Friendship at work?

I wonder if that is fact or myth.

I would like to believe that it is possible to form friendships at work, because most of the friends who I have now with whom I contact often and meet up with, are from work. There are just a few who have remained friends after we stepped out of the schools’ gates, whether by choice or by circumstance. But the ones I count as close friends now are mainly from my past jobs.

The thing is, we didn’t become friends or grow closer after we leave the companies that we worked together in. Which is why I have this faith in friendships formed at work. Yet, it is with examples that I also start to lose the faith with it.

It does seem now, that developing friendships is becoming an almost impossible feat. People seem to be guarded with information they divulge about themselves, and they seem to not be totally forthcoming in conversations, whether it’s about work or play. I know that we ought to be mindful of what we say, especially when we are still working in the same company, but shouldn’t friendship be characterised by trust? I don’t sense that feeling of trust here somewhat, and there is a lack of candidness. There is still that overall civility that is proof that we are still on ‘colleague’ terms, not friends.

There is certainly no need to feel sad or aggrieved at this, but I just find it strange. Having people at work whom you can talk to without that barrier helps to make an otherwise dreary job more bearable. Perhaps I just tend to trust people too easily, despite my professional background where I was meant to exercise scepticism in my line of work. But yet that is not to be.

right believing leads to right living

This is something that my pastor usually talks about. I’m not about to go into my belief, which I think is something personal and I don’t need to share it publicly. But rather I thought this is a very apt phrase – “Right believing leads to right living”. Simply put, it just means that believing in the right thing(s) will cause you to lead a life that is.. right and good. What is right and good, is of course debatable and subjective depending on person. But it generally corresponds to something like, not doing the wrong/illegal things, and also perhaps in terms of mind set, not thinking the ‘wrong’ things?

I don’t know if I were a born pessimist. But I would admit that for the most part of my life so far, I have become sort of a pessimistic person. It is not chronic, for I still do see the good in some situations and I am not constantly in a state of depression as there are still bursts of optimism, hope and sunshine in my life. It’s just that, my life and my emotions often go through a crazy roller coaster ride, which can happen many times a day. It is tiring, to say the least, but whatever option it is that I am going for, whether it is believing in God for everything and letting God chart my life, or seeking tangible professional help, at the end of the day, it is still my mind that needs to be controlled. My mind needs to see the hope, believe in the hope that God has a great plan for me in life and that whatever it is that I am going through now, it is a way for me to grow, to learn whatever I need to that I am currently lacking in, to be protected from a path that I would otherwise have taken that might have put me in harm’s way.

I am trying very hard. With His grace, I want to believe that this is possible and every single hurdle that looms up in front will be cleared and overcome, and I will come out stronger and better.

As I was going through some files, I saw a lot of my travel photos from the past, when I was in my previous job. I remembered complaining about the fatigue from travelling to places far away, not the glitzy, glamourous cities that we associate with business travel. I remembered complaining about the lost weekends and personal time because of the need to start the business trip before the work week begins, and after it has ended. The discomfort of not being able to get proper and quality sleep due to the different time zones, being stuck in cattle class, the need to take red-eye flights, suffering from jet lag.

But I also remembered and reminisced the peaceful and happy moments when I managed to squeeze in some form of sightseeing in those nondescript places that these trips led me to, enjoying the wonderful cuisines of these countries and marvelling at the magnificent sights that Mother Nature had created there. The euphoria of heading home after a trip and the real feeling of ‘being home’ when the flight touches down in Changi. The anticipation of seeing my family again, of being able to feel the familiarity of Singapore and having my favourite local food, being dressed comfortably in our national ‘costume’ of shorts and T-shirt, not needing to be all wrapped up for the cold, wintry climates overseas.

Was that meant to be just a phase of my life that has passed and become another chapter of my life’s history? I don’t know. I do miss travelling, but I don’t know if it is not God’s plan for me to continue a life of frequent jet-setting. I can still travel leisurely, and it definitely beats business travelling. But there is always a difference, because I can’t afford to travel as often on my own expense, and I won’t be going to some places that I won’t travel on my own.

