My Bonsais and My Boys

About 3 months ago, I harvested seeds from my bonsai plant and planted them. Daily watering and sunshine have rewarded me with about 50 growing bonsais. They are developing beautifully and I can spend hours just looking at them on Sundays. Marveling at the leaves formation, at the stems and their general shape.

I am amazed that even if they all came from the same seed pod, there are so many variations to be observed. There are slim stalks that refuse to die. And I of course let them be, never ever pulling out the plant just because it looks puny. They are ugly but still growing. And so they are just there; hoping one day they will surprise me.

Some plants are miniature. Quite fat with leaves rounded and green, except that they are really tiny. Like maybe a fourth the height of the regular plants. I worry about them, fearing that they might stop growing any time or the leaves drop off for no reason. I find them so exquisite.

Then there are the twins. Growing from a seed, they split at some point of their growth and are now forked. They are unique and the most precious for me. I give them the choice sunlight and extra care. One of them has leaves turning yellow. Is it some sort of disease? I have been monitoring this plant more often, I hope to catch any disease before it spreads.

Then we have the giants. They are big and stout and tall with leaves sometimes double the length of the regular plants. They stand head and shoulders above all else. They are the ones I have transferred to individual pots. They are the ones I have brought to my offices because I know they will be hardy and can stand less sunshine and some rough handling. I look at their healthiness and I am pleased but bored after a while.

And finally the regular plants. They are the ones that are the most ignored. They are neither big nor small, they are the norm. As a collective they are nice to look at and some I have repotted 3 to a pot. Maybe they can form some sort of interesting formation when they grow bigger.

Sometimes I think of my boys when I think of my bonsais. They all have the same parents but it is amazing that they all have different temperaments. I adore all three.

But it is the same with my bonsais. I take care of their foundation, making sure they have the right soil, the proper water and enough sunshine. More than what is the basic I also make sure that the extras are not forgotten. Boys have need of more extras. Not enough for them is the occasional talks and rubbing of the leaves, I try to stoke their imaginations and foster their sense of responsibility. But in essence after I have given my bonsais and my boys all that I can give, what they will become is beyond my control.

For now I enjoy their company. I marvel at their evolution. And I am amazed.

Great Honest Food

I had lunch at a relatively new restaurant in Honkong recently. For less than the price of a ticket to Disneyland, I had a very wonderful and amazing experience at Arcane Restaurant.

Arcane was not difficult to find. Just a street off the main road in Central.

I had the 3-course lunch set. First out the starter: Custard like yolk in a hardboiled egg on top of a cabbage drizzled with this creamy slightly sweet sauce. And a hint of vinegar somewhere in this concoction. I tell you, that slight vinegar taste hit me from out of nowhere and literally zinged my taste buds. My plate was clean when they took it away.

For my main course, I chose snapper over beef. I am not really a beef person. Well, the fish was certainly quite firm yet tender, the taste very subtle and highlighted with the Chef’s special sauce that had nuts and berries mixed in there somewhere. Again, the sauce in my mouth was amazing. It certainly enlivened that fish dish. I would say that the fish was perfect as the instrument to deliver those interesting sauces to my palate.

And finally, dessert. Vanilla pannacotta with peach and some sort of wafer like thing on top drizzled with a very light syrup. When the chef asked me how it was, I was speechless. I did not know how to describe the heady mix of flavours in my mouth! First there was the slight blandness of the pannacotta which was punctuated with the strong flavour of the peach but tempered by the syrup. And finally topped off by this extremely mouth melting chocolate like nut/wafer – I don’t know! It was heavenly.

Definitely coming back. I would love to discover more of Chef Shane’s surprises.

This is good honest food. None of the smoke and mirrors of some cuisine.



There is a time to be truthful and say everything as you believe it to be. And there is a time when silence is the better choice.

Truth may set you free but if in setting you free you cause pain and suffering to someone you care, then better I suffer in my chains than cause such harm.

I have never subscribed to this religious and righteous idea of truth. I now believe that there is no universal truth and that it is different for each one. Not even murder.

The other day, I held my tongue and kept quiet. What purpose would it serve if I defended my position? The other party was not rational, being in the throes of anger. Answering and pointing out the obvious would only have inflamed the other party more. The incident was not that important anyway. There are fights where it is better to just walk away. And let the other party think what he likes to think, believe what he likes to believe.

But there will be encounters when you need to stand your ground. I think it is simply a matter of choosing your battles. Truth can be your weapon. Use it wisely.


It was a Sunday, I passed by a plaza in Central, Hongkong that was full of female migrant workers. I knew most were my countrymen.

Their resting area was covered with plain brown cartons, where they got that much I have no idea. Did they bring it with them? They were arranged in squares with spaces for alleys. Each square was totally covered, not an inch of ground could be seen.

Some were sleeping. Many were fiddling with their mobiles. Several were having their nails done. Most were just chatting away.

I dared not stare. I could feel tears welling up.

It was a festive air. And most were chatting animatedly. I could hear laughter. But I could sense loneliness. Emptiness.

I felt sad that it has to come to this. Sad that they have to leave their family. Sad that on their day off, they need to leave their workplace just to sleep. Or just stare into space contentedly.

Blame it on the hormones? But I am getting sappy these past few years.

When I saw the very long lines at the remittance centre, I felt a lump in my throat. I wish my country would not have to send out OFWs of the manual labor kind. It is different when you have people who work in another country for the experience, for the adventure or for advancement. It is different when people have to find work outside of the country just to survive.

You read about them but it is different when you actually see them in a group. It sends out a very powerful message that my country is still not strong enough to keep its citizens contentedly within. It bothers me.