Sunday, September 17, 2006

Crazy About Michael Wong (Guang Liang)

Recently I've been crazy about Michael Wong's songs. For the uninitiated, there's a pretty good write-up about him on Wikipedia (which I suspect was written by his publicist :P)

Over the years I've heard his songs when he was part of a duo, and later when he went solo. Earlier this year, I was at a Chinese wedding (yeah, the type where you have badly sung karaoke as part of the entertainment), and a bunch of kids went up to sing his monster hit from 2005, Dong Hua (literally, Fairy Tale). Something struck me about the song, it was both sweet and yet tinged with sadness. As if he lost something and he knew he would never get it back.

Anyway, today while bored out of my skull waiting for my wife to finish her shopping in 1 U, I popped over to the music store to buy my second (ahem) original CD in 2 years. And I was instantly hooked.

After listening to his songs the whole afternoon, I finally decided that him being a boy from a provincial town in Malaysia had a lot of to do with how he came with all these sad, wistful songs. If you look at his MTV's, you'll find that most of them reflect the same sense of loss and nostalgia. Listening to his songs reminded me of my days in secondary school, of having crushes on the girl in the the secondary school next door, of cycling to school and days spent fooling around with mates. Of days spent dreaming when I would grow up and leave this town with its quaint old shops and familiar faces.

I suspect for many of us now working in KL and Singapore, and even beyond, his songs sends us back to our more innocent days when life was so much less complicated and more joyful. I think that's what made him so successful in recent years, him having touched a part deep inside us with his songs, reminding us once again of who we really are and where we came from.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

For Want of A Good Plumber

In the first few years that I moved into my current home, everything was pretty much in good order and I took no notice of the countless cards and leaflets advertising renovation and plumbing services that fill my post box almost every day.

But one fine day the house water tank had a problem and I was finally forced to look for a plumber. Out came the handphone and I started sms'ing friends for recommendations. Surprisingly no one seems to know anyone who they could recommend.

After much nagging from the wife I finally decided to bite the bullet and called a number on one of the cards.

What happened next left a bitter taste in my mouth. The guy who came quoted some outrageous figure to fix the problem (I figured the price should probably be half of that at most), and when I declined his offer he blasely told me that there is a minimum RM50 call out charge. At that point I was ready to let go with a string of expletives, but in the end I bit my lip and paid what he asked for.

It took the guy all of 15 minutes to climb up to the roof and replace the spoilt stopper (that was all that needed fixing, the stopper). I know I'm paying for his skills but still, it really felt like a rip-off to me.

If anyone knows a good reliable plumber in the Klang vallet who won't charge an arm and a leg, I want to know his number!

Different country.....

I was back again recently at my wife's hometown of Kluang. I was watching tv at the in-laws home when suddenly I realized that I've never observed the folks in the house watching Malaysian tv. Not only that, everyone in the town seems to speak standard Mandarin, and with a Singaporean accent, too, no less.

And my wife admits to knowing the lyrics to "Majulah Singapura"!!

We are about 150 km away from the real thing, and yet it seems like Kluang (and many other towns in the vicinity) are just a suburb of Singapore.

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