Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ninety Days

Hey it's got to come sooner or later. Got news from my friends working at TeleTech that the program TechSolutions is finally closing down as the client will not be continuing the contract with us. Bummer!

That's the nature of call center folks. You set up fast and you gain lots of experience out of it dealing with technology, people and client. I know I did when I was there and I have to admit the experience working with an MNC was enriching for the professional development. It opened many doors for me. A few years back, together with a few close friends of mine - we were blazing the industry with our enthusiasm and ferocity to just move forward. You learned, you made a mistake, you picked yourself up and brushed failure off and still at it.

Well that was circa 2000 - 2003. Now call centers in Singapore are finding it tough competing with emerging (I call it cheaper) markets in KL, India and even Philipines. Why the heck should companies hire locals when they could do so in other countries with cost substantially reduced? That's the reality.

The flip side of it all is that you can't never ever duplicate the level of quality Singapore has or try to bring it or emulate it in India or KL. I know this personally because I was in the thick of it all in this field.

One of the main challenges in setting up a call center abroad is to train agents that can be proficient enough speaking in English. And if you're supporting a global product, you need to sound decent and get rid of that local accent. Call centers pay big bucks hiring consultants to do these trainings. Sometimes I really pity the agents whom we put through a rigorous training programme for them just to sound like an 'angmoh.' Lol! Talk about another form of colonial subjugation! But it's all good!

From what I heard, some of my friends were offered to go to KL to work there for a period of time. Some are left uncertain of their future as management tries to find the best plan for them. Others have approximately 90 days to regroup.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I'm completely Sore

Usually when I run, I'd go about with my business. I won't give any thoughts to the other runners on the track. But last night was different. Lol ~ maybe I was running like a granny who's afraid to burst a blood vessel, but I was really pacing myself because I didn't want to wake up the next morning feeling like shit - like kind of how I'm feeling right now as I'm typing this away.

Excluding the ego ache suffered when someone much older passes you; (seriously there was this senior citizen who ran faster than me,) runners regularly experience three types of pain: muscle pain during or immediately after running; muscle soreness occurring 24-48 hours later, and muscle cramps. And here I am about to go Ubin for some cycling, am I crazy? I'm delusional and I'm treating my body like I'm still 18 & 19. I remember when I was doing my BMT at Tekong. Fuh! ... those were the days when all of me were lean and mean and hormonally raging forever, ahaha... Now I'm still lean but with a little flab, which can't be good.

And geez, I'm looking outside my window now, the sky isn't really cooperating.

Anyways, back to the little prep for my IPPT this August - I didn't even bother timing myself. Then again, maybe tonight I'd actually finish 6 rounds of the track.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


If it wasn't for my O2, I swear I would have missed my blood test appointment at my camp last week. It reminded me of another medical appointment I was supposed to go at the end of August, and today it prompted me again that my IPPT was due before the window closes on my date of birth in August.

Heck I've yet to embark on any conditioning exercise program to build up my stamina. The only running I did was when I wanted to catch the bus. Other than that, at the rate I've been putting this on hold - I think I'm doomed for major struggle. I've seen fitter guys slog the 2.4km like their chests were about to explode, and right now I can't be sure that my running won't be as laborious as an obese run. That's right, it's not a pretty sight.

Most of these obese or unfit runners know that they're going to fail the 2.4km, yet they still trudge on with that desperate mix of run and walk. The worse thing to me is that awful feeling of wanting to complete the last round but you can't as you're totally sapped. The feeling is more fcuked-up if you realised that you've just missed the timing in order to get a monetary incentive.

Urgh... where's my Adidas? I'm running tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Losing It

Not going anywhere, not just yet ...

