Thursday, December 31, 2009

as rich as can be

Reading Adele's birthday post came at a right time when I was doing my own reflections.

I remembered that I still had some pictures which I had not put up apart from these birthday celebrations.

IUJ friends who brought me to a supposedly trendy restaurant overlooking the roofs of swanky Aoyama; I think the reason why I didn't put this up was because of their strict ruling in not allowing us to celebrate my birthday with an "outside" cake. We had to adjourn to another cafe after lunch so that I could properly "blow my birthday cake".

GAP friends who took me to TGIF in downtown Ueno, which was some walk away from church. Nevermind that it was cold and I was in heels, because all that mattered was the company of friends. I was very honoured they all came because they don't do this for everyone's birthday, small as our church was. That was my first time tasting their delicious baby back ribs!

Turning 30 unemployed and living in the world's most expensive city was not something I expected, much less anyone else I'm sure.

My birthday came just a week before my last week at work.

It could have been the most depressing birthday ever, not knowing what would happen next nor how long I would be able to remain in Tokyo. But my friends never let me feel that way. As I opened the presents that lay before me that night, I thanked God for each of them. Looking back, I think I had the best birthday overseas ever.

I don't expect reaching a new decade would bring about much change, like how reaching 21 would automatically make you adult in the true sense. Sure, it's a milestone to be celebrated, but like any other birthdays I only looked forward to the presents and presence of my favourite people. If not for those pessimists who have nothing good to say about the change in the first digit of your age, I would not have given much thought about it.

Some say, it's all mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

As I look back at the past few years that I've lived in Japan, I thank God for those were very good times.

I've done skiing and snowboarding in the highest mountains of Niigata, and took up surfing lessons on a whim in Gold Coast. I've traveled to more countries and continents than I've ever gone to in my entire life. I've tasted the most exotic and expensive food in Japan, namely the Kobe beef and fugu fish, and survived to tell the tale. I've experienced the four seasons and now understand why people count and look forward to events by the quarters.

I've learnt to be independent, knowing that I have so much potential to be more, and had the opportunity to realise all my dreams. Backpacking in Europe was supposed to be a backup plan if I hadn't won the scholarship to pursue my studies, and it turned out very well I must say. I have met some of the most humble and generous people on my travels, and wish you could meet them too.

I've learnt who my real friends are, even if they don't keep in constant touch with me. Support and love come in various shapes and sizes. I've tasted pure goodness that can only come from God, especially at the deepest points in my life. That, at the end of it, I am nothing without Him, is now more than just a Bible verse. 

Funny how, looking back, I wouldn't mind if I had to go through all these ups and downs again. Put together all these seemingly little bits and pieces, pile them up, I come away overwhelmed at His blessings. This year alone, I've lived as if I was the richest, and yet I was the poorest that I've ever been. If it's not by His grace, I don't know what else this is.

Indeed, greatly blessed, highly favoured, deeply loved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

豊かな人生模様 woven hemp

I had written this just before the Jakarta post, but somehow left it in the drafts.

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I know this is beginning to sound quite ridiculous because it seems that I'm travelling a lot this year. Being at the state I am right now, not only is it considered indulgent but, "sinful"!

Having travelled to 5 countries (yes, Vatican is a country) and at least double more cities when these are not business trips was something I never thought I would be doing in the beginning of this year. There is no reason to envy me because after all these trips I am as broke as a church mouse. I have personal reasons for taking up these trips (carpe diem is one big factor), and even though I have to start earning $ back I have no regrets pursuing my passion.

I don't know how else to explain it except that I am most humbled at being blessed by the people who have decided to host me. I had very little expectations, and was prepared to fork out my own money, but in the end it's the goodness of these people that I am convinced again that God will continue to provide for me and look after my needs.

It is also these very friends that I am deeply indebted to, as I think about how I can ever return their favour and express my gratitude to them. They may not know how I feel or have an inkling what I've been through, and their acts may not even seem like a big deal to them. Yet to me, it goes to show what little done from the heart can be so significant in many ways.

As the year comes to an end, and as I recall the amazing places I've visited and beautiful people I've met, I can say that even though this year has been a tough one, it has been very colourful too. It's like the weaving of a cloth where the fabric is made of hemp, coarse and not gentle to the skin. At first touch, it may not be inviting. However, sweep your fingers across and you will find that all over the cloth are threads of various colours and textures.

Baby pink in silk for those cherry blossoms in Japan, thick crimson red ones for Italy, navy blue velvet strands reminds me of the proud French, yarn in rich amber for that short stay in Indonesia, multi-coloured cotton threads for my homeland.

Monday, December 28, 2009

eyes and love

Ever since Imeem got bought over by MySpace, I have had to resort to Youtube. Nothing against the user-generated video giant, but because IP needs to be protected, user-generated is such that less than professionally done productions (sometimes) distract from the essence of the music.

Anyways. The lyrics and the genre, not the video.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas lambs

Hope you all have had a blessed Christmas with your loved ones :)

For me, most of the celebrations were done ahead, especially over the last long weekend. It's always nice to have it earlier, so that you can start collecting and giving presents instead of frantically trying to cram everything and everyone on one single day.

And also, spread the dinners and parties so that you don't feel overly guilty for stuffing yourself silly at one go.

