Friday, January 20, 2006

The Story of a Cow and a Peacork

I would like to imagine I was a bird. Free. Unrestrained. Spontaneous. Just like the clouds in the skies: to form the shapes I aspire; to cast silhouettes to the arrangements I want. Birds are individualistic creatures. That's what I know. Parents leave their offspring once their kids could waft the air.

For me, life was not simple. I was born a cow. A cow with a fat behind, stumpy four legs, and a hide so irregular and stained. I wanted to be different. I wanted to fly. Flying meant that I could explore more places. To conquer the unknown. To flee from community responsibilities. To escape from what many considered as the cow race. If there weren't any restrictions, if there weren't any boundaries... Just me, myself and the world.

Mama saw my frustrated self and ingrained words of wisdom to me. She said "Be fortunate as you can walk. Be thankful as you can talk. Learn to be patient and grateful, as it'd prove to be a useful tool." These words like a broken recorder played its tune over and over.

You see, cows were different from birds. We, cows live in herds. Survival would mean to behave like the social norm and to think as a coterie. We toiled the day, plowing the fields. We earned what homosapiens term as "hay". It was a montonous cycle to earn our reward. The routine was mundane and it involved three basic processes of plowing, eating and resting. Well, I do enjoy the occasional herding moments with my fellow cows.

One day, a creature fleeted by my side. It spreaded its huge fan of feathers in hues of green, bespeckled with "eyes" that glared pompously at me.

"What are you?" I curiously muttered.
"I'm the King of Peacorks. Many call me Ferragon." It brazenly replied.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm here to befriend you." Ferragon gave me an earnest look, one that seemed sincere and true. Seeing a stranger was uncommon, especially one that genuinely wanted to befriend me. I sang tunes of faraway places, many of which were ficticious. I conjured the places and printed faces to my characters. I yakked voluminously till dusk turned dawn. In my tunes, trees were purple, skies were pink and cows could fly.
"You are well-travelled, my friend." Ferragon sniggered.
"Well, I wish I was. I made up the stories. I have been here for my whole life and I want to venture the unknown. Be a nomad like you."
"I do have a home and you are welcome to visit me. It's just 1000 miles away from here. Just head west and once you see a world with purple trees and pink skies, you'll find me." Ferragon assured me with the kindest smile.

For once, I had a friend who listened. I was allowed to believe in my dreams. That night, I pondered over Ferragon's invitation and contemplated whether my disappearance would matter to my friends and family. As I laid there, I questioned the purpose of my presence in mother nature. Am I to serve the community, my individual wants or my destiny? I came to a conclusion. I saw myself packing loads of hay and embarked on my journey. Before I left, I peered over to my mum and silently bade farewell to her.

I trudged across the fields heading west. Drenched with fatigue, I hurried to the huge waterfall ahead of me and rested my weary body beside it. I had the most comfortable sleep and in my dreams, I see Ferragon beaming at me. However, I was awaken by a strident voice, followed after by sounds of splattering water.

I opened my eyes and before me, stood an elf bathing in the waters. The elf was dipping itself in the waters with arms outstretched, creating much ripples.
"What are you doing?"
"I am bathing! I bathe in the water so that waves are created. I do that every single day. Even night too."
"Is that your role in mother nature?"
"Well, you have to understand. There ain't such thing as still water. There are ups and downs, troughs and ebbs. That's mother nature."
"What a weird role you have!"

I parted with the elf, to me a creature beyond comprehension. So I continued my journey, one that seemed so endless and grey.

