Anything That Interests Me! :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life is like a roll of toilet paper

Two contrasting views: life like a roll of toilet paper, or is life inherently meaningless?

My old man is now officially a gentleman of leisure, which means that my dad can finally enjoy his life entirely without bothering to work, and that he now has joined the landed aristocratic gentry. He sent me an SMS some time back saying philosophically that "life is like a roll of toilet paper; you only appreciate it when it gets to the end". That was very cute and very philosophical, and the kind of thing that Si, Sh and S love to speculate and ponder upon. Yup, you are right, we're all amateur philosophers. I actually bothered googling it and found out that the original and most common phrase is that 

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes." 

I prefer my old man's version, because gentlemen of leisure generally have more time to think and philosophise, and secondly, he is so right. And thirdly, he's been the family philosopher for a long time already.

At the same time, while appreciating life for what it is, I just watched Vanilla Sky.

I know I should be studying and not blogging, and not watching TV and not doing all sorts of other things, but my brother Shannon recommended it, so I did watch it.

The story was a psychological thriller about sex, dreams, and artificial reality with the protagonist Tom Cruise killing his girlfriend, having mistaken her for someone else, because every time he saw her, he thought of the person who tried to kill him. Very scary stuff. Won't spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it yet, and besides, since it's an old movie, you'd probably have seen it already and I'm like 7 years late. Na ja. But it's not the movie I'm talking about here, it's the philosophy bit, or the parts that aspire to be philosophical.

"What is happiness to you?" Aha, that came out of the movie.

It also came out of the philosophical mouth of my very philosophical and crazy recruit Victor when I was in the army. He asked Lieutenant See once, "Are you happy?" and it made her delirious with joy. She didn't think it was philosophy but a very charming chat up line. Perhaps. But to philosophers and philosophers wannabes like me, it makes us think.

That kind of question is near impossible to answer. What do you want, an existentialist answer? a normative answer? a Dionysian answer? a self-made self-philosophy answer? It's difficult. Philosophy, philosophy, philosophy.

And what made me think was this, in particular:

"What is happiness to you?" asked Tech Support.
"I just want to lead a real life," said Tom Cruise, in answer.

Now, that immediately makes us think of the toilet roll paper whatever philosophy. There is a real life that we can lead, it's great, and it comes to an end, so we'd better enjoy it. Without dragging Thomas Hobbes and his "life is... nasty, brutish and short" into the picture, we see that this kind of thinking is "the toilet roll thinking". It's better to live a real life and live it to the end, and appreciate it for what it is. There IS a toilet roll, and it comes to an END. I know I'm conflating a lot, but stick with it.

Then nihilism sets in... the ring tone in the movie, as well as an older post here on my Anything that Interests Me blog, is "Row, row, row your boat".

I started thinking...

1. Wouldn't we not know if we were dreaming?
2. I want to know the truth, but what if the truth is too unbearable to hear?
3. Why wouldn't it be nice to live inside a dream?
4. It wouldn't be nice to live inside a dream if it turns into a nightmare, as it did in the movie, but what about the real world? It is a nightmare, a living nightmare for many. I am one of the luckier ones.
5. Oh my God. I cannot fathom the other philosophical possibilities, which are of essence, more horrific than the ones I have just mentioned.

Now by this stage, if you have no philosophical background or no bloody interest in philosophy, Vanilla Sky, confused and esoteric thinking, you're better off going elsewhere or reading my post on Derren Brown the magician and mind reader. If you stuck to the philosophy so far, the questions I was thinking of would be those that you have considered before?

Can it be that as a working philosophy humans adopt a realist approach, and then secretly think about what if life weren't real and that it was all a dream?

Can it be that I am, or am not, the only one who thinks about "Row, row, row your boat"?

My gentleman father is interested in philosophy - but his own homespun philosophy, reminiscent of Warren Buffett and Yogi Berra. I am interested in such philosophy too, but nihilism, existentialism and an inherent agnosticism are playing havoc with my mind. Like Tricks of the Mind does.

