Book Review: ‘GURKHA – Better to Die Than Live a Coward’ by Kailash Limbu

Gurkha Kailash Limbu

If you’ve ever been curious about the Gurkhas, you’ll love reading this book. I was keen to find out why these men are so brave, why some would classify them as “mercenaries” and really, what makes them loyal soldiers. Reading this book, I’ve indeed gotten to know the Gurkhas a bit better – their selection process, what it was like fighting the Taliban, and even what they (really) think about joining the police force in Singapore. ๐Ÿ˜›

5 interesting things I learnt from this book:

  1. Gay sex is highly unusual to them. The author saw Afghan men with young “tea boys” following them everywhere, and he said this is “very shocking”. Back in the villages in Nepal, “sex between men was completely unheard of”.
  2. They strive to be the next Gurkha commended for his bravery – “For us, there is nothing greater a man can do than act courageously in battle, and we take enormous pride when one of our number is commended for bravery.”
  3. Cowardice is not an option – Kaphar Hunnu Bhanda Marnu Ramro – ‘It is better to die than be a coward’ (the Gurkha motto)
  4. Joining the Singapore Police is not their first choice – “Those who didn’t get into the British Gurkhas still had the chance of joining the (Singapore) police. But although nobody said so, we all thought that going into the police was definitely second best. For myself, I decided I would be a British Army Gurkha or nothing at all”. The author believed that “there wouldn’t be much chance of seeing action” in Singapore.
  5. They don’t give up, ever – “we Gurkhas would carry on fighting right down to the last man. And even if we ran out of ammunition we wouldn’t give up. We’d use our kukris. And if we lost our kukris, we’d fight with our bare hands.”

~

Truly an ‘unputdownable’ book. I’ve had Nepalese schoolmates since primary school but have never found out that ‘Limbu’, ‘Gurung’, and ‘Rai’ were more than just family names. They also refer to the different castes / tribes in Nepal. There are also the Chetris, Magars, Sunwars, Thakurs, and others. ๐Ÿ™‚

I love how the author intersperses bits of history and recollections of his childhood with his account of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, so it never gets boring. I highly recommend you get a copy of this book.

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Book Review: ‘The Last Girl’ by Nadia Murad

The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

‘The Last Girl: My Story Of Captivity, And My Fight Against The Islamic State’ is Nadia’s story of growing up in Kocho (in northern Iraq), of how IS militants massacred the people in her village, how the girls were forced to become sex slaves in Mosul, and how Nadia eventually escaped. It appears that history just keeps repeating itself, in different places with different folks. And it’s really sad how women (especially young women) often end up becoming sex slaves once captured. Nadia says in this book that “When you are a sabaya (sex slave), you die every second of every day”. In contrast, the men are quickly killed and dumped into mass graves, which I feel is a slightly better plight compared to being in a living hell as a sex slave.

“Being dead was better than being sold like merchandise and raped until our bodies were in shreds” -Nadia

Beyond molesting and raping her, one IS militant who’d ‘bought’ Nadia even had honey spread on his toes and got her to lick it off. (>_<) And that’s just one of the militants who’d owned her at some point.

~

Nadia is a big fan of history so she gives you lots of detail about the place she grew up in, her family background, etc. So it’s only from Part 2 of the book that the ‘action’ begins, so to speak.

If I do meet Nadia in person or get to ask her a question, it’ll be about the time inย 2006 (when she was 13), when an American soldier gave her a ring as a present. She describes it as a “simple band with a small red stone” but I’m so curious as to WHY he gave her the ring. Why her, out of all the girls in her village? Why a ring? What was the relationship between the soldier and Nadia? Surely he didn’t go around giving out jewelry to every person he met, right? The book doesn’t proffer an answer regarding this.

Food For Thought From This Book:

  1. “I still think that being forced to leave your home out of fear is one of the worst injustices a human being can face. Everything you love is stolen, and you risk your life to live in a place that means nothing to you and where, because you come from a country now known for war and terrorism, you are not really wanted. So you spend the rest of your years longing for what you left behind while praying not to be deported.”
  2. Many of the sabaya (sex slaves) were turned in by people they had approached for help. Of course, some of them, like Nadia, received help and got to escape. Why would regular folk be so heartless? Was the promise of a monetary reward (whether a lie or not) so tempting?
  3. “We had no way to find work or go to school, so mourning the dead and the missing became our job.” Beyond providing food and shelter in refugee camps, education and employment opportunities are needed too.
  4. “Some countries decided to keep refugees out altogether, which made me furious. There was no good reason to deny innocent people a safe place to live.” Singapore’s one such country, is it not? Are we open to foreign talent and foreign workers, but simply cannot accept refugees? Why?

