Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feeling Oh So Wonderful

Today, hope came back to me.

It all started last Friday. I woke up that day still unsure about my plans to return to Malaysia. I barely started thinking about it seriously. Firstly, I wasn't 100% sure I am leaving, and even if I was, I wasn't sure when I will be leaving. All I know is my employment bond in Singapore ends this June and there are plenty of things I need to take care of before leaving.

Then my bosses assigned me a new project worth tens of millions of dollars that spans over a few years. I was caught unprepared. I didn't know if I should tell them right away that I might be leaving. For one, I wasn't sure and furthermore, this new project is a thumpin' good career opportunity for me. I must admit it did tempt me to stay.

I had a hard time trying to concentrate the rest of the day. The sudden surge of information did not make it any easier for me to digest. But I had one clear thought in my mind - that no matter what, I should never decide something as important as my career (and life) path in such an impromptu manner.

So I decided to swallow my guilty feelings and continue to listen to my assignment briefing. That night, I met up with colleagues for a movie and then a meal...all while trying to suppress the urge to disclose my dilemma - not until I have given it much thought on my own.

I spent the whole weekend thinking about it. Well, basically it's just the Saturday. Sunday was spent trying to figure out how best to tell my boss what I decided on Saturday - that is to quit in July.

Come Monday, I told the boss. I was asked to reconsider it.

Today, I went back and told him again that I am sticking to my decision.

Today, it became official.

There's probably no turning back anymore for me now. The idea of returning to Malaysia for good has become so much more real now. I am so relieved now that THE decision has finally been made, after much procrastination.

I guess fate had its way in forcing me to make this decision. That big project was a tool to nudge me to the edge and make the jump.

Oddly, though...amidst all this excitement, I can sense an onset of heavy-heartedness. I don't doubt one bit that I will miss this place and even the job. The question is...how much?

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Childhood Memory

Once there was a little girl who was attending kindergarten. She was a timid child heavily overshadowed by her more confident and extrovert peers. She was the quiet observer when popular kids were in action, when she was not the object of the actions, that is.

Like many kids from middle-class families, the school bus was her source of transport to travel between home and school everyday. These school buses had communities of their own with different niches. So, naturally, there were the popular kids and there was the timid, naïve girl, who became the favourite subject of bully among her popular bus mates. As safe as she was inside the classroom in the presence of teachers, she was totally vulnerable in the school buses. Bullies began to take place with the timid girl as the constant victim. Ironically though, her naivety actually turned out to have saved her from the psychological torment of the bullies. Not understanding the concept of bully, and having only known simple feelings of happiness and sadness, she felt no humiliation at all. She felt sad, however, for the mean things they did to her. They said cruel things about her she knew wasn't true. They took her pencil case away from her and hid it for a whole day. She became afraid, not because they might not return it to her, but because she could not complete her homework without her stationery. Despite all these, she never breathed a word to anyone, not even to her parents. She did not feel the need to. She was so naïve, she did not even feel hate towards the people that bullied her because she had not learnt the complexity of hate and humiliation then.

As the saying goes, there is always a silver lining amidst dark clouds. The little girl did not realize this at the time, but this silver lining was going to be the sweetest thing that has happened to her in her childhood. There was a boy in the popular bunch, who became close to her because they happened to be the last two to alight the bus everyday on their way home. Although he part of the popular group, he never joined in any of the bully activities. Consequently, the last fifteen minutes of their journeys home from school became play time for both of them.

It so happened that one day, the leader of the popular kids ordered everyone in her group to stand in a line facing the timid girl. The plan was to have each of them take turns to slap the timid girl in the face. The timid girl, naïve as she was, felt sad and confused. Had she done something wrong? Not knowing what to do, she resolved to doing nothing and just stood there taking the slaps, one after another.

The little boy who became friends with her was eventually forced to join in the bully. When it was his turn to slap her, he gave her a kind and apologetic look, before brushing his palm gently on her cheek and turned away. When everybody else had gotten off the bus, he apologized to her profusely for joining in the bully and said comforting words to make her feel better. What he did not know was that the girl had already put it behind her and was only happy it was play time again with nobody around to do mean things to her. The little girl did not realize this then, but those fifteen-minute play times were the happiest moments in her kindergarten years.

Shortly after, the girl’s family moved to a new neighbourhood and she had to switch to another school bus. She never found out the boy’s name or which kindergarten he attended. She lost all contact with him ever since. As a matter of fact, she never thought of him until later years, when she began to understand the more complex sides of life and reflected on her childhood memories. She had no more bully problems ever since, although she was still naïve compared to her peers. She made lots of good friends over the years and even turned out to be quite an outspoken girl herself at her late teenage years. She grew up to be the confident girl she never was in her younger days.

