Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A Bike Light



An old dream revisited. Recurring dreams haven't happened to me in a while, so I was rather surprised by one this morning.

The dream starts of with me fixing a small bike light that's a belt clip-on the size of a cigarette lighter pouch (the Dupont GI lighter kind) than a full-sized head lamp. It is quite flat and rectangular and newsy with its LED blue light. I am trying to fit wires (two) into some kind of wire post (technical term) with one hand, the other hand not sure why it is not free.

There are three wire posts and I've got one wire in; I'm struggling with the other two (trying to twist them thin to fit; not easy with one hand). The blue LED light works but I have to get the other two wires in to have the white light come on.

All the while, I am walking to a gathering area, which seems to be a small cultural plaza with a raised modern art area where some students are sitting. I think a movie of sorts is being screened. My god-sister Carmen is there (she's not in the original dream though) and she asks about my well-being. We then chit-chat a bit more.

I continue to fiddle with the bike light on my belt.

I sit with my god-sister for a while and is next up walking along a sidewalk that's beside a supermarket and at the edge of the plaza. It is night and mart is closed. I reached the end and enter what appears to be a small theatre. My friend Chee Kong is there seated at the back. He gives me his typical smiley hello. He is wearing a yellow headscarf over his bald pate, not something I've seen him with before. It looks like a kind of temple scarf with red Taoist rune letterings.

I sit down and wonder what's going on at the front on the screen.

Again I fidget with the bike light to get the wires in.

Watching the movie, I am transported back to my NS days. I see myself in new green camouflage uniform, something I have never worn before. We wore the old patchy camouflage pattern ones... Not these new pixelated patterns of the US kind.

In the next scene, I am climbing down from a tank. Must have been a tank on show as everything looked clean and posey. I am reminded of the night I spent at the local Officer Cadet academy grounds enjoying the midnight quiet and starry sky, and wondering what I would have become if I had "signed on" in the Army. There was a display tank there on the grounds.

In the next scene, I am returned to the plaza and back to wearing the same windbreaker as before. Again I fidget with the bike light to get the wires in. Again without much success.

The end.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A Tent Dinner

This dream is a follow-up to the one I had before.

A big outdoor tent dinner has been planned and I am now going there to check if things are running smoothly. 

Buntings have been hung up from nearby street lamps. The whole place reminds me a well-landscaped industrial park with gentle grass knolls and quiet streets.

For this assignment, I have been given a nearby and smallish studio flat to stay in. It has some kind of water issue at the place.

The shower with shower head is in the living room (that shows how small the place) and so I move the mattress I sleep on to a raised platform to avoid getting it wet. 

I also take care not to wet a pile of my everyday clothes nearby, especially my underwear which appears to be of an expensive brand (haha).

(This 'do-not-wet' theme was in my original dream too!)

Outside it has just rained and now the streets are rather cold, wet-shiny.

Next, I am on my way back from checking the dinner event site. Across the road is a nondescript office building. The office on the ground floor has glass walls all round. Inside is a state-of-the-art photocopier. 

I then take the lift up upstairs and end up in an office where people are preparing to print the dinner reservations. An older woman appears to be in charge and giving orders. She peers out from a pair of reading glasses perched on her nose. We exchange an acknowlegdement and that's that. All around, tables are littered with cut paper sheets and such.

I look for an empty space at one of the long tables and sit down for a while. A while later I exit this workroom to go to the rooftop. The walls all round appears to be really grey and boring.

Back on the street I notice a black MPV parked by the road. Inside is a father and his kids.

I approach to invite them to the aforementioned dinner as they appear to be tourists and I wanted to do the hospitable thing. But half way there, I change my mind. Meanwhile, their car has started up at the same time and making a u-turn to get back onto the main road.

So be it, I say to myself.

It has been a wet day but I am confident that by evening everything would be dry. The sky, though grey, appear to be clearing. It feels like dusk at about 6 pm.

I meet some older members of the Association at the dinner and we chat. An assistant arrives - a big chap who reminds me of an NPCC (cadet corp) schoolmate I once knew. Can it be that we have organised some big event in school before and this is what this dream is all about?

The End

A Sandwich Shop

I have never dreamed myself in a sandwich shop before, which is kind of unusual. It is not as if I've never been in one before. But in Sg we  never had a "make it yourself" sandwich shop. I think people here are too "kiasu" for such a concept to succeed. Folks would simply waste food (stuffing their sandwich) to make their money's worth.

