Monday, December 22, 2008

It Was Not A Blue Monday After All

"Wen, 14 more days to go before 23rd of Dec", I told Weny two weeks ago. We religiously did the countdown almost everyday.

Only in a glimpse, suddenly those 14 days have passed and came today, a long expected day and practically my last day in Singapore for the year of 2008. I have a 7.50 flight to catch tomorrow morning and will be heading to Surabaya and of course, the final destination would be Malang. My home.

Monday, 22 December 2008
I did not really have a "good" mood to work. I was completely aware that I had heck a lot of things to work on and a number of people to call. Yet, did not really managed to do them all as planned thanks to the showering rejections, out-of-office emails, season's greetings and delivery failure messages I received first thing in the morning. All in all, I'd blame my inefficiency today on the holiday mood. Holiday mood is a wonderful feeling. You don't have that every day but if you can't manage it well, it is quite a turn off at work. So, appreciation and a good management of holiday mood should go hand in hand.

Since morning, I was already looking forward to the company's Christmas Lunch, the first one that ever happened in the company's history I guess.

I was starving and waited for 12.30 like a hungry bear. 12.40, we were called to the conference room but when I saw the food served, my expectation suddenly went in line with gravity. My imagination of Christmas treat was a mere imagination. I feel like a real budget Christmas treat was served. Looks like the Financial Crisis has taken its bite (*joking*). I understand that they were not catered from Old Chang Kee but today's lunch menu was more like a set of Old Chang Kee's delicacies (i.e. tempura, spring rolls and sotong balls) met Fried Rice. The stars were a hotel-sponsored Christmas Turkey and fast-gone log cakes and cheese cakes. Oh, we had the tasteless mango puddings too today.

Then, after the mini feast, all of the staff were gathered to play a games. A blur one and not that fun. I know my administrator colleagues had spent quite some time and energy to prepare the game. Appreciated the efforts but sorry to say, it was pretty lame. They threw us a Christmas pop quiz, with multiple choice answers! Duh! Could have thought something better than this, girls!

After some time grueling with questions probed, at the end of the game my group, Group 2, was suddenly announced to be the Runner Up Winner of the game. Wow. I didn't know we answered most of the Christmas quizzes correctly. We got the presents too. Two non-edible presents: two complimentary gifts from a hotel that my company once used in Vietnam.

5 Things to Remember from this Rare ABF Christmas Lunch were:

1. A highly devoted Christian staff's outbreak from the the office Christmas lunch. This lost nun in Raffles Place who now works as an artist in the company did not want to join us simply because she does not celebrate Christmas (Christmas is not listed in the Bible, she always quotes)

2. Christmas Gift Exchange full of sarcasm. Too bad and pity to see Weny had to get the gift that was intended to someone else from Chinatown. Worst thing was that "someone else" happened to get Weny's cute Teddy Bear. Is this fated? Must have been related to the inauspicious number 4.

3. My Christmas Gift today - an inspirational paper weight from Kelvin. It says "Don't Worry, Be Happy" with a big smiley face in it. Is this a sign? Do I always look too tensed or stressed all the time?

4. Extra 'good' time to chit-chat with my Indonesian girls whilst eating lunch. Not forgetting the photo sessions indeed.

5. Photo sessions with the Production Team next to the Christmas Trees. We always take pictures whenever possible but I think today we took few good catches. Best thing was that we managed to get our MENSA colleague, James, to smile when the picture was taken. By the way, James is going to leave us soon. So sad, he has been a real brainer, good friend, great helper and unique entertainer whose humor standard rockets anybody's I've ever met. Look how sweet we are.

3 pm - Went down to post my Tax Residence Application with Weny as our office receptionist had refused to help us send it.

Tick... Tock.. Tick.. Tock.. its' 6 pm!!! Quickly made a few last phone calls to Middle East, hoping that anyone, any Sheiks or whoever from Middle East, I contacted today would accept my speaking invitation. Really wish to get some good news next year.

