Monday, July 30, 2007

mich you rock!!!

Work was pure murder today and it looked like I might've had to stay back really late, not to mention skip lunch altogether.

And then Michelle surprised me with a Big Mac meal fully paid for and delivered to my office doorstep.

THANK YOU SO MUCH MICH!!! Even though I almost messed it up by being a dodo and persistently telling the guy he had the wrong number!!! He called me up and asked if he was speaking to Michelle. I'm overwhelmed! There are times when a single kind act bascically just makes your day.

This is one of those times :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

something isn't right here

The news this morning that one of the Korean hostages had been killed left me rather more affected than I would've expected. I suppose that's probably a consequence of them being Christians too but I couldn't stop thinking about what it must feel like to have one's entire life be reduced to nothing more than a bargaining chip and the irony that while we see superheroes just about eveyrwhere we go these days, they're most painfully absent from the place we need them most: right here, in the real world.

The scariest part about all this? I tried talking about it to some people and they hadn't the slightest inkling what I was talking about. The situation's been on the news for the past few days causing a huge diplomatic ruckus and its on the front page of the newspapers today but nobody gives a damn about it. Ask them about the tug of war for abn amro and you'd probably get every detail, significant or no, in the space of 30 seconds.

Its things like these that really make me think the world is coming to an end. And probably not soon enough either.

Monday, July 23, 2007

i wish i didn't bother with a safety stop so i'd be on mc now

4 days of dive eat sleep later I come back to work and find 95 new messages waiting for my undivided attention, no time for lunch again and the realisation that I'll probably be going home to a paper towel covered cold dinner kept on the table while my mom and sis enjoy the latest Fann Wong drama.

ARHHHHH 9 more working daysss................

Sunday, July 08, 2007

if you'll bear with me

I had a hard time wording this.

A few years back I went on a church mission to trip to a little village in the Thai highlands called Huay Parrai populated by a people called the Lahu. Though it was only for a week, I would say it started something churning within me that has only gotten more and more intense as the years have gone by and the experiences have piled up. A church had been planted in that village almost 10 years ago and the people had already been greatly blessed by the Lord, expanding almost exponentially with respect to it's neighbours and becoming the hub for all christian activity in the area. But there was still this sadness in their eyes. The hard work on the fields to put food on the table aside, these people were (and probably still are) denied any rights whatsoever. As far as the Thai government is concerned they don't exist; merely a nuisance that the king deemed tolerable. Descendents of refugees fleeing one war or another decades ago, adults are denied citizenship and forbidden to move to the urban areas, confining them to villages of almost primitive conditions. Children can gain citizenship if they attend schools for a certain extent of time; schools that are more than 30 minutes away if you DRIVE and costing far more than many of them can afford. We stayed there for only a week organising a children's camp for both the Huay Parrai kids and those from surrounding villages but by the time we left their sad faces broke my heart. What made it worse was when I realised on the long drive back to civilisation was that if we went back 10 years later, most of those kids would probably still be there, but this time their bright happy eyes and easy smiles replaced by the sad resignation that seemed to permeate the demeanours of the adults. Either that or they'd be dead or in jail. During our stay we'd seen villagers get shot at by "forest rangers" while trying to gather timber to build a house. We'd seen a whole truckload of those same "forestry officials" drive jauntily into the village in camouflage fatigues and waving M-16s around while a blanket of fear descended on the people. I suppose that was when I realised that the peace and security, the basic human rights that have become a given for so many of us, especially Singaporeans, is hardly the norm for many many others.

