In the last 10 years of my life, I must have been on the London Underground countless of times. Every time, I never fail to hate travelling in it. The trains are cramped and dirty, the seats threadbare and mouldy, the train tracks look old and worn, and I especially hate the ear-piercing screeches that announce the union of metal wheels and metal rails. I dislike navigating my way through the meandering tunnels leading to the platforms, and I detest the distinct lack of escalators in this city with its travellers galore. Nevertheless, the thing that always leaves me feeling suffocated is the sheer number of people hurrying past you. There are no smiles, no apologies, no thank-yous– just one rude person squeezing past you after another.
However, I seem to have developed an appreciation for this transport system during last week’s trip to London. Despite all its flaws, I actually think that the London Underground is remarkably well-run. The stations are well sign-posted so that it is difficult to get lost despite the maze of tunnels. The trains arrive punctually. And perhaps more importantly, they run frequently– so much so that I have never really had to wait more than 5 minutes to get on the tube, even during peak hours. The number of lines, stations and interchanges are numerous, enabling passengers to get as close to their desired destinations as quickly as possible. Yet, what I appreciate most is the communication between tube staff and their customers. Announcements are constantly blaring through the PA informing people of which train lines are running a good service and which ones are not. When a train stops in the middle of the tunnel, the driver cares enough to inform his passengers of the reason for the wait. The constant communication helps me plan my journeys to travel more efficiently, and even reassures me that I am safe in my travels. The tube system really is a well-run service, and I am learning to appreciate it more than the modern but problematic and unhelpful train system back home.
It is always interesting to observe the people around me whilst in the tube. The fat lady in the corner has fallen asleep with her mouth wide open. The middle aged man sitting next to her is oblivious to how hilarious she looks as he concentrates on solving the crossword puzzle in the Metro. There is a white guy sat opposite him flicking through the newspaper, and the lady next to him is surreptitiously peeking over his shoulder to read about why Prince Philip is in the hospital again. The young teenager sat next to her is less interested, and is staring into space with a blank look on his face. Sat right in front of where I am stood is an Asian chap in a suit. He is staring hard at his mobile phone and making flicking motions with his forefinger. I peer over and see that he is playing a racing game on his phone. The man next to me is on his phone too, completely and utterly engrossed in his game of candy crush saga. I look behind me and notice a young man in his late twenties. He is hot!!
And then, there is the elderly gentleman stood next to the door. Time has desiccated his spine, and this, together with a degenerative kyphosis, left him with a short stature. Time has also proven to be an unforgiving bleach, and it has dyed his now-incomplete head of hair (read: balding) an unflattering silver and white. The man is edentulous, and the skin around his lips is significantly wrinkled. In fact, the years past have all left him with something to remember them by– a criss-cross of lines not unlike the London Underground map, all scored deeply onto his face. I see him staring at his own reflection in the glass window and wonder what it is like for him to see a haggard old person staring right back at him? What is going through his mind? Is he dearly missing the tall, fit and suave young man who used to greet him in the mirror with his silky smooth skin, full head of tousled brown hair, and a charming smile with 2 rows of perfect pearly whites? Or perhaps he is pining for his beautiful wife whom he has recently lost to the dreaded disease that is old age and ill health? What about his children? Have they all grown up, got married, and moved away? Have they left him behind? Or maybe he is considering his achievements in this lifetime. He may have fought in a war, established a business, sang in a rock band. What were his dreams? Which ones have he pursued, which dreams have he forsaken? What are his greatest regrets?
People say that the eyes are the windows into a person’s soul. The brown orbs surrounding his pupils are like guards to this man’s life story. I never got to look deep into them to discover his past, present and future. I guess these are his secrets that I will never know…
There is a little girl who has been making waves in Taiwan for being the epitome of cuteness. Her name is Qiao qiao.
Her father takes pictures and videos of his darling daughter regularly and shares them on her facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ciaociaorose
I have to say that even I have been won over by her gorgeous eyes and captivating smile. Her contagious laughter and childish innocence make me feel so maternal already! I am a fan!
