Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 things I hate about you

I mean the city. Here goes:

1. Finding a good salon is like searching a needle in a haystack. To make matter worse, they aren’t as visible as you expect one to be. I suppose it’s for privacy purpose but for a woman like me who is new to the city, it is a frustrating process. A few weeks ago, I tried a threading service but I was left disappointed as it didn’t meet my requirement. Too much glam I must say. I miss my Italian beautician back in London. Sigh.

2. Weather and atmosphere aren’t kind to my skin. Instead of just having one zit on monthly basis, they appear like mushroom after heavy rain. Maybe my diet is partly to be blamed as I haven’t been stuffing sandwiches or soups as I usually did.

3. Of all the big malls in the city, only one has both book and dvd/cd stores equivalent to Books etc and HMV, hence explains my regular trips to that place. At least if everything goes according to plan, the potential workplace will be there, more the reason for me to accept the job offer.

4. Public transport is a nightmare. I know I shouldn’t be comparing to London but seriously, I miss taking the bus and underground.

5. Drivers are insane and not a day goes by without an accident in the news. As the lanes are wide, some zig-zag as if they are F1 drivers, without giving signals! It doesn’t help when cars are cheap and most take this advantage by getting 4-wheel drive or powerful luxury types.

6. Every time you come across the local women, rage of jealousy surfaces. Underneath the black attire, there is a woman who knows how to style herself immaculately. Not an inch of her body is spared. Their hair and make-up appear to be done by a professional stylist while their fashion sense is to die for. Just one look at their shoes will send shivers to your spine. Oh, and these are the ones you see at the malls. Just imagine how they’ll look like at formal functions.

7. It takes too much effort to get any paperwork done. I am still figuring out on how to get my Oz certificate be attested by the Oz foreign affairs for the work permit purpose. The partner suggested that I should let HR handle everything, “if they want you, they should find a solution.” I am nicer than him, thus try my best to fix this without troubling them.

8. Recently I went browsing for clothes and it hit me that it was close to impossible. MD and Zara start from size 8 and while TH has a handful in my size from time to time, they aren’t my taste.

9. I am a shirt person and unfortunately, I have yet to see shops similar to Charles Tyrwhitt or TM Lewin. This will be an issue once I start working, especially since I was used to buying a shirt at a fraction of the price frequently.

10. Schools start early which means I have to wake up at 5.30am to prepare her packed lunch and breakfast. How I long for 7 to 8 hours of rest which was easy to get during autumn and winter. I treasure my sleep since I was deprived of it when I was young due to the ‘kiasuness’ in me for wanting to excel.

That’s a wrap, people. Have a nice weekend!

*Ms B couldn’t believe that she finished reading three books within a week. The lure of Blue Bloods was so strong that she couldn’t put the novels down. She thinks she’ll be on the prowl this weekend to find the fifth book.*

Monday, October 25, 2010

The accidental role

Sometimes I feel my life attracts chaos and mayhem, an opposite to the way I want it to be running as I do love things to be in order. Perhaps there is an unknown factor inside me that seems to think it will be colourful to have a little bit of mess.

For example, while I was lounging on the sofa and enjoying the program yesterday morning, my phone rang showing a familiar number. The HR manager was on the other line, apologising himself for breaking the news at the very last minute. The CEO would like to see me at 10 o’clock.

Great! I had 90 minutes to get ready and find my way to the city. Remember I told you that I live in the middle of nowhere, hence it would be challenging to get a cab.

It didn’t take me long to dress up. I chose the most practical gear, a mocha A-line dress with white cardigan matched with beige D’Orsay pumps. The problem was getting to the place. I knew it would be quicker to walk to the main road and hail a taxi than calling the cab centre and direct them to the house. I was prepared for the twenty-minute march but luck was on my side when I saw one in sight after walking halfway. Clearly it was a good sign.

I showed up 10 minutes before the meeting, reflecting the ‘British’ side of me.

