Thursday, 6 December 2018

Traumatic Child Birth Experience: Part 2

My super cute nephew turns 1 and it also marks a year since the fiasco over my blog concerning my sister's traumatic birth experience. Just this morning, the memory of her with bloody lips crossed my mind and my heart writhed in pain.

I had taken down that post since it caused too much of stress although that is the only post that had over 15k views! I wrote a sequel but I never posted it so I thought I should do it now. I have learned a lot over the year, about myself and the others around me. My husband till today is my strongest supporter with regards to this matter. The reason I thought I should post it now is beacuse although the first part caused so much of stress and pain and hurt, the second write up reflected my bravery in standing up to what I believed in. I just didn't post it as I didn't want to ruffle some feathers.So here goes...

What is more exciting than Christmas which is around the corner? A sequel to my drama, of course. As any sequels go, it could be better or even worse than the first part. So take out the popcorns and let’s find out.

For those who read my previous post about my sister’s ordeal may think that I have an army behind me rallying for justice now. YOU ARE WRONG! I don’t deny there were some who were sympathetic and empathetic but mostly were taking the whole story, which in my defence was a personal rant not an official complaint to the Ministry of Health, out of context and that made me view them as pathetic. But then again, everyone has a right to their opinion.

I was called a delusional, whiny, a writer of a story with so many inconsistencies and loop holes and my personal favourite ‘A-disgrace-to-the-non-muslims’(wow that’s rich) As family and friends began to share my story, more people began to read it and more people began to comment, more bad than good comments, I must add. It was mind boggling. Again, everyone has a right to their opinion.

At a platform, someone mentioned that it would have been better to communicate with the people concerned e.g HOD or Hospital Director and my good friend replied ‘I disagree. This issue concerns the public. And the public should know what’s going on in government hospitals that are supposed to serve the general community, which is made up of mostly middle class and working class folks’ Harsh? Maybe to some but think about it. If I had lodged a complaint at the hospital, I would have been informed that it was standard protocol and the hospital was merely following its policy. Because I came across a platform where many readers who you can guess are medical professionals commented that the whole process was on point and there was no sign of medical mismanagement. They would have apologized, of course. But if you take a minute and read my write up again, I neither mentioned the hospital, my sister’s details nor the medical personnel’s details. Why? I was not seeking for an apology, compensation or a damage control exercise, I just wanted to share my experience. 

I was accused of being crude in my write up, having distorted expectations and adding spices to my story. Again, it was a personal rant not an official complaint hence the flow of language will be different plus it is my blog la, why tell me how to write it? I was not seeking for fame (trust me, don’t even have an ounce of it). My write up became somewhat viral and reached the authorities and ruffled their feathers and that I must stress was beyond my control.

So what was my objective of the write up? I was just unhappy with the system and processes that are in place and I was hoping we could make a difference. And if a small group of readers who has read my write up began to reassess their birth plans based on reading my experience, I would be happy. Some of the comments were along these lines:
‘If you wanted to be treated like a Queen, you should go to the private hospital’
‘You pay peanuts. What do you expect?’

And another reader retorted ‘Does that mean you need to have money for a respectful birth care?!’ That hit me hard and got me thinking. We are in an era where everything is accessible with a touch of a button all for the sake of comfort and convenience but why are we still in the dark ages when it comes to having our babies in a calm and serene manner? Why do we need to spend so much of money in Private Hospitals when Government Hospitals are teeming with highly experienced and incredibly skilled medical personnel? What actually puts us off? In my opinion, (again it is my PERSONAL opinion) It’s the lack of humanizing services which stems from interpersonal skills that DO NOT need funding to cultivate. Change begins within you. If you choose to be more proactive, to be an effective communicator and take the effort to practice the values that define your work place, why would a patient have distorted expectations? I was informed that our country’s maternal and fetal health care is better than in the UK. That’s awesome news but don’t you see that there are still many areas to improve in?

