Saturday, May 07, 2005

Gourmet Cellar, Christie's and Losing Out in Life

Gourmet Cellar @ Watten Rise

chilled chillified baby octopus, sliced tomatoes

tender lamb medallions wrapped with potato

molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice-cream

Gourmet ah-beng waiters smelling of Marlbolo.

Gourmet mamak shop complete with industrial shelves, dreary fluorescent tubes and baby cockroaches.

Gourmet goes the heartlanders? The people have sung and it is the song of gourmet food.

Talking about proletariats, I sauntered into a Christie's jewellery and watches pre-auction viewing today in T-shirt, shorts and slippers. Met a wealthy lady there who was trying on some of the bling-bling auction pieces. In the short polite conversation that ensued, she basically bade me to enjoy the viewing because I would never have the money to buy them for myself. The person assisting her repeated what was said and sniggered loudly. Men in Armani suits turned from their own antique watch-shopping to look at us.

Instinctively, I recoiled from the jibe and, like any good Singaporean who has watched one TCS drama too many, wanted to resolve to work hard and show everyone how successful and powerful and wealthy I could be. You will see my face in the Tatler and my name in the Time's list of 100 Most Influential People in the World and weep, my friends.

But something rang false.

These instincts somehow addressed concerns which I had long since ceased to be concerned about: success; power; wealthy; the friends, service, comfort, honour and respect that all these could buy.

Some years ago, the path was open for me to follow in the well-heeled footsteps of my former bosses to the pages of society rags. I chose the other path for a simple reason: coming to know God as God, the most powerful person in the entire universe, turned my world around and changed my value system. If God was real, and his word in the Bible was real, then it would be mentally unsound to live as if none of this was real; it would be madness to live as if success and power and wealth and the friends, service, comfort, honour and respect that all these could buy was really what life was all about.

Reality is constructed by God. He tells us that life is really about is him, his Son, his plan for the world and his people. It would be insane to chase after illusions when real and eternal value was to be found in the gospel, in the salvation of people, in my relationship with God and with his people.

So I chose a job that would pay so so so much less and really not the sort of occupation to put me on the fast-track to ambassadorship. But it gave me time to spend with God, praying and reading his word in the Bible, and the time and energy to talk to people about the gospel and fellowship with God's family.

It was then that I realised what the fear (eg. 1 Peter 3:6) of living out the Christian life, living as strangers and aliens in this world, could be: it is the kiasu fear that by living rightly, we deprive ourselves of something, we miss out on what life has to offer, we short-change ourselves and basically lose out to other people.

Was I really missing out?

It was really (and continues to be) a choice between a dud investment and a sure-win investment.

Why put all my money on a dud investment which would not only give zero interest but also gobble up my principal, leaving me without a cent when there was a wonderful investment with not only a guarantee on the principal but a sure return infinite times of the principal?

My mind happily settled, went for some plebian health food:

beer-battered fish and fat hot chips anointed with salt and vinegar; and

[To protect the sensibilities of the delicate, this photo shall not be shown.]

fried mars bars.



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