Chubby Jackey

Rattray’s was established in Scotland back in 1903; here’s my latest acquisition:

Rattray

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My Thoughts on Nur Diana Muhammad Ismail and Denise Phua

Little India, December, 2013.

Little India, December, 2013.

36-year old Nur Diana Muhammad Ismail had wanted to hold a fair selling apparel at Tampines 1’s atrium in May just before the start of the fasting month.

The email from the mall that says “We are not so keen to run a Malay road show as our target audience is mainly Chinese. Thus, we regret to inform you that we are unable to rent a space to you” upset her so much she made a police report.

Member of Parliament Denise Phua, when speaking about crowds in Little India said “congregations of such high density are walking time-bombs and public disorder incidents waiting to happen.”

And people got upset. The media reported that it caused “an uproar.”

Now, let’s get a few things straight.

First, that email was rude and terse. The writer could have worded it differently. But rude and terse emails are the order of the day, not that such a tone makes it right. (You should see the mails I received!) The fact that it was email (it means “electronic mail”) often necessitates a quick, short, to-the-point reply. To many, an email is often regarded as a message slightly longer than a SMS text, or a tweet. And like all forms of electronic communication using limited texts, emails are often misunderstood and cause a reaction because they are often devoid of warmth or any feeling – except negative ones for some reason – that accompany them. If the mall person has any brains and is not an idle, lazy sloth, he or she would have picked up the phone to explain the mall’s side of the story to the woman. In the olden days, the mall representative may even invite the woman for a chat over a cup of coffee to explore various other options with her. After all, the mall owner also operates other malls and it is just plain stupidity in the current economic conditions to turn away business, any business. It’s all about EQ, basic courtesy, and being commercial-minded. Unfortunately, too many retards today think they can solve the world’s problems with just an email.

As for Nur Diana Muhammad Ismail making a police report, my humble opinion is that she has over reacted. Yes, if I were in her shoes, I’ll be pissed too. But will I be so enraged as to make a police report? Well, I can’t say for sure but what I can say for sure, is a question, and that question is what will the police do after receiving my report? She has already used social media to vent her frustrations and to air her anger. To be honest, that’s a lot more effective and therapeutic than running to the police station to make a report, in my opinion, that is.

Next, Denise Phua.

Her concerns are valid. Let’s not forget the riot in 2013 when 300 migrant workers from India caused destructive havoc for two solid hours in Little India, 25 emergency vehicles were damaged and five were set on fire. Video footage uploaded on the Internet shows rioters pushing police cars on their sides and setting an ambulance on fire. Let’s not forget that 39 police, four civil defense and auxiliary officers were injured.

Let’s also not forget that this was the second riot in post-independence Singapore, and the first in over 40 years since the 1969 race riots. Think of the damage it did to our reputation as a country. Such acts of civil disobedience could lead to our Götterdämmerung.

And let’s not forget why alcohol is now banned in Little India.

Take note that Denise Phua did not specficially refer to the Indian migrant workers frequenting Little India on weekends and packing the place like sardines as walking time-bombs, but she couldn’t have used a better expression, in my opinion, and no apology from her is necessary. And it’s an expression, a figure of speech, not meant to be taken literally. She didn’t mean that there are Indian foreign workers in Little India on weekends walking around with self-detonating bombs, timed to explode at certain times, strapped to their bodies.

For goodness sake, if your English is so bad, take advantage of the SkillsFuture Credit scheme and brush up on your English lah!

Plus, come on, let’s not all be so hypersensitive.

Feel discriminated against? Go report police. Pissed off with a term used by an MP concerned about her constituents’ safety, cause an uproar. Hey, report police and post on Facebook leh.

Not enough chilli in our bak chor mee? Report police! Post on Facebook!

Cockles in char kway teow not fresh enough? Report police! Post on Facebook!

Air-conditioning in FairPrice Supermarket too cold? Report police! Post on Facebook!

Weather too hot? Report police! Post on Facebook!

It rains every day? Report police! Post on Facebook!

