Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hall of Mirrors

I wandered into the hallway, with the sole objective of killing some time. Mirrors after mirrors lined the hallway, every curve and every corner, some depicting the images as a hilarious distorted concoction, while others gave a tinted representation of what stood in front of them.

It was hardly amusing, but still fascinating in its own little way, the kind of fascination that one gets when one senses a surreal sense of deja vu, but yet cannot really put one's finger on. Perhaps, it was the disparity between images in the mind and the images read through the eyes, somewhat the same, yet still very much different.

I skirted across mirror after mirror, some stretching my body to unreal proportions, while others made me look less material than I actually was. I turned the corner and realised that I had come to a dead end in the labyrinth of reflections. But queerly, sitting all by itself, was a huge black mirror at the dead end.

Looking at my watch, I realised that I still had some time to kill, thus I decided to go the distance and ease my needless wonder about the lonesome mirror. Standing in front of it, I saw an unadulterated image of myself, save for a slightly black tint to my complexion.

Seeing that some strands of hair was out of place, I raised my hand to make the proper adjustments, staring deeply into the black-tinted mirror as I tried to focus my coordination through the effects of lateral inversion. As I stared deeply into the eyes of my reflection, something queer began to happen, my image in the mirror started to dilute, as the tint on my reflection became increasingly blacker and blacker, until it was a completely opaque silhouette.

Mysteriously, the silhouette turned around and started walking on its own, deeper and deeper into the mirror, while I was rooted to the ground, struck with an equal sense of shocking fear and fascinating awe. For better or for worse, the awe got the better of me, and I pressed my face closer and closer to face of the mirror, peering deeply within it...

The Black Mirror

I saw the silhouette of some office furniture, of what seemed to be an office lounge, and I saw a group of silhouettes gathered around in a circle. One of the silhouettes, that of a tall and rather lean-built man, was talking, waving his arms with gestures, but I was too far to hear what any of them were saying. It seemed to be some sort of heated debate, as different people took their turns to speak.

Eventually, the tall silhouette got out of his seat and walked away, while the rest of the silhouettes started to disperse one by one, walking away with their heads hung low. But one silhouette remained, after all the others had left, deeply sunken into his seat and staring at the floor, as if in deep contemplation.

The image started to draw further and further away from me, till it became nothing but a speck in the distance, the image through the mirror started to blur with a black-tinted fog, obscuring my view....

Moments later, the fog started to clear, as I started to make out the lone silhouette of a man sitting at a round table. In his hand, he held what seemed like a cellphone, and was utterly engrossed in some form of conversation. In his hand, was a pen, and he seemed to be noting down something as he spoke on the phone.

He gestured with his hands as he spoke, and after what seemed like a long time, the silhouette finally put the phone on the table, looked down at what he had written, looked up and gave a huge sigh, and buried his head in his hands. The scene stilled at that point in time, as the same thing happened again, a black fog engulfing the entire image....

Once again, the fog cleared, and this time, when it did, I saw the lone figure of a man again, sitting in front of what seemed to be a computer, with his back towards me. Oddly enough, I could see the contents of what was on the screen he was staring at, but it was partially obstructed by his silhouette.

The only details that I could make out were the time on the lower right of the screen, showing 4:01 a.m. and the date, which was the "25th April 2008". On the top right of the screen, I could see what seemed to be the heading for an Internet Browser, and the only word that I could see was "Jobs."

The silhouette remained utterly motionless, with only his right-moving sliding what seemed like a mouse over the top of the table in one smooth motion, followed by a clicking sound, over and over and over again. Initially, I thought that it some sort of image on a mystical "Repeat," but suddenly, I realised that there was a change with each movement and each click.

The date at the lower-right corner of the screen changed after the sound of each click, initially, it was the "25th April 2008," but the dates cycled forward with each click, oddly, I only managed to catch some dates in April, August, November and December, as I saw the silhouette repeat the same process over and over and over again.

As the date reached the "31st December 2008" the moving and the clicking stopped, as the image started to blur out, leaving nothing but the black fog once again. Except, this time, when it cleared, there was no other image other than the black-tinted reflection of myself once again.


I stared deeply into the Black Mirror for a little longer, hoping that something mystical would happen again, but nothing did. So I decided to turn around and retrace my steps. I made my way back to the entrance, and headed for the other direction instead.

