Youngest kid of six with an inferiority and black sheep complex, but determined that God saves not just his soul to heaven but the remainder of his manic-depressive life, so others won't say he became a Christian and remained a jerk.
i won't be transparent before i'm opaque. and you'll get to know me starting from the small things: who my favourite bands are. what kind of movies i like. who are my heroes.
I’m convinced that when confronted with sincere, real love, the Jesus factor will become obvious. But let’s not plant the cross before we carry it. I’m not trying to con you.
Some dreams are meant to be achieved. I know that. But maybe other dreams are meant to drive us, privately. Never known to anyone but ourselves.
It is a sadness that, when choosing between crying and sighing, will choose sighing. I'd almost say that melancholy is being sad about sadness itself.
On memory and nostalgia
It saddens me when life moves forward and people decide that certain things are worth forgetting.
I've learnt that the word irregardless is filed as a non-standard word in the English language. That's a lexicographer's way of saying it's not a real word.
Crowds are fickle things. So when we stand in the thousands and cry against the present government, do we know who we're actually crying for?
People always want the best for themselves. But I want to sometimes take second or third or fourth best, just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. It must feel like shit to always come in last.
On growing old
Leasehold property make me feel sad. It doesn't matter how old the family photos are that you put on your wall. It's your family but it's not really your wall.
I ask you, if God loves everyone, and if God is also incapable of loving evil, how can there be such a thing as an evil man?
On a daily basis
One line quips, like this.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Having packed most of my cubicleware, i was poised to up and go.
yesterday, after lunch, about 90 people in my office got displaced, with about 5 people remaining in their existing desks.
what do you think?
design it seems is not without a sense of humour.
10:34 am ]
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Lunch hours are for lunching. Today's is for cleaning up my desk.
In two days, my office will see a massive cubicle migration, with close to a hundred folk like me picking up our pcs and miscelleaneous office paraphernalia, dumping them on our swivel chairs and rolling them to our new desks. as i type this, my post-hurricane desk now looks somewhat spartan. it reminds me of something calvino wrote, which incidentally didn't take much memory to jog because the words which i'm reminded of are pasted on my cubicle wall, and are among the things i've just taken down.
"As I was saying, how many times, when the past weighed too heavily on me, had I been seized by that hope of a cleaen break: to change jobs, wife, city, continent - one continent after the other, until I made a whole circle - habits, friends, business, customers. It was a mistake, but when I realised that, it was too late.
Because in this way all I did was to accumulate past after past behind me, multplying the pasts, and if one life was too dense and ramified and embroiled for me to bear it was aways with me, imagine so many lives, each with its own past and the pasts of the other lives that continue to become entangled one with the others. It was all very well for me to say each time: What a relief, I'll turn the mileage back to zero, I'll erase the blackboard."
i wish i knew which piece of calvino this came from, but i don't. it was diligently transcribed from page to screen by jan, and emailed to me in response to one of my previous blog posts, which was also about change.
there's something about moving that i partly dislike very much, but for the greater part am tremendously drawn to. the lure of beginning a new life, erasing the past and the excitement of a clean slate is overrated, never truly complete, yet always so compelling. it's like a writer, having killed off everyone, he razes the city, and then begins a new book.
2:05 pm ]
Monday, April 24, 2006
I’ve never really liked healing testimonies. Every time someone takes over the mic and shares a testimony about how person x had cancer and persons y and z prayed and x eventually got healed, I always feel uneasy and uncomfortable. The truth is that I don’t buy it.
I’ve heard lots of healing stories in my time. I’ve heard them from Buddhist sources, from Hindu sources, from Sai Baba sources, and of course, I’ve heard tons of Christian ones. I live my day to day family life with the evidence of some of these healings, and I’ll tell you right now, the purported healer in these cases was not Jesus from Nazareth. And for the longest time, it was impossible to explain why my Jesus is special, different and worthy of exclusive claim to divinity when lives were being saved left, right and center by gurus of the world. Was the Jesus I came to love just ordinary?