My last business trip was to Shanghai.

shanghai_nov2013

I am thankful that I didn’t have bad memories of Shanghai. In total, I think I have been there 4 times, and they were all business trips, and always in times of generally fine weather, either March or November. I didn’t have to go through the nastiness of summer in Shanghai, and on several of those past trips, I had the opportunity to meet up with friends or family who work/live there. It had been kind to me, and on that last trip, it was good as well. I was even given a farewell gift by my German colleague, which although small, was a really nice gesture that touched me, despite that we were not exactly that close since I only meet her when I go on business trips. She knows how much I visit Starbucks, which we usually also do when we travel, so this was what she gave me.

shanghai_nov2013_1

Happy Friday!

I really wish to rediscover my love for and interest in writing. I feel sad when I visit the blog sometimes and after logging in, just proceed to log out because I just don’t feel the inclination to write and I am just not inspired to write anything. Writing used to feel so easy and effortless and nowadays it seems to be one of the furthest things from my mind. Focus is hard to grasp with apparent brain fog most of the times, and I just feel that whatever is typed out is somehow just meaningless banter.

But still, it is a Friday after all! Best day of the week because there is no work tomorrow. Isn’t it sad when on a day-to-day basis, the only thing worth looking forward to is the lunch break and end-of-workday, and then to Friday? When Friday comes around, there is already that impending dread that the weekend, though here, is too short and Monday already seems to loom around the corner. Well, I know this is all negative talk that I should refrain from and instead learn to ‘live in the moment’, enjoy each day for what it is rather than look ahead to something that we can’t control, or that only seem to make us feel bad. There really isn’t a point to be at this moment now, harbouring regrets about yesterday and worrying about tomorrow. And ok, I know that most people would say that everyone is exactly the same, in looking ahead to the meal breaks and then the going home part. We are all alike in that aspect but we all react and respond differently because of how differently we are wired internally. It’s just like how eating a humongous sandwich can make me experience heavenly bliss but to another it is just… food.

So anyway… with 8 months of 2016 gone and the last third of the year to go, I was thinking if I should, scratch that, I was thinking of where else I should visit. The last few years have seen me taking quite a number of vacations in the span of a year, at least 4 or more. This year, I have been on just 2 holidays.

In May, I visited my favourite city, Tokyo, once again. I already lost count of the number of times I have been there but yet there is always that desire to visit. There never really is an itinerary or reason for visiting each time but somehow I just look forward to going there. This time, I revisited Gotemba Premium Outlets. It’s the second time I’m going there and it’s so different from the first. Weather-wise it definitely felt different and also in terms of the crowd. It was so empty when I first went in 2009 and freezing cold. This time, it still wasn’t too hot because the seasons were changing, but the crowd size was visibly larger. Also, the people I went with on this trip, to Gotemba at least, were avid shopaholics.

tokyo_may2016

This was the situation at Gotemba, where we were crossing from one part to the other, after having a very un-Thai version of basil chicken rice at the food court. Personally, as I don’t shop as much these days, I only bought some casual clothing from GAP (the typical go-to shop for most people at these outlets I think). My Gotemba companions scored big though, with one of the most value-for-money buys from Loewe for most of them.

Just recently at the end of July, I took a short trip to nearby Hong Kong, another of my favourite cities, but which is starting to lose its shine somewhat. I still enjoy it for its familiarity and proximity to Singapore that is such a boon in terms of the relatively short flight time, but circumstances seem to have began to cast shadows on these. Nevertheless, I tried something new this time! Craved for char siew and my friend brought me to this Michelin-starred eatery. We actually queued (albeit a short while) to enter even though it was past lunch hour. Verdict? I think it’s ok, not bad but not fantastic that I would want to queue for again. It’s the same as Tin Ho Wan, not bad but not worth the kinds of queue that we see.
hongkong_aug2016

Other than this, the only other local thing I had on this trip was a small cup of Hong Kong milk tea from Tsui Wah that I ordered at the airport while waiting for my flight that was delayed for a couple of hours due to the the typhoon that set off the island on a Signal 8 Typhoon alert the night before I was due to depart. I also chanced upon a Gerard Dubois patisserie in Causeway Bay and tried the lemon curd tart that was pretty nice and zesty!

passion_lemon_tart_aug2016

There were so many things there that I would have liked to order to try but I could only choose one because I think that’s the maximum sugar load I could take at any one time. Or so I would like to trick myself into believing.

