Sunday, April 27, 2008

Death By Chocolate

Told my friend that we will both be victims of "death by chocolate" tonight. This gave us time to prepare our wills and who-to-contact in times of emergency kinda thing ... No!

So, we went to this wonderful place - a chocolate bar - and an absolute heaven for one with a weakness for chocolates - there were chocolates all over the bar and on parts of the wall - in all forms: powder, cakes, tarts, drinks, desserts, waffles, crepes - imagine anything, and it is here, in chocolate.

My plan was to come here for an appetizer before adjourning somewhere else for dinner - but we are both done without needing to have dinner. We both had only 2 things on the menu: the 'suckao' and the waffles. Let me explain what it is before you begin to conjure some vulgar thoughts in your mind.

The "suckao" is a super-highly-concentrated melted chocolate with milk drink. It comes with a special cup with a candle underneath and a metal straw-cum-spoon that was designed for preparing and drinking thick the hot chocolate made with REAL melted chocolate - therein the word "suckao" - sucking the melted cocoa with milk. Our favorite part is that because the chocolate is on the side, we get to decide how much (or little) we want to put in at one time. I had the dark chocolate and my friend the milk chocolate. When you order this, it comes with 4 things:

1. A shot of milk on top of this egg shaped contraption that has a tea light candle inside of it to keep the milk warm;
2. A small bowl with bits of real chocolate in it - chocolate to add to the milk, and you get more than you need to melt down for such a small shot;
3. A small serving of more milk - in the event you make your shot too chocolaty. Turns out you can use that to make one more shot, in case one wasn’t enough.
4. A small spoon - that looks more like a mini shovel - to insert the chocolate. Cool thing about the shovel is that it is also a straw so that you can sip your shot.

We should have just stopped there - but no... we (err... more me) had to order the special waffles along with it. It has a full waffle, dripped (and dripped and dripped) with generous chocolate and caramel. It has also 6 generous helpings of bananas topped with super-guey caramel and to jazz it up, it comes complete with coconut sorbet. Eat them all together and (ok ... imagine, if you must :)

We were on massive OVERLOAD! Within 5 seconds of having both of these, we were bound and gagged speechless - no words to describe it - we could no longer speak coherently, and then the fuzzy-headedness and giggling kicked in. It was delibitating. We were ... high on chocolates!

And as if that was not 'macho' enough, we went for a second set of dessert across the street and had that famous chocolate soufflé which I mentioned a few entries ago AND a 7-tapas set between the two of us! The tapas we had consisted of:

* banana pizza with cinnamon ice cream
* coupe cheesecake
* chocolate and caramel ice cream with hazelnut rice crispies
* coupe black forest
* raspberry panna cotta
* vanilla crème brulee
* strawberry chocolate fondue

There are many things I can say in between then and now (can I?). Suffice to say that my trainer called and promised that he will make me 'burn' all those chocolates I had tonight (argghh! - but not unless I can bribe him by treating him at this place - nah...). But most of all, both me and my friend are still awake at this un-earthly hour - still high on all those desserts we had earlier.

Help! I gotta work tomorrow morning...
(But it was worth it - every gramme of chocolate :)
Wanna find some excuse to go again this weekend... hahahha... I am addicted!

And to continue my incoherence tonight, some facts about chocolates:
* The Aztecs considered chocolate an aphrodisiac and banned women from consuming it. (Ironically, chocolate is the number one food craved by women)
*Chocolate contains phenylethylamie the same chemical produced by the brain when you fall in love.
*Chocolate is an excellent source of vitamin E and a good source of phosphorous, calcium and iron.
*There is no proof that chocolate causes or aggravates acne. Nor that it causes tooth decay. In fact, there are indications that the cocoa butter in the chocolate coats the teeth and may help plaque from forming.
*Research at the University of California has found that chocolate carries high levels of chemicals known as phenolics, or antioxidants like those found in red wine, and may help lower the risk of heart disease.

That's it ... it will be a repeat overdose next week, and it proved to be good, by science :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm A Believer

Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of the Maladies is a collection of short stories by a second generation Indian born and brought up in America - it can be considered as a piece of diasporic writing. This short story collection includes the stories about the lives of immigrant Indians who struggle to adjust between the Indian traditions that they left behind and the entirely different western world that they have to encounter every day.

The author, Jhumpa Lahiri, hails from the part of India known as West Bengal. In this collection of stories, she explores the psyche and world of Bengalis in Boston, Bengal and beyond. Being born as the daughter of Bengali parents in London; homeland for the author is only an imaginary place. Interpreter Of Maladies is her first published short story collection and had won Pulitzer Prize for fiction in the year 2000.

