Friday, October 31, 2008

The Backward Glance

When Rachael asked me to play guitar for the final PKV meeting of 2008, and I roped Kaun in on tambourine, I think it was quite a gesture of courage and confidence (or faith laced with foolhardiness!).

The spontaneous 'Forever' at the end of the meeting.

The over-repeated 'I Will Sing of the Mercies'. (Though indeed it is fitting, for truly we shall never cease to sing of the mercies of our Lord.)

Kaun's feelings throughout this semester represented as a mass of spaghetti-like doodles on the piece of green paper we were each given.

And this:

My own representation of how my semester went.

A time of going further up and further into this course of study to which I have committed myself.

Moments of heartbreak (caused by a variety of incidents), with the hope that some broken hearts will soar again. (Remember the pendant.)

Recurring revelations that perhaps trees do talk to each other.

Long nights and dark days (to quote a U2 phrase).

The ways in which God speaks -- through friends. What matters is not if we are able to have suppers, or if we are able to go on wild trips or reflective sojourns, but that we should be there for each other at these crucial junctures of life.

The grace of God that is still holding everything together.

It was also Kenneth's last PKV meeting. As such, it also represents a new phase in my life, for truly we have been connected (and reconnected) in ways so uncanny only God knows why and how.

Godspeed, Kenneth. Words cannot express the extent to which I am indebted to you.

* * * * *

A friend recently tripped down memory lane, and wrote some of her thoughts here.

Several days ago, I stumbled upon a fragment of her past and was inspired to revisit the corresponding points in my past and the past of the guy who completes us.

I found, scribbled on this blog on 10 July 2007, these words:

Apparently, here you can grow your hair long and even dye it. You can also wear slippers to lectures. Considering all I've heard about the strict dress codes at other universities, I'm inclined to think UM is really trying to be different. I suppose this means it's the right place for me; after all, it doesn't get more bizarre than my new signature drink, BANDUNG BARLI PANAS TARIK.

It occurred to me that, in the course of my first year in UM, I did dye my hair and wear slippers to lectures. Haven't grown my hair long, though, and I doubt I will! (Though I must admit, it is more likely to happen than my getting a Facebook account.)

Lately, thoughts of the 'firstborn' have been coming and going in my head. As I read in the Bible of the immense significance of the firstborn and the consecration required of such a child, I am brought to a reflection of my own life, for I too am a firstborn.

And so is she.

And he.

And then the other she, who has in recent days shared some of our adventures.

Oh how are the firstborns entangled!

* * * * *

(I seem to find that, whenever I take photos, the first in a series tends to be the best. It is often not the most technically balanced and 'perfect', but the most imbued with a sense of artistry, presence and spirit.)

Deepavali by Maxis

Mum pointed out to me this delightful (newspaper) Deepavali advertisement by Maxis.

It was refreshing to read something thought provoking for a change. Not that festival advertisements have not been thought provoking; there have been great graphic masterpieces in recent years, but this was built on dialogue, and what a clever little piece!

* * * * *

How do you unravel a murukku? I asked my mother.

Her eyes rolled heavenwards as a soft, tender sigh escaped her clenched lips: 'Kirukku payale.'

I was relieved when she laid the ladle down before turning to me.

'Have some oomapodhi', she said.

It just gets better, I thought.

'Is it tasty? Now, take just one. Not one handful! Katrika! Just take one little one, a strand.'

And I did, being suitably well-trained.

'How does it taste?'

Can't taste a thing, I replied.

'Because, alone, it is insignificant. But, put it together with more strands, and what do you get?'

Oomapodhi, I said.

'And why do you think we serve this on Deepavali when guests visit?'

A tiny light shone in my head. Erm, because celebrations are something to be shared -- as in the more the merrier? I asked.

'Clever boy.'

So, how do you...

'Everything is intertwined and interconnected. Go water the garden.'

That was years ago. I finally put away childish things and became a man. And I no longer wonder how to unravel murukku. I know better.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kaun the Graphic Artist

Snapshooters who are graphic artists or otherwise visually literate people often make fantastic images that impress everyone. These snapshooters are artists and don't even realize it. They usually dress better than the artists who think they really are artists.

Believe it: it's the photographer who makes an image, not a camera.

(From Ken Rockwell's Seven Levels of Photographers.)

Dean Niforatos

Rev. Dean Niforatos spoke at church last Sunday. Some killer lines:

Before running us through some exercise; "We are Pentecostals, so we are going to lose some calories in the House of God!"

