Reading Bug ~ Act of Kindness #10

I came across this Reading Corner at the airport, of all places.


Intrigued, I wanted to inspect the titles and savour this joyful moment of discovering such a corner in an airport. First, however, I wanted to take a photo to prove I wasn’t hallucinating.

But as I lifted my camera, a little poppet galloped towards the shelves, shrieking, “Book! Book!”

I paused. A Reading Corner in a public space with books and a poppet excited by books?

Life had more surprises for me. The father grabbed the poppet. “Meimei, wait. Let the auntie take her photo first.”

It really was too much. I snapped the photo, thanked the father, waved at the poppet and retreated.

Inspecting book titles can wait. Celebrating this little vignette cannot. I am warmed by a father’s kind understanding and gracious patience, and a tiny child’s enthusiasm for books. And by the use of potential retail space for encouraging reading.

There is hope yet.

His Dream ~ Act of Kindness #7

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photo credit: nick karvounis

Paul Simon had a dream: he wanted to cook for his President someday. He also dreamed of opening his own restaurant where he would cook dishes from his mother’s recipes; but that would come later.

A graduate of ASPN (Association for Persons with Special Needs) Delta Senior School, he was employed in a leading hotel as a cook, where his mild intellectual disability was not an issue to him, his supervisors or the hotel guests.

In December 2017, Mr Simon was interviewed  for an article celebrating the International Day of Disabled Persons. In it, he mentioned his two dreams.

On 24 January 2018, Mr Simon fulfilled one of these dreams. The President had read the article and had her staff contact him, extending an invitation to cook for her. So, on that day, that’s what he did. He cooked and served a three-course lunch for President Halimah at the Istana (the official residence and office of the President). And joined her for a chat as she had her dessert.

Thank you, Madam President, for that invitation and for making a dream come true.

Oy, Auntie! ~ Act of Kindness #6

I was early for my lunch with my BFF today. While waiting, I ordered a coffee and sat down to read at a nearby coffeeshop. 30 minutes later, she arrived and off we went to our lunch venue.

We took the downward escalator; I was in front, my BFF a step behind me. Mid-way down, we heard a loud male voice bellow, “Oy, Auntie! Aun-tie!”

There followed the thump of a foot that caused the escalator to vibrate. I turned, as did my BFF. As did the middle-aged man behind her. As did everybody else within hearing distance.

A young man stood at the head of the escalator waving a book. “Oy, Auntie, your book!”

Yep, I’d left my book in the coffeeshop. I had a choice: head back upwards on that escalator or reach the bottom and take the other one up.

The young man solved the dilemma. He took two steps down, handed the book to the middle-aged man and pointed at me. Then he bounded back up what was now five steps.

The least I could do was bellow back my thanks. He waved cheerily back. My highly mortified book was passed from the middle-aged man to my BFF to me. (It has since buried itself inside my tote and refused to reappear.)

I am deeply grateful to the young man who bothered to track down a forgetful reader. My thanks also to the man and BFF who helped to reunite a book and its owner.

Noodle Auntie ~ Act of Kindness #5

For as long as we’ve lived in the neighbourhood, we’ve had Sunday brunch at the coffee shop whenever we could. It wasn’t a large shop; just seven stalls offering drinks, vegetarian noodles, congee, prawn noodles, wanton noodles, Indian food and economical rice.

We were generally happy to eat from each stall in rotation. It got to the point even the stall owners knew whose turn it was to serve us. However, the Munchkin had an affinity for the wanton noodles and often ate it for weeks in a row.

This stall was run by a couple. Uncle prepared the noodles: dry, braised, with or without chilli, cooked soft or al dente just the way the customers ordered. Auntie did the plating and garnishing, often also delivering the bowls right to the tables.

But Auntie did much more for us. Over the years, she cut the Munchkin’s noodles into short little strips so it was easy for a child to scoop with a spoon. She made Uncle boil the noodles longer so they would be softer. She added extra sauce. She smuggled out extra wantons. Later, it was vegetables. When there was a moment to spare, she would sit with us for a chat.

The Munchkin had wanton noodles the day before leaving for college. Auntie cried and offered all sorts of advice about living alone. Even Uncle, whose voice we’ve pretty much never heard, said, “Study hard!” from behind his giant soup pot.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then I’m beyond thankful Auntie (and Uncle) and my family live in the same one. Thank you, Auntie.

The Suspension of Time


photo credit: marc ruaix

I sat before the TV, rapt and in awe of the grace, skill and athleticism of the ice dance competitors in the 2018 European Championships.

Pair after pair glided seemingly effortlessly across the ice in perfect unison, and in gravity-defying lifts and spins. Humans were not made to wear floaty dresses or sparkly shirts to dance on blades on ice!

Not every pair completed their programs unscathed – some stumbled, some had a sequence out of sync. But there is no denying the time, energy and commitment each has devoted to this sport. Nor the talent and passion.

Then came Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. Time stood still as the ice became the canvas for their art. If I was in awe before, I was speechless now. For several minutes, I was spellbound by this poetry in motion. The Moonlight Sonata will forever be associated with this record-breaking performance.

I am not a skater. I can’t tell a lutz from a loop. But I can suspend time for a few moments to appreciate beauty, and savour some moments of bliss.



Cab Ride ~ Act of Kindness #4

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photo credit: peter kasprzyk

I took a cab today because, as usual, I was running late. Plus, it was raining.

The driver and I discussed the weather. How it was -67C somewhere in Russia, and how it was 43C somewhere in Australia. An earlier passenger, he said, had griped about how it once rained for seven straight days where he lived, while his sister’s hometown was in danger from drought.

Then he asked how late I was staying out and how I was getting home.

Can you blame me for blurting out, “Huh?”

He waggled one hand skywards. “This rain won’t stop anytime soon.”

“O-kaaay,” I said.

“I don’t know if you remember about the train disruptions this weekend? Nothing running eastbound from 10:30 tonight through to Sunday midnight.”

I had, indeed, forgotten about that.

“The buses will be packed – how you going to board? Better to leave earlier from wherever you are and get the train. You don’t want to be stuck in town without a ride. And remember about surge pricing in case you want to do Grab.”

Yes, I had a great evening. And, yes, I left in time to catch the last train safely home. Thanks to a kindly driver.

Three Pages ~ Act of Kindness #3

While many genuine and satisfactory transactions occur on websites such as eBay or Carousell, it is probably fair to say that such sites are not typically the source of random acts of kindness.

Yet, an act of kindness happened on such a site.

This Seller received a message requesting pictures of three specific pages from a textbook she (or he) had listed. Several messages to and fro later, it transpired that the buyer was a kid who had left his (or her) textbook in school and needed it to complete his homework. He was honest: he didn’t want to buy the book. He just needed those three pages required for his homework.

The kid had not been able to reach his friends (who apparently had long gone to bed) nor could he find the relevant pages anywhere else. In desperation, he searched for the textbook on Carousell, found a copy and put forth his request to the presumably bemused Seller. Where others might have brushed off the kid’s request, the Seller obliged.

photo credit: jess watters

We could, of course, ask why the kid was still up at that hour trying to complete his homework. Or how he ended up on that site. Or wonder if we would have done the same in the Seller’s shoes.

Or we could applaud a kid’s solution to his problem – a study in thinking out of the box. And appreciate a seller’s generosity to a stranger in need.

Thank you, Seller, for your kindness in sending those three pages.