Monday, 29 September 2014

Street Market in Kuala Lumpur


I seem to be lotus-floating over a street market in KL. (Not the first time...I've lotus-floated over quite a few places in my dreams before.) We seem to be in an old part of town, maybe in Shu Cheong Gai street market (Petaling Street).

This time I fly (always sitting in a lotus position), however, I start slow and cannot get enough height. I kind of bobble up and down trying to gain lift.

A shopkeeper looks at me. I try again to gain height but fails. I knock over a leather luggage bag at the top of his shelf in the street. He goes to pick it up but is not annoyed. I am however embarrassed and apologises profusely and to try again to achieve lift.

I fly pass another stall with a big tentage. It sells T-shirts. I can read the ones hung at the top. I am that low, at their level, still trying to rise above 'em stalls. 

Finally, I am able to fly at normal height which is about three storeys high. I reach the end of the street market and arrives at a road river bridge where I meet Ah Keong. He is someone I know from a past dream.

We great each other. Ah Keong's looks and build reminds me of an 80s HK TV actor, who always acted in eager and entrepreneurial young men roles. He has a bit of a squint eye.

We walk along a five-foot way and at a corner, we climb a short flight of stairs to another row of shops. They look quaint and clustered.

Ah Keong seems to know the bosses there and like an MP on his rounds, greets and hands out his namecards. I felt maybe it was a bit over-the-top.

He tells me he knows a friend who owns a spectacle eyewear shop nearby.

We look for a place to sit and chat and eventually arrive at a cafe with old-style 50s modern interior, one reminiscent of those in a HK past. I remember seeing a place like that in an old Cantonese movie that starred Cheong Ying, Wu Fong and a pretty Lam Fung.

I realise I do not have any ringgit 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 what he was working as now and he tells me he is into application software. Apparently he is into a few other things too.

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 both attending conferences and interviewing influential figures.

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 namecards. Embarassingly, it took 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 both smart and lady-like in her demeanour.

More people begin to stream into the cafe.

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

Outside, I see an Indian exec (about 50 yrs of age) squatting down explaining on a chalkboard where I stood. He had drawn a graph (curve) of where a professional's knowledge should be...compared to mine which was about the same curve shape but further to the right, signalling that my knowledge was not as in-job as it might be. I tell him that my knowledge is that of a journalist's - more wordly than scholarly. I also mentioned that the graph does not explain well a person's insights into matters (where my value lies). I tell myself these graphs don't matter as my insights are unique and one-of-a-kind.

I go back into the cafe and begin the talk.

Next I am back with Keong in the somewhat deserted street with the old shoprow houses.

I learn more about him. He is a strappling chap, with a strong physique. He seems to have a wife and young daughter.

We walk and talk and I tell him I have to get going. Ah Keong reminds me the direction to the street market in case I come to visit again. 

It starts to rain. At a road junction reminiscent of those in old parts of Malacca with a giant tree across the road at a corner, I take off and return home feeling glad to have the rain beat down on me. It was both exhilarating and a release.

The End.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Taiwan Expo

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 reminds me of a building in our own 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 to us, but we quickly more on. We seem more interested in what's new in the field of manufacturing.

When it comes time to go, Esther and I take the same mini bus back to where we live. Our hands find each other and for the first time, they clasp. We turn to look at each other and that familiar longing returns. It has been like this since the day we met. 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 short chubby ones and set them in place . Holding hands like this we continue with the journey. There is a real gladness in my heart, as if I have finally righted a missed opportunity. I now realise my initial attraction to Esther is a genuine one borne out of love and concern.


The road we are presently on is a hilly two-lane one. Cars and small pickups whiz by. As we climb to the top we reach the side of a hill with a small apartment building set into it. Usually such a hill-set building is a temple but this apartment looks a special fit.

Esther signals to the bus driver that she wants to alight. She grabs her coat and motions to the exit which is just a seat away in front of us. 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 at the office.

Upon reaching her apartment, Esther stands a while 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 pout, making her even more endearing. Oh Esther! as I call her name out in my head. My heart flutters 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 the direct sun. She also has a towel around her neck to wipe sweat from her brow - a fashion typical of most physical labourers. I won't be surprised if that towel is a typical Good Morning brand one.

