Conversations With Uncle Chandra (Part 2)

Paris BaguettePHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay (Ipad2)

 

I met uncle Chandra again the following night as he was once again on night shift. He beckoned me to receive a gift; Bacon and egg croissant from Paris Baguette. It was a gift from a Korean girl to him just 15 minutes from the time I met uncle Chandra. I kindly refused, but he insisted and said he can’t eat it anyway since he is on vegetarian today.

I told him about the Facebook post, and how so many are blessed by his words. Continuing from where he left off yesterday, he said that God comes in many forms (people). Uncle Chandra would never leave home for work without first making and drinking a warm cup of premium coffee. But when there are days that he had to give that a miss, there will be residents who come to him with a can of coffee from convenience stores. He said, buying the $1.50 coffee is one thing, thinking about him when they were buying the coffee and carrying it here makes all the difference. Even days that he did not have dinner before work, there will be residents who would buy Punggol nasi lemak for him. He said, “How would they know I haven’t eaten?” There was even one occasion when he gave away food given to him from a resident to other colleagues, and gotten other stuff(coffee) from another resident.

I like that.

I saw how he was blessed, how he blessed others, giving away what others gave to him and getting more blessed in return. I saw how he knew almost all the residents who came back home by the side gate after a long day. Truly all things will work together for the good of those who love God (and people), even if the faiths may be a tad different.

Before I left, uncle Chandra said he was saving the food for someone special. Thank you uncle Chandra. Though I am not hungry, I will eat it heartily, knowing that my stomach and heart will be filled tonight.

Conversations With Uncle Chandra (Part 1)

Last Friday after Good Friday service, tired as I am, I spent a good 20 minutes talking to the night guard, Chandra. Learnt so much from this fruitful and humbling conversation. Chandra shared that Jesus and Christianity is good and he respects that even though he is a Hindu. He revealed something new to me that back in the 1960s and 1970s, there used to be a public holiday for Easter Sunday too, thus stretching to ‘Easter Monday’, making it a long public holiday break. During those periods, car races were held and people had lots of fun both participating and spectating.

As we learnt about one another, Chandra shared that he was part of the first batch of soldiers trained by Israeli forces when SAF was just formed! How amazing was that? His son was an engineer, and a brilliant one who excelled during his time in MINDEF during his NS liability. He was the brains behind removing the ‘S’ when it comes to filling up data so that today we no longer need to key the extra ‘S’ when we want to key in our ID.

Chandra said that when I come to church, I need to come before Jesus with my feelings; my heart, I cannot just come to church like a religious obligation. By coming to Jesus with my heart, then only can I expect help from above. Many words was exchanged during the short conversation, and with it, life from a 60-year-old to a 24-year-old as well. I am blessed by this experience.

Before I left, he said today’s a Good Friday, and also a sad friday (because Jesus died). I replied, it’s okay because He came back!

Uncle chandraPHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay (Ipad2)

Eye

And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’
– Matthew 20:11-15

Being bred and brought up in Singapore, we soak into an environment where competition brings much needed progress and betterment to the country economically speaking.

But sometimes competitiveness gets too into our heads that we become bitter over other people’s success, or favor and goodwill that is bestowed to others. “Why is she getting the promotion when both of us are doing the same job?” “Why is he getting more recognition than me?”

Are our eyes evil that we cannot accept one being good to another? Take the high road, be genuinely happy for other’s success and favor. This will do one’s heart good, win more friends and eventually attract favor and goodwill too.

Friends and Seasons

IMG_5929PHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay

 

Had a HTHT (heart-to-heart talk) with a dear friend recently and she was sharing about how she was feeling a little sad about how some friends she was close to are no longer so lately. That set me thinking as well.

How many of us ever wondered how many friends we can make in one lifetime?

I tried googling it to find some statistics that can put a figure to this highly ambiguous subject but surprisingly, none can be found! Well, this is by far too difficult a subject to track even for the leading scientist of our time. There are after all the geographical and psychological differences that separates the countries from the conservative and the lesser, the extroverts from the introverts, and many other variables.

A blogger estimated the number of people the average Joe will meet in his or her lifetime at 100,000.

A comment taken from BBC News Magazine by Leading anthropologist Robin Dunbar who is also the person behind the term Dunbar’s number stated that an average person can maintain a stable, close relationship with 150 people approximately (The range is between 100 to 230).

Assuming that one-third (33,000) would probably be the friends we would have made in our whole life, this list of 150 could and would be changing all the time throughout our lives. Of course that’s not to stay that no one person will stay on that list, it really depends on the individual in question. Dunbar also went on to state that the number of close friends one can have and maintain is between the numbers 6 to 12.

On an unrelated topic, there is no individual who wouldn’t want another person whom he can call friend, since just by me typing friends on Google generated lots of suggestions such as ‘How many friends do you have’ ‘How many friends do you need’, ‘How to make friends’, ‘How to make friends after 30’, etc.

Thank God for friends!

From a non-statistical point of view, I would like to believe that every person goes through something I would like to call ‘seasons’ in his or her life. Much like the four seasons of the earth, the different seasons an individual is in also brings forth different people into his life; some – a familiar face, and some – strangers who are potential-best-friend material.

Friends who do not hold a place in our hearts will naturally fade away, that’s fine. Friends worth keeping will always be in our heart, and us in theirs. Sometimes, through the winds of time it may seem as though they no longer care [about this friendship], but perhaps it is just that they are also going through ‘seasonal changes’ in their life. That closely treasured relationship between the two is not lost, simply out-of-focus at the moment. And regrettably, there are also those lost friends whom we treasured a lot but whose friendship is strained, damaged, weakened due to time and distance, and lost forever.

Though painful, we must accept that this is a natural cycle of life. During Winter, many things disappear – friends who were once close are no longer around for us when we were at our lowest. But it is also during this time when enduring plants such as the beautiful Snowdrops and Camellia emerge – friends whom we never knew existed, friends who were always there for us, who will pick us up when we fall, and satisfy our weary soul. And then comes Spring, when some of these friendships blossom into a beautiful lasting relationship, many whom we will attend their 21st Birthday parties, their wedding matrimony and banquet, baby showers, arrival of grandchildren celebrations, 50th and 60th Birthday celebrations, and one whom we will fall in love and live with – friends who will always have a place in the 150.

 

P.S. I want to use this space to thank my wonderful boss Yuan Wenling for being more than a friend to me. Thank you for mentoring and caring for me during my time with City News. You may be out of sight but never out of mind. You are really missed. All the best in this new arena your family is placed in!