This Ramadan, I was taught kindness and forgiveness by a Catholic.

Ramadan is coming to a close. I was thinking of this holy month. Of what it means to me. If I had learnt anything more of myself from it this year. I even typed ‘spirit of Ramadan‘ online, hoping to read posts of what that means to other Muslims. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that without a doubt, the most impact an individual has personally had on me this Ramadan is Mr. Sim Siak Heong, who is a Malaysian Chinese and a Catholic. Through his actual actions. Not just words, or prayer, or advice but through actual deed.

67-year-old Mr. Sim was the victim of a terrible road bully incident earlier this month, where he had accidentally hit the new Peugeot car of 30-year-old Siti Fairrah in a car park in Kuantan, Malaysia. She not only got out the car and heaped abuse on him like some crazy thug, and demanded cash on the spot, but hit his car repeatedly with a steering lock.

Thankfully it was recorded on video. It was very painful for me to watch the video as I can’t help but feel really bad as a Malay and a Muslim. I also felt angry that a senior citizen was abused so badly. I actually had to pause the video several times and considered closing the page, but I forced myself to watch it till the end. I am glad for the existence of the video recording. I look at it as a valuable lesson and reminder of what can happen if I experience rage at someone but fail to control it and rein it in.

Each time I watch the video, I am reminded yet again of how lacking my character is compared to Mr. Sim’s. Because he forgave her, but as for me I don’t know if I could, if it had happened to me, or worse, a loved one especially an elder relative of Mr. Sim’s age. And amazingly, not only did he forgive her, he expressed sadness when she was subsequently charged and punished by the courts, saying that she did not deserve the punishment. I read in this article that he said:

“I feel sorry for her. She doesn’t deserve it at all.”

“I have forgiven her and I urge the public to do the same. There is no need to condemn her anymore.”

I hope the person who took the video pats him or herself on the back for doing such an important public service. It’s because of the video, which understandably outraged a lot of people, that the police pursued the case. Siti Fairrah was fined RM5,000 and ordered to do 240 hours of community work after she pleaded guilty to intentionally causing damage to Mr. Sim’s car.

Kudos to the Malaysian police as well for still going ahead and taking action against her despite the saintly Mr. Sim declining to lodge a report, even when the police advised him to do so. And to the general Malaysian public online regardless of race and religion who condemned the road rage incident. And yes, to Siti Fairrah as well, for admitting what she did was wrong and for apologising to Mr. Sim publicly.

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I’d like to put here an excerpt from a beautiful post I came across on a site called Islamway.net, as I was surfing around online finding and reading what ‘spirit of Ramadan‘ means to other people.

Ramadan is a celebration of God’s guidance to humanity, through the Quran, which is a guide for doing good and a warning against evil. In order to bring the soul into harmony with the Quranic ideals of belief and virtue, fasting is prescribed as a way for individuals to come closer to God and to lift their souls to new heights of piety. In doing so, the entire human body is able to transform itself into an agent of positive moral and social change that seeks to replace miserliness with generosity, anger with patience, revenge with love, and war with peace—in effect, replacing good with evil in the world.

Of course, kindness and forgiveness are for all times, not just Ramadan, but I feel that’s when we Muslims, as we fast, are more reminded to think and do more for the lesser off and to reflect on our character.

When I say ‘spirit of Ramadan‘, I am also referring to virtues like patience and calm that Mr. Sim had displayed when confronted with such an ugly face of road rage, and the provocation it challenged him with.

I think it’s such a beautiful thing when we are taught these virtues from people of other religious faiths or even people with no religious faith as well. It reminds us that there must be mutual respect. Because at the end of the day, life comes down to treating everyone else the same way we ourselves wish to be treated. That sounds so easy and logical, it sounds so easy to remember, yet strangely and unfortunately it’s apparently so easy for some of us to forget.

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I can’t seem to find a decent photo of Mr. Sim. This one is taken from a still of a video. From forum.lowyat.net, via Google Image. Click to go there.

The following video is the Astro Awani interview of Mr. Sim from where the image above was from. It’s in Malay.

http://youtu.be/ti_Ch8ITkyc

I just sighed in sadness when I watched it. Damn, what a terrible thing to have happened to such a kind soul.

