Sunday, March 23, 2008

When 2 lives were nearly lost

This experience I had is one I wanted to write for a long time but I just did not had the time to do it. Its about 2 lives that nearly ended in an accident. It is about being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but somehow, the hand of providence gently nudged you into safety. Here's a recount of that incident that happened 5 days after my daugther Zahra was born in 2003.

Fatimah Zahra, came to us that year and we brought her back to our home on July 27th. It was with much relieve that I got accustom to having another child at home. It was particularly blissful for me to have a baby girl. That faithful Saturday, many of my relatives and friends called and came over to our home. I had a tiring week that time, and decided to go for a run that afternoon, even when folks were coming to visit. Not too polite right, but I decided to just do that run anyway.

Back then, we stayed in Bedok Reservoir and my usual runs were usually done at Bedok. That afternoon, I am not sure what came over me when I decided to take a route that took me past to Jln Eunos finishing at Kembangan MRT station. This was a route that I have never taken before.

I wanted to check out a bicycle shop there after finishing my run. When I reached the bike Shop, the famed up your nose owner of this shop did not make me feel welcome when he realized I rode a 10 year old carbon bike. I left the shop, to make my way down to the MRT station to catch the public transport back home after being snubbed by a rear of a donkey also known as Ah Boon.

There was a religious school behind me as I walked towards the traffic lights to cross a major road. Walking beside me was a 6 maybe 7 year old girl who looked blissfully angelic and like me was waiting to cross this road at the pedestrian crossing. Runners usually make a quick turn to look at the traffic flow before stepping out to cross the road, even if the green lights have changed. As cars on the road stopped, I turned instinctively to my left, .... in slow motion, I saw this girl stepping out of the pavement and into the road oblivious to a speeding Black BMW that was going to hit this girl. I shouted at the girl to stop and pulled her back, failing which that car would have definitely rammed against her and me. The other Chinese pedestrians behind me shouted expletives at that driver and looked at me in amazement for having stopped this girl from crossing. I was at the right place at the right time and I did not know why I took that running route that I have never taken before for a run. That car nearly hit me too.

I turned and in anger I chased that black BMW car until the next traffic lights, that was about 300 m away. The lights were turning from green to red and that car had no choice but to stop as there were other cars that had already stopped in front. Having reached there, I stood before this car and I asked the lady to come out of the car as I furiously told her that she nearly hit me and a little girl. She very defiantly refused to come out and insisted that she had done no wrong as we were not hurt. The very same defiance I have seen many times before, when caught with the hand in the cookie jar. Standing in front of the car, I called the Police and accounted what had taken place. I was told to let her go, because the Police assured me that she will be stopped by the Police officers on patrol near by.

The reckless driver was stopped and asked to account for beating the traffic light and nearly hitting 2 pedestrians that day. I gave a police statement a week later and she was duly charged and fined for what she did.

That was me being at the right place at the right time. That innocent angelic girl, wearing a head scarf, walking carefree, was a sight I still think about frequently. Because that day when I watched and admired her, I was thinking of my own daugther Zahra. In retrospect, this kid, saved my life, cos I was looking at her that day, whilst crossing the road and that averted a near miss. This girl must be about 11 or 12 years old now, I wonder if she still remembers, an Indian guy who ran after a car that nearly hit her.

What has all this got to do with ironman training, .... hey dude, it was a momentous run, that I don't think I will forget.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Audacity of Hope

Today I just want to write about HOPE and Barrack's Obama's take on this. He even rode a book based on the same title. If you have a chance to hear his speeches, you will be amazed how words can be articulated so charismatically. He spoke about hope when Hillary Clinton mocked his speeches as only just empty rhetoric, McCain has started to do the same in his speeches. What amazed me was Barrack's background, a seemingly innocuous small build black man taking on the big boys in American politics without the pedigree heritage of being part of a political clan, like Bush or the Kennedys.

Hope is a perspective on how you view the circumstances around you. The one single optimistic frame of mind that you bring to chaos and challenges that swirls you. Hope was the very rope I held on to when I founded Teamwork Bound then. Between then and now we have reached milestones one after another. What amazes me more about Barrack, is that his campaign unlike all other Presidential hopefuls in the past and inclusive of Hillary and McCain, is not funded by any lobbyist or special interest group. From a little known senator from Illionios, Barrach has stirred so much interest in me, that I am following the American Presidential campaign and with an e-mail update from their website. Tonight, I received an e-mail from the Barrack's campaign team. They have since surpassed 1 million donors who have donated between $5 and $25 dollars each and this includes the 10 straight victories he has achieved against Hillary. This excites me even more to read about this man. And within the pages of this book, "The audacity of hope" lies the story of a simple man, who made it past a struggle to perhaps become the next president of the United States.

