Friday, June 20, 2008

Keeping the dream alive

My dear baby kai kai is 5 months old today!

It really does seem like yesterday that ping and I were planning on how we would set up a room for our baby, what name we should give him, how are we going to tackle the day-to-day affairs after his "arrival" (even seemingly mundane stuff like getting to work in the morning, coming back home after work, going out in the weekends,etc. seemed to require so much planning ahead!).

Now, in the flash of an eye (it seems like that to me, at least), he's been with us for 5 months. Somehow (and I have always told people around me this) TIME seem to fly by at an accelerating pace as we age.
My theory is the human brain undergoes some form of biological deterioration as we get older, such that less and less details are being stored and remembered. For instance, when we were in Primary school, we seemed to be able to remember so many small and insignificant details (including our friends' phone numbers!! oh my god..) and somehow the passage of time is extremely slow and easy.
Presently, I cant even remember what I did 2 days ago! Geezzz

Anyway, I am glad to say that some things don't ever change, even as time seemingly erode certain memories.

I recall my first encounter with the classical guitar when I was in Secondary 1, joining the RI guitar club and performing Besame Mucho on stage (I was playing guitar 1! heehe..) I also remembered begging my parents to buy me a guitar, which they kindly agreed to. It was a Yamaha 110, which cost about $150 then - by no means a small sum 20 years ago. Of course they were a little disappointed that I "ditched" the piano- which my mum loves - for the guitar, but they were generally supportive. (Thanks load, mum & dad!)

Since then, it was a love affair that carried on till this day. (yes, I kind of got distracted and neglected my guitar during those army days... was busy reading comics and sleeping during my off days) Much of my passion for guitar stemmed from my years in NUS, where I happened to join the varsity guitar club - GENUS. There, I found like-minded people who were destined to become my buddies in music-making in the years that followed. Also, I'd never forget the first time I had to play a Bach Concerto (it was on the Niibori Bass guitar) in the ensemble. The 5-sharps score nearly freaked me out...

I also vividly remember how our conductor and mentor, Mr Alex Abisheganaden, educated us on the history of the classical guitar and its ups-and-downs. How he literally skipped and danced on the stage (back then, we performed in the Victoria Concert Hall) when we reached the finale/encore piece in our annual concerts.
He was the heartbeat of GENUS back then, and (sad to say) I doubt there will ever be someone in Singapore, who's as committed and passionate about GENUS (and classical guitar) as he was.

Of course, years have passed since Mr Alex led Genus to the performance stage at VCH/UCC. Batches (or even a generation!) of NUS undergraduates passed through the doors of GENUS. Many guitar players came into the club and left after they graduated - leaving nothing more than a name or photograph in the printed concert programme booklets to record their passage.
But there were also some who managed to find that extra spark which either kept their interest in guitar alive, or re-kindled their hopes and dreams of performing on a grand concert stage with a bunch of their fellow music buddies.

I hope that dream continues - currently in the form of
Expose in GENUS; and Guitaresque for me and a couple others - for a long time to come.

Who knows, in years to come, Kai Kai may fall in love with the guitar as his daddy once did, and carry on the dream to the next generation.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A day in the life of Kai Kai

"my Papa tells me I am a good boy whenever i finish my milk"

"hah! chicken feat! I am a happy baby!"

"But then ah mah tells me i have to drink from bottle..."

"that got me worried..."

"i know now i have to work extra hard!"

"but... Nothing beats Mummy!"

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The kiasu Singaporean parent

Only someone who is a parent can understand the kind of stress and worry that one goes through for the sake of his/her child.

Parents worry about everything, from the point the child is born.

No - in fact, they usually start worrying even BEFORE the child is born! From the: "What kind of name shall we give him, must sound good and have good meaning" and "I hope the baby is healthy..." to the "I'm afraid he will be naughty when he grows up"; "What if he cant cope with the stressful education system in Singapore next time?", etc.. the list continues...

I know these thoughts did go through my mind (at various points throughout my wife's 9 months pregnancy period), and some worries continue to bug me now that Kai is 4+month old.

Recently, there's been quite a lot of debate - both on the papers, as well as over the web - on the sort of school/education system (here in Singapore) that we are currently putting our young through. Many parents feel that the schools are "teaching" too much, and that "more is less". Some feel that the schools (or more precisely - the schools' management) are so caught up in the rat-race (to be the top X% in exam results) that they 'sacrifice' not just the well-being of their teaching staff, but also that of the children as well. By having tonnes and tonnes of extra classes (many conducted over the supposedly "holiday" period) and homework for the pupils, unneccesary stress is loaded onto the shoulders on both the teachers and the pupils.

Then comes the related debate on whether or not having private tuition for the children is a "good thing". While many parents gripe about the schools not living up to their purpose of being the "primary" education source, the ironic truth is that these same parents are usually the ones who'd rush to send their kids to tuition centres or to hire a private tutor for their kids. "We have no choice! it's that or risk my kid losing out to his peers in schools, who all have tuition." Again, they point the finger at the schools for "setting too difficult exams in exams", "trying to teach too much within too short a time frame", etc.

And they may have grounds for these criticisms, in truth. Yet, more than likely, this is a "chicken & egg" issue.

If only the majority of the parents stood together and CHOOSE not to send their kids for private tuition, then the schools would have little choice but to cater to the learning curve of the majority of its students. After all, it wouldnt reflect well on the school's management to have a 80% failure rate in exams, would it?

Unfortunately, being true-blue kiasu Singaporean parents, it is more likely that the trend of private tuition will continue, since "failure in exams" is utterly and completely unacceptable in our result-oriented society.

As for those parents who are garang (not because they cannot afford to, but rather they choose not to ) enough to go against the "tuition trend", I salute you. Hopefully your kids will not one day ask you "Why do I always fall behind my classmates in grades? Am I not smart enough, or are you not providing me with all the help that i need?"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bad english, Good laugh

Received this email today. haha.. it's just so ridiculously funny. Did I ever mention I love to read all these scam emails, cos they're just so full of s*** and are often punctuated by reall bad english! (not saying my 'england' very the powderful lah, but still, i think these fellas really know how to make people laugh! )

have fun reading (and laughing)!

My Dear,

I know this proposal letter might be a pleasant suprised to you as we don't know ourselves before. I am Mr DAVID HOSANNA, a Liberian born 30 years ago, now seeking asylum in Dakar Senegal under (UNHCR) I contacted you as a cause of my serious search for a reliable and trust worthy person that can handle such a confidential transaction of this nature.

My father (Late) DR EDWARD HOSANNA the former Deputy Minister of Finance under the executive civilian president of Liberia, but was assasinated by the rebels during the civil war and properties destroyed, but I narrowly escaped with some very important documents of (US$7.5M) Seven Point Five Million U.S Dollars deposited by my late father in a high financial company here in Dakar-Senegal under my name as next of kin.

However, I seeked with the problem of securing a trust worthy foreign personality like you to help me transfer this money pending when I will come over to your country for us to meet for investment of the money. Furthermore, I only want this to be done this way because your country is politically stable for any profitable investment, and I also want to add here that if accepted by you, you will serve as the original beneciary of the money.

I feel confidence therefore, to introduce this offer to you. For your participation and all your assistance regarding this transfer, I have decided to give you 15% of the total money. Therefore, you are requested to furnish me back immediately you receive this request to transfer this money from Dakar Senegal to your country residence account or any account of your interest.

On commencement of this transaction I want to let you understand that the future of myself depends solely on this money. So please keep this business to yourself only to avoid raise eye brow of any third party.

I am eagerly expecting your urgent response.
I wait to hear from you soon through this email
Yours Sincerely