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Monday, February 28, 2011

First pre-wedding photoshoot (indoors)

Just like much of life is a gamble, our choice of a bridal studio was a gamble too. Given our twice-weekly forays into our neighbouring country, we spent a couple of days visiting the different bridal shops before deciding to sign up with the one that we both were comfortable with in terms of the gowns available, pricing and photography+video skills. I wasn't too sure about the make-up artist though when I first met up but she was the only one attached to the studio so trust in her I had to. And, thankfully she turned out to be a gem! That's her working her magic with my hair!

As you can tell from the photo below, my CEB's sense of humor has not been the least dampened despite having to wait for more than 2 hours at the bridal studio for me to be done with the make-up and hair. His part of geting dressed and pimped up took all of 15mins!

All the photos here (except for the one above) were taken by my CEB and again, I'm grateful to him for making what could have been a boring tedious and painful exercise, one of the most enjoyable and memorable days that we've had together. It reinforces my belief that it is the company (or rather choice of company) that one has, that makes all the difference. There was never a bored or bad moment throughout the entire photoshoot when I was with my CEB!

That's one of the 2 wedding gowns that I get to pick for the actual day of the wedding. We like the design because it is unique and slightly dated (like gowns in the 60s). And I think the make-up artist matched my make-up and hair to the gown!

A close-up picture of the magic Stephanie worked with my hair using a hot iron and fresh pinkish flowers that she bought from the market in the morning. She said that the hair spray was her best friend, and trust me, watching all the gunk out in the night took quite a lot of effort!

And of course, we brought along our wedding bands - my CEB took the photo below of me holding them during one of the quiet moments we got to spend together without the "entourage". :P

And how could we not commend the bridal studio on their excellent service! They even bought food for us without us having to ask (or pay for that matter). I don't know if that is the case for any other bridal and photography studios in Singapore.

The photo below is the last photo of the indoors session that my CEB snapped before Stephanie "confiscated" his camera. I have to admit that my CEB might be able to give the professional photographer Henry a serious run for his money indeed! :D

Or maybe not. We have a date to select the photographs that we want this Sunday and my CEB has a nasty suspicion that we will end up spending more than we anticipated if the pictures turn out to be very nice. And judging from the looks of the first photo that the bridal studio has put up of us on FB, I think he is right!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Real Love is all about giving

Real Love is all about giving and giving some more selflessly to the other person, and to the relationship. You could also call it making daily decisions to love unconditionally.

I've always known that my CEB loves me but this weekend, he showed me how deep and real his love and commitment to the relationship is. In this memorable giving he raised not just my love for him to new heights, but also broke new barriers in his character and sense of self.

In my first post of 2011 (click here to read), I'd mentioned that I had made decisions in the 2 most impt areas of my life. The 1st decision was a job change, and the 2nd decision was to agree to marry my CEB this year.

As most of you would know or have read, my CEB and I were close friends for almost 3 years before starting a relationship in July 2010. Hence, we decided to celebrate the culmination of our journey together in marriage, by having the iconic Cartier trinity rings as our wedding bands. The three bands are interlinked to form one ti-color wedding band of gold, silver and rose gold (pink). Symbolically, the gold ring stands for loyalty/fidelity, the white gold ring ring represents friendship and the rose gold ring stands for love. (I suppose the diamonds set in the 3 rings of my band probably stand for eternity). These 3 elements - loyalty, friendship and love have been (and we pray will be) always present in our relationship.

Now, my CEB is a very staunch Buddhist while I am a cradle Catholic. I knew he was not comfortable with the idea of a church wedding but there was absolutely no way I would be married at all if my wedding was not going to be recognized by my faith, or worse, not blessed by the only God I had turned to my whole life. Although my CEB agreed to having a church wedding, he asked me more than twice subsequently if we could do without the same, and often downplayed its importance. :( And to compound matters, we had to obtain a certificate to get married in church by attending the C@tholic Eng@ged Encounter course - stay-in weekend (from 730pm Fri night)with 31 other couples in a seminary.

On Fri night, I was at the seminary by 720pm and we were the last couple to register because my CEB came at 8pm, just in time for the start of the program. When the priest started off by explaining that a marriage outside the church was not recognized by the church, my CEB scribbled a note to me asking to cancel the church wedding. Now, we both have hurt each other along the way of the r/s (not maliciously or deliberately even) but this request at the start of the course took the cake of everything bad he had done and could possibly do. To me, it was the end of the road for us with nothing more to be said. But after some written discussion, my CEB agreed to give the course a chance and discuss the issue of a church wedding after we had obtained the certificate.