** I do not own these photos. All pictures are from http://www.facebook.com/ciaociaorose
Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved the performing arts. I love putting on the clothes of another person, stepping into her shoes, and becoming a different person for a day. I love living someone elses’ life and thinking someone elses’ thoughts, dealing with friendships and relationships that do not truly belong to me. I love that I can be a naggy old grandmother one day, an abusive mother the next, and a foreign immigrant from China on the third. I love that acting allows me to do things I would never do, say things that I never should, or go places I never thought I’d ever visit. Acting allows my imagination to run wild, my creative juices to flow freely, and my entire being to find pleasure in pretending. What’s more, I absolutely love standing on centre stage, soaking up the spotlight and basking in my audience’s applause.
As a kid, my love for theatre went far beyond rehearsals and performances; I craved the fame and fortune of being an established performing artist. For most of my childhood and teenage years, I really wanted to be a celebrity. I wished to be talent-spotted from every play or production that I performed in. In my own playtime, I would make-believe that I was an international superstar that people the world over loved and worshipped. I even practiced signing autographs! I guess it was all harmless fun then, save for the unhealthy dose of self-obsession that I often indulged myself in.
Thinking back on these childhood aspirations, I cannot help but realise how incompatible “celebrity” is from the values of my “Christianity.”
In show business, there is a never-ending quest for beauty and perfection. Female celebrities are first judged by how flawless their skin is, how big their breasts are, how long their legs look, or how thin they can starve themselves into. Male celebrities on the other hand, seek after toned abs, huge muscles and chiselled faces. It does not matter how talented you are, you will only go far if you’ve got looks at the top of your agenda. Lucky you, if you have been born looking like a god/goddess. If you aren’t blessed in the looks department, then you better dig deep into your pockets for some plastic surgery cash!
How greatly this diverges from God’s teaching! God cares not for whether we are aesthetically pleasing or not, He looks deep into our hearts to know who we really are. Even Jesus “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2b); if the man God approved of and loved most never needed to be handsome and charming, why then are we so obsessed with outward appearances? “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
In the world of celebrity, self-promotion is also key. You want producers to use you in their next movie, you want someone to invest in your next music album, you want endless invitations for your appearance in advertisements. And so, people put themselves out there to sell themselves. Who cares that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Who cares that God is unimpressed when we brag about our greatness, but instead delights when we boast about our weaknesses? Scrap humility, scrap integrity. I am amazing, I am beautiful, I am desirable, choose me. Oh, that isn’t good enough for you? How about if I dress really skimpily? Or if I make headlines with scandalous news? I promise you’ll get your money’s worth by using me.
Speaking of money making, the entire entertainment industry revolves around dollars and cents, doesn’t it? One doesn’t just become famous, one becomes rich and famous. When you acquire celebrity status, people pay to watch you. And because they have paid you, you do what they want you to do- kiss someone you don’t love, film a bedroom scene as an adulteress, curse and swear like an unrefined hooligan, propagate corrupt values that belong to a fallen world. The money will make you rich, but it will not make you happy, because the money was paid for you to sell your soul, your body, your integrity. It is no wonder then, that so many celebrities are depressed and desperate, drunken and drugged-up to escape the despair of having bartered their lives for a wad of cash that can never buy back their freedom and privacy. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Behind the stunning dresses, gorgeous shoes and blinding bling, we often find a sorrowful skeleton who has forgotten what it is like to be a normal human being, because he or she has chosen to serve money over God.
And finally, idol-worship. A sin against the first of God’s 10 commandments, yet a sin that can never be divorced from show business. God explicitly says that “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Yet, we defiantly insist on robbing Him of His rightful throne in our hearts. And in His place, we shove a celebrity onto the pedestal that only God can be truly worthy of. We throw on a fake robe and put on a rusty crown for our idols and worship them as though they created the universe. Hearts are sent racing and bodies trembling when our favourite celebrity lifts a finger to pick their nose or fix their hair. And somehow, some of those worshipped strangely manage to convince themselves that they are indeed God, and that they deserve to be honoured and exalted for… nothing? We have gone completely bonkers with idol worship in this totally depraved world.
Having said all that, I am not trying to imply that all Christians should shun work in the entertainment industry at all costs. The inside workings of the industry is complicated and its values often dodgy, but it is filled with people who need to hear the gospel! How will the godless ever come to know the Lord if Christians refuse to bring the gospel to them in their own environment? How will they come to learn of the love and friendship that Jesus offers if Christians do not come and share it with them in their workplaces? When Jesus walked on this earth, he ate with tax collectors and sinners. He did not shun them because he was “holier than thou;” instead, he befriended them because they needed the salvation that he had to offer.
