Thursday, February 17, 2005

Chinese New Year Rant II.


Still nothing on the job hunting front. Trying to get myself up some enthuasiam to job hunt but it is hard because I know I have to walk away from it all in less than 3 years.

This entry is partly in response to the comment in the previous post: Are you very sure that all your relatives are "judging" you that critically?

To all you kind people who commented: Thanks for the emotional support for this CNY outcast!


***



"There is no fate, but what we make for ourselves."
- motto from the Terminator movie series.

Had a whole bunch of Chinese New Year visitors (uncles, aunts, cousins and their big families) stop by during one of the rare occasions when my entire immediate family was at home. So like any good hosts, we pour out the carbonated drinks, pass around the Yeo's non-carbonated drink packets, and stuff our guests with the traditional Chinese New Year snacks and make small talk.

Participating in the last activity was my critical mistake. Should have just passed around the food, smiled and made a few non-committal comments and got my ass out of there before the interrogations and evaluations started. Then again, it would have led to the regular argument with my parents about my being rude and antisocial to our relatives.

My sister passed the evaluation with flying colors. She holds a Masters degree (and is pursuing even more certifications) in the niche field she works in as a process engineer. She has had the same job working her way up through the ranks since she finished serving her bond. Her job has her working inhuman job rotations synchronised with the factory production cycles. Not uncommon for her phone to go off at unearthly times when she is off-duty, and have her rushing back to the factory after a hurried phone conversation. Money seems to be very good though. The only marginal grade she had was the lack of a boyfriend due to her unpredictable work shifts.

My brother received a decent appraisal and general approval as well. He is currently finishing his university education with the government paying his cost of education and living expenses. The added bonus was the job security of guaranteed work after finishing his NIE education because of the bond. He did however get hit with the "how come neber buy car" routine when he let slipped that he recently obtained his driving licence.

Then it was my turn. I was advised to not be so fussy and just take on any job I could find because if "you donch wan the job, got a lot of China and India people wan the job. Must chope any job fast-fast". Otherwise how could I meet my filial duty of giving money and taking care of my parents in their old age? And that I need do better to not "sui say" (lose out) to my siblings.

Helpful suggestions include that I should go for further education and then apply for "cheng-hu kang" (civil service job). Or to sign up as a teacher "sure got job as teacher one". Or to sign on with SAF since "MRT also say SAF need regular signon" and "Navy salary sibei high for graduate one". Or that at least I should get married so that I would get a wife who could help look after my parents.

I stuffed my mouth with pineapple tarts to avoid blurting out what I felt, smiled and excused myself because I had to suddenly go to the toilet.


Editorial note:
You can see it why it is hard for me to get the warm fuzzy feeling about my siblings (not that I have ever been close to them since young anyway). Especially when I get the standard litany of negative comparisons against my younger siblings on a regular basis. I must be an excellent negation of all that social research that try to prove that firstborns are more likely to be ambitious, driven people who tend to accomplish more in life.

Anyway, I come back to table later to thankfully find the conversation had moved on. Everybody was bitching about how expensive and stressful living in Singapore had become over the last few years. About how the government is sucking money via HDB, COE, ERP. About how some unfilial kid was not giving money to the parents. About how bosses bully older workers by bringing in young punks to make the old workers look lazy as an excuse for retrenchment. About general lack of respect for the old, etc.

And they also talked about the disloyal ingrates who go overseas to work temporarily (of course nobody would ever want to leave permanently!) but do not bother to keep in contact or to send money back. In the same breath, they would also incongruously talk about how they want to send their kids overseas for a less stressful post 'A'-levels education - if only the expensive cost of living in Singapore did not make it prohibitively expensive to send their kids overseas. And how they sometimes want to just pack up and move to Malaysia or China where life is "easier" but they cannot do so because of all their responsibilies (HDB, car, kids, etc) in Singapore.

Amidst the general grumbling, the general consensus was (literally translated from Hokkien):
"No choice. This is life that has been destined."

***


No choice in a life that is destined?

Or options that are gradually contrained by life choices over the long term, each individually maximised for short-term expediency? Could there be a remote possibility that the current (and future) state of our lives are a product of our past choices?

