Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kenwood Retro Cake Decoration Competition

So many people expressed surprise and doubt when I told them that I have been selected to take part in Kenwood Retro Cake Decoration Competition and that I have never baked any cake in my entire life and I only have experience of decorating my small birthday cake a few years ago. Many non-believers thought I'm crazy and would make a fool of myself in public...cos this competition took place in public at Tangs Marketplace. Even the staff from Phoon Huat looked at me with great surprise when I told them that I needed to buy some nozzles and icing to use in a cake decoration contest and that I have zero baking experience! 

Unlike others who have doubts in my ability, I have never viewed my lack of experience as a serious handicap. Well, my belief is...just because I haven't done it before doesn't mean that I can't do it. I can totally understand where their concerns are coming from cos we are living in a conservative society whereby most people prefer to stick to the safe and tried-and-tested and most people wouldn't attempt something totally unfamiliar to them...well, i'm have to admire me for my courage to do something that I have never done in my entire life and to do it in public in view of everyone!

Since I have never baked any cake in my entire life and I don't have any baking equipment nor accessories at home, I bought 2 nozzles and practiced the night before how to get various designs from twisting the nozzles...I must say that the resulting effects are very much dependent on one's skills...check out my practice designs in the above photo...

I tried drawing on paper to conceptualize the design of the cake the night before the competition but I was too tired and dozed off before I could complete my what you see here is the result of what I thought on the spot during the competition. I always like elegant things and this Victorian-style cake doesn't look that bad for a first time effort ya? ;p 

We were given 3 hours to complete the decoration...and I was the most amateurish amongst all the competitors...some came very well-prepared with their own baked cakes and fondant decor, which I obviously could do competition took place in public at Tangs Marketplace and I was very much encouraged when members of the public crowded around me to see what I was doing...well, they didn't know that it was the first time that I was decorating a cake of this size...and guess, I didn't appear too nervous ya? Thought it's really nice that some kind folks in the audience praised my work =)

I had plans to use a darker blue icing...but the blue icing was out of stock at the few Phoon Huat outlets that I went to the night before and on the day of the what you see here is based on whatever I could
The photo collage of my Victorian-style retro cake which was used in the competition...the design of my cake might look simple but I put in a lot of effort during the competition...well, at least I didn't embarrass myself ya? ;p

Selfie with Kenwood mixer after the competition ;p

Selfie with my Victorian-style cake

I brought the cake home and gave it to my dad as a super early birthday cake for him =)

One last thing: one of the greatest pleasures in life is doing what people say I can't do...and this is not arrogance on my part, it's just faith in myself and my abilities...sometimes, I feel that people write others off too easily and too early...don't judge me based on what you think I can't do...

Thanks Kenwood Singapore and Tangs for giving me this wonderful opportunity to express my creativity and to do what I haven't had the opportunity to do previously...this Victorian-style design is an impromptu effort but I don't think it looks bad for an impromptu effort ;p

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tribute To Mr. Lee Kuan Yew: Emotional ties don’t come to an end with the passing away of a loved one

Yes, I stay in Tanjong Pagar GRC and Mr. Lee has been my MP even way before I was born. Fast forward to today whereby my neighbourhood has one of the highest rental rates in singapore...n it's not easy for me to walk around the malls here in my tee n shorts without those office crowds staring at me...Thank you Mr. Lee Kuan Yew for what you have done for Singapore. Rest In Peace!

Sending Mr. Lee Kuan Yew on his final journey during this rainy afternoon. It's raining v. Heavily. Even the heaven is crying over the loss of a great man :'( Ah Gong, please rest in peace...

Crowds lining Cantonment Road to bid Mr. Lee Kuan Yew a final farewell in the heavy downpour this afternoon...We were all drenched in the heavy downpour but it's worth it to bid farewell to Ah Gong...Ah Gong, You will be missed :'( 

Even Mr. Jack Ma took time off his busy schedule to travel all the way to Singapore to pay his respects to Mr. Lee at Parliament House! Sincerity at its best!

MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Indranee Rajah puts it best:
"The real secret of his enduring bond with Singaporeans is that we all fundamentally understood that the vision, the drive and the intellect were all powered by one thing - he cared. He cared deeply for Singaporeans and Singapore and all his actions were driven by a desire to make things better for them. Singapore was his life’s work."

He cared!!! That's the most important quality!!!

Love this quote from our beloved Ah Gong

"Emotional ties don’t come to an end with the passing away of a loved one
Written by Dr Lee Wee Ling
Source: The Sunday Times October 2, 2011 

My friend Balaji Sadasivan passed away on Sept 27 last year. In the obituaries section of The Straits Times last Tuesday, exactly one year after his death, there was a sonnet by Balaji himself: ‘But even in gloom, one truth is fundamental, from time immemorial, love springs eternal.’

A week after Balaji died, on Oct 2, my mother passed away peacefully at home. ‘Love springs eternal’ – but what comfort is that to the one who has departed and can no longer reciprocate our love?

This thought slipped randomly in and out of my mind as I was exercising last week. Then my Blackberry buzzed. I read the incoming e-mail. It was from my father – brief, concise, a mere statement of fact, yet what was unsaid but obvious was his love and concern for us, his children.

I suddenly realised that love does spring eternal.

Papa, my brothers Hsien Loong and Hsien Yang, and my sisters-in-law Ho Ching and Suet Fern, and I are still bound by our love for Mama and will continue to be for many more years.

For the first few weeks after her devastating stroke on May 12, 2008, my family and the doctors met often to discuss how best to minimise her suffering and perhaps enable her to recover to some extent.

The physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists all did their best, but Mama did not improve. The May 12 stroke was more extensive, and involved more brain regions controlling movement than her first stroke on Oct 25, 2003.

But Papa remembered how well she had recovered from that first stroke, which had occurred while my parents were visiting London. By the end of that year, we were celebrating Mama’s 83rd birthday on Dec 21 in a private room at Goodwood Hotel in Singapore.

Now, in October 2008, Papa knew that if Mama survived she would never be able to walk independently. But he felt that so long as she knew she was an important part of his life, she would still find life worth living.

He told her: ‘We have been together for most of our lives. You cannot leave me alone now. I will make your life worth living in spite of your physical handicap.’

She replied: ‘That is a big promise.’

Papa said: ‘Have I ever let you down?’

Mama tried her best to cooperate with the therapists. But it seemed a useless struggle. Even swallowing a teaspoon of semi-solid food was a huge effort. Then more bleeds occurred and her condition deteriorated. We, her family, decided that no further active treatment should be sought. We arranged to bring her home and nurse her there.

Before we brought her home for the final time, Papa arranged for her to stop at the Istana, to see her favourite spots in the grounds. We wheeled her to where she had planted sweet-smelling flowers such as the Sukudangan and the Chempaka. Then we wheeled her to the swimming pool, where she had swum daily.

We showed her the colourful little ‘windmills’ she had arranged around the pool. She also saw the colourful wetsuits that Papa had arranged to be made for her to keep her warm in the water.

He and I had been convinced that she had to exercise to remain fit. So come rain or shine, she would don a wetsuit and swim. Even when travelling, she would swim in the hotel pool.

On one trip, Mama said to Papa: ‘Today is a public holiday in Singapore. Can I take a break from swimming.’
Papa replied: ‘No, have a swim. You will feel better after that.’

As a neurologist, I knew that after the first bleed in 2003, a second was likely. But I did not want to burden Papa or Mama with this knowledge.

Still, unknown to me, Papa had sensed that she could easily rebleed. He told us later that they had both discussed death. They had concluded that the one who died first would be the lucky one. The one remaining would suffer loneliness and grief.

Mama deteriorated further after she returned home. Finally, she reached a stage when she could not even speak and seemed unaware of her surroundings. But she was always aware of Papa’s presence.

When Papa travelled, she would stay awake at night waiting for his phone call. When I began travelling with him, he usually would tell her on the phone: ‘Bye dear, I am passing the phone to Ling.’ Those were the times when I could hear her actively trying to vocalise.

