Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Power of Money vs Love

My late father used to say that people generally seek three things in life—Money, Position and Fame. According to him, some people work very hard to earn money; and then with money they can buy position. When they have achieved wealth and holding high position in society, they would eventually get the fame too. On the other hand, some people start off with getting the position first, and from there they get the money, and then the fame. And finally, some people would have fame first, which they then use to get the money and position. But no matter how you see it, eventually it almost always boils down to those three things that people are seeking in life.

Not many of my readers knew what my father was like. He was blessed with the gift of charm. I don't mean charm as in being handsome; rather, he had the ability to speak well. Maybe if he were to have told a cow that it could climb up a tree, the cow would be convinced too! Which is strange when you come to think of it, because my father lived a life of failures upon failures, and he left a trail of destruction behind. As you can probably guess by now, despite his way with words, I don't always agree with his opinions; or at least I don't always agree fully

I find that those three things that he spoke of in the opening paragraph above are hard to disagree with, but it's somewhat disturbing to me that Love is not included there. Although I agree that money is quite a big deal in life—people with money usually have power—but sometimes money just can't buy love.

I read with interest this article of an example where one is willing to forego wealth for love. Angeline was willing to give up on her inheritance for the love of her life. I can't help thinking that perhaps her father, Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, despite being such a successful and wealthy man, is in a strange way a poor man, really!

In due course my daughter will grow up some day, and there is just a chance that the man she chooses may not suit the bill of a man that I consider worthy of her. Maybe a truck driver or a manual labourer or a garbage collector. Perhaps I can foresee a life of hardship waiting for her? How would I react then?

Well, to start with, I don't have anywhere near the kind of wealth of Tan Sri Khoo for my daughter to inherit. But I will try very hard to talk her out of it. In the end if she is adamant, then I will let her do it. For it is her life, and that is a choice for her to make; not mine. When and if things don't work out, if I'm still alive, I will be there to support her. If by then I'm no longer alive, well then, that's the mistake that she's got to solve as best as she can. After all, we all make mistakes sometimes.

Twenty-five years ago, I was a nobody. I had nothing to shout about when I met my then girlfriend's father to seek his blessings for his daughter's hand. Before that, I was aware that I was the less preferred candidate. But her father was admirable; he put the happiness of his daughter before his own. When the time comes for my turn, I would also give my blessings to any man of my daughter's choice. If she is happy, then I will be too. 

Angeline Khoo is obviously happy with her choice, and I dare say Tan Sri Khoo is happy with his money too. But if it were me, I hope that when I die, I'm rich in love, maybe not so much rich in money; although of course if I can be rich in both of those, that would be even better!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Domesticating Wild Animals

A friend once told me of a very cruel joke. He said when a Filipino is put into a boat, he is a fisherman. But when you have ten of them in a boat, they are a bunch of pirates!

It is my firm belief that people of whichever race and family background have a fair share of rotten apples in them; not just the Filipinos. I've always noticed a peculiar human behavior—when they are alone and without the power to do things, they are generally more timid. But when they are in a group or have the power and strength, they will suddenly have the courage to act; and sometimes impose their will upon others too. 

Come to think of it, in that sense humans are not very different from animals after all. Have you ever seen how a dog, say, would be timid when it's alone? Yet that same dog can suddenly become fierce when it finds itself in a pack? It is the same with other animals like lions and buffaloes.

Thankfully, however, humans are generally more intelligent than animals. We are civilized—or at least I hope so—and one aspect of being civilized is that our acts are not necessarily governed by our animal instinct that I speak of above.

We have all experienced that feeling when watching movies such as Superman and Spider-Man. These super heroes have special powers which they can use on other humans with serious and far-reaching consequences. Yet they do not abuse their powers. The movie makers have the habit of teasing us, the viewers, by inserting parts where these characters are being bullied. Just watch any Superman or Spider-Man movie, for example, and you are bound to find such "getting bullied" parts. Yet they have amazing control by refraining from engaging in a fight.

The truth is that there is that animal instinct in all of us to fight back; and that instinct is even greater if we know that we can win. That is why many people are feeling some sort of frustration—although perhaps in a pleasant way—when Superman or Spider-Man refuse to engage in a fight with the bullies. 

Now a part of being civilized is about having the sound mind to control what we can do to harm others. In other words, controlling our animal instinct. As a parent, I try very hard to instill in my daughter the habit of acting based on sound judgement, and not based on the animal instinct. Act because it is the right thing to do, and not just because you can do it.

