The Day When People Get Mushy

I was walking by the florist in Taipan USJ with Jeannie, to the now known as restaurant (in those days [I am beginning to sound like a relic] they were known as “coffee shops”) around the corner, when we noticed a big crowd of people there. Waiting to buy flowers? Not hibiscus, daffodils or dandelions. Roses!

It is only Monday, February 13th today. Malaysians for years have tried and maybe to some extent, beat the system. They are buying roses today when prices are reasonable. Buy before Valentine’s Day (February 14th, for those uninformed), when the price of roses could go up by 1000% or more.

But florists have become smarter. They raise the prices by 200%, 300% or more, stating that this is due to the shortage of roses available. Those buying the roses won’t really mind the “slight” price increase. It will still be much cheaper than buying them on February 14th itself.

“What cheapskates!” you may say. Your true love will buy these roses on Valentine’s Day. Money is no object, even if it means “makan bubur” (1) for the next month or so.

Getting a dozen roses, the buds at the right stage of opening, not too closed up or not too open; surrounded by some that are fully opened and some leaves (forget what they are called) for decoration and presentation. The specially one-of-a-kind prepared bouquet (probably ten thousand others will have the same type of bouquet) is not enough these days. It has to be accompanied by exquisite chocolate.

Danielle Bernock

Those with credit cards will get the best credit card deals to finest dining at michellin, dunlop, goodyear or pirelli rated restaurants. They may come out with slogans for the cardholders like:
“It is not as though you are paying”. Well, yes, it is; when you get that credit card statement for payment!
“Show your love to the one you care”.
“Take up this package of a 5-day all expenses paid for two – wining, dining, a romantic cruise. The best part is it is 35% off the list price. We’ll thrown in a red heart-shape cushion with the names of you and your loved one on it for frrreeee! (Come on guys, by now; you should know the cost, over-inflated by x number of times; is included in the overall price that you are paying). “”What’s more?”” you may ask. You can pay over a 12 month installment plan with a 0% interest rate on the first month”.

Not to forget stiff competition amongst the kiasu (2) and the kiasi (3).

You hire a stretched limousine with driver to impress your wife, if you are married or your “she’s the one” if you are not married yet. Then, to go over the top; you present your mother-in-law with a gift voucher to use at a very expensive day-long spa. For your father-in-law: a bottle of single-malt 24 year (has to coincide with the lunar year of the Rabbit) whiskey. If he doesn’t drink; he will start now; he won’t want to miss out from this helluva expensive whiskey. By the way, these gifts also apply to the “she’s the one” ‘s parents; too.

At the end of it, they guy (yes, the displayer of love) may not even be able to afford to “makan bubur” as well. He may just have to settle for scraps of food for a very long time.

All this just for one day: Valentine’s Day. All this to impress the lady, and not forgetting; others who are looking: the kiasu and kiasi. The lady is happy, her parents are happy. Most of all; the establishments that receive payments for what seems as an extravagant day; are happy.

Woe to the guy if his lady demands this expensive show of affection everyday.

Is this really an expression of love (first time this word is appearing in this article)? Is love only for one day of the year? Going financially broke may not really display this thing called “LOVE” from either the recipient, nor the giver.

How Valentine’s Day may all have started:

The name Valentine comes from a Latin word meaning “strength.” There are many legends about it, but it’s ultimately unclear how Valentine’s Day became associated with the tradition of exchanging the affectionate gifts and love notes that we call valentines. (4)

When Claudius found out, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. Legend has it that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was taken to be killed on 14 February he sent her a love letter signed “from your Valentine”. (5)

Love and affection for the lady, spouse, children, parents…should be everyday, 24×7. With it comes joys, happiness, excitement, fun, bumpy patches, potholes and rough roads along this lifelong journey. Enjoy the ride.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S.: For those people who have received chocolate but aren’t really into it; I can help you. You can give it to me. I love chocolate.
I had fun writing this essay with lots of chuckles and smiles as I went along, thinking it up.

1. “Makan bubur” is Malay for eat porridge. This phrase is used to mean that you don’t have money for a good meal, that eating porridge is all you can afford.
2. Kiasu is a Hokkien (Chinese dialect) word that comes from ‘kia’, which means afraid, and ‘su’, which means to lose: fear of losing
3. Kiasi is commonly compared to Kiasu (literally: “fear of losing”); both are commonly used to describe attitudes where Kiasi or Kiasi-ism means to take extreme measures to avoid risk and Kiasu or Kiasu-ism means to take extreme means to achieve success. wikipedia


Get out of your comfort zone.


