Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday June 29th

Investment banking analysts in NY work on the basis of a two-year program after which, most leave for highly lucrative jobs in private equity or hedge funds. Today is the last day for our 2nd-year analysts. A flood of "Last Day" emails have arrived in my inbox, mostly gushing about what a phenomenal experience they have had at the firm. It is kinda sad to see these kids move on coz they have been great fun in my brief two months in NY. But also, it sucks to see others move on when I'm still stuck at the same firm doing the same job, albeit in a different location. Especially because I'd been dreaming of writing my own "Last Day" email since the day I started work. I have started many different versions in my head:

Dear all, I am so glad to be finally leaving this sad pathetic job and all of you, especially those of you who actually believe in your own greatness for doing this sad pathetic job.

Dear all, I'm leaving. I will be on a beach somewhere for the next x years, lying in the sun and sipping mojitos while you continue toiling away in this rat race. Try not to take it personally. I've served my time here and you will get your chance soon to leave.

Dear all, I'm leaving. Try not to miss my cute butt too much.

I am really looking forward to quitting this job. Just not yet. Not while they're making a sweet deal for me to enjoy NY. Patience...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday June 26th

As I was shelling peas in the cool of my kitchen yesterday evening, I reflected upon my post yesterday. I realised that I haven't felt the need to make deep meaningful connections with people since moving to this city. I'm happy to have one-night-stand (not literally, I'm too old for that now!), hit-and-run type of interaction with the inhabitants of this city, like the dinner on Saturday night. I had a great time, enjoying sparkling conversation and wit. And it didn't matter to me that I probably was never going to see my dinner companions again. Whereas in London, I would have made a real effort to stay in touch. Anyway, I think this is because I have some truly wonderful friends in London who are just a phone call or email away. How blessed...I'm never really alone. :)


I need advice. I think one of my co-workers is trying to ask me out. When I first started, I went out with him a couple of times for drinks/dinner because I was new and had no friends. But I'd always assumed that he was just being friendly. Then I kinda got a vibe so I started inviting friends along whenever we hung out. And now he's pestering me to tell him when we can hang out again, just the two of us. How should I make it clear that he's not my type without pissing him off? I need all the friends I can get in the workplace.

I mentioned pea-shelling earlier in this post. This was inspired by Smitten Kitchen who not also cooks and bakes well, writes beautifully and then takes amazing photos of her culinary masterpieces for the rest of us to drool at. Click here for pea-shelling-inspiring blog entry.

So here are the peas I shelled...

And here they are again in a salad with sliced red spring onions and fried scallions.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday 25th June

I had dinner at a colleague's place on Friday night. Given what a WASP-y firm we work at, I thought it was hilarious that the dinner company consisted of:

Him - white gay slightly camp guy
His boyfriend - Japanese gay who happily professed his love of cooking and cleaning and housewifely ambitions (at which said colleague rolled his eyes)
Other colleague - Italian/Irish-American super-PC, "too nice to be a banker" guy
His girlfriend - a Jewish rabbi
Me - Singaporean irreverent, un-PC, non-religious girl

I'm definitely all for diversity. :)


I mentioned I was going to this private dinner party on Saturday night. Basically, these 2 girls, Becky and Hayden, throw a dinner party in someone's apartment once a month. The cooking is Southern and pretty good (very good homecooked food rather than restaurant standard). Random people show for these parties along with a bunch of Becky and Hayden's friends.

I had lots of fun as did my 2 acquaintances. I've always believed that food and wine are the best social lubricants. I love food not just for the taste and experience, but more importantly, for its ability to bring people together. It is the lowest common denominator - very little prior knowledge or experience is required for its appreciation. And that was why it was so fun on Sat night. I met some interesting people. Naz - corporate tax lawyer who was born and raised in NY and probably never ever leaving NY. She reminded me a little of Marianne from Cybil. Joe - distressed debt hedge fund guy who had more personality in his pinky than most finance dudes in this city combined. Not sure if I will see them again, but for those few hours, we talked, we laughed and truly enjoyed each other's company.


It's been three long weeks since I first met Frenchie. This is the longest continuous period I have been seeing someone on such a regular basis since the 1990s. (OK, I exaggerate but you get the picture) Frenchie is mature and considerate, not physically unattractive (not that I am superficial, but did I mention 8-pack abs?) and gives amazing massages. Yet I think there is a part of me that suffers from the Sex and The City syndrome. That is, I keep thinking that there is someone better out there for me and that I could be giving up a forest for a tree. Yes, I believe some also call this a commitment phobia. Indeed, Frenchie is not the overachieving, high-flying, jet-setting type I normally fall for. But then again, he is not a schmuck and I don't need to mount a major logistical exercise (air travel, diary coordination etc) to see him. So I think, for now, I shall try to get used to this. But if anyone's asking, he's not my boyfriend (yet).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday 21st June

The pace of my posting has slowed dramatically. I need a Readership. I write for a Readership. I need people to comment and tell me that I am being silly/crazy/happy/loved/disliked/hated. So please read me! Comment! Please?