So if I take Hong Kong and Tokyo out of the equation, what are the other plausible choices? Should I venture a revisit of either?

it isn’t as easy as it seems or sounds

I read this letter that was published in Today: http://www.todayonline.com/voices/do-more-help-patients-suffering-depression

One of the sentences that the contributor mentioned resonated.

Some of my friends tended to conclude that people suffering from depression can be self-cured.

I wonder if these opinions from some of the contributor’s friends were adequately measured before made. Depression is a condition that is easily comprehended or that can be emphathised by those who have not been through it. It is not as simple as telling the person that he or she should just “be brave”, “cheer up and relax”, or perhaps even “get over it” like I have often heard. They don’t get that, it is not really within the person’s ability or mental capacity to move on, get over it, or just relax and see the brighter side of things. Maybe, for certain cases it is possible, depending on the severity, but in a lot of cases I believe, it isn’t. That is the reason why we have psychiatrists and psychologists, who are a form of intervention to help the person do so. We didn’t just create two types of medical professionals for the sake of job growth or to spur employment numbers. It just gets annoying or perhaps even worrying when people who may be close friends of the person make light of the situation and tell him or her to get a grip and snap out of it. The only thing that they are contributing towards is the person reaching the end of the tether and losing it totally.

Besides this, there is the stigma in our society, yes in cosmopolitan Singapore, of being viewed as a sufferer of depression, or as someone seeking help for depression. Most of the time, they may recognise that they are facing a problem and seek help but secretly without the knowledge of family and loved ones, which is really important because these are their inner circle who should be aware to lend that vital pillar of support. Nobody wants to be called a looney, which is what the stigma is about. In more serious cases, the person may not even recognise that there is a problem but instead ruminate ceaselessly on how he or she can break free from the avalanche of negative thoughts that threatens to down out one’s sanity, i.e. to ‘snap out of it’. Somehow, economic and societal progress has brought about an immense pressure on people who cannot cope mentally with the stresses of life and all that encompasses life. Perhaps sometimes, things change too quickly and drastically for the individual to handle, or personality traits could also have influenced the way the person reacts to the cards that life deals you with.

Depression is becoming more common in our modern world, yet in terms of recognising its severity and taking calculated steps to addressing it, we do not seem to have progressed in tandem.

Expectations…

are always something of an issue for me. Something that I grapple with, whether it is my expectations of people, or maybe others’ expectations of me. We are all selfish to a certain extent, and as much as we try to think that we do not want to have expectations of people, it isn’t realistic to think so. In a way, we can manage it in a way that we have different levels of expectations of different groups of people in our lives. Perhaps we can do without too much expectations of friends because as it is, expectations of family and partners can already be overwhelming. But when a certain group becomes a major part of your life, it is hard to be without expectations of them, or them of you.

We do not want to have to deal with others’ expectations of us, and we do not want to need to live up to these expectations, but secretly do we expect our expectations of others to be lived out and lived up to? Confusing much?

I guess friends are always a big part of my life, since young. It isn’t that I do not have a happy or complete family but somehow, friends have always featured rather prominently in my life from my school days, and I am always too affected by them for my own good. I have perhaps unrealistic expectations of them that cannot be achieved somewhat to an acceptable level and so I end up always feeling some kind of disappointment. At the very least, I would say, expect people I count as friends to remember my birthday and wish me happy birthday, yes you would think this is something very frivolous but yet it is something I treasure. I do think it is the thought that counts, and as much as these days we don’t really receive presents anymore, the simple thought of being remembered by someone, just a simple “Happy Birthday” is enough for me. There are of course those who go the extra mile to give me a birthday treat, or buy me a cake with a candle, these are appreciated definitely but they aren’t mandatory. I try to do something for people around me as well on their special days, and even though it isn’t right to think of the need to reciprocate and be reciprocated, friendship is very much a 2-way traffic, no?

Still, I suppose there are people who choose not to want to have expectations of friends or so they say. But to a certain extent, I think it is just self-delusion. Or perhaps there is a different connotation and understanding of just what counts as expectations.

OK. End thought process. End transmission.

Happy birthday!

So without much fanfare as per the norm these days, my birthday came and went. It was such a typical day, going to work… just that I got the afternoon off and went off to meet my sis(-in-law) for lunch.

What are birthdays without cakes, especially when I have developed a sweet tooth somewhere along the way over these years.

