Archive for the ‘Fishy Life’ Category

From gloves to love

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

South Africa celebrates Youth Day with a public holiday and I was in Edgars at the Eastgate Mall that afternoon. I didn’t know that Edgars had Youth Day sales until my counterpart from Florida A&M University (FAMU), Professor Joe Ritchie, bought a pair of gloves. This is what happened to him… he took a pair of gloves from the shelf; it was on 25% discount. He took it to the checkout counter and the cashier gave him a Youth Day scratch card. He got lucky. He had another 50% discount as indicated on the scratch card. Not a bad deal after all.

Incidentally, I needed a few pairs of gloves for my students and myself to survive one of the coldest Joburg winters in recent years. And how could I resist the temptation on discount upon discount? So I went to the same shelf, took the same gloves, went to the same checkout counter and guess what? The friendly cashier told me that I won’t be given the chance to scratch the Youth Day discount card because I was buying the discounted item. My jaw dropped, I turned my head and looked at Joe, I think I was able to tell to him that I was denied the chance of my lifetime to try my luck on a huge discount merely through my eye contact. I was devastated. The cashier went on to explain the terms and conditions of the Youth Day scratch card. Utterly disappointed, I told her to save her breath if she was not going to let me scratch the card. Anyway, I still got 25% off the price tag.

I then met up with another Professor from FAMU, Andrew Skerritt, after the scratch card fiasco and he rubbed it in with a joke. He suggested that maybe I am not black enough. He ended his line with his one-of-a-kind laugh. Andrew’s words kind of struck me right on the spot. Joe is African American, the cashier is Black South African and I am Chinese Malaysian, I don’t know what colour category I fall into for South Africans. But wait a minute! This situation became more delicate than I thought: a simple case of misunderstanding and miscommunication at the departmental store checkout counter can be so easily turned into a racial issue based on skin deep appearance. Yes, our minds can be so easily tricked into taking a shortcut to explain our problems. We just need to keep reminding ourselves not to fall into that trap.

To know more about what we are doing in South Africa you may go to the following sites:
– Chinese:
– English:

Human 1: Earth 0

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Have not been playing with colours for some time. I used to de-stress by drawing or painting. Recently, the stressful work load has prompted me to pickup those pens again…

in progress… a few strokes a night… 🙂

Christmas Day

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Woke up early on the Christmas Day. Not because it is a bright sunny day (even it was a nice bright sunny day)… but I got a class at 8am.


Have a Hong Kong X’mas and Happy New Year

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

The past few days were not nice at all. It was raining and cold. My clothes were hanging at the balcony with a moldy smell. A few of my colleagues in the office fell sick. There was a case of confirmed H1N1 flu in the campus. And to make it worst, Christmas is just around the corner and the city where I am staying is not celebrating it. Believe it or not, the only place where I can see Christmas decoration in Shantou is Walmart. It is that sad in city of approximately 6 million.


The antidote for such negativity in the festive season is rather simple. Hop on a bus and escape to Hong Kong and have a full blast special Christmas consumerism therapy in HK. 🙂

My colleagues and I had a back-to-back movie marathon. We picked the feel good movies. We had a roller coaster ride with a Charles Dickens classic in 3D, and right after that, we had a good laugh, love and tears with “Julie & Julia”. The guys (not me) are going back for more at midnight.

“Julie & Julia” is about food, French to be exact. Right after the show, we went straight to a Italian place called Fat Angelo’s. Well, Italy is right next to France. In fact, I guess anything European would feel nice after the movie. The salad with Italian dressing is a must, because it comes free with the pizza. But we picked the New York Long Island pizza (Claire, we miss ya!). We also stuffed ourselves with different kinds of pastas and also a roast chicken for Jerry. And the freshly baked bread was great. Pefecto! Mmua Mmua! and I am not disclosing the amount printed on the bill.


I am meeting my aunt tomorrow for breakfast. And let’s see what will transpire tomorrow. Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂

Taking pictures is fun again

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I am on a plane back to my home town. Nothing beats a few rounds of alchohol while spinning a few numbers by John Lennon, cruising at 40,000 feet. That definitely kick starts my desire to write something. Ok, before the Bacardi Coke takes me to another realm, I better get back to what this article is intended… 🙂

Well, it was 1993, I was surviving with a meager scholarship in the university with FAMA* handouts during the summer holidays. I used up all my savings of that year to get a point-n-shoot Fuji film camera before my 9-day trip to mount Tahan, the highest peak in the peninsula of Malaysia. I was really excited. It was my first camera, my “own” camera! Taking pictures was fun and carefree. Just frame and snap. I was snapping happily from Kuala Tahan to the peak and on the way back. The camera went to a few more places with me until I got my first SLR, the Nikon FM10.

It was 1995 when I started thinking of owning a SLR after I knew that there’s a dark room in the architecture department and they were offering a photography class. I couldn’t afford both the camera and the class at that time. And then an opportunity came. The Wild Life Department wanted to change their logo and they had a competition and the first prize was RM900. So I gave it a try, hoping to get the prize and embark on a new journey after the point-n-shoot Fuji.

Very fortunately, I got the RM900! If you see the Wild Life Department logo with a Yin and Yang shape of two animals merging into a circle, it is my idea. They had an artist to design a new logo based on the idea. After collecting my prize money, I immediately zoomed to the nearby camera shop that I had been visiting for months drooling over the FM10 on display.

I entered the shop and told the shop owner that I have around RM950 (the prize money with whatever available in my pocket) and I want a FM10. He wouldn’t want to give me a brand new FM10 with the kit lens for RM950. But he had a second hand FM10 body and a second hand Tamron 28mm for sale. Well, a begger can’t choose. So I took the offer. Paid RM950 for an old FM10 body, an old Tamron 28mm, and a roll of film. My first 36 exposures were ecstasy.

But soon I realised, taking photographs with the SLR is not that “fun” anymore, I was more concerned with the exposure, depth of field, ISO, and list goes on. It was also the factor that shooting with film was a bit expensive when I was living on scholarship. So I had to make sure every photo had to turn out “right”.

Those years was not that fun until I got my D100 a few years ago. But old habits are hard to change, the moment I hold an SLR I will start adjusting the settings. The urge to take the “right” shots is stronger than taking the shots of the “moments”. So I shoot things very “calculatively”. Hell, it’s hard to break that habit. But as time goes by, I learned little by little to “let go” of the attachment. It’s ok that the exposure is not right, it’s ok that the framing is not according to the golden 1/3 rule, it’s ok if the focusing is not perfect sometimes. It’s ok to POINT and SHOOT. But it doesn’t mean I had to discard technical considerations. Well, life is complicated anyway…

To help me to break the habit of getting too technical in photography, nothing came so timely as the Olympus E-P1. Gosh! I am so blessed with one in my hands. Changeable lens, compact body, classic design, and most importantly, I can try my luck or have full control of the camera when I want to. Damn! Taking picture is so much fun again. I can Lomo with it because it has these art filters. I can point-n-shoot because it does not has a view finder. And most importantly, it looks like a compact camera and people feel more relaxed because I am not holding a “serious” DSLR. I have neen taking photos all over and people don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Gosh, I love the new E-P1.

OK. The Bacardi is dragging me a bit far from writing a proper sentence. Better get a nap now.

*FAMA : Father and Mother Foundation