Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Sliding Scale of Morality

"A man can do what he ought to do; and when he says he cannot, it is because he will not."


I have lived all of my teen years with the utmost rigidity and the disabling belief that there is a lot of things in life we must not - cannot - do.

I remember back when I was in the Fourth Form, I attended the birthday party of a girl named Jaclyn. Midway through, I ditched the celebrations for a walk about the neighborhood with three other blokes though for the life of me, I cannot recollect why now. One of them took out a box of fags, and everyone took a stick - even a close friend of mine I never knew smoked. I didn't, of course, but I spent the rest of the walk keeping to myself and listening to my companions talk about cigarettes; about how they started the habit, how many sticks a day, what flavour they puffed before... intriguing stuff to me. I took it all in along with the second hand smoke while carefully watching that close friend of mine and his mannerisms - noting how awkward he appeared when he was holding his cigarette between his fingers, and the gingerly caution he exercised when he sucked it in. He was new to it, I think. I realised then just how hard it was for me to talk to them without a fag in hand. It's like an exclusive club with passwords and secret handshakes and shit, only there isn't really any passwords or secret handshakes (I don' know about shit though). You know what they always say about teen smoking and that clichéd crap about wanting to fit in? Scarily enough, it's true - but fortunately, I never wanted to fit in anyway.

That's my nutshell. That explains the sort of teenager I was.

I never had much parental supervision throughout my young life - because my parents were hardly ever around to keep me in line - not that I ever strayed from the straight and narrow. I never had curfews or ultimatums about what I shouldn't do-or-else because I was trusted to be my own watchman. I never smoked. I never drank (though I'm less uptight about that now). I never frequent clubs and places of purported vice. I never did drugs. I never gambled, not even during the Chinese New Year with my cousins or sister. I find it all ironic because my Mom actually sell liquor and tobacco at her coffee shop and she used my room to keep the extra stock - so it was really easy for me to appropriate those stuff since boxes of them usually sat at an arm's reach from me. Plus my Dad worked in the Genting Highlands casino. I'm not sure why I have that much of self control though. It's not like I wasn't curious about them.

I suppose I just enjoy the self satisfaction of being more well-behaved than most other people my age. It's a bit like wanking, but instead of my dong, I'm wanking my morals. And like most major religions in the history of man, that's when zealotry and extremism creeps in - when a person believe he's better and holier-than-thou-hedonistic-infidels. I began distancing myself from completely socially accepted sins. A notable example was my unwillingness to listen to exam tips and leaks back when I was in Taylor's College. I remember stuffing my fingers into my ears and walking away every time someone started discussing them because I believed (and still do) in fair play and the much dead virtue of honour. Of course, some of my friends have pointed out to me that since everyone knew the exam question leaks, it was fair play after all. My reply have always been, "Since I'm not using it, it's not very fair to me isn't it?" I'm surprised I still had friends back then.

Not wanting to cheat was still somewhat reasonable, I believe. But it wasn't long before I began a personal vendetta against practices that have no moral relevance whatsoever (though that didn't stop me from trying to rationalise it). I wouldn't dye my hair, for instance, because I thought it was a form of hypocrisy. I wouldn't touch a girl anywhere, even if it's just putting an arm around a friend for a photograph because of my strong feelings about gender boundaries. I do not think body piercings is appropriate because of its breach of social norms. Tattoos are no-nos because of their gang connotations. It's almost like I was going through life putting more and more restrictions on myself till I can no longer breathe. Something is bound to crack someday.

Then there's something I could never have imagined myself doing. I remember my ex, and the guys that used to hit on her knowing full well that she already have a boyfriend. I know all of these people actually (or at least most of them), though I have never gotten around to asking them where on earth they've gotten that conscience bypass surgery to enable them to do something of the sort. I'd never do it.

But I think I understand that now. And for all the time I've spent being appalled at just how despicable these men and their acts were, I have neglected to admire the simple but overwhelming force behind - one of conviction that you can give someone you love more happiness than she already has. It's the same thing that we've seen depicted ad nauseam with poetic passion in songs and stories over the ages. It can make men steal stars, the moon and other impossibly huge cosmic bodies from the night sky. It can bear the enamoured over oceans, deserts and all manners of inhospitable geographical regions. And most importantly, it can make a person cross lines they would not cross before.

What I'm really trying to say with this many words is,

Two wrongs can make a right.

And it would feel so damn right.

A little less black and white,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Christmas Just Desserts

"God rest ye, little children;
Let nothing you affright,
For Jesus Christ, your Saviour,
Was born this happy night;
Along the hills of Galilee
The white flocks sleeping lay,
When Christ, the Child of Nazareth,
Was born on Christmas Day."

A Christmas Carol by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

High ceilings say "We have space to waste - cos' we are posh."

This post is a little bit dated seeing that Christmas was... a couple of days ago. I can't help that, lots of stuff has got my teats pinched firmly in their fingers and thumbs these days. Life has been demanding a lot out of me, and I'm trying my best to keep up. What I wouldn't give now to sit idly by the road looking half-interestedly at people scurrying forward with their own little ratty lives? I'd probably do just that if people would just stop kicking dust in my face.

Oh yeah, as I was saying, I went for the Valley View Hotel Annual Christmas Lunch Buffet.

Right, that about summed up my Christmas Day celebration. I did say that this post is going to be short didn't I? I didn't? Whoop Dee Doo.

"Deck the halls with big fat turkeys, tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la..."

I thought it was a pretty respectable spread for Rs 500. Every kind of meat is up for gobble - mutton, chicken, fish, lamb, even beef! And if you've been in India as long as I have, you'd know just how hard it is to get a side of steak around these parts. It's not like cows are scarce or anything. They strut about on their hoity-toity hooves all over the place like they are Big Fucking Macs - and cars, buses and trucks would stop in reverence and respect when they cross roads (while I get honked to heck). Damn, it feels good to gloat over them when they are little gravy-covered cubes sitting forlornly on my plate. Who's a big horny animal now, Buttercup?! Mwahahahaha!

