Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Background:

This speech was created when I entered the 2003 humor speech contest. It was well received but didn't win any awards. It is centered around the age old question of why did the proverbial chicken cross the road...

Actual Speech:

Good evening TME, fellow TMs and honored guest. My topic tonight is very significant. I have taken great pains in trying to answer one of the fundamental questions that have been puzzling the human race since the dawn of time.

The question that I speak of is none other than:
Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why indeed. What on earth could have possible induced this poor fowl to undertake such a perilous journey. You see ladies and gentlemen, as long as there have been roads and poultry, there has always been this profound question about the crossing of the chicken. In fact, this question is so important that some people believe its answer contains the secret to all the mysteries of the universe. Many great people have tried explaining this phenomenon and I would now present you their thoughts.

Before I start though, we must dispel all skeptics from the crowd. We must be able to say for sure that the chicken actually crossed the road. For this purpose, I would call upon the words of the ultimate believer – FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. Mulder would say - You saw the chicken cross the road with your own eyes. How many chickens must cross the road before you believe it? How many Scully?

Now that we believe, let us start with a taking a religious viewpoint. Let us start with the words of Buddha. Buddha once observed that asking this question – Why the chicken crossed the road denies your own chicken nature. Annnnddd if you are wondering what that means? …. Do not look at me. I have no idea what so ever too.

Now if you are like me and you can’t understand the depth of the above statement, perhaps Moses would make more sense to you – Moses proclaimed once long ago in Jeruselam - And God came down from the Heavens, and He said unto the chicken, "Thou shalt cross the road." And the chicken crossed the road, and there was much rejoicing in the world.

Oh well, if religion doesn’t provide the explanation that you seek, perhaps philosophy is the key. Let us visit Ralph Waldo Emerson - widely regarded as one of America's most influential author, philosopher and thinker from the early 19th century. Now according to Raplfie, the chicken did not cross the road but he transcended it. Once again, if you have no idea what that means, join the club.

Alright, so philosophy did not help us. Lets us try looking at it in a evolutionary manner. Perhaps Darwin can help us shed some light. The father of evolution figured that: Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads… It was after all, the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Then again maybe not…what we need I think - is a scientific explanation. Quantified measurements and logical reasoning. We present this question to Einstein and the most acclaimed physicist of our time replied that whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved beneath the chicken depends upon your frame of reference. Well, Einstein was too smart for the rest of us anyway.

His predecessor had a similar notion about chickens too. Mr, excuse me I mean Sir Isaac Newton theorized that Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross the road. He was absolutely right too… As anyone trying to stop a moving bus would tell you.

Since I’m running short on time, I would wrap it up by repeating what my Grandpa told me about the chickens in general. He may not have been as famous or influential as the previous mentioned people but he made a whole lot more sense, as senior members would probably agree. My grandpa always used to say - In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken had crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

Thank You!

By, Vijay Balasegaram

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Cameron Highlands - A hill with two views

Background:

On 9th April 2004, I had the wonderful chance to go on a fellowship trip organized by Bing. This was story devised by me and former member Charles Boey where we played the roles of an anonymous visitor and a wild birdie observing him while visiting the MNS camp in Cameron. Click on thumbnail for photos:

Cameron Trip April 2004


Actual Story:

Anonymous Man:
9th April 2004. The day that we were all waiting for had finally arrived. Off to the land of strawberries and tea! We began our departure shortly after meeting up at the Super Club. As agreed, the rest of the troop traveled in Bing’s car while Carol. Delia and I traveled in Vijay’s. With a sense of excitement we began our four-hour long journey to Cameron. Vijay and I did what men do best; navigating and operating heavy machinery, while the Carol and Delia did what women do best; taking care of watermelons and catching up on sleep. Not long after we arrived at MNS Boh Tea. The place is impressive, with rolling hills peppered with tea bushes and trees. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Vijay must had been inspired by the view too, because not long after we arrived he began passionately sharing with us his novel idea of selling mutton from goats fed with tea leaves. With thoughts of fame, fortune and caffeinated goats, we got out of our cars and headed for the campsite watched intensely by a curious bird.

Local Birdie:
Dear Diary,
It was another bright beautiful day in my personal home up in the hills. Acres of rolling hills covered by a soothing carpet of green tea plants. Life cannot get better that this or so I thought.

It was about 1pm and the whole place was abuzz. The noise was unbelievable. The place, which those humans call Man’s Nauseating Society, was crawling with those hairless apes. I should have disappeared and flew off to my uncle Hawking’s place for the weekend but I had the date with Robin later and I cannot possibly miss that.

Anonymous Man:
The dorms were well equipped and comfortable. I was particularly fascinated with the water heater. It uses cooking gas instead of electricity to heat up water. It was like bathing with a kitchen stove. Not long after we gathered at the main dorm/hall for lunch. That’s where we met the kitchen maestro, Mrs. Moorthy, the person responsible for stuffing us with delicious food for the next 2 days. After lunch, Bing, Keat Ky and Terence went off to clear up the trail for tomorrow’s jungle trek. The rest of us retired to our dorms. Alex, Vijay, Calvin and I were enjoying the view at the veranda and sharing a good conversation when two birds flew into our room. One of the two immediately flew back out when it sensed imminent danger. However the other one stayed behind and seemed to take fancy with our ceiling light. With the thoughts of tasty roasted bird wings for tea time, I switched on the lights, in hope of electrocuting it.