I cried myself to sleep on Fri night, knowing this was the "make or break" point of our relationship. Unlike other occasions where he could storm off and apologise the next day, I knew if he walked out at anytime during the course, I could and would not want to continue the relationship. And to compound matters, we started Sat with a mass which wasn't about so much about relationship but about religion - the one touchy subject between us. So during mass and for the rest of Sat, it was extremely stressful waiting for the other shoe to drop - I never knew when my CEB would decide he had enough of hearing the word "God", and tell me that he was very sorry but despite his love for me, he really couldn't complete this course. Whether he would up and leave was out of my control and so in fear and desperation I turned to God, not to pray that he would stay but to surrender the fate of our relationship to His Hands. And I felt/heard God speak to me saying "Trust Me". And so I trusted that whatever God decided for us, was the best for us in the long run.

Then in the evening, the priest advised the group that although a couple may have differences and should work towards a compromise if they wanted to be together, no one party should ever betray his conscience and compromise his/her fundamental beliefs. This was when it struck me that if I really loved my CEB, it would be so wrong of me to make him go through a church wedding and this course if it meant betraying his conscience. And perhaps the right thing to do if I really loved him would be to let him go gently. And again, I couldn't stop crying because I didn't want to lose him, lose the us which we had built up, but it was only right that I should. So I blubbered to my horrified CEB (he didn't know what I was thinking and why I was crying suddenly) my thoughts and he said to relax and things would be fine.

On Sun morning, we were each asked to write a letter to each other and I prayed for God to guide my pen. For it wasn't just my CEB who were there to decide our relationship. I too had a right to decide if I wanted to and was ready to accept a person like my CEB as a life-long partner. I too had the ability to walk away from him and the relationship. And when it was time to exchange letters, I fully expected to read that he loved me but he just could not betray his conscience.

But instead, my amazing CEB's letter (like mine) was a short sincere declaration of his love and and his commitment to make our relationship work despite our differences. And instead of holding onto his reluctance at having a church wedding, he appeared to be fully reconciled with the idea of allowing our wedding to be blessed by the church and God ie he wouldn't be betraying his conscience in any way by this giving. And I believe God worked a further miracle when my CEB shared with me that he thought that there may be a God after all because of an experience he had.

So, the long shot is that - from a position where he was attending the course resentful and ready to find an excuse to leave, the CEB that was with me the past 2 days was a true partner who participated fully in the private couple sessions, and who listened attentively with an open mind to what the priest taught - about giving, about how love is a decision to be made daily, and how we should be life-giving to our partner etc. And, my heart is filled with thanksgiving to God because not only did he give me my CEB, but he also showed me through this weekend's experience that my CEB is The One.
And I would thank my CEB too for being big and generous enough to give the course a fair chance and to stay all the way till the end as a willing and happy participant despite the course's rather strong Catholic base (hymns, readings from the bible, mention of God and his importance in a marriage). My CEB is so wonderful in that not only was he able to put aside his reservations and resentment at being somewhere he would rather not be, but he was also open minded and courageous enough to offer to walk forward with me to receive the priest's blessing while I received holy communion in the final mass. The very same mass that he had asked me before the course whether he could, not attend. I truely admire my CEB. To me, that single act is testimony of real love, and testimony that there is a God and there are miracles.

We all know marriage is not a bed of roses, takes hard work, has as many if not more downs than ups, and involves sacrifices. It doesn't sound like an attractive proposition in reality to me. However, there is no one else in the world I would rather commit to and walk with on this journey than my big-hearted, generous and most admirable CEB who has shown me real love.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The things we choose in our life

Last evening, my friend The Slug sent me this sms "The things we choose in our lives echo in eternity", a bastardization of the famous quote from Gladiator "What we do in our life echoes in eternity", which is what some pompous prick I had the misfortune of knowing, used to preach at me with a self-righteous face. As my friend The Slug would verify, I got my panties in a right twist after reading his sms. Sometimes, his barbed smses serve nothing very much but then, I suppose that could be the whole purpose of sending the same.

As you can tell, I'm on a roll - have been since last night. Probably it is the hormonal thing but I suspect my mood is a product of not having the certainty that I need (as what that same pompous prick deduced with a self-satisfied smile) which is a by-product of not knowing what exactly I want in my life work-wise.

I had 3 criterion when I decided to leave my previous company. The first was a role model boss, the second was a 30% pay increase and the third was the mnc exposure. As luck would have it, my present company offered all three which is why I accepted their offer over the others that I had. And having put my good name on the paper, I was commited to honoring the same despite the dilemna I had during the last few days at my previous company.

