Archive for the 'Photos' Category

Happy 2010!

Friday, January 1st, 2010

First lesson of the new year – don’t leave bottles of champagne in the freezer.  Whoops, I’m rather embarrassed I didn’t know that.

Other disappointment – I read just 11 books last year…  less than one every month!   There’s a ready-made resolution.

Marina Bay fireworks as seen over the Esplanade from the Padang (1 Jan 2010)

Puff Puff in the morning

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Puff Puff in the Morning II (9 Nov 2009)
Taken 9 Nov 2008

I should probably also mention I’m back from Shanghai, having wrapped up last week on my nearly three month project there (which felt more like six).  The clients seem happy, they bought several more months of work.  I’m planning on a nice restful period of recreation and recovery.

Year of the Ox; Musings on the state of fashion

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

It’s upon us!  Happy Chinese New Year.  I am grateful to be home with family and friends.  Our traditional Reunion Dinner was even more lively than usual this year with the addition of another family.  Instead of New Year’s eve, we had brought the dinner forward a day to accommodate my sister who was on call at the hospital all of today (a touch depressing to have to work for 36 hours on a holiday).  So we had one of our aunts and her family join our early Reunion Dinner, making it the 3 oldest siblings on my father’s side of the family, along with the family matriarch, with whom I really should spend more time while I can.

Me, Puff Puff and Peapie Rooster, 25 Jan 2009

Another thing to be grateful for is the fact that this week-long break falls right in the center of the very intense case I’m staffed on in Shanghai.  Literally as I was stepping out of the elevator to go to Reunion Dinner, the most important meal in the Chinese calendar, my phone rang with a call from my manager in Hong Kong.  My heart sank not a little. 

Blessedly it turned out to be a false alarm – my manager’s phone had accidentally dialed me while in his pocket.  I wonder why I’m first on his call list?  (Later that night at 5am his phone left me a voicemail of him leaving some woman’s apartment… Don’t think I’m not going to tease him about that when I see him again next week!  I’m sure he was just at some house party, or perhaps at his sister’s, but he is single, which makes it all the more amusing.)

Only three-ish more weeks on this case.  And blessedly, again, I can now look forward to an unexpected trip home in two weeks because my class at work is having training.  I love my job, I love my job! 🙂

As business and economic news continues to paint a grey picture, fashion is very clearly suffering.  The Fall-Winter shows for next season are some of the gloomiest, most uninspiring stuff I’ve seen in years.  Gone is the exuberance of feathers, hand-painted fabric and gratuitous fur.  All has been replaced by conservative classics in black, charcoal and navy. 


I’m not sure what I think of this strategy.  If Burberry Prorsum and Prada–usually some of the most interesting menswear shown–are only showing ultra subtle variations on classics that most men already own (navy double breasted blazers, black wool peacoats, black oxford lace-ups), are these really the pieces that are going to sell and save these companies?  I’m personally not sure.  For the first-time buyer, perhaps that’s what they want, the basic Burberry nova check scarf (also easily available everywhere for about $20 from counterfeiters or me-too manufacturers, and under $100 from Burberry factory outlet stores).

But for the rest of the market (the majority of the market), we already have the black pima cotton crewneck t-shirt, the dark wash jeans, the khaki trenchcoat.  And even if I needed a new one, say a cashmere car coat, how am I going to differentiate among all these designers making the same thing?    As numerous consumer psychology studies have shown, people are worst at deciding among many similar things, they are much more likely to choose to buy nothing.  I know that if I walk by Dior, Jil Sander, Marni and Giorgio Armani and they are all selling the same thing (black leather wallets, white cotton dress shirts), I’m apt to just give up and leave empty handed.  And with the price points these labels are at, I might as well buy my coat from Zara or have my tailor in Bangkok make me a bespoke one.

