(This is the text of the speech I delivered at the Humorous Speech & evaluation contest of Bishan Toastmasters Club)
Fasten your seat belt because I am going to take you on a ride – a taxi ride.
Contest Chair, Judges, Fellow toastmasters and friends
After having lived in Singapore for more than 20 years, the person who strikes me as being the most worldly-wise and knowledgeable is our humble taxi driver.
Who else gets to meet people from all walks of life – the student, the housewife, the doctor, the engineer, the businessman or the lawyer?
Having said that, getting a cab in Singapore can be a nightmare on some days and really easy on other days.
Murphy has his own laws for taxis:
If you need a cab – you won’t get one &
If you do not need a cab – there is a queue of taxis waiting for you. You feel like a celebrity and they are all waiting to take your photographs.
If you are waiting to hire a cab and you see the signs BUSY, CHANGE SHIFT, HIRED, ON CALL etc then you better look for an alternative because that means you would have to wait for another hour
The first thing a taxi driver asks you when you enter the cab is “Which way do you want to go? CTE or PIE or SLE or AYE? It is a polite way of saying – I’m new to this job so could you please guide me?
Now, hoping that you managed to get a cab, you can come face-to-face with a host of drivers
The talkative driver
He is dying to start a conversation with you. He fires a volley of questions at you. PR of Singaporean, how many years have you been here? Is this your own house? Only 1 daughter – you should go for another one? Suddenly you forget why you are sitting in the cab and by the time you recover your senses, you have overshot your destination.
The angry driver
He sizes you up in the rear-view mirror.
Uncle – North Bridge road please you say
Taxi driver – “Ah”
“I said North bridge road”
Taxi driver “You think I cannot hear ah – I have been driving this taxi for 20 years ok.”
After that you just want to be safe rather than sorry.
The mobile phone addict
This driver needs only hand to drive his cab.
“Hello Ah-boon – I’m droping someone to Woodlands. Can we meet today.. near the Woodlands Mart – that Kopitiam.. at 5:30 pm sharp. Me – I’m fine, happy-go-lucky”
“Sir – which block did you say”
Then there was this driver who took me all the way to his home in Sengkang. He said that he knew the way to any place in Singapore only from his home. He reminded me of a PC or phone that had hung and needed to be reset.
The F1 driver
Ever since the F1 race began in Singapore a lot of drivers like to emulate their stars like Sebastian Vettel or Jensen Button. The taxi driver is no exception. As soon as you get into the cab, you better fasten your seat belt. The speed indicator alarm goes ‘peep peep peep’. He cuts across lanes like he owns the road, he does not signal and when he reaches the destination – he raises his hands in joy just like he won the F1 race
The sleepy cabbie
Once I got into this cab. The guy either went into a night club or karaoke the previous night. He was dozing away and I was trying to keep him awake. Ya – take the next right, then keep straight until you reach the car park. He would wake up and say ‘Ah Ah ok’. I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the journey and when I reached I said “Uncle, keep the change” and just rushed home.
The PhD cabbie
Singapore has a PhD taxi driver. Cai Mingjie has a PhD from Stamford University and also writes a blog
Some taxi drivers are very organized.. they keep their taxis spick and span, coins neatly arranged, display some souvenirs and they treat their taxis like a little home
Whatever quirks they may have, the taxi driver is the pulse of our nation. They are the people on the ground who are aware of almost everything under the sun – be it economy, politics, stocks, property, sports , his family, your family and so on.
So, the next take time you take a cab give the driver a big smile because he goes all out to make your journey comfortable and he could make your day!!
Sebastian Vettel demonstrated his vast supremacy on Sunday when he won the Singapore Grand Prix to move within a point of becoming the youngest double world champion in Formula One history.
The 24-year-old German, the defending champion and runaway leader of this year’s title race, drove from pole position to the chequered flag in flawless style in his Red Bull car.
He won the floodlit 61-lap night race at the Marina Bay street circuit by a controlled 1.7 seconds.
Briton Jenson Button finished second in his McLaren to keep the title race just about alive with five races remaining. Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull finished third.
Vettel now requires just a solitary point to claim his second title in succession and can only be beaten to the title if Button wins all five of the remaining races while the German fails to score a further point.
Two-time world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who needed to finish on the podium to keep his own challenge for the drivers’ title alive, came home fourth ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton in the second McLaren.
