Wednesday, August 31, 2005


clouds, originally uploaded by mincaye.

(L-R, from top: d'NA 2004, Seminary Theoloji Malaysia, Seremban; near the Scripture Union office, PJ; highway, en route from Kuantan; aeroplane, en route to Tioman; sunset, Tioman; rain clouds, Tioman; after the haze, KL; highway, between PJ and KLCC)

In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me

-- Evanescence, 'Imaginary'

Will be meeting a good friend later today, within about two-and-a-half hours. We wrote this nearly 31 days ago, and I reproduce verbatim:

A rededication of our friendship
To allow the one from whom it came, his way with it
Not knowing what lies ahead
But knowing who lies ahead.

It's difficult, when we think about it
Or when our hearts are weighed by burdens unshared
How are we going to survive this?
Must we? Better dead within God's hands, than alive without.

We can only look to you, our Potter
You mould us into your image, though we are but moons
You gave us light that we might shine forth
And you never give up on us -- never.

We will seek You and trust You
For your faithfulness and love keep us
We will bring ourselves wholly before You
For it is only in you that we are who we are.

Help us be patient, Father
Comfort us in our weariest hours, and take us deeper
We seek to love You more in this friendship
Let your joy come with the morning.

You will guide us and guard us
For there is no other Name worthy
We commit our fears to You
And all our hopes and dreams as well.

This love will go on
And we draw from you, O Endless Love
You made this love possible
So to you, as from you and through you.


Hasn't been easy, hasn't been too difficult either. Again, I am reminded of Bono's words in 'Walk On':

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind.

The journey gets harder and harder, and choices are more painful than ever. Deciding between a path that will bring much joy, and another that is dark, but also along which I believe I must walk.

Between a path in which the things that bring me joy are the same things that really matter, and another in which the things that bring me joy stand in opposition to the things that really matter.

How much will I have to leave behind? How much will I have to sacrifice?

Happy Merdeka, Malaysia!

Soo Tian arrives home within ten hours.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

To the VEB!

veb farewell (b)
Originally uploaded by mincaye.

Friday night was quite momentous: we had the annual Victorian Editorial Board farewell dinner at Denise's father's Nyonya restaurant, Bibik Neo, in Desa Sri Hartamas.

We had intended, at first, to begin dinner at half-past six and end at eight. Eventually, we started at about a quarter past eight, and I cannot remember when we actually ended.

Amy (accompanied by Denise, Suzanne, Debbie and Li-Shen) and Tinesh & Zamil presented a number of songs after dinner, framing the speeches made by some of the outgoing Upper-Six members.

But I think the most interesting performance of the night was the Uncorking of the Sparkling Juice Bottles by Chin Fei and Weng Ken, our Chief Editor and Sub-Editor respectively.

The wine Lik Wen selected turned out to be rather sweet (which I liked very much!) for a white wine. It's called 'Mystique,' and was chosen simply because Lik Wen liked the bottle and we couldn't find champagne.

(For a detailed account, read the 27 August entry on Denise's blog, accessible via 'Links: Hikers' on my blog's sidebar).

Well, the editors have stepped down:

Yan Chin Fei
Sub-Editors (alphabetical order):
Chan Weng Ken
Ho Jia Hun

And have been replaced by:

Benjamin Ong
Sub-Editors (alphabetical order):
Keeshoore Apparavoo
Leong Lik Wen
Lim Jinq Sien

Interestingly, before I became the Editor-in-Chief of the Seladang Editorial Board, I was preceded by a Sub-Editor who was an ex-student of SK Taman Segar, John Ratnaraj, two years my senior.

This time around, interestingly, I was also preceded by a Segarian, Weng Ken, the only difference being that he's only a year older than me.

Quite a night indeed. And the journey has just begun!

(p.s: click on the photo to see a larger version of it)

He knows

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Mr Kali, our Chemistry teacher, has this habit of saying, "The Lord Almighty knows," whenever he gets to the very bottom of what science has been able to find out about our world thus far.

It happens whenever we're stuck at a dead-end that cannot be explained by current theories and other discoveries to date.

So, yes. I cannot disagree. It sounds rather cliche and all, but it's true. Hard for the intellectuals to hand over the reins to the one who reigns, but that is what must be done.

The next time he says it, let us look upward at the sun... at the Son.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I have no idea what a Meme is, but since Sivin tagged me, I shall respond. OK, he tagged me on 9th August, so this is really late... sorry!

1)Total number of books you own

I don't know the exact number, either, but I'll let the photos do the talking. Behind each book is another book, to conserve space. Nowhere near Sivin's number, at any rate!

2)The last book you bought

Hmmm... let me see. I think it was C.S. Lewis' Poems, a rather extensive collection edited by his ex-secretary Walter Hooper, an American residing in Oxford.

Discovered it in MPH Jusco Taman Maluri, Cheras. It includes some of the works written before he became a Christian.

3)The last book you read

I, too, tend to read several books at once.

At the moment, I'm working on Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie and T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and Other Poems, with some of C.S. Lewis' The Weight of Glory and other Addresses thrown in now and then.

