Monday, September 1, 2014

The 8 Types of People You'll Meet on Singapore's Public Transport

Ever since I started working, I have been using the public transport way more than I liked. Not that I'm given a choice though, since it's almost impossible for a debt-saddled recent graduate like me to own a car in Singapore. The fact that my workplace is on the other end of the island does little to help either, with me clocking an average of 3 to 4 hours a day on commute. I always joke with my friends that I'm travelling cross country everyday, and my Google location would prove to you that.

With so much time spent on public transport here in Singapore (estimating 3 hours a day X 300 days would be 900 hours on the public transport alone for 2014), it would seem that that I've learnt to categorize the people on the public transport into different groups automatically. It helps with managing my expectations of how to deal with them and as psychologists would say, it's an energy efficient way to think about people.

So below are some of the categories that my brain has come up with in regards to the different types of people that I could usually find on public transport. Is it the same with you?

1. The people who cannot differentiate headphones from speakers

Taglines: I need to show off the awesome music that I'm hearing right now / If I play clubbing music loud enough, maybe I can delude myself into thinking that I'm still grooving to the club beats

Okay, I have no idea why I started with this category first, but I guess these are the people that seemed to annoy me the most. Not that I have an issue with people who uses headphones though, but it's with those who consistently leak music out of their ears. At a very annoying volume too.

The whole point of wearing earphones is so that the music stays in your ears. But this group of people seemed to have missed the point, often subjecting the entire carriage or bus to their choice of music. Which more often than not borders on the point of being full fledged noise. Like those you hear in a construction site. Try as I might, I just couldn't understand why you would want to listen to death metal at 7am in the morning. Sort of like a pick me up music to get you pumped up for school/office? 

Of course, I'm not judging the music choice, but when you're trying to sleep and there is a steady stream of dumz dumz dumz creeping into your ears, you tend to get annoyed quite easily. Especially when you can still hear the music after putting your own earphones in and playing your own music. Kinda reminds me of those 1960s people who carry boomboxes around

Others who fit into this category: People who watches videos without earphones

2. The sleeping beauties

Taglines: There is no bed like the MRT seat / If I close my eyes hard enough, maybe all of these people in front of me will disappear / ZzZz

They are the ones who sleep so soundly on the public transport until their head would sometimes would loll dangerously near your shoulder, but who are still alert enough to quickly stand up and exit the vehicle when they reached their stop. Sometimes one cannot help but wonder if that they're indeed so tired, or is it because they just cannot withstand the jealous death stares from standing commuters.

I personally have no quarrel with these group of people though, because I'm okay with standing (not that I have a choice) and normally it's the people who want seats who hate them. And I'm occasionally guilty of this offence as well, especially during the early morning when I'm still half dead Speaking of which, did you ever notice that they

3. The overly romantic couple who doesn't like you staring 

Taglines: Can you feel the love tonight~~ 

Okay, I understand that couples need to show romantic gestures every now and then. I mean when you're madly in love you're practically a slave to your hormones right, so I'm perfectly fine with you touching and sometimes fondling each other in the full view of the public. I mean sure, fine, go ahead. Of course, it will make me feel lonely and awkward, but who's to control what you do with your partner in public right? After all it's your hands and it's not my body you're touching.

What's not fine, however, is when I get rude stares back for just looking straight, as if you're expecting me to turn my head the other way. I mean hello? Where else would you expect me to look? You're standing in front of me doing all the things that you do and you expect me to look away? I'm a guy after all you know, with my own set of raging hormones, and if there's free show going in front of me, why would I deny myself the chance to enjoy it? If you're so bothered about people looking at you in the public, get a room. 

4. The close close guy

Taglines: Can you feel MY love tonight?

I know sometimes the buses or MRT can get overly crowded and all, so some degree of "closeness" is forgiven during peak hours where everyone is packed too close together, but occasionally there's this one random dude who enjoys standing too close to you even when there's empty space around, his armpit above you or something, sending his manly whiff over to you. And sadly, more often than not it's a dude. Who probably forgot to bath for a few days in a row as well.

5. The demanding uncle/auntie

Taglines: Your seat is mine

It's one thing to ask nicely, it's totally a different thing if you were to demand, scold and threaten for a seat. I know that the seats are referred for you, but some aunties/uncles act as if that it is their given birthright, and whoever who doesn't adhere to it shall be thoroughly punished. And even for some uncles/aunties, they come with the post-nagging feature as well, cursing your 18 descendants and ancestors with all kind of colourful hokkien words that you wished your friends would have taught you last time.

