30 August 2006

How Un-Malaysian Am I?

I took this survey at kennysia.com and my result is I am 10% "not Malaysian" (see below). This makes me as Malaysian as their PM Ahmad Badawi. The irony of it all is that I am a 100% true blue Singaporean, haha.

Congratulations Victor, you are 10% not Malaysian.

That means you're as Malaysian as...

Abdullah Badawi !

How Un-Malaysian Are You?

28 August 2006

A Tale Of Two Salesmen

The LCD TV that I bought

Singapore will soon have high definition television (HDTV) broadcast. One thousand households recently participated in a HDTV trial. With the prices of LCD and plasma TVs dropping every month like there is no bottom just like me, many people are thronging the showrooms shopping for that previously not-so-affordable HDTV. Both Chris and I have bought our HDTVs in recent months. I must qualify that I don't have very deep pockets (don't know about Chris'). We both bought very modest 32-inch LCD TVs which were priced below $3000. One or two years ago, similar TVs would have cost no less than $4000 each.

My experience is that shopping for a HDTV can be quite an ordeal for the less tech-savvy. The first few basic decisions you probably need to make are - whether to buy a plasma, a LCD or a DLP TV, what size, what model, what features and what price. When you do more in-depth research, you'll find that you need to understand industry-speak such as 'contrast ratio', 'HDMI', 'progressive vs interlaced scan', '1080i', '720p', 'response time', 'judder', 'PIP', 'brightness in cd/m2', 'resolution', 'viewing angle', just to name a few. (A comprehensive glossary of HDTV terms is available here.)

Next, you've got to decide which retail outlet you would like to buy your HDTV from - neighbourhood shops where prices are cheaper but perhaps lacking in service and variety; or megastores where prices are likely to be higher but where service is probably better and where there are a wide variety of models to choose from. I chose the latter.

First, my wife and I visited one of the two electrical megastores in Parkway Parade. We were served by a seemingly helpful salesman. I thought to myself, "We're in luck. It's so hard to find a really professional salesman nowadays." It started off quite well. He took pains to explain the differences between plasma and LCD TVs and also the features of various models. He spent about half an hour talking earnestly to my wife and I. Then I asked him one question: "How will I know if I can't get this same model cheaper outside?" That question seemed to have got on his nerves. His tone and attitude took an abrupt turn. This was our exchange:

Salesman: "I know sometimes customers complain about salesmen cheating them. But a lot of times, I feel that it's the other way round, that is the customers cheating the salesmen instead.

Me: Huh??? What do you mean?

Salesman: "I stand here for half an hour explaining to you and you can think of buying from outside. Can you just let me know this - are you going to make a decision to buy a TV today or not?"

Me: "I am still finding out more information. Look, a TV is a big-ticket item. How can I decide so hastily? It would be too rush and too rash.

Salesman: "In that case, you have wasted my time."

Me: "What? If you consider serving a customer as a waste of time then I am so sorry to have wasted your time. You are in the wrong job. If I lodge a complaint, I would have wasted your job as well. But I am too kind to do that."

With that, he just walked off and so did we, vowing never to buy anything from this store again.

Two weeks later, we passed by an outlet of the same megastore in Bishan Junction 8. (Those of you who frequent both shopping centres that I mention here will know which megastore I am talking about.) We saw a TV model which we were quite interested in. We were served by another salesman. This salesman was really helpful and was not irritated by whatever silly questions I threw at him. Sometimes he would just laugh them off. He even threw in a HDMI cable and a wallet/key-chain set free. You guessed it, we ended buying our TV from this outlet in Bishan.

The name of the salesman with good service was Mr Alan Teo from Junction 8. (I am saying a big "THANK YOU" to you here.) As for the man with the poor service and attitude, I shall not name as it might cost him his job. But don't buy from the man with a moustache. And so that was a tale of two colour TV salesmen whose standards of service were as different as black and white.

20 August 2006

Singapore Really So Small Meh?

My area of operation is in the east. I don't mean East Asia but eastern Singapore. Yes, the right half of the little red dot. Because my wife finds food cooked by only a handful of stalls in the east palatable and my younger son takes tuition, badminton and swimming lessons in the east, I am often seen at fixed locations in the east. For the same reason, I also often witness things happening in certain locations in the east.

While my wife spends money buys food and groceries near Parkway Parade, I will ogle at girls wait in the car at an open air carpark near the food centre at Blk 84 of Marine Parade. The reason why I wait in the car is that there are usually no carpark lots available in the small carpark. It is an unwritten but widely understood rule that while parking is not free, waiting in the car is. Also free are the frequent whiffs of foul smell from the nearby rubbish dump.

This morning, I was at the same carpark waiting. I saw a large group of people gathered around some tables with food laid out on the tables. At first, I thought that it was just another 7th month prayer session:

But why no joss sticks? Ah, when I got closer, I realised that celebrity TV host Quan Yi Feng was there. I noticed her first because her hair colour was so gaudy she was quite attractive:

There was one guy whom I recognised as an actor/host but just didn't bother to find out know his name:

Something else pleasant also caught my eye:

(The dim sum in her chopsticks, not the one holding them lah. What were you thinking?)

So they were filming a food show and were trying out some dim sums.

But why do it next to a rubbish dump? Singapore really so small meh?