When Mama passed away, I was at her bedside, watching her fade as her respiration became more shallow and feeble until it finally stopped. I did not try cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It would have been futile to have done so and cruel.

I called to ask my family physician to sign the death certificate, then returned to my room in a daze. Papa waited until the people from the Singapore Casket Company arrived. He showed them the jacket he wished Mama to wear and asked them to do their best to make her look attractive.

The wake lasted for three days. Hsien Loong and Hsien Yang, together with their wives, took turns to stand by the coffin and greet well-wishers. I was tired and rested at home, only attending the wake on the first evening to greet my friends and colleagues. I hoped that by resting I would recover by the day of the funeral.

Most of the time, my mind was blank. I thought I had my emotions under control. It was only at the funeral, when it was my turn to deliver the eulogy, that the finality of Mama’s passing hit me. I managed to control my tears but my voice was strained with emotion.

Three days after the cremation, the urn containing my mother’s ashes was delivered to our home. We all stood and bowed as the urn was brought into the dining room.

A few days later, I noticed that Papa had moved from his usual place at the dining table so as to face a wall, on which were placed photographs of Mama and himself in their old age. He tried various arrangements of the photos for a week before he was satisfied.

He also moved back to the bedroom he had shared with Mama for decades before her final illness. At the foot of his bed were another three photographs of Mama and himself.

The health of men often deteriorates after they lose their wives. The security officers and I watched Papa getting more frail every day. His facial features were grim, perhaps to mask his sadness and grief. I took one day at a time and persuaded him not to undertake any arduous trips to America or Europe. China and Japan were near enough and manageable. I was pleased to get him out of the house.

By July this year, Papa’s health had stabilised and even begun to improve gradually. I reminded myself of the analogy I used for him – titanium. Titanium is light but strong. It can bend a little, but it will not snap unless it is under overwhelming force.

Physically, we all eventually succumb. Papa is also mortal. But he is psychologically stronger than most people. Life has to carry on, and he will keep going so long as he can contribute to Singapore.

As I was halfway through writing this article, I went out of my room for a drink of water and saw a note from Papa addressed to all three of his children.

It read: ‘For reasons of sentiment, I would like part of my ashes to be mixed up with Mama’s, and both her ashes and mine put side by side in the columbarium. We were joined in life and I would like our ashes to be joined after this life.’"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

SevenFriday 2015 World Tour Singapore

Thanks Sugi of Red Army Watches for the kind invitation to SevenFriday 2015 World Tour event at Lowercase at LaSalle. A set of limited edition SevenFriday watch with a bottle of Yamazaki single malt 18 years whisky was up for silent auction at the event, whereby proceeds go towards LaSalle. Daniel Niederer of SevenFriday specially flew in for this SevenFriday 2015 World Tour event in Singapore. Daniel and Sugi took the stage for a dialogue session. Guests and members of the media had a preview of some upcoming SevenFriday watches and there was an interesting variety of strap options on showcase. I like the interesting and unique designs of SevenFriday watches. Guests were treated to interesting Yamazaki whisky cocktails and canapes. Spent a fun-filled evening with fellow watch-lovers. Thanks SevenFriday for a lovely evening!

This is the set of limited edition SevenFriday watch with a bottle of Yamazaki single malt 18 years whisky up for silent auction at the event.

Proceeds of the silent bid go towards LaSalle 

Wrist shot of the SevenFriday limited edition watch that our friend wore to the event. Learnt that only 5 pieces were available in Singapore and the one up for silent auction at the event was the 5th and last piece. And the cool wristband accessory is actually a thumbdrive =)

 Sugi and Daniel addressing the guests on stage

Checking out the new SevenFriday watch which would be launched here in May 

 Checking out the interesting strap options

Thought that displaying the SevenFriday watches in the bird cage is an interesting idea

Guests were treated to Yamazaki whisky cocktails

Me being me, wouldn't miss out on a selfie opportunity with Daniel Niederer of SevenFriday who flew in for this SevenFriday 2015 World Tour event in Singapore

Trying out Yamazaki whisky cocktail