Sunday, October 28, 2007


Love is a tanglewood tree in a bower of green

In a forest at dawn

Fair while the mockingbird sings,

but she soon lifts her wings

And the music is gone

Young lovers in the tall grass with their hearts open wide

When the red summer poppies bloom

But love is a trackless domain and the rumor of rain

In the late afternoon

-Tanglewood Tree, Dave Carter

He pulled on his cup of tea, he nursed it, he smothered it in leathery hands. And in his mind he played the same question over and over again like a child's wail: "Why did she go? Why did she leave me? So alone, so alone, so alone..."

The night would last forever, all nights did and by the time the weak sunlight pushed through his window-blinds he would be exhausted, not having moved an inch in his hard oak chair or slept even for a wink.

But tonight, tonight was the worst kind: the storm crashing outside, wind howling like a scene from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He destested the clichedness of the whole situation but was powerless to fight the rolling waves of emotions that engulfed him.

He would close his eyes, but sometimes that made it worse. She would be back; fire burning his dull pupils and turning them into ash. Her smile would cut him into a thousand pieces. And he would recall her smell: undescribable but reminiscent of fresh clothes and lilac blooms. It would never fail to calm him down when he was upset about the condition at the store or the unreasonable demands of his employer.

She was a shooting star blazing bright in the sky, as dazzling as it was distant. And he was no more than earth, the ground from which we rise and eventually fall back to, red dust returning to red dust.

P/S: Sorry for the infrequent posts lately...each time I start I never get to finish because there's always one commitment or another to run to. Hope you enjoyed this and remember to comment!

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little reflection on my life here

Everybody, without exception, wants to be the exception.

Think about that for a moment...

And everybody, of course, includes me and you.


When I came to a new place to study, unconsciously I wanted to be exceptional at everything. I wanted to have my studies well under control, great fun rollicking deep meaningful relationships with many friends (and cultural diversity!), opportunities for learning and developing short, to live the perfect life.

I can tell you: life doesn't just happen that way. If I couldn't do sports in the first place, I won't magically become a Michael Jordan just because you move to a more sporty environment. If I loathed Additional Math in Form 5, why should I torture myself with its equavalent in college? If I've always been more of a one-to-one or small group conversation style person, should I expect to become the life of the party all of a sudden?

And then you realise that you are weaker, more vulnerable than you had imagined; the concrete walls of your ego crumble like dry grass under the assault of your new mannequin-perfect (yet adorably human!) peers.

But by coming here, I definitely did learn some new things. On respecting people. On tolerating differences. On managing my time (or trying to). On managing stress. On making the most out of every moment.

On loving myself for who I am because there is One who loves me more than I can ever imagine. (It's still a work in progress, though, and the pressure to conform and act a certain way in order to gain approval is always there. But then again, there is that pressure everywhere...)

On learning how to live (and yes, even thrive!) without constant attention, care and approval from man.

On being content with what I have, where I am, my body and mind and spirit and personality. I think this is the hardest part.

No matter how successful you are, there is going to be someone who's better than you. Who's got their act tight and well-done while you're still trying to tie those damn knots together in any fashion that will keep it together. And a minute later, it falls apart...

So, what have I learned about (not) being the exception? That at some point you must let go of it and just enjoy yourself and instead of envying others their gifts, just admire and learn what you can from them. It helps to change from an adversarial "me against the mean world" mindset and instead think of how best we can relate to each other. Reminds me of the sermon at the church I went to last week said (I'm still choosing a church in Hong Kong):

‘If your father and mother, your sister and brother, if the very cat and dog in the house, are not happier for you being a Christian, it is a question whether you really are a Christian.’
–Hudson Taylor 19th c. missionary to China

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Overwhelmingness of college life, distilled

Do you ever have that feeling when you just want to stop time, dismantle your life piece by piece and try to make it into something that makes sense, and then get back on track with a clear purpose, clear mind and clean heart?

