Friday 31 May 2024

Month of May 2024


What life can give is always a surprise. You won't know what might happen the next day, month or year. One and a half years ago, I met a long lost neighbour, M (mentioned here). Since then, we occasionally had lunch. Well, his father passed away this month. I remember him as a stern person who was constantly out working and provided generously for his family. From young, I only had fleeting moments of interactions with him. As I stayed in the unit above, it was easy for me to frequent his home and that's where friendship with his children (2 sons, 2 daughters) blossomed. So at the wake, I was part sad and part excited. The moment I entered the door, the youngest son, H, immediately recognized, shook my hand and gave me a hug. Then the eldest sister, S, walked over and cheerfully called out my name. In that moment, I instantly felt the reconnection and teared up a little. These were my playmates whom I have not seen for more than 30 years! M gave a wave from his seat as he was busy with several people. Formalities over, H sat with me and we recounted our many wonderful memories. Times where we celebrated birthdays, squeezed into my aunt's car for school drop offs, played catching, travels together, tuition at the same table, snacking and basically goofing around. Midway, I interrupted him and put a finger on my lips as I walked over to a further table where his mum and second sister, L, were at. Both of them looked up when I extended a hand. Auntie B asked what's my surname and I answered. Then, she broke a big smile and L followed suit. "My boy! You have grown so much!" Auntie held onto my hand tightly as she exclaimed. "Yes Auntie B, it's been that long. I have missed you all so much." Again, I could feel a tear about to drop. The wake became a family reunion. I stayed for three hours and spoke to them individually. Previously, when I moved out of the unit, it was to return home to stay with my parents and I don't remember a farewell of any kind. There were no mobile or email contacts at that time. Never did I expect to be reunited with them on such an occasion. Before leaving, all of them shook my hand and told me to keep in touch. For sure, Auntie, my brothers and sisters, little brother is now only a call away.

Over a sumptuous lunch, my cousin B revealed he had finally achieved FIRE. His last day of work was two weeks before and been busy packing up for a long overseas trip. As B said, he had not really taken a decent holiday break since he started working. But his situation is quite unique. B's family previously lived in Australia due to his job posting under a local big name company. Then he switched career and joined another local big brand, this time based in Singapore along with his family. Our relationship is as close as it can get, I stayed in his house (the unit mentioned in above paragraph) since baby time, under the foster care of his mother. He and his elder brothers took good care of me and I treat them as my siblings. Obviously, I'm very happy that B's life turned out well and he's probably the envy of everyone. Yet I am a little downcast because deep down, I know the next lunch date would likely be far away. One year ago, B's wife and daughter had moved to Australia (again!) for the latter to further her studies. They bought a house and barring any situation change, B will fulfill his dream of living the rest of his life there. He had planned for this a long time ago, I witnessed from when we were young, he spoke of intentions and with careful spending, investment luck and solid saving, he's earned it. His so called overseas trip is a relocation exercise and although he promised that he has not turned his back on Singapore, the opportunity to catch up would be limited. When lunch ended, after many jokes and laughter, B let out his final secret of the day. Shaking my hand, he said, "Take care, I'm leaving tomorrow night. Come visit me when you can." Bon voyage, I wish you the very best in life, Brother B.

The kids had completed school exams so my wife and I made plans to go to Johor on the eve of Vesak Day with some friends. The guys penciled in morning golf while the ladies could do brunch and shop. A few days before the trip, plans changed. Security at the checkpoints was tightened due to a recent terrorism related incident. Traffic to pass through customs was a big question mark. Rather than cancelling, two couples decided to go in a day earlier. It was a working Monday. I had to finish a meeting, pick my wife up and we were on our way, breezing through Woodlands Checkpoint at 4pm on an acceptable forty minutes jam. The other couple joined us by evening and we went for Mala dinner. Settling down for drinks later at 8pm, a thought suddenly came to us. Immediately, I texted the two other golf flight mates. They must have already finished work and we had spare beds due to a room upgrade. Within minutes, they had responded and decided to make the journey to sleepover with us! We arrived back at hotel around 1130pm and they were having dinner/supper nearby. After a shower, my wife went to bed while I stayed up to open the door for the friend staying with us. I was half asleep while watching television and then jolted up by door knocks. A quick greeting later, I left my friend to do his stuff and headed to bed. A quick glance at the clock showed 1am. The golf kakis were up at 6am and gathered for breakfast. It was then we found out that the two of them arrived so late due to a series of mix up. One, they ate at a place beside what they thought the hotel we were in which had a totally different name. Two, in a rush, they headed to the next hotel which was the right name but the wrong branch location. Three, I had told them to park at level three to facilitate golf bag transfer. Upon reaching the correct hotel, due to confusing signage, they ended up at level four and doubt crept in when they didn't see our cars. Fortunately, they managed to reach our friend in the other room. In total, it took them one hour to go around JB city centre when they were actually seven minutes drive away. The wives laughed so hard after hearing this and one commented, "Next time don't assume... hahahahhhaha."

Tip: Gerard Bertrand Cigalus 2021, explosive scent, delicious honeysuckle and stonefruit

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Finance Investment Movement 45

Sometimes, you know an inevitable situation is about to occur. It may take months or years to conclude. Yet, there's nothing you can do or perhaps choose not to intervene. Take for example the recent closure of Thambi magazine store at Holland Village. My last visit was 1.5 years ago (mentioned here). When I was growing up, it's one of the many physical stores that peddled magazines and publications of various types, from sports to politics to fashion. To me, Thambi stood out (from Bras Basah, Kinokuniya or Borders) not that it had an amazing collection but because of its location. A corner away from the bustling world. A gathering spot for both students and working adults. A place where I could stand up reading a magazine while waiting for a friend to arrive or for the rain to pass. The nearby MRT station wasn't even in the plan at that time and even though the journey home took 45 minutes, it was an area I used to frequent. Unfortunately, the arrival of the internet sealed the fate of Thambi, akin to a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. I am one of the many guilty ones who stopped our patronage thereafter. Today, it's become a happy memory, one that I share with my wife.

Financial planning takes a long time. You have to start somewhere, build a portfolio up and let it roll. Similar to Thambi, the key is to have belief and remain steadfast in your work towards financial security. The lesson we can draw is also to prepare for changes and disruptions. Therefore, insurance and emergency funds are the foundation before any foray into other investments. I have put those in place while the SSB plan is still in progress. However, there's a bigger than expected renovation expense that's upcoming which I'm saving up for in the next few months.

Tip: Le Petit Caillou 2016, good nose, young berries, to be enjoyed now