“If you don’t buy the package, I know you won’t be back to see me”

I can count on my 10 fingers the number of people I have been in touch with for over two decades. AY, my senior whom I met in my university days. 33 years. BP, my ex-gf’s elder brother has become my brother-in-law. 29 years. Had I kept in touch with his sister, my ex-gf, that would have been a 32-year relationship. Unfortunately, we don’t keep in touch. The last time I saw her was at a funeral. RC, my ex-manager during my first job. 28 years. Believe it or not, I just met him earlier this month. He found a new job. And he is doing well. As someone older than me, in today’s market condition. I am impressed. Consider the fact that I am still in touch with my ex-wife, due to the joint custody of our dog … 26 years. ML, my partner-in-crime from video gaming to web hosting and all things in between, my ex-bandmates JL and JT, all of whom I still keep in touch with, thereabout 20-ish years.

So, where does my hairstylist SE, or rather, ex-hairstylist as of this moment, stand? 28 years.

I was in my late twenties, renting an apartment at AMK. Back then, the nearest mall was Bishan Junction 8. It was a walk-in, at Jean Yip, when I first met SE. I was single back then. And I was, and am still a habit of routine. I didn’t quite like my first haircut. But I know how stubborn my hair is. To find a hairstylist who can do a perfect job on the first attempt is difficult.

I kept going back to visit SE. Over time, she perfected the job. And she delivers a very consistent outcome for close to three decades. She is not the talkative type. But when we were in the mood to chat, we chatted. Through the decades, many things happened. She moved from Bishan Jean Yip to Thomson Plaza Jean Yip, and I followed. She kept a log of all my visits. My customer record ID is W007, which was kind of cool: double-o-seven. I was aware that she had a sales quota to meet. At times, I bought a package of 10 visits ahead of schedule. Maybe even two. Looking back, in today’s menu, a walk-in visit for men is S$45. The package I had was $22 a visit. The value was great. I love her work. However, ever since I moved from YCK to town, I have been thinking of a change of scene.

Traveling from my home to Thomson Plaza in the evening takes about 45 minutes without toll. And with a toll of S$3, half an hour. It is the hassle of making such a trip almost every month. With car prices going up, and how unlikely I will buy a new car, it is daunting to think of taking a train regularly for such a distance.

Or perhaps, I need a change in scenery.

SE knew what was to come today. We chatted as normally as we could during my haircut. Knowing that I had no intention to extend my package, she awkwardly tried to make another sales attempt. I know it was more than a sales number. She was the one person I saw often (besides my ex-wife). She was holding back her tears. I could see that. I joked that if I am in the area, I could walk in. She commented on the high walk-in price and said, “If you don’t buy the package, I know you won’t be back to see me.” It was a statement and not a plead.

Knowing that I won’t be back in the near term, she said there was something she had always wanted to ask, “Are you OK?” I knew what she meant and knowing that time was running out between us, I didn’t beat around the bush and told her that I am divorced recently. “Two years?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied. She told me that she sensed the change in me and intuitively guessed that. Shortly after, she couldn’t hold back her tears and cried.

I suggested that we keep in touch, have a coffee, and chat like good old days. I am not sure if that will be a reality. I hope that I am not merely another customer. And she surely is not just another hairstylist. After all, 28 years is a rather long time.

Horrible Experience at Café&Meal MUJI Plaza Singapura

I had one of the most humiliating experiences at MUJI Plaza Singapura, no fault of mine. It was so absurd that it took me a meal’s time – not at MUJI – to internalize.

I enjoy the food menu at MUJI. It strikes a good balance between tasty food and healthy food. The price is more premium. But once in a while, it is OK.

It was during a weekend. Faced with a table shortage during lunch hour, I joined a queue. In front of me was a big group of young people. Further down, there were tourists from Indonesia. The queue was long. And I was queuing alone. Since I had no one to talk to, I looked at my phone most of the time. I recalled the waitress passed by and asked, “Table for how many?” I said two. She quickly moved on. She looked stern, in her late fifties. Highly efficient.

To control the crowd entering the cafe, there was a barrier. It was closed when the cafe was full. And it was open when tables were available.

I was looking at my phone when I sensed the big group before I had entered. I saw the barrier was opened. I presumed that it was my turn. So I entered, looking for a table. But there was none. The cafe was full.

Naturally, I returned to the front of the queue. The barrier was opened. As I rejoined, a woman in her thirties stopped me and accused me of queue jumping. Then out of nowhere, the waitress appeared and testified that she did not see me in the queue! I was speechless. I told my side of the story. The barrier was opened. I thought there was a table available. Hence, I walked in.

The woman behind me insisted that she did not see me. Neither did the waitress. Further down the queue, the Indonesian tourists watched on and said nothing. No one spoke up as though I did not exist until now!

I was red-faced. Speechless. The waitress asked me to rejoin the queue, from the back. Doing so would have admitted that I had jumped the queue, which I didn’t.

