Monday, May 07, 2018

Goodbye OneWorld Sapphire

2018 marks the final year of my OneWorld Sapphire status. To be exact, November 2018. It is really nice being pampered and all that, and what I'll miss most is the wonderful people of the Qantas Lounge in Changi Singapore. You guys and gals (Ronaldo, Eric, Gim, Michelle, and so many more) are the very people who make the lounge experience special, for without you, it's just another lounge.

With every progression I made and continue to make in my career and life, I realize it is even more important to stay grounded and remain humble. What is the point of chasing status miles? It's a question I ask myself quite often, actually. It's also worth mentioning that I'm on a mission to get rid of the excess to focus on what’s truly important.

In many instances when I was at the airport (let's say Changi), I was contemplating whether or not to head to the lounge. I simply wasn't feeling it. If I have to think so much instead of just making my way there straightaway, I knew right there and then that it's just not my style.

It's nice to have attained and retained that coveted status (as a goal-oriented person, I totally dig this), but that's about it. Here's where the excitement ends—when the goal was achieved. So, what's the meaning of it all? I'm not a hotshot or a high profile executive or a socialite, or a frequent traveler with lots of needs. I simply don't need the status. It's also more interesting to be out and about with the general population.

So what happens if I want to access a lounge whenever I fancy or need it? I've got my alternative unlimited Priority Pass lounge access to continue combining the best of both worlds in budget and luxury travel. I might even reconsider flying Air Asia and risk delayed flights 90% of the time. Now, let me ponder on that last point for a little bit more...

Monday, March 26, 2018

Donating My Books

Every month or so, I donate some books from my personal library here in Singapore. Over the last 2.5 years of staying in Singapore, I have managed to accumulate quite a lot in my small apartment. It's amazing how one book can so quickly multiply into hundreds. I have completely succeeded in ignoring my mom's warning and reminders on not to build a "new collection"—sorry mom...

I only started this donation practice in Singapore. I am usually quite a hoarder and I love collecting books and build my personal library. However, recently I got a bit Zen and thought I wanted to make space and contribute to the society. The National Library Board Singapore provided me with a great solution to my cause with their book exchange corners. I've been donating my books ever since.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Finding My World, by Walter T. Yurt

Saturday... It was one of those days when I just wanted to stay home and read. Play with my bookshelves. Flip pages. Decide which book I'll be donating next to the Book Exchange Corner at the various Singapore public library locations (mine is Central).

I did all of the above, except for going to the Book Exchange Corner at the Central Public Library. More about that soon in the next post where I share the pile I've decided to donate.

So, while going through my already-overflowing bookshelves in Singapore, I decided to tackle Walter T. Yurt's book, Finding My World, which I bought early last year during one of my monthly trips home to Malaysia. Speaking of Malaysia, it's almost three years now for me since my move to Singapore!

In this book, Walter talks about his trips in Southeast Asia to Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos; outside of SEA in Hong Kong and his family trip in Disney World. He usually makes short trips, ranging from one day to four days, and I went like, "Hey! That sounds like me." I am The Weekend Traveler!

He started of with:

One of the greatest things in my great life is the fact that no matter where I end up, the unfamiliar that I get to encounter, along with the familiarity of the goodness of the human spirit I receive from people, is a combination that is unbelievable and sometimes indescribable.

And he ended the book saying:
For me, I am at peace with my decision to live a life where the only constant is change and the only certainty is that new adventures are always on the horizon. It's not a life for everyone, but it is the life for me. No matter where I call or don't call home, I know that the feelings I get every year before my annual trip back home to America, the excitement in seeing my loved ones, the anticipation in experiencing what, if any changes I can see and feel in Louisville, are great feelings to have.

Before that, he also said something that resonated very much with me:
I now live every day knowing that, as I've written before, I have more than one home, which makes me feel like one fortunate guy. I guess for me it was a process—maybe a never-ending process—knowing, feeling and living the fact that almost all expats, and lots of others, too, can have more than one place they call home. Maybe that's the single greatest gift of being an expat.

