Thursday, June 28, 2007

Escuse me but my eyes are up here

It's been a long time since I had a meeting with some random client representative and he spent more time looking south of my chin than he spent looking in my eyes while we talked.

Granted I am wearing one them new titty tops from Victoria Secrets, but there's another shirt on over that (also fr VS), and then a jacket. What gives, man.

It must be the whole married persona. Married me does not expect anyone to be looking at anything other than our documents and notes. Single me would've probably anticipated some form of reaction, and would've probably said something ambiguous and polite, like "If you look at my chest one more time I will punch you".

Sometimes I miss Single Me - she was a lot of fun and was super audacious. Married me is cautious, staid and a little bit boring. I've never been to MOS, St James Power Station, that soap bubble bikini joint at Sentosa or that other place where people sit around in their bikinis and drink alcohol (did I just describe all of Sentosa?) Married me hardly ever gets pampered anymore - for example, the other day when my husband brought me breakfast in bed, he used the Aussino linen napkins which he knows abrades my face.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Local Girl Buys Even More Clothes

So despite having more clothes than God, I have accidentally bought even more clothes. They arrived today in the mail from Victoria's Secrets! Is it possible to be overjoyed and horrified all at the same time. To add insult to injury, they stuffed a new catalog in the package, so that I can admire their new selections as I admire my purchases.

In other news, there are little bruises all over my ankles and shin from running around all weekend at the pool and beach with Sonny Son Son. It looks like I have been beaten about the feet and ankles by a very small but angry leprechaun.

East Coast is weird

You would hardly know it's still the same country. Last night we had our first storm, which everyone slept through except the dog and the maid, and it blew all our windows open. Maid asked me politely but pointedly why we didn't close the windows before we went to sleep and I told her politely but pointedly that, yes, we most certainly did do you think this is a den of slack? Now I realise, looking at all the deck chairs that got blown into the swimming pool last night, that what we actually need to do is LOCK the windows shut otherwise the air pressure from outside will suck them wide open.

Also it's weird that we are so close to the beach, and I can see people fishing in the morning as I get ready for work. FISHING. I haven't been so close to a bait and hook since I was 10 years old and sitting in my uncle's living room, watching TV and playing Vlad the Impaler with a bunch of earthworms. In Sibu, it floods when it rains, so everyone's house is built on stilts and there's always a trap-door in the living room just in front of the TV so that you can fish and watch TV in the comfort of your own home. No rods, just a line, a hook and a drowning worm. It sounds cool when I type it out, but frankly, threading a slimy writhing worm through a hook is not the most fun thing I've ever done.

Anyway. Am looking forward to yet another weekend spent in swimwear and a little tee. There's a spa, gym, hairdresser, video rental, minimart and (coming soon at the clubhouse) a little cafe within the condo premises, so I may be close to fulfilling my dream of never having to leave the house for anything ever. I've checked and the minimart actually delivers to your doorstep. For those people who are not just so lazy they won't leave the condo to buy their grocery and essentials - they are in fact so lazy they won't leave their unit - you can have the nice grocer bring the stuff to your door. Maybe for a small fee, he will put the stuff into the fridge for me. And make an omelette.

Feel more laid back since we moved in. Earlier this morning, I actually left the CD playing for extra 5 minutes whilst I stepped into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Imagine that - 5 minutes worth of electricity for nothing and nobody. Half the world is starving and the other half is playing Suede for nobody.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I think the auditors mighta got the hint by now

It could be a sign that the word has gotten around our audit firm but we never seem to get the same people coming in year on year to inspect our books.

Auditors conducting an inspection are never quite as popular as they would like to be, but even then, I suspect last year's representatives did not expect bits of ceiling tile to come raining down on their heads as they bent over our books and tried desperately to sort out the mess. I mean, nothing particularly exciting ever happens around here (other than paperwork) but come audit time, a ceiling tile decides to detach from the ceiling with an accompanying strip of metal and the next thing you know, the auditors are screaming and running from the room.

Of course we called the Landlord to come around and check, but they gave us the same explanation we got when we asked about the water dripping from the ceiling and why is the aircon not cold ("uh ... dunno") which was no help. But anyway.