I am going off to study now. Enough about philosophy and in with some intellectual history (which happens to involve philosophy).

I think I should be writing about Angela Funovits in my next post; she's a famous up and coming mentalist who appeared on Phenomenon and The Next Uri Geller... I believe. She added me on facebook! :) As you know, I have an abiding interest not just in philosophy but also in mentalism, magic and in Angela Funovits' case - card manipulation. Card manipulation is my latest hobby!

(... and I'm bad at it. Shoot.)

Anything that interests me!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Morta Deller

Morta Deller is the Next Uri Geller!

OK, I am supposed to studying for my last two examination papers but I have decided to write about Oliver Pocher, who acts as Morta Deller. Morta Deller is the next Uri Geller!

I found it very excruciatingly funny and very cute that Morta Deller (Oliver Pocher's screen name for this particular character) went on the Next Uri Geller show and showed us how powerful a mentalist and magician he is. The Next Uri Geller was a programme show for the world's mentalists to compete for the title of the Next Uri Geller. Here came Morta Deller. It happened like this.

The doors opened and in came Morta Deller. Uri Geller asked him, as he always asked all his contestants, "What are you going to show us today?"

And Morta Deller replied: "Ich kann Gedanken lesen und ich hoere Stimme." Hahaha! He was a real joker and a comedian, and not a mentalist. And Uri Geller, with a straight face and as if he were playing real poker, said: "Morta Deller, the stage is yours."

Morta Deller (hahahaha) is such an incredible Mentalist that he can predict that when you pick up the phone you will hear something. Morta Deller went to the USA to exhibit his skills, and astounded critics and unbelievers alike when he managed to mind read the Americans easily.

Morta Deller (to a man who was smoking): You love to smoke.
Man: That's right!!

Morta Deller (to a Chinese lady): You are not from here, the USA. You are, you are, you are from Hong Kong.
Woman: HAHAHA... yes.... I told you that just now!

Morta Deller (to a postman): You are working for a German company... DHL!
Postman: That's amazing.

I don't know why, but every time I watch Morta Deller I still feel like laughing even though the joke is stale and we all know that his mentalist powers are fake. He's a fake psychic, fake mentalist, James Randi didn't even bother proving or disproving him... because Morta Deller is Oliver Pocher, the German comedian. FUNNY! With a capital F, and UNNY.

I love Morta Deller's magical powers when it comes to the main exhibition:
1. He can fly... up escalators.
2. He can lift up elevators with his hand movements. First he can close the doors of the lift without touching it, then he can make it move upwards.
3. He can open... automatic doors.
4. He can open car windows without touching them.
5. He can open car boots without touching them.
6. He can make a coffee cup disappear by covering it.

Morta Deller can do all that and much more! Hahahahaha!

I was watching Sos Petroysan (if I spelt his name correctly, and normally I'd bother to check it up, but today I'm feeling lazy and don't want to bother to check up his name) and he was incredible on the Next Uri Geller. Sos can do the usual spoon bending magic and Sos can also do the incredible mind reading and prediction abilities expected from most mentalists and most psychics. Sos is incredible and I love him pretty much, especially since he is such a young talent and can't be more than 14, 15 years old as at 2008.

But the funniest thing is that despite my abiding interest in magic and mentalism, I still think that Oliver Pocher, I mean, Morta Deller, is much better a magician and a mentalist than all the other mentalists on the Next Uri Geller. Hear me out. How can Morta Deller be better than Angela Funovits, the talented US magician and mentalist, and Sos the little kid who can bend spoons and read minds? Not possible.

It's because magic is about a relationship - a relationship between the magician and the person watching, and there must be something that binds them together. In terms of skill, Morta Deller knows nothing. It's true. But in terms of entertainment, Morta Deller is much much better a showman and a cunning trickster than the other mentalists. Morta Deller can make you laugh and make you think and he can hold the suspense in, whereas we all already know that the next mentalist holding a spoon has the psychic ability to bend it. Morta Deller is funny and refreshing.