This wasn’t a birthday cake. In fact, I got this for my friend (and also for myself to try) when I visited her at her home while she was recuperating from a surgery. It’s a new cake offered by Starbucks, a Coconut cream sponge cake, that was surprisingly quite nice, to me. Perhaps because it’s meant to be a sponge cake after all, it didn’t feel dense and heavy, and the coconut scent/taste wasn’t too strong or overpowering. I didn’t really take the cream that much so I can’t comment how good or bad it is. But overall, it’s pretty alright and good for sharing, as always!This was a real birthday cake. Ahead of my birthday, and also my bro’s, who has his birthday in this month too, my eldest bro and sis-in-law took us out for lunch one balmy Sunday afternoon, and surprised us after a hearty and comforting local delights lunch with these 2 slices of birthday cakes topped with candles! This was the one and only candle that I blew out this year. The food we had was good, it had a rather authentic ‘wok hei’ to it, and the cakes were also delicious. Maybe it was made even better because of the thoughts behind and enjoying the special moment as the birthday girl.🙂Not a cake, but there’s still ‘cake’, i.e. Korean seafood pancake. Haha. Met a friend for dinner and she was having a craving for Korean food so off to a Korean eatery we went! The food was yummy, whether it’s the main or the ban-chan. I loved the japchae, even if it was a little oily but perhaps that was what made it so good! The portion was so generous for it being called an ‘appetiser’ or ‘starter’ so thankfully I didn’t order any main. With the ban-chan, the japchae and the pancake, I think I was already stuffed but yet I couldn’t resist not cleaning up whatever I could because the food was just too good (imho) and I hate wasting. As much as I possibly could.So when I met sis for lunch on the actual day, she brought me to U-town and we had lunch at a bistro. Even though we went fairly late for lunch, the place was still packed. But with the luxury of time that afternoon, we could afford to sit around and by the time we were done with our mains, the place already sort of cleared out and we could enjoy our cakes and coffee in peace while having a nice chat.

The carrot cake that we ordered wasn’t as good as we had hoped or expected it to be. But oh well, we can’t really tell if it’s good just based on looks. It had a rather flat taste and the sponge part felt a tad too dry and hard. But the apple crumble tart was good though! Sis commented that the carrot cake carried more cinnamon than the apple tart but I thought the taste came from the spiced apples within the tart. Anyhow, we really enjoyed the tart and it was a great and relaxing way to spend the afternoon.So that summed up my birthday celebration, if you would even consider it as a celebration. I suppose that as time passes and we age, birthdays become less of an event and quieter. We don’t need to be surrounded with people to celebrate our birthdays, or huge and noisy parties. That was never really my thing anyway. Quiet one-on-one or family gatherings are preferred because these are the people who matter anyway.🙂

How about this alternative?

Somewhere along the way, I dreamt a dream – to work in a cafe. Not as an owner since I don’t harbour lofty dreams of a proprietor, but just as an employee, calling that role a barista, service crew or what-have-you. In a place like Singapore, unfortunately, it isn’t a ‘dream’ that is quite practical or realistic. It isn’t that this can’t be a full-time, permanent job but it requires a great deal of adjustment in many aspects.

SB_path

Being someone who has worked in the corporate sector for more than ten years post-graduation, in an air-conditioned office sitting at a desk for the most part of the day, it would definitely be a big change if I were to say, become a service crew at a cafe. Type of work aside, which instead of facing the computer screen all the time to facing people, customers, who can range from nice to nasty (which is not so different from people we encounter in our corporate working lives, but sometimes with more complicated characters and situations thrown in the mix), it also means a lot of changes that need to be made to adjust to the possibly big gap that will result from the pay differences.

I know it isn’t impossible. It’s just like how I often relate stories of friends who have become SAHM, where the family becomes a single-income household, that it is not impossible to cut back and cut down. There are of course the more well-to-do ones who even with a single income, they are still able to enjoy a fairly good and above-average lifestyle, including luxurious shopping treats and vacations. Then there are those who just make do with what they have already been blessed with, and limit family outings to local excursions.

With financial commitments just inked in the recent years, and without proper planning for the near and longer medium term, it will be a hard choice to make, which at this juncture, could jolly well mean a point of no return. Yet it is often said that, if you don’t try, you will never know. So then, it again goes back to the choice. To do or not to do. It really depends on how ‘adventurous’ one’s character is to throw caution to the wind and follow the heart?