It makes me smile every time I see a celebrity publicly talk about their faith in God on TV. Firstly because God and His greatness is being publicly professed and the thousands of people watching TV will hear it, and secondly because it is nice to know that there are still Christian artists fighting the good fight of faith.
I cannot begin to fathom how hard it must be to love God and obey His laws in such a hostile workplace. They must have suffered mockery from those who have discarded Christian values into the bin of “old-fashioned irrelevance.” It must be difficult having to deal with being put on God’s throne against your wishes by fans who love you too excessively. Oh how I would hate to become the very idol that causes God’s wrath against another person! Attendance at church must be a huge struggle for Christian artists too, especially when you have a seven day working week that bears no recognition of the concept of weekends or private time. How Christian celebrities press on in their faith with little spiritual feeding and minimal fellowship from their church families truly baffles me. It can only come from God.
May God watch over the Christians in show business.
I went to Bondi beach today.
After 3 days of persistent rain, the cumulonimbus clouds finally relented and let the shy sun peek through. It was sunny and warm, perfect for a nice day out at the beach.
It was my first time at Bondi beach today, and I have to say that it was everything I expected it to be. Clear sapphire blue skies, emerald green waters, white waves washing ashore onto the long stretch of cream coloured sand. The sun was shining on my face and the cool sea breeze in my hair. Throngs of sun-worshippers had arrived, each person taking his or her own little spot on the sand to sunbathe, read, picnic, or simply just chill out. Others were building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or jogging along the coastline. Surfers rode the waves in the sea, yet others were swimming, or simply thrashing about playfully with their mates in the water.
It was a day for the young and old.
I joined in the fun too, and allowed myself to bake under the sun for about an hour. I then walked along the beach, people watching and getting all trigger-happy. I had a watermelon-flavoured snow cone today, and it was just the thing I needed to bring this hot day to perfection. Before I knew it, I had been out for almost 4 hours, and I was well and truly roasted (yes, my skin is all red and inflamed now, and I am starting to regret not putting any sunscreen on).
As I strolled along the beach, I could not help but notice how HOT Australian men are. There were so many of them out there today, all half naked and showing off their toned, sun-kissed bodies. They all seemed to have the necessary 6 pecs and classic V shaped body. Many have also been blessed with rather handsome, chiselled faces. These, together with tousled blonde or brown hair, a winning smile, and a sexy Aussie accent, made them unbelievably attractive. I found it very hard not to stare.
Aussie women are also not to be outdone. Toned abs and perky bums were seen everywhere- they make it seem as though it was easy and normal to attain a figure like theirs! I was completely and utterly put to shame when I tried to compare myself to their amazing bikini bodies. Many of the women were also a healthy bronze colour, which must have taken hours, days and months of sun-worshipping to attain. These women were quite obviously very confident and proud of their bodies, many of them choosing to display themselves in semi-nudity to the rest of us beach-goers.
All in all, it was a gorgeous day out at the beach. I haven’t been to one in the longest time ever, so it was nice for me to get my pasty looking self out in the sun again. I love people watching, and spending the day at Bondi was certainly a treat for me.
This evening, I’ve been thinking about a bunch of people who are really quite close to my heart: Asians.
Since coming to the UK, I have lost count of the number of times when people have tried to fit me into the Asian stereotype.
“You’re Asian, so you must be really clever. You must have aced all your exams. You must be seriously good at math. You must play the piano. You must have learnt ballet. You must know kung fu. You must work very hard.”
Sadly, I am none of those.
Yes, I know I am a doctor. But let me get this clear- I didn’t become one because of my exceeding intelligence. 99% of it was God’s grace, and only 1% of it hard work (yes, the percentage is that low; I procrastinate and get distracted way too much- I indulge in youtube and facebook in an unhealthy manner, and spend very little time doing things that really matter).
Speaking of stereotypes.