The most remarkable thing about this story is that a child as young as six years old could distinguish between right and wrong despite heavy peer pressure. The honest truth is that there are even adults who cannot show the same kind of compassion. There are, in fact, many things we as adults can learn from children, if only we could just stop being busy growing up for a while.

Note: This story was first posted in my old blog as Smile Factor #0.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

CNY 2010: Genting Highlands

First things first. There will be no casino pictures. Why?

Because of this.
^All types of hand phones / pocket PC / electronic equipment with photography devices / digital camera are prohibited from the casino.

But I did come across this advertisement by alongs (illegal money lenders) in the ladies toilet.

I roamed around the First World Plaza indoor theme park/shopping mall alone before joining my parents in the casino. I visited the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum and the Haunted House, both for a price of RM30.


^World's Tallest Man's Shoe vs. a Regular Man's Shoe

^World's Luckiest Chair my ass. I sat on it and lost RM200 in the casino.

^Fake shark suspended from the ceiling

^World's Tallest Man's Palm vs. My Palm

^Something about enough neckties for a man each day for a lifetime.

CNY 2010

One month ago today, I was on my way back to Singapore from my 2-week long-ass Chinese New Year holiday in KL.

One month later, I finally got the mood to download the photos from my camera/phone and blog about the holiday. Just a bunch of pictures to show, really.

First, there was my chatter-filled meeting with two secondary school buddies at Italiannies @ Sunway Pyramid...
^Met up with Nur and Vinut immediately after arrival from Singapore.

Then there were these food pics from Madam Kwan @ Giant, Kelana Jaya...
^Fish fried with ginger and onion

^Seaweed soup

^Black pepper beef

Then there was this bizarre car plate number that I wish I could have...
^WTF?!
Funny thing. The owner of this car actually live in the same condominium as my parents', on the same block. We tailed his car all the way back home that day.

Then there was the ferris wheel inside Sunway Pyramid...
^Ferris wheel inside Sunway Pyramid

And there was my visit to Genting Highlands, which shall be posted as a separate blog entry... errr... soon.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Skinny Pizza @ Wheelock Place

Some colleagues and I went to watch Alice In Wonderland at Shaw Lido last night. The movie ended at 9pm and we walked across Orchard Road to Wheelock Place to have a light meal at this restaurant called Skinny Pizza.

By the time we sat down to order, some of their most popular picks were already sold out. Nonetheless, we managed to order two of their popular pizzas (at least as claimed by the waiter).

^Squid Ink

^English Breakfast

All their pizzas come in a standard 22 inch. When they say skinny...it's really skinny. Instead of the thick doughy pizzas we get from Pizza Hut or Dominoes or Canadian Pizza, Skinny Pizzas tasted like crackers. It felt like we were having tacos instead of pizzas. It's no wonder the waiter told us 3 persons can finish 2 pieces of 22-inch skinny pizzas.

Taste-wise, they were pretty good, especially the Squid Ink, although it didn't look that appetizing to us at first. The arugula leaves they serve with all their pizzas tasted a little bitter-sweet, but they went really well with the tasty pizzas.

Six of us, ranging from not hungry to famished (that's me), had 3 pieces of Skinny Pizzas (1 Squid Ink, 2 English Breakfast). With my kind of appetite, I was surprised to find myself full after just...maybe 5 slices and a few bites of cake.

^Strawberry Shortcake

We shared a slice of Strawberry Shortcake. It tasted a normal as-expected strawberry taste. The cake itself was not sweet, so it'll suit people who doesn't fancy eating stuff that is too sweet. For those who have a sweet tooth, the glass of syrup was there to sweeten it up. The cake was served hot (with smoke still coming out of it when we cut it!) and the syrup was cold. If this was a chocolate cake, I would have died happy.

By the time we left the place, it was already closing and we were the last customers. So how much did we pay? Truth be told, I don't know yet. xD

Well, one of my colleagues is supposed to split the bill and tell us how much to pay. But based on the menu, the price of one pizza ranges from SGD18 to SGD25. We also shared a bottle of Apple Cider which cost SGD25. I have no idea how much the cake cost.

All in all, it was worth a visit but I won't go back again because I prefer the doughy pizzas. Just a matter of preference, really.

^One group shot to end the day

Friday, March 12, 2010

WTF?!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Bahasa Melayu Officially Sucks

Having been using three languages (English, Cantonese, and Malay) a lot while growing up, I got accustomed to thinking in those languages interchangeably. When I think of an English word, for example, I would often subconsciously translate it into Malay or Chinese, and vise versa.