New York City has been different the past few days. One of my best friends from London has taken over my living room and turned half of it into the newest Hugo Boss store in NYC. The other half is his office where he creates apparently meaningless Powerpoint slides and yells into his Blackberry stuff about diabetics diagnostics. The Germans are such a strange race.


I'm getting lazy about making new friends again. Between having old friends in town, seeing Frenchie and trying to consolidate the new friendships I've made so far, it feels as though I hardly have enough time for myself. And all I want is some time to clean my house, assemble my new TV bench, try out my new Kitchenaid mixer, watch Food Network and sleep.

To be fair, I'm going to an underground supper club on Saturday night. I'm not only going there with 2 potential new friends, but it will also afford me the opportunity to meet some new people. So fingers crossed!

Monday, June 18, 2007

I am WO-men!

So I mentioned before that I got a self-help book to deal with my new work environment. How American! I read it about twice over the weekend and now I am ready to comment on it. The book itself does not try to be prescriptive. And in fact, the thing I liked most about it was that it laid out the Rules of the Game, at least how it's played in NY. Moving from London to New York was a noticeable change in the way gender politics are played. I believe that women are actually accorded more equality in Europe than in the US. The US, I find, is a more traditional and patriachal society where gender characteristics are more pronounced. Feel free to disagree with me, I've only been living here for less than 2 months!

Anyway, the key takeaways from this book for me:

1) Men are able to compartmentalise more effectively than women. Work is work and personal is personal. I should not take everything personally.

2) Men play the Game to win. This enables them to stay focused on the Game. Similarly, I need to focus on getting my job done well, and ignore everything else. This goes back a little to compartmentalising.

3) Men are better at bluffing. They speak up at meetings, even if to say stupid things. They are able to appear knowledgeable even though they only know 50% of the stuff. I should not afraid to speak up because in most cases, I know more than the guys do.

4) There are different rules for men and women. It's OK for guys to have disgusting habits. (Trust me, I've seen my VP have his hands down his pants throughout a 3 hour meeting before!!) It is also OK for men to be ugly and fat, but ugly and fat women don't go down well, not in this business.

The book has given me a new confidence to deal with my work environment. It made me remember that I'm a tough cookie and have always been. I have nothing to fear and I am not going to fear anything. I'm good at my job and work is going to be only about work in future.

Of course, my VP did make some reference to my perfume and how he liked it just the other day...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wednesday 13th June

I went for an alumni-organised Garden Party on Tuesday evening. Notwithstanding the fact that the weather was crap yesterday and that they ran out of Pimm's everytime I got to the bar, I had a great time. First of all, the party was held on the rooftop of the New York Athletic Club which had an amazing view over Central Park. With the post-rain mist hanging low around the treetops, it made for a soft and dreamy effect. (Pictures to be posted when I can bully my friend for them.) I didn't get a chance to speak with too many people, but it was heartening to see that the alumni is pretty strong/active. New Friend tally from last night - probably zero. But I'll keep trying! :)


I met another neighbour from my floor yesterday morning. He's Australian. His wife is not only also Singaporean but shares the same surname as me! I definitely need to bring them more cake! Although, as a neighbour, it is easy to tread further into their personal space than they would like. At least with an acquaintance, you can drop out of touch if you didn't like someone. But with neighbours, you're bound to meet them in the hallway and stuff like that so they can't even avoid you if they decide they don't like you. So, how does one get friendly with one's neighbours without coming across as too keen?


I went for opera in Central Park yesterday evening. I have always loved the ideas of chilling out in parks, be it picnics in Hyde Park or outdoor movie screenings on Lake Geneva. I think yesterday's show was La Boheme, although we were too far away from the stage to warrant serious concentration on the music. Unfortunately, the weather conditions weren't exactly made for being outdoors and it was COLD!!! But still we made the best of it with our mishmash of chocolate TimTams, bananas and raspberries. Fortunately, it looks as though there will be quite a few outdoor movie screenings in Bryant Park and Hudson River Park over the whole summer. I'm looking forward to those already!

To make a point about how small the world is, I was hanging out yesterday with L. We went to university together, knew of each other but probably never spoke more than 5 sentences to each other during the whole time. Out of the blue, I was out getting lunch a couple of weeks ago, I bumped into her. We exchanged numbers and promised to hang out. At university, I'd always had the impression that she was rather unfriendly, but actually she's a really cool chick. Definitely has the characteristics of my best girl friends. New Friend tally - 1. Yeay!


