a soul. The person next to me is as human as I am, how hard is it to show a little kindness?

Apparently, I fear all these without knowing why. I just know that someday when I wake up from bed, I want to recognize that face that looks into the mirror. I want to be able to say: "Hullo! You’re a free spirit! Isn't that a beautiful thing?" I do not plan to be bounded by society; blinded by money or fame; afraid because the little voice in me says it is impossible. I want to have the freedom to go wherever I wish to go. Not fearing whats, hows, whens, wheres, whos. The question is not what I fear, or who I fear. It’s merely an internal twister that blocks me from achieving what I truly feel I’m capable of. We are all born for greatness. The only person we need to prove to sometimes is ourselves.

I Discovered Today - 2005

Was I ever this wise? I must be to have written this. Wonder where it all went?

I Discovered Today
Forget about not having – but instead, concentrate on what you have,
Bitterness comes from the inability to count your blessings. Do not look at the lacking but instead turn to your blessings.

Comparisons are destructive. Look to above.

I do not need to surround myself with people’s approval in order to make a decision.
I live alone to face the consequences and I cannot expect to constantly live in approvals of people who do not make me matter.

Time makes a person. Live life like you never had. You have that time on your hands – so use it wisely. Learn a language. Learn a skill. Discover a new side of you that you denied yourself all these years because you didn’t have the time. You have the time card so play it well. Now you make time to fulfill all that you want for yourself.

Work the minimal to gain the maximum. This is the time for your self to build a new self.

What to do with time alone.
Meditate on your strength.
Work time alone for your self to concentrate on character building. Meditation will give you some clarity on your purpose. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Work on them both.

Exercise. Take your self else where on a bicycle, in the pool, jogging. It gives you a feeling that you’re moving on when you think that you’re not.

Talking, sharing, guiding is an opening to enriching your life. Share with the unfortunate, talk with the lonely, guiding the slightly lost gives you more that money can buy. And it runs on zero risk.

The Coffee Story - 2001

THIS is a classic. Gi, Chic and Yanti might know this one. I had to edit some of it because it was crazy ramblings (of course) and it didn't quite make sense. It still probably doesn't but I like to remind myself the wisdom of youth holds. Enjoy.

The Coffee Story

I had coffee. And you can imagine what sort of effect it has on me. Just million and million reactors in my body buzzing about. Everything wants to talk at the same time. I'm sharp, I feel as though I could understand the world if I have to.

Today, was pretty special. Aha, of course I wont' tell why, although I think it's guessable. I feel alive, and free. Just think, everything in your mind is finally clear of rubbish, and you just feel madly content. If there's such a thing, man, I wonder what they mix in the drinks at Coffee Bean.

I haven't felt this high since... since that day I got drunk on caffeine months ago.
So who says caffeine is bad for you? I feel as though I never want to grow old. Never. Because growing old would mean making mistakes and changing into adults. I don't like adults, they don't have anymore innocence or a sense of humor about life. All they think is work, indecency, money, sex, pleasure, temptation and themselves. I want a life that is simply simple, without unnecessary emotional baggage to carry, things like : who’s' going to love me, when am I going to get rich, what my kids will turn out, am I going to get robbed the next time I go out.

It's pathetic! I'll spend the rest of my life being a worry wart! Then I forget why the sky is blue, or how it is to smile my widest. I like being innocent! I enjoy being idealistic. I love my life as it is. I love being able to laugh aloud in public, making a complete fool of myself without caring who thinks I’m insane, or how I should act. Laughing isn't fun when you can’t share it loud and proud with everyone. Its happiness, why feel ashamed? It's meant to be contagious.

I want to be able to walk in the rain without worrying that I’ll be sick. I want to be free to act and speak without restrain or to behave like a ‘mature’ adult -- whatever that means to shut you up and forget that you ever had sense of humor.

I don't want to keep and upper stiff lip. Idealism allows the world to have a little color to Her cheeks without having to care about death, sickness and suffering. One thing for sure, there will ALWAYS be death, sickness and suffering (and of course a whole lot more). The thing is, what are we going to do about it? We could get A) desperately depressed about it, or B) make the dying, the sick and the suffering a little happier by making them FEEL better.