Different stories highlight different experiences of the people of Bengal. In "A Temporary Matter" a young couple exchange confessions after a long silence to cope with the failure in their marriage.

"When Mr. Pirzada Came To Dine" narrates the cultural unanimity between an Indian family and a Pakistani young man in a foreign country. "The Blessed House" is the story that shows the adjustment of young immigrant Indians to a new culture and beliefs.

"Mrs. Sen's" explores the life of an immigrant Indian life through the European point of view. "The Third And Final Continent" shows the hegemonic control still exercised by the Europeans over the people frpm the third world. "Sexy" is the story that shows the falling marital relationship among young immigrant Indians. The story shows the extra marital relationship between an Indian and a western woman as well as her feelings to valuable relationships.

The title story " Interpreter of Maladies" stands exceptional among all other stories. The story powerfully narrates the fascination of the third world people to the European life. The protagonist, Mr. Kapasi is an interpreter and "English is the only non-Indian language he spoke fluently..." The story shows how the everyday language of a common Indian becomes a western language. It is an open confession of immigrant Indians, who have to shut their dilemmas and nostalgic feelings at a foreign culture.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s ability to capture the mental make-up of immigrants and natives is unique. Her eye for detail is remarkable. Her languid pace makes for pleasant reading. In seemingly simple stories, she has attempted to portray the triumphs and travails of the immigrant Bengali community in America in particular and the lives of immigrants at large.

Interpreter Of Maladies falls under the category of post-colonial Indian English fiction. The stories deal with the nostalgia for homeland that emerges chaotic and even harsh at some times. The narrative is simple and poetic. The use of symbols and images has been merged with the theme of the stories. The stories will grasp the whole attention of the reader till the end and will leave thoughtful impressions in our minds.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

City Of Angels

Seth: Some things are true whether you believe in them or not.

City of Angels is based, not unexpectedly, in Los Angeles, which here is a literal "City of Angels," with the invisible celestial agents sitting high atop billboards and skyscrapers. Dressed like Heaven's Men in Black, the angels are an odd bunch. They spend their days and nights observing and occasionally offering comfort to select humans. They cannot touch, taste, or smell. They are immortal and ethereal. They live in a library and spend time at the beach in a kind of wordless communion.

Seth (Nicolas Cage) is just one of many angels assigned to Los Angeles. But, unlike most of his brethren, he has a strong desire to experience what it is like to be human. He seems to share the sentiment of a comment that he relates to fellow angel Cassiel (Andre Braugher): "What good would wings be if you couldn't feel the wind on your face?" One day, Seth is in a hospital to guide a dying man to the next life. His attention is captured by the determination of a doctor, Maggie Rice (Meg Ryan), to save the patient's life. Later, he returns with the intention of soothing Maggie's distress, but it proves to be a difficult task. Soon, he is spending hours on end watching her, eventually revealing himself as a benevolent stranger. Seth has fallen in love with Maggie, but he thinks it is a doomed proposition until an angel-turned-human (Denis Franz) reveals that God gives all of his creations free-will, and, if Seth wants it enough, he can shed his wings for a human body. But, just because Seth loves Maggie, there is no guarantee that she will reciprocate his feelings if he gives up his immortality for a romantic illusion.

When it comes to heavenly matters, City of Angels doesn't offer any particular insights. The movie does not ponder the meaning of life; rather, it celebrates the human experience by demonstrating the monotony of endless voyeurism. On another level, it is also about sacrifice. But the film does not thrive on ideas alone - it is the profound acting and positive chemistry between Cage and Ryan (in a very different role from her usual genre) which made City of Angels' such a success.

Seth: I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One.

This movie has a great soundtrack too - Iris (Goo Goo Dolls), Red House (Jimi Hendrix), Further Up The Road (Eric Clapton), Mama You Got A Daughter (John Lee Hooker), If God Will Send His Angels (U2), I Grieve (Peter Gabriel), Uninvinted (Alanis Morissette). But most of all, the title track is the haunting song by Sarah McLachlan, Angel.

French Kiss

Luc: Okay, so I try to understand. He tells you he has met this women - no, no, this "goddess". He breaks your heart, he...
Kate: Hurts me. Humbles me.
Luc: Humiliates you.
Kate: Humiliates me!
Luc: And so you come here to Paris so that he can do it again, but this time, right in your face.

Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline deliver hilarious and surprisingly touching performances in French Kiss. Ryan plays Kate, a seriously neurotic woman who takes the phrase "obsessive-compulsive" to new lows. Charlie (Timothy Hutton) is Kate's fiancee, an up-and-coming doctor who, when Kate is too afraid to board the airplane, takes a week-long business trip to Paris alone.

And there the games begin. Charlie unexpectedly falls for a French "goddess" and calls off his relationship with Kate. Stunned, our heroine becomes understandably obsessed with getting Charlie back, and the games begin. On her white-knuckled flight across the Atlantic, she encounters Luc (Kevin Kline), a smarmy French con-man trying to go straight. The two couldn't be less alike, but an unlikely romance begins to sprout.

French Kiss actually manages to make a decent statement about love and happiness, bringing to light the old adage, "There is no substitute for experience." The film is also believable despite its outlandish main characters, whom Ryan and Kline portray with wonderful emotion and with an amazing flair for comic timing. Kline's antics are simply hilarious to the point of absurdity. But with Meg Ryan acting in this atypical genre which she shines (remember When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail?), it will never go wrong - she is so super cute, always, and I am always her fan :)

The film's ending is pretty obvious, but how they get there is full of surprises, and it also reminds one of: Love really can come from the unlikeliest of places. It has a wonderful soundtrack too, in which the previous entry on Dream A Little Dream was one of them but not featured in the album - and a surprise recording by Kevin Kline.

Kate: And we had plans together, okay? We had plans for a home and a family. I would remind him of that, too.
Luc: He was obviously very attached to them.
Kate: And if all else failed...
Luc: You would get down on your knees and beg?
Kate: It's possible.
Luc: Oh no! Now I can see it: There is the "goddess", standing next to Charlie in her negligee, and you are there on your knees, begging. Poor Charlie - tough decision!

Dream A Little Dream

The Promise

Saturday, April 19, 2008


A soufflé is a light, fluffy, baked dish made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert. The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means "to blow up" or more loosely "puff up" — an apt description of what happens to this combination of custard and egg whites.

Every soufflé is made from 2 basic components: a base of flavored cream sauce or purée and beaten egg whites. The base provides the flavor and the whites provide the "lift". Foods commonly used for the base in a soufflé include cheese, chocolate, banana and lemon (the last three are used for desserts, often with a good deal of sugar). When it comes out of the oven, a soufflé should be puffed up and fluffy, and will generally fall after 5 or 10 minutes (as risen dough does).

Soufflés can be made in containers of all shapes and sizes but it is traditional to make soufflé in "soufflé cups" or ramekins. These containers vary greatly in size, but are typically glazed white, flat-bottomed, round porcelain containers with unglazed bottoms and fluted exterior borders.

Yesterday, I had the chocolate soufflé with hot, melting chocolate sauce in the middle of it. I had to wait 15 mins for them to prepare and bake it, but its worth the wait. Soufflé should be eaten quickly, while hot and before it falls. The rich and warm chocolate soufflé is further complemented with thyme ice-cream. Bon Appetite :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Teaching People Good

Abu Umama reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

"Allah and His angels and the people of the heavens and the earth, even the ants in their rocks and the fishes, pray for blessings on those who teach people good." [at-Tirmidhi]

With What Is Better

I looked at all friends,
and did not find a better friend than safeguarding the tongue.

I thought about all dresses,
but did not find a better dress than piety.

I thought about all types of wealth,
but did not find a better wealth than contentment in little.

I thought of all types of good deeds,
but did not find a better deed than offering good advice.

I looked at all types of sustenance,
but did not find a better sustenance than patience.

... Sayyidina 'Umar al-Khattab

Gem And Dust

If a gem falls into mud,
it is still valuable.

If dust ascends to heaven,
it remains valueless

... Saadi al-Shiraz

Our Beloved Mustafa (saw)

This would probably be the last public seminar/lecture that I will participate in Singapore before I leave for my further studies in the US this fall. It is a great honour indeed to be able to be a part of the distinguish panel of speakers - most of all with our guest, Shaykh Afeef Uddin al-Gaylani.

