"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?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Did You Notice The Flowers Or the Crack In The Wall? – Part I

I've had just enough time to...   notice the crack and the flowers

Taken in Malacca of the flowers and the crack and I wonder...

Did you notice
The colors of the petals
Or the crack in the wall?

Did you not notice the flowers
Because of the crack in the wall?

Did you only notice the flowers
And not the crack in the wall?

More in Part II

Saturday, 26 January 2013

How I Love The Storm and The Rain. (雨中即景)

I've had just enough time to...   love rainy days

Taken from my office just before a storm...

Even as a child, I loved storms and I loved rains. No matter how violent the winds blasted and rattled. How they pushed against the windows like a wild animal trying to get in, I was never afraid. I was afraid of a lot of things but never a storm. I treated it like a loud friend who dropped in suddenly, unannounced, but who brought excitement to the dull existence of a monotone life.

I loved how the hawkers scrambled, how the housewives rushed to retrieve clothings still hanging on the lines, how the dogs barked impotently at a threat it cannot comprehend and how the smarter cat with a meow disappeared to the safest hiding place. I loved how the first few drops of rain dissipated into a mist after just a momentarily imprint on the hot paved road. Or how the light reddish brown laterite soil first took on a deeper tone, and then run off to be the first to form a puddle.

I loved the raindrops splashing against the window, how they run down like the tears of a broken heart. I loved how the coconut tree swayed its branches like a dancer in wild abundance, high above the other leafy trees that released their leaves to the wind. I loved the sound of a million chatters. The pitch according to whom they spoke  to; the zinc roof, the paved road or the monsoon drain. I loved the cool, moisture laden wind that brought relief against the heat. I’m happiest and saddest during the life of a storm.

The sight, sound and feel of the storm are now different for me. But I still love the storm and the rain.


The happiest rain song of my youth - 
雨中即景 - 刘文正 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What Are We Fighting For?

I've had just enough time to...   stop fighting...

Taken during a stroll in the park by the Kuching river esplanade

Are men born to fight?
What are they fighting for?
The weak say I fight to defend
I fight for survival
But when they become strong
They covet what is not theirs
And fight to conquer

Men say I fight for my country
But when there is no enemy
They fight among themselves
Men say I fight for my religion
I fight for my God
But God says don’t fight among yourself
Men say they fight for glory
But where is the glory in massacres
In fatherless child and widowed wife
And bones bleached by the sun

When men lament the price of fighting
It is always too late –
Much too late


Where have all the flowers gone?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

You Will Never Know What It Is Like To Be Me

I've had just enough time to...   try to feel what it is like to be someone I'm not

Taken while strolling through the street of Munich

I stood apart from the crowd
You won’t understand the feelings
You have not been there
But you thought you did
I took those well meaning sympathies
For what they are – well meaning
But don’t try to tell me you understand
It only pained me though I smiled
If you are three feet tall
Have a white face, pointed nose
And wear a tall red cap

Then tell me –
You know what it is like to be me


Five For Fighting - Superman (It's Not Easy)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Farewell To My Concubine Part II - The Song of Gaixia (垓下之战)

I've had just enough time to...   lament the suicide of the concubine

Taken of the "Farewell to My Concubine" opera show in Beijing

Xiang Yu, the King of Chu is in a desperate situation. Trapped and surrounded by enemies with superior forces on all sides, he is losing hope for the first time since he took up arms. The "Chu Song from Four Sides" (四面楚歌) employed by their enemies reminded them of home, sapped their remaining spirit and caused defection. But his faithful horse and favourite concubine refused to leave his side. He lamented with this song – 

力拔山兮气盖世。 Once, my unparallel spirit lifted the hills 
时不利兮骓不逝。 But the time is against me and my horse would not 
                                leave me 
骓不逝兮可奈何!    If my horse would not leave me, what can I do? 
虞兮虞兮奈若何!    Oh, my precious Yu, what fate will befall thee?

Lady Yu begged to die by his side but Xiang Yu strongly refused. She tried to lift his spirit by drinking with him and performed the sword dance for him and sang - 

汉兵已略地,     The Han army has invaded our land 
四面楚歌声。  We are surrounded by Chu songs from all sides 
大王义气尽,     My king's spirit is broken 
贱妾何聊生      What reasons have I to live?