My big problem with healing testimonies is when they are used to sell Jesus, especially in conjunction with altar calls. Why is this a problem? It’s problematic because anyone who hears a healing testimony, and then accepts Jesus, accepts Jesus thinking that he is a hospitalic vending machine, where they insert prayers “here” and select from a range of healings from cancer to the common cold, and bang! their can of healing plonks down in completion, plus added blessings in change. Well, I’m sorry if this blows your worldview wide open, but Jesus isn’t your healing machine, and he’s not gonna heal everyone everytime. Even if you’re upright and sincere, there’s a pretty good chance your lump’s gonna be there when you go back for a scan. Why am I being such a wet blanket? Because I don’t want you to build your faith on an imaginary Jesus, where the Jesus of your imagination is the Alobliging Dr God.
Does Jesus heal? Yes, he does! It’s biblical, and it’s a promise of God. Is his healing real? Yes, it absolutely is! But his healing is his prerogative, and if you build your faith on a slot machine Jesus then you’re standing on sinking ground, my friend. Your faith needs to be built on the person of God, not the evidence of his wonders. That which you worship is a person, a God with a distinct personality – you don’t worship healing rallies, and you don’t chase after them either. We’re so used to Christian clichés like “I seek the giver, not the gift”, but at the drop of a hat, we exploit one of his intimate miracles and turn it into a marketing gambit.
LOOK EVERYONE! JESUS HEALED HER! HE IS WORTHY TO BE GOD!
Jesus is worthy to be God even if he didn’t heal her. Heck Jesus is worthy to be God even if you don’t see a single healing miracle all your Christian life. His status is not dependent on any amount of evidence you and I can fish out as sales gimmicks and the last thing his kingdom needs are self-centered converts who say the sinner’s prayer to purchase a plug n play God.
You know what’s so dangerous about converting people with miracles? Miracles are a dime a dozen. Any old guru can pull a rabbit out of a hat, tell you your life story and grow back your twisted fingers. Like I said, I’ve heard it from about a million sources. And if Jesus Christ, Savior of the World is substantiated simply by a fuzzy healing story, then the Buddha, Kuan Yin, Sai Baba, all of their divinities would also be substantiated, because ask their devotees for fuzzy healing stories and they’ll keep you all day. Do you see what I’m saying?
The divinity of Jesus Christ is so immensely more than his ability to heal. And any attempt to sell Jesus as a healing God ridicules him, dishonours him, reduces him to a wonder pill. The Jesus Christ who got bashed up, spat at, stripped and flogged till he was disfigured, then hacked onto planks and left to die for hours, died like that for us because he loved us THAT MUCH. That is what separates him from every other purported divinity, because not one of them – NOT ONE OF THEM – can claim to have made that kind of sacrifice.
So don’t market Jesus as someone’s savior because he healed someone else of cancer. That’s just 21st century paganism of self-serving instantaneous divinity. He died a bloody monstrous death, and the only way anyone should ever receive Jesus is by understanding what this monstrous death was for.
Anything short of that cheapens his death, and turns Jesus Christ into a bar of soap.
9:19 am ]
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Movies have terminally ruined my ability to swim at night.
Last week, i determined to go for a swim in the evening, sometime circa 7. but no thanks to another rainstorm, my determination had to be put on hold such that by the time the sky had cleared and i was still willing, it was sometime circa 8.
It's not that bad when you have people to swim with, and by that i mean people you know, people with whom you'll talk in the pool and swim together. I'm not talking about strangers in the pool, though having strangers around still helps.
But it didn't help. It didn't help that in spite of the fact that there were 3 or 4 people at any one time there, that every time i duck my head into the water, all i could see was the murky bed of the pool floor, the foggy blue tiles, the distant round dispersed lights, and this:
it was absolutely useless! i tried swimming freestyle keeping my head up on both sides, but that didn't quite work. i tried doing breaststroke with my head up the whole time, but that didn't work either. i swam backstroke for like, two laps. swimming just isn't swimming if you can't put your head underwater.
