Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm Peeved: With Overzealous Singaporeans

Today I enjoyed my dinner at one of my (EX) favourite eateries, the Soup Spoon. I've been a customer with them since back when they were only like one or two shops, I would just bout every week, hop over to the little stand at Novena Square. And even after I left the country and came back I would go back every once in a while to have something there. I guess expansion (I was at the stall in Bugis btw) has not brought along with it better service staff.

Today, I was greeted with the most unexpected metaphorical SLAP in the face by one of their staff. When I was ushered to my seat, whilst I was carrying a nice hot bowl of soup, this little boy (or at least he looked like one; couldn't have been more than 14) was all polite and all. I had fully intended to write a glowing review and put on some nice pics on this post. This post that is now given to a rant, because I took pictures of the food, and the boy was asking me what it was for, and I said it was for my blog. Some moments later, the same boy came up to me, and said, "I'm sorry sir, you cannot take pictures of our food, it is in direct violation of our copyright".

So, without thinking very much, I just whipped my phone out, and proceeded to delete my pictures. At this point i was still quite chill, coz I didn't want to make a scene/dismember the small child accidentally with my broad sweeping gestures when I get worked up. However, he then said that he would need to look at my phone to check that I didn't have any photos left. And then I lost it, I apologised through gritted teeth and asked to speak to his manager. The manager, did NOT even have the courtesy to come over and speak to me, sending the boy over again some mintues later saying that it was ok now and so on.

Let me point out, that I had firstly GRACIOUSLY said that I would delete the photographs, and let me further point out, that COPYRIGHT only applies to things that are "works" such as paintings, or books, NOT a meal; and definitely not for things like bowls of soup, and so on. In fact, by asking me to delete my pictures, I was WILLFULLY giving up my copyright to those pictures because they were mine and my own. I would like to also say that I didn't try and steal recipes, I did not try and learn trade secrets, I just wanted to post a GOOD review on my blog. A review that could have and would have garnered good publicity for this stall. I do NOT blame the boy, he was obviously acting on orders. But who else is to be blamed?

PS. Soup truly was good, Had the basil and tomato thingy, and their set meal isn't too bad, what with the sandwich and drink. I mean 9 dollars for a complete meal in town, WoW.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sexy Beijing

Taken from Gadling.

This interesting little vodcast-like parody of Sex and the City, though a lot less... Sex, a LOT more city. I think its amazing that the host speaks such great chinese, chinese that I may be hard pressed to muster. And this content actually is quite good. You go GRRL!

See for yourself the first episode.


There's something in the air,
some change'ed quality,
the darkness that pervaded my soul,
now enters into that space,
where the purity of light,
of time, of destiny,
where is the meaning?

Why does she do what she does,
artfully avoiding,
skillfully turning,
gracefully skimming,
I can only deign to guess.

Is it fear?
Is it me?
Is it you?
Is it them?
Is it too much?
Is it too soon?
Is it complicated?
Is it effortless?

Somehow, for someone,
so used to insincerity,
so used to concealment,
so cynical,
so uninterested.
I've got my interest back.
I fear the 5 year old,
will reassert himself,
taking away what little
I have.

Somehow, I must say,
that in the end,
these are just words.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Cup

I broke my cup today,
it had an inkyness,
I always assiociated with her.
Somehow its now gone,
and I am without a cup.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Strong Hand

Those of you who don't already know, I will be playing Russia in the IAEA in the upcoming NTUMUN 2008. It is particularly interesting when one is allowed to simply play the arrogant son of a mother in the room and actually have it be considered a necessary part of the simulation. I am not saying Russian foreign policy is inherently arrogant and son-of-a-gun-ish but recent performance has been particularly indicative of an aggressive nation. Though strangely enough, our goals seem largely to line up with those of the USA on the issue of nuclear proliferation, but can and probably will be expected to put our own stamp on the proceedings. Its interesting isn't it, to see how I can play this out.

A strong hand is needed in any activity being conducted, and one has been a witness of the lack of such clarity recently. It is regarding the organisation of a particular event, and in the run up of the events, one must provide a public presentation. However, it seems people have got it into their heads that this task can be accomplished by asking certain unqualified people to provide for and somehow create a great looking presentation, something on the level of what one could get from the outside is simply not plausible.

