Happy New Year

Happy New Year folks!

2016 was a sad year and yet, a year of growth. I fell into a pit of despair and slowly learned to pick myself up. It was a very difficult phase in life because, I don’t really want anybody’s help and yet there are times when I really want to just depend on someone. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and with time, I am back to normal. At least, most of the time, I am. 🙂

The last few days of 2016 was pretty relaxing. Many colleagues took leave and the office felt very cold but we were very relaxed. Zan played the guitar with the chords from PC while I sang during lunch time. Then, we also celebrated the December and January babies’ birthday. That was fun! :p

On New Year’s Eve, I attended my friend’s hotpot + board games event.I met 2 people who worked for the Star’s R.A.G.E. segment and enjoyed listening to their stories while covering the “Predator in my phone” project. It is basically a project which exposes how sexual predators lure young girls into having sexual activities with them via mobile chat apps such as weChat. There is this part of the interaction where they ‘groom’ the girls to be more curious and comfortable with the idea. The journalists posed as young girls in the chat app and met up with some of these predators to learn how they operate and these meetings are secretly filmed. I have watched these videos and it is indeed shocking and terrifying to learn the truth. Go watch it if you have not!

Sorry for digressing but I find that very important. Anyway, back to the board games! The hotpot was delicious but I really enjoyed the games more as there were more interaction. We played Cards Against Humanity ( tsk tsk :p ), Resistance and Saboteur. Resistance is similar to Mafia except that everyone gets to play in every round whereas the dead in Mafia has no more role. My team won in the first round, despite my naivety. The second round was really bad because I heavily accused an innocent and defended the bad one. And my team lost. The horror! I cannot imagine if that happens in real life. Oh well! When we next play Saboteur ( another similar game ), I restrained myself from getting too excited. It was a pretty cool evening overall, something different than the usual New Year celebrations.

On New Year’s Day itself, I attended a friend’s church, a Methodist church. I enjoyed listening to the sermon because it was very animated. There is the pastor, and the translator. The pastor would speak in Chinese whereas the translator translates it to English. At times, it felt like they were both rapping because the pastor would speak really fast and energetically as he delivers his points and the translator translates with the same energy and pace.  It happened to be a Holy Communion event too so I got to witness them ‘eating bread and drinking wine’. In short, it was pretty cool.

Then, there is also another incident where two friends were playing chess. One lost his Queen and he was trying really hard to get her back that he lost his focus on the actual game goal: to checkmate the opponent’s King. This reminded me of the sayings where women are the cause of dynasty downfalls, etc. How apt! Somehow, the game mimics what I watch on television. Kekeke.

Lastly, how can we not talk about New Year resolutions? I have quite a few – the simplest is to read 17 books this year. The theme for this year is to get out of my comfort zone. I also wish to look for a Buddhist community where I can attend dhamma talks, join meditation sessions and retreats as well as meeting other fellow Buddhist practitioners. Fortunately, I found one pretty nearby so I will go check it out this Sunday. As if by chance, I met an old Buddhist friend earlier today who would like to go with me this Sunday too.

Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu. =)

Singing All Along

Recently, I have been watching this Chinese drama titled ‘Singing All Along’ (秀丽江山之长歌行) produced by and starred by Ruby Lin. Although I only started around episode 18 or so because my parents were watching it, I found myself slowly engrossed in it as well.

