Fine for Speeding (no really, it’s okay).

29 09 2008

So F1 has come and gone with more twists and turns than Mount Pleasant Road. The news coverage was all singing praises about the whole event, from the parties to the event organisation to the success of our hospitality industry during the period…

And now for the bad news.

My wife and I were driving on the ECP during the practice runs on Friday. Here’s what the news failed to cover. Multiple car accidents all along the particular section of the expressway route where the F1 cars happened to be zipping under. Apparently some of our local drivers were so curious about those foreign drivers and their very fast cars that they have been winding down their windows to listen to the engine sounds and trying to  catch a glimpse of the F1 action, resulting in inadvertent veering to the left and either hitting the side walls of the expressway or ramming into other people’s backsides. Accident, or expensive ploy to catch the race by positioning yourself on the expressway flyover by causing an accident? My wife and I kept laughing when we passed by car owner after car owner, either trying to sort out the mess they caused for themselves by being too kay-poh, or taking the opportunity from their accidents to continue watching the practice session.

I am soooo surprised that wasn’t covered in the evening news. Maybe The Noose will cover it.

Where opportunity allowed, I also watched the television coverage of the F1 event with much amusement, particularly when the on-screen dialogue was switched from the commentators to the driver’s comms radio. In the most beautifully seamless show of propaganda reporting, you can see the transition from commentators saying how great the event is going, how well-designed the track is and how unique the night race is for the drivers, to the drivers themselves saying how the track wasn’t tested before the race came to be, the crappy state of the street circuit (I think Hamilton said it was worse than Monaco, though I’m sure Felipe Massa will have a lot more to say about that) and how the lights that are supposed to light the track up like it was day was too blinding for proper driving.

So the drivers gave their verdict; did anyone care? I don’t know about you, but my nationalistic pride can only go so far; glazing over what the people who are most involved in the event have to say for the portraying only the best impression of what we have done is just asking me to lie.

But I will give this whole thing some slack; after all, it’s our first time, and we have at least 4 more tries to get things right (we have a 5-year run with this Grand Prix thing, after which the contract to hold more races will be re-negotiated), so for the sake of our country’s reputation as a successful social democracy, we better bloody well listen. And we did make the world sit up and watch, too. It would have been successful if all the cars came out of the race in one piece and nobody died, yes. But it was even more successful because 2 cars were totalled and someone from 15th position won the race (and more importantly, nobody died). Regardless of whether our inaugural Formula One night race was a success or otherwise, if it wasn’t eventful in the first place, who’d take notice?


This is a non-Public Service Announcement

23 09 2008

I’ve been busy getting this out of the way. Those of you that have been to the older website will find the new one a little simpler and a lot more refined in design than the old one, but I’ve never really talked about work in this blog, and the only 2 reasons why I am mentioning this is because I am trying to explain why my blogging schedule has been so erratic, and I am hoping someone will look at what I’m doing, decide that I’m good enough to hire for more money than I am already taking home, and save me from my current job.

All that jabberwocky aside, I’ve been talking to a few childhood friends who have reminded me of my rather sizeable childhood comic book collection that I might consider inventorying and putting up on eBay to sell.I do have a couple of good gems in there (hopefully the termites that live with my sister haven’t gotten to them yet), so we’ll see what happens.

19 September 2008, 11pm, Somewhere in Hougang

21 09 2008

The double-decker bus  on its way to Sengkang stops at the Hougang NEL entrance. But instead of moving off when the passengers who were getting off here had cleared out, the bus captain climbs out of his cockpit and makes his way to the rear of the bus, where a rather unkempt-looking middle-aged passenger is quietly sitting.

The passenger, wearing a brown floral short-sleeved shirt, 70’s fashion bermudas and cheap slippers, looked up tiredly at the bus captain that was now in front of him.

The bus captain’s first words upon eye contact with the man were, “Get off the bus.”

Hearing the sudden and rather direct command, the rest of the passengers had their attention immediately turned to the bus captain and the middle-aged man in the floral shirt.