Thereafter, I stumbled upon two fairies and decided to tarry a little longer. One fairy stationed herself in front of a candle, the other hovered in the sky wailing. The whole scene seemed odd. Curiousity overwhelmed me and I yelled.
"What are you both doing?"
"Hey my friend! Well, I'm supposed to ensure that the candle light will be up for 12 hours and out for the next 12. I know it seems mundane, but it's important. As for my twin, she randomly cries."
The twin fairy was labouriously bawling her hearts out.
"Please pardon my twin. It is a significant task for her. You see, as long as we fulfill our duties, plants are watered and plants will get their sources of food. It takes immense efforts to keep the process precise."
The sobbing fairy blubbered "We do quarrel occasionally, but we ultimately sort it out."
"No wonder homosapiens always say it takes two hands to clap. Adios my dear fairies! Gotta journey to continue!"

Hitherto, the journey had been interesting. I met odd, but delightful characters unexpectedly. The bulk of hay that I carried along with me dwindled. But in my head lay multifarious questions. Why did the fairies work so hard? And so the elf who diligently bathed itself day and night?

"Are you calling for me?" A monkey stormed out of the blue and jumped on my back. I was angered by his sudden appearence.
"Now who are you?"
"I am knowledge. I heard all your questions swimming in that tiny head of yours. Well, listen carefully. Some call it love. Some call it fate. To me, fate is a sort of escapism. Words like "resigned" and "surrender" should never be utilized. Love is the key, my dear friend. Love to make things happen. Love to create destiny!"

At this moment, everything I encountered seemed gibberish. All I wanted was to get to a place of purple trees and pink skies. Not fairies, or an elf, or a monkey called knowledge! All implied preposterousness.

To add to the absurdity, I met another cow, like myself. We were splitting images of one another. I was probably in twilight cow-zone. What's even more farcical was that it had a similar voice to myself.
He said " I am you. You are I. We are images of one another. I am what you think I should be. You are what I think you should be."
"Huh? This is complicated."
" Well, it's complicated to me too."
"Okay. I'm really in cow twilight zone. But I guess I'll learn someday. I gotta get going."
" Yes. I'll learn someday too."

I departed "myself", perplexed of what life expected of my other half.

Up to this point, I travelled far and wide. I lost all hay and turned gaunt in build. I was depleted in strength, but in thought, I was enlightened by my little adventure.

Forthwith, the skies changed to hues of pink and in front of me were rows of trees with purple foliages. It was a breathtaking sight. It was not the colours that astounded me, but the presence of Ferragon that filled me with ambrosia. I ran to Ferragon and recollected my journey to him. The stories engaged him. He smiled with glee and said "I am having a feast tonight. Wear your best and I'll listen to your stories again."

I did as what Ferragon said. I took a thorough bath and waited till my hide was dry. Eagerly, I hopped merrily to the feast, awaiting to have a delectable meal with Ferragon.

At the feast, I was disappointed to see many other creatures. There were bears, giraffes, zebras, and cows too. A large crowd of creatures huddled round Ferragon. I was alone at one corner, endeavoring to mingle with the rest, but to no avail. I was an irrelevent creature. That was I.

I walked to one corner and peered at the glittering stars in the pink skies.

I would like to imagine I was a bird. Free. Unrestrained. Spontaneous.....

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gainfully employed...I mean it this time.

Sometimes life brings with it much twists and turns. Gotta be patient. Starting work this monday and I mean it this time.....

I have to put my teaching dreams on hold for a while.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

10-year Secondary School reunion

10 year secondary school reunion! When I first received the invitation, I contemplated on going. After all, everyone would be indulging in frivolous talk. Oh well, I'm glad that I went. The class of 1996 proved to be a successful bunch! Many came from varied employments, from lawyers, to private bankers, photo-journalists, aspiring actresses or models, doctors, dance teachers, accountants, mothers, wives..ah hem.."tai-tais". We, SCGS gals have lived to our name. Over the years, we have become women of decency, refinement and grace. One of relevance and character, and an asset to the country (ho ho ho!). SCGS rocks!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stephanie Sun's Concert+ Prata Tissue = Excellent Evening

Stephanie Sun's concert was a great success. No portrayal of Avril Lavigne's air of arrogance ( A dismal concert which fortunately I had free tickets). No display of palling monotonous tunes which Lisa Uno does best (A concert I regretably paid for last year). Stephanie exudes abundance of energy as she sings familiar melodies, donning numerous flamboyant costumes. Special guests include FIR (uh hem, not my cup of tea) and Tanya Chua.