I am not championing Private Hospitals. A reader commented that ‘government hospitals value lives, private hospitals value money’. Where is that coming from la? Both hospitals have experienced medical personnel with a wealth of knowledge and both have its pros and cons. I was asked why my sister opted to do VBAC at a government hospital. My question back was ‘Why not?’ She did her research and chose the government hospital. She understood the availability of facilities and services yet she underwent an unfortunate ordeal. To blame us for not doing enough research before deciding where to go was an unfair statement. She was a victim of miscommunication in terms of pain management plan and having her husband with her. And that is what I am championing, an effective communication process from all channels. I have friends and family members who had wonderful experience having their babies in the government hospitals and also some who had bad experience in private hospitals. So there are pros and cons in everything.

While Australia is celebrating for the legalization of same sex marriages and Pink is promoting genderless parenting, this unknown Malaysian is only championing for a calm and respectful birth care. Childbirth is a humbling experience. A child is made by two persons so shouldn’t that two persons be involved in its birth as well? A proper pain management plan is an added bonus. Of course a father may not want to be with the mother during birth for various reasons and a mother may want to deliver her baby without any drugs (I kow-tow to you, woman). The bottom line is, they should decide this birth plan and it has to be aligned with the hospital policy of which needs to be updated to them at primary healthcare level. When a mother goes through a positive child birth experience, the subsequent journey is guaranteed to be a smooth one which is good for the family’s wellbeing.  All this should be achieved without having to spend so much of money. I understand the constraints some hospitals face in terms of facilities in accommodating the husband in the labour room and the process involved in pain management plan. But please find a way to let the public know. Educate expectant mothers on what should they expect when they step into a hospital to deliver their babies so they can make sound decisions.

A wise woman said, ‘You can’t beat the system’ I asked back ‘Why not?’ The answer was it’s the way things are. Are they? Gandhi said ‘Be the Change You Want to See’ so expectant parents, if you are not getting what you want, if your expectations are not being met and you are just not happy with the system, step up and be proactive. Work harder in getting the right answers.  Have all the details of the available services and facilities to be mentally prepared. Share it with other family and friends as sharing is caring. My sister thought she did but it was not enough. 

Likewise, the medical fraternity should take this as a constructive feedback. Someone said I have to be in the system to understand what is going on but wouldn’t you get more sound suggestion by someone who is looking in from the outside? I understand now that different hospitals have different policies but how about conducting a study on best case practices among the GHs in Malaysia or other hospitals in Southeast Asia. Simple and inexpensive methods like putting up a board with patients’ updates and getting the nurses to update the family on hourly basis without being asked go a long way. You may be doing it already or about to embark to. I wouldn’t know. What I have personally gained from this fiasco is I have learned a lot about how the system works. But what about the next unassuming person? How do we educate the rest so we don’t have grievances aired in the open? The answer is so simple; Effective Communication Skill. My former boss always says ‘Knowledge is Power’ and that is what I believe in too. We have to empower more people with the knowledge. And this is my aspiration; one should not spend extra money to have a comfortable birth care.

So that was the main intention of my write up earlier, to highlight was is lacking. I am not going to apologize for the way I wrote it and also where I shared it. It’s my prerogative. I am fully accountable to what I do. But what I want to reiterate is I didn’t mean to hurt people or any organizations with my write up. Sometimes when you see something unfavourable on social media, take a step back and read it from a different angle. ONLY VERY FEW people understood it was a frustration of a sister over her sister’s ordeal and I am thankful for their emotional support. Just this morning, I received a call from a friend who is a doctor who actually thanked me for the feedback. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel for me like finally someone sees it!

There, I have done my part. I not only ranted, I gave some sound suggestions too. Now I am going to sit back and mentally drink some chilled Somersby beers after all the drama as I was asked to ‘Chill la’ when I shared some unbelievable remarks from the readers with my family members.
Have a nice day

Again, this is my personal blog so I write whatever I want and how ever I like and I am so darn proud of my write up :)

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

My favourite Love Story

On the 28th of October would have been my late Father in Law's 77th birthday. He has been gone for a little over two years and his presence is sorely missed. Just the other day, I thought about the write up I did for his memorial book and I thought it would be nice to share it with my readers. Entitled, A Love Story, it always tears me up when I read it.