Coming to a little Y-junction in the mirrored labyrinth, I chose the left path out of instinct, and followed the path down to another dead end. But this time, the mirror sitting at the end of the passageway was a small and round mirror with corners of gold.

Sensing something equally mystical, I approached the mirror and stared into my gold-tinted reflection...

The Golden Mirror

The image within the mirror started to dilute as with before, but this time, instead of my image darkening, a light emanated from the image, growing brighter and brighter by the second, until my eyes could now bear the intensity of the light, and I had to shut them.

I tried opening them, and slowly, my eyes grew more and more accustomed to the intense brightness, as I started to make out white silhouettes not too far away, but never able to fully open my eyes to get a clearer picture.

Thankfully, this time round, I could hear something coming from the other side of the mirror as well, and the most prominent thing that I heard was laughter, a chorus of laughter from emitting from the silhouettes.

But as my ears got gradually sharper, I managed to listen through the piercing laughter, starting to be able to pick up the sounds of what seemed like the sound of cars, yes, an insane number of cars, hustling and bustling through the streets. I could make visually make out the silhouettes walking down what seemed like a crowded street, with one lagging behind, as the rest of the silhouettes moved forward, the one right at the back turned around, and looked around him, in awe and wonder, rooted in his tracks.

Rock on Times Square

The sounds of the cars faded away, as the rest of the images faded away too, save for the lone figure that stood rooted to the ground. He was still looking up, in the silence. The silence broke slowly, as the sound of water started to fade in; not just water in fact, but the sounds of waves and a boat. The image was on the boat looking up, at what seemed to be a large statue in a distance.

Hot and Cool Air

The sound of the waves grew increasingly louder, as the waves started to move faster and faster, carrying the boat further and further away from the statue, as the sound of water grew increasingly louder, to the point of thunderous. The image was now of the silhouette on a boat, in surrounded by walls of water all around, as it retained the same awestruck pose.

Misty Back

The sound of the waters gradually died down, with the image of everything else except the silhouette blurring out. The sound of the waters came to a soothing calm, as I started to recognize it; it was the sound of the sea, the calming sound of the crashing waves, as I saw the image standing at the shore of what seemed like a beautiful sea, seemingly with his mind adrift out in the deep blue, that separated me and him.

Crashing on the Waves

The sounds of the water grew fainter and fainter, as the light around the silhouette dimmed gradually with the sounds, as the white silhouette staring out into the ocean started to look more and more like me. Finally, all that was left standing staring, was nothing more than a gold-tinted reflection of myself...


Flicking my wrist to look at my watch, I realized that it was almost time, and I had better start looking for the exit. I retraced my steps to the Y-junction and headed the other direction, not long after which I saw a sign hanging overhead with the words "Exit."

As I made a turn to the T-junction, I saw the exit before me. But out of curiosity, I turned behind to see what was on the other side of the T-junction, and not to my surprise, was another lone standing mirror.

"Might as well check this out as well, since I'm already here," I told myself as I made my way to the mirror at the end.

As I approached it, I noticed that this mirror didn't have a tint like the rest, but rather, it was one of those funny mirrors that was angled and gave you two reflections instead of one, as I saw two images of me, side by side.

I stood straight and stared right through the middle of the images, but nothing seemed to happen. Confused, I started to turn to different angles but still nothing. I then started to move my arms, raising and lowering them, as I raised my hands to a 45 degree angle, my dual-images looked like they were linked by the hands, almost as if they were holding hands, and queerly, in this position, the image reflections started to blur...

The Dual Mirror

The reflections blurred into a pinkish-red silhouette, resembling that of Gemini, with one that looked like it was a male, and the other a female, joint at the hands. The silhouettes turned around, and started walking away from me hand in hand.

They drew further and further away from me, and then suddenly came to a stop at a tall glass window, standing still in their tracks, and looked out over a city skyline. They looked at each other briefly, and then continued looking out at the skyline, in the midst of a ringing silence. There seemed to be a air of sorrow between them, as they continued to look on...

Back on the Rest of the City

The city skyline started to blur while the silhouette of the couple remained steadily opaque. They turned around to face me, as the scene behind them started to form. It was only after a while that I realised that they were actually lying on a bed, staring up at the me. They turned to each other and they smiled, getting lost in each others' eyes.

But it was not merely the smile of happiness, it was also one of accomplishment and pride. For the male silhouette, there was a slight sigh of relief as he broke out into the smile, and for the female silhouette, there was a sense of bliss in her smile; as they lay there motionless, smiling.