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“I am a Catholic. In our religion, and in all religions, it teaches us to love the ones who wrong us.”

 – Sim Siak Heong

Thank you, Mr. Sim.

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Related:

Children’s books featuring gay families to be destroyed

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Update 19 July 2014 – Some good news. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim has stopped the National Library from destroying two of the children’s titles, specifically ‘And Tango Makes Three’ and ‘The White Swan Express’, issuing the order that they be moved to the adult section instead, where parents can borrow them for their children. However, a third title, ‘Who’s In My Family?’ has sadly already been ‘pulped’.

To read more on this development, click on this link to go to the AFP News article I got the information from, via Yahoo! News Singapore.

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I’m deeply disappointed by the news I came across on Yahoo! Singapore that our National Library are going to destroy some children’s books that depict families with gay parents.

What happened:

Two children’s books ‘And Tango Makes Three‘ and ‘The White Swan Express‘ were removed after a member of the public, a Teo Kai Loon, had e-mailed the National Library Board (NLB) voicing his concerns about them.

A Yahoo! News Singapore article reported that:

… In supposedly two days, NLB responded to Teo’s e-mail complaint, stating that the books have been withdrawn following his feedback. NLB emphasised that it “takes a strong pro-family stand in selecting books for children” and “when library visitors like yourself [Teo] highlight to us any conflicting content within books, we review such books thoroughly and withdraw them from circulation”.

The response was signed by Tay Ai Cheng, the assistant chief executive and chief librarian of the NLB.

A member of the Facebook group “We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore”, Teo then posted NLB’s response to him on July 8. He did not include the contents of his original e-mail complaint in the post. In the post, Teo called other members of the group to “continue to scrutinise the catalogue and not allow such children books to go under the radar screen”. He also encouraged people to email NLB if they had any concerns, saying that the NLB takes swift action, “all within 2 days”. However, Teo’s Facebook post in the group has since been removed.

What disturbs me:

That the books are to destroyed, instead of simply being given away to people who want them, which would serve the same objective of not having them on the library’s shelves anymore.

I simply don’t understand why the books must be destroyed. To me this reeks of a book-burning exercise, which is shocking and extreme. As a gay person, heck as any thinking and feeling human being, to me it’s like making a damning statement, in this case against gay parenting and therefore gay people.

I don’t care to ever be a parent myself. And so when I read or hear of condemnation to the idea of gays being parents, I admit it’s something that just whizzes by me as just one of the many injustices that is part of life. But not before it slashes me up inside in tiny painful cuts in ways you will never know or understand, unless like me you are a gay person who grew up with straight parents, in a ‘straight environment’, not to mention religious even, but who still suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of people who considered themselves straight, who led straight lives. It happened over a number of years in my childhood.

I’m not traumatised anymore, I function alright. But to be a grown adult already in my 40s and still be weighed down with malaise and sorrow by vivid memories of those episodes that still hit me out of the blue every so often, there is always a bitter smile or laugh in me when I read or hear ignorant and prejudiced people thinking that the safe wellbeing of children depends on whether the parents are gay or straight.

Anyway, whatever, these are just my own scars, from my own experience of my own childhood, which of course also contains happy memories as well. The opinion I want to express here is just that: if we don’t agree with something, that’s fine, but why to the harsh extent of ‘pulping’ such books that are sympathetic to what we don’t agree with?

And what a sad waste of books and money too. I wish they would just give them away to the adults who want them.

Why my grief

My sadness and disappointment stems mostly from that I was very fond of our National Library. I have always loved it and never took this noble public service for granted, even before I started travelling especially to some of our neighbouring countries, where even the most basic public infrastructure like proper pedestrian pavements can be messed up, let alone luxuries like public libraries which are practically non-existent. (After travelling, I consider our libraries a luxury.) I think I have mentioned in this blog a few times how I love and appreciate our National Library, for example in this post here.

Hence the deep disappointment. Now It’s like the love is suddenly tainted or something. It’s like now I feel I might have to reluctantly let go a friend I’m actually fond of. Because how do you remain friends with someone you can’t respect.