..no fate, but that we make..

11 Comments:

Blogger Calamity Man said...

going against the grain is never easy and so is not accepting fate but those are exactly what i'm doing right now. don't know if it's stupid or not but don't wanna regret for not trying.

February 17, 2005 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog, man. It's scary how weirdly uniform Singaporeans sound. Thankfully I haven't had to spend CNY in town for the last 8 years. (Currently freaking out because I don't want to go back after finishing school and I have a rather, uh, "impractical" specialisation with a tight job mkt here.)

It's not only CNY though. Whenever I'm home, random acquaintances - not even relatives or close friends ! - will ask things like: "So, when you coming back ? Huuuh, how can say you dowan to come back ? Your parents how ?" Apparently they also bother my parents in my absence. Someone actually asked mom if she wasn't worried that I would dye my hair after spending all that time abroad. Luckily, mom was quick enough to observe that you hardly have to go to the trouble of studying abroad in order to dye your hair because, you know, you can get an effing dye job in Singapore. (Meanwhile I'm like, gah, people, my parents do not need to justify me to you !!! You don't even pay us !!!)

The only good thing about all this is that now my mother's beginning to really understand why I don't want to return to a place where I'll be surrounded by people with no bloody sense of boundaries (not to mention a penchant for giving really abysmal advice).

L

February 17, 2005 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and meanwhile, good luck with the job search and your Oz decision ! Fwiw, I know quite a few people who went to uni there (albeit Melbourne rather than Perth) and they all loved it.

L

February 17, 2005 1:35 PM  
Blogger Singapore Calamari said...

Ok. You Win. At least my relatives are not that quick to give advise on how to lead my life.

But come to think of it, I most probably rank higher than most of my siblings and their own children anyway (according to the ranking you gave). So maybe that is why I don't feel it huh..

You told me so many times, secret to success is to mix around people worse off than you.. *snigger*..
But you can't choose your relatives, so not very fair to say it is your fault.. haha..

Oh, a comment to L on his/her comment :

(Meanwhile I'm like, gah, people, my parents do not need to justify me to you !!! You don't even pay us !!!)

Why the "You don't even pay us" portion ?

February 17, 2005 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "you don't even pay us":

Oh, that was just a snarky moment. I was probably mentally cross-referencing the line "you're not the boss of me" or something.

L

February 17, 2005 4:53 PM  
Blogger Amazonian said...

Hey L... best of luck in life, matey. So glad we met.

February 17, 2005 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi amazonian - thanks for the good wishes ! (Actually visited your blog from the earlier link here and was really impressed by your bravery in just packing up and going to Oz - I would never have had the nerve to do that). My best wishes for the Aussie PR quest and life in general :) !)

February 17, 2005 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, that last post was from me, ie. L.

L

February 17, 2005 6:25 PM  
Blogger Calamity Man said...

actually the secret of success is to lead people smarter than you. you'd be in trouble if you're smarter than them. the foundation of the team will be weak.

the other thing is also to find a "league" where you are always first or at least 2nd or at worst 3rd. if you can't be even 3rd, it's time to create a new league.

i'm in the mid of all these right now, so cant say if they actually work although im sure they will eventually.

February 17, 2005 7:13 PM  
Anonymous dawn said...

like they always say...you can choose your friends, unfortunately not family. but you can always ignore them (though sometimes it's hard). when we were working overseas, people have this mindset that we'll come back with lots of money. but when they see that we didnt, they start to criticise our decision. they dont even want to listen to how intrinsically happy we were at that country. how simple our life was and how free our minds were at not having to think of issues like CPF cut etc (as mentioned by ur relatives). all they want to see is the tangibles...top of their list : money.
if they knew we are planning to leave, i'm sure they'll use that 'go overseas still dont make money' statement to criticise us. at the moment, i'm not sharing my plans with any of my family members and personal friends.

February 18, 2005 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is, your relatives are small minded people. Perhaps like you, they like to complain at every darn thing and focus only on the negative aspects. Lots of people never face the questions regarding job/marital status/ etc during CNY. CNY is just a fun time to gather and gamble. So, not all Singaporeans are like that.

February 23, 2005 3:42 AM  

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