I do.


The last few days-okay, last few weekends-have all passed in a blur. You walk and talk and go out a bit and suddenly, the weekend is gone and it gets back to the school routine. It seems like it never changes but actually, its changing all the time. Your relationships with people, getting closer or more distant; your perceptions, your ideals, other people's perceptions of you. The process is almost like a lava lamp, gradual and rather hypnotic. But you can't be the one observing it when you're the liquid within.

I keep wondering (though it would be easier if I just let go) what will I be, when the dust settles and my form becomes evident...

Insecurity flows into trying too hard flows into what am I, really? into a deep settledness, and calmness, knowing that whatever I am or whoever I become....

I am safe. I am sheltered, under His wing, in His mighty hand.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Turning back to the Truth

I just realised (while surfing the net and checking emails and reading New York Times online, the things I do every night) that I'm not at all what I want to be.

How many times, just in one day, do I completely flout this command?

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." - 1 Peter 3:9

When I read that verse yesterday night before I went to sleep last night, I did feel a twinge I think but I was almost going to sleep, drowsy; so I didn't think much of it.

Now, when I read it again, it strikes me that its the sort of thing I agree with totally on principle, but never follow.

I'm not trying to lay the blame on others, but in our society (especially adolescent society) there is a tendency to exchange insults and curses in a seemingly casual manner. However, to compliment a person genuinely is considered unusual, sometimes people even doubt your intentions in doing so. Through this kind of environment, I learned to believe that trading insults, striking before being provoked and being sarcastic as long as it's funny is ok.

More and more so I'm seeing that it's not. Perhaps it was still alright back home, when people knew me well and understood my intentions, but I believe that I've become in some ways more prickly than I used to be. Here, I can be two people in one body at the same time: one, TP with the sarcasm and big laugh; or TP with the kind smile and comforting words and helpfulness personified. But sometimes even that can be wrongly interpreted as fake.

I am not being what I want to be, what I want to be remembered for. Why did I come, was it just to learn in more depth the ways of the world and how to play the "game"? If so, then everything is just twisted. I want more than that. I want more than just leadership positions, sevens, friends, intellectual development...although all those play a part. I want to learn how to relate properly to other people. The way we are meant to.

Practising the Bible's truth can sometimes be so hard. It means shutting up my mouth just when I'd want to say something irresistable and speaking up when necessary to build someone up. But hey, this was never called the easy road, only the one which leads to an eternal, unbelievably wonderful reward in the future.

"Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."
-Psalm 34: 11-14

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sex in the City

I have never handled so many condoms in my life.

Come to think of it, I've never handled a condom before...ever.

So what was I doing, on Sunday, sticking condom packs on passersby, soliciting donations, dancing down the street with a transparent square money-box in my hands?

Isn't it obvious? It's Lan Kwai Fong AIDS Carnival!


What we did:
-Dress up in black, some of us had wigs on and one guy had his whole upper-body painted (lots of people wanted pictures)
-Go around the carnival; dancing, asking people to donate to the charity that our school's AIDS-related CAS group, TeenAIDers cooperates with (which is how we got a chance to volunteer and be a part of the carnival)
-Stick condoms on people (they were attached to a sticker) and give them free AIDSconcern inflatable bracelets
-Have fun!

It was a great event, being involved in something meaningful and having a blast, getting to know my college-mates better. Not to mention being able to take back as many condoms to the college as we wanted:P (We took about 150 and distributed them to everyone)

Personally, I think this is a good way to create awareness on AIDS and the need for protection from STIs. Whether one chooses to be abstinent or not is up to them, but each person should have the right to this information that could save their life.

Oh, and I bought a genuine limited-edition FCUK t-shirt. The tagline? "FCUK SAFELY".

