Monday, December 21, 2009

Memories from 1st Quarter 2003

Sometimes as my mind is wont to do, it brings me back to a time before this company, when I was desperate enough to work at the Dolphin Lagoon, tearing tickets and ushering guests back in early 2003. It feels like it all happened in a dream now. I can't say I fully enjoyed my time there. It was a means to an end and I desperately needed money. I cannot fully understand the snergy of the place and the working relationships between the various parties that made it all work. And we're not talking about some high powered corporate outfit where office politics decides whether you're in or out. We are talking about some (in my biased opnion) low level tourist attraction hovel that gets pink dolphins to turn tricks for tourists all in the name of "education" and "awareness".
There was this one particular individual (a show presenter, can't remember his name now) who seemed like he went out of his way to be difficult with me. He didnt bother to get to know me, to know what my background was, what my life experience was or even how old I was (I was older than him) and he treated me as if I was a student working part time during the holidays. His attitude really didn't help and in turn he was not on my good books.

In essence the place was the bottom of the dredges and it reflected my own life then perfectly.

As a disclaimer, I will say that (as with most places) there were a few characters that made my time there bearable and pleasant enough. To these few, I thank you.

Sometimes, memories like these are important to help bring one back down to earth and I like to think that this little "flash back in time" episode was for this very purpose, least I get too big in the head at where I am now compared to the early days of 2003.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar, the Movie

Kamar, Shireen, Heisham, the wifey and I caught this movie yesterday. To tell you the truth I was a bit apprehensive as I was worried that the movie would not live up to all this hype surrounding it. But boy am I glad that my worryin' was all for naught.

This is a scene where the dastardly humans are blasting the home of one of Pandora's indigenous tribes the Na'vi in order to get them to leave. Damn you human! Damn you!
I know you'd probably hear this over and over again on the internet but Avatar is frankly one of the best movies I have seen in a long while. It grabs your attention within the first 5 minutes and you eagerly lap up every scene as the story unfolds for you over the next two hours and forty minutes. But I shall refrain from turning this post into a movie review and shall just state that I utterly enjoyed my movie going experience yesterday. We caught the 11am show at Dubai Mall and avoided the crowds so the cinema hall was thankfully empty. Gosh I feel like watching this again. I always say that I'd rather watch a good movie twice than a bad one once.

And speaking of watching movies more than once, one show that has definitely seen it's fair share of repeated viewings by me is District 9. Another piece of great movie story telling albeit done on a much tinier budget than Avatar.

I guess 2009 is the year for Sci Fi movies. Star Trek, District 9 and now Avatar.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Impending Dive Vacation to Lembeh Strait

Back in May this year, I was esctatic to learn that Scubacam was organising a trip to the Lembeh Strait with FiNs magazine and underwater photographer Tony Wu for February of 2010. In true S'porean kiasu fashion I signed up right away as the purpose and main function of the trip was to photograph Lembeh after dark and I have been counting down the days ever since. Every diver worth his salt will know that the good stuff come out /happen at night and there was no chance in hell I was going to miss out on this marvelous photographic opportunity.

The entire trip has been dubbed "The Night Safari 2010" and I must admit the first thought that came to mind was why on earth was Scubacam organising a trip to the Singapore Zoo?

In view of preparing for this trip, I spent the last few months at building up my underwater photography rig and attempting to hone whatever skills I may possess so that I will experience the least amount of fumbling and fiddling when I finally arrive in Lembeh. I even started a scrap book to make notes on how best to improve!

Well it won't be long now for February 2010. I think I can throw in about two more dives here on the UAE east coast to experiment with the various lighting techniques I would want to use in Lembeh.

The dive resort we'll be staying at is the Kasawari Lembeh Resort. What apparently makes this resort so special is that it has been specifically built and catered for discerning underwater photographers/videographers with a dedicated camera room with individual work stations for rig assembly/dissembly, battery charging and other shenanigans that come with delving into underwater photography.

