Sunday, 29 January 2012

There are more things to gain whilst learning to play tennis

It is so much fun learning to play tennis as the sports helps the chidren to grow up healthily

A group picture was taken after a training session for these Napalese children

As I watched with amusement what Coach Lee was doing at the well maintained tennis court from a short distance away. He was picking balls with his tennis ball hopper basket whereas two Korean siblings remained seated on a bench while taking a break from their vigorous training, wiping themselves off the sweat under a mild mid-morning sun. The 11year old girl was obviously obese and the younger boy was slightly plump. Being inquisitive I approached Coach Lee and asked him why he not enlisted the help of the two kids to pick balls, after all it was part and parcel of tennis play. For this he answered me with a frustrated tone: I’d trained them for just a couple of months. I charged them $80 per month per person for one session in a week; each session for two of them together lasted for half an hour only. I’d told them in the very beginning that picking balls was one of the golden rules of beginners while under training. Sadly they were reluctant and only wanted to get some rest quickly after I exhausted the 70 over balls for training practice. For me alone to get all the balls into the hopper basket, it took about 7 to 10 minutes before we could resume training. For that matter they got shorter time for training, thus the progress was slow; the onus was on them! Their parents were aware of this and they were more than willing to pay for their training just to shed some weight from the children’s bodies. Coach Lee told me he was giving up training the two siblings soon as it affected his reputation as a prime tennis trainer in the vicinity. We exchanged grimaces and parted company for the day.

                  Look how the kids enjoyed a round of tennis training session

At the National Tennis Centre I watched with keen enthusiasm the progress of the under-16 tennis tournament for boys and girls being held over three days. During one single match between a pan-pacific looking 14 year old boy and an Indian teenager, we were awed at the brilliant exchange of ground strokes, net play and powerful serves displayed by the two youthful players despite their tender age. They were well trained, I would say. Things turned ugly shortly after the proud looking Eurasian boy made three consecutive unforced errors and promptly lost the first set. He slammed his racket onto the floor and cursed and yelled loudly like nobody’s business, and kicked the slightly damaged racket out of his sight before sitting down to cool himself of his anguish and from the sweltering sun. Nobody around the spectator stand raised an eye-brow seeing this young boy’s unleash of his fury. The person seated next to me, a Caucasian man smiled at me after watching the boy’s outburst. I exclaimed: What a shame! It was his own follies to have lost. He’s so young and yet arrogant, setting a bad example. “Shee…...”  The white skinned man gestured to me to speak softer as the players was about to resume playing. Eventually the Eurasian boy was beaten as he was off focused and could not get back to his usual standard play.

It is compulsory to pick balls during a break to retrieve the balls back to the ball basket/trolley
                              Do it happily and willingly as it is part of training

Many years ago I used to play tennis at The Johor Civil Servants Club where it prided itself of possessing some good clay courts. There I was acquainted with one seasoned gentlemen player who was well into his 70s. He was always well dressed with collar T-shirt, and a pair of white shorts. At his ripe age he did display slower movements, other than that his tennis play and strokes were impeccable and balls were cleverly placed as he returned shots. I was sorry as I had forgotten his name; most people there called him Uncle during those years. He told me during his younger days, tennis was a noble game and players were respectable gentlemen and ladies. It was a game that instilled discipline and valuable sportsmanship for new players, notably among the younger generation. To those who were coached by this Uncle Tennis of JB, he was insistent of correct tennis attire, and footwear before his trainees could set foot into the courts. All players during matches must adhere to umpires’ decision on points won or lost. No swearing or cursing, no ball and racket abuse, and no tantrum nor profanity could be tolerated during match play. Though he did place importance on winning edge, he consoled his players who lost in tournaments with his personal touch; telling them what a good match it had been, and there were chances to prove one’s prowess in the near future. “Do not give up and do not be upset. You’ll learn more when losing”, he would advise them.
Perhaps he was a tennis great, ( won 7 Grand Slam Singles titles) therefore John McEnroe thought he deserved his status as a haughty snob a.k.a. Super Brag
In retrospect, Andy Roddick might had regretted his follish act by damaging his racket, as he stared at his ruined power tool with remorse.
Foul tempered Cypriot star Marcos Baghdatis smashed 4 of his money making rackets in 45 seconds that earned him a meagre fine of A$1,250 at the Australian Open January 2012. That was impressive, exclaimed Serena Williams; herself being another player known to release her emotional outburst.
Some years back I had a hearty discussion with Coach Yew of Club Darul Ehsan of Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Kuala Lumpur, when I met him at the club over some friendly games. “Send your sons to me for tennis training!” he urged me on. “I don’t aim to teach them how to play tennis. I am to groom them to win tournaments after tournaments.” While it was nothing wrong to emphasize on winning for competitive sports like tennis and other racket games, I believe that there are other aspects of benefit to gain whilst mastering the intricacies of the various sports.  
Young Taiwanese lady player Chang Kai-Chen joined a host of Asian rising stars like Li  Na, Zhen Jie and Peng Shuai among others. Here she rejoiced after beating former world no.1 Russian lass Dinara Safina in a 2009 Sept. Tokyo match.                                               