I loved the fact Walter mentioned McDonald's in Thailand and I have very found memories of being greeted by the Thai version of the Ronald McDonald statues in Hatyai, Phuket, Bangkok, Krabiwell, pretty much in every parts of Thailand I had been to. As you can see below, that's Ronald McDonald smiling and his palms pressed together in the wai (the customary Thai greeting). Makes me happy every time I see this guy.

A post shared by Alice Teh (@aliceteh) on

I was smiling away reading the part where his friend Stephen was being mistaken as a Vietnamese and I was thinking to myself, everywhere I go in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia,  and so on, I was being mistaken for either a Japanese or Korean. I even had a Korean lady speaking to me in Korean in the lift in one of the hotels in Siem Reap because she thought I was a fellow Korean! It was quite funny.

I loved the way he interacted with the locals and natives and how he treated his guides and drivers. I also loved his mode of exploring the places he visited: WALKING! Good man, this Walter T. Yurt. I supposed because his style of traveling is so similar to mine, I like him more and more as a fellow traveler each time I flipped the pages.

This is an interesting read, and I believe it's something that every traveler who has been and is traveling in Asia and beyond can relate to. I am going to spread the love and donate this book to the Book Exchange Corner. May Finding My World finds its way to a new loving home.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

LOUSIANA CATCH, by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Lousiana Catch by Sweta Vikram

Paperback: 268 pages
Author: Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Publisher: Modern History Press (April 10, 2018)
ISBN: 9781615993529

My name is Ahana Chopra, and I was born and raised in the most ludicrous city in the world: New Delhi. Sometimes, I feel New Delhi doesn’t understand me. Other times, I don’t understand it. 
And just like that, I was drawn into Ahana's world and her story. Ahana is a heroine recovering from marital rape.

Louisiana Catch is a book with a purpose and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It took me longer than expected to finish the book not because I didn't like it, but because I've just taken on a new role two weeks ago with my company. I'd completed my very first project and go-live with the client. During those two weeks that I had to part with the book, I was thinking a lot about Ahana and the people in her life—her Mumma, her cousin Naina who is like a sister to her, her ex-husband Dev, her charming colleague Rohan, and a few others. I have built quite a relationship with the characters in Louisiana Catch and I must say I loved Ahana and Rohan! Although I had to stop reading because of my work, I finished the book in less than two days when I was able to pick it up again after my new work situation had settled down. This is a book that makes long bus rides to and from work unnoticeable...

Earlier I mentioned this is a book with a purpose. The story highlights the emotional and psychological battles that women of marital rape face, and how that impacts their actions, relationships, and every-day life. At times I wanted to slap Ahana for the way she reacts and forms her opinion and judgement about people, but then I thought to myself, I had never gone through what she had gone through. She's strong and weak at the same time, but that's what I loved about her. She's human.

As a person who practices yoga, I absolutely loved how Sweta, who is a certified yoga instructor, has weaved yoga into the story. I loved how supportive the people in Ahana's life are. Sweta has a way with words and I was in tears a few times. I was thoroughly absorbed in the Indian culture and although the book is set in NOLA (New Orleans), it also gives a rich taste of New Delhi.

I really, really enjoyed this book. Will I be reading more of Sweta Vikram's work? Of course!

About the Author
Sweta Srivastava Vikram, featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning author of 11 books, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, mindfulness writing coach, and wellness columnist. Sweta’s work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nine countries on three continents. A graduate of Columbia University and a certified holistic health counselor, Sweta performs her work, teaches creative writing workshops blending yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, and gives talks at universities and schools across the globe. She lives in Queens, NY with her husband.
Contact Links

A note of appreciation:
I would like to thank Sweta Vikram for contacting me and giving me the opportunity to read and review Lousiana Catch before its release date.

Where to buy Lousiana Catch

Lousiana Catch by Sweta VikramAbout the Book: Ahana Chopra, a wealthy thirty-three-year old New Delhi woman and newly minted divorcee, flees the pain of her mother’s death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate a debut international conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, off ends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer.

Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium brings the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to trust as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues, both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Where Have I Been?