If you click on the Kasawari Lembeh Resort link, you'll get to see how smashing the place looks. The resort also has massage services, a bar (important) and an infinity pool! As the wifey will be tagging along, these facilities will surely come in handy at keeping her occupied.

Yessiree it's only 2 more weeks 'til 2010 and before you know it, it'll be time to get onto that big bird home and onwards to Lembeh.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

iPhone Photography

I am beginning to be amazed at what one can achieve with the built in camera on the iPhone and with various photography applications available on the iTunes store.

I use to discount cameras built into mobile phones as something not worth getting into and not being able to acheive much. As such I find myself being amazed and humbled at the same time that something I did not have any high regard for is just the very thing to re-ignite my love and passion for the hobby.

I found that with technicalities out of the way, I could concentrate on just looking for good photo ops and composition.

It really just goes to show that you do not need a fancy camera to take nice decent pictures. However please do not take this to mean that I will gladly live with my iPhone camera. I still want this lil' baby someday!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another life changing moment

If you may recall, a few blog postings ago I wrote about the people that kept me sane here in Dubai. And I guess along with everything else, all things come to an end...somewhat.

Beaver finally hit the jackpot and landed a better offer for back home in Singapore. On top of that he is also now an expectant father of twins. It was a sad moment for the rest of us here when he finally had to go but we were of course happy for him.

I have had the pleasure of Beaver attending my wedding and of having him shack up with me for a week before his flight home. They were good times. Beaver is one person I can totally be crass* with. Nothing that came out of my mouth would shock him. We will miss his humour and his good company.
It will not be long now before Heisham too is gone.
*Yes, I am naturally a very crass person but with self control and perserverence, I maintain a certain degree of decency.

Blog mantra for 2010

I will endeavour to refrain from bitching, whinging or whining on this blog as honestly, who the heck wants to read all this negativity? I'll be grateful enough if anyone even bothers to read this blog at all!

As Talahassee in the movie Zombieland said, "It is time to nut up or shut up". I take this to mean to take crap in life like a man.

Okay I know Zombie movies isn't for everyone but this one makes one of my favourite movies for 2009. It was relatively easy convincing the wifey to watch this with me last Friday by stressing that it was a comedy (it really is) and I was glad that she admitted that the show was more entertaining that she expected.

My one defining life changing moment

We tied the knot in July 09 and then scooted off to Bali for a few days. It was a great 3 weeks at home and Bali was fantastic. As always everything went by so fast and it all seems a blur to me now, especially the big day in question.

Bali was a great opportunity to wind down and relax after the wedding. It is the one place I wouldn't mind going back to over and over again. The only thing I find disappointing about Bali is the "local cuisine". I think it has been too "watered down" for tourist taste, especially for those of the Caucasian persuasion. No spiciness at all and somewhat bland even.

We were better off ordering Lamp Chops or something.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Test Result

Okay...changing the template seemed to work. I guess back then I didn't have the patience to figure out what was wrong.

I have lots of to say. The last 6 months have seen some life changing events. And I shall cut the crap on any angst related issues...

Test test test

This is a test to see if my pictures still come out wonky. If it doesn't, then I may just start blogging again because I am just so freakin creative and just so chock a block full of creative ideas...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Folks with Over Inflated Opinions of themselves

A new term that I have learnt from my boss is "Over Inflated Opinion". He is fond of saying something along the lines of .."His problem is that he has an over inflated opinion of himself". Funnily enough at the same time of me learning this new term, I begin to see it a lot in a couple of people I work with. There are two individuals that particularly stand out. Without giving too much away as to who they are (in case they stumble onto this blog), they are as follows,