So, like a sign from up above, into my second week on the job (the first was spent at Melbourne with my boss), my boss told me she had an offer too good to pass up and she had resigned. If that telecon had been held with more privacy, I believe I would have given in to my thoughts and feelings of horror and disbelief. When I could speak, I congratulated her of course - the nature of our industry is such that longevity in any job is a rarity. Even my time spent with my previous company is something of a record. I haven't fallen in love with her or pledged undying loyalty to her as I have with my beloved ex-boss but I believe in due time I would have. And I regret bitterly my time with her could not be longer because from the 2 weeks with her, I believe there is much to learn - not just how to do the job or technical skills but her mannerism and method of communication with others (firm, caring, fair and wise without pissing off others), the stuff I admired about my ex-boss.

I believe it is all unfortunate timing. To put it more crudely, sh+t happens. At the end of the day, as what my ex-CFO and good ex-colleague says, just decide what I want. The small problem is I have a hard time deciding, and the big problem is that when I get what I want, sometimes I don't know what to do with it or worse, I decide I don't want that but something else. I am amazing like that...not.

Alright, I'm done ranting - I have a telecon in fifteen mins with Melbourne with a director of one of the BUs. Hopefully this is my last telecon for the week - I just finished Japan's telecon yesterday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

11 @ Century Hotel in JB

I should have taken a picture of the hotel building and will do so the next time I have a chance but in case I don't get to update this post with a picture, I'll start by describing the building as a tall (10 floors) grey vertical building just behind a Chinese restaurant called Eastern Dragon at Taman Century. There is pretty limited parking available at the front of the hotel so one can always ask the security guard to direct one to park at the basement carpark.

In any case, one thing I really like about this hotel is that the counter staff are fluent in English and very efficient for both the check-in and check-out process. A deposit of just RM50 is required during check-in but be warned that the 2 lifts which service the rooms can be quite slow and one needs to press the individual lift lobby buttons for each lift.

As you will see from the pic below, the superior room is decently-sized and is relatively comfortable with a 32inch LCD (which has Star Movies but no HBO or other movie channels). There is also free wifi available in the rooms and that requires a password from the counter staff. The room also comes with a safe, hot water facilities and very basic toiletries. Be warned that the bed sheets may be slightly dirty but just slightly...

Now, I have to clarify that we booked this hotel because of its location, and also because we were not going to spend much time in the hotel room at all - less than 8 hours and just for crashing for the night. Hence, I can't comment on its facilities except for the breakfast (which came with the package) which was pretty good value for money just like the room at just SGD62 for the room and breakfast for 2. This is our second time at the hotel and there always seem to be policemen or some officers having the buffet breakfast served at the spacious and clean lobby.

When I talked about good location, I was referring to the hotel being just a 2 min short walk to the newly opened shopping center called KSL. KSL has a nice large cineplex and quite a number of established eateries like Tang Shifu, Kim Gary etc. There appears to be a hotel opening soon within the complex and I suspect that hotel will give 11 @ Century a serious run for its money. However, if one is used to the shops found in Singapore like Topshop, Warehouse, Bebe etc, one will not find these in KSL which appears to house mostly local homegrown brands.

The Slog Reviews: 8/10 - definitely not luxurious, and not a place for a weekend getaway/place to chill but value for money indeed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Black Swan (2011) Movie

Since we are on the subject of movie reviews, I thought I'll write about Black Swan too which my CEB and I caught over the CNY period at one of the less popular cinemas in Singapore where we were confident of being able to secure tickets.

The Slog Reviews: 9/10 for Natalie Portman's portrayal of a ballerina so obsessed with perfection that her hold on reality disintegrates completely. A must-watch for those who are not adverse to blood, pain and suffering in the name of perfection/art, and of course, for those who like ballet as well.

Sanctum (2011) movie

It has been ages since I've done a movie synopsis but we just caught the movie in 3D this weekend at KSL city and I can't get it out of my head just yet.