Then there was New Orleans. For the first time I'd come face to face with desolation and destruction on a scale I'd thought only existed in movies or on tv. Moreover I'd seen first hand how the devastation of a full blown tropical storm could pale in comparison to that wreaked by selfishness, greed and political nitpicking. I never thought I would see people forced to live in half wrecked houses because they had nowhere else to go; never thought I'd see highways and freeways completely devoid of traffic while underneath them the rusting hulks of hundreds, even thousands of vehicles remain a testament to indecision; never thought I'd see kilometres of devastated residential areas left completely untouched while tourist and commercial areas were rebuilt with all haste. I saw people break down and cry in front of us while they talked about memories lost and escapes narrow. I saw the Xs and numbers that marked the houses of the people who weren't afforded even those. So much to do and so little time and yet, for the first time in my life, I had people coming up to shake my hand in gratitude when they saw us working or even simply walking the streets in our distinctive orange shirts. I suppose that was when I realisd that even if all I had were my bare hands, I could help.

People want to know what I dream about. Well this is precisely it. There are people who are being persecuted out there, there are people who need help; more than anything else I want to devote my life to giving them that help. I have no idea how I'll do that - maybe as a journalist? working with an NGO? or even as a diplomat? - and frankly I hate telling people about it because so much of the time they....well...they just don't understand. But well if you've bothered reading this far maybe you'll see where some of my motivation comes from. I'm not saying that living "the high life" and "arriving" is in any way unappealing. What I am saying is that I want the measure of my life to be more than a fat bank account and flashy cars. When I stepped into that relief centre in New Orleans with its refugee like living conditions I felt almost immediately at home. When I took my first step into Raffles Place at lunch time I felt like a bull in a china shop. I'm not sure how else to clarify what I want to do with my life.

But I hope it answers your question.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

the only truth i know

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

The Bible tells me so

Jesus loves me, He who died
Heaven's gate to open wide
He will wash away my sin
Let His little child come in

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way
Thou hast bled and died for me
I will henceforth live for Thee

we all dress the same only our accents change

10 minutes reading Luke's blog about his backpacking trip to Russia and Mongolia and I am jealous beyond belief right now. I suppose I've never been a very good tourist. I've always been more interested in following a day in the life of say a street musician in Central Park than in taking a ferry to gawk at the Statue of Liberty. Right now Luke is having the trip of my dreams and I say "Good on you brother! You have no idea how much I wish I were there!!!" I'd give just about anything to spend 9 days travelling the steppes of Ulan Bator on horseback and fall asleep to the clacking of a real train, not one that tells you to stay clear of the damn yellow lines. For anyone else who might want to read it just click right here. Dude I know when you read this you'd have already become accustomed to both what goes into a horse and well, what comes out. Get back safe soon and we can go humping BT again. I suppose it ain't Olkhorn but hey we do what we can.

They say doing an internship opens your eyes to the corporate world and drives you to new heights. Odd then that the only thing it's invoked in me so far is a burgeoning fear that I might have to do this for the rest of my life. It doesn't help that this is Singapore. It's scary that when I tell people that I would love to take a year off to just disappear; to just leave everything familiar behind and throw myself into some place off the beaten track, I can't find a single person who would agree with me. A year off is a year less that you're getting paid/making it big/building up your credentials/chasing that dream. The other day I was telling Cai and Greg about my lunch with Sheryl and her colleagues who plopped us in their BMW and drove all the way from town (ERP? What's that?) to a golf club in Fort Road so we could have lunch "somewhere relaxing". You could all but see the drool spilling out their mouths and it sure as hell wasn't because they were thinking of Hock Lam beef noodles. I remember being extremely unsettled. This is the measure of success that just about every young Singaporean aspires to isn't it. Flashy cars, designer clothes, opulent residences, expensive dinners on a regular basis and the capacity to be extravagent as and when you like it. These are the qualities we worship now in our society and it bothers me no end; a circumstance that, I suppose, renders me quite simply, an alien in the very society I was born into.

I have a dream. It's one that starts my heart racing when I think about it and evokes the proverbial drool, but it doesn't involve much in the way of monetary reward and so I get chewed out incessantly by my father demanding to know how exactly I'm going to feed my family with a history degree. Well the answer is simple. I have no idea, but I'll do it somehow. Either that or I won't have a family. Sorry dad but don't worry, you can bank on Mel. She was always the one who knew what she was doing anyway.