Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's the End of the Year as we know it, and I feel fine

New Year's Eve is going to take place in a matter of hours and so I thought I would invest the time in bashing out a blog entry to talk about the year that's going and the year that we will be entering. Sort of a year-end review that listed companies are so fond of sending out to their stake holders.

One the whole, the year 2006 was a good one for me. Even the death of my Grandmother could not tarnish the positive note that the year had. Although it was sad to lose a much loved Grandma, she was old and sick and her death was something that she was prepared for and as a grandson, I could not have asked for more for her. The family was prepared for her demise, I think when a person reaches 85, death becomes something that you accept and you start to look towards leaving the stage with a graceful curtain call and that's what happened.

In the process of losing my grandmother, my mother's family gained unity. Mum, Aunti Frieda and Uncle Soon got togeher, something which they had not done for quite sometime. We found relatives we never realised that we had. And yes, those at the PUB who remembered my Grandfather attened her funeral, showing that in spite of his repuation for being 'hot tempered' grandfather was so highly regarded for his integrity that the good will his actions generated would survive him and be there at Grandma's funeral. If there was anything that was lost with Grandmother's death was the fact that we lost a moment of great family unity.

On the financial front things were good. No, I did not strike the grand lottery and retire. I even failed to reach my savings target but at least I end the year with cash in the bank. It's especially satisfying to do this because I free-lanced, an activity that often associated with dire poverty. I hope that I'll be disciplined enough to continue saving cash and hopefully I'll be better at paying my bills.

My good fortune this year can be attributed to one community, the Saudi Arabian community. It was by chance that I learnt about HRH Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's trip for Ali Baksh. It was God willing that the Ambassador Dr Amin Kurdi, decided that I had something to add to his preparations for the visit. The financial rewards for me were good and working on the project allowed me to deal with the higer echelons of society.

There were undoubtedly stressful moments. The energy I ended up investing into the project drained me and at times I was very angry at the way things looked like they were turning out.

However, the Crown Princes visit was on the whole, a defining moment for me. It gave me the confidence that I could do things that are normally handled by a team of officials. More importantly, it enabled me to look forward to building relationships with people from another culture, which is in many ways very special. I saw Saudi Arabia and I think its a place worth discovering.

I'm greatful to His Excellency for giving me the opportunity to work on this project. I'm greatful to His Excellency for showing me what "My Word is my Bond" really means.

I'm glad that I had the opportunity to develop my relationship with Khaled Maeena and the team at Arab News. The articles that I wrote for them during the IMF peroid was also an opportunity for me to discover the pleasure of writing serious news articles and it was also a pleasure to have people from different parts of the world to engage me in discussion.

On a more personal level, I'm glad that I meet people like His Excellency, Dr Abubakar Bin Bagader, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications and I hope that my friendship with Khalid Mussa from that Ministry will be able to grow.

I also worked for Aramco this year. The experience of working with the Embassy put me in a decent position to have a better understanding of Arab culture, and I'm glad that I met Munira Ashgar, an extraordinary lady with a passion for her own culture. Unfortunately the Aramco project was Ali Bakhsh's farewell in Singapore and I wish him well for the opportunities he presented me to work with his community. I hope, Inshallah that I will have more opportunities to build a good relationship with Mohammed Bassurah who succeeeds him.

Ironically a good porition of my good fortune with the Saudi Community came from PN Balji rejecting their business. Balji helped to guide me into a better writer and it was he who helped me to develop a better understanding of what is News. In 2005,  he helped me stay alive, both as a full time employee at BANG Pr and as a free-lance project worker. In 2006, it was he who made me discover myself by not being a backup. The sign of a good mentor is one who encourages you to flourish on your own. Although he did not get the business, he encouraged me to make the business mine. That is surely as sign of a good leader.

Polaris was the other highlight of the year and I'm greatful that my relationship with the company went beyond my relationship with Raymond. We had fun working on the ad for South China Morning Post and I'm glad that he and I still make lunch a regular activity.

Supriyo Sircar and I have started our working relationship on a decent note. The PR project with ARUP Gupta was a success and it looks like Polaris will continue to use my services. I felt that Arun Jain's company had something special to contribute to the world and it's my privillege to help them to just that.

Business cannot survive on grand projects alone. Its the small bread and butter projects that enable one to survive and to this end, I am greatful to Allan Fong at L'eap Communications for allowing me to work on decent small projects like Nescafe Gold and Alcon. I'm especially greatful to the work at Alcon, medical science is advancing and being able to help those with visual impairments.

I'm also greatful to my partners in my other consortium, Loh Mun Loong, Adrian Chiam and Jane Tan. Thanks to their support, I've had the opportunity to work with 3M and to discover the joys of working with SME's like Telcom United and Fabulous Tan.

On the media front, my relationship with Today continued to work at a prominent pace and hopefully I'll be able to do something with the radio in the comming year. It's about experiences, experience and experiences and I've been all the richer for it.

While things were good on the professional and financial front, the highlight of the year undoubtedly took the shape of a 7-year old girl. I never expected that I would find so much joy in being involved in the life of another person but the days that I spent taking the little girl to school, watching her smile and listening to her show off her ability to recite the alphabet made me feel that I had something really worth looking forward to on a daily basis. Suddenly, I realised that it was not a bad thing to be able to want to live your life beyond yourself.

I'd like to end this note by saying thank you to all of my good friends who have helped me become who I am today. Each of you has played a role in helping me to grow and I look forward to another year of growing our friendship.

Happy 2007 and to all Muslim Readers, have a good Eid Al Adha

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