Tuesday, March 25, 2008


One fine morning when I happened to be at the office early, I decided to take some shots with my camera. Just a few weeks before, the guys got excited about seeing Mt Fuji from our office. I didn't want to be left out too!

We have tall glass windows surrounding 2 sides of our walls. That means plenty of natural sunlight into the office and a good view of the surrounding Nakameguro area. Our office is on the Ginza-dori "shopping street", but it's mostly apartments and houses further out, like this view. It's near the station, just about less than 10 minutes walk.

It looks pretty sunny here, but this was taken mid-February, meaning although it was towards the end of winter, temperature was probably 10 degrees Celsius. One of the things I like about Tokyo is the relatively clean air and unpolluted skies (compared to cities like Hong Kong!) There's nothing like blue skies to make your day and lift the mood up. I can't imagine myself living in London.

The other side of the balcony. We're at the top floor, 6th floor to be exact, so the office space is smaller than the other floors, but we have our own balcony. We may even do BBQ one summer day! I keep pestering my boss to put "The Penthouse" or "The Suite" on our business card, just so that we have a snazzier sounding office address.

There's Mt Fuji in the distance. Apparently this can only be seen during winter days as the skies are clear and you have an unobstructed view of the grand mountain. Come summer, there will be clouds and it will be near impossible to catch this. I will echo what some of my friends who've climbed Mt Fuji said, that it's better to admire the view from afar then to be on it and find it barren and void of anything pretty!

But having said that, I'm sure because they had the opportunity to catch the rising sun from the Land of the Rising Sun itself, that itself would have made the grueling climb worth it. Maybe this is the closest I'll get to Mt Fuji, the snow-capped famous cone that has endeared itself to millions of Japanese and the world all over, which image have graced countless paintings and ornaments from clothes to postcards.

*Click on any picture for a larger view

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

skype prayer meets

I was supposed to write about my dilemma in choosing a church in Tokyo. One is a Chinese church which I first attended with my parents when I first came to Tokyo after my graduation. The other is a Japanese-English church which is more like a uni Christian Fellowship in many ways. I've made friends in both, and have grown to become quite settled in these two churches.

I've been attending the Jap-Eng one, called GAP (short for Gospel Assembly of Praise) more often because its services are in the afternoon. I kinda like the camaraderie and more so because there are Malaysians there. In fact, Masami who's half Malaysian, half Japanese knows not only my cousin but some of my church friends due to her history in INTI College's CF too!

One of the activities that I've gotten involved with the GAPers is their weekly Skype prayer meeting. We kinda came up with this idea during the recent Winter Retreat at Karuizawa, and Hikari has always been faithful in coming online to organise it. In fact it was his idea initially and since he's been championing it so well, I myself have been motivated to join them every week too as much as possible.

Whoever is online on Wednesdays 2200 local time can just join the prayer meeting at any point. Hikari, or the person who has bigger bandwidth, will usually be the host and make the calls to those who are online. It's been quite fun actually, even with the background noise, people coming and leaving in between. We've learnt to manage it better - like starting on time no matter who's online, and trying to end by 2230 since people are tired by that time, and writing prayer points in the chat box while prayers are being said.

This evening, so happened it was only Hikari and I on the Skype prayer meet. We were already halfway praying when we noticed Masami online. She was on and offline intermittently in fact. We couldn't call through to her initially, but she managed to write something on the chatbox. In my excitement to have her join us in the prayer meeting, I hope I wasn't using God's name in vain! :p

[9:16:13 PM] Masami says: oh.....
[9:16:19 PM] Masami says: didn get ur email lah
[9:16:28 PM] Hikari says: sorry i don't send
[9:16:34 PM] Sno says: wat email?
[9:16:38 PM] Masami says: prayer thing...
[9:16:51 PM] Sno says: but he's stopped emailing for years already

* At this point Hikari asked me on the conference call why I said "years", I had to explain to him I was just exaggerating (大げさに言う)

[9:16:53 PM] Hikari says: we always have prayer meeting at 22:00 on wednesday
[9:16:59 PM] Masami says: really!!
[9:17:04 PM] Masami says: now i didn know taht
[9:17:38 PM] Masami says: anyway, we are building the shelf now... and i need to call mom....

* Masami's married to Stephen, an ABJ (American-born Japanese) and she's expecting her in-laws the coming weekend

[9:17:52 PM] Hikari says: ok
[9:18:08 PM] Masami says: just 2 of you guys?
[9:18:09 PM] Sno says: stop building ur shelf
[9:18:14 PM] Sno says: Jesus is coming soon, we hv to pray now
[9:18:23 PM] Sno says: He doesnt care about your shelf
[9:18:42 PM] Masami says: alrite
[9:18:55 PM] Masami says: let's pray then only i call my mom...
[9:19:02 PM] Sno says: yay

* PC Clock is set to Malaysian time, hence the 1 hour difference.

Monday, March 17, 2008

crisp at canal cafe

The weather the previous weekend was such a bliss. I woke up feeling excited that God blessed me with such a beautiful weather on my birthday. Unlike in Malaysia where your friends plan and celebrate your birthday with you, here I have to call my friends up on my birthday!