And if you’re wondering about the title of the book… why ‘The Last Girl’? Nadia hopes that she’ll be the last girl to have such a story / plight, and that it won’t happen to any other girl. However, I do think that’s not entirely possible at this point in time. But we can still hope… I guess.

Book Review: ‘Feel Good 101’ by Emma Blackery

Feel Good 101 Emma Blackery

I would go so far as to say that every teenager needs to own (or, at least, read) a copy of this book! In ‘Feel Good 101’, Emma Blackery lays bare her life story, and while she’s much younger than me, I do think she’s been through a lot and those ‘life lessons’ are worth your time. Beyond being a “Youtube sensation”, she’s someone who:

  1. Was only 12 when her parents got a divorce
  2. Survived a mental health issue, which probably had its roots from the time her dad collapsed when she was 10
  3. Was a victim of bullying both in school and later at work
  4. Doesn’t put together a book with just fluff in it; she goes on to tell you when she lost her virginity, her experience of sexual assault, etc
  5. Gives good advice with regard toย coming out to your parents, dealing with bad friends, putting together an awesome CV, etc

Just one of the stunning things she says in the book is with regard to YOUR choice of career. In Singapore, especially, kids aim to be doctors, lawyers or accountants because their parents want them to be in these fields. But Emma, being Emma, puts it to you like she sees it:

“Your life is still going to be yours long after (forgive me) your parents are gone, and then you’ll be left with the career that they wanted for you. Sure, you might be earning enough, but will you be happy once you have no one left to please?”

If you’d like more punches to the gut like this one, then you certainly have to read this book. I didn’t know who this Emma is before reading the book, but now I’m certainly sitting up and taking note when she’s dishing out advice in her videos.

Her use of expletives in the book might come as a shock to certain readers, but eventually (I think) you’ll be won over by her no-holds-barred sharing, and even if you do not get a crash course in “Feeling Good 101”, you’ll learn more than 1 insight you’ll be thankful for.

Finally, I love how she put it so plainly thatย “you cannot turn your haters into your lovers – it is a futile exercise“. It’s something everyone who has any sort of presence on the Internet needs to know. ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Review: ‘The Reason I Jump’ & ‘Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8’ by Naoki Higashida

the reason i jump by naoki higashida

It’s easy to see why people who’ve read this book are raving about it. It somehow overturns everything us neurotypical folks think we know about autism. That loner who doesn’t talk to people because he “likes keeping to himself”? Nothing could be further from the truth. And when I read the news about how a K2 boy with autism goes missing from My First Skool, ending up in Yishun, I found the answer to why people with autism like wandering off / going for walks within this book.

And if you have questions for people with autism… questions like these:

Why do you ask the same questions over and over again? Why do you keep doing the same thing when you’ve been told not to do it? Why are you so picky about food? Why do you like spinning? Why do you line up your toys? Why do you like being in the water? What causes panic attacks and meltdowns?

… you’ll find the answers (and more) within this book. ๐Ÿ™‚

~

Thing is, I’m not so sure about asking friends (with autistic kids) to read books like this one. What I’d love to say is “this book might help you understand your kid a little better” but that would be presumptuous however I try to phrase it. So hopefully they read this blogpost and go get a copy themselves.

~

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8

Then there’s the subsequent book the author wrote: ‘Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8’. After reading ‘The Reason I Jump’, this particular book becomes less of a revelation. It provides more of a reassurance to parents with young autistic kids that there’s hope that things can get better as the children grow older.

It’s rather strange to say this: Naoki has such a flair for writing and expressing his thoughts even though he suffers from a pretty severe non-verbal form of autism… that he seems to be a gift to parents with autistic kids because he offers first-hand knowledge of why the kids behave the way they do. If he doesn’t have autism, and therefore doesn’t write/share about it, all those parents would be kept in the dark, agonizing over why nothing seems to work with their children and continue struggling to understand and communicate with them.

Book Review: ‘Unstoppable’ by Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova Unstoppable

I picked Maria Sharapova’s book ‘Unstoppable’ as my in-flight reading material to and from Bangkok, and it was a great choice. Once again, I’m reminded why I love memoirs / autobiographies so much. I’m not a fan of tennis and didn’t know much about Maria before reading this book. I know she makes loud noises (what folks call “grunting”) on the court , and she has her own brand of candy (which I think is kind of pricey), and she’s gorgeous. But beyond that, I didn’t know much else about her. This book changed all that.

