Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Domestic Help Needed

We finally succumbed to the pressures of hiring a domestic maid. After numerous sleepless nights, unearthly morning calls, infinite changing of diapers, laundry washes ed infinitum, my wife and I decided that we need help to being our lives back to some semblance of order. While we do enjoy spending time taking care of our cute little 22 month old boy, the sheer toll of having to juggle hectic careers, studies (for my wife), housework and a hyperactive toddler crumbled our fortitude.

After deciding on a maid agency, we set out last Saturday together with my sister-in-law (for her impeccably good advice, sharp eagle-eye, and experience in maid hiring). At the training centre, located within a neighbourhood shopping centre, we saw about 20 odd "trainee" maids undergoing training. They were taught how to clean the fans, polish the latrines, mop the floors, iron the clothes and so on.

Throughout the process, it slowly dawned on me how tough their lives were (and how fortunate we Singaporeans have it). The lot of a maid is not a bed of roses. First, they have to leave their families and homes for years at a time. Then, they have to put up a large amount of money to the maid agency, which means that they have to work - without pay - for up to 8 months during the initial period. Many maids are also not given day offs, except those from the Philippines, and they have to be at the beck and call of their employer - literally - 24 by 7.

I muttered silently to myself that we must endeavour to be good employers and fellow human beings when managing our maid. LIke us, they are also mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. They also have their dreams, their aspirations, their wants, needs and desires. Just as we need to take a break to rest our minds, bodies and spirits from the stresses of modern life, so too do our maids.

After listening to the recommendations of the consultant at the agency, we finally decided on a maid. Her name is Wati and she is a 23 year old Indonesian lady who was recently divorced and has a 3 year old daughter. Wati will join us in mid October. Let's hope that our decision - and hers - will be a win-win arrangement for everybody.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Experiment Worked!

Ok, what happened was that my wife and I decided to stop giving our son medicine.

Well, this isn't as bad as it sounds like. He had a continuous bout of cough, flu, fever, and so on for the past couple of weeks and this led to many sleepless nights for both him and us. After bringing him to the doctor and giving him medicine for several weeks, we noticed that it somehow hadn't quite cured his early morning (like 3 am) coughing sessions.

The routine goes like this...

Toddler Ethan coughs and coughs. He then gets up and asks for milk.

Papa and mama gets up. Either one goes to make his favourite beverage at the kitchen and returns with the bottle.

Toddler Ethan drinks up the milk in his cot and settles back to sleep (or so we think).

After about 10 minutes or so, toddler Ethan starts coughing vigorously, and this invariably ends with him spewing out the milk (ala Merlion).

Papa and mama rouses from sleepy state, cleans up Ethan, changes bed sheet, changes Ethan, washes bed sheet and Ethan's clothes, and end up wide awake thereafter.

Ethan goes back to sleep in peaceful slumber.

To break this cycle (after all, we really had nothing to lose), I thought we should just do without his triple dosage of Promethazine, Bisolvon and Chloramine. Just to see if there will be any difference. We also decided to switch the air con back on instead of using the fan (an age old tale said that the dry air of the air con makes it more prone for kids to cough at night).

Contrary to popular belief, it works! Ethan coughed less last night and seem to sleep better without the medicines, which are supposed to be sleep inducing.

Any thoughts on this?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Singapore's Worst Toilet?

The runnies hit me again this morning. Hard. After sending my wife off to work at Depot Road, my entire gastro-intestinal system seem to be doing the twist, rock-and-roll, lambada and macarena - all at the same time. Crouching over in pain while trying to drive to the nearest loo, I spotted this canteen at the Industrial Park at Depot Road (Block 18) and decided to try my luck there.

After parking my car and straggling my way to the toilet, I discovered that both the cubicles were used. While trying to push open one of the doors which has no indication of whether it was locked or vacant, I was rudely answered by a strong push back which slammed the door. I then went outside, SMS-ing away to my wife to distract myself, while pacing nervously up and down like a father of the newborn.

When one of the users completed his business and flushed the toilet, I quickly squirreled into the cubicle. The first thing that hit me is that the toilet has no lock. No wonder it could be pushed open (and the need for the occupant to guard his privacy fiercely)! Turning around, I noticed that the toilet bowl has no seat. Great. You probably can guess the rest - no toilet paper, no hook (for pants), and a wet floor strewn with cigarette butts.

