Monday, December 27, 2010

operation passport renewal

I just realised with an upcoming trip next year and 3 months left in my current passport, I'd better get it renewed.

Thinking that the Subang Immigration Dept was still at the old airport, I made my way there this morning, anticipating I would be back in time for lunch at home before I went out to catch up with IreneQ.

I had to make a few rounds before realising that it was tucked just before the refurbished SAAS airport. I was delighted to find that the parking lot was fairly empty, that must mean everyone's still on holidays.

My shortlived joy - the parking attendant informed me that the Immigration Dept had moved to Wisma Glomac at Kelana Jaya. And no, there was no sign announcing that, so good luck to those who didn't get to meet the attendant!

I had remembered seeing Glomac along the highway before, and at that point of time wished I had brought along my Garmin.

As with many of my road trips, I trusted my instincts to bring me to where I was supposed to go. I soon reached the block of Glomac buildings just before the turning out to Federal Highway - there, that was easy. Or so I thought.

It seemed rather odd that the place looked a bit deserted, with many shoplots unoccupied. Sensing something amiss, I decided to check with the guard on duty, and he said it was another block somewhere out there. Where, I asked. He pointed me to a yellow building which didn't look too far. I asked if I could walk, as I was quite tired of all the driving by then.

He was helpful with directions, and soon I was on my way walking along the edge of what seemed to be the Subang exit of the NKVE highway, passing what was potentially secondary forest, crossing some roads and a TNB substation and finally seeing the crowds of people found the place I had been looking for.

It was in a brand new building, but much smaller than the previous location at the Terminal 3. Apparently a lot of people were caught unawares, having gone through the same "mistake" as I had. A quick check revealed that the Immigration Dept had just moved in a few weeks ago, even the website still has the old address =.=

Being new and still having to serve prolly the same number of applicants, you could imagine the place was packed and a little chaotic, especially when there were no signs pointing to where the various counters/services were. I'm quite glad I had been back for a year+, so I had gained some patience for the Malaysian way of doing things.

Nevermind, it was a good thing I had brought along some blueberry muffins, for that filled me for the 1+ hour of waiting for my instant photo, and another 1+ hour of waiting for the passport to be ready after it was renewed via the kiosk.

But in between, I was sent off on a little adventure. It looked like renewing my passport was not going to be as straightforward as I had thought.

After taking into account the amount I would have to pay for parking (at another block of building!), the instant photos and to make copies of my IC, I realised I would be short of cash, so I enquired the officer if there were any ATMs nearby.

His slightly nonchalant look told me I'd best talk to the wall for answers. He gave some vague reply about trying the petrol stations, and smirked a little when I asked if the distance was walkable.

I hadn't come all the way through all these trouble to be put off by some lackadaisical attitude, so again wandered around trying to see how I could get some extra cash. This block was so new most of the lots were still empty, while some workers were seen putting up furniture and finishings to those occupied.

As I walked out to the main road, I realised I was nearing the Subang toll of the NKVE highway, and that's when I saw Petronas and Shell, side by side. Imagine my delight! I was fortunate that throughout all these, it was rather cloudy, and also not raining.

So finally went to the kiosk with the necessary documents and required $, the machine was quite efficient, but I still had to wait for 1 hour before I could get the new passport. I was glad to finally be able to sit down and do some reading before my name was called up. By then, it had already been almost 4 hours since I left home, my stomach was growling and all I wanted to do was go home for lunch.

But I decided since I was in the area, I might as well bring forward my appointment with IreneQ.

I'm quite glad for the exposure to walking from my years abroad. If I hadn't done backpacking and all those outdoorsy stuff, I think I'd think twice about walking along a busy (Malaysian) highway just to get to my destination. Of course, I couldn't help but miss the efficiency and conveniences of a certain developed country as well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

resident mushroom

We knew there was something wrong with the walls when they started to bloat and have funny textures. Even the floor seemed to be rising up a little.

When the paint started to peel off the wall in the adjoining toilet, it was a sign that perhaps the pipes were leaking and water was seeping through the concrete and had nowhere else to go.

Thanks to the moistened environment, the timber door panel was now fertile enough to grow a mushroom!
It looks almost like a marshmallow with its white soft surface, and delicate flakes of bright gold on the ovate cap. 

We could prolly start a mushroom farm right in the kitchen with this golden fungus, though whether it's edible is another matter altogether.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

puzzling is this box

So I received a most intriguing gift for Christmas this year. One of my colleagues had gone to the UK for work and got a puzzle box from the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

I've been spending the whole Christmas trying to figure this thing out, because apparently the real gift was in the box, and I had to get it opened somehow!

It looks quite harmless, with a couple of hinges on each side, a circle for a knob and interlocking parts which can't be moved. Hope the gift doesn't have an expiry date; I may be playing with this thing until the next Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

tech allergy?

Though I'm considered to be one of the more tech-savvy amongst my various groups of friends, it's ironic that I try to stay away from the Internet as much as possible. I have accounts in all the top social networking sites and services, and yet the more I have, the lesser I want to be connected.

Having a desk-bound job means I have to stare at the monitor for a good part of the day. The last thing I want to do after office is to stare more at a monitor even if it's not for work.