That’s where I think designers putting out collections based on optimism have got it right.  Yes, we may all want to be more restrained and thoughtful with our spending, but if I am going to be tempted to shell out for a luxury item in the coming months, it’s going to be for a Gucci Tattoo print Babouska tote, or an Etro duffle bag in mottled green python.  In other words, it’s going to be something aspirational, fabulously unique and impeccably made.  And if you make it affordable (the Gucci bag is about $800 if you can find a store with stock, the python duffle will probably be $700 at 60% off), then I’m sold.  In this FT article, the same message is clear: “We are not seeing people trading down,” [Burberry Finance Director, Stacey Cartwright] said. “What we are seeing at all levels of the pyramid is people just spending a little bit less – there’s less footfall to start with and when people come into the stores they are just holding off on buying that second or third item.”  If you ask me, if there was a second or third amazing lace handbag or brocade cardigan, these shoppers would be much more likely to buy.

In any case, this past Fall-Winter 2008 and Spring Summer 2009 seasons will likely be the last great shopping seasons we see for a while.  Both these seasons were designed and priced before the financial crisis, and a lot of the Spring Summer merchandise was probably ordered before retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus reported huge declines in sales.  Lanvin was still showing whimsical neckties made of feathers, and Dolce & Gabbana were pushing ironically opulent formal wear inspired by sleepwear.  Even thinking about this makes me sad.  Fast forward three or four months and Chanel has fired 200 staff in Paris, Bill Blass has gone out of business (along with Waterford Wedgwood) and the industry is awash in dire predictions.  Burberry has announced up to 540 jobs cut from payroll (coupled with it’s 30% rise in sales spurred by steep discounts, this caused Burberry Group shares to rise 12%).  So stock up on as many beautiful fashion objets d’art you can afford, for in the coming seasons they will be harder to find (and certainly less heavily discounted).

As for me, I should definitely stop heeding my own advice.  In the past two months or so, I’ve bought so many bags that it’s bordering on an unhealthy obsession…  The list so far:

–Salvatore Ferragamo Origami frame bag – I’ve waited literally a year for this to go on sale for the price I wanted.  Yay!
–Fendi Bag de Jour in blue Zucca denim- what a great price for a great bag!  After buying it at Changi T2 with Terence, I found it being sold online at for about 25% more (where it was also sold out)
–Marc Jacobs Daydream bag – I really want the one in Orchid instead of the brown one I got…  still tempted!
–Gucci Positano Scarf Tote – not that exciting, but functional?
–Chanel vintage lambskin large chain tote – I’ve eyed these for a while, now I have one! 🙂
–Prada FW06 nylon and marmot fur bag – has to be seen to be believed, what a gorgeous beauty!
–YSL oversized Muse in Terracotta – I still want a dark brown one… we’ll see

That’s seven, and there are still others: two more Prada satchels, a Bottega Veneta canvas tote, an enormous Burberry duffel/tote in gold from the Shimmer series (irresistible at 50% off), a Ferragamo shopper, a Gianfranco Ferre laptop case and a couple of clutches from Calvin Klein (an amazingly textured pewter number that was selling at 80% off) and Etro (trying to get my total purchase of two fantastic belts up to qualify for a gift).  That’s… fifteen??  Since December? 

Yet I still want a Givenchy Sacca tote, and those other Gucci and Etro bags I mentioned earlier.  Erk.

Happy Chinese New Year

Saturday, February 9th, 2008


The picture above of Puff-puff running after Jenevieve was taken the morning of CNY, just after the obligatory family portrait.  It’s nice to get to experience the occassion again after four years of missing it while away at college.

I’ve started reading again, which is heartening.  In the space of two weeks I finally finished Freud’s Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious (an assigned book I never read while in college), then raced through Shopaholic and Baby, Freakonomics and The Tipping Point.  Those last two books have left me a little wistful about academia…  but that’s a topic for some other day, or year.

Oh, and that’s twenty-six, today.  Hard to recall, or imagine, or grasp properly.

Provincetown, MA (31 Oct 2007)

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Click on the picture to see more pictures from the past couple of months! 🙂

This was our only day off, and most people rented cars to drive either to Boston or Provincetown.  I chose to head to Provincetown with two of my teammates and two others from the Sydney office.  Here we are having a lovely seafood lunch.  The shot was snapped by Ren Hua, who was seated with others from the New York office at the next table.