I got to read the story of her first encounter with the game of tennis at age 4, and how her father (Yuri) dropped everything in Russia and brought her to America a few years later, believing his daughter would be a tennis star.

Long before there was the Tiger Mom, there was the Tennis Dad, and you don’t want to mess with either of them. ๐Ÿ˜€ It was largely due to her family’s dedication that Maria became the superstar she is today.

Get a copy of this book if you want to know:

  1. What motivates her
  2. Lessons she learnt from losses
  3. Locker room secrets
  4. Who encouraged her to try shoplifting (just that one time) and what she took
  5. Rivalry with Serena Williams
  6. Players who gave her dirty looks
  7. Who she had a serious crush on
  8. Playing with her right (vs left) hand, her shoulder injury, etc

Through this book, Maria has tried to clear the air once again with regard to the (supposed) “doping” incident. If you don’t know what happened, just know that she was cleared of the doping charges. I think it all happened for a reason – it gave her time to rest and recharge. She even went for a two-week summer program at Harvard Business School! You’ve got to love this gal. Even though she was suspended from playing tennis, facing an international backlash, having people call her all sorts of names (comments about “doper” / “cheat” / etc can still be found on Youtube videos of her), instead of moping or feeling sorry for herself, she went out and learnt new stuff.

There are a couple of quotes from this book that I love. Here’s one of them:

“What sets the great players apart from the good players? The good players win when everything is working. The great players win even when nothing is working, even when the game is ugly; that is, when they are not great. Because no one can be great every day. Can you get it done on the ugly days, when you feel like garbage and the tank is empty? That’s the question.”

I felt it was an absolute privilege and honor to be able to read this story of her life. This is certainly a book I’m keeping and re-reading at some point. ๐Ÿ™‚

~

Watch this video and see 14-year-old Maria, plus get a sneak peek at her stamp collection ๐Ÿ˜€

Book Review: ‘To Siri, With Love’ by Judith Newman

To Siri With Love by Judith Newman

The book ‘To Siri, With Love’ is about the true story of a pretty ‘strange’ household. How strange? For one, the husband and wife have separate apartments (I don’t mean that they sleep in separate rooms or beds. They each have their own homes) and when their twin boys were conceived, the dude was actually 69 years old (he’s 30 years older than his wife). When the kids were born, the woman’s already 40 and one of the twin boys (Gus) was later found to have autism. It’s neither politically correct nor polite to say “I’m sorry your child is autistic” (‘cos what is there to be sorry about?) or “What were you thinking… having children when both of you aren’t exactly young anymore?” But it’s what I thought of saying to the author (when reading the book) if I do end up meeting her someday. But that would be discounting the fact that the couple took 7 years (and according to her, $70,000) with 5 or 6 miscarriages along the way, before they eventually had their twins.

*HUGE SIGH*

It seems they TOTALLY missed certain signs or else they won’t be surprised that one child (or two) doesn’t turn out entirely ‘normal’ (but let’s not debate what normal means now). The couple live apart as John doesn’t like loud noises,ย gets upset when pillows aren’t arranged properly or when his mug is not in the part of the cabinet that he expects to find it in, and he also cannot leave a room without closing all the drawers. Judith herself doesn’t like to be touched (but sex is fine). Are they somewhere on the spectrum too? It’s anybody’s guess.

I love everything about the book, except for one portion. So here’s what I love… first:

  1. The innocence and genuineness that Gus has. His mother says that “if he becomes, say, a Walmart greeter, when he wishes you a nice day he will mean it with all his heart.” How many times have we heard “Thank you for coming” / “See you again!” from a salesperson who’s actually checking out her manicure or doing something else altogether, instead of looking at you and smiling sincerely?
  2. That technology has probably saved the sanity of parents with autistic kids. Gus chats with Siri for hours at a time, and she (it?) patiently answers all his questions.ย “In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.”
  3. Autistic people teach us that there is another way to live / be. Gus “thinks that everyone is his friend… has no idea about sarcasm or competition or envy or ambition.” I think the bit about envy and sarcasm is useful. If we could live without envying others (all you gorgeous people with curated pictures of your lives on Instagram!), wouldn’t we enjoy Life even more?

What I find difficult to accept is that while the author (obviously) thinks it’s fine to make babies with someone in his late-sixties and already has a child from a previous marriage, she wants Gus to either be a homosexual or get a vasectomy so he won’t be able to procreate. Wow. Just wow.

