Luckie’s birthday fell in June. My elder brother and wife took the trouble to prepare for the mini party. Initially, I was supposed to help to collect Luckie’s cake but my sister-in-law settled it. My mum and younger brother took the train over with me and happened to encounter a terrible train “delay”. Although we didn’t stay for long, I was glad to have the mini family gathering over there.
I tried my first “massage” from “ah hun”, and she helped to relieve a lot of pain from my right shoulder. The improvement was significant.
Nancy hosted the volunteers gang a gathering at her place. She fed us well. Yonghao was generous with his new dimsum making skill. As I wasn’t feeling well, Huiting prepared porridge for me – she prepared extra for me while cooking for her mum.
Gilbert and I gave Wanling a belated birthday celebration. Gilbert was the chauffeur again and also planned the dinner.
During Joy’s book launch, she gave me a two copies of her book.
Since the venue of Gold’s Gym outlet at Lim Teck Kim Road was going to be handed back to the landlord, Bobby suggested lending me a space in the Joo Chiat outlet. He picked me up from my place and sent me over. He also treated me to early supper over there.
I had an implied nude yoga shoot with Karina and I was flattered by the trust she gave me.
I went to Marsiling around three times, mainly to help to babysit Luckie and my elder brother took good care of me. He tried to pay for my meals. My sister-in-law also helped me to buy lunch. Eventually, I felt I had not contributed much.
During the day of the bike shoot with Boon Hui, she bought me drinks from Starbucks and helped me to press some of my acupuncture points to relief some pain from my shoulder injuries. She refused to split the cab fare and then insisted in giving a treat to her friend who was loaning us his bike. After the shoot, she suggested me to take a cab home and offered to pay for me.
My mum helped me to apply medication oil every night. Even though she was clueless about pressing the acupuncture points, it more or less would have helped in making improvement.
My ball-bearings for my trolley from Ebay arrived. I brought it down to Bike Culture and my elder brother and Fattie helped me to replace the old ones.
Gilbert brought me to the Fitness First gym at 100AM. As he was a busy person, it was not easy for him to fork out time to catch up with me.
I had a photoshoot with Cheryl Chua. She took the initiative to do a video discussion with me. As the shoot was a little revealing, I was glad of the trust she had placed on me.
During the shoot with Sharon Ng, she bought some delicious bread from ToastBox for me. She was also very patient with me to try out the yoga moves.
While I was struck with extreme bad luck during the beginning of the year due to a few models who had wasted my time, Boon Hui helped me when I was in need of someone to test playing with my new white backdrop. We had a “last minute” shoot and it helped me to test the limitation of my equipment to prepare me for an important shoot with Joy.
After the shoot with Joy, she gave me a good treat. I felt guilty for I was not someone who would appreciate good food and dining at an expensive restaurant was really a waste of money.
There was a volleyball game in NUS new town. Jingjie gave me and others a lift over at Harbourfront Centre after our lunch at MacDonald’s. After that, we went to Tampines and he was the driver who also sent me home. Anyway, Jingjie was the coordinator for the game and it was very kind of him to help to arrange with us even though he was very busy with work.
My younger brother arranged for a Mother’s Day dinner. He managed to get discount through an application and we got to enjoy expensive Indonesian food at low price at the new Tanjong Pagar Centre.
I went over to Marsiling twice to help to take care of Luckie who had his third slip disc problem. During the first stay, my elder brother helped me to fix the tablet he had passed to me much earlier – the WiFi was down after doing windows update. During the second trip, he tried to fix my trolley’s wheels but realised the ball-bearings were spoiled. Then, he found out the model number so that I could get new pieces online.
My volunteers gang had a gathering during February thanks to Huiting’s recommendation of a vegetarian restaurant at Bugis.
Mingfa invited the volleyball gang down to Huayi Secondary for volleyball but only Bernard and I were available. Bernard arranged to meet me at Jurong East MRT to go down together. After that, he accompanied me for lunch.
As my beauty dish’s honeycomb grid was a little bended, I decided to add some sponge to the bag in case I accidentally got it knocked again. My mum helped me to cut and stick some sponge together.