Former Thai tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan now devotes his time and effort in grooming future national players for his country.

I found most young players at the local tennis scenes lacked the preferred ethics and behavior while competing. It was common to see players involved with heated arguments with linesmen, umpires, and fellow players. Ball and racket abuse were rampant, and spitting too. They did not seem to know how to control their temper when losing. Their parents and coaches did not seem to mind or care; they themselves also did not know that they lost the chance to improve themselves by reviewing what went wrong.

As usual the qualified coach will only focuss on good  tennis coaching with impressive tournament results of his protege at different levels; hoping that somewhere, someday he will discover some one, a rare gem amongst a score of trainees under his wing.
I gather that the guidance of the coach and parents are vital while picking up a skill or a type of sports. It is the same thing that goes with studying. The children and young players learn not only the intricacy of a new technique, art form or skill; they are incalcated how to be become better persons as well.

Alan CY Kok

Monday, 16 January 2012

About Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) - Human rights campaigner, orator, author, and USA Representative to United Nations.

Being compromised is always deemed as weak, complacent or even cowardly, particularly during confrontation with a rival, a legal suit challenger, or even a feuding entity. In another words, that means there is an utter disagreement that needs to tackle head on so as to avert turning the situation from getting out of hand or worse. During a crisis it may not be the best solution, but before a better idea crops up, to compromise with one another seems to be viable and sensible.

Eleanor Roosevelt was at first a shy and reticent person. She became bold and outspoken after a period of hard times looking after her husband who suffered a crippling desease.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was the first lady of the USA from 1933 to 1945. Her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt (They married in 1905), who was the 32nd President of the US, suffered a crippling paralytic illness that confined him to wheel chair bound the rest of his life since 1921. The doctor in attendance diagnosed the sickness as polio though more recent researches indicated that it otherwise. Despite his immobility President Franklin Roosevelt remained a charismatic, handsome and socially active person and had many female admirers and even mistresses. Eleanor was furious to discover love letters exchanged between her social secretary Lucy Mercer and the President. She asked for divorce but that never took place with the intervention of her mother in law Sara Roosevelt. Besides that Lucy Mercer being a Catholic could not bring herself to marry a prominent man with 5 children. The presidential couple reconciled with promises to end the secret, illicit affair. However without the knowledge of the first lady Eleanor, it went on after a period of cooling off the steam. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) was a handsome, charismatic and socially active president with many female admirers, despite of his handicap.