I want to be able to help people feel better. That's me.

And this is a coffee story. :)

By: Mable Tan
"MablePiggymakcikTAnkumansapo" :P

Note: That's why I stick to cocoa or tea these days...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 2 : Part I

8 January 2008
Boddhi Tree Del Gusto, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Last night, I slept with my tripod within reach. The fact that I didn’t have a door to my room eventually had me convinced that it’s a little crazy (I’m crazy). What the hell am I doing alone in a third-world country without a door to my hotel room?! Am I a walking disaster waiting to happen? Idealist? Not this morning, nu-uh.

Did I mention that roaming doesn’t work on my mobile phone?

So yes, I’m cut out from the outside world. Alone. Without television, a phone, a radio, a companion and guts. I need some really strong coffee this morning.

I got dressed and climbed down the ladder and ordered breakfast. As I munched on some deliciously soft crusty baguette I felt a little better. The hotel staffs were friendly and ask me how I slept (fine thanks, I lied). Vuthy asked what I’d be doing for the day and I said that I’ll like to go to LCDI – the school that I meant to visit.

Interestingly enough Vuthy, or ‘Fourteen’ – a nickname he was given during his schooldays because of his hockey jersey – was a former student and volunteered to take me there. If I could wait for him after his shift that day? He asked with a smile.

Oh why not?

He’s cute.

To fill in the time, I walked to the Russian market. On the way and carefully avoiding the genocide museum, I walked into a wat – or, a Buddhist temple – and was stopped by the stench of urine. I later realised that everywhere was a toilet if you had a penis. So when you see a man up a wall, please do yourself some service and look away.

You can’t miss the market. It’s huge. First I walked through the fresh market and came upon this black strange-looking catfish. Placed in a shallow basket, I first thought they were dead until I saw one jumped out from the basket and onto the dirt floor crawling its way through throngs of slippers. I was horror-struck! What kind of fish does that? The fish monger casually picked it up with a plastic bag and put it into the basket.

(Apparently this was a common thing as I saw more attempted escapees)

The Russian market was great if you’re a shopper. You’ll find everything you need and don’t need in here. Shoes, clothes, rubies, CDs, crickets, ancient wartime trinkets, fried frogs, preserved cockles – you get the picture. I managed to get a pair of Puma (USD$10), Birkenstocks (USD$5) and three scarves (USD$4.50). I liked a few a little too much so I thought that’s a good indication that it was time to go.

I don’t think one can ever get use to this heat (sorry, just me then). Though this place, the Boddhi Tree Del Gusto is like a little piece of heaven. Beyond the walls is dust and motordups. Inside, the tiniest space is embraced by trees, plants and flowers.

Sitting under the shade in a hidden corner, I made the mistake of being too friendly.
I had a new friend. Black and ugly, it adopted me as Mom (it jumped on my chest and started sucking or licking – whatever). It looked more like a bat than a cat, so I called the evil thing ‘Bat Cat’. Damn the bloody tropics, I spy a gecko.

With nothing left to do, I ordered a beer with lunch. I spent a few lazy lethargic moments in The Attic before deciding that I needed to talk to someone. I itch to connect with another human being. Bats and geckoes are really not my type of intellectual stimulation. Solitary confinement is too cruel.

I thought I tried my luck with an Asian girl who seemed friendly enough (it’s all about calculated risk). I came up with some absurd words (which almost sounded like a pick-up line) and Gabby must have picked up on my desperation. We hit it off instantly. Her companion, Denis (pronounced as ‘Dennis’) is a French-Canadian from Montreal and both, thankfully, likes their laughter loud. They’ve been in Cambodia for six to twelve months and I found out that Father Denis enjoy his beers just like he enjoys his vocation.

It was an absolutely delight. We talked about our beliefs, faiths, thoughts and ideas and it seemed we had so much in common. We ‘flocked’ for the rest of the afternoon.

