Remembering


My late father passed on 16 years ago.

10 years ago, when I thought of him, I had this post on social media:

I wish we talked more

Maybe about politics

And count every MCA flaw

I wish we talked more

I wish I rang more

To talk of grandpa’s antics

Or about grandma’s guffaws

I wish I rang more

I wish I visited more

Especially when you were sick

Or when you were sore

I wish I visited more

I could wish no more

Talk, ring, visit or anything at all

I only wanted to talk more…

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Life… Journeying On


Tress and I went to Flavours of Mekong on Friday night, for our TGIF meal. Francis, the owner/operator, was gracious and engaging as usual. We struck up a casual conversation with a family at the next table, who has a young son doing Year 8 and looks the happiest child. Strangely, he loves fish so we recommended our favourite, the barramundi assam. We also had the beef rendang and some fishcakes. As always however, we packed away the unfinished food so that we’d have a couple of meals that we’d throw into the freezer for whenever.

We have been watching/bingeing on the Yellowstone series for a couple of weeks now, and that was what we did again when we got home from our TGIF dinner. For some reason, I didn’t end up getting a good sleep so Sat morning I was a bit twitchy.

We teed up a catch up with Ruth and Jonathan, Tress did some quick vacuuming and I quickly swept the driveway and car ports, as well as refill the bird seed dish, which them promptly saw the return of those beautiful Eastern Rosellas. The recent wet weather has kept them away and I hadn’t been filling that dish with their food too, as anything I put in would be quickly washed away.

Sunday at St Alf’s it was end of year thanksgiving and sharing morning. We were asked to huddle into small groups to share our thanksgivings – I said I was grateful and thankful, that we’re sort of back to normal now, being able to meet and see each other in person. I was also thankful that Kiddo and Mic would be parents in March next year.

Later as people walked up to share what they’d been thankful for, it showed again, that we all have our journeys that we walk through. Often, God is there without us knowing.

Ruth, Jon and Micah showed up later that arvo and it was wonderful to catch up again. Micah is a wonderful kid – he’s in Year 1 now and he’s obviously a smart boy. Ruth has been busy with her practice as a Geriatrician in the Kyneton area and Jon has been busy with the home, Micah and his car projects. They had been travelling and will travel again in a few weeks, when they’d join the rest of the clan in Klang and beyond, for the family reunion event up at Frasers’ Hill. I had thought about going for my first one this year, but now, I’m just excited about being in Canberra from mid-March next year, to share in Kiddo and Mic’s wonderful journey receiving the arrival of Little A.

Red Pill Decision


The weather continues to be pretty ordinary. The forecast for the weekend was that it would be wet and cold. This, about 10 days out from summer.

There was a dry window from around 9am Sat so we seized that opportunity to tidy up the outsides – trimmed the huge James Sterling on the eastern side, mowed the lawns and swept up the pavement and driveway. At about 12.30pm, we headed to the Chase and did some grocery shopping and had a quick lunch. Tress had a LinC AGM at 2pm, and I was headed for Box Hill for a St Alf’s Men’s Group talk by Jeremiah Paul, a former Pakistani muslim who is now an ordained minister in Dandenong North. Some 50+ men turned up at the backyard of the Hamers’ home. The rains held out for the most part but it was blowy and a touch cold right through.

I got home a bit after 4pm. We walked the little guys and then headed out to Caulfield/Malvern East to catch up with YC. YC is an old friend from Klang and she has been coming to Melbourne to be with her kids who had come out here for uni. The younger one, has had some challenges in his course. We listened to her talk about his journey, chatted and caught up generally, in a modest Korean restaurant near Carnegie station. After dinner we sat outside a cafe in the shopping center to catch up some more. It had been raining and when it stopped for a bit we took a walk to the shopping center as our car was parked there. We also bought some donuts from a famous donut shop (Daniel’s) for YC and her “kids”. As we chatted on, a little boy of maybe 8 or 9, came up to us and started talking in Mandarin that is thickly coated in a Shanghainese accent. We struggled to understand what he was saying. YC, who had a primary school Chinese education, had to slow him down. His mum was just at the table next to ours and they looked like they had just come in from the rain.

