Serangoon Gardens

Lately on Facebook many have been posting about Serangoon gardens. Serangoon garden is a place in Singapore where many “serani” or Eurasians lived. This brought back many wonderful memories of the place where I grew up. Our house was not exactly in Serangoon gardens but was actually in a part of Serangoon called Jansen Road. This was outside of the old Serangoon gardens area and was bordering Philips Avenue or what was called 5th mile in those days or Upper Serangoon and part of Serangoon gardens. We lived on a block of land that my dad bought for $5000 Singapore dollars for about 20000 sq feet of land. Hence it was a large block of land in that area. I remember it well as I spent many happy years playing with the kampung boys and girls, Malay, Indians and Eurasians alike. We had all kinds of fruit trees on it. Rambutan, Jambu, star fruit, mango, coconut, ubi kayu, sweet potato and lots more. Of course being a big and very fertile land a lot could grow on it. My mum planted over that time many vegetables and we had fresh food all the time. Quite different from today. As my mum lived orchids and the beauty of its flower, she had a sizeable garden filled with many varieties of orchids. If only she had known how much they would be in demand then she would have started selling them. Like my friend Eugene’s father in Bukit Timah.

They were golden memories as it was a time in Singapore during the British occupation and about 15 years after the 2nd world war. Of course I personally did not experience that war but my mum and dad did and so did much of their family. It proved to be a time of great trial for them. Which is why mum and dad went to no end to provide for us as best they could. I was the youngest of 4 and was called the pappus(baby) of the family or anak bungsu(youngest child). It just sounds better in Malay.

We lived in an “atap” house made on wood, planks exactly and floorboards. The house had a verandah in front. The word atap is a Malay word for a thatched roof made of coconut tree leaves. Many of the houses in Upper Serangoon were made of this thatched roof combination. The leaves would come in 5 ft lengths and about 1-2 ft wide. To ensure that there were no leaks when it rained, they were placed overlapping each other. Hence the rains just fell off the other. Imagine tiles of your roof today and how it’s laid. It was much the same process only it was atap.

It was of course a severe fire hazard, but when you are 5 or 6 your never thought of such things as that was the way of life. Live and let live. We used to shoot fireworks all the time from the verandah and garden into chettys garden. I spent many an hour waiting for my mother to come home after her hard days work at the hairdressing salon in orchard road. Yes my mum was a hairdresser and used to cut the hair of my cousins, friends and their friends and many others. In those days hairdressing was not what it is today. Big business. But the money was still good and it gave my mum an independence from my dads income. Dad was a public servant working for the immigration department and stamped passports as you came into Singapore. He loved to ride a motorbike and that was how he met mum oh so many years ago in katong,east coast. It must have been the thrill of the wind in her face that made mum fall in love with dad and his motorbike. As they say dia sudah tangkap perumpuan (he caught the girl).

Amazingly I too found the girl of my dreams in Katong whilst riding a motorbike. We spent many a happy day riding here and there. I just loved to have her close to me holding on tight as we rode. The feel of her closeness was warm and wonderful. I imagined that was how dad felt. Serangoon gardens was a wonderful place to grow up in. Places like chomp chomp was a favourite eating place. The church of St Francis Xavier up the hill along Chartwell drive was where we all made many friends and till this day it’s a place or us all to meet and our children’s children’s to meet and socialise. Many of us met our life’s partner there and I too found a few girl friends. It was a wonderful time. The young adults and choir which I belonged to were a great bunch of people and we spent many hours praying, enjoying each others company and just having a great time. Aww the days of old.

Love

Love is patient love is kind love knows no boundaries. It has no prejudice about who it hurts or who it heals. Often love can be so painful that the other person does not know that they have hurt someone. I do not exactly why but when you love someone and have loved that someone for many years you feel the pain. It’s not that we intentionally intend to hurt someone we from time to time just do. I suppose if love did not hurt it would fell like love at all. In a modern world we treat love as a tool. Something mechanical to use and get something from someone. To hurt. To harm. When you say I love you. What are you really saying? What are you really conveying, asking? No one is perfect. No one is immune to it. But love is a powerful medicine. It can heal and it can harm. It is love that keeps us sane. It is love that makes us whole. That makes us human, that makes us what we are. Who we are.