This year's batch arrives all smiley and fresh, and after the first hour with our post-Carrier man air-conditioned office, they were two little frozen calculating blocks of ice. Which was okay in comparison to what happened the next day which is our contractors came into the office en masse to start on the renovations. Stripping out the carpet from under their feet and replacing ceiling tiles above their little heads as they tried to carry on working was, unfortunately, included in the list of activities planned by the contractor. I ran into the auditors at the end of yesterday in the lift, and they were 50% less smiley and 80% less fresh. Do you conduct all of your audits in a construction site, I asked. Nobody laughed except me. I think one of them was grinding her teeth.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. They concluded their audit today (in record time!) and left all smiling and cheery again. I'm sure it had nothing at all to do with the fact that we've been huffing fumes from the new carpet glue all morning and all afternoon. There's a small blue man sitting on my desk helping me type this and he assures me it's definitely not the case. Look, there's a unicorn!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

20% of Woman's Wealth Tied Up in Vouchers, Refunds

Have just about finished complaining to just about everyone I know that the professional movers that I overpaid last week broke more furniture than the ex-drug addicts I used the last 3 times I moved at less than half the price. I'm not a gravity expert, but I'm almost completely certain that throwing a box full of clothing and books on top of a standing lamp would result in the lamp not being able to work after that. Also, I'm pretty sure that pulling the legs apart when you're carrying a side table would probably result in 3 planks of firewood arriving at the new house.

Have almost completed a full assessment of the damages and, save for the long deep scratch in the marble floor of my old house (there was some confusion between the meaning of the words "lift" and "drag" in relation to the piano), I've managed to quantify the total cost of replacement at about S$200 which will now have to be deducted from the amount owing to the movers. Which is almost equivalent to what I would've had to pay 10 ex-drug addicts from a halfway house to move my stuff. And did I already mention that they would've been more careful?

In other news, and after finally unpacking almost 80% of my boxes, I realise I may have more underpants, T-shirts and handbags than God.

Monday, June 18, 2007


I am a chronic house mover. Since I managed to move out of my mother's house, I have lived at Chancery Court, River Place, Botanic Garden View, Ang Mo Kio and now have just moved to the East. And that's over the past 6 years or so. And every time I do this, I tell myself, I am never moving house again. It's just too painful, in terms of the packing and unpacking, and also having to leave behind a house that I have gotten to love living in. So why did I move? I saw someplace that I thought was nicer. Also, in Chancery Court, I couldn't get the Landlord to settle for less.

This time is the worst move ever - I cannot recall how we managed to accumulate so much heavy furniture over the past 1.5 years. Even the movers asked if we were really intending to take everything. And moving from 2,700 square feet to 1,500 square feet is no joke - when the last box was shoved into the house and the movers let the door shut behind them, they must have wondered how we were going to get out.

The Son has enjoyed climbing over boxes and furniture placed on top of other furniture. "Tall Mountin!" he says. But I am seriously less thrilled - it is going to be physically impossible to fit everything and we are going to have to sell off more furniture than I needed to fill my first apartment to begin with. I mean, seriously. We have a bed, dining set, side table, study table with chair, sofa, coffee table and bookshelves to sell off. How the hell am I going to pull this off. How are we going to get the furniture out the door?!?!

Anyway, horror aside, I went to work last Friday in my maternity clothes (everything else was packed) and I could not believe how different my day was. I have forgotten how nice people can be if you look pregnant (as compared to if you just look a little bit fat) - people were not just holding the door open for me, some of them were actually walking back to pull the door open again, and then hold it open?! And people are just feel friendlier, and I don't mean that in the hubba hubba sort of way. I felt like a fraud (no, I am not pregnant), but part of me enjoyed getting my pregnancy privileges back, even if it was just for a day. A friend sms'd me late in the evening to say someone else had seen me walking by and asked if I was pregnant. Gah!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

God also must take a number

I tried to persuade one of our clients not to do it, but they INSISTED on opening an account with the local bank that I already have an account with. Despite 2 entire emails where I said "Don't do it! Yawl be sorry!" in some obscure obfuscated CYA legal mumbo-jumbo, they wrote back and were extremely clear that yes, we note your comments but we would still wish to open a corporate account with DBS.

So I took a deep breath and delegated the horrible nail-scraping-across-keyboard-kill-me-now task to someone else who ended up spending 1.5 hours at DBS' main branch getting the account opened. To quote the someone else - you could fly to Jakarta and back in that amount of time.

