Friday, February 20, 2009

Last Days of the Empire

I have been busy these past few days since learning that the transfer date is mid April. The mind gets focused when a deadline is finally set. So I have spent a lot of time training my replacement, publishing the news of my coming departure, planning for the transition, continue the project work and installation, thinking about what to do with my flat and how to break the news to my kids. I have also been rushing my readings because I think I will not have the same incredible library resource as we have here. I have also been calling the immigration and real estate agents to help define a decision.

I am also trying to complete my Toastmaster advanced certificate. So it feels like a mad rush to do everything during my last few weeks here. Despite these frenzied activities I still feel that the move will not push through. It's like my body is doing the motions but my mind is logically constructing some sort of event that will bring down my house of cards. But the whole office is reacting that I will be leaving soon. So I sometimes feel that it's a surrealistic situation like a Kafka story. And everywhere around me there is the constant drumbeat of the economic crisis, recession, layoffs while in the office it's all about change and transformation and moving office and closing down here.

It's the end game and I am playing my role with a broken arm. I cannot help but feel handicapped in all these events but surely a significant change is coming upon me. Not only me of course but my whole family. All these makes me feel that we are in the final days of the empire. When the head office ruled the region in an imperial fashion but due to the dictates of economics and the changing landscape, the head office suddenly finds itself in a losing battle with the rising titans of India and China. It's a change in the life scape of many people here but we just trudge along as if the end will never come. Maybe things will turn out right for all of us.

I am reading a pictorial book about postcards from British Malaya. The pictures from the turn of the previous century give light to the works of Somerset Maugham. I can now imagine the settings of his stories, the bungalows in the edge of the forest, the English office buildings, the surrounding jungle, the Malays - the common people and royalty. It's a good fitting book to read at the end of my tenure here. I am also reading Dan Roam's excellent book 'Back of the Napkin' about visual thinking. It's the standard text for improving one's visual thinking skills. It's a broader discipline than just simple mind mapping. He provide quite a well thought out framework for visual thinking. I hope this is one of the tools that I can use in my new job.

Last night we had dinner with the former president of the Philippine office. He is returning to Australia as he took the retrenchment package. We had a nice time as he told jokes and railed against the current management. I can't help but feel that it's the end of days with his departure. I often had some arguments with him in the past but I guess I always liked him. He is the type of person that goes for the underdog, who likes sports and has no airs about him. He said that the best times he had was when he was back in the Philippines. As I always said that the worst decision he ever made was leaving that country. I guess he is the stuff of legends returning down under to start a new business.

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