Monday, 30 May 2005

Flowers from dear friends to cheer me up...

Thank you Kristin, Chris, Allen and Andrea...the flowers certainly brought some cheer to my office.

Friday, 27 May 2005

my grandmother passed away last week.

In all honesty, I am still unable to come to grips with it. It's like she's simply gone away for a holiday, and that when I return from Australia the next time, she'll be there, in her house, waiting to stuff me full with all the wonderful food that she cooks.

At least I managed to catch a last glimpse of her before she passed away. It is quite amazing how one is able to buy an airticket and fly from Sydney to Singapore all within 7 hours. And yet, it's still not ideal. Not that there could be any ideal last goodbyes, but by the time I arrived in the hospital, she had been heavily sedated and although she did show some signs of acknowledgement, I'm still not entirely sure if she knew I was there.

I just wish I could have one last conversation with her.

I just wish I had stayed for the Chinese New Year, instead of rushing off to work.

I just wish...I am reaching the point of irrationality.

It is never easy to handle death, I mean, I had to handle my own father's passing away seven years ago and I'm still coming to terms with it. But this is also different because it all happened so suddenly. But I am fortunate enough to have spent some time by my grandmother's bedside for 2 days before she passed away. What about others who have lost someone within a matter of 2 minutes?

I miss her. I miss her terribly.

This is the woman who raised me.

This is the woman who spoils me rotten, ensuring I get all my favourite meals whenever I return from overseas.

This is the woman whom I spend most Sundays with, whenever I'm in the country.

This is the woman who will call the family up, just to chat, or because she saw something interesting on TV.

This is the woman who tries to shrug me off whenever I hug her, but always does it with a pleased smile and twinkle in her eye.

This is the woman who constantly bugs me to provide her with a grandson-in-law, preferably Caucasion because "they treat their wives better".

This is the woman who has gone to sleep and left a hole in my heart.

Like with my father, I don't think I'll ever stop missing her. I don't think I'll ever stop wondering how things would be different if she was around. I don't think I'll ever stop thinking how nice it would be for her to witness something significant that has happened in my life.

And yet, I am going to believe that God is in charge. I will believe that God has everything under control. I believe that everything has gone according to God's will.

I cannot answer why she had to go now, to go so soon, to go the way she did. But I have full faith that God has a plan. And I have found a few rays of sunshine.

I have always wondered why I had to spend the whole of last year in Singapore, working in a place that nearly killed my soul. But if I wasn't forced to be in Singapore, it would mean I'd have been away from home for 5 years and I would never have been able to spend the amount of time I did with my grandmother.

Maybe it's self-centred, but I believe God brought me back to Singapore for a reason. And yes, I found many different reasons why I had to be in Singapore in 2004, but I know the true reason is so that I could spend quality time with my grandmother.

Also, had it not been for her funeral, and the pyschotic relatives who refuse to leave us to grieve but instead choose to create trouble and add trauma by determining what we should do during the funeral because otherwise "her soul will find no rest", I would not have sat down to talk to my grandfather, just so that I could shield him from the poisonous talks the pyschotic relatives were giving him.

I honestly never knew my grandfather before this. We were never close. Our conversations consisted of hellos and goodbyes, and always required translations. I was convinced I didn't speak his language and would never understand it.

But for the three days of my grandmother's wake, he has provided me with so many interesting stories about his life, I still wonder why hadn't I tried before. We were still speaking different languages, but somehow, we could get enough of each other's language to understand each other. It was brilliant.

So yes, I still mourning the loss of my grandmother. I still miss her terribly and whenever the full knowledge of her death hits me, I am still unable to control the tears that spring up in my eyes. And I certainly wish things could be different.

But I'm glad that I have treated her right when she was alive. That her death has left me without the guilt that I should not have treated her the way I did.

And I am still clinging on to the faith that God has everything under control and that even though there is pain, there is also peace.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

I have fallen in love...with Bondi Beach.

No, not the beach, but Bondi Beach as a whole.

Decided to venture into unknown territory today and have unbelievably found a place that has made me excited again. I used to like Sydney. But after a year in England, I have to say that London utterly spoilt Sydney for me. But now that I've found Bondi Beach, maybe life isn't so bad after all.

