Untitled Journal

What's the story, morning glory?

Category: Work


Right, since there is 85% chance I’m going back to my town, I first would like to think of things I’m going to do:

1. Eat Thornton ice cream

2. Eat Chicken Tikka Masala at Kebab House in Headington

3. Eat M&S’ potato gratin

Homaigod.. I think I sound like a fat girl already.

4. Buy panties and bras at M&S – I swear they make the most comfortable lingeries.

5. Take a drive to Burton-On-The-Water

6. Sit at Borders in Broad St in Oxford – I used to do this with Fakhrul when we had nothing to do.

7. Stalk HMV to find DVDs I couldn’t find in Malaysia – Before Sunset, Great Expectations, A Good Year, East is East, to name a few.

8. Take a bus no. 400 or no. 7A from Headington to Oxford town, as this was my transportation for the whole 6 years when I was there.

9. Walk to Oxford Brookes campus

10.  Have hot chocolate at M&S in Summertown. This was where I always wait for Fakhrul until he finishes his office hours during the last few months before going back to Malaysia.

Actually I’ll be there for work, but I’m going swallow some water while diving (sheesh, sounds stupid when I direct-translate it like that!) and take few more days to reminisce the place that means so much to me. When I was about to leave UK for good, I installed one thought in my head to overcome the grief and sadness of leaving that place: I’m going to visit this place again someday. When I got back and started earning in RM, I realize how distant the idea actually is. I might never ever go back since it makes more sense to spend my money travelling to other places I’d never been yet. But then I get lucky. Really, really lucky.

But the downside is, I’ll be leaving Daisy for a week. This is the first time I’ll ever be apart from her, sleeping without her by my side, kicking my head. And it’ll be so great if I could bring her and introduce her to all of my friends, who had only known her through pictures.

And therefore;

   Yes, that’s me alright..

Busy Building

You know my absence here means I’m doing my other job right, on the other side. I think this one looks great, don’t you think so?

And phew – now I don’t have to hide anymore: See this link!

Write again to you soon.

The Credit is Due

I’ve been on the road, on the drawing board and constantly on my emails trying to coordinate a project. I am knackered physically and even more mentally. This project is sort of like a milestone in my career, when been given such a hard task to be the local architect for an international project, I just can’t afford to overlook anything at all. At this design stage, my task is sort of like being a middle man to the client and the UK’s leading design architect. I’m feeding these Brits the local requirements and comment their designs and then convince to the clients and project manager to buy that idea. Its starting to take its toll on me, Daisy’s been realizing that I am more absent than before and I seem to be too tired to attend to her whenever I’m around.

I’m lucky though, to have a husband who has the same profession as me. People commented a lot, how boring it must be to marry an architect when you’re an architect yourself. But I differed, because its not just a great thing to be speaking the same language everyday, I not only found a best friend to talk to but also a colleague who apprehends the demand of this job, responding to my work troubles instead of just listening. It makes the husband and wife relationship distressful when we can relate to each other all the time.

But sometimes when you do too much, you start to wonder whether people notice your hard works or not. Then last week the client called me and mentioned how impressed she was with my email correspondences with the UK architect, that before I took on this project, communications failed and the project didn’t progressed much due to that. She loves my way of explaining things, the language I use and how I put humor in such a stressful situation. Obviously I was over the moon and found hard to get down for awhile. But really, its just emails. The client probably didn’t know that writing is natural to me. And I think that was the first time I ever received acknowledgement since I started working in Malaysia.

I have my fair share of getting work experience in UK. I worked for 2 years in two architectural practices with substantial amount of impressive local portfolios. Not to mention the part time temporary jobs at department stores all those years as a student. Suffice to say I’m used to being given credit for hard works. Even when I was selling furniture, my floor manager would tap my back and say “Good job” for arranging the layout of the furniture department. That was just moving sofas and tables here and there, its kind of no brainer and every second person in this world do that in their living rooms. And it is the same case when I was working as architectural assistant. The associates I worked under never failed to say “Nice drawings..!” or “That’s great that you found out about that Eco windows..” whenever I seemed to did something right. Even these UK architects I’m delegating with right now will mention things in their emails like “Thank you Shaliza for updating us with the outcome of the meeting so promptly, even you were probably tired from your travelling..” and the other architect on the team will follow it with, “I have to join Chris to say thanks for the update and for your good work in presenting our concepts at the meeting.”

Compliments and kind words seem to flow like water in the river from mouths of the British. And it gets really frustrating in Malaysia when you’re not acknowledged the same way, especially from your bosses who also happen to be your parents. People tend to highlight on what you do wrong, but when you do something right, it is considered that’s just your job. I was so happy that the email from the UK architects circulated also to my parents and every single person involved with the project. And now in every email, everybody seems to make a culture to acknowledge the hard works of each other, and that it even came from the least expected person to do that, which is the project manager who all this while seemed vulgar. And my reply to them will be, “Theo, I only did a good job at presenting your concepts at the meeting because you’ve been feeding me with substantial amount of information, and didn’t leave me hanging with just drawings or pretty pictures. So, good job you too!”

