Keep in touch….

The phrase “keep in touch” is the most oft-used phrase among people who will probably end up, well, never keeping in touch.  They know they are not pursuing a meaningful relationship or friendship or continuing a meaningless one, with the recipient of the phrase; but the phrase is uttered regardless at the end of an encounter or episode of their lives.  Just in case – who knows what they might need to extract from you in future.

So to hedge their bets, they say “keep in touch” as it probably sounds benignly sincere but uttering it is probably the closest to any action they will ever take, to keep in touch.   

In that case, they should know there is another benign word closer to sincere, that is more versatile. 

“Take care” .  Whoever is the author of this phrase, is brilliant.

It sounds more final and does not promise anything that remotely requires follow up except on the recipient’s part.   So for people you never really intended to take up with after the encounter, it is a sincere and final goodbye.  Your kind thoughts will be much appreciated but no follow up action expected.  Your heartfelt sayonara was for them to take care of themselves and not you, them. 

But with people you do intend to take up with, a follow up call, e-mail, sms will carry the sincerity to reality.  So the “keep in touch” in this instance, is unspoken but implied. 

Of course, there are some people who use “keep in touch” more sincerely.  But for the most part in my experience, it is for the uneasy closure with people who are not that close but who they may still want to keep tabs on, i mean, keep in contact with the other.  This because they might very well end up doing so in the distant or not too distant future,  when the need arises to be nosy and confirm some news or gossip they have just heard, or to add fodder to feed the existing gossip bullet train.  Or they might want something from you.  If none of the above, then going back to premise, it is just uneasy closure for people who really don’t want to keep in touch.

My conjecture is this.  With people we want to keep in touch with, we will do so automatically, without having to say it.  It will be a natural extension of a friendship already established from the previous encounter.  No matter the timespan of the next encounter, we merely pick up where we left of.  We will even say “take care” at the end of an exchange, as well 😉


When do grievances turn into belief

All sorts of motivations colour our actions and yet are difficult to pin down unless technology gets to the point that it is able to develop a mind and heart reader, for a factual assessment.  Or, are they all actually text-book cases to psychologists who then zero in on the unseen to coax a response of real intent?

An interviewee to the ST article, 10 May 09 “Inside the mind of Mas Selamat and his ilk” suggests that Mas Selamat “would have been so deeply indoctrinated that his grievances would have crystallised into beliefs”.

Perhaps his early grievances of a perceived selling-out of ilk and kin to more “western” mores was a fertile bedrock for his indoctrination.  Once “converted” his was the unquestioning, unwavering trust of a foot soldier.   If this belief system is being cascaded down to hand-picked warriors, what then is the fundamental motivation of the leader at the source. 

If reports are to be believed, at the source, money is not an issue.  Neither fame.  Could it be then that the promise of 72 vestal virgins to these soldiers is to orchestrate and feed a power binge? Displaying perhaps a motivation veering to the political rather than a religious dimension?

What of the motivations of the different parties involved in the AWARE saga, the activists on the sidelines and the media? 

The religious convictions of the new (now defunct) regime was on play.   Online netizens refer to them as christian taleban though interviews and on-the-ground sentiment of segments of parents of various religious convictions mirrored that of the new team too.  Could this imply talebans of all races and religions as well?  What was their motivation?  From what little that came out in the press on their stand, their objective was a back-to-basics model, to help all women in need, in the context of a civic society.  The concern however, was a group whose intent would be to proselytise and pressurise into belief before proferring help.

What then, the motivations of the old guard?  The activists?  Have their grievances (which might go deeper than the core of AWARE and what it represents) perhaps turned into a belief system as well.  A religion to them.  If so, the media could very well ask the same of them.  What are their motivations?  The real intent.

No laughing matter….

Is it race, ehtnicity, environment or conditioning that affects people’s ability to laugh.  Going to the airport in Shanghai to catch a flight home, it suddenly dawned on me that I did not see many people laughing or joking.  Not at places of interest, not taxi drivers, not among friends and family in restaurants, malls etc…

Maybe it was just a short time there.  Or because I don’t speak the language and therefore could not communicate comic effect efficiently enough to elicit some form of response.  Or that laughter takes place only in the privacy of home.  Or simply, we are not on the same wavelength.

We chartered a taxi which another friend who is resident there, uses frequently.  On returning to the taxi after the first pit stop of the day at Zhu Jia Jiao Water Village, my friend also a visitor like me, with the straightest of faces, remarked to the driver that she had met his friend who had asked after him. 

She had meant it as a passing joke which the rest of us in the cab had already caught on to but I could see through the driver’s expression that he was suddenly going into overdrive trying to put two and two together, mouthing possibilities silently to himself.

Finally, we burst out laughing and told him it was a joke.  Even then, after saying he was slow, he only managed a small, polite chuckle, still explaining that his only response was to think of who it could be who knew the both of them.

Or on the train journey from Hangzhou to Shanghai, a loud conversation between two friends did not yield a single laugh. 

Maybe being in a country of 1.6bn, survival is of the essence.  Cracking jokes takes a back seat.  I don’t know….

Don’t get me wrong.  I loved Shanghai… it’s cool – literally and figuratively – and eclectic;  I would go back again in a heartbeat, but based on my general impression, the funny bone has gone into hiding.

Mind your Ps…

Did you know there is chi chi Parisian chic in Shanghai and there is Pyjama party allure too? 

Alongside, dog-toting, high-heeled, exotic-print skin (no offence to animal lovers) sandals, someone else is walking around all decked out in red and black stripe pyjamas, silk none less, with matching black dress shoes, at a high-end suburb. 

