"The sharp knife of a short life

I've had just enough time..."

- "If I Die Young" The Band Perry

I see Beauty in many things. And like the ghosts that only speak to you if you notice them, they tell me wondrous tales. With my camera and my thoughts, I captured these as faithfully as I can to share with you. And by doing so, they gave me the reasons. And though the thousand reasons may not all be sweet and some indeed bitter; they are still reasons to live. Come to think about it, that is Life, isn't it?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Farewell, My Friends!

I've had just enough time...  to say farewell but I'm not sure about the return...

This is my dead bonsai plant that I found too beautiful to stay dead...

Farewell, my friends. I regret to write this note.

But my health took a turn for the worse and I’ve to spend more time managing it which did not leave me quite enough time to write – at least not in the quality or with the same passion I had been sharing with all of you, my friends.

So I sought to "revive" it to give it everlasting beauty...

Recent events have also forced me to redirect my attention to other more pressing matters and is another reason why I have to leave. 

I don’t know when or if I will be back. Maybe, one fine day after I licked my problems and the sun is shining brightly; I may just find the energy to do it all again. Nothing is definite in life; that much I know. 

To remind me that memory can preserve beauty forever...

So meanwhile, it is farewell. Thank you for all the beautiful moments. I will cherish them and the memories of some of you will never fade, you know who you are. I did not have time to say individual goodbye so I apologize for saying it here. Sorry.

I hate long drawn out goodbyes so this is it, I’m turning my back and walking away with heavy steps. The leaves are falling...

          Something will never die if we don't let it...        
          It may not live on in its original form but it can still live -        
          In other different but no less beautiful way...        

Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine – With Orchids & How Do I Love Thee? – Part II

I've had just enough time...   to celebrate another Valentine Day cum Chap Goh Meh Day

When flowers kisses...

When I finished reciting that poem, one farmer’s wife clapped very enthusiastically and very loudly. Only one. The rest stared at me in stoney silence maybe wondering if I have gone out of my mind. I cannot remember how I connect the poem with the rest of the technical report but I must have done it somehow for I finished it off quite acceptably to receive decent applause at least, if not as enthusiastically as that farmer’s wife.

But I never tried that stunt again in the other towns and cities. Not in Victoria with my stories of crazy Gila birds that hanged like bats and where that pretty reporter asked me to squeeze in with her into her small car with her microphones saying “it sounds better this way”. Not in the imposing steel and glass towers of Sydney. Not in Wagga Wagga where I was in my elements with my stories of tip toeing naked kangaroos on cold autumn nights and the horror of being naked in a hen house of hundreds of excited chicks. That performance got me a TV interview and the invitation to go rice sowing on a light plane.

Mmmm… Come to think of it, maybe the timing was just not right. Maybe, I should have recited it only on Valentine Day.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; 

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. 

I love with a passion put to use 

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. 
I love thee to the level of every day's 
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. 
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; 
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. 
I love with a passion put to use 
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. 
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath, 
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose, 
I shall but love thee better after death.

A lovely pair...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Happy Valentine – With Orchids & How Do I Love Thee? – Part I

I've had just enough time...   to tell how much I love thee -

Valentine Day is just round the corner and if you asked me to choose a love poem, it has to be this one that I recited ten years ago to the farmers who gathered in the town hall of the small Australian town of Morawa. It was a freezing summer morning and I shivered nervously as I stumbled my way up the stage to stare at the weathered faces of rough, tough Australian farmers and their wives. They were firing up these huge electrical lanterns to generate some heat which I desperately needed. After the brief introduction, the silence was nerve racking as I cleared my dry throat to speak.

I regretted my quirky sense of humour and romance but it was too late to back off. In the radio interview the day before which was aired that morning, some of these farmers had already heard some of the good as well as not so flattering views I said about their wheat as they drove their combine harvester before the crack of dawn. They then drove down with their family to hear what else I have to say. I was on a tour of 5 Australian farming towns and this is the first stop. I don’t remember much of the content of speech but I remembered opening it with – “How Do I Love Thee?” followed by the rest of the poem. I must be mad.

Last Valentine, I shared the occasion with Desiderata, see link here– Happy Valentine - Saying it with Orchids & Desired Things. This Valentine, let me share “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning with you accompanied by my orchids in light and shadows. Joined me for Part II for what happened after the conclusion of that speech in Morawa.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. 

I love thee to the level of every day's 

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. 

Check out Part II for the conclusion to the speech in Morawa and the rest of the "How Do I Love Thee?" poem on Valentine Day.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

My Chinese New Year Ang Pow of Immeasurable Worth.

I've had just enough time...   to receive a special ang pow.

60 pupils lined up to show how the character "horse" is written in Mandarin

Quite a number of you like the ang pows that I showed in the last post so I shared a few more varieties with you in this post.

