Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas past and present

I enjoy the Christmas lights, the festive mood, the sudden rush to see friends before the year closed, the exchange of presents, the outpouring of kindness in thoughts and deeds to everyone.

This time, for the first time in many years, I go back to two special people who are no longer around to make Christmas the cheery season that it is.

The grandmother in Bakersfield who baked her special rum soaked Christmas cakes for so many people. I remember especially her three young grandchildren ripping into the Christmas presents; the tinsel, ribbons and gift wraps quickly covering the floor.

And the man who always put up the best Christmas decorations and tree that he could for his grown children and young grandchildren even when they were not by his side for Christmas.

While I gather the family and friends for Christmas revelry, I am also thinking of loved ones who I shared Christmas with all those years ago.

And I am grateful to have them always, if only in my memory anymore.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Pass

For the first time in six years, I have to give Mr Ropp's twice-a-year warehouse sale a miss...

Look at the dates! I cannot get away, even for the usual 3-day 2-night turnaround trips I have been doing.

More than pasing up on the fun of buying up beautiful clothes for the friends and myself, I will be pasing up on seeing the Paul Ropp warehouse store staff. 

More than staying away this one time, it will be the beginning of staying away in the future as saying "No" becomes easier in the future.

What were you thinking, Mr Ropp?

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Hundred Days later

I cant be contented with yesterdays glory
I cant live on promises winter to spring
Today is my moment, now is my story
Ill laugh and Ill cry and Ill sing

Father closed his eyes for the last time in early September.

A hundred days on, and I still find myself struggling to come to grips with lies, deceit and betrayal in the circle of people I least expected - Father's favourite son, his wife, his siblings.

For a hundred days, several ugly scenes kept replaying in a loop in my mind. I listened to platitudes about forgiveness and understanding: I heard nothing even vaguely close to an admission of wrong-doing. 

For a hundred days, I searched my soul for an answer as to where and how to go from here.

I know now. 

I will never forget the fact that these people committed an act of extreme cruelty - they denied a dying man his last wish which was to go home. The son had larcenous intents, the wife was selfish and did not want to be inconvenienced with a dying husband, and the siblings were acting out long-held resentment against Father. 

Time will never soften the pain I felt when I realised too late that I was blind-sided by trickery and treachery. 

This much I know: if the opportunity ever comes that I can hurt this son, wife and siblings as much as they have hurt Father, I will have no hesitation to act upon it.

Until then, these people cease to exist any more for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Me in Liwan in Quangzhou

Guangzhou is not a tourist destination - it is unmistakably a hub for wholesalers and manufacturers of consumer products.

There are only two "happening" activities in this city.

There is (of course) the Chinese New Year.

Then there is the Canton Fair, held twice a year in the spring and fall. This is a period to avoid if you are not a industry buyer or exhibitor.

Notwithstanding all this, going to Guangzhou suits me right now. I was there 3 times in the last 3 months.

I love staying in the Liwan district - it reminds me of our Chinatown/Tanjong Pagar district in the 70s, only much bigger. There is no need to travel any place for meals - small eateries within walking distance of the hotel offer comfort food that brings back memories of unfussy, unassuming nourishment for the stomach and the soul. Traditional Chinese confectionaries that still bake up simple old-school biscuits like 雞蛋餅 (egg cookies sans butter) that make me smile as I recall favourite snacks from long ago . Small shops manned by inter-generational family members peddling unrelated wares. Toddlers and young children watching people and activities with curiosity and happy grins. Cantonese dialect flowing easily and naturally in snatches of conversation as I poke in every nook and cranny of the neighbourhood.

Me. In Liwan. In Guangzhou. Where I re-live the simple happiness of my childhood years.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Seven months on

I am back.I am whole again.

It's been seven months since I last posted anything. Seven months of disappointments with certain persons, many setbacks at persuasion to seek resolution and reset off-track decisions. I finally accept that certain persons cannot be saved from themselves and the only thing left to do is let events run their collision course.