There was a dramatic change in my family as my elder brother and his wife moved to their new BTO flat at Marsiling, together with Luckie. From a badly clustered house to a house with only three people left, the sound of silence filled the atmosphere most of the time. There used to be a lot of unhappiness for everyone had very different lifestyle that we wanted to live in. The limited space had always been causing frustration and thus I could firmly testify against those rich hypocrites who were running the country akin to North Korea. I was probably too used to hearing complaint from my younger brother about how the couple forgot to switch off the toilet’s light and my mum who would bottom up every matter to grumble only in front of my younger brother and I.
With the reduction of conflicts, loneliness began taking over. I knew well even with the very limited help in finance in the past, my elder brother actually contributed in other ways. I never wanted to part with my elder brother but I knew it was inevitable. It was simply impossible for them to get a house within or near the CBD area – apart from having limited space for new flats, the price would be scary. Sooner or later, we had to move far away from the city.
I helped out a lot in packing up the remaining stuff to bring over to my brother’s new place. It took quite a number of trips to empty the room they used to stay in, even though my mum quickly turned the room almost as messy as before. It was not because she wanted to keep a memory of my elder brother by creating similar mess, but because she was simply a collector of everything. Somehow, everything could somehow turn useful one day for the poor, maybe no in near future.
Apart from the sadness from the moving out of my elder brother, Luckie’s absence in the house was a big blow to me. I was the one who used to sleep with him when he first joined my family. Since I worked from home, I was the one who had spent the most time with him. It was also because of him, I always hesitated to leave the house since he had fear in loneliness. I stopped my occasion afternoon jog to places like Marina Barrage and Henderson Waves mainly because of him.
The most dramatic thing happened soon after they moved out as Luckie got his first slip disc problem. His lower back caused his legs to become strengthless. After his operation, I went over to take care of him during weekdays since both my elder brother and sister-in-law had to work. Seeing Luckie in such sorry state hurt me a lot. Before he was fully recovered, he had a second slip disc that caused him greater pain than ever. Just as I thought Luckie would be out of my life, the couple spent another 10 grands to save him. I did my part by going over to take care of Luckie during weekdays.
The closest friend I had was as usual, Gilbert. He helped me in everything without expecting anything in return – not that I was able to help him much in anything. Apart from him and my volleyball friends, I hardly had many chances to meet up with old friends. I also made many new friends through photography even though it was back to business that not everyone would keep in touch with me after they had gotten what they wanted.
In the third quarter of the year, my relationship ended. She was the most intelligent girl I had ever being with but we had very different priorities in life. She was more into the YOLO lifestyle while I was still struggling with my own life to make ends meet. There were also some differences that we had always struggled with, such as I felt obligated to stay over at my elder brother’s place to look after Luckie but she was fed up for she knew I was unable to work over there without even a proper table. I always felt bad for my mum’s attitude towards her even though she had always been showing respect and offering helps. Unfortunately, it was a bad start after all and my mum was more inflexible than me. I was glad both of us had tried very hard after all. I blamed myself for I was unable to give her a better life – not that I was able to.
Cough caught up with me for months and I knew well I did not recover because of the food I had been eating – my mum loved spicy food and she would deny cooking them. As for my injuries, my ex-girlfriend helped a lot. After her mum brought me to a Chinese doctor, my back injury improved a lot because it did not ache very regularly. Since she had learned some massages on the acupuncture points, she also improved the conditions of my other injuries, such as my right shoulder. Towards the end of the end, I suffered from a new injury on my left shoulder after carrying the bulky and heavy camera equipment for too long – the nerve was pressed too much that I felt weakness on my left arm.
The tuition agency business dropped tremendously since both of my main coordinators were too busy with their lives. One of them had too much family issues to handle while another could buy a condominium just by giving tuition lessons instead. They were both not obligated to spend their time to help me in my business and thus I was more than happy that they still spent some time whenever possible to take up some assignments. Whereas for the rest of the coordinators, they were busy with their lives too.
For my photography services, I was still unable to make any breakthrough as there was a huge competition from photographers who undercutted the market while most enquiries were from clients with low budget. I knew the standard of my work and the market rates, and my strong principle insisted me not to lower down my value or further harm the photography market.