It's not the view that drew me. I've been to far nicer beaches with far more coastlines with less people and residential areas and in all honesty, the beach at Bondi does not rank very high up in my list of great beaches (not that I'm an expert, of course).

But the whole atmosphere of the area, with its lovely Sunday market selling all sorts of cool and artistic handmade knick-knacks, clothes and whatnots, was extremely charming.

I was drawn by the Sunday market and the numerous surf shops and cafes lining the main street. But what ultimately made me fall in love with the place is Gertrude & Alice's Cafe Bookshop.

This has just gotta be one of the most gorgeous bookshop I've ever been to.

The shop is laid out in a U-shape, and lining all the walls are shelves and shelves of all sorts of books under the sun. And it's not like your Borders bookshop where everything is crisp, new and brightly shining. The books at G & A's have personality and character. Some are new, but most are 2nd hand books.

And in between the two walls, there are wooden benches and tables for customers to eat and read. The beauty of it all is that they serve true blue cafe-style food, of which I have a weakness for, and one can simply sit there eating, drinking or simply reading for as long as one likes!

There is a really relaxed and cosy atmosphere to the whole place, with soft jazzy music playing in the background, books haphazardly thrown about the place, a big couch to one side of the shop and people simply sitting around, reading, writing and typing away on their computers.

I stayed there for more than an hour, reading and writing and simply soaking up the atmosphere.

I have been absolutely charmed.

Saturday, 14 May 2005

This coming Monday, May 16 is World Debt Day.

A day to remember those in the Third World who are trapped, through no fault of their own, in a cycle of unpayable debt. May 16 commemorates the day in 1998 when 70,000 people formed a human chain around the G8 summit in Birmingham England. They were calling for debt justice for poor countries and greater accountability for past Cold War and irresponsible loans.

As a result of the international Jubilee 2000 campaign, 15 poor countries have had significant portions of their debts cancelled, since 2000. However, despite the achievements since 2000, there still remains:
  • 40 plus other poor countries not supported by the World Banks' Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative
  • the countries with debts cancelled still have at least 14 to 21 years of outstanding debts, and rich countries receive three dollars in debt repayments for every dollar they give in aid.
  • the 66 poorest countries still owe billion, nearly ten times more than the 50 billion in nominal debt relief given!
  • there still remains no permanent exit to the debt problem given the World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative may soon end.

Why is there a need to call for governments to drop the debt?

What can one do?

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Shopaholic Anonymous

Hi, my name is Melody Tan and I am a shopaholic.

I have conquered and contributed greatly to the economies of shopping havens like Paris, London, Melbourne and Singapore. On Sundays, you can almost invariably find me at Sydney's Pitt St Mall, or the markets at The Rocks. On holiday? Forget simply basking in the sun at the beach or taking in the normal touristy sights. I get cranky if there isn't a day set aside for the pure and simple joy of consuming.

Friends have long since learnt that one of the ways to cheer me up is to take me shopping. Even my boss knows I will be engaging in some sort of retail therapy on my days off. People have taken to threatening to tie me down whenever we walk past shops on our way to somewhere.

Give me a credit card, seven hours without interruption and a shopping complex. You will get a very happy camper by the end of the day. I have literally suffered from withdrawal symptoms when stranded in rural Australia for weeks where the local grocery store was the only form of shopping.

Up to a few months ago, it wasn't so much the purchasing that consumed me. After all, I was virtually living the life of a fresh graduate with bills to pay but no means of doing so. But even window-shopping and the occasional ring of the cash register and attainment of a blouse satisfied me.

Life has certainly changed drastically for me now that I am employed full-time with a consistent fortnightly paycheck. I don't get into a shopping frenzy per se, but the ability to buy something without having to worry too much about my finances most certainly help.

Shopping now is not so much done with a "need to have" reason, but spurred more by the emotional reaction of "ooh, that looks nice." Within the last two months, I have successfully become the Princess of Consumerism. After all, I now have the means to look the part of a fashionista, wearing the latest outfits in the coolest colours complemented by the trendiest accessories.

Hi, my name is Melody Tan and I am a Christian. I have conquered sin through the blood of Christ and am trying to contribute to the work of the church in making the world a better place. On Saturdays, you can almost invariably find me at church, worshiping God and attempting to deepen my relationship with him.

Friends have long since learnt that I am happiest when working for a non-profit organisation, striving towards helping others. Even my boss knows I will willingly engage in some sort of project that will help others achieve hope, a better lifestyle and the ability to alleviate suffering.