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The books in question:

The three titles to be pulped are:

1. And Tango Makes Three, (2005) written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole.

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A photograph of parent and blogger Joyce reading ‘And Tango Makes Three‘ to her daughter. Added here 14 July 2014, with her kind permission. From the excellent review of the book from her family blog TOT: HOT OR NOT. Click image to go there.

From Wikipedia:

The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life when they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.

The book has won many awards but also been at the center of numerous censorship and culture war debates on same-sex marriage, adoption, and homosexuality in animals. The American Library Association reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most challenged book of 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most challenged.

The following video is a wonderful narration of the moving story, from YouTube user John Mark Johnson.

 

2. The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption (2002), written by Jean Davies Okimoto and Elaine M. Aoki, illustrated by Meilo So.

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Image as seen on The Online Citizen. Click image to go there.

The story is about children adopted by straight, gay, mixed-race and single parents. A description as seen on Amazon.com:

In China, the moon shines on four baby girls, fast asleep in an orphanage. Far away in North America, the sun rises over four homes as the people who live there get ready to start a long, exciting journey. This lovely story of people who travel to China to be united with their daughters describes the adoption process step by step and the anxiety, suspense, and delight of becoming a family. Told with tenderness and humor, and enlivened by joyous illustrations, The White Swan Express will go straight to readers’ hearts.

Click here for a sweet and delightful review of the book.

3. Who’s In My Family?: All About Our Families (2012), written by Robie H. Harris, and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott.

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An image from the book ‘Who’s In My Family?’, as seen on walker.co.uk, via Google Image Search. Click to go there.

A description of the book from Goodreads.com:

Trusted New York Times best-selling author Robie H. Harris continues her series for preschoolers with a look at the many kinds of families that make up our world.

Join Nellie and Gus and their family — plus all manner of other families — for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal — and totally wonderful

Click here for a review of the book. And here to go to the website of the author Robie H. Harris.

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Some of the voices defending the books:

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Other related articles:

 

 

Hello beautiful

As a gay man, as any man really, I’ve never given a serious thought to raising a kid. My partner feels the same way. I don’t like children, actually, haha. I mean I don’t dislike them or anything (except when they continuously misbehave in public, in which case I blame the parents who should be controlling them, not the kids themselves as kids don’t know better) but I just don’t care for them, and I definitely never wished to be a parent. When I’m around babies or kids of friends and family, I can stand maybe five minutes of them before thinking, “Okay, I’ve politely acknowledged your kid by smiling and waving at it like I think it’s adorable or something, now, uhhmm get it out of my face, please?

But damn, I just melted looking at these pictures and reading the story on Buzzfeed. I can’t relate to the parenthood urges of these people, who I don’t even know, but I’m just so happy for this couple. Them, and the kid with dads who obviously love her very very much. And the generous surrogate lady (who is married with two kids of her own) who helped to give them such a precious gift. Frankly I would be nervous if I were one of the dads that she would suddenly decide she’s too attached to the kid to let it go.

The special moments were captured by Canadian photographer Lindsay Foster and the dads are BJ Barone and Frank Nelson from Toronto.

According to the Buzzfeed article:

BJ and Frankie were shirtless when they held Milo for the first time because skin-to-skin contact is said to be beneficial to newborn babies.

I’ve never heard of that, and I think it’s just beautiful.

Prego Restaurant

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I haven’t visited Prego for years, more than a decade. It used to be a firm favourite with me and Bert. We first came across it about twenty years ago around when it first opened I think, when the space it occupied used to be under one of the Westin Hotels formerly there. Westin Stamford or Plaza, I forgot which. Now the hotel there is called the Fairmont.

So it brought back some nice memories when we went back with a couple of friends recently. The fact that Prego is still there after all these years is remarkable for Singapore, I think. But it’s pretty stunning that even the interior is the same. Now that’s incredible. Commercial space here like malls and restaurants get makeovers frequently, some every few years. From interiors to even entire building facades, it can seem crazy even for locals how frequent and fast things change, let alone for repeat visitors like tourists.

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The shock of yellow is a tad gaudy to me but I guess it goes alright with the rest of the colour palette. I love the potted bushes of rosemary.

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I so love that they kept this travertino floor at the foyer, and the waves of happiness kept rolling over me when I realised they kept everything I remember about the place.

