Friday, August 22, 2008

my new place...

Hi all!

It's been 4 months since i last wrote.

I'm not dead yet.

But I'm barely alive.

I took a change in environment.

And i realised that in the space of the age of this blog, I have changed my working environment twice......

I'm working 12 hour days....

I have no regrets.

I need to sleep now....just popped in to put in a few words and to say to my frens out there....

I'm still alive! Gasping for breath and several cards away from the full deck...but still alivE!



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life of Us Ikan Bilis. Vol 1

(For all characters featured beforehand like Jane, Keisha and the Scotsman, pls read the last Ping Pong Queen series to refresh memory. Ed featured here is from The Phone Call)
Hi all!

Perhaps it is time for a confession.

I haven’t been blogging because very simply, I’ve been depressed. And true to the akk creed, I couldn’t write much when I’m down and out. Even funny things gets forgotten in the haze of dumbed down panic. As I mentioned before, there has been a re-structuring going on at my workplace. Not just a re-structuring, but also a re-shuffle. One beer-filled Saturday, Keisha mumbled over the glass that she and Jane (both same section) are going to move their lab a few levels up. Next thing I know, their cubicles are standing empty in the office, every memorabilia gone, even the 3M hooks on the wall that Jane used to hang up her jacket.

2 days later, I moved my own cubicle to Jane’s old one while someone else took up Keisha’s. Both of them had been the early staffers so their cubicle spaces were prime locations. Pragmatically it was the right thing to do, so now I never had to check my back nor put up a mirror to see who’s behind me, but somehow it was all different. I fretted incessantly over them while they were away, because I was used to their presence and their chit chat while they had been around. I was used to having them message me on MSN even when they were just a cubicle away, usually to gossip because we were eavesdropping on PPQ’s loud voice on the telephone.

Now I wondered if they were well, being under TWO new bosses instead of the original Scottish bloke. I had heard stories and frankly, just this issue of the TWO bosses would have warrant a ‘chronicles’ status, but my heart wasn’t in it to invest time and effort writing about them when it was without doubt that my 2 good frens have been silently suffering.

But for the sake of comprehension, here’s the round-up so far. If you all remember, Ed has been introduced once here as the director of my department. He came to replace the one who had originally hired me (the BB aka Big Boss) because BB decided he wanted to increase his golf time during the work week. Ed was originally sent here to resolve the issue of the company’s direction. I guess you can say that during then, things were already getting loopy.

Ed turned out to be quite a welfare person, which was a pleasant surprise, but he was a stranger to the company and the company had been rolling down a straight path to destruction. Much like a train with bad brakes down a gently sloping track. It was slow but unstoppable. Among many things, he inherited the department’s politics, which was a whole hog of mixed hierarchy: middle bosses having higher authority in some cases than directors in other departments because their own directors held more power.

Hey, I didn’t say mine wasn’t a big company. It was one of the largest, if you think hard enough, I’m sure you know where I work.

It was extremely weird how the TWO bosses managed to chap-jit-kah in. First, there was already a middle boss for Keisha and Jane, the Scot. Apparently the director from another department wanted to move the whole technology section undertaken by the 3 over to his own side for his own purpose (ie. Drive his own department research). Our BB, for all his golfing ways, had at least been very clear that the whole department should not be split up, and was sufficiently unafraid of that director, since he had clout of his own.

And then, call it conspiracy or plain coincidence, BB suddenly declared he was transferred to another place with less work and confessed his deep yearning for more time of his own. He gave us all a big pat on the back, a good increment and Ed, whom we have never seen before.

Then almost immediately, the director-from-the-other-department released his favourite TWO middle bosses into our midst and expertly whinge out the Scotsman. Within 3 months, Jane and Keisha had been physically moved from our office and the lab had been dismantled and assembled 7 floors up.

That had been the turning point for me. For a while everyone of us ikan billis struggled to keep a happy face, it was definitely a time of great unrest and lots of change. We had a mini party to celebrate the gals’ move ‘Up-the-ladder’ and everyone took a tour of their new lab space and cubicle. We joked that at least now they could see the sun (no surprises for guessing which level we worked in). I folded 2 pairs of origami mandarin ducks for them for love and romance luck, then feng-shui their cubicle so the ducks were placed in the right direction.

