"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, 27 August 2013

A Child Is To Play

I've had just enough time to...   play

A child looking for play...

I remembered as a child
Searching for the meaning of Life
Then went outside to play
When the head gets too heavy
Leaving the thinking
For another day

I was always confident
There is time to be wise
But the play is not going to wait
To start another day

Now only I realized
How wise I was as a child
So I am putting down my books
To go out and play…

while grown-up prays...

I saw this small boy in his bicycle outside the same temple in Surabaya. He was just looking for someone to play with. I contrasted him with the old man I saw sitting forlornly in the balcony upstairs and feel kind of sad. I identified more with this boy and think back to my youth and is envious of him. In the end, I turned out alright but due to poverty and due to the well-meaning but misplaced worries of adults, I lost a large part of my irreplaceable childhood which is why a part of me will never grow up but I’m blessed for that. Life works in mysterious ways.

the Gods stays...

away from the affairs of man...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Waiting For The Dragon Boat

I've has just enough time to...   not wait for the dragon boat

Still waiting for the dragon boat to come to shore in the Jade Emperor Temple, Surabaya, Indonesia

I waited
For the Dragon Boat to come
And take me away
But I waited too long

Under the motionless cloud
And faded rainbow
The Dragon Boat never come to my shore
For I had waited too long…

And I can do nothing now
But wait some more
For I had invested too much of my youth
For it not to come true…

So I must wait a little longer
And can do nothing but wait
For the Dragon boat
To come to my shore

I  wandered into this old Jade Emperor Chinese temple in my visit to the China town of Surabaya, Indonesia. In the upstairs balcony, I discovered an old faded but beautiful relief wall painting in cheerful blue. In it under was a vast sea and a dragon boat coming to shore under a rainbow, cloud and the palace of heaven. A man was sitting forlornly on a long wooden bench in front of the faded scene. I don’t know but to me it was a very poignant scene of time losing its purpose.

To take me to the Valley of Peach Blossom

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Girl Who Consumed Mistborn for Dinner

I've had just enough time to...   ask the girl what book she is reading...

Taken one evening of Harry's in Manhattan, Kansas

A very long time ago, when I was a young man; I found myself thousands of miles away from home in a small town called Manhattan. Not the one in the Big Apple. They called this “the little apple” and some Americans do not even know it exists. The taxi driver looked at me with suspicion for while he was loading the luggage, I promptly went over to his door and opened it only to discover we drove on different side of the road.

I learned a lot of things in my first winter. Snow balls hurt. You can only make two before your fingers froze. Why pushing a car up a very gentle but icy slope is so exhausting. I did not like the cold and the damp. Beyond the heavenly sight, I did not like anything about winter but hot coffee after the snow had never tasted so delicious. But what did I know? I was in my early twenties and have only known one type of weather before then. Experience has now taught me that the first impression is not necessarily the most accurate. Years later, I was sitting next to a lumberjack on my way to Canada and he has this glow as he described how cities depressed him and his most sublime moments are in the wild of the Canadian forest at minus forty.

Fine dining in a grand old restaurant with history...

Now I was back to this little town and the flood of nostalgia that I expected to hit me did not come. I have lost connections with most of the past I spent in this place. I still remembered some particular events that left a lasting impression but then I’ve always have these and my being there did not dredge out new ones from my subconscious. It was kind of disappointing. Maybe, it was because I spent too little time there this trip, only a day and working most of it.

In the evening, the ADM manager who was born in this town took us to his favourite restaurant – Harry’s. As students, we were too poor to dine in this fine place then. I was delighted to be assailed by the sombre atmosphere of a place leaden with history. I imagined the dining hall now populated by happy diners filled with water in the great Manhattan flood of 1951 and the restoration that made it what it is today. We were led to a private room at the very end separated by a glass partition.

The girl who consumed appetizer, dinner, dessert and book.

While waiting for our food, we chatted with our cheerful waitress and learned that she is from Australia. The world has gotten a whole lot smaller. My gaze wandered and rested on a girl seated in the most secluded corner of the restaurant. She was reading a book with her back towards me totally engrossed. I observed her throughout dinner from the appetizer to the main course and dessert. She has a good appetite and seemed to enjoy her food but she continued reading in between bites.

