June 27, 2010 Leave a comment
June 27, 2010 1 Comment
Ask a Japanese, Korean, Indian, Malay or Arab his/her name, you probably get a name that sounds like his/her nationality. Ask a Chinese that, you certainly need to ask thrice for his name. Thrice? Yes.
Cos’ when you first ask a Chinese for his/her name, there is a good chance you will not get a Chinese name. Most likely, get an English, Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, Spanish or non-Chinese name. That is when you ask a 2nd time – "I see…what’s your real Chinese name". And his/her answer shall be quickly followed by your 3rd question – "Huh? Again? I didn’t get it…"
I can’t generalise this for all Chinese. But look around you – more than half of your Chinese friends use names that aren’t Chinese. Friends of my generation are naming their kids with fanciful names. It is pretty easy for me to single out those friends who are using their Chinese names (like Hock, Yei, Ming).
Surely, we do have Chinese names. And it is not that the Chinese despise their own names. Nor most of us are turning holy to adopt those "Christian names". There is a lame but valid reason to explain why we are adopting these names – they are much easier for our audience to remember. At the very least, we save them from mispronouncing our names at important events – like at a graduation, wedding ceremony, lucky draw event. It will be dreadfully embarrassing when you hear names like "Gan Lee Nah". or "Lim Lao Bei". In Singapore, we Chinese have "Dialect names in English" that even mainland Chinese won’t be able to decode. The other races can never pronounce our names right. It just doesn’t sound "Chinese" enough.
The mainland Chinese are certainly much bolder and more creative in adopting non-Chinese names for themselves. For the past 4 years here, I have interviewed "Envy", "Bang", "Ashes", "Hue", "Kinky" and yes "Dracula"! (I always remember this chap!) Not to mention I was served by an unfriendly hotel staff by the name of "Humor" last week in China.
June 24, 2010 Leave a comment
what he was singing. At least, I still can make up what these fans were
singing. (Jay, you do have a big market in the west. Got to watch your mumblings. Set good example for Mandarin singers.)
It was an exciting and proud moment for all of us in Hong Kong. On Friday, we attended Elkan’s graduation ceremony at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It was a grand ceremony and the school put up a great show.
Thanks to my mother-in-law, we were given special seats at the front row as Felicia’s mum did volunteer works at the school during her short stay with us. Felicia was invited up the stage to collect the token on behalf of her mother. It was a joyous moment for me (as proud husband and father) – to see both Mum and son on the stage at the ceremony.
This is also the first time when we saw our son performing on stage. Elkan was one of the 2 lead performers of the play, donning the smart navy captain uniform. We have absolutely no idea about his performance so you can imagine our anxieties and worries. Will he stumble? Will he back out due to stage-fright?
Elkan performed superbly – marching in solo and leading the rest of the dancers. Their opening routines were so cool and smart that it drew loud applause from the audience. From time to time, my boy made small smiles and winks at us. He spotted us and he knew I am taking photos of him. Now, that is my flirty captain!
The graduation marked the end of his school days in Hong Kong. Come 2011, Elkan will be heading back to Singapore for his Primary School – captaining his new 15-year school voyage.
June 16, 2010 Leave a comment
After a long 7-year absence, our favorite race is finally back! SUPER RACE III was launched 10pm last night at my birthday party. 3 teams (comprising of 4 Singaporeans, 3 Malaysians, 1 Chinese, 1 Indian) were formed and the contestants made their way to the 1st pit-stop this morning at 8:30am. This is going to be a very interesting race as we are not very familiar with the streets of Hong Kong.
Organising a race like this is not easy. It takes a lot of planning (clues, venues) and tedious coordination works (logistic, prizes). Felicia, Sherry and Danielle were fantastic organisers! The race was made very challenging and interesting. Throughout the 9-hour race around Hong Kong, we conquered 9 pit-stops and accomplished 9 demanding tasks. We have good contestants amongst the teams. Most of us were very competitive and had that strong desire to win this race. This made the race very exciting and fun.
Occasionally, we made a couple of critical blunders – ones that could have cost our team our chance to win. At our 4th stop, we actually walked past the pit-stop without realising it and we spent the next 45 minutes roaming the entire beach looking for it.