You know whom do I respect more? The aunties/uncles who are okay with standing, and gives you a pleasant smile and a thank you. Because kindness go both ways :)

6. The parents with the out of control kids

Taglines: Kids, what kids?

Perhaps the bane of most people, you'll have kids who run and scream around as if the MRT is their giant playground, while their parents are busy staring into their iPhones. I'm not saying about the younger ones who may just having a bad though, but those who act as if the MRT is their home. I mean whatever happened to sitting quietly when you're in a public place?

Thank goodness I work in an early intervention setting, where I'm already used to all the noises and mayhem caused by kids.

7. The runners

Taglines: Chiong ah!

Don't be deceived by them. They may look like normal aunties/uncles on the outside, but once the MRT doors slide open, they'll be running so fast to the seats that leaves you standing there stunned. I guess they must have been the joggers in the park that keep running past me whenever I'm running as well. The marathoners at night.

8. The social media complainer aka The STOMPERs

Tagline: I'm too afraid to confront all these people in real life, so I'll do it online instead

They may be quietly standing at the corner pressing at their phone, but do not be deceived, you may just have been Stomped unknowingly by them, or may have been the subject of an angry Tweet. A fact that you will only find out when you reach home, and your friends starting flooding you with "OMG you're famous!" statements

They may also come up with silly blog posts, with titles such as "The 8 Types of People You'll Meet on Singapore's Public Transport", all in the name of fame


Of course there are other groups of people out there, like the phone starers, those that just stare at the phone the whole day, but lets just face it, I guess that it has become so common for us now to stare at the phone that anyone with his eyes wondering around is automatically creepy.

So which group do you dislike most? Do you dislike any of them? Is there any groups that I may have missed out?

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Steam got better of me

I was supposed to write an epicly awesome post today (things are always epicly awesome when you plan them in your head), but I got sidetracked with my other responsibilities. Like saving the world and defending the ancient.

I never understood the point of defending that stupid throne/tree too. Fight as we might, that throne/tree barely helped us with anything other than standing idly all day. I suppose there's a backstory to this, but I'm just too lazy to check it out.

On the other hand, started The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, sort of like a prequel to the XCOM series, which has quite an interesting gameplay and story, particularly if you liked previous XCOMs. Though it may be not as easy as the games that I used to play. Especially not when they give you a shotgun and expect you to take down a flying gunship. Seriously?

Okay, DOTA 2 may have it harder sometimes, so I guess they're both even in terms of chances to make you wanna pull your hair out.

So to avoid me escaping my blog duties again, I guess next time I'll just have to blog before I game uh?

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Movie Review: Boyhood, A Wonderful Surprise

Have you ever wondered how your life would like on screen, if some random person decided to take all the important moments in your life and put it into a film? That is what Boyhood is, literally. Holding perhaps one of the highest rating so far in both IMDB, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, Boyhood tells of a coming of age story of this one boy called Mason, where unlike any other movies that came before, the film literally follows the same cast as they grow up.

Spanning a period of 12 years, yes you heard 12 years right, Boyhood is a movie aimed at capturing the journey of growing up, and all the ups and downs that come with it. The scale itself is crazy, as you could see the cast growing up before your eyes. A friend caught me to watch this movie, and though initially I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the movie, it turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise indeed.

To be honest first, Boyhood isn't like any Hollywood movie out there. It does not employ the conventional method of storytelling, where there is a introduction, a buildup, a climax, a twist and ultimately an ending. No, the story of Boyhood is rather monotonous, a straight line with occasional small little waves here and there, but with no big twist or epic drama. Everything on screen feels normal, I guess you could say that.

But somehow it's the normality itself that makes the movie shine so much. I felt that the story of the movie is usually what friends would tell you, rather than a story written for the big screen. It made me reflect on my own journey growing up, and it tells of how each our life is linked with one another, and how a little action today would shape our life tomorrow.

The movie is peppered with the things that defined our generation. As you watch Mason grow up before your eyes, you could see the things around him changing as well. From the flip phones that we used last time to the smartphones we have today, as well as a gameboy to Xbox, and the transition from Bush to Obama. The film managed to capture all the little things during the journey perfectly.

There are a lot of themes raised in the movie. Which I guess is normal, when the movie is about life itself. Marriage, divorce, family, school, friends, love, life's purpose and the responsibilities of becoming an adult are among the many things touched upon in the movie, as you see Mason struggle with the questions that life throw upon him as he enter each stage of life. And as you see him grapple with the various issues that the movie brought up, you would somehow think back to your life too, and wonder how have you responded when life gave you similar trials.

