Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hernando Guanlao has one overwhelming passion -- books. And in an attempt to spread his love of literature to people around him, he's turned his home into a public library.

 “It’s fine with me because I know that (people) need (the books) and in my mind, whatever they take, even everything, will be returned a thousand fold,” Nanie told theInquirer Life Style. Nanie prefers to think of the library he has been running for the past 12 years as a book club -- one where community members can come to discuss different books and literature.

Gunlao's project is formally called The Reading Club 2000; but many know it simply as “the library on Balagtas Street.""I saw my old textbooks upstairs and decided to come up with the concept of having the public use them," he told BBC.

"You don't do justice to these books if you put them in a cabinet or a box," he told theInquirer. "A book should be used and reused. It has life, it has a message. As a book caretaker, you become a full man."

Commuters on a Winnipeg bus Tuesday morning became unexpected witnesses to an incredible act of kindness.

According to CBC News, the bus driver pulled over on a corner and began chatting with a homeless man on the street. After a couple of minutes, he removed his shoes and gave them to the barefoot young man. The driver then got back on the bus in his socks and carried on with his route.
Yahoo news noted that it was particularly cold that morning -- about 41 degrees; The bus driver yelled, 'Hey buddy!' as he braved the cold weather and got off the bus.

"I was thinking, ‘Oh no, there’s a problem or maybe he’s waiting for someone who’s running to catch the bus.’ Then he stepped off," passenger Denise Campbell recounted to CBC News.
Commuters sat in stunned silence, according to another passenger's account on Community New Commons, as they watched the encounter through the bus windows.

When the bus driver returned without his shoes and started the bus again, one of the passengers told the driver that his random act of kindness was one of the most amazing things she'd ever seen, asking him why he did it.
He replied, "I couldn't stand seeing someone walking barefoot in this temperature like this," according to Campbell. "He said, ‘I just saw him walking and thought, ‘Hey, I could do something’," she added.
"There wasn’t a dry eye on the bus. All the passengers were moved by this bold and selfless gesture," one passenger commented.

Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop issued a statement on Tuesday commending the generous driver but did not identity the man who is described as being in his mid-20s and very polite.
"We have all been struck by the generosity and kindness of this Winnipeg Transit bus operator," Wardrop said in the statement. "It serves as a reminder of the compassion and commitment demonstrated by City of Winnipeg employees throughout the community on a daily basis."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"if life doesn’t present us with opportunities, we can and should go out and look for them"

EA SIEW Chun is no stranger to adversity. When she was just two, Ea contracted polio, causing her to lose the use of both her legs. It was devastating news for her parents who ran a grocery store in Malacca. Unable to cope with their eldest child’s disability, Ea’s parents sent her to live with an aunt and uncle in Kuala Lumpur soon after she was diagnosed.

Though her aunt and uncle cared well for her, Ea felt there was a gaping hole in her life, especially when she had to stop schooling after Year Two as her caretakers found it too difficult to cope.
For a vivacious little girl with an active mind and imagination, it was frustrating not to be able to join her siblings, cousins and her peers at school or even to play with them in the evenings.

“I used to sit at the gate of my aunt’s house, looking at all the children walking to and from school, and I felt really sad that I couldn’t be one of them. I remember asking my mother what she had planned for me. After all, my siblings were all in school ... what about me? My mother said she’d given me life, food and shelter and that was all she could do. I was disappointed. My parents weren’t educated and I guess they could not cope. But I had dreams for myself. Even though I knew it would be hard without an education, I held on to my dreams,” recalls Ea, 46, who runs her own tailoring business, ES Chun Alteration, at the Kelana Jaya LRT station in Petaling Jaya.

When she was nine, Ea was sent to a centre for the disabled in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, where she stayed for two years. The centre had classes for school-going children and Ea worked hard to learn to read and write Chinese and English. “I would ask (the) people (at the centre) to teach me all the time and I also started correspondence with pen-pals from around the world. The more I wrote, the more I improved,” says Ea who is a wheelchair user.

Despite the many setbacks she faced, Ea was undaunted. She wanted to make the most of her two years there and was willing to work hard to learn as much as she could even though she had no idea what opportunities life had in store for her.
When she returned to her aunt’s home after the two years at the centre, Ea once again found herself facing a dead end – cooped up at home while her peers went to school.

“You know, I even thought of killing myself at one point. Thankfully, one of my aunt’s neighbours visited me regularly and gave me support. She spoke to me about God and keeping faith and it gave me strength. I thought, surely God had some plans for me. Instead of asking ‘Why me?’, I started to think more positively,” says Ea.

