Barrelled Thoughts #55 – Balcony Baloney

Friday, June 19, 2015

It’s Friday, the third last day of the week and the final day of a productive work week. I’ve successfully adjusted my working hours to a day that begins at 6 a.m. and ends in the early afternoon, from which I grasped that a routine is easy to plan and even easier to execute, but it’s consistency that really counts.

If a habit takes 21 days to form, then it probably takes a tenth of that time to break it.

During Arsene Wenger’s 19-year tenure at Arsenal Football Club, the one word we’ve hear over and over in his pre- and post-match press conference is “consistency”. The man known as “Le Professeur” values above anything else the ability to achieve the same goals over and over again—consistently.

Despite what many view as almost a decade of failure for an obvious lack of silverware, Wenger’s overseeing of the construction of the Emirate Stadium—Arsenal’s new home since 2006—as well as his impressive record of bringing the best out of the players he has are immeasurable achievements, unquantifiable and impossible to correlate solely with the number of trophies he’s brought home.

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Barrelled Thoughts #54 – Grand Budapest Hospitality

Saturday, June 6, 2015

I was told two things about Hungary before my arrival—both were wrong. By non-Hungarians, I was told that I would be arriving in a country filled with old-fashioned Eastern European ideals, and that the land of the Magyars was nothing but a landlocked, recluse of a state that generally kept to itself.

I wondered why Hungary gave off such an impression, despite my intention to stay in Budapest regardless, but then I realised that most of the people sharing these opinions had not visited the country.

While the country does indeed stand out in terms of its unique language and culture, being the only one amongst its neighbours to speak a Finno-Ugric tongue, which is one of the only languages I know that doesn’t use truckloads of borrowed words; however, it is by no means old-fashioned or outdated.

The university communities in Budapest are perfect for visitors like myself, who arrive with little or no proficiency in the Hungarian. The staff of cafes and restaurants communicate comfortably in English, which goes a long way to help newcomers settle in the country.

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Barrelled Thoughts #53 – In-flight Thoughts

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced flying ever since I was old enough to understand what the word meant, but I don’t believe I had ever seen a more majestic sight than the one glimpsed while en route to Istanbul from Taipei.

My Turkish Airlines flight took off just after dinner time in Taiwan’s sleepless capital, and by the time we reached the South China Sea, it was nearing midnight and I had already stuffed myself with the in-flight meal.

After a short nap—a routine procedure after a bottle of Chardonnay and my usual post-take-off Bloody Mary—I found myself looking across the empty seat to my left and out the open aeroplane window.

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Barrelled Thoughts #52 – Sanatorium

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I find myself in a setting akin to that of the film “Grand Budapest Hotel”. The location, the house my mother grew up in, although not entirely foreign, is a house in which I have set foot perhaps just a dozen times before—at least in my memory. In what could be my final visit, I tried to visualise the magic that once was.

Everywhere I walk within the archaic walls I’m reminded not of who my grandparents are now, but of whom they once were. Ostrich eggs, purchased during their journeys to South Africa when I was still a toddler, now lie scattered in odd corners; photographs and bronze relics from trips around the world steadily collect annual layers of dust as they stand lifeless without shine atop countless shelves. I’m reminded in particular of the globetrotting undertaken by my grandmother, who manages to make me cringe and smile at her untimely advice about the women in my life.

“Every relationship has its challenges,” she would say without my prompting, “so it’s very important that you find the right girl.”

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Barrelled Thoughts #51 – Reader’s Block

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What’s the longest time you’ve gone without reading? And which book do you have to thank for finally breaking that dry spell?

I’m a moderate reader. That is to say, compared to avid readers who can finish a book a week and the book-shy folks who only read when it appears as an absolute last resort, I read an average amount of books in an average amount of time—if, at all, anything can be considered average.

The appeal for reading hit me at a very late age. The earliest books I read came in primary school and later in high school. They were, for lack of a better word, forced upon us during English class. And rightly so, because without parents who instilled the joys of casual reading into me, exposure at school was my only saving grace.

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Barrelled Thoughts #50 – Identity: ‘All the world’s a stage’

Monday, October 6, 2014

If the world is indeed a stage and we its actors, like William Shakespeare suggests, which roles do I play? And what do they mean to me?

John, human, Taiwanese-South African, man, citizen;

Identity, instinct, nationality, stereotypes, law.

Son, grandson, cousin, nephew, brother;

Expectation, pampering, youth, family, responsibility.

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Barrelled Thoughts #49 – Writing Project: ‘Blame It on the Music

Monday, September 29, 2014

This was an impromptu blogging project thought up by me and my good friend and former classmate Evelyn. The aim was to see how different (or similar) an article we could produce when given the same topic. The only catch: I would be writing in English; she in Chinese.
Interestingly, our strikingly different personalities and preferences for words show, aptly, through our approach. 


Blame it on the music,

All those unwanted distractions; all those sleepless nights.

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