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.

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.

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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?

Flashback to March

I don’t know if I actually posted about the first vacation that I took this year, which happened in March, when I went for a short trip to Perth with my family. I think it’s the first time that I had ever joined them on a trip, aside from the drives up to Malaysia when I was a kid. It so happened that this was also the first that my dad decided to join in, all thanks to a new addition to my family now, my nephew, whom has successfully to make my dad a more homely person. They left for Perth a few days before me, and I just joined them halfway through it so I was only there for about 4 days or less. But nevertheless, it was a good and relaxing trip. This was one trip where I just woke up each morning and then after a hearty breakfast with the family, hop into the rented vehicle and be on our way somewhere. Somewhere was the itinerary that my brother and sister-in-law had planned out together with my other brother, and I just tagged along. The last time I went on a road trip of sorts, excluding Malaysia, was probably the only other time, when I visited the US in 2011 and my friend’s family and I went on a drive out of the city of San Francisco.

I really miss travelling, and since I resigned and left my previous job in December last year, I had been suffering withdrawal symptoms of the travel bug. I know I’d complained about the fatigue that work travel brought me, but perhaps on hindsight, or even while I was at it, I knew it wasn’t just the travel that made me tired. I wasn’t into the job, and more so, I got tired working with the team that never really connected or which I never ever felt a part of, plus being on my own going to all those places that required me to stay vigilant 24/7 probably took its toll. I don’t know if I will ever get another job that will require me to travel for work, whether if it’s because I will apply for such a job or if I can ever get such a job again. Life is fraught with decisions that we make that veers our paths onto ways that we may never imagine ourselves to be on, but I would like to believe that God has a greater plan for me and will guide me towards the path that I should be walking on.

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Sift Patisserie, Hong Kong

This is the second time I’ve visited Sift, and the only one I’d ever been to even though they have outlets elsewhere in Hong Kong that are probably more convenient. But it is a convenient stop along the way as I make my way from the top levels of Horizon Plaza downwards. Usually that is how I proceed, take the lift up to the highest floor and start my way downwards on the stairs, until I reach perhaps level 18 or 17 and then take the lift either all the way down to the ground level or stop on level 5 where the IT outlet is. Again on this trip, I didn’t buy anything. I don’t know why I still visit Horizon Plaza despite that I never seem to be able to get anything even though everyone seems to love that place and emerge with great buys. I think I am a scrooge, so that even at discounted prices, the designer togs, shoes and accessories still seem pricey to me. Oh, and for most of them I can’t find my size either. I’ve actually bought stuff at the SPACE outlet that is a short distance away from Horizon Plaza but on the last trip I skipped it because there wasn’t enough time.

Sift serves really nice cupcakes in sizes that are too sinful, especially when it is shared. This is probably red velvet, and the best thing about it is that the top is most likely frosted cream cheese, like those used on carrot cakes and not sweet icing sugar. Whether it is less sinful or not I don’t know but it definitely tastes nicer.

20140107-230135.jpgThis would go very well with a cup of coffee.

My vacation in December was so short that I didn’t really feel like I had any proper break. Right now, I’m still missing the idea of holidaying and part of me is already missing the prospect of travel. These days, I’d wonder if I’d made a wrong choice and if there will be any room for regrets. Much as I try hard to keep the positivity and optimism high, it is definitely an effort to do so as I struggle to stay afloat and combat the stress of uncertainty and not knowing. Sigh.

Too many random thoughts darting about in the realm of my mind. I guess this is going to be another sleepless night. When will I ever get a sound night of slumber.

from dusk till dawn.. shanghai edition

I have never been to Shanghai for vacation. Since the first time I visited until the most recent trip that I returned from last Friday, it has always been for work. In all, I have been there four times, coincidentally the first three times all happening in March and the last trip in November. I’m thankful that I did not have to deal with the extreme weather conditions that could happen to Shanghai, whether it is the harsh winter or the biting summer days. Even as I just heard a news report about some pollution that affected Shanghai yesterday or today, as much as I worry for the people whom I know living there, I am glad that I am now back home in Singapore. Sure, most big Chinese cities are always having a problem of pollution, and even as I was there for the 2 weeks I could already tell that the skyline was never really crystal clear, but yet I was blessed with fairly great weather for the fortnight I was there, only having a day of cold, rainy weather with strong winds that could easily wreck an umbrella.

At this time of the year, the sun sets pretty early. I got in on a Monday late afternoon, and as the taxi took me along the expressway towards the bustling city, the fading lights of the sun that was creeping slowly beyond the horizon cast an ephemeral beauty that somehow evokes a feeling of poignant solitude.

