Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Seen today...

If your life was a movie, would it be a good one?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Two weeks on

It's been two weeks in Singapore or three weeks in total in the new job. This is my fourth week.

So far it's been... well... educational to say the least. In the last two weeks I've been harrased by customs, travelled Singapore-KL-Singapore three times, looked at apartments and not finding any good ones, lost my wallet, found it again, waited 2 hours for taxi, gotten lost, walked at least 20 km over 5 days, lost a pair of pants, moved out of a hotel into another one, then moved back into the first one again and that was just stuff outside work.

I think the trend will likely continue, although I'm kinda waiting for the good bits to start coming in.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Paris to KL...

I arrived Paris early in the morning on Saturday, while at the Amsterdam airport I had found some loose change and bought myself some tidbits, then of course I got hungry and had to change more Euro which I didn't want to earlier. Just to show how worthless the currency is, I had to change over RM300 just to get EU50, now what can be more pathetic - oh I know, Pounds. Aaargh...

Well a cheese sandwich later I'm on the plane to Paris and almost instantly arrived, yeah I fell asleep. Didn't get much sleep last night. Paris airport was a bit confusing, coming out of the gate I couldn't tell which way to go. So having the old Brittish tendency of following queues I did, I looked for the longest queue and just stood there. Now a proper way would be to ask someone, which I did eventually and discovered that, obviously I've wasted 15 minutes in the wrong queue and had to get out to another terminal.

Cutting things short, when I finally got to the terminal and found the check in counter I thought my ordeal was over. I was going to have an ice cream, maybe some lunch and then hang out at the boarding gate until it was time to leave. But as fate would have it..

"Excuse me! Sir can you come over here please."

"French customs, please come with us,"


"French customs, we need you to come with us."

"Do you have anything valuable in your bag worth more than 7500 Euro?"


"Is this your only bag? Do you have check-in?"

No, this is my only bag.

"Are you sure?"

...Yes I am.

It was two men in vests, one was short, balding with stubby hair and the other a taller brown haired guy. Both appeared very dodgy and had a slightly thuggish demeanor but would easily be picked out as plainclothes policemen. They took my boarding pass and passport which was in my hands, and the taller one grabbed my one and only luggage leaving me with no choice but to follow them.

I was taken into a security room upstairs behind one of the customs information counters that was set up. The room was dark and my first thought was "great I'm going to get gang-raped by a gay frenchmen and put into a porn video, I hope they give me marketing rights for Asia."

One of them guarded the closed door while the other helped me open my luggage and take out everything. They went through all the envelopes, my business cards and clothes, then poked around underneath the bag and inbetween all the zippers. Then they began going through a series of questions all designed to confuse me and make me look guilty.

"Why were you in Brussels?"
"Is this your only luggage?"
"What do you do?"
"How long were you in Brussels?"
"Were you in Amsterdam?"
"Why were you in Amsterdam?"
"Where did you stay?"
"Where do you work?"
"What work do you do?"

And so on and so forth. I guess that went on for over 30 minutes and by the time I was done being searched, I've lost the window and appetite to have lunch. My flight was leaving in under an hour, and I've still yet to figure out where the gate is! They let me go, looking a little disappointed, can't blame em, caught the wrong guy - you bastards!

I found my way to the gate, of course there was a long queue again, and luckily the flight waited because I got there just in time. It was good to be able to just sit down on the plane and vegetate for a while, I've got only one day rest before I have to fly down to Singapore. That was quite an adventure.

Friday, June 15, 2007

From Amsterdam to Paris...

I did warn earlier that my journey home would be an adventure. Well it all started after I missed that flight out of Brussels...

The flight was supposed to leave at 1850pm however the dark skies should have signaled something to me. A long chain of cars blocked the Citroen taxi from getting into the highway that leads to the Brussels International Airport. The taxi driver was expert enough in maneuvering his machine around the trucks and cars but the stop-and-go motion of the ride was seriously making me nauseous. I had considered asking him to slow down and that we have plenty of time, but the fact that he arrived late and was insanely in a hurry to get somewhere else - I decided to let the man do his job.

We arrived in one piece, or rather I managed to hold down my cookies until we reached the airport. Check in was simple enough, they had managed to check me in all the way through provided I make the connection in Amsterdam. Earlier that day, with some help I had already forseen this to be a problem and had tried very hard to make an earlier flight that should give some time for weather delays, but all flights were full. So here I am stuck on the 1850pm flight waiting at the gate - hoping that the delay is not too long for me to catch the other leg to KL. I only have 1 hour. Not enough by any standard.

I checked my watch, its now 1915pm, and there was this tiny propeller type plane, a Fokker 50 from what I can tell at the gate. It's so tiny the boarding ramps can't connect to it obviously, so we probably have to climb down and climb through a window or something and start paddling for all I know. The crowd was getting really anxious, more than half the plane was on transit in Schiphol Airport and everyone was missing their connections.