The last book I finished reading, if I'm not mistaken, was Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

4)Five books that mean a lot to me

First, the ones that didn't make it:

C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man and Brian McLaren's Finding Faith. Great books, but not in the top five.

I choose the following because of the pivotal role they played in challenging not only my thinking, but also (and perhaps more importantly) my writing:

Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Written so inventively that the most important points are made indirectly. A great source of encouragement. (Presently with Tee Ming).

Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. A work of much simplicity, and yet it's evident that most of the great thoughts from his other works appear within its pages.

T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. Probably the finest work of poetry I have read thus far, and a great influence on my own poems.

Max Lucado's He Chose the Nails. The first book I remember buying from the Christianity section, and one of the best. I still owe whatever writing skill I have to Max. (Presently with Tee Ming's friend).

Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy. I haven't finished reading it yet, but it got me thinking about righteousness and living not just a good life, but the God-life. Presents a very compelling case for a godly sense of ethics.

5)Tag five people and have them fill this out on their blogs

OK, here goes:

Soo Tian
Su Lin

Adventures in missing the point

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Somewhere two-thirds through the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the character Mike Teavee remarks, "Why is everything here completely pointless?"

Charlie replies, "Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why it's candy."

Sometimes we get too caught up trying to figure everything out, reach the bottomline, and place all the points in their respective places, that we completely miss the wonder.

Max Lucado wrote, in his book In the Grip of Grace:

The loss of mystery has led to the loss of majesty. The more we know, the less we believe. No wonder there is no wonder. We think we've figured it all out.

Strange, don't you think? Knowledge of the workings shouldn't negate wonder. Knowledge should stir wonder.

Who has more reason to worship than the astronomer who has seen the stars? Than the surgeon who has held a heart? Than the oceanographer who has pondered the depths?

So I suppose we have to miss the point sometimes. When we think we've figured everything out, we really haven't. We've sacrificed the big picture for an intricate understanding of the inner workings.

Not that that's wrong, but there comes a point when we have to stop analysing air pressure and composition, and just start breathing it.

And if we're not so worried about the destination, perhaps we'll actually smell the flowers along the way, soaking in the whole experience of a joyous journey.

After all, on all long adventures, focusing on little else but the 'point' is just like the child who, on a long road trip, keeps asking "Are we there yet, Daddy?"

"Candy doesn't have to have a point."

That line stood out in the trailer. It stood out in the movie, and it does still. Maybe because, though we do not say it, we know it to be true.

After all, which chocoholic cares anything about the calorie content of chocolates?

"That's why it's candy."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Just when you thought you'd seen it all...

coconut tree
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
And... I've saved the best for the last of a series of four posts, beginning with 'On the way...' below.

This is for you, David, just when you thought we could close the chapter and forget the subject.

Presenting: the coconut tree!

(With fluffy clouds and the Telekom pucuk rebung building in the background)

Adventures in Mid Valley...

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Ah, these pictures more or less sum up the day.

Clockwise, from top left:

Li-Shia next to a giant lavender flower. What bliss! (Now if only it were real...)

Her first taste of Mars; don't worry, all the calories gained from the caramel will be swiftly lost through excessive laughter.

Enjoying a Caramel Ice-Blended at Starbucks before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in the breezy outdoor air.

Walking through the chocolate aisle in the supermarket. She still dreams of marrying the heir to the Cadbury empire.

The Economist

kok kin
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Kok Kin leaves next Thursday for the London School of Economics, where he will pursue a Masters degree in economics.

The inset photo was taken at lunch. One wonders if Kok Kin was enjoying the ais kacang or hating it... or perhaps it was his reaction to being photographed?

For the record, I've 'invited' him to give a guest Maths lecture in school sometime next week, just for the fun of it. If it works out well, there'll be much to blog about, heheheheh...

On the way...

on the way
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Was supposed to meet up with Li-Shia for lunch and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Times Square, but the 1:40 p.m. show was scrapped off, so we moved to Mid Valley.

Kok Kin followed us, as he and I journeyed first from Sungei Wang to Maharajalela to meet Li-Shia, then to the KL Railway Station from which we took the Komuter to Mid Valley.

We used the pedestrian bridge, but I deliberately posed for the photo, just for the fun of it... couldn't resist, naturally.

On the way, we passed the old V.I. building, where we stopped to shoot Kok Kin and the V.I.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
A mental note, for those who'll discern
When one by one, each in turn
Follows shattering glass into the ground
Escaping, but falling into the hound

That will not release its prey
Not while the skies are still grey
And the heart beats in loneliness
And the dreams wander in emptiness.

A clue, a scent, I leave here to remind
A hint, a guess, perhaps part of a quorum:
Those who are wise, you will read the signs
Burn the lights, and tear down all decorum

Lock up the genius, throw away the key
For a year's isolation, mindlessly
Ranting and finding bearings again
While the fatted calf is slowly slain.

Between the two cries of the pigeon
And the pigeon-master calling out
Assemble thy forces, demonic legion:
It's time to banish all standing doubt

Falling and falling, tumbling over
Vertigo settling in, is it over...
Is it over?

God knows.

(He dealt the blows)

Breathing space

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Monday: photography union outing day. OK, it was actually Grace's (Head of Photography Dept, Editorial Board) treat for those of us who helped out during the photography week.