Simply amazing.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Short Fast run

Yesterday evening I decided to get a feel of how my knee is acting up. I went for a short run that took me behind Punggol to the temple, MRT station and back. That run was invigourating. Some how when I run fast, the pain on the knee is minimal. The reason being, the contact time between the right foot and the ground is fast before I stride forward with the next foot. The timex heart rate monitor worked really well. I switched my zone training zone to 5 as I averaged 169 on the number of heart beats per minute.

I finished the run in 23 minutes and for once I felt like a runner I was many years ago. No more a struggling runner, but a runner striding forward in style. I am trying to gain mass as well. I am making sure I am eating right with the correct intake of proteins, so that I do not lose weight. For this month and the next, I plan to run short distances with gym work outs to strengthen the muscles.

On the biz front we are taking on great strides, for last week we finished a 1 day training program, for Institute of Technical Education lecturers. The youngest of whom was 49 and the oldest 59. They had at least 20 years of teaching experience amongst them. I was really worried about how we will make an impact on their team building and strategy planning program. Our program was a resounding success as out of the blue one teacher initiated 3 cheers for us when we finished this program. The teachers in this instance surprised us with their thoughts about education, responsibilities and their commitment towards making a difference in a kid's life. I would like to express my admiration to all of you in this blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Surviving accidents

Not too sure why I am writing about this, but I felt it will be good to pen 2 near accidents that impacted me whilst I got into the regime of training for Triathlons. In 2004, when I joined Valuair airlines as the Manager for Crisis Planing, I was training earnestly for my first triathlon. That year I joined the tri familiy club for training sessions on Sundays. That year, I spent quite a fair bit of my time traveling and I was attending night classes at Nanyang Technological University as well. Swimming became my least practised disciplne, given the hectic schedule I had.

On one of these sessions the tri familiy folks arranged for a training session that had an 800 m swim 30 K bike ride and a 5 K run at Sentosa. That morning I arrived early at Tanjong Beach to join them for this training session. I was so cocky, I did not even bring a pair of googles with me me that day. I was excited, this was my first triathlon technically and I was all prepared to do well. When the swim started, all of us rushed into the shore and started the swim session like pros. I knew the distance was only 800m so I was keen to push hard that day. In the back of my mind I also wanted to reward myself after this training session with a pair of new wheels I had wanted to purchase. Between the front crawling pros and me a breast stroker, there was a fundamental difference. They had the stamina and skill, whilst I lack both the stamina and skill and compensated these critical competencies with absolute stupidity convoluted on andrenaline. I was sprinting just to keep pace with the other swimmers as we swam away from the shore line.

To describe my swim, I can compare it only to a run, where you sprint out in sheer madness for a 10 K race only to stop at 100 metres to catch your breath. Well I was catching my breath 100 m from the shoreline, having drank water, panicking and sinking into the water like a leaking canoe, there was nothing there to stand on, except, a sudden drop into the base of this lagoon.. I saw the marker as I struggled to breath in air and water .. it indicated 4 m. I sank in again and I realized, this time I may just drown. I will not forget this moment for at that momentous point, my son, my girl and my wife flashed across my mind. I had to stay calm and I knew that the sea will take me in if I panicked even more, I struggled up again and drank in more water, until I started to tread. I swam towards the shore until I could feel the sand below my feet. I looked in front, perplexed and relived as the other swimmers have already swam away and were on their way back. I was the only guy at the back. Made a decision to just swim slowly to complete this training session. No one knew what happened that day, as I became the last guy to come out of the water and rode my bike for 30K. I had a young boy who rode behind me. Finished the ride in good time and ran the 5 K distance slowly.

It felt good to finish a training session and I rewarded myself with an upgrade on my bike with asesories that cost me $1500. I took a cab back that day from Sentosa, and I also realised I was spared that sunday morning. I nearly drowned on that fateful day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2 Good Bike mechanics

I have been riding a racing bike ever since I was 21. Between then and now, I have ridden 3 bikes, the latest being the Leader frame I am using now. For over 12 years I have also visited practically most of the bicycle shops in Singapore. There is Ah Boon in Changi, who will only want talk to you if you are willing to spend 5 grand at his shop. If you have not parted with at least a fair bit of yr bonus he will think twice before even fitting a speedo on your bike. I think the cyclists in Singapore who ride Orbea will know him.

Then again you have Jerome and Jasni, two bike mechanics I found at TEFbikes shop at Thomson road. These are the two chaps who fixed my bike. I knew Jerome from way back in Bedok when I new him as a family friend. Not many guys would have made sacrifices like him. He worked right after school so that his elder brother could make it through to the University. He fixed my Cadex when I entered the powerman race in 2004. And every time he leaves one bike shop for another, I will track him down so that I can get him to fix my bike. He is fit too and he rides very well.
Jasni and Jerome from TEFbikes
Well, Jasni was involved in getting my Bike fixed and he did a very good job at it. I asked him to cut my bull horns and he hesitated. He did not go ahead with it even after 4 days when my bike was left at his shop. I was so glad he did not cut it. For today, I rode the new frame for 60Km and it flew. My speed was in the range of 28km/hr to 35km/hr and I was able to maintain my aero position for 60 % of the distance, from Punggol to Pasir ris, Changi Vilage, Coastal rd, Fort road and back to Punggol again. A morning ride that started at 7.30 am in the morning ended at 9.30 am when I was able to get back home.