RCM

Slow your life

We all live in a very connected world. Email, Facebook, Twitter and so on challenge the way we once communicated. The simply things in life, like writing a letter, having a chat, going for a long slow walk and just taking everything in. These are often lost in our daily rush to do things more quickly. The email I received tells about a culture of a company, perhaps even the whole country. We should really give a good hard look at our lives and slow things down and experience life. I found the email telling of what we don’t do. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did reading it. – Ronald
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It’s been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish company. Working for them has proven to be an interesting experience. Any project here takes 2 years to be finalized, even if the idea is simple and brilliant. It’s a rule.
Globalized processes have caused in us (all over the world) a general sense of searching for immediate results. Therefore, we have come to possess a need to see immediate results. This contrasts greatly with the slow movements of the Swedish. They, on the other hand, debate, debate, debate, hold x quantity of meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. At the end, this always yields better results.

1. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants.

2. Stockholm has 500,000 people.

3. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, are some of its renowned companies. Volvo even supplies NASA.

The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at the hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and snowy. We would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the entrance (2000 employees drive their cars to work).

The first day, I didn’t say anything, neither the second or third days. One morning I asked him, “Do you have a fixed parking space? I’ve noticed we park far from the entrance even when there are no other cars in the nearer lots.” To which he replied, “Since we’re here early we’ll have time to walk, don’t you think that whoever gets in late will need a place closer to the door?”

Imagine my face!

Nowadays, there’s a movement in Europe named Slow Food. This movement establishes that people should eat and drink slowly, with enough time to taste their food, spend time with the family, friends, without rushing. Slow Food is against its counterpart, Fast Food and what it stands for as a lifestyle.

Slow Food is the basis for a bigger movement called Slow Europe, as mentioned by Business Week. Basically, the movement questions the sense of “hurry” and “craziness” generated by globalization, fuelled by the desire of “having in quantity” (life status) versus “having with quality”, “life quality” or the “quality of being”.

French people, even though they work 35 hours per week, are more productive than Americans or British.

Germans have established 28.8 hour workweeks and have seen their productivity driven up by 20%..

This slow attitude has come to the notice of USA , the pupils of the fast and “do it now” brigade.

This no-rush attitude doesn’t represent doing less or having a lower productivity.

It means working and doing things with greater quality, productivity, perfection, with attention to detail and less stress.

It means re-establishing family values, friends, free and leisure time.. taking the “now”, present and concrete, versus the “global”, undefined and anonymous.

It means taking humans’ essential values, the simplicity of living.

It stands for a less coercive work environment, more happy, lighter and more productive work place where humans enjoy doing what they know best how to do.

It’s time to stop and think on how companies need to develop serious quality with no-rush that will increase productivity and the quality of products and services, without losing the essence.

In the movie, ‘Scent of a Woman’, there’s a scene where Al Pacino asks a girl to dance and she replies, “I can’t, my boyfriend will be here any minute now”. To which Al Pacino responds, “A life is lived in an instant”. Then they dance the tango!

Many of us live our lives running behind time, but we only reach it when we die of a heart attack or in a car accident rushing to be on time. Others are so anxious to live for the future that they forget to live the present, which is the only time that truly exists.

We all have equal time throughout the world. No one has more or less. The difference lies in how each one of us does with our time. We need to live each moment. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

Congratulations for reading this email till the end of this message…. there are many who would have stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in this “Globalized” world!

Love is Unconditional

Souls live to love. As humans we are drawn by the fact that we need to go through life loving and caring for something or someone. But what does it mean to love someone or something.

To me it means that you have to give of yourself unconditionally and without expecting to get something in return. It’s easy to love something in animate as the objects or objects of your desire and that you care for cannot feel or be hurt by that love. As humans however we are sensitive to those around us and must often act and behave in ways that is beyond what we are comfortable with.

But there is a limit as to how far we will go. Often too we do not or will not see the hurt that is caused but conditional love. We take it for granted that something is expected in return for showing care or love to someone. It is when expect something in return that we trully hurt someone. What is worse is to pretend to love.

Love and love unconditionally without ever expecting to be loved back. That is true love

Mossyy

A blog is a blog is a blog

I blog therefore I am, but If I blog what is on my mind I will surely free the clutter that is going on up there. However I blog gibberish then nothing will be freed from my mind. It is important that you say without hurting intent what you mean and mean what you say as there will forever be someone that will try to bring what you believe in too ruin. only because they feel a need to. These people are never happy and always discontented with what they have in their life and believe, yes believe strongly that the world owes them something. I try to never expect anything from giving. But I too am human and will makes mistakes. I accept that I make mistakes, for it is in those mistakes that I learn and build myself into a better person. But I always believe in me and what I can do. And what I can’t.