P/S: Just in case you think that we did this activity without any meaningful purpose besides fun (which of course you wouldn't), AIDSconcern actually conducts "targeted outreach prevention for vulnerable groups" and "supports those living with HIV/AIDS". It's a very worthy cause and their volunteers were so hard-working. If you're interested, take a look at their website.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sit on the Swing

The product of my homework procrastination. Enjoy and remember to comment!:)

She comes, every calm-weather day, without fail, brightening my window view at 5.15 pm precisely. She doesn’t do anything there besides sit and grip the ropes tightly, staring into blankness with an expression I cannot discern. Around 6 she rises abruptly and walks away without a glance. The swing-chair rocks back and forth as though wooing her back. No worry, she will be back tomorrow.

I was not the only one who noticed this oddity. “What, is that Punjabi girl sitting out there again?” my mother would ask exasperatedly. Why should it bother you if she does? “Young people shouldn’t moon about, doing nothing. Its not natural! She should occupy her time with better things. Besides, her mother would be worried about her.”

As for me, during the lazy hot evenings when I’m feeling drowsy and disinclined to do my homework, I watch and wonder about her. What’s her story? Why does she come here everyday? She doesn’t even look like she’s enjoying herself. It must be really boring to just sit on that swing every day. Not much view to look at, just a scrawny playground opposite originally-white-but-age-blackened terrace houses. I had a theory that her mind wasn’t really on her surroundings, though.

What would it be like to talk to her? I often wondered but never dared try. It would have been so easy; just down the stairs, out the door and walk over to the swing and say “Hi”. But I just had the feeling that it was not my place to disturb her solitude.


That girl in the window is staring at me again. She thinks that I don’t know, that I can’t see her occasionally peeking down at me with curious eyes. I intrigue her. And I think I’ll let that stay.

I haven’t met anyone who can hold thoughts and feelings so tightly within themselves as I can; or if I have, they are able to contain it so well that I never noticed any wrongness ever at all. My face is emotionless; I do not cry easily nor get angry. And when I’m sad, my face turns to stone completely. Perhaps this abnormality of mine is what makes people keep their distance.

I don’t think much when I am at the swing. I’ve been going for 2 years now, just waiting, waiting, without hope and yet helpless to stop. He said he would come, he promised he would. My father, who left me to try his luck in the city. To make sure I don’t become like him, he said. And the only answer to my asking when he would return was a vague, “soon”.

I’m not even sure whether he’s alive anymore. Life is dangerous in the city. I don’t live with my aunt anymore, things aren’t that good between us and my father won’t be able to find me there. But he might remember this playground, this place. We once lived near here, when mother was around and life was happier, and the best memory I have of us is being pushed on the swing by my father; back, forth, back, forth. A soothing, rhythmic repetition that summed up our life: our safe, secure and wonderful life.

I come here because…actually, I cannot put it in words, but if I am truly his daughter, he should know he can find me here. He always said I put too much trust in the intangible, that I needed a better grip on the harsh realities of life.

I’ve seen them, and I’m sick of them.

I wonder if that girl, someday, might come down and talk to me. It’s not that interesting sitting here alone, immersed in the prison of your past and not being able to leave it behind. She might be able to make it better.

Like all other desires in life, sometimes we can only dream…

Monday, October 8, 2007

Of Windows

(No, not Microsoft.):P

Have you ever heard the platitude, "When God closes a door, He opens a window?"

Lately, there's been a lot of doors He's been closing to me. Sometimes I look out at the path wistfully and dream of setting out on it- making plans and foolish hopes- and when I look back at Him, He shakes His head. No. There are better things I have in store for you, my child.

I know He's right, but that doesn't mean my heart doesn't sink...a little. Like a sweet taken from a child. Would You deny me some extra joy in my life, Father?

But then I remember Matthew 7:11:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

He does not withhold out of spite, out of stinginess, or any of the usual reasons that we hold our prized possessions to ourself. Rather, if doors are closing, there must be a good reason for it.