It will be held on 3 May 2008 at Masjid Alkaff Kg Melayu situated at 200 Bedok Reservoir Road, Singapore. The seminar programme may interest some of you:

1) Our Beloved Mustafa by as-Sayyid as-Shaykh Afeef Uddin al-Gaylani;
2) The Image of Muhammad and Islam Today - Where Did We Go Wrong? by Prof Syed Farid al-Attas;
3) The Message of Rasulullah by Shaykh Mohd Ibrahim Bin Mohd Kassim;
4) The Guidance and Counsel of Sayyidina Muhammad by Ustaz Mohammed Iqbal Abdullah;
5) The Prophet of Mercy - Scenes from His Life by Ustaz Firdaus Yahya; and
6) The Path of Love - The Burdah of Imam al-Busairi by Ustaz Saifur Rahman.

Love for the Prophet (saw) is love for all the beauty and nobility of character, truthfulness, justice and humility, and which the Prophet (saw) as al-insan al-kamil (the Perfect Man) possessed in the utmost degree.

Insya-Allah the seminar aims to inspire a sense of love for the Prophet (saw) through a greater understanding of his character, life, struggle and sacrifice. The seminar will introduce some interesting Qasida (poetry), specifically the Qasida Burdah written by Imam al-Busairi. Through such beautiful odes or poetry written in praise of Allah and His Messenger, it is hoped that we can increase and develop our love and faith, insya-Allah.

Do come if you are in town...

Eiffel Tower

I have been putting off "climbing" the Eiffel Tower for a few weeks. It was partly due to the bout of cough which I was suffering but also the fact that this is the last world landmark programmed on the steps-master at the gym. After this, I will have to make up a landmark to climb... and am not sure whether I will be motivated enough.

Since I was on leave this week and had a hearty lunch with a few good friends, I decided that I had to do the inevitable - and today seemed like a good day as any. The Eiffel Tower has 2,731 steps to the top - and I did it today, Alhamdulillah. I warmed up with a 2.4km run on the treadmill followed by a 13km dash on the bicycle. By the end of the climb, I lost many hundred calories and was perspiring like it was raining - but my faithful iPod nano was my driving force and motivation all along. As I am still on leave tomorrow and my trainer is all the way in Aberdeen, Scotland for the week, I will need to find new motivation for tomorrow's session. I am sure I will find something :)

From wikipedia:
The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the Seine River in Paris. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris and one of the most recognized structures in the world. It has become a global icon of France. More than 200,000,000 have visited the tower since its construction in 1889, including 6,719,200 in 2006 alone, making it the most visited paid monument in the world. Including the 24 m antenna, the structure is 325 m high (since 2000), which is equivalent to about 81 levels in a conventional building.

When the tower was completed in 1889 it was the world's tallest tower — a title it retained until 1930 when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m) was completed. The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France and the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse (210 m), although that will soon be surpassed by Tour AXA (225.11 m).

The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but those responsible at the Barcelona city hall thought it was a strange and expensive construction, which did not fit into the design of the city. After the refusal of the Consistory of Barcelona, Eiffel submitted his draft to those responsible for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where he would build his tower a year later, in 1889. The tower was inaugurated on March 31, 1889, and opened on 6 May. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died.

The tower was met with much criticism from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. (Novelist Guy de Maupassant — who claimed to hate the tower — supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where you couldn't see the Tower.) Today, it is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.

Upon the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940, the lift cables were cut by the French so that Adolf Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit. The parts to repair them were allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war. In 1940 Nazi soldiers had to climb to the top to hoist the swastika, but the flag was so large it blew away just a few hours later, and it was replaced by a smaller one. When visiting Paris, Hitler chose to stay on the ground. It was said that Hitler conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower. A Frenchman scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. In August 1944, when the Allies were nearing Paris, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower along with the rest of the city. Von Choltitz disobeyed the order. The lifts of the Tower were working normally within hours of the Liberation of Paris.

Always Be My Baby

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rage, Rage Against The Dying Of The Light

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

... Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep...

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

... Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Rose

That which God said to the rose
and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty

He said to my heart

and made it a hundred times more beautiful

... Mevlana Jalalludin Rumi

His Forgiveness

When my heart was hardened
and my courses constrained
I made my hope a stairway
to Your Forgiveness

My sins burdened me heavily
but when I measured it
by Your Forgiveness
O Lord!
Your Forgiveness was the greater

... Imam as-Syafi'i during his last sickness


If you make intense supplication
and the timing of the answer is delayed,
do not despair of it.