I even turned to singing. Humming in a squeezed out shiver, i feebly comforted myself with a fear-drenched rendition of "Jesus loves me this i know... (clench teeth) ... for the bible tells me so... (paddle faster)..."
Forget it. In fifteen minutes, i was out. shuddering not to the cold but to my wildest media-inspired imagination, i dragged my feet back upstairs, sighing all the way.
so to one man, i have this to say: DAMN YOU STEVEN SPIELBERG! DAMN YOU FOR RUINING MY PERFECTLY GOOD PSYCHE! YOU HORRIBLE, WICKED MAN!
10:33 am ]
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
I’ve never been a motorphilic guy.Sidetrack: Sorry to sidetrack so soon, but a lot of people use the word “auto” when describing “things pertaining to cars”, eg auto shop, or the auto pullout in the newspaper – and that annoys me, cos it’s wrong. “Auto” means “by itself”, and has nothing whatsoever to do with cars. The prefix you’re looking for is “motor”, as used above. Now that’s fifty cents.
And a car for me is only a means to an end, where the end is getting where I want to go. So when I passingly announced over dinner with my friends that “I’m spending my salary on new rims for my car”, it must have sounded like I was possessed by the ghosts of leng chai ah beng past, present and future. But it’s true. I probably do need to splash out on new rims.
Apparently, three out of my four rims are dented. For the equally unmotorphilic, the consequence of this is tri-fold: (1) air might leak out of the tyres, (2) at high speeds, the car might wobble, because the wheel is not a perfect round, and (3) the tyres will wear out unevenly because of said lack of roundness. (Now, that’s a dollar.) And unlike your jinjang correspondent down the road, I’m not too chuffed about this at all.
I asked carol the other day, “Carol, are there any precedents in Malaysia for suing the council, for like, say, potholes wrecking your car?”
It seems that there aren’t. In fact, my junior lawyer correspondent tells me that all the laws will conspire against anyone suing the Malaysian government. Which I guess is foreseeable. But I had it all imagined – it was going to be a landmark decision. Ong v MPPJ, ends up at the High Court as MPPJ v Ong. Lawyers will simply call it The MPPJ case, or affectionately call it the New Rims case. The headlines will read:MAN SUES COUNCIL FOR NEW RIMSThe man who sued his local council MPPJ for damage to the rims on his car wheels has succeeded when the High Court dismissed the council’s appeal. The damage was said to have been sustained while the respondent, Ong, drove into unexpected potholes in Bandar Utama between January and April 2006. At trial, damages were set at RM520. While the sum is small, and the matter trivial, MPPJ v Ong is a major landmark decision, and is expected to open the floodgates on members of the public bringing lawsuits against negligent town councils. Suffice to say, the New Rims case has changed the entire landscape of tort litigation in Malaysia.
Waaaaaahhh… ok, so that’s not gonna happen. Never mind.
So I was in Eneos, and the kind gentleman there showed me the range of rims they have. It’s ridiculous! I mean, ever heard someone say that they’ve installed “sports rims” on their car? Well now I bloody know why – all the rims they sell are sports rims. Not a single one – NOT ONE – would have looked out of place on a disfigured Wira with blue lights and an exhaust pipe the size of the JB-Singapore water pipe. So of course, it freaked me out, because all the rims cost so much!
“Uhh… ada yang lebih hodoh punye tak?”
I’m led to the cheapest of them all – and it still looks like a sports rim. No wonder it still costs so much.
“Tak. Nak yang betul-betul hodoh punye. Yang skarang ada kat my car tu…”
Ok, so just looking around makes it evident that Eneos isn’t in the business of selling ugly generic rims for cheapskate unmotorphilic 26 year old Chinese guys like me. Fine. My tyres were balder than zidane so I told him to slap four new ones on, paid him five hundred bucks and went on my way.