For instance, I loved it when he could correctly tell a person's passport number. I was wondering how on earth he did it when he has no magic powers and he is a fake mentalist. Then Morta Deller said: "Das hat gut geklappt, Papa" and hahaha! It was his old man. Morta Deller can remember a person's Ausweis Nummer because ... it's his old man. The intense suspense and the amazement that a comedian is such a psychic... hahaha! Yup. Morta Deller is the better showman. I also kind of dislike the fact that some mentalists and psychics do their tricks to death. Spoon bending is fine for people who rarely see it, but all the time? A bit thick, ain't it? Try something new, like Derren Brown does.

Enough on Morta Deller, my favourite comedian and my favourite Next Uri Geller candidate. Remember, by the way, that he is a fake mentalist. So if you accidentally or deliberately came to my blog looking for Derren Brown, Derren is on the previous post. Also, if you came here looking for psychics, mentalism, paranormal, etc, they are all posts somewhere here on my blog. Here somewhere, you'll find them. This post is dedicated to Morta Deller the fake psychic and fake magician and fake mentalist.

Morta Deller is damn funny. And his alter-ego, German comedian Oliver Pocher is also damn funny. You can take my word on this one!

Anything that interests me!
German comedy and Morta Deller the crazy fella

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Derren Brown - a post on Derren Brown

Derren Brown

I was about to write a post called "Sixpence None The Richer", because, after all, this is my "Anything that Interests Me" blog and I write about whatever interests me - and Sixpence None The Richer is one of my favourites, and I am listening to Leigh Nash singing now. I was so going to write all about Leigh Nash and her incredible vocals, and how I love her songs.

There she goes, singing "There She Goes", crooning from my computer speakers now.

Then I clicked on my taskbar and the analytics devices (now you know, I somehow became technologically advanced after my stint here in England) and I saw that the most popular search term that almost returned my blog was... "Derren Brown". Not "Anything that interests me", the bloody title of my blog, and not Sixpence None The Richer (obviously, because I was just about to write about Leigh Nash and I hadn't done it yet).

So I decided that since people are getting interested in Derren Brown, I shall do my best to tell you what I know about this man and how I got to know and adore him during my stay here in England. I don't know him personally of course, but I was impressed by his book and TV shows, obviously. So here goes: a post dedicated to my current hero, talented mentalist, magician, mind-reader, and fake psychic, Derren Brown!

My first contact with Derren Brown and his brand of magic was by sheer chance. It was my second or third day here in Manchester and I was at Blackwells. For those of you not in the know, Blackwells is the bookshop here in England and apparently it's pretty famous. In any case, I walked in and looked around (because, I am a scholar after all and we love books).

My eyes wandered over Richard Dawkins (hmmm, not too good, and besides I am now Christian and I don't want to have anything to do with his polemic), then my eyes went over to Bill Bryson (hmmm not too good, I nearly died when I did Dr Shekelle's course back in Uni, and the recommended reading was Bill Bryson, so there's no chance in hell I'm going to buy this book), and then my eyes came to rest on this book entitled "Tricks of the Mind". There it was. Mildly interesting. Might be worth a look. I thought.

I opened up the book and immediately there was a barrage and a polemic against Christianity, just the thing I had sought to avoid by looking away from Dawkins. (Later I found out that Derren Brown liked Dawkins' works and appeared in some kind of show with him!) It was mildly interesting and I was rather interested. Then I flipped over to the next page, and I was hooked. A book on magic and mentalism, some kind of magic thing? Shall buy it and have a good read later. Who's this Derren Brown? No idea. Never mind, I'll give him a chance.

I bought "Tricks of the Mind" at a discount and marched out of the bookstore happy.