His reply to you is guaranteed;
but in the way He chooses,
not in the way you choose,
and at the moment He desires,
not the moment you desire

... al-Hikam al-'Ata'iyyah, ibn Ata'illah Iskandari

Last Night As I Was Sleeping

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! -
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! -
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! -
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, as I slept,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! -
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

... Antonio Machado

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Our Fellow-Worshippers

Think not that thou and I
Are here the only worshippers to day,
Beneath this glorious sky,
Mid the soft airs that o'er the meadows play;
These airs, whose breathing stirs
The fresh grass, are our fellow-worshippers.
See, as they pass, they swing
The censers of a thousand flowers that bend
O'er the young herbs of spring,
And the sweet odors like a prayer ascend,
While, passing thence, the breeze
Wakes the grave anthem of the forest-trees.

It is as when, of yore,
The Hebrew poet called the mountain-steeps,
The forests, and the shore
Of ocean, and the mighty mid-sea deeps,
And stormy wind, to raise
A universal symphony of praise.

For lo! the hills around,
Gay in their early green, give silent thanks;
And, with a joyous sound,
The streamlet's huddling waters kiss their banks,
And, from its sunny nooks,
To heaven, with grateful smiles, the valley looks.

The blossomed apple-tree,
Among its flowery tufts, on every spray,
Offers the wandering bee
A fragrant chapel for his matin-lay;
And a soft bass is heard
From the quick pinions of the humming-bird.

Haply — for who can tell? —
Aerial beings, from the world unseen,
Haunting the sunny dell,
Or slowly floating o'er the flowery green,
May join our worship here,
With harmonies too fine for mortal ear.

... William Cullen Bryant

Saturday, April 12, 2008

When I Heard The Learned Astronomer

"When I heard the learned astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were arranged in columns before me,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wandered off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Looked up in perfect silence at the stars"

... Walt Whitman

The Sound Of Trees

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

... Robert Frost

I'll Meet You There

"Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase
each other, doesn't make any sense"

... Mevlana Jalalludin Rumi

Two Kinds Of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence:

One acquired,
as a child in school

memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from
what the teacher says,

collecting information
from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence
you rise in the world.

You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence
in retaining information.

You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge,
getting always more marks
on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet,
one already completed
and preserved inside you.

A spring overflowing its springbox.

A freshness in the center of the chest.

This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate.

It's fluid,
and it doesn't move
from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing
is a fountainhead from within you,
moving out.

... Mevlana Jalalludin Rumi

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of

Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of is a single release from U2's 2000 album, All That You Can't Leave Behind. It has gospel-tinged melodies and saccharine guitar leads. It won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2002.

Bono wrote the song about the suicide of his close friend Michael Hutchence, the late lead singer of the band INXS. The song is written in the form of an argument about suicide in which Bono tries to convince Hutchence of the act's foolishness.

Bono characterized the song as a fight between friends, which he felt guilty for never having with Hutchence. "It's a row between mates. You're kinda trying to wake them up out of an idea. In my case it's a row I didn't have while he was alive. I feel the biggest respect I could pay to him was not to write some stupid soppy f****** song, so I wrote a really tough, nasty little number, slapping him around the head. And I'm sorry, but that's how it came out of me." - Bono, in Rolling Stone (November 3, 2005 issue).

Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of

I'm not afraid
Of anything in this world
There's nothing you can throw at me
That I haven't already heard
I'm just trying to find
A decent melody
A song that I can sing
In my own company

I never thought you were a fool
But darling look at you
You gotta stand up straight
Carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere baby

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And now you can't get out of it

Don't say that later will be better
Now you're stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

I will not forsake
The colors that you bring
The nights you filled with fireworks
They left you with nothing

I am still enchanted
By the light you brought to me
I listen through your ears
Through your eyes I can see

And you are such a fool
To worry like you do
I know it's tough
And you can never get enough
Of what you don't really need now
My, oh my

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

Oh love, look at you now
You've got yourself stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm 'til you discover how deep

I wasn't jumping, for me it was a fall
It's a long way down to nothing at all

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

Don't say that later will be better
Now you're stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if our way should falter
Along the stony pass

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It's just a moment
This time will pass

And for castillo... here is 40 Live!

Danny's Song

Ahh ... since this is a musical month for this Blog, might as well ...

Was at dinner tonight to send a friend back to Hawaii when at a distance, the strain of this beautiful song was overheard which led all of us to start humming and till now, it has not left my head. So, here I am ...

Danny's Song was from the album Sittin' In - the first album by singer-songwriters Kenny Loggins (remember Footloose?) and Messina, released in 1971.

It began as a solo album by Kenny Loggins; Jim Messina was with Columbia Records, serving as an independent producer when he met Loggins. In the course of producing Loggins' work, Messina provided backup vocals and guitar. Eventually, the two decided to release the album as "Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin' In."