My old man is recuperating from a cataract operation and that has taken loads of worries off my mind. I can't imagine going through that trouble when I'm old, but when your eyesight starts to fail you I guess operation is the only way to go. I was supposed to send him to the hospital last week but couldn't make it because I woke up late. I was still in the bathroom when they were about to leave the house and when I got back home, there he was, already on his bed, with an eye-patch on his right eye. I came to his side and gave him a foot massage and talked about the operation. I hate it when vulnerability hits you in the face because I just don't know how to act in those circumstances. Thank goodness it was only a minor operation. Not like the time when my elder sister had to go for chemotheraphy - I remembered I totally lost it at her bedside in the hospital.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Acquainted With The Night

I wish I could tell you that I enjoy this week as much as a little kid enjoy his days in the playground. But that feeling never came all week, and thus blogging my thoughts away was the last thing to do as I was terribly uninspired to write anything. What is wrong with me?

Times like these I'd be dangerously close to being a recluse and end up spending the night reading. That's right, just reading or playing the guitar.

And it's ironic that in my quiet moments too, the listlessness in me will be at its most dizzying heights, that sleep itself will be the only panacea.

But lately sleep has not been uninterrupted for me. Many times, and I don't know why, I stir up at about 4am, and in those few seconds of consciousness feel compel to perform the night prayer. Unfortunately I always end up defeated by 'subtle persuasions.'

I'm leaving you with these first 3 lines from a poem by Robert Frost. If you like Frost, good for you. For me these lines are my sleeping pills to bliss.

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Good Morning

My boss is doing his reservist training till 15th July. One would think that'll be the end of ad-hoc request now that he's busy deployed somewhere in Mandai or Seletar area wasting time under the hot sun, while heating up combat rations and scraping mud off his boots or shooing mosquitoes. But no... he's back in the form of email. Times like these I feel like cursing technology but I can't because it's the same entity that gives us blogs!

I'm pretty much cornered in a quicksand of projects and I'm trying my best to get out of them as soon as possible. Yesterday I managed to finalise some dates for a project only to receive a 'request' to do a presentation tomorrow. No slides no nothing and I have to start from scratch on this!

[Battle Mode: Bitch, Ph.d for this morning]

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Cuban Thoughts on a Blessed Singapore Saturday

Saturday is here again and I'm truly blessed. I'm not complaining - work is extremely hectic and stressful but all that don't matter because I have Cuba L.A. playing in my CD player as I'm typing this.

Listen to sample 3. Lagrimas Negras or Dark Tears. If that sound and the wonderful searing vocals do not evoke or give you images of Cuba, I don't know what to say.

Ok ok.. for those who lack the imagination this is my stream of consciousness now - cigars, havana, motorcycle diaries, che guevara, revolution, guerilla, hemingway, trinidad & tobago, habanera, castro, latin, beats, drums, drums, congos, mangoes, plantations, bananas, Jean Rhys, poets, streets, women, sweat, freedom, sanctions, mojito, tropical, beats lol ~ i could go on and on...

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Malay Annals, Raffles, National Day

The National Day 2005 is coming. And again you'd see and hear all that saccharine community songs being played to the max on TVs and radio - if you're diabetic you'd be gangrenous by now.

So we're an independent sovereign state the day we left Malaysia, or was that supposed to be "we got kicked out?" That's forty years of nation-building and truly, we can certainly look back and feel proud of what we have achieved. I've no issue in this because I did my NS liabilities and now a taxpayer.

But do not ask me to look in wonderment at how this one person came to Singapore and changed her from a sleepy fishing village to the busy port that it was.

I think the generational change is complete because if you talk to any teenagers now, for them history and the birth of our nation starts with Raffles. It's folks like me who still put a lot of sentimental attachment in pre-Rafflesia timeline that ought to be phased out. We're the 'stubborn' ones. One might even argue that it's much easier for history curriculum developer to come out with a national education programme if we just 'ignore' all that blurry pre-Raffles stories.