That night I read it once through and found it very interesting. It dealt with magic tricks, showmanship, hypnosis, psychic powers, and psychology, the kinds of things that interest me, and besides, there was a whole section on how to have an incredible memory. It was a great read and I tried some of the tricks on my friends, and that was that. I put Derren Brown's book in the cupboard and promptly forgot all about it. That was how I was introduced to Derren Brown. I bought his book by sheer chance, read it once through that very night I got it, and then put it into my cupboard and forgot all about it.

How the heck did Derren Brown then become my hero, and how did I get hooked on mentalism and playing pranks on my friends then?

Youtube, man, youtube.

One day, I happened to recall the term "mentalism" as I was evaluating and criticising David Blaine and Criss Angel by watching them on youtube. I love to see how people debunk them, because, while their tricks are fun, I find it more intellectually interesting to see how the tricks are done.

I typed "Derren Brown" into the search function and, for good measure, did another search called "mentalism". And then I watched. And watched and watched. Derren Brown was fantastic. And then everything hit me at once.

A few years back, my brother and I saw a documentary on TV where someone could use sublimal advertising to make people choose his product. I found it very interesting, but not as interesting as some strange man who could make people draw things that he wanted them to draw, by influencing them ON THE WAY TO THE PLACE WHERE THEY WOULD DRAW THE PICTURE. That man, ladies and gentlemen, was Derren Brown.

Then I recalled the book rotting away in my cupboard and rushed to take it out. I read and read and read that book many times. It was brilliant.

Derren Brown is a bloody genius.

OK, so who is Derren Brown after all? I have been going on and on but have said nothing about who the man is. He is a mentalist. A mentalist is a magician who does tricks not with sleight of hand, but using mental tricks. He sorts of plays with your mind rather than your eyes.

Why do I like Derren Brown so much? More so than Blaine or Copperfield or Angel?

For starters, he explains most of what he does in simple terms, even though what he says may be lies, and sometimes they are lies. Some of the nonsense and bullshit that he says are totally crap, and I can't believe that people believe him. (The rest of the time, he tells the truth and talks about psychology.) But nonetheless, he wins me over because he tells us how the trick is done truthfully sometimes. He beat 9 grandmasters in simultaneous chess, and told us how it was done. But as a true showman, and a master mentalist, he did not tell us how he got the final numbers of the pieces left on the boards. Until today I can't figure it out, and I am an academic genius, mind you.

Related to this point about his telling of how the trick is done, I like the fact that Derren Brown is "honest about his dishonesty". I like it that he tells me clear in my face as I watch him on the telly: that no actors or stooges are used, and I love his line of "magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship". That's the way, Derren.

Second, he rekindled my childhood interest in the supernatural and psychic phenomena. When I was a kid I thought it was all real and that Uri Geller was the real thing. Derren Brown proved to me via his shows and his book that there is no such thing as psychic powers, and that rational thinking can explain such phenomena. Now I don't have any fears looking at ouija boards, ghosts, zombies and the like, because Derren Brown's method of thinking and reasoning appeals to me. Rationality is very important - thanks Derren. I knew that before, and I just needed someone to remind me of that. Thanks also for rekindling my interest in the supernatural and homeopathic remedies, ghosts, mediums, spirits, palmistry, astrology and psychics. Derren Brown gave me my childhood memories and interests back.

Third, his writing and speaking style appeals to me. Derren Brown's writing style is lucid, clear and very humorous. Sarcastic, sometimes. Ironic, even. He makes me love his writing. In fact, I sometimes write like him, and like him, we both get misinterpreted. For example, I loved it when he was quoted wrongly in the press and aha, this is interesting, he once "got into a brawl and mudslinging match" with Derek Acorah. That is sheer misinterpretation, if you get Derren Brown's side of the story. He never did anything of that sort, but somehow the media blew it up and made it all seem so much more exciting. Hahahahahaha! I had a bloody good laugh. Derren Brown writes excellently with very few mistakes and overall, Tricks of the Mind was an excellent read and had all my favourite topics inside. What more could I ask for?