Gabby, who by profession a counsellor, decided that life was more meaningful to serve, shared her experiences as a missionary in Cambodia. She told me how nothing gets out or comes in through the local post system. Stamps from letters are re-sold by clerks when postmarks are deliberately left un-stamped. Officials and members of the military are known to be corrupted. Lands are sold off without the original owners’ consent or even knowledge so much so many families are left homeless. The poor becomes poorer, the rich, richer. So like almost every country in South-East Asia, it is infested with economic cancer and inequality in human rights.

The Attic

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here at Last: The First Step

January 7 2008
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

It’s hard to describe Cambodia on a first meeting basis. Nothing seems to fit. Guess we have to screw first impressions and keep it about lasting ones.

Travel Tip #1: Be a Suicidal Jay Walker!
That’s what I’ll say. Crossing the road is like deciding if you should eat donkeys’ tongue or alligators’ balls. You have to keep a sharp eye on the right moment. Wait, what am I saying? What ‘right moment’? There’s a freaking motorbike in every direction I turn. I learn that you have to take a leap of faith here. Cross and hope that the next five bloody motorcycles don’t run into you.

There are three men on a motorbike; do they make the sits longer in this part of the world? Never mind they’ve never heard of helmets or active sweat glands – its cheap to get around. You might risk a limb or two but that’s alright as well. It’s no use getting worked up. You end up nowhere – literally.

Left with nothing to do on the first day but wander along the riverfront, it’s almost a heart-breaking sight. Children as young as six or seven of age roam the streets to beg for money or sell tourists books (from Paulo Coelho to James Redfield, Lonely Planet and of course, The Killing Fields). If you’re not careful, like me, you’ll have a case of sympathy overflow and end up with two books and 10 postcards hoping that the money will go to food or education. The cynics will scoff at that but good thing I’m an idealist.

The children speak relatively good English. They’re also very small and suspiciously underfed. How does one walk away? (Oh, but we do) A 14-year-old girl, Shrey, spoke like an experienced business woman as she tries to sell me (another) book. As I shamelessly haggle for a price, I asked her how does one do a book business in Phnom Penh?

Most young entrepreneurs buy their books from a dealer at a bookstore and pay for it in advance. They then sell their books hoping for a profit of 2000 or 4000 rial (USD$0.50 to USD$1). Some sell to feed their families, some to pay for school fees, some perhaps we’re better of not knowing (if you’re an Idealist like me).

The more I walked down the street, the less I liked what I saw. Young mothers begging with her children, a baby diaper-less lying on the pavement, covered with dirt and exposed to fumes from passing vehicles; foreigners with their young Cambodian girlfriends. An all too-familiar scene in a cynic mind, only this time, it’s real life.

It wasn’t frightening and I never felt an ounce threatened but I was saddened by what I saw. I knew that it was inevitable in a country so devastated by war and a history of Communism – poverty and prostitution would be prominent.

We are all really one – the same skin, flesh, blood and guts. I am not separated from the girl who sells her books to tourists, the mother who begs to feed her children, the hot flushed farang with his attractive Cambodian escort. Humanity serves for all – unfortunately, she serves with different spoons. I wished life could be different for all of us – better, safer, kinder, more loving.

Hot, tired and had enough for the night, I took a motodup back to the hotel. Safely back in my little attic room (simply furnished with a mattress, a mosquito net, a fan and some floor cushions) I sit and contemplate about my first night in Phnom Penh.

Life here is simple. It may not have much, but I feel safe. It must mean something. There was a sort of honesty here. Poor as the people may be, they weren’t threatening. I felt that there was a sacred trust here. It may be a false sense of security but I guess that’s all I have for now.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

12 Months Later...

It's been a roller coaster month. Especially in my funny head. And I think myself silly sometimes....

I've been away from home for a year now. Well, not counting that I was back for a month in January. The words 'reflect' and 'meditation' keep appearing in my daily conversations with people (from them, not me). And perhaps I should take it as a sign that I must take time to pause and seek solitary space to go into deep thoughts.