For a while, they joined us for our lunches, a communal activity which we never stopped practising.

Then they came less and less. Their work piled up. The TWO bosses started working them real hard. They came to work earlier and earlier (7.30am) and left later and later (9pm). The stories started coming, not from the gals, but from ikan billis in the other departments, saying these 2 bosses worked like a demolition team, they bulldoze anyone who steps in their way. And I’m sure you ask, why 2?

Ah…because they are a husband and wife team. They always did things together. Too bad they still charge double salary. In any ordinary organisation, unless it’s family, I’ve never heard of such a situation, another indication to tell you where I’m working at. For purposes of convenience, since they are a couple, I’ve taken the liberty of putting their initials together to give them a collective name here. It’s really not my fault that one is called Kindermann and the other is Norse (sirname). It would not be too much also to ask if they had carved their initials on a tree somewhere in Jolly England, where they crawled from, encased in a heart, the initials KNN, but it would be much too much to hope they had ever been young, much less have romance in their gritty soul.

It was good to know that the hokkien dialect can transcend language and geography to describe so succinctly, the essence of these two, in their names alone. I bow to the superiority of the Hokkien dialect and am proud to be one. Long live the colourful language.

Emails came in hard and fast from KNN after that, stating that the 7th floor lab under restricted entry and if any of us wants to visit, we’d have to call KNN to open the door for us. Then came the email from Jane and Keisha pleading that all emails work-related are to be sent to KNN, without CC-ing them. Because, in the words of both, ‘They want to know everything and they don’t like us to know anything that they knew.’ Now whenever we call them using the lab line for work issues, KNN picks up the phone with a stony ‘yes?’.

‘erm.’ The ikan billis will quake. ‘Can I speak with Jane? There’s a delivery order for the lab concerning the new fridge and she is the purchaser.’

‘no, you can’t.’

Simple as that.

‘Er.’ And the Ikan billis gulped, but she rallies, ‘Is she busy? Because this is important.’

A pause, then…

‘Yes, she’s been really busy. She’ll only be free next month. In fact, both the gals are up to their necks in work and I’d appreciate you not bothering them with such unnecessary details. You can pass me the problem.’


‘Right. Just email me the details. Good bye.’ Click.

Jane and Keisha have been relegated to menial workers with no voices. On the rare occasion when they did come down to get some items that had left during the move, everyone would stop work and ask them how they were. But just by looking at them, we didn’t have to ask. In that short time, they had lost a lot of weight, they had dark circles under their eyes and they look malnourished. Keisha's ribs had come out. Now, even PPQ is silent and no longer ribbing Keisha about weight issues. Jane, who had always been lanky, was now a shadow.

Sitting in Jane's old cubicle, hidden from the crowd, I cried that day.


Oh well, I guess today’s post will become a 2-3 parter after all. They will cover the following issue.
1. How a boycott started, how a team building issue became a contension. How Jane has now stpped all communication with me and we are no longer frens. How one half of the KNN eventually became our supervisor. How Ed may be leaving...

Yup, you heard right. Life as Ikan Bilis....crap.

That’s it for now, I think. It will only get worse, so for those looking for happy fluffy stuff to read about, try not to click in for this month.

Thanks all.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

World is such a small place...

Hi all!

I know I MIA, but seriously hor, it’s because I was really really really (!) busy leh. In fact, I was actually doing work! You know, that thing that ppl do in order to get money? In fact, part of the reason I didn’t blog was because of some internal re-structuring occurring in the company and we are all doing real work, fake work and picking up after everybody kinda work, so long as you look busy, just in case the re-sturcturing doesn’t include your name on its list.

I just had to share this though, because it is not actually the coincidental-ness of the whole thing. It was more like the thinking process of it. Most ppl always wonder about a thought and ask, ‘hmm…where did that come from?’ But no, not me! For better or worse, I’m blessed with the kind of thought process that I actually track to arriving at an answer. Here’s an example:

Walking towards the entrance of RafflesCity --> see Robinson --> think about last time, it wasn’t Robinsons that stood there, but SOGO --> reminisce a bit about SOGO--> remember the logo of SOGO , which is a blue bow --> shape of the bow look like sweet --> want eat sweet --> reminisce about the Marks & Spencers that is now occupied by Body Shop --> think about my fav M&S sweet --> wine gums, fruit gums, toffee crunch --> Go Jason’s buy sweet --> eat sweet --> M&S sweet nicer --> Stone.