Toilet not flushing? Report police! Post on Facebook!

Wedding photographs turned out shitty? Report police! Post on Facebook! (Obviously the couple should have considered cosmetic surgery, or just cosmetics – lots and lots of cosmetics!)

Anyway, you think the police got nothing better to do ah?

What the fuck are we?

Wimps and pussies?

If you want to be a crybaby, hire a babysitter lah!

And make sure she sticks that pacifier in your mouth!

Permanently.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on My Thoughts on Nur Diana Muhammad Ismail and Denise Phua

Reply to David Ong

Received this from my Member of Parliament, David Ong:

David Ong's letter.

David Ong’s letter.

My reply:

Dear David

Thank you for your letter – in four languages no less – which I found in my mailbox last week. My mailbox’s anti-junk mail catch was engaged but yet your letter was in there. Did you pay SingPost – they have the master key – to do a mass mailing?

And, by the way, may I call you “David” instead of “Mr Ong”? I mean, you are as human as the rest of us, aren’t you? Plus “David” has a nice, folksy ring to it. Brings people closer to you, right?

As for being as human as the rest of us, I’m sure you are, and that’s probably one reason why you got yourself in such a, ahem, sticky, gooey mess.

Your apology is appreciated but utterly unnecessary.

You’ve reiterated that you have already apologized – once to my fellow Bukit Batok residents, and again in your subsequent apologies through the media – so why do you need to apologize again? How many times do you need to apologize? Or should I ask “How many times do you WANT to apologize?” There’s a big difference between needs and wants, I was taught since young. Some are saying that your repeated apologies tantamount to flaunting about your extramarital affair, others think you are trying hard to assuage your guilt.

As for me, truth be told, I have long written you off but the thought that, despite the fact that you have already resigned, yet trees were chopped and tax payers’ money spent, so that your letter of apology could be spammed into every mailbox in the constituency; rammed down my esophagus, has re-ignited dormant anger in me, to put it mildly.

A number of things upset me, David.

First, when you were an MP, I have never met you. Perhaps I am one of those in your constituency who have no real need to have a face-to-face meeting with you. So I supposed not having met you is ok. Oh, lest I forget, I did see you once at the market, you were like a celebrity surrounded by a whole bunch of minders as you blazed through the market like a whirlwind. You seemed so busy and in such a hurry and at that time, I thought if I had a real need to meet you, it must have been rather difficult. You were enveloped by a shield of protectors who seemed very determined to keep you away from hoi polloi like me. I also thought to myself how lucky I am because I can talk to God any time I want, but with MPs, one can never know. I hear you need to take a queue number and wait for hours and so on. Wow, bloody impressive.

Secondly, in the larger scheme of things, your little naughty misadventure – or should I say adventure? – pales by comparison to the important issues of our times. David, people are losing their jobs, the economy is not as vibrant as it used to be, brand-name retailers are pulling out of Singapore, terrorism is a real threat. Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam has already publicly warned that it’s not a matter of if, but when, Singapore will be attacked by religious extremists. Last Friday, The Straits Times even screamed that the home turf has now become the new battlefield. We are on tenterhooks, actually. I am nervous. Parliament just revealed that more soldiers – soldiers, mind you – will be seen in public patrolling. We live in a world with clear and present danger. No one cares about brats from inner circles quarreling like kids over newspaper columns that got edited because it was shittily cobbled together or heavily plagiarized and believe me, no one cares who’s copulating who, David.

But you chose to dwell on your affair, yet again. Oh, come on. Seriously, you think people really care where you dipped your dick in?

Thirdly, you may be contrite and all, but why beat yourself on the head repeatedly? So you had an affair, you have confessed, asked for privacy for your family, so move on, for goodness sake. Focus on your wife – she is the one who is hurting the most. Think of your children – they won’t know where to put their faces. No need to remind everyone in the public arena that while we were all working hard, making ends meet, you were happily humping a grassroot leader. We are already so envious, and feeling like losers when some of us who look like Korean soap-opera stars still have to resort to taking matters into our own hands via onanism (David, that word means “masturbation”) while balding uncles like you get to screw pretty women. Enough lah!