As for the new rims? Another day, perhaps. Maybe if I’m initiated enough, I’ll go look for some generic proton dealer full of cheap ugly accessories, where the only patrons are clueless aunty-aunty types and where the operators are ageing uncle-uncle types, and the only cars being souped up there are a 1985 Proton Saga and a rusty Tiara. I’ll look at their gear and be greeted by horrendous looking pieces of car parts. Maybe, when I find this shop, I’ll find the rims of my dreams.Final notes: (1) malay dialogue above grossly exaggerated, and (2) no mummy, my car isn’t falling apart.
11:38 am ]
Monday, April 17, 2006
I’ll be very honest with you. In all my four years of being a Christian, the idea of the resurrection never did anything for me. I’ve never seen it as anything remarkably special, novel or life changing. Not that I didn’t have the head knowledge to be cognizant of what Easter means, it just never, for lack of a better word, spoke to me.
Maybe it’s because of my Hindu background. I grew up reading Hindu comics, listening to the Ramayana, and colouring in pictures of half-man half-lion gods that broke out of temple pillars. Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone from a Hindu worldview finding a narrative like the resurrection spectacular and meaningful, simply because they would have been bred on a staple diet of absolutely over-the-top miraculous stories.
Monkeys that grow so terrestrially big, they step from Lanka to India, ten-headed demon kings, a god with a lady in his hair pouring out India’s river Ganges from scratch wherever the god walked… the narratives attached to the Hindu faith are no-kidding type of spectacle. So spectacular that if I told a Hindu that Easter is meaningful because the disciples found that Jesus had left his embalming linen and was alive, they’d probably giggle and think it pittance.
I mean, come on, how can that fight with avatars coming back, taking form, dying, going up, coming back, taking form, dying, going up, for like, eight, nine, ten times? I bet it makes no sense to Hindus why Christians find the resurrection all that jazz.
Especially in this age of pop healing testimony – from Christian and non Christian circles – I’ve heard so many healing stories from so many different sources, I’m desensitized already. I grew up hearing Hindu healing stories, now I hear Christian ones – what is so special about Jesus Christ?
Maybe because he is more historical, I can relate to him better. Maybe because I know he grew up an irrepressible kid, became a faithful workman, got tired, got hungry, found girls pretty, wanted to make nice furniture, enjoyed sleep, enjoyed good food, hung out with friends, dressed well, liked to talk with his mum, thought kids were all that, got sad, got frustrated, got angry, liked sunsets and enjoyed walks, makes me identify with him more. Maybe the fact that he’s more recent than Socrates or Plato or Nefertiti helps convince me that the stuff we know about him is pretty solid stuff.
But so what? The next Joe gets tired, gets hungry, finds girls pretty, and likes sunsets too. Why don’t I identify with him instead? He’s more recent than Jesus, isn’t he?
Is it because if the next Joe died, there’s no chance his body’s gonna disappear, and his mates are gonna see him hangin about all solid flesh in the weeks after? Is it because I don’t really, absolutely believe that all those Hindu gods are real?
Today, we sang a song in church that goes “because he lives, I can face tomorrow”.
Do you know what I have to face tomorrow? The sheer, utter dullness of mundanity, that’s what. Tomorrow, I have to face more subediting, increasing unrest about the mysterious team-shake up in my office, growing fatter without any resolve to lose weight, disappointed that the two people I want most to cast for my movie are not responding, that three of the four rims on my car wheels are dented no thanks to MPPJ’s potholes, and that on payday itself, I’d already blown 500 bucks on new tyres.
How the heck does Jesus being alive have ANYTHING to do with my tomorrow?
AND IF YOU CAN’T TELL ME, THEN MAYBE YOU ALSO CAN’T TELL IF RAMA KILLED RAVANA SO THAT YOU TOO CAN FACE YOUR WORRIES TOMORROW.