Speaking in Mandarin, the bus captain then said again.”Get off the bus. Don’t think I don’t know, you bloody fare cheat. You tapped your card already at Aljunied. I’ve been giving you face this whole time, letting you ride more than 10 stops up to here.”

The man continued looking at the bus captain, tiredly, yet unflinching.

“You are always like that,” continued the bus captain, his voice getting angrier and louder by the second. “Two times before already you’ve come up on this bus and cleared your ez-link card after just one stop hoping to get off cheating me all the way to Sengkang. You think I don’t know, har? I’ve been watching you all this time! Always like that. No more chances! You either get off the bus now or you tap your card again.”

The man broke eye contact to look around the bus. By this time the commotion had everyone’s attention, including the majority of the people standing outside the bus waiting for their rides to come in. The bus captain’s voice was by now loud enough that everyone in a 10 metre radius of the bus knew what was going on. One Indian man even knocked on the window where the man was sitting and motioned aggressively for him to get off and stop wasting everyone’s time.

The bus captain’s tirade continued for about 5 more minutes. Through it all, the man barely showed any expression except the consistently slight hint of sad tiredness. After the bus captain snapped at him a 7th time to get off or tap in again, he picked up his shoulder bag, got off his seat, and got off the bus, walking away into nowhere, a hundred eyes burning a hole into the back of his head.


No doubt there’s always drama happening somewhere, but the best place to experience to soul of Singapore life is in public transportation. Through my years of resisting the urge to get a driving license, I have seen road accidents, bus fights, horny teenage couples having a go in the back seat of the upper levels, aunties having shouting match, young women breaking up with boyfriends over the phone, crazy people doing strange things… all in the comfort of a bus seat with not enough leg room for someone my size.

What happened above there though, was a cut above the rest. True that the bus captain was doing his job, but to get so annoyed and create such a ruckus to embarrass a passenger the way he did without even so much as a wonder why the passenger was so hard up to cheat on bus fare

He may or may not have deserved anyone’s sympathy. I’m not sure he deserves mine. But somehow, I caught a glimpse of what may well be a story behind the sad look in his eyes as he was confronted by the bus captain those few long minutes. And there is a lesson to learn here about cause and effect; to always consider what is the cause for the effect before jumping to accusations, no matter how right or how justified you are.

Together Forever and Never To Part

15 09 2008

There are some real pros and cons to working together with your wife in the same company. The big pro is that there’s nothing we can’t discuss when it comes to work without failing to understand what the other is talking about, because we know each other’s work, each other’s colleagues, each other’s bosses, each other’s styles, we know pretty much anything that happens to each other during a 9 to 5 weekday. The big con, of course, is that when we get into a fight at home, everybody in our 9-to-5 world knows.

But despite the clues that you think you might have garnered from my last few posts, I’m not writing this because my wife and I had a fight and our entire office is looking at us funny. We’re hoping to take a vacation next month, and the psychological planning of it is getting pretty complicated. For one, we don’t really want to tell anyone where we’re going for this vacation, largely because our bosses are also tied to us by blood, and they are inclined to ask for work favours despite our constant reminders that we are not working. The lines that we try our best to draw when working for family inexplicably get blurred despite our best efforts, and the “taking for granted” results in a lot of inconveniences for both parties. I get bombarded with questions from my bosses/sisters asking “Why can’t you tell us where you’re planning to go?” when they don’t seem to get that the last three years I’ve tried to take a vacation with my wife, it becomes a work trip precisely because I tell them where I am going and they ask me to do stuff for them and tell the entire world I am coming to their local offices to save the day for them and ruin my own holiday plans.

At this point, I have already given out a lot of hints as to where we want to go. Perhaps I want someone to see this, not so much to clue my bosses in to what I want to do, but to remind them, even if you are family, sometimes we need the break from everyone. It’s the reason why annual leave is compulsory in the Manpower Act, and in a company where the line cannot be drawn between being colleagues and being family, it is all the more important that this “everybody” entity get out of our hair for these few hard-earned days a year.

