Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cherished Moments

1. My boss realizes he has no stirrer or spoon for his coffee and reaches out to use a 30cm ruler from the table as a means to create a better coffee mixture to my utter shock. He goes on to say, "I firmly believe that people, children especially, don't eat enough dirt these days to build their immune system. We can just live on dirt alone did you know?"

I proceeded to mention something I saw from TV from the ex's place whence a woman was featured as surviving on soil alone. To this, my boss animatedly nodded and said with a cheeky smile, " My daughter came home once, with snail shells all around her mouth ( I was gasping loudly then when I realized the direct implication of what he just said!). French people do it all the time, it's just that they cook their snails."

On another day, from the corner of my eye I saw my boss use the same ruler to chop up his Krispy Kreme doughnut. The fact that I've used that very ruler a couple of times to do work gave me a little shudder both for myself and him but that didn't change the fact that I absolutely adore him.

2. I made some brownies to present to my colleagues on my last day. They were a bit too shallow as I used a pan that was too wide. My housemate made very bad remarks about it once they were done and today he even said they sucked badly. He even went on to say that he doesn't want me to bake anymore of them. Those remarks hurt and he added more salt to the pain by saying that his comments were constructive and when I retaliated by saying that I prefer to bake for my friends who appreciate my baking more, he said they only told me what I wanted to hear. Indeed, all those words hurt me but there was a grain of truth in his words. So far, he has criticized everything I made but today it just went overboard.

But where is the golden moment in this? It was yesterday when I told my boss about what my housemate said, to which he responded "He doesn't deserve to eat this. I give you 9/10. The brownie is chewy, the top is crispy, which I like. Just a bit too strong on the chocolate." I felt like hugging him. He scolded me for being too generous when I offered the baked goods to other people on the floor and tried to hide them away as another guy walked past our desk. He's adorable, and he appreciates what others do for him. He eats anything at all, as long as he sees your effort in it. Even if he was not entirely honest with me, he took care to appreciate me.

My housemate sort of made me feel obliged this morning to bake him something without even a word of please. I was enraged. Last night I already felt really bad from a comment WS made and my housemate just plucked the last straw out of me. I would have baked him something but ended up going for gelato with my senior instead. Sometimes, people just need more respect paid to them.

3. WS told me that whoever has me is a lucky guy. He hugged me and said that I should remember that I am a good girl. I almost cried.

4. VVNC embraced me and placed his cheek on mine on both sides to which I yelled jokingly, "Shave!! Shave!!". Boss hugged me and said, "You've been a pleasure to work with. You take instructions well and are keen to learn". I couldn't stop beaming, especially after he asked me to come visit next week.

5. I sang in a huge karaoke room, played drinking games, went to a club, drank champagne and got some spilled over me, tried to move (minimally) on the dance floor and got home at 3am, all in the same night, all firsts for me. I had a great time and to imagine what mom would say makes me laugh! I did not get drunk by the way but I've learnt that no matter how hard others persuade me, I should always say no if I'm not comfortable with something.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


At 4am, I woke up and saw a couple of my friends back home on MSN. I told them I woke up from a horrible nightmare. One of them asked me whether it was Voldemort I dreamt of. I wish.

In the dream, there was a person on a racer bike, the slender, shiny and aerodynamic kind with a little baby at the back. I was not sure whether I was the rider or not as I viewed most of it from a third person view. The bike was speeding along a very narrow and winding tarred road in the middle of a white dandelion field. By speeding, I mean really really fast. My stomach churned whenever the bike took corners, which never succeeded in slowing it down; as with every corner, the rider increased his/her speed. There were warning signals which came in the form of a very foreboding gut, which I was sure both the rider and I felt but no heed was paid to it. Suddenly, an aeroplane came into the picture. Probably it was there because I recently watched a scene involving the vehicle in IRIS, a very popular Korean drama. Anyways, the rider never did slow down. In the end, the rider took a very dangerous corner along with the plane and my view never caught what happened. The rider zoomed past me so fast and dissapeared into my blind spot, with a strong gush of wind trailing behind. Everything changed to slow motion, the strands of dandelions bending ever so slightly to the left, as though bowing their heads in extreme sadness to the tragedy that has just come to pass. Although I never saw it, everything in the dream signalled the death of the little baby, how his/her head expanded in the crash and exploded. It didn't make sense at all, how that could even be possible but that was what my dream told me. 