This year's food theme seem to be lamb, at least for my family. I absolutely have no complains about that, because I have to say lamb tastes so much better than turkey. And it can be cooked in so many variety of ways. (Eg : After my parent's christmas party, my mum's friend used the leftover meat and bones to make sup kambing and tangy lamb stew)

I was just telling Boon Leong that turkey is overrated. I don't understand why people for generations, now the world over, are buying and eating turkey for Christmas.

me: i think the trend this year is lamb. but i'm not complaining. i still love lamb better than turkey

Boon: actually, i don't get turkey. i's really not good at all. don't know why there's a tradition that eats something so tough...

me: haha ya man. duno why ppl keep buying and making turkey. just becoz its tradition

Boon: i think they made a mistake and didn't have the guts to admit it

me: you mean for so many years??

Boon: yeah...of course. but in the beginning, it was just a mistake. the first guy made a mistake. i think he must be in marketing or something. so he managed to convince ppl it's actually cool to eat turkey. especially during christmas. then after that, those who didn't eat turkey are perceived as un-cool. so in order to remain cool, they had to swallow the tough bird...that's the story

me: wah you so creative. you bring no shame to pisces

Boon: no serious...this is the hidden truth... it's completely unlike chinese. the chinese invent a very good food first. then look for an excuse (in the form of a festival) to gorge it

me: hahaha

Thursday, December 24, 2009

spanking new office

Allow me to introduce my workplace. I am based at the client's and I must say I know tonnes more about the client than my own company.

Our team sits at one corner so we get excellent views all around. To our left are many empty cubicles, yet to be occupied.

To the right are more empty cubicles, soon to be occupied by new recruits when they come in next year. Some Helpdesk people are already there now.

Directly behind is a view of the closest buildings around us, and Brickfields in the background.

Not forgetting the Le Meridien and KL Hilton hotels, and the KL Sentral station, and also a view of the city centre in the far end.

We have a pretty lively looking pantry where CNN is broadcasted all day, newspapers are available for reading and there's free flow of coffee, tea, milo and even biscuits and oat for the taking. Sometimes we have meetings here too.

I like the views from here because there's just so much greenery around, especially after staring at the laptop for too long.

Amongst many other things, I really like that our client, as a company, takes care of its employees really well. This extends to their contract workers, and also their vendors such as us. I had asked for some stationery, not knowing that in our line of work, we're supposed to be mobile workers, bringing all our stationery along with us.

To my surprise, they were so generous! I had only asked for basic stuff, but this was like a goodie bag already. I like my client so much I don't mind working here longer... >.<

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Towards the end of my "extended-leave" period, I got a call for an interview with H company. By that time, I was already about to decide on one of the offers I had, because I was quite tired at preparing and going for anymore interviews.

I had gradually learnt to be more picky because I didn't want to waste the interviewer's time and mine, especially if I knew it wasn't a company/job that I'd see myself working for.

So I called the lady back, wanting to apologise for the inconvenience. She asked for the reason for not being able to make it. Instead of saying how I really felt, suddenly these came from my mouth, "I already have a job offer!"

I said to myself after putting the phone down, "What have I just said?!" I wondered where that came from, because even though it was true that I had some offers to choose from, they were not really what I would have chosen if given a choice.

There I was, still without an official confirmation that I had a new job at hand, and yet so bold and confident as if I had.

Sometimes the inner me have a better inkling of what God has in store than my logical self could comprehend.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

happy winter solstice



Have you had your share of tang yuan this year?

These were made by my dad, surprisingly it was my first time seeing him make it because they're usually made by my mum. Turned out pretty good, they had ground peanut fillings in 'em and the pungent ginger balanced the sweet pandan syrup well.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

our local trains and such

I really wasn't expecting this to be published, whatmore be listed under the Most Viewed section in The Star today, especially since I wrote this days ago, and someone else had beat me to it. I actually didn't mind at all because his sounded more dramatic!

When Zad mentioned about it in my comment box, I thought he was referring to the article on Wednesday, so I brushed it away. Then Amin sent me a link and I was half-surprised to see that it really was mine. I thought, with the earlier article, mine would be rendered useless lol! 

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Friday started well despite my zombified state. My PM again commended my work during a one-to-one update session. He said before earlier in the week that it's a shame that I'm on contract, and would not hesitate to try to help me get in.

I must say I didn't expect such affirmation so early on in the project, and to be honest thought what I was doing nothing out of the ordinary. Was trying hard not to break into a wide grin because we're supposed to be professional about it :D

Friday, December 04, 2009

running on reserves

Crunch time. This week concentrated on learning about the client and the complex processes and changes they've done to reach this stage, and thus requiring our services. Information overload, and additional workload which came from a sister organisation.

Next week more so when we have at least 2 conference calls coming up. Since it involves the UK and US, that means late nights again. Need to come up with a communications plan + presentation slide + postcard. All because the leadership team will be coming in 14-17.

Hosting Yuri who will be touching down in about 12 hours' time. She will be here for the upcoming APYAC conference. Staying with me for the whole week.

Another friend visiting from Australia next week too.

Plus a Malaysian couple from Japan whom I was supposed to meet last weekend at Ying's wedding will be down in Klang Valley. They were the first countrymen I met when I moved to Tokyo, so they're like my big senpai's.

And, taking my first JLPT 1 exams this Sunday, which will be for fun more than anything!