I certainly thought a lot as I watched the movie. I realized how lucky I have been to have grown up with an intact family, despite all the small hiccups here and there, and I thought back to all of the people who have once used to be in my life, made an impact, and left. And somehow I was grateful to each and everyone of them, for having taught me important lessons during the short period where our lives overlapped.

Boyhood would not have all the explosions, action, romance and over-exaggerated drama or effects. It gives you the vibe of being a documentary and it's rather down to earth. There are periods where you would feel like falling asleep, if you're not a fan of artsy slow moving films, but there are definitely many lighthearted moments as you see Mason interacts with his family, and achieve each milestone in life. It often felt like as if my own life was reflected in his.

But of course, a downside of the Boyhood film is its culture focus. As a movie set in Texas, many of the struggles, values and settings are American based, so there are certain things that I find it hard to relate to. The Bush and Obama elections race for example, high school parties at empty houses when your parents are not here, as well as the school system and suburbs living. Those were the things that I find it harder to be able to understand.

Still the movie is great in general. It gives a very good look at growing up, capturing all the important points in life, and offering it's own take on this journey we all undergo. If you're up for a little trip down memory lane of your own, do consider Boyhood. I'll give it a 4.5/5

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Kitty Controversy

"She is NOT a cat," their face were stern, offended. There was no hint that they were joking from the tone of their voice. The rest of the room sat there, stunned. For more than 40 years they have all been deceived, living under a false impression. How ever are they going to tell the world? Everyone was at a lost at that statement. 

"But..." a young man sitting in the corner finally broke the silence.

"I grew up watching Hello Kitty thinking that she's a cat. After all, she has "Kitty" in her name, and she has cat ears, whiskers and even paws. Features that essentially make her a cat, so if she's not a cat, then..." the young man tried to continue. From his neatly dressed looks and his stammering voice one could easily guess that he was new. Before he could finish his sentence however, he was abruptly cut off by Sanrio, Hello Kitty's parents and creators.

"She is NOT a cat," they repeated again, a lot louder this time. 

"She never walks on all fours. She walks on only both her feet, a trait that is only done by humans. And she has a pet cat," they insisted firmly. "Haven't any of you read her backstory before?"

Everyone inside the room looked at each other. Apparently none of them has. To them Hello Kitty has always been a cat. She looked like a cat, acted like a cat. But little did they know that there is a whole bunch of people who looked just like Hello Kitty living in London itself.

"As much as we wanted to keep it a secret, I'm afraid that we no longer have a choice. It's time to tell the world," Sanrio said with a heavy sigh. Everyone in the room held their breaths.

"A long time ago, back in the land of ancient Egypt, cats were a revered creature, just as the cows are to Hindus. There was an entire religion dedicated to worshiping the cats. And like most ancient religion, there were a particular group, called the cat priests, that dedicate themselves fully to the service of their feline god. To show their dedication to their masters, this group of cat priests chose to surgically alter themselves to look like cats, and after generations and generations, the surgical modifications have became part of their genes. That's where you get your first plastic surgery too," came the explanation. You could feel the intensity of the room's atmosphere as the truth settled into everyone's mind. Who knew Hello Kitty had have such a long and rich history? What other secrets could the Hello Kitty family hold? Could they have been a ancient order of cat worshipers?

Everyone looked on at Sanrio, wondering what other secrets they may tell.

"Just kidding, we just hate other people calling our creation a cat."

In other news, Nintendo confirmed that Pikachu is indeed not a mouse, but an electrician rabbit, while Peanuts assured everyone that Snoopy is indeed a dog, but the title of their comic isn't actually a reference to the peanuts that you can eat. Rilakuma on the other hand was said to be Pedobear in disguise (a cuter Japanese version) while the rest of the world is gripped by the fear that their childhood was slowly being destroyed with such revelations.

Update: A day after the world was told the shocking revelation, Sanrio made another call to the gentlemen to the room, expressing disbelief at how they have circulated the news to the whole wide world exclaiming that Hello Kitty is not a cat.

"It was supposed to be an April's Fool joke, don't you get it? Hello Kitty is a cat!" came the exasperated voice at the end of the line.

"But sir, it's already August now," someone tried to reason with Sanrio, thinking how absurd it would be to tell an April Fool joke four months after it had passed. 