And can you beat this - even if your ass and all your identifying and supporting documents in original form are planted in front of the officer in the MAIN BRANCH of DBS, and you're holding in your hot little hands a cheque for the minimum amount, it will still take 2 whole working days to get the account number. Seriously. They have to go and slay the Godzilla and bring back its head or something before their computer can spit out a set of 10 numbers which will be the account number. All those computers and dedicated account officers in the main branch of the largest bank in Singapore, and it still takes 2 working days. Painful? Yes. But tolerable.

Then our client representative flies in from Tokyo especially to do 1 thing, and that is to change the bank signatory to himself. Presents himself at the main branch again, with identification and supporting documents in original form. How long does it take for them to change the signatory from Person A to Person B?

It takes 10 working days.

Why does it take 10 working days?

It's the Internal Procedure. Never mind that in less than 10 working days, a person can travel around the world and come back - for the 1 sheet of signatory instructions to make its way through all the correct inboxes and outboxes in DBS, it will take 10 working days. Does their account management team work underwater? Are they like deep sea divers working 10 leagues under the sea, where if they move too fast, nitrogen bubbles will form in their blood and they will die? Are the people in the account management team slow of mind?

I thought the client asked a rather pertinent question, and that was, well, here I am at the Main Branch of DBS, and you have all these computers and I have all my original documents here. Why can't you do it now?

We can't do it here at the Main Branch. It's all done through our processing side in Chai Chee. If you want things done faster, maybe you can go to Chai Chee yourself, but no promises that it can be done faster. At this point, I thought about the 4 months I waited for my internet banking token and wanted to tell the client, yes, no promises that it can be done faster.

To put things in perspective, this is a client with more than US$20 million ready for deposit into the account. They picked Singapore to set up their holding company because everyone says we are efficient. In fact we claim loud and clear to be a first class financial and banking centre. DBS is the largest bank in Singapore. We are at their Main Branch with all of the documents they need to change the signatory. What the hell did we do wrong? Why does it take 10 working days to process? How can I explain to the clients why we had to wait 1.5 hours to change the signatory, and it still cannot be done on the same day or even the day after? How can I explain to the client why with US$20 million in their account, they still have no dedicated customer service officer, and have to take a queue number at the bank just like the next guy (e.g. me) with S$2,000 in the account? Does God have to take a number too, if he wants to use DBS?

I am embarrassed and fed up. I told clients to use OCBC and they didn't. Do you know the account opening officer will come to your office to provide personalised service, I said. These people are actually interested in your business, I told them. DBS will just tell you to take a queue number and sit down.

Towards the tail end of the 1.5 hours, the client looked at me sheepishly and said, it appears we may have made a mistake choosing this bank. It was all I could do not to stand up and scream.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When ya piss off the Carrier Man ...

So after sitting in my office-cum-sauna for I don't know how many weeks and constantly calling the Carrier man back again and again to fix the air conditioning problem (which he initially refused to admit was a problem), I think I finally called him back one too many times.

You would think when the guy refuses to admit there's a problem with the aircon that maybe he might not know how to fix it, so he tells you there isn't a problem so he doesn't have to fix it, right?

What you may not realise is, hell no, maybe he does know how to fix it, but he doesn't want to fix it because he can't be bloody bothered. And then the 6th or 7th time he comes back, he decides, okay. Now she's really done it. She's pissed me off. By God this time I will fix the aircon. And I will fix it reel gud. How diabolical is that?!

So I return from a meeting and I walk into ... Siberia. What he's done in the one hour I was away from the office is lower the thermostat to .... the lowest it could possibly go to sustain human life, and then screw all the vents fully open so that even if I change my mind and try to go with a little bit of self-help remedy, me and my little office screwdriver (ok, it's a pen, alright) will never be able to close them again. Ever. Even if I use the office blowtorch (ok, it's a lighter, alright) or the office hammer (high heel) and nails (another pen) or my ultimate secret weapon (screaming while doing all of the above), I will never EVER be able to close the vents myself. I will have to pick up the phone and beg the Carrier man to come back to fix it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Couple Returns Home to Find They Have No More Face

Under the Child Rearing Rulebook, Rule #225643223, we are officially cautioned against giving our child any sweets because it will rot their teeth.

So The Son stands at the gate to the house, holding the bars in his chubby hands and looking out for the maid next door.

Auntie. Auntie. he says, in his "just learned to speak" toddler-lisp.

Auntie comes running over as fast as she can. The King is calling!

Yoyyi-pop. Go. Get. Yoyyi-pop.