I once asked ‘I wonder how would anyone subject themselves to arranged marriages?! To marry a stranger and be with his/her family?!’ An advocate of love marriages, Suren and I dated for 6 years before we got married in 2013 and during those years, I was already fraternizing with the family to ‘ease’ my way into the Indrans’ household.

My perception changed when I started to get to know my parents in law, a successful alliance which was a product of arranged marriage. Both hardly knew each other prior to the wedding but the fact that Uncle Indran was Uncle Kuna’s (Aunty Archee’s older brother) good friend contributed to the strong recommendation that sealed the proposal.

Although they started off their relationship as strangers, they grew closer over the years and remained very much in love till Uncle Indran’s last days. The flamboyant and charming Indran was a perfect match to the sweet and endearing Archee.

Many who know this couple would perceive Uncle Indran as the dominant one in the relationship but the truth is although Uncle Indran was the head of the family, Aunty Archee was the neck that moved the head. Uncle Indran used to joke that he may be a Major but he always thought that he was the General and Aunty was the Major simply because he made all the general decisions in their lives and she did the major ones.

As long as I can remember, these two were inseparable. Uncle Indran only eats if Aunty Archee serves him and they ALWAYS ate together be it at home or at a party. At any functions, when Uncle Indran will be holding court, Aunty Archee can be seen giggling softly right next to him.
Uncle was always teasing her and she will slap his thigh playfully in return. I have often caught them sitting right next to each other in their own thoughts but looking blissfully happy. There was never a day, Uncle would not call  ‘Archee!’ out loud simply because he needs to have her by his side which she happily obliges.

                                                   Uncle Indran & Aunty Archee in the late 70's

Aunty Archee loves flowers and he made sure he gets them for her whenever he can. Aunty once told me that while they were travelling from Penang to Johor, he had stopped his car to pick some wild flowers for her. How romantic is that?! Unlike most men, Uncle Indran remembered important dates such as their registration day and wedding day and was the one who reminded her.

Although uncle was unwell and aunty took care of him, he was always watching out for her too. Ensuring she had enough rest and food, uncle enjoys nagging her and she basked in his concerns with her usual smiles. They were truly made for each other.

Suren told me that he had never seen his parents argue in front of him and his siblings. All disagreements were deliberated in private between them. Uncle Indran valued aunty’s opinions and this proved to be pivotal in the success of their marriage.

They were each other’s strongest cheerleader. Uncle Indran’s illustrious life was made possible with the love and support he derived from Aunty Archee. She was a contented woman because he encouraged her to pursue her interests. The dedication towards their relationship and the devotion they shared towards each other provided the basis of a happy home for their children.

                                                                  Match made in Heaven

My most treasured moments with Uncle Indran were meal times when he would be regaling me with stories of his army life. Sometimes he would slip tips on how to sustain a happy and harmonious married life. He emphasized on being each other’s pillar of strength and whenever something is ‘broken’, fix it not throw it. Be it a love or arranged marriage, when you apply this in your relationship with your spouse, a happy married life is guaranteed.

For the last few months, when uncle was at the hospital, she was by his side 24/7. Uncle himself had to reassure her that he was fine for her to go out for a while to get some fresh air. When he had to be in the ICU and she could not stay with him, she reluctantly followed us home only after Suren promised her that he would bring her back to the hospital early next morning. When uncle’s situation worsened, she put on a brave front as not to worry him but Uncle Indran was well aware of his situation but acted as though he did not know anything as not to worry her. This simple act of sparing each other’s feelings in my opinion is an act of true love.

When uncle slipped into unconsciousness and was being wheeled into the ICU, she clung to him and said ‘Darling’ repeatedly as tears coursed down her cheeks. When they told her that they needed to rush, she added ever so softly ‘I love you’ as she stroked his hair. That was when my vision was blurred by my own tears. It was too much to bear.

