Friday, 27 December 2013


My apologies as I'm still on Psychologies talk for the 2nd post in a row. Of all the magazines I've subscribed to and read over the years, it is the only one (at least to my knowledge) that's been promoting fabulousness beyond its sartorial and cosmetological definitions. They swear by this bling called great personality, which either you have or you don't, but the great news is even though you can't buy it, you can work on it.

And unlike a new season dress or top that will cost you an arm and a leg, a great personality and perspective in life will only set you back a steady supply of compassion, respect, empathy, humility, gratitude, and above all, love. Right, it does sound too much to ask for, that sometimes it's only human to run out of stock of one or two of the above. But tell you what, it never fails to feel great when you restock. 

Gratitude is one virtue that I always aim to replenish, and it doesn't necessarily mean giving material tokens, but by demonstrating random simple acts of kindness and acknowledgment of what others have done for me whether voluntarily or as requested. 

I take inspiration from the above 'I'd Like To Thank...' page of Psychologies magazine where readers can send in thank-you letters to individuals or groups who've made a difference in their lives, to  express my gratitude to everyone.

Many thanks to all of you who spent and spend time reading, commenting, whinging with me, laughing with me (maybe even at me?), browsing, checking, sharing, and looking at my little corner online. What started as a little project that's an exercise for me to try to get back into writing again has become a social scene where I've met some virtual friends who are very generous with their time and words. 

The same goes out to readers who have 'liked' my Facebook page and commented via the said platform, and likewise to those who view my Twitter and Instagram feeds, subscribe by email, or have found me via Bloglovin. Please do check them out when you have the time as I have posts that don't make it to this page.

I am very grateful for having you around, though I have nothing to give to you but just a good read or a quick peek. Fingers crossed, it's well worth your regular or occasional stops.

Thank you for a wonderful 2013!

See y'all in 2014!


Thursday, 19 December 2013

100 Moments of Discovering LIFE

How time flies. Year 2013 is about to end in a few days. As with previous years, we will look back once again on how we've done in the year that will soon exit, and will base our new year's resolutions on what we attempted but failed to achieve, or we simply would like to aim for some paradigm shifts.

Psychologies, one of my favourite magazines, did a round-up of 100 quotes from psychologists, psychiatrists, writers, artists, celebrities, and other inspirational figures who have contributed to the magazine thoughout its eight years of publication. 

Dubbed '100 MOMENTS IN TIME', the feature is a celebration of the magazine's 100th issue. Let me share with you the pages from one of my preferred magazines that may perhaps inspire your thoughts going forward to 2014, with my favourites highlighted.

On the above page: "Regret can be a signal that there is a chance to fix things. It lingers wherever there are still opportunities." (Sarah Maber, journalist)

"Imagine placing your expectations of yourself on someone else. Do they still seem reasonable?" (Gordon Flett, psychologist)

"If you feel tempted to share a secret, resist it for 24 hours, and you'll find the impulse will pass. And the good feeling that you get from holding back witll outweigh the short-lived rush of telling." (Linda Blair, psychologist)

"Some satisfactions in life are incompatible with safety; to reach them, you must enter the unknown." (Oliver Burkeman, author)

"The most positive thing about humans is our impulse to give love. We can't help it." (Sigourney Weaver, actress)

Quite a long list, but I'll give you plenty of time to go through it. 

Which quote resonated to you? 

What is the one thing you'd like to work on and achieve in 2014?

For further Psychologies features, please click here.

Friday, 13 December 2013

What's The Big Deal About Coming Out?

What is the big deal? 

When Tom Daley, the English 2012 Olympic diving bronze medalist, announced via YouTube in early December that he's happy in his relationship with another man, the news not only hogged British headlines and feeds of both traditional and social media, his 'confirmation' was a talking point in the comments section of some dailies whose readers are regularly more vocal about sociopolitical issues such as pension, rail fare, tube strikes, National Health Service (NHS), and benefits appropriation.   

The 2012 London Olympics pool shower shot that raised the alarm.

Here are screen shots of Metro's comments section:

To quote one of the readers, "In this day and age, is being gay really such a big thing that it ends up as front-page story on a newspaper or as a lead item in the evening news?" And another, "When did sexual orientation become news?"

The above statements are of course open to misinterpretation and can be mottled by claims of discrimination, but yes, I agree--how would a person's or for this matter, a celebrity's sexual orientation not be a feast of curiosity subject to spectacle when it is treated as such especially by the media and some gay men themselves?

Long before Tom's very public announcement, gay and straights alike have been speculating about his sexuality, so I suppose the giddy and jubilant reaction amongst gay men is simply a show of excitement and but-of-course-you-are-what-makes-you-think-you're-not familial support. I'm as straight as my hair but I joined the coming-out party, mainly because majority of my closest friends are gay men, and I was happy for Tom to finally tell the world (or least Britain) that yes, he's indeed in love--with a man.

