Second time in Taiwan, though this time it wasn’t as part of the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces). I kind of preferred it when I was, though. This time we stayed mostly in Taipei, which proved to be rather tiresome quickly, especially with the mountains in the background beckoning their escape into nature. I’m starting to think that perhaps I should start making good on my promise to go back to Nepal or somewhere with mountains to climb and verdant rolling plains again.

Holi

March 10, 2007

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That’s me, at a Holi celebration with some non-Chinese friends, doing my bit for racial harmony (requisite Wikipedia link here. In case you’re too lazy to click on the link and find out more about Holi, it’s a spring festival (evidently there are many) that’s usually celebrated with the throwing of coloured powders and water at other people, usually resulting in much running about and chasing.

It looks like I got slugged pretty badly, but in truth I wasn’t reallly touched much – the girls were much more popular targets, but they cleaned up before the shot. The only other chinese at the event were a cameraman, an elderly cleaning woman, some guy who had a handphone plastered to his ear the whole time I saw him, and a handful of Chinese girls. We smiled belatedly at each other as we politely swiped each others’ faces with coloured powder and muttered sheepish “Happy Holi’s” to each other, conscious of our skins.

For you see, the Chinese can’t dance and aren’t really into interactive entertainment (except maybe for computer games). I just couldn’t bring myself to run about chasing girls to smear powder on their faces like the Indian guys or the caucasian tourists who indulged in every single Bollywood ideal they carried – some of them had so much powder on they looked like crazed monsters.

It’s sad that so few of us reap the benefits of living in a multi-racial society.

Subscriptions

March 9, 2007

The mail today contained two packages – respectively from SAFRA ( I’m assuming it stands for Singapore Armed Forces Recreational Association) and Mensa, both pleading with me to renew my membership.

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Organization 1 – SAFRA – sent a colourful brochure promising, at a yearly rate of around S$45 (with a confusing number of promotional membership fees), a multitude of activities ranging from bowling, gym workouts, snooker, fine dining, arcade games, karaoke, and what appears to be a woman in workout attire who will punch you. I take it from her position in the brochure that her services are “coming soon”.

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Organization 2 – Mensa – sent a couple of sheets of A4 paper, on which it explained that for $60 a year, I could be part of Mensa’s 3 monthly meetings and a variety of intelligence-related events, such as NTU’s “Brainhunt”. Along with the paper came an “exclusive” bookmark containing a witty quip from Isaac Asimov.

Doesn’t take much intelligence to figure out where your 50 odd dollars might give you the most enjoyment.

That Mensa has managed to survive so long at all is a testament, I think, to human vanity.

Above intelligence, it is.

Moving on

March 7, 2007

I got a new job.

Someone called me on Tuesday to go for an interview on Wednesday – today morning (Thursday) I got a call in the morning to tell me they wanted me, and the offer letter came via email mid-afternoon.

I signed it.

I’m still a little shell-shocked by the whole process. WJ suggests that it’s a HR pressure tactic to get employees at rates that they wouldn’t agree to so easily otherwise, although I did get more than I expected to so I’m not complaining (though I have the sneaking suspicion that I could have asked for more).

Now I have to resign from this job. Sigh.

After the last attempt I don’t relish the idea. I’m almost sure my boss will take it as a personal affront to his cult of personality that I do not want to work with him any longer.

Pep talks every week aren’t the best way to keep staff.

Hong Kong

March 5, 2007

Just back – not quite as exciting as I’d hoped. All developed Chinese-majority cities look too much like Singapore – the differences aren’t quite as exotic as I like.