Perhaps you feel good with some self-chastisement but this is not a communist country, there is no need for self-criticism or self-flagellation. Get on with your life, David.

Moreover, if you are really sorry and remorseful, don’t just waste paper and waste words, go take refuge in a temple, shave bald, wear sackcloth, rub ashes on your face, be a monk, stay celibate, become vegetarian, study theology, meditate in the mountains, join a church, be a pastor, do whatever works, and really really atone.

I mean, come on, David, let’s be honest. If not for Wendy’s husband “complaining” to the powers that be about your trysts with Wendy (ah Wendy, Wendy, what a nice name) you two would have carried on, and on, right? I am a man too David, and many of us have had Wendies in our lives as well. We know what this is all about. It’s so addictive, isn’t it, this business of furtive glances, sneaky rendezvous, quickies whenever there’s an opportunity, blah, blah, blah. “Serious error of judgment” indeed. The phrase should apply to Wendy’s husband really. What a wimp! Other men would have just bashed you up but this ball-less cuckold went to file a compliant instead! Anyway I digressed. I was about to say let’s call a spade a spade, David. You two were fornicating behind your respective spouses’ backs, for crying out loud. Anyway, maybe you were just unfortunate to belong to a political party that prides itself in being as ethically pure and as pristine white as the “uniforms” you all wear, high moral grounds and all that horseshit, so no choice, you must do the honorable thing, you must be let go ala Michael Palmer.

Fourthly, your esteemed colleague helming the health ministry has already merrily declared in parliament that we don’t have a culture of naming and shaming. Instead ours is a culture of learning. In one fell stroke, he absolved himself of all accountability and distanced himself from all of his ministry’s wrongdoings. Well, then learn, dear David. Learn! Mas Selamat got away and that shorty, that Rumpelstiltskin-like minister, another uncle like you, continued smiling while some fall guys took the rap. In some countries for the recent hospital Hep C infection fiasco, the health minister would have stepped down by now; by the same token, some other countries’ transport minister would have resigned in the face of that recent unfortunate accident at the train tracks when two of our able-bodied young men were cut down in their prime while attempting to carry out maintenance work. But did anyone at the top assumed accountability? No, because that’s not our culture. Well, maybe we should stop naming criminals when our newspapers report about them huh? Or does not naming wrongdoers only apply to a select few? What do I know? I’m just another nobody, another parasite hanging out at local kopitiams, incoherently voicing my wild, uneducated thoughts.

So David, please, enough is enough. This gets very tiring, if you know what I mean.

Come to think of it, if enough is not enough, well and good for you, isn’t it? Now that you don’t have to appear in virginal and immaculate white and act like a saint, you can have many more Wendies in your life. No need to keep your pecker in your pants anymore, right?

Whatever it is, David, it’s your life.

I’m busy trying to eke out a living in these difficult times.

So please, please, don’t irritate the hell out of me again, please.

Sincerely,
Lohcifer (a Bukit Batok resident).

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Reply to David Ong

Tiger’s Nest

The Tiger's Nest Monastery.

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

For once I am at a loss for words.

You have to experience Bhutan to know it for yourself.

No picture can do it justice.

The beautiful mountainous Himalayan kingdom is truly a Shangri-La. (Television didn’t arrive till 1999.)

Magical Bhutan.

Magical Bhutan.

There is so much I can say about Bhutan, but words are sorely inadequate.

Seriously, you’ll have to visit to experience what my wife Yuyin and I experienced.

My wife and I traveled to Bhutan with Druk Asia, Bhutan Travel Specialist and General Sales Agent for Drukair, Bhutan’s national airline.

It was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

This is a wonderland full of colorful cherry blossoms, fragrant pine forests, harrowing suspension bridges, ornate temples, magnificent dzongs, beautiful architecture, awe-inspiring sceneries, dangerous mountain roads (with thousands of turns and curves and sharp hairpin bends) and unique national costumes (only the men get to show their legs).

