It was a scorcher last Friday and when I got home, it was a stinking 43deg. With the hot day forecast, I had asked Tress to drop me off at the station, to avoid leaving the car there. Later, we got to a quick dinner before trying to cool our heels at home.

On Saturday, we got busy cleaning the house, after which we went out and did some grocery shopping. There was a “house warming” dinner at Jason’s that night and we wanted to bring something. I threw some chook breasts on the weber, and then did a salad with it, and Tress did a fruit platter/salad, made up mainly of berries. At Jason and Mel’s we caught up with U Marloney/A Hooi and the Hipos, as well as Jason and Mel’s friends who were visiting from Malaysia.

The night before, we had taken a call from Kiddo saying Milo, their lovely pooch, may require surgery for a bad leg. We also learned later, that the vet had also thought he had a more serious condition of a hip problem. So we pretty much spent that Sat morning and part of the arvo, worrying about him. When news finally came through that they were false alarms and the little guy was ok, it brought a flood of relief to Tress and I, as I’m sure to Kiddo and Mic too.

On Sunday, after St Alf’s, we went to our usual local Malaysian place on Doncaster Road. They were going to close for an extended period (about a year) to do some serious renovations so we thought we’d go before that happened. Later, I tidied up the gardens – trimmed the hedges and mowed the lawns and swept down around the house. It was a beautiful day, in stark contrast to just a couple of days earlier. It was close to 6pm by the time I finished, and it felt like one of those tired but contented day/weekend.

Today is my late dad’s birthday. I think of him on this day, each year. In fact I think of everyone in the family, this time of the year, and wished I could be with as many of them as possible. I guess that’s normal and most people feel the same way. Maybe that is part of what it means to be created in the image of God. God wanted too, to be with his family. That’s why he came. Not just to be with his creation family in the flesh, but also so that he could be with them in that deeper sense, like a man wanting to be with his bride/wife, maybe. Or along the lines of numerous other imagery that the Bible in its riches, shows just how much God wants to be with us. I guess my dad’s memory, in some round about way, made me see God’s love through yet another prism. I like Christmas that way.


Kiddo’s New Home, Back in Melb office

I got back to Melbourne last Friday night, and got home just before 9pm. It was wonderful to be back.

The next day, Tress and I slept in a little bit and then went about our usual weekend routine. Kiddo and Mic however, had a big day lined up. Their purchase of their new home was settled the day before and they were to move on Saturday. With a bad toothache and horrible removalists, their day became a tough one but they ploughed through and have now settled into their new home. Their old home, which Tress and I bought for them to live in, is now on the market.

On Saturday night, Tress and I went to a dinner party. It was in the home of a friend Tress had made through her ethereal activities. Of the 6 of us there that night, only 2 weren’t involved in those activities but other than that, they all appeared to be regular and nice folks so it was a pleasant evening of getting to know new people.

On Sunday, I trialed a cook I hadn’t done for a while. While the cook was going, a couple of emails came through from my CEO, who is now in Abu Dhabi to continue to negotiations I had left to return to Melbourne. He had a couple of questions for me and while I responded, I took my time with them, especially the second and follow up one. I later said to Tress I was just uninterested in showing wholehearted enthusiasm, seeing how the company has been quite a laggard in showing appreciation or respect to its staff. It’s  a week out before Christmas and we are yet to receive letters advising salary review/outcome of the performance exercise etc. It’s actually ok if we dont get a review, considering how sloppy the economy and business has been, but if you’re going to get staff to go through jumping hoops from the performance review exercise, you need to show you care about communicating the outcome in a timely fashion.  To be so careless in that space shows a lot of disrespect and lack of care for staff.

This morning, I’m back to my routine of getting up in the wee hours and hopping onto the train before 6am. My usual 5.45am is now getting ever more congested. I guess no matter how ordinary I feel about my employers, as long as there is work to provide me with a routine, I’d not be unhappy. Especially with the coming Christmas holidays.


It’s 10pm local time in Abu Dhabi. I’m at this moment, still exchanging emails with my boss, the Group General Counsel. It has been about 17 hours since I started the day working on this contract we’re chasing here. I don’t recall any other time I’ve pushed harder than when I worked on the Maxis refinancing and listing deal in Malaysia, back in circa 2002/2003. I could not have imagined working like this again, nearly a couple of decades hence.

Whatever the outcome, this has been an experience to savour.

Chasing deals in the Union…

I’m sitting in a hotel room at downtown Abu Dhabi. I arrived early Monday morning, and have spent the better part of the past 30 hours or so, in the hotel.

I was asked to come here by both my boss and the CEO – they’re trying to get a big contract across the line and since Friday last week, we have been plugging away.

I stole away for a couple of hours yesterday arvo, after I knew my boss and other higher up’s in the US would likely not respond to my emails and doc until several hours later.

I jumped on a ride share and headed for the grand mosque that bears a ruler’s name. It was a magnificent building, more beautiful in many respects than even the venerable Taj Mahal. It felt however, that there was a lack of soul in this place. The Taj was the outcome of a purported romantic tale whereas this piece is a staid geopolitical showcase that demonstrated its owners’ material riches. Its grandeur cannot be denied however, and  I’m glad I took the opportunity this tiny window offered me, to see this mosque.

