Friday, 11 January 2013

Thanks for nothing.


My long-running nightmare of an assignment is officially over.

From the end of June all the way to the 20th of December, I was assigned to a client whose Asia's base is in Hong Kong. Since I was on the bench and there were no openings for people like me, I had no choice but to take the assignment. My first overseas assignment and it's in a country I never ever wanted to visit. This should be interesting.

Right off the bat, I've never met ruder people in my life. I remember one incident where we were at this eatery ordering our food; only one person in the group was able to speak basic Cantonese so we relied on him to get our orders in. Since the meal comes either with soup (some of the scariest pieces of unidentified animal parts are in it) or drink, I chose iced lemon tea (less sugar). As the place was a din, my order was taken at the very last minute. This somehow made the waitress really mad, as she gave me a look that would have melted concrete. Till this day I wish her well. Who am I kidding? I hope she chokes on a bone.

People in this country just don't seem to want to talk nicely. They get really impatient in a manner of seconds if you're a teeny bit slow or you're asking something they don't understand. I saw once an Indian couple waiting at the taxi stand where the taxi company's personnel had their voices raised higher than a Canto-pop concert telling them their booking has something amiss. I really pitied the couple as they looked despondent but there was no way I could have helped.

Then, there are the Chinese from the motherland. And they are indeed a...special bunch.

Management was mainly from China and this was my first time working side by side with them. The stories are true: they are slave drivers. Foxconn has nothing on these folks. They backstabb, frontstab, sidestab and wildstab their way to get things done. 

There's also the question of work hours. Just because you can work round the clock that doesn't mean you are allowed to impose your robotism on me. I want to have a life, you know. Well, you don't, that's why I'm bitching now. 

For some reason, the northern ones tend to have problems with volume control. Why buy a loudspeaker when you can hire a northerner? They're essentially the same. This vexes me. A lot. A whole fucking lot. You see, I'm a pretty chilled person. But when you talk to me louder than a bus running the red light, well, you suck. I'm not one of your northern buddies where pork chops are the size of books. I'm a lot more refined.

I have to say that the standards that I've encountered during my tenure would have made my previous boss baulk and probably vomit buckets of blood. Even my half-assed emails are fuller than the ones I've had to deal with.

In some cases, being explicit is not enough; you have to grab them by the throat and make them explain what is actually required to do. Put it in black-and-white. Email everyone you know including your neighbour. Just do it. It's to cover your ass. Whip it out when shit hits the fan. Then wipe the shit on their faces. 

All in all, I had the worst time of my life. I was depressed. I very nearly was sent over the edge; the precipice of despair was right in front of me but somehow I always managed to crawl back. I've gotten some pretty nasty feedback from them regarding my time there. I will say this: I did my best, I gave my all to this project and I set in place a number of things that none of the earlier consultants did. The truth is out there and it's being covered by the team. Justice will prevail in the long run. 

To my former team, I hope you get what you deserve. 


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Yay, I'm in Hong Kong. Welcome to typhoons and air pollution. And giant portions of rice and pork.

This is the conversation I had with the manager who assigned me with my latest project:

"Hi Chris, please pack your bags.
Huh? What the heck?
Hong Kong.
Huh? What? 
You fly there next month.
Oh, ok. (HOLY SHIT)
Pauses for a while....'On second thought, next Monday.'
You can't be serious..."

I am now in Hong Kong. A place I thought I'd never visit let alone work in. As I write this, the country is experiencing its worst air pollution in years. When I came, it was after the biggest typhoon in years. 

What's next? Worst dim sum glut in a century?

On paper, my race is stated as Chinese. My features are that of a Chinese weightlifter whose diet consists of dumplings with dubious meat origins in it. And rice. Lots of rice. I am anything but. I do not relate to the Chinese mentality nor do I identify myself with any of its tradition and culture. Except for being calculative, vindictive and all that Shanghai jazz. So when people see me and talk to me in a Chinese dialect, the look of disbelief when I say I don't speak any is akin to a brown bear finding out that the salmon are now chicken (gasp and roar!).  

I am going to be here for the next 6 months with flybacks every 2 weeks (it also depends on the budget since I'm worth about 4 Chinese senior consultants) or until I get myself fired for being bad at work. In all honesty, I can't wait to get back to Singapore. While their food is significantly inferior to that of my home country, Malaysia, I'd much rather have it right now as my quota for pork has exceeded by a mile ever since I got here; I've had pork with tomato sauce, pork with some unidentified sauce, steamed pork with 3 cups of rice, pork with noodles that had didn't have much noodle are among the highlights of my porky adventure thus far.

I'll be diplomatic (since I'm still on the island) and say that I truly miss Malaysia. I used to laugh and roll my eyes whenever I hear someone say Malaysians are nice and friendly and other nauseating pleasantries but I now appreciate such words. It really is true.

Gosh, it's time for dinner. Maybe I'll try some rice with, you've guessed it, not pork.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

The dust has settled.

I am at home. In the morning. On a weekday. I am still getting paid. It's been 3 weeks since the project I was in ended. At first, it was rapture; no more getting up wishing the nightmare would end. Day in, day out, I would be subjected to mental torture. Many a time I wanted to give up and throw my laptop through the window but the thought of paying for the damaged window and laptop put me off every time. Instead, I told myself, one shitty part of the work at a time. So on my last day, it was all peace and quiet. 5:30PM came, I packed, said good-bye to the team and left.

The week after the project was bliss. Still woke up the same time but with a smile on my face. Didn't need to go the office anymore. That week was great. I slowly packed my stuff for the holiday the following week, played games and watched shows while checking mails. Best part? No mails of importance! Joy!

Fast forward to the present, I am wearing shorts and a smelly tee. Had my morning coffee, saw my girl off to work, watched a bit of Rachael Ray (whom I have a like/dislike thing) then checked my mails again. Nada. Not a thing of importance. I sent mails to my scheduler and counsellor asking for help in providing me information on courses I can attend while I wait for a new assignment. Nada. At least I tried, right?

Simply said, I am too lazy to be lazy. I get restless pretty easily. Whilst on holiday, I was thinking of what to do next after the first day even though we had things planned out. I am like a child with mild ADD. Can't sit down too much lest I waste away. My family and friends say take this time to rest and relax, after all, I did give my all to the project for nearly a year. Time to rejuvenate, they say.

But the time has come for me get back into the field. Being at home and doing things at a leisurely pace has been the greatest feeling after the nightmare yet I want to be in the thick of the action again. I checked my mails again, you guessed it, nada.

Time for Rachael Ray again.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

48 - 5. Do the math. That's how much sleep I got.

The body is an amazing object. Until you fuck it up with not getting sleep. Then, it starts to defy you. It forces your eyes to close half way. Your limbs start to feel heavy, and you realise you are dragging them like an ape.

When you tell your family you worked that much, they'll shudder and eyes get bigger. Why, they ask? How could such an organisation treat their staff in such a way. Thus begins the explanation. Ah, they go. Huh, they say. Take care is the end line. Skype call over, your body begins to shut down like whether you want or not. It's like an incessant prompt from your IT department to install mandatory software updates that you keep on clicking later and later then it says fuck you, we're installing now so save your work as fast as you can 'cos we're gonna do this shit now. 

The minute your head touches the pillow, sleep takes over you. Your mind is at ease, finally. 30 minutes later, you wake up. It's 2:47PM. Body clock and mind in total disarray. The body is depleted but the mind refuses to bend to its soporific grasp. Mind over matter? Mind wins. So the next 24 hours become odd, the mind is sort of fresh but the body is completely fucked. You know what I mean? Then, you go back to work at 5:05AM to continue where you left off.

Wonderful, isn't it?


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Happy New Year. Happy Chinese New Year. Ha..Fuck it, 2012 already sucks.


How are you doing? I hope the holidays have been kind to you. Rejuvenated, I am. This is the second time I'm back in KL in a month and it feels great. Except for the heat. The damn, freaking heat. But all is swell in the household. Tomorrow, I will fly back to the island of tender characters who masquerade behind a wall of falseness to hide their lack of spine. Highfalutin is their calling card and highfalutin they shall be known thenceforth. 

Gosh, I love 

It's been nearly 7 months since I've left home to work abroad and the inevitable I-miss-home feeling is still there and strikes its hardest blow the day before departure. Mummy's boy I am and will always be. Yes, every month I will post something similar to this but it's the truth and it's easier to write the truth. I leave the lying in fiction. 

2012 started decently, to put it mildly. People were still in the holiday mood thus were more forgiving of one's mistake. As the days went by, that same forgiving nature was replaced with a more familiar tone: kiasu. Yes, the stories are indeed true. And I will reinforce this statement till the day I die. It's like they are born with a predefined fear of failing that they actually botch things because a one-time take on things is the only way and mistakes receive punishment of the highest order. Argh, all this anger is making me hungry for food. Real food. Read: Malaysian food. 

And don't get me started on the accent. 

I'm saving that for the next post. 


Saturday, 31 December 2011

See ya, 2011. Hello, 2012.

2011 is about to say sayonara and here I am posting a blog post about it. Should I be out and about ushering in the new year?

Fuck no.

I am perfectly happy to sit at home, watch TV and be with my family. This time tomorrow, I'll be back in Singapore. The sadness is still there, even packing my new Uniqlo cotton socks is starting to make me feel melancholy.

But I'll be back. I know I will.

2011 has been an emotional roller coaster. I experienced some decent highs and the lowest of lows in recent memory. I'm not going to go all retrospective as the nostalgia will make me wish I had a hanky.

I shall bid you adieu and I hope your last day of 2011 will be a blast. As for 2012, well, let's hope that movie's prophetic moment does not come true.

Happy New Year.

This is Chris, signing off. 

P.S. Beginning next year (tomorrow) some changes shall take place in this blog. Nothing major but you'll notice it. I hope.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

R.I.P Gary Speed

When I opened the Daily Mail a few days ago, the first article that came up was the news of Gary Speed's passing. 

To say it was shocking would be a terrible understatement. 

Total disbelief filled me. I sat, hunched, over my tiny Macbook Air (this post was not paid for by Apple, sigh) staring at the screen for a good half minute*, thinking this was a terrible misprint. 

It wasn't. 

I never knew the guy, of course, but his passing did affect me after the article mentioned he committed suicide. When he was still a football player, there was no reported incidents of him causing debauchery on and off the pitch. He was always portrayed as the model footballer; dedicated to the game and utterly loving every minute of it. The word on his death is depression. Depression? This man had a glowing career as a player, is on the rise as manager of Wales, has a lovely wife and two children, yet, was apparently afflicted with depression. I can't even begin to fathom what the family is going through right now but I wish them well in their time of privacy. 

On the outside, all seemed well, but it seems the truth is far from that. It is really sad, no? You have the world in your hands yet to have such an illness coursing through your being, rearing its ugly head every now and then must be tormenting. When I get depressed, I shrug my shoulders and laugh it off. Even if it's something major, nothing will keep me dwelling on it for long. 

There is now a circular from the Football Association going around their members the effects of depression. This is a very good effort from them as depression can strike at anyone, regardless of their well-being. 

I've seen how mild depression can afflict a person and even then it was very difficult for me to help this person who happens to be a dear friend. It's saddening and the helplessness of it all is something I wish upon no-one.

Football has lost a talent but it's his family that will feel the lost the most. My heartfelt condolences go out to the Speed family. 

This is Chris, signing off. 

P.S. I apologise if there is some satire in this post. I originally intended for this to be a rather sombre and serious affair but I've always viewed death as a time of reflecting and celebrating one's life, mourning can be done in private.

*The last time I did that was because I was looking at my current crush, Gillian Jacobs, from the brilliant show, Community)