Monthly Archives: September 2011

We Are the Boss

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LOVED this PSA by Pete Teo.

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Thank You

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IF there’s one thing we often forget in life, it’s gratitude. For many of those on my mental list, this should have been said a long time ago.  Still, better late than never.

In no particular order, to all the important people in my life, THANK YOU…

  • for the sacrifices you have made and continue to make on my account
  • for bringing me up well, even though you mostly had to do it alone
  • for sending me to school, paying for my education
  • for taking care of me, watching me grow
  • for all the fervent prayers sent heavenward — for me
  • for bailing me out during all those accidents
  • for having little for yourself just so I would have much
  • for your tenderness and love and infinite patience
  • for choosing me
  • for giving in even though it cost you your pride
  • for the long years of loyal friendship
  • for the good times
  • for being there
  • for promising to be there in the future and to not let me down if I ever need you again in spite of what happened
  • for saving me, never failing me and dying for me
  • for letting me go even when I didn’t know how
  • for being strong for me and doing what I cannot do even though you have no idea where to find the strength for yourself
  • for loving, understanding and forgiving me, even though you could not fathom the reasons, could not see the rationale; even if it left you miserable
  • for making me happy at your expense
  • for opening my eyes to fresh, new, sensual, beautiful experiences
  • for all the music, books, food, movies and crazy, giddy laughter — all the pleasures in life
  • for the gifts that you knew I loved and which you went ahead and bought no matter how much it cost you — just because you knew it made me happy
  • for crying with me, for me
  • for being the best I ever had
  • for cooking, feeding me, making my bed, cleaning up after me tirelessly
  • for bearing with my mercurial tempers, moods and arguments
  • for the discipline and punishment — I would not be who I am had you spared the rod
  • for trying over and over again despite the trepidation and knowledge that the next attempt could make you feel less of a man
  • for the holidays
  • for the space and silence when I need it
  • for believing in me even (and especially) when I couldn’t believe in myself
  • for sticking up for me
  • for keeping the friendship alive and taking the trouble to call or email  even though sometimes I get too caught up with life and forget to call back
  • for risking your mother’s wrath and hanging out with me continuously and making me your best friend
  • for wanting me, for accepting my foibles
  • for making tough decisions because they are right — even it it hurts you. Or me.
  • for listening to the same sob stories and analysing them with me through the late nights, and never judging, even though you felt my morals were questionable
  • for Cleo
  • for taking care of Cleo like she’s yours
  • for making me a part of your life
  • for saying you love me
  • for not hating me in spite of everything
You know who you are. Thank you.

Communication Crisis, More Like.

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Picture credit: bedosbonaterra.com

I RECEIVED a phone call as soon as I arrived at the office this morning, which left me wondering about the effectiveness of certain tactics employed by telemarketers.

Telemarketer: Hello, is this the Corporate Comm department? Can I speak to the person in charge please?

Me: Yes, it is. What’s this regarding please?

Telemarketer: It’s about Crisis Communication.

Me: Is this a conference or a training session?

Telemarketer: It’s about Crisis Communication. I need to speak to the person in charge before I speak to other departments.

Me: (puzzled) Well, you can speak to me.

Telemarketer: Ok, who am I speaking to please?

Me: (I tell her my name)

Telemarketer: Oh hi, I’m calling regarding Crisis Communication and we’d like to invite you to a….

Me: ..So this is a training session after all?

Telemarketer: Err, yes. We would like to invite you to a training.. held xx days in Singapore… (nonstop nattering for a good one minute without pause for breath — impressive)…can I know if you have ever attended something like this before?

Me: (by now, I am getting annoyed because she immediately launched into a pre-crafted marketing spiel which meant absolutely bollocks to me, plus I was in grave need of that second shot of caffeine, which left me, well, even more annoyed. So. Deep Longsuffering Breath.) Can I at least know who I’m speaking to please?

Telemarketer: …blablabla…(caught off guard) Oh. Yes. I’m Karen… (then launches right back into it without skipping a beat)

Me: (this time I give her only about three seconds) Karen, do you think you could email the programme to me so that I can pass it to the department that handles training?

Telemarketer: (brief silence) Oh. Sure, but can I know your designation? I need to send this to senior management only, I cannot simply send to anybody.

Me: !!!??

Sounds like Communication Crisis more than anything. Wish I could say that I put down the phone on Karen, but the nature of my job is such that I am required to grit my teeth and be nice even if, in reality, what I really want to do is poke her eyeballs out and give her a wedgie. Still, gotta give her credit for trying.

Anyways, here’s an interesting and funny post from The Bach on the 10 Ways to Stop Telemarketing Calls… Hv fun 🙂

Disgrace

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I remember almost every time I felt love
Descend down and break away
Till it was gone

My every thought stuck inside
The hell that reminds me that I’ve just
Given up

And I know now all I ever wanted
Was peace inside a mind that’s always haunted
Where is the sunlight, where’s the repair for all the damage
I have done?

Weighing down my soul the thought of it is too much
When I think about it all

Can I still find a place where my mind stops all the suffering
Will I live in my disgrace on and on

Book Review: The Lady and The Monk | Four Seasons in Kyoto

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JUST in case anyone’s wondering, this isn’t a tale of a torrid love affair between monk and geisha. For a geisha story, you could always read Arthur Golden — if you haven’t already.. (no monk, though. Tsk).

I first read Pico Iyer when I got hold of Video Night In Kathmandu (his first book) some years back. I haven’t read him since, but I certainly have not forgotten him. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when I accidentally stumbled upon The Lady and the Monk at a second-hand bookstore in Penang, and bought it without a second thought – nevermind the ridiculous price I was charged for such a dog-eared, tatty copy (that could well be my fault cos I’m hopeless at bargaining).

Personally, I prefer the briskness of the first book, but The Lady and the Monk is still a wonderful read, a beautiful and poignant reminiscence of Iyer’s four seasons in Kyoto.

Short of stating the obvious, the story revolves around the theme of a lady and a monk – a premise the author constantly returns to via regular references to poetry written by famous Japanese writers and poets (often monks or ladies), and which represents the main characters in the book (the monk being Iyer himself and, the lady, a woman by the name of Sachiko).

The story begins with Iyer’s arrival at the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto in 1987 armed with a couple of suitcases, the name of a local Buddhist temple and a quest to learn about Zen and the elusive — and rather confounding — Japanese culture. The story details his encounters and friendships with locals and foreigners along the way: Mark, an artist from San Francisco learning to paint in the traditional Zen sumi-e style and who lived in Japan for about 15 years; Kazuo, Mark’s friend and a university teacher who is grudgingly in training for the Tendai Buddhist priesthood in order to take over his family’s temple; Matthew, a foreign lawyer also in search of Zen and a Japanese girlfriend (and hugely failing at both). He also meets Sachiko, a young housewife and mother of two struggling to free herself from the constraints of her culture and who is one of, if not the most pivotal character in the book. Sachiko comes across as both elegant and refined, fulfilling to perfection the role expected of a Japanese woman, daughter, mother and wife; who is just as inclined to wearing kimonos as she is  to miniskirts and sneakers, loves American movies and rockstars, Monet and Maugham, and daydreams of the courage to be independent of the many responsibilities that shackle her. Through Sachiko, Iyer learns Japan’s complexities and contradictions and how, in spite of its attempt at embracing the West, its Eastern-ness always prevails. Very often throughout the book, I wondered if Sachiko was real or was she (and all the other characters) merely the perfect vehicle to illustrate the eccentricities of the Japanese.

Overall, I found Iyer’s narrative engaging and incisive and, occasionally, mildly caustic; as always, it is  peppered with delightful wit and refreshing phraseology. My opinion that he is a master of description still stands: he has a way of making even the most mundane detail — like the arrival of spring — sound like the most memorable incident. I really like that despite not being a ‘serious travel guide’, the book with all its colourful characters coupled with Iyer’s interactions, his experiences and observations, is so accessible to any reader.

All said and done, I wonder how much Kyoto has changed since the book was published in ’92. Hopefully, it still retains the innocence and romance that Iyer so vividly depicted.