Passionate About Life | Abode

Monday, January 30, 2006

+ Nature | Morning Song

View from my bedroom window at 9:00am

Woke up this morning to the tune of birds singing their morning song.

Wonderful way of waking up.

The sun was about to break its rays above the Poi Cheng Primary School's Hall roof and into our bedroom. The clock on the bedside table displayed 7:33am. Still early.

The morning was just warming up. Full of potential.

It is a Monday, the 2nd day of Chinese New Year. The first of two public holidays to replace the actual holidays that befalls on Saturday and Sunday.

Everybody had a good celebration the last two days that most were not stirring this early morning.

The streets were deserted. No humming sound was heard from the school's air-conditioning, no music blasting from the neighbours' radios, no noise pollution.

Only just the tunes of many different types of birds were heard. Heaven! I was so delightedly I smiled before I got out of bed.

Wife was still asleep, so was my son, sprawlled in his bed. He is quite tall now, I noticed, as he has now fill the length of his bed.

Bedroom MorningSun
Morning sun coming through my bedroom window

I stood by the window listening to the birds songs. I stood there for the longest of time.

There was a bird singing in particular that I have never heard its song before, not even when I was young, living in a kampong or village when there was nature at its best.

I do not think it came from someone's caged bird as the sound moved around from tree to tree as if. Very enchanting song, distinctive amidst all those lovely songs they sing so well.

Maybe that particular bird has been singing every morning or maybe it was a passing bird singing, or maybe I was just lucky to get to hear its song this morning.

I was blessed to hear it. It triggered the same feeling I felt when I woke up in Cairns, Australia a few years back during our family vacation.

That was the exact same, blessed feeling I felt when the scores of birds sang their versions so loudly, so close to our room that it woke us up in delight. Just pure heaven!

Everybody is awake now. The sun is casting light into my bedroom floor.

Let us see what the day holds for me and my family today...

Monday, January 16, 2006

+ Vicinity | Libraries Part2

Ciku Fruits in front of Yoong Clinic along Tampines Street 32

We continued our bus journey to the doctor at Tampines Street 33.

Reached the Dr. Yoong's Clinic about 10 mintes to 9:00am. The queue number displayed was already at 289. Our number given was 101. The number will revert back to 100 after reaching 300. That many patients on Monday.

Since it would take about 30 to 40 minutes before our turn, we decided to have breakfast at McDonald's.

Danish had his default breakfast meal, the Egg McMuffin and hot Milo while I got my first ever Egg Sausage McMuffin with freshly brewed coffee.

Came back to the clinic and we had two queue numbers to go. Stayed outside the clinic for some fresh air, rather than staying indoors with all those air-borne sniffles flying about.

Notice the Ciku trees that were planted on the sides of the roads have started to bear fruits. Wow! My first touch of a Ciku fruit that was still right on the tree.

Normally you would only get it at the supermarket and would not even know how the leave of the Ciku tree looks like. Interesting.

Great that passers-by did not pick them off the tree. Well, probably it was not worth to pay a heavy fine if they were caught doing it.

As always, Dr. Yoong greeted us with a calming smile. He asked Danish all he questions and he answered him describing the symptoms he got and the difficulties he went through the last few nights.

Good news was that he has no symptom of asthma - wheezing sound and suffocating feeling, just the common flu like the many patients that he saw this morning.

The preventive asthma medication he has been taking for the last 2 months have actually worked. He had no such symptom since he started it. He is now into his 3rd month and will stop after this once he is given the green light to stop.

National Library in Victoria Street

The "Adult"

With that good news, we made our way home. We continued our talk about libraries.

He liked the National Library at Victoria Street - the newest and largest library on this island. All 13 storeys of it. Interesting, but did not really satisfy his need for certain information.

It was the first time for both. Wished my wife would join us but she had to tend to her booth at OUB Centre for the Christmas Bazaar.

It has been quite a while since I stepped into a library, but my son was as smooth as a Pro. A regular there with the library policies and procedures. He knows them like the back of his hands.

Scouted around the many levels for a while. Confidently he asked for directions of certain catagories of books and titles he would like to find with the attending librarians.

They were so polite and accommodating. Far from the cold "shhhhh..." staring librarians in my younger days. Finally settle on... yes, books on facts. Science experiments and what have you.

Pity that picture taking was not allowed. I would have taken many, but that is not to take picture, it is a place to read and do research, I know.

Anyway... would have been nice with all wide and spacious, ultra-modern yet comfortable enough to sleep in, library - almost like walking into Starbucks with the plush seats and nice decor.

He even enrolled me electronically and registered me to get a library card issued to me all in one interactive registration station. Just with my ID Card. Cool.