"Which is why we told two jokes, because 4 x 2 = 8! August! And see you all in December, where we'll tell three jokes!" the line went dead before any of the gentlemen could reply.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

6 Reasons Why You Should Do The ALS Challenge and 6 Reasons Why You Should Not

A lot of people are saying a lot of things. And after two friends posted really long comments on one of the articles I shared on Facebook, I decided to have a self-debate. Where I debate with myself on the pros and cons of the ice bucket challenge. And here are some points I thought about (lazy to put sources to links, it's all over the internet anyway):

Why you should do it:

1. It spreads awareness. In the past few weeks there has been more of us who have been exposed to this disease called the ALS than the past few years combined. It educates us on the disease, and it prompts some of us to seek more knowledge on it

2. It is effective. More money has been raised for the foundation in the past weeks as compared to a similar time frame before the challenge. The ALS foundation IS getting increased donation as a direct and indirect result of the campaign. 

3. You're doing something good. Rather than just sitting in front of a computer typing a useless blog post, you're actually out there encouraging others to do something good as well. Plus the money will be channeled into changing other people's lives

4. More likes! More attention! Come one, lets face it. As much as how some of us say that it's for charity, wanting to follow the trend and getting noticed plays at least a small part in us taking up the challenge. I mean if you are really sincere in donating, you won't let the whole world know right?

5. It sorta encourages friendship. Like when you challenge each other and stuff, and when you need help for your friends to complete the challenge. There's some degree of teamwork involved. And it also opens up the chance for you to prank people

6. It's fun! I mean how often to you get a chance to pour ice on your head in the name of charity?

7. People who are complaining are probably forever alones anyway, who didn't get nominated for the challenge. Which is why they're complaining

Why you shouldn't do it:

1. Isn't the whole premise a bit confusing? You get challenged, and you either pour ice or donate. So essentially by pouring ice, you're not donating. But if you donate, you're not raising awareness. Sure you can do both, but isn't this like completely different from the original campaign already? Ah, what the hell *pours ice anyway, and donates, lest someone claims that you're only doing it for publicity purposes*

2. With Ebola spreading like mad in Africa, ISIS killing tons in Iraq and Syria, and a whole loads of other diseases and poverty left unsolved, and here you are talking about ALS? Sure ALS is a debilitating disease, but how many people are afflicted by the ALS as compared to other more potent and infectious disease around the world, or other man made causes like poverty or lack of clean water (irony alert)? Shouldn't our priorities be where the most help is needed instead

3. Are you sure that the money you're donating will all go into ALS research? And how much of it will translate into measurable outcome? How many years of research have you accelerated with the money? Or it didn't make much of a difference anyway?

4. Is it me or has the ALS challenge become something where you see someone doing the challenge and attempt to top it off by being more creative/outrageous?

5. Just because everyone is doing it so you must do it? Haven't you heard before about standing out from the crowd and not giving in to the craze? 

6. It's too much work anyway. For something that doesn't really last. Not your fame nor your donation. It don't equate. I mean originally I thought by pouring ice on you, you would experience what it's like to have ALS and that would make you sympathize and would want to donate, but that seems to be not the case lately

So it's 6 reasons for and 6 reasons against. Which one would you choose? The red pill, or the ice pill?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This thing called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I guess by now everyone should have heard of the ALS ice bucket challenge, even seen a couple of videos where celebrities or even friends dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, in the name of raising money for the ALS foundation. It's surprising how quickly this fad spread, with I guess almost everyone with an internet connection have either tried it by now (unless of course, you belong to the camp that hates  this initiative, or one of the forever alone people like me).

mark zuckerberg was the first ALS challenger that appeared in my news feed

And unsurprisingly, following the rise of the ALS ice bucket challenge, tons have been written to evaluate this whole phenomena. You have people from all over the spectrum giving their opinion on the effectiveness of this campaign. There are those who claims that this event is nothing but a gimmick by celebrities to outdo each other and to gain publicity (hence all the different styles they used), you have those who say that the whole challenge is doing more good than nothing at all (so what if people get more publicity as long as ALS gets money) and you have those who said that this whole attention that is given to the ALS is diverting what normally goes to the more deserving causes. I mean who is paying attention to the genocide that is going in Iraq or other more serious issue while we are all busy dumping water on our head?

lady gaga doing it in her gaga way

But no matter what you think about the ALS ice bucket challenge, whether you hate it or love it, there's no denying the attention that it has got. Our world has never been ever united since the Harlem Shake or the Gangnam Style fad. Yep, I just lumped the ALS ice bucket challenge together with the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style craze.