A few years later when her parents moved to Kuala Lumpur to open a mini market, Ea moved back with her family to help out at the shop. Admittedly, it was a difficult time for Ea as she’d been separated from her family for so long.
“I was upset and maybe a little resentful. I could see all the opportunities that were given to my siblings. They were all still studying and had a future ahead of them. I was just the cashier at the mini market. So I ran away,” Ea relates.
She found herself a job as an apprentice with a tailor in Kuala Lumpur. She started with small jobs – hemming and sewing on zips. Gradually, she learnt to cut and after six months, she learnt the basics of sewing. After five years of apprenticeship, Ea decided to set out on her own. She rented a room in a house and started her own tailoring business, sewing mainly traditional attire like baju kurung to a small clientele.

Things seemed to be looking up for her. In 1995, Ea fell in love and got married. Her husband was also a paraplegic and together they began to make a life for themselves.
But life had more challenges to throw at Ea. In 1996, just a year after she got married, her husband fell ill and passed away. Ea admits that the experience almost broke her. She kept to herself and for two years she barely made any attempt to go out and meet people. Thankfully, Ea had good friends who never gave up on her.

“They encouraged me to go for counselling. I did and it helped me deal with my grief. I eventually became a counsellor myself. I think that because of all the challenges I faced personally, I was able to empathise with people and so I enjoyed counselling,” she says.
Ea picked herself up and started working with the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled. After a year or so, her friends encouraged her to resume her tailoring business which she gave up following the loss of her husband.

With their help, Ea found a space at the former Atria Shopping Centre in Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, to operate her business. She handled mainly alterations and handicraft.
Business was good but what she enjoyed most was the opportunity to meet people.

“Before I opened up my shop, I used to feel that I’d lost out on life because I didn’t complete my schooling. I wasn’t happy or confident about myself and I still thought life had been unfair to me. But through all the people I met, and my customers – many of whom became friends – I began to change the way I looked at life. I realised that if life doesn’t present us with opportunities, we can and should go out and look for them. Opportunities are always there. Education is important but it isn’t the only way to be successful or happy in life,” says Ea.

After eight years operating her shop at Atria, Ea had to shut down her business last year as the shopping centre was to be torn down for development. Though sad to leave, Ea’s new outlook has enabled her to see this as “just another challenge” she has to face and learn from.
Earlier this year, Ea set up shop at the Kelana Jaya LRT station. Her main goal at the moment is to build up a customer base once again.
“Moving means I have to find new customers. But this is a good location ... people can drop off their clothes to be altered on their way to work and pick it up on their way home!” she says, with a smile

Sunday, September 23, 2012

““Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.”” - Nisargadatta Maharaj

 “Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.” - Gladiator

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

was at Damansara Perdana for a session.
Stopped by this coffeehouse to buy a slice of cheesecake.
It's run by deaf/hearing-impaired staff , and I just want to show my little support.

Later,when I was at workplace, I went to the staff lounge for a complimentary massage arranged by the company.
The company had hired a few blind masseurs and masseuses for the week.

I noticed one of the masseurs was quite good looking.
I mentioned this to another colleague in Chinese.
I never thought he'd hear us (foolishly forgetting that blind people have very sensitive hearing ability).
I also didn't thought he'd understand Chinese as he's Malay.

Turns out, he does.
Well, ... hope I made his day.
'They' certainly have made mine =)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Taken from
Equestrain rider Laurentia Tan, now 33, has just won a bronze in the Paralympics Grade IA individual championship dressage test, Singapore’s first medal at the London Paralympic Games. She first made news for winning Singapore’s first medal at the Paralympics Games at Beijing 2008. It was also Asia’s first Paralympics equestrian medal.

Doctors once diagnosed her as ‘spastic’ and unable to walk, and told her parents that she would lead a life of a vegetable. Laurentia has come a lot way in overcoming all odds to achieve her dreams. Even though she was profoundly deaf, she performed on form in competitive world riding competitions where she was cued by music!

However, she did not let this condition handicap her and just laughed about it, “I am always striving to do things that the ‘able bodied’ can do… and that includes using chopsticks, especially when everyone else is using them!”

