Tuesday, November 17, 2015

So What NOW - Hong Kong pt 3

I was supposed to meet everyone for the first round of drinks for the Island School reunion in Lan Kwai Fong by 7 pm ish,  The streets were teeming with people, my phone was going crazy with messages "where are you?", "are you close by?", "are you lost?".. Pfftt I can do this , I just have to get into the side roads, duck and weave, duck and weave,  and finally I think I'm on the right strip.  I look up the street and all I see are hundreds of bars, restaurants and more people, a bit winded by the uphill hike in my heels, I walk in to the diner and everyone is talking, and greeting each other, clinking glasses, hugging each other, thumping each other's backs and generally realigning the past with the present.

My buddies Lynda and Annie in Lan Kwai Fong
A couple more people come up and say hi, they're asking me how work is, telling me how proud they are of what I've achieved in broadcasting, and what I'm doing now.  " Well, I have no idea yet, it's only been a week since the last day of work so I guess I'll figure it out when I get back to KL"  I tell them, they all seem surprised.  Well no more than I was with the station closing down.

Drinks Menu!
After the meet and greet I wanted to see the place I used to hang out in and where I used to spin, AH! Club 1997 was there but it's not the same, and boy do they serve a wicked martini!!  Oh and if you're there ask them for a drink called "grenade" he he h he.. That blew me a away!!  We had to leave at a decent hour because the next day we were taking a boat out to one of the outlying islands for seafood lunch and more hanging out.
Star Ferry?
My goodness I've not walked as much since I was meandering around Stonehenge in the UK!  The next day as I drew closer to what used to be Star Ferry, I saw so many docks, and I wasn't keeling over from the smell, they've really done a great job cleaning up our Fragrant Harbour.
On De Boaattt
The boat ride was fun, the seafood lunch was stellar and afterwards we pushed off from there,  to dock at  another one of the bays for a swim. It was a tremendous day, but I had an inkling my friends were wondering what I was going to do after this trip. I was figuring it out, and  later that evening as we pulled closer to Aberdeen,  I stood at the prow of the boat to look up at the stars and thought, I've missed being here, missed having so many wonderful , loving and supportive people who knew the real me.   We docked as close as possible to the Yacht club and all of us (I'd say around 20 or so ) invaded the club.   We were told that we had to keep the noise down if we wanted to stay inside.. ha ha ha ha, that' s like saying 'here's some firecrackers, don't light them up!'  Another great night (though I was tired and sliding down the chair fast)  , without being kicked out from the club!  That's all thanks to Dod my  Rutherford classmate who organised everything for us.

Chillin after the swim
The Jumbo floating Rest
The next get together would be for dinner at the American Chinese Restaurant, an old haunt and the menu  is  still the same!  I was clutching my sides with laughter as we walked towards the restaurant after having met up at a bar opposite it, as one of the "seedier" bars that we used to sneak into as teens was still there,  the "crazy horse"!  Oh the memories!

Dinner was delicious, loud, full of fun and laughter and afterwards we headed over to a club that had live music.  Between the raucous cheers and being dragged to the dance floor, my good friend Annie asked me again what I was going to do when I got back to Malaysia.   A germ of an idea was taking place but I had a few more nights of having fun with my former classmates so I wasn't going to sweat it just yet. The next day we were going back to our school for a tour of what it looked like now.
Still sitting at the back still causing mischief!
When we walked about our former school the next day,  I thought how the attitudes of the  current students had changed, they were more studious and more inclined to do the right thing.. shudder.. whereas we were a mad bunch who had been to detention at least once!! We learned that they were gong to pull the old school down and rebuild a new one, so the trip was even more poignant.

My final day came too soon, and I wanted to have dinner with  Peter, my stepfather, Mark and Sylvia my hosts and my bestie Annie and her man Den at the best Peking Duck place ever  Peking Gardens in Star House.  I stuffed my face silly, as I knew I'd not get food this good for a while!  (what? I wore elasticated pants, I was prepared!)

Leaving Hong Kong was a tearful affair, but a really good boost to the ego and soul,  I came back more positive and determined and I think it translated into my attitude because when I returned a lot of calls started coming in for work.

Back in KL, between bouts of discussion and watching the Rugby World Cup  (GO ALL BLACKS!),  my pal Riz and I  had a chat.  She convinced me that I should talk about my experiences as that are so many women out there going through the same situation.  We formulated an idea,  and it made me feel good as it would help women in the same situation I was facing, understand that there were so many options to what they could do.

This is one of the reasons I decided to start blogging again, and with that , I'm gong to get a few contributors to also add their blogs for you women out there to help you understand the opportunities that are available, the financial aspects of your world, the products that are available and also a platform where we can talk about the products that you want to retail online, as well simplifying technology so you can optimise it and understand it without feeling like you must be the only one in the world who doesn't understand the geek speak!