Anne Murray's version of Loggins' Danny's Song became a Canadian chart hit in March 1973.

I cannot decide which version to put up here, so, enjoy both!

Danny's Song

People smile and tell me I'm the lucky one,
And we've just begun,
Think I'm gonna have a son.
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove,
Conceived in love,
Sun is gonna shine above.

Even though we ain't got money,
I'm so in love with you honey,
Everything will bring a chain of love.
In the morning when I rise,
Bring a tear of joy to my eyes,
Tells me everything's gonna be all right.

Seems as though a month ago I was down and tied,
Never got high,
Oh I was a sorry guy.
Now a smile, a face, a girl that shares my name,
Now I'm through with the game,
This boy will never be the same.

Pisces Virgo rising is a very good sign,
Strong and kind,
And the little boy is mine.
Now I see a family where there once was none,
Now we've just begun,
Yeah, we're gonna fly to the sun.

Love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup,
Drink it up,
Love her and she'll bring you luck.
And if you find she helps your mind, better take her home,
Don't you live along,
Try to learn what lover's own.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Praying For Time

Another favourite singer in my growing up years is the talented George Michael - err... obviously post Wham! years :) Of all his albums, my personal favourite is Listen Without Prejudice (1990). All great and profound songs in the album - as Praying For Time, Mother's Pride, Freedom!, They Won't Go When I Go, Cowboys And Angels ...

Praying For Time is a dark and sombre reflection on social ills and injustice, the song was hailed by critics as it peaked at number six in the UK and then reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. George used an echoey vocal effect and put the melody in a low enough key to take away the sunny nature of his regular singing voice. It was the first song of political motivation he had released as a single since his earlier days with Wham!

While George Michael refused to appear in videos to support the album, the following video clip for Praying For Time was released featuring only the words of the song with a blue and black background that, at the end of the clip, reveals itself to be the image on the cover of the album. Similarly, the commercial had no cover photo, only words. He wants us to instead concentrate on the words with the seriousness of the message, and obviously to Listen Without Prejudice.

"These are the days of the empty hand/ Oh you hold on to what you can" and "And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate/ Hanging on to hope/ When there is no hope to speak of" ... almost 20 years on, this tune is still ringing true...

Praying For Time

These are the days of the open hand
They might just be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we'll take our chances
'Cause God's stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God's children
Crept out the back door

And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say what's mine is mine and not yours
I may have too much but I'll take my chances
'Cause God's stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can't come back
'Cause he has no children to come back for

It's hard to love there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Loving U2

Was watching the American Idol Gives Back tonight and Bono was featured again this year. In the background, some new U2 songs were played and it transported me back to my teenage years.

I practically grew up with U2 - being my favourite band since forever... Somewhere along the way, they dropped out of my radar with Achtung Baby and Zooropa - and I thought they have lost it. But, they regained their roots and have been better than ever!

This month's entries seemed very musical - more music videos than any other months. The truth is: I have been truly busy making preparations for the next phase of my life and while preparing those things or even working out in the gym, my huge music collection in my iPod have been my faithful companion - hence the various songs. Even music tells a story - so, April is indeed a music month for this Blog.

The favourite album of my favourite band U2 is still the classic The Joshua Tree. All the songs are works of art to me. I cannot even list my favourite U2 songs - it will cross all their musical careers to choose and it will be a long list. What really sets U2 apart from many bands is that despite the years, their quality have been consistent. And, their songs have a real serious message in them. So, whilst watching American Idol Gives Back tonight, I wish to share 2 songs taken from their more recent albums:

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, taken from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album (2004), was written for Bono's father who died of cancer. He performed it at his funeral - it was probably Bono's most emotional song recorded and performance at the Grammy's. When you read the lyrics knowing the context in which he wrote it, you will realise how awesome it is - but as with any U2's songs, you can also apply it to your own circumstances. "And it's you when I look in the mirror/ And it's you when I don't pick up the phone" ...

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

Tough, you think you've got the stuff
You're telling me and anyone
You're hard enough

You don't have to put up a fight
You don't have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I
That’s alright, we’re the same soul
I don’t need, I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don't have to go it alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can you hear me when I sing?
You're the reason I sing
You're the reason why the opera is in me

Where are we now?
Still gotta let you know
A house still does not make a home
Don’t leave me here alone

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
Sometimes you can't make it
Best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

This next song, Walk On, taken from the album All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000), was written of Aung San Suu Kyi - but it can mean so many things to so many people too. It is a song about the power of positivism. Enjoy, and be positive!

