June 30, 2008 Leave a comment
June 28, 2008 1 Comment
Yesterday, my heart was as gloomy as the stormy rain – gloomy, dim and wet. My team organised a farewell dinner for me. (To me, it was a farewell dinner for all of us – not just me alone) Not a big or grand one but they are the ones who matter to me most. Come 1st July, this fellowship will ceased and all of us will be separated to pursue our next destination. This will be our last dinner as colleagues in Shanghai.It was quite an awkward dinner for me. No, I didn’t made any teary farewell speech. I just don’t want to make the dinner an emotional or solemn one. No sad parting words – just in high celebratory moods. The cold rain had dampen our night, I do not want to make it any worse.
My beloved team gave me 2 perfect parting gifts – Philips Digital Photo Frame & Oregon Projector Clock. I was indeed very touched. These 2 items are always on my “browsing list” whenever I go shopping. Rebecca (despite our regular fights and tussles) is my very attentive and lovely partner. She knows all my likes and dislikes. Honestly, I was surprised that she remembered all these. (Man, she is like that worm in my tummy!)
We are a marvelous team. These are the great ones who stood firmly on their values and supported me to the final minute. They are what you call the “real friends” who stand by you in a real crisis. Despite knowing that they may lose their current posts after this migration exercise, this team delivered the best results ever in the history of global travel retail business. Morale hit rock bottom last December but our performance exceed all expectation. (Rebecca, Calvin and Alicia scored and won 3 big projects for me in the last 5 months!)
Throughout my last 2 years with the team, I encountered extreme characters. A couple of my team members took short cuts and failed disgracefully. They also left a load of mess for us to clean up. Others stood firmly and loyally on their values to deliver good results. Our global business is a pressurizing one and it stretches our people to their limits. I can understand why some never meet the marks. It is not an easy account.
The last 6 months were terrorizing moments for many. Clare, Alicia and Lisa are planning for their wedding. Calvin is expecting his first child. Steven is waiting to join our team as full-time staff. The decision to migrate broke many hearts in our team. “We are just a perfect team” many said. There were lots of “whys” and “grumblings” – yet despite all their grievances, they never quit on me or their job. “Every man for himself” never exist in our world. Clare, Calvin, Rebecca, Steven and Alicia stood by my side till the very last minute. For that, I respected this crew of mine. (not forgetting Lisa and Daisy). All of them left a legacy for the new Hong Kong team to continue.
It was their words on my farewell card that made me so sad about leaving. I wish I can give them good goodbye hugs last night. (but the Shanghai ladies in my team are very conservative about getting hugs from a married man). Our parting was just so quick and abrupt. At the dark pavement, we left in 2 separate directions – east and west.
Today, I went back to the office and cleared my table. Looking at my empty department, I felt so sad. We were an excellent team and our rapport was great. In less than 15 days, these friends will be separated to other business units. From then on, we will be leading a separate path and a brand new life.
Don’t get me wrong. I am confident they will excel where ever they are. I just feel pitiful to lose such a good team of talents.
“Can you manage a team of people and our business?” asked Michael, the interviewer.
I paused for a couple of seconds and answered.
“Yes. Your team will love me. Your client will love me too.”
Michael was surprised by my answer. He looked at me in disbelief and said “I hope so, we shall see about that.”
That was back in 2006 when Michael interviewed me. If he is still around today, he would come to me and pat my back and said “Well done”.
Yes, my team loves me. And I will miss them very very much.
June 28, 2008 Leave a comment
June 15, 2008 1 Comment
The last time Elkan got his haircut here, it took about 5 men to distract him and calmed him down. Surprisingly yesterday, Elkan sat through the whole session all by himself. Like a true adult, he displayed such coolness and “ordered” the stylist with his likes and dislikes – like “water too hot”, “gel higher” etc. The girls in the salon love him so much. He had 3 pretty shampoo girls all by himself. Every girl wants to chat with him but couldn’t understand his strange English. (Poor old daddy…he had no one but a shampoo boy.)
I spent the 1st 30 minutes of my 33rd birthday (last night) working (on a Taipei project). My wife, Tracy and friends were at home playing mahjong. At the stroke of 12am, 4 of them were yelling and wishing me "happy birthday" – er…still glued to their tiles and chips. Mmm…not very convincing hor… And Elkan was of course, asleep.
It was quite a dramatic 1st hour. Things got worse when Tracy and I had a silly fight over spilled water. Long story…but here was the ending shot last night – I drenched myself in hot water (from neck to ass)…at 1am. I kinda gave myself a stupid-looking water parade… and wet the whole dinner room. Tracy went back to her room, Felicia mopped the floor dry and I went back to my computer. (wow…quite stupid last night).
This morning, Elkan woke me up with his chirpy greetings! He actually sang me a "happy birthday" song! (consider that is the first birthday song from him). In fact, Elkan has been waking me up with surprising wake-up calls recently. Just yesterday, he shook me awake and recited "Z to A" at such alarming speed that I looked at him blankly in awe. Apparently, he taught himself that and we were very very impressed. (Bet many of us can’t do that)
Johnny, Joanne, Tracy and Felicia have left me presents since last week. I haven’t open them…waiting for the last hour tonight. (My fingers have been so itchy to strip them since last week!)
