Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Former KLM Colleagues In Town Office

I spent one year in our town office before I resigned sometime in 1990.  I asked for a transfer to the ticketing/reservation (PO) department on hearing there was an opening.  It was granted by the management.  My intention was to gain some exposure in ticketing before asking to do sales and I did express to our then 'fearful' UG (country general manager), Mr Kardinaal in one of the interviews by him.  Our town office was at Mandarin Orchard.

The manager of PO department was Katherine who was mostly in her room typing away.  There were some young and pretty ladies in the ticketing department then.  Well, let me recall all the ladies in my department then, we had ever smiling Maryanne, sweet Janet, helpful Zawyah, friendly Michelle, 'kangcheong" Komala (I think I spelt her name wrongly), serious Irene and cool Sadiah.  The other guy in my department with me was Thia.  He was a very stout man, suave and sported a head full of black hair.  I had started to drop hair then and ya, kind of envy him then.  I still see Thia sometimes. More than two decades later, Thia still sports the same hairstyle as before but almost all white now.  A plus though, he still plays football at this age.  For the rest of the ladies and save for Katherine and Irene, I have not met them for ages.

Maryanne was our supervisor.  I enjoyed working with her and the PO team though it was for a short one year tenure.  Janet if I remember well can get easily irritated but as a person, she is nice.  The one who was very good at ticketing was Michelle in my opinion.  She came over from a corporate travel agency and she brought with her wealth of corporate ticketing knowledge.  Admittedly, I have never liked corporate ticketing but felt I should equip with some ticketing knowledge if I had hoped to land the sales position eventually.    

In the sales department, Maria was the manager and the sales representatives under her were all guys. George, Francis and Christopher.  Maria was one heavy smoker and I remember her room was always so smoky.  During our time, smoking in office was not banned yet (unfortunately).  I was closer to Christopher and he used to call me "Ah Poh" - the moniker I earned from a brush with one
airport immigration officer whose surname is "Poh". Francis was going to retire soon and I was actually hoping to replace him.  I did not get my wish as I eventually left the company.

At the management office, there were also Jennifer who was the secretary to Kardinaal and and Annie to Vincent Vogt.  They were friendly and helpful too.

In accounts department, I remember Helen and Hwee Peng too well.  Helen was the supervisor who worked diligently till she retired.  She was already in her 50s then.  Hwee Peng was very young, just joined and she definitely has the potential to move up in the company.  Their manager (BU) was Mr Yeo, a serious man whom I had never seen him smile at all.  

I will be meeting some of the PO colleagues at Janet's place soon.  It has been a long long while and I certainly look forward to meeting some of them.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Welcoming The Ram 2015

China is one of the world’s oldest civilisations with thousands of years of continued history.  The recorded history of China goes back to as far as the Shang Dynasty (1700 – 1046 BC).  However, historians still remain unclear the exact beginning of the Chinese New Year celebration in China.   Suffice to say, it was said to have started from the year end religious ceremony in Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 BC).  A few countered that it started from as early as Emperor Yao and Shun (~2300 BC) according to some historical records.

Notwithstanding, the date of celebration in ancient times varies from mid-winter to early spring until Emperor Wu (157 BC – 87 BC) of the Han Dynasty established the first day of the first month as the start of the new year when the solar base calendar was established.  It is also called the Han calendar which is still being used till today.  Chinese New Year is the most important celebration for all Chinese.

According to one mystical legend, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with a battle against a ferocious beast called the “Year” (nian).  It looks like an ox with lion head and it lives in the water.  On the eve of New Year, the “Year” (nian) will emerge to harm innocent people, animals and destroy properties.  People later found out that the “Year” (nian) is afraid of the colour red, fire and loud sound.  To protect themselves, they started to paste red “Dui Lian” in their houses, light up fireworks and lanterns to ward off the evil beast. 

In typical Chinese fashion, families will gather together for a sumptuous reunion dinner on the eve of the New Year.  Some families will cook and dine at home but some will choose to dine at restaurant.  A dish is a must have and it is the fish which symbolises 年年有余 (nian nian you yu) - "May There Be Surplus Every Year".  Be it at home or at the restaurant, it is usually a noisy affair with adults catching up with each other while their children play among themselves.  Much to the delight of the food and beverage operators, they will see their busiest day during this period.  This is an important get together for families regardless of how busy they are or at which part of the globe they are residing.        

Prior to the start of the Chinese New Year, many Chinese families will do a complete cleaning of the house, re-painting it and replacing old household wares for old.  Decorative items such as lantern, year paint, paper cutting, the character “fu” (signifies luck) and door god are all in lucky red colour.  They believe in getting rid of the old and welcome the new to usher into a prosperous new year.

Another tradition that remains very intact is the red packets and very much adored by the children who are the receivers.  The adults, especially married couples and the elderly gave the red packets that contain money to their children and even friends’ children.  The Chinese believe that the money in the red packet will suppress the evil from the children and keeping them healthy.             

Year 2015 will welcome the goat while we usher off the horse.  The goat ranks eighth in the Chinese zodiac and it is said those who are born in the year of the goat are mild mannered, shy and sympathetic but pessimistic.  However, they are said to be creative, dependable, intelligent and calm.     
It has been a wonderful year of the horse which has brought prosperity and good health to all and we shall now look forward to another wonderful year of the goat. 

Here’s wishing all Chinese a Prosperous Lunar New Year!


Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Valentine's Day

I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.  When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon” – Anonymous

Indeed one does not need to dig deep to understand but in ancient Roman mythology. it is said Cupid is the famous of all Valentine symbols and he is the boy who is armed with bow & arrows and piercing hearts.  He is best known as a mischievous, winged child whose arrows signify desires and emotions of love.  He aims his arrows at Gods and humans, causing them to fall deeply in love.  If any, he has always played an important role in the celebration of love between a man and a woman.  Today, Cupid and his arrows have become the most popular of love signs and what better time for his love signs to be prominently featured other than on Valentine’s Day which is celebrated the world over.      

Everyone knows February has long been celebrated as a month of romance but the history of Valentine’s Day has always been shrouded in mystery.  Put simply, the day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century but has its origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.  According to one legend, when Valentine was imprisoned for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, he actually sent the first “Valentine” greeting to a young girl who visited him during his confinement.  It was said his letter was signed off as “From your Valentine” – an expression of his love and the famous phrase has since been used until today. 

Cupid and his bow & arrows aside, one important symbol of modern love that is in a form of a gift from a man to his woman and it is candy gift that comes with conversation hearts, truffles galore and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.  The gift is likely to melt a girl’s heart when roses are added.  It is said that this tradition of giving flowers which is known as “floriography” or the language of flowers as a means to communicate feelings started during Victorian times.  When a man presents a bouquet of red roses to his woman, it indicates passion and romantic love.                      

This is to wish all loving couples an early “Happy Valentine’s”