Crazy Rich Asians. Finally, on Tuesday, with Sanoop back home from Australia, we can go see the All-Asian-Cast Hollywood film that’s the talk of the town – and celebrated by some and criticised by others for its representation of super wealthy Chinese families of Singapore as well as its prevalence of a strong British accent over Singlish. Sanoop and I both laugh throughout the film – he finds it ridiculous, silly; I genuinely find it funny, haha. It’s a sweet chick-flick – and I even shed a tear at the final scene, which involves a marriage proposal, of course. My favourite things about the film are: Kina Granni’s Chinese interpretation of Coldplay’s Yellow and how incredibly dashing, exciting, glam and lush Singapore appears, the former giving me goosebumps and the latter almost making me wonder – ‘wow, do people really live in this place’ … ‘how lucky am I that I get to live here??’ We walk all the way home from the cinema in Orchard, down through River Valley and across the river by Robertson Quay, digesting the film in 5 seconds and appreciating the splendour of Singapore on every step of the way.
Thian Hock Keng Temple. Looking up and noticing the contrasts never grows old! After lunch at Kitchen by Food Rebel on Wednesday, my lunch date, a new lovely Danish girl in town, and I wander a bit around in Tanjong Pagar and take a peek into this beautiful Hokkien temple, which is straight across from my office, totally free to enter, extremely impressive, and yet a place I’ve never considered checking out although I’ve walked by multiple times a week over the past 2.5 years, haha. Built in 1839 in an intricate mix of dragons and phoenixes carved in stone, ornamental tiles, brightly painted wood, imposing columns and very many other neat features, it was there way before the glass and steel of the CBD surrounding it! Blissfully tranquil today, it hosts a bunch of events all year round.. latest, to celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival…
Barre & Brekkie. Over the past two years, around 15 friends visiting from Australia, the UK or Denmark have joined me for a morning barre class followed by breakfast at Punch or Ronin. On Thursday, this happens again, with two Danish girls, to whom Singapore has recently become home and whom I’ve met through other expat friends. In all cases, including this, the girls have been new to and highly enjoy the exercise method itself and the ambiance at the studio, something that it’s lovely to then discuss over avocado toast and artfully presented flat whites, haha.
Laksa Love. Thursdays are catered local lunch days at my office, and on this week’s menu is fragrant, spicy, perfect laksa. Yum.
Gratitude. After 3 months with 6 interviews, 5 written assignments, 1 presentation (conducted via Google Hangout, i.e. I was talking to my screen, unable to see the three interviewers who were listening, as I’d only just said hi to them briefly before sharing my screen), lots of excitement, curiosity, adrenaline, varyingly successful attempts at staying cool and collected, and tiny bits of fear, doubt and worry and lots of conscious efforts to expel those sentiments, I finally get a call on Friday night with a job offer at Google in London. Briefly summarised, the (extremely enriching) process has been as follows:
1. Recruiter in Singapore reaches out to me to see if I’m interested in a role as Content Strategist. The role is based in London. It entails a mix of creative writing and strategic thinking, revolving around the user experience of a bunch of cool features related to Google maps, and focussing particularly on emerging markets. Each component and the mix thereof sounds like an absolute dream to me.
2. Talk to Sanoop about whether I should go for it. We both like our current jobs and Singapore. If he’s not keen on moving, I’ll happily stay put. I LOVE the idea of this job. I LOVE London. I LOVE the idea of living in London with Sanoop. I love the idea of being closer to my loved ones in Europe. Sanoop loves the idea of supporting something I love – and of embarking on a new adventure together. He is willing to explore ways in which to use his talent in London. He has lived in Asia for 12 years, and while he does like it here, he would be open to seek West – for the general experience and to be closer to my family in Denmark and his brother in New York. If it’s possible, after these considerations, we love each other even deeper, haha.
3. Feeling the most exhilarating sensation of challenge, and how I’m naturally drawn to this challenge, as I progress through the stages of the application process. Intuitive curiosity, analytical thinking, connecting the dots, diligence, deep concentration – alignment between the subject matter and my areas of interest and talent. Added to this sensation, and definitely also amplifying and self-perpetuating it, is the fact that all of the interviewers seem super sweet, kind, friendly, smart, fun, wise, thoughtful, energetic in a balanced way…. I’m nervous before each interview, but during it I feel myself relax and enjoy the great chemistry and great exchange of interesting questions and answers as well as how the questions lead to spontaneous great conversations. And lots of laughter. After each round, I’m so happy with how it went, but try to calm myself down by saying to myself and Sanoop that those guys probably have good practice in making candidates feel comfortable. As for written assignments, they’re right up my alley and super fun to do. And the presentation – although it’s the first time I’m presenting something without being able to adjust my spiel according to the facial expressions and body language of the audience, I have a good feeling about all of my well-prepared slides and learn that it’s not dangerous at all to share a bit of yourself this way. Welcome to the world of a YouTuber, or any public person, I guess, Sanoop says. Haha, that’s so true. I have no desire to delve deeper into that world, but I like the learning. I don’t believe you necessarily have to challenge yourself just for the challenge…. but I do recognise the valuable learnings of wanting something SO badly, in this case, to be invited to an interview or to do a presentation of your professional experience and skills, your reasons for wanting a job as well as your own personality, only to be so dreadfully nervous about it just before it happens, and then realising during the thing and afterwards that it went well.