And there was turkey too! With good ol' cranberry sauce! How thoughtful!

Reminds me of scene in a Christmas skit where a kid ask his Dad why people eat turkey for Christmas.

"It's Jesus' favourite food, Timmy."

An army of chefs on duty.

According to Shaki, who was the one that recommended this event to me - the grub list is lousier compared to one in the year before. His complaint was mainly because there were a lot more local delicacies than the more Christmassy sort of nosh. So long as I got my turkey (and dead cow-flesh), I'm plenty happy. And Phoebs was perfectly satisfied eating almost nothing else but her Malabar prawn curry.

My über cute lunch buddy.

That bit of paper there was what we played Lingo on. We figured we needed to kill time in between gorging ourselves silly - so we don't have prolonged periods of quiescent reflection on the sin of gluttony and the evils of indigestion (we must not falter in a buffet!). I initially thought of bringing a chess set but seeing that the last time I played that infernal game was 10 years ago, I thought better of it. And Chinese chess (which I'm heckuva lot better at - which isn't saying very much) is not exactly freely available in the heartland of India, y'know.

I have never lost at Lingo before, and Phoebs was probably the second closest person ever to have almost pawned me. Almost - because I totally crushed her with NAIAD.

Ornamental edibles.

Like every self-respecting swanky shindig, they must have some sort of table showpieces for over-zealous diners to gawk at while they are regretting that last slice of plum pudding they downed. They usually use ice sculptures for that. Big ice animals, Greek gods and corporate logos slowing diminishing into an indistinguishable lump is apparently considered pretty classy amongst the patrician circles. Us plebs just care for the stuff we can fit into our mouths.

But the table ornaments that the Valley View people displayed were... kind of quirky,

"Aaargh! My Face! You ate my face!!!"

Maybe I just haven't attended enough buffets, but I've never seen watermelons used this way before. It must be incredibly cost efficient. Eye candy by day. Dessert by night. And from the looks of melon-noggin up there, I'd say some people just couldn't wait for night.

Bread Gator OMG.

I simply couldn't imagine how the birth of Jesus is connected to pastry alligators but if you're into symbolism...

The Ichthys - or more commonly known as the Jesus Fish or (my personal favourite) the Holy Mackerel - was used by early Christians to represent our divine birthday Boy, for whom this joyeux holiday have been dedicated to. With that said, that big spiky baker's nightmare is sacrilege! I mean, having a croc chomping on a fish - the utter cheek! Time to launch a full-scale crusade on them Valley View Hotel infidels and their false alligator deity! Banzai!

My David Cake.

The best part of this year's Christmas day was, of course, Phoebs' Christmas present to me - a whole massive chocolate cake which she baked for me from scratch! What made it so much more sweeter was that she never baked anything in her life before. Considering her inexperience, it still turned out pretty darn swell! Guess what I had for lunch these past two days :D

Thanks, Phoebs.

Chockful of choc,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Floating on Euphemism

"My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober."

Gilbert K. Chesterton, English writer

I wanted to update my blog (ugh, I hate that word so) on Saturday night, but instead I spent it on MSN talking a whole lot of cock with Phoebs and Mitch. I wanted to update on Sunday night too, but I attended a Christmas party instead over at Vince and Nick's place next door - the first real Noel bash I attended in... in my life actually. By "real" I mean it's "not secular". More on that later. Maybe. Maybe not.

I also planned to update earlier today but you won't believe the lethargy that got hold of me today. I didn't even feel like budging to get breakfast and lunch! I was that stoned. Oh well, here's a post I promised I'd do awhile ago but hey, hey, hey - who was keeping tab anyway, right?

Well, during the course of my last holiday in September (yeah, it's that dated), I've decided to cross over to the man-made island, Pulau Melaka which stuck out of the smelly mudflats a kilometre off the coastal centre of the ancient city of Malacca like a resurrected shipwreck. Milling through the city in midday and in the evenings, I could see a plateau craning barely a few feet above sea level at high tide with uninspired rows of shophouses standing solemnly like guests at a funeral on its unremarkable flat-scape.

And one day, I spotted an obelisk like structure sticking out from behind the shops,

It's a mud mud world.

So being the jobless vacationing student I was, any distraction was good distraction to me - so I drove right over to check the place out.

Bridge over mud.

The only way to cross over without (a) a boat, (b) getting mud in your shoes and socks, and pants, underpants, shirt, mouth, nostrils, ears... is a four-lane bridge which connects the south part of that little artificial sand bar we call Pulau Melaka to the commercial centre of Melaka Raya.

If you can forgive a little bit of digression, I just want to tell you that my dog, Peegs, is buried under the bridge. Just remember him when you drive over, okay?

The island was just as desolate as it appeared from afar, with long, shady streets and stark staring windows on the rows of empty un-leased shops. It's the sort of place gangsters bring people to execute - at least, if I'm a gangster, that's where I'd force some poor bastard on his knees, put a bullet through his head and then get my cronies to tie up the body with bricks before heave-ho-ing it into the
mud-sink. You'd think the same about that place too if you're there. It's a place where bad things happen.

And I wasn't alone on the island either.

A small group of Indonesian men were loitering about the plaza and with my usual xenophobic paranoia, I immediately became convinced that they intended to axe me and steal my car. I'm the sort of person who can't help imagining the worst case scenario superseding every single moment of my everyday - and it has been like that ever since I got trashed and mugged three years ago in Subang Jaya by two Malay men. That changed the way I look and feel about everything afterwards, even in my own peaceable hometown of Malacca. Places where I used to stroll with careless leisure can no longer offer that same feeling of sanctuary they used to give me. The Bukit Serindit park. The seaside. The Portuguese ruins at night. All that was serene and calm had become omens of unseen danger and people who meant to harm me.

It's terrible not to feel safe and protected in one's own home and city.

Floating mosque.

Driving to the other side of the island - far away from the would-be Indonesian thugs - I found a mosque built standing half in knee high water. The spire I saw from the mainland belongs to it.

