Sunday, November 23, 2008

Leopards in Singapore?

Back in school, we studied the early history of Singapore and the wildlife that once walked this island.

The most impressive beast by far was the Sumatra Tiger. Then there are the hordes of moneys that are still around, lots of snakes, the odd civet cat and the occasional scaly anteater.

Growing up in Bukit Timah right smack in the nature reserve, we always had our fair share of wildlife encounters - a baby python curled up on a chair, monkeys raiding our Rambutan trees when they were in season and every now and then I would spy a black cobra what lived in a pandan bush. But I never knew Singapore was once home to leopards.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

And the bells toll

There is something quite … well surreal I guess would be the word … about weddings. Even those that start at the unGodly hour of 9am on a Saturday morning when the rest of the world is allowed to sleep in.

That was how I spent this morning - in church bearing witness to an ancient rite of passage for a guy I’ve known all his life.

From his birth as a “blue baby” with a possible hole in the heart complication which thankfully didn’t materialise, to a very happy child with - at least to me - was a very large head!

While I’ve watched him grow up - and I’m sure I’ve changed a nappy or two of his - in many ways, he will also be that quite kid, always in the background, perfectly behaved.

And now he stood beaming in his suit waiting for his bride to arrive. It’s still hard to reconcile that this was the same sweet little guy who was moments away from taking a wife and starting down a new path.

Maybe it’s just me but the brain doesn’t quite comprehend the passing of the years. In many ways I don’t feel all that different from when I was 16. Okay maybe the eyesight has grown progressively worse such that I now need reading glasses, the mid-rift spread has long since happened and the act of sitting down isn’t complete without the age-telling “ahhhh”. But apart from all this - mentally perhaps - I don’t feel any older.

As I watched him take his vows and put the ring on her finger, something clicked in the ole brain … this was all real and time has marched forth for all of us. I’m happy for him… for them … but at the same time there was more than a tinge of sadness in the heart - that while a new chapter has begun, the pages which have gone before are worth embracing … just one last time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Got the message?

TOH sent me this email a few days ago … the message is well …less than subtle …




The guilty mind (which is inherent in every red-blooded male of the species) tells me that I’ve probably done many things to deserve this little “reminder” … but just can’t help wondering which little secret she’s on to …

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Acting on instinct

You’re stupid enough to climb over a fence, wade across a moat, get into an enclosure with the largest livings cats on the face of the earth and now you’re dead!

Serves you right you fuckin’ idiot.

If you want to kill yourself there are many ways to do it. If you wanna grab your 15 minutes of fame in the process, well then, you should be happy. You made the front page of many newspapers and you upset some Big Cats who were just acting on instinct.

Animals, not unlike people, are territorial. If you barge into my home, start throwing things at me, irrespective if your pathetic mental state, you are going to pay the consequences.

So what causes a moron to act like this. Maybe the press was right - he flipped out, just lost it. Well too bad for you.

Why get worked up over such inane stupidity? It’s simple. The drama could have ended much differently in seconds. Think of a zoo keeper arriving with a shotgun in hand. He sees the man fighting for his life. He’s got no time to find out what happened minutes before. He wouldn’t know the asshole climbed into the enclosure of his own accord looking for a fight (or something to that effect).

The poor zookeeper is faced with a life-or- death decision - one he has to make in seconds. He has no choice. His finger moves to the trigger.

You can’t fire a warning shot in the air - each round of a shotgun contains many steel pellets sprayed out at a 60 degree angle. When they come down, innocent people may get hurt.

Fire into the moat and hope the sound will scare of the cats? Maybe but you can’t risk it. The “victim” is seconds away from death. Nope - it’s not an option.

You can’t shoot the ground - the spray could injure the tigers making them even more dangerous.

Your only option is to get in close, near point-blank range, put your own life on the line - squeeze and take that kill shot.

The end result? One or more tigers would be laying dead … and for what?

And for the bleedin’ hearts are so quick to blame the tigers for doing what they do to protect themselves from an intruder on their turf, or the Singapore Zoo for not being built to prevent the intrusion … all I can say is WTF people …you’ve got the picture all wrong.

A Date with a Tree

It's the 15th of November and in my family (okay it's really just me), this is the sacred date for the big Christmas ritual of putting up the tree.

The Nov 15 ritual started back in 1995 when I moved out on my own and had a four-room flat all to myself. I bought the biggest tree I could find - a seven-footer and decorated it - make that over-decorated it. I had always wanted my own tree and trimming it my way. So that was fun.

