Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Eat Sleep Shit Week (day 3)

The Eat-Sleep-Shit Week is a movement by Jolene Lai to relive the hey-days of blogging, to recover the ability or inclination to spew endless sentences about anything and everything.

"The rules are that you must type everything that happened to you in the past 24 hours and you can add any tid bits from the previous days."- Jolene Lai


It would appear as if everything here works on cronyism and contacts. Like an addict, the local economic growth is dependent on cronyism.

This project exists because someone's friend used to be course mates in the UK with someone who happens to be the relative of a high level provincial officer. The office is rented not based on economic considerations, but because the aforementioned officer's sister has an unoccupied unit. The driver was hired because someone in the public utilities board had a nephew who was in search for work. The receptionist was recommended by somebody because [god knows what].

My existence here is no different, I am somebody's somebody but let's not reveal too much today ok? It's not an ideal situation.

Due to the several major setbacks at the construction site, on Monday someone remarked that perhaps we should seek blessings from any spirits nearby. That random remark was picked up by the project manager, who thought it was a good safeguard. So she summoned the subcontractor to prepare some fruits, incense, biscuits and wine as offerings.

Yesterday, a desk was hauled from the site office to an open space, and some apples, a comb of bananas, a bottle of rice wine and a deep bowl of uncooked rice was arranged on it.

Later that night, The Wise One mentioned they should not have used uncooked rice as the support for the incense; that is used only for the dead.

One by one, the engineers and managers stepped up to the makeshift altar to light a few sticks of incense, say a few words seeking cooperation and then stand the incense sticks in the bowl of rice.

It was a remarkable scene. It was early in the evening, and the sun was low in the sky. Hidden behind some clouds, it threw an orange glow across the entire cloudy western horizon. Higher up above the horizon, the sky remained a crisp blue interrupted by a few distinct puffs of orange-hued clouds.

It was with this fantastic background that this little ceremony took place. Should have brought my camera; it would have made a cute series of photographs.

It seems the Mainlanders are not accustomed to such things. The construction workers gaped at our antics, occasionally pointing and laughing. Most of the engineers felt out of place doing it, like bears forced to shave their fur and eat tofu.

The project manager turned to me and said, “I wonder if we will be caught for doing this”
“Yes, for practising deviant religion. Praying to ghosts.”
Then someone piped up, “it's ok. When we pray during the day it's to the minor gods; if it's at night then its ghosts.”

Dinner was with the CEO, his PA, the chief financial officer, the project manager, the office admin guy and 2 of the subcontractors. As with most meals outside, it was absurdly under-vegetabled. There was roast pork, char siew, some overly-rich curried crabs, pork slices stir-fried with soy sauce and spring onion, goose liver and mushrooms and chilli fish head, with egg tarts for dessert and washed down with complimentary watermelon slices.

It came up to 700 RMB for 8 people, which is not a price you can find in Malaysia. Still, with no vegetables I'm feeling deprived.

Having left the computers at the office, there was no MSN and blogs to distract me from catching up in my studies. Ploughed through 2.5 chapters yesterday evening, sufficient to partially make up for the accumulated slack over the past 3 days.


This Eat Sleep Shit style of blogging is actually quite fun. There's a certain pleasure to be gained in shitting out words like an unstoppered geyser, letting the mind and the figurative pen wander seductively across the endless field of a word processor.

Oh and I don't use MS Word anymore; OpenOffice is the new black pink.