Sunday, February 25, 2007

the food of love

i was not born in KL, neither was i brought up there, nor do i live there now. i'm glad i don't spend a large amount of time caught in grid-locks commuting to/from work or worry about the high cost of city living. but i do envy KLites that they have ERL/KLIA & megamalls.

and KLCC, or more specifically the dewan filharmonik petronas, home of the malaysian philharmonic orchestra.

my colleague CK is a subscriber to the MPO & last week he offered his 4 tickets for the family fun day today. sure i grabbed them, as these tickets are often hard to come by (he was suitably reimbursed, i should add). this is the 1st time for the son. although i doubt he appreciated the pompous array of skilled musicians, he managed to sit through the whole performance lasting just over an hour, to our relief, showing more interest in the green-coloured lights on the ceiling than the melody. i myself was unfamiliar with the repertoire of pieces (but their effects were no less soothing) with the exception of william tell overture. no big deal - even older kids recognised it as i noticed a few mimicking a horse's gallop as the brass instruments blast away.

however, what is glaringly obvious to me, as was in previous performances that i've attended, is that the majority of the players are caucasians, although this has always been touted as the MALAYSIAN philharmonic orchestra. a count of musicians listed in the souvenir programme revealed that of the 100 or so names, only about 5 sounded local. hey, even the conductor for the day, a very youthful malaysian-looking jason lai, is british & speaks with a heavy accent.

isn't that strange? don't we have more than a handful of distinguished musicians in our midst? i know of many, many parents (myself included) who start their pre-school children on piano lessons, some even playing several other instruments. so, where are the end-products of this strenous training in music? are there only a few who excel? are there only few opportunities or platforms to display their talents? or, do we face the stark truth that playing music professionally (in an orchestra) just doesn't pay the bills? & that we just aren't ready to have our very own ensemble??

ah, questions, questions!

however, petronas is to be applauded for making it possible for malaysians to experience for themselves the wealth of foreign talent on display in a concert hall that bears its name - at very affordable prices, too. some performances literally go for a song (ha , ha, pun intended!) - starting from a modest RM10 per pax for the family fun days. there are even some weekday chamber music that only require your attendance.

another big pat on the back for petronas for the much-appreciated coffee/milo break on the way home.

& thanks also to the roadshow team for the generous fuel voucher.

it WAS a lovely day out at the city.

indeed, if music be the food of love, play on!
(or as abba would sing,"thank you for the music!")

*PS this is NOT a sponsored post*

Monday, February 19, 2007

the pig cometh

Happily, there is at least one occasion in the whole year that the family all get together at the parents' place for a meal & it was certainly worth the wait. kid brother came with wife & daughter Kim, while kid sister, still single, came alone. i was the last to turn up with my family.

kid brother is senior manager with a bank in s'pore. i'm really glad he's doing well because i still remember the 1st year or so after graduation that he spent unsuccessfully looking for a job, both in s'pore & KL. that was probably the reason that his 1st girlfriend broke off with him - a real pity because we really liked her a lot. it became known later that it was her father who convinced her that a guy without a job is not a consideration for a long-term commitment. it was a sorry sight, when you lose someone though no fault of your own. he went back to s'pore to study further, after which he finally secured his 1st job - as an exec in an IT firm. he changed jobs a few times & along the way met & married his (2nd) girlfriend, who bored him cute & adorable Kim, now aged 3 years. & true to the rags-to-riches theme, he is living happily ever after.

kid sister is the proverbial rolling stone. she's never held a job steady for more than a few years but she's never without something to do. a street-smart person from years dealing with small-scale businesses, she made it out on her very own, very much like kid brother. currently, she freelances as emcee/DJ for promotions & events, helped in no small measure by being multi-lingual. oh yes, she's s great cook as well (previous a restaurant chef) & for this occasion, she whipped up a delightful century-egg porridge. & between she & kid bro, they bought enough food to last the dinner & lunch the next day.

this reunion was a tad different. in constrast to the previous years, this time the kids finally got along like a house on fire - Kim has revealed her extrovert nature & my soon-to-be-5 son revelled in this discovery & they connected like long-lost cousins. they played trains, chased each other & shared sparklers. this of course helped foster a closer tie between the sisters-in-law.

