I just got back from Penang!
While I was there, I spotted this amazing sight while travelling around Penang Island:
Did you see that?
I had to check out the building.
Here’s a closer look!
Oh my goodness! I was euphoric! It’s a KFC eatery housed in a colonial mansion!
It’s Colonel Sander’s colonial mansion!!! AHHHH!!!!
I had to go in. After all, I have a huge love for fried chicken, and more specifically, for Malaysian KFC (because it tastes so much better in Malaysia than in Singapore!) (See Crossing the Causeway for a Pilgrimage)
Beside the mansion is the Colonel’s playground:
What amazed me is how well preserved the interior is!
I initially expected a very modern interior of the eatery, but when I entered, I saw this instead:
They actually preserved the original Neo-classical flourishings within the building! So nice! They even preserved the lighting from that period.
And of course, what is KFC without Colonel Sanders standing majestically by the window?
This is sooooo cool! I wish Singapore had something like this too!
I walked past a very dramatic dental clinic the other day.
Here’s what the signage said:
Teeth for life… May the floss be with you.
I don’t know. I don’t think it’s ever entertaining to be the patient. If anything, the dentist will be the one having a good time.
Maybe this dentist has Hollywood aspirations. I don’t know. I don’t dare step into this clinic.
Whatever it is, I’ll probably stick to my dentist, who coincidentally, is called, Dr. Bruce Lee. (See Bruce Lee the Dentist)
This has got to be a really amazing discovery!
The other day a friend of mine told me that Mopiko can be used to treat pimples. She found out about it by reading the packaging.
I was very skeptical!
After all, we’ve grown up our whole lives, taught by our parents (and TV) that Mopiko is meant for those pesky mosquito bites.
Is there really such a magical cream that can be used to treat EVERYTHING?
Well, I finally spotted Mopiko in the supermarket the other day and I went to check out the box. Here’s what it says:
Indications: For relief of bites by lice, bedbugs, mosquitoes, bees or other poisonous insects. Itching ulcers. Measles. Irritation from shaving. Headaches. Pimples. Numbness or Neuralgia. Muscle fatigue due to exercise. Burns or Abrasion. For external use only.
Well, to be honest, I don’t know if these claims are true or if it’s just a marketing gimmick. Could this cream really treat all those things? Headaches, pimples, etc…?
I’d love to put this to the test, but the (fortunate) problem is that I don’t have pimple-problems anymore. I asked some friends to try it – they’re skeptical and reluctant.
I don’t know… I guess the only way to find out is to buy a tube of Mopiko and use it when I have a headache or muscle ache.
If it works, I could really save a lot of money. Instead of buying different creams for different purposes, I can just use this all-in-one magical cream.
Has anyone reading this ever tried Mopiko for anything other than mosquito bites? I’m really curious to know.
I’ve been invited by the Nanyang Confucian Association (NCA) to share about all the great and wonderful things I have learnt from studying Confucianism later today. I am very very honoured, especially since this organisation had many significant members who contributed greatly to the Chinese community and even in the building up of Singapore in its history.
Although… I should confess that I have no idea what possessed me to agree to deliver my sharing in MANDARIN!
Gosh… My command of the Chinese language is rather weak. Well, I’ll do my best to communicate what I’d like to share. Anyway, I thought it’d be great to share here with you all about all the wonderful things I have learnt from my study of Confucianism, in English of course. There’s so many wonderful things that one can learn just from reading the Analects, the Mencius, or even the Xunzi.
[update] Well, it turns out that I misunderstood the invitation. It was an informal sharing about all sorts of matters related to Confucianism. Oh well… Anyway, I do hope that you benefit from reading my sharing about Confucianism anyway. =) [end of update]
I have in the past three years, specialised in the study of Chinese philosophy in NUS and I have learnt much from the various Chinese thinkers. I have studied Confucianism, Daoism, and even Chinese Buddhism. There is so much wisdom that can be mined from the words of many of these great sages, but for today, I’m here to share with you what I have learnt from Confucianism and how the lessons from the Analects, the Mencius, and the Xunzi, have made an impact to my life and benefited me greatly.
One thing I love the most about Confucianism is the importance of cultivating one’s self to become a human person (成人). This requires schooling in a humanising culture. It’s interesting to note that culture/schooling in Chinese is 文化 wenhua, which means literally means to be “transformed by culture.” In Chinese culture, you are not yet a human person (人 ren) until you have learnt to conduct yourself in a civil (文 wen) manner, treating others with respect and dignity.
Here are three key lessons that I have learnt from Confucianism on how to become human:
Understanding our lack of power over many matters in life.