As for his speaking and presentation style, I have somehow acquired an irritating London accent from imitating him so often. Derren Brown speaks very well and has a good style on TV, and the best part is: he is one of the few guys who can get away with swearing publicly on TV. And we love it. I love the fact that he swears. For example: "my big f***king expensive yacht" and who-can-forget-that-pun "lucky ladies will have a chance to get/ win a f*****ing from me". He is very cool and has stage presence, although I didn't like it much when he had a very overblown style on "Something Wicked This Way Comes".

By the way, for complete beginners and neophytes (neophyte means beginner), I have watched all his shows before the latest Channel 4 series showing now (May 2008) and they were incredible:

(Not in order) Waking Dead
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Trick or Treat
The Heist
Russian Roulette
The Gathering
Mind Control
The System
The series where he went to the USA posing as various psychic persons?

If you are scared of Zombies, don't watch the one where he hypnotises a man and makes him wake up in a room - full of Zombies!!!! Waking Dead scared the hell of out of me, the first time I saw it!

Alright. That's why I like Derren Brown. He is honest for a magician and he gives things clear cut and right to your face. He made me love the supernatural and the occult once again by exposing them for the cheap lies that they are. Rationality is key. His good, humorous, insightful and very elegant writing style as well as his good treatment of psychology, psychic powers, mentalism, hypnosis, and the supernatural in general make me love him. His stage presence and his clear speaking style (as opposed to the mumbling of Criss Angel, or the harsh sounds of Penn and the quietness of Teller, for instance) and his beautiful irritating London accent make me like him even more.

Also, Derren and I both speak German. I just remembered.

So many reasons to love Derren Brown and so many reasons to be hooked on psychics and mediums and ouija boards. Damn! That's why I got hooked on mentalism. It's all Derren Brown's fault.

PS I don't have anything against homosexuals, but I found it rather a pity for female British fans... because Derren Brown is rather handsome, seriously. Nonetheless, it's his life and inclinations.

PS 2 Derren Brown's on Channel 4 now still, May 2008, as his Trick or Treat is being broadcasted.

Anything that interests me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Manchester United are the Champions!!

Manchester United are the Champions!!

Manchester United are the Champions of Europe after a very long and very exciting final in Moscow! I have an exam in 12 hours time but I don't care - this is more important. Ha!

I went to Oxford pub today instead of the usual Varsity in Manchester, because Varsity now has a new rule that a driving licence is needed to go in, or some form of identification that isn't a photocopy. This is a new ruling because every time I went there in the past to watch Manchester United, I didn't need any identification. And I am too lazy to carry my Singapore passport every time I want to watch football here in Manchester. So Oxford it was.

(Oxford is near the University of Manchester and is the quintessential English pub with nearly all British patrons.)

In the first half, Manchester United dominated and Ronaldo scored our opening goal. With a beautiful cross after some great teamwork courtesy of Wes Brown and Scholes, Brown managed to get the ball to Ronaldo who headed it cleanly into the goal, leaving the poor Chelsea goalkeeper stranded.

However, later into the first half, even though Manchester United played well, Chelsea managed to equalise because of a goal mouth cock up by United's defence, sad to say. The ball bounced off Rio Ferdinand and Lampard opportunistically slotted it into the net, thus leveling the game.

In the second half, truth be told, Manchester United was totally dominated by Chelsea, which nearly won the game, but hit the post a couple of times. Manchester United seemed to have taken the foot of the gas pedal and things were looking bad for us, even though in the pub, the atmosphere was incredible and everyone was believing that we would be champions. A fat man and another thinner chap were singing and chanting madly the whole time along, and they still had their voices after 90 mins of the game, whereas I was sore after shouting for about 80 mins (quite good already, lah).

When extra time came along, it was very exciting because Chelsea came close to winning, but in the dying minutes, Drogba was sent off after a huge scuffle. Manchester United seemed to be down but not out!

When it came to penalties, it was our Argentine player Tevez who scored the first penalty for United. It was honestly a very nerve wracking period and the entire pub were on their toes literally and figuratively. All went well, with both sides scoring the penalties ... till Ronaldo.