I was upset. But I did not wish to cause a scene. Besides, I was hungry. So I have decided to leave MUJI and dine elsewhere.

During my meal, I thought to myself, if I let this go today, I would regret this very moment. I was wronged. There was no one in this world but me to look after myself.

So I returned to the cafe after my meal. At the entrance of the cafe, the barrier was closed. The same waitress recognized me. I requested to speak to the manager. With the same stern look, she asked, “The queue just now?” I said yes. I pointed at the CCTV nearby and told her the footage should prove I was in the queue.

The waitress rolled her eyes, disregarded what I said, and pointed at the cashier. “Speak to Ivan”. She opened the barrier and let me in.

It was passed two but the cafe was still busy. I patiently queued for my turn.

At the cashier, I explained to Ivan that I had a feedback/complaint about the cafe. I was prepared to return at a later time. But Ivan promptly stepped aside and attended to me. He was empathetic. I asked if we could check the CCTV together with the waitress. He said it wouldn’t be necessary and promised that he would speak with her.

Frankly, at that moment, I just wanted to have my side of the story heard. He passed me his name card. Assistant manager, Ivan Tan. He offered that I could further escalate if I wanted to.

I have decided to rest the case. My intention is not to seek justice. I don’t want to look back to that day and regret that I did not have the courage to speak up for myself.

What is the moral of the story? And what have I learned? Always give people the benefit of the doubt.

Highlights of 2023

Over dinner, GZDJ asked about my 2023 highlights. The first thing that came to my mind was snorkeling at Tioman Island. It was something that before this year, I would have never wanted to do. It was too adventurous for my liking. But in the spirit of YOLO, I joined a diving trip with my friends. I didn’t dive, not that adventurous yet. The experience was exhilarating. Floating in the open sea, with eyes on the ocean bed, seeing sea creatures living their lives entirely different from mine. The cold and warm current, the buoyancy. I could float the whole day and not get tired of what I saw. Plenty of small colorful fishes. Then came a few large bumphead fish. Corals, live and dead. Urchins and plenty of other sea creatures that I was not able to name. That trip was the highlight of my 2023.

I had no idea that snorkelling can be that much fun!

I think the year 2023 has been a year of traveling. I visited Bangkok and am impressed with how connected the places are with the railway. I got by easily without even calling Grab once. 22 minutes was all it took to travel from the airport to town.

I visited Chennai for business. Last visit, I was unwell for half of the trip. This time, work was super hectic. But I was able to enjoy what the city has to offer after working hours, thanks to my lovely colleagues in India.

I visited Hong Kong at the beginning of last year. It was great to catch up with my buddy AY. And to see my parents and my relatives of course. The food was delicious. Alcohol was cheaper than in Singapore. Hong Kong is still a shopper’s paradise. So many varieties.

I visited Malaysia often. By air, by bus, and by car. I am not new to Malaysia, But still, so much to offer to a tourist.

“But what about that accident you had and the first time you were taken by an ambulance?” GZDY asked.

Oh, that, I would rather not talk about it!

Perhaps to end this post on a high note, I have started to enjoy comedy shows. It wasn’t until relatively recently, that I discovered the joy of a live comedy. Three shows in Singapore and one in Malaysia. I am hooked on comedy shows on Netflix too.

Talking about Netflix. What about my favorite TV series in 2023?

Hmmm. There are so many. Penthouse versus Alchemy of Souls, Single Inferno S3 versus Love after Divorce S4, The Glory versus My Name, etc. If I had to pick one, that would be Penthouse.

Or perhaps. The real highlight of 2023 is the closure of one chapter and the beginning of another. To end this post, I wouldn’t say Bailey is my 2023 highlight. He is a reflection of my life: a constant struggle between physical and mental health versus discipline and routine, an unconditional affection that requires daily effort, a witness of my past and present, and a reminder of the path I have chosen.

Roger Water’s Dark Side of the Moon Redux is a Cringfest

Roger Water’s re-recording of Pink Floyd’s 50-year-old classic without any of the Pink Floyd members is very unpleasant to listen through. His long-winded spoken words are a constant distraction. And when he sings, he does so in such a low-key that makes me cringe all the way. The only part that is remotely enjoyable is when Roger Water neither speaks nor sings. The music is okay though I miss the real music from the original setup. Some parts are quite enjoyable, like his bass line. And then he sings, that spoils everything.

Album artwork

I forced myself to listen to the entire album in one setting. Because I am one huge Pink Floyd fan. My verdict: the original classic is so much more epic than this.

Sorry Roger, David is way more talented than you. You probably thought that this “Redux” album would prove otherwise. The truth is, Pink Floyd was fine without you. You are not good without Pink Floyd.

Yes, Go For 32GB RAM

It is a common struggle. Should I spend more money to get 32GB of RAM or would 16GB suffice? Today, I played Diablo 4 while letting my video editor run in the background. Yes, my laptop utilized more than 16GB of RAM. I suppose, 32GB RAM is … justified?