However, my favorite Ang Pow is one that came in rather plain wrapper. But there is something very special about it. Only one person in the world have ever given me such a unique red packet every year and I always look forward to receiving it for I will never know what is the gift I may receive with it. It always come with only RM10 while most of my ang pows are richer, I treasure it more because the riches it bestowed is not the money. 

A cute ang pow with "ears" that the young will love.

It is given by my old Auntie who is a kind hearted soul who spends her own money traveling to and from Myanmar to do charity work and to teach the unprivileged youth. She is spending all her remaining years in the service of others. The world would be a better place if there are more like her.

One of the prettiest ang pow I received that of the family having a reunion dinner.

In her ang pow, along with the $10 note is a card with a different message every time. The message is not pre-selected so we always wonder what we are fated to receive. The one I received this year is – “Let go of all worries, only then will you appreciate the happiness of a compassionate heart.”

The card with a message slipped into the ang pow from my auntie.

“How appropriate”, I thought. I had been working on “letting go” the last couple of years. Only then, I believe will I be able to accept the reality of the situation that it is beyond me to bring about the changes that I would like to see. And if I persist, I will not only make myself unhappy. So first, I have to let go. Next is to adjust my life to accommodate “letting go”. Letting go of intention, letting go of bitterness, letting go of the past life and starting in a new direction. Even letting go of compassion for you cannot force compassion on others. When your gift is not wanted, it is of no use whatever your intention. So this year’s “gift” is especially valuable to me as a reminder of the path I have to take. And it comes in a little ang pow of immeasurable worth.

A cheerful ang pow showing a lion dance.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Galloping into the Year of the Horse.

I've had just enough time...   to gallop like a horse.

This is the Year of the Horse - galloping free!

This is the Year of the Wood Horse. Full of energy and high potential for conflicts. Here is wishing all of my friends and readers a vibrant year of galloping into good fortune and galloping away from troubles. 

Embossed red on gold ang pow 

Here are some of the “Ang Pow” I received this year. “Ang Pow” meant “red packet” in the Hokkien, one of the Chinese dialect. It is the tradition of the Chinese to give out red packet containing money during the Chinese New Year. It is given by the elders to unmarried relatives or visitors (whether those who visit you or whom you visit) during the New Year. Tough luck if you are married for you are now considered an adult. You can only receive from your parents or bosses but these are considered as “start work” ang pow for a good business start. 

A brightly coloured family coloured theme.

But if you are unmarried, you are still considered a child and thus eligible for ang pow no matter how old you are! However, I’m not sure if that is considered a blessing or not. You will receive a lot of reminders to get hitched along with the ang pow until you are sick of hearing it. On the other hand, as an encouragement, your children are eligible for ang pows so go forth and be bountiful so you can have bountiful harvest of ang pows too!

In the old days, all ang pows are red in colour hence the name. But these days, many of them are beautiful multi-coloured designs with various New Year theme. The Year of the particular animal such as horse this year, auspicious animals or birds, family gathering, lion dances, calligraphy wishes are popular themes. There are even some with the faces of celebrities. In this posts, you get to see some of the ang pows I received this year. “Huat! Ah!” (Prosper! Ah!”)

Wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Where Will This Path Leads Me?

I've had just enough time...   to take the path that is offered.

I let the path leads me wherever it leads me but
I do not forget to smell the flowers along the way

It is interesting where paths will lead you if you let them lead the way. That is why when I find myself in a strange city, I like to wander off on my own. Aimlessly. And let the path leads me wherever it may lead. I have always made interesting discoveries this way. Without fail. In every city I have been to.

I just started a new blog and it already is leading me to interesting places. I wrote about the books I read and the books I intend to read. That led me to a mail exchange I had with Liza Dalby, the author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki a long time ago about my graveyard of books - http://a1000reasons.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/my-graveyard-of-books/. A comment by a reader led me to reflect on my first meeting with a geisha - "When I was a young man of 21, ages ago. I found myself one night in Tokyo along with a colleague and my ex-boss; each with a geisha accompanying us. We were hosted by maybe 6 or 7 Japanese gentlemen from a large organization toasting us with a mixture of Suntory beer, Black Label whiskey and warm sake..." You can read it here - http://a1000reasons.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/the-geisha-who-showed-me-her-empty-cup/

Sometimes it leads me to strange places
But it never fails to lead me to interesting places

I will continue to wander off the main track and let Life surprises me. It is one of my greatest pleasure to find Life's hidden treasures.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The World Is Moving Too Fast For The Slow Loris

I've had just enough time...   to feel sad for the slow loris

The slow loris kiss his owner 

In the Pahang jungle, I saw this man with the slow loris. It was obvious that he has bonded with the animal and they treated each other affectionately. But the slow loris is an endangered species. The cute, adorable and gentle loris with its large eyes is popular as a pet but wild life trade has decimated their population endangering them. Loris also do not breed well in captivity and they have one of the slowest birth rate for a mammal. Before they are sold as a pet, their teeth are ripped off with a plier as they have a toxic bite. Many do not survive this treatment. When Rihana took a selfie with a slow loris in Thailand, two men were arrested.

