Voice from the Past

31 Oct 2010 – Trick or Treat

Pictures of Linn & May‘s 1987 Halloween in Long Beach, CA/USA. 1985 the 1st Halloween in USA, May was even afraid to go Trick or Treating until she discovered that people gave her candies! Those were the days when parents had to check through all the candies as there were some psychopaths lacing candies with drugs etc then. Will not bother to go into the origins etc of Halloween. Just let the kids enjoy the Trick of Treating without bringing religion into it. The ancient Celtic times, this celebration is to observe the end of the harvest season and that is a perfectly good enough reason for me. Thus Happy Pumpkin Day!

A pleasant surprise treat yesterday: Linda (TANG Pui Chung) & Alfred TAY called to say that they are in SIN for a wedding. Linda‘s mother is my father’s first cousin (our parents’ father, ie our grandfathers LAM Ji Chiew & LAM Song Kee were brothers). When our mothers played mahjong in the 1950s, Linda and I would be running around playing@5Temenggong Rd. Her brothers played with Les who has not seen Linda or her brothers over 40yrs! The TANGS immigrated to CA in the early 1960s. Appreciations to Linda & Alfred who kindly and graciously helped me to settle in when I moved to CA in 1985.

Thank you to Les & Ivy for hosting dinner@Sentosa Golf Club and for a lovely weekend@Sentosa Cove. Managed to enjoy a good walk and swim yesterday morning. Les just got his tonsils out on Fri as they discovered some stones, very unusual but was informed that nothing too serious. Hope this will stop his throat irritations. According to Ivy, he must be one of the world’s eldest tonsillectomy patient 🙂

Next week is going to be one hectic week. Auntie Winnie arrived from HI on Fri, Paul arrived from L’don tonight (another treat!) and some Canadian friend of friend arrives tomorrow!

A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween –
Erma Bombeck

Ethical Challenges…

28 Oct 2010 – Frontiers of Science…

Held at the Matrix Building on Biopolis St, an area completely new to me but had no difficulty finding it… over an hour on the bus from one end of the island to the other end. Sight-seeing on bus 196 is a good way to see all the new changes. And believe me, SIN does change very quickly.

The Irish Graduates Association of SIN/IGAS in conjunction with the A*STAR Post Doc Society hosted an interesting symposium with five excellent speakers last night. Sir David LANE discussed about the pharmaceutical aspects, Edison LIU/Genome, Adeline/Biofuels, Jacob/Infectious diseases, Suzy from Dublin/Nanotechnology. The tag-line Ethical Challenges intrigued me, also being an IGAS member and to meet the SIN Irish new Ambassador Joe HAYES were the reasons to be there but it turned out to be one of the most educational experiences. All the speakers did an impressive job with not being too technical but gave a general outlook of their fields and even I who is considered to be an artsy-fartsy 🙂 understood what they were talking about!

Yesterday evening was quite an eye-opener. Thanks to IGAS president Brian MOONEY and to Minister Conor LENIHAN/Minister for Science Technology & Innovation (Ireland) for their presence. There were no regrets to choose this function to forego the other two musical functions.

At the descriptive level, certainly, you would expect different cultures to develop different sorts of ethics and obviously they have; that doesn’t mean that you can’t think of overarching ethical principles you would want people to follow in all kinds of places – Peter Singer

In Memory of Auntie Elsie

26 Oct 2010 – Sad News

Received sad words from cousin Susannah LAM about the passing of her mother, Elisabeth Thekla Schultz LAM (1935-2010). Auntie Elsie was diagnosed of cancer early this year and she passed away Sunday afternoon (Vancouver time) at Campbell River Hospital. Her family had been caring for her at home until Friday night when she was admitted to the hospital.

Deepest condolences to Uncle Cheong and to cousins Klaus, Susannah & family and Edith.

To my generation:
Auntie Elsie: wife of our 15th uncle LAM Tin Cheong and mother to cousins Klaus, Susannah & Edith LAM

To my children’s generation:
Grand-auntie Elsie: originally from Germany and lived in London/UK & Vancouver/Canada.

To my grandchildren’s generation:
Great-grand auntie Elise to them.

The only pix I have of Auntie Elsie is from my father’s album (1967).

The first time I met Auntie Elsie was in 1969, a visit to London/UK. They were then getting ready to move to Canada. In the 1980s when we were living in CA/USA, she came for a visit. Drove to Vancouver in 2006 during my trips to OR & WA/USA. Spent a lovely afternoon with her, Uncle Cheong & their grand-daughter Brenna at Port Moody. Her gracious hospitality was most appreciated in 2008 when I stayed in their beautiful house at Vancouver Island.

Will remember her with fond memories and she will surely be missed.

Housing & Development Board/HDB

25 Oct 2010 – A Malay Wedding

Living in HDB/public housing can be colourful and interesting. Yesterday there was a Malay wedding in the public multi-purpose hall (common area) by my block which does not have a void deck as the ground floor is the PAP Community Foundation and Marine Parade Education Centres (Kindergarten). A void deck is typically found under HDB flats and occupies the ground level, while flats are usually on the second floor onwards. This space can be rented inexpensively for private weddings, social or religious functions including funeral wakes. Anyone can stand outside the functions to watch or to take pictures.

There are many advantages living in public housing and one of them is that after 2200hrs, noise is not acceptable. If the police has to issue a warning more than twice, the noisy owners or tenants can be asked to vacate their flat. Bought my flat 10yrs ago and had made only one complain to the police regarding loud music at 0100hrs. The police issued a warning and that was the end of the matter.