I don’t know why I was so darn happy. It’s just a restaurant. I think it’s just that it’s so unusual for things to stay the same in Singapore, and for such a long time. Things keep changing here, to keep them appealingly fresh, I suppose. But how do you really sink in the memories that you can treasure and let them take root, when the places these memories are crafted around seem disposable. At the back of your head you are already thinking the place won’t last, and you would soon be forming new memories with the new things that will take over the space. After a while there are just too many of them, so you allow all these memories associated with the same space to be filmsy and disposable too.

So when I walked in again, and saw that things were the same as it were twenty years ago, Prego ceased to be just a restaurant. It became snapshots and voices and laughter from years ago, the food we ordered, what we liked and didn’t liked. The faces of the friends we dined with. The other people we brought there. I even remember a few of the waiters. Not their names or what they looked like, but some things that were said or did to earn smiles or frowns. Crazy, the amount of memories. And now imprinted even more deeply in me, to be cherished for many more years.

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I don’t remember the awning and similarly striped wallpaper, but the rest of the restaurant looks exactly the same as I remember it, including the chairs.

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We went for the ‘Sunday Semi-Buffet Lunch’

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Just a glimpse of the buffet line. There was actually a big and very tasty selection of appetisers and desserts. I was too shy to go around taking photos of the spread, and it would have been disruptive to the other people getting their food.

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Part of the buffet is this long list of dishes you order ala carte. Just tick what you want and hand it to the waiter. Limited to one dish a person at a time. When you’ve had that, you can order more. This was a very good idea, as we were beginning to be stuffed by the time our ala carte selection arrived.

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They even kept these Mediterranean style plates I remember! If not the same ones, they at least kept to the same design, which put yet another smile on my face. These four dishes are our first round from the buffet ala carte menu.

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Beer barrel tables! I want one, if only I have the space for it at home. And painted so prettily too. Cuteness overload.

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The windows used to look out to the street but not anymore, so I guess the hotel had claimed the space outside to expand its interior. The sayings above the restaurants are yet another thing I remember and remember liking. This one is “Troppi cuochi sciupano la minestra” which is “Too many cooks spoil the broth“.

‘Prego’, the name of the restaurant, means ‘welcome‘, by the way.

A couple of lovely Saudi princesses with their lovely dogs

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Princess Jawaher, 38,  on the left, and Princess Sahar, 42. Credit: IB Times Photo by Tom Porter. Click image to go to source.

I love this photo from an International Business Times article written by Tom Porter, which I came across via Yahoo! Singapore. The story itself is sad. According to the article, the two princesses claim that they have been kept imprisoned in mansions in a royal compound in Jeddah, along with two of their sisters who are held in another mansion. The women said this has been going on for thirteen years, and that they had been placed under gradually closer confinement after criticising the country’s inequality. They were seeking help by relaying their situation to the media via Skype. I hope they get the help they need, their family issues resolved, and the freedom that must be entitled to all.

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I’m fascinated by the photograph. It would make an arresting painting as well. Except that the baseball cap worn by Princess Jawaher spoils it a bit. Nah, just kidding, the red cap actually makes it even more interesting.

And those gorgeous dogs! Muslims with dogs! Rare to find such instances, in my view. And my opinion is that it’s because of the prejudice and discrimination of some Muslims against other Muslims who like dogs. We used to have a dog, Ras, a German Shepherd, for almost a decade until he died from sickness in 2003.

This also reminds me of two articles I came across a few months ago, which I wanted to note here but I was too busy. The first was a heartbreaking story of an elderly Muslim couple in Malaysia who have been valiantly battling prejudice for years as they run a shelter for stray dogs, and the second was of a young Muslim lady who I think was also doing the same, also in Malaysia. I can’t help but feel so proud of these three people. Continuing to do what is right despite the harrowing challenges.

I’m also proud of one of my elder brothers and his wife, who live in Malaysia. They once told me how there are some stray dogs roaming in packs outside their house, and how skinny and hungry these poor creatures look. So what do they do? Keep a supply of dog food they buy from the supermarket. They offer this and a bowl of water for the dogs when they pass by, from behind the safety of their gate. My heart was bursting with pride for my brother and sister-in-law when I heard this.

There’s a related post that’s a good read from a site called IslamicConcern.com: Link here. The site is sponsored by PETA, by the way, which is the ‘People for Ethical Treatment of Animals’.

