Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"


By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's the last day of the year.

While 2004 hobbles on it's last legs, 2005 is having a very difficult birth.

The scenes on TV of death and destruction rip at any feeling being's heart and it would be so easy to give in to that burden of sadness brought on by the devastation.

But the lesson that has been reinforced in me is to remember the blessings that have been given to us. The blessing of a loved one by my side. The blessing of waking up in a comfortable bed in a comfortable house with my health. The blessing of having a loving family (this includes my extended family and in laws). The blessing of being able to enjoy my work.

This New Year's Eve, I will raise a glass in memory of those who suffered at the hands of the Tsunami and say a prayer for their families. Do spare a moment and pray for their quick recovery from this terrible terrible incident.

Allan and I have been doing some research about aid and how it's distributed and the result, is that we've decided to donate money instead of donating in kind. The thing is, most aid agencies who are experienced at this sort of thing usually find it difficult logistically to get the aid to the places that most need it. So as a measure of practicality, we decided to donate cash.

If you're interested in that option, have a look at CARE. It's an organisation that not only provides relief but also stays on to try and rebuild the community. And they have a secure online option to donate if you so wish.

Tonight, in celebration of all the blessings I've received present and future, in the company of my friends and loved ones, I am going to raise a glass to all, envelop them in my arms and say "I love you."

A Blessed New Year to all!

Quiz from blogthings.com

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Your Dominant Intelligence is Interpersonal Intelligence

You shine in your ability to realate to and understand others.
Good at seeing others' points of view, you get how people think and feel.
You have an uncanny ability to sense true feelings, intentions, and motivations.
A natural born leader, you are great at teaching and mediating conflict.

You would make a good counselor, salesperson, politician, or business person.

Front Page of Life & Times, New Straits Times

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Just Heavenly's Front Page in NST Posted by Hello

My Gosh! Front page. Never happened to us before. It was such a privilege and an honour. Allan and I have been so blessed ever since we started this business. The new friends we've made, the support we've been given by friends and family and the growth of the business itself.

Thank you all and we'll endeavour to continue designing dreams and serving pleasure! ;-)

Tragedy Strikes! Hope Endures!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Has anyone physically sat around and counted up to 1,000,000?

I mean, we all understand the number as a concept but have we actually experienced the sheer vastness of the number?

That's the number of people displaced as a result of this Natural Disaster not to mention the 12,000 or so who died. These were people like you and me who were sitting around, probably enjoying their time with family and friends when all of a sudden a wall of water comes crashing on them like so much concrete and either crushed them or just stole their lives away.

Each of their stories are now lost. Each of the little sparks that lit their family and friend's lives have been extinguished. Their shared experiences have become inaccessible to us except through vicarious means. All this in the blink of an eye.

Allan came to bed last night on the verge of tears. He summed it up with "it's so sad to see." We said a short prayer for all those who suffered and asked God to shine hope in their lives. Wish we could do more.

Some hopeful stories;

A friend's Uncle and Aunt were driving in Phuket when they saw the wave coming in. They turned round and sped off and missed the wave by a few minutes. The same friend's brother in law was on Koh Phi Phi off Phuket and they had just left on the boat for the mainland when they saw the wave crashing into the island. They did not know where to go. Somehow, they made it back to Phuket in one piece.

When it's not your time, God is not going to ask you to return home, no matter what danger you might be in.

On the other hand, I pray and hope that all the people who suffered through this will experience a quick healing and recovery.

We Wish You A Merry X'mas

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The Malay Mail reported today that the brother of the groom who left the bride at the "altar" as it were said that "he was under a spell."

How about personal responsibility? How about having the two young 'uns talk things out? Or better yet, have the families work it out? How about the groom saying I'm sorry? How about the Mother stop blaming fate? Yup, that was the other thing that was reported. Poor fate! Get's blamed for everything. When do we take responsibility? Many Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, all like to go ahead and leave it to God.

Surely there's a balance though. We still need to do our best don't we? We still need to act in an upright manner don't we? Why didn't the groom go talk to the girl privately before this unpleasantness occured? It is possible that he tried and the girl didn't listen because she WANTED to be married?

What it boils down to was that the groom was scared and frightened and didn't know what to say so in a fit of desperation he decides to send her an SMS instead. The fear is understandable.The fact that he did not stand up to his own fear is not. If we allow fear to rule us, we are, in a word, lost. Everything we do will be predicated on what other people think of us, and what we can do so other people won't be pissed off.

How do you live your best life at that point?