Lit by the setting sun. I got there at the right time, I guess.

I wondered idly what it's like inside and whether if it's okay for an "infidel" like me to enter a mosque just to - I don't know - admire the architecture and the interior decor? I know that the Kampung Kling Mosque over at Malacca's Chinatown is open for visitors during non-Azan periods of the day, it being a historical site and all (I've been in it). Of course, I didn't go up to the gate and ask - they might consider it to be bloody cheek.

I guess I just have to stand outside and gawk from a distance what my Dad's tax money helped to build.


I wonder if the state is going to build a floating Buddhist temple too on the island. Or maybe a floating church or Hindu temple as well. Hey! Maybe someone can go up to the city council and ask permission to do just that, and promise whoever's in-charge there that we'd build it out of our own pockets. We can tell them we wouldn't use a single cent of the tax money which we paid so the the government to improve our lives. What do you think?

It's a rather long stretch of beach after all.

Wishes you a Merry Christmas,
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Thoughts on Beauty

"Beauty is a form of Genius - is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation."

Lord Henry Wotton,
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Lord Henry Wotton is one of those rare fictional characters who is so charismatic, so intelligent, so witty - and pardon my employment of contemporary vernacular - so 'fucking cool' that you can do nothing but be convinced with whatever he says no matter how wrong, immoral, contrary and paradoxical his world views and philosophies are - for the simple reason that he says them so bloody well. He played the allegorical tempter, a Victorian societal edition of the Devil to the titular Dorian Gray, and I had a hard time myself not get sucked in by his words myself when I first read the novel. "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it," said Lord Henry and deep down inside, you know that that was bullshit, but you'd still be impressed anyhow by the way he thinks. And after reading that line a second time, you'd suddenly find yourself convinced that he was absolutely right, and wonder why you weren't before.

But I'm not going to write about him today - at least, not very much.

I did, however, discover that I was inadvertently channeling the irrepressible and oft-reprehensible Lord Henry earlier this afternoon (though admittedly lacking his oratory panache) while drafting an e-mail to a friend of mine on an unlikely subject. One of Beauty, oddly enough, and I was writing in response to her belief that physical beauty is not as important as someone's personality - or as she had so eloquently put it - "the face inside", which is a far less mutable and a lot more durable quality, in her opinion.

I believe that physical beauty is important - which more than a few of my friends have described to be a failing of mine. It's not that I think inner beauty isn't the big deal everyone makes it out to be, but I feel that a person's genetic hotness should be just as significant. All of us are born with our little gifts. Some are born with a predisposition to be sweet natured, some are born with a genius-level IQ - while some just have really, really nice thighs. To consider outer beauty to be any lesser than the inner ones is, in my mind, a rather unapparent but unmistakable form of discrimination. Yes, that's what it is. The Holocaust began in that same spirit too; the conviction that a particular human trait is inferior to others.

And doesn't the fact that beauty is fleeting and does not last just means that we ought to appreciate it while it's still around? Besides, I personally feel that a person's personality is fluid anyway. People will change - just ask any one who have ever loved and lost. At least, someone's physical beauty is good for a decade or more, right?

Also, there's a reason why we are organically attracted to sexy people, you know (Darwin, anyone?).

I'm reminded of this story, which may not directly relate at all to the meditations of this post, about myself and what I said to someone a while back. I remember saying, "I would only fall for a hot girl. And I want everyone to know that I have an incredibly and unrealistically high opinion of how a pretty girl should look like. On the standard scale of ten, I'd give every girl two point lower than the mean score the average guy would give. So, when I finally do fall hopelessly and quite helplessly in love with someone, she'd know that she's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."

Sounds a bit morally suspect, doesn't it? But that's just it. It's a natural desire to want you personal life fairytale to resemble real fairytales (okay, real fairytale is kind of an oxymoron but ignore that for now). Remember Snow White and Rapunzel? Sleeping Beauty and of course, Beauty (the one with the Beast, naturally). It's archetypal in all these bedtime stories which all invariably had heroines of the "fairest in all the lands" variety. The celebration of physical perfection was hammered quite deeply into the human psyche and I'm merely upholding the tradition. In classic Aesopian fashion, the lesson we can learn from these collective stories is quite simply this; hot babes equal happy ever afters.

It may appear shallow of me to want to fall for the most beautiful woman I will ever meet - in spite how out of the league I might be. Maybe, I want to be that shallow. There's something reassuringly masculine in that. Reminds me of "masculine stupidity", a pet phrase of Auntie June, my old English tutor who was quite the Lady Henrietta Wotton herself.

I just believe that hot people ought to get as much respect as everybody else.

Visually hedonistic,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Lost Little Best Friends

"Joy is not in things; it is in us."

Richard Wagner, German composer

I remember looking for them every morning right before I go to school, and as soon as I return in the evening. I remember sparing a moment to play with the little things before I went for every exam paper I was sitting for, regardless how pressed for time I was on days like that. I remember weekends spent just sitting nearby and watching them gambol about the garden and the courtyard - for hours at a time. And somehow, I was contented. It's as if their carefree joy, mindless frolics, and complete enjoyment of the very living moment without a single shade of responsibility were somehow mine as well. If I was living by extension, by empathy - then by all means, plug me in and superglue the sockets. I could live like this... gosh, all my life if I have to.

And one day little more than a week ago, I returned from school and I couldn't find my little friends. Someone stole all 5 of them at once.

"I'm damn angry," said the senior who fed the puppies and their mothers when I spoke to him. I didn't express it, but damn - I felt like shit too. I mean, losing the things you've grown to love and care for over a whole month's time with such suddenness is just... harder than I could have possibly foreseen. For days afterwards, I kept finding myself in the middle of strolling to where the puppies used to play after my classes. And I would stop mid-stride and go "Oh" - and then return to my cold, emo room and play cold, emo music to myself for the rest of the day because I couldn't imagine what I could do to replace the hours I have counted on on spending with my tiny companions who always seemed so happy to see me. I mean, nobody else was that bloody happy to see me.