Here is the link to the complete race results: http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2011/854/6903/
(sources: Channelnewsasia.com, Boston globe)
Here is my blog post for this contest:
WHAT INSPIRES ME TO BLOG
An outlet for creativity
Blogging is a creative outlet for me. An outlet to express my emotions. An expression of love, a celebration of success, an inspiration on the joys of life and a search for the truth.
Blog to inspire
We can blog to inspire and motivate and develop the leaders of tomorrow. To instill values that stand the test of time. To inspire people to live a life of value based on simplicity, truth and courage. To stop the mad rat-race and greed that is leading to our downfall. To seek to know the true purpose of our life.
A stand against injustice
Blogging also enables us to take a stand against injustices prevailing in society like corruption, child labour, rape, terrorism, atrocities against women, racial distinctions etc. By blogging we can take little steps to enlighten and educate people of the ills in our society.
A fight for a noble cause
Blogging helps us to undertake and mobilise people to work for noble causes like education for the poor, the fight against poverty, environmental causes, food and water for poor etc.
The recognition of the oneness in us
Blogging opens our heart to the world. It recognises the oneness in all of us. And by sharing our joys, sorrows and successes we recognise and re-inforce the belief that a community effort is more successful than a lone voice that cannot be heard. It helps us to mobilise people towards a noble cause.
We can blog to inform, to educate, to share, to lift the spirits, to lighten the mood, to seek the truth, to inspire with poetry, stories, art, travel and photography.
And here is the link to vote for me: (Just go to the voting gallery and click on my name)
Within Singapore Botanical Gardens is an Orchid garden which has the largest display of orchids in the world. The Orchid garden displays over 60,000 colourful orchids against contrasting appearances of tropical foliage.
A stroll in the terraced garden brings you from the freshness of springtime to the coolness of winter as colourful orchids blend with tropical plants. Inside Orchid Cool House, you find a glass conservatory displaying orchids and other plants from the tropical highlands.
VIP Orchid Garden showcasing over 100 of amazing selected hybrids named after many State Visitors, VIPs and Celebrities. Vanda Miss Joaquim , a hybrid orchid cultivar, is Singapore’s national flower.
Earth Hour 2011 Singapore will take place at 8.30pm, Saturday, 26 March 2011.
Earth Hour’s global switch off to highlight momentous action for earth
The annual ‘lights out’ event led by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – Earth Hour 2011 – prepares to showcase a growing Singaporean community committed to taking environmental actions that go beyond the hour.
From its inception as a single-city initiative in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a global movement where hundreds of millions of people from every continent join together to acknowledge the importance of protecting our planet.
WWF will ask individuals, businesses and governments the world over to do more to the annual switch off by showcasing how they are taking action to preserve their environment on an ongoing basis.
For Earth Hour 2011, WWF Singapore will encourage the Singaporean community, businesses and the government to:
- Switch off lights for Earth Hour at 8.30pm, Saturday, 26 March 2011 and celebrate Singapore’s commitment to the planet with the people of the world.
- Take actions beyond the hour – Save energy in daily life by keeping air-conditioning temperature set at 25oC.
1. I am a down-to-earth guy who loves reading, poetry, music and travel
2. I am a Sagittarian but lately have morphed into an Ophiuchus
3. I was born in Thrissur in Kerala
4. I am fourth in a family of 5 siblings (1 brother & 3 sisters)
5. I am married and have 1 daughter
6. I grew up in Goa, India
7. I studied at Don Bosco High School, Goa
8. My first job was as a Research Fellow at National Institute of Oceanography, Goa
9. I can speak English, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani and Malayalam. I also learnt French for 3 years at school.