Kenny, I appreciate you for inviting me to this concert. I enjoyed myself tons. Free tickets and we had good seats (second row)! The prata session after that was enlightening too! Seriously, it was my first time devouring a Prata Tissue (yes, an utter country bumpkin) and I'm sure I'll have loads more in the future.

Gonna miss Kai An!

Dubbed as a man of tough exterior, but a heart of wit and gold.

Kai An, one of my closest cousin, left for Philadelphia this morning for a year's exchange programme. Gonna miss his teasing, frequent calls, and all his shit. Clement, you should know what I mean.

Kai An, gotta cook me the turkey if I visit during Christmas end of this year. We'll see. =)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Snippets of Cynthia's Wedding

Pearlene and I were evil doers during the wedding. We made Roy and his "brothers" undergo hell before permitting Roy into the house. Roy had to devour chocolate from a baby's nappy, wear feminine coloured g-string, and had his bristly legs waxed.

Other than that, it was great to see my college mates reunited in this joyful occasion and nice to see that Cynthia has happily embarked on her next phase of life.

Don't you think it's kinda sad when you only see gathering of friends and relatives only for two occasions in your life, weddings and funerals? It's quite dichotomous. The first occasion marks the beginning of a phase in one's life, and the latter marks the end of one's life. One's so joyous, the other's so grim.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cynthia and I during university days

8th January 2006 was Cynthia's wedding, a close friend whom I knew since college days. We were studying in the same class in college and went to the same university doing the same course subjects. Time flies and now she's happily married to Roy (yeah!).

The photos attached above were taken during NUS orientation periods.
See whether you can spot us in the group photos.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Flight back to Singapore

Met a charming french seven year old boy called Pierre. He was sitting beside me throughout the whole journey from Vienna to Paris. It was hilarious because he kept speaking to me in french. Well, the alluring part about him was his patience. Though he knew my french was lousy, he continued to speak to me, commenting how much he loved the clouds. He asked whether I travelled alone. I told him "oui, je suis seul." He answered with a frown "c'est triste". (That's sad.) Most of the time, I returned his comments with a smile.

The best guide you can ever have

The best guide is one that

  • Introduces all the best local food.
  • Brings you to the sights in spite of the complicated maze of streets.
  • Understands the subway system thoroughly.
  • Still brings you to the sights even though he has been there before.
  • Always knows what to do.
  • Speaks as well as the locals.
  • Is never boring and can share jokes galore with you.
  • Is a stimulating conversationalist.
  • Can make you laugh.
  • Can give you a nice warm hug when you are feeling cold.
  • Picks you up and sends you to the airport.
  • Is thoughtful and kind.
  • Is like a superman, always there when you need him.
  • Teaches you some local words of language.
  • Enlightens you the history, culture and arts of the country.
  • Listens and responds.
  • Always have the guidebook at hand.
  • Explains the history and background of each sight.
  • Shares similar interests with you.
  • Can laugh at a monty python classic and a happy tree friends clip (I beg to differ for this one).
  • Helps to order food as the other is handicapped in the language.
  • Is smart, witty and enlightened. Just like myself!! Wahaha..

Christoph, thanks for making this Vienna trip such a memorable one and for being such an efficient guide. Ja ja...awaiting for your trip to Singapore.

New Year's Eve in Vienna

New Year's Eve in Vienna is awesome. Different types of concerts sprouted around the cities, showcasing a variety of music. Hoardes of people were dancing joyously to the music, hand in hand forming circles. Fireworks rang and lighted up the sky with colours and spectacle. Many kids had their fair share of fun by trying to shoot rockets of fireworks into the sky using wine bottles, matchsticks and their "ammunition". Booze and food stalls were found everywhere. The streets were filled with festivity and colour. Friends, families and couples huddled together all counting down to the new year.