Got our books and off we went to have a break at Han's near the entrance to the library's foyer. Cuppocino for me. Iced Milo for him and a slice of black forest cake for each of us.

With all three libraries, Danish definitely prefers the Tampines Regional Library because of the sheer collection of books on facts of anything under the sun and beyond, I might add with lots of illustrations and pictures, unlike the ones at the National Library that caters more the adults.

"National Library is more for adults," he reminded me, "I am in my pre-teens." He stressed.

"Ah... yes" I agreed. Children grow so fast before you know it. Wow! Did not think I would ever say that.

Well, fine with me. As long as you read and the information educate you for better things, why not! I am blessed.

+ Vicinity | Libraries Part1

Tampines Avenue 5 Pedestrian Walkway

On the bus with my son to his doctor. An interesting journey it was.

Yes, he caught the flu. Stuffy nose and cough kept him and well, us too, awake most of Sunday night. He kept going to the toilet to blow his nose and had to sleep propped up to keep the airway clear comfortably.

The medicine I gave him was not doing its job. So this morning, we were in bus Service 291 to Dr. Yoong at Tampines Street 32, his doctor since we shifted to Tampines, some 10 years ago.

Tampines West Children Library at Blk 938 Avenue 5

The "Child"

He pointed out to the Tampines Children's Library that he frequented almost every day after kindergarten class because he just loves reading.

"I loved to go to this library when I was small, you know" he said to me. His mother has been taking him there all the time.

"Oh, why don't you go there anymore?" I asked ignorantly.

"I've out-grown it. It's for kindergartens," he explained.

"I see..." I replied but was cut short, as if I was teasing him. He had not finish his sentence.

"The books are so childish. For little kids, not for me anymore" he stressed.

"Ah..." I replied nodding my head in agreement.

Like every child, he just wants to grow-up fast for some reasons. Unlike me, at this age, I would rather take it slow!

We continued talking other stuff and goofing-off in the bus.

Always end-up doing the re-enactment of silly scenes from Spongebob Squarepants. Somehow or rather, we did one particular scene from "Scrubs" the TV series that aired last night - when John was asked by Carla for his opinion while Carla and Chris were having a lover's spat.

John tried to get away from giving any and in turn "roped" in Laverne, to escape. Laverne was literally "dragged in", mumbling while she was roped and the ankles and dragged across the hospital floor into the conversation.

That was hilarious. We laughed out loud last night and laughed out loud in the bus too, imagining the scene playing in out heads.

Tampines Regional Library along Avenue 7

The "Pre-Teenager"

The bus stopped for a while at Tampines Bus Interchange to pick up more passengers and passed by Tampines Regional Library, his present and most favourite library because of the many interesting selection of books on facts available.

Yes, books on facts. I remember he had difficulties to write a book review when what he read were mostly not about stories, but facts... If I may list a few
  • A First Atlas
  • How Things Work
  • Animals & Nature
  • Tell Me About
  • Tell Me Where
  • Tell Me When

There are more of these kinds of books on the shelves in his room. It is not bad, it is great in fact!

From small, he would choose books on cats and fishes, just about animals - what they are and how to take care of them, and automotive - trains, cars, aeroplanes and ships - the many types and how they function.

From large colourful picture books to books that are so full of facts for children, books that even his father discovered a few cool facts and learnt a lot on facts that we use to take for granted or oblivious to for the longest time.

These libraries have always been his eyes to the world. So much information, so intriguing to him.

Yikes! The Quizzes

I would always be "put on the spot" when we travel on the bus with his "pop quiz" on facts.

It is kind of embarrassing to not know an everyday factual answer, it is even worse to be told the right answer by a 7-year-old in a crowded bus. It was interesting to listen WHY things are the way they are from him.

Now he is 10, the quizzes get tougher and yes, more embarrassing to realize that I am quite ignorant of most the basic facts and are still learning... from him.

He innocently thinks nothing of it, he just thinks that it is fun.

Well, it is worth the embarrasment as long as it sharpens his memory from what he had read and understood.

All those information, all those facts! And here I thought I knew it enough. Wow... never under-estimate the power of denial.

With the constant "quizzes on the buses" I got to re-affirm knowledge on facts and got corrected a few here and there. Thanks to my son for drilling me in preparations for "SAP of life" test.

Our journey continued on...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

+ Vicinity | Trishaw Revived

One of Tampines Town beautiful public housing

Read in the news a few days ago about a dying trade in Singapore - oldest of transportation using human power - the Trishaw.

Now, you would see Trishaw men plying through the tourist spots with loud disco-punk music blasting over the mini-compo strapped to it. They would move in droves in a convoy filled with happy faces tourists.

I should know the feeling of these tourists because I loved riding in one when I was in my early primary school days.

