Sunday, November 30, 2014

sleepless in taipei...

I was in Taipei for a little more than 120 hours and that was all the time it took for me to fall in love. Ever since returning to home soil, I feel empty like I have left a piece of my heart somewhere. I speak less than five phrases of Mandarin, broken Taiwanese that no real Taiwanese could understand and still I felt like I belonged. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

I asked my friend this question today - if you could live your life again knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently? He said he wouldn't, because that would mean he would not be who and where he is. 

I would. I would have studied hardier in school, really make those History, Science and Mathematics lessons count. I would not have stopped writing just because I started working. I would have continued reading books, listened to real music (Nirvana, Snow Patrol, Vivaldi). I would have stayed in touch with friends from school. I would not have wasted so much money on objects that held no economic value. I would have learned swimming and yoga much earlier, and not let fear stand in the way. I would never have lost my way and most of all, I would have retained my true passion for words and the English language. 

Anyway, I have been wasting a lot of time on which is a white supremacy forum. The white supremacists argue (convincingly) that they are the master race because of their genetic intelligence and good looks (blonde hair, blue eyes). Well, the western civilization have indeed made significant contributions to the betterment of society. Every important invention in the last few centuries have been invented by whites - telephone, energy, cars, internet, airplanes. Theory has it that the early humans who traveled out of Africa evolved faster than those who remained because the harsh conditions of the northern hemisphere forced them to be creative and innovative. The Africans on the other hand, never left the land so they became complacent and remained primitive. Take this with a grain of salt if you wish, but some of the arguments above are quite valid. When was the last time an African invented something? Has anyone wanted to try African cuisine the way one would try Indian, Japanese, Italian, Greek cuisine? 

East Asians supposedly have the highest IQs (I think this was researched in The Bell Curve), several points ahead of Caucasians. This is logical and a reasonable conclusion if you take into consideration the progress of developed nations like Japan and South Korea. Do homogenous societies work better than multicultural ones? Look at our own backyard - we claim that diversity is our strength but we bicker every day, on racially based issues. The ugly truth is, we fear what we do not understand. We identify better with people who look and think the same way that we do and we distrust people who are different. Conflicts are inevitable even with people who are similar, what more can you expect from people with diverse culture, religion, ideology, heritage and history? Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if our forefathers never ventured out of China or India. But then again, as evidenced by the men who traveled out of Africa, change is necessary and can be a good thing. It teaches you perseverance, courage and strength. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

In my quest to lose weight, I have been attending yoga classes regularly for the past seven months. Some classes are more brutal than others but I generally come out of them feeling exhilarated and rejuvenated. I don't know the names of most asanas (except for downward dog hahaha) and I am fearful of any pose that requires inversion but I will say this - I love yoga and if I didn't have a full time job which consumes 2/3 of my life, I'd practice it daily. I wish I had been introduced to yoga and it's endless benefits earlier (maybe when I was twenty?), but you know what they say, better late than never. 

I have a bit of an anxiety problem. My aunt was clinically diagnosed with this so maybe it is hereditary. Anxiety is no walk in the part. You interpret the world as a place that is constantly threatening and menacing, and everyone is part of this conspiracy, designed to put you at harm's way. I worry and obsess endlessly about everything. A couple of nights ago, I suddenly had this thought that I had included the wrong ISBN in a book that has already been published. A hundred and one negative outcomes that could potentially arise, as a result of my (presumed) error ran across my head. It was to say the very least, stressful. 

Yoga, because of it's meditative nature is supposed to calm a disturbed mind. I must say though - while yoga has done wonders for my health and physical body, it it has yet to take any effect on me, mentally and spiritually. I am still as anxious as ever and during shavasana (corpse pose where you lie on the floor and do nothing), I find myself ruminating (and entertaining) all kinds of thoughts in my head. I am at my wit's end really, I am aware that anxiety is taking over my life but nothing seems to be helping. 

I could of course go to a psychologist to talk things through and maybe undergo cognitive behavior therapy but the costs are way beyond my means. Sadly, mental illness is not covered by group insurance. Which goes to show that mental illness is still very much a stigma and people would rather sweep it under the rug than to acknowledge that it is becoming a common health concern in our modern society. Illnesses like cancer are easy to define (I am in no way suggesting that a cancer diagnosis is any cause for celebration) but mental illnesses are harder, in a sense that there are no physical symptoms. Some people accuse you of faking it, insisting that everything is in your head. 