You see, I think that despite what almost everyone is saying about the ice bucket challenge, it goes way deeper than just wanting to do something for charity. Sure I mean being able to donate money for a good cause is a plus, but I think the reason why everyone is doing it now is because of one simple reason, that we want to belong. We want to be part of something greater.

another stylish entry

Throughout the history of our existence, humans have always loved the idea of being part of something greater. It gives us a sense of purpose I think, and it makes us feel more accepted. That instead of a tiny bitsy dot, we see ourselves as a collective entity striving for a common purpose. This want to be part of something bigger, to take part in something that goes beyond our daily lives and routine, is what drives us to churches, communities and even football clubs. In a way, we are taking a larger identity than ourselves, and that is somewhat empowering I guess, which might explain the ease at how the whole challenge was adopted

I mean the same could be said when the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style craze took off. We ourselves wanted to be part of that bigger picture, to share the collective imagination at that moment in time. It's hard for me to put it into eloquent words because I'm never good with them and I'm half sleepy now, but you can say that each of us wanted to escape into this sort of movement that takes hold of our imagination every now and then.

bill gates decided to build his own machine

And from how I see it, with the power of the internet to spread an idea across, phenomena like the ALS, Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style would only keep repeating themselves. You'll never know when the next random thing will capture the imagination of the entire human race

Say what you want about the effectiveness about the ice bucket challenge, but I'm seeing something that is way more than that. I'm seeing an event that unites us as one in doing something similar, and I'm seeing one of the rare moments where we as a species collectively participate in some sort of ritual together. It's some form of escapism, I guess, where we put down the mundaneness of our everyday lives and share a common experience together. It's a way for ourselves to assert our own identity, and as well to assert our identity as a whole.

being part of something bigger

It's somewhat complicated, I know, but I don't have a masters degree in sociology but I just felt that the whole phenomena is more than just throwing water over your head for charity. Not when you post your video online for almost everyone to watch. It's one of the moments where we sort of take a break from life and participate in something bigger. An "escapevent" I think. Like the harlem shake. Like the gangnam style. And other events that I may have forgotten. It's not about the charity, it's about taking part in a collective experience, or following the trend, as you may say.

An escapevent. I think that word sounds nice, don't you think?

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

20 Random Thoughts #240814: So Julies asked me to go to Malacca

1. I'm feeling lazy. But I have to post something. So here goes my post-first-official-blogger-sponsored-trip unofficial post. See if you understand that

2. I don't know what came over me, but I actually made it alone on a blogger's trip even though every ounce of myself wanted to bail on the last minute on the trip. Because I dreaded every part of the socializing #nerdyguyproblems #introvert #excusestobeantisocial

3. But still I preserved to the end! And made it back alive. And gained some friends in the process. I think.

4. Anyways, to recap, in case you're not following my Twitter, Instagram or not my Facebook friend, I got invited to Malacca as part of the Julies Bloggers Trip, where we are shown how Julies Biscuit are made, right from the start.

5. In addition to that, we are also introduced to many of the work that Julies Biscuit has been doing, which was quite an eye opener. Of course, there's an official post coming up (because this is the lazy version), so stay tuned for that.

the factory that i got to visit

6. It was the first time that I get to enjoy a fully sponsored trip as a blogger (finally getting famous hohoho), so naturally I was really thrilled. Here I have to express my sincerest gratitude and thanks again to Perfect Food Manufacturing, the parent company of Julies Biscuit, for having faith in choosing me as one of the bloggers for the event. Again, more on that in the official post

7. Gosh I'm like putting so much suspense in the "official post"

8. Anyways, in addition to getting to understand the whole process of making a biscuit and the effort that goes behind Julies Biscuit, the 17 of us bloggers were also treated to a one and a half day tour around the historical city of Malacca as well, which is like the birthplace for Julies Biscuit

9. It was actually my third time in Malacca this year, which my mum will be so angry at, because I only visited my hometown once this year. 

10. Because I have been here before, instead of happily walking around the historical sites like I always do in a new place, I actually came here with another purpose: INGRESS

11. I actually managed to turn an entire area green, save for two portals which I have no idea how to reach.

see all those green? my work

12. Note to self: When Ingressing under the hot sun, wear sunblock. Or else you'll end up like this:

say hi to my half baked hand

13. Another reason why I was under the hot sun was because this time round, I actually have a DSLR with me. So I went around Malacca capturing photos. So here's Malacca in pictures:

14. Christ Church, one of the oldest and most iconic buildings in Malacca. Erected by the Dutch, I think. Painted in the iconic red that signifies the city

15. Peddlers line the street of Malacca, selling various stuff from key chains to colourful hats

16. Of course, there are street performers as well, filling up the historical sites with their songs. I caught this uncle at the ruins of St Paul's church, serenading passers by with his Filipino songs

17. Of course, you can't forget the trishaw drivers, who line up the streets with their beautifully decorated trishaws, blasting out their own music from portable speakers attached to each of their ride as well. I have yet to experience one though, even though I keep wanting to

18. Of course, lets not forget A' Famosa or Forta De Santiago, the Portuguese fort that is literally the image of Malacca. Did I get the name right, btw?