This will be the last puppy post I am doing for ages to come. I have chosen the best pictures from the hundreds I have taken before they were pupnapped to share with you, dear readers. I know I'm no ace photographer, but...

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I call this one Silky. She's the deadpan pup I was talking about in the last puppy post.

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"I chew teh vine."

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Silky trying to climb up to the grassy terrace after falling down. Legs not long 'nuff, unfortch.

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"Can you feel the luff tonight?" Patches v2.0 with Silky going all Simba and Nala.

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Patches v2.0: "... and now, for my specialty."
Silky: "NO! NOT THERE!"

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This could have been my favourite pic if Silky wasn't so blurry in it.

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Spot acting cute.

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"Imma coming! Leave some foh meh!"

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Mother (and grandmother) of the year, anchored by the nipples. Silky and Patches v2.0 belong to Socks actually.

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Runt of the litter, and cutest of the lot. Unnamed, though. Suggestions? Not that there's any point in that now.

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"Youse talkin' to meh? Ah'm tuh littlest gangstah!"

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"Aih choo iyon"

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Wherever they are now, I hope they'll still be just as happy as they always were.

Sentimental ol' fogey,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Picture of the Day

"Friend: A member of the opposite sex in your acquaintance who has some flaw which makes sleeping with him/her totally unappealing. "

The Dictionary of Dating

I remember standing outside her house with a stalk of white rose in one hand, and sweat on both. It was St. Valentine's Day of 2004, and tradition called for a gift of dismembered reproductive organs of plants from a boy to the girl he loves or is hoping to win over. It's a strange thing that no matter how much a girl insists that she don't like flowers and that under no circumstances she wants to be given such a gift, they'd still squeal in obvious delight when they are. Of course, that effect is generally provoked if you give her a massive bouquet of maybe 12, 33 or whatever other catchy number of posies you can put together with generous trimmings of forget-me-nots, baby's-breaths and lil' daisies as fillers. Not so much one single white rose - which incidentally (and very much unfortunately) was all I had. Being poor sucks. Mega suck. Like St. Valentine pointing to his nuts saying "Suck this!" suck.

Another obvious source of embarrassment was the fact that I was standing by the roadside with a flower in my hand, and having single-on-V-day-cyber-cafe-dorks (which SS15 had in alarming quantity) pointing and snickering at me as they pass me by. It was then I appreciate just how difficult it is to pretend that a flower is a natural extension of my limbs.

That, was the first time I have ever given a flower to a girl.

And on the other end of the spectrum,

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Teddy man.

I spotted this sweet, sweet bloke outside of the Indira girls' hostel while I was waiting for Phoebs for dinner yesterday.

Someone's Daddy with a birthday present for his big little girl, perhaps?

Who's your Daddy,
k0k s3n w4i

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Daily Chivalry

"The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one."

Honoré de Balzac, French novelist and playwright

I woke up this morning at about 9:45 pm with a metallic tang in my mouth and feeling like a badly constructed simulacrum of Pinocchio with the joints screwed on too tight. I went to bed at about 5:00 pm yesterday and at a total of almost 17 hours, that was the second longest slumber marathon I ever had. I've been feeling this strange tiredness in my bones for the past week or so, and no amount of rest was able to make it go away. It ran deep into my mind and thews, and every conscious moment I spent was an effort - infinitesimal yet burdening in the whole. That 17 hours I clocked in for Morpheus yesterday must be a stern warning sign that my sleep debt cumulated over the years is in imminent danger of collapsing on me.

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The empty bucket of cheese-flavoured popcorn I had. I always wanted to take one home.

I returned from Mangalore yesterday after a matinée at the cineplex there with Yew Kong and co. We caught I Am Legend, another post-apocalyptic flick with zombies a la genetically-modified-cancer-busting- miracle-cure-measles-virus. And instead of following the half of the group that was heading to Hao Ming (one of the few decent Chinese restaurant run by a genuine Chinese bloke in India) for lunch, I tagged along Nick and Vince to Pizza Hut for a bit of good old-fashed imitation Italian food. Their new fusilli with Stroganoff sauce dish was surprisingly good. Surprising, because the last time I had pasta there it tasted like the collective scraps they scraped off pizza pans the week before.

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Why can't signs in Malaysia be this witty?

Anyway, I followed that duo because they were leaving Mangalore early while the sun was still up to avoid the Night of the Living Nightmare Bus Ride. We were lucky to a three-seater for ourselves, and in spite of the ghastly noonday heat, mechanical rumble and almost-constant infernal horning from the rabid driver - drowsiness crept on us and we fell asleep in no time.

I woke up about an hour later with an almighty headache, a stiff neck and the sensation of having my head hitting the top of the steel headrest for every pothole the bus trucked over for the past 60 minutes. I peered blearily out of my eyes and lo! A tall, dark figure loomed menacingly over my person, cloaked in solid night from head to toe. It took me a couple of moments to realise that it was someone's back that was facing me, and that it belonged to a Muslim woman - the sort that insisted on being thoroughly swathed in black fabric (including the face) at all times of day. I used to call them Nazgûls - silent, forbidding and chilling the heck out of me. Clinging onto her was her two young, dark-haired daughters of about six and ten, who were probably thankful that they weren't smothered in the same attire fashionable at least a few centuries ago considering the deadly Indian afternoon fry.

Hence the dilemma - I disgusted myself for even considering it a dilemma. I knew I could offer the lady a seat... or I could just pretend to be snoozing, oblivious to the woman and her two kids in front of me. I mean, she wasn't even looking my way - she wouldn't know. She wouldn't care either. I bet she's used to not having a seat offered to her on the bus anyway since this part of India isn't very big on the whole gentlemanly conduct thing. Plus, look at all these young Indian men, all wide awake and having that Muslim woman in their plain sight, and not a single one gave up his seat for her. What cads. Hey, maybe it's against customs to offer your seat to woman in India! Well like they always say, when in Rome...