Really, I wish my brains would just shut the hell up. Some days I wonder if being deaf would do me good because I am so hyper sensitive to sounds that I get anxious whenever I hear a bus or a motorcycle roaring past. It makes my blood boil and I become annoyed, angry and uneasy. If I had it my way and if money was no objection, I would stay at home all day, in my own little bubble where I feel safe and protected from danger - perceived or otherwise. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

scenes from lunar new year...

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Welcome to the year of the wooden horse! By next year, I hope to be proficient enough to write Chinese New Year greetings in Mandarin. According to Joey Yap's calculations, today is an inauspicious day for those born in the year of the rat to commence work but I had no choice; I actually had urgent work to complete. Bummer...please don't let the rest of my year be doomed. I am acutely aware that people born in the year of the horse do not get along well with people born in the year of the rat but don't forget that we have to take into account the element as well. 2014 is year of the wooden horse and I am a wooden rat so perhaps this will work in my favor. Just my humble two cents as a feng shui novice! 

My CNY break was quite good although I did have a minor spat with my dad on the 2nd day of the new year. He made a callous remark about me and I went on a defensive mode, raising my voice but thankfully, it did not lead to a full blown argument. Otherwise, this would have been terribly unfortunate - to be fighting on the 2nd day of the 1st month in the new lunar year, at a time where families are supposed to gather, give ang baos, eat kams, gamble, be merry and do nothing else. 
The steamboat pot is an ancient relic. 
Straits Quay before the sun sets

Cai Shen in Kelawai Road, Penang

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

How is it possible that I have busier weekends now that I am single compared to when I had a boyfriend?* The list of things to do never seem to end. Or maybe it's the festive season. Spring cleaning, making sure everything is spick and span, ensuring that the house is ready to welcome the year of the horse! 

I managed to catch "Her" on Friday night. I was alone and had to bump into an author whom I am currently working with on a book. I was stuffing a hotdog into my mouth when he saw me. Talk about looking undignified and greedy. I thought the movie was interesting, and quite sad. But the part where Theodore said "I will never love anyone as much as I loved you" (don't quote me on the exact words but he did say something to that effect), I cringed. I can't understand how he could have fallen in love with an Artificial Intelligence, I mean how deranged and crazy do you have to be? I understand that he has fallen in love with her but to say that she is the person he loves most in his life seems rather far-fetched. She's not even human. And I was under the impression throughout the entire movie that his ex-wife was whom he clearly loves. He fell in love with Samantha because he was lonely and depressed over the divorce. 

I went for a 45 minute swim yesterday, did laundry, waited for the courier guy to deliver my study materials, had an appointment in town at 2pm, ate Korean food for dinner, came back and cleaned the house. Today, I brought my car out for a wash, changed the light bulbs at home, cleaned some more, took a nap in the afternoon, went for yoga class, had dinner with some friends and now, I am back here. 

This week will be a short one at work as the lunar new year holiday starts on Friday. I will be taking the bus to Penang on Thursday morning and I hope the traffic is kind and forgiving. As per traditions, we gather for reunion dinner on the eve of lunar new year. Last year we had steamboat but I am not sure if we are having this again. Sometimes, we have rice and dishes instead. After that we hang around (I hang around, my mother and aunt will be busy doing last minute cleaning) and wait for midnight. Once the clock strikes 12, we will pray to the altars in our house, greet each other, make positive statements, drink, munch on cookies or eat kam (Mandarin oranges) watch tv, talk. These traditions have been in place for as long as I can remember and things have never really changed. It was certainly more exciting, noisy and fun though when my brother still lived with us as he is the jovial one in our family. Years ago when my grandfather was alive, we burned fire crackers outside our house. In fact, the rest of our neighbors would burn long fire crackers as well and I remember our streets roaring with the merry sounds of joy. Those were happier, simpler times and I was a mere child. 

*Well technically, G (name of boyfriend) and I are on a break from our relationship due to a few unresolved issues. But since we have not been in touch I have no idea if he has moved on so I rather tell people I am single rather than having to explain the complicated nature of our relationship. Or worse, say I am attached and find out months later that my boyfriend is already with someone else lolz.