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)
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Familiar Stranger

IMG_4882PHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay (The Streets of Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea)

 

While sojourning on earth in this short period-of-a-life that we have, have you ever have those moments where you see distinct faces that seem to etch into your mind? Days like this, I walk down a street minding my own business but see a face that seemed to strike a chord in my mind, or leave a deep impression, or so I think. Some may induce deja-vu, [Some are really pretty,] some gives a very homely, familiar feeling as though you have known them for a long time, but as a matter of factly have never met him or her before.

But the queer thing is, these faces never stay in our heads as long as we believe them to, and we forget them soon after.

But life is so interesting. This stranger one cross paths with every now and then – may become a close friend in the future, that stranger over there may become one’s life partner in the future. Who knows what the future beckons?

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!

Walls

IMG_4491PHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay – Traditional Korean Palace Walls

 

A man without rules and limits [and Christ] to govern his life is like a city without walls. He desires to prosper and to be free and mocks those with walls. Yet he is easily overwhelmed and enslaved by invaders (addiction to gambling, alcoholism, promiscuity, drug abuse, vice, love for money, thirst for fame, etc).

So at the end of the day, is one really… free?

The Light of Christ

IMG_5963(Model)PHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay

 
My first hand at oil painting entitled the Light of Christ. An embodiment of my own struggles in life, I know that even when I am scared, at a loss and stranded in boisterous waters, the Light of Christ will be with me and guide me home.

Travel Log #1 – Making Friends

IMG_5365PHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay

 

Go out, talk to new people, make new friends. Strike a conversation, talk about the weather. Who knows, a beautiful and lasting friendship that crosses all borders can be forged in that process.

P.S. That is my 49-year-old mother on the right with 36-year-old Junko from Japan (in the middle) and 24-year-old Yu-Sun from Korea (on the left). Three women from totally different age groups, isn’t this totally amazing? That’s why I love traveling and backpacking so much.