Chubby on Cheeky

Their heads started to nod, as if they were falling asleep, but ironically, it was my vision of them that was blurring, as I found it increasingly difficult to follow the hypnotic nodding of their heads...

Moments later, a light could be seen through the blur, as the light's strength grew, the fog started to clear and I could see a clear silhouettes of the couple, still joined at the hands, but sitting across each other on what seemed to be a dinner table.

In between them was a cake, and on the cake was the candle. The female silhouette reached over to put her mouth near the candle, and shortly after, blew the candle. Strangely, with the blowing of the candle, the candle-light's illumination radius and intensity started to increase, growing brighter and bigger, until it became so blinding that I was momentarily flash-blinded.

Le Couple & Le Cake

As my retinas started to recover their abilities of depiction, all that was left standing in front of me was nothing more than that of the dual-images of myself.

The Exit

I looked at my watch, and I realized that I had spent longer than I had planned staring at the last mirror, so decided to make a mad rush for The Exit, lest I miss the fireworks. I pushed the handle of the door leading to The Exit with all my might, tripping over myself as I got out of the labyrinth... or so I thought.

As I looked up, right before me, were the grey walls of a concrete passage and a glass door at the end. I looked at my watch and realized I had about 2 minutes. I walked briskly up to the glass door, and saw the figure of someone walking towards it from the other side, in the partial darkness.

As I drew closer and closer to the glass door, I started to recognize the figure...

On the other side of the glass. it was a reflection of me.

"Is this another one of those mirrors?" I thought to myself.

I brought my face closer to the mirror, and stared deep into the reflection, but nothing happened. I turned and I turned, and I flayed my arms up and down, and still nothing happened.

After trying a number of options, I gave up and just stood there staring at the image. I looked deep into its eyes, and I noticed something... there was something different about this particular reflection.

Somehow, there seemed to be something very different in its eyes, something that I haven't seen in a very long time, through the crystalline-patterns of the grey-coloured lens. Behind those eyes, there seemed to be a strong sense of confidence, an almost-blind confidence; one that compliments a rather non-chalant, everything-thing-will-turn-out-fine sense of self-assurance - something that I haven't seen in my very own eyes for a long time, for almost the better half of the year in fact; something that I miss deep within myself.

As I stood there standing, staring at my image, all of a suddenly, my hand moved to my hair, to adjust the angles of the spikes of my hair. I tried my very best to lower them, but no matter how much force I used, I had no control over them.

Shortly, after that, my hands moved down to pull my shirt into place, I looked at my image, and it looked right back at me, giving the look of arrogance, and a quick smirk to me; as I felt my facial muscles winding up into my trademark smirk as well, very much against my own control.


The crowd outside was shouting, as my image turned his back towards me, and walked away from the glass.


I saw him walking further and further away from me, disappearing into the darkness.


I started banging on the glass, banging with all my might, hoping to open it, or if I had to, break it.


I continued banging on the glass, thudding on it as hard as I could.


Suddenly, the thudding sound stopped. I looked at my hands and to my horror...


I discovered that my hands had become immaterial, in fact, my entire body was starting to become nothing but a spectral image.


My entire material being had faded into an immaterial image, and I could also feel my consciousness slipping away from me... all the memories, all the laughter, the tears, the anger, and most of all, the deeply-entrenched sorrows - all escaping what was left of my being...

The last memory that left me was that of myself, confident and cocky, full of hope and optimism, with eyes full of dreams and a head full of hope - a representation of myself that I had merely become a shadow of in the last year....

I faded deeper and deeper into oblivion... as the last bits of my consciousness, with my last ounce of strength, I mustered enough power to be the final words...

............"Happy New Year".............

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Le Saint Julien: Through the Looking Glass

20th December 2008

"I'm taking a shortcut," I said, delivering the punchline with a cheeky grin on my face as I turned into the carpark that was all-too-familiar from a good 9 months ago, saying the exact same thing.

I continued wearing the grin as we got out of the car and walked towards the carpark exit, but lodged between the gaps of the toothy grin I was wearing was a slight sense of self-satisfaction; Knowledge was power indeed, especially in the element of surprise, and I couldn't help but feel satisfied with the power that I had managed to retain in my hand by remaining tight-lipped throughout without giving the game away the slightest bit.

