Birthday parade

Just when I thought it was a fantastic enough week with birthday gifts galore from Naomi, she went and organised a huge parade on the bay which concluded with a fireworks display over the water.

There were marching contingents, helicopters, speedboats and parachutists, and we saw all this from the comfort of a nice dining room overlooking the bay and the financial district. I don’t think anyone’s had a better thirty-, um, somethingth birthday.

If you, like us, were previously blasé about the NDP, this year’s extravaganza on the world’s first and largest floating stage will really de-blasé you. And this was just the rehearsal! The Ang Mohs in our midst (because we were in a hotel after all) were impressed, and said so themselves, even if they were a little taken aback by our Air Force’s F16s, which flew right at us, and then pulled up over our building.

“That’s usually the last thing you see when these things fly at you”, said the Ang Moh, who later told another Ang Moh that he was “from Belfast, so I’m used to seeing Orange Men marching”.

Another thing that made this the bestest birthday I’ve ever had was that we got here in time to watch the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations Championships decider on the telly, and although it would’ve been better if the Wallabies didn’t implode in the second half and lose both pieces of silverware, I’m still perfectly happy.

I’m the luckiest man on the planet.

The only other thing that threatened to derail our celebrations was that we misplaced Naomi’s phone while moving rooms, but a big hurrah to the staff, and especially Ms Sarah Tan, of the Ritz-Carlton Millenia for doing everything possible – and we mean everything from contacting everyone on her walkie talkie to closing off the guest room we’d just vacated, so that we were reunited with the phone a few hours later. It had been safely lodged with the lost and found when it was discovered by the guy who checks your mini-bar to see if you’ve swiped anything from it after vacating your room.

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Men’s Health: Man2Man: I Quit!

Originally published in Men’s Health (July 2007)

 Magazine Images Mens Health
A few weeks ago I had a very bad dream. I was walking back home from Holland Village, just a stone’s throw from where I live. It was getting dark, and it was a bit drizzly, and between the knuckles of my index and middle fingers of my left hand was a half consumed cigarette. As I quickened my pace to get home before the deluge, I took deep puffs from the cigarette, exhaling from the side of my mouth. One of the drags was perhaps too deep. I coughed, and then I woke up.

Ordinarily, I’d forget this sort of dream. But because I am a newly-minted, fresh-breathed ex-smoker, I woke up in a cold sweat, horrified at the vividness of the dream, even remembering the taste and the spluttering cough.

In that sleepful way one stumbles around the room, I looked around for clues to what could possibly have triggered the dream/nightmare. Did I really light one up in my sleep? At what point during my walk did I start smoking? Where did I buy the pack from? What brand was it?

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Continue reading “Men’s Health: Man2Man: I Quit!”

Uncommon courtesy

Escalator – by Mr Wabu

This evening, Naomi and I went to the airport with her Mum so that we could dine at the only Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits Famous Fried Chicken Restaurant in Singapore. Oh, and for Naomi’s Mum to catch a flight.

On the way up the escalator to the restaurant and observation level in Terminal One, Naomi and Mum were standing side by side, talking about how many pieces of chicken we should eat without being too full for comfort. Out of the corner of her eye, Naomi’s Mum saw that there was a woman one step below them, so she looked apologetically at the woman and moved one step up and in front of Naomi so that the woman could have a clear lane to overtake if she so intended to.

“Wow, that’s really considerate of you”, said Naomi to her Mum, who nodded and said, “You’re supposed to do that. I do that all the time in Taiwan (where she’s from)”.

“Well, it doesn’t happen very often here”, said Naomi.

The woman who was behind them didn’t intend to be in that much of a hurry, and was surprised enough to say, “Oh yes, that’s true. It doesn’t happen very often here, but other cities, yes”, and when she composed herself further, said, “I didn’t expect that, you gave me a bit of a shock, actually”.

Remember the old campaign in the 70s and 80s exhorting the citizenry to “make courtesy a way of life”, complete with stickers for kids that kids ended up sticking all over HDB void-decks and lamp posts? Looks like it’s culminated in this level of expectation, as well as a revamped campaign called the Kindness Movement, still headed by Singa the Courtesy Lion.