Both Jasni and Jerome come without any airs, much to say about Wilson (owner) too. A decent chap and ex cyclist who will do the right job for your bike irregardless of who you are. Not your Ah Boon or Ah Tan, the famed conster who sold Italian Sammochini frames in the 1990's and we all know the only thing Italian about that frame was the sticker. More importantly, both of them are riders too. You don't need to part with a bug or two to be treated well here. These guys are genuine and I respect both of them for what they have done for my bike. Cycling is something that I do that is close to my heart and these guys did a great job in piecing my frame and bike parts together. In finding TEFbikes, I found good folks I can say are also now my friends. I will vouch for these two guys anytime.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bike at the workshop

Well, last week I had to send the bike to the bike shop to complete the last pce of adjustment on my bike. The key changes, requiring me to shorten and tighten the cockpit before I get myself crashed. With the current alignment my hands are off the breaks at it takes at least a second for me to react to slow down. Likewise I need to move my had up to shift my gears.

Hence the bike had been in the shop for 1 week and I will ride it out today. In between, I have running and I had to be KL for 2 days for work. It was tight week. My runs are getting longer and yesterdays run was long and slow. My ITB is acting up and this is worrying me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Struggles and being an underdog

Yesterday I took my son out for a 12K run. He rode his bike whilst I ran behind him. Each step was a struggle, it meant overcoming, obstacles and the dread of repeating the same actions as I mentally thought about how I will manage the portion of the road my son will have to ride on.

As I write my blog, I also reflect quite a fair bit about my own business struggles, when I take on the big boys. I don't have an extensive network, nearly 98% of my clients are folks I have met for the first time. Today I chanced across a familiar face on the Republic Poly's faculty staff, appointed as as an associate academic. Great he served as a Director previously in a government office and is still holding on to a similar position. Access to various contacts he has also serves as a freelance trainer in a company he founded and is listed as a freelance trainer now.

Heck, all the clients listed there are government entities that he gets access to working in his current position. Should I sent a proposal to this entity will my work get past the stage of getting our work approved? It amazes me, even at a level of a director, there is a seeming greed to benefit from the opportunities that comes one's way. Hence that is why I struggle, in my biz with the likes of these folks who just create another wall. Look the qualification you hold wld have been probably founded by me, as a tax payer. The overseas program you have done wld not a carry a signature of the pay you have received as senior civil servant.

This is the same behaviour I saw on part of a Expat GM, whilst working as the General manager at the Hospitality instituition, he went on to established a pub on the side. This included, sending invitations to patrons and customers in the database that he had accessed too. He served 2 years, started another organization and profited from that. He walked out leaving the organization whilst being hailed a hero. All these taking place under the nose of the HR manager who did nothing but attend the gatherings that were initiated at this pub.

I write with bitterness for one reason, I struggled to complete my master's prgm at NTU not because of the study, but for me to complete my thesis I had to leave my full time job, to complete my research. I sponsored myself paying over $60,000, to complete my education from a degree to a master's qualification. I partake in one hardest races in the world and I completed the Singapore's ironman race in 2007. We challenge you head on as we pick up the little pieces of work that come our way.Graduating in 2007 Nanyang technological University
It amazes me how the director of International Experiential learning outfit also runs an audit and ropes building company providing services to very organization he audits. Is this the culture that stems fair play. The very same mindset individuals who work in these entities bring forth , even whilst serving as a public servant. Hence here is where we struggle where individual benefits based on the positions they hold in public office walking tall and talking smart.

The very same chap's clients are the very same client I am competing for. Like the struggle I go through to finish my 12K run, I know, you carry a crutch mentality where you are only as good as the contacts you have in the office you bear responsibilities. Motivated by easy profit, you lack the ability to provide a curriculum that makes a difference. I don't see you as someone superior in fact, you are weak.

Let me share with you some of our hardest days. For 1 year we suffered. It was hard, to the extend, where I will pack my food so that I did not have to buy lunch when I am out making a sales call. 6 months into our biz, we did not have a ready stable of clients. I knocked on many doors and I walked so as save money when I had to find a MRT station. It came to a point, when I even decided that I will now take on part time jobs at night so that I can still keep Teamwork Bound running. Just when I resolved to working at night be it cleaning or waitering, we got our first break, second and a third. God was with us and I remembered crying at the mosque, thinking what I was putting my children, through, because in 2 months we would have exhausted all our funds.

That is why I love the ironman races, where the brave and decent folks stand in line to run a fair race. Where gentlemen compete, whilst folks like these with a crutch, watch on the sidelines. Take that crutch away, you are no more then a handicapped weakling, with 2 legs.

This is me taking you on.