She and the book she was reading intrigued me. To my scale of attractiveness, next to a girl with a musical instrument (see “Did you fall in love with the music or the musician?”); is a girl with a book. Even after they cleared her table, she continued reading. As we were leaving the restaurant, I went over and asked her –

“Hi, I noticed that you were thoroughly enjoying this book. May I know what it is you are reading?
She looked up with a smile and said “Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It is good.”
“I am sure. I must get that book. Thank you”.

We left Manhattan the next morning and that evening in Kansas City, I asked the cashier in Barnes & Nobles if the book is in stock and she let me upstairs and found for me the box set of the Mistborn Trilogy. On the way out, I picked up “World War Z” which I read on the long flight back to Malaysia and which turned out to be the my most surprising read of the year. I would like to tell her that – it is good too. I enjoyed picking my souvenir this way.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Nothing Heavier Than Words

I've had just enough time to...   carry something heavier than words

Taken in a small village in Ubud, Bali of strong women with strong neck

This load is not heavy
I’ve carried heavier still
Earth, stone and ore
Sand that got into your eyes
Salt that made you cry

I can still smile
Carry my head high
See that child running there
He is mine

I carry these loads
So that his head will carry -

Nothing heavier than words

I stayed in a small resort among the padi fields of Ubud, Bali where you have to travel through the village to get there. One morning when I walked outside, I saw the women of the villagers carrying large pails of black sand on their head to fill a field. The loads looked very heavy and I wondered how they can balance it on their head when I will have trouble lugging them with my hands. And they have to walk quite a distance to and fro for the whole day for many days that will be needed to fill the field. What a tough way to earn a supplementary income – all for the sake of their family but they can still smile. This reminded me of the thousands of tablecloths (I hated red chili stains on white tablecloths as they are the most difficult to get rid of) my mum has to wash to give us a proper education

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Would You Be A Butterfly Or Would You Just Be You?

I've had just enough time to...   have a butterfly dream

Taken in the Kota Kinabalu Highlands Park, Sabah

I dreamt I was a butterfly
And it dreamt it was me
And each thought he has the better dream

From flowers to flowers I flew
It walked through the woods on my feet
I fluttered and rode on the wind
It swam with graceful ease
I tasted nectar fresh on the flowers
It tasted ice-cream cold from the fridge
Lying on the grass, it admired the million stars
I marvelled at the thousand suns perched on a leaf

Then we were before Him
And He gently asked –
Would you be a butterfly
Or would you just be you?

We have often heard how nice it will be if we are a butterfly or a bird. Who wouldn’t want to fly? But before we attempt to take to the sky, have we made full use of our God given gifts? Have we used our legs to walk through the woods in the freshness of spring, in the shade of summer, in the colours of autumn, in the silence of winter? When was the last time we greeted the sunrise, watched the sun sinking below the line, laid on the grass and looked up at the night sky. If our feet have not felt the coarseness of sand, the clinging mud, the dampness of wet grass, what business have we to fly?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Liebster Blog Award: 11 Answers for 11 Questions – Part II

I've had just enough time to...   answer more questions...

Taken in a busy street in Kathmandu, Nepal while Daddy is cooking and I am looking

So I have to look for the answers for the next 6 questions for the Liebster Award (see Part I h...ere). There are many ways we can look for answers, the most important of which is to start looking and to look everywhere. You never know where the answers may come from – 

While Daddy was cooking 
I was looking at the blond 
And the blond was looking at God 
And God was looking at what’s cooking on the stove 
We were all looking 
Except Daddy who was cooking

The last dance of the concubine... 

6. What movie would you recommend for viewing? 
I enjoyed many types of movies from Monster slugfest such as Pacific Rim to Despicable Me to Art movies that no one wants to see. I’ve been to one movie where there were only 3 pairs of lovers and me and I was watching… the movie of course. 

