Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There Was A Time...

There was a time when the leaders of Singapore were clear about what their job was, and the words of the pledge meant something to them.

There was a time, when from the people, by the people, for the people means that the elected leaders also have the responsibility that comes with the power of leadership, and it was a burden as much as it was a privilege.

There was a time, when the words being a leader means someone who stands up for the people he is a leader for. He leads by example, and in return, the people gave loyalty, and privileges to he or she who is the leader. The pirate chief gets double share, the CEO gets a bigger salary package and even the person who fronts the team in class gets extra points for additional responsibility.

The sword of leadership cuts both ways.

Many times, people have said, "Actions speak louder than words." And after the words being spoken during the election, the actions are sadly less than forthcoming.

Public transport in Singapore has been the talk of town for a while now. But frankly, it's just the most recent of a symptom of a worrying trend that has been going on for a while.

I have never asked for much from any government. I ask nothing from it, neither do I give it much credence. Unlike many of my peers who expect the powers that be to coddle and pamper me, and then fault them for everything including the mysterious losing of one sock in the washing machine, all I ask for is simple. Maintain stability and just make sure that the economic playing field is flat.

But that's not happening is it? Because right now, actions seem to be saying, "we're in change. Now suck it up because you have to."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank You

I've never been in the habit to write a birthday post, and this is not one. The date is just a coincidence.

For someone who pioneered the "Vandalin", it is ironic that at the end of my 33rd birthday, I find myself doing the exact opposite. I am incredibly, ridiculously, completely awake, listening to music and revisiting memories.

With the lenses of hindsight, accumulated experience, with maybe a tiny speck of wisdom and awareness, I review certain lessons have been hammered into my thick skull over the last few years, and would like to take the opportunity to express my thanks.

Thank you, dad and mom. I love you. More than you ever know.
Thank you, my dear brother. We are almost polar opposites but you have always got my back. Know that I have yours too.
Thank you my family. My enormous family of cousins, uncles, aunts and now, nieces. You provide colour and meaning to my life. I have learnt much from each and everyone of you through our conversations. I will continue to learn more.

Thank you my friends. Past, present and future. You have all made an impact in my life one way or another. My life is infinitely richer for you having been in it.
Thank you to the ones I have loved. Memories, lessons, and most of all, thank you for the opportunity to intimately share part of life's journey.
Thank you colleagues and mentors. I am grateful for the gift of your knowledge. And now friends and family have to put up with my smart ass-ery. Heh heh heh...

My birthday, I made a wish. It is not for me. I am already well and truly blessed. I pray it comes true.

The Little Lies and The Big Ones That Matter

This is why we need fantasy. We need to start to believe in the little lies, in order to believe in the big ones.

Facts are facts, but they only serve to outline brushstrokes of what IS. The important things, things like truth, beauty, love or mercy, is what the person fills in, and in doing, defines himself.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Taking A Stand

I voted.

For the first time in 33 years, after bearing arms for the nation, kopi tiam discussions, rants, raves and opinions, bitching and not-an-insignificant amount of apathy, I was up at 8am, and I voted.

It was a simple 3 minute process, and it seems almost... anti-climatic honestly. Nevertheless, the sense of me doing something for myself, and deciding my own fate stayed with me even after I dropped the white slip of paper into the box.

A milestone in nation building? Definitely. It feels like we, as a nation has come to a crossroad. Stay safe, or venture out into the unknown? Now we can truly say, we decide.

We, the citizens of Singapore
Pledge ourselves to be ONE UNITED PEOPLE
REGARDLESS of race, language or religion. 
To build a DEMOCRATIC society.
Based on JUSTICE, and EQUALITY, 
So as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"CRAB" Service

Now generally, I have no complaints about service in Singapore. Seriously. I'm an easygoing kinda guy, and if I happen to go a few more times to a place, I end up knowing more of the staff by name anyway. Nevertheless, last Friday was like a textbook case of things NOT to do. And so, consider this my public service as a corporate trainer, on a cautionary tale of bad service.