Look, she has dropped her name cards! cries our bus lady, half shouting. She is, of course, referring to Esther. True enough, a stack of her namecards has spilled and now stuck in the seat leg in front. I try to quickly gather and return them to Esther, dashing across the road in my haste.

Ahead is a blind spot and I am lucky no errant vehicle is hurtling this way. I turn and shout back to remind the bus driver lady to wait. The bus is now parked by the sandy road shoulder its grey exhaust puffing away impatiently.

I feel very happy to run up to Esther. She lights up the moment she sees me and holds out her outstretched hands to welcome me. I kiss them and give her back her namecards. We do not speak but you can tell by the gleam in our eyes that there is much affection between us. I wish I could take her home!

====

Back in the bus, 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 the 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. I am supposed to just 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.

====

I am back at the expo. I meet a well-off lady dressed in a dark blue silk cheongsam. She is impressed by my invention (a kind of signal processor) and asks me about its support components. I realised then that that was 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. It is typical of those found in the 70s: bottom half corrugated aluminum siding, top half glass. The double doors are the same. We push through one side and enter. There is another fella with us. I recognise him but can't place from where.

In the lobby in front of us is a long table. On it are several books upon each we are supposed sign in. Each is of a different theme. And each had a differently 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's costume jewelry in terms of design and metal element used. You know, stuff made of tin or brass and enameled in blue, green and red. Sometimes white.


We finish signing in and climb up the stairs to the office. The tiling reminds me of those nail-size small 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 and black vines. It was altogether rather charming.

I see a young girl doing her homework... 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 the drainage system. I wonder why there is so much used tea leaves and start to guess what they were being used for.

After the filtrate system was loosened and removed, we manage to flush the used leaves down the drainage system with ease. The maid is visibly relieved; so am I. The girl in the centre 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, that we need not get back to Singapore any sooner.

Friday, 22 November 2013

On a German Mountain

I am on a tour bus going up a mountain. It seems to be autumn as the air is slightly cool outside. We alight at a small town whose houses are all of modern design; 1970s likely. They are clustered together and 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 of both a Spanish hacienda home and a car garage. The walls are sandblasted and rough to the touch.

Into this white building I enter. A home.

We are in a small kitchen - an utility one that was so common in flats in the UK in the 70s. The table is red formica and has a strip of aluminum trim.

We are having 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 find 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 like that.

A teenager is seen marshaling the masks forward. He is doing his job and using a handphone at the same time. Typical. That makes me go "tsk-tsk" at his split attention. Haiz, kids these days.

When we reach a look-out point, a giant moon in the sky greets us. It is huge and almost covers the 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. 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 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.

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.

Monday, 11 November 2013

A Conjuring

It's been a while since I wrote up another dream. Lately they have come in bits and pieces without much significance. Or it could be that they vanish quickly from my memory come wakey time. It is difficult when you wake and find the neck stiff for no apparent reason. You try to get back to sleep hoping it would go away but then the dreams would either jitter to a stop or a short sequence of something unrelated would pop up. At times, the morning sunlight plays up and makes you dream of stuff in the sun.

So, in this next dream, I am a TCM doctor standing behind my TCM shop counter contemplating a certain illness. Which cure, which cure, I seem to ponder over and over again.

The room is quiet and uncluttered. I see myself as I would from the vantage point of a CCTV camera affixed at a corner in the ceiling. I am still (not moving), head downcast on the counter. The aisle is empty. Time seem to stand still like for an eternity and moving in some kind of time-lapsed sequence. The whole scene looks positively spooky.

My friend David pops up. He is asking when I would like to go to Taiping, his hometown. Apparently that town is quite well-known for its infestation of snakes. Would I go there to make snake wine?

In my mind I am wondering what kind of snake. Cobra? Coral?

I see David's mouth move as he talks, all in slow motion. I am not paying attention. I turn my head to the patient behind me. She is suddenly there and wanting my attention. She is about 11.

I ask her, What is the matter, love. She replies with a doleful look and silence. I look her up and down. She's shoe-less in a white nightgown that reminds be of the countless girls in evil-spirit possession-type movies (e.g. The Exorcist, Carrie, etc....) Her hair is somewhat disheveled too. Oh crap! Am I in a horror movie?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Floppy Tennis

The dream begins at a tennis game. I am a boy and playing against two other schoolboy friends. Strangely, I am not dressed in Mattar Primary School uniform but that of Boys Town English Primary. I am trying to show the boys some tennis moves. One of these is the forehand topspin. I sort of succeed, and realize that I am using an old Yonex aluminium racket, one that is light green and once owned by an elder sister. But although the game starts off well, things slowly take a surreal turn. When I try to execute an overhand lob, the racket turns soft like noodle. I kind of flop the shot through and miss contacting with the ball entirely.