Anyway, it was a short interview and moments later, the HR manager took me out for coffee as an apology for putting me in a very tight situation earlier. Mocha was in order and as I was extremely hungry (I didn’t even have time to eat anything before I left!), I decided to have chicken quiche. As we both chatted and enjoyed our drinks, he passed me the offer letter.

I must admit that this was the weirdest interview I ever experienced. The amount of time they were investing on me was admirable. Four formal meetings and two informal discussions were enough to convince that I’d be ok. For the first time, I had an opportunity to negotiate my package. I had more things at stake if I were to join compare to the company’s risk in hiring me. The initial offer was already good by my standard and at the top range of my market rate but it wouldn’t do me harm to ask for a higher amount.

The final package was 15% higher or 50% more than my previous remuneration, at gross of course. If at net, my friends’ eyes will turn green. *rolling eyes*

Perhaps I am meant to take this path, adding another skill to my resume, further pushing me to be a ‘Jane of all trades’. It will be challenging as I will deal with the three Kapitans (British, Aussie and Asian) directly, jumping over the Director, as well as managing external parties. I hope I will be ok.

And if I dont, please expect a lot of grievances channelled here. *sceptic look

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A fishing trip

When I left the house this morning, I was still unsure about this role and couldn’t see how I could sell myself. A salesman needs to understand his product well before he can convince others to buy. It was my main problem as I had no clue what I was up against.

However, when you are put in a room with a man who has served more than two decades with a huge corporation and was posted to major cities around the world, you cannot help yourself from listening to him with an open heart and mind. From his appearance and gestures, there was a clear indication that this was a man who possesses qualities that a strong leader should have. Despite his position and achievements, his willingness to spare some time with me made this whole thing a humbling experience.

Instead of being tested, it felt more like him convincing me on why this role would be good. When I walked out of the room, my perception on this path changed. It caught me by surprise when the HR manager came to see me after the meeting was over. He was very keen to know how I felt spending time with the CFO. He understood my concern of doing something different and how it’ll affect my career.

A few hours after the meeting, I received a phone call from the bubbly HR lady, asking me if I was free tomorrow to spend an hour with the Director for a “3rd interview”. Apparently he would like to show the workplace, explain the tasks and role in detail, etc.

Why do I feel like everyone is trying to sell this post to me?

My friends think that they are doing their best to ‘pancing’ me. What do you reckon?

ps: This post was written last night.

Back to life

It feels so good to have the TV back that we just couldnt get enough of it. The young lady conquered it the moment she found out we got our satellite up and running. As for the internet, well, for the first time in many weeks, we could watch YouTube or listen to music stream with ease.

Such sweet pleasure of life...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A twisted interview

Do you know the feeling of wanting something so bad that you would go all out to get it? Even if it means sacrificing your sleep, racing against bad traffic or spending ridiculous amount on fine suits?

Well, I didn’t have any of those feelings. In fact, I felt the whole interview was poor by my standard. Too many grammatical errors and hesitations were made that I thought I should really spank myself for giving such performance.

I had no excuse for not delivering my finest act. Well, maybe I did. I wasn’t sure the role suits me and pretty convinced that I didn’t have the skill and experience. A day before the meeting, I browsed the company’s website and saw the role advertised, clearly wanting someone from similar background.

So imagine my reaction when the Director asked, “why should we offer you this job?”

I didn’t have a clue on how to response as I was uncertain if this path was right for me. Still, I tried to give a realistic answer to the question as what any other candidates would do.

When the opportunity arose, it was my turn to shoot questions which took both of the interviewers by surprise. There I was, counter-arguing why I wasn’t fit for the role and demanded an explanation from them for wanting to see me when there was nothing on my resume which suggested I had the right recipe.

The HR manager then explained that they had interviewed a dozen candidates who met the requirements but somehow, none of them fit the bill. The role has been advertised for more than two months that it was time to look at things from a different angle, hence me in the picture.