That notwithstanding, I would love to see the kind of falafel sandwich stalls one sees in Amsterdam. Man, those pita pockets are delicious! And you get to fill them up yourself. More greens? No prob. More falafel balls? Well, on certain days you can. 

Despite all that, I do remember a sandwich place in the business district of Shenton Way. I am not sure if they are still here. It was a two-joint establishment: one side a small morning-coffee cafe for standing customers only; the other, a shop space with see-thru fridges filled with a variety of prepacked sandwiches like those sold by 7-Eleven convenience store. Great for "grab and go" hungry office folks. The idea works well during lunch time too where folks could eat a sandwich, have a cuppa and catch up with some reading at a huddle cocktail table.

The sandwich shop I was in in my dream last night is a small one. It reminds me of a similarly tight-spaced Japanese noodle stall I once patronised in Tokyo. There is room enough only for a single-line queue. There's no way anyone can overtake to move faster or jump queue. Everybody filled their sandwich as if they shuffled along like in a slow-moving conveyor queue!

You start with toast bread and top it up with food bits along the queue. The food bits (i.e. fillings for the sandwich) are all contained in small stainless steel bins hanging off the wall rails like some Ikea concept. There are two rows of food: the hanging small food bins and below, the bigger stainless trays with the messier stuff such as baked beans. I note that the beans are warm and steamy. As often is in such a buffet place, the counter top is messy with spilled bits of food everywhere. Otherwise the stainless steel rails and bins do look very clean.

I proceed to top up my toast with beans and lettuce and other stuff.

In the next scene, I am done buying my sandwich and seem glad to stagger out of the shop. A late afternoon sun blinds me and I shield my eyes from it. I am also trying to balance my baked bean drenched sandwich in one hand and and a stainless steel cup of coffee in the other. The cup seems to be clothed in some heat-resistant black polyurethane material. The coffee does not spill as the cup has a screw-on lid.

Like everybody else, I start to look for a place to sit to eat my sandwich.

There is none. And as I am in a side street, I simply sit in the middle and proceed to munch my sandwich. No sooner have I sat down, a car comes and I have to get up. I place my sandwich on top of my coffee cup and put it aside. Baked beans drip down from its sides. That's the lingering image I have of that scene: Coffee cup on the tarmac with some baked beans dripping down the side of a sandwich. Hmm...

After the car passes, I pick up my coffee and kick whatever spilled beans on the road to one side, trying to tidy up. I then join a crowd that's also looking for a place to eat their sandwich. Someone from the shop suggested a nearby place and we all head in that direction.

This new place is quite 'jazzy' and on its walls are life-sized Art Deco-style charcoal sketches of popular figures. There's even one of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister. He is smiling and dressed in a club-like kind of suit (a white one which I think I've seen him wear before).

We all look around the place some more and eventually find some 1960s sofa chairs to sit in. They have vinyl seats and slim rounded legs that taper, very classic designs from that era. The coffee tables come with matching formica tops too.

The End

Monday, 29 September 2014

Street Market in Kuala Lumpur


In this dream, I am sitting in the lotus position and floating over a street market in KL. (Not for the first time, mind you; I've "lotus-floated" over quite a few places in my dreams before.) I seem to be in an old part of town, maybe "she cheong gai" street market (i.e. Petaling Street Market).

This time I  start slow and cannot get enough height. I bobble up and down trying to gain lift.

A shopkeeper stares at me. I try again to gain height but fail and knock over a leather luggage bag from a high shelf in the street. He goes to pick it up but doesn't seem annoyed; he was more amused than anything, almost as if he has seen me do this before. Still, I am embarrassed by my mistake and apologise profusely and try again to gain lift again. I fly pass another big stall that juts out into the street. It sells tee-shirts. I can read the ones hung at the top. I am that low, still trying to float above 'em stalls. 

Finally, with some added will, I am able to rise and fly at normal height which is about three storeys high. I reach the end of the street market and come to a road river bridge where I see Ah Keong. He is a neighbour from my teenage years.

We great each other. Ah Keong's looks and build reminds me of a 90s HK TV actor who always acted in eager and entrepreneurial young men roles. Like him, Ah Keong too has a bit of a squint eye.

We walk along a five-foot way and reach a turn; a short flight of stairs lead to another cluster of quaint-looking shops. Their merchandise  goods spilling out into the sidewalk.

Ah Keong seems to know the bosses there and acts like a Member of Parliament on his rounds greeting and handing out his name cards. I have this feeling that his actions may be a bit over-the-top.

He turns to tell me that he knows a friend who owns an eyewear shop nearby.

