I don't like the Dilbert stereotype of what an engineer should be like and I find the cartoon increasingly unfunny and irritating. The only part I now recognise in ex-colleagues is his inability to get another job despite all the abuse he is handed, but (almost) no engineer I have worked with is as socially inept, or as un-nuanced in his views, or is as certain in his infallibility. But I guess that is because the author has never been an engineer and is one of these people that reads a few websites and believes that qualifies him to have a view comparable to someone who has studied the subject for decades.
I mention this because I have been thinking about my move to Singapore. Ploy seems very enthusiastic for it (and before you say it, I think it is more to do with her feng shui lessons, as evidenced by her willingness to throw stuff out that was previously untouchable). While you can imagine my thoughts on feng shui, nevertheless, to continue running the company the same as we have before is likely to lead the same results as before: an occasional very good order, followed by an extended lull for no reason we can discern, when we invest in the company (new products or equipment) such that we never build up any reserves. We need to change something, and in the absence of having anything that would appeal to Saudi Arabia (and still having some moral compass) we decided to move the company to a country that has more credibility for a high technology industry.
But apart from the business reasons behind it, I have been thinking back to when I lived in Singapore. To Montero's bar where I used to sit and have a beer after work (Ploy would be working in Thailand then so I was alone in Singapore). Or to the bar opposite Orchard Towers where you watch the comings and goings there with a very decent (and affordable) glass of white wine. Or to the restaurant in the middle of Bishan Park where you could reduce the roar of Singapore to a dull purr. To the beach at Sembawang where you could watch the boats pass by as the oil slicks glint luminescently on the water. To the restaurant at the end of Balestier where, at about 6 p.m., you could get a decent plate of food, a cold beer, and watch the Thai girls leave their apartments to go to work.
In all of these places you would meet people. Short conversations, or sometimes longer discussions if you found some common interest. I remember even now chats about everything from the best massage place to jazz music. Sometimes business cards would be exchanged. This might be what I am looking forward to most about moving to Singapore. It is not that I thirst for company, it is here if I want it, although easier to find like-minded people in Bangkok than here (albeit with a very high percentage of 'cross-the-road-to-avoid-them' types) but it is that the conversations in Singapore are more often interesting - to me anyway. I remember the delight in finding out that someone actually knew who Matt Monro was and had many of his CDs. For seven years I haven't had that - Facebook has been my companion on the beach. And it is not the same. One sentence comments cannot replace real conversation.
Weeks go by without me talking to anyone, aside from the check-out girl at Tesco, a 'weather's hot' chat with the old lady at the local corner shop, a 'weather's hot' conversation with the postman or a response to someone asking Pinky's name. It is not what you would call stimulating. I do get invited by some neighbours to share a whiskey with them, but I don't drink whiskey and in any case, by the point they invite me, I wouldn't be able to understand them if they spoke perfect English, let alone trying to understand their drawled Thai. Even in Bangkok, the foreigners that gravitate towards me are exactly those people that I choose to live as far away from as I can afford. The girls can be interesting to talk to, although their story is invariably similar and I have yet to meet one who knows of Matt Monro.
The hermit may be about to return to civilisation.
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