19. And hey, flowers! Taken near the Malacca palace museum

20. And oh no, time to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to finish the official post soon! And oh no x2, Monday. Which means I have to go back to reality. 

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

An Hour and Fifteen Minutes

An hour and fifteen minutes. That was all he had. He looked at the timer that was counting down on the website, ticking towards their intended mark. Five seconds gone there. He cursed at his luck again. He cursed at his phone. It was supposed to wake up five hours before this, but it didn’t. He had almost wanted to throw it to the wall in frustration. Calm down, he thought, as he opened the saved file on his computer. If 75 minutes was all he got, he was going to make it count. And so his fingers began to furiously type.

An hour and fifteen minutes. That was how long they told her to wait. The red light above the door glowed brightly, as a few doctors and nurses in garbs walked hurriedly past her. It was a quiet night at the hospital, but not for her. Her body still ached from the impact, but not as much as the worry in her heart. Without her realizing it, she started to sob. Where are you all, she typed out in a WhatsApp message, before hitting send. And then she sat there, face buried in her hands, quietly crying, quietly praying. Only if the time could pass faster.

An hour and fifteen minutes. They have been arguing for that long. He felt tired. He wanted it to stop. But she was still crying, still screaming. Why can’t you just understand me, she pleaded. Why don’t you leave me alone, he said nonchalantly, and walked off. He could hear her crying in the background, asking him not to walk away. His heart begged him to stay on, but he just kept walking and walking, carried by his ego. An hour and fifteen minutes. That was how long it took to end his three years relationship. 75 minutes or argument to kill off 525600 minutes worth of love.

An hour and fifteen minutes. The championship match took that long. There were times when she thought of giving up, of just letting the opponent team win. Hearing the cheers from the people around her, seeing the tears in her teammates eyes, she was glad that she held on. Everything was worth it. Everyone had told them how a group of female gamers can never beat the top male gamers in the world, but tonight, they proved everyone wrong. One hour and fifteen minutes was all it took to shake the foundation of the gaming world forever.

An hour and fifteen minutes. Just survive for that long, and their ordeal will be finally over. That’s what he was told. But looking at the face of his dead sergeant beside him, his eyes still wide with shock, he doubted whether he could last that long. They have been fighting for too long, defending this mountaintop monastery from an army that vastly outnumbered them. Reinforcements were on their way, he was told. Just last for another one hour and fifteen minutes, and he could go home. He looked at his squadmates, still fighting valiantly against the advancing enemy. Frightened eyes peered at him from the door of the monastery. The last surviving members of an ancient tribe. They were depending on him. If 75 minutes was all it takes, that’s how long he is going to fight.

Far above them, a figure scratches his face lazily, seemingly amused with what he was seeing. Immersed with all the drama unfolding below him, he did not notice it when a second figure approached him. The figure looked too at the scenes that were unfolding beneath him, interested in what was the first figure looking at as well. Confused but curious with all the images it was seeing, it can’t help but to ask, “What is all this?”

The first figure continued to stare at the spectacle that was happening in front of him, without even lifting its head to greet the second figure.

"A test," it said, rather monotonously.

"Like it always has been."

The second figure nodded knowingly. Their boss always loved these type of "tests". Stressful situations that are handed out randomly to his creations, to see how they would react. Even after so many hundred eons have passed since the first human being walked the earth, their boss still enjoyed experimenting with them. They don't blame their boss though, after all the humans have managed to progressed way faster than any other creations.

"And you're the coder for today?" the second figure, blurbed out again, getting disinterested at the different sights that laid before him. The computer guy had gone to sleep, the lady was still crying, the couple had officially broken up, the gamer was celebrating and the soldier was still fighting. Nothing new there. The first figure nodded slightly.

Happy with what he saw, the first figure raised its arm forward, and swiped left. A new set of images appeared, each with different faces now. A rectangular board resembling the keyboard of the humans appeared in front of him, created by light pigments that also formed the images. His three fingers began to type furiously, and in each of the image, something happened.

The boy who was kicking a ball on the pavement did not see a cat dashing across the field, and tripped over it. He landed with a thud on the brick layered floor as he parents who were watching nearby screamed in shock.