My friend argued that in Malaysian context when praises were given, it could easily be misinterpreted as an excuse to boast back or be bossy. Well of course, compliments should be given accordingly, not overwhelmingly. But I find all these credits been given seem to be working on upgrading my motivation to do things even better than before, to outshine the previous compliment, to impress them until they run out of words. I give credits to all my assistants, even to the cleaner boy who after praising the cleanliness of my office, I find it now recently that my room is not only clean, but smells good too.

So if you’re a boss or has someone working under you or with you, give credit when credit is due. Make it a culture. I can assure you that psychologically people tend to seek for more credits, praises or compliments because its a good feeling. And lets just hope the way they want more compliment is by doing more hard, good or even better works.

Ending the Stressing

Over this past month I probably just had the hardest time at work. I swear I’ve tried to write about something else than this, but it is all I have in my head right now. As you probably have known from my previous ranting post, things were happening all at the same time that made me have occasional resentment for being an heir to a company. In the past as a paid worker, a normal employee without any remotely important positions in the company, I had less to think about. I got a job, execute the best I could, get paid, settled my bills and the rotation started again.

Its funny sometimes when I think about it. Architecture is one of the most expensive course to study, a difficult one to pass (I doubt I’ll make it professional before the age of 40), yet, it feels like one of the most underpaid profession ever! A lot of my colleagues share the same feeling. Its almost like our profession is like a struggling artists, who will die along with our misunderstood ideas.

I have a great deal of respect to my parents for doing this for the last 20 years or so. I can’t believe this is where I got my money from. Remembering what a snob, ungrateful brat I was, insisting some shopping allowance every month when I was in high school, or expected them to understand so they could give me more whenever I had somewhere to go was such a disappointing thought. I wish I understood this earlier. I heard all the preach about how hard it is to get money but never really understood the true meaning of it until I’m in the business of money-making and family-feeding myself.

It’s a naive thought to think that once you’re on top, your job gets easier. It’s totally the opposite. I have four people under me, with five people under them. Trying to figure out the next task for them to do alone will take almost half of my day. Not mentioning checking what they’ve done and since I don’t necessarily know everything on top of my head, I have to double-check with the others who know better. Then there’s this client who needs five options for their new facade proposal to design, then there’s this meeting, there are maths to do in the claim and accounts, those damn bloody contractors pressing me to issue their certificates, people to interview, my dad who kept asking if I had filled up the Part 3 log book, my mother who kept asking if I had updated the website and the CV. Oui, don’t they know I also have a blog to write? Geez, gimme a minute!

I get a bit overwhelmed with my job from being a nobody who sits quietly at her desk, to this person everybody refer to. It’s hard to convince my mind that this is a rewarding thing to do under such stress as this. I had forgotten what it was like to be one of the staff, who just come in time, do what’s told and get paid on time.

*Major sigh*

PS: By the way, I’m getting my unpaid salaries plus this month salary all in one shot. That’s 3 months pay, baybeee! And we had just been officially appointed by the Ministry of Education to design a boarding school in Pontian, project worth RM38mil. Alhamdulillah. Its not a exactly a big project, but we are not a big office either. And you know what it means, the government is pretty punctual with the claims. May the late salaries I’d been aching from will be the last. See, there’s a happy ending to all sufferings.

Stressing Anchovies Thinking

OK. Entry malas gila. Baik baca cepat sebab ada potential entry ni akan di unpublish. Entry malas nak mampos pikir sebab for the last 2 weeks kepala hotak cramped pasal kerja. Pasal review budak-budak ni. Pasal senior staff nak resign. Nak pujuk orang senior ingat senang ke? Pasal clients lembab macam siput pig tak nak bayar fees. Pasal gaji Febuari dan kemungkinan Mac kena hold lagi sebab nak settle kan dulu gaji staff. Ceh, so much for having your own company,right? At times like this I’d rather be a CAD monkey, an architectural slave been paid on time. Kekadang rasa macam nak join pakcik pisang goreng yang kena kutuk hari tu. Pisang goreng confirm orang beli.

So hari ni dah tak nak cakap pasal benda lain dah. Nak cakap pasal ikan bilis.Masa sekolah rendah dulu, ada sorang kawan nama Hafizah. Dia selalu bawak bekal. Dan mak dia suka bekalkan this one dish with anchovies cooked with green chillies. Bapak sedap ek. Everytime rehat ngan dia, I secretly pray mak dia akan bekalkan dia with that dish. So that boleh ngecek. (Sheesh, is that how you spell it, or is it ngechek?) Anyway, Hafizah ni pun satu, kedekut. Kalau bagi pun sikit je. And being a young blood who constantly hungry at that time, I was ever tak puas hati lah dengan minah kedek ni. Its not like she can’t ask her mom to cook it for her kat rumah pun kan? Bagi je lah!!

Sekarang dah besar panjang dah jadi bini orang, naturally I’ve been attempting to cook the same dish. But selalu tak jadi. Apa pulak selalu, tak pernah jadi lah. So stress.

So the point of this entry is stress. Even when I’m stressed, I’ll think about something that is also stressful. And the next point is, don’t be like me. Someone who put stress on her already stressed mind and body. And someone who would only remember her old friend that is associated to her favorite food.

Whatever, minger.

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