Movie starts with billionaire Carl landing in New Guinea with his girlfriend Victoria whom he met on an Everest expedition. They are met upon disembarking from the sea-plane by young 17 year old Josh. Josh is the son of Frank who is an experienced cave diver who is presently exploring the cave system at the mother of all caves, a huge hole in the ground that Carl, Victoria and Josh helicopter into. There is a system that connects the base camps set up almost 2km underground with the surface which allows video conferencing. 1 of Frank's team-mates, George tells Frank who is about to go on a dive that another member Jude, who is supposed to go on the dive does not seem ready and when Frank questions Jude, she almost begs him to let her go on the dive. They both go, followed by a robot which transmits images of the divers and the surroundings to the video system. There is a narrow opening in the rock which they both have to squeeze through to get to a new cavern and they make a decision to leave their spare tanks behind. However while squeezing through, Jude's hose gets caught and tears, causing water to enter the tube and flood her face-mask. Frank shares his own mask with her for some time but then when she reaches out for his mask the third time, he pushes her away and she quickly drowns before his eyes. He makes his way to the decompression chamber underground while her body floats outside. The people at the surface and in the base camp watch with horror, esp Josh who accuses his father of killing Jude. Frank brings Jude's dead body back to the base camp just in time to hear Josh's accusations. George explains to Josh that the moment there was a leak in Jude's pipe, it was a qn of one dead body or two down there and Frank giving Jude the few moments of air with his mask of a heroic act.

In any case, Carl, Victoria and Josh have by then climbed down /parachuted into the base camp and Carl's intent is to explore with Josh the new cavern which Jude died in the next day. However, there is a storm which spirals quickly into a hurricane that night and 2 of the members of the base camp manage to make their way out. Josh is suppose to climb up with them and one of the local guides, Lugo, but both turn back instead to warn those left at the base camp - Frank, Carl, Victoria and George. They manage to reach the group but while trying to rescue them using a system of ropes which is secured by a large rock, the rock gives way and Lugo falls into the water and is sucked underwater underground despite Josh trying to hold on to his leg. The exit is also shut because of the rock. Realizing that they have to find another way out, the group make their way back to base camp to pick up whatever they can find for survival. Lugo's body surfaces and Josh grabs it, only to find that Lugo is still alive but horribly battered with just 1 eye left. Frank holds Lugo underwater to drown him in a mercy killing despite Josh's and Victoria's protests. George leads Josh away while Carl does the same with Victoria. Frank tells them that every bone in Lugo's body has been broken and there was no way he could have survived. Besides, the base camp would be flooded in a matter of hours and they had to keep moving. Frank then asks Victoria to put on a wet suit which he is about to remove from Jude's dead body but she refuses to wear it. So they set off swimming underwater to try to find the way out of the underground caves to the sea using the river. However, along the way after surfacing, George suffers from decompression bends and is unable to keep up. He asks Josh to go along first while he catches his breath, coughing. When he spits out blood, he decides to hide himself from the group. Frank realizes what has happened and goes back for him, calling out for him but he refuses to show himself, lying hidden in the dark with blood oozing from his nose until he dies. The group of 4 then presses on.

They come to an opening where the only way is across a churning round pit of water that appears like a bubbling whirlpool. Frank calls it a meat-grinder and wants to climb to the opening at the other side but Josh does the climbing instead as the best climber in the group. He successfully makes it to the other side, climbing the cave walls and sets up the belay system. When Victoria is crossing, Carl shines his light at her, causing her to be blinded and slip. Her hair gets caught in system of ropes and is torn/ripped from her scalp. In pain, she ignores Frank's warning not to use her knife to free herself from the ropes, and cuts through her hair. However, she cuts through the rope instead and plummets downwards, breaking her spine on the ropes below her and then tumbling into the whirlpool. Carl is half mad with grief, esp when Frank does not give him time to mourn but commands that they press on.

There is one rebreather left for the 3 because of Victoria's accident (she was carrying the load) and Frank tells Carl and Josh that he will use that to explore the underwater cave before them. However, Carl grabs it and takes off. Despite jumping in after him and trying to grab him, Frank fails to get the rebreather back. Josh smells bat droppings on one of the openings above them and they decide to climb up towards where fresh air is coming from. They make it out of the caves to where a Japanese tank is - apparently a result of the ground caving in. Everyone there is dead so they use the fuel in the tank to make torches for themselves and re-enter the caves to find another way instead of waiting to be rescued. They meet Carl along the way and Carl begs them for some food. Josh lets him have some. Frank walks towards Carl despite his protests and sees that Carl has been hiding Victoria's dead body. Carl explains that he couldn't leave her. Frank tells Josh to leave Carl and walk on despite Carl trying to explain that he would have come back for them. Frank tells Carl that he should not have brought Victoria into the caves, esp since she had no experience cave diving. He also says Victoria was responsible for the decisions she made - like choosing not to wear a wet suit to keep herself warm (her fingers were numb so she slipped when Carl shone the light at her) and using the knife to free herself. Carl does not respond and so they leave Carl and walk on.