So here's what happened. Sometime last weekend, I was reminded of papayas.

I don't remember where or how I suddenly came to think about papayas, but that's not the point. The point is... I was thinking about papayas and was about to translate it into Malay. That's where my train of thoughts got rudely disrupted.

Papaya, papaya... (picturing papayas)... buah pisang, buah kelapa, buah rambutan, buah mangga, buah b-... The first letter had got to be "B". Or was it "M"? Hmmm...

I thought to myself, "Come on, I cannot have forgotten such an easy one!".

I refused to give up.

So I started to think hard...

and think harder....

I thought about it while brushing my teeth. I thought about it on my way to work. I thought about it while going to sleep. I even thought about it while I'm using the toilet.

The stupid tembikai keep popping up eagerly in my head and I had to keep reminding myself that tembikai's watermelon, not papaya!

All while trying to fight the urge to Google it up.

Alas, I failed. I succumbed to Google today.

It's "betik".

A big smack on my forehead later, the horror finally dawned on me. My Bahasa Melayu now officially sucks BIG. TIME.

Oh well. At least I got the first letter right.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Temptations Upon Temptations

First it was this...
^Nokia N97 Mini

Then it was this...
^Apple iPhone 3GS

And then it was this...
^Google Nexus One

Now it is this...
^HTC Desire

But then all I have is this piece of crap...
^Sony Ericsson W902 a.k.a. Crap

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How Romantic...

Saw this in the news:

=====
Housing policy changes not enough for some PRs to take up citizenship
By Joanne Chan, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 06 March 2010 1911 hrs

".....With the changes, Singaporeans married to PRs will receive S$10,000 less in housing grants if they buy a resale flat. Alternatively, they will have to pay a S$10,000 premium if they buy a new HDB flat. However, the amount will be restored if the PR family member becomes a citizen, or if the couple has a child who is Singaporean.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan had also announced a new quota for non-Malaysian PRs in housing estates. He noted that
this would help to encourage integration......" (Read more...)
=====

Yeah, and materialism too. Now, Singaporean singles are gonna think, "Is this non-citizen man/woman worth paying an extra S$10,000?". And since the question of worthiness is never certain when it comes to marriage, people go for safer, more definite choices - get the S$10,000 grant first!

The result? Singaporean citizens will tend to marry fellow citizens, and PR's will be doomed to a life of singleton and loneliness forever! MuaHahaHa!

Just kidding. =D

People have strong passion that can override materialism. We love someone for who they are (a S$10,000 cheque) and who they make us (S$10,000 richer), right??? xD

Someday, Valentine's Day cards in Singapore may look like this:
I think I'm the materialistic one here. Damn...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Revisiting MMORPGs That I've Played

Like many other fellow members of Generation-Y, I was quite the avid online game player during my university days. Nowadays, I don't play much for two reasons:
  1. Unable to maintain constant interest to play continuously,
  2. Too much trouble having to reboot my MacBook to switch to Bootcamp.
Having said that, I still set aside some 30GB of my hard disk for Bootcamp just in case I suddenly have the itch to play, albeit just for a while. Such an itch occurred last night. So I logged on to my Windows XP on Bootcamp and started playing whatever MMORPG I haven't uninstalled. Had to do a fair bit of updating, though, which was quite a pain in the rear end.

Started off with Maple Story, which was my longest-played MMORPG. I was thoroughly amazed to see there are still old-timers in my guild (and that I am still in the guild) who log in frequently. It was very pleasant catching up with them and reminiscing old times. Unfortunately, though, my main character has been hacked into a long time ago, right before I stopped playing, rendering all my valuables stolen. Being broke (and naked), I have since started a new character to maybe one day finance my bankrupt Level 120 Arch Mage.
^My Maple Story Main Character in Her Naked Glory

Then I revisited my Cabal Online character. The guild's there but the members are gone. I even bumped into another player who remembered me (and me, him). It was a short-lived game for me, but I sure missed the great graphics, elaborate background music, and skill animations.
^My Cabal Online Character

There were a few others I wished to revisit but were not installed. Like Rappelz and Luna Online. Tried reinstalling them but they took 6 to 7 hours each, so I decided to forget about it.

Recently, an ex-Cabal guildmate recommended me to play a new MMORPG, which according to him is similar to Maple Story. First, at the thought of another 2D game, I was quite turned off. But as the itch for a new online game rose, I thought I'd give it a try.

It's called Wonderking Online.
^My Very Noob Wonderking Online Character

Will I get the itch to play again? Definitely. Will I eventually go back to vigourous online gaming again? I don't think so.