The meeting which took place on Thursday afternoon only lasted for half an hour, cut by me of course as it was time to fetch the young lady from school. Throughout the weekend, the scene kept playing inside my head just like a faulty tape player, highlighting the moments where I made myself a fool.

Today, shortly before 10 o’clock in the morning, I received a phone call from the HR girl. I have a second interview with the CFO this week.


And I am still not convinced that I am the right ‘man’ for the role

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

of being different

Being an Asian woman has proven to be my strength, not my weakness. If I were blue-eyed, blond male and had gone to the same schools and learned the same things that they had, I wouldn’t know how to set myself apart. It is tough to compete with people who are identical to you. Being different gives me an edge.

~The Art of War for Women

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Honeymoon is almost over

Yesterday I received a phone call from a HR lady of XYZ company which has something to do in energy. She wanted to arrange an interview between me and the director which will take place next week. Now, before you start to wish me good luck, there is something you should now.

I’m being called for a role which has nothing to do with my skills and experience! I believe my 2-page CV has done a good reflection and nothing between those lines suggest that I have the knowledge to carry the required role, especially at decision-making level.

So just imagine when the nice woman on the other line had to repeat the role that I was “applying” for as well as the name of the company when clearly I had no clue of the subject matter. Perhaps she was thinking if her boss was at the right state when he asked to arrange for a meeting with me.

I knew the partner was sending my resume around but it would have been nice if I was made aware of the companies so that I don’t appear a fool when they call. I think I’ve had enough share of making myself looking like a lunatic in the past and try my best to minimise it.

Anyway, friends have mixed reaction. Some said I should go for it whilst others think it’s rather risky i.e. being responsible for a subject which I have no clue. There is no harm in going for the interview but I should at least make the director aware that my experience may not be suitable for the role.

Ideally, I would like to see myself landing a place with an investment house but it seems I have missed an opportunity. I was told one has made a tentative offer to someone and awaits for his/her acceptance but the CEO is still keen to meet me (they only received my resume yesterday). Now, should I proceed to see him when I know that the job has already been taken? Is it wrong for me to pray for that person who was offered the position to decline, giving me a small chance to nail the job?

Ironically, the partner wondered what was so special with my short and simple CV that I was getting the right attention. His exact words, “I am jealous. I need to see what is wrong with mine (re resume) now.”

Right... getting attention from companies gives him buzz but not when men ogle me. *rolling eyes*

I better make full use of my honeymoon period, thus more cooking and baking over the next few weeks. Once I join the workforce, it will be back to desserts from the bakery shops and cafes

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Of lemons

(Pic from wikimedia)

Sometimes, despite your best efforts otherwise, life will give you lemons. When that happens, you've got two choices: you can wear a sour face or make lemonade.
~ Burke, Love Happens ~

The thing about unpacking is that you discover old items which trigger memorable events, or get you thinking why you got that in the first place.

Today while going through my CD collections, I found this Malay album compilation which had Khayalan by VE & Ruffedge in its playlist. I saw they were signed; the cover and discs. I began to wonder who gave me the album but the only clue I could figure out (or eligible to read) was the dates. I suppose the mystery remains unsolved unless my memory decides to give me a treat by giving glimpses of the past.

If I am not mistaken, songs are usually given by member of the opposite sex. Then again, being me, I am always oblivious with this stuff.

Anyway, I wanted to write about lemons but got sidetracked by this discovery. For as long as I could remember, I have been able to make lemonades whenever life gives me this citrus. One cannot avoid from having lemons, although it would be nice if they can be replaced with melons once in a while. Unless you happen to be at Hyde Park on a hot summer day where melons can be spotted from a far, nicely wrapped in bikinis or bounce under tank tops, please expect lemons coming your way.

Even when they were pouring down like there was no tomorrow, I could still turn the excessive fruit into pickles. It gives a nice flavour to Mediterranean dishes and lasts longer.