The Phil Choir Rocks!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

After 11 performances and the usual bitching and sniping that goes on in the Phil, the choir wrapped up what was probably their most eventful X'mas season. 11 Performances! That would have put seasoned performers in KL through the mill, let alone a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs.

The choir deserved to be congratulated.

Colin was a good conductor who pulled the choir together and taught the members how to focus. The choir was willing to listen and learn. A very good combination. Bar some hiccups, I thought that everyone had fun including myself.

2 years ago I did not sing for Christmas...at all. And I felt empty. This year I've been busier than ever (not as busy as Allan) but was having fun juggling work and singing. Allan has been understanding of the fact that I feel that this is my way of serving Him. I am so very very blessed! Praise God! ;-)

Allan and I also put the tree up at home. We decided that this year's theme would be Baubles. So we've basically hung the tree with all manner of round balls. Gold, silver, red, antique, you name it. We (Mum, Dad, Allan and myself) stood round the tree (in unconcious tribute to the wiccans/druids/pagans) held hands and Dad switched on the lights.

X'mas has not felt so Christmassy in a many years.

First Weekend of Performances

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The 1st weekend of performances is over! Hallelujah! Aaaaa-mmennnnn!

Tiring but ultimately satisfying. Colin is supportive as a conductor and the choir responds well to him. I feel the men seem to be shouting too much and a rough sound is developing in the Bass section. That coarse edge when you yell too much. However, the overall balance is decent, despite the fact that we had to contend with a sound guy who was late for our 1st 3 performances out of our 5 this weekend. Hmmm!

Perhaps it's time to have a word with him. Really congenial guy and means very well. AND I know he takes the Phil seriously. But punctuality is also about respecting other people. And if you're late, it seems to indicate that you don't care about people and you don't care about wasting other peoples' time. Something I will have to think about and see how I can communicate to him without walls going up, whether directly or indirectly.

I had an interesting chat with Aariye tonight. Crux of it was about freedom of speech in all it's guises.

My opinion has for a very long time been that I have no quarrels with the notion. It's the consequences of taking the notion to an extreme that I have a problem with. People bandy the phrase "freedom of speech" (especially in America) to the point that it's become this religion, this end in itself. As far as I'm concerned, the only end for me is to live in harmony with my fellow people. My community. I'm a filthy tempered fellow but happily enough I'm finding more balance every day. Thanks to my other half.

So, the challenge is, how do you find a way to get your message accross without it being still born. That's what all this "communication"/blogging/talking/speechifying is all about isn't it? If this is the end itself, then it seems sterile.

We live in a community of mostly like minded people. I'm an optimist. I believe that people are generally good and when it comes down to it, if you can speak their lingo (and I don't mean a foreign tongue) people will generally want to do what you want to do. In my 40 years, I've found people are reasonable. Only thing is that, the way I think and speak, may not be how someone else thinks and speaks. So how do I find a way to communicate what I think to another person without that person erecting a wall to my message? The onus is on me surely.

Furthermore, if you, for example, cause offence to someone, the first thing they will do is erect a brick wall 100 m high and it'll be a very tedious job tearing it down so you can communicate to them again. And for what? Just so you can have the satisfaction of saying what you want to say? Why not just try rephrasing it? Sit down with them specifically and tell them...nicely. If it's not as well received as you'd like it, move on. They don't have to agree with you. And it's not necessarily personal if they don't agree with you...unless YOU make it so.

So you can still have your freedom of speech but the consequences are that you get to pass your message on and still have a decent relationship (and that's what it's all about) with the other guy. No PERSON (for you "womyn" out there) is an island after all. But THAT is a whole other story.

This Is The Moment from the musical Jeckyl and Hyde

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Song: This Is The Moment Lyrics

This is the moment!
This is the day,
When I send all my doubts and demons
On their way!

Every endeavor,
I have made - ever -
Is coming into play,
Is here and now - today!

This is the moment,
This is the time,
When the momentum and the moment
Are in rhyme!

Give me this moment -
This precious chance -
I'll gather up my past
And make some sense at last!

This is the moment,
When all I've done -
All the dreaming,
Scheming and screaming,
Become one!

This is the day -
See it sparkle and shine,
When all I've lived for
Becomes mine!

For all these years,
I've faced the world alone,
And now the time has come
To prove to them
I've made it on my own!

This is the moment -
My final test -
Destiny beckoned,
I never reckoned,
Second Best!

I won't look down,
I must not fall!
This is the moment,
The sweetest moment of them all!

This is the moment!
Damn all the odds!
This day, or never,
I'll sit forever
With the gods!

When I look back,
I will always recall,
Moment for moment,
This was the moment,
The greatest moment
Of them all!