Because I know.
I know that this life is boring and utterly plain and routine. I know that human existence has felt so pointless for so long that those who try to do good lose hope because there’s just so many new poor people every day, and it’s not gonna stop, and those who try to be nice lose hope, because there’s just so many nasty people every day, and it’s not gonna stop.
Have you ever felt like there is no sight of victory, not at least in your lifetime?
I feel that every day.
So along comes this Jesus Christ who says that in his death and resurrection lie all the answers. Apparently, because he sometimes got tired, died, and defeated death, he defeated tiredness, and now you can do the same. Apparently, because he sometimes got angry, died, and defeated death, he substantiates our feelings of anger, and with him we can manage our anger appropriately. Apparently, because he thought girls were pretty, died, and defeated death, he knows how badly you want a girlfriend, and every night he weeps with you that you’re still alone.
This is Jesus Christ – not just because he had a human side, that I may relate to him, but that in all his humanity, when he rose on Sunday to live forever, he provides me a model so I know that my team shake-up, my weight gain, my casting problems, all of it is surmountable. Why is it surmountable? Because dying once and being dead forever has been overturned, and if that can be overturned across a weekend, then by George, by Golly, and literally by the Almighty God himself, surely the trivial worries of my day to day life can also be overturned.
This then is Easter – that because Jesus who was a son died and rose again, there is hope for my Father complex. Because Jesus who was a carpenter died and rose again, there is hope for my career. Because Jesus who was a man died and rose again, there is hope for my self-esteem.
He is my model, and because he has been there, done that, and succeeded over every adversity, even death itself, he is credible, and so when he says that he is the only way, I buy it. I absolutely buy it.
I buy it more than I buy into gods who tell me to do good, help the poor, be peaceful and loving, and suppress my desires, because I don’t believe they know the struggles of my life. I don’t believe that anything that has never been fully human can ever know the struggles of human life. And if I also can’t believe that anything that is not fully God can hold the answers to my struggles then really, really, all I’m left with is Jesus.
And really, be honest, why wouldn’t you want him too?
1:04 pm ]
Friday, April 14, 2006
I'm very curious about my neighbours. this is the first fully apartment style house i've ever lived in, and it makes me very curious about the people who dwell around me.
take for instance the neighbour diagonally opposite me. every night, when i come in, as i unlock my door, someone from that house opens their door, checks who's outside, and then closes it again. it happens almost on a nightly basis. how strange.
and the folks directly opposite me. this bunch of ladies seem to have no faculty for greeting people. one morning, as i left my house, they were leaving too. i looked up from the bunch of keys and said "good morning", but they just looked at me weird and left without a word.
what's wrong with these people? do i look like some child murderer slash gang rapist slash pickpocket slash snatch thief? or maybe they're all hiding something. maybe my neighbourhood is the best kept secret hole of the worlds most secret moles.
which put me in ginger state when, late last night, i realised that i left my handphone at mel's house. without a payphone in the 248km vicinity, there was really no way to warn her that at 7.15 tomorrow morning, my phone alarm was gonna go off like a baby with a bumfull of oatmeal, and that it would probably wake her folks up, scare her granny and even after someone switches the alarm off, it would continue to blast off every 9 minutes for the next half an hour. i needed to get her on the line.
cue the friendly neighbours. i could absolutely rule out knocking on doors because (a) it was late, and (b) door knockers are always up to no good. so on i go, down the lift, to see if there's anyone in the car park. actually, i meant to walk to the security guard post at the boom gate, and ask them for a call, but i figured that if i met friendly neighbours along the way, that i might try them instead.