In the end, it was a neck-to-neck fight to the finishing line. My team was always tailing the leading team. At the final seconds, both team sprinted against each other to the final stop. What a bloody close-call! Due to my team’s "unconventional and highly-controversial" tactics of running the race, the organisers decided to award the grand prize to the other team. The truth is my team crossed the final line first. We should have won!
The teams have made many entertaining videos (lots of bitching and mockery footage) along the way. The race has also given us a chance to see the other sides of our friends. People react differently under different circumstances. It is a good way to observe our friends and their reactions to pressure. The race pushed us to put aside our differences and work together as one. After the race, all teams sat down together and exchanged stories. We all had the same destinations but our journey was very different.
Based on the positive response I received on FACEBOOK and SMS, many of my Wahbiang friends want us to bring back the race to Singapore. Yes, I say. But someone back home has to do the hard work. Meanwhile, enjoy the key moments of our 1st and 2nd Super Race. (Plus a special "Hong Kong Amazing Race Spoof Video" that was specially edited to commemorate today’s race!)
Just when I thought that I had the strangest birthday-cum-race event, Felicia knocked me (and my guests) off the chair with these finale "mini Joe cakes"! Trust me, this will be the first and last time you see my face printed on these cakes. I almost fainted when I saw the waitress serving out these "Mini Joes". Not sure how the rest of the guests felt – but it is certainly very very awkward to have my guests licking, biting and swallowing my face.
Yes, I did wished for an uncanny birthday. But not to this extent. This is worse than having a pie on your face. Putting your face on a pie
is beyond strange.This surprise has seriously gone "outside my expectation". It doesn’t seems so wrong to have a Mickey Mouse on the cake – but I am no Mickey. This is cannibalism. (And people is going to blame me if they suffer any stomach upset / skin allergy later) Gosh, I am going to be haunted by my own little cakes for a long time.
So, how did it go with the diners? Well, I guess my guests finished the cakes out of courtesy and respect. It is rude not to eat someone’s birthday cake. For some guests, they couldn’t wait to tear me apart and swallow me down their throat. Some like to lick my face slowly before taking the small bites – starting from my chin to head. Others stared at it for quite a while before finding that courage to "consume" me.
I just found out that these "personalised" cakes aren’t cheap. They cost about SG$10/HK$50 per piece. Don’t get me wrong. It is not about the money and I do love surprises. It just that I don’t love myself that much. I don’t mind having Megan Fox or even Scarlett Johansson printed on my cakes. They will 100% make the cake "looks much sweeter".
Having said all these… I do love my wife for her creativity and the ability to read my thoughts (those wishes I made quietly inside my heart). It is a very sweet gesture…it just that my face doesn’t make the cakes look sweet. Somehow, the cakes looked temple-rish, salty and very very fattening.
My birthday wish has been answered. I have just attended one of the quirkiest birthday parties ever. And one that I will remember for a very very long time.
First, the main guests were late. For 90 freaking minutes. Scott was complaining and grumbling about the bad habits of "advertising people" (as we often kept him waiting during lunch). Just then, we saw Harshad entered the room with some white scribblings on his forehead. Those looks like markings you put on yourself at the football matches. My first thought was "he was late because he was drinking at some pub, watching some world cup matches". Just when I was about to fire my "rapid missiles" at him, the rest of the guests walked in. All of them – Hong Fei, Selina, Tracy and Danielle had wordings on their foreheads. It read "Sorry we were late. It is all Tracy’s fault."
It was a hilarious sight. Candid
and totally unexpected! All of us burst into laughter instantaneously.
Their shameless and comical act certainly drew a lot of unwanted
attention from their other diners. Their creativity (and superb thick
skins) saved their ass tonight. Throughout the entire dinner, they worn
the wordings on their foreheads.
Dinner ended shortly and it was cake-cutting
time. Yeah… the moment is here! I was looking forward for that
one "precious" birthday gift that I have been eying since March. Could
it be the iPAD? Or my favourite Canon lens?
Yeah.. it was an iPad alright – a paper
version. However, I did get a REAL PAD! Yes, P-A-D (the kind that
women use every month!). Josephine "sacrificed" one of hers for my
birthday card / pad. Very very creative and intimate indeed…Not
amused, I began to feel really nervous about their tricks… What’s
next, I wondered.
Then, Felicia passed me a rather thick envelop.