While my mind was whirring off along that ignoble tangent, I have already stood up automatically, tapped the lady on her shoulder (with slight apprehension in case I was not suppose to do anything like that), and indicated at my recently vacated spot beside a still-dozing Vince. The woman sat down wordlessly, placing a her two daughters on her laps. She met my eyes briefly through her veil, but I couldn't tell what expression she was wearing. Was it a grateful smile? Or one of confusion at the unexpected random act of kindness? Or possibly, even grinning and mouthing the local dialect's equivalent of "Sucker!" at my foreign naiveté. I would never know, I guess - but I feel better having offered my seat to her. That appeased my conscience and my sense of honour, both of which are frequently demanding and often unrelenting. What they have against my aching body, I do not know.

I noticed that several of the passengers were giving me this weird look, as if I have violated some sacred tradition or something. Even more probable, they were just wondering why I was carrying an empty red popcorn bucket in one arm.

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The two little girls.

I remember a few years ago before I got my driving license, I had to bus-hop whenever I need to go anywhere in Malacca. A Malay boy I know from my high school - a real thug of a kid with whom I had several run-ins with due to me being a prefect and all. I remember hoping that he wouldn't recognise me or give me any flak. Or worse, give me a very physical hello (not unheard of, of course).

He plumped into the seat in front of mine heavily, and he didn't appear to have seen me yet. Right before the bus jerked into motion, an aged Indian woman came on board with heavy-looking shopping bags in each hand. Before I could seven stand up to offer her my place, that Malay boy beat me to it. He even held her arm to slowly guided her onto his seat in case she gets unbalanced when the bus swerves around a corner or stops abruptly at an intersection. That's when he met me eye to eye - I didn't know what got hold of me but I smiled at him and gave him a thumbs up. He just grinned sheepishly back. Of course, he promptly reverted back to his demonic self the next day in school.

I don't believe I ever learnt his name.

Half an hour later, my bus reached the stop at Udupi, and most of the passengers - including the Muslim woman and her kids - got off and finally freed some seats for me and my ludicrously large-sized empty popcorn tub.

I wonder how long is it going to be before a feminist sock me one in the eye and spit on me, screaming "I am perfectly capable of standing in a bus, you chauvinist prick!" - when I offer a her a seat.

How useful were you to society today?

I left my shining armour in my other wardrobe,
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Stars Are Falling Tonight

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."

William Blake, English poet, painter and printmaker

Whenever you travel, you'd want to see as many wondrous, special, weird, quaint, unique and outright-gobstopping things as you can before your vacation runs out of its time. You'd try to fit as many sights into your itinerary, cutting off sleep time, planning narrow hops between flights or trains - all corners you could barely afford to cut - just to see that little bit more. I know perfectly how that feels like. You ought to take a gander at the master plan of my North Indian Grand Backpacking Escapade (I made up this name, so there!) early next year - about a dozen cities from one side of the Indian subcontinent to the other in 3 weeks and a half.

That's a bit like how I like my life: Absolutely stacked and overflowing at the brims. I want to see as much as I can before I die. That's how I like my women too but that's another story.

Tonight after sundown, I'll hike up to End Point and plant my ass there till the cops make me leave. The Geminid Meteors are swinging by Earth tonight, and I'll be damned if I don't position myself someplace where they can hit me.

Just so you know, this is going to be a good year for the Geminids because the moon will be nothing more than just a slightly anorexic crescent in the night sky. The peak of this year's show would be on the 14th of December (also popularly and contemporarily known as 'Today, duh') at 14:45 GMT (which is widely described by Indian astronomers as 'a quarter-past-ten'). So we, the awesome people of Far Eastern Asia and Beyond the Pacific till Alaska (that includes you peeps in ol' Malaysia), will get the metaphorical front row seats this time around. About 60 to 120 fizzlers and sputterers per hour was predicted to be the max rate of atmosphere bombardment - that's 1 to 2 every minute! Of course, you got to move out of the light pollution radius of where you're living and head for the silent hills where the snakes are.

It's going to be grand - I can feel it in my spine.

EDIT: I saw 61 meteors! I wished I made wishes instead of going "WHOOOA!!!" like some backwater island yahoo every time one streaked across the sky.

Going on a star-hunt,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Worst Drink I Ever Forced Down

"If you drink lots of buttermilk your stomach gets full. So in the olden days this is how people used to eat."

Sudesha, old Indian farmer

This ain't olden days no more, Grandpa.

It goes under the incredibly misleading name of buttermilk because it doesn't taste anything like milk or butter. Wait, that's an understatement - it doesn't even taste remotely like something meant for human consumption! They should warn unsuspecting Chinese Malaysian wayfarers against ordering it, maybe a sticker like on cigarette boxes that says "Quaffing of this beverage may make you not want to live anymore".

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Glassful of Suck.

It's as sour as my socks after I jogged in them for three whole hours everyday, eleven days a week, and then marinated in unripe lime juice for a month. Beneath the tartness, there was a strong hint of some sort of spice - and when I belched, the overpowering aftertaste of murukku or chakli flooded my mouth.

The most unpleasant bit was those green bits you can see sticking on the inner sides of the glass. I've no idea what they used to be but they taste just like shredded grass. Not pot, but real grass! The type that fat four-legged animals that have horns and fart a lot like to eat! In fact, they taste so vile that the sourness was reduced to just a vague afterthought. Chlorophyll-flavoured fermented dairy byproduct is sooo not my thing. If it's true that things that are good for our health taste shitty, I bet I'm all strapped and set to live right up to the ripe age of 150 now.

After the first sip, I screwed up my face in such intense agony you'd think a horse with spiked shoes kicked me in the nads. Of course, being the stubborn jerk I usually am, I refused to be beaten by this... this... concoction of instantaneous murder. Second sip - hand gripping the edge of the table till the knuckles were white. I gave Phoebe the honour of having the third sip and an expression of unbelievable disgust immediately surfaced on her face ("How can any place serve something like this?!" she cried). And I proceeded in like torturous fashion till only a half of the glass of buttermilk was left. Damn, I wanna see the bottom of the glass! I bet that there was a piece of paper hidden at the bottom that read "You're some masochist, dude". With my determination and fervor stoked to boiling, I finished the drink till only a quarter was left.