6.15 pm - Swung by to Marketing Area and found the girls. We decided to have a "quick" dinner first in Mei Hua before we headed home. The last after-work dinner for this year. I had my agar-agar as usual (I can't believe I am still not bored with it though I've been consuming them pretty much every day). Again, we talked a lot: lesbians, spinsters, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, aunties, marriage, wedding financing, mortgage, our company's Christmas Lunch, weird colleagues, what I look for in men and so on. Around 8.00, we called it a night and walked together to the MRT Station.

Last to-do-lists for today: Bought some soy biscuits from Mr. Bean and puffs from Old Chang Kee; and finished up my packing.

That's all about my pretty productive day today. Turned out today was not boring at all to be recorded so I ended up blogging til a.m. (again).

See you next year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Go the Distance

I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a hero's welcome
Would be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I'm meant to be

I'll be there someday
I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know ev'ry mile
Will be worth my while
When I go the distance
I'll be right where I belong

Down an unknown road
To embrace my fate
Though the road may wander
It will lead me to you
And a thousand years
Would be worth the wait
It may take a lifetime
But somehow I'll see it through

And I won't look back
I can go the distance
And I'll stay on track
No I won't accept defeat
It's an uphill slope
But I won't lose hope
Till I go the distance
And my journey is complete

But to look beyond the glory is the hardest part
For a hero's strength is measured by his heart

Like a shooting star
I can go the distance
I will search the world
I will face its harms
I don't care how far
I can go the distance
TillI find my hero's welcome
Waiting in your arms...

I will search the world
I will face its harms
TillI find my hero's welcome
Waiting in your arms...

I Hope You Dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they're worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it's worth makin’
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance

Movie Review: Twilight

Last night I finally managed to watch this long-buzzed and long-waited TWILIGHT. Seems like Singapore was the last one to show this movie. Indonesia already showed this long-time ago, not sure about Malaysia but seems like they'd played this some time ago too.

Comments from me: I feel this was one of the best movies I watched in the past few weeks after Madagascar 2 and Body of Lies. I loved this one. I have heard some good comments about it and yes, story wise, it was good and amusing, especially the fights and the romance parts. Plus, the leading vampire was adorable. He was so cute and darn cool.

As per my normal practice, after watching a movie, I'd google it at home. After doing some post-movie researches on it, now I am so tempted to get the book. Should I get one today? (Note the word today - it really reflects the fact that when I want something, I want it now, most of the time)

I want to read the sequels which seem very interesting. My biggest concern now is: Will I be able to finish 1 book say, in a month? Last time, I read 1 good (interesting and funny) book in 5 months! This reality showed how I'd prefer to have hot dates with my laptop than my book at night. My books usually end up as my toilet reading. Thus, I only read 1 or 2 pages per day. No wonder, I finished 1 book in 5 months, huh??

Then, should I buy this one? Can I finish one fast, let alone the complete series - all four of them?

Anyway, the most critical part that I do when doing my post-movie researches is indeed researching the movie's leading man. For this one, last night (til a.m.) I did a lot of researches on Edward Cullen, the gorgeous vampire character and his real actor, Robert Pattinson.

In real life, this 22-year-old British hunk does not look so cool and charismatic at all. I found him rather shy and nervous most of the time when answering questions at TV interviews. Is it because he is new to Stardom, simply shy or just too young or is it because the interviewers asked pretty dumb questions to him during the interviews? I saw one of his interviews on Youtube where this British female interviewer asked him to answer her questions in 5 seconds. The dumbest question she threw at him was: "Do you prefer Harry Potter or Twilight?" The actor was like 'what the heck...?' and quickly answered "Umm... Twilight... Hahaha". I was like, of course, he'd say that as the interview took place at the Twilight promo set. Bodoh!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steamboat in Bugis

Never knew that 3 skinny ladies (plus me who is not that skinny of course) could finish all of these?? Last night, the fact was verified. Crime scene was at Xian De Lai Shanghai Cuisine, Bugis and the truth is, yes, we managed to clear them all in two rounds!

Propelled with the strong holiday spirit firing inside us, yesterday, Friday night after work, 4 of us have work set to leave Bharat Building and ready to hit Steamboat Restaurant in Bugis.