With the secrets in one hand, and hers in the other, we made our way to the surface, only to stop at the crossing, waiting for the light to turn green, and with the dumbest poker-face I could muster, I turned to her and said, "We're going there," pointing at the Fullerton Hotel.

"I don't believe," she said, as we crossed the road, calling my obvious bluff.

But it didn't matter, it took her attention away from her long enough for me to make a shocking right turn to the Fullerton Waterboat house facing the hotel proper and pull the handles of the door into the restaurant.

The FullertonWaterboat House

"Hi, I have a reservation at 7.30," I told the receptionist.

"Under the name of Mr. Jeremy Kang, correct?" the receptionist said, "right this way, sir."

As one of the crew members guided us past the still-mostly-empty tables to a corner window seat. Christmas music played our music as our chairs were pushed in, and our napkins laid out for us, as we took our seat at the table under a stained-glass candlelight.

PhotobucketPhotobucketLe DecorThe Chamber

Le Ambience

Le Ambience

My insistence on a table by the window was handsomely-rewarded with a picturesque view that laid the backdrop for the evening. Through the glass panels were the dazzling lights of the Esplanade Skyline and the Singapore Flyer in a background, but closer to us, the Esplanade Bridge separated the razzle and dazzle from the soothing and hypnotic ripples of Singapore River that calmed our minds and souls, laying the mood for a warm and relaxing dining experience.

River Side View

The Captain came over shortly, with a menus in hand. Passing them down to us, he started, "Good evening, Mr. Jeremy, I will be the Captain for the rest of the evening, and first, I will go through the menu with you," before starting out to make recommendations from the different sections of the menu for our appetizers, middle course and main courses, delivering a professional and informative section for each of the items.

"With that, I will leave you to decide, and will be back shortly to take your order," briskly walking off, while we discussed our choices for the night.

Smiles all aroundLe Scholar

With us decided, he came back to the table as I recited the orders to him, while he listened attentively and looked me straight in the eye while I was placing my orders, hardly batting an eyelid and yet absorbing all the information correctly.

"That's the sign of a professional waiter," I told her, "When they don't even have to write anything down, and more importantly, when they can look you straight in the eye while retaining all the information you are dishing out," as I rose from my chair.

As I made my way towards the washroom, I asked the Captain for directions, which he more than gladly showed me the way. Along the way, he asked, "any special occasion that you are here today?"

"It's her birthday, actually," I told him.

"Oh, if that's the case, then for dessert, you should try our Warm Chocolate Cake for dessert, and I can prepare all the 'Happy Birthday' wordings and all for her, but you have to convince her to choose that though," he stressed on the last part.

"Don't worry, she shouldn't be hard to convince," I said confidently, "she loves Warm Chocolate Cake."


I returned to a table with a Bread Basket laid on it. She took the card that I had passed her on our way out out from its sleek black envelope, marred by my ungracious handwriting and terrible ink smudges typical of my handiwork, opened the card, and started to read its contents.

Le Card

Hardly reaching the 5th sentence or so, tears of emotion were already rolling down her cheeks as she tried her best from restraining herself from making too big a mess of her make-up. Blindsided by the expected effect of the doing, I told her to save it for later, and enjoy the food first, as I broke the soft grain bread.

Le Foie Gras

Le Foie Gras

It didn't take long for the appetizer to arrive at the table.

"This is our Foie gras de canard poêlé et sauce aux raisins et champagne," the Captain said as he brought the dish to the table. "It's Pan seared duck liver with grape and champagne sauce, bon appetit!"

Not wasting any time, I took the outer most fork and sliced a corner off of the fat piece of duck liver. As I put the piece of liver into my mouth, I could feel the soft centre dissolving into my mouth, releasing the aromatic flavour of duck, leaving the outer layer to be nibbled own while the aroma continued to linger on my tastebuds.

"The French are simply geniuses when it comes to duck," I told her after my first bite. Despite it being her first exposure to the sinfulness of Foie Gras per se, she couldn't help but completely agree.

After savouring the delightful appetizer for as long as we could through the small chunks we took at a time, our respective middle courses were upon us, as they put an empty bowl in front of her, littered with bread crumbs, before bringing out a hot kettle to fill with bowl with its piping hot contents.

Lobster Bisque Overflowing

Le Kettle

At exactly the same time, perhaps in the name of equal privilege, another waitress served my hot plate of Escargot to the table, as a waiter came over and made the obligatory introductions.