I wore jeans and sneakers and t-shirt, which I haven't in ages. Usually I'm the shirt/polo-tee plus slacks plus Hush Puppies guy. Made for an interesting photo, L-R: Denise, Jinq Sien, Lik Wen, me, Keeshoore, Li-Shen.

(Mental note: always, always, think twice before letting Lik Wen drive you somewhere. Keeshoore learnt this the hard way.)

Had some discussions to sort this Friday's farewell party out. At present, Denise will be hosting us at her father's Nyonya Restaurant in Sri Hartamas. The last time I had Nyonya was in Malacca, at Miss Nga Johnson's friend's place. Yummy!

Met up with Nigel while the others had dinner; meant to join them later, but our conversation dragged on that I arrived just as they finished, heh. It was well worth it, though. (Nigel had fries and Orange McFizz; I had fries, apple pie and orange juice.)

He summed up our conversation and the matter(s) at hand in the verse "He has set eternity in the hearts of men." There are some things we are to know, and a whole lot that is God's and God's alone.

Steven Curtis Chapman wrote:

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part
Of the picture he's painting
God is God and I am man
So I'll never understand it all
For only God is God

Now the hard part is in letting go of all that I am, and letting God take control -- releasing what I am into the hands of the great I AM.

Nigel is right: this journey is not undertaken alone. He who will never leave nor forsake, is by my side, and is present in many others who walk with me.

Making the journey from the head to the heart is not easy. But thanks, Tee Ming, for showing me this, even before all these recent 'upheavals.' The journey is not undertaken alone.

Bono sings:

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind...

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
You can only take so much
Walk on...

God still has a sense of humour. After all, he gives us breathing space, falling space, lets us make mistakes.

The Batman reference wins again:

"And why do we fall? So that we may better learn to pick ourselves up."

"Still haven't given up on me?"


Sunday, August 21, 2005

And Wilson makes three!

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Somewhere in the middle of our dandelion journey, Wilson popped into the picture; he met us en route to the Pavilion.

The sun was absolutely brilliant then, circa 9:00 a.m. Took a number of shots on the Pavilion, with the marvellous Clock Tower in the background, and stopped on the way back to take a photo beneath a giant palm; an unidentified 1st/2nd-former took that shot.

Still bursting with energy and a penchant for wacky photos, we did a little choo-choo-train formation on the steps leading down to the Form Six Block; photo credits to Keeshoore and Tinesh.

As Li-Shia would undoubtedly be happy to know, basking in the sun is an excellent way to shed those extra pounds gained from over-indulgence in chocolate and cotton candy...

(Now we all know how she maintains her figure despite the glaring overdose of calories!)

Dandelion Adventures

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Friday morning was really fun!

Li-Shia had quite a whale of a time dispersing those little dandelion feather-thingies, I had a great time taking photos... and almost the entire Sixth Form enjoyed the whole show!

Before we parted ways for the second half of the school day, I took a picture of Li-Shia in a Maria-esque Sound of Music pose, amidst waving grass, with the trees and blue skies in the background... now if only that telephone/electric cable wasn't in the way.

(By the way, I'm not sure if I mentioned this earlier: congrats Li-Shia on being elected President of the Consumer Club!)

Open Sea

david & audrey
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
"Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark."

-- T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

That seems to be the case with d'NAers. Though we travel all over the world, we're neither here nor there. Perhaps David's moniker sums it up best: 'foreign strangers' we are.

All Christians (and indeed, all humans) are aliens in this world to a certain extent, but I can only quote from my experience, and I have felt this most with the d'NAers.

It was a joy to meet up with David and Audrey last Thursday; they leave for the USA tomorrow.

We talked about personality types (Myers-Briggs anyone?) and school CF and YF dynamics, mainly.

Between the two shores, the Love that brought us together will continue to keep us that way. Indeed, we're phase particles! (Thanks David, heheh)

Here's to you, David and Aud; may the next phase of your adventure be even more exciting and enriching than anything before this. Rock the States, but please wait for the rest of us before you sink any of the islands there!


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Chocoholics do exist. And they're going public about it!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Way of the Force

I'm sneaking out a few minutes to write this.

Mr Leong (our Pure Maths teacher) has given the class a '3-day 2-night holiday package' of Maths work, covering the Polynomials and Sequences & Series chapters. We have the week-long school holidays to complete it.

I told myself yesterday that I would spend the next three or four days working hard on it, for the sake of getting it out of my mind. At present, I have completed the Inequalities handout. I have yet to do the handouts for Series and Partial Fractions, and two Sequences & Series exercises, in addition to a total of 56 revision questions from the two chapters.

It occurred to me a short while ago, that I'm not doing this out of love for the subject; indeed, I see no functional use for all the Maths we've been studying this year, except to fill up time if you've nothing better to do. And the parts I actually like (e.g. the stuff on infinity) are hardly applicable in daily life unless you're into Quantum Physics.

So, it seems quite clear that I'm doing it merely to get it out of the way, like killing a parasite. Reminds me of the time when ticks infested my dog, George. I used to relish picking them out and killing them one by one, whether by squishing their blood-bloated bodies, flattening their heads, or thrusting them into soap solutions.