In these seven months, I sought consolation for my troubled mind and spirit.In these seven months, I made short trips China. And on one of these trips, I got reacquainted with a long forgotten love - semi-precious gemstones.

The Liwan district in Guangzhou is the place to pick up any quantity of any gemstone imaginable. I came back with strands (read kilos) of  happy beads, nuggets and rocks.

I make stretch-bracelets when I need quiet and focus. Many of my creations are on the wrists of friends, old and new-found, women I have just met who needed some cheering up.

To see big smiles and brightly lit eyes - I know I am finally, really and truly, back and whole again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I don't like the woman

I didn't like the woman way back when.

I didn't like the woman through the years.

So I haven't seen the woman for the last few years.

Two months ago, I heard she was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer, was being treated with chemotherapy and radiation, and was not expected to live beyond 15 months.

I felt badly for her. But I did nothing about trying to contact her - she lives and works out of the country, and comes back frequently on weekends.

She was back all last week, staying at a friend's home. Said friend called me to come over for dinner with the woman.

I told myself to be nice, hold my tongue, smile and nod in sympathy and agreement.

She is still ever the loud-mouthed shameless self-promoter I disliked from way back when. All night, I listened to the woman tell me how great a person she is - as a helpful friend, a hot lover, a doting mother, a filial daughter, a long-suffering wife (twice), an understanding ex-wife (twice), a dedicated employee, a pious person etc etc etc.

I held my tongue, I smiled and nodded in sympathy. I was nice.

At the end of the evening, I felt sad.

For her - because I'd like to think there are many people who really and truly like her, but I have serious doubts about that.

For myself - because I am probably seeing her for the last time. And I still do not like the woman.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I look forward to this

I still look forward to this.Not the factory sale, per se. I love Paul Ropp creations, but I have p-l-e-n-t-y Paul Ropp clothes in my closet; I still have several in their original wrapping. I have also not come back with big hauls the last few times. Maybe Paul Ropp's creative genius has taken off in a different direction and I am just too stubborn to go along.Yet, I still look forward to this.

It is an opportunity to see some dear friends who will never travel anywhere. It is also a walk down memory lane, back to youthful days of living and loving fearlessly. I still recall watching the stunning sunsets, as the lover and I talked of possibilities of being this happy forever, together.

Many wishes and dreams from those days have come to pass. The Bohemian spirit in me still awakes on that island.
For as long as I still feel all this, I look forward to revisiting Bali. For the friends, the memories, the unbeaten free spirit.

Yes, I still look forward to this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Night of Wine and Dine

Bottom left picture - from left:
Pathy (sommelier, Table@7)
Daniel Chathiard (owner, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte)
Eugenia & Karl (owners, Table@7)
Clinton Ang (owner, Cornerstone Wines)

It is a stretch to find me at wine-pairing dinners. For the simple reason that I am allergic to alcohol.

But because it is the folks at Table@7 who asked.

And because we have fond memories of our dinner at the Chateau Smith-Haut Lafitte.

We went.

It was, of course, another thoroughly enjoyable evening at our favourite restaurant, with some of our favourite people in the F&B industry...

Monday, November 07, 2011


was the month
I took a short break, in of all places, China.

Specifically, Beijing and Harbin. More of that later.

I have also taken the time to sort out myself. Specifically, to sort out my relationship with various people.

Everyone out there is either (a) my-type-of-people and we get along famously from the first, or (b) not my-type-of-people, but having evolved into the "nice" person I want to be, I "find" reasons to accept these people.

Of the (b) category people, I now know in myself that it is a lost cause to make unacceptable people acceptable. So I leave them behind (figuratively and literally).

And that does not make me "un-nice".

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I have used the time to keep counsel with myself. I am taking longer than I planned to. But it was necessary, and it has been good.

Now I will be away for two weeks.

I will be ready to resume posting when I get back.

I am otherwise doing well, and have been busy with various friends and activities.

But more of everything later.