Thursday, November 17, 2005

Petaling Jaya

Petaling Jaya (PJ) is a suburb, or satellite area, of Kuala Lumpur. I'm not sure if PJ is really a city as it pretty much spans everywhere west of KL. Addresses in PJ are remarkably "structured" yet damn confusing. The area is divided into numbered sections, which to further confuse things are denoted with just S or SS. It takes me a while to understand addresses in PJ, especially these sections are not necessarily 'in order', i.e. section number is increasing going North. No, you can find S52 between S8 and S9.

I work in, I believe, section 4, or S4. It's a commercial/industrial area with many old factories, perhaps built in the 60's. It's about 3 km from PJ Newtown (to me it's a newer set of shops and offices) and about 1 km from PJ Oldtown (guess what, an older set of shops and offices). As is in KL, roundabouts are everywhere. Some are effective, some others aren't and just actually make things worse during the rush hours.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Just got to know another public holiday: Deepavali (or Diwali in India?). Call me ignorant, but this year is the first year I'm in a country that celebrates Deepavali. As long as it's a day off, I'm good.

From wikipedia:

Diwali, also called Deepavali is a major Hindu festival that is very significant in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Known as the "Festival of Lights," it symbolises the victory of good over evil, and lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for mankind. Celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional diyas (as illustrated). Fireworks are associated with the festival.

Diwali is the name used by North Indians for the festivals while South Indians call it Deepavali. However, both names literally translated mean the same, which is "row of lights".

Diwali is celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja. It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. Diwali comes exactly twenty days after Dussehra. Hindus, and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. For Hindus it is one of the most important festivals, and beginning of the Hindu year. Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the time when Lord Rama achieved victory beating Ravana. It is also a significant festival for the Sikh faith. In modern India, Diwali is now considered to be more of a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tea breaks

Among the culture shocks I've experienced, tea breaks is one of a few that stands up. Every day at 10 AM and 3 PM, many people take a 15-minute tea break. Of course, it usually takes longer than fifteen minutes because they just don't drink tea, but have some snacks as well. Many people even go as far as half-portion of nasi lemak. It's confirmed, by a Malaysian friend working at BCG, that it's the culture, especially for the government workers. WTF! We ain't a government corporation.

This tea breaks must be one of the European, or more specifically, British customs. As this website says frequent tea breaks are the bane of office productivity, I can't agree more. Having spent most of my professional development in the U.S. these breaks are just total productivity loss. But there's also arguments for the tea breaks. This article, The Case Against Global Culture, argues that the tea breaks allow interactions with people, which in business context will help cooperation on work issues.

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