We look for a place to sit and chat. Eventually we arrive at a cafe with 50s-style modern interior, one I have seen in an old HK movie starring Cheong Ying, Wu Fong and pretty Lam Fung... all popular stars from the 60s.

I realise I do not have any ringgit (Malaysian currency) with me, only Sg dollars. The lady boss at the cashier station is kind and says "no problem".

Ah Keong and I settle down to chat.

I ask Ah Keong his occupation and he tells me that he is into application software. He says he is also into a few other things. I didn't ask him to elaborate suspecting that not all are legitimate activities.

He asks me what I think of the software industry and I share my opinion as I've covered that field as a journalist for many years attending conferences and interviewing industry players.

He is impressed. He decides to call more friends to listen to me. I am surprised but not displeased.

At the next table I meet an old friend, a lady who was  a director in a publishing company I had worked in before.

I introduce her to Ah Keong. They exchange name cards. Embarrassingly, it takes me a moment to remember her name. She was called Suan or something like that. We have had a very professional friendship in the past. She still likes me and I am glad to see her again. She is a wonderful combination of smarts and lady-like grace.

More people begin to stream into the cafe.

I step out to take a breather, feeling good but somewhat overwhelmed by the large number of people Ah Keong has called to listen to my talk. They fill about two long tables.

Outside, an Indian executive with greying hair squats down next to a chalkboard to try to explain something. He draws a curvy graph relating knowledge with age. Mine seems more to the right, signalling that my knowledge may not be as in-job as it should be. I tell him that my knowledge is that of a journalist's: more worldly than scholarly. I also mention that the graph does not indicate a person's analytic ability (where my value lies). I tell myself these graphs don't matter as my insights are uniquely my own.

I go back into the cafe to begin my talk.

In the very next dream sequence, I am back with Ah Keong in a somewhat deserted street lined with old shoprow houses. 

I learn more about him. Physically, he is a strapping chap and quite tough. He appears to be married with wife and young daughter.

We walk and talk some more. Eventually, I tell him I have to get going. Ah Keong then reminds me of the direction to take to get to the street market in case I come visit again. 

It starts to rain. I quickly increase my pace and reach a corner road junction that is recognised for its giant baobab tree. It reminds of a similar road junction in Malacca. I turn to make my way home feeling glad to have the rain beat down on me. It is both exhilarating and a release. My one regret has always been not keeping in touch with Ah Keong. We both played badminton for our constituency during our younger days and had some adventures motorbiking around in JB.

The end.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Taiwan Expo

In this dream, I am in Taiwan and attending an expo for Electronics engineers. The expo itself is conducted in a large Chinese pavilion that's about a third of a Suntec exhibition hall; it also reminds me of a building in Singapore's Chinatown. On this particular day, there are not many people around.

Esther (an ex-colleague) is there with me. We go through the pavilion looking at the many gadgets and components on display there. Men in suits are keen to show and explain their wares but we quickly move on. We seem more interested in what's new in the field of Manufacturing.

When it is time to go, Esther and I take the same minibus back to where we live. Our hands find each other and for the first time, we let them clasp. We turn to look at each other and that familiar longing returns. It has been like this since the day we first met. It was in the passenger lift of our office building, the one we always rode from ground floor to our office on the third. Our eyes had met and we both smiled... Like two old friends from an age long ago. We are that familiar with one another. Or feel that way always. 

Now in Taiwan and free from prying eyes and gossip, we could finally express how we feel without restraint.

I slip my fingers into Esther's own and lock them together affectionately. Holding hands like this we continue our journey. A real gladness starts to glow in my heart as if I had finally righted a missed opportunity. I now realise my initial attraction to Esther was a genuine one borne out of an ageless love and concern.


The starts to climb a hilly two-lane road. Cars and small pickups whiz by. As the bus tutted to the crest, we reach a small apartment building that is partially set into a hill. Usually such a building would be a temple of sorts but this was a condo instead. By the cavernous entrance, a lift.

Esther then signals to the bus driver to alight. She grabs her coat and motions to the exit which is just a seat away in front. I watch as she crosses the road. I like the confidant and womanly way she walks, something I have always admired when I watch her disappear between cubicles back in our office.

Upon reaching the other side of the road, Esther pauses at the lift landing. The hill cliff and its plants hang high above her head. She looks back across the road towards me; there is a longing in her eyes. She seems a bit sad that we are parting. Whenever she feels like that, her rosebud lips would part a little into a hurt/uncertain pout, making her even more endearing. Oh, Esther! As I call her name out in my head. My heart feels pained in a moment of intense affection.