We continue the game awhile, but matters do not improve. I keep missing the ball because the floppy racket.

Next, we are in a large field flying remote control planes. I see my arm doing the same floppy movement. This time, however, in my hand is a remote control. I am waving (or flopping) the control about to direct the plane, like some Wii game controller. The plane flies about in sync with my 'movement commands'. I seem elated by that and run about the field as if I'm flying a kite; the model plane flying in the sky as if connected by an invisible string to my handheld remote. In my mind, I am thinking what a marvelous invention that would be, being able to point the remote at the plane and direct its movements... Including doing a loop-de-loop.

The scene again changes, but the focus is still on a hand. This time, instead of holding something floppy, I am gripping an iron bar that's a handhold inside a robot's fist. I am punching as if it is my boxing glove. I realize I am inside a robot suit and involved in some sort of futuristic robot boxing match. I am boxing and people outside are cheering. This continues for a while and the scene fades, like that of movie ending. The dream then ends. And I am none the wiser.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Escape to Fado

In this dream, I am stuck in a semi-submerged tanker. Not a very big one but its central hold - the size of a small swimming pool - is filling up with water and the whole rusty contraption is listed to one side. I am beating the water to keep some creatures down. Not sure what but they are ferocious. I try to climb up the side ledge of the tanker even as I try to hold on and defend myself.

There are two other people with me in the tanker, each trying to survive from what's in the water.

The scene changes. Shots are being fired at a wall. They blast through leaving holes grouped rather close together. Shots fired from close range?

My family is trying to get out. For some reason, we are being pursued. We fire back.

As we retreat, I set up booby traps, the kind that employ a string, a can and a hand grenade.

We leave as the building blasts from the inside, throwing a black cloud of dust outwards and upwards through the doorway - or what used to be a doorway. The blast also throws us to the ground.

We cough, pick ourselves up and dust off. We see a gap in a fallen wooden fence and race through it.

On the other side, a pack of wolves lies waiting. I leap over and start to bash the wolves left and right. I don't feel good hitting them as I quite like wolves for their bravery and intelligence. But hey, when bark turns to bite, I rather not be the one to be bitten!

The wolves put up a fight but it is only temporary. They scatter soon enough when someone comes  running with a torch of fire. That person is rather manic, swinging his torch as if fending off unseen zombies.

I look down and am surprised to find myself and my family up a tree. We can see the shapes of wolves running away. However, a band of orcs is climbing up the side of the hill and shouting to burn us down. Wait, am I in The Hobbit movie? In a moment, Gandalf comes riding on a giant eagle and whisks us away. I know, in The Hobbit, Gandalf is also rescued by the eagles, not riding shotgun like some hero coming in as a savior.

We pass through clouds and I find myself on solid ground again. My family is not with me, only an old girlfriend. When the clouds clear, we find ourselves on a rocky shore. A lighthouse is not far in front. It appears we are back at Cabo da Roca, a remote tourist attraction (or rock outcrop) that bills itself as the furthest point west of the European continent. A few buildings surround the lighthouse. There isn't much to see except for a sign that proclaims the significance of the place. I think anybody who turns up here will take a picture with that sign. We do the same.

Afterwards a guy insists we stay to take photos for the others. After a while, we flee. The road is an isolated country road that winds down a hill. Fortunately a bus comes along and we hop on. Sometime later we arrive at a village. The streets seem too narrow for the bus but it manages to squeeze through though.

We arrive and stop at a cafe that bills itself as the place for Fado, a kind of Portuguese music. We enter and sit down for a drink of coffee. A small band plays while a lady sings.

The song appears sad but nice to listen to. It is no different from what Edith Piaf used to sing, I think. As the sun sets, we make our way out of the cafe and head to a place for grilled sardines. We could see lights and smoke and soon, someone operating a grill. My girlfriend and I smile at each other as we take a slow leisurely stroll towards where the smell of grilled fish and onions is coming from. We feel happy and content.