And I gave up.

I... just... couldn't... go... on.
I blinked stupidly and my eyes went out of focus. I was breathless and pale, and there were small beads of perspiration over my forehead and nose. I have lost. For the first time in my life, something tasted bad enough for me to not finish it.

If you never had it before - don't. Don't do it even if it's a dare. Not even to impress chicks. Because your face contorting as if a feather duster is slowly and forcefully pushed up your anus is frankly not a very impressive sight at all.

P.S. It might just be me. The natives probably like it a lot. I mean, they invented it, didn't they?

k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It Crawled Out Of an Indian Kitchen

"What's this disgusting slimy blob?"


Bring him back, Mr Watterson! Please!

Last Friday, I paid a visit to Guzzler's Inn located at the outer rim of the backwoods cow village we refer to affectionately as "our beloved university town, Manipal" - and while tactfully staying out of earshot of the schools' Nazis admins as "that bloody hellhole". It's been more than a year since I've last seen the dinner joint, and I could barely recognize it anymore with all its brand new refurbishments and posh trappings and... stuff?

Note to self: Get my vocab up to speed on interior design lingo.

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Oooh, classy.

Oh yeah, and third block exam's binned finally. And in less than a month, it's the fourth block grind. And the big, scary Year Two University Examination almost immediately afterwards. I am closer than ever to accepting God as my Lord and Saviour. Maybe this "power of prayer" thing can like, do some good shit for me, y'know.

Anyway, I always prided myself as someone who can always pick the best eats out of a menu. It's like a inborn talent thing - like how some people can touch their nose with their tongue or predict the result of Malaysia's next general election. I always try to pick the stuff written at the top of a list (because naturally, restaurant owners tend to write their top hole stuff down first), remember to ask the waiter for their specialties, and employ a heavy-handed use of pure dumb luck.

But that night, my powerz of psycho-menu-pathy has failed me utterly. That's because,
  1. The items in the menu were arranged in the order of the cheapest to the highway-robbery-est.
  2. The waiter speaka da Inglis like some of our politicians a la Malaysia.
  3. The exams have used up all my reserve emergency dumb luck.
Here's what we had for starters, Goop of Doom Chemical X Cream of Spinach,

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I mean, just how often do you find green soup, I ask you? And no - you may NOT crack Dr Seuss jokes here. It is forbidden. You instantly forfeit 20 cool points from your cred in my eyes if you succumb.

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Phoebe braving a brand new world. Her last words were reported to be "Oh heck, who wants to live forever anyway?"

Okay, to be fair, the algae goop wasn't bad at all - mainly because Phoebe had sampled it before on her previous visits and recommended it to me. I don't know what they put in it but I'm sure it wasn't spinach. And it's not as gooey as the picture suggests. No, seriously.

Next on the table was This,

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Yes, it's This with the first letter capitalised and italicised. I'd bold it too but I don't wanna overkill. It's not your regular 'this' at all, no - it's This, as in "What. The. Fuck. Is. This?!" said in dramatic staccato with your nosed screwed up right in the middle of an expression of utter incredulity. You are flabbergasted. Gobsmacked, really. You toyed with the notion of trying to prod it with a fork but you thought better of it - because you know a tendril of slime is going to pop out, grab your cutlery, and stab you in the hand with it if you pull anything like that.

Your best bet is to laugh nervously, then look at your dining partner and make a nondescript comment like "That's... interesting," about the dish while carefully keeping one eye on it in case it tries anything funny. Of course, be a gentleman and say, "You first."

The sewage surprise was, I think, a rather commonplace Indian dish called Palak Paneer - which sounds suspiciously like an Outer Rim alien species from a Star Wars flick. It literally means 'spinach (and) cottage cheese' and I said 'commonplace' because I ordered it once before from elsewhere. It's exactly as I remembered it; cubes of tofu-ey cottage cheese in triple-blended spinach purée (if the blender was rigged up to a jet engine, naturally). I was duped into ordering it again because the waiter insisted that it has "leafy veggie". I've seen less mangled "leafy veggie" coming out of my nether chute, I can tell you.

What India has against greens anyway? They are always either mushed, juiced or deep-fried to hell and back again. And my grandmother was surprised why I attacked the kailan and kangkung when I went back to Malaysia for my vacation. One nation constipation, that's India's culinary motto. It probably evens out the diarrhoea epidemic here that afflicts us innocent foreign types. Please don't kill me Dr Vishaal Bhat! I am just kidding! Honest!

It's a so-so dish, in my opinion. It's hard to enjoy something that looks like it came out of a hippo's anus.

And like just Fear Factor, there's always a third course. Here's the main,

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Harmless looking, eh?

I was billed as Mutton Hyderabadi Biriyani in the menu. The waiter told us that it is very spicy but Phoebe and I just pooh-poohed his warning. Hey, we are Malaysians! We invented the sambal! We use fucking cili padi in our fried rice! And so far, all the stuff they consider to be spicy here turned out to be disappointing flops. Plus, I'm also a wasabi junkie and I chow down on Nando's Level 4 Peri-peri chicken on a regular basis. So bring it on, matey!

But damn, the rice was on fire!

I held my end up pretty good, I think. I didn't even break a sweat, but I admit that biriyani was pretty darn close to some of the hottest stuff I ever ate. I must remember to ask them what they marinate the mutton with the next time I visit. It was some seriously potent shit.

Phoebe, on the other hand,

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It was so freaking funny. Her face was completely flushed and her forehead, bridge of nose and cheeks were sweating profusely - in full air-conditioning! (especially in the other picture which she wouldn't let me post up). Her eyes were definitely a bit watery and her lower eyelids were puffed. She drank up a quarter of her glass of water after every bite, and the smirking waiter was practically standing by with the jug ready to dispense refills. And through all that, she kept insisting to me just how much she loves spicy food, totally refusing to throw in the towel and surrender.