Walk On

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing...
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can't steal it
No they can't even feel it
Walk on, walk on...
Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can't sell it, or buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home... hard to know what it is if you've never had one
Home... I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the hurt is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress-up
All that you scheme...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Highest Throne

The people think of wealth and power as the greatest fate,
But in this world a spell of health is the best state.
What men call sovereignty is a worldly strife and constant war;
Worship of God is the highest throne, the happiest of all estates.

... Suleiman The Magnificient, 10th Ruler of the Ottoman Empire

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I was asked over dinner how one's travels changes someone.

Where do I even begin?

In short, travelling and seeing the world bears a tremendous impact on oneself. In the introduction to this Blog, I indicated what the Prophet said of our human condition: that we should be in this life as though a stranger or a traveller. Our existence in itself is a journey which we partake - it may be physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, intellectual - in all its forms. Some of us are conscious of this, whilst some are not. We are never static, and as far as this is our condition, we are always on a journey.

Even when I was young, I imagined to 'travel' in the romantic literary England where man wear tophats and longtail coats, and women walk along the streets with their colourful hats and long gowns - and where people speak in such poetic language. I have even 'travelled' to the centre of the world and around the world indeed, in 80 days. I was also 'involved' in the battle of the middle earth and 'saw' the splendid wonder works of magicians. Alas, that 'world' was derived from the books which I read.

When I grew up, I physically make some of that journey - or following my last entry, that pilgrimage to see for myself the reality of my imagination and the world as it really is.

At times, we think that we know it all. But we do not if we do not see the world. Travelling across God's land is also something which God encourages us to do - and by doing so, we begin to see the greatness of His Creation through the multitute of diversities in which He creates. Every step we take in a different land and place, every breath we breathe in this huge expanse of God's land, every person whom we meet in our lives who touched it or scratched it - all these experiences make us what we eventually are and mould us. The more we undertake such journeys, the richer we become. The more perspectives we learn, the more merciful and forgiving we become. The more experiences we go through, the faster we become what we are destined to be. The more we have of this, the more humane we become.

There is no doubt, travelling and savouring experiences is a facet of being alive. We need counsciousness to gain its benefits.

Road To Mecca

Had the privilege of watching "Road To Mecca" screened at the Singapore International Film Festival over the weekend. I had no prior expectation of the movie before this screening but ended up pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the film. The director is the traveller himself in this movie.

The movie gives you a raw yet honest perspective on the director's overland trip to Mecca - as opposed to the journey all of us would have undertaken by flight. It gives you a personal insight to all the sights, sounds and smells of the places which he journeyed on his way to his intended destination. The beauty of this movie is in its 'unpolished' product. For example, the director began his journey with as pure an intention which he could possibly muster - but through that screening, one was left with a gnawing impression that somewhere along his journey, that intention may have been slightly forgotten, a fact which was alluded to by the director himself in the movie. And he is not to be blamed for that - particularly when one begins to savour one's journey and is exposed to a myriad of new magical experiences across the lands. That 'weakness', if at all, is the charm of this travellogue.

One fact which shines through for me is the director's mannered sense of humour in the way he dealt with the various situations that presented before him. It is almost endearing for most of the audience who had their first introduction to the director, the person. And that sense of humour enable us to partake our visual journey on that day more bearable and more enjoyable. We are able to be at ease and savour, alongside the director, the taste of his travels, without any judgment.

There were many lessons left unsaid by the time I left the cinema. As far as I am concerned, that trip was the director's trip to his personal mecca, although he did not eventually reach Mecca to perform his pilgrimage. A pilgrimage, in its widest sense, is a physical and spiritual journey one undertakes which transforms oneself to a better person - in all his consciousness of his existence. And through all those travels which he undertook, the experiences which he undergone, the people whom he met, the sharing of himself and understanding of others, and many more - is in itself, a pilgrimage. It will be as significant as how he makes it to be - and that sets him apart from us, who have not undertaken this journey in the way which he did.

I pray that the director sees that trip as it is, and not lament about what could have been. Since that trip is now over, it may have been The Almighty's plan for a bigger lesson for all of us. It was beautiful.


Had this heavenly "desert" yesterday night after a wonderful barbeque dinner at a good friend's place. I was remembered as saying eating this was the "climax" of the night :)

A s'more is a traditional campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada, consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a slab of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker.