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Anyway, back to the photo. A few things capture my attention:

  1. The easy affection and obvious fondness the princesses have for their pets.
  2. Vice versa. In this photo, the dog beside Princess Sahar looks very fond of her.
  3. The bust sculpture on the side table. I wonder who it depicts.
  4. The terracotta floor. Indoors! I love terracotta tiles, especially indoors. Most people like it only outdoors. I’d love its warm and rustic look inside the house as well.
  5. The beauty of the princesses. Princess Jawaher is really pretty. So is Princess Sahar, but in this photo Jawaher reminds me of Italian actress Monica Bellucci.

 

Fall at your feet by Crowded House

One of those days again, when I’ve been listening to the same song over and over again, because for some reason a tune drifts into my head and I just start to hum or sing it softly to myself. So I play it a few times. And then it still won’t leave my head.

Fall At Your Feet was released in 1991. Written by Neil Finn, the lead singer of Crowded House, it is from their third studio album Woodface, released the same year. The band was first formed in Australia in the mid eighties, and became well-known with their huge and memorable hit Don’t Dream It’s Over from their debut album. Although the band broke up a decade later in 1996, it reformed in 2007 albeit with some different members and is still active today.

It’s always fun to check into YouTube to enjoy again the music video of the songs I’m thinking of, and end up enjoying not only the song’s original release, but extra treats like live performances and accoustic versions, if I’m lucky to come across them. In addition to that, other versions by other artists as well.

I love the original:

I didn’t enjoy the 2010 version from Australian indie rock-folk band Boy and Bear as much. It’s a bit ‘over-produced’ to me. The first half was captivating and lush, and overall I enjoyed it, but at the same time I feel it’s a bit too grand a treatment for the quiet and intimate spirit of the song.

More my cup of tea is James Blunt‘s version below. I’m not normally a fan of his style of singing, which I find a tad over-dramatic to be honest, but I thought he did alright by this song.

After saying that I think Boy and Bear‘s version too grand and overdone for the ‘quiet and intimate’ song, it’s strange that I find the passionate and spirited flamenco style of Jesse Cook‘s version suits it stunningly well. I just like this one a lot more. It somehow clicks and fits snugly like a tight bear hug. Jesse is the guitarist in the vest in the video, by the way. I read in Wiki that he recorded the song with a singer called Danny Wilde, so I’m guessing that’s Danny singing in the video. An exhilarating performance by them both and the rest of the band! Song starts at 0:28.

And finally the version I love most of all, from the songwriter himself. Just a man and his guitar, his voice clear and sincere, and those haunting lyrics. Simple and unassuming, but cuts devastatingly deep. Just lovely.

 

 

 

What makes me happy

It’s finally over! The 100 Days of Happiness Challenge thing! I did it!

*sigh of relief*

*then, overcome by emotion, hangs head and starts to weep. Shoulders start to shake violently as wrenching sobs take over. *

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Not really! But most of the time it was fun trying.

That’s it? A mere sigh and some tears of happiness? No dammit, this calls for fireworks!

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Gif from Buzzfeed, via the Pinterest of ‘Great Walt Disney World Tips’. Click to go there.

I have to admit, the first pangs of regret started to creep in after a few weeks. It seemed like a fun thing to do… before I started doing it. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking, doing this when I already knew I’m just not a daily poster. It’s just that, it seemed like a meaningful thing to do. I still feel that way about it, actually.

I’m prone to whining to myself about the small things. This 100-day challenge was going to challenge me to take a closer look at some of the small things around me that at the back of my mind, I knew made me happy, but I didn’t really appreciate properly. Things I perhaps tend to brush aside, and all while whining and complaining about other stuff.

A few times I wanted to give up the challenge, thinking, “Oh, this is silly. What’s the point, really?

I think I’ve said “Because it’s important to me that I finish what I start.” And even, “Because I don’t like not finishing what I’ve started.” as if I’m the epitome of discipline or something, when I’m not. It’s actually just about pride, haha. I’d be embarrassed if people see I’ve given up, that I’ve quit, even though really, who cares. It was like announcing to friends and family my previous attempts to stop smoking. When I lit up again, it was always embarrassing. It’s such a relief to finally quit some years ago, by the way.