The family kept vigil at the waiting lounge that day but the hospital was kind enough to let Aunty Archee be by his side. At that point, his blood pressure was dropping steadily. I went in to see Uncle Indran before I went home. My heart ached when I saw Aunty Archee lying on his shoulder and gently stroking his arm, only stopping to give him small kisses on his hand. As much as I wanted uncle to be released from the pain he was suffering from, I wanted him to hold on a little longer for her to come to terms that her one and only love was going away. Eventually, he held on and was even responding by moving his head and arm whenever anyone spoke to him. That small window of miracle gave us chance to say our good byes and when he breathed his last, Aunty Archee said ‘Go in peace, darling’ That scene will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.

To lose your husband who is your best friend, your lover and confidant is definitely one of the hardest things a woman has to go through. The depth of love they have for each other is immeasurable and those who know them have nothing but deep admiration for them on the commitment they both share.
Young ladies have always wanted to marry a man like Lord Rama who was believed to love one woman only, Sita and was devoted to her but I am convinced Uncle Indran was more than Lord Rama to Aunty Archee just as she was more than Sita for Uncle Indran. This is the kind of love story that warms your heart and makes you believe in soul mates and true love.

Although Uncle Indran is no longer with us, we would just need to summon a fond memory of him to relive the happy moments and I am convinced Aunty Archee has a lifetime of loving and fond memories of her darling to sustain her.

Uncle, your love story is inspiring, it will be a tough act to follow.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Being a Woman

It has actually been 4 months since I blogged. Which is not good as I told myself to blog consistently but life got into the way and promises are meant to be broken. I know, excuses, excuses.

But I have been getting my fair share of writing done in other platforms so I wouldn't exactly say that I have been out of touch.

What would like I to comment today? Well, my son turns 9 months old today and he has been in Melaka with his grandma for a few days. As much I miss his gummy smiles, I am enjoying my uninterrupted sleep. Something mothers of young children could relate to. Having adequate sleep has helped me to be more efficient in dealing with the myriad of things I do on daily basis and I feel so productive. But then again, I do miss him a lot. He is my happy pill.

I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of inspiring ladies at Coca Cola Bottlers (M) Sdn Bhd last Friday in an initiative mooted by TalentCorp for their Career Comeback Programme. The ladies were inspiring. I could just listen or talk to them all day long. It is evident from what was shared that they are able to climb the corporate ladder because of the support system they have. I often worry about the children when I have meetings or events as we do not have a helper at home and we rely on the babysitter. She is incredibly nice. Nice to the extend that she stitched a skirt from her old curtain when Pebbles peed in her pants and had nothing to wear for the bottom. My sister commented that it was very like Scarlett O'Hara.

But yeah, she is nice and adores the kids but she is also elderly and it is unfair for us to leave the kids with her till really late. So that is always my concern. But that interaction I had or rather the 15 of us had with these ladies opened up my eyes on the possibility of doing work or even pursuing my dreams inspite of my children. Having children should not be an obstacle. Instead it should encourage you to be a better woman.

But it is not easy. Many a times I have rocked Baba (That's my son's nickname by the way) on my lap while I navigated slides on the laptop for clients. Personally, I don't think it is professional but thankfully client was an understanding person and that was when the babysitter was not free so I had no choice.

On a serious note, it would be wonderful if the kids can be taken care of from 9am to 6pm while I get some productive work done. Since I am an entrepreneur, timing is not fixed therefore I sincerely believe I would thrive in a different environment hence me looking out for a full time job.

That task alone has posed so much of problems for me. Back in June when I decided to go back to the corporate world, I naturally sought out my former employers but there were no encouraging feedback. Although I felt dejected I soldiered on but it is not easy. Nobody wants to hire a woman who has been out of the corporate world for 3 years although she has tried to stay relevant by doing freelance work. Nobody! Zilch! it is very upsetting. To date, I have sent out so many copies of my resume. Spoken to many people. Met strangers to obtain advice on 'how to massage my resume' to appear more marketable. So yeah, it has been frustrating but I try to be positive by telling myself that everything happens for a reason and that I am learning something from this whole experience. What exactly? that I am not sure yet :P

Many times I have told myself that I should not have quit my job but I wouldn't trade the 3 years I am out of the Corporate World for anything else as I have learned a lot. The experience opened up new vistas for me. Although I did not gain any monetary value but I gained many more friends and learnings from the interactions I had from them. And I learned a lot more about myself. About the kind of person I am and the kind of person I want to be.