But it does not belong to the world of man

I asked the man about keeping an endangered animal as a pet. He told me that his loris dropped off from the tree when it was still a baby. It would have died if he have left it where he found it. He could not return it to its parents for they would reject it once it is tainted with the human smell. So he had no choice but to rear it himself. I have no reason to doubt him. I have no reason to believe him.

If it is true he save it, did he do the right thing to keep it? (he does love it, I'm sure)

See this disturbing video -

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Al Fresco Dining the Hawkers Style.

I've had just enough time...  to have my favourite noodles the Al fresco style

Al fresco dining the Malaysian style

In the early evening, in a parking lot on a corner by the side of a busy street of Kuala Lumpur, hawkers were busy setting up food stalls for the night business. Carts and chairs were arranged on every available places trapping cars left behind by drivers that were not aware of or were slow to remove them. Tables and stools were arranged in the center framed by hawkers stalls selling all kinds of mainly noodles dishes in various styles of preparations, “dried” style with black sauce, different “soup” styles – beef, beef tendon, chicken, chicken spare parts, pork, pork spare parts with light soup, curry or a whole varieties of different stocks and flavors. They may be a rice stall such as chicken or duck rice, or a “roti chanai” (Indian flat bread) stall among them as well as various other types of food and desserts. It will not be surprising to find a stall selling a local fried burger or Western food such as Maryland chicken and chips. It was a food heaven.

This is a typical food stalls congregation in any city or towns in Malaysia and they are always crowded and a fun place to be. The scene we are seeing is in the early evening when the stalls is just being set up but already a few early birds are already tucking in. Another hour, and you will find patrons waiting for a seat to be available. No one managed the place but it seemed to be very well organized with each stall contributing towards maintenance of the area for the benefits of all concerned. The prices are very economical and is a fraction of that available in restaurants. The food are generally also quite hygienically prepared and is safe for consumption. This is the favorite form of food consumption for busy Malaysian who are not cooking at home.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Melon I Found In The Borneo Highlands

I've had just enough time...   to find the melon in the highlands

A beautiful melon with intricate patterns I found in the Borneo Highlands Resort in Kuching

The melon I found on Borneo Highlands
I know not its name and
There is no one to enlighten
But it is all the same
One need not know to appreciate
One only need know to appreciate

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Don't Be Caught Off-guard By The Irish Rooster!

I've had just enough time to...  be caught off-guard by the Irish Rooster

Is that an Irish Rooster in Shanghai?

Irish Music - The Rooster Lyrics

We had some chickens no eggs would they lay
We had some chickens no eggs would they lay
The wife said honey we're loosing money
Because those chickens no eggs would they lay

Then came a rooster into our yard
And he caught them chickens right off their guard
They're laying eggs now like they never used to
Since that rooster came into our yard

Sunday, 12 January 2014

In A Mosque in Beirut

I've had just enough time...   to speak about God

In a mosque in Beirut, a father speaks softly to his child...

In a mosque in Beirut
I saw a father softly 
Speaking to his child
Sitting in the shadows as
Lights streamed through
The windows, I believe
As he believes, there is God
And in churches and temples
Everywhere, a man speaks
Softly to his child about

The God he knows

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Old Man Looking for His Center

I've had just enough time...   to look for my center

I saw the old man walking unsteadily on edges...

The old man
Walked on edges
Struggling to maintain
A balance, not
Too much right or
Too much left
Might fall off
Into the abyss

He is trying to find his center.

I asked “Why?”
Almost causing his fall
He brushed me off
Walking unsteadily forth
Then stunned me
Left me pondering
What his voice carried
With his departure
“How can I find my center,
Walking on level ground?”


What's Your Center?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Caterpillar or the Leaves

I've had just enough time...   to harvest a butterfly

The caterpillar hiding under a branch...

Two pots of ailing
Flowering plants
Nursed back to health.
New leaves from
Barren branches
Pleased me.
Shocked me
To see leaves of
One stripped bare.
The next day, the
Rest disappeared.
The culprit was found
Fat under a branch
Shyly hiding from
The sun, leaving me
To decide the fate of
The caterpillar
Or the leaves

My prosperity flowers whose leaves were devoured.
Can you see where the caterpillar is hiding?

I wanted the flowers
Of the plants nursed
To health, but strange
Are the fruits of the
Tree one sowed
I harvest a butterfly

What would you choose?
The leaves or the caterpillar or...

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