Since then, Nov 15 was has been decreed as Tree Day. I remember growing up with had this white tree. It was so old, many of the tinsel "leaves" had fallen, the decorations were positively ancient and we had to spread "angel hair" white fiberglass-like cotton-wool like veil over the tree to give it a look of snow. You don't see that anymore (I'm the one being carried at the back in this 1964 picture).

In later years, the magic of the tree still remains even though it's now a source of tension. Blame that on the cats.

We have 15 of these little buggers. For all of them, the tree with its twinkling lights is like a new toy. Many will just sit and stare, some will sniff and ignore... then there's the rabble Boys from the Hood who will try and claim the tree as their very own turf.

They will climb up the branches, bite bulbs, remove ornaments and hide them under sofas where they are discovered in July ... the list of misdeeds goes on ... (I can certainly relate to this video)

A few years back the tree nearly toppled over on one of their Everest conquests. Since then, I had to take the additional precaution of tying it to the wall with fishline. It helps the tree last the required time until January 6 when it all comes back down.

Ahh the joys of Christmas ... I'm sure the boys are waiting for me to get started ...

Watch that crack!

It's one of the quaint quirks of my childhood... Someone ... I think it was the Grandmother ... once told me that it's bad luck to step on a pavement crack.

I can't recall the rationalisation. Maybe it has to do with karma. And it always better luck to cross the crack with your right leg first rather than the left - something about wishes coming true if you do.

Yes, yes I know none of this makes any sense but there you are ... dusty folklore handed down through the generations was not something to be trifled with.

So there I was as a little kid ... believing just about anything I was told (hey it was the 60s - we respected elders back then - no questions asked) always walking with my head down looking out for cracks in the pavement, adjusting the pace so I'll cross it with the right foot. It must have been a strange sight indeed.

I'm not that conscious about it now but when I do happen to spy a pavement crack up ahead, some primordial instinct kicks in, the stride is automatically adjusted and it's still right leg first.

Hey why tempt fate! Did any of the wishes some true ... come to think of it they all did ... because the only wish at the time was crossing with my right leg first!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why do we have to wait till someone passes on ...

Today is November 2. My sister SMS-ed me to remind me it is All Souls Day - quite a big deal in the Catholic calendar if I remember correctly (yes it has been a while). It's the day we remember those that have gone before us especially those that have passed on within the past year.

For me that means two people. One was a relative that fought his cancer bravely for two long and obviously painful years. The last time I saw him in January, he was in a hospice. He knew his time was just about up. Still he smiled, we made small talk and pretended that all was well. He didn't bring up the subject of his condition, so neither did I. We shook hands warmly, said I'll visit him soon. He died the next week.

Then there was J, a few years younger than me. We were both senior editors in a publishing company. Hell we were smoking buddies and we never let work get in the way of our sacred retreat no matter how hectic times got. We lost touch for a few years - each going our own way. He gave up smoking a few months before he found that he had cancer. The gang - all ex-staff from that same company - found out about his condition when someone stumbled across his Facebook account in which he gave faithful updates to friends and family.

I saw him in SGH. He looked the same just that he had lost all his hair cos of the chemo. He spoke so candidly about his condition. Said it was fate. He said he didn't think it had anything to do with smoking. I didn't argue the point - it was moot anyway and would be striking to close to home. Told him we'll visit him soon, exchanged handfone numbers, I gave him a pat on the back and said we'll talk again soon - be strong and all the usual macho horseshit guys indulge in at awkward times. Well we never spoke again. He died a few weeks later. I never found out the details. Guess I really didn't want to know.

So I remember them in my thoughts today. More importantly I like to think about those people still around, still around me who have made a difference. If women wear their hearts on their sleeve.. well guys wear a mask of aloofness and soon the heart grows to fit it ... and that's sad.

Think I really should appreciate people more - family, friends, the people at work, the faithful dustbin at my smoking point, my smoking kaki from whom I bum the occasional ciggie, the people in my team, the security guard who keeps giving me the thumbs up for no apparent reason and lots of others. Life would be different without each one and that makes them well ... precious. Will I be any nicer to them tomorrow? - probably not. Well maybe my grunt as I walk by will sound more friendly. Maybe they'll notice ... probably not.

But since this is a blog post I should say a big thank you to my TWO loyal readers - strawberry (what happened to our Halloween date??) and blogolicious (last time I saw u, you were standing with a naked Italian) - I probably spelt both names wrong but you know who you are! Thanks for visiting this blog - don't know why you do - the last time I updated it a couple of months back- I was exceptionally pissed with someone and wanted to make a point - my way.

But all the same - thanks for the faithful visits... GRUNT :-)