Back to the story: So I actually went to the US for a short conference. It was a single stopover from Seoul. Hubby A tagged along to keep me company, thank goodness for him.

And the world was so small that when I was lining up at the departure gate at Changi, a shadow loomed over me, and I found that this really tall man in a suit was blocking the white lights, his back towards me. Oh man, his back view looked really familiar. And there I was, trying to take a peek at his face, I was pretty sure I knew this person. The worse thing was that he was gripping a cup of coffee, and I was sure that person whom I think he is likes his kopi too.

So there I was considering all my options and the thought process starts whirring away….
a) Tap his shoulder?
b) Accidentally knock into him so he’ll turn around?
c) Jab his expensive leather shoes and ankles with my rolling luggage?
d) Throw my sweater onto the floor beside him so he’ll bend down and pick it up same time with me? If you don’t remember this trick, you were too young to have seen that parfum spray commercial about 15 yrs ago….
e) Have a coughing fit.
f) Sms that Fren’s HP and scare him Enemy-of-the-State-Style with ‘Fren, don’t lim another sip of kopi if you don’t want the whole world to know how loud you gargle, because there’s a bug in your wedding ring….’
g) Just bloody call him on his HP.

Imagine how tired I was having all these suggestions running through my head and still in the meanwhile, that idiot just won’t turn around and save me from doing anything stupid…. A had one eyebrow risen, looking at me typing on the HP and taking off my sweater at the same time, ‘ahem’ing all the way.

And then….and then…….. the shadow changed….

And the moment how we said ‘hi’ shall forever escape my memory.


The reason why the entry was so late was because while I absolutely remembered all the tactics doing a cross-country in my brain, I absolutely forgot what happened the next few minutes.

Was it that horrendous that I choose to forget? Cannot be leh, can it? Because he is still responding on MSN, so shouldn’t be that bad. Right?

Like the comic strip with the middle panel missing, I went from having a war with my sweater, coughing TB-coughs to sitting sandwiched between Meepok and A waiting for boarding.

In any case, it’s really Meepok. The long-distance runner with the go-li eyes who succeeded in pacing pass the lao-ah-pek at the Standard Chartered Race in 2006.

One thing I remembered though. When he saw me, he immediately checked his flight ticket to see if it was the right plane…..

Choujidan ….



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More Tears over Scrambled Eggs...

Hi all!

I’m now back at my old home, sitting on the floor of Chwee Kueh’s room, enjoying the aircon and his collection of sad Chinese love songs blaring away. Essentially, I’m resting and my heart’s been peaceful for the past few hours, thanks to my family members' proximity and my mum's double-boiled soup.

I know I don’t talk much about the sadder aspects of my Life that i encounter, usually because I think its boring and it ain’t funny, so there’s no point.

But today, I’ve decided to break this rule a little bit and let some seep through. It’s my gal fren. I believe I have featured her here before under Tears over Scrambled Eggs. She’s that fren of mine who’s got those great legs and loves her hubby.

Sometimes the conversations are too long to remember and too sad to recall, so here are some of the snippets of the many long conversations we’ve have had since the fateful day she decided to open up. I appreciate that you guys really do care and am surprised by some of the comments I’ve been getting for that entry. But its true that during that time, you can call it an isolated incident and dismiss it.

Well, unfortunately, now you can’t. Not when things are going from bad to worse.

Here’s a summary of the things that have been going on. Firstly, as I said, the 2 of us are very similar, we got married pretty early and had a great start ie, a career, a loving husband, a car. We studied a lot and made the best of our education.

Of cos the big question is a big fat ‘So What?’

Since they were married, the husband has been a successful public servant. Successful is easy to explain in civil service terms, it just meant he can do his job and is more capable than normal and commands the respect of his subordinates. He himself is a cheerful and forceful person who believed the world his oyster. To give him his due, the turnover rate at his department tripled after he left because there was no morale left.