Friday, November 6, 2015

So What NOW - Part 2 Hong Kong

Now if an Air Asia flight isn't delayed, there's something wrong!  So of course I waited an extra hour and half to jump on the plane to Hong Kong.

The landing at the new Airport in Hong Kong is nothing compared to the hair raising squeak in by the breadth of a cat's whisker landing at Kai Tak,  leaving nail imprints in your armrest as you wish you hadn't seen that guy in undies winking at you from his balcony on the decent that brushed by apartments left and right.

I had an evening flight so all the lights were blazing as we landed. It was breath taking to see Hong Kong in all her glory at night, my heart was pounding and my eyes were tearing up, it has been a good 18 years since I'd been home.  The funny thing was, instead of that pungent sulphuric smell that makes you want to breathe through your mouth and then realise that wasn't helping and only a gas mask would, was not present.  I sniffed the air as we disembarked, ok a bit "beach at low tide" smelling but that was it.  Hail to  the efficiency of the air port staff, I was gob smacked, the immigration officers speaking really good English (no longer Enggerrish)  and being pleasant!!!!  Double check.. this is Hong Kong right?  yup, wowsa a lot has changed.

I was told to get an octopus card by friends still living there ( though they call it the octopussy.. go figure), as their public transport is still really good, the card allows you to travel by train, bus, ferry and pay for stuff.. loving it already and also a local sim card, no worries there, the telcos took my second phone, inserted the card , booted it up, and sent me off with a little smile, am I really in Hong Kong???  Hopped on a bus and tried to recognise the landscape...

As soon as my hosts arrived to get me from the bus station I grumbled I was hungry, knowing me so well, I was hustled to a 'dai pai dong' right quick for some won ton noodles.   Ahhh this was what I was waiting for!  Sleeping that night with a belly full of noodles and dumplings didn't dampen the excitement of what was to come tomorrow.

The next morning we were off to Stanley market.   Stanley  was a popular beach destination for us whilst in school and also for most residents of Hong Kong, it also had lanes of shops with "discounted" items ranging from handbags to table linen.  Annie my school chum and bestie from school had been in communication with me from the get go,  so we decided to take the bus up for old times sake , plus it was a good scenic way to go and both Annie and I could see where we lived on the way, nostalgia was hitting hard.

Annie and I on the Bus
Den, Annie's man had never been to Hong Kong before, heh heh I almost felt sorry for him, he had no idea what the bus ride would be like.  You see the road up is a windey, narrow strip that is bordered by trees, shrubs and a sloping hillside on one side, that would tap and flick it's branches at the bus's windows upstairs and a panoramic view on the other, with lets say a full on view of the landscape below (I will not say drop, it's a safe ride.. really).  As we kept going higher and the bus swung more violently around the corners, little hysterical giggles escaped from me as I watched Annie's man  white knuckle grip the handles of the seat.  Annie and I both grinned at each other, by the time we hit Repulse Bay, we were shouting out all the names of students and friends who had lived there and around the corner forgetting the other passengers in our glee.

The View of Turtle Bay/Stanley from the fancy Scmancy Shops
When we got off at the Stanley stop, we were a bit confused , what was this place?  This didn't seem like Stanley, it had an escalator going down and loads of fancy scmancy shops, where was the market, the beach.. Smugglers Inn ?  We decided to head down the escalators and hopefully would find our way to what we recognised.  After being told to turn left and keep going by a resident who figured out we weren't escapees of a loony bin but former residents ourselves, we hit the strip of where one of the oldest restaurants in Stanley used to be, the Boathouse!  And there was the smugglers Inn right next to it and a few more that we were not familiar with.  We decided to have lunch at the Boathouse and then walked around.

The Boathouse
The market was not the same anymore, you can't bargain like you used to, it's all 'fixed price",   suddenly Annie squealed "this is where I bought my purple Reebok's from!"  as we passed the sports shop, "and where I bought my cashmere jumpers".  I looked further down the lane and there was the linen shop that my mother used to buy all her table cloths from including the special Christmas ones, which I still have till today.  I kept my hands firmly in my pockets, I was NOT gong to shop! Ok I did a little bit, but nothing to break the bank with!

Going Bonkers in Honkers
We spent about an hour going in and out of the shops, trying to bargain just to see if we could get away with it using our rusty Cantonese, and then realised, we had to leave fast as we were all meeting up for drinks in Lan Kwai Fong.  This was the first night of the whole week of plans for our School Reunion get together.   We hopped on another bus to go back down to Central, skidded to a stop in causeway bay, Annie and Den grabbed the MTR as they were staying on the Kowloon side and I did a brisk walk back to Mark and Sylvie's apartment, with their four incredibly fat cats , I'll probably get shot for saying that but honestly 'Spice Girl' their ginger cat looked like a tug boat on paws!

