Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ruth Graham In Her Own Words

a woman example... I thank God for the faithful that have gone before us who remind us that it is possible.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts from train ride...

Hello from the train back from Berlin. I am scheduled to reach home only after midnight.. Yawn… I am already tired ( at least I have my mobile internet however intermittent it is) Back from a weekend trip to Berlin, a friend was there for a “lung health” conference and I thought that it might be a good reason to catch up as well as check out the capital. I have never been to Berlin before…

I must say that all visitors to Germany should visit Berlin if they want to understand the Germans a little more. I was humbled, inspired, moved, more than in many other places in Germans (still like the dreamy Neuschwanstein though)

To be honest, I have been feeling rather frustrated with the Germans for how many rules/guidelines they have and how religious they are in following these rules… this from reading instructions of household machines in great detail(xx watt for xx type of food), the “type of soap powder to use (colored/non-colored, wool/cotton/polyester), the type of tool to use to clean ( normal rag/special rag, special tool, special mop depending on surface of floor, special pail for the special mop etc), application to school’s library ( it is not enough to be a member of the school) and the public transport schedule…These are the day to day ones, without us even going to taxes ( where each individual has a tax advisor), the language (where depending on the article of the noun, the type of verb, the clauses changes and the endings of each word changes), as well as the laws….

Suffice to say, I was dreaming about going back to the “haven” called Singapore… or to my beloved developing countries where issues are a lot more basic (we have no electricity today) where I feel more useful as an individual. The “awwww” and “wahhhh” honeymoon phase of being in Germany have passed as I hop here and back for the past 3 years… I was beginning to question if I can truly live in a place like this and if it is possible for me to contribute (make God happy). Was I perhaps just being self indulgent and na├»ve? Or what people call the foolishness of youth? ( haha, I have been feeling old and weary and scoffing at my own plan…) The thing that has been holding me together was remembering that my God is in control and a darling who tries his very best to deal with this ball of emotions as we deal with issues of adaptation.

I am thankful for this trip to Berlin for providing some perspective. We went for walks around both quarters (east and west), paid mandatory visits to the Mauer (wall), visited very few museums, went for a free walk and checked out flea markets (only 1 out of 3 in the guidebook was operational –keine arnung ( dunno why) ) and just hung around… For me, the highlight of the trip was the free walk! Haha. It was nice to have a glimpse of the history of Germany from its glorious days (Prussian Empire) to the consequences of World War 1 which led to World War 2, the cold war and finally how the city has been coping since the fall of the wall. The dynamism of the city is evident as walking 5 minutes provides evidences of different times in history. I like the contrast of this city, like seeing places that I have read and studied about and especially like how the people have tried to make it work…

During the walk, we came across symbols of power, reign of the Prussian Empire, Memorial of the Holocaust, a carpark lot where Hitler’s bunker lies many feet below, an old building that was built by the Nazis, a war memorial that has a sculpture, the remains of the Cold War and the Berlin Dom that was built with the intention to rival the St Peter’s Basilica. It was interesting to see what and how things were preserved. My friend had a comment about how the memorial of Hitler’s bunker was just a carpark lot with a sign and not anything more. Why did they not want to make more of it? For example, the memorial for the Jews that died cost many millions Euro and took a big plot of land in central Berlin…I had my thoughts on it but I don’t think he agreed with my thinking… I appreciate the thought process that went into these different bits of history and the irony of some of the buildings. (The Nazi building (which is not the favorite building to say the least) that used to be the Nazi’s Airforce headquarters became the Soviet headquarters (only Nazi building not destroyed) and currently houses the tax office in Berlin)

Another highlight of my trip was the Reichstag (parliament house) haha. We waited in the rain for about 1 hr to get into the building. It is architecturally quite interesting ( it was restored with a glass dom above) and also historically and politically interesting. I enjoy learning more about how ingenious the architecture of the dom was ( solar panels, mirrors to reflect natural light into the building, an air vent to let air in but not water/snow etc etc) Quite amazing.. haha.. It is also very interesting symbolically as the floor of the dom is made of glass, which meant that people debating during Parliament can look up and remember who they r doing this for ( the people – albeit most are non German tourists!)

I guess by and large, I am mostly wowed at the tenacity of the city, nation as a whole. Yes, this is an old nation and I see some merits/wisdom of its age. I am inspired at how they try to use what they have to do what they can. Even though I think that they are still a little weird, they have used their weirdness as their competitive advantage. (think German precision) At this point in time, they r one of the most stable/growing economies in Europe (perhaps even the world) and it is not something that comes cheap or easy.

I guess it is nice to be schooled by a university system that has produced thinkers that were prominent to the western world (which like it or not, influences most of the rest of the world) While I do not understand much and often feel small or intimidated that I might not be smart enough; I am currently inspired to try again…

Perhaps one day, I will be able to speak the German language fluently, but even if that doesn’t happen, I need to not be fearful and “blocked” but to just go with the flow… however convoluted the “German flow” is. To enjoy the process and not be upset with the people who tried to build the tower of Babel.

So, as I end this post (which managed to take 2.5 hrs of my time – which leave me with 2.5 more); I will try to learn from the Germans and be tenacious. As a German saying goes, everything has an end, except a sausage which has 2 ( I dun understand how its relevant but here goes)… To find a sense of humour in things that go wrong and to always be thankful.

2.5 weeks to family coming! Need to be more “put- together”. To a nice week ahead!

(Ps: the trip took longer than 5 hrs since we were stuck for some reason for 1 hour... Long train rides, not very fun... perhaps the biggest downer of the trip.. )

Thursday, November 04, 2010

of reality and fairy tales...

This is THE fav cartoon of mine.... few days ago, random friend says she will never ever let her kid watch cartoons as they instill in us the need for a prince in shining armor... Random Friend, for the record, this DVD cover does not have Prince Eric on it!!! :) It has instead a lobster and a flounder!.. I think its good to go! :)

I am at the moment in life again asking questions:
" What does it mean to love somebody u no longer trust"
" What is trust and how do you decide who to trust/not trust?"
"What does it mean to love your neighbour as yourself?" 
"How does one live confident in spite of the uncertainties that we face?"

I think perhaps the idea of growing up/maturing/aging is that we find nuances that helps us make sense of these questions... My model answer doesn't fit the mold exactly and I need to figure out what to do. It is much easier to not deal and just be sad/angry/emo/apathetic.. but i am of the mind it will come haunt me again, so better to sort it out now.

At this point in time, I am trying to not discard the fairy tales (happily ever after) and yet be a idealistic realist... Somewhere somehow, I will need to remember that His strength is made perfect in my weakness...