It was a typical muggy night in Singapore. My three friends and I were looking for a place for dinner, and we figured to head to town. Eventually, after some deliberation, we decided on Standing Sushi near Singapore Art Museum. The evening starts off normal. We were shown our seats, our orders taken, and our drinks served.

And here is where things started going downhill. But let's have some positive lessons anyway.

Lesson 1: If the staff forgets an order, let the customer know.

We can all understand that when it comes to busy periods, things get left out. But honestly, if a zi char uncle at a kopitiam can remember table number, special orders, and a million other nitty gritty details, a restaurant that charges 10% service and 7% GST, has an order form, and only 4 tables to serve for the evening should be able to get the orders right the first time.

Nevertheless, if a server has really forgotten orders, basic service recovery dictates service staff to apologize, reassure the customer that the ticket has gone in RIGHT NOW, and how long it will take for the order to be processed. Do not leave a customer hanging. It irritates the hell out of the person, especially if he or she is hungry.

If a customer has to ask three times for the same item, seriously BAD idea, and "coming, coming" is only acceptable in a hawker centre. 

I once remember eating at Pierside Kitchen and Bar where the chef sent complimentary crabcakes because the appetizers would be delayed by ten minutes. That was served to my table 10 minutes after the orders went in. It was at least 4 years ago, but I remember it to this day.

Lesson 2: If the missing dish is not served by the END of the meal, it's too late to serve it by then.

Of course it takes some time for the kitchen to prepare any dish, especially when the order is missed out at the start. But if you have already cleared the table of everyone else at the table, it is generally way too late to serve the dish.

Ask your customer if he or she would still like it served. If not, suck it up. The fault was yours in the first place. And never EVER make it sound like you are doing your customer a favour when you tell them you're not charging them for the dish.

Lesson 3: Even if the fault was not yours, say "I'm Sorry."

And if the fault is yours, all the more, apologize. And whatever the customer demands, do not come across condescending and never EVER use the phrase, "if you want to complain, never mind one, go ahead."

Seriously, the hole is deep enough, you really do not have to dig it any deeper.

Lesson 4: It is NEVER about the money.

It is never about not getting charged for an item not served, nor is it about the $20 for soft shelled crab. It is about making sure that your customers know that you value them. And the higher one charges, the more customers expect. And yes, one massively pissed off customer can do worlds of damage to a restaurant's reputation.

Lesson 5: Arguing with your customer is ALWAYS a bad idea. 

The absolute WORST idea in the entire book, is actually arguing with your customer.

Telling your customer, "You ordered at 8:45 and the time now is 9pm, and your friends have finished for some time, that's not half an hour." then after that going into the kitchen, taking out only ONE ticket for the missing item, waving it in the face of the customer, and smugly going, "see the ticket says 845" is not only calling your customer a liar in his face, being completely biased, and all in all, a really really stupid move.

Even if it was the customer's fault for being demanding, and expecting his food served in five or ten minutes, that is the customer's prerogative. To be arguing about timing after taking orders, serving everyone else at the table, have everyone finish eating both appetizers AND main course, and clearing the table with a hungry customer who's obviously peeved because he is unable to have dinner WITH his friends and would have to eat all by himself if he chose to accept the order, is nothing short of suicidal.

So at the end of the evening, does it really matter then who's right, and who's wrong, or even if they waived the charges for the rice or for anything else. The fact of the matter is that the evening was spoilt by $20, and there is a good chance I shall never, ever eat there again. On top of that, good chance, neither are any of my friends.

And that, my friends is a story of bad service, and the lessons we can take away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Current Speculations

Outside of work, here are the thoughts that are currently running through my head.

1. You know how it is that success coaches like asking this question, "if you do not have any limit on money and time, what would you do?" How would you change if you removes the limit on youth and time, if you can live forever.

2. To what extent is one willing to go to prolong life before morality kicks in?

3. Do women feel the need to dumb down when they are with guys? Do men feel the need to "macho up" in the presence of attractive women? How are these actions, if there were any, actually perceived by the other parties? 