so, this is how the year of the pig started out for me. hope you all had a great reunion & have a safe trip back again. but watch out for those PDRM guys with speed-guns - the RM150 fine is so, so, so NOT worth it!!

you really don't want to receive one like this!

happy & blessed new year, one & all!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


paul of tarsus by rembrandt (1635)

last week the pastor encouraged each of us to have a paul, a barnabas & a timothy in our christian lives.

very simply, a paul to lead & inspire us, a barnabas to walk with & encourage, & a timothy to mentor to. right away, i knew who my paul would be. SL is a very dedicated doctor & faithful disciple of God. he has been doing missionary work for as long as i can remember. after coming out from med school, he went thru the mandatory postings at the various public hospitals before going on to medical missions. when i 1st met him a decade ago, he was on a break from a stint in nepal, as a surgeon in a missionary hospital. that was when he encouraged me to join him because the hospital lacked the essential skilled expertise due to poor management. when things were really bad, he was the surgeon, the anaesthetist & scrub nurse rolled into one. i passed.

before i knew it, he was already in east africa, again doing God's work. & again he asked me to join him. amidst tales of cerebral malaria, contaminated river water supply & poachers with firearms, i backed off. again.

he's in india now & he was back here on vacation when i met him again last week. his dad had a fall & has been admitted to the hospital where i work, which provided ample opportunities for us to catch up. he'd regale me with his experiences trying to treat patients with limited resources & against stubborn bureaucracy, occasionally hinting but most times overtly trying to convince me to join him. but it did not escape my observation that he truly cared for his dad. he's number 7 (reinforcing my belief that if there ever was an ordained number, it would be 7) of 11 siblings, & being a medic himself, he must have taken upon himself to feed, clean, turn & be with dad. but that was not enough for him. dad, although he attends church, has never confessed that Christ is Lord & it has been SL's prayer for years that dad accepts Christ before time ran out. one morning, dad woke SL up (who spent nites by dad's bedside on a easy chair) & told him he is ready to embrace christianity. apparently, in his dreams, an elderly bearded man came by his bedside & repeatedly said "amen" to him, as if prayers have been said for him. just like that. truly a day of double blessing - that one more soul has been saved & that there still exist a filial son who loves his earthly dad as much as he worships the Heavenly Father.

solomon, in his wisdom, sang praises to the children of God:

"sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from him.

like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in
one's youth.
blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

psalms 127 : 3-5

SL is such a child of God & he will always be paul to me.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

caesarean section, anyone?

Caesarean section is an obstetric procedure where the baby is delivered by an incision through the mother's abdomen & uterus, as opposed to a (normal) vaginal delivery. this is carried out when the baby cannot be delivered safely the usual way, eg. big baby, small pelvis, abnormal placenta, etc. it is, however, not without risk (read here) to mother (infection, excessive bleeding, delayed bowel function) or child (breathing difficulty, accidental surgical injury, neonatal deaths), as revealed in a recent study. (read the abstract here or the commentary here)

therefore, one would not consider a C-section unless the well-being of the mother or baby is threatened. but because obstetric practice, anaesthetic techniques & neonatal facilities have improved dramatically over the years, these risks have correspondingly diminished. in fact, it is common nowadays for parents (read : prospective fathers) to request for a C-section to be done (esp in private hospitals) on an auspicious time & date, more so if the 1st born is a boy.

in another recently published research paper, it was discovered that tiny blood clots are seen in the brains of a staggering 26% of babies born vaginally, most likely as a result of compression of the baby's head during it's passage through the birth canal. (read the abstract here or the commentary here). although it is currently not known if this has a significant outcome in the health of the babies born this way, we would do well to exercise caution & not react in a knee-jerk manner. it would clearly be unwise to be swayed by the result of just this one paper & start consulting the calenders & making a beeline for the obstetricians' office, insisting on a C-section!!

be that as it may, i can foresee countless enquiries being made on this matter, once this study becomes widely known. after all, which parent would not be unduly concerned about the health of the unborn child?

but i can confidently assure you that C-section babies are certainly NOT intellectually superior than their vaginally-delivered peers. i was born by C-section & i have NEVER been top of my class.

i rest my case.

p.s. although the true origin of the phrase caesarean section is unsure, it is NOT attributed to the roman emperor caesar, who himself was probably NOT delivered that way.