Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dad's 70th Birthday: Celebrations and Surprises!

What exciting celebrations we had for dad's 70th Birthday!

Knowing that he's quite a low-key person and would not organise his own birthday party, I thought of throwing a surprise birthday dinner for him. After discussing with mom and sis, we decided to keep it as a family affairs - ie. have a nice Chinese dinner and invite his siblings and family as well as my mom's side.

To accommodate my sis and brother-in-law who are able to be back only after work on Friday, we decided to hold it on Saturday, after all, his Chinese birthday is not over yet.. I called my two aunts in Singapore and as well my other aunts and uncles in KL. Finally we got 29 people confirmed!

Of course he knew nothing about it. Instead, he thought of calling a few of his close friends over for dinner and drinks, and that happened on Wednesday (and some of them couldn't make it on Fri) And he didn't want to tell them it was for his birthday.

He really had a whale of a time on Wed night - after dinner, they went down for karaoke and really sang and drank the night a way!! Yes, he got pretty drunk...

And on his birthday proper, I told him I would cook him a nice Western meal. Ya, I do like cooking especially Western meals once in a while. :)

Dinner menu:
  • fresh mushroom soup with dinner roll
  • arugula, avocado and aspragus salad
  • ribeye steak with red wine sauce
  • roasted new potatoes
  • buttered baby carrots
  • molten chocolate cake with pecan vanilla ice-cream (no, i didn't make this ;p)
  • red wine, brie with grapes
It was quite fun preparing for dinner and since I've had some experiences (ahem), the timing was pretty perfect and I thought I was quite organised! So everything was ready and dinner was served at 7:30pm sharp as expected!

And dad thought that was it, not knowing that the real two surprises were awaiting him.
He had no idea that my sister would come back for his birthday (it was a secret the whole family hid from him.. )

Earlier in the morning, sis has already sms him to wish him happy birthday and then in the afternoon, called and asked the kids to greet him too - telling him that they were going out that night!

Well, sis and brother-in-law took the late flight home from Hong Kong (as they were working and arrived at about 10pm. It was so funny when she returned dad's call, she was already on the cab home from airport! She even apologised for not being able to be with him on his birthday to which my dad said it's ok..

So, imagine his shock and surprise when my sis and b-i-l turned up at the gate at about 11:25pm! Dad's jaw dropped and his mouth agape. It was something he never thought of! And after hugs and all, I could see he was so touched and happy that tears welded in his eyes..

Dad would have thought was the ultimate birthday surprise for him..

The next day, we acted as usual and since sis and b-i-l were around, it was natural that we planned to go out for a meal. And we told him that the venue has been planned in advance. He was curious but I insisted we wanted to keep it as `secret'..

Of course, all the guests ie. our aunts and uncles from both sides and our cousins had all been informed personally about this surprise dinner and had been playing along with it. I found out that an uncle had to make up stories to dad about the date he was coming over (since he does come here quite often)

I texted the guests to remind them to be there at 7:30pm and we would arrive a bit late.. so dad would be greeted by a sea of people.

Perhaps dad was already elated enough to have sis back to celebrate his birthday with him, he really didn't suspect anything at all. Even when he saw an uncle's car parked at the car park of the restaurant, he just presumed it was a coincidence that they were also dining at the same place!

As we entered Elegant Inn, the restaurant manager played along and even pretended to have mixed up my booking and fumbling to find a table for us, as he led us to a darkened room. When dad pushed open the door, voices shouted `Happy Birthday!' and he was shell shocked as the lights were switched on.

Yes, he was literally stunned for a couple of seconds!

I think dad's reaction was a mixed one - of course he was happy to see all of them, including my two aunts who came specially from Singapore. But knowing him he also felt a bit bad as well.. he never wanted to trouble anyone and has always quite low profil.

But hey it's his 70th birthday after all, and that only happens once in a life time! :D

So all in there were 28 of us, seated in two big tables. It was a time of reunion and good company, to catch up with one another.

Of course, it was a time for feasting and drinking! The food was nice - I had spent some time and effort pondering over the menu and really glad it up to standard. And the service was very good (all included in the rather expensive prices!)