Another reason why next month’s vacation is important (perhaps the most important one since our marriage) is because it will be one of the last times my wife gets to fly out into another country and enjoy herself as herself. Zany (my wife has taken to shortening our son’s name to a point of marking him for the rest of his life as eccentric) will be out, and everything’s going to be different come Christmas. We are holding on to the last vestiges of our so-called youth and giving it one last burst of fire before the big stork visit.

Imagine after Xander arrives, if we are to plan a trip again, we’ll both need another photo in our passport that isn’t our own face, ticket bookings will no longer be only 2-to-go, 3/4s of our luggage won’t be our own clothes and toiletries, we’ll need to find out about infant accommodation when doing our hotel bookings… and that’s if we’re bringing him along, which I am determined to do for most if not all our vacation trips because we are a family now, and we are holding our own, and no one in my family should have to miss out on the rose-smelling if I can help it.

So please, let us have our day in the sun, our time away from our lives, to live our own life the way we want to, to be able to enjoy each other the way we know how, if only for a few days.

Still In One Piece

15 09 2008

Those of you in the know, we’re okay now. The past 2 weeks has been an important lesson in dealing with marital issues and a pregnant wife, and I have gotten advice from every marker of the spectrum from friends and family alike. I got everything from “You guys need to talk.” to “You better stop talking for a while.” to “Did you find out why she’s pissed?” to “Why do you stupidly persist in asking why she’s angry?”. Took me 2 weeks to recover from all that confusion.

But I do want to thank those people who cared enough to ask, and tried their best to help out. At the end of the day, the problems a couple face in the course of their marital bliss may be issues only they can really handle, but a listening ear doesn’t hurt.

I’m hoping to start blogging full-swing again, as soon as I can find the right things to say.

Fight Night

4 09 2008

I have a wife who is smart, has a great sense of humour, is always on top of things when it comes to important stuff, and is always behind me when I need her the most.

You may have figured out by now that I got into troube with the missus. And you would be right. We haven’t spoken in 2 days.

But instead of going on a tirade of whys and woes, I’m opting not to talk about the issue that started it all in the first place, only how I’ve been coping with it all.

I feel terrible.

Cold wars are like cold turkey to me. Times like this make me realise how dependent on my wife I am. The sharing, the hugging, the baby talk before the baby’s even come out, the laughter and the jokes,… cold wars mean I don’t get any of the warmth a loving couple shares.

Cold wars also mean hours, days, or even weeks of feeling insecure. Because that’s basically why it’s called a cold war. It leaves you in the cold, with nothing. Nothing that will reassure you that everything will be okay. Nothing that will allow you the luxury of knowing the person you love loves you back.

I don’t deal with this kind of thing well at all. I never have. Instead, I end up making things worse, because nobody ever taught me how to make things right. And so, much like Thailand right now, my life is in a state of emergency, and like incumbent Prime Minister Samak, I don’t quite know how to proceed from here.

The biggest problem we have, I suppose, is an inability to come to a compromise when it comes to handling arguments. She prefers to be left alone; I prefer to talk. She needs time to calm down; I need a solution. She needs space; I need reassurance. And you know what? Nobody’s right, and nobody’s wrong.

I have no doubt we are both happy with each other when we are both happy together. I get unhappy only when she gets angry, and particularly when gets angry with me. I lose all my faculties; I even lose feeling in my limbs, I find myself breathing shallowly, and I get lost in the void of my own mind when she is no longer in the mood to be happy with me, when she no longer wants to share her space with me. I get scared, to put it simply. I get scared that I will lose the one person I love most, because I am afraid that she has stopped loving me.

The worst thing is, it’s her birthday today, and I don’t know what to do. Even if I did, would she reciprocate? I don’t know anything.

I love my wife very much. I just wish I knew what she is thinking right now.