At its core, it is a romance period drama set in the midst of a chaotic world in 1st century imperial China. Hence, there are a lot of fighting and military jargon as well as political conflicts. The characters are mostly centered around the Imperial College students who has the same goal to revive the Han Dynasty and make the world peaceful again. Here, we are introduced to some of the powerful / important / noble families such as the Yin and Deng families and the Liu clan ( direct descendants of Emperor Gaozu ) who seem to exist in every province.

lihua-liuxiu
Li Hua x Liu Xiu

Our leading male character is Liu Xiu ( court name Wenshu ), the simple peasant who slowly rose to be a powerful figure due to circumstances and necessity whereas our leading female character is Yin Li Hua ( court name Yin Ji ), a strong personality with a deep interest in martial arts, swordplay and military tactics. Both of them are childhood sweethearts who literally went through thick and thin and sacrificed a lot before they can be together. From them, I learned a little bit about what it means to truly love someone. No matter what happened, they always have faith in each other and understand each others intentions although the world may not. Most importantly, they only have eyes for each other against all odds. In a world filled with so many distractions, wealth and beauty, it is easy to be swayed. But not our favorite couple, whose famous line in the series “If I were to marry,  I will only marry Yin Li Hua” becomes a recurring reminder and oath of Liu Xiu’s love for Li Hua.Their love story can probably be summed up as “Love endures”.

yinshi
Yin Shi – slightly younger looking than the actual look on screen

Besides them, love is also represented in multiple facets via the other supporting characters. One of the other major love theme is familial love. This is represented much so by Li Hua’s half elder brother, Yin Shi. Bearing the sole responsibility as the male patriarch of the Yin family after his father’s death, Yin Shi has been unwavering in preserving the family’s dignity and protecting his family members. His task is super challenging and though we may get annoyed with him at times for his strictness, we really appreciate his efforts and help in supporting Li Hua all the way. He even sacrificed his own happiness for the sake of maintaining peaceful relations between the Yin and Deng family. He is one elder brother whom we all admire and can really count on.  T_T

litong
Li Tong

Another love theme which should be mentioned is unconditional love. This is probably one of the most sincere love one can ever give to another. It is not about getting what you want, or having your feelings reciprocated. It is about giving your all to ensure that your loved one is safe and happy. This is demonstrated by Li Tong ( court name Ciyuan ), who sees the good in Liu Boji ( Liu Xiu’s younger sister )and loves her despite her petty and childish behavior. He is always patient with her and treats her with loving kindness, and would willingly give up his life for her. His sincerity and devotion is truly admirable and incomparable.

Besides love values, I also learn quite a few other things. For instance, the Chinese values. Throughout the drama, the characters can roughly be divided into two kinds: The honorable and the dishonorable ones. The honorable characters are usually morally upright and virtuous in their thought, speech and conduct. On the other hand, the dishonorable characters tend to be shifty, scheming and scandalous. Part of the internal conflicts faced by the honorable characters are usually caused by their responsibility to protect the family/clan’s pride and to focus on their goal in achieving world peace. Furthermore, being respectful and loyal to one’s parents, elders, authorities and the emperor is like an internal compass drilled into their very bones. Ranks, titles and relations play an important role in upgrading or degrading one’s status in society as well. This can be acquired via promotion or via marriage. This is also the first time I watch a coming-of-age ceremony where one is formally acknowledged as an adult and is given a court name ( secondary name ). Therefore, it is quite fun learning the various characters’ real names and court names. An honorable mention goes to Feng Yi ( court name Gong Sun – i think ). He is the most reliable and well-respected men / general among all.  Ever loyal and kind, his gentle ways and forthright attitude makes him truly a rare gem. 🙂

gongsun
Feng Yi aka Gong Sun

Last but not least, I slowly picked up some Chinese characters. While I listened and read the English subtitles, my eyes glossed over the Chinese subtitles as well. I try to recognize some of the Chinese characters and remember them whenever I can. The opening and ending song are powerful ballads which are pleasant to my ears. Thankfully, the meaning of every lyric is shown as well though I do not quite understand some of its poetical lines. However, it is still a pleasure to slowly consider the significance of the metaphors used.

Overall, it is a captivating drama which does not waste time and scenes. Every character mentioned has a specific role and every line delivers a point. Plus points for everyone looking so youthful despite their actual age being over 30!!! I get to see another Kazakh ethnic lady again, with the role of Ding Rou played by her. Though this is only a fictional tale based on a novel, I enjoyed the action, thriller scenes and touching moments. Can’t wait to finish it!

dream dream dream

last night i had this really weird funny dream.