Yes, our son has taken to begging the neighbours for sweets. At last count, he had scored about 15 yoyyi-pops and a box of muffins from House No. 17. Also 3 bags of swiss "choc-yate".

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I can smell again!

It's been pretty depressing these last 2 weeks given that I've been down with the Flu Grand Mal and have not been able to smell or even breathe deeply without coughing and hacking my lungs out. This flu is a pretty bad one - the symptoms last about 2 weeks, and it seems to be very contagious, judging by the number of passers-by who are also coughing and sneezing. Does not help that we have been busy and I have managed to not miss more than half a day's work over 2 days in the last 2 weeks. So have pulled the "very sick but still manage to go to work and work" stunt, yet again, for the umpteenth time since I started working. Ho hum.

Yesterday I woke up and the world was all smelly again - I felt so invigorated, like I've just spent the last 2 weeks in a fog and it's cleared and everything is bright and sparkly and there is colour in the world once more. Went for a meeting at Raffles Place and was astounded by all the changes that had taken place in the last 2 months. Wow! This is where the Big Boys are! People here are so glamorous! Then I saw an auntie walking down the street, chatting with her friend while scratching at her groin (some would say, chee bye), and realised that not much had changed, just that I had been ill and now I'm not ill anymore.

Women who have become aunties are really audacious. As someone once told me, if you sit in a car parked kerbside, and you look out at the people passing by, you will realise some of them have really sharp radar and some of them don't. Like the PYTs (pretty young things) have really sharp radar. You look at them through a car window and in 5 seconds flat, they will catch you looking. At this point, most people would usually look away politely, but some of my guy friends tell me they will just keep on staring. Creepily. But anyway. If you stare at the aunties, they will never catch you. Because their radar is either not working anymore or it's been switched off to save battery. They don't think they are attractive anymore, so they don't look out to see if anyone is looking at them. Radar is off. I wanted to tell the auntie yesterday, eh, it doesn't mean you are invisible, ok. Just because you are an auntie and you think no one looks at you anymore doesn't mean you can walk down the street in the middle of Raffles Place scratching your chee bye like that. For God's sake. I was about to go and grab a bite, and now I'm just trying not to vomit in my mouth.

I once met someone else like that, but she was the examiner for my A Level Chinese oral exam so I kept my thoughts to myself. Little did I know she was actually quite a famous personality and was in fact the renowned "CB Scratcher" who taught Chinese in a boy's school.

Anyway. So yeah. Things are back to normal.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Man's Shoe by any other name would still be black, brown

So I decided to navigate the stormy watery minefield of Father's Day gifts yesterday at the Robinson's Sale, armed with the co-gift-giver (The Son) and what I would regard as a fairly decent sense of personal style, honed by decades of, uh, dressing myself. And thanks to my quick wit and highly analytical thinking powers, we do not now own a Size 8 and a half pair of women's loafers from Geox. This is because, just before I made the purchase and after half an hour of browsing, I decided to ask myself. Self, how is it that in this women's shoe department, they have a single gorgeous pair of men's shoes for sale?

Having narrowly escaped a pointless useless expenditure of S$150, I adjourned to Timberland which I regard as the holy grail, absolutely foolproof, for men's shoe purchases, and lo and behold there appears before me this rather nice innocuous looking black pair for S$150 (after 15% off), for which they had plenty of stock, and for which I was just about to pay when The Husband arrived at the scene and refused to even try them on.

What's wrong with this pair?

These are hospital attendant shoes. People will think I am here to change the bedpan and shave between their balls for the vasectomy.

In what way are these hospital attendant shoes?

Just look at them. It's ... the shape. It's... the cut.

Yeah. So I'm looking at a pair of completely black leather shoes, with laces, with a normal rounded toe bit, with normal heels, with normal stitching. I'm no doctor, but don't nurses wear white canvas shoes? The shoe is shoe-shaped. And cut like a shoe. And it's black, so no one is going to look too closely at it anyway. If a whole bunch of guys were stuck in an elevator, looking down at each other's shoes, I can guarantee you no one is going to look at that pair and start asking for the bedpan.

Finally we settle on a brown pair. It's cut like a shoe. Shaped like a shoe too. And just as innocuous as the black pair, except this one is ... brown. Timberland, in its infinite corporate wisdom, has also decided to allocate this one the same price. But this one, this one obviously has some magic in it, because The Husband wants to buy this pair instead. And AMEX gives us another 10% off. And we are DONE for the year.