10. In 1994, I moved to Singapore and now I live in Singapore
11. Currently, I work as a Customer Quality Engineer at Seagate Technology International, Singapore
12. I am an Optimist
13. I believe that watching TV is mostly a waste of time
14. Although an introvert by nature, I love public speaking, debates and quizzing
15. I keep myself fit by doing Yoga and occasionally run a marathon
16. I love to lecture and believe that I will be a good teacher
17. I love nature
18. I love the seaside and enjoy outdoor activities like inline skating and cycling by the sea
19. I am a seeker and am in search of the meaning of life
20. I am a Hindu and love to read the rich, vast literature in Hinduism like the Gita, Vedas, Upanishads etc
21. I have travelled to Malaysia, Thailand, England, Scotland, Belgium, Netherlands and the USA.
22. My blood group is A+
23. I like to read P G Wodehouse, Frederick Forsyth, Roald Dahl ,etc
24. I take interest in news, current events & blogs
25. I love mathematics, science and technology
26. I like to play table-tennis and cricket
27. I am learning to play the violin
28. I prefer tea to coffee
29. I enjoy a weekend siesta
30. I would love to visit Switzerland, France, NewZealand and Spain
31. I like to have time with myself
32. I prefer quality to quantity in friendships
33. I can loose my temper but makeup very soon
34. I am gentle, kind and can get along well with people
35. I love humorous shows like ‘Whose line is it anyway’, Mind your language, The Naked Gun etc
36. I love Tom & Jerry, The Pink Panther, Tin Tin comics & Popeye
37. I like cartoon strips like Dilbert, Beau Peep etc
38. I like Hindi comedies like Hulchul, Golmaal, Khatta Meeta etc
39. I like stand up comedians like Russell Peters, Jay Leno & Shekhar Suman
40. I like to watch a sunset
41. I like taking a stroll in the park
42. I enjoy flying a kite with my family on a windy day
43. I join my kid in building sand castles on the beach
44. I spend time playing board games with my daughter
45. I go swimming once a while
46. I like to wake up early in the morning
47. I enjoy going for a jog
48. I love watching a movie with family
49. I love spending time with my family
50. I love going on a holiday
51. I like to enjoy the sights and sounds of a new country
52. I have started tweeting and blogging
53. I like to Volunteer for the needy and disadvantaged
54. I would love to start something on my own – entrepreneurship
55. I am a member of Toastmasters International
56. I like to learn something new
57. I love cashewnuts, dates, mangoes & groundnuts
58. I love to drink rasam and soups
59. I love to listen to riddles and jokes from my kid
60. I care about nature
61. I am not comfortable with gossip, frauds and back-biters
62. I miss Dona Paula, Miramar, Calangute and the other lovely beaches in Goa
63. I like travelling by train in India. It is a feast for the senses.
64. I like the atmosphere in the Mumbai local train – the songs, the card games, the ladies cutting vegetables etc – it is life on the move
65. I like a certain degree of cleanliness and too much mess can drive me crazy
66. I am not very talkative.
67. I like icecreams, samosas and gulab jamuns
68. I do not do too much planning and organising
69. I spend my money wisely and like to save for a rainy day
70. My favourite actors are Amir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Juhi Chawla & Kamal Haasan
71. My favourite singers are Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Yesudas & Kailas Kher & Shankar Mahadevan
72. I admire leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Subash Chandra Bose, Abraham Lincoln & Martin Luther King
73. I admire scientists like Einstein, Newton, CV Raman & Edison
74. I prefer free-and-easy travel rather than package tours
75. Writers who inspire me are Robin Sharma, Deepak Chopra , Dale Carnegie & Stephen Covey
76. I spend a lot of time on twitter, facebook and blogs
77. Beautiful art and photography do interest me
78. I like the music of Abba, Beatles, Bon Jovi, Queen & Michael Learns to Rock
79. I like blue, orange, brown and red colours
80. I like to be open about myself
81. I sometimes find it hard to say NO
82. I enjoy the company of children
83. I usually brush with Colgate and have tried Closeup but don’t like to experiment with toothpastes
84. I take an interest in current events and follow happenings around the globe
85. I love research, teaching and a job that is mobile
86. My friends have greatly influenced me and I am still in touch with them
87. I remember Anand Prabhu one of my favourite teachers. I also remember Paul Vaz, Mr. Crasto & Ms. Sardinha.
88. I dreaded my PE teacher who slapped me once. I was also slapped by my art teacher.
89. My school friends Oscar Rebello & Pravin Sabnis inspire me even today
90. My college friends Srinivasan Ramaswamy & Nilesh Naik were great friends
91. In school, I was good at elocution, poetry and debates. However, later I did not take much interest in these activities.
92. I am quite particular about what I eat and prefer vegetarian food.
93. I take red wine and beer occasionally
94. I want to make a trip around India – Jaipur, Srinagar, Agra, Ooty, Kanyakumari, Mysore, Munnar, Kovalam. I also want to make a trip to Goa.
95. I like my daughters planning & organising skills. She makes our family moments memorable.
96. Engineering college was fun. I remember the ragging and the induction ceremonies. Hostel life was fun too where we got to meet friends from all over India.