Or a fashion statement, draped on the arm of a non-chinese man, with long, black silky hair bouncing against a slim back clothed in the latest trench coat for spring versus cotton draped, knee-length pyjamas and a head full of curlers with high heeled slippers, on the back of a scooter.  

No offence to Shanghai.  In fact, I like this quirkiness about it.  Gives spring in Shanghai its pizzaz!

What would be nice for OCDs like me, and this applies not only to Shanghai, but anywhere in the world where public washrooms are none too sanitary, would be clean public washrooms; With non-exposed soiled napkins (not the sanitary ones offered in restaurants),  without the aroma of ammonia-based liquids, flushed cisterns with no evidence of digested morsels through another channel opening south of the border … (I could go on, but you get the picture).

I swear I see pained faces walking around looking parched like in the desert for lack of water, knees turned inwards magically hoping to hold the forces of nature within.    The issue at hand is the very same OCD masochists will continue to travel to exotic destinations as other experiences outweigh any misgivings of public sanitation.

So while the world plays catch up to OCD standards of hygiene, here’s the OCD SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) as you make your way around the world.  Please note this SOP only concerns itself with holding the pee in and will not be liable for any ill-effects thereof.  It is by no means exhaustive as I am a true believer of item #1, so please add on to the list, to help fellow sufferers out there.   

  1. At the pinnacle of discipline – Remain dehydrated.  Do NOT drink any water AT ALL in the course of the day. It also presupposes that accommodation meets OCD requirements (which is a topic for another day) and as such keep drinking rampages only to the night when safely ensconced in decent guest house with good sanitation.
  2. Where the spirit is willing but flesh is WEAK (tsk, tsk) drink water only occasionally, one gulp at a time after long intervals, just to wet the lips. 
  3. Substitute water with fruits to hydrate yourself if you need.  Please note that this too poses some danger especially fruits like oranges, so a bite of an apple every hour should do the trick.
  4. Even if steps 1, 2 or 3 are adhered to and you have a weak bladder,  turn knees inward.  This does not do anything for you but warns people around you not to make you laugh.
  5. If you have the means and you are in the city, find a high-end restaurant so you can eat and do the pee deed.
  6. If in rural areas, bring a “sarong” and a friend.  Get as far out into the open as you can as far away from the actual outhouses.  Get into the sarong that your friend will hold up (peeking is a lesser risk than snakes) and do the deed south of where he/she is standing.  You don’t want to lose a friend.
  7. ?

More on how to mind your P…..?  Fire away.


There were anecdotal accounts and rumours aplenty as the financial crisis deepened last year, of individuals ruined by the crisis, taking their lives.  Some even going as far as saying the incident/s took place in high rise offices in the Central Business District.  In Singapore, imagine that.  Although, recent high profile incidents (God rest their souls) globally, might appear to give the rumour mill of urban myths, a believability quotient.

What drives a person to take his or her life?  I personally know of a few dear ones who have taken a similar route and believe me, there are many unanswered questions.

Was it desperation coupled with depression?  Perhaps, the inability to make sense of a system that used to make sense?  The problems were overwhelming and the pit, already deep, continues to spiral downwards?  The ignominy and hopelessness of the circumstance surrounding them?  Coming up against wall after insurmountable wall of deadends with nothing to look forward to?  There was nothing to live for?  There was noone to live for?  There was noone to help?  There was noone willing to help?  Or there was no help big enough on the way?  Did they ask for help?  Could they accept help?

Yet another question.  What makes a divorced, young mother of four school-going children, with bleak employment prospects and only ten cents in her purse, keep going?

in the wide, wide world

Anxiety.  Fear.  Paranoia. 

The external tell tale signs of anxiety being played out, are copious.  Sweat, (I’ve been told only animals sweat.  Humans perspire.  It’s all terminology.  It all has to do with excretion of water from the system), in many forms.

Beads of sweat on the forehead betray nervousness stemming from anxiety.  Sweaty palms and feet are the worst going to and from an interview or important meetings.  Worse if coupled with sweat-stained shirts under the arm.  Or just uncontrollable water droplets streaming from one or all of the above glandular outlets.

Those can be dealt with, apparently.  Even stars (not fledglings mind you) but big names, need to cope with the same “open pore bucket” syndrome.   For such, there is hope.  Botox.  Apparently, these days you can botox all your cares away, including stopping them sweat glands from producing wet palms, sweaty feet and underarm “liquidity”.  Nothing you can cash out but definitely something you can cash in to.

Anxiety stemming from whatever reasons that is not stamped out, builds into uncontrollable fear leading to paranoia.  Most people assume this leads finally to a convalescent home, to put it delicately.  But don’t think this “people-out-to-get-me” syndrome is only the domain of schizophrenics who hear voices. 

This “malaise” is very much alive:

  • in those who think they have a lot to lose
  • in those who really have a lot to lose

be it in fame, power or wealth or all of the above.

Those who have clawed their way, I mean worked their way up so high that the only way is down, in any office, reach the same pinnacle of paranoia and project their perceptions on others.  To bastardise a certain mantra, “they will do it to others so they assume others will do it to them”. 

What do they do?  They DO not trust.  They ringfence themselves.  They have the inner circle, who they still do not quite trust.  So they create the “innest” circle to keep an eye on the inner circle who keep an eye on the not so inner circle who stare at the outer circle.  

Hearing things?  External whisperings or internal voices?  Perhaps, they are just two sides of the same coin.

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