In the last 12 months, I have just as many ups as I have downs and I'm grateful for every single thing that have turned up in my life.

I came into this country with nothing more than two suitcase and an old friend. With that, things have grown to him being a really good and reliable mate, a whitey house mate, an online business, new friends, an education in the stock market and a really good partner I can count on in sickness and in health. Life may have its down moments, but the ups have certainly compensated those experiences.

I made it this far and I know I can go further. There is much still for me to learn. Each time I get hit by a breakdown, I think to myself that I've been through bigger humps and bumps, so, this, I can handle.

I'm sticking my foot into the fountain, my toes are raisin soaked, and I'm enjoying every moment of it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Brain Works!

There is a line in The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles that says, “The poor do not need charity; they need inspiration”.

The question is not should we stop being charitable?

Instead, we should be asking: do we need inspiration?

For most part of our lives, we have been educated not to win but to merely survive. Our minds have been programmed for years and years to think ‘in-the-box’ so much so we live life half-baked, passionless and poor. Is that really all to life: to sit in the stands and thirst for more? To watch the rich get richer? And we become poorer?


Life has never planned it for us that way.

We did.

‘Poverty is not the getting of pictures of poverty into your mind’, said Mr. Wattles, it is ‘getting pictures of wealth into the minds of the poor.’ So simply, by increasing our faith and purpose to be rich, only then will our poverty be reduced.

I believe in the development of the most powerful tool mankind ever possessed – the brain. The grey matter we’ve long ignored and left unexercised. Our brain is a machine far greater, far more powerful than we know.

Knowledge is Power and Power is Wealth. Wisdom is an amazing mechanism to propel one from the pits into the heights of abundance. So feed your brains, energize it with books, DVDs, seminars, videos. Read, listen, challenge and empower yourselves with enlightening resources (soon available at BrainWorks Central).

Believe that life is made to be enjoyed. Live a life so unimaginable and so great that we become unstoppable! Live it with Power so that our children’s children will continue to be touched by the essence of our Greatness.

When we increase our knowledge, we can. We can.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Do You Like Your Insides?

One of the turning points in my life, and one of the most important principles I have ever learned, is the Law of Correspondence. The Law of Correspondence goes back to 3000 years before Christ, and it says: "As within is the same as without." It says your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Or as we say today: "Where ever you go there you are."

This is one of the great truths of all of human history. This is the basis of all religion, of all metaphysics, all psychiatry, psychology, philosophy. It says that if you can change your inner world; if you can change what is going on inside your mind, then you can dramatically change what is going on, on the outside. There is no other way. Your outer world "mirror" expresses your thoughts, feelings, hopes, goals, dreams and so on.

But let me get back to what this Law of Correspondence says... that your relationships, your health, your income, every part of your life merely reflects on a one-to-one basis back to you the way you think. Everything you have in your life you have attracted to yourself because of the person you are. You can change the aspects of your life because you can change the person that you are. William James of Harvard in 1905 said, "The greatest revolution of my generation is the discovery that the average person, by changing their attitudes of mind, can change the outer aspect of their mind."

But the flip side is there is no other way. We cannot change out external world except by changing our internal world, and you have 100% total control over your internal world. As a result, you have total control over your future destiny. You can become anything that you really, really want to become if you simply change what you think on the inside, to be completely in harmony with what you want to enjoy on the outside. You cannot be angry, frustrated and ignorant on the inside and have a successful, happy affluent life on the outside. But if you are fully integrated internally, your outer world will change. I promise you before this course is over you will begin to see the profound changes in your external world. Because in this course you will change because your thinking will change, and as the result other things will change in the "mirror."

The world is full of people who go to the "mirror" of life and they don't like their reflection so they pound the mirror. They try to change the mirror. They're frustrated; they curse the mirror, which is the equivalent to trying to change the external world, instead of going to work on yourself. So when you look the "mirror" use it to put the Law of Correspondence to work for you. Look at what is in your "mirror" that you don't want to see and then work to change the way you think internally, and watch your outer world change and become what you truly want it to become.

By Brian Tracy