So if you ask me if it is difficult being a woman in this Era, I would say Hell Yeah! But I would also say 'So What?' all these difficulities are only going to toughen us up and isn't that a good thing? So stop lamenting and start living. I am a daughter, I am a wife, I am a Mother and most importantly I am a Woman and I am so darn proud of being one. It is a badge I would wear with pride.

Who run the world? Girls! 

Monday, 18 June 2018

How to help your depressed friend or family

The recent suicides due to depression by Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain brought a flood of posts on social media on mental health awareness. Some friends even shared their own stories and it struck me what a conniving disease this is because depression has no specific characteristics. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain did not exhibit any tell-tale signs prior to their suicide. They apparently appeared normal so this got me thinking, how does one tell if the other is having depression if you are not informed. The answer is YOU CAN’T! And that freaks me out.

I was thinking hard on how to help those who are depressed or think that they are depressed and I have come up with a list of suggestions which are no way fool proof so feel free to comment.

1. Listen, listen, listen
When someone opens up to you about the problems they are facing, always be present and listen them out first. Do not even attempt to formulate your ‘Dear Thelma’ replies. Just listen with an open heart. Don’t form judgement in your head and heart when they are pouring out to you. Most of the time, they just want someone to vent their frustration to.

2. Be empathetic
People who are depressed have issues that bog them down; issues you think are insignificant but are VERY significant to them. Your friend might say that she hates her skin because of the huge acne problem but you think it is not a biggie. Instead of saying ‘Seriously?!’ say phrases like ‘Oh dear’, ‘Poor you’ ‘I hope it goes away soon’ etc. Okay, you may think you are molly coddling them but it actually makes them feel better because it shows you are putting yourself in their shoes which being empathetic is all about. And of course when you are saying all that, mean it!

3. Be Kind
A depressed person has their mind wrapped in a fog when they are feeling down. They might be aware of the solutions to their problems but they are unable to act upon it. Never ever say ‘Snap out of it’ because they simply can’t and it is a very unkind thing to say. Instead, you can learn to phrase your feedback constructively. For example, a friend is complaining she is fat and unfit. You know she hates to exercise. Instead of telling her to do it (of which she is aware of) you can suggest simple things like going for walks with her or send links to some easy exercises that you had done and she can do too. Subtle messages and actions yield greater results.

4. Always check on them
If you realise that they have been quiet in your common WhatsApp group(s), instead of presuming what had happened, just send a message to check on them. A simple 'Hello' or 'Whats Up' would suffice. It shows that we care and we should because we are friends for a reason in the first place.

5. Be aware of their activities
If you are hooked on the social media like me, take the extra effort to be vigilant on their posts instead of blindly ‘Liking’ or ‘Sharing’. This is where use ‘Social Media responsibly’ takes effect. I read somewhere that Facebook has instilled some sort of detector that detects words such as depression and suicides in its bid to help the community. So instead of using robot to do it, let’s be more caring towards the people who mean to us by looking out for them. If their posts appear melancholic such as ‘the time is dragging by and I can’t seem to get off my bed’ or ‘I wish I wasn’t born’ etc, check on them right away, don’t dally. A friend of mine mentioned that her schoolmate was trying to reach out to her and the others, often asking them to meet up but everyone was too busy for her. She ended up committing suicide due to depression. Till today, my friend regrets not heeding the warning that was right in front of her.

I understand everyone has their own lives and we are so swamped with our own problems. But nothing beats being there for your family and friends. Time spent with them will never come back so be kind and be present. Just do your best.

Image from Google

Sunday, 10 June 2018

June 5

I am a person who remembers milestones so June 5 is an interesting date for me because:

1. June 5, 2015
I quit my corporate job. A wide eyed young mother who was determined to take care of her baby and assist her husband in his entrepreneurial endeavour.