From left: me, Emily, Sofie, Ryan, Alex

A little piece of paradise



Friday, June 8th, 2007

Yes, there was Bill Clinton yesterday, and Bill Gates today, and honors and ceremonies and prayers and cheering and parties and toasts and family and hugs and pictures and perfect weather…

 After Afternoon Exercises (7 Jun 2007) This was about an hour after the newly-minted Dr. William Gates gave his inspiring address to the Harvard Alumni Association.  I sat alone in a nook on the top of the Widener steps while the rest of family had great seats somewhere nearer the stage.  This gave me the space to let the profound sadness of Commencement sink in past the pomp and jubilation.

There should be more weeping, that’s my feeling about all this. 

Yes, it’s a jubilant, joyful, blessed, exciting, hopeful, inspiring, beautiful, precious time, but it’s also a time of ghosts, of memories, of finality, of fleeting youth, of loss and separation.  To weep seems to be the only appropriate response.  Weep for joy, weep in relief, weep in exhaustion, weep in mourning, weep in gratitude.  Weep for the bittersweet tang of unrealized relationships, forgotten dreams and missed opportunities.  Weep for the painfully beautiful metamorphosis of nebulous possibilities into sharpened minds, coherent personalities, and recognizable individuals.  Let the tears of rejoicing and anxiety and disbelief comingle and stream freely down in respectful acknowledgement for the kindness of time, of others, and of God. 

What else can we do but weep for the ghosts that we will add to the multitudes already wandering the hallways of the buildings we loved and the dining halls where we ate and the libraries where we worked?  The accumulation of emotions and energy and effort that we have expended here over the years echo ever and only louder and more poignantly as our rooms become empty, and we violently, unceremoniously, and even unwillingly erase the physical evidence of our time here.  Every bare shelf and abandoned bed starkly attests to the existence of their previous owners.  And these owners no longer exist – where is that boy that worried about a midterm grade, or that girl that threw everything into her student group?  We will be different tomorrow, we have no choice, and the future promises so much.  How can we not weep?  There should be much more weeping.

Weep, and you will know then that in some small way, perhaps without noticing or even acquiescing, in this place and with these people you encountered the mystery and meaning of life.


Monday, June 4th, 2007

 Senior Soirée (3 Jun 2007) What's a Harvard formal without an ice sculpture?  Class of 2007, baby.

I just got back from the Senior Soirée, which was beautiful in the rain, and I’m currently feeling deliriously wobbly.  Not because I had anything to drink (I stuck to Sprite), but because I’ve had so little to eat today. 

Emily and I were going to have lunch at Wagamama, which would have been a big meal, but it turned out we were there an hour before it opened for lunch at noon, so we went into Fanueil Hall instead, where I had a cookie and a bowl of chicken vegetable soup that I didn’t finish because it wasn’t very good.  Then after our visit to the precious-jewelry-box-like Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (a must-see!  Amazing!), I promptly took a nap until the Senior Soirée was already well underway (and I had missed all the pre-party receptions and get-togethers).

So essentially in the last twelve hours I’ve eaten two slices of brownie and had two cups of soda, all at the soirée.  That’s why I’m feeling wobbly.

Thank goodness Andrew has a huge box of barbeque pork jerky in the fridge and substantial leftovers from his dinner at Grendel’s 🙂

 Thayer players reunite! From left: Oyin, Sandra, me, Natalie, Daren, Christina

In six hours I must leave to drive to New York… to pick up my family from JFK!!  🙂

Coming up

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

View from the Quincy Master's Residence (8 May 2007) OR Sunset over Cambridge

It seems so unreal.  The end of the semester (in just 3 days!) will mark the end of my college career.

I feel as if I’m wasting time not thinking carefully about what I should be doing and people I should be spending time with before the opportunity slips away forever.  Already lots of underclassmen have completed their final exams, moved out and taken off to start their summer vacations, which means I won’t get to say goodbye to them.