I asked a French dude what was happening and he related about the weather delays, them sending in a smaller plane due to the original one was delayed. We finally boarded at around 1945 and my carry-on was too big for the plane and was chucked in with the luggage. I was seated at 14F - the single aisle of the plane separated two rows of seats on either side. I walked down all the way to the back and found my chair with some guy in it. It was the last seat on the plane, right in the corner.

A few more people got on, apparently there are some people with tickets to row 15. Row 15? The plane only had 14 bloody rows! A guy showed up with a ticket for 12B, there was no 12B, just row A and C, where the hell was he going to sit? I finally took a neighbour, an Italian girl heading to Venice, she had 15D. Much confusion - laughing and threats to sit in with the luggage - later we finally got an apology from the pilot (whom we can see having drinks and pretzels in the cockpit). The around 2000hrs we took off on a very bumpy ride.

Needless to say I missed my connection. We landed at about 10 minutes to 2100hrs but the bus ride to the terminal took forever. Three scotsmen were calling the terminal about the flights shouting out the results.

"So where yer goin? Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur?"

"Kuala Lumpur!", he shouts into the phone.

"Boarding, next . Cork? Cork?"

"Boarding, who else? Anyone going to Singapore? On time 2130."

"Anyone else? Venice? Rescheduled for 2200."

The the Frenchman asked for Bordeaux, when was it leaving?

"Bordeaux? Nah we don't care about that, it's French!"

Funny people. Finally, most people made their connections, because they were also delayed. My flight was on time for once and of course I missed it. The Italian girl also missed her flight back home but was among friends. It took me 45 minutes to get the connection back to KL out of Paris at noon the next day. I had to spend the night somewhere and then take the early flight tomorrow to Paris... ah Paris...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If your heart is burdened by

If your heart is burdened by,
The troubles of the world then I;
Will carry them in my arms away,
So you will never face dismay.
For sorrow never has blessings brought,
And sadness never meant for naught;
Like darkness it will blind your way,
Then further lead your heart astray.
No burden should your soul to bear,
In silence nor solitary air;
No trouble should you keep alone,
No worry should you keep your own.
But together we may set it free,
The weight that sets on you and me.
We'll set it on the winds that blows,
That faith and hope may now regrow.
No burden so heavy,
That two can't carry.
For me or you I can't deny,
All that your heart is burdened by.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I hate how I've written the last few posts, not the poems but the other posts. I sound so dull.

But yeah I can get rather formal at times, especially given that I've practically sent out my blog address to everyone well almost everyone I know doesn't help either. But we'll leave that discussion for another time.

The trip to Brussels was great. On the second last day I finally managed to drag my sorry ass out of the hotel after work and head 20 minutes downtown to see the sights. Obviously I got lost almost immediately and got on the wrong train. Duh. Well things were in French, luckily I realised the mistake almost immediately and got off at the next stop to wait for the real one. Fortunately that train stops there too, if not it may have been a disaster.

The sun sets quite late and I wandered from the station to the Grand-Place, a famous medieval square or plaza in Brussels downtown. The beauty of the place took my breath away: ancient 17th century gothic architecture and the sheer size of it all was stunning. I wandered about - finding tourists from all over, mostly were Americans although more and more Asians were coming to Europe as well. The cobblestone square is a public meeting place, originally it was the center of trade in Belgium and the surrounding buildings were the offices of 17th century corporations.

That day as I sat on the sidewalk watching the people pass, it was just a hang out for kids and tourists. People sat where ever they want, even in the middle of the square there were groups just sitting down enjoying the evening air. I saw an Asian couple sitting down eating ice cream, parents with their kids, a bald man on a bicycle and the funniest thing was a man walking by with a fat grey tabby on his shoulders - the cat had a bewildered look on its face and a leash was hanging down its owners back. At least it wasn't trying to run away, maybe it just got sick of walking.

I also saw a young indian mother with her 2 or 3 year old boy. He was running up and down the center of the plaza when another blonde 2 year old came over and tried to make friends. It was funny watching kids trying to make friends, awkward but honest at the same time.

I overheard a conversation, a grand mother, her son in a suit and tie and a young blond child were walking. I could only assume she was his daughter and her grandchild.

I listened to her tell her grand daughter, "A long time ago, one of your great-grand fathers lived in this building."

"A very, very, very, very long time ago," added the dad.

The girl just stared at the building, it was a large grey structure with gothic carvings and statues all over. Four stories tall but taller still with the large bronze domed roof and hellenic pillars framing the highest floors. A broad staircase leads up to a pair of large black doors, now closed. It's now an art museum.

"Did he die?" she asked

"Yes," replied the grandmother, "a long time ago."

There was a pause as she considers that. Then she grabs her father's hands and those of her grandmother using them as leverage to swing in between.