Le Escargot

Le Snails

"This is our Lobster bisque soup with sea scallop, garlic aïoli and croutons, our restaurant's signature dish since day one," the waiter said waving his hand toward her bowl of soup, "and this is our Oven baked half dozen of escargots with garlic and parsley, be careful sir, as the plate is extremely hot. Enjoy."

Out of habit, I lowered my nose towards the piping hot plate, taking a whiff of the fragrance that resulted from the union of garlic and parsley, before raising the specially-shaped fork to take a nibbling bite of the seasoning to whet my appetite, before consuming the escargot proper, burning myself in the process.

Sniff and Whiff

Le Whiff

I believe that the choice of the garlic and parsley seasonings was a deliberate one by the chef, to mask the possibly raw smell of the escargot, totally removing any foulness in the process, leaving only the and sweet and herbal aftertaste after biting through the chewy texture of the escargots.

Le GourmetLe Chubby

Being an avid lover of soup, her first encounter with Lobster Bisque was probably a haunting one, to say the least. As she fed me a spoonful of her soup, I exclaimed, "Hmmmm, this is good. The thing about Lobster Bisque is that its very easy to get sick of it if its either too milky or too thick, and I think this one is good, because its neither, its really just right."

She probably agreed as she slurped up the last of it and said, "Oh no. What happens if I crave for it again?"

Le Lobster Bisque

Le Bisque

As we were putting the finishing touches to our middle courses, the Captain came by the table and took the camera placed beside the candle, politely saying, "Can I borrow this for a while?"

Taking up a position behind us, he then said, "Mind if you look here for a while?"

Couple by the River

Le Couple

A blinding flash went off and he gently returned the camera to the table, asking, "Are you rushing off to somewhere after this? Perhaps catching a movie or something?"

"Nope, we're not in any particular hurry," I replied.

"Ok, then maybe I will give you about 5 to 10 minutes of rest to digest the food before I bring up the main courses," he said.

"Yes, that will be great," I said, glad to have the pacing planned out for our digestion.

"You know," she said, with her hand in mine, amidst the surrounding conversations from the now-crowded restaurant, "it's funny how the time feels so different inside and outside of the restaurant."

I knew exactly what she meant as I replied, "Yeah, for some odd reason, everything on this side of the window feels so much quieter, so much slower, so much more relaxed, and everything looks like its going so slowly; whereas when we were outside, even crossing the road on our way here, it was like so noisy, and busy and frantic," grasping her hand tightly in mine.

We both sat there in silence as we admired the view, our thoughts resonating with the hypnotic ripples on the water's surface.

Seeing that it was about time, the Captain and his crew served the main courses for the night, bringing a platter of beef and a platter of duck, before making the introductions. "This is our Roasted Duck in Red Wine Sauce, served with Duck Gizzard and a touch of Foie Gras," he said waving his hand proudly over my platter.

Le Duck

Le Duck

"And this is our Beef Tenderloin in Garlic pepper corn and Shallot Sauce," waving his hand over her platter before stepping away to leave us to enjoy the rest of our dinner.

Le Beef

Le Beef

"Haha, I'm not really used to waiters being so attentive and coming over so many times," she said, as she was slicing the beef, with the juicy sauce oozing out from the cuts in the meat.

"Haha, well, this is the way that it is supposed to be," I replied, as I was taking a piece of duck up to my nostrils, "Like you know how at the highest class restaurants, they have a waiter assigned to each table, that is even more intruding isn't it?"

I took a bite of the roast duck meat proper, and bit into the juicy, succulent meat before savouring the crispiness of the duck skin. I have always been a fan of crispy poultry skin, and relished the crispy texture of the skin between my jaws with the fragrant duck aroma once more rushing up to my nose and to my brain. The Duck Gizzard was prepared very different from the typical cheap duck, and left no foul aftertaste whatsoever after consumption.

She sliced into her beef and fed me a mouthful of the cut beef. Medium-rare with a red centre, the meat was hardly bloody, yet succulent and juicy, with a crisp exterior (which she had a hard time trying to find the crispiest piece for me), and with a somewhat bitter interior that was possibly the result of an alcoholic marination.

Le PresentationPhotobucket

Seeing that we were both done with our food proper for the day, the Captain once again came upon us and presented us with a smaller version of the menu.