My desire to finish the Maths work is fuelled by an intense hatred of the subject. Yet I know this is not the Jedi way. But neither can I love the subject.

Mum said it's to stimulate the mind. Yeah, I'm stimulated by photography, poetry, literature, music, art, nature, laughter... In fact, all the mammoth personalities of the past were famous for developing their strengths in favour of their weaknesses; they were wise enough for that. Beethoven never became a rocket scientist, Einstein wasn't a poet laureate, van Gogh did not compose music, Shakespeare did not pursue economics.

I'll never become a mathematician. Descartes famously said, cogito ergo sum, i.e. "I think, therefore I am." I do not believe that. Rather, I am inclined to think that our thoughts don't change what we are; they are a reflection of who we are. I am too random, too much a dreamer, to ever be grounded by the abstractions of the hard sciences. To me, a whale deserves to be enjoyed and celebrated in verse, far more than dissected upon the laboratory table.

Some of you who read this may know Mr Leong. I like him very much, especially all the tangents he frequently embarks on, like throwing Ayah Pin, Approved Permits, the profits of Petronas and the N95 haze mask into his lessons. I guess it says something about the stuff that really matter. When he talks about all those 'unrelated things,' we immediately connect; when he begins to explain the next concept, we are automatically flung into another frequency.

I am not belittling Maths. And I did not drop Physics because I think it's a whole lot of crap. On the contrary, I enjoy Physics so much, that I cannot help talking about it or describing things in its terms. But these are not for me. There are mathematicians and physicists among my friends; it is their lot in life. It is not mine.

So why do I even give a fuck? Why must I slave through this (and please, for crying out loud, DON'T say: "because it builds character") if it is not my destiny? I see no good that can come out of endless sessions of pain, trying to understand something I will never use. Even Jacob didn't work hard for nothing: his prize was Rachel.

Some may point out that I must score in this so that I can pursue medicine. Well, to hell with it then. I'll do something else: I'll study literature, become a teacher. Work in Scripture Union (that is, if SU would ever put up with someone like me). Life is not a bed of roses, granted. But that does not mean we deliberately invite trouble by jumping into a pool of acid.

Maybe I should just switch to the arts stream. At least I may understand those concepts better, even if I cannot remember them all. And at least I may see something actually applicable there, something grounded in reality versus the scientific abstractions that are dealt with within the mind, and the mind alone.

Anyway, I tip my hat to those of you who are still reading. Thanks for listening to these ramblings. I think I'll just do the wisest thing anyone in my position can do: sleep. Maybe a nap will clear my mind a little.

Oh, and just one more thing: I also realise that I need not be in the editorial board. My list of extra-curricular exploits is already rather illustrious, and apparently with the advantage of having served in National Service, I have full points for local university admission. So why do I bother with the board? It is no longer something I need. Yet I do it for the joy of the whole endeavour.

Which is the opposite of Maths, which is something I do because I have to, deprived of all manner of joy. Ironically, nobody remembers the top scorers of the last decade. Yet the names of even the earliest editors are preserved, and the magazines kept intact for posterity. Maybe I'm still in the editorial board because it means something to me. Because I enjoy creating and writing and communicating.

Oh, screw it. When I wake up, I'll still have that pile of maths staring at me. Maybe I'll just burn the whole stack and tell Mr Leong that I misplaced the assignments. Though, he did say yesterday, "Ben, you're always so busy. I hope you can finish the work." Well what does it matter anyway? It's my life, after all.

So much for the way of the Force. So what if I'd rather be Sith?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Meet Li-Shia, again.

The main photo is one I took of her on the morning of Speech Day, Saturday. It's her characteristic terpelanting pose (think Japanese Anime, whenever those characters fall upside down or fly off the page).

In retrospect, I notice the grass and trees give it a rather rustic, country feel. Just imagine the baju kurung is a flowing nun's robe, and voila!, you have Maria from The Sound of Music.

On the other hand, the inset was taken today, on the third floor, outside my classroom. I put it up here because of the object in Li-Shia's hands: a bunch of keys.

Looking at them earlier, I was reminded of something Jesus said in Revelation ("I hold the keys of death and Hades") and of him giving Peter the 'keys of the kingdom.'

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory (and I paraphrase) that while civilisations, art, history and everything else we do will come to pass, yet it is immortals whom we talk, laugh and joke with, regale, insult, hurt and admonish.

Because of this, no one we meet is merely 'normal,' and everything we do (or don't do) to others, is helping them to one of two ends: either to immense glory that would induce worship were it revealed now, or to immense horror, the kind of which is found only in the worst nightmares.

The keys are in our hands; let us pray for wisdom to seek the kingdom in humility and simplicity. The Master says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and then these [things we need/want] also will be added to you."

And may we always remember to shed our indifference towards the immortals with whom we spend almost all of our waking hours.

(Thanks Li-Shia, for the inspiration that comes so often via madness. This entry is for you.)

Melting Chocolate

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
The sun was absolutely glorious this morning. I took this shot from the third (or was it second?) floor of the Form Six Block.