Then the bad stuff began to happen. To say he was ill-prepared wasn’t really true. Academically he had a double masters (he is indeed an LKY-loyalist), but socially, he did not expect to meet head-on rejection from companies who tell him he had ‘no experience’, too ‘academically-senior’, ‘post too junior’, ‘overqualified’, ‘jobscope don’t fit your resume’. One of the worse was definitely ‘sorry, but we have had some bad experience with ex-government employee, I’m afraid we cannot consider you.’

Meanwhile, my fren held the fort by working and saving, and watched her once happy and optimistic husband transform into a bitter, haunted man.

When he finally got a job offer after 6 months, they were both overjoyed. But it turns out the female was a witch and working for her was, in his words, ‘horrific’. Then came their first quarrel. It was over money and over sacrifices.

'But Dear, we need the money.’

‘I cannot stand being there anymore! Can you understand the torture having to del with her everyday?’

‘But, the money…’

‘The money, the money!! Is that all you ever think about?!! What about me?’

‘Well, at least stay till you get another job. I’m not earning enough for the both of us.’

‘No, I can’t! I can’t stay another day!’

‘Why can’t you be Stronger!’

‘Why can’t you Understand!?”

‘But I do understand! I understand that you are NOT willing to just stick around and earn the money that we need.’

‘I don’t want that bitch’s money!’

‘Well, I want! We NEED IT!!

‘Shut up! Just SHUT UP! If you love me, you’ll support me!’

So the ultimatum came out in a burst of all that anger. Unwilling, but not knowing what to do, she dried her tears and said, ‘of cos I love you.’ Then they kissed and made up. He quit and the witch docked his pay. They were now back to square one.

On the surface was a happy cheerful couple who loved each other, but the rot has started invading. The only blessing they had was that both their families were healthy, happy and independent.

The huge relief she felt was gone, all those times when she thought her eyes would brim but couldn’t find a quiet spot in the office for some peace has come back with a vengeance. She started wearing her armor of cheerfulness and cheerleader-mentality again (you can do it, hubby!), and found solace in hope. Hope that things will go well, that things will be OK. She kept up a litany of these sayings both for herself and her husband, who sometimes cried himself to sleep. Thankfully, and this she told me in all honesty, chuckling, ‘At least I’ve finally found that quiet spot in the office. You wouldn’t believe the amount of security cameras they’ve got there!’

Then after another 3 months, he got another offer. She called me up and screamed her joy in my fragile ears. The pay was better and the big boss seemed good. On her part, she had hung on to her own work, it was her first job but she excelled in it enough to get a pay rise. She seldom talked about her work. Her excuse being that my eyes will glaze. The only reference from it I ever got from her was, ‘Some customers can be such jerks, Akk, I wouldn’t know where to start.’

‘This time, I’m sure it’s gonna work!’ She chirped. Then inexplicably and yet, explicably, she broke down when I agreed with her. Yup, it seems all good, I said to her.

I would love to end the story here, to give you all a great ending. I’d love to say that she’s happier than she’s ever been, that her hubby’s doing well and so is she. I’d like to say to you readers what she used to tell me after every call, that finally everything’s going to be OK, everything’s going to be fine.

This time he lasted 4 months. There was no quarrel, just an amicable discussion that if he stayed there any longer, he’ll become a shell of himself. Does she want to have him wake up every morning depressed and emotionally wrought, to go against himself, just so that he could bring home the bacon, or does she want him to retain his sanity?

And she, who has been suffering already from his bouts of depression and hopeless anger during those months, gave him a hug and said, in all truthfulness, ‘I don’t think I can be happy if you aren’t.’ He did not note the irony. He left again without another job. They agreed, that while he looked for another job (again), he would try being an insurance agent.

Thankfully, her subconscion somehow had refused to believe her ‘everything will be OK’ self-delusion, so she had been diligently saving as much as she could, because the past few months of unemployment had almost wiped out their joint account savings after it wiped out his.

The past 4 months saw him struggling, both trying to sell insurance and trying to find a job. Its true that he was happier than when he was in the previous company, but she noted, with extreme dejection, that he did not seem to be selling much insurance although he packed his days meeting people. He was trying his best and doing all the right things, so she did not complain.

And then the day she dreaded came, they had finally used up their joint savings, the bulk of which was hers. Last week, he shame-facedly asked her to settle his credit card bills and car instalments. The car, which was his prized possession, was to be their undoing. One day in the car, he admitted that there were no job offers and she tentatively asked him if he could let go of the car or sell the house.