S'mores are associated with recreational camping. Part of the enjoyment of this simple dessert is the way in which it is made on such camping trips. A marshmallow is skewered on the end of a long stick and held just above the campfire until (according to personal preference) its outer surface starts to brown, char, or even catch fire. Once heated, the inside of the marshmallow becomes soft. The marshmallow is quickly pinched off its stick with the waiting graham crackers, one of which has a piece of chocolate on it (typically a section of a Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar). Ideally, the heat from the roasted marshmallow partially melts the chocolate into a gooey mess. However, some people assemble the entire s'more on the stick and cook it all at once to ensure gooey chocolate. Some people add peanut butter to the mix for additional flavor. The peanut butter may be added between a graham cracker and the chocolate piece or between the chocolate piece and the marshmallow.

Our version yesterday: sandwiched between 2 crackers, over melted marshmallow with a huge slab of Hershey's dark chololate in between. Its divine...

S'more appears to be a contraction of the phrase, "some more". The informal nature of this term reflects the environment in which s'mores are traditionally served and its meaning hints at the desires of campers who are not satisfied by the first bite of the treat (or the first piece!). Some have jokingly surmised that the name originated from people who were so busy eating the tasty treat that they did not have time to speak in complete sentences (which happened to us yesterday), or alternately, that their enunciation was compromised by the fact that their mouth was still full of the s'more (which also happened to us yesterday).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Travelling Through

Well I can't tell you where I'm going, I'm not sure of where I've been
But I know I must keep travelin' till my road comes to an end
I'm out here on my journey, trying to make the most of it
I'm a puzzle, I must figure out where all my pieces fit

Like a poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I'm just a weary pilgrim trying to find what feels like home
Where that is no one can tell me, am I doomed to ever roam
I'm just travelin', travelin', travelin', I'm just travelin' on

Questions I have many, answers but a few
But we're here to learn, the spirit burns, to know the greater truth
We've all been crucified and they nailed Jesus to the tree
And when I'm born again, you're gonna see a change in me

God made me for a reason and nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain
Oh sweet Jesus if you're listening, keep me ever close to you
As I'm stumblin', tumblin', wonderin', as I'm travelin' thru

(The video clip ends here)

I'm just travelin', travelin', travelin', I'm just travelin' thru
I'm just travelin', travelin', travelin', I'm just travelin' thru

Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it's hard to travel on
But holdin' to each other, we don't have to walk alone
When everything is broken, we can mend it if we try
We can make a world of difference, if we want to we can fly

Goodbye little children, goodnight you handsome men
Farewell to all you ladies and to all who knew me when
And I hope I'll see you down the road, you meant more than I knew
As I was travelin', travelin', travelin', travelin', travelin' thru

I'm just travelin', travelin', travelin', I'm just travelin'
Drifting like a floating boat and roaming like the wind
Oh give me some direction lord, let me lean on you
As I'm travelin', travelin', travelin', thru

I'm just travelin', travelin', travelin', I'm just travelin' thru
I'm just travelin', travelin', travelin', I'm just travelin' thru

Like the poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I'm just a weary pilgrim trying to find my own way home
Oh sweet Jesus if you're out there, keep me ever close to you
As I'm travelin', travelin', travelin', as I'm travelin' thru

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World

"Justin Wolfers comments, 'We know there exists something called an optimal divorce rate, and we're 100 per cent sure it isn't zero.'

Only an economist could put it like that, but he has a point. Marriage is an uncertain step and sometimes couples find that they made the wrong choice. Earlier in the chapter I compared finding a partner to finding a job. Returning to that analogy, we know that a job market where nobody could quit or be fired would not work very well: too many people would find themselves trapped in jobs they were incompetent to do or unhappy to do. A marriage market is not so terribly different.

Some people long for a return to the stable, traditional marriages of the 1950s, even if that means a firmer division of labour between the sexes again. They might do well to remember what Adam Smith wrote about the excessive division of labour: 'The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations ... has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He ... generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.'

Smith's argument applies just as well to ironing and baking cakes, his use of the male pronoun notwithstanding. Division of labour creates wealth but can sap our lives of variety. The serious entry of married women into the workforce has meant that they spend a little less time baking, and perhaps also that their husbands spend a little more time with the children. It has empowered women to leave marriages that are not working, making them happier and safer from abuse. It has truly been a revolution, and the price of that revolution is more divorce and less marriage. That price is very real - but it is almost certainly a price worth paying."

... The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World, Tim Harford