This role is traditionally played by a male

She blamed herself for the predicament her king is in and felt responsible for the downfall of the Chu dynasty. When Xiang Yu’s attention was distracted, she committed suicide by slitting her throat further breaking Xiang Yu’s spirit. She was only 16 when the king said farewell to his concubine.


霸王別姬 Farewell My Concubine Fan MV

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Farewell To My Concubine Part I - The Battle of Gaixia (垓下之战)

I've had just enough time to...   join in the Battle of Gaixia

Taken of the Farewell to My Concubine Opera in Beijing

Betrayed by former friend and ally Liu Bang with a fake peace treaty, Xiang Yu was constantly harassed and ambushed on the retreat back to Western Chu. A trap was sprung in the canyon near Gaixia but Xiang Yu was too intelligent to fall for it and ordered his troops to head back to his capital through the main road. But then his beloved concubine Yuji travelling with the convoy was captured in one of the ambush and brought deep into the canyon of Gaixia…

In spite of knowing he will be rushing into a trap, the King of Chu ordered the rest of his tired men back to the capital while with a smaller troop of 100,000 men tried to save his wife. Once in the canyon, Liu Bang’s crafty ally and mastermind of the trap Han Xin wielded his “ambush from ten sides”  (十面埋伏). Though he managed to save his wife, he and his troop were hopelessly trapped by a superior and fresh troop of 300,000 Han soldiers and were gradually decimated.

As night fall, the Chu troops were helmed in by enemies from all sides and the situation was desperate. Han Xin ordered his men and the captured Chu soldiers to sing Chu folk songs employing the tactic  "Chu Song from Four Sides" (四面楚歌) to break the spirit of the remaining Chu soldiers causing some to desert the army. Yuji stopped Xiang Yu from taking actions against his own men. Calling for wine, Xiang Yu drank and lamented his situation with a poignant composition known as “The Song of Gaixia”. On the brink of total defeat, they spent their intimate moments together and Lady Yu performed the last sword dance for her king

Next post: The Song of Gaixia.


Pipa master Pui-Yuen Lui "Ambushed from Ten Sides", Los Angeles, California 2000 琵琶演奏家呂培原"十面埋伏", 加州洛杉磯 2000

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Eden Is Between Ithaka and Home

I've had just enough time to...   look for Eden somewhere between Ithaka and home

Taken of a Himalayan valley from the edge of a mountain

Eden is between Ithaka and home
But they are in different directions!

Can you take your heart to Ithaka
And not think of home?
Can you stay in the comfort of your home
And not yearn for Ithaka?

I packed my bags and sleep under the stars
Heading for Ithaka
When the journey gets too arduous
And my steps too weary
And home came in my sleep
I know it is time to return

Eden is not a place in some mystical land
Eden is between home and Ithaka



When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean. 

Constantine P. Cavafy

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Wishing You A Little Bit Of Everything

I've had just enough time to...   wish everyone a little bit of everything

The sun finally breached the the distant Himalayan hills and clouds

Wishing you a little of everything
A little bit more joy, a little bit less sorrow
A little bit more peace, a little bit less strife
A little bit more progress, a little bit less obstacle
A little bit more fulfillment, a little bit less work
A little bit more variety, a little bit less of the same
A little bit healthier, in mind, body and spirit
A little bit wealthier, in what really counts
A little bit stronger, to weather the storm
A little bit happier, with enough to share
For a little bit is all you need but I wish you
Lots and lots of love in the coming year!


Himalayan Dawn, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Santoor

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A New Himalayan Dawn

I've had just enough time to...   welcome a Himalayan dawn

Taken on the first morning welcoming in the Himalayan dawn...

The valley sleeps
Under the watchful eyes of the snowy peaks
Under the cottony blankets of soft mists

Silence as peaceful as sleep
Harmony as beautiful as peace
I was up early to see the valley sleeps

Dwarfed by the majestic mountains
As ancient as the slowly departing stars
A speck in the universe of time

A slight stirring of the morning breeze
Shudders the slumbering Earth
Interrupting its peaceful sleep

With the patience and respect it commands
I was up early to welcome the soft glow
Of the approaching Himalayan dawn

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