Wednesday, August 27, 2008

KMP reopens!

We had another all night Liaisons' meeting with Rinpoche. We started around 8pm and officially ended around 7.30 am and we invited Rinpoche to see the new KMP. Our new offices were still in a mess but Rinpoche liked the decor - all done by our wonderful Margaret Lee and contractor Koon.

After a short chat, Rinpoche invited us all to breakfast at the vegetarian cafe across the field from KMP. Finally, around 11am, Susan asked that if JJ leaves KMP, can we request for KMP to be opened sooner than 2 weeks. Rinpoche replied that yes she could request. So she requested and Rinpoche said YES!

KMP staff were all very happy, especially as Rinpoche said that KMP will not ever close again. There is a very special team spirit in KMP - all of us love the Dharma and love working with the Dharma under Rinpoche's kind guidance.

After breakfast, we went to KH1 to do our prostrations - after a night of no sleep, Shin, Yek Yee, Susan, Jamie, Annette, David, Sio Chian and I only managed 7 each. Together with May Woo's and Prof Choi's 21 each, we only managed 98! Of course, we have to get Ms Han, Julia and Chris' counts still. Achieving our 100,000 prostrations seem very far away at the moment. But considering the purification we have been going through, I think it's still okay!

Monday, August 25, 2008

KSK hits Penang

The idea for a KSK fund raising dinner in Penang came from KH member Patsy Gooi, who is the sister of KSK Head of Fundraising, Liaison Ruby Khong. It was appropriate to have a fund raiser in Penang because it was there that H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche had first mentioned that it would be a good idea to have a mobile soup kitchen when he saw some homeless people in the streets. Rinpoche has been feeding the homeless for many years on his own accord, having suffered from homelessness and hunger as a teenager. In 2006, some of Rinpoche’s students decided to distribute a few packets of food to the homeless in KL and from then, Kechara Soup Kitchen was born. KSK wishes to purchase or rent a building in the centre of KL as permanent premises for a soup kitchen so that hot food can be served on a daily basis. In order to achieve this dream, funds need to be raised.

On 24 August 2008, the KSK fund raising dinner event at G Hotel, Penang, began with cocktails at 7pm. Guests consisting of Penang’s most charitable ladies and gentlemen, established corporate figures, high society ladies from KL and friends of Ruby and Patsy came glamorously dressed up to the nines. Kechara Media & Publications had a small table displaying the coffee table book, ‘If not now, when?’, where 30% of sales would be contributed to KSK. We sold three books only but better than nothing.

After a screening of KSK’s short presentation, Ruby Khong gave a short welcome speech. As she recited Shantideva’s dedicational prayer, which is always recited before KSK food distribution, the hall fell silent in respect for this inspirational prayer.

Dressed immaculately in a stunning Eric Choong creation, Celebrity TV host, Xandria Ooi, was the MC for the evening, and gave a brief history of KSK to the rapt audience.

Dinner was then served and the evening’s entertainment began with a dance performance by the Flower Girls, consisting of my mum, aunt, grandma and cousin. This was followed by a couple of songs from the guest of honour, YB Datuk Dr. Victor Wee, Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Finance. He played the guitar and gave a wonderful rendition of ‘Vincent’ and ‘Jambalaya’. He was followed by another guest of honour, the blogger turned politician, YB Tuan Jeff Ooi, MP for Jelutong, who sang a Malay and then a Mandarin song.

Other performers included a group of high society ladies, led by Datin Maylene, who were friends of KSK Hon. Treasurer, Julia Tan. They had come from KL especially to attend and perform at the event.The ladies sang solos, duets and gave a group performance. Datin Irene and Datin Maylene were even sponsored RM1000 to sing another song.

The musical talents of Patsy and Soon Lee’s son, Gavin, were showcased as he performed his own composition on a keyboard. Our very own singing superstar, James Long presented two songs – ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘Sway’. James was then sponsored to give an encore for RM5000!