I'm off to the OC this weekend to see Emma and her folks. Yeay!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday June 12th

In my attempt to do a little food blogging, since it's all the rage now, I am posting a picture of my dinner last night.

I had cold tofu with Japanese chuka dressing topped with chopped cilantro (on the left) and a really yummy salad of fresh garden peas (hand-shelled!), asparagus, broccoli rabe topped with toasted sesame seeds and Old Amsterdam cheese shavings (on the right). In this picture you will also see my huge-ass 42" plasma screen which is the reason why I am reluctant to leave my apartment to go out and make friends.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday 11th June

Today is The Mother's birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! Seriously, I hope I've inherited all her genes because she does not look a day over 43 despite being about 10 years older than that.


One of my best girl friends was over from London for the weekend. We had a nice girlie weekend - manicure/pedicure, facials, shopping, pretty shoes, Magnolia cupcakes, cocktails, brunch. I miss having girlfriends in NY. It's easy to meet guys, but not so easy to find girls I get along with. My girlfriends all tend to be strong intelligent women. We're all chicks who kick ass! I guess I just gotta give myself time. I am sure NY is full of strong intelligent women too.

BTW, I was never a big fan of cupcakes, but Magnolia cupcakes have proved themselves to be worth the line. Now to tackle the other 4 sitting in my fridge now.


Frenchie and I went for a movie date last night. We went to watch Ocean's Thirteen. I have to say, the combination of Matt Damon, Brad Pitt AND George Clooney really does it for me. The question though is, if you had to pick one guy to shag, one guy to marry and one to push off the cliff, who would you choose for what? I think I would choose to shag George, marry Matt and sorry Brad, you're too in love with Angie already.

Things with Frenchie are still going well. I'm almost afraid I will jinx things by talking about him too much. So I guess that's all I will mention for now. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

Thursday June 7th

So...Frenchie called after all. :)

After we'd arranged a time and place for meeting, he sends me a text message asking "Would you like me to pick you up from in front of your building?". Now dear readers, to provide a bit of background, I come from a parallel universe where chivalry is not practised. (Picture me struggling with many heavy bags while the male friend next to me strolls casually with free hands.) I am also fleeing a dating history of schmucks and freaks (could make for an epic post if I ever get around it) So, putting things into context now, my knees went weak when I saw that text. In fact I was almost ready to have his babies there and then!

Needless to say, he did pick me up from the front of my building and we strolled a short distance to dinner. The evening went well. :) Maybe I will have his babies someday after all? We shall see...


Moving on to Not Making New Friends. My workplace. I work in an investment bank which shall remain unnamed. Most of my colleagues, oops co-workers, are male. And when I say male bankers, I mean frat boys in their early 30s. Being a girl, there's just no way around it but I don't fit in. The boys don't include me on their social conversations. Not that I have much insight to add about golf, girls and drinking. I miss the boys in the London office. They were just much better than being friends with females.

And I keep getting the feeling that I am not being taken seriously enough because I am an attractive young Asian female. So I got the following book: Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. Will let you know how it goes after I finish reading it. I am woman, hear me roar!


Girlfriend from London in town this weekend. Yeay! :) We're doing manicures and facials, girlie cocktails, shopping.

p.s. P*ONG - pleasant place. small plates dining format with a long dessert list and interesting cocktail menu. would recommend for evenings with the girls.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Wednesday June 6th

This is turning out to be a kiss-and-tell dating blog. Definitely unintented. To restore some balance, I should mention that I baked carrot cake on Monday night and gave it to the guy who lives across the hallway from me. Yeay, one new friend..erm let's not count chickens before they hatch..acquaintance...erm..neighbor.


I went on a date last night. My first planned date in NY. I'd met him on Sat at Hudson River Park. Right before I hit the park, I'd been deliberating with my Gay Best Friend ("GBF") if I should make the journey uptown to Central Park or just head west towards Hudson River Park. One key consideration had been the likelihood of meeting cute straight men. The decision had been made to go uptown, but since the NY subway system decided to throw its usual weekend tantrum again. Well, at least the sunset from the West Side would be beautiful.

I woke from my sun-induced lazy dozing to find a Keanu Reeves lookalike positioned in my field of vision. Oh and he was reading a real book! Which definitely upped the attraction factor, not that he needed it with his Keanu Reeves looks. Behind our respectives shades, I think we were casting sideway glances at each other. And wait, was that a smile I glimpsed? Some time passed and I wondered if he would come over to say hello. In the end, I had friends coming over to my place for dinner and I had to go. So I packed up and stopped by to say hi. Up close, he still looked like Keanu Reeves.

We'd arranged to meet around East Village. We walked around a bit and finally settled on Anyway Cafe. Keanu Reeves turned out to be a post-doc in film studies. He was also a little shorter than I'd expected him to be, but then how can you tell when someone is lying on the grass? A native New Yorker, but had gone to grad school on the West Coast and was probably headed back there soon.