I had a photoshoot with Kelly Lim. Even though the shoot was focusing on her tattoos, she had to show quite some amount of skin. It was the trust that I appreciated most.
For my photoshoot with Prudential, Leslie Eng helped me a lot. He even gave me a lift to and fro the location.
For the photoshoot with Martina, I received help from my new assistant – Yee Wei. She was quiet but helpful.
Gilbert took a day off from work to accompany me for a shoot. Besides being an escort, he did his part as an assistant, enduring some craps together.
I met up with Zaki and he treated me to a 3D movie – Rogue One. I helped him to collect his Wifi-Baby while he was away from Singapore. I met up with him again to pass him the device when he returned. He treated me to dessert – my favourite ice jelly.
During my second meet-up with Zaki, Sirachar dropped by to have a chat with me, which was rather rare for a net friend to make the effort.
Yaozhong insisted to treat me to a super belated birthday lunch. We met up at Chinatown for Dim Sum. He also accompanied me to recce LePark for my next shoot.
Angela Ni took a day off her packed schedule to have a shoot with me. She went from the East to North of Singapore for Koreen who was kind enough to do the makeup and hairstyling for her.
For the Christmas Gathering with my voluntary work friends, Yonghao and his family kindly hosted us. Yonghao cooked specially for us. Some of them also brought food and drinks along. Nancy hosted us for the second round of gathering at her gorgeous place and her fiance gladly welcomed us although we would be disturbing him from his rest. Nancy stunned us with the impromptu supper that she was able to dig out from her kitchen. Jiayu gave me a lift home.
Sam from Manda fixed my Cononmark B4. He also shared a lot of things with me.
Gilbert picked me up for our swim to use our Active SG accounts so that the remaining free value would be brought forward to the next year. He was the driver for the evening, for our dinner and sending me home.
After attending Jake’s son’s baby shower with my mum, his mum and her ex-classmate went to Waterway Point with us and treated us to drinks at Yakun Kaya Toast.
Weitat organised two volleyball games at Yusok Ishak Secondary school and one at OCBC Arena, which was booked by Jelly. We had late supper after the first game and Weitat specially instructed Steven to give me a lift home. Steven could have taken the PIE route home, which was much faster. After the second game, we had dinner at Bukit Gombak’s coffee shop. In order not to let “blackbean” uncle and auntie treat, I ordered my food from the western food stall instead of the seafood stall. However, SCDF uncle footed the bill for our drinks. For both the last games, Bernard gave me a lift home using Jingjie’s car as Jingjie was not in Singapore.
The process of doing photoshoot with Jasmine Tan was glad not because I was shooting a cute girl but because she was one of the rare models who could turn up on time for a 7am shoot. She was very cooperative and we managed to get many good photographs.
During the one-day reservist at Yishun Safra, Teck Hui met up with me to walk over. Then, Fabian gave me and Terry a lift to the nearest MRT station.
For the photoshoot with Wanling, Gilbert was the driver to send Yuko and I over to Wanling’s house. Candy played a good host, drove me to package dinner back and sent us to the shooting location and then sent us home.
For the photoshoot with Rouying, Guoxin was my best assistant ever. He helped me to carry my equipment, buy drinks for all of us on his own initiative, shine light for my camera to focus and even paid for the cab after the shoot.
In total, Yuko took up three shoots with me and I was very glad that she could use her talent to aid me in creating the wonderful work.
Gilbert booked a staycation at The Amara Sanctuary Resort and chauffeured both Wanling and I to and from our houses. He also paid a larger portion for the hotel fee. Lunch was on Gilbert and dinner was on Wanling.
I had a shoot with Beverley at Coney Island in the early morning. Gilbert gave us a lift over, helped in carrying my equipment and directed Beverley. He sacrificed his skin and blood to feed the mosquitoes and sandflies.
I had a beach volleyball game with my gang. Jingjie gave me a lift from Vivocity and Weitat sent me home after dinner.