Why “Farewell to myConcubine”?
Because this is one of the most tragic and romantic tale of ancient China telling the story of how Xiang Yu, the overlord of Western Chu sacrificed a kingdom to save his concubine. At the eve of his defeat, the king bade an emotional farewell to his concubine who performed a sword dance before slitting her own throat when he was distracted. The movie took it further and weaved the tale into the parallel lives of two modern Opera stars playing on larger themes of birth and death; love, loyalty and betrayal. It is the only Chinese film to win the top prize in the Cannes festival.

Under the century old rain trees bordering the Taiping lakes, I sang... 

7. Would you be able to sing on stage in front of hundreds of people?
I can. But with my singing, why would anyone want to ask me to? I am an introvert but if need be, I can stand in front of a crowd, preferably not singing but that too if I have to earn my keep. But I have always imagined what it is like to sing like Susan Boyle.

Why “Under the Rain Trees,I Sang the Ash Grove”?

Because while some people sang in the bath room, that is not enough privacy for me. My neighbours may complain. So I sang under the rain trees where I bother no one and no one bothers me. I may bother a few squirrels but they are not known to complain

Up before sunrise to welcome a new Himalayan dawn...

8. When you start your morning? 
When I woke up, which is usually between 7.00 to 7.30 am. I put in long hours at work typically 10 to 12 hours a day so I don’t use the alarm. I found myself under-productive when I wake up earlier than when my body tells me to.

Why “A New Himalayan Dawn”?
Because though I’m a late sleeper and not an early person, I will make the effort to wake up early if there is a reason to. Like that early morning in the Himalayan highlands, I was up before the sunrise; went up to the roof to do meditative dancing while waiting for the first crack of dawn. It was my most memorable early morning.

If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of falling leaves... 

9. What music do you listen to in the evenings?
In the early evening, I will go up alone to the office roof. There, I will do my fast walk or slow jog to the accompaniment of English or K-pop fast dance music that my younger friends downloaded for me. Maybe the crows don’t like my choice of music for they sometimes cawed loudly and as many as twenty can take to circling over my head. 

Why “The sound of falling leaves”?
Because when I walk or jog in the park in the weekends, I leave my ipod at home. I prefer listening to the sound of Nature and need silence to hear the sound of falling leaves.

So I kissed the frog that talked 
And it became a prince and that is that. 

Nature in disarray 
Diamonds every where 

10. Who are you: a physicist or a lyric?
I am said to have a logical mind when it comes to work. But every now and then, I went dreamy dreamy like and strayed into some strange territories where the laws of physics don’t apply so I think that would disqualify me from being a scientist. However I have challenged a large scientific organization before with my intuition and won the argument on the basis of science :D.

Why “I Kiss A Frog ThatBecame A Prince and That is That” & “Nature in Disarray, DiamondsEverywhere”
Because what better ways to explain my illogical mind than to kiss a frog and to find diamonds in a padi field.

When the lady met the elephant on a narrow bridge by the river Kwai... 

11. What is your favorite animal? 
Dogs and cats are claimed by four-fifth of the world’s population so to impress people I decide to choose something BIG. And what bigger animal is there on land other than the elephant? I would have chosen dinosaurs if they are still alive. 

Why “The Lady Met TheElephant On A Rainy Day”?
I’ve a number of elephant posts including “I Dreamt of Elephants” and “The Monk Who Would Not Ride On AnElephant but my favourite is the above when I was there one early morning by the bank of River Kwai where I witnessed the poignant scene (to me) of the lady meeting the elephant on a narrow bridge.

There. These are my 11 answers to the 11 questions. In a coming post, I will ask my own 11 questions the “A Thousand Reasons” way. If anyone is game to have a crack at them and have a blog, I will nominate you for the Liebster award. Have fun! 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A Child Becomes A Man

I've had just enough time to...   see a child becomes a man

Taken at a temple in the Durbar Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal...

Yesterday a child starts a fire
The smoke rises
An old man puts it out

The master said –
Neither be too happy nor too sad
Don’t be so attached
For change is the season
Not the reason
A child becomes a man

...where I saw an old man who was once a child

Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. Whether it starts and ends and begins again, man’s life is a straight line from birth to death, a constant change – with an end? But what makes a child a man, the wrinkles on his skin, the years of his life or the wisdom he gained? If he is wise, he is a man. If he is not, he is still a man. What then must he seek in the midst of these relentless changes? How does he find his balance? Where does he seek his centre in the turmoil of his joy and sorrow? I saw the old man who was once a child. I saw the child who will be an old man. I see myself in all of them.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Liebster Blog Award: 11 Answers for 11 Questions – Part I

I've had just enough time to...   receive an award for blogging!