The kingdom is secluded in the eastern Himalayas between India and Tibet and is about the same size as Switzerland. It was isolated from the outside world for three centuries. (Tourists were allowed in only from the 70’s onwards.) Prior to that, Bhutan was inaccessible.

Though often thought of as one of the least developed countries of the world, this does not reflect the reality of life there. The economic condition of the Bhutanese cannot be compared with that of inhabitants of Africa or other parts of Asia who fall in the same category. Some 95% of Bhutanese peasants own their land, housing is of generally good quality, there is no famine and there are no beggars.

Bhutan exudes charm.

Slaughtering of animals is forbidden and all meat is imported. All vegetables and fruits are organic.

The strange-looking takin, a giant antelope, described by some as looking like a bee-stung moose, is Bhutan’s national animal and is protected by law.

Bee-stung moose.

Bee-stung moose.

The national dish is a very tasty dish of chillies cooked in yak cheese and eaten with red rice.

Bhutan has excellent beer and whisky too.

Yak cheese being sold at the market.

Yak cheese being sold at the market.

Despite its’ hilly terrains and mountainous landscape, electricity reaches almost the entire kingdom.

Maximum forestation is a national goal, and every tree felled must be replaced by three. Presently, 72% of Bhutan is covered with virgin forest, making it the only carbon negative country in the world.

Education and healthcare is free.

People are friendly and good looking. Our encyclopedic guide Chunjur is a blessing – an eloquent and articulate young man who speaks several language including fluent Korean, he is a fount of knowledge and information and was extremely caring and patient with us.

We will also never forget the friendly Passang Drukgyel, the owner of the only hotel (14 rooms) in Lobesa. He gave us his best room and made it a point to banter with us at breakfast.

And at Metta Resort and Spa, owned by a Malaysian lady, Sharine, and her husband Tshering Togbay, we enjoyed the best massages ever. Tshering Togbay made it a point to speak to us at every mealtime. He even offered to cook us nasi lemak and bak kut teh and on the day of our departure, Teochew porridge was prepared for us at 5am in the morning.

The Bhutanese men are handsome and the women beautiful. I have never seen so many good looking people before. Members of the royal family all look like K-pop stars – sans makeup and plastic surgery!

George Bogle wrote in 1774 that the Bhutanese “are the best built race of men I ever saw.”

But you need to be fit to visit this kingdom where Gross National Happiness is priced above GDP.

Every place of interest requires a steep ascent. Hence, if like me, you have a bad back, and huff and puff, Bhutan can be a challenge for you.

My wife and I were also at the snowy Chele La Pass, which at 3,988 meters above sea level is the highest road pass in Bhutan. The temperature was minus 2 Celsius when we were there and strong winds blew my phone off my hand when I tried to take a selfie with Yuyin. The view was breathtaking, it swept away to the snow-dome of Bhutan’s second highest mountain, Mount Jhomothari (7,314 meters) and down to the unspoilt Haa Valley, which only allowed foreigners to visit in 2002 due to its proximity to the border with Sikkim and Tibet.

A building in Haa.

A building in Haa.

A most remarkable spot in Bhutan is Paro Taktsang, the popular name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest), a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. The temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. He is believed to have landed there on a flying tiger – actually his consort Yeshey Tshogyal in a different manifestation – hence the name Tiger’s Nest.

You could go up on horseback but if I were to reach the monastery, as a matter of personal pride, I would want to do it on my own stamina, and not by using “horsepower.”

But Yuyin, being fit and full of vigor, trekked all the way up while I sat on a rock at base camp, chatting with the rugged old ladies who kept horses for those who wanted to use them. Yuyin’s entire sojourn (to and fro) took four hours. All in all, according to our guide (who kept count) my dear wife walked 17,705 steps, covering 12.1 kilometers and 106 floors to reach 3,192 meters above sea level!

“Was it worth it?” I asked.