Local Birdie:
Just when Robin and I got tired of flying through the clouds and thought about doing some nesting at MNS, it had to be filled by those dumb monkeys. Robin was not into voyeurism, so she flew off on the double. Sigh. Months of planning down the drain…

Those human sure are weird. There was this one who was really ugly and he kept on flipping the light switch whenever I tried to rest on the bulb… What was he thinking!? Trying to electrocute me or something… Stupid Human!

Anonymous Man:
After consuming the delicious tea prepared by Mrs. Moorthy, we gathered at the veranda again to play a game of cards. We had a few interesting games. But what was more interesting was the punishment that awaited those who lost. Vijay and Calvin, being the last players to lose, got the worst punishment of all; they had to spell “Mississippi” with their rear ends, while hugging each other, front to back. After that they couldn’t look each other in the eye for the rest of the day.

Local Birdie:
I still cannot get over the fact that Robin ran off. I was that close. Instead of brushing some feathers together with my sweetheart, I get to watch two humans getting really close. Odd thing was, I could have sworn they were both males.

Anonymous Man:
Later in the evening we were blessed with more company; David and Shandy’s group finally arrived. After our delicious dinner we all sat at the fireplace and traded jokes. “Innocent” Mae started the ball rolling by surprising us all with her colorful sailor jokes…

Local Birdie:
Argh! Tiring day. Missed all of my short naps thanks to the apes. Sigh… Night fall sure is beautiful here. The stars were out. The air was fresh. Everything is where is suppose to be except for the humans. I cannot really make out what they were up to but I think they are exchanging jokes. Dirty ones at that. So, this is what civilizations does to a species…

Anonymous Man:
10th April 2004. Woke up to my hand phone’s alarm. Not too cold though which was surprising. But then again, looking at how Vijay was shuddering even under 5 layers of clothing, maybe it was a bit chilly. We had to pack our own lunch for the trek up to Gunung Cantik. It was tuna sandwiches. We started at about nine. The first one hour was a killer but like the view it got better. Breathtaking hills covered by endless rows of tea plants. Pictures or words never do justice to a place like this. You have to be there to appreciate it. We trekked up for quite a while. Shandy and her sister, Yelonda were left to rest as they were tired out. The last mile of the trek was through a forest. It was dense. Oh well, goodbye civilization!

Local Birdie:
Well, that’s the last of the group. I hope Porky the wild pig gores them. But not all of them went through the woods, two was left behind. One seems to be trailing behind in the distance. Moments later, she disappeared through the forest too. The other one is taking the wrong trek. I smell trouble… Goodie!

Anonymous Man:
It was not very hard getting to the peak. The initial stage was more challenging. Nonetheless, we were glad when Bing cried out “5 minutes more to the peak” in her giggly voice. I was looking forward to the view. Slipping past the last branch, I came upon the highest peak of Gunung Cantik. The view was shocking…… It was not cantik (beautiful) at all. It was overgrown with trees. A small patch of flat grass with no view. Gunung Cantik indeed!

Lunch was quick. Before long, we were trekking back down. Nothing beats a watermelon after a long hard trek. Good wisdom from Bing as she insisted we bring along the fruit. What a peaceful and sedentary life… Suddenly, Shandy rushed up out of breath and worried. Yelonda was missing she gasped!

Local Birdie:
Something is wrong at the MNS place. They came back in high spirits. Annoyingly high but all seems to be deadly quiet now. I sense panic in the air. I think there is something to do with one of the humans going missing. Seconds later, a few of them left for the forest again. Let me go in for a closer look.

Anonymous Man:
Bing went up with a local man and some of our non-TM friends to find Yelonda. We were all intensely worried. Our trip to the tea factory had to be delayed. To keep ourselves preoccupied, we used Bing’s bird spying lenses to keep track of her search party. It was hard work though as this silly bird kept on obstructing my view.

Just when the night was settling in, there was a cry of delight. Yelonda was found. A great sigh of relief went through the camp…

Local Birdie:
So, they did find her at last. Boy! Did that missing human looked worn out. She looked as if she went head to head with Porky. What a celebration. The humans were noisier than usual tonight. No one can sleep with that racket. So much laughter and merriment for such a small company. Must be because of the alcohol they were consuming.

Morning came about quickly. I still have not slept. However, things are looking up. The pesky humans are packing. Let me give them a going away present for two days of hell.

Anonymous Man:
11th April 2004. What a night. Games galore. David Ingram came up with a whole host of games which got everyone roused up. I still can’t believe that Alex won the marshmallow competition despite my aesthetic burned to the crisp entry.

Oh well! Its time to say “So long Cameron!”. Bye bye Mrs. Moorthy… Bye bye tea plants. Bye bye gas powered water heater. Bye bye Birdie. Hey! Wait a minute, I recognize that bird. What is he trying to do?! Looks like he is gonna…. Oh no! Vijay, look out! Your windscreen. SPLOSH!

Gross… Darn bird. I’ll fry you next time! We’ll be back!

Local Birdie:
Haha. Bulls eye! Bye bye humans. There is plenty more where that came from. Come again. I’ll be waiting!

By, Vijay Balasegaram and Charles Boey