Early Morning Hubbub


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.

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

Electro Canto

In my seat on a very crowded aeroplane in Hong Kong, amidst the din of boarding passengers and frazzled stewardesses, I’m drawn to a steady stream of robotic sounds that vaguely resemble speech. The sound of words seem to be there, as is the cadence and emphasis, but any tonal variation is completely missing. Metallic, artificial, like a tone-deaf Cantopop loop meeting a stream of consciousness. I’m insanely curious. I search beyond the curtain of moving bodies and, in the next aisle, see an old woman talking to her companion in the seat beside her. The old lady looks about 90, gaunt, faded, preserved, hair newly dyed, with a sometimes serious gaze that stretches beyond the confines of the cabin. One hand is pressed against her throat, holding what looks like a grey tube that is hung around her neck.  Some sort of throat amplifier. Then the plane jerks as it leaves the gate and Electrocantopop grandma puts down her voicebox, brings her handkerchief to face, closes her eyes and sits in silence.

The Taxi Project Survey

This photo was borrowed from http://nateniale.blogspot.sg/2011/06/inside-singapore-taxi.html

It’s been a couple of months since I last posted and as often happens when this happens, it’s usually because I’m working on a few things at a time and my multi-tasking skills aren’t that good.

Having said that, I’m starting on a new research project for a performing arts piece and my starting point is people who drive taxis for a living, and the people who interact with them.  Well, actually my starting point is isolation in time and space and how this affects identity, but I thought an interesting tangible starting point would be taxi drivers because they spend so much time surrounded by transitory people who are also alone.  Plus, everyone’s had an interesting experience with a taxi driver.

If this sounds interesting to you, and you’d like to contribute to my project in any way, I’d love to hear from you.  Look at the top bar of my page and click on the taxi project.  On the taxi project page, there’ll be a link to a survey form collecting thoughts, experiences, burning questions you’d like to know about taxi drivers,or you can email me via thetaxiproject2013@gmail.com.

Open Space

#tatemodern #aerial #children #running #openspace #turbinehall

A post shared by Tim Nga (@timnga) on

I’ve been on the road, in Paris, Buenos Aires, a small part of Patagonia, and now London in an almost, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, type of trip. Three weeks, planes, trains, automobiles, pounding pavements, hiking through foliage and trekking through ice. And many, old and new, friends. The time doesn’t seem like a lot, but the experiences have been truly mind boggling.

Anyways, I was at the Tate Modern yesterday and chanced upon this pair of children, from above, having a whale of a time in the massive Turbine Hall. It reminded me of Augusto Boal’s writing on how, if you give children an open space, they will explore and fill it. Adults, on the other hand, will hug the walls and probably try to find safety, like a chair, to claim. This ties in with Ken Johnstone’s premise that “adults are but atrophied children”.
And so, my seemingly random journey has a theme. I travel, to remember who I am.
And strangely enough, this is probably the first time I’ve articulated a new year’s resolution, thanks to my three-week adventure and a certain sneaky someone. To live simply, love completely, and, in the words of George Michael, have faith, faith, FAITH-A!
Happy 2013!