Individual A has been around these parts for like..when time began, or so he likes to think. He is also very actively involved in his religious activities and to give credit where it's due, is also very good at his job. However as a result of all this, I feel individual A has been besotted with a certain sense of high handed pride. He is not directly boastful, but he is very good at subtly inserting self praise into his conversations and it doesn't help that he seems to be in love with the sound of his own voice. He is also fiercely protective of what he's supposed to do and what he feels he's not. I guess generally this is a good trait in itself but if you're part of a team, well... if you're deep set in your ways and resistant to change, this means you're probably on your way out already. Just the same, Individual A is already set for retirement soon. He probably expects to be exalted at his going away do and to hear laments that the office will not function as well without him (which is probably true by the way). But when he starts, man he can just verbally squash anyone else's voice with his heavy authoritative, self righteous conviction that borders on a church reading of a squeally voice that all I want to do is to tell him to shut the %&*# up.

Individual B. Individual B probably feels that because he has been giving a great opportunity for advancement amongst his peers, this puts him on an elevated pedestral with given rights to act like a Mister Know It All when he himself requires guidance and correction. With people he feels that are lower in station than himself, he acts like you are inconsequential. Like Indivdual A, Individual B also has a certain self conviction about himself. However unlike individual A, if you can be proven wrong, then this makes it all the more galling! It leaves me smirking on the inside actually to see this happen.

But hey, I get my pay every month so who am I to argue? :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers 2 - Revenge of the Fallen

It saddens me to say that this movie borders on being one of the WORST movies I have ever seen. They have tried too hard to ride on the same formulas for success that pulled of the first movie so brilliantly. And the equation then was "Hot chicks + Transforming Robots = Movie Success!" But this time around it was generally flogging a dead horse. This time around they must have thought "Let's turn up a few more notches on the hot ass action and cool transforming bots and we'll have the same fanboys drooling a thousand times over!"

If this is ever at all possible I would like provide some word of advice to the Decepticons.

1. Kidnap Sam's parents (as done only to be let free in the desert for no Goddam apparent reason)
2. Kidnap Mikaela
3. Torture all of the above until Sam gives them what they want.

Problem solved.

Oh and as an extra, it wouldnt hurt for them to squish Sam's college room mate who in my opnion was a bloody annoyance more than providing any comic relief.

Sadly Revenge of the Fallen only warrants a 2 out of 5 stars from me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life in Dubai - Update

There were times during the last few months that I felt I was moving backwards. Now I feel like I'm standing still. I used to feel all beat up and sorry for myself because I worried about not meeting expectations of my superiors and colleagues and of myself.

Now I feel like I don't really care about it anymore. They just have to deal with me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm here to stay. They have to get used to me as much as I have to get used to them. So in a way, things for me now are much "better" than they were say a couple of months ago and I think I can narrow down the reasons why to two main contributing factors,

1. I started to drive gaining my own mobility (very inportant for living here!)

2. I stopped caring about what other people think of me.

Perhaps now I can finally move forward.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's Bitchin' time..

I have more or less given up on this damn blog already what with the wonky download settings of photographs and all but alas I need to spew and it's inappropriate to do it on Facebook.

After a long delay I finally got around to getting a HSBC sales officer to come to the office and speak to me about finally opening a local bank account. Now I normally like to think I am a patient person and very forgiving but this sorry excuse of a sales officer from HSBC really takes the cake in setting me off the deep end.

1. He didn't bring his own pen so I had to let him use mine (expensive one you know).
2. He didn't bring his own writing pad so I had to pass him some (which is really no biggie)
3. His mobile phone kept ringing throughout our meetingand he kept taking them. His excuse was that it was a call from India (like I freakin care)
4. He had this annoying facial spasm/bad habit that saw him widely opening his mouth and eyes and sticking tongue out all at the same time! (EEeeaaargh...I know we all have our quirks but this was too much man!)
5. He seemed to rush through his entire "presentation" (using my pen and paper) on what different accounts were available to me.
6. He didn't seem to take the time to fully understand what my needs are.
7. He ended up misunderstanding what my needs are.
8. He called me "Pare" even AFTER checking my Singapore passport. (How stupid can you get man?!)

Ok this was yesterday. Then today.