Every moment ahead of you, that has yet to come; is a moment that is unknown to you. Are you ready to take up the challenge?

Writer, Author, Storyteller


REPUBLISHED: The Swim Athlete’s Future

Her swim career started round about this time😊

The article, “The Swim Athlete’s Future”, which was published here at on February 7th, 2023; was republished in Swimswam on February 10th.. I sent in the article to Swimswam to have them consider publishing as I believe that readers of this publication maybe able to resonate with these article.

There are three main groups who will be able to identify with this article:
1. The swim athletes: Through the various stages of their career; from beginner right up to world elite.
2. Parents. The sacrifices of their time, effort and money.
3. Non-swim fraternity. They may have a better insight of the life of a swim athlete.

Who is “SwimSwam”? SwimSwam news is a swimming news organization covering competitive swimming along with diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. SwimSwam launched as a website in March 2012 and quickly became the most-read swimming website in the world.

This may just be the sport parents are looking for their children. It encourages, discipline, competitiveness, fun and a sense of empowerment.

To the finish line…


Ain’t it the truth!

There is a saying, “The moment you are born, you began to die”.

The world average life expectancy for men is 69.8 years and 74.9 years for women.

The U. S. average life expectancy is 74.5 years for men and 80.2 years for women. This places them at the 45th spot on the world life expectancy charts.

Closer to home, the average life expectancy for Singaporeans is 81.5 years for men and 86.1 years for women; occupying the 6th spot on the world life expectancy charts.

Malaysians aren’t far behind from the Americans. They come in at the 48th spot with the average life expectancy of 73.6 years for men and 78.5 years for women. (1)

The United Nations estimates that currently there are 573,000 centenarians, almost quadruple the 151,000 made in 2000. (2)

My mum’s sister, Aunty Diana; received a personal letter from Queen Elizabeth II congratulating her when she turned 100 in July last year (2022). Aunty Diana resides in the U.K.

In the Wikipedia listing, Malaysia has 134.68 centenarians per 100,000 people, the highest number in the world. (2)

Centenarians are increasingly becoming the norm. “Supercentenarians” or super-centenarians are people who 110 years old. There are some who have reached 115 years. Jeanne Calmant from France is the only age-verified person to have reached the milestone of 120 years (2)

So, at what age can we consider old as in “old”?

We are living in times that provide us with better living facilities, environmental friendly areas, food and methods such as exercise.

The retirement age from work for most people in Malaysia is 60 years. If their place of employment offers to extend their employment on contract for one or two years, the employees will accept.

Some employees may accept the one or two years work extension simply because they do not know what to do with their free time if they are no longer in employment.

At the point of retirement, people will have plans on how they plan to live life – a life of relaxation, taichi, travel and other things. One month…six months… 1 year goes by.

Then, the joy of relaxation wears out. How much of taichi, line dancing, mahjong, long coffee mornings at the kopitiams and travel can one enjoy? Your attention span. vision, etc., takes on new roles. You, begin to notice the short strands of cobweb strung up together at an obscure corner of the room.

You will notice every minute fault in your home that was never there before or went unnoticed all this while. Guess what? You will probably complain (a nicer word than “nag”) about it but do nothing to fix it.

I, for one; formed images of what it means to be retired and old. These formed images were based at the time on what I saw when I was growing up, in my younger and childhood days in Klang (3): The old people go for walks early in the morning for about an hour or so. They may go for walks with groups of friends. Almost inadvertently after that, they end up going for breakfast, most often, to kopitiams (4). They meet up with other friends. Conversations range from politics, share market (in the 1980s) and gossip. More often than not, they will drink tea, chinese tea i.e. (that is); at a kopitiam, not a “teatiam”. Some may opt for kopi, kopi-o and kopi-o kosong (5). However, most end up drinking tea.

At that time, I used to think it rather odd, that they would pour tea from a large aluminum teapot into a small red color clay teapot. From this red color clay teapot, they pour the tea into small red color clay cups without handles (their version of an expresso coffee?).

Another thing is I used to see some old people wash the cars of their children. My impression at that time was because they were staying with their children; they either felt obligated to do things like this or they were forced by their children to do so. PERCEPTION.

It is only years (many years later) that I learnt the reason behind this “art” of drinking tea. Quite interesting. Perhaps a topic for a future essay.

