The Little Thing(s)

Likes small spaces

Likes small spaces

As I was preparing to feed the cats today, the skies opened up outside and a darkness exploded upon the flat in a crack of thunder. I realised that Wilma, my tiny black cat with white socks, who normally hides around the corner waiting for her turn and comes when she’s called, had disappeared. I called, but no Wilma responded.

Leaving the two boys and Zoe waiting in their usual spots below me and on top of the fridge, I went in search of the little black one and found her huddled under the bed. As I called her name, she whispered tinily. I placed her food bowl on the floor next to the bed. She crawled out to take a sniff, but the sky let out another angry cry and she retreated back to her hiding place under the bed. I closed all the doors to the bedroom, left with a promise to be back and went to feed the others.  Regular feeding in the kitchen resumed without drama and after washing up the food bowls and clearing the litter trays in anticipation of post-meal deposits, I went back into the bedroom to find Wilma’s food bowl still untouched and her position unchanged.

The sky had cleared by this time. Our local thunder god in the east has a pre-disposition towards deafening, but short-lived explosions. We might’ve had a similar upbringing.  I sat down on the floor and called to the little one. With a small sound, she slinked out from under the bed and settled down tentatively in front of me. I cradled her in my arms and as she relaxed, I showed her the window and how the world was beautiful outside with a bit of light and a layer of wetness that meant life had just been refreshed and renewed. I then placed her on the floor in front of her food bowl and watched as she took a sniff and then proceeded to slurp quietly at her meal in peace.

That was when I realised, that after all is said and done, through the battles lost and won, these are the moments that I truly live for.

Wilma's fan

Wilma’s fan

Early Morning Hubbub

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7.30am. Full flight back to Singapore. Rousing orchestral music playing on the PA accompanied by visuals of the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra in full swing, interspersed with (mostly old) people triumphantly trekking Taiwanese mountain ranges.

Man in seat B holds an android device in his left hand, scrolling through an endless email list, while his accompanying right hand nonchalantly alternates between picking hairs off his chin and dropping successfully pulled hairs on the floor between his legs.

Last minute boarders with shopping struggle for space.

In seat A, man’s wife lies unconscious, head slumped on his left shoulder, oblivious to the hubbub around her.

We push back and stewardesses remind us to put our devices away.

Man’s left hand deftly turns off device and holds it calmly against his left thigh. Eyes close, right hand falls neatly as he slips into inner space.

We gather speed for take-off. See you on the other side.

Hoi An Happening

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I’m sitting by the river reading and, occasionally, looking up to glance at this sampan moored by the pier among the larger boats.

Out of the blue, the manager of the nearby massage and manicure place, strolls over, cigarette in mouth, boards his craft and casually inspects it, before heading back to work when his cigarette expires.

So cool to pilot a sampan to work everyday! The good life. :-)

The Best Part of Going Away is Coming Home

My week was spent in Manila, filled with 4 very intense and fulfilling days of training, facilitation and coaching via Potential Squared’s exciting Executive Presence program for a leading global consulting client.

 

Over the 4 days, myself and a small team of facilitators worked with 51 highly motivated and talented leaders, in exploring and practicing the skills and behaviours that define and increase their effectiveness as leaders.  I was extremely moved by the level of hunger and engagement towards us and the material and, having run this program a number of times now, I can still say that the end of each run makes me want to do the whole thing all over again.  Preferably with a small break in between to recharge, as introverts go.  :-)

 

At the end of day 3, we were warned by our wonderful co-ordinators that our following day’s trip to the airport would take longer than usual because it was the week when year-end bonuses were paid out.  Thus the end of day 4 began a mad rush to pack our gear and head to the airport for a 2-hour crawl in traffic, which involved watching motorcyclists and pedestrians with trolley bags rolling by us on the pavement.  You know you’re in trouble when the vehicle you’re in struggles to overtake a lamppost.

 

Anyways, no stress over what cannot be controlled, I arrived just 5 minutes before the counter at the airport closed, got my boarding pass and gate, and proceeded to clear immigration and airport security.  My brain and body needed a boost so I grabbed a quick hotdog and bottle of water as I made my way to the gate, only to realize upon almost reaching it that, since my check-in, the gate had been shifted to, not so close by. Somehow, when you’re at the end of a tiring week, carrying luggage and in danger of missing your flight for the second time in an hour, a 10-gate distance is no small thing.

 

My adventure then involved me chasing after, and jumping on the back of, an airport buggy normally used to ferry the elderly and disabled, to take me back across the terminal, and the buggy stopping twice more along the way to attempt to take on board other passengers who were in the same predicament. At one point we were looking more like a public bus in India than an airline buggy at NAIA Terminal 3.

 

I thankfully made it to the gate and onto the plane not long before the doors closed and, despite a mildly evil look from a passenger with a hyperactive infant in the row behind me, and a ruckus from another late passenger who was almost not allowed to board – I heard him say something about a moving gate – I was finally safe, seatbelt buckled, ready to go.

 

Then, just as we taxied onto the runway, master hyperactive threw up in his seat.  Joy!  The attendants were about to strap in and barely had time to chuck Mr EL and his wife a large packet of paper towels as the plane threw itself noisily up the runway and into thin air.  So, as we climbed to cruising altitude, the EL family cleaned up as best they could while those in the immediate vicinity lived with the smell of puke and the fear that said puke would start migrating as gravity did its thing.  Talk about the mile-high cleaning club.

 

Not the funnest of times, but still loads of fun, and I would not exchange this experience for anything.

 

After a week away, this is the welcome home that I got from Dudley.

 

My welcome home

Caveat Emptor

Recently upgraded my fibre connection to 1GBPs via MyRepublic. A guy from NUCLEUS CONNECT (company who owns the network) comes to collect my old modem. He doesn’t give me a new modem, doesn’t test or set-up anything (all handled by MyRepublic guys separately).

Before he leaves, he gives me a form and says I have to sign it. I ask him to explain what it is I’m signing and why, since all he did was collect something from me. He can’t/won’t tell me. I ask for a copy of the form. He starts huffing and puffing and doesn’t want to give it to me, so I say, “if you don’t give me the acknowledgement, I’m not returning you the modem.”

Finally he gets angry, hands me the form and leaves in a huff. After he leaves, I read the fine print where I was asked to sign. It has nothing to do with the modem or service, but is instead:

A CONSENT TO ALLOW DISCLOSURE OF MY PERSONAL INFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSES OF DEVELOPING OR PROMOTING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES, RESEARCH, CUSTOMER BENEFITS AND OTHER MARKETING AND OTHER ADVERTISING ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMMES.

#‎NUCLEUSCONNECT‬ your personal data protection policies are a joke.  Shame on you.

#‎mediadevelopmentauthority‬

‪#‎personaldataprotection‬

#myrepublic

Going Up

She slowly leaned forward to hold the door open for us, as a spritely old gentleman carrying a large plastic bag, entered just ahead of me.

“Thank you”, I said, and in silence, we pressed the buttons that would transport us to our floors. The doors closed.

“Perchah ah?” (“broken” in Malay), I heard her ask purposefully.

“那个门” (“that door” in Mandarin), he replied, and then stopped.

My back was to them so I could not see their expressions. In the awkward silence I heard a happy desire to share, frustrated only by a lack of common vocabulary.

I exited the lift with a smile as I greeted them both with a goodbye. Perhaps the keys to our future harmony lie in our past.