Suddenly along the way, Carl appears and jumps on Frank, impaling him on a minor stalagmite.Josh jumps at Frank and manage to over-power him, leaving him half-lifeless in the water. Josh goes back to Frank's side and sees that Frank is mortally wounded. Behind him, Carl rises up from the water and Josh tells him that the reason they have been alive for so long is because of Frank. Carl does not respond to that and jumps into the cave water without taking any equipment. In the meantime, Frank asks Josh to help him. Josh agrees and Frank asks Josh to help carry him into the water where he lies there in pain. And then Frank asks Josh to help him to make things faster. Josh does not understand and wants to wait with Frank until Frank expires. Frank tells Josh he would rather go faster and not like this in pain slowly, so after promising Frank that he would never give up, Josh holds his father underwater until he drowns. Josh then takes the rebreather and enters the cave water. He by-passes Carl's dead body (having to swim between the dead hands) and makes his way through the underground cave system following the river ie swimming. When he runs out of air, he sucks air from the air bubbles trapped in the holes of the cave wall leading upwards to the sun light and finally manages to surface along a sandy beach.

The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. While the setting was novel (divers in a cave), the plot certainly wasn't (much like Poseidon). The only 2 things that stayed with me after watching this movie is firstly, always listen to the one who has the most experience in the matter concerned (listen at least, not follow blindly), esp if one does not have the benefit of the experience that the person had. Secondly, all of us have to take responsibility for each decision we make, even or esp, those that have consequences that we never expect.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Restoran Lee - the best crabs in Melaka and breakfast at The Majestic

Having heard the fabulous experience I'd had at The Majestic before with my beloved ex-boss and ex-colleagues (click here to read my earlier review), my CEB chose to spend our pre-Valentine Day weekend there. As it was still the Chinese New Year period, the lunar decorations were still up at the hotel when we got there.

The room and the service was excellent of course but I've already written about that. What I hadn't written about was the buffet breakfast spread which cost RM70++/pax. Thankfully we had booked a package that came with breakfast which was less than SGD20 for the 2 of us. And that is how the breakfast spread at Majestic Hotel in Melaka looks like in the picture below.

Other than the extensive spread laid out which included porridge, nasi lemak, cereal etc, one has the option of choosing more food (such as omelets and sunny side ups) as well as juices (freshly squeezed orange juice etc) from the menu on the table. The Slog Reviews: 9/10. Definitely get a package which includes breakfast if the cost is not more than SGD 30 for two! Paying RM70++ per pax is far too much though despite the quality, selection and quantity available.

The reason I say that is because of an absolutely gem of a place we found that serves the best crab that both of us have ever had. I would absolutely advise you to spend RM!50 on 2kg of crab (1kg is about RM74) at this restaurant than breakfast for two at The Majestic.

The place I'm talking about is called Restoran Lee I had the good fortune of reading about on the famous Chubby Hubby's blog. The restaurant, or rather should I say, coffee-shop because it really isn't anything more than that, is less than 2mins walk from The Majestic's back carpark. We got there about 8.30pm and the restaurant was 3/4 full but we managed to get a table. This is a Chinese-operated coffee-shop and although the server was brief and to-the-point (no smiles), service was decent and we were served quickly starting with the crackers below (keropok) which my CEB finished in a flash after holding up just 1 cracker for my photo. Hah!

At Chubby Hubby's recommendation, I also ordered the fried bean-curd with minced-pork which he said was the place's specialty. The Slog Reviews: 6/10. Although this dish cost only RM6 and isn't awful in any sense of the word, it is incredibly oily and unremarkable. Save your stomach and good money for the crabs here.

Speaking of which, one has the option of ordering bread to go with the crabs. Now, the bread isn't anything like the kind of buns that we have in Singapore to go with our famous chilli crab. In fact, I was quite appalled to find out that the bread looks like this below - the kind of bread that I would use to feed swans or birds which I did in Switzerland and China b4. Ugh!!!

In any case, my CEB and I found that the crabs that we had, were amongst the the fleshiest and biggest crabs that we've ever had. Even our favorite seafood haunt at Kong Kong pales in comparison when it comes to the quality of the crab. Restoran Lee's crabs are excellent and done so well that the white meat in both the claws and bodies of the crab is firm and sweet. Not shreds of crab meat, or soft mushy bits but firm full chunks of crab meat. That's good quality crab we're talking and as my CEB claims even today, worth every damn dime he spent. The Slog Reviews: 10/10. Crab heaven! The milk sauce is slightly spicy and not cloying at all and we both can't wait to get back to Melaka (prob 2nd week of March) to try out the other crab dishes that this coffee-shop serves!

The address of this great crab place is 55 Jalan Bendahara, 75000 which is diagonally opposite Bayview Hotel and, it would be a great pity to any true crab lover to miss eating at this great place if one is ever at Melaka.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The corporate world through The Slog's eyes

My friend, The Slug, sent me this message at the end of the first day I started work at the new company.