1. He informs he'll come around 11am, he doesn't but at least he called and said he'll be here at 12 to 12.30pm.
2. Come 1 pm the fat ass still hasn't turned up or called so I said f&*k it I'm going for lunch.
3. During lunch he calls and says he's waiting outside, there isn't any parking so could I please come downstairs. I says I'm out of the office and having my lunch so he says okay then after my lunch then.
4. After lunch I foolishly went down to meet him, got into his grimy vehicle, signed a few more forms, and left. I heard him honking his damn car (apparently he forgot to get another signature) but i ignored him. If he needed something else, he had better get his fat ass up to my office.
Apparently he did have a parking lot but he just didn't want to pay for parking!
5. I went up...let off steam to the accountant.
6. Fats ass sales officer finally comes up and gets my signature. He then broaches the subject again about me transferring all of my salary from Singapore to Dubai (The fat f$&ker has not been listening all along) and I told him "Look, it's not going to happen! I need to maintain my salary in Singapore!"

After this entire episode of no confidence, why on God's green earth would I EVER want to place all my eggs in Dubai HSBC's basket? I would be a freakin' MAD!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Musandam Dive trip 8th May 2009

With the warm weather finally settling in, Heisham and I headed out to Musandam, Oman for a Dhow dive trip with Al Boom dive centre. I was pretty much psyched because this was the first time my Nikon D80 would touch water apart from the swimming pool test a few weeks ago.

After a 2 hour drive we crossed over the border into Oman and arrived at Dibba Port. We found our dhow and waited for the Al Boom people to show up and after about an hour and a half, we finally cast off for Musandam.

The waters around Musandam were a lot calmer than from I last visited last year. The Dhow in itself was nice and very spacious however in my opinion, not exactly built for diving from as it had a very high freeboard ie distance from deck to waterline.

Ok so the following are the first examples from my Nikon D80 and a Nikkor 60mm Micro lens housed in a Nexus housing and lens port. An Inon D2000 was also use. They were shot in RAW and then tweaked in Photoshop Elements and cropped where necessary.

I kept my eyes peeled for them Nudibranchs but there were none!!!!

Still No Nudis! And during the second dive I lost the protective cover of my lens port despite taking Clifford's advise to secure it with a cord. I am absolutely convinced that the sole purpose of that piece of plastic is for it to get lost!

Still no Nudi...sigh..

Have YOU seen any Nudis around?

Well overall it was a pleasant trip and Heisham and I rushed backed to Dubai to meet the gang for some sumptuous Mandi! (Fish of course)

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Its funny how I'm experiencing a different sort of stress right now. Initially I felt the stress of feeling inconsequential and unimportant and of how my efforts had no real effect, which is something I am not used to. I am used to seeing the results of my actions and gaining satisfaction from them.
Over here...satisfaction is eluding me. But now with Babu on leave (which is a sort of a blessing as well) I find I am just swamped and the only way forward is to put in extra hours even if it means working over the weekend, and as always I feel my efforts will have no real outcome.

To sum it up on how its like so far being Marketing Manager for the Dubai office, its a lot of work for almost nil gain. That's if until a boat of ours secures a charter as a result of my actions.

So I've spent a good part of the day going through a mind numbing contract while trying to salvage some form of job satisfaction from it. And the thing that keeps me going are pleasant memories from home that I force my mind to conjure up in between contract clauses.

It'll go something like this...

"Where an invoice is disputed, the Charterers shall in any event pay the undisputed portion of the invoice but shall be entitled to withhold payment of...

...Peninsula Camera shop window shopping...

the disputed portion provided that such portion is reasonably disputed and the Charterers specify such reason. Interest will be chargeable at the rate stated in Box 24 on such disputed..

...dinner and drinks with gf Geraldine or cousin Colin at Timbre/Paulaner Brahaus/Archipelago Brewery/Brewerks..

amounts where resolved in favour of the Owners. Should the Owners prove the validity of the disputed portion of the invoice, balance payment shall be received by the Owners within 5 banking days after the dispute is resolved. Should the...

