Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lessons from Singapore - The Red Dot

I am close to completing the book "Up Close with Lee Kuan Yew Insights from colleagues and friends"; the book was gifted to my husband by the team of Singaporeans who visited Bhutan last March. I am very much enjoying the book and getting to know, in bits and pieces, the person Mr. Lee was.

The first time I ever heard about Singapore or Mr. Lee was not very long ago (pardon the 'other' world I was living in then!). 

This is what I had heard: 
1) You can't chew chewing gum in Singapore or be prepared to go to prison (sounded so absurd...and wondered where in the world this place is); 
2) The leader of Singapore (must have been Mr. Lee) built a nation with the conviction that "rich must get rich so that they can bring along the poorer section of the society". I guess I was too naive to find out more than what I heard...until...

I visited Singapore, for the first time, in March, 2015 for a week long program. The visit was good enough to get a glance into the much hyped about city/ country in Asia. I was able to meet my friend Rima and her family - even got to visit her house in Punggol. I returned being fascinated by quite a lot of things in Singapore.

In October the same year, I was able to attend a Singaporean Cooperation Programme's training. This time around, the program included good mix of cultural exposure, history and "amazing facts about Singapore". I returned even more fascinated - to know that a small country can exist itself so prominent and well advanced. What I liked most was, no matter which ethnic person you met, each spoke as "we Singaporeans" or "our Singapore".

The Book. When my husband showed me the book, I jumped at it. I wanted to know the Iron Man who built Singapore to the current form; for some reasons Singapore continues to hit my favourite list of countries - more for the discipline and honesty of people. Oh yes, safety is another attribute. So, the man behind the story.

The insights shared by his colleagues and friends are evidences to the best efforts asserted by Mr. Lee in bringing up a country from (almost) scratch. Following are the top THREE "insights" I have gathered as I read the stories in the Book:

1) Mr. Lee's commitment and discipline, besides his vision for Singapore made him work tirelessly. His leadership skills are world-class - as much as people feared working for/ with him, they learnt life-long lessons from him. Especially the interesting testimonies from his Principal Private Secretaries (PSSs) bear facts to substantiate the leader in Mr. Lee.

2) After reading this book, I have begun to assess my relation with my husband from a different angel - indeed, a positive one. Here was this man who gave his cent out of cent to the development of the country - primarily because he had a "wife" in Mrs. Lee. How sweetly the writers refer to Mrs. Lee as a comfort, describing her gentle ways and motherly nature. I quite like the way she is said to sit in a corner in Mr. Lee's office knitting or reading. How sweet :)

I have asked myself, "When Mrs. Lee could stand by her husband for all the good causes, why shouldn't I be able to support KP in the few endeavours he takes on?" It makes me want to feel young and all enthusiastic about relationship.

3) A man's legacy is not only the greatness he exhibited but the parts of himself he left with each person who crossed his path. Mr. Lee was certainly that man. A true legacy. Each story had a part of him in the writer - something the person had learnt from Mr. Lee, be it a pleasantry exchange or policy matter or family concern. Salute!

And in all, the line "Singapore doesn't owe its existence to anyone" made total sense. Singapore - the red dot. Very much the real dot.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Three Stories, Three Books, Three Personalities

Since the beginning of the year, I have been reading one story after another. March and I am happy to have completed three great books:

1. Mr. Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom

- My world was truly small then. I must have heard about Mr. Nelson when I was in high school, when he was at the peak of his walk. All I knew was that he was (then) the President of South Africa, a country who stood in the world map during the geography classes. 

The book. Written with so much of hopes and dreams. It tells the rest of the world what it means to stand for your dreams. More than the political insights, I was mesmerized by the way the African stories are narrated. The roots. The beauty of ones roots. The attachment. The pride. Such are the stories of great leaders who don't lose grounds in the face of their political lives. 

2. Malala Yousafzai's I am Malala
- Who can argue with what a person can achieve, small or big? Who will question the potential of a dream? Who dare judge someone by his/ her size? 

Her story is beautiful that her parents dare dream along with her. I saluted the way her parents, especially her father who stood what it takes to dream different. Obstacles may be many, but they keep strong. 

(Here again, I envied the stories around her Swat valley. Described some heavenly.)

3. Mr. Obama's Dreams from my father
- Close to Mr. Obama's second Presidential term, I read his first book, but nonetheless never late. As I flipped the last page last night, I slept with a 'whoa' factoring all through my dreams. Here again, more than the political inclinations, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his father's side of family - much for a man who had met his father just once. 

The self-analysis I did the few minutes before drifting to sleep gave me justice to the title of his book - how his father's dreams would come to shape him. 

In their respective capacities, the books carried with them the power of hopes, dreams and standing for what you feel is right. They weren't born with silver spoons, not at least the way they share their downside stories, yet they went on to become world leaders. 

I enjoyed their stories because they spoke for the commons. They spoke for what we all covet that we work for the common good. Thank you, good books. And here I jump on to the next...

Friday, March 25, 2016

## Happy and Proud Mummy ###

I drove back to work full of smiles; what a lovely way to begin the day. I dropped Lolo to her daycare, and what her Ma'am had to say made me smile like a real "happy and proud Mummy".

Three weeks and our fears were proven wrong. My daughter is known for her stern nature, and at home she is the terror. Terror meaning the most restless, the most active, the most stubborn. So, when she began her pre-school, we all feared for the worst that she would come home with complains - almost on a daily basis, from her school. When I had shared about Lucy's last year's result, my brother had said, "Lolo will be worse...ha ha. We will remain prepared."

The first day of her school, I took leave from work and waited outside her school. I hallucinated Lolo screaming out of the school gate, and I - the saviour would run for her. Fume me, for I was totally wrong. 10 minutes (suddenly a new environment and new faces made her feel different!) was all Lolo needed to adjust. Yes, she did come out after all - but at the end of the day. Ma'am Sonam said, "She did well on day-1!"

And her excitement was loud. She recited "School chuma na (school is done)" till we reached home. From there on, she has always shown excitement to go to school. 

Last afternoon, as Papa picked her from school, Lolo was heard saying, "I need to take a stick tomorrow, my friends are being naughty ('tama-tashi' as she says)." I later inquired about it. "Yes, they scream and shout. I told them 'shame shame'."

I shared this conversation with her teacher this morning. Ma'am Sonam had more details:

"Lolo is ever the obedient child. I heard her cautioning a boy who was on the table that he shouldn't do this, and that they eat their lunches on the table. If she sees her friends dropping their things, she asks them to put them back on the shelf."

I just couldn't hold my pride. I gave her a big "GOOD" on her little nose as she entered the gate with a broad smile. 

Yes, she is that child - sensible, put and obedient. I pray that she grows up with the same traits and leads the world with her charisma. Like my mother says, "Your daughter is so strict." Ha-ha. I can imagine you, Lolo, for from you we learn about life all over again.