‘What do you mean?’ his voice grew cold.

‘We can’t afford the car and house anymore.’

‘We’ll need to top-up even if I sell the car now.’

‘No, I meant to sell the car and use public transport.’

‘What happen to your ‘everything’s going to be all right'?’ he accused, the air in the car had become frigid.

Then before she could answer, which was just as well, he lost his temper.

‘Do you know how little confidence and self-worth I have left in myself? How can you ask me to sell away those very things that at least gave me an indication that I was once successful!’ And he slammed this palms on his steering wheel and shouted while she cried.

‘How could you!!’

‘How could he?’ she moaned to me. ‘My money, he’s using my money…. Soon we’ll have none…’

‘There there….’ I soothed, my own fingers hastily groped for Kleenex while my ear was plastered to the phone.

‘I love him and I hate him! I hate him! I’ve never been this unhappy!’ she wailed while I wiped my own eyes.

‘And I can’t leave him, I don’t have the strength to, I can’t bear to ….Oh Akk,’ she sobbed. ‘What should I do?’

I cried too. What can she do?

I need a breath.



Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Letter to a Friend Vol. 2

Hi all!

Long time no write. I OK lah, no worries, I am AKK afterall. :) Thanks for all the help, encouragement and understanding. Today is thankfully a light-hearted entry, in fact it's a glimpse into my working world, so all the censorship applies. Oh yes, pls excuse my Klatchian, this is how i write my 'fren' emails.....


Written to my fren who is now based in New Jersey very recently.......


So glad you are having a nice time and that everything over there is very good, minus the sleeping arrangements. Don't care about the guy and do whatever you want. Ay, be careful wor, he is still a man hor, so you bathing or changing clothes must be careful of hidden cameras or peepholes....all men are lechers (Except my hubby)!

In any case, my life is steadily going worse! Could it be that I put my feng shui stuff wrongly? Firstly, big boss keep asking me to change the xxxxxx design, little bit here and little bit there, but to the printer, it's still a totally new pic!! So the printer uncle scolded me because I made him change so many times! Aiyo, so embarrassing, I kept saying sorry sorry, so uncle now qi xiao a bit, so not too bad. They say they can finish the printing by the deadline, pls pray for me leh!

Then my XXX head is as horrible as ever, really all talk and no action you know! I almost burst an artery talking to him! Friday supposed to print the XXXXXX poster to put them up in XXXXXX, but something wrong with our printer, so he say he'll settle it on Monday. I ask him also if he got approval to put up the posters, he say dun have! I ask him to do it about 1 month ago leh! The Bastard!

Then he say he settle the approval on Monday, so I relac and took leave on Monday, when I came back, he print the posters but never ask the approval, and then hor when big boss ask him if he can start selling the XXXXXX, he never think properly through, just say YES! What the -fucking Fucker!

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckThe Fucking idiot! He had to tell me that after I saved his arse looking for the ppl to get the approval when I came back on Tuesday. I got the -fucking approval in ONE day! I was so angry! He never do ANYTHING, then anyhow say YES, now must stress for him! The fucking idiot! I tell him cannot becos the XXXXXX not ready! How can he just agree before consulting the committee? We know so much more than him about the going-ons. Then he say boss ask him to market the XXXXXX, I was like HUH??!! Since when the PUBLICITY team need to MARKET the event? It’s the fucking job for the fucking MARKETING team!!!!!


And horribly, all these happen yesterday! And I was doing dissection the whole day leh, got no time, only ended at 9pm! The poor mice lor! All 7 of them (I very slow, I know). Then must do all these things, 'nothing' things. Fuck lah.

Then in the midst of all the excitement? We got a fire in XXXXXXX!!! In the middle of cutting mouse no. 4’s stomach, may Buddha rest its tiny soul, there was an alarm, then an announcement. You know how it is lor, 'pls standby for further instructions' the intercom lady said....

But the Lady never got back with her SECOND announcement!!! Wah LAN eh!!!! We all die fiery death in XXXXXXX liao!!! Speculate that the lady ran away without telling us to run away too!

Another &*&^%$ idiot!!!

Okie, my therapy session end liao, gotta go. BTW, I went for the slimming massage, now I got fucking Bruises for thighs....