(Edit 4th May: Having said that, about the previous failed attempts to stop smoking, I must add that any effort whether involving success or failure is still an important part of any journey, and always useful for the lessons it teaches and also serving as another stepping stone to the next effort.)

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Some things the challenge taught me about myself:

  • I love and appreciate flowers more than I realised. I didn’t realise I like orchids all that much. They’re so common. But they are now officially my favourite flowers, specifically purple ones.
  • I love food a bit too much. I’ve always known this, but the challenge forces me to face it more than I want to. I’m not obese, but I’ve been needing to lose some kilos since… forever. My love for food is why even though I exercise regularly, I just can’t shake off the weight. I think different bodies work differently, and for mine to be trim, I need to focus 75% effort on diet, 25% on exercise. At the moment it’s the reverse. Oh, this is old news. Just something the challenge shoved to my face time and again.
  • I realised (I’m actually startled, to be honest) that perhaps I might kinda somewhat not appreciate my partner enough. I think it’s because we don’t just live together, we work together, so we already spend so much time together during working hours. So when we get home, we tend to retreat to our own space and be engrossed with our own things. And also, I look sloppy and dress like shit when around just him, whether at home or out! Just because I don’t need to impress him!
  • I’ve found I enjoy hanging out in the kitchen while he cooks, to chat more with him. We should do more stuff together instead of just work or sit slumped on the sofa watching TV, without a word. I need to blog less and spend more time with him. We both need to spend less time surfing online.
  • I actually really love long walks, much more than I realised. I do it not just for the exercise, but for my need to get away from the congestion. Long walks are effective in helping me find some peace of mind. I should get Bert to come with me.
  • I’m a lone ranger. I’ve always known that, but I’m at my happiest and calm and secure when it’s just me and Bert.
  •  I didn’t realise I enjoy art so much. For example, I like looking at sculptures when I happen to come across them. They’re not just something pretty I glance at quickly and then move on. I should get out more often and visit our museums and see more exhibitions. Explore more parks.

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Related:

  • The post by Peter of the blog Peterisms, which introduced me to the challenge.

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Day 100 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

:-)

The Grand Gem restaurant

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The entrance of the restaurant at the lobby of Grand BlueWave Hotel.

This is an Indian restaurant my sister brought us to in Johor Bahru. She’s been wanting to introduce it to us for some time as the food is really good and the prices are very attractive. We totally agreed with her.

The restaurant is located at the Grand BlueWave Hotel which is mere minutes from Causeway CIQ (Customs, Immigration & Quaratine) centre. So it’s very convenient for Singaporeans who just want to hop over to J.B. for a few hours like, say, shopping mainly at City Square.

They serve a buffet lunch for Ringgit Malaysia (RM)25. That’s like Singapore (S)$10! And it’s nett price!

Buffet! Less than ten dollars! Nett! And it’s not even one of those buffets that are economically priced but then get you to fork out for expensive drinks. No. This one came with a free flow of drink too. Bert and I were excited at the thought of pigging out at a buffet for less than ten dollars. So far, the best deal we had experienced for buffets was at the then-newish Shangri-La Hotel in Chiangmai, which was the equivalent of about S$16. Yes, a Shangri-La hotel buffet for only S$16. Amazing Thailand, indeed. That was in 2009, though.

At The Grand Gem, the buffet is even better-priced. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for us that day. Their buffet lunch is only from Thursday to Sunday, and we could only make it to J.B. on a Wednesday. However, Bert caught sight of a leaflet at the entrance that informed us there were set lunches for RM18 (less than S$7!). There were a total of 4 choices offered.

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My choice was this – called the ‘Non Vegetarian – Fish‘ set. The rice looks little but the metal bowl it comes in is deep and the portion was actually enough for 2 persons.

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While Bert went for the Naan bread set, served with chicken curry. He ordered two more garlic Naan, and that was RM6.50 (about S$2.50) each, and then found it was too much food for him. I was happy to help him finish.

My mouth is watering as I type this, looking at the pictures and recalling the deliciousness. Everything was delicious.