After hurriedly doing my B52 mission, I flushed the toilet (Thank God it works!), washed my hands and walked out briskly. As if to bade me farewell, a cockroach scuttled across my path. Thinking aloud, it probably is more comfortable at the loo than I was.

Maybe I should nominate the toilet for Singapore's worst toilet award?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Cool Morning

A slight rain helped to make the morning comfortably cool and nice. This, coupled with adequate rest and sleep the night before, made the journey to work much more pleasant and enjoyable. It is surprising how the weather can dramatically influence one's mood and set the tempo for the day.

One of the chief reasons why I always try to holiday in a temperate destination as opposed to a tropical paradise is the weather. In hot and humid Singapore, you can't quite get respite from the sweltering heat, despite the air conditioned office and home. Somehow, when you step out, the heat wave hits you like a tonne of bricks. Either that, or it showers so hard that you can't walk anywhere without getting your shoes/ pants/ shirt wet, even with an umbrella over your head!

I remember with much gusto my recent holiday in Perth (yes, the oh so famous nirvana of Singaporeans in the Southern Hemisphere!). Amidst the cool and bracing air, miles and miles of picturesque greenery, tall calming trees, and balmy breezes, one's stresses and troubles tend to just melt away. I suppose the more relaxed pace of life there also affects one's mood, beyond the heavenly climate which makes it possible to embark on never tiring bush walks and expeditions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tummy Trouble

I had a bout of gastric flu which started yesterday night. This ended up with having a sleepless night tossing and turning. My toddler-son Ethan was also sick with fever and poor wifey had to take care of him and give him paracetamol while trying to get some rest last night.

This morning, brought my son to see our regular doctor at Killiney Family and Wellness Clinic. Its quite amazing that despite having a fever, he is still so alert, chatty and cheeky, talking to everyone from the receptionist to the doctor at the clinic. Dr Yeo prescribed a series of medicines for both father and son. Thankfully, my mum agreed to take care of Ethan for the day so I was able to go back home for some much needed shut eye.

While being on MC isn't exactly a joy, it isn't such a bad thing either. Somehow, it forces you to slow down and take things easy. There are the simple things in life which you sometimes forget in the mad, hectic rat race of work, life and everything in between. By taking a break from work, you actually allow your mind, body and soul to rest, recuperate and recharge for the battles ahead. I think our bodies are also telling us that hey, we are working them far too hard and they need their 'downtime' too.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be back at work and slaving away in the daily grind. Sigh....

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I realise that procrastination is something which eats at everyone of us. Invariably, there will always be something or other which keeps us busy. One thing will lead to another, and excuses will be beefed up with further excuses, reasons and justifications. In my case, my work, cute and lovable 21 month old son, household chores (which are divided between myself and my wife), dining out and surfing of the internet are all major swallowers of my time over and on top of the usual mundane chores (sleeping, brushing teeth, bathing .....you get the drift?)

As a corporate communications and promotions director, I do more vetting and editing than writing. I also have to manage staff, budgets and projects, and act as a coach, mentor and facilitator. The end result is that I do less and less creating, and this makes me more rusty in the skills of the written and spoken word than I would have liked. However, I do like my job, and am not willing to give it up just yet. Hence, this blog, which allows me to practise writing about practically anything under the sun, usually insignificant and frivolous, and my thoughts on things that are happening around me. All this will (hopefully) help me to reach that eventual state of nirvana of becoming a freelance writer. Will keep my fingers crossed.....

There are a thousand and one things which can gobble up one's time. If you do not try to control and manage them, they will end up dictating how you spend your life. You then become a pawn, a piece of driftwood, or a tumbleweed being swept away and moved by external forces. Your sphere of influence over your fate then diminishes until you wake up screaming in horror one day at your deathbed, realising that your dreams have not been realised all this while.

Today, I decided to tame the beast of procrastination and populate my blog with more concrete thoughts. I have also completed some work to help Tina's friend in copywriting - a project which has been delayed for far too long.

I need to pull up my socks, roll up my sleeves, put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and start writing again. In the words of Daytona, "Gentlemen, start your engines...."