..Sushi Tei

Charterer's claim be valid, a corrected..

..Bak Kut Teh..

invoice shall be issued by the Owners. In defaultof payment as herein specified, the Owners may..

Mos Burger.

require the Charterers to make payment of the amount due within 5 banking..

***censored**** (it involves the gf)

days of receipt of notification from the Owners"

Yes...something along the lines of the above....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Doldrums

I used to think it was a real blessing and a great opportunity being sent here. Now I am feeling it is not all as I thought it would be and the obstacles to overcome are much bigger than I expected. These days I am just plain miserable at work. Perhaps I shouldn't have come here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Finally. Easter Sunday had been good to me. As you can see I finally passed the driving test and although I would like to think that it was because of my magnificent driving skills, I am inclined to believe that it is all pre-determined. I only drove for two (yes... as in the number 2) minutes and I already had a hunch that I passed. As you can see, the test checklist isn't really used. Nothing has been ticked off or marked. If the examiner wants to pass you, he will pass you.
So for the last week I have been comuting to and fro from work by the company's Jeep Cherokee. It feels kind of weird...not ever having to take the bus again. To some small (and I mean miniscule small) extend I will miss taking the bus. You can just sit and relax and let the driver worry about the driving.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flickr ban, once again.

Once again, the web based photo sharing site Flickr has been banned by some Mr "know it all" here in this country. They must have found a way to disable the Firefox plug in/firewall thingamajig that fools the local ISPs into allowing access to Flickr. I cannot help but shake my head at this feeble attempt at protecting local values from the harmful influences of some content that can be found on Flickr (uTube, you're next!). You have teens raping their fellow classmates, drivers running over pedestrians, and a total lack of efficiency and sense in running the public sector and they want to ban access to a website like Flickr? It's all just an attempt at protecting a people that is just too stupid for their their own good (if that made any sense) and drawing attention away from their own glaring deficiencies.

Anyway I believe its only just a matter of time now that someone will find a workaround this problem. Smeone like that brilliant Iranian chap that came up with Access Flickr 1.11 for Firefow Mozila. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Arab Summit in Doha

"Libyan, Saudi leaders walk out of Arab Summit after a spat
By Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor in ChiefLast updated: March 30, 2009, 18:45

Another charade by maverick Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi almost spoiled the Arab summit on Monday, when what was initially thought to be an apology to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz turned out to be another insult. The Saudi King left the meeting hall angrily, but returned shortly following an appeal from the Qatari host. Gaddafi, meanwhile, stormed out of the summit but the two leaders later met to "clear the air". "I have been waiting for six years to tell you that you are the liar. You were made by Britain and protected by the United States,” Gaddafi said, addressing King Abdullah as the rest of Arab leaders looked stunned.
Gaddafi’s remarks followed the opening address by the summit host, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, who failed to stop the Libyan leader from continuing his barrage. Gaddafi was referring to a spat with the Saudi King during an Arab summit in 2003 in which King Abdullah described the Libyan leader as "a British-made and an American agent". This followed a comment by Gaddafi, saying Riyadh helped the US invade Iraq. The two countries have also had tense relations since the publication in June 2004 of a media report in the United States and Saudi Arabia accusing Gaddafi of plotting the assassination of King Abdullah, then crown prince, who was on a visit to the holy city of Makkah. Gaddafi on Monday said he was willing to mend fences with the Kingdom, despite the initial angry burst. "I am ready to visit you and for you to visit me," he said. The Emir of Qatar then managed to stop Gaddafi and offered a surprise apology; Gaddafi said he only wanted to apologise and open a new page with King Abdullah, who by then had left the room in protest. But Gaddafi went on to say that he was "the dean of the Arab leaders, the king of kings of Africa and the leader of the faithful,” before he himself stormed out of the meeting. Sources told Gulf News that he "went to visit the museum of Islamic Arts". A Qatari mediation managed to bring Gaddafi and King Abdullah together later in the day. Sources close to the proceeding said that most delegates didn’t consider Gaddafi’s remarks as an apology. "It will be another blow to the much hoped for Arab reconciliation," said the sources, referring to the absence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Analysts said Mubarak stayed away from the summit because of differences with Qatar over Doha’s relations with Iran and the Gaza war coverage by Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel, which Cairo considers as anti-Egypt. - With input from Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor "

Classic example of why peace in the Middle East is elusive and a very long time in coming. What do you expect when folks can't even get their act together amongst their own kin?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why No Updates? has been yonks since I've last updated. I still have not solved the problem of my photo upload settings and its a real hassle. The last thing I want to do after work is tweak around on a computer when I have been staring at one the whole day. And a blog without photos is as boring as piss so why bother.

It has been 10 months already since I've been here. And I still feel I am not in my element. Visiting the S'pore office last week made me miss my time there dearly eventhough when I was there I felt bored and unfufilled. It's been like a real struggle so far. I still have no idea what I've achieved. However newly made friendships in Dubai have kept me sane. And I had mentally prepared myself for the long haul going solo. So Heisham, Beaver, May, Kamal, Shireen and Kamariah thank you for helping keep this kid sane.

L to R: Beaver, May, Kamar, Shireen, Kamariah and Heisham.

And the latest bit of info to anyone out there who actually bothers to check my blog for updates.

Geraldine and I are getting married.

More updates to come, and hopefully this time with pretty pictures.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hungry Protesting Students

"New protests against the Israeli offensive were held around the world. Hundreds of Muslim students stormed a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in the Indonesian city of Palu waving Palestinian flags and burning the US and Israeli emblems. "


I guess demonstrators need food too. However couldn't they have entered the premises in an orderly manner? (They are students after all). I guess if the article was reworded as

"New protests against the Israeli offensive were held around the world. Hundreds of Muslim students entered a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in an orderly manner in the Indonesian city of Palu waving Palestinian flags and burning the US and Israeli emblems"...

it wouldn't have sounded as zesty and would be in contrast to the angst and grief usually displayed by such protests. The KFC staff must have had their hands full.

Conversations with an Indian taxi driver

On the way back to the office in a cab and behind a bus and it goes like this..

Driver: You have plenty friends driving bus (motions to bus in front)?
Me: No
Driver: Plenty Filipino drive bus no?
Me: I'm not Filipino.
Driver: Oh so where you from?
Me: Singapore, and take THAT! (I bash him in the face)

The above is just so typical of the generalisation and assumptions that go on here and is extremely annoying but I can't help the way I look any more than he can help assuming that all Filipino looking characters ARE Filipino. (They could be Malaysian or Indonesian or in my case, Singaporean) This incident is not the first and it sure as hell ain't going to be the last.

And no, I didnt bash him in the face, although I would have liked to.

Back in Dubai

As expected, time has flown and I am now back in Dubai. The trip home was a good one which in no small part was due to the fact that I took it slow and did not plan too hectic a schedule for myself. I also managed to cross everything off my list from eating what I wanted (Chilli crab - twice!) to getting my brushes and paints. I also took almost every opportunity to stuff myself silly and get myself drunk. Why at the Xmas office lunch party I was blind drunk by 5pm! (Something I told myself never EVER to do again.)

The Malacca trip to attend the inaugural Sequerah clan reunion was okay but the trip was more to catch up with second cousin Cecilia and spend time with Geraldine who graciously put up with going up that rotating tower contraption with me.
The National Service reunion was also a blast although a few people whom I was hoping would be there did not turn up. Big thanks to Alfee for driving me home that night! (yes...I was drunk).

And I finally got to meet Geraldine's mother (twice) who said I was a "nice boy". I have been told that this in itself means high praise already.

Towards the end of those 16 or so days at home, it felt like it was time to go "home"... It also helped that Geraldine would also be flying out to Dubai a few hours after me.