As a well-loved public figure, he's obviously careful with his image and how it is perceived by the public, which, let's face it, is still generally homophobic, so he tempered his announcement by slightly reversing after changing gears, saying that he still fancies girls. 

A friend explains the above, in gayspeak, as he claims, as sort of a peace offering to girls he (applies to others) had been intimate with who knew he was gay but dismissed their gut feeling as more of stereotyping a fit and ripped beautiful young man. He loves the feeling of security and being special with another man, but he still cares for the girls and would love to still see them to share popcorn with.

I then queried my other gay friends if they have ever shared popcorn with girls (I'm 100% sure I've never ever shared popcorn with them). It's a resounding NO.

Coming Out or Staying Silent?

I have a friend who left what could have been a promising showbiz career back in Manila as the talent company (something like Simon Cowell's Syco) he had a contract with insisted on him covering up his homosexuality. I thought that if he went ahead, either he would forever be silenced by the cultural stigma of coming out, or he would eventually be an all-out drag like another Filipino celebrity who was once married to a woman but now physically resembles the ex, or he would do what Tom Daley, Joe McElderry, and Ricky Martin have done: go public.

 Remember Joe McElderry? He won the 6th series of X Factor UK in 2009. The following year, he announced on his website that he's gay. Perhaps because the public knew it for a fact all along from the moment he auditioned for X Factor, the news was sucked into obscurity. In a way, maybe the public felt that some celebrities use their sexual orientation as publicity to revive a floundering career. And I'm not saying that Joe played the game, but the public does think that sexuality-related announcements could be a career move ploy when noise is made out of complete silence.

Ah...Ricky Martin. He shot to fame via the Puerto Rican boyband Menudo which I went gaga over. I can categorically say that he was my very first crush. When he publicly and proudly acknowledged also in 2010 that he's gay, it didn't cause quite a stir, for Ricky had gone past the peak when it was best to drop the bomb. In other words, everyone already had a clue. He still makes me dance to 'She Bangs' though.

  In 2010, prior to Martin coming out, Barbara Walters expressed some regret for pushing Martin in a 2000 interview to admit if he was gay. The Toronto Star quoted her as saying, "When I think back on it now, I feel it was an inappropriate question" (lifted from Wikipedia).

I do think that asking if a person's gay is invasive and too probing, in the likeness of a woman being asked if she can have children or not. And this is the reason why I don't completely agree that a person's sexual orientation should be announced, confirmed or denied.

Being gay, though a significant part of asserting one's identity, is not a phenomenon. It's not a diagnosed illness or pre-existing condition that has to be disclosed, say, for insurance purposes. It's not a dirty little secret. It's not someone's other self that is allowed out only on special occasions.

Most of all, it's not the public's business.

But then, when you're a public personality (and perhaps you have some corporate sponsors who exercise opinion on how your image is projected), you seem to owe the public an unsolicited explanation to dissipate the rumours. At the same time, you owe it the people wo admire you to inspire them that it's perfectly alright and liberating to be yourself. 

But is it Tom Daley's own making that him, being gay, is news?  I do feel that the media's reporting paints homosexuality as unnatural, unprecedented, tabloid material, a state of oddity, peculiarity and novelty that dwarfs other headline-worthy news. The public, in turn, is left with that impression and sees such news the way it is presented to them.

I wish to see future decisions of coming out as being in the same league as women celebrities announcing that they're expecting. It's still none of our business, but it's so quotidian that it doesn't land the headlines unless you're HRH Duchess of Cambridge. 

No, actually, let me backtrack, I wish to not see celebrities coming out via social media and landing the headlines in the future. They don't have to go through the spectacle of having their sexual orientation scrutinised, nor their relationships.

The fact is, some people are gay. Let's all get over it.

Friday, 6 December 2013


What's a trip without that post that features how you unleashed gluttony culinary and sartorially speaking?

This post had been shelved as the previous month was riddled with a spate of unhappy news--both at home and work fronts--I didn't have the appetite for indulgence. My mood was only lifted with the birth of my nephew in late November; I was back to thinking again about that beautiful Paulaner Munich beer and the apricot tart from Reinhard's along Kurfürstendamm.

Berlin wasn't short of great eats, I've been looking for a proper German deli and bakery since coming back to London to have a taste of what I thought I'd miss. The search always comes back to Lidl where I used to ignore the sausages. I think I'll give good old Lidl a chance.

The sumptuous apricot tart from Reinhard's. I have a preference for this over sacher torte.

The facade of Reinhard's in Kempinski along Kurfürstendamm, the Champs-Élysées of Berlin.

This restaurant seemed to have single punters in mind with this al fresco seating arrangement. That, or it's for those pretending to be waiting for someone. That, or the customer just prefers a seat too big for one but too close for comfort for two. That, or the restaurant didn't have a table big enough for the seat, so two small round ones are placed together. That, or the customers just want to sit with their backs facing each other. What do you think?