2. June 5, 2016
I was the team manager for a cricket team who emerged as the runners up on the corporate league

3. June 5, 2017
Found out I was pregnant for the second time. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled because I had so many plans in store for work with hubby. It wasn't a smooth pregnancy. I was often sick and in extremely bad mood. It's a miracle my son is a happy baby who readily gives heart melting gummy smiles

4. June 5, 2018
I am at home with two kids, house is filthy and I haven't done any proper work since January 16. In short, I am MISERABLE

It has dawned upon me (rather belatedly and while deflating my ego enormously) I am not cut out to be a SAHM or a WAHM. I don't have the dedication, commitment and consistency to do either. Admitting to defeat sucks big time but it is time to face the reality.

I crave for my own desk and PC. For colleagues and deadlines. For boring meetings and fussy bosses. I miss them all. The 3 year career break I had taken has made me realise that I thrive in an office environment with a steady pay check. I am not an effective leader but an extremely good follower.

I am turning the grand old 37 in 4 days time and I have decided to hunt for a job. A job that is fulfilling. It may not be the best but I aspire to be a good employee. My kids? They will be fine. They are hardy unlike me so wish me luck!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Malaysian Fiesta: Eat your way to Charity

Federation of Malaysian Sri Lankan Organisations (FOMSO) is starting the year with a bang by organizing a much awaited carnival filled with much fun and grandeur to raise funds to support their endeavours that are to create welfare, cultural, social & education programmes for the community and society, both Nationally and Internationally.

Aptly called the Malaysian Fiesta, the fun filled carnival will take place on February 4, 2018 from 9am to 7pm at the Malaysian Ceylonese National Community Centre (MCNCC) in Petaling Jaya. The objective of the carnival is to celebrate the unity and togetherness among FOMSO affiliates, the community and all Malaysians at large. The Ceylonese community has been in Malaysia for more than 150 years and unity in diversity is a strong value they believe in. In short, this carnival will be all about celebrating unity for charity amidst food galore infused with fun elements.

A perfect way to spend the precious time with your loved ones on a Sunday while you are treated to the Malaysian gastronomic delights and getting entertained by melodious music. Bring out the inner child and fun in you while you try a hand at the various interactive games that are lined up to showcase the competitive side of you such as the Bingo, Darts, Caroms, Loop The Bottle, Hit The Tins, Fishing, Helium Balloons For Sale, Tele Match, Kicking The Ball, Lighting The Candle and Beer Pong. To cater to the millennial’s idea of interactive games, Virtual Reality games will also be part of the carnival.

If you are feeling particularly lucky, you may also stand a chance to win a pool of prize worth RM 5000 when you join the lucky draw. You may be the person to win the coveted 2 Day 1 Night stay at Glory Beach Resort, Port Dickson.

Look forward to the perfect Sunday with your loved ones by first clearing your schedule on February 4, 2018 and next contacting the following personnel for your coupons or if you wish to forward sponsorship in cash and kind as well as if you have further inquiries:

Mr.Suren: 017 505 0692, Mdm. Sarojini: 017 264 3075 or Mr.Logarajah: 012 609 3006

Your presence and participation at the Malaysian Fiesta will contribute to the noble causes FOMSO has lined up for the year. Be there to make a difference.

See you at the Malaysian Fiesta!

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Monday, 10 April 2017

The Matchans

I spent 7 nights and 8 days with 25 men. Sounds so wrong, right? 😀 But that was what I did with my husband. We were privileged to organize a reunion for these men. Most of them last saw each other in 1979 (the final year of school) before they went separate ways. And oh yeah, they are 55 years old.

These men came from the UK, Canada, the US and Australia. One came from Hong Kong and the other from Japan! So Malaysia was chosen as it was central and cheap (thanks currency!)

My husband has had experience organizing these kinds of reunions but it was the first for me. First off, unlike typical men, these guys were very active sending e-mails back and forth. Many queries and ideas were flying months before the reunion took place. As they day grew closer for them to meet each other, the excitement was paramount and old nick names started surfacing much to my delight (who had to reply all the emails!)