I didn't really mind, but being a bit *ahem* low-profile, decided to call my closest grrlfriend since she already knew it was my birthday. The rest I invited along, and told them I wanted to catch up since I have not seen them in awhile. But somehow, everyone who came knew about it, and took the effort to make it special for me. This place, Canal Cafe was chosen by Shokwan and was such a perfect place to hang out with grrlfriends and enjoy the crisp air.

Most of the patrons were ladies who obviously had the same idea in mind. Since it was also International Women's Day, they had some health talk going on. When I arrived, there was even a special performance near the jetty area. They have lounge singers once in awhile and similar events. No wonder it's so popular. Testament to this fact is the long line at the entrance when we left.

Both Apie and SW were prepared with their sunnies while I was just happy to enjoy the sun after those wintry months. You could really smell spring in the air!

There are 2 sections to Canal Cafe. The buffet is served in an indoor area called Restaurant Side, covered like a patio overlooking the river and allows you a view of the canal from the inside. However, food is slightly more expensive. We sat the Deck Side where we got optimum sun but had to walk all the way to the Restaurant Side to order our food.

Since food is take-away style, it came in disposable plastic and paper. But it goes as cheap as half the price you pay for a more fancy service at the Restaurant Side. And better cutlery too.

Just while we were eating, they decided to dump presents on me! SW gave me this big brown bag with a birthday note which made me wish she wasn't leaving Tokyo. I must say even though we've only been introduced to each other at the Raya do at the Malaysian Embassy last year, we've grown really close in such a short time.

Not only do we share a lot in common, but recent events in our personal lives have brought us closer. I guess my fondest memory will be of the time we went krazy with the autumn leaves of Yoyogi Park. It's not easy to find a person who will be sporting enough to do silly poses and experiment angles with, even though we don't have DSLR's to play with.

Apie is one of the first people I met at the Malaysian Embassy at the same event too. In fact, she and hubby Iqbal are one of the friendliest people you'll meet over this side of the world. They've been living in Japan for close to 10 years already. For better or worse, they have made this place their home for now but may contemplate moving to another part of the world when she graduates with a PhD this year. (Yes, I'm surrounded by smart people! I hear it rubs off on you)

That's another babe I'll miss if they ever do uproot and move away. But she will have a better future elsewhere, so I'll tumpang gembira for her when she graduates later.

Sunnies make great background for outdoor shots like these. SW, obviously stuffed to the brim after a delicious lunch of seafood salad, double cheese pizza, and green curry, taking in the sun.

Apparently the skeleton trees along this canal will bloom into a thousand cherry blossom petals come sakura season. Must be really pretty. My only hanami last year was in Niigata, and that was the simple lane next to the tennis courts in our campus, but it's everywhere in Tokyo. Especially the park near my house, the river near my office, and this canal, which is only 1 stop away from my place! But I heard also you have to "book" a place under the tree coz everyone will be there trying to grab the best spot.

Spring should come in a few weeks' time. It will be a krazy time for the Japanese as they find an excuse to drink and get drunk. With all that drinking, will they be actually admiring the cherry blossoms?! For me, I'm just glad the weather is getting better. Clear blue skies, crisp air (for a metropolitan city like Tokyo!), blooming flowers, more colours everywhere.

But why do I also suddenly miss winter?

Friday, March 14, 2008

thank God for friday indeed

I finally had to invite my boss out for lunch today so that I would be able to talk to him. I've been wanting to talk to him for the past 2 weeks. But last week was his birthday. And this week it seemed like there was no good opportunity. Our office does not have a boss' room where we can talk private things. And I can't wait till everyone goes back, that will be too late for me.

Since it was lunch, I didn't want to spoil my appetite by going straight into the topic. So I told him I just wanted to catch up with him. So it was mainly about work in general and his plans for the company and how things are beginning to shape out. So I asked him if I was getting a laptop yet.

Everyone else seems to be getting one. Ironically, the first to get one was the newest staff who not only got a new laptop, but a new display as well. Then the Marketing Manager also got hers, albeit a 2nd-hand one. Last week it was my Swedish colleague. Early this week, the French designer was telling me the boss would be getting him a desktop. Where's mine?!

While all these was happening, he still expected me to lug my laptop and be at the office everyday. Hence, my little "rebellion" my working from home or going to work after lunch. It wasn't like I was not working, sometimes I could concentrate and get more done at home. In fact, I even had time to do chores like laundry and cooking in between. Oh yes, I'm quite good at multitasking if I put my heart to it. Heh.

So I shared all these and some other matters to him. When I first wrote down the points in my notebook 2 weeks ago, I was quite upset, to say the least. I figured it wasn't a good idea to talk about it then. Maybe it was stress period for the boss as well. I was right. While he was talking about how things were going on at the office, even before I started asking about my laptop, he apologised for his cranky behavior.