From Kempinski to Dunkin' Donuts. Wish we have this in the UK. It was a childhood treat.

Dunkin' Donuts captured me. Had three (it was a deal!) and some munchkins.I never know when I can have them again....

I must say this tomato soup from Berlin Fernsehturm was one of the best  I've ever had. The melted cheese clinched it.

It's not the dish, but the porcelain. Loved the architectural pattern.

Beer for breakfast, anyone? I did, to complement my Bavarian breakfast. A trip to Germany is not a trip to Germany if you don't have beer. It was so delicious (yes, I'm describing beer as such), it was almost peachy.

The Reichstag coffee cup served at the roof terrace restaurant. Did you just ask if I had coffee and beer at the same time for breakfast? 

My Bavarian breakfast. The veal sausage was a runaway winner.

All the odd combinations here: apfelstrudel and beer

Just cappuccino at Reinhard's this time

Hearty omelette breakfast at Reinhard's

Newspapers neatly clipped and hung on hooks at Reinhard's. I don't remember the last time I've seen dailies presented this way in a restaurant or hotel. Found it quite creatively traditional and appealed to my predilection for order and logic.

In Berlin, along that stretch of Kurfürstendamm where all the top luxury brands sit cheek by jowl with each other, the fashion houses use the wide footpath to display the season's favourites placed in glass display cases. In London, where robbers have the audacity to smash jewellery displays inside busy shopping centres, or drive cars straight through to the Gucci boutique in Sloane St, this form of publicity is in invite to the likes of motorbike-riding thieves to have a larceny spree. Besides, the swanky shopping streets of London don't have footpaths as wide as Berlin's.

Hermès Chasse En Inde AW2013

Hermès Guépards AW2013

Hermès Chasse En Inde AW2013

Hermès Guépards AW2013

Hermès Chasse En Inde AW2013

Hermès Guépards AW2013

I have bought far too many boots I have to justify the need for, so this one will remain inside that glass case.

And this one, too

I know my calves are bigger than the average woman's, but I'm sure I don't need bear's boots yet.

A friend said KaDeWe is Berlin's answer to London's Harrods. I'm not a fan of department stores and shopping centres, but I paid a visit to the capital's retail mecca. While Mr Tattler was scouring the perfume department for his customary aftershave travel purchase, I managed to have my watch strap changed at Hermès. I realised life back in London is so hectic I couldn't even manage to have it done there!

KaDeWe at night. That's more like it.

Thank you for coming along with me on this trip to Berlin. If you missed the previous posts, click on Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Have a lovely weekend everyone! 


Saturday, 30 November 2013

BERLIN CHRONICLES (Part III): The Story of Berlin and Third Reich Tour

The Story of Berlin is a highly recommended spot for first-timers in the German capital. You'll be relieved to know that even the busiest tourist traps in Berlin can't compare to the hustle and bustle of London or Paris where you can't even drop a pin during peak times. 

Capturing 800 years of Berlin history from year 1237 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, 23 rooms spread across 6,000 square metres are carefully reconstructed to allow visitors to authentically feel the atmosphere of the periods depicted. 

The highlight of the tour is the bomb shelter beneath the Kudamm Karree mall building where The Story of Berlin is located.

The threats of the Cold War have urged the government to make provisions for emergencies and possible atomic and nuclear bomb attacks. This one was kept from the knowledge of West Berliners until it was opened to the public.

Built in the 1970s, the bunker was designed to shelter around 3,600 people in the event of a nuclear disaster. The underground space is air-locked, has communal facilities, and powered by electric generators.

This is where the meaning of first-come first-served is a matter of life and death. The first 3,600 people who orderly (I have doubts about this when you know very well that you'll drop dead from breathing in contaminated air) queue outside are allowed in. Food and water supplies, as we were clearly told, would last for only two weeks. 

In my job, it is sometimes a struggle to refuse someone; I can't imagine how I'd fare if I have to turn away someone with the knowledge that they will not survive.

The bunk beds intended for approximately two-week subterranean asylum

Not the most comfotable to the touch, but you can't complain when you've made it in.

The eerie confines of the bunker.

The spartan sinks to be shared by at least 3,000 people

The kitchen at its bare minimum, expected to roll out meals for 3,600 people on a daily basis.

The entrance to the 23-room exhibition

Drenched with historical facts and figures, Mr Tattler could only comically muster, "How did he grow his hair around his ears?"

Here are some images of Berlin displayed on the walls of the museum, before the war annihilated its old world charm.

At this point, my very reliable point-and-shoot camera died, so I had to rely on my Blackberry (yes, I still own one) to take photos of this area at The Story of Berlin dedicated to the period of Nazi book-burning campaign.

