Me No Shy About Me Birthday

Thanks for all your warm wishes!  It is the thought that counts.  So, text messages are same-same to me.

I have two traditions when it comes to my birthday.  One, it will be a holiday.  Look, if we have holidays to celebrate the birth of the kings and queens and anniversary of what not, why should I work on my birthday?   And two, during my birthday week, it will be my treat to all the friends who join me for lunch or dinner.  I mean, look at it this way, I feel so blessed to have friends turn up for my B day celebration.  It’s on me, gladly so.

I guess it is hard to contain the happiness and I find myself telling the people around me the coming of my birthday.  Maybe I am a natural exhibitionist.  Most people I know are more comfortable keeping it low profile, which is cool with me of course.  One time, the colleague behind me was on the phone and you know how kids are when they get onto the phone.  As usual, the faint high pitch voice reached my desk and I heard a birthday song!  It was my colleague’s birthday and I congratulated her after her call.  Wow, I would have missed that and I would feel quite bad had I known that someone’s birthday has gone underneath my radar.  She is my neighbor in the cube farm some more.  Bizarre to say – and those of you who know me in person would know how animated I can be once I get excited – despite my rather excited words of congratulation, everyone else was so absorbed with their work and none noticed this little event.  Oh well.

The other day, one friend of mine in the office told me that she doesn’t think writing “I wake up, I eat, I sleep” as her journal (or blog) is interesting at all.  Well, I don’t know.  I also write “I wake up, I eat, I sleep” too.  Maybe if one day 3am in the morning and you can’t sleep, you should try reading my blogs.

I woke up this morning after an amazing 8 hours of sleep, looked in the mirror, and didn’t notice any difference.  I mentally timed my pee and it took roughly the same time.  Great!  It’s my birthday and I feel one year younger.  I did some memory test and I passed, remembering all the schedule blog entries all the way till I fly out of town next Wednesday.  Superb!  Good as new.

Switched on my wireless phone and went through the bunch of entertaining text messages.  One friend told me that men age like fine wine.  Wow, my first time hearing it.  So I asked this wise man what do women age like?  Cheese, he replied, as the taste grows on you!  Ha ha ha … OK.  I don’t know why, I kept thinking of the “Sex and the City” movie.  Time for Botox – the miracle of eternal youth!

Spent a fair bit of the morning doing vocal exercise.  Vocal exercise?  Yes.  Vocalists do vocal exercise all the time and it helps a lot in the actual singing activity.  I must have driven Cynthia mad this morning.  Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhhhh~

Another friend asked me to send a wild plant to her via Facebook after I told her that I was heading to the Botanic Gardens.  Sure I can do that.  I love the Botanic Gardens.  Always do, be it as in Hong Kong or Paris or Singapore.  It was sunny, it rained a bit, and we took some photos inside the lovely Botanic Gardens.

Time check!  OK, it 5-ish and I shall head to Orchard soon.  Catching up with my Movie Review Squad and I can’t wait to watch Hellboy 2!  I so have a big crush with Hellboy’s girlfriend.  Shhh, please don’t tell Cynthia.


Can You Keep A Secret?

Botanic Gardens With A Book

I was caught on camera smiling while reading a book at the Botanic Gardens last weekend.  How embarrassing!  I’ll get to that later.  Couple of months ago, I was also caught on camera as a school project – so I was told – while I was reading a book.  It was a lovely afternoon at the Botanic Gardens and I was either reading The Medici Effect or Brand Leadership when a young girl approached me and asked if she could take some pictures of me.  I was flattered of course and besides, if my mug shot can help someone to gain a grade A+ in her school project, why not?

Me: (nervously) What do I need to do?
Her: (smiled) Just read your book.
Me: (puzzled) Just read my book?
Her: (nodded) Yes, and I will take some pictures.
Me: Shall I face the camera?
Her: No, just read the book please.
Me: Okay, okay!

I was trying to strike an intellectual post given the rather intellectual book I was reading.  I mean, I couldn’t really look that entertained and relaxed with a non-fiction book, could I?  I acted as if I was in deep thought.  I imagined a sponge, a huge knowledge sponge, while giving her the most stylish post possible without looking as though I was trying too hard.  I swear, not a word from the book got into my head while I was photographed in all possible angles – front, behind, sideway – far and near.  At the end of the photo session, she thanked me, I wished her all the best for her school project, and I regretted for not asking what the title of the pictures would be.  “Bookworms can be sexy”?  “A rare find in the Botanic Gardens”?  “Future Singapore PMs are made of this”?