Which is why the The Malay Annals is such a difficult issue among historians here because the book is part historical narrative and part fantastic. If you're a historian, you simply cannot stomach it. And if you want to be a creditable historian in Singapore vis-a-vis within the National Library, NUS or MOE millieu, you must not 'espouse' the book because it forsakes documentarian rigour for nonchalant diction. But that still does not stop many academics putting out papers and thesis after thesis on The Malay Annals.

So when I got a copy, I naturally devoured it because I wanted to know more about pre-Raffles time and that I will not blame my 'gahmen' should there be any paucity in my historical knowledge. At least, I ventured out of the textbooks and can irritate my young nephews and nieces that it was Parameswara or Sri Tri Buana who founded Singapore. Lol!

I'm not being difficult, all I know is that I'm a 70's child and so I absolutely do not buy into this birth of a nation crap, and at the same time I just want my nephews and nieces to be critical and to go beyond their textbooks. Start young, don't wait till you're in JC or poly to do it, because by that time, everyone accords humanities subjects with less importance.

Anyway, I will not suffer from historical amnesia because I believe in looking up from other sources even if it entails dusting off Winstedt or Munshi Abdullah.

And the more historical facts contemporary historians and commissioned writers try to 'canonise' their versions, the more resistant I will be ...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Motherland, Russia

London pulled an upset, beating Paris by 4 votes to host the 2012 Olympics. The final vote by the IOC members was 54 - 50 for London.


I was really in favour of Moscow - well, not that my preference matters. But it's Russia! for crying out loud... I was a wide-eyed, phony English lit student with no original opinion on English writers or even in my essays. But all that changed when I started reading the writings of Nabakov, Chekov, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.

So this post is also a tribute to Moscovites and Russia and her landscape and culture.

And if you have the time, read Pale Fire, Lolita, Crime & Punishment or Notes from the Underground.

Or read this!
Ok ok.. I'm feeling a bit fervent now... I hope I'm not freaking my friends out there.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

If Your Maid Kills You...

This is the second case in just over a year in which an employer of an Indonesian maid had been found murdered. Murder - that's just so tragic and cruel and it's incomprehensible for most of us to fathom what could have led to this awful fate.

Disagree with me all you want, but unless your domestic helper is a pyscho, things like this will not happen had you treat your domestic helper with the respect and dignity accord to any other human being.

Something must have snapped in your domestic helper's mind that made her go 'berserk', something must have driven her to the point of helplessness, despondency, hatred and rage.

Just because you're dead, your misdeeds and ill-doings towards your maid are now irrelevant? Hello excuse me... You're partly to be blamed.

The Winning Word was Logorrhea

I just finished watching this documentary titled Spellbound. It's about the US National Spelling Bee contest and the children that participated in it. Spellbound was nominated for the 2003 Oscar for Best Documentary. I got to give it to mediocre Mediacorp, some days they really are good, but sometimes the programming su**s.

The decision to show Spellbound on Central last night however, took me by surprise as I watch Central more than any other Singapore channels. Then again Desperate Housewife at 10pm on Channel 5 last night is one exception. My point is, this show almost slipped me under the radar.

Anyways the children and parents in Spellbound are all stars in their own right. The winning word for this documented 1999 National Spelling Bee was 'Logorrhea'. Lol, awesome stuff!

Monday, July 04, 2005

No Topic

So I've not been updating my blog and it's been a double threat that prevented me from doing so. First, this cough bug that has been so insistent, with phlegm from the deepest of my chest and as thick and yellow-greenish as moss - I was just on cough mixture, strepsils and Fisherman's Friend. God... I love it when M rubs my chest in the theater ahaha - her sweet balmic hands, assuaging the discomforts out of me.

Work. I had a major presentation last Friday. The days leading to that Friday were absolutely filled with so much challenges. It was to be my very first project that I led from idea conception, working paper and the working committee. Now that I have created buy-in among the staff and senior management, it's execution time now. I'm good at conceiving and concretising ideas, but execution-wise I have a lot more to learn.

Cough + Big Presentation = No Blog

I think I'll skip guitar lessons tomorrow night.