I can't wait to challenge her to a wasabi eating contest back in Malaysia later. That promises to be one heckuva funny face-off.

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Vae victis!
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, December 07, 2007

Limerickish Scallywaggery

"You know the happiest day of my life
I swear the happiest day of my life
Is the day that I die"

The Day That I Die (2002) by Good Charlotte

I love this song. It's so unnecessarily morbid. Yet upbeat.

Here's the sequel to a story I hope you remember
Of that bitch Socks and her babies back in October
She had a lair
It was under a stair
And she owned that little hole till early December

Then along came Mom and her little brood
And kicked Socks and her litter out of the 'hood
And ever since then
Mom lives in the den
Now she's stuck there because her ass took root,

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"... I am pleased to announce that the coup d'état is a barking success," said Mom in a press conference.

"Doesn't it make a difference that Sock's is your daughter?"
"That her kids are your grandkids?" asked a pesky reporter
Mom thinks for awhile
And gave doggy smile
Saying "Dog eat dog, hon - and that's all that should matter."

Beans, Mom's second-in-command - she disagrees
With her mother's aggressive invasion policies
So she packed her stuff
And left in a huff
And now she sleeps with the enemies,

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Beans (top right), quite literally sleeping with the enemy.

The rest of Mom's puppies then followed Bean's defection
Turned tails and ambled off to join the opposing faction
Together they cry,
"Now we are five!"
Then promptly lost interest and took a nap in mid-action,

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"Viva la resistanZZZZZ..."

Okay, okay - enough lame shit rhyme for today. I got a Microbiology practical exam in the morrow so I'll just caption the rest of the pictures and leave them at that. Back in October, we started out with eleven yipping furballs.

Since then, one got pupnapped while the other five
They died in the valiant attempt to stay alive
So a la Survivor
A two tribe merger
And the puppy quintet sang, "We Will (hopefully) Survive!"

Sorry. Couldn't resist. That was seriously the last one, I promise.

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From left to right: Beans, Spot, Pup 1 (who looks like Patches), Pup 2 (who always look so deadpan), and Pup 3 (who is damn antisocial).

Beans, Spot and Pup 3 belongs to Mom while the other two are Sock's. I wonder if they take turns feeding the kids, but guess that don't really matter since they have taken to gobbling solids (ugh, wholly unintentional rhyming here).

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Beans: "I shall seet on yew."
Pup 2: *Unflinching deadpan stare*

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"Hi, I is Beans."

By the way, I think I've found a new favourite. Meet Spot,

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Spot: "Zombie pup is gonna eet your brain!" *sink teeth into head* "Grrr... Ngam ngam ngam..."
Beans: "ZZZZZZ..."

I call her Spot because - well obviously because of that white splotch on her butt.

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*Raises eyebrows*

I also like the fact that her four stubby feet seems to be wearing plaster casts. And the orange brow dots.

And that tail! Don't get even get me started on the tail!

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Emo Pup sez "Go away... Let me emo."

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Full body shot.

Plus, she doesn't have that scruffy unwashed look that stray tend to have - she's so velvety. I'm seriously thinking of keeping her for real.

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"I'm behind your pants, stealing your laces."

Will write limericks for soup,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Came Early This Year

"Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born king."

Charles Wesley

Of course, those aren't the original words of his song. The old lyrics started with "Hark! how all the welkin rings."
Now you know why they changed it.

Yesterday, I was at the Bread of Life Ministry on Yin Yee's invitation for an extra early Christmas bash this year at their new church over at the Trade Centaur (yes, you read right, - it's spelt that way),

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Indian Engrish.

I can think of a couple of reasons why they have decided to celebrate Jesus' birthday on the 1st of December instead of on the good ol' two five. Considering that the party slash variety concert theme is 'Real Christmas', it might very well be an indirect subversion of all the secular and commercial "traditions" that have sprung up globally over the centuries (a big, fat, jolly man in Coca Cola colours comes to mind), and an attempt to bring back the real reason for the joy of the season; the Birth of Christ. After all, why not rejoice His coming onto planet Earth on any old day everyday if he's that important to you, right? The second reason is less to-save-the-world-from-its-stupidity-ish - the KMC students won't be around for the regular winter solstice Christmas.

Oh incidentally, I took my very first elevator ride this year with Hua Min - a lamb from the Bread of Life's flock who I met on the ground floor of the Centaur - because I didn't know which floor the church is on. It's just some stupid vow I made at the beginning of the year to get more exercise for myself. But it got stuck at the floor we were suppose to get out. The doors opened an inch apart, and stopped abruptly - along with the warm hum of the machinery.

Getting stuck in an elevator in the first elevator ride I took in a year - God must have assigned some really lousy, third-rate screenwriter to do my life story. The intercom and the distress bell were both out of order. I actually laughed out loud because the whole series of coincidences was, frankly, quite hilarious to me. Hua Min was not amused.

Fortunately, it started moving again to the ground floor, where more church girls got on in spite of Huamin's and my warnings. One girl simply said, 'It works fine. It just doesn't open on the second floor. You just need to ride it up to the third floor and then hit the stairs. Some Satanists sabotaged the works.' I made up the last bit, of course. For some reason, I really did half-expect her to add something like that. Sigh, people are just not fun these days.

I also wonder just how often Hua Min goes to church to not know about the elevator glitch.

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Her name is Lemon. Addendum: this is a picture of her before we got together.

At the entrance, I ran into Phoebe and she was giving out some... err... tinselly, glittery... thingies to arriving guests. It was the first time I saw her in a saree.

Cute, ain't she?

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Jolly St. Nick.

Things kicked off with Nickson and the church band performing a few Jesus songs - and damn, I didn't know that Nick can sing so well!

Well, actually I did know. Every night when I walk past his house, I can hear him singing and playing his guitar. It's his way of praying, he told me.

You'll have to excuse the quality of the pictures in this post. They tend to be somewhat grainy and messed up chromatically, because I didn't want to use the flash and disturb the performers. Photoshop can only salvage so much.