There is no smoke without fire, and I don’t think that some of these generalisations exist without a basis. Without causing any offence to people of other racial origins, it does seem that Asians do generally excel in most things that they set their mind to doing, and they work way harder than anybody else. It is not uncommon to see little Asian kids who are good at their studies, at music, art, and drama all at the same time. 琴，棋，書，畫，樣樣都通！
In Asia, it is the norm for children to be sent to classes of all kinds after school. It may be tuition on Monday, piano class on Tuesday, dance class on Wednesday, tuition again on Thursday, CCA (co-curricular activity- something like the sororities and fraternities in the USA) on Friday, swimming lessons on Saturday and Art classes on Sunday. Asian parents push their children REALLY hard. There is no time for play or for the TV, but there is always time for another class, another lesson, another practice or another rehearsal. Perhaps these parents are trying live their childhood again through their kids, learning all the skills and talents that they themselves never got to develop. Or perhaps they are just trying their best to get their kids ahead in the game, as possession of great talent and skill can only prove useful in the future. Or, if I was to be really cynical about their motives, perhaps these hyper-competitive Asian parents just want to make themselves look good when they come to compare their kid with others.
This leads me to think: is this really healthy? What should childhood really be all about? At this peak time when children absorb and assimilate whatever they are taught best, is it really right to focus their growth and development solely on these measurable skills? How much have we neglected their need for play and the happiness that is derived from it? How much are we preventing our little ones from learning the art of friend-making and toy-sharing? Children are most creative and imaginative when they are playing- how much of this are we stifling by our demands for them to simply focus on learning and practicing something that they find dull and dead? I’m not talking about the child prodigy who is exceedingly talented at something and enjoys pushing himself (or being pushed) to get better at it; I am talking about the regular Asian kid who is not inclined to whatever he is being forced to learn in any way, shape or form, and is struggling as he drags his leaden feet and heavy heart to the next after-school class. I don’t think there is ever going to be a correct answer to this, but I guess it all boils down to one word: balance. And what a difficult balancing act this is.
Anyway, I think I have digressed a little. I wanted to talk about Amazing Asians.
I have mentioned a couple of crazy talented Asian people in my previous posts. First, there is the ukelele-struming, paintbrush flicking, ballad singing b-boy Victor Kim. Then, there is the all acting, all singing, all modelling, all cheerleading, all dancing, all piano & cello playing Arden Cho. And how can I miss out on the man whom I admire most in all of this planet? Wang Lee Hom, singer, song-writer, musician, actor, director, and environmentalist.
There is more! I’m thinking about the latest NBA sensation who has caused a recent phenomenon called Lin-sanity! Jeremy Lin! Not only can he put basketballs through hoops with precision, this Harvard graduate certainly has brains too!
Not to forget, the Asians who rule Youtube: Ryan Higa, Kev Jumba, Dominic Sandoval, Chester See, Jayesslee, Michelle Phan, WONG FU PRODUCTIONS… these people are totally reigning the youtube world with their humour, creativity and talent.
And the Quest crew:
WOW Asians. You’re all so cool.
I’m so proud to be Asian.
I just watched a Youtube video of 7 teenagers viscously beating up a 17 year old Chinese schoolkid earlier in January this year (in Chicago, USA).
It was awful.
For 3 minutes, the teenage criminals punched and kicked this helpless schoolboy in a deserted alleyway, dragging him along the snow-covered ground and robbing him in broad daylight! They stomped on his face and booted his head, sometimes even using the boy’s own shoes to beat up his face, showing no mercy at any point. The whole time, these masked yobs kept calling the Chinese boy a “N*g**r” and threatened to kill him.
The poor Chinese boy was so defenseless and helpless! He received blow after blow of their physical assault without fighting back. And he struggled to speak any English to persuade his attackers in letting him off at all. For a moment, he looked like a rag-doll being bitten and flung about by a pack of wild rabid dogs.
I feel exceedingly disturbed by the images that I have just seen. The brutality of these assailants shocks me, but the fact that they are only teenagers (age range 15-17) sickens me even more! When I was their age, all I cared for was performing in the next ELDDS drama production, attending exco meetings on the Prefectorial board, painting our class banner, and getting to tuition classes on time. Never would it have crossed my mind that I would want to visciously hurt someone the way these teens have done. Never have I thought of using the kind of language they have used. It makes me wonder where these young criminals have learnt such behaviour from, or what things they have seen and gone through to develop such thwarted personalities at such a young age.
Poverty. Physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse. Neglect. Domestic violence. Broken families. Drugs. Crime.
Some of the horror stories that such young gangsters have had to live through is probably beyond what I can ever imagine or understand. The consequent mental and emotional scars then affect the way they perceive themselves and the rest of the world, as well as the way they relate to the people around them. They make choices that the “normal” person would deem as foolish, but these may in fact be choices made to prove or protect themselves. They may be caught in a vicious cycle of self-destruction, and there is simply no way out.