Arrived at Bugis's makan place at around 7 pm, we were contemplating hard. As usual, we always have hard times to decide where to go. Except for yesterday's case, the destination was clear: Steamboat Restaurant. However, we, again, could not decide whether we should go for price or food. We were faced with two options:

1. SGD 25 for full-serviced place, good steamboat, good peanut sauce
2. SGD 15 for buffet-style steamboat, OK food, not-so-good peanut sauce

After some thoughts, contemplations, light arguments and the normal 'whatever or up to you' responses, we finally came to conclusion that we'd rather go for Option 1. Good choice and timing. We got the best seat next to the window - we got the view (though at the end, this did not really matter as we were so focused on the food)! 10 minutes late, we would not have had table available.

We ordered almost everything - we called each stuff minimum in 2 portions. End of 1st round, I could not take it anymore. Already pretty full.

However, we were spending quite something here, why not order more? Needless to say, we called for another round. Only then, the photo sessions took place. We took pictures when the 2nd round was served, when we started putting all the stuff in the boiling soup and of course when we started eating them.

My biggest amazement was when I saw Netty, this model-figured young lady. I witnessed how unfair this world was: This super lean girl could eat A LOT (a lot in capital letters and italicized) yet is still so skinny... Whoaaaaaaa... If I did not witness this with my own eyes, I would not believe it either.

One or two hours later, we were full, well at least I was. At that point, I'd say crazy if we were not. We were happy, satisfied and indeed had a lot of fun (especially when we joked and talked about a Chinese Lady from Hell who was sitting next to us)!

SGD 25 was definitely worth spent with the satisfaction, cheers and bliss that we had over the free-flow dinner.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ban Mandarin in the Office! No Chinatown Allowed!

Yesterday, something that probably barely happens in other companies happened in mine.

A non-Chinese colleague suddenly sent me his (BCC-ed) email to the Group MD pertaining the Mandarin usage in our company. He demanded a firm action from the management to enforce English as the main language in our company. Then he made a petition and asked everybody who was not Chinese Singaporean to sign the petition to ban the use of Mandarin in the office.
Basically, he was so upset and fed up with all our Chinese-speaking colleagues who always talk in Mandarin in front of foreigners and locals who are not Chinese and do not speak Mandarin. He deems this action is very rude and makes the atmosphere of the office almost like in Chinatown.
Is this reporting thing too much?

Personally, I do feel that people who keep talking in other language in front of the others who don't speak that particular language are annoying and rude as they make us feel left alone and ignored. Moreover, this practice is very unprofessional to be done in a formal business setting. But yes, I would say yes, my colleague's action in reacting to this issue was just too much as he also made us (the foreigners and non-Chinese colleagues) to sign the petition he created. I think we can use a more 'subtle' way in reacting to this situation, for instance just by reminding them that it is rude to always speak Mandarin in front of those who do not.

The controversy is that we live in Singapore where Mandarin is widely accepted plus legally acknowledged and work with (mostly) Chinese colleagues whose mother tongue is English but they have been warned about their rude practice yet still practicing it. So, what to do?

Hokkian people would say: "Boh Wat La..."

Ladies' Nights

We, four of ABF's Indonesian employees - Weny, Netty, Shirley and I, have been hanging out together for three consecutive nights right after work. We have lunch together and go home together half of the time.

After 6, the usual practice would be either Shirley or I swing by to Weny and/or Netty's desks, check them out and just chit chat till both of them finally turn off their computers. If I am the one who happens to be busy, then Shirley and Weny would come by and ask me to call it a day.

These past three days have been amazing. Everyone is already in holiday mood. We are living weekdays as if weekends. Couldn't care less about work. We meet up again after work, have dinner somewhere, do a little bit window shopping (and some impulse buying) and then have a long good girls' talk.