But the truth is I don’t really know how to say goodbye to this place.  Will these four years worth of relationships and experiences all turn into a distant, hazy memory of a mirage in the years after I leave?  I don’t know, and not knowing is also scary.

I’m no longer very scared, in truth; I suppose I’ve reconciled myself to the inevitable, and I also feel some excitement for the dim promises of the future.  I’m tired of trying hard, so I’m just going to relax for a while, and see where God takes me.

UNEP Executive Director at KSG (8 May 2007) 
Achim Steiner, the new Executive Director of the UNEP spoke at the JFK Jr. Forum at the Kennedy School earlier this month (May 8th).  He is outrageously only the second speaker I’ve ever seen at this public forum, which hosts several speakers a week, from former Iran President Khatami to the current Director of the FBI to Queen Rania of Jordan.

 My first Red Sox Game! (12 May 2007)

Can you believe this was my first time at Fenway Park? Ryan was very good about explaining what was happening – the Sox trashed the Baltimore Orioles (May 12) 🙂 

PS: I got my thesis comments and final grade today.  Meh.  I thank God for the (emotional) damage control.

PPS: I got a blood titre drawn today to check if my previous Hep B immunization worked.  And I managed to pass out.  Huh?!  I will declare that I am not consciously afraid of needles or blood.  I’ve also felt faint before when having blood drawn, but this was my first full-out loss of consciousness.  Very odd.  When I woke up I didn’t realise I had fainted until I discovered that I was in a different part of the room in a different (reverse reclined) chair that I must have been carried into.  I didn’t even think to ask how long I’d been out.

The best of times

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

I am not ready or willing to leave the excitement, the richness of resources and the very comfortable community that I’ve grown accustomed to here.

And that’s part of why I’m so busy all the time now.  I’m rushing to enjoy the opportunities that I’ve complacently taken for granted for years now at the College, the University and the Boston area.  The photos below offer a selection of these opportunities from the last couple of days (lots more photos on Flickr):

 Brown Bag Lunch (1 May 2007)

Today I went to an open brown bag lunch discussion at the Kennedy School with Kishore Mahbubani, currently the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS (and for over a decade previously the Singapore ambassador to the UN).  The three of us seniors (Shi Ming, Xin Wei and myself) all arrived late from different places and settled for various nooks at the back of the room.

 The Sticky Bun Throw-Down (30 Apr 2007)

Another random but cool opportunity – on Monday the Food Network was filming a tangentially Harvard-related episode so whoever wanted to go to the filming could enter a lottery to go into Boston.  I made Ryan sign up with me  and while at the venue we recognised another half dozen of our friends in the crowd of about 90 Harvard affiliates.  Those were some fantastic sticky buns they made!

Here we are with the stars of the episode.  From left: Ryan, Joanne Chang (of Flour Bakery and Cafe), me, Bobby Flay (one of America’s Iron Chefs!), Tiffany.

 Old State House (30 Apr 2007)

Here I am playing tourist (after four years of living here!) right outside the Old State House in downtown Boston, which I’d never seen before.  We accidentally came across the building while walking from the filming to the Harvard Club of Boston at One Federal to Macy’s at Downtown Crossing; I’ve always loved the compact-ness of Boston.  Ryan (who took this picture) tells me that is the very balcony from which the American Declaration of Independence was first proclaimed in 1776.

I was struck by the incongruous discovery that part of the building now houses the State Street subway station (on the orange and green lines).

Can you see why I don’t want to leave?  Sigh.

Tomorrow evening (Wednesday) I will be presenting my senior honors thesis as part of the series of informal “Senior thesis desserts” (implying the free Finale desserts which will be served).  Quincy House SCR, 7pm in case you’re interested.  Which also means I now need to go and re-read my thesis for the first time in weeks and prepare some slides and speaking notes.  What an anxiety-inducing task.

Too tired to blog.

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I need more sleep.

My schedule is ever more packed, although I’m not really complaining because it’s all free dinners, cool day trips and meetings with friends.


 Singapore Day @ NYC (21 Apr 2007)