4. While point 3 is going on, I simultaneously feel myself reacting in two ways when it comes to my current job. First and foremost, I am grateful that I have a job I like and don’t fear losing. It has been an amazing opportunity for me, and it’s the reason why I’m prepared for this new role. Secondly, rather than checking out or being demotivated as could have happened in a situation like this, I feel some of the adrenaline and diligence from my application process spilling over into my workdays: I am super switched on and productive and invested in the projects I am working on and the people I am working with.
5. And also, while point 3 is going on, I and Sanoop approach the matter with caution. We know the basic stuff – we want to do this – but until we know whether I am going to get the job or not, there’s nothing we can do really. If I do get it, he will have to figure out what his next professional venture is going to be, and so many other things will have to be sorted as well, emotionally and logistically, and we will be moving to a different continent. We want to minimise energy spent on dreaming or worrying about any of these factors. It’s a kind of vacuum, but we want to fill that with lots of meditation, yoga, healthy food, healthy activities, appreciation of Singapore, productive and enjoyable travel, relaxation… Looking back on it now, we manage quite well.
6. On Friday this week, 10 minutes after an English friend of mine, who used to live here but has moved back to the UK, enters our flat with a bottle of sparkling wine, straight off the plane from London to crash at ours over the weekend while catching up with friends here, the recruiter calls me to tell me that all of the feedback was positive and that they can’t wait for me to join the team in late November. My friend squeezes my hand as tears start welling up in my eyes. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel very proud of myself. The most important thing is that you trust yourself and believe in yourself and all that jazz, but to hear that someone else recognises a good potential in you… is nice. And this entire situation is wonderful.
7. Sharing news and thoughts with friends and family in Denmark, London and Singapore.
8. Digesting, processing, saying goodbye and looking forward. After lots of happy tears (on my part) and sweet hugs (on his), Sanoop and I remind each other that we both know that we want this, but that we also want to allow each other and ourselves to embrace and tackle any moments of mellowness or sadness or any other negative feeling that might appear in the next few months with patience and understanding. All weekend, as we hang out in some of our favourite areas, Little India, Bugis, Tiong Bahru and Robertson Quay, we feel like we’re mentally saying goodbye to things, people, habits. Our time in Singapore has been incredible. And while I believe in and am grateful for leaving on a high note, I also do want to honour that. I’m glad that I don’t leave feeling that I should have taken better advantage of my time here – while managing to be more mentally and physically sound than ever before, I’ve simultaneously been so active and soaked in so much good stuff that I almost can’t believe how efficient and lucky I’ve been. We also spend some time looking at flats in London, and it’s nice to feel how naturally excited we feel about doing that – and to discover how many lovely places we easily come across in some of the lovely areas around the office in Kings Cross, such as Islington and Camden.
Singapore Specials. Heading to Little India for Kerala food at Premaas followed by a meander down the colourful back alleys of the neighbourhood – past lush fruit stalls and traditional murals, peeking into new alluring cocktail bars and old opulent mosques. Zigzagging from Little India and over to the National Design Center to check out the beautiful shiny things at Kapok (Sanoop buys a pink T-shirt with ‘HOLIDAY’ written across the chest) and an exhibition on creating a better world by design. Swimming at the Highline every morning, admiring the palm trees lining the massive pool and the glittery reflection of bright, warm sunshine in the water. Dining at Superloco in Rob Quay – delicious fish tacos by the lively riverside. Morning rounds of the joyfully buzzing Tiong Bahru Market – making a mental note of popping by for popiah before we leave. Speaking of that – do I want to make a list of things to do and see and revisit before we leave, or do I just want to see what we’re naturally drawn to? Grabbing food at Little Elephant followed by delicious dairy-free natural ice cream from Creamier with friends visiting from overseas.
Coming Up: The next few weeks are gonna feature Singapore love, barre teacher training in Koh Samui, Asian-American wedding celebrations and hanging out with friends and my parents in Barcelona followed by a ‘kæreste’ holiday in Menorca, an Aussie-Danish wedding in Canggu, Bali, friends visiting from Sydney… and more Singapore love. Stay tuned – it may take me a while to digest and transform this treasure trove into words, haha.