Tuesday - 16 Dec - Venue: Orchard (Takashimaya)
Panelists: Weny, Netty and Christine
Activities: Window Shopping, Dinner, Casual chat and X'Mas Shopping
Pitstops: Charles and Keith, Pazzion, Taka Food Court and Watson
Topics addressed: office gossips, Korean food, Medan, Malaysia, boys, clubbing, alcohols, hang-over, passing out, massage, make-up workshops, mascara, nails, hair, skin, wedding dresses
Start time: around 7.30
End time: around 10.30

Wednesday - 17 Dec - Venue: Orchard (Wisma Atria's Food Republic)
Panelists: Weny, Netty, Shirley and Christine
Activities: Dinner and Casual Chat
Preliminary activities: Fought for seats in Food Republic (Lost to China couple *darn*)
Topics addressed: Parents, stylish Moms, brothers, sisters, brother complex, Jakarta, Semarang, Malang, Medan, Sarangan riding horses, food, home, feminine attitude, tomboy, Kelapa Gading, going to cinema alone, malls, boys, holiday, family pictures, studio photos, maids, type of rice, clothes, bajaj, becak, delman, slow eaters, Scientology, generation gaps, first record bought, Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, Michael Bolton, Doraemon, Dragon Ball, Sin Chan, Hello Kitty merchandise, Kero Kero Pi, Badz Badz Maru, Tweety, comics, Sunday cartoons, high schools, school uniforms, school shoes, school punishments, pencil case, school bags
Start time: around 7.00 pm
End time: around 10.30 pm

Thursday - 18 Dec - Venue: Mei Hua Food Court, Raffles Place
Panelists: Weny, Netty, Shirley and Christine
Activities: Dinner and Casual Chat
Preliminary activities: Standing in front of Indian Bank Building for quite sometime to decide where to go for Dinner and where to go on weekends
Topics addressed: Medan, Hokkian, Qiao Shen, Mandarin class, sushi, 6-packs, hot hunks, muscular bulky bodies, Indians, Models, Facial structures, Korean ex-boyfriend, obsessive ex-boyfriends, Grandmas, nods, salsa, belly dance, Jennifer Aniston, Madonna, Britney Spears, Shakira, Papaya, Persimmon, Longan, Durian, Mango, thoughtful family members, eating alone in public, cousins, "bankers", artificial fertilization, giving births, Friends' Joey, gays
Start time: around 6.30 pm
End time: around 8.30 pm

All of these things may sound rubbish and boring to all of you who did not join our panel discussions. But, here we are - 4 working Indonesian ladies in ABF from different hometowns and upbringings. When we talk, our topics range from modes of transportation to Mascaras and Hello Kitty. We just talk a lot about everything and anything we can think of and forget about time.

Not that long knowing these beautiful, fun and smart ladies, but I enjoy my every minute with them. We stop chatting only when we start yawning and cannot stand our sleepy eyes anymore.

Lucky to have best friends!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are These Really Singapore's Cultures?

I am a judgmental person. Not a really good trait to possess but it is really in my genes. And like other Virgos too, I analyze - deeply analyze.

After some time living in this small island yet metropolitan, I think all the judgments that I made towards this country from the beginning almost all are true, again thanks to my analysis.

First, Singaporeans are rude. I work as a conference producer. My work involves making A LOT of phone calls for phone researches and speakers' recruitment. Why do you think I tend to choose speaking to people from other countries as my research targets but Singaporeans themselves, where I am based? It is simply because many of Singaporeans are quite rude over the phone. No pun intended though. The way they respond to you, the tone that they pass you over the phone conversation (after you start everything nicely), the words that they choose to reject people's offers, etc - somehow I feel they are just too harsh. It is totally understood that people on the other line might have super busy schedule, but why should they respond in such demeaning way? There are better ways to communicate with people over the phone, especially in business world.

The next example that shows how rude Singaporeans is totally reflected in our daily must-do activity in food courts/hawker centers. Yes, eating. Eating at busy hours here can be torturous. Never had I experienced a situation where you actually need to "book" your table with whatever belongings you have (i.e. tissues, newspapers, umbrellas, business cards, etc) before you order your food other than in this country. This is actually the first "norm" that I picked up first time I had lunch with my colleagues in Singapore. It can take up to 30 minutes alone just to find a seat or empty table in local hawker centers during lunch hours, then of course you must not forget to place a tissue on the table!

Also, it is very normal here to have people waiting for you, just standing behind or staring next to you while you are eating. They are aiming at your seats and waiting for you to leave. Hence, if you want to have a really quick lunch in Singapore, just go to hawker centers. You will feel compelled to leave immediately right after you swallow your last bite!

Other example also occurs in hawker centers, most of the cleaners here are super keen to clear the tables even though we have not even finished eating the food. When they see your plate is almost empty, they'd just say "Lai... Lai..!" (meaning Come.. Come..!) and quickly take your plate away from the table and place it into their dish trolleys, sometimes without asking your permission first. For me, this action is not uncommon anymore but first-timers to Singapore might feel this deed is a bit shocking and indeed annoying. So, better hold your plate tight before you really finish your food or these rude cleaners will take the plate (and your food) away from you.

First judgment: Singaporeans are rude - Quite True!

Second, Singaporeans are inconsiderate. Since I was a young kid, I knew that I should give my seat to old person without being asked. I should help old person carrying their stuff. I should help old person walking when he or she is not that strong to walk anymore. I should help old person cross the street. All the things that I think are common sense apparently need to be reinforced in Singapore. Here, you need to deliberately ask some younger Singaporeans to give their seats to old people or pregnant women. The government here has to remind their citizens to become a little bit considerate, especially inside the train through placing pictures, posters, advertising campaigns, etc on "How to be considerate".

In fact, apparently there are quite a number of Singaporeans themselves who are upset with these "inconsiderate" behaviors from their own country fellows. A lot of complaints, concerns and comments have been posted online at websites like Stomp and sometimes also featured in daily newspapers such as My Paper. One article that stroke me best from the newspapers was titled: The best sleeping pill in Singapore is a pregnant woman as a lot of people inside the train pretend to be asleep when there are pregnant women around. I couldn't agree more.

Why some Singaporeans just do not know how to behave in public? I really think all the social manners in treating other people should not be taught again. These are merely common sense.

Second judgment: Singaporeans are inconsiderate - Kind of.

Last but not least, I think the combination of both behaviors mentioned above is the worst. I happen to actually experience this combo on daily basis since I recently moved to an HDB. My very next-door neighbors cannot control their volumes when they communicate to each other, be it at 8 p.m, 10 p.m., 12 a.m., 6 a.m., well basically anytime. They shout to each other in Mandarin. They just sound as if they always fight. Mom shouts to her son every time and likewise. I think they are just quiet when they fall asleep. I'm like, "Hello!?!"... There are other people around your unit and they need to think, rest and get up early tomorrow morning for work! Come on, people!

First judgment + second judgment = Horrifying!

** These analyses of mine do not necessarily apply to every Singaporean as I believe kind and friendly people in this country have not really gone extinct (though maybe they are in short supply). I just happened to experience these with some particular Singaporeans.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Life is Short: I Miss You, Kung

If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again.
~Author Unknown~

Speaking of how short this life is... It has been 1,422 days since this person left me. Yes, the after-life claimed him back in 2005 after a brave battle with stomach cancer for mere 6 months since the lethal disease was discovered nesting in his old and fragile body. You have no idea how much I miss him! After thousands of days without his physical presence, I still think about him.

Kung, I miss you!
This is my late Grandpa. His name was Wong Sioek Tjung. Was 84 years old when he left us. Was a Hakka descent. Was a teacher once upon a time. Was a super good Chinese cook. Was my life mentor. Loved his family and friends. Loved books. Moreover, very much loved life.

84 years seemed not a short life at all, don't you think? But when you grew up with a particular person around you, you were used to his presence and now when he is just not here anymore - It's just so weird. You started thinking how come you only had only spent such a short time with this person. Then, you'd realize how short life can be. However, when you had good memories with him, you can't be grateful enough for having a chance to be part of his life and vice versa!

This was the person who had the same intellectual interests as me. No one could level his place thus far. We both loved reading and Chinese philosophies. I miss him dearly. I miss his voice, I miss the way he called my name, I miss his hair gel smells, I miss his greetings when he picked up my phone calls, I miss his laughter, I miss his cooking, I miss walking beside him, I just miss every bit of him.