I love the way the light streaks across the fluffy, textured clouds, almost as if the most majestic seas and skies were all rolled into one.

Times Square makes a rather excellent silhouette, and this brings to mind something Li-Shia said on the night of the VIOBA dinner; that Times Square looks like chocolate, and the KL Tower like a lollipop.

Now what if it were indeed a bar of chocolate, melting in the golden rays of the morning sun, flooding the streets of KL with warm fudge?

Not a bad thought, no?

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
The buildings in the background are not blurred by the haze, but by the tremendous shower earlier this afternoon.

Some say this is the effect of cloud-seeding. Whatever the cause, the rain was certainly welcome, although the haze had already cleared.

Reminds me, as rain always does, of that day at BLC in 2004 with Sivin, before the dinner with the debaters.

I doubt the metaphor was ever intended, but cloud-seeding suggests to me another analogy: the seed of the Word. If rains fall as a result of seeding clouds, then perhaps blessings and life only follow if we patiently sow into the kingdom, planting seeds in a soil we cannot see, for a harvest we may not reap.

To that end, it is difficult to be faithful. But it is for that very end that faith is required, and when there is nothing left in the darkness, it is all that will be needed.

After the Tattoo

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Behold, the VI Cadet Corps Band, one of the greatest marching bands in the world, with the finest bagpipers outside Scotland!

From left: Hazim (to-be president of the band, and the best Drum Major I've seen in awhile), Sayyid (head of the brass section), Afiq (originally to-be president of the band, but leaving for Sunway College to do the Monash University Foundation Year), Ariffin (ex-prefect and rugby player; no longer in the VI), Helmi (drummer), Afri (head of the bagpipers), me, Jon, Li-Shia and Choon Wei.

Apart from Helmi, all the other bandsmen in the photo were my classmates, at least once in the last five years. It's great seeing them all up there, leading the band. And they are good people.

From little subordinates to influential leaders... it dawns upon me that next year, my form will helm the VI. Yet it seems like just yesterday that we entered this massive institution.

Reminds me of the aphorism, "Learn to take orders. You may give them someday." I am trying to learn humility. Pride is often the last enemy to enter the picture, for it does so only once a person is 'established,' but it is also the most stubborn tenant.

Perhaps that is why God breaks us from time to time: to remind us of who we are, of our humanity, of humour, of humility. It is not possible to laugh too much or too loud. To be able to take each stride in life with overwhelming joy...

The Architect

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
For more than seven months had I not seen the great Ho Sui-Jon. He returned to school on Saturday morning for Speech Day (prize-giving ceremony) on account of his string of SPM As. And he made another appearance for the VIOBA Dinner and Band Tattoo (NOT the skin art) at night.

It was a trip down memory lane, almost as if I'd been sucked into a time tunnel, meeting old friends whom I'd not seen in the months since results day. As for Jon, he'd already left for Kolej Tunku Jaafar early this year.

So, he decided to leave his mark and return to his old ways, before leaving once again for KTJ. During the dinner, we made our way to the Lecture Hall block to find an empty classroom with plastic chairs, followed by Li-Shia and Choon Wei.

He did what he always did best, stacking the chairs ceiling-high. Ryan and his brother, Chester, discovered us. It was Chester who took this picture. Later, Shazlan (choir coach) and Suffian (pioneer choir member, 2001) found us too.

Jon wants to become an architect. Indeed, it would suit him. There isn't much room for great minds these days, what with the dulling of individuals via more and more propoganda, rather than the propogation of human beings in rich soil.

It's usually the little incongruencies of life that make it worth living, the odds and ends that make us laugh, and the moments that flash by, that we cherish the longest and best.

And who knows, maybe some day Jon will create the first Chair Monument, or if it's in Malaysia, Tugu Kerusi!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

silver lining

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Dinner just now with (from left) Lik Wen, Hari, Li-Shen and Amy at Teppanyaki, Times Square, was good. We all ordered chicken teppanyaki and iced green tea.

Amy discovered that I can, after all, speak Cantonese.

Somehow the last few days have revolved around Times Square. It was the last landmark to disappear in the haze, and I went there four times in three days; once with Mum after the VI Old Boys' Association photo shoot, twice with VEB members after work, and once for the CU meeting.

I suppose it's because the mall is near school and, being air-conditioned, is a welcome respite to weary souls engulfed in the haze.

This morning, when Jonathan, his sister Joanna and I walked into Times Square, it was still rather hazy, though not as bad as yesterday's worst.

But when Weng Ken and I drove out after the meeting, the sun shone as it never had in the last few days. I managed to catch a glimpse of this glorious hope peeping through the clouds.

I suppose I miss school. A few years ago, I would rejoice at the thought of such ad hoc school holidays. But not now.

Li-Shia is right: home is simply too boring. At least school keeps us busy and on our toes, preventing any hint of stagnation from surfacing.

(By the way, since a picture paints a thousand words, I've decided to rely on my photos to tell this week's stories, for I cannot seem to make my mind stable enough to write).


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Had a long-awaited Christian Union committee meeting over lunch at Times Square today.

Mainly to discuss next year's committee and the long-standing matter of officialisation (as some of you may know, the VICU is not recognised by the school as an official society).