Eleanor Roosevelt was away in Washington for some social events during the last few days of Franklin Roosevelt’s life as his sickness suddenly took an abrupt turn for the worse. Lucy Mercer was by his sickbed in the President’s family house in New York during his final hours and had in fact stayed with the dying president for a few days. She left quickly soon after keeping vigil with Franklin’s passing so as to avoid open clashing with or confronting the First Lady who would be dashing back home in matter of hours. When Eleanor arrived and knew about the presence of Lucy Mercer earlier, she blew her top and flew into a wild rage. She was cursing vehemently and angry with her daughter Anna who attended to Lucy, and allowed the latter to stay on upon her father’s instruction. After her eruption of indignation and fury, Eleanor cooled down to sensible thinking and deeds. She calmly telegraphed her four sons who were serving the armed forces overseas. She told them the news of their father’s demise, and that there was no need for them to rush back for the funeral as war was going on and they should stay on at the frontline for the nation(During the final chapters of the WWII). She chose not to pursue the matter further with Lucy Mercer as the affair would cease naturally followed the passing of her husband.

The Roosevelt gravesite at Rose Garden, Hyde Park, NY that laid the presidential couple together, side by side.

As a woman and the USA First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was highly appraised and commended for her handling of her predicament under such delicate situation. To protect the honor of the President and the Roosevelt family, she chose to be compromised, while faced with such blunt humiliation, in times of sorrow.

     A stamp bearing her picture was issued in memorial of her.

Eleanor Roosevelt went on to become a member of the delegates of USA to United Nations during the administration of President Harry S. Truman in 1945-1952; and again in 1961-1962 when she was appointed as USA’s representative to the United Nation by John F. Kennedy. Eleanor Roosevelt was a powerful advocate for human rights, and a strong propagator for the formation of the United Nation in its founding years. She continued her unyielding effort to enhance the status of working women but did not support the Equal Rights Amendment because she thought that it could affect the women adversely. Eleanor Roosevelt lived to a ripe age of 78 and died in 1962. She was laid to rest next to her husband, at Roosevelt’s family cemetery at Rose Garden, Hyde Park, New York. For her chosen epitaph inscribed on the tombstone, it read: The only thing that we fear is FEAR itself! (Penned by her husband the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt)

This brass memorial was erected in her honour at Riverside Park, Manhattan.

With regards to matter of compromising, still it depends on the magnitude of one’s targeted aim. If it was trivial and minor, do not waste time to fight over how much one’s sacrifice or loss. If it was a substantial one, like the sovereignty of a nation, then compromising might not be a good solution.

Alan CY Kok

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Trilogy of human behaviour and ethics

                 Don't fight for fame and glory with literary people

                  Don't fight for edge with scheming minor rogues

               Don't fight for superiority with the sky and the earth

              Don't try to outshine your boss for excellence

        Don't try to obtain favouritism among your colleagues

            Don't try to claim job done with your subordinates

Greatest regret in life:

Miss the chance to have a solid frienship with a great person

Miss the chance to grasp a rare opportunity when it comes passing by

Miss reading a good book

             Ability to see the hidden message and accepting it

                     Ability to give and take, hold and let go

                        Ability to stand upright for integrity

Always value the presence of peace

Always bear benevolence in mind

Always give preference to sincerity

                    Never defer and wait to carry out :

                                    Filial piety

                                    Charity and

                 To maintain good health for own self

Three joyous things in life:

Knowing how to enjoy a glass of good wine

Enjoying the valubale company of a wonderful friend

Reading an enlightening book

                                   Three blessing in life:

                  It is a blessing to bask in peaceful times

                     It is a blessing to enjoy good health

            It is a blessing indisguise even when you're 

                          at a slight disadvantage

Now try to ponder these facets in life:

You will be emotionally better off to leave all unhappiness, injustice,
detestation, animosity and discontentment behind; go for holidays to soothe yourself.

Learn how to turn down invitations for dinners and parties. It could be benevolent to be one by yourself sometimes.

Stop working while you still can, go for a long walk, relax man!

You'll never make enough money, so go and see the world.

You'll not feel that you've done enough for your parents as a filial
person; go home to be with them as much as possible. Time is running short. They are no more young.

Take a breather, slow down your pace, make it a leisurely stroll;
look around your surrounding. You will know how much things
you've missed.