I strive to be Christlike in everything I do. Except, I'm responsible for the deaths and suffering of people all around the world. Deaths and suffering resulting from my inadvertent need to consume. A need spurred on by society's pressure to look good in the latest and trendiest.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" asks Jesus (Mark 8:36) .

There are so many things under the sun that I can gain with my shopaholic tendencies. There are in fact, many things under the sun that I have gained with my shopaholic tendencies. Clothing made by small children and women paid far below poverty wage in sweatshops where only two bathroom breaks are allowed in a 14-hour workday. Non-fair trade chocolate made from cocoa beans harvested by slave labourers who should be in school and not being beaten and working in such harsh conditions.

Hi, my name is Melody Tan and I have forfeited my soul.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not calling for the mass boycott of shopping malls all over the world. I am too addicted to do that without suffering major emotional implications. I'm simply asking for all of us to be more aware of the items that we are consuming.

To be aware that the items we buy may have been made through the exploitation of fellow human beings.

To be aware that through our very actions, we may have become an accessory to the murder of a woman in a sweatshop, to the continued abuse of a young child in the farms.

To be aware that consuming is not bad in itself, but blind consumerism is.

To be aware that as a decent human being, we should participate in some form of responsible shopping that will help make the world a better place.

Hi, my name is Melody Tan and I would like to become a responsible shopaholic.

For more information on responsible shopping, visit:

One Big Village


Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand

Green Vehicle Guide

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Yay! Now you can get updates of my site without actually even having to visit it!

Just click here.
Not only am I going to Fiji, I've been asked to be her bridesmaid!

Beachside wedding, warm sunshine, tropical island, an aqua-coloured dress, no shoes...I could get used to this!
like the new look?

Thanks to Faith, I am now able to receive comments posted on my blog direct to my email.

Apparently, there's also a rss feed, which honestly, is something that I have yet to figure out what it exactly means.

For those as clueless as me, she says, "rss feeds mean that people don't have to actually 'go' to your site.. they can subscribe to the feed and have the updated posts automatically sent to the rss readers."

More work needs to go into researching that, which unfortunately will not happen within this week.

Monday, 9 May 2005

There's Something About Mary

It all began when I heard a Friday night sermon suggesting that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany (the one with the famous siblings called Martha and Lazarus) were actually the same person. Within a span of a month, be it during a sermon at church, a morning worship at work, or a book I happened to pick up, the message sent out was clear - the two Marys were the same.

Yet, I wasn't convinced. In fact, I became even more adamant that they were two different people who happened to share the same name. After all, the name Mary is an extremely common one, probably more so back in Jesus' time than now.

However, I had nothing to back my beliefs up, besides perhaps the non-scientifically, non-academically thing called gut instinct.

By the time I heard the fourth sermon, I was convinced I had to do something about Mary. To do something not as an attempt to demonstrate my extensive knowledge or intelligence, of which I know is an oxymoron when applied to me. Neither is this a means to prove that the preachers I've heard are flawed in any way. This is simply a quest to quell my own curiosity, as well as a gnawing feeling that perhaps God wanted me to find out the answer for myself.

Doing a quick word search through the Bible using the computer, it was not difficult to find the several Marys significant in Jesus' life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was easily identifiable. Whenever she is mentioned, there is almost always a mother and son relationship mentioned. The Virgin Mary is frequently referred to either as the mother of Jesus (Luke 2:34), the mother of Jesus' brothers James and Joses (Mark 15:47, 16:1) or the wife of Joseph (Matthew 1:20). Sometimes, she is also "the other Mary" (Matthew 27:61), but there is almost never a chance that she could be confused with another Mary.

I would like to say that the same can also be said of Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany. Reading through the Gospels, Mary Magdalene is always identified by reference to her home village Magda, while Mary of Bethany seems to have been known always as one of the pair of sisters who were sufficiently identified by reference to each other.

I cannot claim to be an expert on ancient Palestinian geography, something that would certainly disappoint my ex-Religion lecturers, but I would assume that Magda and Bethany are two completely different locations. This gives rise to the reason why Mary Magdalene is associated with Magda, while Mary of Bethany is said to come from, well, Bethany (John 11:1). Had the two locations been the same, why are they constantly referred to by two different names? Unless Magda and Bethany are like how we would call Holland and the Netherlands today?