Clockwise from top left: Jonathan, Timothy, me, Chien Yih, Xiao Ying and Weng Ken.

The picture I took of Chien Yih carrying the drinks reminded me of Jesus' words; that the 'greatest among you must be the servant of all.'


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
The same trees, on different days. The top picture was taken on Wednesday, and the bottom one today.

Looks like Genting/Cameron Highlands, except that the temperature is virtually opposite!

Closer inspection will reveal yellow leaves/petals on the road beneath the trees (d'NAers and avid blog-readers will certainly get this reference). I couldn't resist the shot.

Top picture, from left: Li-Shia, Ching Yeng, me, Phon, Tinesh, Phak Hoe and Balazs.

Times Square in the Haze

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Over the last five days, I've been taking pictures of Times Square from the 3rd floor of my school's Form Six Block, for the sake of comparison and monitoring the haze. The photos were taken sometime in the early afternoon each day.

Clockwise from top left: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Monday's picture appears in the blog entry below.

As is obvious, the changes are very pronounced.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Hazy Days

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
(right: view of Times Square from my school's Form 6 block)

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."

-- Job 1:21

There's an amazing song I've recently had the pleasure of hearing, at the Bible Quiz, BLC and on a CD my Mum bought yesterday. It's called Blessed Be Your Name:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

And blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
When I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all "as it should be"
Blessed be your name

And blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
"Lord blessed be your name"

The long and short of it is that I did badly in the recent exams. 50 for Pure Maths, 64 for Chemistry and 65 for Biology. My parents are very displeased, and are about to enforce various restrictions, not the least of them social.

My only chance of redeeming myself lies in the finals this year, come October. Ironically, if I do well, it gets their expectations high for next year, and burdens me with more stress to maintain my performance.

What hurts the most is that this should happen in the midst of my other self-imposed restriction. Cut off from one of my confidantes and possibly many of my companions, I can only wonder what lies ahead.

I like the song above, maybe because its chords remind me of U2's With or Without You, one of my favourite songs. And then the lyrics... was thinking about them after my parents talked to me just now.

Dare I say "Lord blessed be your name"?

It is solely by the grace of God that I enjoyed a dynamic social life over the last 20 months, so much so that the friends I made within this period find it hard to believe I am by nature an introvert.

But is this now the time to pause from all that? To pause from d'NA, from emergent, from blogging and photography, in order to re-focus my academic life? It's only going to last about 10 weeks, till the exams are over in October. Yet it feels like ages.

In faith will I press on. My heart will choose to say, "Lord blessed be your name." What he has given, he has every right to take away.

Days seem to be getting hazier and hazier, not just physically, but also in my emotions and my heart. Yet will I hope in the Lord, and yet will I look forward to the showers of rejoicing that must sooner or later fall.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Wise Ones

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Met several sages yesterday.

That's Mrs Kua holding what looks like an envelope (she furnished me with reference materials for BK last year), and the famous Miss Moey, standing next to her. I do not know the person standing next to me.

On the top right, I'm sandwiched in between two friends who constantly encourage and guide me; Sivin and Soo-Inn. Had a meaningful conversation with Soo-Inn on person-fasting, career, people and life in general.

Finally got to meet Paul Long, bottom right, at BLC that night (their 5th Anniversary). Highly skilled at balloon-art, heheh. Heard a lot about him from Tee Ming.

Sorry if my blog entries seem a bit disconnected lately. There've been lots on my mind, and I just can't seem to get anything straightened out. The only reason I'm keeping the posts going, is for the sake of maintaining a record for posterity.

Hope to be back in full swing sometime soon.

Welcome to the Freakshow!

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Don't ask me why I chose this title. It just happened to sound right; and besides, I like dcTalk ;-)

Saturday's National Bible Knowledge Quiz at Assunta School, PJ, was rather excellent. Finishing among the top for the non-SPM Senior category was a blessing by grace. Taking part in it was just an excuse to meet the people who really matter: friends.

In the tree picture, are, clockwise from me; Chien Aun, Zheng, Ning, Tee Ming, Grace and Yen Mii. Crazy d'NA monkeys, no less.

Had lunch at A&W with Nigel, U Shen and Sue Jan. Found out that Shen dislikes the Root Bear (not root beer, mind you). Jan and Shen have made it a point to join me and Joshua for a Roman Catholic mass sometime. Partly Nigel's idea to 'free' Shen from the uber-Pentecostal shell.

The day before, i.e. Friday, met Simon who was in the V.I. to support the MBS team in the ExxonMobil Science Quiz. Had a Melody-Simon-Ben pic taken as a memento of the ex-CF Presidents, though Simon was recently sworn in for a second term.

Among the songs sung for worship that morning, was Blessed be Your Name. Nigel said it was from the Soul Survivor CD; British Anglican, different from American and Australian worship, he said.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.

It's been another long week, and it's not over yet! Quite a lot to write, but not enough time, so here goes...

Sacred Gateway's scripture passage today reminds me of what we discussed at CU yesterday: discipleship.

The excerpt was taken from Matthew 16:24-28, the passage from which this famous verse is taken: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Sacred Gateway then asks, "What am I afraid of losing?"