Other notes:

  • Only a few tables (about ten) were occupied when we were there at lunchtime during the non-lunch-buffet weekday we visited. Just how I like it: pleasant, relaxed and not noisy.
  • Service was attentive and gracious, with polite friendly staff with easy smiles.
  • The food took some time to be served, although we didn’t wait too long. Just how I like it. If it had came out too quickly I’d suspect it was just dumped in the microwave to be reheated.
  • Our RM18 sets each came with a sweet drink like mango juice or lassi, a delicious and refreshing yoghurt based drink. Generously portioned in a tall glass. Besides this, water was also served, cold or warm as we wished.
  • My sister was driving us and her carpark charge at the BlueWave Hotel was RM4. Her car was parked there for maybe around an hour and a half, I think.

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The decor was very nice. There were the touches you’d see in an Indian restaurant, set in an opulent yet largely modern and refreshing design. I didn’t take many photos and besides my photography is ultra basic, haha. For a better idea of how nice the restaurant is, please head over to the following blog for some really beautiful pictures in its review, including the buffet: JB Foodie.

Related:

  • Facebook of The Grand Gem restaurant – with information about their buffet and other promotions, as well as general info like address and opening hours.
  • Google Map – Grand BlueWave Hotel, Johor Bahru.

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Day 99 of ‘100 Happy Days‘. So, my lunch at The Grand Gem with Bert and my sister is the very last thing that made me happy that I’m noting for this 100 Happy Days saga. Tomorrow I’ll wrap it up on the 100th day by noting how freaking happy I am that I’ve done this thing, and what it is that I’ve learnt and discovered from the interesting experience.

 

Long live Bollywood

Just came across this video courtesy of Buzzfeed. I love it. The song, the colours, the handsome men, and of course most importantly the message behind the video.

The happy ending for the couple is the ultimate wish for those of us who love our parents and want nothing more but their acceptance and continued love. Behind the catchy music and the gorgeous sights, that’s the heartrending desire, but thanks to the festive vibe of the video it’s presented in a fun and sweet way, not as some preachy sob story. Nice.

The song and video, called The Welcome, is by the ‘United Nations Free & Equal’, which is an initiative of the United Nations Human Rights Office. Click here to go their website to learn more about them. I’ll be checking it out too. Looks interesting. The video features Bollywood star and Miss India winner Celina Jaitly, who, according to the page for the video, is their Equality Champion. I guess that’s what they call their ambassadors. Good work, Ms. Jaitly.

I also very much love the lyrics, lightly persuading the mother in the story, and us the viewers, to have love in our hearts.

It is a new look, it’s a new attitude

You might wonder where the old way of living has gone

But who is worried about who likes what

As long as in the world of love two people want to be with each other

You and me, me and you – are now unstoppable

So please don’t hesitate, you are always “Welcome” to my home

I love the colours! The joy and intensity. The jewel tones. They are a big part of why the video comes across as dream-like to me. Presented like a dreamscape, a joyous fantasy. If Bollywood ever does an ‘Alice in Wonderful’ type of movie, this would be a great opening, this garden party.

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A still of the video by the United Nations Free & Equal, via the Buzzfeed article. Click image to go there.

And I must have that green jacket. God knows where I will wear it to, haha! Maybe I’ll borrow it from him and slip it on in a dream later tonight. Would love to join, sing and dance, and get lost in that party. Oh my goodness, the jewel tone of that velvet green jacket. So beautiful. My next sofa will be of that colour and fabric! And of course I just love how there is so much glorious purple in that video. Long live Bollywood!

'Lotus Love' by Halim

Two hearts. This looks at home here in this post. From a visit to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, which I remember had been more interesting and delightful than I had expected.

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Day 98

Squirrel

I was just so happy when I spotted this cheeky little guy. Or gal. It’s not often that I’m lucky enough to spot such delightful creatures. Once in a blue moon, some exotic-looking bird, (exotic to me as in unusual colouring or marking even if a tad) would land on a branch within sight, and I’d get all excited. I’d be in such awe, haha. We live in such a concrete jungle.

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Gnawing away on a coconut to get to the delicious flesh inside.

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Ravaged! Those are some powerful teeth. I wouldn’t pet him even if he lets me, lest he’s neurotic or feeling cranky and decides to have a go at one of my fingers.

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So very cute.

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Day 97