Yet, we are first introduced to Mary Magadelene by Luke, he immediately establishes she is "called Magdalene" (Luke 8:2). On the other hand, Luke introduces Mary of Bethany as Martha's sister (Luke 10:39). John first refers to the sister in a way that indicates that "Mary and her sister Martha" were already well known as such to his readers, whereas it was necesary to explain that Lazarus, whose name John never uses to identify either sister, was their brother (John 11:1-2; 12:2-3). If they were the same person, was there really a need to introduce them twice?

Why is it then that the two Marys are often thought to be the same person? Perhaps it does not help that in the early church, Mary of Bethany was frequently identified with Mary Magdalene - Gnostic literature certainly says the two women are identical (Gospel Women, Richard Bauckham, 2002).

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that both Marys seemed to be associated as women of poor repute?

After all, Mary of Bethany definitely poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair (John 11:2; 12:3). And in Luke's recording of the same account, she is said to have lived a sinful life in that town (Luke 7:37). There is an implication of course that the sinful life is that of being a prostitute and if Mary of Bethany is a prostitute, and if Mary Magdalene is a prostitute, then Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene must be the same person!

Do they have to be?

Firstly, it is not even firmly established in the Bible that Mary Magdalene is a prostitue. True, she has had seven devils cast out of her by Jesus (Mark 16:9), but this is no proof that she is a prostitute. I am not denying the fact that she is a prostitute, but there is also a possibility that she isn't.

Many have claimed that the lady Jesus saved from being stoned to death in John 8 for adultery was Mary Magdalene. Therefore, Mary Magdalene must be a prostitute. But looking through the account, there wasn't even a hint of a name mentioned. Are we simply assuming things?

My short little study has proven to me that the two Marys are unique individuals, completely unassociated with each other. It has also raised the question as to why we are so convinced Mary Magadalene is a prostitute. Yes, I believe the two Marys are not the same person, but I will certainly be more than happy to hear from soneone who believes they are, and the reasons why.

Sunday, 8 May 2005

Taken from the Oxfam website:

Trade has the potential to lift millions of people in developing countries out of poverty. But unfair trade rules are making millions of people even poorer. We want the World Trade Organisation, United States of America and the European Union to change global trade rules so that they benefit the poor by:

  • Abolishing subsidies in rich countries that lead to the over-production of agricultural products. This leads to the dumping of these products on the world market at below cost prices, severely undermining the income of poor families.
  • Giving developing countries the power to decide when and how they liberalise their agricultural trade so they can ensure that millions of poor small scale farmers, producing key crops like rice, poultry, cotton and milk, have an adequate income.

Take action, sign the online petition now.

she's getting married! My friend Natalie Bell is getting married!

In Fiji, "the most beautiful tropical islands in the world", at that!

With a camp organised before the actual wedding date no less!

Guess who's planning to be in Fiji for about a week in September?

Ooh, I'm so excited!

Saturday, 7 May 2005

i was given an unbelievable compliment this evening.

the mother of one of the nursing students in the dorm came into the kitchen while I was making some dinner for myself.

"That looks interesting," she says, looking at me trying to cook up a meal of instant mee-goreng (dry noodles), white mushrooms, egg and Chinese spinach.

She goes on to say, "You really should start up a cooking class for the girls here so that they can cook up a good meal for themselves."

Go on, laugh.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

it is finished.


The end.

No more.

5 weeks of media work for the 6 cyclists cycling across Australia to address at risk behaviour among young people has drawn to a close at the steps of the Sydney Town Hall at 1.30pm this afternoon.

Except the ideas bouncing around about writing a book about the whole event. But will think about that when that becomes a little more concrete.

In the meantime, I don't want to see a bicycle anytime soon.

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

my mobile phone has given up the ghost.

I can still make and receive calls. In fact, I can even listen to what the person on the other end have to say. They just can't hear me. Goodness knows what's wrong.

Guess it's time to shop for a new phone now...

At least it didn't die when I was on the tour and was heavily reliant on the phone when I had coverage.

There goes my plans to get the Nokia 7280. At almost $1,000, it is way out of my budget.

I'm considering the Nokia 6230. What with a corporate price, I can get it for about $480.

Suggestions, anyone?
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