Next phase soon


I’ve felt less energetic and a bit tired the past couple of days. Maybe it’s the mounting work, maybe it’s the thought of another unsettling few weeks ahead.

This weekend we head up to Canberra – for the last time in the next year and a half. The next time we’d head up there would probably be sometime early 2015.

We’d likely be filling the X-trail to its brim, with kiddo’s stuff. Thankfully, she has managed to dispose her little mini-bar fridge and she’d be getting rid of a few more bulky items in the next few days.

When we get back to Melbourne, we’d spend about 3+ weeks with her before we all head off to that little red dot close to our previous home. She’ll be there for the next year and a half while Tress and I continue to live our lives here in Melbourne.

I have never taken to Singapore, for one reason or another.

As a kid, I remember following my parents and an uncle and his family to Singapore for a holiday. We were crammed into a Morris Minor and somewhere on the way there, the roads were flooded and we all had to get out and had people push the car through the flood for us.

A few years later, when we were a bit grown, we made a similar trip. I remember staying in a hotel known as the Apollo Hotel. My brother loved the long bath novelty so much, he soaked himself in it for hours and caught a fever.

After that it was all business trips. As a young solicitor in my first firm, I went there as a property lawyer to help with real estate transactions – acting for a property developer who was selling high end condos to Singaporeans. That was the first time I heard KL businessmen calling Singaporean investors “birds”. Singaporeans were known to say “cheap, cheap” when they are in Malaysia looking for investment properties.

Several trips had me down to see the Peregrine Securities office – they were the investors in the investment bank I was working in. The MD was an ex-marine who chewed endlessly on gums whenever he was in KL, because you couldn’t find any of that stuff in Singapore.

In the final days of my tenure in that bank, I made a trip down and on the way back, I had my passport impounded for political reasons. That was soon after Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and his businessmen friends and their businesses were targeted. It was a miserable time for me.

When I returned to private practice in 2001, I was then doing a piece of work involving ABN Amro bank in Singapore. They were financiers for Maxis, a huge telco who was about to be floated. Complicated security swapping arrangements had to be put in place and a director was such a taskmaster that for closing, I had gone into the office at my usual time of 8am, worked till about 9.30pm that night, then was asked to board a flight to Singapore that night at 11pm. We got there close to midnight, left our stuff in the hotel and went straight to the lawyers’ office for the closing work. Fullerton Hotel was reputed to be a terrific hotel but I never saw more than a quick glance of the bed and bathroom. My colleague and I were stuck in that lawyers’ office from 1am till just after 7pm . We had been working something like 38 hours non stop, and had about 2 months of 6-day, 14 hour days preceding it. The firm cashed in big time but we were wasted. In those 2 months, we’d work all day, finish a draft, send it to ABN Amro around 8pm, and were asked to hang around to wait for their comments. We’d get those comments at 9+ and respond to  them for as long as they could wait for us. That whole deal sort of sealed my dislike for Singapore – it was work, work, work – all to get ahead.

My final gig before coming to Oz was with another investment bank who also had deals with Singapore banks and that too, saw me making frequent trips to Singapore, all of which were totally forgettable affairs, because it was office-taxi-airport-plane-airport-taxi-office-taxi-airport-plane-taxi-home type of trips.

Relatively recent trips have comprised of a cousin’s wedding and a stopover…the wedding was good and fun and was just about the best memories but that too was relatively quick.

I guess that is why I have never taken to Singapore – everything was so quick. In and out, bang bang bang… move move move. What is life if full of care – no time to stand and stare…

Maybe this time, I’d take time with things. Maybe bring a book that requires lingering. Tan Twan Eng’s Gift of Rain, maybe (assuming I’d finished Garden of Evening Mist by then).

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