Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Whenever I work from our Malaysia office, I feel like I’m part of a large extended family ruled by a matriarch, otherwise known as the Motherhen. The family is loud, noisy and it doesn't matter what position you hold in the company – as long as you are part of the coop, you cluck and get clucked around the same way as everyone els

This is us going for group lunch.

Motherhen: Okay, everyone ready or not?
Secretary: Wait, Mr. Tan not here yet.
Manager: Sales team meeting us there. They ask us to order first but Kelvin said he is vegetarian today so must have vegetables for him.
Motherhen:  Who else vegetarian? Is Laura joining us or she went gym?
Mr. Tan: I’m here!
HR: Laura got meeting. She asks us to tapao for her.
Motherhen: Mr Tan, please go toilet first before we go otherwise you kap liu later. Who else needs to go toilet? Faster go now.
Frou: I need to go toilet also!

You would think it’s just informal gathering that we speak like that…..

(Strategy meeting with external consultant – also Malaysian)
Frou: Okay, given the situation, why don’t we go back and seek an extension?
Motherhen: Yam gong! Yao mou gao chor ar? Last month we already ask and now you want me to crawl back to them? You think I can lay golden eggs for them ar?
Consultant: Ya wor, if you ask them again, they will ask you to go fly kite to Kelantan. I think we better buat bodoh and just do it.
Motherhen: Ok, we hantam first then see how.

And when we have to report upwards….

Motherhen: The situation is such that it is unlikely we can get further third party co-operation so after much consideration, the team is proposing to assume associated risks and proceed with the original timeline.
President: Frou, is that your understanding of the conclusion too?
Frou: Erm… yah.

All the China Ladies, all the China ladies... Oh uh Oh..

I'm still trying to get the new Cheerful China lady at McCafe to remember my (daily) order. The previous Chillax Malay Dude (and before that, the Indian lady from JB) could, and when they see me approaching from far away every morning, they would already start making my drink so when I get to the counter, I just have to pick it up. Cheerful China Lady has served me for at least 2 weeks now, but she hasn't gotten into the rhythm yet. She is still asking me today whether I'm having the drink here or to go.

There must be something I can do to speed this up. Maybe I need to make a deeper impression on her. For Chillax Malay Dude, I didn’t need to do anything because he is the hip-hop “bro, whassup” type and was naturally chummy with all regulars so we bonded quickly. As for the Indian Lady from JB, she only really became chummy with me when I brought up the fact that I’m from JB too. I have NO idea why and how the topic of JB even came up.

So I guess I need to find something in common with Cheerful China Lady. Should I start ordering coffee in (my bad) Mandarin? How do you say skinny flat white in Chinese? Is it “shou bien bai”? No, that sounds wrong – but I’m sure it will be memorable.

Anyway, I’ll work on that. Speaking of China ladies, I met a cashier this morning whom I thought was quite superb. I was trying to pay for petrol at Esso station and she ABSOLUTELY REFUSES to let me pay full price. She asked me what cards I have and she went through with me the entire content of my wallet to check if I have any credit card that qualifies me for a discount. When we discovered none, she insisted I sign up for the Esso Smile card. I told her I’m rushing for time (I’m an hour late for work and my entire wallet content is on the counter), she immediately whipped up a card out of nowhere and start punching in the 5% discount, telling me I can fill up the form another time and that she hate to see me “lose out”. In that 10 seconds while she was processing my payment, she starts shooting off to me all the products by the counter that were on discount – bird’s nest, chicken essence, chocolates, gums, etc. When I say I don't eat these sorts of things, she went on to vouchers, magazines, etc. etc. By the time I left the counter, I was INFORMATION OVERLOAD – and mind you, everything was conducted in CHINESE. My poor head. That said, I work for a retail company so I do really appreciate a good service staff when I see one.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Ungreen Thumbs

Someone finally had enough and chopped off a dying stem from my money plant on my desk

It wasn’t dying, lah. I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that it is just sleeping – despite the yellowing leaves and strange large black spots. I'm sure it will heal itself but no, some kaypohchee has to come along and snip it off without asking my permission.

Frou: (shouting to no one in particular) OI! WHO CUT MY PLANT??
Admin: (also a kaypohchee) What? What happened?
Frou: Why is my plant botak? Who cut off a stem?
Admin: The one that is dying?
Frou: Excuse me, nothing is dying here.
Admin: Probably the pantry auntie. Aiya, shuan le ba. Whoever did it was doing you a favor.