"Let's go.." she said.

History can wait I suppose, especially when there are so many more fun things to do in life. The last thing I heard was her laughter as she raced up the square with her father.

I took refuge from the sunset later that evening on the terrace of a tavern called Roy de Espange or King of Spain. It was at the southern end of the square (well south if you considered I came in from the northern side - I have no idea where north actually was). The food was considerably Belgian, but it was interesting at least.

By then I had wandered all over the small streets along the plaza, all of them winding somewhere or another towards more collections of old buildings that have been refurbished but still maintained that ancient austere look. It would be drag to tell about everything I saw, suffice to say it was rather dark and late before I was done - and had to take the taxi back as I was advised.

The next day I flew back. That was another adventure.

Everything changes

I just realised that I have to change my blog description, maybe even the title. It says "rants from the world's tallest twin towers" which for me is no longer true because I've left my old job and moved on to something new. But since I've yet to think of a suitable description, the old one will have to suffice.

Everything changes to an extent. In the last days of my employment I realised that my being gone has in many small ways impacted the lives of many people, and in large ways impacted the lives of those who are closest to me. It just goes to show again how little thought went into all of this. Had I known they would be so deeply affected, I may have made the plans to a little smoother. I may have waited for the baby to be born of course and that among other things.

Though as things go, the decision was made and at that last moment while I had the opportunity to renegotiate the starting date, I did not. Well it wasn't an opportunity really, but such things can be created. After all I've been in the business of negotiations and the creation of opportunities. It should be my specialty.

In case it has not dawned yet, I'm back home waiting to head off to Singapore tomorrow. The trip to Brussels had been an eye opener and I'm clearer in the roles and expectation that I have to play now. The job is mostly the same except for the fact there are less people in the company and basically everything is more hands on.

Last night I dreamt of you again

Last night I dreamt of you again
In the dawn of night's sweet refrain
Among flowers and fields of grass
Where lonely hearts had often pass
Soft breezes blowing
The lonely stream flowing
Where the green envies nature's touch
In a place of peace and as such
The sun's great shine can never fade
And the snow and rain are never made
In a world of green and reddish blooms
And coy pink buds and orange plumes
May all the clouds lay down their showers
Or dark hearts come to pluck the flowers
You weaved the failing nature's loom
And drive away the coming gloom
Though my heart had died
And at times my heart had cried
I feel relinquished from the pain
Last night I dreamt of you again.

Copyright ©2007 Rizal Repin

Friday, June 08, 2007


She left without warning,
and returned with mehendi-coloured hands,
ring-bound to a man from foreign lands,
eyes glistened with tears of happiness and confusion.
I've warned of love and loss,
yet still failed to see--blind.
Now as we danced to the rhythm of the Banghra,
a haunting yet joyful theme of happiness and regret,
though we praise and cheer,
the celebrations raze huddled spirits
that know and worry that our gifts are forgotten.
Like the mehendi we decorate the skin of Indian daughters,
a binding, artful chain that marks remembrance and promise,
until we are washed by water and time,
like we were meant to.

Copyright ©2007 Rizal Repin
Silver Prize Winner 2006
International Library of Poetry

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Dancer

The dancer tells her story
and rhythm becomes the words
movement and melody are her arms
and feet moving an invisible quickness
eyes expressive show a longing
marked of eye shadow
her lips curve into that smile
a half moon that beckons hearts to stop
and wonder-is she speaking to me?
there is rhythm in her walk
a gracelike that swan in flight
landing in the lakes, breaking
that perfect mirror
that reflect the perfect sky
her movement echoed by the chorus
that rippled through air like water
bursting again with energy
powerful and resolute
yet laced with deepening shadow
the dancer tells her story
rhythm becomes her soul and music
a canvas of paints we see
and only that from afar.

Copyright ©2007 Rizal Repin

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

First week...

Good news, at least they work the same way that I used to in the previous company. A lot of talking, consultation and the occasional jumping of conclusions and many many miscommunications. You'd think it was easy, but having a diverse team of multi nationals trying to speak English and sounding coherent is tougher than it sounds.

Most of the people here speak French and English and I was quickly introduced to some of the more colorful characters at the office. The first thing I did was try to troubleshoot my own email, seems like it didn't work, another Firewall issue. Gave up on that just about lunch time and continued after lunch with a discussion with the boss cum owners.

A marked difference from any Asian company was in the way they approached work. The first topic of discussion was of work life balance. Oooh we spent over an hour on this one, what was important, what my wife likes and dislikes - our work habits, what's she going to be doing, et cetera. Apparently they like to know these things so they can anticipate if the staff are going to have issues with the family or working too much and neglecting the people at home. How about that?

The learning curve is staggering as well. So much to understand, even things that we had assumed to be practiced or logical had other ways which make more sense to do. Obviously this would be a different experience from what I've had and I'd really need to catch up now.