Everything I see Laurentia’s article in the news, I feel proud of her, yet ashamed of myself. As we cross hurdlers in life, giving up seems so easy and straight forward. But we always take things for granted, such as a very ordinary thing like eating with a pair of chopsticks. Laurentia has taught me so much – on how we can appreciate the simpler things and moments in life.
“ For me, riding a horse gives me the freedom; the movements and energy that my own legs cannot do! It has helped my mobility, my co-ordination and given me confidence in myself. It has also taught me a lot about life; about teamwork, partnership, trust, and also that hard work can be rewarding. Our greatest glory is not in never failing; but in rising every time we fall”, as Confucius once said; and behind every success is a team of many individuals working together. It is not about the horse or the rider alone, nor is it just about how the horse and rider perform together as one, but also the people working with them and supporting them.”
LOCATION: Galphay, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
DATE: May 2010
© Liz Gregg

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview with Manolo Blahnik -
COREN: Manolo, what do you believe is your greatest achievement?
BLAHNIK: Being alive and being here. Being - breathing. I mean, extraordinary. I'm very lucky that I'm doing what I like to do.
COREN: Now, I believe that you're 69-years-old.
BLAHNIK: Indeed. But I don't want to think about it. I'm 19.
COREN: What is next in store, then, for Manolo Blahnik?
BLAHNIK: More work. More work and more work. I love that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I was at a shopping complex when I heard a lovely classical tune playing live at the background.
I sought the source.

I thought of this poem I wrote, The Perfect Stranger
Cast Away: Suicidal man jumps into Hangzhou Bay, but changes his mind
The Hangzhou Bay is a gulf in the East China Sea where one of China’s natural wonders, the Qiantang River Tide, creates fast water and large waves.

A man who attempted to commit suicide by jumping into one of China's most dangerous bodies of water instead managed to swim across it after changing his mind.
A man surnamed Xu, who planned to end his life after a messy divorce, swam 10 km after jumping into east China's Hangzhou Bay, home to the Qiantang tidal bore, the world's largest tidal bore in terms of scale.

Xu, a resident of Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, said he drove his car onto the Hangzhou Bay bridge and threw himself into the sea around 11 p.m. Tuesday.
After jumping into the bay, Xu changed his mind and attempted to hail a nearby patrol ship, but failed to draw the crew's attention. He took off his waterlogged clothes and swam onto an uninhabited islet.
Xu then filled his underwear with pieces of polystyrene foam he found on the islet, using a large chunk of the material to buoy himself as he set off toward the shoreline.
He was found and rescued by a fisherman the next morning.
Xu told police that he was desperate after divorcing his wife and subsequently being kicked out of a house owned by the woman's parents. Depressed, he turned to gambling and lost 10,000 yuan (1,577 U.S. dollars).

Police said Hangzhou Bay has the greatest tidal range in China and is therefore dangerous for even the most skilled of swimmers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I just love Criminal Minds ..

Garcia: We are each on our own journey; each of us are on our very own adventure encountering all kinds of challenges, and the choices we make on that adventure will shape us as we go. Those choices will stretch us and test us and push us to our limit, and our adventure will make us stronger than we ever knew we could be.
There's a quote by my favorite author Joseph Campbell, and it goes like this: "Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Went for the annual Adidas King of The Road run in Sunway Pyramid.
I was so lucky to have found someone to go with me because driving there all alone at 4.30am, ( to find parking and beat the jam) is just too scary for me.
Given the current crime rate.
I ran for the 16.8km category which took me about 2 hours 10 mins.
My legs are killing me at the moment, but I feel very pleased with myself nevertheless. =)
This uncle is 'Da Man'!!
I noticed him after 3km and I followed his pace all the way...
Just when I thought I am ahead of him, he'd overtake me by surprise !
So, I sort of ran 'with' him all the way till the finishing line.
However, at the last 600m, he 'powered' up.
I was like, -- "are you kidding me?"
Alas, he was ahead of me for about 100m at the finish line.
The crowd roared ecstatically, cheering for him.
I met him at the finisher medal collection counter, and I couldn't resist approaching him.
I shook him hand and told him that he had been my motivator all the way through.
In Cantonese, he told me that he's 73 and has been running for 30 years, and asked if I'm going for the Penang Bridge run.
Turns out, we both signed up for the same category.
Hope to see him again !

Friday, September 07, 2012

As I was lying on bed, preparing myself mentally to fall asleep, my mind wandered off to many things .. (a common bad habit)
Suddenly, I thought of an old classmate.
Let's call him Danny.
He used to be a very popular guy when we were in Form 1 (aged 13).
All the gals (including me) fancied him.
He was good looking, charming, smart ... etc..

But things changed drastically the next year.
His grades fell badly, along with his behaviour.
He was put into a 'bad' class.
He got into a lot of trouble.
There was even an incident where he was publicly punished during assembly when we were in Form 5.

My studies were severely affected when I was in Form 4 - that's when my depression was starting to take over.
A teacher even pulled me aside to ask if I was facing any personal problems.
She was very upset with my paper.
"I couldn't believe this when I saw the name on the paper!", pointing the low marks printed on it.
I couldn't provide her a satisfactory answer, as I didn't even understand what I was going through myself.

I now wonder how Danny is doing.
I hope he has somewhat ... coped.