Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Value of Humor

I was at a meeting last night where the speaker was President of the National Speakers Association in the USA named Scott Friedman ( He touched upon the point of using humor in public speaking and how it helps to connect to the audience quickly. He further made the point that self-effacing humor can create a bond with the audience. Now I was thinking about our family and how much we enjoy humor to the extent of telling jokes to each other!! For example, just the other day Ernie(9) shared the joke on the dialogue of a Malaysian with poor English who bumped into an Englishman and said "Sori." Now the Englishman quickly replied, "I am sorry too". Now the Malaysian thought this was some kind of challenge and responded, "I am sori 3" in which the Englishman responded, "Oh??..what are you sorry for??"

But how about the real humor found in our own lives that we can smile or laugh about. Why it was a humorous moment when I first noticed mom in the first place. (Sat 26 April 1980) She had just turned 18 with pigtails in high school. I, therefore, didn't notice her much in a group of singles who went out for dinner at the famous Newton Circus in Singapore after the Saturday session of District Conference at Church. I was then twenty-one, having just graduated from Australia and was in Singapore for their Church activities as I was preparing to serve on a mission. Who couldn't help notice mom when she suddenly screamed in the middle of having our dinner at the food centre of Newton Circus? In an instant, she was seen jumping up on her chair looking frightened as hell! All this was just because of a leaf that fell onto her table from the canopy of trees above us and she thought it was a cockroach, one of her greatest fears in life!

I think the way that led to our courtship came about was funny too. Well, close to a year on my mission which I served mainly in Malaysia, on 22nd July 1981, I was down in Singapore where the mission office was and where I got to notice mom again! My missionary companion then, Paul Sng, used to be in the same single adult group and choir with mom and he got invited to dinner at her home which I had to tag along. By now she was 20 and her happy disposition with frequent cute smiles must have made me note her phone number down...secretly.

A month later, on Monday 31st Aug 1981 which is Malaysia's national day, Paul Sng's close friend John Lee joined us for dinner. John was active in the Choir too and Single Adult activities. He was preparing to join the Singapore mission. After dinner, Elder Sng decided that we would follow John who was going to the Commonwealth area to attend a family home evening at Thong Geok Lee's home as we had someone to teach nearby named George Thong, a BYU applicant. We ended up having refreshments at Geok Lee's home. So since my pre-mission time to the current date, I have met her casually for 3 times already.

After my missionary service, I decided to follow up with this Singapore girl. Now going on a date one to one just isn't the kind of thing we were used to in those days and while back home in KL, I had to figure out how I could invite her out. I remember helping my parents paint the family house and while painting non-stop for several days, I would be imagining my approach to her. Yes, I had figured out the way and it was simply to go down to Singapore again to call her home with the excuse that I needed her to guide me to the home of John and Doreen Lim. I knew they were close friends to her as he was the choir director and had given her free piano lessons. John was an architect with a beautiful home and I used that as an excuse for her to take me there to view it! Sounds simple enough right? Well, not true!

Here I was on the telephone on Sat 11 June 1982 and introduced myself to her again and was glad she remembered me. So I mentioned to her about wanting to visit the home of John and Doreen but she started off by giving me detailed instructions on how to get there. She kept on and on describing the route to take while I stood there, on the other end of the line, wondering what I should say next! Well, I just gave an honest response, as I wasn't really listening deeply, that it seemed too complicated to follow her directions and wondered if she could take me there! This she agreed to and I was soooooo relieved!

From this first break of good fortune, our courtship accelerated, first with an exchange of letters and then telephone conversations. I invited her to join me on a driving tour of the country with my mom and her friend as chaperones. We would start from KL along the west coast northward to Penang island and take the new east-west highway along the Malaysian Thai border to visit the town of Kuantan where my brother lived. We would then drive south along the East Coast of the peninsular to finally arrive back to her home in Singapore.

I can think of a few humorous events on that trip. Our two chaperones sitting in the back seat were having a great time chatting away. They would laugh as I maneuvered along the windy roads in those days which caused them to sway and sometimes knock each other. Then there was the roller coaster effect of going over a hump too quickly which caused their heads to knock on the ceiling..ouch..but that didn't stop them from chatting or laughing! We made it to the east coast which passed through the conservative Moslem states of Kelantan and Terengganu. They have beautiful beaches on the east coast where you can find soft sandy beaches with turtles in the right season. We stopped at a particular roadside sign which we thought was appropriate. It identified the name of the beach which was Pantai Cinta Berahi translated to mean The Beach of Passionate Love. Now we know the Muslim states had become even more conservative over the years as the beach was later renamed as Pantai Cahaya Bulan or Beach of the Moon Ray. How unromantic!

Oh, I need to back up a little to the Island of Penang on the west coast which is where I think I made a proposal to Mom!


Fei said...

Tee hee. You "think" you made a proposal to Mom?

Singapore Girl said...

I'd like to hear what you remember about the "proposal" hehehe.

Need to check my version with yours!

Han 文翰 said...

I sure hope you had your glasses on then, because you might have proposed to a stranger! Heeheehee

Anonymous said...

Well, U R more sentimental than i was. Love travelled a long way until the S'porean girl, hehe., saved you of your times & efforts, she shortened the journey for U man Sun Fu...

Dad the KL city kid said...

He He.. Yes Matthias. As a wife and companion, she has helped shortened many things for me in my life's pursuit. Lets see if I can name them quickly...have a large family, supportive in my business pursuits, learning to be more passionate, appreciation of music and singing,becoming more arty and creative thinking,helping me see the point when I don't, understanding womanhood?? And you know something??? She is also a Thong!!!

Su Chong said...

I WAS THERE!!!! I was at the very SAME beach - Pantai Cahaya Bulan! and stayed at the Pantai Cahaya Bulan hotel or motel back in 2001 for the National Choral Speaking competition...we came home on the day of 9/11...anyway, my fellow choral speakers and I went to check out the beach and I LOVED the sand...we weren't allowed to swim...but I can remember feeling a special something for that place..that beach..perhaps it's because mom and dad were there before..18 years before..

Dad the KL city kid said...

Just for the record in a post-dated comment here, the day being 9 September 2018, being a space-time travel experience, I like to state that the name of the beach was earlier 'Pantai Cinta Berahi' explained in this Malay Wikipedia