Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The reality of death

The whole of last week was an eventful one. First, my sister visited us in Singapore over the weekend. It was a lot of fun (it's always fun when she visits!) involving lots of window-shopping, eating out at restaurants which Brian and I typically do not go on our own and fantasizing about our dream Chan-family vacation (due to life circumstances we've not taken a holiday together as a family since I was 11!).

Then, on Monday (sister left for home on Sunday), I got a call from her in the morning that our maternal grandmother (we all, including Brian, call her PohPoh) is very sick. Then, at 5 pm, I got another call from sister that PohPoh has had a hemorrhaging stroke and has been sent to the hospital. We did not know what to expect as we waited anxiously for my parents to update us on her situation. By the next morning, it was decided that she'll be operated on. As PohPoh is in her mid-80's, the risk of such a surgery was expected to be high.

Brian and I were of two minds about dropping all we had to do and travel to Ipoh Malaysia to see her. On one hand, my parents told us to wait and see, on the other hand, we didn't want to arrive at her bedside when it's too late. Unlike my sister and other cousins, I share a special bond with PohPoh as I was left with PohPoh for the first few years of my life as my parents worked in another city. Needless to say I'm her favorite grandchild.

Though I was scheduled to go to Jakarta on Friday for work, by late Tuesday afternoon I was on a flight to Kuala Lumpur to meet my sister who then drove us to Ipoh (two hour drive). By the time we arrive Ipoh, PohPoh had already come out of surgery. She was still semi-conscious when we visited her but doctor said she's a very strong woman. True enough, she was discharged from the hospital today (merely a week after her stroke). Seeing that she's okay we left for home the next day.

I even made it to Jakarta for a weekend of speaking engagements. Brian had to come with me last minute as my colleague was not well and could not make it.

The difficult part begins now for my family in Ipoh - PohPoh is now staying with my parents and it's been very hard taking care of her. Besides, my mom is not young herself and she is narcoleptic. We're hoping to hire help to assist my mom with PohPoh but the hiring process takes time. Our family needs lots of prayers right now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Soup or congee

I was only away for a night (for work) and Brian's fallen sick! Down with a rather bad cold, we've been trying to self-medicate (Nyquil at night and Panadol Cold in the day) before opting for the last resort of going to the doctor's. It's not a great week for Brian to be sick as he has to preach on Sunday at our home church (always not an easy task to preach at one's home church!).

I, on the other hand, have been trying to fulfill my role as the caring spouse - trying to nurse my poor husband to health by making sure that he takes his medication and gets enough fluid. One of the challenges I face is deciding which is better for him - chicken soup or chicken congee.In the West (particularly in the US), when one is ill, it is traditional to have chicken soup. However, my Chinese upbringing taught me that chicken congee is the way to go for someone who is sick. If you think about it, it makes sense to have congee as the carb would fuel the energy the sick needs. Therein lies my predicament - should I feed Brian with chicken soup (his tradition) or should I go with my Chinese instinct to give him chicken congee? In the end, I settled for a compromise - chicken soup for lunch and chicken congee for dinner. He seemed to have enjoyed the congee when he had it last evening (the ginger in it helps loosen the sinus).So, please pray for Brian - that he'll recover soon enough for the long weekend ahead!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kiss and show!

Last week, at a seminar in Malaysia on Syariah Law, the governing officer wants non-Muslims committing khalwat (close proximity - click on "close proximity" for full news article) with Muslims to also be held liable but charged in the civil courts and not the Islamic Syariah Court. This proposal was of course dropped the next day following objections from various human rights advocate bodies.

Ironically, on the same day, Brian had an interesting encounter here in Singapore that is related to "close proximity." Here's what happened: it was a sultry day late in the afternoon when most people who live on our building were either at work or in school. Brian, who has been working hard all day at home on his research, decided to take a break and come visit me at my office. Instead of taking the lift, for some reason, he decided that he would take the stairs. As he walked down the stairs from our 6th floor, he was very quiet as he was wearing his sneakers. He tried to multi-task by sending me a text message on his phone. As he approached the 4th floor, he sensed that there were some people sitting on the stairs of the 3rd but he didn't take too much notice of it. Then, as he approached the 3rd floor, he saw the backs of a middle-aged Malay Muslim couple who was engaged in a somewhat compromising position. Specifically, the man's face (or was it his mouth?) was against (or was it on?) one of the the woman's, well, boobs! And underneath her blouse and headscarf!!! As Brian was so silent, they hadn't notice his coming and hence were caught in the (some) act!

Brian being Brian was both amused and embarrassed and hurried down the stairs pretending that he didn't see anything. But we all know that they were in "close proximity"! We speculated that they must not be a married couple as which married couple would be desperate enough to make out on the stairs of a public resident building? Why not go back to their own sack? Hmmm...

Ironic isn't it? Ahh... life in Singapore in close proximity to Malaysia!