As for the washing of their children’s vehicles; these senior folk may have done this because they wanted to; that it gave them something to do.

So, what do we do from the time we retire till the time we say “sayonara” for the next world? How do we prepare a platform for a continuance of life from retirement and after, for the next 20, 25, 30 years? We should not just prepare nursing homes and basket weaving activities. We should not turn on the tv sets the whole day where it becomes the only activity. We should not just employ them to sweep floors and clean tables at fast food restaurants. All these are “consolations”, afterthoughts or kneejerk reactions.

Many of these seniors have knowledge, skills, expertise that could be put to good use. For example, an organization can be created where these seniors work with plans, ideas, solutions to help the millions of starving people around the world, disaster relief, etc. As it is, the manpower resources available now is not enough because we have heard the same story about world hunger and disaster relief time in memorial. Ideals?…lofty ideas? Maybe. Food for thought.

Life is a gift. At birth, we are not promised anything. One thing is for sure: it will be full of adventure. While people around us will work at creating a pathway for us, and succeed at that; for most of us, we will be set on centerstage, where the world is our audience to watch how we transform ourselves through this ever evolving journey. Or we will be on a platform where we draw the map and connect the dots after us at each marked point of interest. Where the next moment that has yet to come, is a journey to the unknown, or “uncharted waters” if we may, scary because we do not know what that moment that has yet to come, holds for us.

Now, where was I before I was interrupted? You put your left foot in, your right foot out, your left foot in, and shake it all about…Hang on.., hang on…, that is not Billy Ray Cyrus’ song, “Achy Breaky Heart”. Must be old age. 😉

2. Centenarian, Wikipedia,
3. Klang is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
4. Kopitiam: is a popular reference among local Malaysians of a coffee house serving traditional Malay and Chinese fare.
5. Kopi is coffee, kopi-o is coffee without milk or creamer and kopi-o kosong is plain coffee – no sugar, milk or creamer.
6. I chose not to focus on illnesses, aches and pains. These cannot exclusively be associated with old-er age; as some younger people may not escape from these ailments.

The Swim Athlete’s Future

Lap after lap. 3, 4, 5 kilometers a day in the pool. Day after day…week after week…month after month.

At 9 years old, wanted to be world champion. Forgoing parties, events and other fun things.

In the water, lap after lap after lap. 20 meters…50 meter lengths.

School holidays and other holidays – the same.

Personal times for her 50 meter and 100 meter pet events kept dropping… So did the times of her other events. Kept on improving. Kept moving up the heats… From the 1st heat in the very beginning… Kept moving up the heat charts. When she reached the last 3 heats in her events at each championship race, the state athletes at that time started paying attention to her. A new kid on the block as competition.

13 years old. A big responsibility added on. Selected to represent the state team. Swim and training was now an average 9 times a week (twice each on Saturday and Sunday).

Kept on at it. Times kept improving. Was a contributor towards the team’s many championship wins. Within a short period of time, reached the top 3 in the country for her age group. Broke individual and relay records all along the way.

Graduated from high school. Went on to further her studies in the U.S.

Was on the university’s swimming team. Helped the university move up the swim charts. Set individual and relay records for the university.

There were many ups and downs, bumpy roads, disappointments, total excitement and joy throughout her swim athlete, school and university story. She held fast to her belief in herself and her goals. She had fun. It was not so much just about the “winning”. It was the “experiences” take away: winning yes, also teamwork, sharing and building relationships with various people along the way.

The role of parents? Support, love, care, support. Always be enthusiastic for your children. Driving them to 3-hour daily training and then back.

As parents, we have to continuously encourage them, even on the days they may be tempted by non-athletes to skip training. My wife and I use to tell our daughter, “your fiercest competitor will be training while you are thinking of missing it. The decision is yours. What is the end result you want?”

Be with them, cheering them on; even if it means spending 15 hours at a swim meet, each day on a three- or four-day championship.

Past and current swim athletes, when looking back; can relate to this “grueling lifestyle” during their swim career. When looking back they can smile, joke about the times their energy was completely spent and they still had 25 meters of the race to go, times when they lost and the many times when they won both in the pool and out of the pool. About the times they literally had fun.

Now, graduated – B. Sc. Entrepreneurship. Looking for a job in the U.S. With 16 years of swim athlete experience and an Entrepreneurship studies degree; she wants to share her experiences by applying them in the work that she will be doing.

Now, she takes with her a way of discipline in doing things, a “never give up” character and the bright side of things when she goes employment hunting.

