Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Remarkably Unremarkable Year

It’s now close to the end of 2015 and it’s time to bash out the usual musings of the year. The immediate thought that comes to mind is the fact that I’ve got no major highlights to talk about in the way I used to, which in itself is probably the most remarkable thing.

For most of my thirties, I was actually a man without a steady job. I lived mainly on freelance work that I could pick up and I dated a few unusual women. Now that I have hit my early forties, I’ve gone from being a man with no steady job to a man working two steady jobs concurrently. The last two-years of financial stability come at a time when I’ve become a bit more stable in my personal life too.

I’m coming to the end of my second year as an insolvency executive at Wong Mann & Associates PAC. The job isn’t one that I’m naturally qualified to do in as much as I don’t have the training in accountancy and sitting in an office at a desk have never been my strong points.

However, the experience has been enriching and been a good study of human nature at its worst. I’ve met people who were decent enough to do what was needed to do to ensure those who once looked up to them would not suffer when they flattered and I also had the dubious honour of dealing with people who thought nothing of cheating those at the bottom of the ladder. In a funny way, the insolvency game is a good training ground for any potential entrepreneur – life is filled with examples of not what to do in the course of running a business.

I also continue to work at Bruno’s Bistrot in Telok Kurau. We’ve managed to build a decent relationship with a good group of customers and the revenue stream looks reasonably stable. I’m also glad to mention that my old colleague, Andy Ting, the former chef of the Pizzeria & Grill has now moved down to the Bistrot as the main chef there, so our staff meals have become exceedingly good. Andy is a passionate chef who takes great pride in his work. Each meal he prepares is a work of art.

In between working full time on both jobs, I continue to provide publicity and brand building support for Apex-Avalon, the venture between Mr. Girija Pande’s Apex Consultants and Avalon consulting. The year proved to be a good one in as much as Mr. Pande was invited onto Bloomberg and CNBC Asia to discuss Sino-Indian business relations, a topic which will provide businesses around the world with their greatest challenge and opportunities.

It was also good to reconnect with the team from Polaris. Although the project didn’t produce the desired results, reconnecting with Polaris comes at a time when the Company moves into a new phase of its existence. The products business has been hived off into a different Company and the service business looks set to prepare for new management and the development of new working cultures will hopefully lead to better things for a Company and brand that looked after me so well and opened the doors to many of the moments that have blessed my life. A friend of mine says he believes that if my moment comes it will probably be dealing with India, something which Polaris introduced me to.

On the family front, we lost my Auntie Siok Liang, wife of my mother’s cousin, Alan. Auntie Siok Liang had battled cancer for over 14-years and she took great pains to record her battle and yet my last memory of her was as someone who was joyful and happy. Somehow, whenever you were in her presence, she always made it a point to create a happy atmosphere around her. I pray that this woman who created joy despite her suffering is now at peace and her family will have comfort.

On a happier note, my Dad married his long time girlfriend, Judy. It’s nice to have another stepmother and its good to know that my father has a companion in life who loves and accepts him. I believe my stepmother will ensure that my father will enjoy his twilight years.

Just as my father settles down, it looks like the decision I made to get Huong to become my life partner all those years ago has proven to be a wise one.  The woman has a knack for creating opportunities out of nothing and to her credit she’s constantly reminded me that success comes from working with other people.
Our most precious “project” remains a 16-year old girl…our daughter (yes, legally she’s mine) Ngyuen Thu Thuy, who now goes by the name of Jennifer Tang or simply Jenny. Now, I get called “Daddy” whenever she wants something. She’s a smart girl and although she hates to admit it, quite likes having Daddy around.

For me, fatherhood to a teenager has been challenging. She’s going through a phase where she wants her freedom and to set her own rules. In many ways, she’s a grown woman but yet she remains a child. Not sure how I can convince her that school isn’t an invention of parents to screw up their kids. I’ve told her that I don’t intend to be an eighty year old man struggling at McDonalds to feed a grown daughter.


Yet, in her own way, she admits that I’ve been good for her life and in her own way, she does what she can to look out for me. My family, especially my mom has come to accept that there is an instant granddaughter and want to make bring her into the family. I guess there’s nothing more to ask for.

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