It seemed like somehow the creative process was to be outsourced to one of the drunk monkeys typing away trying to create Shakespeare's writings, the duck that sits next to it quacking, and a hippo that dwells in a waterhole, (Though these animals are very tech savvy, thus fulfilling the cool factor) and the expectation was of a professional, well designed, under cost presentation. Somehow, it got into the heads of management that these animals are design gods who can in one single stroke, provide the marketing for a multi-million Hollywood movie, launch 2 operating systems for profit and create the marketing campaign for half a dozen Apple products. One may laugh, but the truth of the matter is, there's nothing and everything is somehow expected. The phrase "ask the animals, they're really good at such things, one" has been heard repeatedly, and yet somehow, if these gods were so good, why are their designs periodically disregarded and given over to others to design, or worse, watered down.

Its almost as if there is this compulsive need to obtain something just so that one can have something to reject, and if it was to accepted and were then to fail, the monkey, hippo and duck can take the fall. One has to beg the question, why can't they have just outsourced this entire project in the first place, it would have removed the compulsive need to micromanage (truly the biggest problem), and the whole layers of bureaucracy problem. May we also add lastly that the instructions for this endeavour was not passed on directly from the top to the design "team" but through 3 or more levels of bureaucracy. One cannot understand is why such things even need to be evaluated at the very top, this is not for the people at the "top", it is for those with no clue at all what is going on in the first place, so is it not true that those at the top cannot provide objective evaluation.

It is unfortunate though, that one shall not be the only person who would ever go through such examples of human behavior; somehow everyone will have undergo it at some point. Such are the symptoms of management.

Rethink Customer Service

My friend Evan told me that this shop's, Jaben Network, service was impeccable, and I thought, No, that can't be true. Its some small little shop located out at this ulu place... Adelphi what?

BOY! was I in for a surprise. I mean previously I had bought in-ear earbuds from that place and I thought meh, nothing spectacular. Just in, tried a few other phones, tried my set of phones, and out. But today was an example of true service at work.

I walked in listening to a piece of music, was it from Madonna or J Lo. I forget but I walked in with the Allessandro MS-1s on my mind, and I set out to try them out, unfortunately the place was noisy with some oldies playing and people chatting and generally having a good time. Fortunately Uncle Wilson, through all of the conversations taking place directed at him, to him, over his head, towards his glorious speakers, paid me all the attention I needed as I tried out cans ranging from 165(the MS1s) to 400 plus dollars (Some Expensive brand's 860s). All of them impressive, and all of them receiving through consideration from the master himself, Uncle Wilson.

I then asked if there was any way I could get a new set of more comfortable *tips?* for my Crossroads (The earbuds mentioned earlier). He just grabbed a pair of $6 tips out of a bag, and gave them to me. I was stunned. When I decided to buy the MS-1s soon after, he said its your lucky day... and pulled out a BEAUTIFUL wooden box. And gave it to me free. My jaw hit the floor. It was a $48 dollar box, and I was only grabbing a rather plain jane set of Headphones. I paid, and was thanking and thanking Oncle Wilson, *it sounds better in French, non?*. On the way out of the shop, I stopped and stared at the new CrossRoads X3i-s that had come in, they were beautiful earphones and I asked casually about them. Boy was I glad I did. Uncle Wilson asked me to come try them out, and as soon as I was done praising them, he said, come I'll trade up your old Mylarones for the new ones. I was floored again. A USD53 value, ... for free. I was simply speechless at the end of it all.

Freebies aside *though it always helps*. This kind of service, cannot be found anywhere else in Singapore. You are not only rewarded for repeated custom, but treated like an old friend, given preferential service effortlessly, and treated like a customer, one that wants to buy things from you again and again, and not like a thief that has entered your shop to try and finagle the loss inducing price from you. Such service, such attention is a dying trade in a country that has been ranked 26th in surveys.

