Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Ball of a Time

Balls: you have them or you don't. (in which case, you're female, a wuss, or something in between. Eek.)

INSEAD Balls: You have two of them. Actually, two of two of them, which makes four. But never at the same place at the same time. You have two balls in summer, and two balls in winter. It's funny though: having Summer and Winter Balls in Singapore makes a huge mockery of the tropicality of the locale.

So, there are 2. (I sound like some jedi in the dumb prequels already).


My impressions of Summer Ball (the Fontainebleau edition held at Courances):

Food ran out. Food came back again. Food ran out again.

Eating sushi off napkins. No plates and cutlery. Long queues for bite-sized morsels which don't taste good anyhow.

Food ran out.

Champagne drinking... Champagne ran out. Nevermind, switch to some other alcohol.

Oh yes, wonderful chateau. Huge big house with cobblestone paths that were made for horse carriages but not leather soles and pointy heels. Painful walks: should have just stepped on the grass. But hell, great house.

Food came. Food ran out again.

Two tents, two themes (notice how its always two). Picture scenes of people dancing to all kinds of music, no particular genre (no point, people too drunk). Picture also, if you will, some of the alumni, in their 40s and 50s shaking their booty to Staying Alive (shudder). Go for more champagne.

Champagne ran out.

Fireworks! Highlight for the evening; smell of gunpowder in the air. Pop, crackle, sizzle.

Back for more alcohol. Holding onto the glass for dear life in case they ran out as well (which they did... several times).

Danced like a feverish monkey in a macabre carnival of the animals.

Danced like a fiddler on a hot tin roof wearing only 3 socks. (hehe...)

Sitting in the rain, wondering what the hell's going on.

Talked. Talked. Talked. Hazy conversations and lazy monologues.

Had more alcohol. Ran out again.

Danced like a caged bird with cruel boys poking little sticks at it.

Turned around: where did everyone go?

Had enough. Headed to the car. Slept.

The end.

Monday, May 22, 2006

We Call it the B-school Curse... or is it Blessing?

Boon or bane, you decide. Long rambling post ahead btw.


As I recall from my pre-INSEAD days, B-school appeared to be a glamorous thing to do. It is one-year (this being INSEAD) away from all the cares of the world, and you choose how much you want to put into your course. My much-simplified view of the B-school world went along 3 dimensions: academic, career and social. I pretty much counted on the administration to work on the first 2 aspects; what threw me off about INSEAD was the social bit of it.

INSEAD is one year away from the life you once knew, and from a social point of view, that means that your whole social life is somewhat redefined when you come in (unless of course you're a local). You meet interesting people, go for parties and soak yourself in the social scene. You make new friends, and in the process discover that things might go a little further than "we're just friends".

Things get redefined a lot at B-school, including your relationships. For what I have to say, I only have my INSEAD experiences to speak from but I think it suffices: I want to talk about the relationships we build and tear down while in B-school.

I think what works best for pre-school relationships (btw, I'm referring to an existing relationship one may be in at the point one enters B-school; NOT kindergarten childhood sweethearts), assuming you're intent on keeping it going, is to have the partner immersed in the experience. Have her interact with other partners and socialise with the same people you do. This means that there are no secrets between the two of you: what you see is what you get. It doesn't hurt to be an insider; it can hurt if your partner stays out.

You might think that it's safe if you're already married and leaving your spouse behind. I think that probably only works if you're newly-weds. You're likely to meet so many people here that the 'What-if' questions come to mind often enough to destroy any notion that your relationship is rock solid. In the course of the last 5 months, we've seen a couple of affairs leading to divorce / separation.

Even if you aren't hooking up with someone new, you might just break up an existing relationship. There are many reasons for this but the most common theme seems to be: 'I come to B-school and discovered that I'm not who I thought I was, and I also think now that I don't really know you that well, nor myself that well either, so maybe it is better that we don't see each other anymore'.

So is it all bad news on the relationship front? Not really: B-school is a great place to meet smart, bright people who love to party (INSEAD attracts that breed well). Parties are great opportunites to meet, greet and do the deed. So what's better than doing all that with smart, bright people who are going through the same shit that you are?

My half-baked theory on building relationships is that they are built on that raw material known as common shared experiences. My less well baked theory on destroying relationships is that not having common shared experiences is certain to spell its doom. Somewhere in between these two notions is where most of our relationships probably sit. INSEAD, being such an immersive social experience, means that you do a lot of the 'common shared experience' thing with your fellow classmates.