~ Dedicated to Laura Atkinson

The 15th Day

Chap Goh Mei which is today, is the last day of the Chinese Lunar Year celebrations or Chinese New Year. The day is celebrated similarly to the day before Chinese New Year, it is celebrated with much joy and festivity. This is the year of the Rabbit. The rabbit (兔) is the fourth in the twelve-year periodic sequence (cycle) of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. (1) The sign of Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. (2)

On the night of Chap Goh Meh, unmarried girls will throw tangerines (oranges) in the sea or river in the belief that they will be able to marry good husbands. I don’t know how the guys could identify which tangerine belonged to which girl “in those days”. Today, maybe the girls will write their name, telephone number and Instagram or TikTok ID (Facebook is for senior citizens, so they’ll skip adding their Facebook ID) on each and every tangerine with permanent ink pen markers.

Jeannie and I decided to celebrate this last day of festivities in a small way. We went to Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre in Subang Jaya. (3)

Since Laura is away in the U.S.; we decided to stop by at one of her favorite stores in this shopping Centre – Popular Book Store. Laura loved to shop for stationery especially in this store – pens, pencils, color pencils, magic ink, glitter ink, various types of writing and note books, and drawing pads. She had hundreds of these writing instruments in various shades, sizes and color. She is quite the artist, too; follows after her mother. Me? I can’t draw two straight lines with a ruler. We had quite a good time. Jeannie and I purchased a few items.

We had coffee at the Oriental Kopitiam (4) (naturally. It wouldn’t have been so traditional if we had coffee at Starbucks, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or at the mamak (5)). We had to have Oriental Kopitiam’s signature coffee. It was pretty good. We had butter with kaya on toast bread – one of the usual eats when one drinks kopitiam coffee. I had to also have Black Glutinous Rice or in aspirated local terms, “Pulut hitam”. Simply one of my favorites. It had two sort of glutinous balls with black sesame paste inside. People: it’s worth the try.

Jeannie spent a bit of time at her favorite stores; too. I…yes; at the gadget stores. Nothing really much going on in this area. You can find loads of interesting and cool new gadgets on the web, but they hardly seem to make their way to this part of the world.

5 hours later, we were on our way home. It was a great way to spend our Sunday afternoon, relaxed and had fun.

Jeannie and I with three gold boat-shaped ingots (part of the deco).

Year of the Rabbit.

I know, I know… I am not suppose to be on the bridge, but under it, waiting to collect oranges…er.. I mean find “that special orange thrown over by a lenglui” (6). I figure that since I am already spoken for; I might as well collect as many oranges from the lenglui(s). The guys aren’t waiting under the bridge. They are at home on their phones or PS5 games.😁

1. Wikipedia
3. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
4. “Kopitiam”: a coffee house serving traditional Malay and Chinese fare.
5. “Mamak”: Mamak stalls are indoor and open-air food establishments particularly found in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia.
6. “Lenglui”: Pretty girl.


It was a busy and tiring evening. The evening started by us (Jeannie and I) having to endure the traffic crawl for an hour in P.J. to Subang Jaya. A couple of drops of rain and almost everyone stops to take pictures of the raindrops.

Got back home with our sanity still in tack. Oh. Just kidding about what I said earlier about a couple of raindrops. It was a wee bit more than that.😉

Since the whole evening had promised loads of work to do in advance; I had to have a quick dinner. So, Jeannie helped rustle up something almost to go, after she asked if I was ok with the choice of food. Which I was, wa-a-y-y-y more than ok:

Main serving: German chicken sausages with roti canai. The side dishes were green cucumbers (unpeeled dark skin), KFC whipped potato and cherry tomatoes. Don’t know why they are called “cherry tomatoes”. They are bigger than cherries and almost always in the color of orange; not red or green. Beverage was hot (not piping or boiling hot; just drinkable hot) Ovaltine.

The meal was great. Managed to get some work done. Never ending. One of the mysteries of life. Not complaining.

The Lavender essential oil which is very gently filling the room with its beautiful aroma; is being diffused through the diffuser (of course) in the corner of the room…


For some of us on this side of the world, half a day of the last day of January of this new year is upon us. How has this month been?

I believe it is good for us to take stock of what we have achieved, on our way to achieving it / them; or have not yet achieve them. Some of these may be New Year’s resolutions, some may be medium to long term goals which we begun some time back.

Sometimes, we need to take a step out of what we are doing and reassess or re-evaluate the situation.