Last weekend, Cynthia the Paparazzi caught me on camera while I was reading Sophie Kinsella’s “Can You Keep a Secret”.  Okay, there you have it.  Chick-lit makes me smile.  I mean, it is not the most glamorous thing to say but Sophie Kinsella’s books are actually very entertaining, however forgettable the storylines are.  It is like, a secret indulgence, a breath of fresh air in the little mountain of serious books I read, a McDonald’s meal once in a blue moon.  If only chick-lit comes with covers that are less pink or bright blue, that would be perfect for me to read in public.

Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie KinsellaIf to replace the main character of “Can You Keep a Secret” with Rebecca from the Shopaholic series, the story would pass as one of the books from the same series.  Except that the center of focus of this book is “secret”, which I find it pretty interesting.  I am sure we all have our own set of secrets that are kept away from people around us however trivial they may be.  What if all relationships begin with honesty with no holding back of secrets?  Is it really a bad thing for your friends to know some of your secrets that concern them?  How should the line be drawn between lies that are deceitful and the withholding of the truth because the recipient is not ready for it (white lies)?  What if the whole world knows your secrets (like the main character in the book)?

One thing I know though is that those secret pictures behind the closed doors of the Hong Kong celebrities should be kept secret.  But that is another story.

Related Entries: Remember Me By Sophie Kinsella – A Calculated Risk That May Or May Not Work For Some, On Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic & Baby, and Undomestic Goddess – A Good Read

At Botanic Gardens Part 2 of 2 – Nomine Si Nescis, Perit & Cognitia Rerum

Click to enlarge

It all started with a milestone that our team has completed. Monday morning was declared as a half day holiday that was off the record. Nice! And since I needed to send Cynthia off to work anyway, I have decided to head to the Botanic Gardens (commonly misspelled by many including myself as “Botanical Garden” in Singapore) and read the new book by Paulo Coelho.

So I freed a beetle. It is always refreshing to keep in touch with nature. Back in the good old days when I was still schooling, I often head to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (right next to where I studied) before school started and during lunch time – to study and to relax. At times, I visited the habitat of the monkeys and the gorillas and the birds and the plant after school. I sought after the solace nature provides, always.

And on that Monday morning, I took a stroll within the garden and pondered upon many things in life. I passed by the spot whereby across the grassland lay the trees that took 30-80 years to grow and blossom – an activity that involved the production of 20 million fragrant flowers and the plant died after such an enormous effort of flowering and fruiting. The name of the plant is Talipot Palms (Corypha Umbraculifera). When my mother and sister visited me in year 2005, that was the exact time when Talipot Palms blossomed. Today, the plant looks almost dead.

Nomine Si Nescis, Perit & Cognitia Rerum literally means “If you do not know the name of things, the knowledge of them is lost too”. This is inspiring as I seldom put in effort to remember names.

First thing I saw when I got out of the car park was … the building specially made for “Orchid Breeding and Micropropagation”. I have been to the Botanic Gardens numerous times and it was the first time when I witnessed how Orchid was being bred. Did you know how Orchid is being cloned in Singapore? There are altogether four stages that took place in four different rooms: growth media preparation room, transfer room, shaker room, and culture room. What fascinated me the most was the shaker room where tons of plantlets in clear crystal jars are being shaken 24×7 by machines. According to the literature, shaking the tissue in the nutrient solution helps to improve the supply of air and nutrients to the tissue. Since the tissue has no sense of gravity, the planetlets do not differentiate into shoots and roots but rather grow into more tissue. The stronger and bigger plantlets are then planted out at the garden. Quite an eye opener.

As I approached the Visitor’s center, the sound of nature slowly overtaken by the sound of school kids. Botanic Gardens surely is a popular place for kids to spend a morning at. I read my book inside a cafe and all of a sudden, a dog barked. Apparently, the dog was disturbed by the noise generated by the school kids. At that very moment, as I concentrated on the sound of the school kids – without fully understand the language they talked about – it sounded like the chirping of birds. Lots of sound and lack of ability to comprehend what they are trying to say.