I’ll start first by sharing an important lesson about Confucius and the importance of understanding ming (命 fate). In the Analects, Confucius said, “He who does not know ming cannot be a gentleman (不知命，無以為君子也。)” (Analects 20.2).
This may sound like superstition, but really, whether or not you believe that your life is fated or destined, what matters most is the fact that we can all agree that there are many matters that are beyond our control. If you ask me, that is what Confucius is saying when he talks about the importance of understanding ming. It’s one thing to simply acknowledge and know that many things are beyond our control, but it’s another thing altogether to actually understand and realise this important fact of life. It’s precisely because we haven’t fully understood this fact that we often spend a lot of our energy and time trying to be in control of everything.
Though many things are beyond our grasp, there is one thing that we do have control over – ourselves. We have the power to control how we conduct ourselves and how we respond to situations regardless of whether the circumstances are in our favour or not. This is the mark of a true gentleman. From this lesson, I have done much reflection, and I have seen how it is for myself and for many others, that we don’t often respond very well to unfavourable situations. More often than not, we get angry or worse still, we make someone a scapegoat for all the wrongs that have arisen. But really, are such actions really necessary? This is petty behaviour that comes about when we don’t understand ming – when we don’t understand that there are so many complexities in life that can cause our endeavours to fail, and/or when we don’t know how to respond in a humane way.
If there’s something I’ve learnt from Confucius, it’s his positive attitude: Just do your best. If it succeeds, well, good for you. If not, nevermind. Try again. “If my principles are to prevail in the world, it is ming. If they are to fall to the ground, it is also ming “道之將行也與？命也。道之將廢也與？命也。” (Analects 14.38)
The other big lesson that I have learnt from studying Confucianism is the need for self-examination.
In the Analects, Confucius’ disciple, Zengzi says, “I daily examine myself on three points: whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful; whether, in intercourse with friends, I may have been not sincere; whether I may have not mastered and practiced the instructions of my teacher. 吾日三省吾身：為人謀而不忠乎？與朋友交而不信乎？傳不習乎？” (Analects 1.4)
Mencius too says, “If a man love others, and no responsive attachment is shown to him, let him turn inwards and examine his own benevolence. If he is trying to rule others, and his government is unsuccessful, let him turn inwards and examine his wisdom. If he treats others politely, and they do not return his politeness, let him turn inwards and examine his own feeling of respect. When we do not, by what we do, realise what we desire, we must turn inwards, and examine ourselves in every point. When a man’s person is correct, the whole kingdom will turn to him with recognition and submission. 愛人不親反其仁，治人不治反其智，禮人不答反其敬。行有不得者，皆反求諸己，其身正而天下歸之。” (Mencius 4A4)
It takes two hands to clap. I think we’re quite familiar with this saying. But I think, if we do not engage in self-examination on many matters, we often fail to see this. When things go wrong, or when conflict arises in any relationship, we’re always so quick to point the finger at the other person. We’re always to quick to blame and accuse the other for all the problems that arise, without examining if perhaps we might have contributed to the problem in the first place.
Whether it is in the home, in school, or in the work place, there will always be conflicts in one way or another. At the end of the day, most people do mean well, but we sometimes fail to express our good intentions in ways understood by others. People then either misinterpret these actions and/or get offended by them. And if no party takes a step back to reflect, these conflicts become tit-for-tat actions that over time, blow up to ridiculous proportions.
If we truly desire harmony with the people around us, then it is important for us to remember that it does take two hands to clap and somehow, in some way, we have contributed to the problem. Harmony begins with the self, when the self begins to understand this important principle.
Learning and Practicing Exemplary Actions
One of the big things in Confucianism is the importance of ritual propriety (禮 li). In a modern context, we may find the idea of rituals odd. At the heart of rituals is the idea of social etiquette and how people interact with one another.
According to Michael Puett, a scholar on Chinese rituals, he argues that rituals are essential exemplary practices that have been codified so that others may learn and model themselves after these exemplary practices, so that in the future, when similar situations arise, they have an idea of what to do: they have an idea of how to interact and engage with that other person in that particular circumstance.
Confucius constantly emphasizes on the need to be educated and transformed by the rites, i.e. to learn and be transformed by the exemplary practices of other people.
This is a valuable insight for me because as a person who’s still somewhat young and new to many situations in life, there are so many things that I am still very much clueless about. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has absolutely no idea about how to engage people in certain situations, especially in heated situations. Often, because we don’t know how best to respond and engage the other in such problematic situations. Often, in such circumstances, we end up bursting in anger or create situations that are very awkward for others.