Her reply “You bet!”

I couldn’t agree with her more.

There may be a Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, but the simplicity and friendliness of its people, the boundless hospitality we experienced and the great warmth that greeted us everywhere we went, remind us more of being in a home-like cocoon of comfort, a love nest, if you will.

It is a safe haven we long to return to some day in the future.

See you soon, Bhutan!

Perhaps we will live out our sunset years there.

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The King who Meant Business

The view at Dochula.

The view at Dochula.

In this day and age, can you find a king who will personally lead his army to war?

Well, the 4th King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck – affectionately known as the Druk Gyalpo – did in 2003.

Indian rebels from Assam, wanting their separate state have been camping in Bhutan territory for over 10 years in order to launch attacks into India. This made life difficult for the 65,000 Bhutanese living in the affected area.

The handsome King Jigme Singye Wangchuk of the tiny, land-locked, sparsely populated Himalayan kingdom of 700,000 tried negotiating with the rebels and even offered to pay them off but they continued to occupy Bhutanese lands from which they launched their acts of terrorism towards India.

According to our guide, the last straw came when some Bhutanese school girls were massacred by the rebels while trekking in the area.

India then offered to come into Bhutan to clear the rebels, but the wise king knew that if the Indians were allowed to come in, they may never leave. I am sure the king was well aware of what India did to Nagaland, Sikkim and Ladakh, so in 2003, the then 48-year-old king led an assault himself and drove the rebels out.

It was a successful campaign but 108 Bhutanese soldiers lost their lives.

Ah Bhutan!

My wife Yuyin and I traveled to Bhutan with Druk Asia, Bhutan Travel Specialist and General Sales Agent for Drukair, Bhutan’s national airline. We were in this most extraordinary of countries of dizzying beauty from March 10th to 16th this year and among other places, we visited the Dochula pass, located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass. These were built as a memorial in honor of the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in the December 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India.

The wise and much-loved king abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006.

Chortens

The Chortens.

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Lattice by Baki

Lattice

Can’t enough of meerschaum pipes – this latest addition is custom-made for me by Fikri Baki, a veteran meerschaum pipe carver of 25 years, from Turkey.

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Thanks for the Memories

PaveseGoodbyes are often said with a tinge of sadness. After all, some partings are permanent.

Friends who turn around and wave farewell are some of the people you will never meet again…

Back in 1986, when Amazon was still a river to Singaporeans, I started smoking my pipe on Saturday mornings at a café at Wheelock Place. Friends started dropping by, bringing their pipes and cigars, and the genesis of a “club” began. We continued to meet there until space for us became a problem and at least five years ago, (perhaps much earlier, I cannot remember exactly when), we moved to another one of the café’s many outlets, this time at Orchard Point.

During those years, the “club” expanded to include a motley bunch of “members”:

The dear friend from Germany who visits a few times yearly. Highly-opinionated, yet highly entertaining.

A self-proclaimed professor with an oversized ego who could not divulge the source of his professorship – anyway, he found us too lowbrow and left shortly after.

The Jesus-lookalike who showed up only if he knew someone was going to buy lunch that day. This doppelgänger of Christ considers Japanese single malts “dross.”

The PhD with sticky fingers – things would disappear into his bag, nothing is too small or too big a target for him, entire bottles of wine have made their way into his bag.

The ungrateful Italian who was the recipient of our immense generosity but for some unknown reason, turned his back on us and stopped coming. One excuse was he would like to spend whatever free time he has with his son, as if his son would drop dead any moment.

The “politician” who allegedly backstabbed his boss (with the help of our very own Grima Wormtongue) and asked to be removed from the group. His boss sprang back, ever stronger, and hired his elder brother. Yeah, what the fuck, right? The same character then hired one of us to work for him.

Some things in this world, I can never understand. Lesson: don’t burn bridges unless you’re the type you pray “May the bridges I burn light my way.”

