Posts Tagged ‘reading’


Nice book


Nice hair

And I won a trial!

But then my day rapidly went downhill from 4pm:
I left work late so I had to miss yoga.
I thought I’d go for a haircut but my hairdresser is not free to see me.
My office has degenerated into a disaster area while I was at trial.



Last Friday afternoon, I gave a seminar for 2 hours. Thereafter, I couldn’t talk to anyone for a day to recover from the trauma of public speaking.

This morning, I did a trial for 3 hours (at the end of which I won!!!). After all the cross-examination and oral closing submissions, I am now unable to carry on any extended conversations with anyone.

You know what’s wrong with me? I don’t like the sound of my own voice enough, which is odd considering that I like my singing voice.

On the bright side, I thought my cross-ex was quite good today. I fizzled out during closing, as usual. But the cross-ex was great. I am still high from it.


Conversation between Champagne Truffle and I after the trial:

Me: Do you wany to gallivant or go back to eat firm lunch?
He: I don’t know.
Me: Can you form an opinion?
He: Tough, given that I spent all morning not forming an opinion.
Me: How about what do you want to eat if we go gallivant?
He: Oh dear! Another opinion to form! And a difficult one!
Me: You know what? Screw it. Let’s just go back for firm lunch so we don’t have to think about this.


I’m going off to try to salvage the second half of my day by getting a pedicure.



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This is a picture of my daughter reading Peter and Jane by herself one Sunday morning a few weeks ago. She was mucking about with books as usual, making up stories from the pictures like she always does with Lion. Then she started to actually pick out some of the words in the text. Realising the same, I brought out the Peter and Jane I bought some time ago and to my great joy, she could read some of the sentences in full. It was a really great moment for me.

My parents spoke mostly Mandarin and Hainanese at home. My father has a rudimentary understanding of English (sufficient for his work purposes) while my mother spoke no English at all. I was only read to in English when my elder sisters would deign to do so (which isn’t very frequent). I used to look at pictures in library books and pretend to read by making up stories to myself, just like my daughter and son do.

When I started kindergarten (or pre-primary), I did not know any phonics or read anything in English at all.

I managed to conceal that from my classmates and teachers for a while but it didn’t take long for the English teacher to realize that I couldn’t read at all. So she sat me down with a whole pile of Peter and Jane books and taught me to read from scratch.

That was the very start of my lifelong obsession with stories and books.

So when I saw my daughter reading Peter and Jane, I had to take a picture to immortalize that moment of her reaching a milestone and as a reminder of my own.

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From Haruki Murakami’s Underground:

Now, as one psychoanalyst defines it: “Human memory is nothing more than a ‘personal interpretation’ of events.” Passing an experience through the apparatus of memory can sometimes rework it into something more readily understood: the unacceptable parts are omitted; “before” and “after” are reversed; unclear elements are refined; one’s own memories are mixed with those of others, interchanged, as often as necessary. All this goes on perfectly naturally, unconsciously.

Simply put, our memories of experiences are rendered into something like a narrative form. To a greater or lesser extent, this is a natural function of memory — a process that novelists consciously utilise as a profession. The truth of “whatever is told” will differ, however slightly, from what actually happened. This, however, does not make it a lie; it is unmistakably the truth, albeit in a different form.

…As a result, the stories told by people who simultaneously experienced the very same scene often differ on small details…these discrepancies and contradictions say something in themselves. Sometimes, in this multifaceted world of ours, inconsistency can be more eloquent than consistency.

The Buddha had always said that who wins the trial depends on who is a better liar. I’ve always thought that it was a little bit unfair to put it that way.

Then I remembered how when I was a pupil, I’d heard The Bollywood Star tell his client that we only needed him to tell the truth on the stand because there is only one truth, and I thought that it was inaccurate to put it that way too.

I have also heard The Stallion tell his clients what the official version of the truth should be based on documents. I’d thought that wasn’t really how it works either.

I supposed that only one truth is that there will always be more than one perception of truth. Unfortunately, in most of my trials, there are usually up to five perceptions of the truth in the courtroom: the plaintiff, the defendant, their respective counsels and the judge; the most immaterial being their respective counsels’ views and the most material being the judge’s.

So I guess it was a really good thing that we didn’t even bother to go on today. We argued preliminary issues and dismissed the claim, then went off to lunch and got on with life. That is way clearer than trying to figure out which of the five perceptions of the truth should triumph.

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the truth about hot dogs

Because the truth about hot dogs is this: no smell in the world promises so much and delivers so little. Even as a kid when you buy it you find it tastes of nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. The biggest zero ever. A warm, bland mush as far removed from the perfume it adds to the night air as a lotus flower from the slime that spawns it.

It’s as if some master perfumer and necromancer had foreseen all the broken promises of your life to come, all the pangs of unrequited love and unreturned letters; the torment of watching a phone that never rings; the bright expectancy of fresh hope at breakfast, in ruins by sunset…it was as if he took all these things and blended them into a single fragrance and called it whatever the French is for Disappointment…Désolé or Chagrin or something. The smell of hot dogs on the Prom at night. The scent of pure Chagrin.

Malcolm Pryce

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But I said nothing because forcing a smile on to a face that sees little reason to smile and getting on with it is all part of the job.

I feel you, Louie Knight.

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Conversation between The Buddha and I sometime last week in the presence of Champagne Truffle, after some protracted discussion about a point of law

He: I know the meaning of bona vacantia.

She: Which is a really problematic concept in relation to personal property law. Have you ever wondered when you crap, what gives the State the right to dispose and destroy it? Is crapping an act of abandonment? Or what about the guy who took the coins out of fountains and lived for many years on it? Is he guilty of theft? Can he be guilty of theft? Against who?

[Champagne Truffle looks like he’s thinking hard. The Buddha stares at me blankly.]

He: I just told you that I know the meaning of bona vacantia to show you that I am clever.

She: You mean you didn’t want to have an intellectual discourse with me on the problems relating to the concept, which incidentally is something I am interested in?

He: No. I only wanted you to know that I am clever.

She: Oh well. That means I just wasted some intellectual effort there. At least you can now go forth and consider the problems with bona vacantia when you crap every morning.


From Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov:

Odd times to be a child in. An odd country, an odd life which he had no desire to make sense of. To endure, full stop, that was all he wanted.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so connected with a protagonist. I feel so much for Viktor Alekseyevich, maybe because in some way, I am reminded a little of myself. Outlandish things happen to him and he just sighs, makes tea, and gets to work on them.


There are presentation slides to be made, emails to answer, and a new secretary to train. Mustn’t tarry. Must carry on.

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on beauty and stupidity

From Nevsky Prospekt by Nikolay Gogol:

Stupidity, however, can be particularly appealing in a pretty wife. At least, I know of many husbands who are delighted by their wives’ stupidity and see evidence in it of childlike innocence. Beauty can work perfect miracles. Instead of inspiring revulsion, all spiritual defects in a beautiful woman become unusually attractive: even vice can be attractive in them. But should beauty fade, then a woman needs to be twenty times cleverer than her husband to inspire, if not love, at least respect.

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