But my revelry is interrupted as the bus lady suddenly shouts. She is dressed in a blue shirt and wears protective sleeves to shield her arms from sunlight. She also has a white sweat towel around her neck to occasionally dab her brow with, a fashion statement typical of most blue-collar workers or bus conductors. I won't be surprised if that towel is a typical Good Morning brand one that's super cheap and found in most hair salons too.

I suddenly discover that Esther has dropped her name cards in the minibus. I cry out to our bus lady to stop, half shouting. The minibus jolts to a stop and I try to quickly gather up the cards to return to Esther and then rushing out of the bus and dashing across the road in my haste.

Ahead, a blind spot. I am lucky no errant vehicle is hurtling my way. I turn and shout back at the bus driver lady to wait. The bus is now parked in gravel of the road shoulder, its dirty exhaust smoke puffing away impatiently.

I feel very happy running up to Esther, like two lovers meeting again.

Esther beams as she sees me and holds out her outstretched hands to welcome me. I kiss them and give her back her name cards. We do not speak but you can tell by the gleam in our eyes that there is much affection between us. I wish then I could take her home!

====

Back in the bus and on the way again, the driver and her husband start to chat. The husband offers me a small cupcake wrapper with a tiny snack in it. The wrapper is small like those for a French magdaleine. Inside, stuck to one side, is a delicacy of ikan bilis on some hardened paste. The paste looks like Thai green-red table chilli, the sort used on fried fish especially. To eat, I am supposed to bite on the small ikan bilis and peel the thing off. It is less than bite-size but quite delicious. We eat quite a few more and continue to chat about food from the region until the journey wears thin and I reach my destination.

====

Today, I am back at the expo. I meet a lady dressed in a dark blue silk cheongsam who seems rather well-off. She is impressed by my invention, a kind of signal processor and asks me about its support components. I realise then that this is her trade and business. At the end of our conversation, she invites me back to her office.

Mdm Molly's office is in a row of five-foot way shophouses. The office front is typical of those found in 70s Singapore, i.e. bottom half corrugated aluminum siding, top half glass. Its double doors are the same. We push through one side and enter. There is another fella who is along with us. I recognise him but can't place where he is from.

In the lobby in front of us is a long table. On it are several books upon each we are all expected to signed in. Each book is of a different theme and each book comes with its own designed pen.

I stop at the nearest guest book and prepare to sign in. I remember discovering a very thin and flat pen that reminded me of Qing Dynasty costume jewelry in terms of its design and metal element used. You know, stuff made out of brass and enameled in blue, green, red and white. CloisonnĂ© design is what it is called.


Soon we all finish signing in and climb up the stairs to the office. The wall tiling are those nail-sized tiny blue square mosaics popular in the 70s.

====

Upstairs, the place is wide and spacious and decorated in Shanghai style. There are rosewood side tables and a rice-white plump sofa embroidered with red flowers with black vines. It is altogether rather charming.

I see a young girl doing her homework and working with a piece of tracing paper.

Mdm Molly calls me over and asks if I can offer help to the maid. She appears to be having trouble emptying two pails of used tea leaves without clogging up the drainage system. I wonder why there is so much used tea leaves and start to guess what they are being used for.

After the filtrate system has been loosened and removed, we manage to flush the used leaves down the drain with ease. The maid is visibly relieved, as am I. The young girl in the center of the hall continues with her tracing homework. Mdm Molly beams a smile in my direction. She seems to like me. For some reason I cannot wait to get back to the Expo.

====

The dream ends with me riding that minibus back to the Expo in the bright sunshine of the following morning. Esther and I are looking at each other and wishing the journey would never end. And that we need not get back to Singapore anytime sooner.

The end.

Friday, 22 November 2013

On a German Mountain

I am on a tour bus going up a mountain. It is autumn with the air slightly cool outside. We alight at a small town whose houses are all of modern design circa the 1970s. They cluster together and are linked by cobbled alleyways.

I walk through one and pass by a white building whose ground floor home is adorned with wide glass panel doors that reminds me both of a Spanish hacienda home and a car garage. The walls are sandblasted and rough to the touch, a wall treatment popular with condos in Sg built in the late 80s.

Into this white building I enter. It is a home.

We are in fact in a small kitchen, an utilitarian one that is so common in UK flats from the 70s. The table is red formica and its edges are trimmed with a strip of aluminum.

We are going to have some kind of German cake with white cream.

I look out of the kitchen window. Forested ridges and valleys lay below. It is a magnificent view.

Outside, there is a commotion. I go out and discover that evening has fallen.