The grumpy French woman who will condemn Singapore the moment she sits down till she leaves. Yet she’s been living here for years, and is married to a Singapore man. Yeah, what the fuck again, right?

The medical professional who is a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist all at the same time, who, whenever he shows up, tells blasphemous jokes about religion, laughs at Muslims who observe Ramadan, denounces the Singapore government and tells stories denigrating women. Talk about being politically incorrect! He was advised not to come anymore.

The irritant who got on everyone’s nerves. He, as well, was advised not to ever show up again.

The annoying dumbass with zero EQ, but with Parkinson-like symptoms (and whose IQ is smaller than his shoe size) who would regale the group with explicit tales of his supposed sexual conquests that happened 40 years ago, not that anyone has ever indicated interest. This blowhard king stopped dropping by when he was approached by one of us for a donation to a charitable cause.

The somewhat eccentric multimillionaire who owns factories, drives a BM 7 series, lives in a house whose smallest toilet is bigger than my maisonette and is generous to a fault but would park a mile away to save on parking.

The perfectionist of a lawyer, who seems to return every other pipe he has bought, because of some real or imagined flaw or other.

The ex-cop who is never without his baseball cap.

There were and are of course other memorable characters than those I mentioned:

The old foul-mouthed German who retired and has gone back to his homeland.

The very well-liked youngish Chinese American who returned to the US.

The somewhat youngish, not as well-liked Chinese Canadian, a big talker and happy camper who spouts lots of funny crap, who has suddenly metamorphosed into a cigar merchant, though I’ve not seen a single stick of his cigar.

The handsome Dutch fellow with the film star demeanor who was posted to Malaysia.

The Irish boy with a great sense of humor who was transferred to Hong Kong.

The Canadian, a cycling enthusiast, who has decided to settle down in Thailand.

The wealthy private banker who had to quit smoking cigars or his wife will divorce him.

(He quit but she divorced him anyway.)

The Aussie who quit the hobby altogether. But seeing that he re-married his ex-wife, who knows, he may come back to this hobby again one day.

The affable Peranakan, connoisseur of all of life’s good stuff who can never remember the name of the tobacco he’s smoking. “I don’t know, I don’t know. Don’t ask me,” is his usual refrain. The word “himbo” (inspired by “bimbo”) comes to mind.

The IT guy from India who gave up pipe smoking because he had “bad luck with lighters.” He now smokes cigars. (Hmm, what does he use to light them?)

The black bodybuilder and part time model who can no longer make it on Saturday mornings because that’s when all his clients want him.

The well-loved Texan who passed away suddenly, rather tragically.

The much-loved woman member who also passed away suddenly and tragically.

There are quite a few other regulars from that place that are forever etched onto our collective memory:

The old man who would walk pass every Saturday morning since God knows when and scrutinize us but only started to say “hi” late last year. Phew.

Another old man who would walk by and glare at us while muttering to himself and grinning away like an idiot.

The well-endowed gal whose mighty assets would make Dolly Parton blush.

Some China guy who would look into the trash bin, uses a mini torch to peer into it and then retrieves whatever he fancies.

The Japanese chef who never fails to wave and greet us cheerfully as he makes his way to his restaurant with bags of produce.

The handicapped fellow in that motorized bike who would stopped to beg for cigarettes. None of us are cigarette smokers and so we have none to offer him. That didn’t prevent him from trying though. Hats off to his persistence.

The kind fellow who always move to another table so that our group members could all sit together.

The former bartender from Mandarin, another elderly gentleman, who would saunter by and tell us bad jokes and who would refuse to go away.

The dark-complexioned guy who has completely lost it and would appear each time in one of his many schizophrenic personas.

Employees from stores in nearby Centrepoint who won’t buy anything but would plonk themselves in the seats of the café and smoke and drop their filthy cigarette ashes all over the floor despite ashtrays on the tables.

An old ang moh guy with white hair who has been there ever since we were there – the world’s unfriendliest son of a bitch who would show up with a scowl and stare at everyone through his sunglasses. Imagine meeting every Saturday year after year and not a smile. I am not a gambling man, but I bet you this with my last cent: the day he smiles, Singapore will snow.