It is not the Oscar but it will do, taken in Kuala Lumpur of a recycled statue

“A Thousand Reasons” was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Alena, a teacher of Belarusian language and literature who maintained an excellent blog “My Native Belarus” (please check it out). 

What is the Liebster Blog Award? “The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. This award is the “favorite blog award” then. The rules for this one state that you answer the 11 questions asked of you by the Blogger who gave you this award.” 

Well, the Liebster Award is unfortunately not the Nobel Price or even Oscar of Blogging. (*smile*) If you are interested you can check out the Liebster Award’s origin in this very informative post of “Sopphey Says”. Still, it is nice to be recognized by a fellow blogger that your blog is one of her favourite. Thanks, Alena.

So in the spirit of things, I will answer these 11 questions in “A Thousand Reasons” traditional and unique way. An image and a former post (click the links) with explanations to answer each of the 11 questions. So here goes –

Living well in an imperfect world is my motto.

1. Your life motto?
I like what Mr. Spock does, lifts up one hand, divide his fingers and said “Live long and prosper” so I have a somewhat similar motto – “Live an interesting life”. If you can’t, then try to make it as interesting as you can wherever you are.

Why “The Beauty of Imperfection”?
Because it encompassed my principle of living an interesting life in an imperfect world. To take beauty where I find it, to look for it when it when it is not apparent to the casual eyes, and to know I will find it if I just look hard enough. To live instead of waiting only to find -

Alas, I realized too late –
I was only meant to live

Freedom is the ability to cross the road when you want to.

2. What do you mean the word "freedom"?
The first thing I learned in Economics is the differentiation between “Needs” and “Wants”. Needs are what is needed for survival. Wants are what we desire. To have true freedom, we must first be free of the essentials of need to survive. After that, freedom to me is the ability to do what I want without hurting others. And the freedom to not allow others to hurt me. Idealism such as freedom can only survive after the needs have been reasonably fulfilled.

Because the monkeys have the freedom to do as they pleased including crossing or not crossing the road. But even they have to conform to the rules of the tribe and abide by them – freedom within boundary is the only true form of freedom or we are wilder than the monkeys.

The Minions know more about wardrobe than I do.

3. Name 5 things in your wardrobe, without which you cannot live.
I swear this is a more difficult question than “freedom”! For a man that is. For there is nothing in the wardrobe I cannot NOT live with except maybe one. Like the Minions Sang “Underwear! Like the moon and the star above, without them, naked I swear – underwear!”

Why “Minions Rule the World”?
Because they answered the difficult question more eloquently with a song than I can with words -

It is a miracle I found this Buddha by the wood in Munich

4. Do you believe in miracles?
I am not really a religious man. More spiritual than religious if you must. I don’t know if I believe in miracles. But I do pray for miracles to occur – mostly, to help someone beyond help. I am not even sure which God I prayed to but I prayed to him to deliver. It does not make me a believer should the miracle comes true, I do not blame Him when it doesn’t. If that makes me human or hypocritical, you are right.

Why “Buddha By The Wood”?
Because, the last thing I would expect to find why wandering in an apartment block in Munich; is –

When I found Buddha on a walk
In a distant land
By a pile of cut wood
Sitting there, serenely 
Where he belongs

The century old rain tree that soothes my heart.

5. What kind of tree you associate yourself?
The rain tree for I’m most at peace under its spreading branches and million tiny leaves. Whether when the sun blinks at me through the tiny leaves or when rain drops dripped down to soak me, I always feel a closeness with the rain trees more than any other trees.

Why “Saving the Rain Trees of Taiping?”
Because in it I wrote –

The trees soothe my heart with a gift of memory
That may not last as long as the trees
Only as long as I live…

These are the answers to the first 5 questions. Come back for the next 6 answers :)
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