That little boy and his mum had just arrived in Melbourne 2 months earlier. He’s enrolled in a primary school in Malvern East and she’s here to be with him. They spoke next to no English and it must be a real struggle for them. The mum went into the Woolies supermarket and the boy stayed with us and kept talking. He sounded like a precocious and smart kid, and even aired some dirty laundry about his dad having another family on the side. He must have had some weird ideas (that bordered on misogyny) drummed into him, probably by his dad. Amazingly, when we asked his name, his name was remarkably close to mine. My Chinese name is Teh Thian Hwa, and only the Hwa is different to that little boy’s. It felt like I was talking to my “little brother”. We eventually left, dropped YC back at her home in Malvern East, and headed home.

It was raining heavily as we drove home and I said to Tress even though we were only 20-25 minutes from home, it felt like we were somewhere we hadn’t been and the rain made it feel like we were returning from trip of sorts. Our routine has been within a 5-10km radius. That is how settled our lives have become. In turn, that is what makes the Murdoch Children Research Institute escapade feel like such a red pill proposition.

The next morning, as I took the little Padawan for a walk, I felt a bit under the weather. I sneezed constantly and the sniffles kept up and refused to go away. Tress and I were on communion duty but I decided to text Rene who was to conduct the service that morning, and said I wouldn’t be able to proceed. I stayed home while Tress went to St Alf’s. That allowed me to rest a little and I felt a bit better again. The rest of the day returned to the familiar.

We had had a wonderful catch up with A Hooi/U Marloney and Jason/Mel on Friday night too. We hadn’t caught up with then together as a group, for a little while now so that was a bit special. For most of the weekend however, I was thinking about Jeremiah Paul, my “little brother” and MCRI. All involved sharp inflexion points. Like the Red Pill.

Can you help…


I just noted the date of this entry – it was exactly a month ago now.

I went for a first round interview a few weeks ago, and about a week ago. I was told they were going for an internal candidate. I felt a great sense of relief, as that meant I didn’t have to make the decision of going or staying. That decision had been made for me. I thought that was the answer to my/our prayers. I had also confided in an old friend who rang me a few days later, to “advise” me to not proceed. He thought I’d be better off staying where I am. So to be told I’d not proceed with second round interviews was like a burden lifted from my shoulders, personal disappointment notwithstanding.

A few days ago however, AR rang me again. He said the COO had really liked me and had wanted me to go to the second round of interviews. A member of the panel (in the first interview) however, thought I was a bit too introverted for the role. The COO wasn’t too keen with the internal candidate and had asked if I could be included in a second round interview.

So here I am, back where I was about 3 weeks ago. Back in the frame. Back to the dilemma I had written about in that entry.

If you’re reading this and you have some thoughts or advice, please feel free to comment or contact me. I’d really appreciate hearing from you to have a better handle of how to decide.

Always tired…


We were at the oval with our dogs yesterday arvo, when the group we were with let out yawns one after another. It was a humid day, with La Nina ruling the roost in recent weeks/months. Thankfully, the storm didn’t show up till late so we were able to spend the day out and about.

Those yawns tell us something I guess. Many of us feel tired and I have felt tired for months. Low energy levels appear to be the plague that refuses to go away.

It was St Alf’s 60th anniversary yesterday. The service was terrific. Past vicars and other staff members showed up, and told of their times in St Alf’s together with parts of scriptures that helped them reflect those times. Helen Petering the muso, chose a string of songs that represented their respective eras. They evoked an emotion in me that made me nostalgic and I thought of my days in the Klang Chinese Methodist Church. That church (“KCMC”) has a history of over 120 years and had I continued to live in Klang, I would have been in that church for over 50 years. As it were, we’d been in St Alf’s for just under 10 years and it hasn’t felt like we’d been there that long.

After the service, there was to be a barbie lunch but I told Tress that probably meant snags on white bread and some salad. Tress has never taken to snags but I guess the deal breaker was more down to my low energy levels. I was just tired and making conversations with folks in St Alf’s was going to require an energy level that I wasn’t up to. So we headed off after the service and had lunch at our usual place in Donvale.