The Nazi book-burning was instigated by the German Student Union in an attempt to purify German language and literature. Anything deemed subversive or ideologically disparate from the National Socialist policies were considered un-German. American novels were singled out, but Jewish books were heavily targeted. The students believed that the Jews had a smear campaign against Germany and its traditional values, and thus an effective way to combat it was to quash Jewish intellectualism.

'Imprisoned' books and embossed titles on the ground as if they were buried symbolise subjugation.

The books, slowly disappearing, mirror the fate of millions of Jews sent to the concentration camps, who vanished without a trace.

Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass was an anti-Jewish pogrom that happened on the 9th and 10th of November 1938, instigated by the Nazis and Hitler youth. The name comes from shattered glasses that littered the streets of Germany and Austria in the wake of the pogrom. Berlin and Vienna, having the largest concentration of Jewish communities, had a vast number of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses and homes that suffered deliberate destruction.

Part of the Berlin Wall permanently on display at The Story of Berlin

When the Wall fell on 9 November 1989, 360 particularly significant segments were numbered, certified, and sold to purchasers all over the world in Monte Carlo in June 1990. These ones on display at The Story of Berlin are numbered '002' to '006' and the only ones from the numbered edition still left in Berlin. The painting is by Swedish artist D. Börtz.

The day before heading back to London, we booked a Third Reich tour via Viator and were very lucky to have Ryan as our host (who incidentally was also a friend's host when she went to Berlin and took the same half-day tour). The Scotsman was very passionate and knowledgeable about Berlin and its history, and although we visited some of the same places of interest we have been to during the previous days, Ryan took us to areas we would not otherwise have known through online top ten lists of spots to check, and he gave us insights we would not otherwise have read. He did say that every now and then, he would encounter tour participants who would challenge his historical facts.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe aka Holocaust Memorial
An underground information centre holds all known names of Holocaust victims obtained from the Israeli museum of Yad Vashem.

Just a block away from Brandenburg Gate, the memorial was designed by Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold, and features 2,711 concrete slabs or stelae arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. Construction approximately cost 25 million and it was opened to the public in 2005.

The memorial caused much controversy as some Jewish communities saw it as unnecessary and others criticising that only the Jews are being commemorated. The sprawling memorial is subject to interpretation.

This 17-metre high metal monument located along Wilhemstrasse is the profile of Johann Georg Elser, the rebel with a cause who attempted to assassinate Hitler on 8 November 1939 in Munich. Elser travelled to Munich on 8 November 1938, to attend Hitler's annual speech on the anniversary of Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch. He built a time bomb with which he travelled to Munich in the weeks preceding Hitler's anniversary speech. Elser managed to stay inside the Bürgerbräukeller after closing hours each night for over a month, during which time he hollowed out the pillar behind the speaker's rostrum, and placed the bomb inside it. Unknown to Elser, Hitler initially cancelled his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller because World War II broke out. Hitler attended the anniversary, but planned on returning to Berlin that same night. Fog prevented a flight back to Berlin, forcing Hitler to deliver his speech earlier than planned in order to take the train. Hitler left the beer hall at about 13 minutes before Elser's bomb exploded as planned at 21:20, and Hitler did not even learn of this attempt on his life until later that night on a stop in Nuremberg. The bomb injured 63 and killed eight people except the target.

I wonder how the events would have unfolded if Elser succeeded...

The Mohrenstrase U-Bahn station where the walls are decorated with red marble.

When the New Reich Chancellery (office of the Chancellor of Germany) fell to the hands of the Soviets during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, the building was stripped of its red marble walls. Parts of it were shipped back to Moscow and the rest was used on the walls of the above major underground station in Berlin.

The Hotel Prince Albrecht once stood here. In the autumn of 1934, the first-rate hotel was turned into the SS House when Reich SS leader Heinrich Himmler moved the most important offices of the SS leadership from Munich to Berlin. In other words, the hotel was turned from the NSDAP's meeting place into the Gestapo headquarters.

External basement walls of the corner house at Wilhelmstrase 98 where the Hotel Prince Albrecht once stood. At the beginning of 1936, the house was the headquarters of the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps. Later, various departments of the Gestapo were located here. These, we were told, were part of the interrogation rooms.

Stolpersteine (stumbling stones or blocks in German)

On a trip to Vienna early this year, I chanced upon these small commemorative plaques embedded in the streets of Vienna. I found out that they're called stolpersteine or stumbling stones. They commemorate Holocaust victims and are usually placed at their last known residence before they were sent to their deaths in concentration camps.These were some we found on the streets of Berlin close to our hotel (a few steps from Kurfürstendamm, one of the most famous avenues and considered the Champs-Élysées of Berlin).

For previous posts on Berlin, click Part I and Part II.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed and learned from this tour at least half as much as I did x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...