Drink wise, we had dad's favourite - whisky and also a few bottles of red wine.

Finally, we had special homemade birthday cake - a Rum & Raisin Cheesecake - ordered from my friend FBB. It was a really yummy, as extra rum has been added! Everyone loved it!

Besides a few quite hefty angpows, dad also received a beautiful framed painting and a collectable huge bottle of Johnny Walker that's more 20 years old.

But I'm sure, more importantly, it was the family get-together that surely made his birthday extra memorable..

... and not to mention the two big birthday surprises he would never forget! (phew, so glad we pulled it off and I gave myself a pat on my back as the mastermind.)

Happy 70th Birthday (again) dad, and ya, you deserve all the attention!! :D

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another Crime Alert!!

I became the victim of another crime just four months after that `bag snatch' incident! But thank God it's not as bad as it could have been!!

I was driving home after meeting up with a friend for drink and dessert in Cheras - taking that more `logical' toll-free way via Alam Damai home. It was just past 10pm. I stopped at the traffic light junction and noticed there was a motorcycle which headlamp was not on riding at the left side of me and stopped just behind. If I was not mistaken, it was a guy rider with a girl passenger. I didn't really pay much attention to it. There were at least 5-6 cars in front of me at the traffic light.

Then just a couple of second after I stopped, that motorcycle rode up to my left and then the rider, a young Malay guy, started hitting my passenger seat window with some hard object (which i couldn't tell what it was) When the first impact came, I thought he was some kind of a road bully! Then he hit a few times more, very hard, and the window began to `crack' - disintegrating but the glass did not break. It happened so fast and I suddenly realise he was trying to get my handbag on the passenger seat. I quickly grabbed it and then honked loudly. By that time, he had hit the window at least 7-8 times and since it didn't break, he gave up and then sped off!! I couldn't do anything as I was stuck at the traffic - which by then the light had turned green and I could move.. but the motorcyclist had already disappeared!!

The motorist in front of me must have witnessed what happened and slowed down and wound down her window to talk to me.. we got honked by the cars behind. It was a Malay woman and she asked whether I saw the number plate. I didn't and unfortunately she said she didn't as well but she advised me still to make a police report. I drove on with that shattering window and called home and related briefly to my dad what happened and asked him to accompany me to the police station. Noticing that window had a gap at the top, I tried to close it but the moment I pressed the remote, the whole glass fell off inwards!! Argh!! I became extra cautious and thankfully I didn't have to stop at any more traffic light.

Besides mild shocked after what happened, my reaction was that of anger more than feeling scared! I mean, what is our society coming to? Can't people work for a proper living rather than doing immoral, illegal stuff? Have they any conscience?

Thankfully the drive home was another five minutes or so and then dad took over the wheels - I sat at the back and we drove to the police station which happened to be just 200 meters away from the `crime scene'! We spent the next 40 mins or more reporting and waiting to take statement on the phone with the sargent. I took photos with my camera that was in my bag. Here is how it looked like:

Since I couldn't see the motorcycle's model nor the plate number, I know its almost impossible to arrest the culprit. But both my dad and I wanted to report to alert the police of such crime committed just at their backyard!

To think of it, it was really fortunate that my shattered-proof glass has protected me and my bag. I would have been so upset if my bag was taken for this time, I have some RM300 cash (besides the important documents) in my wallet, my beloved camera and the iPod touch my niece gave me! And nothing untoward happened to me. I really thank God for the protection..

But the troublesome thing is I had to get the window fixed - unsure if Nissan has ready stock or not, and then claim insurance etc.. It kinda put a damper to my mood - as tomorrow, or rather today, I would be going for a short holiday to the seaside with my parents.. for some relaxing and recharging.

Oh well, now that the incident had occured, I guess it's also timely that I can get away and just put this behind my mind for a while..

Monday, August 09, 2010

Pondering a `Cross-road'?

Somehow, I feel my life is at some kind of `crossroad' lately..