There seems to be a religious festival going on. Opera face masks - both large and regular size - float in the air. People are following them and wondering at their magical presence. I too wonder how they manage to float in the air without seeming to be attached to with strings or other method..

A teenager is seen marshaling the masks forward. He is doing his job and using a handphone at the same time. Typical, I mumble, and go "tsk-tsk" at his split attention.

When we reach the lookout point at the top, a giant moon in the sky greets us there. The moon is huge and covers almost the whole sky. I think Old Man Moon is smiling back at me but only fleetingly. The bright moonlight feels warm and inviting though.

In the crowd, I am with two of my former GFs. One is with her hubby; the other, well, she is her usual quiet, smiley self.

Around a corner, I find myself alone in an alley once more. In the short distance ahead, I can see a watch repair shop. Jurgen Procknow the actor is the watch repairman. He is wearing a watchmaker's magnifying monocle and leather apron. Or is that man Robert De Niro? In any case, I am thinking of a character actor.

I revisit the kitchen a couple of times. The owner couple is there as well as a much younger lady. We seem to be in a discussion over something. Perhaps the development of the mountain region or something else entirely. Not long after, I wake, feeling I've been to the highlands and watched someone carry on a traditional craft.

The end.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Haunted House

We are in a place not too dissimilar to Cameron Highlands. Cool, scenic, ancient.

At the moment, we are in a nice wooden kampung house, the kind that comes with a corrugated zinc roof. It is painted green and I am looking through a window grilled up with square wire mesh.

Outside, folks are engaged in some sort of a commotion. It seems the transport  that is supposed to take us out of town has been delayed.

I am wondering when I can get my family (apparently I am married with two kids and a wife) safely away from this house that we are in. It is haunted and the spirits are getting more malevolent as each minute passes.

At any moment, I am expecting one of them to crawl out from under the bed or step out from the walls. What are they going to do? I have no idea. My 'kids' are scared but they are not panicking.

I sit on the narrow bed and ponder what to do next. I try to recall the spirits I have seen earlier in the other half of the house. A double door is all that separates us.

Remember, this is a wooden house commonly found in a Southeast Asian village. It is a kampung house - something traditionally found in a place like, say, Pulau Ubin, Singapore.

Earlier, when we were put into this house for temporary accommodation, I had checked the place out. It didn't take me long. The house was square and parted in the middle by that double-door.

I had gone in to check and noticed the change in air quality immediately - the proverbial "thick air" that harbors more than just atmospheric molecules. As I walked in, the air visibly resisted. I knew something wasn't quite right. It's as if there was some sort of plasma thickening; it just didn't feel right and friendly. Definitely something evil or poltergeistic in the air.

It was at that moment that the spirits started to slowly appear one by one. The first one manifested from a far window grinning as it grew larger and flew towards me. It disappeared as soon as it touched me. The other two came out from the other wall but just hovered in mid-air looking on in silence. I couldn't tell if they were just bystanding or scheming worse things to inflict upon us.

I retreated back into our bedroom and closed the door. "What the f...?" I said to myself, more alarmed than scared. It was certainly not a place to linger about for long.

Back to the present, the commotion outside rages on. A crowd has gathered, which makes our own spooky situation look kind of odd and out of dimension.

Next, I am talking to a lady and comparing notes with her as to who has seen the more hauntings. It's not exactly the right thing to be discussing now but at least it is taking my mind off worrying. In any case, it is good to know more.

This lady has actually come into the house to analyse the going-ons and concluded that the place was indeed very haunted.

So we are now stuck.

All of a sudden, things in the other side of the room starts to clang about, raising themselves up and down. A few bang against the double door, making us on the other side nervous.

I should be scared but I am not. Perhaps because they are spirits -beings with no substance- that makes it illogical for me to be unafraid of them. I would be more frightened of a big sized, rampaging serial killer.

I hold my kids to console them more out of instinct then anything else. They appear to have fallen asleep from fatigue.

The 'wife' has her legs curled up as if sheltering from a storm. When will this pass? she seems to question with those large frightened eyes of hers.

I am wondering the same as no one wishes anything paranormal to happen.

I've never met an evil spirit and would love to see one; now there are three to contend with.

Things continue to fly in the other room. The double doors occasionally being slammed at. Outside, the commotion continues.

I wake up to a knock on my window. There's a woodpecker outside. It stares at me with its ringed eye. It looks quite like that spirit in the dream. Has it come to haunt me as a flying thing? I would roast you like a pigeon, you know, and throws a pillow at it.