"Day 1 down. It is a lonely life in the rarified air but if you make it, you'll get a view few have seen. Take care and have fun, Diamond Eyes".

Today marks the end of my second week in this new company, or rather, the end of my first week in the Singapore office. It has been a rather lonely life indeed, not just because I am working in the boondocks (my poor car!) but also because of the nature of my work and company structure. I was chatting online this afternoon with a friend who like me, is the sole corporate counsel in the Singapore office of a MNC. His boss is based in the UK while my current boss is based in Australia. He agreed with the Slug's view that the higher up one goes (to the rarified air), the more lonely it is indeed, especially where one does not have a department, or rather one IS the department.

I don't really know what the Slug means by "making it" but I certainly am getting a view that I've never seen before in my previous company. Don't get me wrong, I love my old company which has done so much for me. It is just that, as I said before, this present company is global and I am covering the North East, South East region. The areas under me would be Singapore where I am based, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and soon, 2 other countries in the region. To complicate things a little further, my current boss is based in Australia but all the legal birds in this company have to answer to the head of the law dept sitting in USA.

A day in this company is nothing like a day back at the old company, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on how one takes it. To give an example, this was my schedule on Thurs:
10am - Telecon with Melbourne and Indonesia
11am - Telecon with Melbourne
830pm - Telecon with USA

And my schedule today (a nice leisurely Friday) is absolutely insane:
830am - Telecon with Australia
9am - Telecon with Korea
1030am - Meeting with local distributor
1130am - Lunch with new colleagues
1pm - Telecon with Tasmania
3pm - Meeting with USA colleague based in SG
4pm - Meeting with Finance Director and her team

Next week, I have a telecon with Philippines and Japan set up, and also have to set up one with Perth, Tasmania and Melbourne, that on top of the daily telecons to Melbourne. It is a crazy world, but strangely despite that, and the insane travelling distance, having to wake up early, and location of the office, I am actually enjoying the novelty of this job and I think it will be quite a journey - the only question is how long I want to stay on the train for the journey.

I just got back from Melbourne last Sat, and I know I'll be flying to Indonesia next month. And of course, I have to travel to the other regions that I am covering in due course. I love travelling so that won't be an issue for me, but my CEB does hold a different view although he tries to appear supportive. When I had dinner tonight with ex-colleagues, one of them who rose to a VP position at the age of just 36, she, who has 3 kids and has another one on the way, shared me that at the end of the road, your spouse will be the one with you. She advised me to think for the relationship, and for my CEB when I make any decision as it will impact him. I wonder if anyone who cared about my CEB ever advised him of the same - which is to consider carefully whatever decisions he makes, big or small, as these impact me and our relationship.

And I guess the conversation over a nice Italian dinner tonight also made me think too about something I had once read - that because the person you choose as your partner will eventually shape you, and you, your partner, it is more important than anything to choose the right person to be your spouse. In fact, often one's success or failure in life, in work, is also dependent on the person you choose as your spouse. My good colleague in fact emphasized the need to build up one's spouse through positive encouragement, which is in line with my beloved ex-boss's view on not criticizing non-constructively your other half.

The corporate world as I've seen it is merciless, unforgiving and dynamic. My motto is to Work Smart, Play Hard and Live Well. And I guess to do all that, I have to survive and forge my own path in this corporate world. Despite his anal-retentive attitude sometimes, I have to say that my good colleague gives sound advice as was his last piece of advice to me "It is never too late to be who you might have been. You can succeed wherever you go." I guess I can only hope that my CEB might be the supportive other half who can journey with me as I make my way along.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Valentine Day with my CEB and lilies

My CEB cooked for me on the first Valentine Day we celebrated as a couple. Truth be told, I was surprised that he volunteered to take the effort to do so, and even more surprised that every single dish he cooked in the picture below was very well done. The buaya apparently has hidden talents which I am only just discovering. And given that Valentine day this year was on a Monday, his effort to cook more than just one dish after a long day at work (and after a long hiatus since his days of studying overseas) was rather touching and sweet :D

After dinner, he was most determined to show me his five "acrobatic tigers" which are really, a motley assortment of wide-eyed creatures with huge-ass grins that somewhat resemble him. These are my bargaining chips against my CEB incidentally :P

Anyway, thankfully the "acrobatic" display by the stuffed tigers above was not my Valentine Day's gift this year from my CEB. That's him with the mandatory flowers and lilies at that!