Perhaps it's to do with work and income - or the lack of it; a small part to do with the end of a relationship; and as a result the roaming of the mind thinking of unfulfilled dreams and aspirations - career, personal, spiritual... and then wondering as we're in the eighth month of 2010 and where my future lies..

I feel kinda lost sometimes.. :(

Yes, I know I am blessed. I don't have to worry about many things. I get to enjoy life as many see it - to pursue my interests, to have freedom to relax while many slog at work, and also hold a `job' that I love.. On top of that, I have God, a loving family, many friends.. so what else do I lack?

Well, blame my personality.... While I know and I'm independent, capable, confident in carrying out whatever I believe I could do, another part of me that I somehow feel I lack control of - I lack motivation, drive, discipline and worst of all self-control... to certain extent.

Ok, so last year I achieved something I am proud of - that that took lots of motivation, drive, discipline and self-control. I managed to lose significant amount of weight and `revamp' my appearance so to speak. But now I'm wondering why I can't translate that to other facets of my life - ie. my career, my ministries in God's kingdom, and general self-improvement which I am so far behind..

By self improvement, I mean things like reading to enhance my knowledge - articles and columns, news, books (i mean even frivolous books I hardly bother to read) but rather, I have been `wasting' too much time on things like Facebook (but thankfully I cut off the games addiction), watching HK series and God knows what else.. And what about the daily devotion time - reading the Bible, praying and meditating, which I so desired to do? Then there's exercise.. I regret to say since CNY, my fitness regime has totally gone down the drain..

It's not like I have been idle either. Just that for about 3-4 months this year, I have channeled my energy/time to something that unfortunately did not work-out.. to put it simply. I guess it's part and parcel of life experience and I'm still gradually picking up the pieces in a way, though life goes on as normal...

And now, after the `extended holiday' of family reunion etc.. and all is back to track, I'm faced with certain dilemmas. Firstly, work wise, what I thought was looking positive one to two months back unfortunately saw changes and I'm losing a current regular contribution as well as a couple of promising prospects. Other works are at best quarterly contribution and others adhoc. It makes me think.. could this be a `sign' that I might want to rethink of my career path? The thing is, I still love writing. In fact, the journalist in me would keep in view of interesting people/places I go.. It's nothing more satisfying to see your writing in print. But these days, I am not doing so much of `original' writing but many compiling, interviews that do not really test my writing skills (so maybe it's good to blog more regularly just to hone the skills.)

What about back to full-time work? I've been asked and my answer is still the same. Unless there's a job that offers equally great challenges, work satisfaction and remuneration, then I would consider.. So far, I have yet to find one and to be honest, it's hard for me to leave the freelancing lifestyle and freedom! If so, I have push myself more and also trust God to provide me with more work as a freelancer.

Spiritually, I know I have been quite `dry' in my walk but all the while from the people and places I go, I'm reminded again and again of His faithfulness. So I guess I should consciously live and commit myself and my life to the Lord daily and I believe He would guide. There is a nagging voice that still prompts me now and again to heed His calling and less of my own selfish desires..

Which brings me to this personal dream that I have been harbouring for some two years now. It's always been my dream to go to Italy, ever since a short visit after graduation. I love the country and felt so at home even though I didn't speak a word of Italian then.. Because of my vocal training, I started singing Italian arias.. Then the passion rekindled and I took up Italian lesson beginning of last year, which I enjoyed a lot. With the influence and encouragement of my first teacher, I really wanted to go to Italy - not just for a short vacation but to stay there for at least 2 months or so to study singing and language. Of course, the main factor would be financial. It's not easy to get sponsorship due to my age :( and that means I need to fork out quite a huge sum. But now that I have some contacts with my three Italian teachers who could help me in certain ways, it's a `dream' that can come true.. and in fact, I'm seriously considering and planning to go there in September 2011.

I'm praying for God's blessings in this plan of mine too...

So in the mean time, I know need more motivation, drive, discipline and self-control... to do what I should do.. no use feeling `sorry' for the inadequacy..

And I know, I am not lost really. And even if I'm at a crossroad - I should be reminded that His Cross would lead me onwards..