so it proved good news when i enter the lift with a couple. short of large groups, couples are the next best people to approach. no gooders target lonely individuals, so anyone who asks a couple for help has to mean it. i proceed to ask them if they can lend me a phone, to make the shortest of short phonecalls. i had a one ringgit compensation note in my pocket just in case. and they were nice, surprise of the night. the guy didn't want to look at me, but the girl was friendly, but said that neither of them had their phones on them at the time. she even apologised.Sidetrack: this is not the first time that i've encountered couples where the guys refuse to look at me but the girl is friendly. what's up with all these guys? hey, if i talk to both of you, and if you think i'm up to no good, you're probably better of sussing me out than looking away while your girlfriend does the polite thing and talk. what a bunch of anti-social losers.
i reach the car park. i'm walking to the entrance, towards the guard house. then i see this guy leaving his car for the lift. chinese man, alone, reasonably sized. i figured: he won't think i'm some quack out to snatch his phone. so i try.
"Excuse me, can i borrow your phone"
"Err... (and excuse my lack of pinyin) ker yi jie ni de phone mah?"
He doesn't say anything, and gives me the meanest look i've ever been given.
"Ying wei, bla bla bla..." and i won't go on because my mandrin is bad enough when spoken, it's even worse when transcribed.
He still gives me a badass look, fishes out his phone and hands it to me. i wanted to assure him i wasn't a phone-snatcher. i'd told him i lived upstairs, and even offered him to hold my keys as insurance (hey, i'd hold someone's keys if i lent them my phone. every other person's a snatch thief nowadays). still, with the most vicious of snarls, he waves away my offer and hands me the phone.
i hurriedly press mel's numbers, and then it hits me. i don't know what's the call button on his phone. i press the top left button out of common sense, but a menu pops up, full of chinese words. i panic, ask him for assistance, and he completes the call for me. i didn't dare to look at his face anymore.Sidetrack: his wallpaper was some AEC type of taiwanese variety show host girl. i wasn't convinced that it was his girlfriend. (for dodgily reproduced approximation with ms paint, scroll up)
"Heyo, it's me", i start. "Hey, i left my phone at your house. Just to warn you that the alarm is still on, so you'll have to disable it. ... ya .... but even if you turn it off, the alarm still rings, so you'll have to turn off the alarm ... ok ... i'm using my neighbour's phone ... ok. bye".
and i take a longer route back up another lift just to avoid an awkward lift ride up with this most kind, least friendly neighbour.
love them? hahah... i say stay clear of them.
10:05 am ]
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Question 1: What is the best praise you’ve ever received?
One time, I got nominated for something. And the person who nominated me, in supporting his nomination, said that I was well-versed, helpful and an effective problem solver, among lots of other things. Hearing all that made me swell up with the most amazing pride.Question 2: What is your dream praise, and from who?
Maybe to hear my dad say that I’ve made it as a man.
It’s incredible what praise can do. Especially if, like me, you’ve battled the years of low self esteem. To hear a fellow person say great things about you is already nice. Praises rock the houses down.
But recently I’ve run into some bible verses that have put things into perspective. In John 5, Jesus says that he doesn’t need the testimony of man – he’s only after the testimony of the Father. And we know that Paul, in Philippians 3:8, considers all the achievements of man “rubbish” compared to gaining Christ.
Which made me wonder: if the praises in Q1 and Q2 mean so much to me, why doesn't the praise of God seem anywhere as important? Is it just because i can't physically hear it? Am I shallow? or crazy? or unbelieving? Or is it a common fact of life?
I think everyone is like me. I think maybe because nobody cares about God's applause, it makes him sad.
Labels: dreams, gender, identity
4:23 pm ]
Monday, April 10, 2006
I’ve been treating God like a vending machine. i slot in my prayers, choose from among the lush array of (1) relationship, (2) career, (3) social life, (4) finances, (5) childhood dreams, push all the right buttons, and after this ridiculous ritual, I don’t even stick around long enough to find out what God wants from me – not even if all he wants is some time together. And I’m quite ashamed of myself.