My CEB surprised me further when he used my trusty sony ericsson to take a photo of us and the bouquet of lilies in his room mirror - I truly believe he was most pleased with the flowers he had bought because it isn't often that he initiates taking a picture of two of us together.

Anyway, on my part, I gave my CEB a card which I had bought from this wildly popular store in Melbourne called kikki k. The card was unique in that I could custom-make the front and insert our couple pictures on the front of the card. That's my CEB reading what I wrote to him.

Ever since I've dated when I was 18, I've never received any flowers but roses (esp for Valentines Day every single year), so receiving lilies this year was a really pleasant difference. I've never had any inclination for lilies before but I do say that after admiring and appreciating the flowers in the privacy of my room (I put them next to my buaya toy as per the pic below), I like these slightly better than my favorite champagne roses even!

And yup, that's me in my room with 'em nice white lilies - I have to say my CEB did a great job of celebrating our first Valentine Day together, and when he asked me at the end of the day if I was happy with the meal and flowers, my answer was a resounding yes! :)

The Rialto, Intercontinental at Melbourne

I woke up at 9am, about one hour before my flight out to Melbourne (10.10am). I’d set my alarms (on both the radio clock and my mobile hp) for 6.50am, intending to call a cab early and reach the airport by 8.15am so that I could do some duty free shopping. As it was, I found myself jumping out of bed, calling a cab and then rushing to get changed. The cab came at 9.20am just as I was hauling my luggage out of the front gate and I literally begged the driver to get to the airport as fast as he could. I’m sure he thought it was a lost cause (as did I) but we reached the airport at 9.40am thanks to his spiffy driving. The counter staff expedited the check-in procedure (for my check-in luggage too) and clutching my airplane ticket, I rushed through the immigration check and made it to the boarding gate just as boarding for the flight commenced.

The flight journey was about 7 hours and I watched 3 movies – The Town (which was excellent (8/10) but predictable), Conviction (which was also excellent (8/10) – we are talking about Hilary Swank here playing a driven sister hell-bent on saving her wrongly convicted brother) and Millennium 3: The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest (which was horribly boring and slow-moving). Clearing the Australia customs took another 40mins and by the time I stepped into the arrival hall where my pick-up was waiting, it was 9.20pm local time (Melbourne is 3 hrs ahead of SG).

Checking in at Intercontinental, The Rialto where my new boss had made reservations (wonder why she picked this hotel) took less than a couple of minutes. The outlook/facade of the building is very unique - here is a picture I took during the evening the next day before dinner:

I don't know if the building was built in 1890 but the porter there helped me take the picture below of one of the sides (the other side is exactly the same) of the main entrance.

There is a plague as you can see from the picture below, next to the entrance of the hotel along the facade. It has a brief writeup on the history of the building but the reflective nature of the plague makes taking a photo of the words quite impossible!

Anyway, if you thought the facade of this hotel was something, the inside of the hotel, upon stepping in through the main entrance and into the lobby, looks like this. The red lights on the left of the pic are the balconies of the hotel rooms while the middle bottom portion is the restaurant. It looks very impressive indeed!

The room that was reserved to me was a king deluxe room (more than AUD 300 a night) and it was spacious with a large comfortable bed. However, the false french windows at the end of the room cannot be opened for security reasons and one is therefore denied fresh air and access to the balcony.

I particularly like the fact that there is a large business desk in the room which makes this room very convenient for business. The work desk faces the TV so one can multi-task but if you will note from the picture above, the TV is placed at a right angle to the bed which isn't practical.

What stood out though was the lack of a bath tub in the bathroom. I suspect it is because of water conservation efforts. The rain shower doesn’t quite make up for the lack of the tub, esp given that this is a five star hotel. The toiletries provided are from the Elementis brand which apparently is a higher end brand than normal hotel toiletries.

As my room package didn't come with complimentary wireless/internet access (it cost AUD10 per hour), I decided to take a one minute walk to the MacDonald’s just diagonally across the hotel to use the free wireless there and get some grub (the room menu here isn’t spectacular and seems a tad overpriced). As Australia is famous for beef, I ordered the Grand Angus burger meal which cost AUD 8.80.

The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Although the burger was supposed to have mustard and mayo, I asked for mayo only and the staff made it from scratch. And while I appreciated the effort, I didn’t really enjoy the burger as the beef was really raw-tasting which may be how beef is done here. However, the wireless did work fine and I managed to send an email to the folks back home before going back to the hotel room for a warm bath and to write this entry. Given that it is 1am local time and I have to meet the pick up at 8am tomorrow, I better go to bed now to avoid a repeat of this morning!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Off to Melbourne in less than 12hours!

