Friday, February 18, 2005

On Money, Time and Energy

On Money, Time and Energy

Spending a day in the office here in Jakarta clearing up e-mails and paperwork. Thanks to Internet banking, I'm able to handle my finances remotely. That saves me a great deal of time and hassle. I really look forward to a quiet weekend in Jakarta to reorganize my thoughts.

Whenever I tell people that I'll be spending the weekend in Jakarta, they always assume that I'm keeping a harem of girlfriends here. I can't blame them; the one consistent fact I've observed in every country that I've worked in is that expatriates are never short of female companionship. It is up to them whether they want to choose short or long-term ones.

Actually these relationships fall on a spectrum: At one end of the scale, you have the universally recognized "short time" and "long time" female services that you can always get "on-demand". At the other end, you have the relatively steady affairs--the lived-in girlfriends and "pseudo-wife" type of relationships.

There's always a price to pay for indulging in any of these relationships and the currrencies are money, time and energy. For the first category of relationships, you pay with money alone; and for the second category, you pay with a combination of all three.

Some native women find expatriates more desirable because they are supposed to be "rich" and offer them the promise of a better life. One can find these SPG archetypes in any Third World country.

Expatriates tend to find local women easy targets because they are usually friendly, loving and accomodating towards foreigners. But women are also instinctively smart (often without they themselves realizing it): they know how to manipulate men's affection to get what they want. But some long-term relationships between expatriates and locals do have happy endings. You do find many bules living happily in Indonesia with their native wives and kids.

When men get involved with women, money, time and energy will definitely be spent. What do you want to get out of your investment? Pure sexual pleasure? Emotional and intellectual companionship? Spiritual bonding? If you have more than enough money, how much time and energy are you willing to spend on one woman? You choose your own investment portfolio.

Just remember, time is definitely finite. Energy is not always replenishable--because it takes time to do so. If a relationship saps so much of your energy that you cannot even concentrate on your work anymore, then you will have to rethink your investment strategy.

If you think you can always pay for the woman you want, you only attract women who are forever after your money and risk living a life that is emotionally empty. The old adage is very true indeed: there's no such thing as a free lunch, especially when it comes to women. You always have to pay--with money, time and energy.

Thursday, February 17, 2005



I didn't have time to blog for the past two days because I've been on the road since early Wednesday morning, catching the flight to Jakarta via Singapore (had to fly SIA because I had to use up my Krisflyer frequent flyer miles before they expire).

The flight from KL was delayed slightly, making me miss my connecting flight from Changi. Luckily I was able to get the next available SIA flight departing at 12.50pm. Good thing about going to Jakarta is that you gain an hour--I arrived 1.30pm at the Cengkareng airport. Unfortunately the trip from the airport to the city center took me as long as the flight itself. Still I managed to drop off my luggage at the hotel and arrived only a bit late for the meeting with our partner at the Jakarta Stock Exchange Building--well within acceptable jam karet standards.

And then early this morning we took the 6.30am Deraya flight to Bandung. We almost couldn't make it for our nine o'clock presentation at the client's place: The flight was initially delayed for half-an-hour, which was still okay, since the journey would only take 30 minutes. The plane, as usual for such short internal flights, was a sputtering turbo-prop plane (not the slightly better-looking CN235 used by Merpati. It was something else--I can't even identify the make or model ). We took off at 7.00am and was happily airborne for ten minutes before the pilot announced that we had to turn back because of some "masalah teknis".

The plane landed back at the Halim airport. All passengers had to troop back to the waiting room to wait for them to prepare another plane; luckily they had one. But somehow the look of this replacement plane--sitting tiredly on the tarmac and being fussed over by ground technicians--didn't instill any confidence in us either.

Fortunately it didn't take long before they announced for take-off again. I was quite relieved when the plane lifted itself up from the runway and remained flying even after initial 10 minutes, carrying us over the hills of Parahyangan towards Bandung--Kota Bunga, Parijs Van Java!

So we survived the flight and presentation, returning to Jakarta via a Merpati flight on the same afternoon itself. Now I have the next two days here in Jakarta to recuperate from all the hardwork I've put in over the CNY holidays. I hope to use this opportunity to pysche myself up for the next project, which will be in another city, another country...