He did his usual stop and start run up to the ball, which to me is one of the stupidest ways to take penalties in the world, but if it works for him, that's his problem... and he missed. Scuffed the shot. Everyone swore and it was so tense... the atmosphere was very very depressed. When Chelsea's next player (I think it was Lampard) scored, it almost seemed that Manchester United was done and gone. But it ain't over till the fat lady sings, remember?

And so the fat lady started crooning. She was crooning for Man Utd.

John Terry fell and slipped, and mis-kicked the ball - and then it was all level once again!! It was extremely exciting and by this time I was totally hoarse. (The fat man and the thinner man were not hoarse yet, strangely - 3 hours into the game)

Manchester United had the chance of being the champions of Europe once again!!

Anelka stepped up and missed - and then Manchester United became the champions of Europe 2008!!! Manchester United are the champions!

The whole place erupted into loud and racuous laughter - it was like some gigantic earthquake. Manchester! Manchester! Manchester United! United! United! everyone was shouting and screaming and hugging, and all the ang mohs came over to shake my hand (as well as June Ang, Da Ge, Christine, Colinho, and Colinho's buddy's hands of course). It was such an exciting moment.

Rio, Rio, Rio! Argentina! Argentina! Argentina!

And when Manchester United lifted up the trophy, it was such a great moment. I was there when we won the match against Wigan, thus winning the EPL, and I was there at the pub barely 30mins ago when we became champions of Europe. Manchester United are champions of Europe! We are the champions of both the Premier League and the Champions League! It was great. Both times I watched the matches at Oxford pub and it was a great experience.

The cars outside were all honking like crazy and everyone was shouting and screaming (some drunk, I'd say) on the streets and everywhere. It was like the whole of Manchester suddenly came to life. I'm glad I managed to experience all these when I came to Manchester. My Portsmouth game, my Arsenal and Man City match, Manchester United becoming champions of both the EPL and Champions League and beating Chelsea twice was incredible, and here I was, at the heart of all the action. Right here in Manchester.

Right here in Manchester!

Anything that interests me!
- and right now, as of this moment, it's my Economics History exam for tomorrow, but once again... 21st May 2008, Manchester United have won the Champions League!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Psychic powers, mentalism and the like...

Psychic powers, mentalism, and the like...

OK, I know I am supposed to be studying for my examinations now, but I have a big confession to make. I am mental. I mean, I am interested in mentalism. Actually, I was considering whether to start an entire new blog on mentalism, psychic powers, psychic phenomena and the like, dealing with the supernatural and the occult, and everybody's favourite ouija board and stuff of that nature (or supernature), but right now I think I will just write down such stuff right here on this personal blog. Maybe I will indeed set up such a psychic blog after my examinations end and when I return to Singapore in less than 3 weeks.

Alright, here's the rub: Many many many many people believe in psychic powers and psychic phenomena. I will be the first to admit that I considered it quite realistic in my childhood days and used to read all about clairvoyants, mind readers, psychics, Uri Geller, and the like. However, the problem is that having come to England and seeing Derren Brown... I have reached the conclusion that psychic powers are basically... bollocks.

If I decide to set up a blog entirely devoted to psychic powers, I will just ignore all the mentalist things in my head and write about psychic powers. Here on my personal blog I will instead write about mentalism and hope you'll just bloody bear with me and believe me for the moment, that psychics are just people who bluff you.

Mentalism is a kind of magic, and this magic deals with your mind rather than with sleight of hand or trickery. In a sense, all magic is trickery; but mentalism is more than trickery. Mentalism is all about tricks of the mind. As the more astute among you will immediately know, and the *click* will just come right in your brain - aha - Tricks of the Mind, ain't that the book that Derren Brown wrote?

Yes, Derren Brown is a mentalist. And I am proud to say that I am going to be a mentalist. I am mental already, and so being a mentalist isn't going to be that much difficult. Kidding.