A younger ang moh with much the same behavior and attitude – spying at everyone through his sunglasses while pretending to be busy with his iPad.

The grouchy, old, anorexic and terribly-wrinkled ang moh woman who behaves as if she would open fire with a machine gun anytime to mow everyone down. Hatred emanates from her eyes, she has only disdain for everyone but herself.

The bag lady who struts by with her entire belongings in a supermarket trolley and who curses at anyone smoking a pipe or cigar.

The cheerful café staff nicknamed “Miss Awesome” because she would preface every sentence she uttered with “Awesome!” and end every sentence with “Awesome!” too.

The retards working at the other café next door who do nothing to tell unsuspecting customers that they have walked into the wrong establishment.

Singapore, being what it is, people already come and go all the time anyway.

But now, we have to say goodbye not just to the people but also to the place.

The café, from April 1st, will no longer be a suitable place for our gatherings.

And we have started to search for a new home.

They say goodbyes can be sad.

Well, not always.

I’m quite excited about our new home, actually.

A place does not define the club, its members do, right?

“Dawn will come even when the rooster is strangled.” – Kim Young-sam, one-time president of South Korea.

Posted in Places in the Heart | Comments Off on Thanks for the Memories

2016’s Forum Pipes

PUM2016

The German-based Forum of which I am a member has been issuing it’s own pipes since 2010, and I have been collecting them.

Picture above shows this year’s pipes, again hand-crafted by Danish pipe carver of great renown, Poul Winslow.

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A Seediq Cigarillo Holder

Seediq

This interesting-looking bamboo cigarillo holder is made by a member of the Seediq, a Taiwanese aboriginal people who live primarily in Nantou County and Hualien County of Taiwan.

They were officially recognized as Taiwan’s 14th indigenous group in 2008.

This is a gift from David, whose mum hails from the tribe.

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So Far This is the Oldest I’ve Ever Been

This sure beats candles!

This sure beats candles!

A moderately-popular TV actor who left for Hong Kong and China years ago was written up in the press recently. He’s back for a short-term acting stint and to see his son off to National Service. He has white hair now and looks rather different from those days when I used to see him on local TV.

How time flies.

A dear friend from New Zealand wrote to wish me happy birthday, and remarked that he’s 20 years older than me.

How time flies.

Our friends’ children have boyfriends and girlfriends now, some have gotten married. This time next year, I’ll be 60.

How time flies.

Where did all the years go?

Many years didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, but to regret and lament is of no use. The past (and its regrets) have no basis in the present. Regrets are fine only insomuch as they keep us humble, but to dwell on them is poison to the soul. Rather, I look ahead and try to ensure that what’s left will be better than what has passed.

I must overcome my malaise, conquer my fear, tame my anxiety and paranoia and lift the veil of negativity that has shrouded me in the last few years.

Things WILL be better.

Mateens’ gift of a Churchill-size cigar (aged Dominican mixed fillers and an Ecuadoran sungrown wrapper) was a pleasant surprise on Saturday. And Landrick’s gift of a La Aurora Preferdiro Treasure Box also brought me much cheer.

True masterpieces, these cigars from the Dominican Republic are produced only by expert torcedors with a minimum of 15 years’ experience. Each of them will only make 125 cigars per day. The La Aurora Preferido is a perfecto in shape offering a balanced smoke. Each is 5 inches long with a ring gauge of 54 inches. The tobaccos are ripened and aged over a period of at least four years. One year alone is spent curing the tobacco in rum barrels. Once rolled, the Preferidos remain in the aging room for another six to eight months.

Each cigar is encased in a colorful tube; each different colored tube indicates a different wrapper leaf and a correspondingly different smoking pleasure.

Platinum – Cameroon
Gold – Corojo
Ruby – Maduro
Sapphire – Connecticut
Emerald – Ecuadorian Sumatra.

Thanks, Mateen and Landrick!

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