Which brings me to ask, if the Audiophile world can have such great service, why not the PC buying/selling world. Why can't they take care of us as well as we take care of them. Is it really because all Singaporeans are so cheap? Because yes, we may go for the best deal, and in the process put up with the long lingering stares as though WILLING you to buy something, or the blatant rudeness, *except to foreigners*, but why can't there be a Jaben Like store in Singapore. A place where one can get exceptional prices, immensely friendly service and none of that bull that other places try to pull, a place where once can truly feel like a customer, and not like the little kid who's being bullied at school to give all his money away. Is it really true that your margins are SO thin that you cannot afford to give good service? I don't really know, but I suspect that this is simply because PC peripherals have become such a commodity that one can't expect to get good service anymore. Just commodity-esque service. There's no feeling left, no emotion, just a transaction and boom done. Should there then be the creation of an elite set of peripherals? Catered to the elite? Yes, and yes it has been done, but not in Singapore sadly, and not for anything less than the top of the range. The question that begs then, is why can't they made PC-phile mid range and low range cards/processors/ram chips etc. Stuff that gives the pro-sumer and mild enthusiast shudders simply for the amazing value it offers. These questions though valid, I cannot answer and yet somehow I wish someone could.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

happy birthday

These eyes stare out of the window,
longing for that summer rainbow.
The crisp dew-like sigh that floats,
a sound that I can almost see,
that makes me wish I had a boat.

The rhymes that I form in my sleep,
in the dreamlike state that is so deep,
the crisp, tender touch,
that gives me -oh so much.
Who can save me now,
from that painful... ow!

She reminds me of a shiver,
that involuntary tremble,
that sets off a sliver of warmth,
resembling pleasure,
resembling fear.

Oh how I miss her twinkling eyes,
her sparkling smile,
her shining aura,
her various other cliches.

Even her strawberry scent,
I knew it meant,
that now and again,
I must abstain from those thoughts.
Of her.

Eyes that glisten like the fresh snow,
you told me about this afternoon,
snow that falls once in a while,
snow that beggars belief,
snow that is cold to the touch.

I'd kiss you for your birthday,
If I could grow wings,
If I could swim, run, fly, bribe, extort, blackmail,
my way to China.
Underneath that veneer of childish manliness,
and a slight fetish for overpriced things,
I'm your friend always.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful girl.

Monday, January 07, 2008

One Last Return

I've said many times already, that "This is my last trip to China." Somehow, it never is quite the last trip. I return again and again, invariably with excuses, Oh I'm here to visit friends, to visit family, to visit the Suzhou Museum. But, sad to say all these excuses are only part of the truth. I think I've begun to call it home. A second home, A place where I can feel safe and somehow know my way around. And yet as time has passed, as I've been away, this feeling has also worn away ever so slightly, its a little like returning to a place you've lived in many many years ago, and finding that the new owners have changed the colour of the tiles, sold away your secret hideaway cabinet (Or you tell yourself).

Somehow, after all the changes that Singapore had undergone, when I returned it did not feel that different. Whereas Suzhou was like going back to an ex girlfriend, or so I hear lol, my ex *singular* is not like that... but trying to sound literature-y is always difficult... anyway back to the point, its like returning and finding that she has aged, she's had work done that didn't quite turn out well *botched boobies* etc. It was quite disconcerting and yet quite reassuring. That time has passed and I am but only one small part of this great and unstoppable machine.

The changes wrought on the "small" Chinese city of Suzhou, has not, fortunately, changed the way my parents treat me whenever I return to China. There was the outburst of emotional caring, lots of loving, extra food, general attention being given to me. If not for certain things that did happen whilst in China, I'm certain my gratitude would have been boundless and eternal. Underneath it all, I think my parents probably find it rather odd that I'm no longer by their side, and I am just generally glad that I still have such a place in their hearts. *Still can't teach me to drive properly though*

I am blessed to have met up with my friends, Amy, Tanja, Ben, Jocelyn, Vi, Trixie, and all the SSISians that remember me etc. I am blessed to have been showered with affection, to have gone to see a ballet, to take and give precious things. I am being sentimental, and when I'm sentimental I can't write without slipping into theatrics. So I shall stop. I love y'all.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

You Know

You Know when You think about her,
When you think of the gentle touch,
the stiff breeze, and the softness that glows,
the broken hearts and tender promises,
the dark, knowing smiles,
and joyful grins.

You know.

In the Still of the Night
Cole Porter
In the still of the night
As I gaze from my window
At the moon in its flight
My thoughts all stray to you

In the still of the night
All the world is in slumber
All the times without number
Darling when I say to you

Do you love me, as I love you
Are you my life to be, my dream come true
Or will this dream of mine fade out of sight
Like the moon growing dim, on the rim of the hill
In the chill, still, of the night

Like the moon growing dim, on the rim of the hill
In the chill, still, of the night