I'm quite glad I got that out of the way. There are other matters I did not bring up, but for now, this would do. The lump of poison I felt in my throat is gone now, I think. I was telling my friends that I have this lump, it's affecting me and how I feel towards the boss and the work I'm doing. I even had some strange dreams these past few days. I've never ever had dreams for as long as I've started working. Well, not these kind, anyways.

One of my darling friends, knowing how stressed I was about work lately sent me this. I've read this countless of times before, but was reminded of the simple things that actually make one's day.

Natural Highs

1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail.
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry).
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15. The beach
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they Love you
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS
25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).
28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
29. Playing with a new puppy or kitten.
30. Having someone play with your hair.
31. Sweet dreams.
32. Hot chocolate.
33. Road trips with friends.
34. Swinging on swings.
35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
36. Making chocolate chip cookies.
37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
38. Holding hands with someone you care about.
39. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
40. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
41. Watching the sunrise.
42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
43. Knowing that somebody misses you.
44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

Monday, March 10, 2008

a birthdate like no other

So many things have happened over the weekend! Wish I have the time to write all, coz they were all equally interesting. Well, of course, the highlight for me was my birthday spent here :) But at the same time I was keeping myself updated with election news back home.

Thank God that malaysiakini.com is free for the week, if not I would have been in the dark about what's happening to our country. The media blackout was everywhere. So much so that alternative media sites went down due to the insanely high traffic during the weekend. Malaysians here directed me to mirror sites, I was up till about 4am when I decided I really had be in bed!

I can imagine how surprised local folks must be, without access to this wonderful site, to find out the heavy losses suffered by the coalition party. If my guess is right, I have only about 1 hour left to indulge in the free articles by malaysiakini. It truly is a godsent for us living overseas. Not only are we not allowed to vote, but the only way we can keep abreast with local news is through sites like these, and from what our families share with us.

But having said that, I am also really more thankful that I had such wonderful friends who made my birthday special here. I was actually a little disappointed that some of my uni friends weren't able to make it. Blame the working lifestyle here! BUT my Malaysian buddies more than made up for it. I didn't make it a big deal actually, but those who came had fun, and so did I.

How could you not have fun, when you're relaxing under the sun at a place like the Canal Cafe, pampering yourself with some hi-tech facial by polite Japanese beauticians at TBC, and indulging in yummy portions of Italian cuisine at Capricciosa and then ending the night with a cuppa at the Starbucks Shinjuku overlooking crowds of shoppers walking below the neon lights. And oh, I almost forgot, a pre-birthday the night before eating Peking duck at the Roppongi Chinese Cafe Eight restaurant.

Indeed, 08.03.08 goes down in history not only for me, but most Malaysians in this generation as one that will be etched in memory. Interesting combination of auspicious numbers. More interesting is the turn of events that had many gaping in surprise, numbed by shock and elated in ecstasy. All I can say is, I wish I was there!

Friday, March 07, 2008

today in history

Today is a special day because of many reasons.

Every woman in the world deserves this bunch of roses because it's International Women's Day. Because you're a woman, you deserve this and much much more. I'm sharing this with you because I got this from a dear friend of mine who also messaged to wish me happy birthday.

Of course, my birthday is also another the only reason why today is special ne! I also want a bouquet of flowers :D Which reminds me, I still haven't figured out who gave me that lovely bunch of lilies 2 years ago at my office!

But also more important for the 27 million Malaysians, today is the day we go to the polls. Winds of change are blowing all across the nation, and I can only look from a distance and wish I could send in my votes. Just like my peers who are back home, I too hope for a better future for my homeland, so that I will have more reasons to go back one day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

i don't wanna sound like i'm complaining but...

Things were getting horrible recently with work. Everyone I talked to suggested that I should talk to my boss about it. It wasn't merely about increasing workload. I normally don't complain if it's just one issue. Something like workload is understandable, even if I'm already doing OT more often than not. Friends who have reached a similar level have shared their experience of working long hours, not getting paid for OT or replacement leave, and having to waste spend time checking others' work.

Anyways, I did think of talking to the boss whom I have told everyone about. That he was nice and sweet and considerate. But to be fair to him, with the new office and an expanding staff, and many new projects pouring in, it must be difficult and stressful as well. Perhaps that is why he has become, for lack of better word, more demanding and also, I may be wrong, micro-managing to a certain extent.

But, it has been my "policy" not to talk about work here. Much less divulge what goes on in the company. I was planning to have an open conversation with him sometime soon. Before things get worse. I don't think I will do this, but I don't want it to reach a point where I feel so unfairly mistreated that I will just give up and drop everything.

I do understand that I'm more needed than ever at this point, especially when I'm handling key projects and liaising with some difficult clients. This is something I quite enjoy, because it's also a challenge I know I can learn much from. But to be able to perform as well as I know I could, there are certain things I think I'm entitled to have. I'm not talking about being paid OT or having days off. There are just some essential things which I do not have yet, and which are hindering my performance at work.

I just pray that I'll have the wisdom to know when to bring these up, and say the right things. As disgruntled I am, I have to bear with it a little more, and give my best and wait till the right timing. And also for the boss to be in the right mood to listen to what I have to say. It's not going to be ugly, but some things have to be said.