Using psychology, is it really possible to make people think in ways that you want them to think?

Using trickery and misdirection, is it possible to make some move deftly and economically into a state of mind that makes it simpler to suggest something?

Is Derren Brown even telling us the truth, or is he honest about his dishonesty and we don't know what is real and what is not, and we all descend into hellish nihilism? OK, that's me talking.

What I am trying to say is that mentalism is more believable and more explanatory in character than psychic powers are - there are phenomena that cannot be explained, but if we see them as tricks of the mind rather than true phenomena like spoons bending or card selections, then we will finally realise the truth that mentalists are the real psychics.

I wonder, should I set up a blog entirely for psychic phenomena and the supernatural, or should I just contaminate my private blog with the issues that clog my cluttered mind at present? This is indeed a cunning and tricky conundrum.

Anything that interests me! And currently ... it's mentalism!

Friday, May 16, 2008

At Rusholme again...

I just came back Rusholme, and it's 12 degrees outside with pouring rain... and I am totally drenched and wearing only one layer of clothes. And we zoom back to the burger store once again...

Maybe I should have a Rusholme and my fave burger store series! :)

Anyways, I was buying my burger when an Indian man asked me where I was from. I said, Singapore, and he said, ah, thought you were from Shanghai. He then remarked that Shanghai was going to be the next Tokyo, and I concurred. When he got his kebab and left the place, I waved goodbye to him and wished him all the best.

When I left the shop, there he was. He was waiting outside and accosted me, and asked me if there were businesses to do in Singapore, and we chatted for a while in the rain (I was freezing). He asked me about Singapore and also asked me if it was better to do business in Singapore than in Malaysia, which was actually a brilliant question. I had no idea, but humbly suggested my home country, of course, with due pride.

I then gave him my email and number and asked him to get in touch with me if he wanted to have any help. He was quite impressed and then even gave me kindly fatherly advice like drink more tea and have a nice long bath. He is after all a British born Indian. That was quite kind of him actually.

I now have promised an Indian man looking to set up a food joint and an advertising company in Singapore that I will show him around NUS... goodness. Maybe I had been Derren Brown-ed. Kidding. Or more likely I am madly helpful.

And I am still freezing!

Anything that interests me

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm supposed to be studying...

I'm supposed to be studying, but something touched my heart just now and I just feel like writing it out.

I was at Rusholme ordering my burger again (none too worse for getting mugged in broad daylight). It's kinda odd how England in spring has sun shining at 8PM at night and a sun rising at 4AM in the morning, but this is England after all.

The old man's friend, the other old man who sells the burger, talked to me and asked me where I was from. He never talks to me, but today he did.

I am from Pakistan, he said. I know about Singapore, he said. It's a beautiful and rich country, he said. I have been here 24 years, he said.

Then, here's the sad part: he started talking about home, his home.

You know we got independence in 1947? he said.

When we started we were richer and more developed than we are today! This is due to geopolitical situations and due to poor government. You guys have Lee Kuan (I know it's Lee Kuan Yew, but he is after all an old uneducated man and this is already very impressive general knowledge), I've read a bit on him, and so have good leadership. Singapore, very rich. Pakistan is beautiful, with resources, with oil, with lots of rice! Now very poor. Due to bad leadership. Due to the United States and what they do to our people! There is widespread poverty everywhere.

Then I asked him more questions and the sad reply was:

If we have health care and wealth like Singapore, we'll go back. No education, no law and order, no proper judiciary, no stability, how to go back home?

Then he drew a map on his napkin and said to me:

In 1990, Singapore 30 billion pounds trade surplus... and Pakistan, 160 billion pounds deficit! I failed my Economics A levels here but even I know that we are poor. And Singapore is so small and so developed. I cannot go home.

I have three children here... my country is very backward and many people die there. High levels of corruption, no law and order. I cannot go home to my beautiful Pakistan. Our people are hardworking and intelligent, but we are a backward country. I don't think I will ever see my home again - many of them want to come here to Britain.