Except it’s a favor I didn’t ask for! Anyway, I’m a bit upset because I inherited this money plant from an ex-colleague.  It was a beautiful plant grown in water (not soil) and she swore to me it needs NO maintenance except daily change of water. That’s high maintenance, no? I remembered bargaining with her whether I can change it once every 2 days instead. She said probably not a good idea. Since under my care, the water is changed – erm – once a week IF I can remember. My excuse is that it’s not good to change too often because you waste all the nutrients (the sai) the plant gives out (??). Anyway, obviously, my theory is not working and someone in the office has an issue with yellowing leaves.

None of my other plants at home is doing too well either. I have already killed 2 rounds of house plants since I moved in. I said “rounds” because they seem to purposely die on me at the same time – a flora suicide if you will. It’s like they decided not to live under my care and hara-kiri themselves in protest. Actually come to think of it, there are some kaypohchees in my estate as well, who waters my plant without my permission. I see evidence of water spillage when I come home in the evenings. Also, someone left a stick next to my plants once – the kind you use to loosen the soil. What are they trying to tell me lah?

Anyway, I’m not giving up on being green thumbs. In my old age, when I live in a mansion with a huge garden with lush rolling greens, I will personally tend to my lot. And I will put up barbed fences all around to ward off all kaypohchees.

Kaypohchees (Hokkein) - People who cannot mind their own business
Botak (Malay) - Bald
Shuan le ba (Mandarin)Forget it/Let it go
Sai (Hokkein)- Excrement

Said money plant in question
My new terrarium - someone gave it to me and told me it's impossible to kill this (apparently)

Friday, June 20, 2014

If he can’t even pay attention to something in front of him, how can I expect him to pay me any attention?

The Man duly ignores me at home after work, and on weekends, because he is constantly on his laptop replying work emails. (Got so many emails meh?)

So, last Sunday, I sneaked up to his laptop while he was taking a bio break and saw that he was working on a drawing. I added a big text box next to the drawing that reads: “PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR WIFE”. I expected him to have a reaction after reading that, but he didn’t (stupid boy) and of course, I promptly forgot all about it.

Last night, The Man told me that his supplier has responded to one of his drawings by asking him to pay attention to his wife. He showed me the drawing with the text box still there.

Frou: Hmm, interesting.
Man: Isn't it? He's from China and usually never write in English.
Frou:Are you sure this came from your supplier?
Man: What do you mean?
Frou: How about you check the version you sent to him?
Man: What do you.....(checks his emails) OMG…….you mean I sent this to him??
Frou: YAH MAN! How can you not see that big text box?? Aren’t you working on that drawing???
Man: IS IT YOU? You wrote that?? I didn’t see it! I was only looking at the drawing!
Frou: It is RIGHT NEXT to the drawing! In Arial 38. How can you miss something so big?
Man. OMG, I just “shouted” at my supplier to pay attention to his wife. How??
Frou: Maybe he thinks you saw him with another woman and that you are being the voice of reason?
Man: ARGH! I’m gonna kill you!
Frou: HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

By the way, don't judge our music taste!

When I listen to a song, I hear primarily the lyrics. According to The Man, it’s such a waste I never join the game show “Don’t Forget The Lyrics". I never forget words to a song - even those that I don't know well. For example, I can easily recite the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, even though I am not a fan of Queen . I just hear it a lot on the radio when I was growing up.

When The Man listens to a song however, he only hears the melody. He never pays any attention to the words or wonder what the song is about. And that is why it always gets on my nerves when he tries to sing....

The Man: “Oh… I am going to eat pizza….”
Frou: Dude, it is “I’m going to IBIZA”.
(“We are going to Ibiza” by Venga Boys)

The Man: “Making my way downtown… la la la… I’m giving out hongbaos”
Frou: So, Venessa Carlton suddenly turned Chinese and got married?
The Man: Erm...
Frou: “Walking fast, faces pass and I’m HOMEBOUND”!
(“Thousand Miles”)

The Man: “I love you like a love song, baby, and I go beep beep beep beep beep”
Frou: Why would Selena Gomez go beep beep beep?
The Man: I don't know.
Frou: How about “And I keep hitting re-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat!!!!!!!!!!!!”
("Love you like a love song")

The Man: “Kiss me, I want to go to Bali….”
Frou: Since when did Sixpence None The Richer start promoting Indonesia tourism?
The Man: Then??
Frou: “Kiss me out of the BEARDED BARLEY”.
The Man: What the hell is bearded barley?
Frou: I don’t know….a barley plant with mustache?