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.

Hoi An Happening


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. ūüôā

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. ¬†ūüôā


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.