13 August 2006

Class of 1968 (Pr 6J of Selegie Integrated School)

After a chance encounter of my primary school post, my ex-classmate Mr Ong emailed me our class photo. In 1968, Mr Ong and I were in Pr 6J of Selegie Integrated School:

I was the cheeky-looking fellow with the nerdy black spectacles (circled at the bottom-left of the photo) while Mr Ong was the tall handsome boy standing at the right of the back row (circled). Notice that besides the teacher, there were only 4 out of 41 pupils wearing spectacles. (Today, the situation is likely to be the opposite - you will probably find only about 10% of the primary 6 cohort not wearing spectacles and don't forget that those with apparently good eyesight may be wearing contact lenses instead. So in that sense, you can call me the 'pioneering' batch, heh. Another thing you might have noticed is that there were no obese children then - all of us were as skinny as a monkey. Coincidentally, the pupils in our class were born in the Year of the Monkey. If many of us were overweight, you will probably need a wide-angle lens for a shot like this.) I must qualify that I have become more good-looking since my primary school days, especially since I junked my thick glasses after my cataract operations in 1998. Believe it or not, I have changed so much that I nearly couldn't recognise myself in the photo, haha.

Notice also how good-looking our form teacher Mr Teo was. He must have set many pubescent female students' hearts a-flutter. I am sure that some of the 19 girls in my class had secret crushes on him. Good thing that he was as upright a man as the way he stood in the photo.

Actually, after viewing the photo, I realise that I could recall the names of quite a few of my classmates. Some of them even went on to Sec 1 with me in Victoria Secondary School. And I didn't even realise that they were my Pr 6 classmates until now. In my primary school post, I mentioned that Mr Lam C M (seated 4th from left in the front row of the above photo) met me at Hong Lim Food Centre a few years ago and revealed the sad news that at least 3 of our classmates in the above photo had since passed on. I have no wish to guess who they were.

On the other hand, I have no recollection whatsoever of the faces or the names of a few of the boys and most of the girls. This should not be surprising since boys normally mature later then girls hence I took little notice of the girls then. Luckily, I was posted to an all-boys secondary school. If not, I would probably have spent more time ogling at girls instead of studying.

To all my Pr 6 classmates (especially the girls ladies), if you are reading this post, I would be very pleased if you could drop me a comment. Those reading from the nether world are exempted.

05 August 2006

Hello Again 38 Years After "Eating Fishball"

Those who read this blog regularly will know that I joined the nostalgic blog yesterday.sg as a "Friend" or volunteer blogger. I blogged about this in an earlier post.

A few days ago, I received this surprise comment on my Mar 2005 post about my primary school days on yesterday.sg. (The same post is replicated in this blog here). The comment was as follows:

"Are you Mr Koo from Victoria Secondary School? I am your old pal Mr Ong."

You see, in that post, I mentioned about Mr Ong and his remark "Wah, you eat fishball again ah?" in reference to me biting on a piece of cotton gauze which looked like a fishball to Mr Ong. The cotton gauze was to stop the bleeding after I had a tooth extraction at the school dental clinic. Obviously Mr Ong came across my post and realised that I was refering to him.

I have since posted a reply (reproduced below) in my post in yesterday.sg:

"Hi Mr Ong. It was a really big pleasant surprise to hear from you. Now I believe it when they say that the Internet can help one rekindle old ties and find long lost friends. How true!

You are right, I am that guy. Wah, you still remember that I went to Victoria Sec Sch! Your memory surely rivals that of our classmate Mr Lam C M. Do you remember him?

Didn't expect you to say so little though. Well okay, you used to say one-liners to me in school like 'Wah, you eat fishball again ah?' Anyway, that was all I can remember. Haha.

BTW, forget (and forgive) what I said about knocking your teeth off ya. Because I believe that you are still of bigger size than me despite I having put on quite a lot of weight (and girth) since my primary school days.

Will be dropping you an email soon (by clicking on your name, I suppose). Meanwhile, cheers."

Yesterday I dropped Mr Ong an email:
"It has been a very long time. How are you getting on? I hope you are doing fine. (These are the somewhat mushy sentences I learnt in primary school for starting a letter that I have never used. But I feel that they are most appropriate for occasions like this.)

I treasure this opportunity to catch up with you for old times' sake. It was really thoughtful of you to have left your email address on yesterday.sg. Now I am dying to know how you discovered my post. Did you do a search and find it yourself? Or did you hear from someone that your name was mentioned in my post and decided to check it out yourself?

So please email or call me on [my handphone number] and spare me the agony soon."

It has been a long 38 years since I last saw Mr Ong in Pr 6 and it seems like eternity. I still remember how he looked like - rosy cheeks, tall and quite handsome. I wonder how he looks like now.

So far Mr Ong has yet to reply to my email. Although I have the patience to wait, I hope that I do not have to wait for another 38 years. Because I probably will not live that long.


My handphone rang just now. I looked at the caller number display and it was unfamiliar. Could it be Mr Ong? My heart started racing as I answered the call excitedly.

It was Mr Ong indeed. We talked about the good old times and the classmates we remembered. He promised to scan our Pr 6 class photo and email it to me. (I couldn't find my copy. It's probably somewhere in my brother's house.) We vowed to meet up one day and reminisce some more.

Some details about Mr Ong which I found out during the 5-minute conversation - he has been a secondary school teacher for 26 years now, has one child and stays quite close to my estate in the eastern part of Singapore.

Mr Ong said that he was net surfing when he stumbled upon my post. He must be very surprised to find a Pr 6 classmate blogging about him when he was probably expecting his students' comments instead.

More updates will follow.