Like the Russian Doll, one envelop revealed another envelop inside. I
started pulling out all the envelops, still no sight of a concrete
birthday gift. (At least last year, they gave me a receipt of the PS3 in
The final envelop was the "shocker" of the
night. Instead of seeing my birthday present, inside the envelop
was a note labeled "SUPER RACE". I paused and looked at all my guests.
Many questions flashed across my mind – "Is this a trick?". Super Race?
What the hell was going on? Er…has someone made a mistake here?
and Tracy then asked me to strip open the envelop and read out the clue
inside. My gosh! This is a REAL GAME! Felicia, Sherry and Danielle have
been planning this secretly for the last few weeks! Felicia and Sherry
then started explaining the game and distributing the "Super Race"
and bandannas to all the people at my birthday party. This is the "SUPER
RACE" we played back in Singapore back in 2003! And now, the race starts tomorrow at 9am at
Central Hong Kong!
was indeed a very unusual birthday party. Well, I did wished for
something different but I wasn’t prepared that it turned out this way. I
was in the midst of the gift-opening and suddenly, I ended up with a
clue in my hand. Yes, this is one very special and unforgettable
birthday. One that doesn’t come with the usual candle blowing and
dreadful birthday song ritual. And a gift that doesn’t come wrapped in a
This is the best birthday
gift ever! A gift of pure joy and togetherness. A gift that is
only possible because their love and friendship. And that is something
you can’t buy it with money – Love and Friendship. I love them so much!
for the late night baking my "very tasting" WAH-BIANG birthday cake.
for "dressing" the late-comers with such nasty but "I-Love-It" prank!
Every word counts! And lastly, a BIG thank you to Danielle & BF,
for bringing back my favourite RACE! I am deeply touched by all your
effort and love to organise this challenging race for
everyone here. I have done it back in 2002 and 2003. It was not easy. I
am sure my Wahbiang Clan read this with envy. Let’s start the RACE!
Photos of my last 8 birthdays – retrieved from my digital archive. It is one of those days in the year when I feel very blessed and loved. Thanks to God’s blessings, my life is blessed with lots of caring friends, doting soul mates and loving families. 35 good years and I am looking forward for another 35 great ones.
I can’t remember the wishes I have made. Usually, I was too distracted by the loud public crowing of the birthday song. Surely, my friends can sing this old classic better – if they aren’t too lazy about their terrible pitch and tone. (What’s worse is when they start to sing the "all the versions" – English, Chinese and Cantonese!) You wish you took that VIP room offer. Next, it is about the candles…It seems that after my 18th birthday, no one bother to put the exact numbers of candles for me. Sometimes it was 1, 2 or 3 candles. Another strange thing about lighting up the candles. No one seems to remember the most important ritual item – the lighter. If there is no smoker friend… you can imagine the chaos.
There I was, looking at those melting wax on the creamy pile of cake…and preparing for those sudden bursts of flash. And then, everyone ask you to make a wish. Normally, I would make 2-3 wishes. Sometimes 5 – depending on my mood. No, none of my wishes came true. Or they did. Anyway, I don’t remember them the next morning. 1 wish stays constant throughout the years and that is "I wish that all my friends’ and families’ wishes come true." Pretty selfless, right? Or simply lazy. Mmm.. perhaps, I need to be serious about my wish this year.
Maybe it is the way we celebrate our birthday. The venue and the song. What do you expect them to do when you are in the restaurant? Eat, sing, blow cake, cut cake and eat again. Right after I finish my cake ceremony, I start my "forest-killing" ritual – tear the wrapping paper, destroy the packaging and inspect the "surprise" inside. Can we for once – imagine birthday without candles, cake and that dreadful song?
I need to do something. Different. Maybe not in time for this year. But surely it justifies a wish that I can make later in the restaurant. No more birthday cake-cutting in the restaurant / office conference room next year. Keep the candle (as it is the cheapest and simplest form of ritual). Maybe no candle on the cake. How about on the Peking Duck? Or on a gigantic deep-friend wanton? How about doing this at the beach? On the roller-coaster ride? Or maybe even underwater in the sea? Or best, outside Steve Job’s house!
It is 7:15pm now. Time to go to blow my candle, cut my cake and make my wish. The gang is waiting for me at the Causeway Bay restaurant now. Life is beautiful and full of sweet surprises. So are birthdays. Surprise me please.