The second figure in the room looked blankly at the image, before turning to the direction from where he first came in.

"How long are you setting each situation for?" he shouted across the room, as he now stood at the entrance.

"An hour and a fifteen minutes," the first figure simply replied, before turning towards the second image, his fingers moving quickly across the board again.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Now is not once upon a time ago

"Can we meet?"

It has been what, two years? Two years since I last saw your name on my phone. A name that time has slowly buried away and seeing it appear again, brought back feelings and memories that I have forgotten for a long time. And after two years, the last thing that I would have expected from you is a call punctuated with sobs and sniffs.

"What's wrong?" I asked, but already I could guess. Rumours have been going around that you've broken up with him, the guy that I occasionally see appearing in my news feed. As your ex, it was hard not to ignore what others were saying, especially when we shared so many close friends.

"I... don't... know," you attempted to say, but you were crying so hard now that all I could hear was the sound of your sobs, mixed with the the sound of passing vehicles and people talking behind you. Were you outside, sitting on a pavement all alone, with tears streaming down your face, as strangers walked by, staring at you? Just what was wrong, I thought.

I got up from my seat and told my boss that I had urgent family matters, needing a day off. In my rush, I only took my wallet and forgot my bag, as I asked again where were you.

"Coco Cafe," you finally managed to say, in between breathes. And that's where I told the taxi driver where he needed to head. I told you to stay there and not go anywhere, because I was coming down. You muttered a soft "Okay", and we ended the call. Oh, how I've changed.

My thoughts went back to six years ago, when the same voice cried over the phone. We have gotten into an argument and in the heat of everything, I chose to walk away, and left you alone in the crowd. You called me in tears, saying that you're sorry, even though it was I who was at fault, asking me to come back. But my ego carried me on, feeling proud, oblivious to the fact that I have hurt someone who loved me so much. And I kept carrying on, drunk in my own sense of entitlement, taking you for granted. It was not until you said that you cannot take it longer did I wake up, realizing that having a big ego meant nothing when you're gone.

And then you met him, one year after we broken up. The charismatic sales manager working at a big firm. He had almost everything. Charm, talents, looks and future. Your friends told me that you've been rejecting his relentless pursuit for almost a year. They also told me that he had been eyeing you since the day we got together, that son of a beach. But you finally got together with him, maybe you got tired of waiting, perhaps you wanted to move on.

Your relationship looked sweet from the start. I would see pictures of you and him occasionally on Facebook, perhaps having a dinner, or on a holiday together. You were smiling again, something that I have not seen for a long time. And I have forgotten how beautiful you looked when you smile. It was then when a tinge of regret appeared. That perhaps I had been an idiot after all.

But six months into your relationship, problems started to appear, I heard. Friends asked me to check on you. But not wanting to be the third party, I held my ground. Until today.

I spot you sitting on the sidewalk, people walking hurriedly around you. You had your head in your arms, and I assumed that you were still crying.

"Hey," I said, and you looked up. Teary eyed and tired, you gave me a weak smile.

"Thanks for coming," you said weakly, before pulling my hand to stand up. We head into a neighbouring cafe, because you said that Coco Cafe reminded you of too many sad memories. And I agreed. It was not until your ice lemon tea arrived that I finally knew why. Coco Cafe was the place where you frequently hung out with your ex, and also the place where you finally found out that he was cheating on you. Passing by today, you saw his back facing the window, his arm caressing his new girl. 

Once upon a time ago, you gave your heart out to the world. You loved freely, smiled freely. Your heart was open, innocent and naive. It was a pure heart. But the world took that heart of yours and trampled on it, mangled it, and shattered it, leaving only a million of broken pieces in its place. It gave no mercy to your heart. I was part of the world. I was one of them. And you deserved none of it. 

So you built a wall around your heart, and sealed the path to it, determined never again to let any other person exploit it. That was your friends have told me. That you have became cold, distant, indifferent. Long gone was the cheerful girl, who brightened up the lives the others, who gave everything she had, expecting nothing in return. People were worried about you. 

As I looked at you quietly sipping your tea, your eyes still red. It pains me to see how blind and selfish have I been. Where you gave your love, I took it as a source of suffocation. When you were concerned about me, I returned it with a sigh of annoyance. I thought I was constrained, and I wanted freedom. But now that everything that used to be you is gone, I am starting to feel that this freedom that I've got is nothing more than abandonment. I missed how you used to climb unto my back and peeked over my shoulders to see what I am doing. I missed the way you would keep calling me dear until I replied, then giving the most beautiful smile that I have ever seen when I grunt in annoyance.