My phone had been ringing since last night (with sms + calls from all my friends, colleagues and families) – starting with Joanne, Scott, Yei, My Mother, Aunty Amy, Leon, Bishan, Yifu, Jimmy, Alicia, Duuk, Juliana, Meijie, Kalinda, Stephanie, Yixi, James (BAT), Sandy (BAT) and Calvin (Ogilvy).
The weather looks really bad today – gloomy, dim, wet and hazy (looks like a storm is brewing). Really ideal for a lazy Sunday afternoon nap.
Like previous years, I am contemplating to buy myself something nice for my birthday. (I bought a JVC Speaker in 2006 and Xbox in 2007 for myself). Guess what I got myself this year? Meijie called me at PC Show just 2 hours ago and I told him to get me a 8G Titanium Cruzer. (I have been looking for it since May).
Johnny and Ming joined us at my favorite restaurant at Jin Mao. It was foggy and drizzling. Quite a cool night..so peaceful and nice. We actually wanted to go for dessert but it was still pouring (and the wind was big). Thus, I decided to call it a day and go home.
Surprise, surprise. Just 1 hour after we split, someone rang the doorbell. It was "Ah Yue" (my food delivery friend). I opened the door and asked why he was here. He wished me "happy birthday" and took out 2 bottles of wine and some pizzas (more food???) from his bag. I was really surprised. And 2 minutes later, Johnny and Ming re-appeared with a bouquet of sun flowers at my door! (Haaaa…so it is party number II).
We served the wine and had more food. The wine was so strong that it knocked out Johnny and Tracy.
Elkan was pretty upset and got jealous today. He thought it is his birthday today. He got pretty emotionally when I opened up all the presents – he actually wanted the gifts. Very naughty boy indeed.
All the gifts are really meaningful. I got my long-awaited fountain pen and favorite crystal from Felicia. Tracy (who planned for all the surprise today) got me a iPhone Mic for my phone. Joanne got me a beautiful wallet with a very sweet greeting card (on a old "bird series" SGD$20 old note!). And Johnny and Ming seems to know my desire and bought me my favorite vintage robot.
This may be my last birthday celebration in Shanghai. With only 15 more days to go, I will be packing for a new island life in Hong Kong. (Oh yes, I just booked and confirmed my new beautiful HK home! Wonder who is my 1st visitor there…)
Joe, joe, you are indeed a blessed man with so many good friends.
Heee…(shy, shy) – I have a very very good birthday.
I was away in Hong Kong the last 4 days. Felicia and Elkan did this Father’s Day e-greeting card for me. (Feli took the photos and Elkan wrote these words in Photoshop using a mouse). Gone are the crayons and pencils – yet this e-card didn’t lose its personal touch. It captured a priceless and timeless expressions of my boy and his pixelated handwriting. Quite impressive, I thought. (Details: Elkan only writes Daddy ending with a curvy "y")
The concept of being a father slowly gets into my head. All the while, I thought Elkan was a new member of the family. So cute, so adorable and so vulnerable. He has replaced many loved ones in my heart – that including my own Xbox and toys. He is the greatest test of my patience and also the reason behind many of my decisions. Not bad for a 3.5 year-old child – who is able to influence many around him.
I never recalled any drawing I rendered for my own dad for father’s day. Mmmm, I don’t even remember seeing my dad keeping any handmade father’s day gift from me. But fatherhood enlightened me a lot about my own relationship with my dad. I learnt to appreciate him so much more than ever. To be mushy, my father played such an important role in my life – he transformed me into a creative person.
With humble pay and a normal job, he endured the expensive fee to ensure I completed 6 years of private art classes (from aged 6-13). Of course, in return, I did him proud when I won my first 1st-prize trophy when I was only 9. He laid strong a significant foundation in me – that art background allows me to pursue my creative career until today.
When I look at my little boy, I wondered "what man will I be making out of you?" I have no answer or any expectation. Is a man’s path pre-determined by destiny or can be inspired by his own father? What do I see from that little cute eyes of Elkan?
Perhaps this poem (which I read it somewhere) best describes my feelings right now.
"I shan’t walk in front of you, cos’ I want you to seek your own path.
I shan’t walk behind you, cos’ I do not wish to be your burden.
I shall walk along with you, so we can accompany and take care of one another."
Happy Father’s Day to all.
June 8, 2008 2 Comments
To call this week "extraordinary" is an understatement.
After a hectic week in Hong Kong (yes, I met Scott and his sweetheart!), we came back to Shanghai late Friday afternoon.
After a tiring 7-hour transit, we finally arrived at our door-step.