"The only thing that is constant is change." Heraclitus of Ephesus
(c. 535 BC – 475 BC, Greek philosopher)

Heraclitus is known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, and that is certainly true in my universe. In my 40 years of life (coming to 41 soon), I have come to love change and embrace it—change is good. I was very happy in my work life, so to stir things up a bit, I recently took on a new role within my company and with that role comes a steeeeeeep learning curve. I have to learn an entirely new tool and that tool is to be deployed for the new client I'd be serving, and guess what, I have less than a month before the go-live!

That was why I disappeared off the radar for almost a month as I frantically set myself up, got myself up to speed, built relationship with my new colleagues, and while I was at it slept/ate/played a lot less.

All is good now. Nothing is impossible. If you have strong support from your team members, you can handle anything! I certainly thrived and here's to more hectic days ahead.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kató Lomb, Hungarian Translator and Polyglot (1909-2003)

A few days ago, I received Alex Rawlings' book, How to Speak Any Language Fluently, which I ordered from I'm now on page 84 of the book. Kató Lomb was mentioned in the introduction, so I started to research more about her.

My research brought me to this website called TESL-EJ and I found three books by the late Hungarian translator and polyglot. They're available for free on this website in the PDF format. I've downloaded all of them and I'm so grateful to TESL-EJ for making these available to us.

Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, Second Edition

Translated by Ádám Szegi and Kornelia DeKorne (215 Pages, PDF only)

Excerpt from Chapter 1: What Is Language?

There may be no other word in the world that has as many connotations as this noun does with its few letters. For an anatomist, it will recall the set of muscle fibers divided into root, body, blade, and tip. A gourmet will think of tasty morsels in stewed, pickled, and smoked forms on the menu. A theologian will surely be reminded of the day of red Pentecost. A writer will think of a tool that dare not rival Nature, and a poet will imagine a musical instrument. And if spoken by a poet of genius? “You won’t remain with empty hands under the empty sky” (Antal Szerb).

Translated by Ádám Szegi; edited by Scott Alkire (212 Pages, PDF only)

About the Book: Kató Lomb (1909–2003) was one of the great polyglots of the 20th century. A translator and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world, Lomb worked in 16 languages for state and business concerns in her native Hungary. She achieved further fame by writing books on languages, interpreting, and polyglots. In With Languages in Mind, originally published in Hungary as Nyelvekről jut eszembe… (1983), Dr. Lomb presents her views on subjects ranging from language differences, language use, the inherent compromises in interpreting, and language learning.

Harmony of Babel: Interviews with Famous Polyglots of Europe

Translated by Ádám Szegi (215 Pgs, PDF only)

About the Book: In the late 1980s the distinguished interpreter and translator Kató Lomb profiled and interviewed 21 of her peers in search of answers to basic but deep questions on the nature of language learning. She asked:

“When can we say we know a language?”
“Which is the most important language skill: grammar, vocabulary, or good pronunciation?”
“What method did you use to learn languages?”
“Has it ever happened to you that you started learning a language, but could not cope with it?”
“What connection do you see between age and language learning?”
“Are there ‘easy’ and ‘difficult,’ ‘rich’ and ‘poor,’ ‘beautiful’ and ‘less beautiful’ languages?”
“What is multilingualism good for?”
The answers Lomb collected from her interlocutors are singular, provocative, and often profound. Grounded in real-world experience, they will be of interest to linguaphiles who are seeking to supplement their theoretical knowledge of language learning.
All the three book above texts are sourced from the TESL-EJ website.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

MORE Book Quote of the Week: HIT REFRESH, by Satya Nadella

The first time I posted about this was in December last year. I'm still creating these little gems of wisdom from the book and would like to share them here. This is posted every Thursday on my company's Yammer group in Microsoft. Continuing from the first two I posted in December, here are quotes #3 through #10 (in reversed order). Enjoy!

I intend to do this for as long as it is possible. If I find the book in another language, for example, Italian or Swedish, I'll create those in Italian and Swedish too!

Have you read this Hit Refresh? Do you have a favorite quote too? Write to me at