“My lifelong hopes that Gus was gay – what gay man doesn’t adore his mother?”

“I do not want Gus to have children… Gus should not be a parent.”

“I will insist on having medical power of attorney, so that I will be able to make the decision about a vasectomy for him after he turns 18.”

I really don’t know what to say. On one hand, this book presents lots of information about autism (that I didn’t know before) and I am learning a bit more about some of the (strange) things autistic kids might do, such as ignoring me or coming within two inches of my face to talk to me. But it makes me feel like screaming “WHY DID YOU HAVE A KID WITH SOMEONE IN HIS SIXTIES?!” and “WHY ARE YOU STOPPING YOUR OWN KID FROM PROCREATING –ย  YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BUT HE DOESN’T?”

So… this book leaves me very dissatisfied. ‘Cos I can’t do the screaming bit. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

I hope the author changes her mind about “sterilising” her child and hopefully, Gus himself stays positive forever. The odds aren’t very good:ย “A 2015 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that people with so-called “high-functioning autism” are about ten times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.”

Finally, there’s this funny bit about the author’s plastic surgery, which totally reminds me of someone (I’d better not say who) who got a nosejob and also has an autistic kid with her (old) nose. These two mothers really should meet. ๐Ÿ˜€

Like Judith’s pal said to her:

“He’s got your nose – well, your old nose. Why don’t you get him your new nose? Is your plastic surgeon still in business?”

*If getting him a vasectomy is on the cards, getting him a nosejob shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. ๐Ÿ˜›

Book Review: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

This is one book I love but which also leaves me puzzled. As puzzled as after I read this other book about eating, praying and loving, and how the author discovered her soulmate (this amazing guy) after a traumatic divorce and traveling to various places. Said author later divorces the guy and ends up in a same-sex relationship. This world is so freaking… confusing. And authors and creative types are the worst, I tell you! ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, in Wildflower, Drew Barrymore shares about how she met Will Kopelman, the proposal, the awesome in-laws, and beautiful kids. The book ends with no sign at all that her marriage would not be a ‘happily ever after’ story. And before you know it, tah-dah they are divorced. Brilliant. Thankfully, the book is not just about the couple (or ex-couple). It shares snippets of Drew’s past, her upbringing, her parents, the adventures she’s been on (like jumping off a cruise ship full of old people!), and also how she came to star in some of my favorite movies ever (like ’50 First Dates’).

What I would have loved for her to share about was her experience of getting into an ‘institution / rehab’ at the age of 13 and staying in there for 1.5 years. That part is missing from the overall story. Though I would understand if she’d just rather not share / recall. What she does reveal, though, are some bits about how she parted ways with her mother when she was 14, and how her dad was simply not playing the role of a dad throughout her life.

Through this book, I got to know a little better this former ‘child star’ who first starred in a dog food commercial at the (impossible) age of 11 months, and then other films including E.T. when she was 7. I was almost moved to tears when she described how she had been tracking the script for what would be the movie ’50 First Dates’ for YEARS before she eventually starred in it with Adam Sandler.

There’s so much more you need to read about in Wildflower. I’m sure you’ll love the book. I bought it yesterday at Times bookstore (50% off at Waterway Point) and am already done reading it today! That’s how good it is!

Here are 5 quotes I’ve picked from the book:

#1: “I am afraid. I’m thirty-five, and I don’t exactly know where my life is heading, and I just don’t even know what I am looking for.” (I’m sure SO MANY of us can relate. I guess this is why we love her and love watching her in the movies she has starred in.)

#2: “…we built relationships with people we admired and respected rather than party with the beautiful people” (Though her parents didn’t do a great job in terms of parenting, her life has been blessed with amazing people who’ve helped teach her, support her and love her.)

#3: “…you can be a warrior and be full of grace and class.”

#4: “You choose the great person in front of you and don’t play the game of Let’s Make a Deal and see what’s behind door number two because we are so conditioned to seeing what else is out there.” (Important advice for people who are single!)

#5: “We all have the capacity to be divine, but that damn ego always lets some people think they are bigger or better than others.”