And That is Life !!

Translated by

Alan CY Kok

Friday, 6 January 2012

Filial Piety 孝顺/ 孝道

Old Chum Mok TC sent me this meaningful mail. Need to share this message with those who cherish in life with their love for their parents and grandparents, and those who lamented that they should have done much more when their parents were still around. Good read, believe me.

Alan CY Kok

Confucius (Master Kung 551-479BC), one of the most influential Chinese philosophers of all time, had always emphasized in his teaching the paramount importance of filial piety in Chinese culture. Most Chinese people revered him, so they carried out the essence of filial piety with earnest zest.
A diver got close to one of the 5 gates of the submerged city of Shi Chen 狮城 and he could read the words ‘Filial Piety” clearly. The Atlantis of China, as it was nicknamed; the Shi Chen of Zhejiang was submerged under about 40meter of water when a dam was being constructed since 1959. The ancient city was founded in Don Han 东汉era (25-200AD) but met its final fate when the dam and the gorgeous Qiandao Hu (Lake of Thousand Islands) 千岛湖were created. 
The two huge Chinese characters on the wall mean "To observe the practice of filial piety" Travel blogger friend Ching NB had the picture taken of him in ancient village of HongCun, near TunXi, HuangShan city, a distance from Shanghai. 

This is neither sermon nor a nag; it's a very simple message. The article below was written by Dr. Chris Anthony ; I regret that I had not read it earlier during the days when both my parents were still alive.

Aging is inevitable. Will the children still love and care for their parents? knowing well that dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other age related sickness may creep in gradually.

It is better to give them (your parents) a little now than to give them the world when they are gone. The world is full of sons and daughters like you and me.

I had a marvelous mother, who loved me, sacrificed for me and helped me in every way possible. In all of my growing up from childhood through school and eventually marriage, Mom was always at my side.

Younger generation should know it's a fortune for the aged people if the older folks could sleep a little bit longer.
Grandchildren love their grandmother so much. They're treasure to the older folks. In Asian countries, lots of grandparents are roped in to help bringing up kids of their own adult children. In such way, the older people will live much longer and lead a more meaningful life.

And when I needed help with my little ones, she was there for me.
A few years ago, we buried this wonderful lady. Can you imagine how I felt when I returned home and found a poem in her drawer, written by my Mom:

  The time is now...
         If you are ever going to love
            Love me now while I can know
              The sweet and tender feelings
                 Which from true affection flow
                    Love me now while I am living
                     Do not wait until I am gone
                        And then have it chiseled in marble
                          Sweet words on ice-cold stone
                            If you have tender thoughts of me
                              Please let me know now
                                If you wait until I am sleeping
                                 There will be death between us
                                       And I will not hear you then
                                        So if you love me, even a little bit
                                          Let me know while I am living
                                               So that I can treasure it
                                                      Your loving mum

                     Now she is gone and I am sick with guilt
                         Because I never told her what she meant to me


Babies are God-sent. Many proud young couples will say that. Yes, their arrivals will consolidate the love of the two in union. Kids will grow to be adults and parents will age to become old; it is the circle of life, no way to get away from this phenomenon.

My children loved Grandma from the times they were babies.
They often turn to her for comfort and advice.
She understood them.
I realize now that I was too critical,
Too short-tempered, too stingy with praise.
Grandma gave them unconditional love.
The world is filled with sons, daughters and a child like me.I hope they see themselves in this letter and realize from it.


Not just knowing or feel love is around; that's not enough. One must let his/her loved ones know that he/she loves them.
Deeply missing a loved one? Many could not get over the demise of a loved sad.

Very often we are willing to spend thousands to give them a grand funeral with the most elaborate preparations and expensive coffins and so on. We are willing have memorials without fail year after year.  We give alms in memory of our late parents but we could not afford to spend some time with them when they were with us before their death.

It is ideal to have a daughter or son to help out running a family business.

