A Premature Goodbye (August 17, 2007)

I said my first goodbyes this week when I had to roll-off my project very very unexpectedly. All this time I’ve been thinking about how difficult this is going to be. This time I felt it. And it hurt!
When you have worked with a group of people for ten straight months it’s not easy to just pack up your electric kettle and leave!

Thankfully the week went by very quickly. I had to transition out of my role, cancel hotel reservations, plan for my next project, make new hotel reservations, work on the transfer to Singapore, etc. etc.

It was a great experience both professionally and personally. I have formed some solid friendships and I take more than project management skills to Singapore. For example, I will always have Mcnally’s Laws.

Law #1 – You can never communicate too much
Law #2 – You can never communicate too much
Law #3 – You can never communicate too much
Law #4 – No surprises
Law #5 – Work-Life Balance is the gift you give yourself
Law #6 – Pay me now, or pay me later
Law #7 – Collect fingerprints
Law #8 – It’s not about control, it’s about influence

The laws were created by my friend and colleague Tom. They are absolutely critical for project management and are pretty applicable in life as well. Here’s to McNally! I will drink a pint of ale for your health and continuing wisdom.

The Furniture Saga Continues

Milind finally conceded that buying furniture in NYC and shipping it along with all our other stuff was a better idea than trying to buy furniture locally. I didn’t exclaim ‘I told you so!’ at that moment. So here it is – I TOLD YOU SO!

Anyway, I set about looking through my 20,000 Crate and Barrel catalogues and found a bedroom set and a sofa. I then called CB to ask for an international delivery quote. It took them about 48 hours to get back to me with this:

Merchandise: Ellis Queen Bed, Ellis Dresser, 2 Ellis Nightstands and a Rochelle Sofa

To ship the order to Singapore will cost:
$883.21 USD via Freight Forwarder to Port only.
Please add $1,088.00 USD for Import Documentation, Customs Clearance and Door Curbside Delivery.
Please add $365.00 USD for Inside Delivery.
The quote is for shipping only and does not include the cost of the merchandise, nor any tax and duty the order may incur.
Tax and duty fees are the customers’ responsibility, and are to be paid when the order arrives into port.
The transit time is approximately two weeks after leaving Crate&Barrel, baring no hold up in customs.
The order is insured and traceable

That’s a total of $2336.21 not including tax and duties and of course the cost of the furniture! I guess there is going to be a lot more furniture shopping when I move to S’pore!

Flavors of S’pore

Can’t help being a foodie even if I’m a vegetarian in carnivore heaven. Here are some of my experiments with S’pore food:

Rojak
Can’t say I loved it though it was an interesting mix of textures – crunchy cucumber, soft pineapple, chewy fried tofu and sprouts.

Laksa
Loved the yellow curry vegetable laksa at Thai Express! Noodles, veggies and tofu in a yummy yellow curry that is neither too spicy nor too sweet. And definitely lighter than the curries in the U.S. This could be good replacement for our Saturday afternoon lunches at Land Thai on Amsterdam Avenue.

Ice cream
Folks here can certainly appreciate good ice cream. In addition to the American staples Ben & Jerry and Haagen Daz, the Danes, Aussies, Kiwis and Japanese have set up gelato/ice cream/frozen yogurt shops. The ice cream was lighter, less sweet and flavors were mostly fruit-based. I sampled black sesame, green tea, green tea and red bean, cherry, pistachio, mango and durian flavors.

Coffee, Coffee O and Coffee C at Ya Kyun Kaya Toast
Coffee – black
Coffee O – with condensed milk
Coffee C – with skim milk

O is the way to go! And it tastes even better with Kaya Toast – two thin slices of well-toasted bread, a generous amount of butter and a thin layer of Kaya (a spread made from coconut, sugar, eggs and flavored with pandan leaf). Strangely enough, the first time I sampled the pandan leaf flavor was in a Thai restaurant in a small suburb of Philadelphia. Yeah, I travel far and wide but I always find Thai food.

Thos SB Raffles Chocolate
Named after the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, this beautiful store at the Raffles Hotel is a gourmet’s paradise. They have food and wine from 33 different places across 6 continents! We tried the truffles – Schezuan Pepper (didn’t taste the heat at all), Coconut (nice combo), Kaya (my favorite new flavor) and Raspberry (have had better). Nice store but Leonidas Pralines still rule.

Calamansi Juice (Nimbu Pani S’pore Style)
This is basically a Key Lime juice served with a small piece of jaggery. Very refreshing after a day’s furniture shopping. I think it will make a good mixer. Very refreshing.

Singapore Sling
I actually bought a poster that says “Where else should one partake of a Singapore Sling but at Raffles Hotel?” The cocktail was invented in Raffles’ Long Bar in 1915 and today more than 2000 of them are made daily. They even sell a mix in the gift shop! We sampled our Singapore Slings in the Writer’s Bar which used be a watering hole for Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling.

Conclusions:
S’pore has some excellent dining and it’s getting better everyday. Options range from street-food to upscale fine dining.
There is hope for vegetarians. Though I will turn a blind eye to shrimp paste and fish sauce.
Desserts and Italian food are no problem. Though pizza needs some working.
Ingredients for a variety of cuisines (like taco shells and seasoning, tahini, greek yogurt, etc.) are readily available.

The Power of LVMH

Check out the line outside the LV store at the Takashimaya department store! It seems LV limits the number of people inside the store so that they can provide a consistent and high quality of service. Is this an only-in-Singapore moment? I’ve never seen lines outside the LV store on Fifth Ave! But then again its a massive 3-storey store.