Headline News From Shanghai

My ex-fireman colleague and business partner "Francis Chay" – he is sure making headlines in Shanghai!
Mmmm.. nice pix too! (at least Mr Chay can give me a tiny line for photo credit!)… 🙂
Click here to read more: http://www.brandrepublic.asia/Media/Greater-Chinaarticle/2009_02/McCann-Healthcare-wins-Claritynes-engagement-programme/34510

Sweet Lovery “J”

Miss Shanghai

Saying goodbye to Shanghai wasn’t easy. Foggy, misty and cold, I visited some of my favorite Shanghai haunts during my last night. Absence for only 4 short months, so many things have changed… Yet the warmth and sincerity of my friends and loved ones always remain unchanged. During my 4-day stay, my friends, ex-colleagues and cousin showered me with so much love and warmth. Indeed, Shanghai has rooted a very special place in my heart. Sigh…for that split second, I wish I hadn’t left. If Shanghai is indeed a girl, I would love her very very much. Yes…Miss Shanghai. (it is hard to compare this place with other cleaner and "tidier" cities in terms of tangible factors – I guess it is the memory, the people and the personal experience I had for this place.)

Goodbye “Hai Yue” (Back-dated Blog)

Finally, PCCW activated my broadband and cable TV yesterday. I am able to upload some of my back-dated blogs.

In fact, there is only one blog that I would like to upload here. It contains one of my most precious and unforgettable moments of my life in Shanghai. For my past 2 years, Hai Yue Gardens has been the place we lived. It is the place where I welcomed 60 over visitors. It is also the place where Kalinda, Joanne and my family spent a great deal of time in.

I am sure many of you missed the old warmth of my old Hai Yue Gardens. Here are the last look of the place.

Left: Gone are Joe’s toys…                                   Right: Elkan’s sofa bed was given to Francis.

Left: 67 8-Days Magazine!                                   Right: Elkan did it again (with his metal head!)

My last 36 hours in Shanghai

9:00pm: Farewell Dinner with Cousin Yei and Summer!

10:45pm: A surprise farewell gift from “Ah Ye” -our food deliveryman!

9:45am (Sun): Farewell breakfast at Starbuck with Lisa!

11:00am: Uncanny! The place where I had my welcome lunch (back in May 2006) is also coincidently my last farewell lunch (at Future Perfect with Hong Ai and Soseki)

6:00pm: Our Golden Chinese Couple and their 2nd baby – Violet!

9:00pm: Our last farewell dinner with Francis, dad, mum and in laws

10:00pm: Felicia’s first fireworks in China! (Same for Elkan!)
10:30pm: Get ready…at the side of the road…
Finale!: 15-min fireworks! (till Security guard came…)

Goodbye Shanghai

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.

Elkan’s 1st HairCut (by himself!)

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.)

This Week in Pixels

Left: New shop opens – staffs dancing to woo crowd.  Right: Public Roadside Relief.

Left: Our first IMEX 3D Movie on 14th June.             Right: Happy Father’s Day Roti Prata with Egg

Left: Cars just ran over the dead kitten.                 Right: Just booked! My new house view in HongKong.

An Amazing Gathering!

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
my life.

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.)

Birthday Lunch

I am losing memory these days. (I am not getting enough oxygen in my head – with those late nights and OTs).  Just last week, I knew Clare’s birthday was just around the corner and asked her about her birthday. She gave me the answer I wanted – yet 3 days ago, I completely forgot her actual birthday. Feeling really guilty, I decided to treat her at one of the best Shanghai restaurants. (That was where Dendy and Shin brought us the last time – "Fu 188")

Clare is always a considerate and caring friend. Knowing I was always being "taken advantage" of by the locals, she was very cautious about the ordering of dishes. She even came downstairs to ensure that I won’t be conned by my "so-called" chef friend. Her first question was "Are you a local?" and then "Good, please serve us good authentic Shanghai dishes."

The verdict? Except for the exorbitant high price, both my local friends love the food (trust their taste, cos they are my 2 harshest critics – Calvin Mao and Clare Mao). Too bad for Steven (who got to rush off for a meeting) and Tracy (who can only eat 2 dishes – out of 10 we ordered). And Rebecca? As usual – she disappeared in some twilight zone.

As the team is counting down to our M-Day (Shanghai-HK migration day), we are now left with only 5 members of the original GTR clan. Steven and Rebecca couldn’t join us today. Daisy and Lisa both sent separate MSN notes – reminding me to organise a big farewell meal for everyone.

Guess I will be planning the gathering lunch some time mid June – wonder if it is a good idea to combine farewell and birthday together. And this time, I will let Clare pick the venue.

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