Today, ps lee choo was saying something to the effect of how when we pray, we want to encounter God in his reality, but is God encountering us in our reality too? Are we letting him see us in all our flaws, all our struggles and pain or are we putting up a front? I’ve been putting up fronts everywhere.
My front in church and cell have been so brave, I bet no one knows that my spiritual kettle has long gone off the boil. My front at work is brave enough for colleagues to not know that my entire life has spun way out of control. There are probably only three or four people who really know how tired I am with everything.
I’ve grown so extremely tired of serving, or so scared of meeting acquaintances in church because i’ve become so protective of my personal time. In a completely egocentric gallilean way, it feels like everyone wants a piece of me when it couldn’t be less true. Most people won’t have anything to do with me, but still I feel like I’m spread so thin on every bread I’ve got my knife on.
I’m probably closer to backsliding than I’ve ever been before, and i’m displaying all the signs of impending burn out. every day, literally every day, I find myself fantasizing about one of the following: (1) traveling to a faraway place, (2) packing it all in and living in the country, (3) going back to muar to stay. It’s not healthy at all.
Today, ps chew preached about the resurrection of lazarus, and when he talked about how that miracle marked the turning point of Jesus’ ministry, I knew that my own life – this drudging life – needed to turn as well. Slot prayer here – press “new life”.
So I remembered that I’ve been treating God like a vending machine, and it’s ironic: that when all i want is stuff out of God, that’s when i seem to get every dang piece of goobledigook. It’s an experience of humble pie proportions. But I’ve no cards left, so it’s back to the hard knocks of good old fashioned getting to know you. And I’m lousy at making up – I’m saddled with all this guilt and shame and issues that I think he wouldn’t care, but he has to. I’m convinced that he has to.
And as for God himself, I’m sorry I’ve been such an ass. i’m tired of being a cynical realist. i want that feeling again, that comforting, peaceful feeling of knowing he knows where I’m at, and knowing that I can trust him to hook everything together. I know I need it, because i’ve been living in his absence for so long now, and tonight, it really, really hurts.
9:48 am ]
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
For some reason, i had to come into to work at ten pm tonight, and stay here for goodness knows how many hours till i've either done enough work or chalked up enough hours for the books. now, i don't mind working late - seeing as i don't make it a habit, it's not that bad. i also don't mind putting in the hours - it's necessary, and doing so with no one else in the office just means that it's easier to concentrate. what i do mind, however, is the driving.
i've grown more and more impatient with the LDP. it's got to be the ugliest stretch of highway anywhere on the face of greater KL. in the day, the buildings along it look drab and miserable. the malls look somewhat trashy and there's always a jam somewhere near kelana jaya. it's a thoroughly disgusting journey.
but that's in the day, anytime near peak hour. driving in at ten pm, you'd forgive me for thinking that i'd have a better time. and it actually was better. still, the highway managed to get the better of me.
when i was growing up, i remember listening to this dolly parton song that goes "the bright lights of the city / are a pretty sight to see / perhaps they're extra pretty / to a country girl like me". the song goes on to talk about how lonely and cruel the city is, and how she feels lost, and she asks her "mamma" to say an extra prayer for her. know that one?
well, driving down to cyberjaya tonight made me think of that song. the buildings along the LDP looked distinctly foreign tonight, and they felt cold and strange. not strange in a weird sense, but strange in a "stranger" sense - they just felt foreign. and as i drove, i felt like i was so far from home.
at that point, i don't even know if the home i felt far from was my bachelor pad, my family in gasing, or even my hometown. and in a way, it didn't matter. i was so far from them all. i felt like a nobody driving into the nevada desert and finding vegas, except that my vegas is the non-nocturnal desolation of cyberjaya.
and right now, as i bang away a blog while i ought to be finishing up my work (fancy going home at 2am, don't i?), i feel so lost in this big, almost bad, world. this whole young working person's existence feels so damn lonely.