In my dream, I had a preview of what’s going to happen. Something like a teaser trailer.

And then the events start to unfold one by one.

First scene: NK, SY, SM and I are in this room where SM is resting on a queen size bed whereas SY and I are wrestling playfully on the mattress below. I know I was feeling pretty tired and I felt tired in my dream too. Then, when I wanna leave, NK asked me to help pass some purplish silk pouch to someone and I kinda ignored and told him to pass it himself.

^ I’m guessing this is somewhat related to my work. The scene is still weird to me.

Second scene: I went out and started a slow jog but it felt more like taking long leaps. I felt like I was semi flying when I am in the air in between the long leaps. I gained some distance but my pace slowed down as I begin to feel tired. ( this tired feeling always comes creeping in ). To my surprise, I saw the back of a lion and I quickly went and hid behind a tree. I can’t see the lion but I can see that something else is also fearing the lion. It looked like a tiger, but the body shape resembled more of a deer. Can you imagine a tiger with the body shaped like a deer? It was walking backwards in a nervous manner and I slowly see the lion advancing slowly towards the tiger. It happened to turn its head and…… the face was a cat! What!?!? From my hiding point, I started looking around to see if anyone else saw what I saw but I was shocked even more. More animals appeared, but they all seem weirdly mutated. Each is a combination of two animals, if that makes sense. For example, a kangaroo body with a another animal’s face. A rhino body with a ummm, another animal’s head. Strangely, I cannot recall what the animal combinations were. Everything is a haze. And what’s even more peculiar is that a crowd of people started gathering near the “cute” combinations and began taking ‘we-fie’. OMG. I find it difficult to move and slowly retreat back to where I came from. I hid behind a telephone booth when I thought there is another weird creature but it turned out to be a ‘Wall E’ creature floating away. Strange and stranger.

^I’m guessing this mishmash animals are caused by my brain processing my zoo trip earlier this month. What else can be the explanation?

Third scene: I went inside a ‘lab/classroom’ where my CTO is the professor/teacher and informed the rest of the class that the latest assignment/project has been handed out. Now, there is quite an interesting twist to this project. You can choose to finish or ‘are not able’ to finish it. BUT, you need to provide sufficient and reasonable proof on why you will not be able to complete it. It felt really difficult though. From my understanding, this is like a programming + electronics homework. Two of my ‘table mates’ left me to do research and said they will be back when they are done. Somehow, I took it as they don’t wanna discuss with me as I’m too noob. I can’t quite remember who they are though I did recognise them in the dream. Soon after they left, a few other friends joined me and started discussing on what can be done. I am still pondering how to solve this project – should I try to finish it or conclude that it cannot be done and work on finding evidence why it cannot be completed?

^This is probably my brain’s attempt to decipher and hint to me my subconscious thoughts and feelings. Nothing makes sense and time is running.

I know this entire post is a mix of present and past tense. I didn’t feel like correcting them. Maybe it can give a feel of the mixed feelings I experienced as I wander between here and there, then and now. As usual, my dreams have many people and sometimes nothing makes sense. XD

what can i do to make this world a better place?

It so happened that I joined Tzu Chi’s charity event this morning and I am glad I did. Ban and I (non members) joined at JC’s invitation. Brief info: Tzu Chi is a volunteered-based non-governmental organization which focuses mostly on medical, education, environmental and humanitarian aid programs. That’s my take on it. So far, I have helped out at their recycling point a few times and this time, I will be volunteering in one of their charity events. What they do is to assist the needy by providing aid, be it in terms of medical, material or monetary aid.