Later, in a completely random scene in another dream, a coursemate of mine gave me a kiss on the forehead as a sign of care and comradeship. I didn't know what to make out of it. Dreams are there to confuse us, they can never be taken seriously. 

So after my chat, I went back to sleep. I woke up at 8.33am, did some room exercises and headed off for a jog. I then saw a 20 pounds note on the ground. To my dismay, I was appalled by my first thought. I am meant to meet up with Z and N later and I was already thinking of buying myself a huge fat meal and using the rest of the change from that lucky note to pay for my Harry Potter movie tonight. Another zero pence day to add to my repertoire!! 

How disgusting. Just a few seconds later, I realized how selfish those thoughts were. The note will be going to charity and no where else, just as it rightly should. Although I am selfish, I am grateful that God is still present in my heart, guiding me towards doing what is right and steering me away from temptations. 

Tonight, a whole decade of a magical experience will come to a close on the big screens. I'm catching the latest Harry Potter movie with my lovely coursemates in 3D and am feeling ever so excited! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

A tribute to my teachers

I'm blessed to have met VVNC as a teacher. This person has no obligation or motivation whatsoever to treat me with so much kindness and patience. Suddenly out of the blue, he is entrusted with a protege who takes everything too literally, is slow to understand jokes, asks stupid questions and only sucks more oxygen out of the room. Truth be told, this humble self is not even a protege; because with the level of skills she's got, she's just anyone from the high street. Deep down, I know how blessed I am, how God has brought me under the supervision of one of his angels on Earth. I could detect the genuineness of VVNC's character when:

1. He opened the door for me the first day I came to the office, brought me to  my seat, spammed me with office supplies and showed me the loo. When I was by myself later on in the week, I realized that not everyone would immediately show you the loo! So that was very thoughtful of him. 
2. He walked over the office to find me the correct colour printer when I printed from the wrong one.
3. He asked his colleagues from Amsterdam and Paris to send me notes or information to help me with my research over a conference call. He also ingrained in me a sense of self-worth by noting how important my paper was, when in fact I knew that it probably was just something assigned to me to fill up my time. But just because he took the effort to build my confidence, I had to do my work well. 
4. He sent me an email saying, '95% perfect!' on my silly draft. He also kept eyeing my monitor to make sure I was progressing with work and not slacking away. 
5. He put a smile on my face by saying how he's already loving my work that's not even remotely coherent. 
6. He asked if I wanted a coffee everytime he went out to get one. 
7. He ate all of my Min Chiang kueh when no one else wanted to. 
8. He pushed me slightly to the front so I could be closer to the sales people during their meeting when I was feeling too timid. I later met my colleague from Amsterdam too, who did the same thing to me. They must have noticed how scared I was. 
9. He sent me emails with all sorts of information that could assist me in my learning.
10. He asked someone to email me a spreadsheet with the names of clients all listed down, so I wouldn't have to do it all by myself all over again. 
11. He asked me if I would like to attend one of the conferences between a client and a professor. 
12. He told me about his life and his hopes and dreams, how he loves developing other people. He's a natural teacher, born as one I would say. 
13. He advised me not to be only motivated by money, because I'd never ever be truly happy. 
14. He copied me into an email this morning to tell me he'd have some flooding problems at home and would be late to work. Who else would bother doing that just for a temp? 

He didn't have to do any of these, surely. I don't know why God has been so kind to me. I met an amazing supervisor and VVNC. Both of them have done so much for me in such a little space of time, unconditionally. Their unselfishness leads me to believe that there is still hope in this harsh world. I've met too many people who only does things that would benefit them. Somehow, I find myself very much in that group of people. God is telling me to turn away from all that, to go back to where the human heart can thrive and beat for other people. Both VVNC and boss have done more than is required of them while I'm at their desk, for nothing extra. I'm just truly humbled by all of this.

I remember how last summer, it was weeks before I got internet access, and a work laptop. I was neglected and treated with condescension and at one point, even made into a scapegoat by my supervisor. Contrasting these two experiences, I am grateful that I have a chance to meet kinder people now.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Bear and the Bull

Friday's golden moment came when I, in a confused state, asked my boss to help me differentiate between the connotations exerted by the two animals in the title. He grabbed a bear puppet from his table and with huge round eyes, reminded me that the word "bear" exudes a negative outlook by saying, "Remember the bear!!!!", while orienteering it such that it looked like it was about to give me a fatal bear hug. Cuteness beyond measure!

