Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chang Festival

For my extended family, Chinese festivals are a time to get together to feast. The tradition of gathering for a meal has long been inculcated since the days when my grandparents were still around. If we delve deeper, one would realise that the food is really secondary to the company. 

When my Dad was alive, he would always insist that we attend such gatherings as a family. We would mark down such dates in our diaries at the beginning of the year and make every effort to be present. The same still holds true now. I diligently pen down the dates every January 1st, upon receipt of an annual email from my Aunt that spells out the various occasions - festivals and commemorations alike.

Sometimes the thought of whether such a tradition will continue over time does cross my mind. What I have come to realise is that there needs to be a member of the family who will 'champion' the practice. I hope that in time, my cousins and I will share this role. But for the moment, we shall happily let our elders do the necessary.

Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Visits from my cousins are always something to look forward to. We grew up together as kids in Petaling Jaya - we spent many weekends and school holidays together at the Lake Club, we went on trips, we celebrated birthdays, we went to piano lessons - and we have remained close through the years, despite us living much of our late teenage and adult lives in different parts of the world. The bonds that we formed as children are intact and now with my nephews in tow, we still manage to enjoy our time together
We are pretty good at keeping in touch; whether through phone calls, Whatsapp messages or Skype, we update each other on the goings-on in our lives from time to time. We make it a point to attend milestone celebrations, even if it means flying thousands of miles. We plan holidays together as a group, despite it being stressful at times with the kids.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to one word ... effort.
Siew Yoong, Tian, me, San, Jin, Suk Harn and Mum at No.7, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, mid June 2015.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Many Birthdays In June

June is really a month of birthdays. I've been to quite a number of celebrations. Each one is a milestone. Each one is a chance to appreciate the presence of the birthday boy or girl in my life. Be it friends or family, being invited to a birthday party is something that we should never take for granted. Similarly, if one is given the task of organising such a party, one ought to take it as a privilege, and no matter how much effort is required to set a date or perhaps gather the necessary guests, the end result is always worthwhile.
We had a dinner in honour of Mum's birthday slightly early this year, actually only two days early. It was the weekend which made it easier to get into the heart of town, and Mum had travel plans on her actual birthday. A nice dinner in nice surrounds, with a custom-designed cake to boot.
I view being part of birthday celebrations as an opportunity to be bestowed and to bestow good vibes, the former from the person we are honouring, the latter to the said person in return. The positive energy is shared amongst all present, uplifting our spirits and putting us in a happy state-of-mind. Happy birthday again to all those celebrating in the month of June.
Mum's birthday dinner at Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Malaysia.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bin's Birthday

Bin and I have been friends since boarding school in Immanuel College, Adelaide. I then became friends with his other half, Cordelia, at Flinders University of South Australia a year later. I was the best man at their wedding. So we go back a long way.
Every year, we get together to celebrate birthdays, be it pre, post or on the actual day itself. Each year is a milestone, for the one celebrating the birthday, and for the rest of us too, as we mark another year of a friendship that has been nurtured for more than two decades.
Friendships such as this take effort to maintain but the resulting relationships are worth the while. Our perspectives and priorities may change over time but we will always have a bond that is testament to an enduring friendship.
Bin, Cordelia, Brandon and Bryan at The Red Olive, Jaya Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Belated Birthday Breakfast For Yoke Choo

22 years is a long time. Yoke Choo and I have been friends since our days as colleagues at Resorts World Berhad. Yes, we got to know each other when we were working at Genting Highlands Resort all those years ago. We were colleagues in the Finance Department, I in F&B Cost Control and Yoke Choo in Admin.
Working and living up in Genting Highlands meant that our colleagues soon became our friends, and the ones we got along better with became our good friends. Spending so much time together, we became somewhat of a family, often having meals and enjoying social activities as a group. Sadly, most of us who left the highlands and in particular the company, have also lost touch with the many friends that we spent so much time with during our tenure there. As of now, Yoke Choo is the only one whom I am in contact with.
Our somewhat busy lives means that we don't often see each other. But every now and then there is the occasional phone call, and we stalk one another from time to time on Facebook. We remember to call and wish each other happy birthday without fail. And when the stars align and our schedules permit, we meet to catch up in person. Although our conversation revolves around the present and the future, there will inadvertently be flashbacks to our time up in Genting, a period of our lives that created an opportunity for us to initiate and subsequently nurture a friendship. Perhaps it is also time for us to try to track down some of the others. All it takes is a willingness and a little effort.
A belated birthday breakfast for Yoke Choo at Dome Café, The Curve in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.