Friday, 30 November 2012

LEGO Bricks– Now and then

My first reaction I first saw the Shell LEGO Ferrari collection poster while passing by a Shell Petrol Kiosk one Saturday morning was to take out my iPhone and dialed for mom’s personal assistant. I was full of excitement - Ferrari theme LEGO to add to my collection!

Me: Neoh….

Neoh: Ah Girl…mom is not in the office yet.

Me: Can you help me to collect the whole set of the Ferrari LEGO?

Neoh: They come in batches. Now we have 3 while others need to wait for the launching. Never mind, I will collect everything for you. How many set you want?

Me: One will do. Thanks.

Mom suddenly took over the receiver on the other end.

Mom: You sure one is enough? You love LEGO the most of all toys.

Me: Enough.

Mom: Make sure you pay the cost that we pay the supplier. (jokingly)

Me: What ??? I thought it is always free for your daughter.

Mom: Your old collections in the boxes at home are free.

So mom’s faithful assistant, whom had been working with mom for the past 20 years at our petrol station dutifully, collected the whole set of LEGO models for me. Still in their packing, the whole thing now sits in my storeroom waiting for the day when I will assemble each of them and find a place at home to display them. (They will have to fight for the limited space still available with my ever growing purple clay teapots, porcelain vases and more).

When I went back to Teluk Intan over the weekend, I was delighted when I saw dad decorated the Ferrari models on display in his petrol station with pieces from my old collections that must be at least half my age. Nobody other than mom and dad and perhaps my cousin Jenny understand the deep meaning of LEGO bricks to me. I love LEGO bricks because it gave me intellectual stimulation.

They were the trophies of my academic success as well as the bribes offered after each round of canning by dad. Looking back at those boxes of LEGO bricks, I will never forget that each time when dad see my report card, I’ll be assured of a box of the latest LEGO in the market. But I will also never forget that when dad canes me for my mischief, he will also get me a box of LEGO as a bribe to be good next time.

They were also something that bond Jenny and me because whenever she visits, both of us will definitely be bringing out the bricks and start our “project” of creating a “city” that will take days to complete. Jenny has this artistic skill that I lacked. The buildings that she builds from the bricks were always something creative, new and beautiful. Seeing her fingers and brain at work with the bricks was always an eye opening for me. Gradually, I will wait for her visit before the both of us will assemble the bricks together instead of me doing it solo.

As we grow older and occupied with study and other activities, those LEGO bricks were semi forgotten and no more “projects” ever came up again.

However, each time when I pass by shops selling LEGO bricks, I’ll surely drop in to check out their latest product. Five years ago while shopping in Singapore; I passed by a LEGO specialty shop in Orchard Road. Out of compulsion as well as memories, I spent quite near to one thousand dollar buying a few boxes of those bricks, promising myself that I will assemble them again.  Alas, those boxes are still as good as when they came out from the shop with the wrappers still on.

Nevertheless, LEGO bricks are one of the few things that are sentimental to me. It doesn’t matter whether I assemble the bricks into something or left them in their boxes, LEGO is something that can pass the test of time and can still be relevant even a few generations later.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A many-splendored thing – Dr. Han Suyin

A many-splendored thing is the best way to describe the life of Dr. Han Suyin @ Elizabeth Comber @ Rosalie Matilda Kuanghu Chow, (12 September 1917 – 2 November 2012), to borrow from her famous novel cum autobiography.

I’ve first came across Han’s book Destination Chungking among others in the termite infested part of my grandfather’s old shop, all ready for the huge rubbish bin across the road. Those were the remaining piles of books belonging to daddy and his English reading siblings. As a curious teenager at that time, I skimmed through some of it and immediately attracted to Destination Chungking for a reason that I somehow don’t know and took it home, placed it in my study. I never venture beyond page 1 of that book.

All was forgotten about Dr. Han until many years later when I was in Auckland that I came across her another book Eldest Son: Zhou Enlai and the Making of Modern China at a bookstore in Queen’s Street Auckland during a movie day out. At that time, my interest towards Chinese history was gaining momentum, and without hesitate, I bought the book. Soon I found myself searching for her books at second hand bookshops around Auckland, Melbourne and Penang and became a proud owner of most of her English books.

It turn out to be that she is also the favourite author of most of my elder friends but I have been reading her books for years without knowing that Dr. Han is an Eurasian until I read her obituary a few days back. Whatever her origin was is not important for she bring out the best of literature combining the Eastern and Western spheres of the globe on which her life touches upon.

Dr. Han had lived through the most interesting part of the 20th century at the epic of where histories were made and she brought history out to the readers via her novels. She witnessed the China that was on its knees as well as the China of today. She lived briefly within the Empire that is akin to the sun that will never set but the sun did set. Arising from the ashes of World War 2 came and went Communism. Now it is the Internet and social media that rules. I always wonder, if she is to write again, what will she write?

Reposer en paix, Dr. Han