To my surprise, the puppet was reversible. I realized that the puppet was in itself a banker's joke. If you happen to be well versed with financial world jargon,  you'd appreciate this adorable reversible puppet! I want one! 

The bear

The bull
My boss also happens to have a pink flamingo in his yard, which he said he stole from a dinner party and which rode with him on the tube back home. He's amazing. Period.

Oh, I did the coffee run today, with pleasure :D

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Deep Green Eyes (Or was it Hazel?)

6.50am: Enters office only after someone else scans in. Interns never get full access to anything. I am an alien to the research desks. It reminds me of the time when I was interning last summer. However, I did get new hardware and internet access and email AND stationery on my very first day thanks to my awesome boss and a very very nice colleague.

7.00am: Boss comes in, smiling happily. He switches on the microphones, and I start taking notes. ABF striked me as really interesting. Although the retail industry in the UK is suffering now, I am of the opinion that whoever owns shares in ABF should hold them because it is a hugely diversified company. It owns both Primark and British Sugars besides some other bread and even pharmaceutical companies. In dire times, consumers will look to what is cheap. Boss pointed out to me that I should be aware of how Primark is hugely affected by rising cotton prices and due to such low pricing, will have to suffer from squeezed profit margins. How long will it last before prices are forced to rise? Good point indeed, but I am still strongly inclined towards holding shares in ABF. I compared the price graphs against M&S and Sainsburys and it seems that ABF is doing much better than those two. Also, other highlights were about Imperial Tobacco  announcing a rise in cigarettes prices, the overall USA stock market doing well and something about new transportation regulations in Italy.

9.00am: Boss has a meeting with the Mid Cap Sales team and I get to tag along! Everyone is abuzz about Russia's new drinking law which will apply to beer, hence Carlsberg. Forecasts of tornados in the USA may adversely affect insurance companies. I learned later from my very very nice colleague (VVNC from now onwards) that the Russians drink mostly vodka. Good discovery. I also learned later at home that the Russian government has only just classified beer as alcohol recently and that the death rate from alcoholism is really high in the nation. Alcoholism has been labelled as a 'national disaster' by Kremlin.

10.00am: Boss realizes that I'm still confused about the role of our team. He asks VVNC to explain it to me later and takes me on an exciting tour of the building, 3rd floor. Amazing facilities! Place for investors to meet up with companies via conferences and meetings, presentations and such. Relationship building!! Coolness. I'm liking my boss more and more every minute.

10.30am: Boss is stressed about meeting his deadlines before he flies off to SA this Friday for a holiday with wife and kids. I try to help him find reported AUM values for institutional investors in 2 countries, and stay a bit past lunch just to make sure I didn't screw up his presentation. VVNC goes out for his lunch break, which according to him, was at a pub, and which according to boss, is not a joke. HAHA!

1.00pm: I head off to lunch. I was dying for a honey roast and egg sandwich but for the sake of being different, decided to go for a mexican chilli chicken. Bad choice. The sandwich sucked big time. Oh well..

2.00pm: I reach the office again. Met another intern with no access into the room. I knocked and boss let me in. VVNC joins shortly after. He wants to give me a lesson on our team and our project. I jumped up and went and during that session, I think I started to crush on him. He was such an excellent teacher! He used so many analogies to make me understand the role of our team. At times, I just stared into his eyes and beamed. He was so perfect, in every way, that I was slightly frustrated at myself for not realizing how much more awesome he was than I first perceived ( mind you, the first impression I got off him was already amazing). I felt like a stupid schoolgirl crushing on her tall and handsome maths guru. *slaps self*. I even wanted to take a picture of the diagram we drew together in the lesson but I guess it would have been too embarassing if I made a trip back to my seat just to take my handphone to snap that valuable memory. What if he realized I took my handphone without rubbing off everything from the board? Argh.. Anyways, another colleague admitted she had a crush on him today while I was there, and his reaction was hillarious! Curious bordering on amusement, but no self-conceit. What!

4.00pm: I start photocopying for the first time for my project. Some other colleague didn't want me to keep hold of the material I needed for too long hence the usual pitiful intern by the photocopier scenario. But I enjoyed it to the max. Read some report on Burberry while I was at it. It's cool to see how SWOT and Porter's 5 Forces model was used at the end of those reports. I must have taken too long at the machine that VVNC hops over just to check on me. Does such a nice person really exist? I'm speechless, it's just utterly unbelievable.  

