One of our favourite pastimes back in Malaysia was to drive around to the more affluent neighbourhoods and admire the ‘architecture’. This was, incidentally, a favourite pastime of my mom and dad’s as well. Right after dinner, we would pack ourselves into our tiny Honda Civic, and drive to either Thompson road or one of the many ‘Gardens’, which are really residential areas, and dad would cruise by Ipoh’s finest, most luxurious homes. We would all fall silent, our heads spinning with how life would be for us, if we had such wealth. Having been government servants, such splendour had forever been out of reach for my folks.

This ‘acceptance’ of our ‘lot’ had spreaded to us as well. To their credit, my parents brought us up with very grounded ideals. Work hard, live honestly, have good hearts. And if we manage to marry into money, or more realistically, win the lottery, it would just be our good fortune. Until then, we were content to drive around town, admiring other people’s prosperity.

While the homes of the rich and famous in Malaysia are beautiful, those here in Redmond seem to come straight out of a fairy tale, or a movie set. Huge estates with plenty of land. Sharply groomed lawns. Every single property unique in style and shape. It was impossible to drive pass and not gawk, particularly this time of the year, decked in all their finest Christmas/holiday decorations. All that was needed was a feet or two of snow, and I would have had to stop the car, get out and smell the money in the crisp, cold evening air, just to make sure I was not dreaming.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t know what to do if I’d won the lottery, beyond repaying our debts. And perhaps go back to school. And get a Pentax K10D (with the works). And visit Montenegro. And fund a cure for AIDS.

Hey, maybe I do know what to do with the money.

What would YOU do with a billion dollars?