Moments of silence passed, as we continued to sit there, each of us lost in our own thoughts. I was wrong to let you gone once, to have broken your heart in the process, and to let another guy do even worse to you. I could see the your heart behind the cracks of the walls you've built, plastered and bandaged all over. It is hardly surprising that after all that, a tall wall usually rise in the aftermath. After all, it's the normal reaction. Who could blame you?

"Want to watch the latest movie in town?" I finally piped out, "It has a flying hamster with magical powers. And I remember that hamsters are your favorite."

You gave a small smile in response. Perhaps you were surprised that I remembered your favorite animal even after so long. I guess that's a way to cope with loss. Revisiting old memories from time to time to remind me of you, until those memories themselves become ingrained in me.

"Why not?" you said. "It's better than sitting around here moping anyway." The optimistic side of you.

As we left the cafe, I made myself a promise. That I would try and make you smile again, like you have always done. That I would attempt to correct the mistakes that I have made, and at least give you what you have always deserved. I would scale the walls that you have built around your heart and I would try and bring them down. We have all wandered enough, and I can't help to feel how stupid I am to have not realized that what I have been searching for, has been always in front for me. 

"Eh, don't be sad already, today will be a good day," I said, as I noticed you looking distantly into the sky. I smiled, and you reluctantly forced a smile back. Not only will today be a good day, but I will try and make the rest of our days good as well.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dear Future Wife

Dear future wife,

I've been waiting for you. Waiting for what seems to have been like forever. Yeah, I know, I'm obviously over exaggerating, but when I look at those around me, especially at those who have already found theirs, I can't help but to wonder when will you appear. Or whether if you will appear at all. You see, that's what I'm afraid of. That while some have their soulmates arranged for them, those who already met their own happily ever after, some may never find theirs. 

And I'm terribly afraid that I belong to the second group, and there's nothing scarier than having to end up living alone. But I guess a prospect that is as equally scary would be to end up with someone who is not you; my soulmate, my ideal partner and my future wife; just because I am afraid to be alone. And I am not sure which one is worse, waiting forever, or living forever with someone whom I do not love.

Which is why I keep on convincing myself that one day you will finally appear. I don't know when would that be, but I suppose it would be one hell of a day. You would be sitting in that one corner, me in mine, maybe in a small gathering of mutual friends, or a meeting of some sorts, perhaps it could be during a jog in the park, or even through an online encounter. We would talk, perhaps awkwardly at first, a couple of small laughs, but boy, once we started talking, we couldn't stop. 

We would talk and talk, through texts, through phone calls, through Facebook chat, even emails. We would talk about anything and everything, and somehow, we just kept going. We would then meet up, visit places that we have always wanted to go, and time would fly with you around. And I would know that it is you, my future wife, because there's not quite anyone whom I can so freely share my story with as it is with you. With you, I could just be myself. 

We would share the same ideals, the same interests, the same goals in life. Sure, there may be differences between us as well, but somehow, instead of dividing us, it makes us stronger. You will be the one who erases all doubt in me, the one who makes me commit. And then, I would know that all the wait would have been worth it.

Naive and idealistic right? I know. Funny too, when I look at it. Because after all, life seldom goes in our direction. If everything was so black and white, there would be no divorce in this world. There would not be any heartbreaks, and everyone would live happily ever after. But we all know that those stuff only exists in fairy tales. And they're called fairy tales for a reason. Because just like fairies, they don't exist.

Because even after so many thousand of years, we still cannot get love right.

But still, I would like to believe that you exist. That somewhere out there, there's just this equally crazy and childish girl waiting for me, probably writing the same letter to her future husband. It gives me hope, no matter how delusional it may seem to me now. Or at least that's what my brain is telling me. It's hard not to see, when cases of divorce, separation and betrayals are so common nowadays. To the point that so many people I know have had single or remarried parents.

Still, I'll wait. For the day when I finally find you. The day when I could confidently say to myself that you're the one. The one who is worth fighting for. I will make good of the part where they say til death to us part, and I will give it my very best to make our relationship work. And that includes us growing old together, seeing wrinkles appear on our skin, while you laugh at my balding hair. All the while watching our kids grow up. Wouldn't that be good? 

But until that day comes, I will wait for you, just as I hope that you will wait for me too. And when that day comes, I would imagine fireworks going off in the sky, followed by cheers and applauses. Because it's something worth celebrating. Because good things are worth waiting for. Because you will make all the waiting worth it.

A Still Naive Guy

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