I need to wake up in six hours time to call a cab and get myself to the airport for the seven and a half hour flight out to meet my new boss and colleague in Melbourne where they both are based.

To any faithful readers of this blog, Happy Lunar New Year 2011 - may this year of the rabbit be an awesome one!

And, a thousand apologies that I haven't written much the past few days because I've been trying to finish as much of my existing work at the old company as possible. As what my CEB would say, why bother since you're leaving - it isn't your responsibility any more. But if it's one thing I've learnt the hard way, I have to answer to myself, if not anybody else. Done the best I could and I leave with a clear conscience. My CFO was really sweet to write an unexpected email at 9.55pm on Sunday saying it wasn't too late to change my mind and I really wish I could have. While I know she is a really tough boss, I think there is much to be learnt from her. However, as I said, I just could not imagine doing a no-show this morning at my new co.

Speaking of which, I'm overwhelmed here. I feel the loss of my blackberry , my beloved boss, the routine and comfort of knowing what is expected from me and the type of work I am to do. This new company is a huge US-based MNC and the physical legal presence in Singapore consists of just yours truly. That is not to say there is no legal team - I report to the general counsel sitting in Australia, and she reports to the head legal sitting in US. The legal team is 20pp strong consisting of lawyers from all over the world like Brazil, China, India etc. I have been and am proud of my previous company which is a household name but working for this company now makes me feel like...I'm playing in more than just the local S-league. This company is global and I mean, really global.

Which means the learning curve is going to be really steep, and coupled with other stuff, I really do hope I have the time to update here. Definitely will write about Cairns, and Krabi which I've just come back from with my CEB a week ago, as well as Melbourne!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Career Choices

Dumbledore (or rather Rawlings) said "It is our choices (Harry) that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities". He (or she) also called for one to do what is right instead of what is easy.

However, just like anything that can be solved by the money tt one has isn't a real problem, there are many situations when there is no clear right or wrong.

If you remember my entry Ode to a Job, I said I would not turn back after taking the final irreversible step to submit my resignation. From the day I submitted my resignation letter, my position never wavered despite the requests to reconsider. I knew the push factor and I knew the pull factors. The only thing that would make me turn back would be if my boss asked me to. If I was prepared to give up my life for her, hell, why not anything else.

However, I was faced with 1 of the toughest decisions I have had to make over the past few days when my CEO asked me to stay during my goodbye session with her. I was thanking her - how my beloved boss was a great boss only cos she herself had a good boss, and how this company has treated me so well over the past years which it really has. And then the conversation took a personal turn with an unexpected question she asked. She put her finger on something I knew but didn't wanna admit - that in my heart of hearts I wanted to stay.

Anyway, the long short is that she and my CFO offered to level out the push factor, and match the pull factors. But this wasn't why I ended up agonizing over whether to stay or go. If those were what I wanted - reporting directly to the CFO, a promotion and an increase in pay, I would have ensured that I met my CEO much earlier instead of 3 days before my last working day.

I agonized because my CFO asked if I would give the co another chance, if I would give my CEO a chance. I agonized because I wasn't done with the co as yet. I agonized because I did want to stay, more so with the push factor being leveled out - as most of us know, who we work for is of the utmost importance. And as I told the CFO, if I stayed I did not want the promotion or more pay. I would have been happy staying here without these but I cannot compromise on who I work for, de facto or de jure. While it is true (and that was what I said to both my CEO and CFO) that I do not think I am good enough to work for the CFO directly (in that she is used to that level of calm wisdom found in my beloved boss), I wouldn't have minded trying because if it didn't work, the option to move remains. And I would have moved with no regrets.

However as much as I wanted to stay, I just could not. I could not see myself informing the new company just one day before I was to start with them that I was not going over. More so because that company has behaved in a bona fides manner right from the moment they made an offer to me ie they did nothing to deserve having their candidate walk away at the last moment and wasting their time flying in for interviews, turning away other candidates etc.

My CFO said my decision was tough but simple - all I had to do was pick up the phone and let them know I wasn't going over. But as I said to her, because of my own limitations, I could not make myself do that. I have utmost respect for my CFO - she didn't become CFO of a listed company at age 35 without being who she is. And if she had been my boss all these years, perhaps I would have been able to make that call. Especially since my present company has evidenced its sincerity in its offer through its willingness to level the push and pull factors. But ultimately, I have been and am shaped by my beloved boss and my good colleague (although I disagree with his downwards management style.).

And after 3 days of pure torture and extreme stress which resulted in 1 of the worst CNYs ever (being ill-prepared and falling sick), I'm done. While I do not leave this company with peace in my heart, I am able to live with peace with myself.