Techers fed the kids McDonald’s meal. No wonder there are obese in Singapore.

I walked along one of the lakes and witnessed something shocking. A dead fish floating on the water surface was deemed fit for the rest of the turtles to eat. It was quite a gruesome scene when the body of the fish slowly diminished as time went by starting from its tail up. There was a horde of hungry turtles, for sure. And I had just cooked a live fish yesterday for dinner. I could not stand looking at that fish any more.

Trees in the garden are a big thing. There are different kinds of trees planted within the Botanic Gardens and some are adopted by well known organisations or individuals. Back in the city, trees are just for decoration’s sake. I was in my tie and shirt and I didn’t feel quite belong to this one big happy family at the Botanic Gardens. At the city center later in the afternoon, it was a whole different story. I felt being blended in. How strange. What we wear dictates how we feel and the need to conform dictates what we wear.

Nomine Si Nescis, Perit & Cognitia Rerum and learn the names. Each plant and animal was given a surname and a given name, did you know?

At Botanic Gardens Part 1 of 2 – Finding Mr. B a New Home

One morning, right before I started the car engine and began a rather unusual morning of enjoying myself at the Botanic Gardens on a working day, Cynthia pointed at the passenger seat window and said rather calmly, “Look, there is an animal outside”. The French calls it an animal. Apparently the Indonesian refers that as an animal too. But in Chinese and in English, I would rather call it an insect. Linguistically, any living being that is not a human being nor a plant is an animal. But that blob of protein with somewhat hard shell, hairy legs, and has a size of one and a half inches in length? I would call it an insect, a beetle to be exact. (Note: Cynthia countered and asked if I would call a frog an amphibian or an animal. I was tongue-tied.)

I thought that once the car left the parking lot, the beetle would fly away. But it didn’t. It just hang onto the window as our car sped onto the highway. From the feeling of indifference came a feeling of concern. If this beetle was to fly off in the middle of highway, chances were, it would smash itself onto the windscreen of an incoming vehicle and suffer a horrible death. I did not have the heart for that to happen. In as much as possible, I accelerated gently and braked gently. It is hard to describe but I felt as thought it was no longer just Cynthia and I who were inside the car, but this beetle too – as one of our passengers. How extraordinary in such an ordinary day! Since I was heading to the Botanic Gardens, Cynthia suggested that I should free this passenger of ours into the wild.

That made sense. After all, I did not think a beetle can make its home on a highway, nor in the city. A beetle living in a concrete jungle is a dead beetle in no time. All of a sudden, I related to our new friend. A friend whom I wanted to give him a name.

Me: Let’s give this guy a name.
Cynthia: Okay. What would you suggest?
Me: Anything. You pick.
Cynthia: How about Mr. Bee.
Me: But he is not a bee!
Cynthia: Bee stands for beetle.
Me: Fine. Mr. B it is then.

Throughout the journey to Cynthia’s office, Mr. B hardly moved. Hence I inquired, “Is he dead?”

“I don’t think so. I saw him moving his legs,” replied Cynthia. “Are you sure it was not the wind,” I countered. Cynthia did not reply.

And when we finally reach Cynthia’s office, Mr. B started to move around. I was actually worried that he might lose his grip and fall off the window. But he didn’t. As I was driving to the Botanic Gardens – alone – Mr. B made a turn when our car stopped at the traffic light and he faced me. As though he was trying to tell me something.

Of course I did not hear a thing! Was I hallucinating or what?! In my mind I said to him, “Hang in there buddy. We will reach your new home soon.”

As I reached the Botanic Gardens, I got out of the car with a piece of paper, walked to the other side of the car and observed. The heat wave from the engine and the tyre was unbearable. How did Mr. B manage to put up with that? Amazing. I scooped him off and gently released him onto a vast bush area. I hope that he will find solace in this new home of his.

In life, we come across different kinds of people. Most of the time, we are indifference to their existence. We may not be able to communicate because of certain barriers, but we may be in the same journey one way or another. Our destinations may not coincide, but however brief the interaction is, it can be life changing to some due to the things we do. It is how one treats the insignificance that speak ones character.