The day before, had also threatened to be wet so we didn’t make a lot of plans. We walked the little one in the morning – took advantage of the dry weather – and then just pottered around the house before heading off for lunch and grocery shopping. Later that arvo, Tress had her ethereal pursuits and I spent some time cleaning the front windows and the sliding doors, as well as bits and bobs around the house. I then cooked the boys’ food before walking them again and then putting up my feet for the night.

We had gone to a Thai restaurant on Friday night – the Yaring Thai in Mitcham – which was very good. A hole in the wall sort of place, it served the best Thai food in our neck of the woods. The constant stream of customers nipping in for their takeaways, was testament and affirmation of our thoughts about the place. After dinner, we went home to stumble on the Shawshank Redemption on TV. We hadn’t watched this for years so we sat through it, reliving the brilliant Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman characters. SR always brings a smile to my face. The story about hope and perseverance never tires. Maybe that’s what I need to deal with this always-tired feeling.

Warmer, more “at rest”


It has been very wet in recent months. When we drove up to Canberra recently, the landscape was very lush and green. The shrubs, hedges and lawns in our home have also shown rigorous growth. The James Sterling has been growing like they’ve been on the juice. They’ve grown a lot and the foliage has been thick and lush. All this meant I couldn’t put off a full on hedge trimming (and related) job for too long. Thankfully, it was dry on Saturday so we planned to work on the garden to tidy things up.

The boys too, had their grooming session booked in on Saturday so they too got clipped and cleaned up, as I worked on the garden. It took me the whole morning, from just after 9am, to well past 1pm but at the end of it all, it all looked far less messy. The James Sterling, at this moment as I work from my study and look out the window, look far neater. It was a worthwhile effort.

We dropped by The Glen for a quick lunch and did some grocery shopping, before returning to walk the boys. I had felt drained by then, as the morning’s work, coupled with a late night on Friday, had seen my “body battery” plunge. We had indulged ourselves on Friday night – having had a really nice dinner out at Enrik’s we came back and binged on a few episodes of “City on a Hill”. Kevin Bacon is very good value and language aside, the story lines, acting and everything else was very enjoyable. I guess the language just comes with the setting – the grotty context of police work in Boston… Anyway, we watched several episodes and only went to bed near midnight, which is about 2-3 hours past our usual bedtime.

So we went to bed early on Sat night, and it felt like summer is well and truly around the corner, at long last. On Sunday, it was an “all age” service in St Alf’s and Ross and Naomi put on a terrific presentation to capture the essence of Hebrews 1 and present it to the younger audience. It was creative without sacrificing the gist of the text, and had really effective application points too. Peter was back from long service leave, and he made the announcement that Mike was leaving so head up another parish. Mike McNamara has been the minister in the service we attend, since we started at St Alf’s so it was a sad piece of news for us personally.

After St Alf’s we headed to a little Malaysian restaurant in Donvale. It is one of our regular local joints and we bumped into some very old friends – people from Klang. Ronald and Cat, and Andrew Hang and Bee Lye, were together and we chatted to catch up just a little bit. Andrew even paid for our meals so it was a very pleasant occasion 😊.

Later that arvo, I did the usual cooks – for the boys as well as for our own lunches. When that was done, we took the boys to the oval. I was decked out in shorts and a polo and the warm day, the cooks, the catch up with old friends – they all add up to make me feel like I’m in familiar territory, which made me feel warm and fuzzy inside as well. Physically tired but at rest, mentally and emotionally.

Awe and Wonder of a Cup Weekend


We trekked up to Canberra over the Cup Weekend. We left just after 8am on Saturday morning, with the two furry little guys tucked into their beds on the back seat. The older one whines at the start of every drive but he’s done this trip many times. It was however, a first experience for the younger Padawan. He got a bit distressed so we stopped numerous times to calm him down and let him walk around the bushes a little bit. We arrived late in the arvo and later that night, we went to a Korean joint for a very good barbie dinner.

The next day we walked the furry members of the family and then stopped at a local cafe for breakfast and very good coffee. The local joint is owned and run by a young bloke with a young family and he came across as a really nice guy. Later, we went to a local Baby Bunting and looked at baby stuff. Kiddo told me about a whizz bang bassinet (“Snoo”) that helps a baby sleep better but BB didn’t have it. We looked at other stuff however, before heading to do some shopping at a DFO styled place and then to lunch at a bakery nearby.