When I took this picture on his last Christmas on 2005, I used his camera. He gave me this Samsung digital camera, a reward he received from a local Indonesian bank, Bank Niaga. That time digital camera was so novel. I felt so privileged when he passed that camera to me instead of his other grandchildren. See his pose? I thought he was waving saying hello! It's simply because he was always such a happy grandpa. After his departure, when I showed this picture to a friend... She mentioned to me how sad this picture says... My grandpa was like waving to all of us, saying goodbye. Then I realized, it was indeed his way of saying "Farewell, my darlings!". It was not "Hello".

Happiness is A Voyage

I got an inspirational email from my acquaintance and absolutely loved it. It definitely knocked some senses into my head.

Happiness is the road.

We convinced ourselves that life would be better when we are married, have a baby and another.
Then we get frustrated because our children are not old enough, and all will be well when they get older.
Then we are frustrated because they reach adolescence and we must deal with them.
Surely we'll be happier when they grow out of the teen years.
We tell ourselves our life will be better when our spouse gets his/her act together, when we have a nicer car, when we can take a vacation, when we finally retire.
The truth is there is no better time to be happy than right now. If not, when then?

Your life is always full of challenges. It is better to admit as much and to decide to be happy in spite of all.

For the longest time, it seemed that life was about to start. Real life.
But there were always some obstacles along the way, an ordeal to get through, some work to be finished, some time to be given, a bill to be paid. Then life would start.

I finally came to understand that those obstacles were life.

That point of you helped me to see that there is not any road to happiness.
Happiness IS the road. So, enjoy every moment.

Stop waiting for school to end, for a return to school, to lose ten pounds, to gain ten pounds, for work to begin, to get married, for Friday evening, for Sunday morning, waiting for a new car, for Summer, for Fall, for Winter, for the first or the fifteenth of the month, for your song to be played on the radio, to die, to be reborn...... before deciding to be happy. 

Happiness is a voyage, not a destination.
There is no better time to be happy, than... NOW!
Life and enjoy every moment.
- Author Unknown-

Now, think and try to answer these questions:
1. Name the 5 richest people in the world
2. Name the last 5 Miss Universe winners
3. Name the last 10 Nobel Prize winners
4. Name the last 10 Winners of the Best Actors Oscar'

Can't do it? Rather difficult, isn't it?
Don't worry. Nobody remembers that.

Applause dies away.
Trophies gather dust!
Winners are soon forgotten.

Now, answer these questions:
1. Name the 3 teachers who contributed to your educations
2. Name 3 friends who helped you in your hour of need
3. Think of a few people who made you feel special
4. Name 5 people that you'd like to spend time with

More manageable? It's easier, isn't it?

The people who mean something to your life are not rated "The Best", don't have the most money, haven't won the greatest prizes.... They are the ones who care about you, take care of you, those who, no matter what, stay close by.

Think about it for a moment. 

Life is very short!

And you, in which list are you?

There is a first time for everything, there is a first time for blogging

Been seeing people blogging so far. Thus far, I've been enjoying their writings beyond words and somehow I felt like I am being part of their lives too though I don't really know them that well and moreover never met them in ages..... Hmm.... Should I start my own blog?

Why blog? What to write? What to share? Well... I've always been an introvert person and that being said, I did not like to share my personal views or lives to public and tend to ignore life. Keep everything to myself. Past is past... I always thought.. Wrong mindset, huh?? Tell me about it!

Well... these days, I don't know why but I feel that it is not a bad idea at all to start recording your life in writing. You got a chance to live once, on daily basis, without being able to rewind it (Of course, unless you have a time machine or a video camera to record whatever happens in your life). So why not enjoy life, live it to the max....... Enjoy whatever you have at this moment... Stop worrying about tomorrow and try to freeze some parts of life and thoughts (umm.. my life and my thoughts to be precise) as much as I can and revisit them sometime from now so at least I remember how far I have come...

Good idea, is it not? Let's get started!!