Tuesday, 24 January 2012


My cousins came over to wish my parents “Happy New Year” this morning. My niece is so cute, is she not? She’s growing up fast. Very soon she’ll be leading the boys in a game of chase.

Tomorrow I'll be returning to work.  So ends the 5-day festive weekend, for which I'm a tad glad.  We've been feeding non-stop. 

There is so much food in the house at the moment, it’s crazy.  Boxes of bak kua, pork floss encased inside crispy "love letters" are lying in ambush.  All kinds of chocolates, nuts, dried fruits and assorted cookies stacked up in various parts of the living room and dining area.  And if that ain't enough, Dad's friend brought us her homemade pineapple tarts and a HUGE orange chiffon cake. 

To take a break from the festive feeding frenzy we had canned sardines and bread for dinner tonight.


Sunday, 22 January 2012


The apartment is spick and span.  The floor in every room has been cleaned - once on Friday, twice yesterday and, at my mother's insistence, one more time this afternoon.  The glass in the windows are so clean, they squeak; new curtains are in place; even the new living couch has arrived!

What's the Year of the Dragon without some fierce decor?

It's kinda CNY tradition in my home to have steamed radish cake.  My mother makes a mean 萝卜糕 but she prefers to take things easy these days.  (Actually she spent all her time cleaning the house and left none to make radish cake this year.)  So I went out and ordered a radish cake from a restaurant.

In a few hours, we'll be riding with the Dragon so let me wish you a very successful and prosperous Year of the Dragon.  Eat well, stay healthy and be contented.  For with contentment comes happiness.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Brought these home from the local library for some holiday reading.

With Chinese New Year only three days away, it'll be a busy weekend.  My parents are getting on in age and its only natural that they expect me to take up most of the spring cleaning chores at home.  My mother is a neat freak who spends hours each day cleaning a different part of the house.  As the festive season approaches, she becomes particularly obsessed.  So when she spotted me with these books, she flipped.

"When will you find time to read these?" she wanted to know. "Don't you have cleaning to do?"

It's bad luck to fight with your mother during CNY.  I think I had better go tidy up my room now. 


A surprise gift from my charming French boss!  He wants to show his appreciation for his assistant of six years.  "How sweet!" the ladies in the office cooed.  Such a festive colour too!  This is going to be a great year!


我当然也意识到当时的危机啦。毕竟我不是他亲聘的员工哪!- I'm just a hand-me-down; a "step child" - 所以我誓必要更争气,发挥新加坡人独特的“怕输“精神。同事努力我比他努力,人家拼我比他更拼,要做一名不可缺乏的助理。


Thursday, 12 January 2012


I’m making a conscious effort to consume less processed foods and MSG. 

It is hard, very hard.

Growing up, lunch staples were salted fish, luncheon meat and pickled lettuce from a can. Frequently it was instant noodles, topped with a sunny side up. Until a few years ago, my mother’s favorite cooking companion was The Gourmet Powder (佛手味精). I’m not saying that my grandmother and mother were bad parents because I’m in love with those foods myself and made no effort to avoid them even in adulthood. Potato crisps, bacon, Sichuan pickled mustard, salted egg, hotdogs bought from the frozen foods section – such are the foods that provide comfort and keep my spirits up. So you can understand when I tell you that it is terribly hard to steer myself away from these bad foods.

I’m so heavily addicted to sodium and MSG that around Day 7 or 8 into my diet, I encountered withdrawal symptoms. I was unaware they even existed! There were butterflies in my tummy and an unexplained anxiety nagged me. I was on the verge of hysterics when my mother drilled me to no end over a darn piece of chicken. I had trouble sleeping. My mouth felt bland (not dry - just bland). I needed a drink of water every hour!

The colleague sitting next to me has 3 bottles of homemade cookies lying on the desk. I couldn’t keep my eyes off them! She politely offered them to me and I courteously declined but each time she left her desk for a few minutes, I would think, “If I take a cookie now she wouldn’t notice.” Oh the temptation!

Today at Day 10, I feel decidedly better about myself. For one thing, my skin complexion has improved. I have fewer hunger pangs. I no longer feel bloated and aged. Most importantly, the pain in my left knee seems to have forsaken me!

I’m on the right track.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


On New Year’s Day I cleaned out my storage room and rediscovered a treasure box filled with wistful memories – letters from Tammy dating back to 1991, a bunch of cards from friends and ex-colleagues, handmade birthday cards from my aunt and a some photos.

Tammy’s letters were frequent. Sometimes two a month! Cindy sent greeting cards – one for my birthday, one for Christmas – for 3 years in succession. Anna shared photos of her trip to Australia and one of her niece - a smiling toddler in a bathing suit. Just yesterday, I opened an email from Anna and POOF! That toddler isn’t a toddler anymore but a drop-dead gorgeous young woman. Such a shock it gave me!

Going through all the old mail made me miss the days of the snail mail, when queuing for stamps at the Post Office was fashionable. You craft the letter on your best stationery, race eagerly to the nearest mail box to drop the letter inside it.  Then followed by weeks of sheer anticipation. 

Please Mister Postman, look and see
If there's a letter in your bag for me …

They say it’s a sign of old age when you start to feel nostalgic.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


Can it really be? Are we already in a brand new year? 52 weeks have slipped by silently. What have I achieved? I hope being able to make bread successfully count as achievement!

A friend mentioned to me this morning that his New Year resolution is to try and spend more time with his family and less hours at work. He was getting so used to staying late in the office that on the days when he is actually able to leave the office by 6PM, he actually feels burdened by a sense of guilt. “I felt like I had surely missed out something important.”  Even after he reaches home he still check emails on his BB and attend late night conference calls.

I think he speaks for many of us. Will we allow ourselves to change though?  Here's something to think about:

The way we’re working isn’t working.
No matter how much value we produce today (whether it’s measured in dollars or sales or goods or widgets) it’s never enough. We run faster, stretch out our arms further, and stay at work longer and later.

All this furious activity exacts a series of silent costs: less capacity for focused attention, less time for any given task, and less opportunity to think reflectively and long term. When we finally do get home at night, we have less energy for our families, less time to wind down and relax, and fewer hours to sleep. We return to work each morning feeling less rested, less than fully engaged, and less able to focus. It’s a vicious cycle that feeds on itself.
We’re guided by a fatal assumption that the best way to get more done is to work longer and more continuously. But the more hours we work and the longer we go without real renewal, the more we begin to default, reflexively, into behaviors that reduce our own effectiveness – impatience, frustration, distraction, and disengagement – and take a pernicious toll on others.
The ethic of more, bigger faster generates value that is narrow, shallow, and short term. More and more, paradoxically, leads to less and less.

Extracted from The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz