All grown up and nowhere to go

Archive for January 2009

I collected a lot more ang bao’s this year owing to the fact that I went back to meet my big big extended family in Jakarta. Although not all of them are well-off, they gave generously. I also gave some of my salary to my grandparents, but I’m ashamed of its puny amount. If I were raking a higher salary / bonus, I’d have been able to support my grandparents more, plus all my relatives which aren’t doing very well 😦

Although I ceased to feel as charitable the moment my uncle asked me why I wasn’t in investment banking. When I explained that there are different jobs in investment banking, and not just in the corp fin sense, I can see his eyes glaze over, so I knew I had a lost cause. And then another one of my uncles asked where I worked. I said my bank’s name, and he asked which branch I’m at, and then I tried to explain to him that I’m in banking not as a teller per se, then his eyes glazed over, so that’s another lost cause.


Anyways, came back to work and more red packets from the bosses! They is generous, yes yes. Somehow I feel really rich with my array of red packets, despite the fact that I’ve lost a pretty amount on my FX trades. I always believe in balance, so I’m hoping my bad luck in FX will translate to something else in my life going well. Say, my career 😀

Speaking of my bosses, they seem to have an invisible homing beacon alerting them to failed trades, errors, and other problems. Preeeetty scary. It’s cool though that despite having their own management things to do, they can float right behind you and check up on what you’re doing and in seconds, they understood what to do to solve the problem.

I really love it here. I wish I can stay.


*Pic of random dealing room, Googled. Uncannily identical!




I’ve tried MPH, Times, that bookstore chain at Changi Terminal 2… and no luck. What on earth is going on? That book is either very unpopular or very, very popular. Now I feel like kicking myself in the head (a feat that is physically impossible, which just goes to show how unflexible I am) for not getting it in that supermart next door to the Shanghai office. Imagine this – for the better of THREE WHOLE WEEKS I have visited that supermart, hovering over the minuscule spinning rack of books with limited range of English titles but which happened to include American Gods. All I did was be indecisive over whether or not to buy, as I doubted the book was gonna be any good.

And now, true to the theory of supply and demand, the lack of its supply in Singapore had made my demand for it stronger.

I doubt I can find it here in Jakarta. I checked out the Gramedia at Mall Artha Gading earlier. Came out with comic books (under the Children’s Section –  why do they label their sections like that?), because the Import Books section consisted of dictionaries, travel books, and not-so-good management books.

Now I am totally craving for:
1) American Gods
2) The Wolf of Wall Street (it is always satisfying to read about the downfall of a rich, successful person)

On to Something Which Is Not Book-Related…

Jakarta. My first greeting was the humidity which smacked me in the face the moment I stepped out of the plane (economy class, 51st row, window seat behind a cheenapok who couldn’t decide whether or not to buy from KrisShopper = TORTURE). I had to take off my cardigan. Hellooooo, sweat, dust and crowds of dark moustached men squatting and fanning themselves.

5 things I do not love about my hometown:
1. Pollution
2. Car air-con which refuses to cool the air sufficiently
3. Traffic jam (I was complaining about the traffic jam since the cars were all moving so slowly, and my dad told me THAT was considered smooth traffic and cannot be called a jam since cars were still moving)
4. Overt displays of poverty everywhere. I am very disappointed with the government, although at least now they’re letting the Chinese have a 1 day CNY holiday.
5. w-e-a-t-h-e-r

5 things I love about my hometown:
1. I have a bigger house here. Can actually run up and down the stairs and around the dining hall without bumping into the bathroom, the closet, the study desks and the front door.
2. Krispy Kremes are in existence here.
3. Range of comic books in readable Indonesian versus Mandarin (of which I can only read my Chinese name and the numbers 1 – 10).
4. Having a driver. But then again, it’s a gift mixed with a curse, since the public transportation here is utterly unreliable (including the taxis sometimes), so that you’re totally dependent on having a car and a macho-looking male companion to protect you from unwanted consequences.

Speaking of which, I totally love the shower in this house. I think it has an inbuilt intelligent technology. For one, the water flow is set to ‘rhythmic’, with the water jetting out at low and high pressure interchangably every half a second. For another, while I turned the tap to ‘HOT’, the water flowing out was freezing cold, which was EXACTLY what I needed because with the sweltering weather, hot water will just be unbearable (me turning it to ‘HOT’ in the first place is totally a case of the consumer not knowing what she wants).

Meh… I think there is something wrong with the underground pump… I is gonna check the state of the heater tomorrow.

But for now, outs!

A Poker-Themed Poem

It was the first hand of the night
And my hands were shaky with sweat
Cold, cold sweat
Because it was my first hand of the night,
And ever.

He eyed me from across the table,
Dealt a neat pair of cards.
I knew he dealt himself kings
For me, queens.

Flop. Two kings and a ten of hearts.
He threw his chips like a tantrum,
And I called, I called. I called with all my heart.

Turn was a jack. Chance for a straight,
Even if he had three kings.
Oh, but he had four, he had four!
He made his bet and I called.
I called with all my heart.

River was an ace. He made his bet,
with glee. I raised, I raised with all my heart –
All heart, all in. He matched, pounced,
Oh that greed that burns in his eyes.

But I had my straight with all my hearts –
My ten of hearts
Jack of hearts
Queen of hearts
King of hearts
Ace of hearts.


Only try on shoes in the morning, when your feet are at their most swollen. Do not try on shoes if you have been walking around in an air-conditioned space for a long time, especially in the evening. Otherwise you will suffer from Cinderellastepsisteritis the next morning when you attempt to put on your spanking new pair of shoes, and could only fit your big toe inside.

the wind tells me your name,
a-one, a-two, a-three
you do not approach me, no one ever does,
for I prance and pounce and land squarely
upon your fast beating heart

the light that goes out from your eyes –
it is the most beautiful sight.
This is the sight I seek,
the vision of not necessarily death
but dying.

the earth, it laps up my feet
drains my life, which had been yours before the light died
but it had become mine
and then it had become earth

and the quest continued, my feet go
dancing. Sand grains fly like dust
and then there was water, trickling
in tune with my beat of war.

For I am The Huntress.


Am reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It’s an intriguing novel with a lovable main character in itself, but since the setting is London, both normal London and a rather twisted, upside-down version of it, I loved the book all that much more.

I went to google for the tube map and as all the familiar stations flash before my eyes I was overcome with wanderlust.

I’m intrigued by places such as London, and Hong Kong. Lights and Chinatown and rude joustling and life. Winter time, and people are wrapped in layers and coats, lint hanging of them, poking out with static. Wintry, visible breath and Starbucks and Pret a Manger around the corner. Buses chugging into vision, efficient and on time. The crowded underground tubes / trains / trams, interlinked and confusing, stopping every 3 minutes with a halt in consecutive stations which are of walkable distance from each other.

I don’t know what it is about these places that beckons to me. I just know that I have to go there again, sooner rather than later. And thanks to Neil Gaiman, I will dream tonight of “mind the gap”.

I am, in a rather weird way, happy. My current rotation is in a place where I feel not necessarily comfortable but sufficiently intrigued. In fact, I can’t imagine ever doing anything else that would feel as exhilarating. I WANT to move on to be one of those dealers, quoting currencies and locking in revenues in mere seconds. There is a rhythm and a hum in the dealing room, as if it were alive in itself, an entity made up of shouts of “dollar yen”, “expiring options to be exercised”, and “fuck that first level of support”.

It made me that little bit scared every time I enter the room, scared and small. Kind of like how cities like London make me feel. But it’s a bit like going into the swimming pool. The first contact is always cold, uninviting; then you force yourself in all the way and find it’s not so bad after all. In fact, you’re swimming and the water buoys your body upward and life’s a joy. Then you get out, shivers, tested the water again and it’s cold again, so it always feels like the first time, everytime.

I want that, and I want the world.

And I want Waterloo.


I told someone he had a heart of steel
Tough as steel, hard as steel
Good in partings, better in pain
Great when it comes to
A slap in the face.

Moments come when they force you to grow
Apart, at length, farewell said in stares
A link that broke
Between respect and blood.
I wonder how

Words were said but they bounced off
the heart of steel which was hard as steel
And though the pain stings, it was nothing
Sticks and stones could break my bones but
The link broke, so there was none.

Goodbye Papa, so sad to leave
Though not really, not really, because
Though I told him he had a heart of steel,
It was me after all,

Who had the heart of steel,
Tough as steel, hard as steel.
So hard to feel anything but a cold blank air
Where there once were __ but no more.


January 2009
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