After a quick debriefing from my hosts and specific instructions from Sylvie to which train or bus to take, I sauntered out into the balmy night to go meet the rest of my classmates, some of whom I've not seen since I left school, lets put it this way, it was many decades ago!  Gulping down my nervousness and excitement I was whizzed away into the night .  Lan Kwai Fong here I come!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

So What NOW? part 1

Ahhh this post has been a long time coming, you know , you say  "I'll do it next weekend, when I've more time to spare and in a better frame of mind', well guess what, it's not the weekend, I am in a better frame of mind and I'm no longer on air! WHY you ask, lemmie fill you in.

My partner Bel on the breakfast show, which is from 6 am to 10 am weekdays on CapitalFm, and I were sorting out our holidays, we have to schedule them so at least one of us is anchoring the show with whomever that fills in.  Bel's going before me as she's got "stuff" to do overseas, so after another intense show also due to the fact that we're still under sweeps, (sweeps are the surveys done to the radio stations to see how they are performing in all categories including against each other)  we trundle down to HR to fill out our leave application.   We bump into our Station Manager who's beginning to look like a Mexican jumping bean with all the meetings she's been hopping in and out of.

"Hey Ladies" she says, "we've got an emergency meeting this afternoon, please make sure you are there, no excuses".   Bel and I look at each other and groan, we were hoping to bugger off home right quick to decompress, both of us at the end of our tethers and ready to burn out from the grueling and intense schedule .  "Ok bawse, " I retort, " I hope it's good news".  She gives us a sheepish look and says " it's about the finances",  I give her a sharp  "I hope they arent' thinking of reducing the salaries, coz it's going to be mutiny on the bounty " .  She says " well you guys will find out at the meeting".

Forward to the meeting, we're all seated around the conference table, throwing remarks at each other, taking the mickey , it's a women's station, we can get down and dirty and no one takes offence, we're essentially sisters in the hood .  Our COO walks in and without much preamble says, "the board of directors had an emergency meeting last night and have decided to shut down the station, so as of 30th Sept, the station will run on automation"... clang goes my jaw on the table, Bel's lost it, everyone is stunned and the tears are glistening on a lot of the faces around me.  Well now, that just about gives us two weeks to pack up and go... charming.

We had worked public holidays,  worked ourselves to the bone to push the station forward to make it even more successful, worked without producers, proper budgets and publicity and now this.. whoaaa.  For those who didn't smoke or drink, this was one day when all that went out the window.

Our COO invited us all out  that evening, all the announcers drifted in eventually. Though it was a sombre night, we still managed to have a few laughs.  My COO or should I say former COO,  looks at me and says "Thanks Daph, for coming on board, and I truly appreciate all that you have done to turn the station around"  I said " I did it for you Kudsia, you inspired me to come back, you wanted to make it for women, by women and that was the hook, and I'm glad I took the time out to do so, it was quite the roller coaster ride!"  She looks at me and says "lets talk some more later ok"  sure, everyone wanted a bit of her time, she was making herself available to all the announcers to discuss what was on their mind.

For the next two and a half weeks, Bel and I had to pretend to our audience on air  all was ok, we had to ensure the show was still on point, to not slip up, it was  hard, we couldn't  tell our regular contributors why we were not having them on the show, we couldn't  accept any more invitations to interview, we were not really answering our company e mails, so when the final day came and we were given the green light to say farewell on air, it was a lump in your throat, eyes glazed with tears, trembly and wobbly lower lip emotional moment.  We had established so many regular callers, contributors, NGO's , amazing people who were pushing boundaries for women, enriching our lives as women.  Bel was leaving on the same day, and we clung to each other, "gonna miss you mate" we both said at the same time. We had created such a strong bond, I feel we'll always have that special connection.

I kept waking up at 5 am in the morning for the next few days after our final day on air,  freaking out I was late for work, only to realise I didn't have to wake up!  I sat around watching my kids, reading facebook posts, scrolling through twitter and prepping for my trip to Hong Kong.  I had  previously booked and sorted my vacation to my hometown of Hong Kong for my school reunion, on one hand I was really looking forward to it, and on the other obviously I was concerned as I was now out of a job.  I spoke to my mother that evening and she said "Go Daph, enjoy yourself, relax, be with those who know you and I'm sure you'll figure out what you're gong to do next"   I also spoke to my school chum Annie as we're still close and she said the same, my other bestie said "go bonkers in Honkers!" 

As the days got closer to the big reunion date in Hong Kong,  everyone started to post frantically on our reunion wall on Facebook, I forgot about the sting of being made redundant, .... well I told myself here's to the next adventure,  Hong Kong here I come!  (you'll have to read the next blog for that little nugget!)