Christoph and I ended up in front of the old town hall enjoying classical music. Thousands of people gathered and cheered at the close of each song. For me, it was bittersweet. The start of the new year signaled the end of my trip in Vienna. As we counted down to the new year, more fireworks triggered the sky. The famous song of Blue Danube Waltz was then played. Pressed couples swayed to the music. It was a breathtaking sight. Was this how Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy felt in the movie "Before Sunset"? Hands held, I left the scene with a heavy heart.

A day in Bratislava (Slovakia)

It's exceptionally blistering cold here. When Christoph and I purchased a walking tour round the historical city for just an hour, it was an utter torture for me. The slovakian tour guide seemed unfazed, probably very accustomed to the glacial temperatures and strong winds. In spite of the weather, I did not regret visiting Bratislava. Through this visit, one can compare the marked difference between Austria and Slovakia. Two neighbourly countries, yet so different in terms of standards of living. Prices of food were cheap, really makes you feel like splurging and gorge all their food delicacies.

Some history: (1989) The fall and end of socialism and of the Communist Party; (1993) The break-up of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic. The independent Slovak Republic is born- Bratislava becomes the capital.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Naschmarkt

I love this flea market. It offers everything and anything, from books, to old clothes, records, jewellery, electrical goods, lamps, ornaments, and carpets. You name it, they have it. Interestingly, the market sells much turkish delights, fruits and authentic kebabs. Yummy!

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum

This museum of fine arts spells wow! In here, you find paintings by Pieter Bruegel (for instance, the tower of Babel), Rembrant, Rubens etc. The museum by itself is a sight, finest magnificence with marbled floors and evocative ceilings and arches.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Hundertwasser

He was an established painter born in Vienna on Dec 15th 1928. Using his art and the architecture expertise from Professor Karwina, an unusual house was created that does not correspond to the usual cliches and norms of architecture. It is creative, colourful, and vibrant and has much irregularity, even spurring unprompted vegetation. A spectacular uncontrolled beauty!

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Schloss Belvedere

This palace was built for Prince Eugene of Savoy, conqueror of the Turks in 1718. In the palace houses a long, landscaped garden. It is now used as an art gallery. Klimt's best known and most intriguing work, The Kiss (1908), is displayed here.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Prater

This huge ferris-wheel was built in 1827. It rises to 65m and takes about 20 minutes to rotate its 430-tonne weight one complete circle, offering great views of Vienna from the top. The Prater also encompasses an amusement park, but dismal to say, was not active during this winter period.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Schloss Schonbrunn

This palace is in its league of its own in Vienna. The opulent interiors matched with frescoed ceilings, crystal chandeliers and pricey decorations are part of the magnificence. I managed to catch a glimpse of 22 regal rooms (out of 1441 rooms) and with the aid of an audio guide, one can imagine the lifestyle and the numerous sumptuous balls that were held here. The beautifully preserved gardens were pretty, even though a combination of grey and brown hues were more obvious during winter. It is appealing in its own right.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: Ankerhur

This beautiful clock planted on the walls was created by Franz Von Matsch in 1911 and was commisioned by the Anker (Anchor) Insurance Co. At noon, this clock draws masses of tourists as it pipes out organ music and hauls historic figures round the clock.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: National Bibliothek

I loved the Grand Hall of this library, a majestic baroque hall built between 1723 and 1726, commissioned by Charles VI (you can see the statue in the middle). It houses about 200,000 books and pages of rare ancient volumes are placed within glass cabinets.

Sight-seeing in Vienna: The Hofburg

The Hofburg (Imperial Palace) is a magnificent piece of grandeur, a repository of culture and heritage. It houses the first emperor (Rudolf I in 1279) to the last (Charles I in 1918). It is now the offices of the Austrian president and an assortment of museums.