"This is actually the same menu we have, except its a smaller version, but the desserts are on the front page instead," he said while flipping us to the relevant pages. "My recommendation is the Warm Chocolate Cake, which some of my customers like so much that they ask if they can bring the plates home," pausing slightly to smile cheekily, "or, if you have a sweet-tooth, like myself, the recommedation is the traditional Creme Bulee."

"We will have the Warm Chocolate Cake to share" I told him, as I observed the sparkle in his eye.

Returning from the restroom, I saw him on my way back as he signalled me a thumbs-up and whispering the words, "done."

We were in the midst of conversation when I saw the Captain and his Crew creeping up on us with the corner of my eye, as he reached the table, he hilariously blurted out, "'Look, there's a fish there," pointing out of the window with one hand while slipping the cake under and in front of her with the other hand.

Le Cake

Le Cake

The third Birthday Song of the night started as tears of shock and more importantly joy, rolled down her cheeks for the second time that night, flowing more incontrollably than before.

Le ShockLe Tears

Le Tears

"Happy Birthday to..." they paused, as I filled in the words, "Ashley," while they continued with the last line.

"Happy Birthday from the management of Saint Julien," a big and dark man dressed in a tie wished her, as he shook her hand.

"See, last year, you complained that you didn't have a cake, so this year, I made sure you got one, haha." I said, as she broke out into a heartfelt smile while still wiping her tears after the crew had left the table.

She was still visibly in shock, as throughout the night, I had led her to believe that I would never, do something like that, and assured her again with each birthday song that was sung throughout the restaurant.

"Quick, make and wish and blow the candle," I said, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes.

Le Blow

Le Cut

Le Wish, Le Blow, Le Cut

As she cut the cake, the warm chocolate lava oozed out from the insides, and spilling out onto the plate. Cutting a small bit, of crust and content, I put into my mouth and let the taste slowly sink into my tastebuds. Very likely made from bitter chocolate, the fudge bore a darker taste that was less sweet than the normal chocolate cakes, while the crust was firm and hard, and didn't bear the weird muffin-like taste of some of the lesser its kind.

We continued the savour the taste of the second best Warm Chocolate Cake thus far (Morton's still being unbeatable), as I recollected the coming about of the cake under the warm candlelight and the receding noise of the thinning crowd.

Le Couple & Le Cake

Le Couple and Le Cake

As true as the words spoken earlier about time passing different within the confines of the glass walls, a timeless 4-hours had passed before we called for the bill to our most expensive dinner yet and headed out of the almost empty restaurant that we had first entered into.

Le MemoryPhotobucket

Le Tree

Le Tree

As we made our way out past the fully-decorated Christmas Tree, we decided to walk off some of the food before taking the leisurely ride home. We eventually ended up in front of the Merlion, as we stood looking across the Singapore River to the Esplanade while ball-like objects bobbed rhythmically on the water's surface.


With a flick of my wrist, I saw that the turn of midnight was just upon us. I turned to her and whispered softly in her ear, "Happy Birthday Darling," finishing my sentence with a soft peck on her lips, as the spotlights came from across the river, as if upon us.

Le Exit

Le Memory

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Shackles of Ideals

I'm an Idealist, have always been.

And the thing about Idealist is that they strive for the optimum, no matter how unrealistic this said optimum is, and regardless of the costs.

Economically, Idealists always make a loss. The dynamics of economics is that there is price and there is value. To the Idealist, the value of an Ideal is almost infinite, and so, the price, or the willingness to pay for that ideal, would be almost infinite as well.

Psychologically, Idealists should be a lot less susceptible to Cognitive Dissonance than many other types of people. Idealist above all else, tend to have a more defined definition of "happiness" compared to most other people, and are less willing to self-justify any seconds in life.

Practically, Idealists are simply not. Idealists have a sort of belief within them to attempt to merge the treads of their dreams with the plane of reality, and to live a life of purpose, passion and meaning, despite how unrealistic and unsound this merger may sound on paper.

And this, in itself, is the end goal of every Idealist: To live a life that they fully and whole-heartedly believe in.

Yet, not everyone with fulfilled dreams is an Idealists.

In my opinion, there is the Idealist and the faux Idealist. The main difference lies not in the dreams that they strive for, but rather the costs at which they are willing to pay in order to obtain them.

Ideals being ideals, are supposedly impractical, unrealistic and visionary. And in a world shaped by conventions and circumstance, it is only natural that the achievement of such ideals come with a price: time, patience, effort, labour and most ironically, happiness.