97. I got my driving licence in Singapore and learnt inline skating and ice skating here.
98. I got an autograph from Amitabh Bachchan & Satyen Kappu while shooting for Pukaar at Cidade de Goa resort in Goa when I was a small boy. That was the closest I came to an actor.
99. I enjoyed the games we played as kids – climbing trees, pushing tires along the road, 7-tiles, gulli-danda, cricket, kabaddi, plucking jamuns from trees etc
100. When on a trip, I prefer not to answer calls or surf the net.
Today, a Gita Havan was held at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple, Singapore as part of the Gita Jayanti celebrations. It was wonderfully conducted and brought together many people in the ‘yagna’spirit.
Gita Jayanti propagates the teaching of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. It is the largest singular event for Gita held in Singapore, where all 18 chapters of the Gita are recited and oblations offered into 18 Havan Kunds by the public for each of the 700 verses.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita (divine song) is unique among the body of scriptural literature for the simple, practical and relevant style with which it presents the essence of the Hindu way of life. It consists of a dialogue between Sri Krisna and Arjuna just before the commencement of the Kurukshetra battle. The Gita does not set out merely to teach religion or even a religious exercise or prayer of its own. Rather, it shows a way of life in which the common man shouldering many responsibilities may achieve all round success and happiness.
Gita Jayanti began in Singapore in 1997 as a simple one-day event with about 100 devotees chanting the full Gita. It has now evolved into a multi-dimensional program of events that include monthly Gita Parayan, Competition of various types for younger generation in different categories, International Gita Forum, Cultural Show finally culminating into Gita Havan.Gita Jayanti is conducted under the auspices of the Hindu Endowments Board, in association with other Hindu temples and organizations. Ganapathi Homam, Sri Krishna Pooja with Ashtotharam , Full Gita chanting with ahuti for each sloka, Poornahuti & Maha Prasadam
The water resources of Singapore are especially precious given the small amount of land and territory in Singapore’s geography while having a large urban population in the city-state. Without natural freshwater lakes, the primary domestic source of water in Singapore is rainfall, collected in reservoirs or water catchment areas. The remainder is imported from Malaysia, recycled from waste water (producing NEWater) and produced via desalination. This “four tap” strategy aims to reduce reliance on foreign supply and to diversify Singapore’s water sources.
Completed some three months ahead of schedule, Singapore’s first desalination plant – the largest of its kind in Asia – ranks among the most energy efficient ever constructed, enabling it to achieve the lowest desalinated seawater price in the world. Opened in September 2005, within its first year of operation the plant has won a distinction in the 2006 Global Water Awards and two of the companies involved have gained industry honours for their work on the project.
The Singapore Water Reclamation Study (NEWater Study) was initiated in 1998 as a joint initiative between the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR). The primary objective of the joint initiative was to determine the suitability of using NEWater as a source of raw water to supplement Singapore’s water supply. NEWater is treated used water that has undergone stringent purification and treatment process using advanced dual-membrane (microfiltration and reverse osmosis) and ultraviolet technologies. NEWater could be mixed and blended with reservoir water and then undergo conventional water treatment to produce drinking water (a procedure known as Planned Indirect Potable Use or Planned IPU). One additional water supply source under construction is the Marina Barrage which is a dam built across the Marina Channel. It acts as a tidal barrier that prevents high tides from causing flooding of inland low-lying areas at the same time creates a fresh water reservoir behind it.
Singapore’s national water agency, PUB, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (the Maharashtra Water Supply and Sanitation Board) to collaborate on projects that minimise water wastage and improve infrastructure in Indian cities and towns. The MOU was inked today at the Singapore International Water Week, a global gathering for the water industry, during a forum designed to promote business opportunities in India’s fast-growing water market.
Singapore has turned one of its shortcomings into one of its greatest advantages. Today, countries all over the world are looking to Singapore for ideas on water management.
Spent the chinese new year afternoon at Bottle tree park (this park is located between Khatib and Yio Chu Kang MRT). It is so named because of the ‘bottle trees’ that are grown here. The bottle tree is has a trunk shaped like a bottle and grows in Australia.
The bottle tree park here has a small lake with boating. There is also a small pond where children can fish. There is a Chinese Seafood resaurant within the park, a Japanese restaurant and a children playground.