A rain of responses came in overnight as I woke up around 3am, still trying to get around to local time, which is 7 hours behind Melbourne. I felt a bit dejected as my hours of work were nitpicked with nary a word of appreciation of my overhauling of the docs. I had come home to Melbourne from Malaysia the week before, to a draft contract that was already in-flight. I was asked to take over and a few days later, in a misjudged call, the CEO decided to alter the structure of the contract and guess who had to do the heavy lifting… yet all that work just went seeking nitpicking comments instead.

Before I jumped in to deal with the numerous responses that came in overnight however, a thought crept into my head. I responded and just resumed my reading of Genesis. I had re-started about a few days prior, having completed the magnificent last few chapters of Revelations. As I finished reading, I asked the Lord to help me ignore my ego. Much of my annoyance had to do with my being unappreciated. Or more precisely, all that work that went unmentioned, although the whole group of SVP’s had relied on it. As always, if focus was on the task and outcome and the ego is put aside, it becomes much easier to deal with. With that behind me, I did some urgent responses, sent a note to my boss asking if he wanted to chat, and having him responded saying to ring in about an hour, I ducked down to the gym and worked up a sweat before coming back to the room to speak with my boss.

The work continues and the email exchanges, calls, and scheduling of meetings resumed. I guess the few days I’m in this ancient union of emirs’ domains will only see me stuck looking into the screen of my laptop.


Sim et al (and a tale of Two Tua Yees)

Tress and I went back to Malaysia a couple of weeks ago. Sim, my sister who has lived in Penang since she and Daniel got married more than 20 years ago, had moved into their new home nearly 20 years ago. We hadn’t been to their new home, as they moved in around the time we came over to Melbourne. Sim has been unwell and has recently been advised to change her chemo treatments.

We got into Klang early Saturday on 16 Nov. We took a cab to Tress’ parents’ home. A couple of days later, Tress and I got on a coach and traveled up north to Penang and spent the next few days with Sim and Daniel. Isaac, their younger son who had only recently started his university course, had also come home. He had chosen a university in Hong Kong and events there meant he, like most other students on his campus, left for home.

For a few nights, Sim and Daniel and Tress and I sat around their beautiful round table with a marble top, in their “dry” kitchen, and chatted. By the second night, Daniel started opening up more and to hear him articulate the turmoils within, that are well camouflaged on the outside, was to know and connect with him and Sim, on a deeper level. The visit, which until then had  only had a theoretical reason, then made a whole lot more sense. All that flight time, coach travel, heat, noise, humidity and everything else that often stamp a trip to Malaysia, made sense for those conversations and time spent with Sim, Daniel and Isaac. Isaac too, has become a sensible, articulate and responsible adult. It was sheer joy to listen to him talk about his campus experience, even thought it had only been a short journey for him thus far.

We returned to Klang with Sim and Daniel and Isaac. They were going to help Nicole pack and clear out from her campus lodgings. She had been at Monash Sunway the past couple of years and was going to continue her medical course in another state next year. We learned that she too, had had a rough few months. A model student like her brother, she had probably not, hitherto, experienced any risks of failure in her studies. But her mum’s illness had been rough on her, particularly as her studies were on a subject that a direct relation to that illness. For the first time, she feared an adverse outcome to her finals. At this point, she is probably ok and I have continued to keep her, along with Daniel, Sim and Isaac, in my prayers every day.

The next day after returning from Penang, the whole family on my mum’s side, celebrated a birthday. My Tua Yee had turned 80 and the whole mob got together in a local restaurant to celebrate the occasion. Enoch, my cousin who has been in Singapore for yonks, came back with his family to celebrate his mum’s big bash. It was wonderful to catch up with them and everyone else.

The day after the big bash, Daniel and Sim were going to return to Penang. So we all – Tress and I, Sim and family, my brother David and his wife, and Mei my sister and Goh her hubby YJ, their younger son –  huddled at my mum’s and chatted for a bit. TIB, my uncle, came along too. That arvo, soon before the Penangites took off, we heard Tress’ Tua Yee, who had been unwell and had been at an intensive care unit, would not last the day. So we decided to tag along with Tress’ brother to go see her.

On the way there however (she lived a distance away, about an hour from Tress’ parent’s home) we learned she had passed on. When we got to the house, many of her family had gathered. We stayed a while.

We attended the wake service the next evening, as well the funeral on the next day. We were to return to Melbourne on a flight later that night so to be immersed in a funeral that had all the Buddhist/Taoist rites, was quite an experience that reminded me of the complex community I had grown up in.

We came back last Thursday and after surfing on the momentum of unpacking and cleaning up, we finally had time to rest up and clear our minds on Saturday. Back in St Alf’s on Sunday, I started to feel I was home again.

Trips to Malaysia always bring mixed feelings. I like our life in Melbourne. It is now our home. It has been for the last 15 years. I never stopped missing however, the times we have with the extended family in Malaysia.