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Thian Hock Keng Temple in Singapore

Posted by mandy on March 3rd, 2010

Sought-out sights in the world have always included the architecture inspired by spirituality, such as great cathedrals of Europe and ancient temples in China.  In the case of the island city-state of Singapore, you’ll find the oldest and most prominent is the Thian Hock Keng or the Temple of Heavenly Bliss.   Built in 1839, around twenty years after Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore as a simple trading post on the Singapore River and about one hundred and seventy-one years from today, this Hokkien Temple was constructed to honor the Chinese Sea Goddess Mazu or Mat-Su.

The story behind Mazu is a fascinating one, in which a girl is transformed into a goddess.  There is history about this girl contained in immensely old edicts from the government, from court documents, and even shipping logs, as well as Taoist scriptures, that describes Mazu as a young girl and the goddess she became.  Even to this day, she has fifteen hundred operating temples and about a hundred million followers.  Folk tradition for Mazu describes how in times of trouble if you call upon her by name, Mazu, she will come to your aid; however, if you address her in a more formal manner, such as the Empress of Heaven, then your rescue will be postponed as this means she must delay in order to put on more formal attire.  The goddess is based on a woman named Lin Mo Niang to which people attribute miracles during her brief lifetime.  She knew Chinese medicine and came to be known as a healer; some of the miracles, though, were about stopping seastorms, and this established her as a protector of sailors and travelers.

The temple’s history is contained in granite tablets which reside on the wall of the Entrance Hall; there’s an inscribed plaque also inside which Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing Dynasty from 1907 gave to the temple, a sign of how important people considered this site.  The plaque reads, Bo Jing Nan Ming, which means Gentle Waves over the South Seas.  The building is composed in from the traditional form of Southern Chinese architecture.   There were no nails used in its construction, and is considered a masterwork of architecture which uses tiles and wood, stones, statues of dragons and phoenixes, and intricate carvings and sculptures amidst the columns.

This temple is only one of many sights available to a traveler in Singapore.  All one need do is to arrange for a flight and to stay in one the hotels in Singapore, and begin exploring.  If you go to Singapore, be sure not to miss this building, which has been declared a national monument of Singapore for the last  thirty-seven years.

Waiting in Indian Restaurants

Posted by mandy on February 27th, 2010

Here I am sitting and waiting, because this is what I do.  I wait at the beginning of a century, and at the end of a long metaphor, because I have been a metaphor for so many years.  It is easy to get confused, but when I remember for whom I am waiting, then there is no question.  The only good questions here are about what they might wear, and how they will smell, because there has always been the smell of sandalwood and coffee at the beginning of every meeting.  It is easier to wait in an Indian restaurant than anywhere else, because the smells here serve as a potent reminder.

For first meetings, there should always be food, and for the meetings in between beginnings and endings, also food.  It is a comfort, and it is a metaphor that always continues to unfold in multiple directions, like the growth of a plant, whose roots are always much more complex than the fruit.  Between the root and the fruit, there is infinite possibility for discovery.  In between is a waiting of different kinds and different faces, but the waiting is always larger than  the things that I count in my head in the morning when I wake up alone.

This morning I woke up wondering about them again, and it was an old story, and one that I don’t want to repeat, but I know I will.  As long as there is desire, this story will be filled with doubts and jealousies that gather in the corners of the room, dust that wants to make me wonder if the things that are impossible to weigh are true.  Waiting is a truth that has no weight, and longing is a story that has no ending, and in between there is only a long seven-course meal, where we remember everything that we are.

Waiting with Waits for Professional Developer

Posted by mandy on January 25th, 2010

There is this spectacular person I met through the bus driver who navigates me and ten other people 40th Street and Harlan Avenue on Mondays through Fridays at six o’clock. Of course, the bus driver didn’t introduce me to this person. It was his cousin who works in a firm that does collections who had orange hair from a bad dye job and a permanent smile with bubblegum in her teeth. But she was not the person who knew this person that I am writing about. The person who knew the spectacular person was her neighbor who had an opal pendant in the shape of an anatomical heart and was part of the executive training branch of another company. The spectacular person was her friend, Anne Bobby.

It would seem to me that a spectacular person would not have such a plain name that really belongs on a street sign in a little town. I did not know she would be spectacular until I saw her desk at work where she does professional development. Anne Bobby told me I could meet her at her work for coffee at three o’clock, which was when she got off. I could wait in her office until then because she would be in a long, long, long meeting, but it would not last until three, she assured me. Naturally, I did some superficial snooping while awaiting her to come to the office. It was strange that she had none of the usual photos and desk knickknacks that most people had in their offices or cubicles.

Anne Bobby had a photo of a blue balloon in a blue sky bleached of most its color. She had a photo of footprints in cement that were in front of a sign that said no loitering. In a miniature gumball jar near her computer were not gumballs, but old stamps that been used. At the edge of her desk and in the center was not her name–her plain name was not anywhere in sight–but a silhouetted bust collaged in photos of Tom Waits and headlines about his tours. I already knew her before she came in the door right at three o’clock.

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