Monday, February 14, 2005



I'm probably among the very few who will thank God that it's Monday again. Finally life can go back to normal: I am able to resume my quiet jogging sessions in the morning while everyone else--still reeling from the stupor of Chinese New year gluttony, boozing and gambling--rushes off to work again in reluctant panic.

I am also feeling a bit more relaxed today because I've finally completed the proposal which I've been working non-stop over the holidays with my counterparts in Australia and Indonesia. And I almost forgot, it's Valentine's Day again.

I know of at least two types of people who dread Valentine's Day. The first category consists of all those single people who do not have anyone to spend Valentine's Day with. 14th of February becomes the loneliest day of the year for them. But they should not despair. There are people who organize Single's Valentine's Day dinners, where one can join and meet new friends from the opposite sex and perhaps get a head start for next year's Valentine's Day.

The second category of people who also dread Valentine's Day are the more interesting ones. These are the two-timers, usually men. When you have more than one "special" girlfriend, Valentine's Day becomes a bit of a scheduling nightmare. Who should you have that romantic dinner with? Well, the best arrangement is to dine with one and sleep with the other. Or better still, forgo the costly dinner altogether and get the first one to settle for an early romp.

But seriously I think Valentine's Day is fast becoming the most unromantic day of they year, simply because it has become such a commercialized affair. Restaurants, gift shops and florists are the ones who end up celebrating the most. I dread the day when girls start demanding organic roses...

Thank God I'm through with all these Valentine's Day nonsense. I agree, I'm that kind of dull and unromantic bloke who deserves to suffer singlehood forever. But don't know why, I can't seem to thank God enough for it :-)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Of Cathedrals and Harems

Of Cathedrals and Harems

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

- Antoine de St Exupery, Flight to Arras

Even though I am not exactly a fan of flying, I often reread St Exupery ("The Poet of the Skies") to get infected again by the depth and intensity of passion for this favourite pursuit of his. His meditations on the pleasures and challenges of flying, are extremely inspirational and provide me with many "Tetris moments".

We all have our passions in life. Some drool over cars, others cannot refrain themselves from trying out different types of food and I have one particular friend whose sole purpose in life is to bed as many women as possible, because that to him is the ultimate pleasure.

It is these passions which give our lives meaning and keep us going. Some like St Exupery, will even go to the extent of risking their lives for it. Our lives and everything around us will be very dull--like a pile of dead rocks--if we do not infuse them with passionate pursuits. If we have passion, we see cathedrals instead of rock piles and we endeavour to bring these cathedrals of the mind to reality.

To my Cassanova friend, instead of cathedrals, he sees the world as a harem from which every woman is game, and he lives his life true to this belief. He is willing to pay the price for his pursuits. I may not share his passion but I respect his conviction.

St Exupery paid the ultimate price in his pursuit for flying. We will all build our own cathedrals and pay our price for it in one way or another. By paying the price, we get to learn the lessons God has intended for us in this life. So go build your cathedrals and harems, for the alternative is to wander amidst a perpetual desolation of rock piles.

Night Thoughts of a Night Owl

Night Thoughts of a Night Owl

I admire people who are able to go to bed early and rise at the break of dawn. I think it is healthier that way. The mind is clearest after a good night's rest. If you are able to wake up say at 4.00am and then put in two hours of solid productive work, that can sometimes be better than your entire day's output.

Unfortunately I am more of a night owl--writing, reading and surfing late into the night. Waking up early can be a bit of a struggle. Night-time is a good time for reflecting on the day's events, digesting their effects and consequences and distilling the wisdom out of every action and reaction.

I try not to carry over unresolved emotions to the next day. Whatever happens today, ends today. And tomorrow you begin with the wisdom that you have acquired from all your cummulative life experiences until that very point. We wake up everyday in the morning a wiser person.

Sometimes it feels like we are going downhill, especially when we are experiencing a bad patch in life. Don't fall into despair or be disillusioned. Consider it a time of consolidation and internal resolution. We have to take a step backwards so that we can move two steps forward. Without going through the carthasis of the experience, we'll never move on to the next level of development.

The butterfly always emerges from its pupa stage a beautiful creature, ready to take on the world with a bright new pair of wings. We too will need to go through stages in our lives where we undergo certain metamorphoses from which we emerge transformed. Something in us dies with each transformation to allow something new to be born.

So we die every night to enable us to be born again in the morning, a brand new person.