Archive for December, 2011

new year insightOne can be a lonely number on New Year’s Eve. So that was what I thought, until last New Year’s Eve.

The year had brought its share of changes and transitions for us. So on New Year’s Eve, we were just happy to be “still standing” and to relax in the mellow mood that often prevails on the last days of the year.

Living in a new city, we did not have any special plan. So we decided to have a late dinner at a chain diner where we like the shrimp alfredo noodles.

I looked around me in the restaurant, and saw the different configurations of diners who did not want to cook, or who wanted to go out on New Year’s Eve.

There were several middle-aged couples, a group of friends in their 20s, and a woman with her young son.

There were also two lone diners. One was a woman who seemed to be concentrating on her food, or lost in her own thoughts.

The other was a man who looked like he was really enjoying his dinner. At times, there was a hint of a smile on his face. His body language told me that he was eavesdropping on conversations, and found something amusing. I know this because this is something I myself often do in restaurants and coffee shops!

He also had a type of jelly dessert and coffee before he left the restaurant.

Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, these two diners decided to go ahead and do what they felt like doing, despite how they might be seen or perceived by others, on a night associated with social popularity and social excitement in our popular culture.

That night, in the warm glow of the restaurant where people with different individual stories awaited the new year, these two diners illuminated this thought for me: that our attitude ( how we see life and how we take life head on ) begins first with each of us. To quote Dr Phil: “The most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself.”

I think that it’s only when we begin to celebrate and support our own selves, then we can honor and share that same attitude with others.

I have a feeling that if I were to go back to that same restaurant this New Year’s Eve, I would probably not see these two diners again.

But on a night that started off as a quiet New Year’s Eve dinner, they imparted to me a life lesson that left a profound mark.

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best drink for cold weather

A cup of cocoa does wonders to warm up a cold wintry evening.

I like my cocoa with a touch of mint flavor, and two brands that I have tried are Ghirardelli Chocolate Peppermint Hot Cocoa and Land O Lakes Mint & Chocolate Hot Cocoa.

I like both, but, for me, Land O Lake has the edge with its right combination of minty and creamy flavors.

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white rhino

The white rhino...big and beautiful.

rainforest zooThe Singapore Zoo is a popular attraction with both tourists and the island’s residents.

It’s a busy place at this time of the year when the year-end school holidays come around again in Singapore. The lines would be long, but once you get pass it, it can be a worthwhile experience.

Earlier this year, I visited the zoo after a long absence. I went with my cousin who is also a huge animal lover. So we were ready to be pleased or to be critical about the place.

I’m happy to report that we were pleased. The ‘open concept’ design and variety of animals were great. I also liked the diversity of the staff.

We were lucky to arrive at the big cats enclosure when it was feeding time. There was a glass shelter for viewing. And from a vantage point right behind the glass, we had a clear view of the animals enjoying their meal.

I managed to chat with a staff member, Mcroy, who works with the big cats. I’ve always admired people who worked closely with animals, and was curious to know how he developed the ability and personality to work with these felines.

“I grew up in a kampung (village) in Sembawang. As a child, I was always drawn to play with, and take care of all the animals – birds, cats, dogs – that I come across,” he explained.

“Today, I’m happy to take care of these big cats. I feel that humans are trustees of the animal world.”

Later, we passed the sun bear enclosure, walking alongside Mcroy. The bears were resting or sunbathing among the trees (their natural behavior), and could not really be seen.

Mcroy called out the name of one of the bears: “Ballu!”. The bear came scampering towards the front of the glass-fronted enclosure to greet him , and that was an unforgettable sight.

Sun bears are the smallest species of bears in the world, and are found mainly in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Until recently, I didn’t know that sun bears are an endangered species. The Singapore Zoo has a breeding program to help ensure the sun bear’s survival.

zoo feeding time

Meal time...for the big cats.

rainforest zoo

The zoo's rainforest setting offers a lot of greenery.

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