Honestly, I nearly cried there in front of that old man, because it was so tragic and I was so touched. Human stupidity and politics. Shaking his hand, I left the store and went back to blog.

Should have studied, which I will do soon, but my mind was constantly on that poor man... and all his other comrades there at the burger shop, in a dangerous street in England that was nothing compared to the sad tale of his home country.

Anything that interests me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Something nearly happened today!

Something nearly happened today!

I was at the Indian burger shop buying my dinner as usual when a hooded big man came up to me and demanded something. I didn't hear what he was saying but he looked pretty dangerous, and even the fat old Indian man serving me looked quite worried. I then realised that he was asking me for either money or a Pepsi. I decided quite astutely that my life and personal safety was more important than Pepsi, which I never liked that much except every now and then anyways, and so I handed over my drink. Mind you, sometimes Rusholme isn't that safe a place. Then that man soon left.

When I finally got my burger and was about to leave, sans my drink which I had voluntary, or involuntarily, given away, the old burger shop man stopped me and gave me another Pepsi. I told him, never mind, it's alright, but he still insisted and smiled at me. I never knew the old man could smile, but I was quite touched. I didn't actually miss the drink at all, as it kind of saved my life, but the old man's kind gesture was really impressive.

And on another note, when I was at Krispy in the morning to buy my usual chicken and stuff, I noticed that my Pakistani "brother" was missing. I asked short guy where he went, and he said, didn't you know, now he's a security guard somewhere else.

I actually felt a tinge of sadness and missed my Pakistani brother. The whole of Rusholme is slowly changing... the prices, the people, and in one month's time I shall be back in safe, lovely, sweet Singapore.

But I will undoubtedly miss the old burger flipping man and my Pakistani brother. And Rusholme too, as well.

Rusholme too.

Anything that interests me!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Life is a comedy for those who think?

"Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel..."

That is the saying. But why can't it be:

"Life is a tragedy for those who think and a comedy for those who feel?" Le Mesurier made me feel that way, in a sense.

Just a random thought after a long day of blogging and studying for my examinations, and Ironman, which was a really good movie!

Anything that interests me

PS I wonder, as a kind of experiment, if this SEO method would actually work. "Anything that interests me" is after all my own title of this stupid blog, so I wonder if it works :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dad's Army - Complete Sixth Series

I just bought Dad's Army, the complete sixth series, a British comedy series (much like Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson) and I laughed my head off. It's about a disfunctional army platoon led by Captain Mainwaring and his men. They get themselves into all sorts of comic situations defending England from Hitler's armies. They're some sort of Home Guard reservist unit, and comprise a bunch of very funny soldiers.

It was so funny, comic, and humorous, and yet one of the lines in one of the episodes struck me as so true.

This episode was about the Americans coming to joint the war against Hitler.

When Captain Mainwaring and his men accidentally got into a big and funny fight with their American Allies because of cultural differences, he was ordered to apologise to the Americans.


GHQ to Manwaring: You have to apologise- that's for Anglo-American relations.

Cap: But we haven't done anything wrong...

GHQ: Well, Mainwaring...
That's the penalty you pay to have pips on your shoulders.
Sometimes you have to take the can out, when it's not your fault.

Very funny and hilarious show... but very meaningful and full of philosophy every now and then. I do suppose that's why I prefer British comedy. Black comedy, sarcasm, irony... and sometimes, sheer slapstick. British comedy is really good, in my honest opinion.

(Another funny scene:

Officer conducting a test: You have to choose one of your men to throw him out of the hot air balloon. Which of your men will you throw out?

Captain Mainwaring: I will call for a volunteer or I will throw myself out.

Officer: You cannot do that.

Captain: Then, I'd probably throw Private Godfrey out of the balloon.

Officer (smirking, to the men): What do you say to your commander's decision?

Men (in chorus): BLOODY COMMON SENSE!


Anything that interests me