What all this means is that: 1, you're likely to make a lot of new friends fast in B-school, and if you're single, it'll appear like there are many opportunities to play hook up; 2, your existing relationship is likely to be strained unless your partner comes along for the ride; and 3, don't have expectations that your life and world view is going to be same after all that.


In other news, I'm 'outed' again but it's pleasant to actually know some INSEADers have actually read this blog. :) Thanks for dropping in!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What's a tag?

I've been tagged by Ajaxus who has enigmatically noticed that I have started on a list of sorts and ended at 4 items (I intended for it to be 5, but came short). That smart guy decided that he should curse me with this silly tagging game, and here: my 'FOURs'.

BTW I don't bother being politically correct or even polite, so if you're a close friend, I would say it's better not to be reading this.

4 Guilty Pleasures
1. Watching anime (it's about the impossible bodies and huge eyes...)

2. Eating French Fries (and getting fat)

3. Surfing the net and reading gossip on blogs

4. Wanking?

4 Things You Never Want to Forget
See my previous post

4 Things I Wish to Forget
1. There are cruel women in this world, and I'll never forget the naive me, years ago, happily meeting the so called intended other on a date. Having been rejected many times over, and having lived through hurts many times over, I never learnt the lesson of letting go. So what does a cruel woman make one let go? By doing the most merciful thing she could have done to the naive me, saying the things which hurt the most. An 'Admission'. Looking back now, I don't suppose premarital sex was that big an issue; it certainly isn't for me now. But what hurt most was that this woman knew me well - she knew which buttons to push, and sadly, it meant for me the death of a soulmate. (Ed note: perhaps I should expand on this one abit more - what I've said here doesn't quite capture everything; the outpouring is therapy... of sorts)

2. Shitting in my pants as a kid in primary school. I'm NOT even going to talk about it.

3. The knowledge that my parents came close to having a divorce, and the reasons why.

4. Breaking up

Really Exotic Food I've Tried
I'm not that adventurous with my food... the one thing I can remember eating that probably few people have tried is kangaroo meat (even this sounds tame...)

4 Crushes
Woe be it that I reveal my crushes...

1. When I was 16, a certain sweet girl in school who shared my surname and little else.

2. When I was 18, a certain sweet girl who played chess with me, and purposely lost so that I felt good.

3. When I was 21, a certain sweet girl who taught me that love is fleeting and short, while memories never die.

4. When I was 24, a certain sweet girl showed me what it was to see a girl cry (and thus my older brother instincts were born)

Strangest Dream
I don't remember dreams - it is sad but my dreams are but hazy memories in the morning. At best, I recall little bites here and there, but I've never been able to recreate them again. Pity.

4 Favourite Superheroes

1. Though Neil Gaiman will strongly disagree with the categorisation, the one that tops the list is the Sandman.

2. Batman - I like tortured superheroes who aren't really that super (face it, he doesn't have mutant powers, just really nifty toys)

3. Can't think of any others... can I pick villians instead?

4 People on my Hate List
I don't hate people - I may dislike people or have a severe disincline to share the same space as some other people, but I never hate people.

I hate myself sometimes though, but I've gone past the stage where I think of myself as another person.

Close Brushes with Danger
Its when I was driving and it happened 2 days ago at a traffic light near INSEAD in Fontainebleau. No further details - I had the right of way btw.

Modes of Suicide
Death from an overdose of life

There Ajaxus, i'm all done. No curses on anyone this time.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ask me again in the morning

So I said.

The question? "What did you say you regretted?"

I shouldn't be telling you perhaps, so my answer in the morning is going to be something else. It doesn't make sense for you to know, and it doesn't help me any to say it. And since you aren't reading this shite anyhow, it doesn't make any difference to say so now.

I regretted laying myself bare to you, like an apple without its skin, protectionless against the biting invasiveness of oxidization (I'm lyrical about primary school biological tidbits, can't help it).

I regretted the long talks, the sit-downs and the conversations. What good any of it did for me I do not know. What good is anything at all which we shared? Like dust in the wind - uttered and forgotten. I don't forget - retention is my biggest problem - and that means you'll be a part of my life forever (I know I'll never take up the same brain space though).

I regretted hearing what I had to hear from you, not that it was painful to the ears, but that it made me see the multifaceted you. I'd much rather prefer my singular version of you, that simple notion of you. The you I'd rather keep in my mind takes little space: I'd probably describe you in 3 sentences. Now, I've a plethora of descriptions and plenty of images, and the multifacted you sits taking up precious space. I hate it because I know what I know of you is very close to the real you. I regret it because it complicates everything and I hate complications such as this because I won't forget.


Some of what I never forgot:

1. A heartbreak in 2003. Pivotal moment perhaps, and it meant that life changed. Some people will tell you there are certain points in life where you come to a fork in the road and went down one path or the other, thinking that things might have been different down the other way. This was one of those moments where I realised that the 5 years prior to that had been something akin to a series of choices down the wrong side of the fork. This was one of those moments where I would have continued down the wrong side if not for that nail-in-the-coffin heartbreak. A call to say: no more forks, you've reached the dead end.

And what happens at the dead end? Bang your head on the wall and let the physical pain obliterate the senseless wrenching of your heart. Gawd that hurt...

2. A conversation in 2005. Whys. Why nots. Politics. Goals. Religion. Life. Past. Present. Future. Kids. Marriage. Girlfriend. Career. Studies. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Food. Boss. Friend? The importance of being earnest. Network, network, network. In one ear. Out another. Black box. Feelings. Prayer. Farewell.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Never a question I asked right. Never an answer I got in return.

3. Crying in 2000. I thought that there was a death, a passing. I thought I don't have a chance to say goodbye, not that I've ever said anything meaningful before to you. I thought that you will never get sick the way you did - I never thought that, instead of dying, that you will die slowly instead, each day at a time. I thought that all you wanted to was to live more, but you wasted instead, little by little, letting life slip away.

I know that the worst thing was losing your dignity, your once proud bearing and unflagging criticism of your children. I know this well for I live with one of them, he who bears your legacy so proudly that if and when you do leave, you leave us with a part of yourself more than ever. Unsuspectingly, he will be like you, and you will be here.

4. A kiss in 2004. Tentative. Reserved and almost shy. Yet, somehow, there was a hint of a dare. A challenge - kiss me, you know you want to. Approached slowly, like it was the hardest thing to do in the world. When it changes everything in a relationship, you want to be safe rather than sorry. Perhaps what marked the event was the place. Perhaps what marked the place was the time. And unlike life and its set of choices, there was nothing loaded about this one.

So I plunged right in.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

From France with Love

I sit at the laptop typing this under severely stressed conditions:

1. I've not gotten enough sleep. It's 7am-ish and I slept at 3am-ish. Why? Coz I was at a party at this house that everyone here in the Fonty campus calls Shangri-la. If you've seen it, it's more like Shag-lah.

2. What's Fonty? Oh. It's short for Fontainebleau. I've switched campuses - gone over to the French side to 'experience' the life here and to meet the folks here and my, they really are a rather different crowd. The people party in a house or chateau instead of at a club. It also feels kind of grungy and DIY, but I'm not complaining about the drinks.

3. Yes, the drinks. So I drank a bit. There was some powerful stuff in a small cup, some bottle that I swigged from (hmm.... it tasted sweet), I distinctly recalled Smirnoff Ice, and various liquids of indeterminate quantity. So the problem was that halfway between being high and getting drunk, I realised that I was designated driver...

4. By which time, the folks I was supposed to drive home had pretty much abandoned me at Shangri-La. Hey, it's 2am and waaaaaay past our bedtime, so they say. Ptui!!! So anyway, I finally decided to head home, and this girl who copped a ride off me decided to cop a ride with someone else (Pissed... tell me lah! I was waiting for you like an idiot... Curses upon you and I hope you had bad sex with him!). Still, I had to send someone home...

5. Right, when you think about it, you're driving through the forests of Fontainebleau (Shangri-La is in a quaint little town called Forges which meant miles of driving through the forests), high, with someone's life in your hands (in the passenger seat actually) and she's still sober and begging for you to slow down (I was doing 90kmh most of the way and that usually means slow-coach here). How on earth did I make it home???

6. And now? Still pissed, still sloshed and I have to drive again to... guess what? Go wine-tasting somewhere south (where I've never been).

Life's a big adventure eh? Let's hope it doesn't kill.