I think at this stage, many of you are wondering what's all this about? Why am I suddenly rambling about animal instinct? Well, it's just something that crossed my mind when I was reading this article. Some kids are feeling great and above others because they have the might to hurt others. Little do they know that actually they are so small. In the grand scheme of life as a whole; of this world; of whether there is respect from others, they have nothing! But some day who knows, there is just a chance that they, too, will become civilized human beings. I hope for their sake they will...


Monday, July 10, 2017

Return of the Monitor Lizard

It's been almost 5 years ago when I posted "Surviving A Heart Attack" in this blog. It was a special post because while the story tells of how I survived a heart attack, many of my readers also almost died of a heart attack due to uncontrollable laughter.

Well, this is going to be a fairly short post from me after a long break from blogging. But I just want to report that another monitor lizard has visited JJ's toilet this evening. And this time JJ was in time to take a photo of the visitor.


It's kinda sad, however, that it's JJ who found the lizard in the toilet bowl. I'm thinking it would have been very interesting to know how Mia would have reacted if it were her who found the lizard in the toilet bowl. Well, who knows, maybe in another 5 years from now, there will be yet another visit from yet another monitor lizard; and I swear this time it's most certainly Mia's turn to greet the visitor!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Finisher Medals & T-Shirts—Who Deserves Them?

A few months ago, my wife and I joined the so-called Ultra Aquathlon at Pantai Klebang, Melaka. It was the first time that the event was organized there, and it wasn't a very big crowd. Before that my wife had never been to Melaka, and she thought it's a good excuse to visit the place.

Fate would have it that the size of participation was such that there were only 2 participants in her category—something that we did not know until we were back home to KK. My wife isn't a strong athlete, and in each race that she joins, she's bound to barely finish within the cutoff time. But since there were only 2 participants in her category in the Melaka event, she ended up getting 1st runner-up, even though she was actually last (of the only two participants)! The funny thing was that we didn't even know all this at the end of the race. We had to rush to the airport to catch a flight home that same afternoon, so we did not stay for the prize-giving ceremony.

However, when the results were officially published, we were amused to find that she got 1st runner-up and was entitled to a trophy. She was excited, and asked me if I could contact the organizer to arrange the delivery of the trophy. I duly contacted the organizer. I did so via Whatsapp and email. I agreed to pay for the delivery cost too. I was then instructed to contact one of the organizer's staff, which I did. From the exchanges of numerous Whatsapp messages and emails over a period of several weeks, I was repeatedly assured that the trophy would be sent to us. But excuses upon excuses, ranging from some confusions with the race results, to difficulties in locating the trophy, eventually having that trophy damaged in the store. In the end, it became obvious to me that the trophy was never intended to be delivered. So I gave up trying.

My view is that, regardless of the poor timing of the participant, if he or she really deserves a trophy, medal or finisher T-shirt, the organizer should see to it that these are duly delivered to that participant.

Now in the recently-concluded Borneo International Marathon (BIM) last Sunday, we had a similar situation at the end of the race. There were some runners whom did not finish the race within the cutoff time. Yet they demanded for the finisher medals and T-shirts, on the excuse that some of them did finish the 42km, although beyond the 7 hours allocated time.

I can understand the disappointment of these slow finishers, but rules are rules. I think the whole problem arose because many of these people came into the race with the wrong idea in the first place. They paid for the entry fee, and in their mind, they're paying for the medals and T-shirts. The truth is that they're not really paying for the medals and T-shirts; rather for the OPPORTUNITY to challenge themselves to finish the race within the cutoff time. This is a race, and time is an important factor—so get over it.

No—I'm afraid the finisher medals and T-shirts must be earned; not an automatic entitlement regardless of finishing time. For if that were the case, then there is no meaning to delay their delivery until after the race. It would have been much more efficient to put them in the race pack together with the bibs. 

Running 42km, even if it takes 12 hours to finish, is an achievement to be proud of, and we're not trying to belittle such an achievement. Just that it's still NOT within 7 hours, which is the cutoff for this race. Bear in mind that the Macau Marathon, for example, has a cutoff of 5 hours only. May I suggest that before registering for a race, it's a good idea to read the rules of the race first, including the cutoff time. We are not all born long-distance runners, but 7 hours is quite generous, provided that one trains for it.

I can understand why my wife is disappointed for not getting her trophy for the Pantai Klebang event because she really deserves that trophy. At the same time, I can also understand why these people whom did not finish the marathon within 7 hours cutoff in BIM last Sunday felt disappointed, but unfortunately they did not deserve the finisher medals and T-shirts. If my wife had been running the marathon in BIM last Sunday, and she failed to finish within 7 hours, it wouldn't have been an issue to me if she did no get the medal and T-shirt.

