Remembering the Words of My Grandma

Singaporeans males have to enlist and serve the army. It used to be 2.5 years during my time. I believe it’s 2 years now. Assuming you have passed a physical fitness test (comprising of pull-ups, sit-ups, standing board jump, shutter run, 2.4km run and something else which I have forgotten) before being enlisted in the army, you start off with basic military training (BMT) which lasts 2.5 to 3 months. After that you are sent to an army unit, usually for further training.

Within the army, there’s an unit called the music and drama or something like that. This unit include the army’s military bands. It does make sense when you think about it. Bands have graced presidential visits, parades, etc. Anyhow, on one of the Saturdays during my BMT, I was informed that I could go for an audition in “a camp in Orchard” to see whether I’m good enough to join the army’s military band. I was ecstastic that I’m given the wonderful opportunity to be part of the band for the remaining period of my national service.

I reached home from the army camp, told my grandma about the great news, took a shower and left home to catch a cab to get to the “camp in Orchard”. I told the cab driver to head to the camp in Orchard. He was hesitant and needed the specific place. I couldn’t tell him the exact place. He said he wouldn’t know where to go then. I left the cab feeling very upset. There goes my chance of being part of the band! I will be dispatched to an army unit where physical training is demanding and be depressed for the rest of my life!

I reached home and started literally banging away on my piano as a way to cope with my emotions. My grandma asked me what had happened. She said to try again, with another cab driver. She might also have mentioned that there’s an army camp in “Tanglin” which might be the one that I’m looking for. Assured with her words, I caught another cab. This time, the driver was cheery and said that the camp that I have in mind is “Tanglin camp”. He drove me there. I reached the correct venue, went for the audition, impressed the army band director enough with my sight reading skills and the rest is history.

I often think back to the gentle and reassuring words of my grandma. “Try again.”



Feedback on customer service of a bank in Singapore

I received great customer service just now and it prompted me to send the bank a feedback (me writing feedbacks outside of work is rare! So, she has done a really great job!). Here’s it:

I wish to compliment your staff Nur Ilyana for her excellent customer service. There were 2 occasions where I called her. The first involved her reading out every credit card foreign transactions that I incurred for the past month. It was difficult as the transactions were with Spanish merchants. Nur did her very best and was calm, patient and very professional. In addition, she took the initiative to reach out to me should my online transaction were to fail again.

Today, she attended to me again and I recognised her voice. She was able to suggest a solution to me given my situation. She is clearly a staff who uses her intellect and resourcefulness to create solutions for customers.

The reason why I am compelled to write this feedback is because Nur exceeded my expectations given the numerous poor customer service provided by staff from a certain Asian country that I have experienced. Clearly, DBS should look into hiring of more Singaporeans despite their higher cost, if higher at all, given their better attitude towards customer service.

My favourite movie

Have you seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a 2004 romantic comedy science fiction movie starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet? It’s my all-time favourite movie because … I don’t know. It just draws me to it again and again. I just watched the movie again just now. The nth time. According to Wikipedia:

The title is taken from the poem Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope, the story of a tragic love affair, where forgetfulness became the heroine’s only comfort:

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;

Ruminate on each of the line above. How beautiful it is, no? Is happiness the absence of unhappiness? Forgetting is a process. It’s not like you can swallow a pill and wake up the next day and forget about everything. Although it brings to mind David Foster Wallace’s This is Water speech – it’s more of how we think about things that matters.

Eternal sunshine – come to I.
Though preserve that spotted mind.
Memories are what make I
Accept this oxymoronic prayer of mine.

Plagued (published on August 24, 2005)

My old self returned, since last week.

Does its return necessitate the displacement of my current self?

Self-doubts plague me, again and again.

Strangly, my mood soars at night.

I find myself leaping in the air, doing karate kicks, laughing to myself.

And yes, doing everything but plunging myself to the depths of those textbooks.

I ask myself today whether its my distance with God that cause this inferior old self to make a comeback. After all, it was God who helped me to shred off that old rag, helped me out of it and flung it into the skies. Strange. Having typed these words, why do then I doubt Mr God’s existence? It was me who acknowledge his help. It is also me who ignore him… So there’s a God after all.

Thoughts of Myself as a Christian (published on September 18, 2004)

Why am I a Christian?

When I realized God’s great love for everyone

Including my mother

Someone whom I can’t bring myself to love at that period of time

A stranger called God who can love another stranger called my mum

A love so great that God is willing to die and sacrifice his son

For unworthy people

That great capacity of love convinced me that this god must be God.

In my mind, a Christian is someone who changes himself to match the ideals of God

Although it’s a goal and finishing point that none of us can achieve

Also, a Christian puts God first in his life

And everything in his life is viewed in perspective of God,

Everything is labeled a right or wrong in accordance to God’s Word

That he must give up things which are not in the will of his God

Which is made easier by faith and strength from the Holy Spirit

I realized that I have been molding my life to fit the ideals of the World

Which is so comforting and suits my sinful nature

I find it difficult to give up my wants and desires for a God

Who seems like a academic concept to me

“You wouldn’t say that if you have experienced God”

Yes, I admit I have genuinely experienced God a few times

“You haven’t tried placing complete faith and trust in God yet”

This, I admit I haven’t.

For to love God must necessarily displace my love for someone else

And that act isn’t particularly loving of me

“Just do it. To give up yourself means a lot to God and you will be rewarded eternally”

I can’t. I don’t. I wouldn’t. I shouldn’t.

“Go to hell”

Fleeting thoughts (published on September 14, 2004)

A worthless chap I am

One who cause sadness to this girl

Or am I a tool of God

To bring that girl to Him?

When KL messaged me just now, I was swept with feeling. Maybe I was touched. The innocence in the words and smileys in her sms reminded me of her character: her quiet strength, quiet and increasingly being vocalized confidence.

How I hope that my partner will attend church service with me. But, I suppose that I will never be happy.

I am a greedy soul.

I gobble up the ideas of this world.

It’s making me uncontented, unhappy.

“More, more, more!” I yelled.

The marginal benefit of each achievement increasingly decreases,

No longer pleasing me as much as they do in the past.

It’s a scary thought.

Could I possibly be numbed by achievements?

My heart doesn’t feel anything now.

Scary once again.

I am losing my humanness.