20131202-134249.jpgSome cab rides that I have took over the last two years, shuttling between airports and hotels, have been hour-long journeys or more, some of which I have enjoyed to a certain extent despite the suffocating smell of stale tobacco that reeks in the interior of the car. These scenes that flash past as the vehicle cruises along the freeways always make for such a great moment of reflection and deliberation about anything or everything. It doesn’t even need any prompting of any sort because thoughts just conjure themselves up in my mind that is never wont to rest. I think I will miss this part as well, a part of travelling that I am unwilling to bid adieu to. But as with all things in life, there always comes a point when we have to say farewell and let go. It is only when we learn to let go of things that we can start to embrace new things and experiences and grow.

I tried to take the time to enjoy my two weeks, even as I was struggling to put in effort to revise for my exam in the nights after returning from the office. It was never a problem to rouse myself early each morning to hit the gym before heading for a good hearty breakfast just before going to the office, but to really focus on revision in the nights proved a challenge, in the ambient lighting of the hotel room, coupled with the general fatigue of the day brought on by work or just being awake for long hours, I could not manage beyond an hour of studying.

The weekend was great, and I had some time to really have a good chat with my cousin, someone I recalled being a baby just recently but who has now grown into a fine, young man, and time just went by so quickly that I wished I could stretch it out more. Still, I’m thankful that we met up and caught up. It always feel so good to talk to someone for real after engaging in mindless banter with people whom we can’t really speak freely with.

20131202-134254.jpgTwo weeks, or 12 days just went by. It’s now December, the final month of the year, yet it is also the time for new beginnings. This beautiful sight of the sun that is starting to brighten up the world, emblazoning the once pitch black sky with a spectrum of rainbow colours from violet all the way to red, greeted me as I tried to stay warm in the frosty temperatures of the wintry morning onwards to the airport.

It is always intriguing what brings people together in this world, but it is also interesting how they eventually can grow apart. I suppose in a similar way, whether it is with people or with things in our lives, we always must know when we should let go and do so with grace. Hanging on to something that is no longer there is meaningless because it just breeds more unhappiness with the forced attempts to make things work.

Let’s head towards a happier future, towards a more positive life and towards a better self.

cold but sunny

The climate here in Shanghai now reminds me of some of those trips that I made to Tokyo in recent years during winter time, when the sun is out in its blazing glory with sunshine that is so glaring that you have to squint your eyes whenever you’re facing where the sun comes from, but yet the air and the entire atmosphere is so cold that the moment you exit the warmth and cosiness of a building and its heated environment, your whole being wakes up from being arrested by that jolt of shiver that runs down your spine. It is a nice feeling actually, despite that I don’t take to the cold well at all. I am averse to extremities in temperatures, either hot or cold, and although I prefer cold to hot, my body doesn’t adjust too well to it. The skin on my hands are so dry and wrinkly like a dried-up prune, even with the copious slathering of hand cream and lotions throughout the day. I have been pretty religious about applying body lotion so for now I think the rest of the body is ok, it’s just the hands that are constantly exposed to the harsh, dry climate since I don’t wear gloves and it is virtually impossible to even if I had wanted to because I need to work, sans gloves. 20131128-083300.jpg

But cold and sunny is definitely better than cold and rainy/drizzly/gloomy. At least when I step outside I don’t feel like the climate is making me depressed. Whether it is for work or play, I’m sure most people prefer sunny days, because it just makes us feel better. Rain is good, only when I’m indoors and sipping on a cup of hot cocoa, wrapped up in a thick, fuzzy blanket with nice music piped in in the background.

This is the kind of weather that goes perfectly well with Christmas actually, the cold (and the sun that I like), but I am looking forward to going home as well. Today is the final day of work here, and this has been a fairly good trip. Maybe psychologically I already feel good about it, especially it being the year-end and this being the last trip, and for the whole of the 10 or so days that I have been in Shanghai thus far, only Sunday was a downer because it rained pretty much the whole day and it was cold, windy and gloomy. The other days were fine, with bouts of sunshine and cloudiness, but usually mornings are bright and cheery.

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s Friday tomorrow!

最後

Last business trip for the year!

As much as I have tried to attempt to blog even though I am blocked by the Great Firewall of China, it hasn’t really happened. At least, not like I had hoped to, with pictures. You can tell that I am getting lazy, but it is also because with the cold I have been more susceptible to feeling tired and also because business trips typically mean longer hours (than my usual) in the office, not to mention the post-office hours obligatory dinners.

Besides, I had to use some of the free after-work time for my Japanese homework, since these three weeks out of Singapore mean I have lots to catch up on.

I thought I’d use the weekend to study, since weekday nights my brain is already too spent to concentrate, and hotel rooms are hardly the place to focus on studying what with the ambient lighting that just induces slumber. But on both Saturday and Sunday, I was out for most parts of the day with the sweet cousin who took me to really nice places to binge and grow fat at. Oh well, the exercise will have to re-kickstart itself again when I get back, when life finally goes back to the usual routine.

Heading back home at the end of the work week. I always have this wish that my family would be at the airport to welcome me back home, always wistfully looking on as others have their families there to fetch them as I weave through the crowds, clear the customs, pick up my luggage and leave. Oh well, that’s how I learn to be independent don’t I?