Thiam Huat met me up at Tanjong Pagar for dinner. After that, we chilled up at Essen and he gave me two rounds of treat to drinks. We chatted till late and he had to catch a cab home.
My elder brother came to stayover with Luckie since my sister-in-law went overseas. During his stay, he tried to solve problems and passed me a good earpiece.
During my shoot with Dr Joy at her son’s birthday party, she treated me as a friend and not just a photographer. I was very touched by her kind gesture. During the entire evening, she kept asking me to eat. It was the first time I got to try out chicken from Jollibee.
I was so busy that I almost forgot it was the last public holiday that Tanjong Pagar Railway Station would be opened for visitors before closing down for integration work with the new MRT station. Just hours before the opening hour, I contacted Ahpa and Yoyo, who agreed to go down with me on such late notice – they reached home only after midnight. Yoyo had tried to accommodate to the choice of clothes that I wanted; discussion with both of them was much easier than many model-wannabes who had approached me. I was glad the simple shoot with Yoyo turned out quite well.
The month began with the resuming of my reservist. I was thankful of the great people who had accompanied me through the depressing period. They talked rot and kept me entertained. The drivers, Melvin, Fabian and Kenneth did us favours by ferrying us around.
I had not one but three photoshoot sessions with Ao Xuan to utilise her holidays. Although she sounded super laid back and lazy, she kept her promises despite having obstacles like rain. The first shoot was a lifestyle shoot done at Boat Quay. The second one was a studio kind of fashion shoot using Tze Khit’s gym and finally, a travel blog style of shoot to complete the entire Southern Ridges. It probably took her great effort to find out about me in order to trust me completely to hang out with me alone. (updates: she showed her princess-like attitude later)
Jake was finally able to meet up with me and he gave me a dinner treat. As usual, he was sharing things with me to try to help me while I was already too bored of updating him on my slow progress in life.
One of the luckiest things that had happened in my photography journey was the meeting of good people. Even people of higher status in life had showered me with love. Angie Mui, the woman I looked up to and someone who was busy in her passion, contacted me just to inform me that the photographs that I had taken for her would be released on the October 2016 issue of Expat Living magazine. Little kind gestures and lots of appreciation from her made me feel great.
Yonghao organised a mini hiking session from Harbourfront MRT to Henderson Waves. After that, we made a delivery of fruits donated by a nearby stall to the free chefs at Bukit Merah where they hosted free dinner for residents on every Sunday evening.
My mum noticed that I had many photography equipment lying around and she packed some space at the shelf previously used to put Luckie’s stuff for me to store things.
Gilbert had a free movie ticket as one of his colleagues fell sick and could not go. He even picked me up to go over to Lido together. I stopped him from sending me home after that and I actually made it home earlier than him. It would take him double the time if he were to give me a lift home.
During the re-shoot with Angie at her place, she cooked dinner for both her new social media manager, Mary, and me. It was great to be given a treat by someone of a high status who had cooked personally for us. In fact, Angie had arranged the shoot such that I would gain more exposure for Mary would be capturing the behind-the-scene photographs – if Mary were to use them on her publication.
Weitat arranged around three sessions of volleyball games at Yusof Ishak Secondary School and sent me home twice. During the last session, we had dinner at Clementi and I was able to go home by myself since the coffee shop was quite near to the train station. Alas, he was very concerned if I could catch the last train and I felt very touched. Alas, I could finally feel less guilty by not troubling him. After one of the games, our favourite auntie footed the bill for our supper at a coffee shop in Bukit Gombak, which made me feel very bad since there were quite a number of us. Jingjie bought many bottles of greentea for one of the sessions and shared with us generously.
As I was asking my elder brother about using HDMI cable to replace VGA cable for my computer, he told me he had a spare one. When he came back to my house, he actually remembered bringing it along.
My hairdresser endured another last-minute booking from me as I was about to go for reservist. As usual, she was not pissed off. Anyway, she charged me the same price since twenty years ago and she actually needed not take my business.
During reservist, the drivers Fabian, Melvin and Kenneth gave us free rides that had reduced the amount of time and energy used in travelling. I made a new friend, Teck Hui, a social worker, who gave me a treat on the second day.