Saturday, March 27, 2010

Off to France: Strategy, project management, communication etc.

Off to France tomorrow for the Erasmus Mundus Conference. Thanks to Amy for letting me know about it and encouraging to apply. Surprisingly they've selected my and Hedi's theses paper for one of the workshops and I'd have to deliver it in a 30 min presentation.

Whilst preparing for it, I recalled the summer of 2009, I was in the AIG offices in Milan with the Financial Lines department - I've been there for 3 weeks - it was August and the weather was surprisingly cool. Ferragosto is a quiet period for the Milanese but the team in the office never has a dull moment. and Solaro, Florian, Antonio and a few of the other guys have been super-cool to me. They've put me on the IT system to vet some contracts, taught me a bit about underwriting some of the products i.e. PI (Personal Indemnity, Engineering, A&H. It's a whole different world of insurance compared to my professional experience back home.

Fast forward to the winter of 2009, I'm now in the AIG office in Stockholm. I'm working on the same systems again but it's in a quieter environment (Stockholms' offices are smaller). I'm on my own lap top in a hot desk (used to be owned by one of the staff who's on the Xmas hols) and everyone is quietly hunched over their desks. I'm next to the Financial Lines department again but not working directly with them as I did in Milan but with another department (Underwriting)- more data entry than anything. I feel the atmosphere is more relaxed and calmer but always an underlying TOD.

Despite what's happened to AIG, I still am amazed by my moving through 3 different offices in 3 different countries (paid a visit to La Defense in Paris to speak to Jon Noel, head of OOC too for a day). That's what I call a global company.

I owe my thanks to Ms Ariela Camis de Fonseca(Milan), Muhaini Musa (Malaysia), Aiken Yuen (Hong Kong), Berit Adolfssen (Stockholm),Dawn Cheyrouze (Paris). And for the theses writing, my partner, Hedi Yousefi-Zadeh and our supervisor (now Vice Chancellor of Sundsvall University, Sweden) Anders Soderholm.

Today I fly off to Bordeaux to share this experience.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A wound won't heal if you keep opening it up.

J, this is for you:

It's been 3 weeks now since 'the cut'. It was in anticipation of happiness; the reason for it happening but all it led to was a slice so deep that it really hurts. It really hurts doesn't it? We try to be brave and move on, but it's another thing to keep revisiting it. Wounded flesh takes time to heal - the only way to do it is to really leave it alone. Do other stuff, distract yourself, get busy, anything but get the injury hurt again. It may take a long time, a lifetime, but we need to heal - we owe ourselves that much. I have good news, consolation for you; the body is an amazing creation - it can, and it will.

(and that is for me too)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ping Pong

Suddenly have an urge to play 'round-the-table' ping pong. Used to do it a lot back in Umea with the Swedes. We were about 7-8 people running around the ping pong table and seeing who'd be final champ. I wasn't bad for a start(must be my Chinese genes). Popped over to Sportsdirect and the bats weren't really expensive (about 2.50GBP). There's a club in Brick Lane that does that (The Young Offender's Institute - might pop by one of these days)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Spring 2010
16th March,22.50pm, Monday, London, Rolls Road

The weather is starting to get warmer - 10-12 C - is it me or is there less rubbish wind to seep into your coat and then your bones. It's starting to get brighter now - I walk to London Bridge station in broad light instead of the grey light. The dawn breaks at 5.30am now (I am awake by now usually) and I wonder if I should be happy or sad that the day has caught up with me. My coat is too warm now when it was not too long before that I used to chastise myself for not having layered enough. I know its spring when I see the flowers start to bloom on my morning walk - crocuses and daffodils especially. The purple ones look especially vibrant. I remember a conversation with a bunch of Europeans; I hadn't been abroad before and asked which seasons did they love the best. Most them said 'the spring' although I expected them to say the warm summer. Now I understand why; It's the feeling of new beginning, new hope that permeates the air.

Spring 2009
13th April, 9.48pm, Friday, Amsterdam, Stayokay Hostel Vondelpark

Pooped- I spent a total of 65EU and it's only been a day. Met up with Eleanor and Chew Ping this morning at the station and they were happy enough but it's now 8pm and we've just arrived to the pier on the ferry...12.50EU. Struggled to stay awake throughout the float but failed several times.

Met up with Boris after so many years and he still looks the same. He has a baby girl named Lisee now. What a big difference from the hazy crazy trainee days in Malaysia....he's a daddy now. Good to meet up with old friends.

Spring 2008
20th April, 4.50pm, Sunday, Umea Sweden, Fysikgrand 3H-101

Just came back from Skogis with Bimal. This Sunday was one of the more interesting Sundays of my days in Umea. I woke up at 9am which was rather early considering the party at Malin's (birthday)....ate breakfast and then fell back asleep again. Woke up at 11.45am again when Bimal called to tell me that we had an appointment with Anders at 1pm in the business school. Anders had been away for his new job as Vice-Chancellor of Sundsvall University. We had a nice walk to the uni in the new spring weather. Spring finally arrived on Tuesday mid-of-the-month with the sunny days and mysterious evaporation of the snow. The past few days have been blue skies and sunshine and birds singing in the trees

Spring 2007
15th April, 4.45pm, Milan, Parco Sempione

'Ty' in the park. Actually sandwiches, cornflakes to munch on, apples and orange juice. Jas and I are sitting on a blanket in the park. Haven't done this since Ela and her bf and I went to Ulus Parki in Istanbul. It was 2002.

Spring is here; the air is cool and the sun is shining. Green, green, green everywhere. Dark aquamarines, white daisies, purple flowers, birds singing...Italians are starting to come alive; families play ball; couples sunbathing in the grass. Far off, there's bhangra music playing (bhangra??) and drum beats, urgent, ushering the warm weather in celebration. I like best the daisies; dainty delicate things poking through the grass as if to say 'hello'. I used to think they were special since they were rare in Malaysia. Plucked them to press in books, later immortalizing them in my bookmark collection. Now they are everywhere around me; where there's green, there are the daisies. They never stand alone; if they did, it didn't look right. Two or three balanced in the picture and there was always a cluster; never a 'one'.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Ludivico Einaudi - I Giorni (The Days)

It was 12 plus in Rolls Road and here I was baking in the night (consequences of sleeping too much in the afternoon) Was tuned into the BBC Classic channel and this beautiful gem came on. Listening to this in the calm, in the clear and in the night came to me in a revelation that sometimes we are meant to find happiness when we least expect it even if it's only for a while.