If we so wish to become gentlemanly or sage-like, then it is all the more important for us to observe moral exemplars around us and model ourselves after the exemplary practices they have in their interactions. In my own life, from the lesson of Confucius, I have made it a point to observe very gentlemanly and benevolent people (surprisingly, it’s not that difficult because many professors in the NUS Philosophy Department are very very virtuous and gentlemanly) and how they respond in a variety of situations, and I’ve gone back to reflect on how I would have reacted and how it pales in comparison with their exemplary actions. Personally, in my three years of studying Chinese philosophy, I have seen just how much I have transformed just by learning and modelling myself from the exemplary conduct of others in all kinds of situation.
This is, in my opinion, what Confucius means by being transformed by rituals.
Well, these are the three key lessons that I have learnt from studying Confucianism and how to 成人 (chengren become a human person). There are many other important lessons, but I think these three are the most essential ones that I’d like to share with you today. Thank you for listening/reading!
Lately, one of the things I’ve been doing almost every morning is to go to the food court in school for a delicious dim sum breakfast. The university just opened a new food court which is quite affordable. And they sell delicious dim sum!
Now, my morning ritual consists of chee cheong fan (steamed rice rolls) with either siew mai (pork dumpling) or har gow (prawn dumpling). And to top it all off, a delicious cup of tea!
What I love about having this morning ritual is the fact that I get to enjoy my breakfast while enjoying the view of lush greenary outside in air conditioned comfort (if you’ve never been to Singapore, you have absolutely no idea how hot and humid this place is!)… AND most importantly, silence!
It’s one of the few things I do to keep myself sane.
Ah… It’s such a nice way to start the day. MMMmmm….
Today, I walked into a shop that happens to sell programmable NFC tags!
Here’s how one of these things look:
It’s about the size of a 20-cent coin! That’s how small it is!
You can use a NFC-capable phone to store stuff in it. It can be text, or instructions to open a website, or even commands to change your handphone settings. It’s pretty cool! Once you’ve programmed the tag, you just have to tap your phone on the tag the next time, and your phone will either display stuff or execute a list of instructions.
At the moment, I don’t know what I want to do with it. But that’s ok. I’ll have all the time in the world once I’m done with school to figure out what to do with this.
Nonetheless, I had some inspiration to do something sweet for The Girlfriend.
I figured out how to program the tag to open one of the photos of us at one of our first dates. Next, I added an extra command to automatically send a love letter via SMS to The Girlfriend’s phone.
All she has to do is to scan the tag to activate the surprise!
I decided the best way to hide the tag would be to stick it where my heart is.
I didn’t have any tape with me, so I had to resort to using the sticky regions of two post-it memos to “tape” the NFC tag on my body.
And voila, I had the NFC tag hidden nicely underneath my clothes.
I met The Girlfriend just now. The conversation went like this:
The Girlfriend: Why are you grinning so creepily?
Me: What? Creepy! No lah! I got a surprise for you! I’m gonna send you a message from my heart! Take this handphone and scan it over my heart!
The Girlfriend: Errr…. What?! What are you up to? *puts my handphone on my chest* Nothing’s happening.
Me: Why you put so low? Put higher a bit can?
The Girlfriend: Why your heart so high?
Me: Shouldn’t my heart be there?
The Girlfriend: No lah! Your heart should be lower!
What have I learnt? I learnt that I didn’t know where my heart should be in my body. Oops!
Yeah… It should be located a few centimetres below where I thought my heart would be.
Anyway, she finally got the phone to scan the tag and the sweet surprise was launched! She saw the photo and her she got the love SMS on her phone!
(Well, there was a little bit of a technical hiccup. Turns out lengthy SMS-es can’t get through when automated. So I had to manually send it to her. But that’s ok.)
I know someone who will have a huge smile on her face that will last throughout the entire night.
Heeheee… Talk about geeky romance!
I’ve not been updating this blog for a while. I’ve been quite busy writing my Honours dissertation.
I’m just happy to say that it’s almost done. All it needs is several rounds of editing before I can declare it as the greatest accomplishment of my life.
Anyway, there’s four days left before the submission deadline. I hope to get over and done with this as soon as possible because I still have exams to study for.
Here are the books that are currently stacked up next to me:
This is only half of my final bibliography. The rest of the books are in the library. I don’t drive, so it’s very difficult to carry huge heaps of books in my bag pack.
The dissertation is currently 45 pages long. My current word count is 13,147 words. I need to keep everything below 12,000 words. That’s the word limit. It’s a strict limit, so I don’t have the luxury of exceeding it a little. I’ll need to find some ways to shave off those excess words without affecting the presentation of the paper.
Yup! That’s how life has been thus far. I’m crossing my fingers, hoping that I can finish this by tonight.
Wish me luck!