"Malaysia has the best food; we are going to eat this food in heaven!"

"My wife Carol is a dentist. She has convinced more people to repent than I have in all my sermons. Her favourite hymn is 'Crown Him with Many Crowns'."

"I hear there is a sale today [MPH warehouse sale]. There is a sale here too! Come to Jesus; salvation is free! Trade in your life and He will give you a new one!"

"To me, cats are going to hell, and dogs to heaven. I believe cats are evil. My Eqyptian friend says cats are the guardians of the underworld, and that confirms it."

Addressing that day's worship leader and guitarist, Andy; "I used to think Andy was God's name. Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me... OK that was a bad joke."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Myers-Briggs revisited

I was working on my Marine Ecosystems field trip report when (on the sidelines) I stumbled upon this entry on Adrian's blog.

Yet another round of Myers-Briggs analysis. In the not-too-distant past, David classified me as an ISTP. Earlier this year, I began to suspect that the earlier diagnosis was not entirely true.

Now I am quite convinced.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

A dreamer and a visionary, huh?

More info here:


INFPs are introspective, private, creative and highly idealistic individuals that have a constant desire to be on a meaningful path. They are driven by their values and seek peace. Empathetic and compassionate, they want to help others and humanity as a whole. INFPs are imaginitive, artistic and often have a talent for language and writing. They can also be described as easygoing, selfless, guarded, adaptable, patient and loyal.

Creative, smart, idealist, loner, attracted to sad things, disorganized, avoidant, can be overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings.

An INFP's feelings are often guarded, kept safe from attack and ridicule. Only a few, close confidants are permitted entrance into this domain.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The other side of reason

Rough Weather
by James Reeves

To share with you this rough, divisive weather
And not to grieve because we have to share it,
Desire to wear the dark of night together
And feel no colder than we do not wear it,
Because sometimes my sight of you is clearer,
The memory not clouded by the senses,
To know that nothing now can make you dearer
Than does the close touch of intelligence,
To be the prisoner of your kindness
And tell myself I want you to be free,
To wish you here with me despite all this,
To wish you here, knowing you cannot be —
This is a way of love in our rough season,
This side of madness, the other side of reason.

(Thanks Kaun.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Songs

Two songs have really helped walk me through some of the emotions of the past week.

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along the stony pass

It's just a moment
This time will pass

(From U2's 'Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of')

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah, they were all yellow

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh what a thing to have done
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah, your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
You know, you know I love you so
You know I love you so

I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh what a thing to do
Cos you were all yellow

I drew a line
I drew a line for you
Oh what a thing to do
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
And you know for you
I'd bleed myself dry
For you, I'd bleed myself dry

Its true, look how they shine for you
Look how they shine for you
Look how they shine for
Look how they shine for you
Look how they shine for you
Look how they shine

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And all the things that you do

(Coldplay, 'Yellow')

Monday, October 13, 2008

On the way...

If ever I get a Facebook account, it will be because of things like this:

There is no evidence that SLRs are better photographic tools than compact cameras.

There is no evidence that today's latest compacts are better than those produced four years ago.

One report down, three to go.

One presentation. Today.

Four tests ahead.

It's going to be a busy week!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friends and Followers

This morning, I learnt that the Internet just got a little more ridiculous.

Immediately after posting a comment on Yen's blog, this window popped up.

"If your invitation is accepted, you'll be friends."

I couldn't help laughing. I really felt like telling the pop-up that we were already friends, and pretty good ones too!

But what was more surprising was the discovery that Blogger now has 'followers'. I found out, upon logging in a few minutes ago, that my blog has a Follower.

"Followers are people interested in your blog."

All this while I thought 'readers' are the people interested in my blog. I do appreciate 'commenters', but this inclusion of 'followers' was a new revelation indeed.

The moment I saw the word, I started to imagine myself as Jesus, and it was a thoroughly absurd few seconds of realising I'm probably the last person people should follow.

Next thing I know, Facebook is going to have Disciples or something.

Such is cyber-communication these days.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A New Beginning

The last time I painted, I was seventeen. That was in 2004.

It's been a rough week, emotionally; perhaps rough enough to warrant a return to this old pastime. Or maybe it's just because I chose to listen to her suggestion.

Today, I lifted my old brushes again. Amazingly, the watercolours hadn't dried up yet either; they were hardly touched as they were bought not long before I stopped art lessons with Uncle Hui.

Back then, we used plywood boards to support the paper; since we don't have any at home, Mum let me use her acrylic slab.

Thanks, Yen.