The trip was KL-Penang-KL so on the first night of meeting them in person, we decided to meet at the hotel lounge and do some ice breaking over some drinks. I got a little cheeky by sending them pictures of Kajol and Ryan Reynolds, telling them that is how my husband and I look. They were thoroughly disappointed. Poor fellas. So anyway, I was expecting to see a bunch of serious guys who will be preaching about how difficult life was for them and so on and so forth, the usual speech you would get from an older relative but lo and behold, I was in for a total different experience.

That is me reassuring them that I would not get in their way

These was what I learned from them.

1. Age is just a number
They were 55 years old and they acted like 18 year olds. A bundle of energy and never once complained of being tired. Kek Lok Si temple in Penang finally made them surrender...hehehe

2. It is always good to hang out with pals
In their case, it was more than 35 years overdue so they had a lot of catching up to do. It was heartwarming to see them recalling their memories of growing up together. They solemnly swore they would meet up more often. So it is always good to take a time out from parenthood to hang out with pals who know you best.

3. They adore their wives.
As much as how often men would complain about their wives, these men missed their better halves and made sure they bought them enough souvenirs to keep them happy (and also, I believe to avoid being nagged at). Some of them have made the first trip solo and missed their wives terribly but the others were quick to make them forget their sadness by indulging in jokes and banter. Code name for wives were handbags. I hid mine.

4. Persistence goes a long way
The nosy me asked them a lot of questions. Basically about being a young adult in a country that was going through a civil war at that time. Many of them came to the foreign land without anything and family support yet they worked hard and are doing very well now. Not a trace of bitterness was detected when they recalled their struggles to make a mark in those early days. That somehow strengthen their character.

5. Canada is the best country
During the gala dinner, one guy sang the Canadian anthem. Later that night, I made a remark about how patriotic the Canadians were to which he replied that Canada is a country that opens its arms wholeheartedly to those who wish to live there. Life is great in Canada, in short hence Canadians are proud of who they are. Now I am thinking of moving to Canada plus their prime minister is HOT!

6. One could get good education in Cuba and Nigeria
It is funny how our thinking is only aligned to the best education in the world which often includes Europe and the US and never anywhere else. Yet, one guy studied dentistry in Cuba and is now a renowned dentist in Canada and the other guy finished high school in Nigeria and now works in a bank in Australia. Here's hoping the education in Malaysia will be recognised world wide. Fat chance!

7. There is a lot more to wine that what we know.
The older the wine the better it tastes is apparently not true. Many factors like when was the grapes harvest, the temperature the grapes were grown in and other mind boggling facts are actually weighed by the wine connoisseur (one of them is) before it is consumed. I suppose I will just stick with Vodka :)

We don't have vineyard in Malaysia but we have the second best thing called the Toddy Plantation

8. Music unites people of different backgrounds
These guys can sing! I had a crash course on 60's and 70's tamil classic throughout the trip. One will just break into a song and the others will follow suit. My plan of catching up on sleep while on the way to and back from Penang was squashed because of this. But now I find myself humming to the tunes :)

9. Competitiveness
The boys, I call them that because they were just that a bunch of boys who couldn't keep still! were very competitive. They were divided into 4 teams and given names of the houses that they had in their college. A series of activities were outlined for them to participate in. I was served with a petition for not awarding a team with points. It was a signed petition.

10. Photos as memories
Two men from the group brought old pictures and autographs that were shared during the gala dinner and it elicited much laughter from the group as they had fun reminiscing good old days. It reminded me on how important is it to ensure we store memories like photographs and memorabilia of the past keep us grounded.
Memories from yesteryear

11. Commitment
The plan to have the reunion took them up to a year to plan and execute. They ensured they were committed in making sure they attend this reunion. They planned their work and family commitments as effectively as they could. Some of them also spent some time working every day. One of them was nicknamed  Wifi because he was constantly looking for Wifi connection :P One particular guy flew in from Japan for a two day visit just to catch up with his buddies. It was indeed a sweet reunion

Being an entrepreneur allows me to learn so much and the opportunity to meet new people constantly has somehow widen my horizon. My learning curve is still very curvy whatever that means but I am looking new things on daily basis and for that I am blessed.