Whatever we want in life, we must work hard for it—we need to earn it. We must be prepared to accept the reality that sometimes we will fail. We work harder the next time. Sometimes it takes a few tries; and sometimes we keep trying until we die without achieving success. That's fine, as long as when and if we finally achieved it, it's because we have earned it.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Bragging Rights, Recognition & Material Rewards

For a few years now I've been wanting to join the Labuan Cross Channel Swim, but somehow there's always something that prevented me from joining. I've never been any good in swimming, especially in the open water. Each time I join a race involving swimming, it'd be a matter of survival. But I challenge myself to conquer the sport anyway, and so today I registered for the Labuan event.

I posted about the Labuan swim on my facebook wall, and then a friend commented, saying that the event offers neither a finisher medal nor certificate; hence even if one were to be able to finish the race, nobody would believe. I responded that I'm joining the race to challenge myself—that I have it in me to finish the race. If I can help it, I want to be able to say to myself at my death bed that I've lived life to my highest potential. Even if the best that I can do is to come in last in the Labuan Swim, it doesn't really matter, for I have conquered my fear of the open water. There's no regrets even if my best isn't good enough for others. 

As a matter of fact, that is my attitude for everything else in life. Whenever I set my mind to do something, I'd like to do it to the best of my ability. If I can somehow win, that is even better. If not, then that's OK too.

Nevertheless, one is after all only human, and sometimes one craves for recognition too. One challenges oneself to conquer a seemingly impossible feat, and then having achieved it, one wants to brag about that achievement. Having others recognizing my achievements is nice. Sometimes people look up to me as their role model; they become inspired to achieve their dreams too, whatever those are. But I've never forgotten why I'm doing all these things, and that is always to challenge myself and to prove to myself that I can do it. 

That is why, I'm joining the Labuan Swim in spite of the fact that the event offers no finisher medals for the participants. When and if I can finish the race, I'll be happy even if nobody believes that I've finished it.

That is not to say that I wouldn't accept a finisher medal if there is one. Of course I would accept it as a souvenir. If there is a finisher T-shirt and monetary rewards from the organizer, then why not? But to me, those are not the main reasons why I'm joining.

Incidentally, I visited the facebook page of the Borneo International Marathon recently where the organizer posted the picture of the finisher T-shirt for the full marathon (42km), and then found many negative comments because no finisher T-shirts will be given for the half marathon. Comparisons are made with the Miri Marathon; and if not wrong the Kuching Marathon too.

Some people join races to challenge themselves to the feat, but that seems to be not the main reason they're joining. Apparently the main reason is for the recognition by means of material rewards such the finisher T-shirts or even cash prizes. I have in fact joined several other races such as the Macau Marathon and Hong Kong Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon, and not even the full marathon finishers received the finisher T-shirts. I'm OK with that though; I wasn't complaining.

Notwithstanding all that I've said above, sometimes I think there is virtue in providing some attractive monetary rewards, especially for the local participants, because I feel that that can attract local talents. After all, I'm fairly certain that there are untapped talents out there; people with some natural flair in running, but they see no reason to train to win races for mere medals in the end. But if there is money in it, then that might be an inducement to bring out all those hidden talents.

However, for the vast majority of us pencil pushers in the office, we can only dream of winning; and we only get to admire those who end up on the podium after each race. We only get to click the "like" button on facebook when photos of the winners are posted. Let us be happy that we have a healthy body that can conquer seemingly impossible distances on foot. Never mind the medals, the certificates, and the finisher T-shirts. Let those be additional sweeteners; while they are nice to have, they shouldn't be the main reasons for us to do this!


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Expectation

I saw a friend post something on her facebook wall about cooking at home, saying that her husband did not complain about her cooking. She was recently married, and I couldn't help but make a funny comment on her post. But then upon further reflection, I thought that's a good excuse for me to write about my own experience on the subject. Hence this post.

You see, many years ago, I married the girl of my dream. I met her for the first time about 3 years before that, and even then I knew she was the one for me; I knew that it was just a matter of time before I would propose to her. Like all newly-weds, I felt like I was the luckiest man alive. She wasn't perfect, of course—after all, nobody is—but she was perfect to me as my wife.

I suspect most people, when they get married, would try very hard to be "perfect" for their spouses. That may be a good thing; and that may also be a bad thing, depending on how one looks at it. One of the things that I was surprised to discover about my wife when I first married her, was that she did not know how to cook. I don't even mean not knowing how to cook as in not knowing how to cook well. I really mean that she did not know how to cook, period! Throughout the 3 years or so that I've known her before that, I never did see her cook. But cooking was not important to me anyway. I was surprised, yes, but it was not a big deal to me.

She was brave enough to give it a try though. And after turning the kitchen into something akin to a war zone, I was rather surprised and amused to see what looked like vegetables served on the dining table. Oh it was such awful cooking. 