Book Review: ‘The Choice’ by Dr Edith Eva Eger

The Choice by Edith Eger

This ‘unputdownable’ book gave me (new) insights into the Holocaust that really shook me to my core yet it also provides hope: whatever happens to you, you can find a way to survive and even thrive. In ‘The Choice’, Dr Edith Eva Eger shares about her experience of being sent to Auschwitz at the age of 16. Her parents were killed by the Nazis but she and her sister managed to survive. She later became a psychologist, helping survivors of abuse and soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The book delivers two punches to the gut that I didn’t see coming. Firstly, I guess we’ve all read about torture that happens to prisoners of war, such as water torture during the Japanese Occupation, or how victims had their fingernails pulled out. In ‘The Choice’, the author shares about how a pregnant woman was (surprisingly) not murdered by the SS right away, but was allowed to live till the time she went into labor… then,

“…the pregnant woman who somehow made it to Auschwitz without being killed outright. When she went into labor, the SS tied her legs together. I’ve never seen agony like hers.” (p66)

It’s gone beyond just being cruel; it’s pure evil. And her story appears to be corroborated by other accounts from survivors of the Nazi regime. Just mind-blowing.

And towards the end of the book, the author drops another bombshell: her mother might not have died if the author had told Josef Mengele that this woman is her sister and not her mother, when he had asked. Her mother might have been sent to work with her two daughters (the author and her sister) instead of being gassed.

This is one of the most intriguing memoirs I’ve ever read. If you want to find out more about the person whom people callย “the Anne Frank who didn’t die”, and how she survivedย Auschwitz (being one of the 70 survivors out of the 15,000 or so people from her hometown), this is one book you need to go get a copy of.

One quote from the book which particularly resonates with me is this…

“each of us has an Adolf Hitler and a Corrie ten Boom within us. We have the capacity to hate and the capacity to love. Which one we reach for – our inner Hitler or inner ten Boom – is up to us.” *Corrie ten Boom had helped many Jews escape during the Holocaust.

Books Box Sale: How Many Books Can You Pack Into Each Box? ;)

Books Box Sale

If you don’t already know, the annual Books Box Sale is back again (4 – 13 August) and it’s a real book buffet. Just get a box for $50 and you can take as many books as you want (*as long as they fit into the box, and the box can be sealed flat, i.e. no bulges). I went for the media preview session yesterday and came home with 2 full boxes of books! In the picture you see above, that’s one box of books I packed myself. There’s a trick to it, which I’ll share with you in a bit. And yes, I paid for it! ๐Ÿ˜› In one box, I managed to pack 33 books, and in another, 39 books. So each book costs less than $1.50! (@_@) What was more shocking was the selection of books available. Some of these titles I’ve actually paid FULL PRICE for in bookstores (usually over $20 each) and they are available at the Books Box Sale! What?! Like the book ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes‘ I reviewed two days ago. Ridiculous, isn’t it? I think I’ll adjust the amount I spend on books every year by saving up the money I usually spend on buying unhealthy stuff like bubble tea and during the next Books Box Sale, return home with four boxes of books! ๐Ÿ˜€ I really need a new bookcase!

*Tip for packing: First arrange the books you’ve selected according to height, then place them into the box as I’ve shown you above. Do not stack them up! Smaller books can be used to fill the tiny spaces remaining and really thin ones can be placed flat on top just before you seal the box. ๐Ÿ˜€

Available in both hardcover and paperback at the Sale:

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Hardcover

*sniff sniff* You can get it at less than $1.50 when I’d already paid over $20. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

There’s Belinda Lee’s award-winning book too – Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life

I’ve reviewed ‘Larger Than Life’ as well, if you remember. Oh gosh. Just buying two titles at regular bookstores is the equivalent of getting an entire box of books at the Books Box Sale. Grrr.

what color is your parachute

And here’s another book that I already own, having paid full price for it:

The Leader The Teacher And You

There is one very Singaporean word that fully encapsulates how I feel about this: Sian.

There are books for just about everyone. Many of Richard Branson’s books are available, and there will be some from female authors you love as well:

Female authors

I spent over two hours at the preview and my neck was aching by the end of it, from looking down at all the titles. There are so many! There’s everything from kids books to cooking, literature to pets, history to business. And lots of fiction books too.

I found Signed Copies:

Kampong Spirit

Books I didn’t even know existed, written by people I know:

Game Of Thoughts

That’s Magic Babe Ning!

And lots of coloring books, even the famous (and expensive) ones from Johanna Basford:

coloring books

*If you bought them at full price previously… well well well… you can pack dozens of them into a $50 box now.