Elkan, as usual, was eager to open the door. I was standing behind him
- rushing him, "Faster…Quick open the door!" Pushing a heavy luggage,
I pushed the door open and saw my kitchen lights on (from the floor’s reflection). I complained aloud "My goodness! Our maid left the lights on for a week???" Just before I can complete my next sentence, I saw a dark shadow just behind the door – Shit! It was a dark hairy man!!!
I peeked a second glance – "Oh my gosh! It is Duuk!!!"
For that spilt nano-seconds – thousands of possibilities flashed right across my mind. How can that be possible? Duuk in my house? How did he get in? What was he doing here? Am I seeing a ghost? Or is he a burglar who looks like Duuk?
Instantly, I heard Juliana and Felicia’s laughters. I walked into the house and saw Duuk holding a cake (with Juliana standing behind him with a camera!). I exclaimed in delight "How did you guys came in here? When did you guys arrived?" I looked at my wife, I saw the answers all over her proud yaya face. Yes, they have been planning this long before my Hong Kong trip. For once, I couldn’t smell it coming! (My wife has finally mastered her skills to outwit me! But poor Duuk and Juliana, they waited 4 hours in our house to "surprise" me.)
I love surprises (who doesn’t anyway?). And I had many in the course of my blessed life. Felicia (flew from Perth and appeared at my door), Tracy (hid at my desk at VOXmedia), Juliana (came with a birthday cake last year at Karaoke Room), Echo (shocked me at the door at Caffeine) and Kalinda (inside the airport, sending me off) had given me great "appearance" acts.
By the count of my heartbeats, this was surely the biggest surprise ever. Seeing Duuk and Juliana in Shanghai was already a big surprise – but having them hiding in my house while all of us were overseas was an even bigger and unimaginable one! With just 3 more weeks to go (to HK), I never expect to receive any new visitor. By sheer luck and coincidence, my uncle Asty arrived in Shanghai on Friday night
too (and all of them happened to stay at the same Shanghai Celebrity
Hotel!). They were my last 3 visitors (57th,58th and 59th) Both of Duuk-Juliana and Uncle Asty are equally important to me. I got to make sure that I spend good quality time with all of them.
For the last 6 weeks, I have been feeling blues and rather down about my
migration to Hong Kong. Uncle Asty, Juliana and Duuk showed up at the
right time. They brought so much joys to us. Their presence meant so
much to me. I can never thank them enough to "show up" at this point of
We went dinner (tried all the good food), night massage (2 rounds!), shopping (DVD, local delicacies), house-visiting (Echo and Francis’ new home) and stars-gazing (at Mdm Tusad)! Unfortunately, Uncle Asty, Duuk and Juliana had to leave today. They were here
since Wednesday! However, due to my hectic travel plans, I extended my
Hong Kong trip to Friday. Thus, they spent 3 days in
Shanghai all by themselves. (I feel so bad).
Uncle Asty was flying off at 2:30pm and we took the morning off and spent good quality time with one another. I brought him to Tai Kang Street for breakfast. Like old friends, we opened up and chatted a lot. We updated each other about our lives (over the past 5-6 years). Uncle also gave me many good advices about my job, my life. We (nephew and uncle) haven’t been talking like this for such a long while (since 1998). It was a great heart-to-heart chat. When it was time for him to go, we hugged and said goodbye. For a long time, I haven’t see this side of my uncle. For years, both of us have been too busy to catch up (for short conversation) with one another in Singapore. Today was different, Uncle Asty was so brotherly and lovely. And all the way in Shanghai??? None of us would have expected this. That’s the wonder of life!
Sigh, time flies so fast… Uncle Asty, Duuk and Juliana were here…and then in a short blink, they were gone.
For some reasons, I felt sad and empty when they all left. Perhaps, it
has been quite a long time since we gathered like this. I just wished I
can have extra 4-5 days with them – so I can really show them around (to
Nanjing, Hangzhou etc).
Short but beautiful, it was a very meaningful weekend. My birthday is still 6 days away (and I have already received a couple of early birthday gifts! – Joanne, Johnny and Ming’s gifts are now sitting on my desk – I will open them on my birthday!)
Once again, thanks so much!
Sigh, I be flying again – this time to HK and Taipei (from Tuesday to Saturday – will be back in time for my 33rd birthday this Sunday. Yes, it is also Father’s Day.)
June 8, 2008 2 Comments
Exactly 7 days ago, Felicia, Elkan, Tracy and myself flew to Hong Kong. Tracy and I were there to setup a corporate event. Felicia and Elkan went around to look for our new house. Believe it or not, we "browsed"through over 30 apartments and only managed to find 1 that suits our budget and "taste". In fact, we based our decision on Elkan’s preference. (Near his school, must have a club-house for him etc)
This exercise was an eye-opener for all of us. Hong Kong is infamous for small and tiny apartment. Seeing is believing – it is really that unbelievable
tiny! Really, to me, it was worst than small. It is like staying in a
service-apartment. I just cannot swallow paying SGD5,000 for a flat of
750sqm. Sigh, that is why we haven’t make any decision yet.
Reality sucks. Guess I can save a lot on my "relocation" fee – cos’ there is hardly anything I can move and put in our new house.