Yet there is a limit to how much a body can consume lemonades or space to store preservative. If a person can die from drinking too much water, I am certain that lemonades will have similar effect or worse, accelerate the process.

Besides, it takes less effort to wear a sour face and from time to time, one should be forgiven for choosing the easier way to reflect one’s emotions for having a downpour of lemons.

Oh well, at least I was able to bake lovely scones yesterday

Monday, October 04, 2010

First term at Malory Towers

(pic from Brownies' website)

While hanging out with Professor Chic during my recent trip back, we talked about how privilege our kids were. Having a small family and leading a moderate lifestyle mean that we are able to provide more for our kids. She sends her kids to a good private school (not that she needs to as they are bright and have their parents’ genes), allows them a bit of fancy toys, allocates holiday trips local and abroad, including one for her and the girlfriends, to name a few.

The young lady is currently leading a life which I could only dream of when I was a child. As she enters into her fourth week, I am beginning to see the perks of attending an exclusive school.

I had no complaints about her former place in London. To me, it was definitely better than what I experienced when I was at her age. A small school with adequate and attentive staff as well as being ranked top 1% throughout the country this year, it was a great place to be.

The current one however, gives a different perspective. They encourage independence, creativity and self-discipline in students as well as respecting diversity. I suppose it is the same in any given school but I feel they take a step further in achieving these goals.

For example, Year 4 to 6 have already adopted Upper School’s system where one has to go to subject’s room when lesson changes. It is not as often as senior students but enough to keep them alert i.e. lesson and destination. The first two weeks saw them lost a couple of times and it got interesting when they were separated from one another. I think only two or three subjects are taught in their own classroom or base as they call it.

Middle school (aka their year group) has its own science lab which makes the subject appealing. Imagine a proper lab with equipments and tools fit for 8 to 11 year olds. Apart from Art, they have Design Technology where this term’s syllabus is paper engineering. I believe everyone loves Drama, especially when they get to play ‘wink murder’ and act death scene. The school has an affiliation with a leading performing arts academy and students can sit for examination to get some form of certificate (I only read this briefly). So far, the young lady enjoys her languages’ lessons and has picked up a few phrases. Sometimes she gets mixed up with her French and this is where I’ll jump in.

Next is the break. The school has no bell, probably on purpose. They get two breaks; a 15 minute time out in the morning and lunch which lasts for 50 minutes. Kids have to be mindful of their timing. She didn’t need a watch before but now, it plays an important role. She always manages to squeeze a trip to the library during her morning recess. I was told that it is big and cosy, with many PCs on high-speed broadband (she emphasises the SPEED) and bright sofas. She has borrowed four books todate and checks her email from time to time. In addition, Middle School has their own common room where one gets to lounge and gossip (ok, maybe chat and play. Gossiping is for upper school).

The school accepts special kids and they are not treated differently. I suppose they get an extra hour for special class or swap certain subjects with something else e.g. physical therapy but the rest of the lessons are taught in the same manner. A classmate of hers is one of them and she goes to almost all lessons, and yes, including zooming from one place to another in her wheels. I think it is awesome as it creates a positive environment to kids and promotes high level of acceptance.

Not forgetting is the school trip. On her first day there, I received an email detailing the trip. It’s a four day camp at an adventure centre located near a fishing port where many outdoor activities take place, including trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, dolphin watching etc. I wasn’t ready to let her go as she had many changes in the past three months. Plus, it is in another country. Perhaps next year and maybe by then, she’ll have more confidence to go on away trip. It is a stark contrast to my experience as my first overnight outing happened when I was twelve and it was only two hours away from home.

So you see, in many ways, the young lady is lucky and will reap many benefits if she maximises this opportunity. Of course just like everyone else, sometimes she gets a bad hair day and that triggers all the horrible moods, hence missing London terribly. It’s an adjustment but the way she sees it, all her friends either are in transition mode or have gone through the phase. It comforts her knowing they are in the same boat.

The fact that she is making plans on what she wants for next term or next year eases me too. *smiles