I am not trying to justify the behaviour of hooligans. In fact, I am very angry at the scallies in the video for their thoughtless and ruthless behaviour. Every blow they dealt to their victim was not just physical harm to the boy himself. It was mental trauma. It was psychological torture inflicted on the parents who love him immensely. It was the crushing of their American dream. I feel so sorry for the poor boy, and almost want to wish that those thugs all get put in jail and get a thrashing from their prison officers.
But what I do need to remind myself of though, is that there are 101 reasons to explain why they are so “messed up,” and I am not in a position to judge them. Busking in the comfort of the blessed conditions within which I live, I have no right to point fingers and condemn them when I do not truly understand. But true justice will one day befall them… and me… us. One day, the God who knows everything about every being on this earth will bring forth His fair judgment. I trust that He will do so, and I need not hurry to do His job for Him now.
Our world is totally messed up. And the brokenness of this earth manifests itself in ways like this- violence and hatred. Heartbreakingly, even children are not spared.
And the reason why our world is so far from perfect? We ditched God. We flicked the bird at him and said “let us run this place ourselves.” We ran amok and accidentally created a piece of hell on this earth.
There is too much hurt and hatred in this world without God.
Recently, I have been thinking about how sombre my last couple of posts have been. I wanted to liven this blog space up a little and considered what I could write about. As I wondered through cyberspace checking out the blogs and videos of people I find interesting and beautiful, it finally dawned on me that I could write about the people in this world that I find attractive. I am going to kick this topic off with: Beautiful Asian Women.
Now, don’t get me wrong as I am not attracted to women whatsoever. As with many other women out there, I just like to look at pretty things and pretty people. Being a girl has made me particularly harsh when judging other women’s exterior charm, so I want to introduce you to the ladies who have managed to silence the critic in me with their ravishing beauty.
First up, Arden Cho.
I first noticed this gorgeous Korean-American beauty when watching Wong Fu Productions’ “Asians of Secret Stuff.” Arden is a “beautiful girl-next door,” complete with a porcelain face and alluring smile. She has a sing-song voice, and always comes across as gentle and kind. I was looking through her list of talents on her wikipedia page, and true to most Asians, she is mutitalented. She is a thespian, a dancer, a gymnast, a cheerleader, a pianist, a celloist, a beauty queen, a singer, and she even practices Tae Kwan Do! She is my age, yet she puts me to shame with all her acheivements. What makes me the most jealous though, is the fact that she makes a living out of acting (and she’s so good at it!)– something that I love love love so much.
Number 2: 鬼鬼
Young, vibrant, fun-loving, gregarious. When I first saw her on 我愛黑澀會, I thought she was ignorant and annoying. But over the years, I think she has really blossomed into a lovely young lady. Great smile, good skin, gorgeous legs.
One of Taiwan’s top models. With a body like hers, how can one deny the fact that she IS opthalmic candy? Her straight and never-ending pins are absolutely to-die-for. She is elegant, poised, and the epitome of sexy.
Janine Zhang first came to fame with her performance in the drama series 白色巨塔，where she played an anaesthetist with numerous love interests. As far as I can remember, she is the first lady that I thought to be truly beautiful. She doesn’t put her beauty out on display ostentatiously, but I think it is her careful, considered ways that have really drawn me towards her. She is a beauty with brains too- she holds both a degree and a masters degree in law, awarded by 2 of Taiwan’s most prestigious Universities.
Number 5: 劉容嘉
容嘉 isn’t your typical ravishing beauty, but she really inspires me with her amazing fashion sense. She dresses simply, but always manages to stand out from the crowd with her choices. She is funny and real, perhaps even a little strange (she practices Tai Chi), but I think that really draws people to her.
Last but not least, a recent favourite: 陳妍希
Michelle recently shot to fame with her stunning performance in the Taiwanese movie: You are the apple of my eye (那些年，我們一起追的女孩）. Who knew that a girl could look so delightful with her hair tied back in a ponytail? She has a smile of an angel (complete with dimples and all), and is 落落大方 in her manner. What’s there not to like?
So, that concludes my post on good-looking Asian women. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I am sure there are many more gems out there waiting to be discovered, polished, and put on lists such as this.
But remember: “Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised!” Proverbs 31:30
I’ll have a think and generate a list of oh-so-delicious individuals with the XY chromosome for a future post. Until then, farewell!