I think it’s time for that cat to put some pants on and do something about this. Better still, retire the lion and introduce Kelly the Kaypoh Krocodile or something?

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It’s good to be a kaypoh nation

Asleep in car – by Andwar

Earlier tonight we went out to Holland Village for a bite and to take a short break from work. At 11:45 p.m., parking wasn’t hard to find.

We parked next to a car that had its engine running and its sole occupant motionless in the driver’s seat. We didn’t think much of that and we went off to NYDC.

Friday night out at the village was something we hadn’t experienced for a long time, and I swear, people looked different, and I think fashion trends must’ve changed a bit, because both of us felt a little out of place at this ‘young people cafe’, even though we were greeted by the familiar (and old) ‘NYDC cat’, who’s always at the doorstep of the cafe every time we walk past.

We sat amidst the din of many young people, and we ordered our drinks, and cake, seeing as it is my birthday. And then I took out my new MacBook Pro, hooked it up to the free wi-fi and started looking for bits of information that might help the project we’re working on, but the noisiness of the place put paid to that.

Naomi grabbed a copy of IS Magazine and started looking through interesting stuff about our island’s night life and arts scene. She was done in about five minutes, and at midnight, I was very happy to have my wife kiss me and wish me happy birthday, and we thought we’d spend the next half hour or so fielding birthday text messages from friends and well-wishers. There were only three (and one of them was from Naomi), so that didn’t take us too long either.
Just as well, because as with most outings these days, we had to keep it short because of Naomi’s painful back. So we headed back to the car park, where the car with the running engine and motionless occupant was still there. The windscreens were all fogged up, and we were a little concerned because it had been close to an hour since we’d left the car park.

“You think he’s ok?”, asked a very concerned Naomi, so I peered into the car just in time to see the occupant’s chin loll onto his chest, which moved in a way that resembled breathing.

“Yup, he’s alive”, I said, and we got into our car because, you know, we really didn’t want to be too kaypoh. And we don’t like kaypoh people, do we?

But something stopped us from driving off. Maybe it was the recent story about the taxi-driver who was found dead in a car park after many passers-by had thought he’d just been drunk and sleeping. So I got out of the car, looked into the window, then decided to get back into our car, but we felt uneasy, and I got out again. Then in again, then out again, and in again until I thought, what the hell am I doing?

Then Naomi asked, “what the hell are you doing?”

So I got out of the car again and tapped on the running engine car’s window. There was no response, so I tapped harder. And some more, until I must have scared the bejeezus out of what we then knew as a sleeping man, who woke up and spent five seconds wondering such pertinent things like, “Whadda!…! Wha!” and “Whadda!”, before he found the button to roll down the window and ask me what I wanted.

“Are you ok?”, I asked, and patiently waited for his brain to register the question and formulate an answer, which eventually came in the form of a puzzled sounding, “ok, yah! I’m ok?”.

I then wanted to tell him, “You know, carbon monoxide is odourless and poisonous and car engines produce a lot of that stuff which can get into the comfortably air-conditioned cabin of a stationary car”, but chocolate and cheesecake and ice-cream makes your brain as fast as flowing molasses, so I merely said, “OK, you shouldn’t sleep inside your car so long, roll down your windows a bit”.

It’ll have taken a while for him to fall back asleep again, if that were his purpose. But Naomi and I were glad we did as much as we could without agitating the sleeping man too much.

Of the many things I’m wishing on my birthday, one of them is, please, don’t sleep in your car with the engine running and the air-con on – it’s dangerous; and the other is, if you do see someone motionless in their car or anywhere else in public, please, check on them to see if they’re ok.

I mean, if we’re kaypoh enough to be unconcerned that we’re causing another traffic bottleneck by slowing down to take a closer look at a traffic accident in the next lane, we should be kaypoh enough to check on our fellow citizens when it looks as though there’s a chance they’re in trouble and might need some assistance.

Embrace your inner kaypoh! You might save a life. Come to think of it, kaypohness should be a civic duty.

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