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Flute dude and flute chick.

The thing I really didn't know was that Yin Yee can play the flute. And afterwards, Yin Yee stepped back and flute dude launched into an amazing Amazing Grace solo.

Next up was a slightly-revised skit by Lester based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son by Jesus (Luke 15:11-32), and the actors were that-batch-17-guy-whose-name-I-don't-know - and our very own Microbiology lecturer, Mr. Anand,

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Mr. Anand plays God/Dad.

It's a pity that I already know which parable they were talking about right after I've heard the first line - it's kind of like watching the same movie twice, but it's worth the price of admission just to watch Anand freak out and go "MY SON!" at the prodigal son returneth bit of the skit. Not that I had to pay any admission, of course - the Bread of Life Ministry paid for everything, fruit cake, drinks, tinselly glittery thingies and all (I'm eating the candy they gave out yesterday right this moment as I write). I simply must ask them where they bought those butterscotch flavoured ones.

One thing I did realise was the number of hot chicks affiliated with the church,

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Holy Thriller.

Almost made me want to renounce all my pagan ways and embrace God right there and then. Same reason why I attended my first ever camp at the local Seck Kia Eenh, and subsequently became a practising Buddhist. Like I always say, if you must have motives, have questionable ones. I am still in my early twenties - I still retain my teenage right to remain stupid.

Of course, no Christmas themed shindig is ever complete without breaking out the choir,

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"Joy to the world, tra-la-la-la..."

One of the things I often do is watch other people's expression when they are singing hymns in church, and watch the conviction and passion written all over their happy faces. There's a secret joy, a happiness, a sense of being of free from all the doubts, disbelief, insecurities and semantics (well, maybe not semantics) the rest of us are saddled with.

Oh well.

And finally, an exit performance by the church's rawk stars!

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Lester and That Other Guy. That's not a red thong Yin Yee was holding. Or was it?

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La décoration intérieure.

I was told that the volunteers worked way into the night glitzing up the simple, little church in anticipation of the big bash, not to mention all the time they spent rehearsing for the awesome performances of the night - all to spread a little bit of that cheer and joy that I see so often on their faces. There's something quite moving about their willingness to try and share, and spread the love.

Anyway, before I end this post, there's just one more thing,

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Reverend Edward Francis.

Midway through the night's programme, the pastor (and founder of the Bread of Life Ministry) took to the stage to speak to us on the subject of Christmas, and shared a verse with us from the Book of Luke chapter two that went something like this,

"... the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Saviour was born..."

He started off by letting us identify with him, telling us the story of how he used to be an idealistic young man who thought that Christianity is a whole lot of hogwash - until he discovered the great joy of accepting Christ into his life. He related his efforts to us, about how he would talk to anyone who would listen about the Good Word everywhere he went (which apparently included speaking at train stations and inside the railway cars too). He described the hardships of people ridiculing and even hating him for his choice of faith, and how most of his relatives do not share his beliefs.

Next, he tell us about how Christianity is for everyone ("... to all the people...") and that it didn't matter if you aren't Jewish, American, English or any of the races which us Asians typically associate with the religion, citing an example of the opposing view of a scientifically-inclined individual who would think that Christianity is 'for people that aren't intelligent', to quote the good reverend. He went on (quite to my surprise) to allude that intelligent people think that they should believe in the theory of evolution because it reinforces their identity of being smart.

Then, at the crux of his speech, he pulled out a shocker. He said that Charles Darwin himself converted to Christianity and recanted his ideas on his deathbed.

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It's not a red thong after all. Sheesh.

Or at least, it would have been a shocker if I haven't already heard that nigh a thousand times by various people who were - shall we say - disapproving of my belief in Darwin's theory? What the reverend referred to was the infamous Lady Hope story, which have, by large, been discredited. The strongest evidence against it, in my opinion, is the dismissal of the story as pure fabrication by Henrietta, Darwin's daughter who was present in Darwin's last days (in spite of her being a Christian herself and was pained by her father's irreligious ideas), and that view is shared by the other members of the household. Not that any of this matter to me, of course. Whether Darwin believes in his own ideas or not does not subtract anything from the fact that it's still a damn good theory.

The pastor's speech started off great, and he was pleasant to listen to. He was earnest. He shared with us his experiences. He told us about his beliefs. He expressed his opinions of human nature. Then, he recounted a story that has been universally considered to be false (or disputed - whichever floats your dinghy) - and that, in my opinion, casted a hue of questionability on the other things he said before that. I'm sure that in debators' and speech-makers' lingo, that would be termed as "Stravovaski's Blunder" or "Demosthene's Oratory Suicide" or some other equally cool names.

I have nothing against the pastor, nor do I think that his integrity is suspect - I am quite sure that he merely repeated the story after hearing it from someone else and neglected to check its veracity. It's like how some of my Muslim friends always tell me that Neil Armstrong converted to Islam after he heard the Azan from the moon (he personally denied it publicly), and how a few of my Christian friends said that national hero Datuk Azhar Mansur converted to Christianity and moved to the Land of Auz (publicly denied too last year by the Datuk, who's in Langkawi right now). I've decided to write about this because I simply have quite enough of that Darwin myth rearing it's ugly head up again and again in Creationism vs. Evolution debates - even though it really shouldn't have any pertinence on either ideologies' proponents' opinions.

I really did enjoy the way Pastor Francis talked though. His intonations and inflections in speech was reminiscent of the popular stereotype of TV evangelists that go, "Belieeeeeve in Jesus-ah, and you shall be saved-ah," and I would certainly love to hear him speak again someday. I've heard a lot of nice things about him before this - and after meeting him for real and shaking his hand, I find that I couldn't help liking the man too.

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The Christmas Tree.

Anyway, thanks for having me over for the Christmas bash. Here's a shout out to all the people over at the Bread of Life Ministry for working so hard to make this pah-tay such an awesome success!

Happy birthday, Jesus.

And Merry Christmas, y'all.

Sincerely so,
k0k s3n w4i