In the arvo, we went back to their home and Kiddo prepped the week’s lunches and I cooked some food for the “boys”. Later that night, we went to Kiddo and Mic’s church – Crossroads – at the ANU, and listened to a really good sermon by Marcus Reeves, the minister, about the Word of God. I wouldn’t try to set out any points as I wouldn’t know where to start – there were so many great points, woven together really well. The link is here.

Kiddo and Mic were at work on Monday and it was terribly wet (as it had been all weekend) so we just pottered around., before catching up with Desmond and Siew Lean, Mic’s parents, in a Chinese Yum Cha restaurant nearby.

The highlight of the trip however (albeit for a grand total of some 5 minutes), was the 20 week ultrasound near Canberra Hospital. To see the images and footages of little Abbey moving around on the screen, took my breath away. The wonder of God’s creation played out like no other creatures of His, before our very eyes. It brought back images of me in that delivery room in the hospital in Subang Jaya all those years ago, when I saw a purplish little Kiddo turned into a bright, beautiful baby, all within a moment of wonder.

After the imaging session, we had brunch in a cafe nearby where we stuffed ourselves silly, before taking that long and arduous drive back to Melbourne. It rained heavily for the most part, and the potholes became camouflaged so it required extra concentration to make the journey safely. I was jellied when we got home and we went to bed very shortly after unpacking and headed to the shops for a quick grocery shopping.

What a Cup Weekend…

Weekend life resumes normality


Tress and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary a few months ago. We had Tress’ Auntie Hooi and her hubby Uncle Marloney with us and since then, they have been talking about catching up with us for a meal – their shout. We finally caught up for this on Friday night. We had a really good time just chatting over some lovely food at the Flavours of Mekong restaurant at Nunawading. They told us about Ray and Leslie his new wife, about Justine their youngest, who has just landed a role with Denton’s, and about Nat and her partner Chris. We also talked about the wider family, as well as what we’d been up to in church etc. Francis the owner, as always, loved to hold court and joined us occasionally and kept the conversations and exchanges going in a lively manner. We were there until nearly closing time.

On Saturday, it was very wet in the morning so we just pottered around at home and did the homework to prepare for the St Alf’s small group discussion, which we were rostered to lead this week. We then headed out to lunch and grocery shopping. The rains dried up later in the arvo so we took the little boys out for their walks, before we did a really nice smoked salmon on the weber go anywhere.

On Sunday, we did the usual rounds of St Alf’s and lunch. Rene spoke on Rev 21 and as always, the sense of hope and renewal is a fantastic dose of positive mindsets. He suggested that is how we are to base our present day living – how true is that… Later that arvo, I did a quick mowing of the lawns, cleaned up after that, and then smoked some pork tenderloins on the weber go anywhere, to be used in a special fried rice later. All done just after 4pm, we again took the little boys for their walks. The rains had dried up and the day turned for the better (much much better) and we just soaked in the sun.

The Friday night catch up’s, the housework, the cooking on the weber go anywhere, and the talk on Rev 21, all added up to be a really pleasant weekend, (very) damp weather notwithstanding.

15 Years at Vicki St


15 years ago on this day, we moved into our present home. It’s the longest I have lived in any house.

  • Kampong Jawa, Klang: From birth until maybe Primary 1 (6-7 years)
  • Taman Melawis, Klang: Primary 1 – Primary 4 (circa 3 years?)
  • Palm Grove, Klang: Primary 4 – 1985 (circa 10 years)
  • Sydney, Australia: 1986-1990 (5 years)
  • Palm Grove, Klang – same house as above : 1991 – 1992 (2 years)
  • Taman Berkeley, Klang: 1992 – 2004 (12 years)
  • Mount Waverley, Melbourne: 2004 – 2006 (< 2 years)
  • Burwood East, Melbourne: 2006 – 2007 (< 2 years)
  • Forest Hill, Melbourne: 2007 – present

We received a card a couple of days ago, from the real estate agents who sold us this house.