5.00pm: I head out with my team for a social. My boss knows so much about Malaysia and he's such an amazing, fantastic person with lots of views about this world. He's also very familial but knows when to administer freedom to his children. Purely amazing person! I also met another intern today, who is drop dead gorgeous and is quintessentially an English rose. I just can't believe how beautiful she is every time I see her.

7.30pm: I reach home, have dinner and commence with some readings. Then I decided to write this blog entry. Interesting day.  

Friday, July 1, 2011


Oh what a day it has been! I woke up at 4.30 am and rushed to my colleague's place at Great Portland Street to help her carry cupcakes to our enterprise venue, which we reached by taking the overground- a first for me, despite being a Londoner for three years already. We were greeted by an assortment of pastries for breakfast, none of which I took a particular liking to except the apple turnover. After a short team briefing, I was assigned the task of walking around the local area to garner in sales with a guy who worked on a presidential campaign in the past and another postgraduate who will be studying in Paris next year. What a happy trio we were, at least at the start! Task of the day for our team: Produce and sell lunch items to make the most profit for our charity!

Our sales team was really inefficient. We walked into schools and high rise banks only to get the receptionists smile at us and promise to paste up our menu on the announcement boards. It was all wrong to me. To me, it was glaringly obvious how wrong that strategy was. How can anyone pay attention to a piece of paper with a sticker logo of our charity and a handwritten contact number to pre-order lunch on the same day itself, due in a few hours time? Next, whenever we approached someone, two of my colleagues would suddenly launch their pitches at the same time, overburdening the listener with information. Also, one of them only mentioned the name of our employer (not a very smart thing to do as some people have horrible sentiments towards institutions of that sort) and only the lunch items, without any mention of our charity! I was quite surprised at his street skills. Then again, I did not have a better strategy but I was critical of his ways and tried to point out that what we were doing was completely and utterly useless. In the end, we had absolutely no results and just wasted our energy when we could have helped with the production line! It was my biggest regret of the day and I was very frustrated that my team was not able to see ourselves out from such a hopeless state of being. Perhaps our only consolation was in bumping into some BOA interns who were doing less interesting stuff. :P Just kidding..

When we got back to our venue at 10.15 am, I immediately volunteered my services to the production line. It was MUCH better use of resources. I never made so many sandwiches in my entire life! Our team made so many Ploughman's, Thai Sweet Chilli and Tuna sanwiches and baguettes along with fruit and tuna salad. Some of us went out into the streets to pull people in to buy our lunch menus. Others rushed around in Borris bikes, trying to get deliveries in at the right time. It was tension and excitement as the day's lunch period finally arrived. I have to say that our inventory management was swell! Towards the end, everyone launched themselves as salespersons, diving into stores and selling sandwiches cheaply. Some people were sympathetic! One guy asked me to take all his spare change on the counter for our charity. Another guy just handed 1 pound coins to me without wanting to buy anything. Another man just told me that he simply doesn't want to donate to charity. Another guy cheekily said he was fasting. Very interestingly, another person on the street just grabbed some sandwiches off our basket because he thought they were for free! These were the things we saw, our team of 4, one sweet Vietnamese lady, the political campaign guy, a hot Irish guy with a stern face but an amazing smile, and plain old me. Have I already mentioned how lucky I am to be inspired by all these people? Not one word of complaint from them the whole day. Not one ounce of reluctance from anyone when asked to perform any task (well, except from one other intern who didn't want to package anymore tuna baguettes because he was sick of doing it), which in my opinion, is rare as rare can be!

At 1.45pm, sales were to stop. Period. We came back to our venue, with minimal levels of stock! Pure joy! Our facilitator invited us to lunch, a spread of food which in my humble opinion looked far less amazing than the ones we ourselves prepared :P. He shared some golden moments with us. The time when everyone dashed around looking desperately for a can opener (I learned later that some of my team mates actually tore open the can of tuna with his bare hands). And the other was when another Irish team member danced his 'kicking victory dance' when he was dead knackered at the end of the day after pulling in customer after customer. Golden indeed! It was even more amazing when our profit figure of about GBP583 was announced  by the accounting team. The sense of achievement that settled in our hearts is just indescribable!

When we gather back at our training centre with the rest of the interns, the winners were announced at a profit of GBP719. Although we were vouching for the first place, we ended up second. Honestly, everyone in our team were dissapointed. But the joy was in the brevity of that. We gave ourselves a good pat on our backs. We were AMAZING! We were a TEAM and we LEARNED a lot from today!

Enough said.