Lord, open a window for me please, that I do not suffocate in here. And if that is not possible, may you give me the grace to be patient and know that Your plans for me are ultimately good.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Blogger stole two hours of my life.

I came to visit my blog and HELLO what do I find?

My blog template is no more! At least my beautiful theme-appropriate header, which I had chosen to fit my blog address, was gone and replaced by some ugly pixellated message saying that "the image requested is not hosted on photobucket (or imageshack, some other site, don't remember) anymore". And it dared advertise, saying to go to that website for more free images!!

Thus came 2 hours of hard work looking for a nice suitable non-zip-file blog template to put on my blog. Alas, that search brought only pitiful findings (=none that I was happy with) so I had to resign myself to using one of blogspot's boring templates.

Seriously, all this hassle is not good for my artistic writer temperament. And I've got homework to do!

(Note: This post is also an overt hint to any die-hard fans of this blog to HELP ME find a nicer blog template that can be applied to this blog. But anyways, my ranting will only last this one blog entry, I promise, and then I shall return to my usual tranquil self. I hope.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sex, rock and roll, and random thoughts that flit through my scatterbrain

Today I was waken up by the pounding of two speakers blasting rock and roll music that could be heard throughout the block.

It seeped through the doors and dully reverbrated in my eardrums.

Followed by a frenetic knocking at the door: "Wake up! Wake up!"

I tried to get back to sleep (it was ONLY 8am) and hoped futilely that the music would soon stop.

Alas, those degenerates were wilier than that. Most people gave up the fight for a few more minutes of precious slumber and stumbled blearily, cursing, towards the washroom.

I swayed to the beat of the song still booming in the corridors while brushing my teeth.

It's COP day.


What is COP day? Definition: Change Of Pace Day. According to my college website it says that "Change of Pace" (COP) days combine presentations and discussion with recreation and evening social activities.The topic of our very first COP (lasting a marathon 6 1/2 hours including lunch-replaces a whole schooling day) is SEX.

Interesting, yes?

Well, it was, but so LONG. Sometimes I feel like we're talking about it just for the sake of talking, just to be able to say that "yeah, we brought up the issue of sex with the students, we are an open-minded discursive community". So much of it was presentation after presentation (STI, biological explanation about sex, common sex myths, condom usage, where to turn to for help, different sexual orientations) and only a short while for discussion in which no one really lets down their guard completely.

Let's face it. There's something about sex that makes us shy away from discussing it in public, in a formal setting. There's too many implications that could be taken the wrong way and cause others to form negative opinions of you. One of the aspects that distinguish man from animals: the shame, the privacy, the taboo-ness on sex.

Some parts of it were fun as well. Biological presentation had some funny parts inserted (collage of American leaders gesturing with their forefinger and thumb a small distance apart and a text bubble saying "How big?") , the one on sexual orientation (where a gay, a lesbian and a bisexual spoke) was enlightening and the very last presentation on "The Joys of Sex" was plain funny. They wanted to end it on a happy note, and I believe they succeeded.


Here it comes to the random thoughts part:

1) Lately I've been wondering off and on, what do I really want to achieve here? What is my priority? Blaze of academic glory? Lifelong friends and rich social life, popularity? Deeper understanding of self? Deeper walk with God?

Of course, I would love to have every one of them. But sometimes you can't do everything and a choice must be made between two different things that both mean a lot to you. If I don't have priorities and put all of these on an equal standing, what happens when it all clashes and clamours for my attention?

2) When will I truly love this place? I can see people swimming and frolicking in the water already and I'm still only half-wet, not completely at home with this environment. Is it okay? Do I need to let go of my wistful thoughts of home in order to fully enjoy each bit of my two years here?

And so it goes. Interspersed with thoughts of "what to do next?", "get laundry!", "hmm, he's kinda cute when he smiles..." and so on.

That's all for now. But if by deep cogitation, you come up with any good answers to my questions, do let me know. Then I can finally focus on Biology, which I should be studying now.