Having an ancient phone means I can't catch up with my online networks like everyone else with the latest gadget(s). I have hundreds of unread emails in my various accounts, including FB and already I feel so bad for missing out on updates.

For example, a dear friend wanted to know where to visit in Tokyo because he was traveling with his family and this was his first time in Japan. Just because I haven't logged into FB for ages, I only managed to reply him the day he landed in Tokyo!

Sometimes I miss the days where people would just pick up the phone and talk for hours, when snail mail came with handwritten stories on perfumed paper, when time felt a little slower and you weren't pressured to check your email every single second.

That's exactly how I feel all these technology has become. Though it has made communication easier and faster, it somehow lacks the human touch. Sure, it's nice to get a hundred birthday wall posts and e-cards and I appreciate that people do drop by to wish you, but I miss birthday gifts and real presence.

In the meantime while I apologise to friends whom I've not had the luxury of replying in due time, I am scouting around for an upgrade to my trusty Nokia. It's not easy when there's so many choices out there!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

the hypermarket conspiracy

Have you noticed how the Big 3 of Malaysia's hypermarkets never fail to place full page full colour advertisements in major dailies almost every single week?

And that in each of these ads they will claim to have the lowest price compared to their competitors?

Of course if you were to look carefully, the items they promote may look similar, but are actually different so there's no way you can make a proper comparison unless you drive to each hypermarket and compare them yourself.

So maybe for this particular week for Hypermarket C, the chicken breast may be cheaper by RM1.99 per kg, that olive oil may be the cheapest at RM29.99, and the latest yoghurt drink going for a song for only RM0.99.

They who stand to gain will be those who actually are looking to buy the chicken breast, the bottle of olive oil and that tub of yoghurt drink this week.

If you were to look for say, a bunch of grapes this week at Hypermarket C and it wasn't advertised as having the cheapest price, you might be offsetting whatever savings you had from the chicken, oil and yoghurt all combined.

For all we know, Hypermarkets C, G and T may be conspiring to take turns to advertise their "cheapest items" of the week.

C : So this week, my pick will be the olive oil la. It's been some time since we had promotion for this imported product.

G : Go ahead, I need to clear my grapes this week. You both can promote your mandarin oranges and Fuji apples if you like.

T : Fine with me, we just ran out of Korean grapes - placing those models in Korean traditional costumes sure helped with the sales! I'm thinking these imported products could do quite well once in awhile...

G : Oh ya? I can't be using Korean models just after yours. Nevermind, I have extra slots for the cherries and wine. Christmas is coming, Santa Claus will do.

C : This sure is fun! I'm glad we had this agreement. We have to look like we're passing the savings to our customers.

T : Of course! This is better than us competing heads-on with each other, trying to figure out which product to put up with the lowest price.

C : Look at it this way, it's win-Win-WIN for ALL of us!

T: Muahahahah!!!

G : *kicks T under the table* Remember, this conversation never took place... Shhhhh...!

More whisperings followed by rounds of laughter as each Hypermarket go their own way after their weekly meeting.

Friday, December 03, 2010

flits from flower

Looks like Butterfly's gonna be in a crossroad soon. She was expecting to have a fairly laidback December considering the R drive for the year was just about to be wrapped up.

If the Client had their way, Butterfly would be extended till June next year. This would make it the third time her stay would be renewed.

Each time her role would change, and so was the piece of work she would be working on. All have been fairly new to her and Butterfly relished the opportunity to learn along the way, sometimes trying to confidently look like she knew what she was doing!

So when the Client asked Butterfly to come up with a proposal for next year's R programme which included a different and extended strategy, she was initially quite reluctant to want to be part of it. She didn't even try to pretend she was interested, as at this stage, she was quite happy to be honest with the client.

You see, R has never really been her passion nor her forte, yet Butterfly seemed to have done considerably well to earn an extension as a result of the current project.

There goes her year-end plans to have a relaxing month, Butterfly thought as she stayed back last week and worked the weekend to come up with the strategy, timeline, resources and budget for the plan.

As she wondered how this would look in her CV and how her career path would meander out, Butterfly asked herself if this was what she really wanted to do. After all, there were many opportunities out there with other clients and her Mentor did suggest for her to come out and explore.

On the other hand, the Supervisor pointed out that it was quite rare for someone her level to be liaising directly with the regional CTO from the Client side, whatmore the country CTO whom she enjoys good rapport with. He trusted her enough to share confidential information only known by the top management.

Butterfly began to weigh the pro's and con's of each potential path, not quite sure if one would be better than the other.

As she talked it out with Carrotlips, her friend guided her with leading questions, one leading to another, one with even more questions than answers. But it was good to just verbalise her thoughts, as Butterfly felt she was going in circles with the same points in her head.

At least, her mullings would be more structured and (supposed to) have a higher purpose. Instead of fluttering around like a free spirit, Carrotlips felt it was time for Butterfly to fly in a strategically-guided direction.

Less of aimless flits from flower to flower, more of bold trust in the Creater that His control of the direction might just be the thing that she needed to soar high.

*Any resemblance to real-life characters is purely coincidental. Excerpts from this story may be reproduced by acknowledging the writer.