I remember that our Mom would sometimes hire a trishaw for the 3 of us - Mom, my elder sister and me who would be 7 and 6 years old respectively for rides home.

Our early school days was at Teluk Kurau Primary School.

The trishaw man would cycle from our school to Kaki Bukit Bus Depot, maneuver through potholes and dusty roads, avoided trailing behind the exhausts of trucks and busses, through rain or shine, but we would reach our destination safely anyways.

From there we would have to walk about 20 minutes into our Kampong and reach home.

Besides taking the bus, an alternative but slightly expensive "public" transport was definitely the Trishaw. Mom would have to negotiate the fare before we can hop in.

Once in, I would always get to sit at my favourite spot - on a wooden stool right in front. While my Mom and Sis would sit on the two-seater plastic-covered plush seats that had either a covered or left open-aired fan-like canopy.

I remember the rides vividly, as if it was only yesterday. The street was quiet except for the squeaking and clanking of the trishaw chains when the trishaw man peddled.

The breeze and the scenery throughout the journey. Just heavenly, as though I was flying. Many happy thoughts throughout the journey every time.

On rainy days, the trishaw man would pull down a tranparent platic shroud on all 4 sides to keep the rain out. I would hear the rain drops onto the covers and watched the drops trickle down in front of me. Stuffy at times, but defintely worth it for me.

Sometimes, the peddler would stop a while to put on a poncho. Others did not mind to drenched wet though. Tough life for these men. Tough men indeed.

My mom knew I liked the rides because my face lit up every time she told me that we would take a ride home. And sometimes, I would paster her to take one anyway.

She would also hire on for the ride home whenever after she did her shopping in the wet market called Central Market in Eunos.

That would be her treat for me to help accompany her to the market and carry the groceries back home.

We would do this over many years, until I remembered that there were not as many Trishaw or as easy to see one anymore as the public transport got more comprehensive.

Of course, I was no longer small enough to fit sitting on a stool, and became big enough that only my Mom and me would fit in one trishaw. It would be too heavy for the poor trishaw man to peddle us both, let alone going uphill.

I dwell too much in the past. Coming back after a reality check... I think the trishaw should be revived and brought back to the heartland, the HDB estates.

People can use this cheap and eco friendly tranport to get around the estates. The trishaw is also big enough for groceries. It would be ideal to use the trishaw from wet market shopping.

No potholes, no dusty roads, just a great way to get around the estate and between estates too.

It would be a great and unique addition to our local way of life again, not just for tourists, but for the younger generations too like I want my son to experience the Trishaw rides.

What say you... MPs and RCs?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

+ Neighbours | Arson Again?

Light Fire Truck at Carpark 730A - Photo by Danish

It was an unsettling feeling to have thought that mybe there was another case of arson around our neighbourhood.

It was an even more angry feeling to have thought that there was a serial arsonist lurking around amidst our homes! Not a great way to start a new year!

At about 9:00pm, while we were in our son's room - me busy with the new installation of Norton Antivirus 2006 to his PC while my wife was chatting with him before tucking him to bed.

We smelt a burning smell and started checking all electrical appliances and fitting just ot be sure. Sponteneously, we thought maybe the carpark was on fire AGAIN!

Looked out of the window expecting smoke out from the carpark, but none, neither was there any commotion from the neighbours, so we resumed what we were doing.

Less than 5 minutes later, we heard sirens from the fire truck. My son jumped out of his bed and looked out of the window.

The Light Attack Fire truck had just arrived and stopped where?

YES, at the carpark! Oh NO, not again!

I felt a mixed feeling of anger and anxiousness. The fact that our neighbourhood becomes a target of arson is very unsettling to me. Thousand possibilities came to mind...

Was it for revenge? Was it just for fun or dare? Even more sinister... A scare tactic to push for sales of security systems? Nah, would not work in Singapore or get away with it. Then what?

With my camera already in my son's hands, expecting me to go out with him to find out from up close. Off we went to the carpark.

There were already people standing around looking for fire. None.

There were several firemen already on different levels of the carpark searching for the fire. None.

My son went right up close to the fire truck and was clicking away like a pro photo-journalist. A while later a couple in their forties came forward to the fire truck and told them that they were the ones who called for them.

They both smelt burning smoke and saw the flickering yellow light on the top most level on the carpark from their window and thought that it was the light from a fire.

Just to be sure, the firemen checked all corners of the 4 storey carpark and went back relived I bet, just like the rest of us here.

The small crowd dispersed as well, us included.

Strangely, the couple who reported the fire went the same way back to our block and waited for the lift, while we took the stairs.

It is a good felling to know that there was not another case of arson here.

One thing still unanswered, though... Where was that strong burning smell that both our family and the couple came from?