It is no use to spend lots of money for your parents' funeral because they will not be able to cherish what you do ; the lavish funeral rites or expensive casket that you spend on them ONLY BENEFIT the funeral parlour; nobody bothers how much you spend on your parents when they are dead. You may be magnanimous to donate alms collected during the wake to charity in memory of your parents ......but will they know?

A picture we all love to see. It paints a great bond between the young and the old.

Hence, if you want to shower money on your parents so as to make them happy and gratified, do it when they are still around and able to appreciate and cherish your love and concern. Do not do it only after their death.
It'll be regrettable for the rest of your life.

Don't regret till it's too late. Go tell your parents that you love them.

The Chinese Proverb says it well with regards to Filial Piety:


The children (The descendants) wish to repay the kindness and gratitude to their parents by looking after them, yet by then they have already gone to another world.

                             A burning candle flame marks a passing life

So while you still have your parents close at hand, besides you, do look after them well with filial piety. Don’t be in a haste to send them away to nursing or old folk home, unless situation warrants the need to do so.

Reproduced from a mail received through the net
 Alan CY Kok           

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The calamitous Bangkok Flood in late 2011

Look, I found two baby pigs from the bottom of the river!
US Vietnam War veterans would shudder with fear just looking at this pic. VietCongs treated them this way when they were captured and tortured in the 1960-70s
Please do not drop the food trays. The lunch pack is for the abbot of our temple.
Thai people love their pets unconditionedly. This dog clings to dear life upon its owner.
    Just in for this pet dog could not be ignored
Anyone home? This reptile escaped from one of the crocodile farms during the great flood and was stricken with hunger.

Bangkok City, Thailand's capital was hit with a calamitous flood it last encountered 50 years ago. The months old new government led by PM Yingluck Shinawatra was caught off-footed with little preparation and limited effort they could do to control the magnitude and confront the natural disaster. The sudden onslaught of the catastrophe claimed 800 lives with many more missing or unaccounted for. Naturally the economy of the otherwise prosperous nation suffered, particularly the tourism industry which has been their important foreign exchange earner that contributes to Thailand’s GNP substantially. The nation saw a drastic drop of tourists’ arrival by 5million to 7.5million since early October to late November 2011. For many Thai establishments and workers plying the tourism trade, that was an awful disaster alright, with the loss of earnings running into billions of dollars.

 Let me help you to get away from the water. Will you help me in the future?
Spoken too soon.
Thai people love dogs immensely. They won't leave home without them in desperate times.
                How could you fellow leave without taking me along?
Don't mean to encroach the praying altar for the deity; I am just trying to keep myself above water. You know well: Misery acquaints strange bedfellows.
Stop doing this, people are watching. Two monitor lizards found their way to dry land.

Twenty or more years ago I read a report from English newsprint regarding the gradual sinking of Bangkok city. That was worrisome as I saw skyscrapers and towering hotels all over the enticing and striking city whenever I visited Bangkok. The mother river Chao Phraya to the Thais flows 372 km (231 miles) southwards towards Bangkok and its wide estuarine territories before making its exit to Gulf of Thailand, through the low lying alluvial plain. With no mountainous topography or hilly land along where the river flows, flash floods could occur frequently as I saw it. Then the huge scaled flooding of Oct-Nov 2011 Bangkok and the neighboring provinces caught everyone by rude shock and unpleasant surprise.

Attractive Yingluck Shinawatra; at 44, she became the 28th PM of Thailand in August 2011, the youngest in 60 years of Thai history.
                       What an unique experience for a picnic.
That's why we call them water buffaloes. They work better than horses in waterway.

