Fishball Story

Of the people I heard speak on a stage tonight, one person stood out. His name is Douglas, and he is 23. He makes fishball noodles at a hawker market, and is a very dedicated and passionate one at that. He shared that he learnt to make fishballs from his grandmother so that he could enjoy them every day, and then thought why not step up & sell them at a hawker centre because fishball and hawker food are very much our national heritage? Even as he spoke of the many challenges he faced in the last 7 months as a hawker (e.g. young hawkers have no subsidy and are less likely to get good stall locations), his words and energy were brimming with passion. He needed no slides or photos to capture his audience’s attention. The photos in this blog look really yum – must go support his food one of these days.

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Passion Unleashed #24 on Resilience – Short-list of what I’ve learnt

Feeling thankful that I went to attend this evening’s PASSION Unleashed Talk series at SMU. They always invite individuals who have achieved a lot in life by following what they are passionate in.

I did a graphic record of sorts, which I will share later. Here’s a short-list of what I gained from Indranee’s sharing (she’s the 2nd speaker at the event):

1) Indranee for sharing with us her personal story. How her mum is her biggest inspiration, and the passing on of her siblings left a deep imprint on her.

2) How many of her turning points in life were really accidental. Like her becoming a lawyer, and chance meeting of a group of individuals (when trying to ‘correct’ her university application) who turn out to be major players in different parts of her life.

3) How she, as a litigation lawyer, believed in having a strong stand for her client, and standing up for something. How the lawyer has a role in representing the person’s best interest, while upholding the rule of law. (I believe it’s the first time I appreciate what lawyers do really)

4) How being a litigation lawyer helped her grow personally as an individual (e.g. you don’t win 100% time, so roll with it!)

5) How she recognised both opportunities to make a difference, and the challenges & difficulties. And in anchoring with values that she holds dear, she choose to take up the opportunities – also because the challenges are there, that it is time for her to make a difference.

6) How moral courage is so much more than physical courage. Because moral courage requires self belief, things that make you who you are, and inner strength.

the 4 mins speech

There was this ball. It was blue, red and a little soft. You know, the bean bag kind. The ball was thrown across the table to another student. He stood up, walked to the front of the room, said his 3 to 5 mins speech without any audio or visual aids. The speech was video-ed and he got immediate feedback from the class.

I sat uncomfortably in my seat, not wishing to speak. The ball looped over. It was my turn!

I walked to the front, plagued with self doubt. Not too sure if I knew what to say. The topic which I chose was something I feel keenly for, but do I know enough to captivate the audience for 5 mins? Without any aids?

As I took my position & felt the presence of a “stage”, the fear slipped away. A certain courage & strength took over. A voice rang clear and powerful – was it mine? For 4 mins, I shared stories that until now I felt no one understood. The room listened with apt attention, at times responding with laughter and nods.

As I returned to my seat after the speech, my heart danced. :)  There was this joy as I realised… I did my act of courage! I stood for something I believed in, and I stood up for myself. I am truly very thankful for the opportunity.

Bukit Brown. Walks with friends – and one resulted in a great blog post!

Friends who know me somehow associate me with “Bukit Brown”. It is one of the many big “rocks” I hold close to my heart.

Bukit Brown is this huge, beautiful, abandoned place right in the heart of Singapore. It’s a cemetery – but it has long been closed and abandoned. Being right next to a nature reserve, nature came back, and nature lovers like bird watchers and plant lovers love to check out the place.

It is on a plant walk with Nature Society (Singapore) that I first decided to check out Bukit Brown. It was sometime in 2010. I knew of Bukit Brown for many years because of a NSS masterplan, but never went there because, well, it was a cemetery. The thought of heading to a cemetery to check out nature was quite beyond me. But one day, I decided to go. It was a really good walk led by Shawn, who’s the current president of NSS. Now, Shawn is a really good story teller, and a really passionate plant lover. If you ever go for his walk – you’re in for a treat. Unfortunately that day, there was a huge storm – so we had to cut short our walk and head home.

Some time after that, I decided to head to Bukit Brown again. There was more to see, and I wasn’t about to let the storm stop me from learning more about the place!

I’ve been to Bukit Brown many times now. How many, I don’t really know.

I was amazed to see many passionate & inspiring individuals from all walks of life at Bukit Brown. Many of these individuals are now my friends. At Bukit Brown, I met nature lovers, journalists, videographers, artists, architects, lawyers, librarians, tile experts, story tellers, spiritualists, “tomb whisperers”, people who trace family trees of individuals unrelated to them, and even people who would actually bring their own water and cloth to wipe clean the tombs of unrelated individuals! and there was this “tomb whisperer” who would disappear into the forest, and come out excited with his latest find of a historically important individual.

It’s amazing how “invisible” this place is. It’s near to two tourist attractions – MacRitchie Nature Reserve, and Botanic Gardens – and easily accessible from Thomson and Bukit Timah housing areas. Yet, when I tell my mum about Bukit Brown, she gives me a blank stare. Then, I try again using the colloquial name “Kopi Sua”. Oh yes, it rings a bell – my mum remembers it from the time she visited it as a very young child. But where was it? She has no idea.

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