And there are FREE books for students too! Read T&Cs:

Books Box Sale students

And lots of kids and toddler-friendly books. Here are just a few:

Kid toddler books

Enough said! You have to head down to the Books Box Sale. Make sure you follow the organisers on Facebook so you can be alerted to things like flash sales, crowd situation updates, new stocks, etc:ย https://www.facebook.com/sgbookdeals/

It’s quite easy to get to the Books Box Sale by public transport. I took the train to Bishan MRT station, and crossed the overhead bridge to get to the bus stop opposite the MRT station. From there, I took bus 55 and alighted at the third stop. And the Pansing building is just across the road. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can either take the stairs or the lift to get to the Sale at level 3. If possible, bring sufficient cash ($100 should be enough) and a trolley so you can pull it around while browsing and also for transporting your books home! ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Shopping & Reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Some books are ‘unputdownable’ which means you read them cover to cover in probably just one sitting. That usually means they’re pretty good reads. And I’ve only just discovered another type of book which you have to ‘put down’ and come up for air every so often before you dive back into reading again. Caitlin Doughty’s ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ is a book I didn’t know I’ve been avoiding my entire life. It involves a topic that I, and the rest of society (probably), try to avoid discussing or even thinking about – death. But there’s so much to learn from this woman who went to work in a crematorium at the age of 23.

Do you know how dead bodies are embalmed? Which part of your corpse gets sliced, what gets removed, what gets drained and what is injected into your system?

Did you know that metal pieces or even superglue (as a safety measure) is used to ensure the mouth of the dead person stays shut? And the spiked contraption to keep the eyelids in place, to complete that peaceful look of being ‘at rest’ in the casket?

And if, unfortunately, you have a baby or a child that has died, do you see to it personally that your child gets cremated or would you choose the ‘online’ option of keying in your credit card details and have someone else pick up your baby/child from the hospital and get it cremated out of your sight?

All too often, people don’t want to think about such things. After all, when you kick the bucket, someone else will have to make a decision on your behalf and it’s very likely you’ll either be buried or cremated. After reading this book, I’m pretty sure I don’t want any of that embalming done. And I’m probably going to pop the question to family members and friends, and find out if they have any ‘last wishes’ as to what they want done with their corpse.

While death is certain for everyone, most of us seem uneasy about planning how we want to ‘return to the earth’. I suppose some people would classify this as a taboo topic and be so superstitious as to think that thinking about death would mean the Grim Reaper’s going to come knocking on your door soon. These same people would probably think buying insurance would hasten the occurrence of an accident or bringing an umbrella when you go out would mean it’d rain that day.

I think it’s good to have certain plans in place because if a death happens suddenly, the deceased person’s loved ones would be overcome by grief and loss. They might look for an undertaker via a Google search or ask someone for a recommendation. And all too often, they might be ripped off. Like everything else in Singapore, funerals don’t come cheap, especially if you meet funeral directors who are master salespeople.

If a funeral director posed me this question:

“Wouldn’t you want a premium Batesville casket for so-and-so? Former U.S. Presidents and celebrities like Ronald Reagan and Michael Jackson had Batesville caskets! Look… it has blah blah blah… and would totally demonstrate your love for so-and-so and it even comes with a special drawer for your keepsakes blah blah blah”

… I might find it tough to say “nope, just the regular casket will do. Yup, the cheapest one. Thanks. The rest are overpriced. Any other hidden costs?”

It would be so much better if everyone had already made their wishes known, so no grieving family member needs to fall prey to hard selling, right? No need to purchase costly add-ons unless finances allow and a “show” needs to be put on for the other people coming to the funeral.

I like how Caitlin Doughty also busts some myths with this book. For instance, you don’t have to be afraid of dead bodies and that you might catch some disease from a corpse. You won’t. According to Caitlin, the bacteria involved in decomposition is different from the bacteria that causes disease. And you are more likely to become ill from being in an airplane than sitting next to a corpse. So, if you’re up for it, why not help clean and clothe the body of a loved one?

And the book is also full of interesting bits of wisdom, such as…

“When you know that death is coming for you, the thought inspires you to be ambitious, to apologise to old enemies, call your grandparents, work less, travel more, learn Russian, take up knitting. Fall in love.”

 

If you haven’t read this book, go purchase or borrow a copy. It’s probably one of the most life-changing (or rather, death-changing) books on the planet.

~

Caitlin has also done a couple of TED talks, and here are the videos for your viewing pleasure:

Great idea: composting instead of cremating the dead ๐Ÿ™‚

And the BuzzFeed video which drew a comment about ‘what if people draw dicks on the dead guy’s face’: