Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chinese New Year Mood

I am in the Chinese New Year mood. My work to conclude the year of the Tiger is almost done, well, just a couple more errands to run in the next two days. The cookies and snacks are piled high waiting to be consumed. The angpows for my staff have been distributed. The angpows for the elders are soon to be ready. I've enjoyed a couple of 'yeesang' already, with family, friends and close business associates. The new attire are pressed - one T-shirt, two casual shirts, five dress shirts, undies, boxer-jammies. Two swim trunks even. A watch too. Spring cleaning - check (well, not quite complete but it'll do), haircut - check, cultural rituals - check.

I am always in a good frame of mind come Chinese New Year. I feel ready to take on the world. I look forward to what fate has in store. A new beginning. Fresh perspectives. Renewed hope. The year of the Rabbit will be a good one for me in all aspects of life. Optimistic I am. Enthusiastic I shall be.

The days leading up to Chinese New Year are always exciting ones. The anticipation, a reunion lunch and a reunion dinner this year with different sides of the family, celebratory meals lined up, cousins visiting, some rest and relaxation, and yes, I am still eligible for angpows. So much to look forward to.

Photo of peonies by my friend Han San, perfect for Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day

When you've lived in a country for a number of years, you have ties. Emotional and physical ties. I lived in Australia, Adelaide to be precise, for four years - one year of boarding school and three years at uni. After all these years, I still feel a bond. I have school friends whom I have reconnected with via Facebook. I have cousins in Adelaide and Melbourne, relatives in Sydney, good friends in Brisbane. Some clients even. To all of you, 'Happy Australia Day'!

I still remember taking my first Qantas flight to Adelaide (their ads are really engaging), my first tour of the city. I have fond memories of my year at Immanuel College. I have made some lifelong friends while at the Flinders University of South Australia.

I haven't visited in more than a decade but images of the Barossa Valley, Kangaroo Island and the like often come to mind. Once the Ringgit appreciates against the Australian Dollar, I'd very much like to head to Queensland or Western Australia for a holiday. There is still much to see and discover. And am happy I caught this on YouTube a couple of days back.

Photo of Year 12 boarding students at Immanuel College, Adelaide, Australia, courtesy of Thomas Brown.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dad's Passing, One Year On

Today marks the first anniversary of my dad's passing. He succumbed to the side effects of chemo-therapy rather abruptly a year ago and whilst we were grateful that he did not suffer for too long, his sudden passing nevertheless left a void in our lives.

Today we celebrate the life that my dad lived. He was loyal - to family, friends and employer. All his life, my dad only worked for one employer, and he rose from an office boy to the position of CEO in more than 4 decades of service. Family and close friends came second to none. He was compassionate and kind, always putting others first, always considering the plight of the less fortunate. He enjoyed life - a good drink at the Batek Bar, good food with his close circle of friends. He loved unconditionally - my mum, Suk Harn and I. Always supportive was my father in my decisions in life, whether he fully agreed with the paths I have taken or otherwise.

Today, my extended family gathers to remember my father. I think of him often. I think of the good he has done and the good I hope to do. I place importance on family ties as he always did. I live my life the way I see fit as he once told me to do. My dad was a man of few words but his actions were that of a man with character. We miss him. We think of him often. We cherish the great times we had. We honour him by living the good life. Here's to you dad.

Photo of my father on a horse drawn carriage in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, January 2009.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Catching Up

Catching up with friends takes effort. Life takes us on different routes, some more busy than others, and more often than not, a concerted effort is necessary to keep in touch.

For those willing to take that extra step, the resulting experience is worth the while. I am one who is often bogged down with work and I relish the chance to unwind with friends from time to time. Here I am with Shahurain, Khairul, Rizal, Arthur and Zamri, having a chat over nasi lemak and teh tarik a couple of weeks ago. Friends since primary school, we used to only meet up during alumni reunions. We now see each other more often, and like to hang out at Khairul's and Zamri's Nasi Lemak Mak Lang at Forum 19.

Although we've known each other for decades, there is still room for the friendships to grow. And if we were all to make the necessary effort, well, I am sure the rekindled friendships will take on a more meaningful nature.

Photo shot at Forum 19, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Whirlwind Visit

My cousins from Hong Kong, Faiman and Roy as well as the latter's girlfriend Ming, together with some of my aunts and uncles, came to KL for a whirlwind visit. I first met my cousins as adults in May last year when I went there on holiday; prior to that was decades ago when we were young children.

We've been keeping in touch on Facebook since May and though their visit here was only for a couple of days, I had a good time getting to know them better. In fact, I had a blast really. My late father always made sure he made time for family, be it immediate or extended. I do the same, as do my mum and sis. Playing tourist guide and the requisite 'makan' sessions Malaysians are so famous for aside, I believe creating personal connections and building rapport take on far greater importance. Am happy to say that we clicked somewhat and I look forward to nurturing the nascent bonds that we have now established.

Coming from a relatively large extended family, getting along is something we all have to work on from time to time. It takes effort and much diplomacy. Fortunately we have strong ties, well most of us anyways. The past few days have been extremely enjoyable. So much laughter, so much food, so much chatter. Great times indeed!

Photo of Faiman, Roy, Ming and I having lunch.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Events Wizard's 10th Anniversary

I had the privilege of being invited to the dinner in celebration of Events Wizard's 10th Anniversary last evening. True to form, Leticia, Tjun Hong, Shirlyn, Leonard and their wizarding compatriots hosted a truly enjoyable event, one where everyone let their hair down and celebrated with gusto.

It is always a pleasure to celebrate among friends. Leticia and Tjun Hong started out as clients of mine but we have since become good friends. I respect their tenacity and enthusiasm when it comes to work. I appreciate their loyalty and commitment to business relationships and friendship. I see these great traits of theirs rub off on their team members and I am happy to be part of their circle when such opportunities arise.

10 years in event management is quite an achievement, considering how stressful their kind of work can get. But I very much believe that deep down, they derive immense satisfaction from what they do. It always shows in the comments they make when we have conversations post event. So much congratulations again Events Wizard. May this be the first decade of many more to come. Cheers!

Photo of Leticia, Tjun Hong, Shirlyn and Leonard.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I had a meaningful conver-sation with Rizal, my friend from primary school last evening. Rizal's back for the summer holidays from doctorate studies in Sydney and we met up at Nasi Lemak Mak Lang in Forum 19, a venture of another two of our primary schoolmates Zamri and Khairul. Arthur and Shahurain joined us later but as we were the early birds, we had a chance to catch up in person rather than on Facebook.

Our conversation naturally revolved around the happenings in our lives, his in Sydney while pursuing a doctorate in international law, mine in KL. One thing we definitely agree on is contentment, to be content with our lot in life. There are certainly ups and downs in life. The former we celebrate, the latter we learn to deal with. The happy occasions, the sense of fulfilment when an aspiration is achieved, we must appreciate and not take for granted. The challenges, pressures and stress that we come face to face with, well, we just have to tackle them head on. Chin up, best foot forward and hopefully we conquer these little annoyances that appear every now and then. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger and the sense of relief that accompanies the resolution of a problem reinforces the inner strength we all can summon if we want to. It builds character.

Ever so often, we envy others and others envy us. Suffice to say, the grass is always greener on the other side. To be really happy, one has to be contented. Take pleasure in one's circumstances. Acknowledge the good that we have in our lives. Be satisfied yes but always be on the lookout for betterment. To climb higher mountains, to experience new encounters. My friend Rizal would agree I'd think.

Photo of a beautiful sight that caught my eye.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The start of a new year is always a time of optimism. 2010 ended well and 2011 has been great thus far. Yes, we're only a few days into the new year and I am feeling upbeat.

I spent the last few days of 2010 with good friends and I spent the first few days of this year with good friends too. Optimistic friends I might add. Good vibes are perfect catalysts to get one into a positive frame of mind. And a positive outlook is the best way to experience what 2011 has in store.

There is so much to look forward to. New clients, exciting projects, new business deals, family, friendships, travels, why cupid may even strike if the fortune tellers hold true. Whatever life sends our way, I truly believe that the only thing one can do is to embrace them, experience them and perhaps learn a lesson or two. Only then can we grow and come to the realisation that we ought to appreciate the encounters that fate brings. Indeed, life is to be lived.

BBQ dinner hosted by Bunny and Nabil on New Year's Eve.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Yee Sang

I had my first 'yee sang' of the year today at lunch with two of my good friends from my Genting days, Yoke Choo and Tony. Our new year resolution is to meet up for lunch at least once a month and in order to do so, I suggested that we fix the next lunch date every time we meet. This practice been working with regards to lunch with my other two friends, LC and Bunny, the past year, so it shouldn't be any different with these two. So, our February lunch date is set.

Sad to say, Yoke Choo and Tony, in particular the former, are the only ones I keep in touch with regularly from my Genting days. It is always good to catch up as we share a common bond of having worked and lived up in Genting. We have a good laugh over the good ol' times and share plans for the future.

We hope to add another to our lunch company come February. Let's see if Soon Kok makes plans to join us.

Lunch at Grand Palace at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


2011 started with the wedding of my good friend and colleague Sew Chu, or as we know her Ms Chew, to Lim Peng. Theirs is a love story that spanned 30 years and for us who were privileged to be part of their wedding, we certainly left with a sense of hope and faith in the capacity of love, at least for me anyway.

Those of us in the wedding industry who were invited turned out in force at 7.30am, mostly dressed in the lilac theme of the wedding. From then right through to the wedding luncheon, we celebrated with her and her other half, culminating in us singing the Moon Represents My Heart, a song that she requested that we perform during lunch. This was the 3rd time we were singing this song at an industry friend's wedding and as usual, we did not rehearse. Still, it turned out great, with the couple joining all of us on stage for the last few verses.

For those of us in the industry who work weddings day in, day out, it is a pleasure to be part of such a meaningful milestone, especially when fate plays such a wonderful card in uniting 2 after a span of 30 years. It certainly was a very good start to the new year.

Photo of Ms Chew and Lim Peng.