Now if there's anything that's extremely important to me in a husband-wife relationship, above everything else, it must be total honesty. And that is something very difficult to find in almost all women! Women in general can't escape from the crime of lying; it is in their DNA. Some of them on petty issues. For example, I know a woman who bought an expensive handbag, and when questioned by her husband, she said that that handbag was a present from her sister. I suppose she lied in order to avoid arguments? Petty kind of lies, sometimes seem harmless, but I just can't stand women lying to me, however harmless or insignificant—ever!

So anyway, in all honesty, I said to my wife that I appreciated her attempt at cooking, but her cooking was just awful. I said that half jokingly. And then to my horror, she was totally devastated. She cried for hours and hours and locked herself up in the bedroom. I think it had nothing to do with feeling ashamed for not knowing how to cook as a woman. Rather, she thought that as my wife, I'd expected her to be good at cooking. Truth be told, when I married her, I was never under any disillusion—I accepted her as an imperfect person. Sometimes in life, it's all those little imperfections that are the essence of true perfection!

When she'd calmed down, I explained to her that her cooking did not change the way I felt for her one bit; she was still the perfect one for me. That when I married her, I had accepted her with all her flaws; just as she had accepted me with all my flaws too. There was no expectation to live up to; we were what we were, and we accepted each other as we were. 

That brought back the smile to her face, and in the following weeks after that incident, I had an enjoyable time teaching her how to cook on a daily basis. She eventually became quite good at it too, but that's probably because she had a good teacher?

I'm not saying that there are no expectations in my marriage. Of course there are at least some. I'd expect, for example, my wife to be unconditionally loyal to me. God help me, I can't imagine what will happen to me if she ends up running away with another man. I'd like to think that my expectations from my marriage are "reasonable" ones, if there's such a thing. But for the most part, I just want her to be herself, because after all, that's the person I married all those years ago.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kisah Pagar & Burung Selanjutnya...

Saya menulis mengenai berbagai-bagai topik di dalam blog ini—ada kisah yang lucu, ada yang sedih, ada yang sekadar berkongsi pengalaman dan sebagainya. Setelah beberapa tahun, saya dah tidak dapat ingat kesemua rencana-rencana yang ditulis, dan kadang-kadang ada pembaca yang baru terjumpa blog ini, agaknya melalui pencarian topik-topik tertentu di Google Search?

Di antara rencana menarik yang saya tulis ialah "Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi", pada bulan Disember 2007. Beberapa tahun selepas itu, mungkin ada pelawat baru ke blog ini yang kebetulan terjumpa rencana tersebut, kemudian memberi komen bahawa peribahasa yang saya gunakan itu salah, sebab pagar tak boleh makan padi. Menurutnya sepatutnya "harapkan pegar, pegar makan padi" yang betul, sebab pegar ialah nama sejenis burung yang memakan padi.

Saya tidak membalas komen tersebut sehingga hampir 2 tahun kemudian dalam rencana bertajuk "Kisah Pagar & Burung", dalam mana saya cuba memberi hujah mengapa saya akan kekal menggunakan PAGAR dan bukan PEGAR. Lepas itu senyap sehingga baru-baru ini apabila ada lagi pengunjung baru yang tiba ke blog ini yang memberi komen yang hampir serupa dengan komen yang pertama itu. Berikutan itu, saya ada berbalas-balas komen dengan pengunjung tersebut (sila baca bahagian komen untuk rencana "Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi" di atas).

Baru-baru ini saya sendiri mencari topik PAGAR dan PEGAR melalui pencarian Google, dan mendapat rencana ini, yang disiarkan di Sinar Online. Nampaknya ada juga orang lain yang bersependapat dengan saya, dan dia ialah orang Melayu.

Mungkinkah hujah-hujah yang saya berikan itu tidak meyakinkan pembaca; atau mungkinkah sebab saya bukan orang Melayu dan dianggap tidak layak untuk beri pendapat mengenai peribahasa Melayu? Justeru itu segala hujah-hujah saya ditolak? 

Mereka yang betul-betul kenal diri saya pastinya tahu penguasaan bahasa Melayu saya bukannya calang-calang juga. Namun demikian, kalaupun tidak sanggup nak baca hujah-hujah saya, diharapkan pembaca sanggup baca hujah-hujah yang diberikan oleh Encik Muhammad Daud dalam rencana Sinar Online di atas.

Saya bukan memaksa orang lain bersetuju dengan pendapat saya. Saya cuma menjawab komen dan kongsi pendapat saja. Kalau pembaca terima, saya gembira. Kalau tak terimapun saya gembira juga, sebab masing-masing berhak mempunyai pendapat masing-masing.