We gathered at Tzu Chi’s Kelana Jaya Headquarter and put our shoes into a shoe cabinet. Other Tzu Chi members wore black socks with rounded solids at the base for added friction as the floors were smooth wooden panels. After registration, we went to our seats which are based on location. The chairs and tables are low and looks as though it is designed for kids. I assume that the low height serves as a reminder to be humble. We were introduced to one of the Tzu Chi seniors. They wore dark navy polo tees with white pants and have their hair tied up neatly in a bun. The other members wore a grey polo tee with white pants as well. There is a large white screen where the projector displays footages of previous Tzu Chi events.

The first 90 mins is a talk and some videos where they share a little about what they do, and discuss some of the practices. As mentioned earlier, they helped the poor and the needy by supplying aid in terms of monetary, material or medical aid. Learning from their past experiences, they would conduct follow up sessions to assess the recipients’ livelihood and welfare to determine if there is a need to increase, reduce or stop the subsidy. Besides providing help, they also try to comfort and encourage the recipients to improve themselves and help others once they can stand on their own feet.This was all said and done in Mandarin so it is quite difficult to understand at times. JC translated whenever he can but I got the gist of it.

Besides that, they also pointed out that this charity act is not so much about us helping the needy but rather, being thankful and blessed that we are able to help those in need.
We started and ended the talk with 3 salutations to the Buddha. Ban and I are placed with a senior tzu chi member group whereas JC is with another group. We were then given the Tzu Chi volunteer vest to wear. Our group of 5 headed to the first stop and the senior gave us a brief history of the person we will be visiting. Unfortunately, my shabby Mandarin could only pick up the bits and pieces and form a very vague idea. So, the guy lives alone in a rundown flat. I’ll skip his background.

Ban and I mostly observe while the most senior tzu chi member did most of the speaking. The tzu chi lady with us is a nurse and she was able to assess his health condition. How awesome! I had this idea of her as the medical ninja in the team. In case you are confused, I am referring to the Naruto anime/manga where every ninja team has a medical ninja who can assist to heal the wounded. So, the tzu chi senior mostly chatted about his health and welfare. Whenever the conversation topic turns negative, he will skillfully steer the conversation topic to something more positive and conducive. Such an admirable communication skill! After about 30 mins, we left and went back to the headquarter.

JC’s team was just about to leave so Ban and I joined his team. This time, we went to a house where a mother was worried sick about her son. Her son has a medical condition where he needs to be operated and she is afraid that he will not make it through the surgery. She broke down and wept as she shared her fears and described her son’s condition. The Tzu chi seniors mostly comforted her and asked about the family welfare. I honestly think that it is good that we have someone to pour out our worries and troubles. It has a cathartic effect where releasing it helps to calm one down. Having someone caring for your family in times of need is also quite healing, I would think. She requested repetitively that we pray for her son and we gave our assurances that we would. I sincerely wish that her family will be able to make it through this hardship.

We then met up with 3 other Tzu Chi seniors for lunch at a vegetarian place. Naturally, we shared our experiences and thoughts about today’s visit. To me, the experience is very eye opening and humbling. Seeing their house conditions, health state and poverty level makes me feel as though I am very healthy and wealthy. We really have to be thankful and grateful that our life has been good. Having observe the Tzu Chi seniors’ interaction with the people, I felt that I do not have a heart big enough to take in everything nor do I have the communication skills required. There is still so much to learn and I will be back for my second round. Hopefully, I can cultivate more empathy, compassion and loving-kindness in my interactions with anyone.

Sadhu sadhu sadhu.

Hello World

This is my first time using WordPress. After a long hiatus from blogging, I would like to get back in the groove and practice my writing skills. Blogger has been my first blogging platform back then and I wrote plenty. Then, I kind of stopped blogging and when I next resume it, I tried Tumblr, which was quite fun but not so suitable for my usually long posts. It is a microblogging site, after all.

So, I’m giving WordPress a shot. Hopefully, I can improve my writing and share parts of my life via this humble blog of mine. Hello World! =)