Great time surfing!
Come dine with me! Happiness was written on his face as he still could have his meal over a floating refrigerator door. The Thais are tough people that they can overcome all obstacles in time of hardship, with smiling faces.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of the Pheu Thai Party took over the helm to run the administration of the nation after a landslide victory during the last election with 265 winning seats. She became the 28th PM of Thailand in August 2011 with the formation of a coalition with other minor parties. Critics and rivals attributed her success to the distant interference, assistance and advice of her fugitive brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. In a way it was quite true and correct to assert that as Thaksin had told radio hosts during tele-interviews that Yingluck could speak or make decision on his behalf etc. The sudden escalation of the deadly flood caught the Yingluck administration unprepared in predicament; it had become a real litmus test for Yingluck’s capability. In the beginning there were conflicting statements from her PM’s department and the Bangkok Mayor’s office, regarding the expected period of the flood receding. So far she fared not too bad in handling major problems amidst harsh criticism aiming at her. For a promising start, she received congratulatory messages from Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar and the Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen right after her swearing in as the PM. She had deferred her intended visits to neighbouring nations for diplomatic protocols due to the emergence of the crisis brought on by the devastating flood.

Business could never be that good. All items on shelves were emptied in matter of hours.
This lady couldn't hide her grateful feeling of relief as she managed to buy some essential items.
                        Don't hurry me as I'm in a haste to deliver too!
No worry, everyone will get a seat - confirmed.
Proving the world is round has never been so easy. Wish Gallileo Galilei could have taken a ride in a helicopter to discover that. Then again neither Aristotle nor Copernicus got a chance to prove that in this way too.
Wow, Ah Mah - Chiah beh liau! The fish is too large for the family.
The floating tut tut........wonder it's workable? need to test it in water first.
Out of this world but it seemed to be running well on dry road.
Very thoughtful of them. Only hope that the waste won't go into the canals or river directly.
At least they could keep their legs dry when running through water.
                                Real funny stuff. He might tumble anytime.
                      Complicated design; wonder how it works?
  What if one of the stilt poles got stuck in one hole? He'd fall, of course.

Apart from lamenting their huge loss on economic earning and over deaths, injuries and properties in ruins, the naturally optimistic Thai people put up a brave front and smiled to face the tough challenge ahead. They ingeniously re-designed or modified their means of transport to proceed with their daily commuting. Some of them were funny and ludicrous but amazingly workable in wet ground and in water ways.

Bad, all my chickens are dead! Should have sold them yesterday!
If I knew earlier, I would not have fattened the pigs to this weight. Now we got problem.
                                                Swimming piglets.
   You sure these plastic water bottles could help me to stay afloat?
Where do I begin?

Not only the humans suffered from the sudden surge of the flood, the pets, poultry, cattle and other animals also had their desolate times in dire straits to seek survival or refuge. Keen Photographers and anxious tourists to this country of wonders, myriad of temples, countless island paradise resorts, tempting and sensual nightlife, low priced merchandises, and friendly people, begin to flock to the country of freedom, i.e. the Kingdom of Thailand once again. I believe that Thailand will see its tourism industry resumes to its former glory pretty soon.

The effect of the flood is tantalizing; hundreds of cars soaked in unwelcome water with their roofs exposed. The Honda assembly plant destroyed 1,055 flood-damaged cars.
A roundabout offered space for temporary car parks
The ancient capital city of Ayutthaya was badly hit by the massive flood, particular with its large industrial sites of factories and motor vehicle assembly plants. They were forced to cease operation as machinery, office blocks, and their factory premises were submerged in water. Apart from that human lives are of paramount importance. Ayutthaya, an United Nation Heritage site was famous for its sprawling 400 golden temples; some of which would have been damaged beyond repair. The city is just about 85km north of Bangkok.
One of the many Ayutthaya temple ruins. The city was a thriving Siamese kingdom from 1350-1767 until the Burmese conquered it.

Alan CY Kok

This is the New Year Day for 2012. I sincerely wish everybody
"Happy New Year!" and thank all readers of my blog for the kind
support, encouragement, comments and advice. May the year 2012
bring you happiness, good wealth and health, and peace too.
Once again,

Thank You Very Much! Happy New Year and God Bless You!

All pictures used for this article are obtained
from mails I received through internet.

Alan CY Kok