Conversation flowed with a few slightly awkward pauses. We talked a lot about film, surprise surprise. About two and half hours and two shots of honey-ginger-infused vodka later, I knew it was time to take myself home. It hadn't been a bad date, but I knew I wasn't that into him, as cute as he was. So I made up some excuse about having to be home to let a visiting friend in.

Would I go on a second date with him? Yes because he proved to be a pretty good kisser. :)


On other matters.

"I had a great time last night. :) Looking forward to see you on Thursday."

It's 1pm on Thursday and still no sign that we are actually going to meet this evening. And I certainly can't make the first move to text him to ask what the plan for tonight is. That would break the NY Dating Rules wouldn't it?

Argh. Frenchie, I was even starting to get quite fond of you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tuesday June 5th

As part of Tuesday's effort to make new friends, I signed up for an East Meets West healing workshop which was organised by the HBS Club and was being publicised through ASW. How bad could it be, maybe I would even get to meet some nice MBA types which from London experience, were great to hang out with. And maybe I would even learn to find my Inner Harmony? It definitely sounded hopeful.

When I got to the venue, a good selection of food had been laid out and people were eating and mingling. The crowd seemed to be composed of middle-aged women, a few younger women (mostly from ASW) and a few elderly gentlemen. Not quite the crowd I had in mind, but hey, I was new to the city and prepared to be open-minded.

It should have registered to me then that there was no alcohol being served. The trainer touched on a few topics over the course of the evening. Nutrition - did you know that food products made with uncooked soy beans are toxic? did you know that carbonated drinks are bad for maintaining bone density? Laughing yoga - we were made to place our hands over our bellies and go "ha!". when the guy next to me refused to participate, the trainer singled him out of everyone and forced him to do it. Clearly a non-believer! Fengshui - our trainer was nearly finishing a 3-year Master's in the topic. Meditation - this was actually quite effective as the energy in the room became a lot more calm after we'd done it.

All probably useful and interesting knowledge, but I realised that this is definitely not something I would have done in my normal life back in London. I guess the good thing about being in a new city is that it forces you to try new things, meet new people and generally be much more open-minded.

As the session finished, the non-believer turned to me and asked me if I'd wanted to go for a drink. I picked up copies of the pamphlets for us on our way out and made vague noises about how eye-opening the session had been. But there was no mistaking it, we had been the only 2 non-believers in the room.

We went to the Monday Room, a casual lounge with a extensive wine list and small plates to match the wine. We sat on the terrace outside, watching happy content diners spill out of the adjacent sister restaurant Public onto the street. Over food and wine, we talked about food and wine (duh!), interior design, furniture, marriage, our histories. We must have talked about much more because the time seemed to pass so quickly. Throughout I kept thinking to myself, "Damn, this is such a romantic setting and conversation comes so naturally, but I don't feel like kissing this guy. Ah well, he sounds like he could be a good new friend in NY anyway."

Bellies full, we left and went out onto the night, which was distinctively chiller than it had been a few hours before.
"Do you want a cigarette?"

"Sure, why not?" After all, it had been a surreal and random enough evening with the hippie new-age healing workshop. Plus I didn't want to seem like a prude.

He asked me where I lived. "West 11th and 5th" And then we started walking, taking drags on our respective cigarettes as we did so. I wondered where we were walking towards and didn't want to spoil the moment by asking.

We got to one street corner when the cars were coming fast at us. He reached for my hand to hold me back. At that moment, we were just a boy and a girl holding hands in the night. We held hands all the way to my block.

My doorman was outside having a smoke. It was the first time he'd seen me with a guy since I moved in. It has been a long time since I last felt like this, like an embarassed schoolgirl caught out with my first boyfriend.

Anyway, he got my number. Stay tuned :)

Hello World!

Unfortunately, this is not a self-help website, so all those who were hoping to become Miss/Mr Popular from reading this website should probably click away now.

I just moved to New York from London about a month ago. Not having quite as many friends in NY, I'm on a Mission to Make New Friends. And it was as I was sitting in some fluffy airy-fairy surreal "East meets West" self-help workshop as part of this mission last night, that I realised actually I will be putting myself in some rather amusing situations so why not blog about it?

So here I am. I'll be writing about my daily adventures in making new friends. Maybe I will sneak in a food post or two, but I have a foodie inferiority complex and am afraid my food posts will not be as professional-masquarading-as-amateur as some of the food blogs out there. Maybe I will also blog a little about pretty things now and then since the world needs a little beauty now and then.

Oh and those of you who have friends in NY you think are great, please send them my way. I'm generally interesting company, with decent table manners and a respectable standard of hygiene.