No thought killer application to shut them down leh...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tis Is The Day

Game Face On
Today, 2011 truly begins.

Some dreams are shelved for now.
Some emotions put on hold.
Some energies redirected.

There is work to do, trash to take out and butts to kick.
Welcome to the first day of the next 5 years.
Welcome to another milestone in life.

In the words of my old platoon commander before a full pack fast march at dawn, "This is gonna be fun."

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What Is Love?

What is love, that makes it the simplest, and the most complicated emotion in the world to understand?
What is love, that makes someone go through hell and high water, and be willing to try again?
What is love, that brings two people together and keeps them together even though logic dictates otherwise?
What is love, that make strangers friends, and friends become lovers, while others falter?
What is love, that makes someone choose a football club, a country, a discipline or a sport, or a person over all others?

What is love, that makes a person try, and keep trying, even though his efforts are doomed from the start?
What is love, that it never, ever matters the circumstances where it starts, or who it is, as long the end IS love?
What is love, that makes one dream more significant than all the others, and we burn our lives chasing it and count it well spent?
What is love, that makes us find beauty in ordinary things, and the holding of two hands the most intimate of human contact?
What is love, that pushes two people to dedicate their lives into a commitment to each other?
What is love, that makes it the root of the most painful and most pleasurable feelings in the human vocabulary and experience?
What is love, that makes all the analysis of a relationship, all the articles and research written on it, redundant?

What is love, that for all the qualities one can name for another that you like, none of them are the reason why you love them?
What is love, that for all the restlessness and need in the human soul, one can finally put down his burden and go, "I am home", even if for a moment?

What is love, that for all the rules in the world that one sets for oneself, eventually there is only one. The heart wants what the heart wants. End of story.

All I know now, after 32 years, is that I have no answers.
All I know, is that it is exceedingly rare, heart-stoppingly beautiful and precious.
All I know, is that love has no reason, and that as long as it exists, no matter how torn and battered it might be, give it every single opportunity to thrive and grow. And if it is already dead, then nothing one can do can bring it back to life.

For those of you who have a special someone, I envy you. I read a quote once, that the only time in life when you have problems is when you're dead. Such is love. The day you have no more trouble from love, is the day that love is dead.

I would take all the issues, baggage, fights, quarrels, pain, anger and tribulation, for that one chance to love and be loved. And if you have it or a chance at it, dear reader. Treasure it. Guard it with your life. Don't let pride, anger, history, self doubt, jealousy, or the mundaneness of everyday life kill it. At the same time, if it is not there, let go. But after you have tried every. single. thing.

And if ever you or your significant other forget, refer him or her to me. I'll set ya'll straight in a jiffy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Alone Again, Naturally.

I am happy for the both of you. It is easier to be angry, to rant, and to jump and walk away. Anger is a much simpler solution. But I cannot. It feels right, even to me. The conviction, the openness, I would have given anything and everything for it to be for me. But hey, Good Luck Ed eh?

I envy those with a special someone. I read somewhere that the only time when you have no more trouble in your life, is when you die. Well, guess what, same thing with relationships. And I'll trade every quarrel, every fight, every irritation and rant to have that special someone in my life. So those of you who do, appreciate him or her. If your significant other doesn't appreciate you, send them my way.

Humour is my shield. It's just easier on everyone, and the devil-may-care sometimes funny extroverted clown is a familiar role. Because really, how many people care enough to listen, and understand?

As for opening my heart, well... heh. I don't think I have ever loved someone quite as much. Or saw so much of myself in someone. I don't think I will, for a long, long time to come.

It's time to go back to being alone again. Oh I'll be fine. I'll feel sorry for myself and be lonely on my own time rather than burden those around me with it. Permit me one night to grief. One night to let it all hang loose and be sad and sorry for myself. One night where I wrap my loneliness around me and cry my heart out.

I wish you both the best from the bottom of my heart. Really and truly. I know everything will work out for the both of you. Now wish me back, as empty as it would sound to me right now, that maybe there really is someone out there for me and that I'll find her before long.