Framing of a different kind


I first met AR when I was looking for a role, after a bad experience with Melbourne Markets. This was way back in early 2007. He helped me land the AIA gig then and later, helped me land a couple more. A few weeks ago, AR contacted me out of the blue and said he had a role that he thought would suit me. He asked if I would be interested. I wasn’t looking but because it was AR I said I’d take a look. It certainly looked interesting and last Friday, he and I had an online chat to explore that a little bit further. At the end of that chat, he asked that I write a short “executive summary” of my career. That made me think in ways I hadn’t before, but I quickly wrote something that looked like this:

I am a senior lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in broad commercial and corporate practice. Broadly, my practice comprises of two chapters – the first in Malaysia, where my initial 13 years culminated as a General Counsel of a financial services group in Kuala Lumpur, and the second, in Melbourne (mainly) where I am currently the sole counsel of a large Australian IT and software company. [ ] is a well-respected organisation that contributes immensely to the community. It will be a privilege to have my career culminate in a Head of Legal role that contributes to an organisation like [ ].

I am a calm practitioner who takes a pragmatic and long-term view of matters before me. The outcomes matter as much as the journey and process that my team and other stakeholders experience with me. I am as happy that I succeed, as I am that my team does. It gives me deep joy and satisfaction that my team flourish, individually and collectively. I derive great satisfaction when I become trusted and seen as dependable. I look forward to the opportunity to play a role with other [ ] employees and team members.

I believe every person has good and bad days. A “bad” person has good days and a “good” person has bad days. One looks forward to and share in the joys of those good days that a “bad” person has, and walk closely with and lend a hand over the shoulder of a “good” person when he/she has a bad day. This belief gives me joy and hope and helps me engage with everyone as positively as I can.

After over 30 years, I remain interested in the law. I continue to engage with what and how the courts and our legislatures think. I read judgments, exposure drafts, opinions and articles in relation to an ever-wider range of matters. These materials inform my views of the sorts of matters organisations need to be thinking about. An organisation can continue to flourish when it journeys alongside and contributes positively to the community that gives our rule makers the licence to make and develop the law. It will be such a privilege to come alongside [ ] to contribute and provide support in the way I know best, to help it to continue flourishing so that it can continue to contribute to the community.

I have been struggling to make sense of this – on the one hand, this looks like an opportunity to step up in what is possibly my final dance, and end my career on a higher note. On the other, I’m not sure I consider this a priority for me anymore. At this stage of my life as well as my career, all I want is to continue to work in a way that lets me live the life I have come to accept, or even enjoy. I’m not sure if a job that lets me finish my career “on a higher note” but would disrupt that sense of priority, is what I should be shooting for. After all, I’m happy where I am, and have slowly but surely built good working relationships with folks there. It is however, a very good opportunity. It is a highly respected organisation, it sounds like a terrific role, and it pays some 30% more than my current role. Is this a “bird in hand” scenario? Watch this space I guess…

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A couple of weekends ago I caught up with an old friend. I had caught up with Tham Fuan almost a year ago now, and it was a positive experience. I had asked Tham Fuan if he thought there were others I should catch up with and he mentioned David Chiang. That has been on my “to-do” list since and better late than never for sure, I finally caught up with David two Saturdays ago. It was really good to chat with him again. We spoke about our families mainly. He was expecting to be a grandparent soon, with a second grandchild to come middle next year. It turned out that a couple of days ago, the first arrived. I received a message with a photo of that beautiful child, held lovingly and proudly by his father. I could almost feel the sense of pride and joy David had when he sent that message. I told him too, about Kiddo and Mic – that they too are expecting to be parents in March next year. We also reminisced our early days in the Klang church. He recalled those days when he and I and other dads were waiting for our kids to finish Sunday School classes. We would be at the car port area of the “white house” behind the church, “chewing the fat”. That mansion – the “white house” has since been demolished and a new church building has been built.

That was more than 20-25 years ago.

In writing the above “summary” I realised it has been over 15 years since I first met AR.

More and more recollections are of things in decades past. This really frames a perspective that I ought to consider in my decision making process. It really is the last quarter now. I need to consider how I finish this game. Should I think about the experience of playing in this final quarter, or what the scoreboard and stats would look like? Should it be both?