Considering that "'happiness" is what the Idealist truly seeks at the end of the journey, being able to live a life of true happiness with the merger of dreams and reality, it is somewhat ironic that happiness is something that an Idealist would be required to sacrifice in exchange for the attainment of his / her ideals. Yet, the true Idealist is one who is willing to make such a costly sacrifice in exchange for an eventual fulfillment.

On the other hand, the faux Idealists are people who attain their dreams with little or no major sacrifices necessary. Some of which have it handed to them on a silver platter through a case of good fortune, to get a straight road to the fulfillment of an ideal.

Yet, to the faux Idealist, no matter how much they say that they "love" something, it will never be as justifiable or as convincing as that of a true Idealists, who has lived his / her life striving for, going through numerous pains and sacrifices, before finally attaining it.

Being an Idealist is extremely tiring, and sometimes the very happiness and fulfillment that you strive for, are the very same things that causes you so much heartache and misery. When you feel that circumstances do not allow you to make any progress towards your goal, when you see someone of lesser capability, experience and most importantly, desire, get something that you want so badly and have strived so hard towards getting it; it is extremely difficult not to feel indignant and frustrated over it. And it would be a lie to say that I have not felt such emotions and questioned the costs of my ideals every so often.

In all honesty, I've come closer to giving up on a 20-year passion and a 10-year ideal in these few months more than ever. Misunderstandings, politics, rejections and of course, circumstances (what else is new?) has left me with a whirlwind inside my head and a shadow of doubt in my heart, as I struggle to justify my sacrifices and quench the unhappiness that my ironic strive for happiness has brought me over the last 1.5 years.

Yet, despite all these, at the brink of giving up, I can't help but still feel Shackled to my Ideals, wanting to hold out a little more, wanting to try something else, wanting to give it one more shot; knowing that I would deeply regret it if I were to walk away from it now.

At the end of the day, I somehow still manage to muster out this to myself: Not everyone can afford to be an Idealist; many others are forced to become otherwise in the wake of circumstances and obligations. The very fact that I can afford to even strive for my ideals, is probably already a privilege in itself.

I dare not believe that I will be able to fulfill my dreams eventually, with my pessimistic mind these days, but I do know that sacrifice is an essential part to the fulfillment to these ideals.

Sigh. Perhaps I'm meant to be an Idealist my whole life, perhaps...

Was it Nothing more than Noise Inside my Head...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Graze: Unsaid Justification

14th November 2008

Surprisingly chatty and upbeat relative to the last few days, she sprinkled the journey with little bits of irrelevant information as I made away from the entrance to the university. It's been more than a year since I left the academic life, and still, there were no stirring memories of sweet nostalgia as I swerved away from it.

Almost out of self-realization that she might be talking too much, she consciously stopped herself from talking as she saw me focusing on the heavy Friday night traffic. I smiled to myself, partially at her rather adorable self-realization, but more so due to the fact that I preferred her this way, chatty and cheeky as compared to the sombreness that she bore over her just-elapsed "Hell Week," something I could definitely relate to and definitely relish shunning over the last year or so.

Curtain CallFinale Cool


Unsurprisingly late (by her hand, instead of mine this time round), we walked past the stone-tablet of a signboard, down the steps to the reception counter to make our presence known. Being ushered past a courtyard of dining-Caucasians, we were shown our seats within the confines of the bungalow house proper, a largely open space with white-washed walls lined with mostly light-brown wooden decor, the interior was mostly a orange-lit cosy affair.

Dining RoomInterior Decor

Not needing to be an elaborate weatherman to read the signs of her face after a good 14 months, I asked the waitress, "actually, could we get a table outside?" Despite an earlier choice made during reservation, she was accommodating enough to prepare a table for us with the rest of the rather-distinguished expat / tourist crowd.

Basking in dim candlelight, under the warmly lit shelter that still preserved the outdoor-courtyard-dining experience, our table was seated next to a little "moat", while a tasteful black-and-white Marilyn Monroe film on a big screen in the chill-out lounge area served as our animated backdrop for the night.

The courtyardAcross the MoatBlack and WhiteIn the House

While the outdoor decor has hardly as elaborate as other outdoor-bungalow-converted-boutique-dining-experiences such as Oosh or One Rochester, what Graze lacked in extravagance, it made up for it with a greater sense of intimacy and cosiness.

We studied the menu under the dim light briefly before placing our orders, I already had a craving for pasta, the only choice was to decide on which one. Having been pre-warned about the servings if we were to choose our dishes to be in "main course" proportions over "entree", we decided to keep our orders small for the time being to prevent my usual habit of gluttony.

Bread Starter

Complimentary garlic bread was served to soothe my overwhelming appetite, and it managed to out me out at least until the oyster shots were served. Going with the exotic sounding Ginger Wine Oyster shot, hers came in a little shooter filled to the brim with a reddish wine that had a little stinging aftertaste, but hardly overwhelming.

Ginger Wine Oyster ShotVodka Sorbet Oyster Shot

Ginger and Vodka

My Vodka Sorbet Oyster shot got the unanimous vote of being the better shooter with its biting, Vodka sting atop the slightly-sourish alcoholic content. Still, there is just something deeply satisfying to the tongue and the throat to raise the bottom of a shooter glass with an oyster drenched thoroughly in alcohol. Too bad my stomach tends to disagree with me on this more often than not.

The much-awaited main courses soon followed as my Linguine was served to the table along with her Duck Risotto. Deeply yearning for pasta over the last 2 weeks or so, I took a customary quick whiff of the dish to wet my appetite before raising my fork and spoon in anticipation.


Sniff and Whiff

Cooked with Wild Rocket, Pork Sausage, Bilbao and the unmissable essence of Garlic, the dish satisfied my long-yearning craving as I tasted the essence of the different ingredients thoroughly soaked into the linguine. One can almost never go wrong with pasta and garlic in my opinion.

"You know, these days, I wonder if linguine might actually be my favourite type of pasta," I told her as I fumbled with the fork and spoon trying to twirl the linguine onto the spoon.


Fumbling Fool

"I mean, when I was younger, my definite favorite was definitely Ravioli, but as I get older, I wonder if I start to like Linguine more than that because it absorbs the essence of the pasta better, and as you know, for me these days, I'm starting to like lighter flavoured pasta than has more focus on the essence," I said, all while still battling with the linguine with my fork and spoon.


Duck Risotto, Hardly the Duck Rice that most go by

She beat me to the punch by feeding me a spoonful of her main course. Rich with flavour, and characteristically salty of duck, the Risotto was soft and finely mashed and baked into a starchy yet satisfying finish. The richness of the flavour actually made me wonder if my tastebuds have really matured as much as I thought that they had, since the richness of flavour was still very appealing to me. But then again, one can probably only indulge in THAT much richness before the effect is ultimately neutralized.

Despite warnings of the large serving sizes, we still had space to fit in a little dessert to put a sweet finish to the night, and of course, as always, to satisfy my sweet tooth. Insisting on something cold, her wish partially came true with the "Black and White" dessert.

Black and White Dessert

Black and White

One dark chocolate and one much-rarer white chocolate lava cake, served with complimenting dark and white chocolate ice creams, the name was a fitting one indeed since they took it to the literally ends of it. Familiar with dark chocolate cakes by now, it held its own against most other dark chocolate cakes save Morton's extremely mind-blowing one. But the white chocolate cake was definitely unique in its own right, with its almost caramel-like filling.

We scooped up the last bits of fudge off the plate as we sat almost alone in the silence. Most of the crowd had cleared, and we were the 1 of the 2 tables left in the courtyard enjoying the tranquility of the ambiance, as the 1950s film continued running in the background.


Contemplative Couple

She probably wanted something a little more loud and cathartic to celebrate the end of her tiring week, but still decided to sacrifice that to enjoy a little quiet and soothing night out with me instead. Yet, in the end, I would figure that probably she didn't mind a single bit; afterall, it should be the company that counts, and of course, I was good company.


Better Company than I look like I am

As we walked up the stairs and away from the restaurant, I thought to myself: perhaps to celebrate the end of a tiring "Hell Week" that I have long shaken the shackles off of was purely an excuse for extravagance, one that I all-the-more should not be indulging in considering the recent turn of events in my financial situation and all. Yet, perhaps at the bottom of it all, there is no necessary justification in the first place to what to spoil those that you treasure in the ways that you can, and share good things with.

Chubby Back ViewBack ViewChubby CandlelightHappy Chubby

As with walked down the hill hands held together naturally, I knew deep within myself that it is not everyday that one can find happiness in the eye of disaster, and sometimes, its worth giving up the Pot of Gold for the brief moment of magic of a Rainbow.

CandlelightUnder the Sign


14 / 14