I feel bad then mad!

I’m struggling with my other blog piece about being an apathetic Singaporean. This should be a follow-on piece but the thoughts and words are on a constant tumble in my mind and I need to get it out quickly before my head explodes.

In an earlier article, I wrote that I don’t know what Singaporeans want. Reading back, some words may seem harsh given that clearly, there are some people struggling without a job, trying desperately to make ends meet on unacceptable wage levels while coping with high inflation and so forth. When I see the elderly, bent over, pushing trolleys of cardboard boxes or clearing messy tables, I wince.

I feel bad that lives have been wrecked by flawed policies and a greedy political party. But then, I feel mad after that. Hopping mad. ‘cos I don’t know why Singaporeans can’t take matters into their own hands and do something.

The education system may have made many into ‘worker ants’ but why stay that way? As an adult, one would be in charge of one’s own destiny and even attitude, personality and interest, isn’t it? Why wait till the elections in the hope of casting an opposition vote (assuming the PAP plays fair and gives you the opportunity to vote), then waiting for the various changes to happen? How much time would’ve been lost by then? And can you be sure those changes will indeed be favourable?

And instead of relying on the government to make those sweeping changes to suit you, why not rise to the occasion of life in a fast-paced globally competitive city? No matter who runs the country next, the one thing I’m certain of is that the kampong life has long pulled out of the station. Perhaps it left too quickly, catching Singaporeans off guard. But it’s time to wake up and realise that SG won’t be going backwards.

I’m not unsympathetic to those who really need help, but my frustrations come from reading blog comments / listening to mainstream conversations, and I think it’s time the national psyche of Singaporeans gets a make-over.

Below are two key areas that affected Singaporeans should be working on:

1. Blaming foreigners

Yes there may be too many. But are you ensuring you can beat them out in every single way? OK, perhaps you’re unable to compete on low wages, but I assume you don’t want those jobs anyway. I know of companies desperately trying to hire Singaporeans but hiring managers say they can’t find good people. One is even closing down now due to staff shortage! It’s shocking!

So ask yourself if you’re doing your best at interviews, if you’re doing your best everyday at work, if you have a winning attitude every single freaking day at work. Or perhaps you’re in the wrong job / industry – one in which you feel unmotivated, dispassionate about. Can you switch? It’s difficult but not impossible. Do you have dogged determination and a great capacity to learn?

Understand too that the job/career landscape has changed. Here’s what Brian Tracy, author of Focal Point, says:

“According to experts, a person starting work today will have, on average, 14 full-time jobs lasting two years or more and five careers in completely different fields or industries…

Millions of people move up, down, or sideways in their jobs, companies or careers. The rate of growth and expanding opportunity has never been greater, and if anything, is getting better every year.

Here are three predictions for you: First, there will be more changes in your field, whatever it is, in the year ahead than ever before. Second, there will be more competition in your field than ever before. And third, there will be more opportunities in your field than ever before, but they will be different from those of today and in different areas than you expect or anticipate.

As many as 72% of people working today will be in a different job within the next two years as a result of incredible speed of change, increase in competition and explosion of opportunity…

Andrew Grove, chairman of Intel Corporation, wrote recently that one of the most profound changes of the last decade is that each person today is now the architect of his or her own career. You can no longer rely on a corporation to take care of you…You must think and act for yourself.”

Knowing this now, how will you prepare yourself?

2. Endlessly talking about HDBs, COEs, ERPs and other mundane stuff

Stop being led by the local media into the path of property, shopping sales, overcrowded places, best food places and the like. Recognise that when you’re constantly being bombarded with the same few messages, it becomes larger than life and is all consuming. Problems exist – everyone knows that – so there is little need to harp on it all the time. It doesn’t add value to anyone’s life to hear another story about another record price whathaveyou.

Besides, life is way more interesting than that. If you free up brain space from the mundane, you’ll find there are tons of other things to learn and talk about – history, philosophy, art, science, design and other so-called ‘cannot-make-money’ subjects. The funny thing is that these subjects broaden your horizon. Your perspective widens, you’ll think about problems and therefore solutions differently, you may find an undiscovered passion, and before you know it, achieving a whole lot more including that dream job / partner / life.

None of the issues that Singaporeans love to whinge about are uniquely Singapore. These are problems faced by city dwellers around the world. The difference perhaps is that Singaporeans haven’t learnt how to beat the system nor adapt, and they’ve made these issues the key focus in their life. Surely this is the time now for change, with unprecedented access to knowledge and networks. I dare you to take up the challenge to grow beyond these narrow shores.

I, Nokia, take thee Microsoft to be my awfully chosen platform

It didn’t come as a surprise to me that the once golden Nokia would adopt the still fledgling Windows Phone 7. My prediction is an eventual takeover Trojan horse style. If Stephen Elop had really wanted Nokia to make a surge at the races, he could’ve gone with Android. Instead, he chose Limpbiscuit, a platform that so far hasn’t had much success.

Meanwhile, every day adds a new drama to this wrong-wrong alliance. I’m not really keeping up with the developments but TH’s loving the drama as he has worked in both companies in his previous life. The latest, I’m told, will be an intervention to oust Elop. I just want to be right.

The meal costs what???

Yesterday was TF’s big birthday. He didn’t want to make a fuss of it but agreed in the end to dinner at a venue of his choosing (Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant at Quality Inn Hotel) and invitation for a few friends (five so that we’d fit nicely on one table).

Lotus Vegetarian isn’t new to us. We’ve been there several times and always enjoyed the buffet. The spread was wide, the food: good, the price: reasonable. When I called to make a reservation, they told me the buffet wouldn’t be available; we’d have to order from the menu. Never done that before but what’s the big deal?

So there we were trying to figure out what to order. If you’ve never been to a Chinese vegetarian restaurant, ordering from a menu can be interestingly confounding, mainly because the dishes sound different, but sometimes, it’s all the same food. TB and I settled on the set menu eventually ‘cos it just made things easier. We also added a small plate of noodles for birthday symbolism.

Needless to say, there was an obscene amount of food. We couldn’t finish every single dish despite there being 11 of us feeding on a menu for ten. The dishes were pretty good although at some point, the sauces were similar. TF likes to eat gravy dishes with mustard ‘cos he finds it adds a good punch. I added it just to make it taste different.

At the end of the meal, everyone was well and truly fed groaning about the amount of food consumed, and we left the restaurant carrying four doggie bags. While driving home, the Godmother (TGm) asked how much the dinner was. When TH mentioned it was about $500+, TGm was shocked.

I hadn’t thought about it till then, actually. I received the bill, checked the items and TH signed for it. Didn’t give it a second thought. But TGm’s reaction caused us to mull it over and the more we talked about it, the more outrageous it seemed. After all, we really only ate vegetables.

TGm then related her lunch experience at Thai Express, which was equally outrageous – $14 for a plate of extremely oily glass noodles with a teeny, tiny piece of crayfish. I’ve had that before – it’s a miserable, miserable dish.

The truth about dining in Singapore, the land of great food, is that numerous restaurants in the casual to mid-tier dining category are abysmal. They tend to be over priced, serving sub standard food. Yet, there’s a proliferation of them and some even do well. I don’t understand why. Then there are those like Lotus Vegetarian that may be taking advantage of the festive season to raise prices beyond what is acceptable. OK, we did accept the price but is it really acceptable? I suppose as long as there are fools like us, these places will survive. What really capped the night was TH muttering at midnight that he was hungry.

Time for a dining pledge in our household.