Was glad that I was lunching with Les & Ivy yesterday, otherwise would have gone to the library. Weddings should be lively, merry and noisy occasions. Took some pictures before the guests and took more pictures towards the end of the party when I got back.  The wedding day is the Bersanding, literally means the ‘sitting together of the bride and bridegroom on the bridal couch’. Known as the Pelamin, the couch (not sure why there are chairs in this case) is the centrepiece of the whole ceremony. The most exciting part for me is when the groom is escorted in a procession with a hadrah or kompang band (male music group) to his bride’s house. Not sure if this happened at this wedding as I left before the ceremony. Was disappointed that the bride and groom did not wear their beautiful Malay traditional attire in this wedding.

26Dec 2015 -edited


O young people! Whoever among you can support a wife should marry, for that is more modest for the gaze and safer for your private parts – Prophet Muhammad


Hazy SIN

23 Oct 2010 – Pressure-Cooker!

After killing 26 people, damaged homes and crops in the Philippines, Megi continued to the NE of Taiwan killing 9 people and many more missing. HKG & southern Guangdong can breath a sigh of relief for now as Megi changed her course to the Fujian provinces.

Why is it that whenever I step into SIN, I have this claustrophobia feeling? 5mil people on an area of 7,022/sqkm or 17,275.7/sq mi (these figures never fail to fascinate me when I see how fast the pop increases) on top of the heat & humidity might be the main reasons. In a small island city like SIN, people seemed to be under a pressure-cooker and one never knows what it takes or when they need to vent, eg the nightmare with a taxi-driver/20 Apr posting. Glad to arrive in SIN when the buses are still running and my senior citizen fare to my HDB flat in Marine Parade cost less than S$1 🙂

Looking forward to catching up with family & friends. Being patriot is not on top of my list when I am here. That feeling of pride for my country is only when I am away and people comment on how clean and safe it is here!

Stepped into SIN on the day where the haze was reported to be the worst ever, over 100 PSI/Pollution Standards Index. A reading of 0 to 50 is considered good, while 51 to 100 is moderate. A figure above 100 is unhealthy. My family tells me to rest, Henry tells me to drink a lot of water and I have intentions to listen to all of that. News stated that SIN Foreign Minister George YEO met will Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty NATALEGAWA to discuss the situation who has claimed that Indonesia has been succeeding to reduce haze caused by forest fires. The PSI reading today is over 60!

For two years living in a neutral country
I have been able to see through the haze of propaganda
to reach something which my conscience tells me is the truth –
John Amery

Eat Pray Love

22 Oct 2010 – The Fury of Megi

China Airlines, no complains. Cheap Tickets had somehow booked me from HNL via NRT with an overnight in TPE/Taiwan, been thru’ 18 airports the past 3 months! Typhoon=Cantonese/Chinese literally means Big Wind Megi, fortunately did not make it to TPE and after a night@Hotel Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, the plane took off on schedule and arrived with no delays in hazy SIN. To family & friends in HKG & Guangzhou area, stay indoors this weekend and do not tempt fate by being out with Megi which has been forecast to hit the coast of S China. Also a safe weekend to all.

Been there, done that, was the feeling after reading parts of the book (in Norway) and watched the whole movie Eat Pray Love***being an admirer of Julia Roberts was enough reason to spent S$4! What & why is it that some women, including myself have problems with finding a balance in relationships? In Asia especially, women are brought up to take much consideration to others, so much so that we forget ourselves. Some thrive and live their lifes to please others. Total respect and admiration to them, but people are different and I am certainly not one of those 🙂

Reading Traveling with Pomegranates****by Sue Monk KIDD and Ann Kidd TAYLOR; a mother and daughter’s journeys to sacred places and coming to terms with themselves and with each other. Bought it at HNL airport after discovering that she also wrote The Secret Lifes of Bees and that she lives in SC. Bought some pomegranates when I was in Croatia that sparked off a conversation with some English tourists who has never seen or known of pomegranates! Today the pomegranates are known for the antioxidants effects. The bible has many referral to them and the Chinese associate them with fertility!

Tried the very best to teach my two daughters to find the balance and I believe they are learning and coping much better than their mother ever did. It is thru’ them where I learnt the balance. Thank you Linn & May. Talked about the balance to some of the students in HNL with hopes that they too will find their balance to better relationships with parents, family, friends, co-workers, acquaintance etc.

A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache – Catherine the Great

A Touching Story

18 Oct 2010 – Boat People

Sat: Christine & Kevin TRAN met at a Thai refugee camp. As Boat People, both had struggled hard to escape Vietnam in the 1980s… she was then in her late teens and he in his early 20s. Fate brought Kevin to Mississippi and there he worked hard and managed to sponsor Christine over. They got married, built his first fishing boat Capt-Kevin and are blessed with 3 children. Later he sailed to HI on Capt-Kevin. Today they have two fishing boats-Lady Christine I & II, two sons who completed their universities and hold good jobs in CA. Their youngest and only daughter, Jennifer is in HCC and I have faith that she too will good well and complete her studies.

Thank you to the TRANS for sharing their story and for including us to their home-coming and out-going sea-faring ceremony. It was interesting and educational to be on Lady Christine II. May their journeys be smooth sailing and their catch be bountiful.

To Laine TANGONAN (2010 HCC student), knowing how busy her work schedules (2 jobs) and school are, thanks for wanting to take time to stop by. Stay focus in the Present! till we meet again. Good luck and good wealth to her & Jennifer TRAN.

David, Wilki & Patty WONG, their gracious hospitality is most appreciated. LAM cousins, wishing both the very best. With gratitude for their time and attention: HCC 2004 students Huang, Kim, Lisa (thanks for brunch@the Hau Tree Lanai/Kaimana Beach Hotel. Good fortunes to Adriane ALFONSO for his new business with the dental designs: www.esthetichawaii.com  Aloha & mahalo.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime
Chinese Proverb