I don’t know if it is age catching (caught up? overtook?) on me, for me to question and keep questioning
1. Why did he do it this way?
2. Why did she do it? What does she gain in doing this?
3. What is going through the mind of that person sitting quietly in the corner of the room?
4. How did the architect first conceive the idea of building the 118 storey high building?


I think what intrigues me the most is how best we see ourselves and are willing to adapt to change to improve our life and the lives of others. Something I learnt several years ago, maybe over 5 years ago; was a U.S. Navy Marine Admiral giving a speech to a large group of marine cadets. He said, “Each morning when you wake up, and get out of bed; the first thing you should do is to make your bed, tidy it. That will give you a sense of accomplishment…you have started the day on a positive, having accomplished something.” We (Laura, Jeannie and I) still practice that rule. No matter how important or busy that day is going to be, making our bed and tidying up is the first thing we do.

Simon Sinek sums it up to 5 important rules that will change our future. Some of these I have watched from other videos, heard or read of them. I like them all. A couple that stands out most to me is about Nelson Mandela’s father who was a tribal chief. Another was about the styrofoam cup. Nevertheless, all great lessons.

We may be motivated by this video to change our lives. A few months, weeks or maybe days later, we forget and fall back into our old ways. Nothing says we can’t make an attempt at change or many attempts at change in our lives. We just pick ourselves up and start over again. Are we too old for this? Are we too rich or important for this? That is entirely up to you decide.

While we keep getting bombarded over all types of media that the world is heading for a recession or is already in one, let us focus on our lives, families and surroundings. If it has to be, it is up to me. There is no try. Just do. I wish everyone a fabulous 2023. Reach out and grab that bagel. Have fun.

Healthy, Simple Dinner

After what was a very sweet coffee evening on Saturday, with the white chocolate cake that at one glance looked like a serviette dispenser; which tasted very nice, the white chocolate cake, that is; at The Social in Empire Gallery Shopping Centre; Jeannie and I decided to go for very simple food at Kar Heong “Restoran” (the Bahasa Malaysia spelling for the word “restaurant”) at dinner time.

Describing the picture above clockwise, I had the plain noodles & soup since I don’t eat rice (I stopped eating rice 15 years ago), two plates (1 each for Jeannie and me) of steamed chicken breast meat, toothpicks (in the red capped dispenser), sweet black sauce in the green dispenser with black vertical lines, soy sauce, red chili sauce (a must have when you eat steamed chicken with or without rice), a little container of what looks like white pepper, a plate of towgey (bean sprouts) that is a delicious side dish for a meal like this (to the left of my iced coffee, more popularly known as “kopi peng” in these parts); two small saucers of the red chili sauce. a bowl of ginger (the ginger adds the balance in flavor to the chicken), my iced coffee and Jeannie’s hot coffee (at the top of the picture).

I found eating my noodles and soup which I think was “hor fun”, with plastic chopsticks and soup spoon quite tricky. I couldn’t seem to get the noodles and soup to stay on the spoon with the pair of chopsticks. The noodles just kept slipping off the spoon no matter what I did to try keeping it on. I picked up pieces of chicken with the chopsticks to put on the slippery noodles on the spoon, and then add the chili sauce and ginger to it. I had to use an ordinary commoner’s (haha 😁) spoon and fork, which didn’t make all that much of a difference. I ended up with splashes of soup drops on my shirt. Quite an adventure. This happens all the time. I have yet to master these skills.

Jeannie and I came to the same conclusion: the food was delicious. We finished every bit of it and we were full. Yes, we enjoyed our meal.

As for my soup-splashed stained, shirt; it happens all the time. There’s a funny little saying😏 between Laura, Jeannie and me: “Can’t take you out anywhere” 😂 whenever any of us spill something. 😁Jeannie was egging me on to come to have this meal for over a couple of months. Finally, we did.

There are two or three Kar Heong Restoran within the same vicinity. The restaurant that we had our dinner at is located in SS14, Subang Jaya.

When I got home at about 8.30pm, I had to go for my 10,000 step walk. I met with my neighbor Sim and his wife. They had just begun their walk, too; which they do after dinner. We had a nice chat along the way. The weather was good, quite cooling. We completed our walk within the hour. A good short workout.

1. Jeannie and Laura are family.
2. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
3. Jamie Oliver and I are not on the same level as food critics. He is for the cameras, audience and the moolah. I am just a plain simpleton, telling it as I see..em..taste it. Hahaha😂😂😋