As I think about denying myself contact with a close friend, I realise I've been seeing attributes in others that I'd never noticed before. I'm building and strengthening friendships with those I've for the most part neglected.

Chien Yih connected discipleship with servanthood. I admit the account in which Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, is one that still baffles me. Not because I'm shocked that God should wash the feet of man, but because it's just so... unusual, extraordinary.

(Maybe it's these little things that testify to the fact that indeed, Jesus is Christ, God with us. No other would do something so insane, something so beyond belief).

And I am reminded of the present my aunt gave me for my birthday; a rather thick and furry green towel. When I first held it in my hand, it struck me as a very powerful symbol of servanthood. (That doesn't necessarily mean I'll be washing feet with it, heheh)

On another note, I've been thinking about education lately. It strikes me that our education system is one that stifles imagination; I don't know enough about other systems to comment on them.

Here, everything must somehow be substantiated by fact, must follow certain rules, must be based on some unchanging factor. Everything is done 'by the book.'

Yet I also realise, taking the broader context/definition, that you can't prove a groundbreaking idea using present conceptions; you cannot understand something out of the box using in-the-box mentality.

No student thinks of suggesting some radical idea in class, or questioning what's written in the textbooks; even if they did, they would merely become some sort of laughingstock.

But so were the great ones. Discoverers like Columbus, revolutionists like Gandhi, geniuses like Einstein and Beethoven, and a certain Nazarene carpenter some 2000 years ago -- these, and more, saw what no one else could and changed our lives forever.

C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head, when he wrote in The Weight of Glory:

That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can't... we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door.

He was referring to heaven and glory, and how the incredible may paint a picture more resemblant to what will come, rather than what is.

(OK, I have to go now. Need to pick Wilson up for the Bible quiz).

Friday, August 05, 2005


sacred gateway
Originally uploaded by mincaye.

It is presently 6:29 a.m. Friday morning.

I revisited Sacred Gateway after ages of not having done so. It was refreshing, to say the least.

The Scripture reading was taken from Matthew 6:13-20, in which Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

Just after Peter acknowledges the Christ, Jesus speaks of his church, which will be founded on Peter.

I'm reading Lewis' The Weight of Glory now, and putting two and two together, I got more than my mind can count.

It's like, Peter sees the Messiah, and suddenly the world doesn't matter anymore because as far as he's concerned, everything is in the hands of the Sovereign.

But then, the next thing Jesus does is least expected; he passes his job to us, his followers. Lewis must have been right when he wrote (I can't remember where) that 'God is abdication.'

And I look at how far we've fallen -- nay, how far I've fallen, and, well... the fact that we're still here... Grace. Mercy. Call it what you will.

Something happened last night that prompted me to think of the nature of fasting and of spiritual attack.

The idle mind is the devil's playground, it has been said. I seem to notice that the times I was weakest, were when my mind was 'too free.'

However, the times I experienced God's grace the most, were also those when I was at my weakest. A different type of weakness, maybe.

Whatever it may be, I want this time of fasting to be a 'selah' during which I may draw closer to God, and learn to dwell in his presence more.

(Which reminds me, I need to get a copy of Nouwen's The Way of the Heart).

It's now 6:41 a.m. Leaving for school soon.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Walk On

U2 2000
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Person fast, Day 3. Well, technically, it's only two days at this very moment; then again, by the time you read this...

I played U2's Walk On for Tee Ming on the CD player after dinner that night. Originally written for Aung San Suu Kyi, we were rather shocked at how relevant it was to our present adventure.

Indeed, the lyrics gained a whole new depth in context of this 'person fast' and our yearning for a deeper relationship with God. So, here it is:

Walk On

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing...
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can't steal it
No they can't even feel it
Walk on, walk on...
Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can't sell it, can't buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home... hard to know what it is if you've never had one
Home... I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the hurt is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme...

Odds and ends

Peculiar day today.

In the morning during recess, my ex-English teacher, Miss Shanti, shared with me a problem that's been bugging her lately: a college-mate of hers who is now a pastor, is driving her and her friends up the wall with signature Christian brashness and the famous 'preachy' drone. This pastor is probably the embodiment of many Christians, who, due to excessive indoctrination of modern Christianity, speak concepts and theories and so-called laws that never pass through the heart before they are made audible.

She has asked me for help in replying the e-mails sent by this pastor. On one hand, she doesn't want to break correspondence; on the other, she's at her wits' end as to what to say. I could only say two things: first, that I would be direct and not hide behind metaphors and euphemisms if I were talking to this pastor, and second, that I do not know what to do. (As McLaren puts it: it's okay not to know).

Later in the day, while waiting for Mum to fetch me from school, I overheard a conversation between F1 and F2 (identities remain protected) in the little wakaf/pondok near the school entrance. Somewhere in it, F1 said -- and I quote as accurately as I can -- "Fuck a guy in the ass for all I care, but don't marry him. That's just plain wrong lah."

F1 is in no way religious, but somehow the ethical core remains. Why? (This actually reminds me of C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man, in which he says he would rather play cards with a person of questionable ethics, but who was trained to believe that a man does not cheat, than with an irreproachable moral philosopher who was brought up among sharpers).