Labels: loneliness, melancholy, memory and nostalgia
11:26 pm ]
Saturday, April 01, 2006
When vernon and i got to Italiannies last night, i was up in arms again about the waiters there. "They always tell me it's too much, that noo, noo, noo, the portion is for about five people!". well, it's not. and time and again, i go to Italiannies and i finish a whole main meal by myself. in fact, i believe i was bitching about this point just as we were served. at any case, we were greeted warmly, as you always are at Italiannies, and just as we asked for extra bread and explained the one-more-person-coming-later thing, we'd pretty much sussed out that we had ourselves a cool waitress.
"You've been here before? Do you know about our portions?", she asks.
"Yes, we've been here before", vernon goes.
"We're cool with your portions", i finish.
"Then cool!", she quips.
it's over in ten seconds. how strange? i was ready to fend off the typical Italiannies waiter, the one who insists that i won't be able to finish the portions. who's this girl?
incidentally, i don't tip. i don't think it's necessary, and i don't believe it should ever be a rule. robbers rob, hawkers hawk, subeditors subedit, and waiters wait. they're paid to do it, just as i'm paid to take out commas. if i had an extra dime for every news story i publish online, i'd tip, but i don't. (for further reference, watch the first ten minutes of Reservoir Dogs.) tips, therefore, are only for the exceptional.
vernon and i eat our hearty meal while verbosing about, inter alia, the definition of "tumultuous" and "chaos". it was fun. i said that "tumultuous" does not have the widespread nihilism of "chaos", and he added that "chaos" doesn't have the passion of "tumultuous". we were like collins and oxford at an italian restaurant. and all this while, the service from our dear waitress has been excellent. very friendly, welcoming, and interactive - even funny.
it was towards the end of our meal that we both decided to tip her. it was service that warranted a nice tip - a good reward for going above and beyond the call of her mundane duty. she had livened up our dinner and jolted me out of my argumentative mood into a cheerful, lighter-hearted one. that alone takes skill. so when we ask her for the bill, vernon begins, "What is the ... tipping policy here?"
"I mean, do you all share or..."
"Oh no, we keep our own tips", she adds.
"Good!", and "Cool", we chime in as our hands reach into our wallets and fish for money. the bill was about 70 ringgit.
what ensues, however, remains a mystery to both of us. vernon puts some money in, and so do i. he takes some money out, and the waitress goes off. i, thinking that i had not paid my tip, through some momentary lapse in being there, call her back to add my tip. that was when our waitress gaped at us and asked us if we were sure. smiling, she said "Really? Thanks!", like she'd never seen a tip like that before (which could be true, considering that...)
we had actually, mistakenly, but actually way overtipped. first. we joked, laughed, and vernon explained that it's ok, don't worry about the tip because the service was good and "the waiters here normally discourage him" (him being me) "... but you were cool". yes, she was. it was only as we sauntered out of the place that we both, eyebrows raised, began wondering about the actual sum of the tip. vernon thought it was normal, but i began thinking it was wrong. if i'm right, that we were wrong, then our nice and friendly waitress carried 140 ringgit with her to the cashier.
that's a 70 ringgit tip.
in licking my mild wound, i consoled myself with a few facts: (1) that i never tip, (2) that if any waitress ever deserved it, it'd probably be her, and (3) it would have made her day, and (4) it reinforces for her, and if the story gets around, her colleagues, that it pays to provide good service, and it definitely pays to not insult the customer's ability to eat large portions.
so vernon asks me the telling question: next time we go there, and if she serves us, what do we do? do we still keep up the tip? my answer was no. we can't afford to anyway. it was a mistake. i meant to tip generously, but in our haphazardry, we tipped too generously. next time, if she serves us, i will tip just generously. no more 70 ringgit action.
but to NANA who works at Italiannies in one utama, thanks for the great service, you rock, and we hope the 70 bucks come in handy. cheers.
4:13 pm ]