Although it was a Sunday night and the program ended late, the guests were all extremely happy with the evening. One gentleman, the husband of the lady who sponsored James’ encore, even pledged RM50,000 if KSK was to start up in Penang. Rinpoche was very happy to hear this and hopes that one day KSK will manifest in Penang and anywhere else so that people will never go hungry.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Everything Changes, Nothing Changes

Everything Changes, Nothing Changes?

I don't know about that. It's been a month since I had cheerfully written on the beginning of our prostration retreat. Since then, we have had quite a tumultous time at KMP. Joseph has since left KMP to join Ladrang - a change of portfolio that was felt by all to be the best for Joe personally and professionally. Most importantly, for the sake of his spiritual growth.

Since then, we've also lost Joey - he was finally fired after continuously refusing to be more effective and efficient. Due to his attitude, lack of performance and not following due process for issuing invoices, he was finally asked to leave. Due to Rinpoche's kindness, he was asked to stay on at Naropa House and was given a retreat to do. Unfortunately for Joey, his karmic obscurations are still preventing him from carrying these out.

JJ has also been in trouble. As he is able to perform, he was given a chance to reform his attitude but yesterday, he was up to his old tricks again. It's extremely sad that he has such great potential yet refuses to change.

On Friday, Susan, Shin, Jamie and I came to Penang for the weekend. We had been madly packing as KMP is moving to its own building. We had planned to come to Penang for a long time already - I was going to see my mum perform and help out at the Penang Home for the Aged and Sunday was the KSK fund raising dinner. Although we had agreed to vacate KMP old building by Friday, there was still some stuff lying around. Jamie and I had mopped the kitchen floor on Thursday and the place needed a once over after everything had been left.

Anyway, we had carelessly left David and JJ in charge of cleaning up KMP and happily sailed off into the sunset.

Big mistake.

On Saturday, Rinpoche asked where JJ was. As far as we knew, JJ was in KL. Of course, we had naively trusted that JJ would listen to Rinpoche's instructions to clean up KMP properly and leave for Penang on the last bus on Saturday night. Boy were we wrong. At 2pm on Saturday, JJ was already on his way to Penang and we were the last to know. Worst of all, it had to be Rinpoche who told us where JJ was.

I felt incredibly embarrassed. Not only was I negligent to check on the whereabouts of a reputedly unreliable staff, I also failed to oversee the condition of the property or leave someone competent to supervise and conduct a proper handover. And worst of all, I have to be reminded of my lack of awareness by my Guru. A Guru should not have to do mundane things like make sure a place is clean or check where the staff are. That should've been our job.

Then Rinpoche asked why Shin had to be in Penang so early since the KSK dinner was on Sunday. This was totally my fault as I had strongly persuaded Shin to come with us as we wanted to discuss JJ's issue on the drive down to Penang. I immediately told Rinpoche that Shin had wanted to stay behind but it was me who persuaded her to come to Penang.

After a few smses back and forth, Rinpoche said that KMP new building would be closed for two weeks because of JJ's actions and our lack of responsibility and ownership.

At 2.30am (Sunday morning by then), we had a two hour conference call with Rinpoche, who brought many home truths to us about our issues. All in all, it was a positive call. Suffice to say I learned a lot about responsibility and care. A bit of a late lesson but it's never too late to learn and I can safely say we will not do it again.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Entertaining at Penang Home for the Aged

My mum and aunt, in their 60's, have been doing charity performances in Penang and KL for a couple of years now. Today, they performed at the Home for the Aged and Infirm in Penang.

Despite the un-airconditioned hall, the performers with their costumes put on a fabulous show. Many of the old folks were glued to their seats and I was a bit worried that some of the older men might get palpitations when some of the performances were a bit risque!

The star of the show was really my 88 year old grandma in her debut performance!

Above is the pic of my mum on the left, my grandma in the middle and my aunt on the right. Below is a closeup (mum on left and grandma on right)!

On the far left is my cousin, Adrian, a medical doctor and dermatologist, who flew in from Sydney for a few days just to perform. My aunt, Adrian's mother and my mum's sister, is the one on the far right.

I was very proud of my family - to see the looks on the old folks' faces when watching my family perform was simply marvellous.