#271 begging

Of late I met some strange ways of begging.

Yesterday at a bus stop, a Malay elderly lady didn’t flag the bus when the only bus that ply along the road arrived. I was waiting for a friend. When the bus passed by, this elderly lady carrying a ten dollar note on her left hand and fifty cents on her right. She asked for fifty cents so she could board a bus.

I asked, “Do you have an elderly buscard?” She showed me the concession card hung around her neck. One stop away was the Gombak MRT station where she could top-up the card. As I do not understand or speak Malay, I gave her the fifty cents. I also approached some Malay passerbys to tell her that she could top-up her elderly card at the MRT station. They talked to her and she walked to the MRT station.

When my friend arrived, I said, “We should follow the Malay elderly lady to help her.” Strangely when we reached the MRT station, this Malay elderly lady refused to go the station with me mentioning the word, ‘Bedok’ when I persisted.

This exasperated me as the train ride or bus rides to Bedok meant she might have to pay double the fare if she didn’t use her elderly concession.

Then I saw a Malay young girl and asked her to explain to the elderly lady that there is an officer at the MRT control station who could service her even when she cannot see. The elderly lady still refused. The young Malay girl couldn’t accompany her as she was waiting for her mother as her sandals broke.

A Chinese lady sitting around asked and I explained to her. As I talked and observed this lady’s reaction, it dawned on me this could be a scam.

Is this a scam where the elderly has been asked to beg and in return she has to give a cut to whoever taught her to beg in this manner?

Generally when we see an elderly person, we would give without question. Is this scam to exploit the frail elderly and those kind-hearted?

Corner of Raffles Hotel facing City Hall cross-section: Several weeks ago I met a 45-year-old Chinese lady poorly dressed with unkempt streaks of grey hair asking for two dollars so she could buy some food to eat. I offered to buy her food and she turned around to question my sincerity. This aroused my curiosity. I asked, “Why are you begging?” She spoke good English. By sight, one could dismiss her mentally unstable but not when talking with her though. She came all the way from Toa Payoh to beg! She said, “I’d been tricked many times in following those who would buy me food and then told me they changed their minds.” She added she wanted to get a job but… Looking at her appearance, I said, “If you wanted to go for a job interview, you have to dress tidily and comb your hair otherwise the hirer imagine you’re making a fool of the hirer and yourself”. In the end, I added, “Since you doubted my sincerity, why should I trust you?”

On one occasion at Bugis Junction, an elderly Indian man came to beg money for food. I offered to buy him food as I thought he might use that money to buy booze. Strangely he rejected my offer and quickly disappeared.

In my personal experiences helping the poor and sick, these will never resort to begging however bad their situation. These poor would rather die with dignity!

Lately, I see individuals sitting by the road or pathway leading to MRT stations begging — looking pitiful, lame and frail. Some on wheelchair…

I cease to buy packets of tissues from those elderly as the tissue-packets came from suppliers who get a cut from that sold!

Are these part of a syndicate scam?

#216 story to remember

I received this through email and saving on blog as I found the story most credible and moving…I would like to add the writer’s name to this story though.

The Cab Ride

I walked to the door and knocked…”Just a minute,” answered a frail elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened and a small lady in her 90s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture were covered with sheets.

There was no clock on the wall and no knickknack or utensil on the counter. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she asked. I took the suitcase to the cab, returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I said. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I’d want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re a good boy,” she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she replied. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and she would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.

The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, i could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who is impatient to his shift? 

What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware — beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

 People may NOT remember exactly

what you did,

or what you said,

they will ALWAYS remember

how you made them feel.

#204 fashion for elderly?

Airbags were invented for safety reasons. Today’s cars come with airbag fittings lest an accident occurred to protect the driver and passengers.

The Japanese, who champion many consumer-friendly gadgets, unveil airbags to help prevent human injury at an international exhibition:


Will wearing airbags be the fashion accessories of tomorrow for the ailing boomers generation?

#132 suicides

Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world.

Attributing factors: high cost of living; unable to service the debts — insurance one way to pay up the debt; bully; psychological state of heart and mind like loneliness…

The latest being the elderly taking their own lives…deteriorating health and escalating high cost of living expenses.

Will the world see more suicides among the elderly in days to come?

#81 elderly statesman

What a sad state for the people of a country when an elderly statesman does not know how to relinquish power and graciously make way for younger leaders to take the baton to rule!

One example today is the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, 84 years old, is clinging tight to his power. Though the economy is ailing fast and the people have to queue to buy food, yet he is oblivious. Such is the accursed state of an elderly man.

The leaders of a country are either a blessing or bane. In Zimbabwe, the leaders are paralysed because none is willing to make way for the sake of the people. If there is a change in government, many of the leaders will have to go.

So it is the few in the governing authorities that create the sufferings of the masses.

The queue to buy food lengthens and inflation rocket high…will the people revolt one day?


#80 @101 running london marathon

image bbc.com

In the procession of runners weaving their way through the capital from Greenwich and Blackheath in south-east London to Buckingham Palace was Buster Martin.

At 101, the smoker, drinker and father of 17 is hoping to become the oldest person to complete the race. (BBC news)


Charming to see an elderly at 101 years old running a marathon! Mr Buster Martin looks so youthful!

Marathon running is not easy. The runner has to plan and discipline for a period of time to prepare and build up oneself physically and mentally.

One needs the stamina and persistence as virtually at different points of the stretch run, one would feel one cannot go on but when one mustered up courage and persists, one just breaks through to new lease of energies and strength and experiences joy.



I first heard ‘cultural genocide’ when Dalai Lama accused China on Tibet.

What is cultural genocide? That sounds intelligent but…?

I know of human genocide where a generation of humans or tribes were exterminated. I first understood this when the Khmer Rouge engaged teenagers to exterminate the elderly by using plastic bags to suffocate!

Today, our culture is one where enormous amounts of money, energy, and time were poured to constructing facades people believed were more acceptable by others. The standards used to determine a person’s value and worth generally include wealth, public acclaim, beauty, power and popularity…jobs and professions; location and kind of homes…

Take for instance, those women pose for fashion magazines and television commercials…top models paid exorbitant salaries; athletes are expected to perform like machines; and pop-star celebrities ‘primped and styled’ to an exact market-tested image! Perhaps the reason for indulgence in drugs and alcohol to anaesthetize one’s pain and inadequacy in order to reach perfection?

Then there is the throw-away culture and the must-have-latest technological gadgets!

How do we define these? Modernisation? Cultural decadence? Cultural genocide?

#38 celebrating 117th bday


Amai Cering (left) with her great granddaughter. [Xinhua]

Wow! Born on March 16th, 1891! Amai Cering, a Tibetan, had just celebrated her 117th birthday. From the photo I can see she has no wrinkle and her eyes still bright but like all elderly, her skin is darker in color. The oldest Tibetan alive?!

It’ll be interesting to find out the kind of foods she took. How she was able to keep so fit.

I know of a few Japanese elderly who wake up early in the morning at 4am to work on their farms. During my visits to China, I found many elderly fit and strong. I wonder if that was not the result of not overeating unlike many of us who indulge in good foods and pop vitamin supplements or, intake of birds nest or ginseng. I’d read several Taiwanese elderly who lived the US contracted cancer — a result of too much intake of red meat? Yet some who changed to tofu diet also contract cancer.

Do I want to live that long? I guess I would if I had something meaningful to do daily to keep me bright and youthful and happy and above all, that I’m fit and strong and mobile!