In the evening, I beheld what must have been the worst haze to settle upon Cheras (I do not know about the rest of KL) in a very long time. Buildings seemed to be covered with a grey sheet, and the sun appeared as a very pronounced orange ball, about the size of the full moon.

I do hope it rains soon. I miss rain... I miss all the symbolism and meaning and purpose of rain. I miss the presence of God, so often present in the rain...

Not too long ago, had a discussion with Mum and Dad about boy-girl relationships; was pretty awkward, as this is unfamiliar territory as far as our conversations go... and it's not like I'm in -- or about to enter into -- one.

Oh well, it's been a relatively good day. Managed to do some Maths work; I seriously can't remember the last time I spent so much time on homework (with the exception of my recent Bio notes, written at about 1-something a.m. on Tuesday morning!).

Piano lesson tomorrow, ExxonMobil Science Quiz in school this Friday, and the National SPM BK Quiz at Assunta on Saturday.

Monday, August 01, 2005


montage birthday
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I was born in the year of U2's The Joshua Tree, sometime around the famed Operasi Lalang (I forgot if it was in '87 or '88), and on the exact date of the 101st anniversary of Franz Liszt's death.

OK, so I turned 18 yesterday, about 14 hours ago to be precise. And my, what a birthday it turned out to be!

Spent most of the day with Tee Ming. She joined my family for service at Glad Tidings PJ, and Dr Larry Keefauver's message hit us hard in some places; the following are some things he asked the congregation to say to one another:

"I love you in spite of who you are."
"Your future is in my hands."
"My opinion doesn't matter."
"There's nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you."

Each of the above went deeper for us than they probably would for most people. Maybe it's because of the unique bond we share.

(Oh yes, he also said 'DNA' and 'be fruitful and multiply' in the same breath, when talking about blessings being passed down through generations. Fellow Stage 2 d'NAers, you get the reference!)

After that, it was lunch at this dim sum place in town called the Marco Polo Restaurant, before heading off to the Istana Budaya to watch Wild Zebra. Mum accompanied us.

Eventually, Tee Ming stayed on for dinner and the 'cake-cutting ceremony.' No prizes for guessing who's who in the bottom left picture; Dad, Mum, Kevin, Sara, Tee Ming and my grandparents are in it.

Mum and Sara made a house cake for me, because our house number is 18, and I'm turning 18; it was covered in gummies and Smarties. Indeed, a very childish cake, but perfectly suitable since I really feel younger this year than I have in a long, long time!

Received as presents, the following:

-From my aunt, a towel and handkerchiefs (perfect reminder of the servanthood of Christ at the Last Supper)
-From Kevin, a Kenny G duets album
-From Sara, an Alain D'Lious (Germany) roller ball pen
-From Li-Shia, a montage of birthday cakes (on her blog!)
-From Mum and Dad, a denim trenchcoat-like jacket

Gave Tee Ming a number of things today. Namely:

-sheet music of Michael W. Smith's Friends
-sheet music of the Mulan theme song, Reflection
-a watercolour hibiscus painting I did in February 2004
-a card with the Chinese characters for 'friend' on the cover (the presence of the 'yuet' reminds me of our last names, 'Ming')
-the Wild Zebra ticket and programme booklet
-photographs of us and the d'NA reunions this year

Alright, now comes the part that is hardest to write. Tee Ming and I have decided to share in a 'person fast,' in accordance with August being the National Prayer Month.

We have decided not to communicate with one another until 30th August, with the exception of letters in the direst of circumstances. We have decided to spend this time in concentrated and consistent prayer, seeking God wholeheartedly.

This is very difficult, because we are very close, and we've been sharing each other's burdens and encouraging one another so much, that the thought of spending a whole month devoid of the other's immediate presence, is almost unbearable.

But Tee Ming is strongly convicted that she must do this, and I cannot disagree, from some things I read in Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, which I consulted for guidance on this matter when she first suggested it.

We consider the following as signs that this is where our journey is taking us:

1. something written in the introduction of the 40-day NECF prayer booklet
2. conviction through prayer
3. the fact that Jesus spent 30+ years 'away from the Father'
4. Richard Foster
5. the seed analogy; that unless a seed dies, it remains just one seed
6. the idea that this might be like a refiner's fire, a time of testing
7. absence makes the heart grow fonder
8. God is God, and we are not
9. if 'me', 'you' and 'God' are three points of a triangle, then we draw nearer to one another by drawing near to God
10. yearning for a deeper communion, and looking forward into the next phase in our lives (see Eliot's East Coker)

Romans 8:28 is our key verse; it was my favourite verse for a very long time, and I remember it goes something like this:

"For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose."

So we sealed this commitment in prayer before dinner, and co-wrote a little poem that sums up our hopes and fears in making this plunge. Due to space constraints, I shall post it up some other time.

For now, she has Friends and my painting to remember me by, and I have Across the Stars (John Williams' soaring love theme from Star Wars: Episode II), also on sheet music.

Indeed it would seem that we are separated by millions of stars without the usual avenues of communication. But it's great to grow old together. And it's been an amazing eighteen years.

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things!"