I learnt paper cutting

While on my "meeting" trip to Guang Zhou, a team building activity was organized. The task? Paper cutting!

Although I really doubt how relevant is paper cutting is to team building since it is only individual effort, I got to learn a new skill.

Paper cutting technique uses only sissors and paper. The paper needs to be thin and soft, so the standard A4 size is not really suitable ( as I have learnt while cutting this rooster out ).

Many may think that it is a difficult task, in fact it is fairly simple, as long as you get hold of the trick. It took me around an hour to finish cutting this rooster. Only problem is that it looks like a pigeon disguise as a rooster.


Cantonese is awful at Mandarin

I was visiting Guang Zhou China for my company's annual off-site meeting two weeks ago. It was not my first trip to Guang Dong as I has been to Dong Guan and Shen Zhen for work during 1997. Interestingly, Guang Zhou is actually inside Guang Dong and not the other way round. In fact the city I went to is called the Guang Zhou City.

The off-site meeting is much different from standard work trip. It is a mix of both work and play. For golfers, there will be a golf session. As for those non golfers, there is a tour round the city for whole afternoon after the first day meeting. I chose the second option since I have "retired" from golfing.

Our trip was accompanied by a tour guide. He was born and grown up in Guang Zhou and he is a Cantonese. I also learned from him that there are 3 main dialects in Guang Dong, Cantonese which is the dorminant group, followed by Kek and Fu Lao. There are also numerous groups of indegineous people staying in the Northen Western part of Guang Dong.

One thing that I noticed about Guang Dong is that its people has a hard time learning proper Mandarin. I am a Cantonese myself but I have found no such problem when it comes to Manadarin. The locals are not the same.

The first thing that I noticed was that the tour guide has a strong Cantonese accent when he spoke Mandarin. He also has an issue in prolong mandarin conversation. Only after a short while, may be three to four sentences, he had to revert back to Cantonese. He was not the only one.

Apparently all the locals are the same. This is probably due to the fact that the dialect that they used on daily basis is cantonese. As a Cantonese, I am proud of my own mother tongue, I guess the same goes with them. I also noted that the Southern side of China is separated from the Northern part by an array of mountains, making it difficult for the North to migrate down, as compare to other states in China. Probably this is the main reason why the use of Mandarin is not that crucial in this part of the world and people continue with their lives using their mother tongue.

However, it post an issue when it comes to communicating with oversea Chinese especially Singaporeans who are pre-dorminarily Hokkiens. Singaporeans as I see it have also lost their mother tongue due to its "Speak Mandarin" campaign. So it ended up with Mandarin as the only language that they speaks when it comes to Chinese.

So I was entertained with the communication problem between the tour guide and my colleagues. I enjoyed myself during the trip and to some extend felt the closeness with the place. Afterall, my ancesters were from Guang Dong.


Who is your idol?

I learned about Leonardo Da Vinci during my History class when I was in Secondary two. In a way, I fell in love with this person as I found him to be an impressive person. He was talented in many areas. Other than just an artist, many also regard him as a great inventor; he was the first to draft the parachute and helicopter design, invented war machines for those who hired him. He was also known as the first person who documented the human anatomy. Although the drawing was not a very accurate account of the human organ structure, it was still a great contribution.

I am an admirer of Leonardo and I consider him my idol. I admire his great talent in many areas and he is not afraid of experimenting. In the case of human anatomy, he acquired dead bodies and dissected them to examine the internal organs because he wanted to make the recording as accurate as possible. His records are not solely done on adults, but also on fetus as well.

From his notes there is also evidence that he made detail studies on individual characters before and during his painting process. Paintings like the Last Supper took 3 years to complete as he wanted to make sure that he created a masterpiece.

It was not until much later that I realized my knowledge of Leonardo was even earlier than secondary two. In fact I first read about him during my primary six. The story I have read was about the time when he first started learning painting. His training involved only the drawing of an egg. It sound mundane but eventually he realized that each egg is different from others. Not only that, the surface of the egg is also different at different location. I believe that this is the time when he learned about paying attention to details.

In order for better understanding of my subordinates, I asked them to discuss about their idols and have it documented while I was on a trip to GuangDong. Yet while I was in the process of detailing my instruction, I was interrupted by a colleague who continued to marginalize Leonardo’s ability. The comments made me furious and I was on the verge to explode. I gave him a warning about my seriousness on his comment before he was forced to stop.

While I continued to feel bad after that, it let me think about the very reason for my rage over the issue. The colleague of mine loves to joke and twist other people’s word. It is not something that I do not know. Yet what he has said seemed to offend me.

I also recall similar incident during a training program conducted on one of my ex-schools ( I have a lot of ex-schools ). I was one of the coaches for the program. To be honest, the teachers are one of the worst people to handle when come to training. They are simply resistance to accepting anything new, having low self esteem and continued to believe that they are the top of the world. The worst mistake that I made was having dual role ( ex-student of the school versus coach for the school ). I eventually broke down and went into rage over one of the activities, venting my anger on a teacher who continued to dodge the lessons and yet disturbing other teachers, causing a stir in the session.

I realize from both incidents that there is one common factor leading to my lost of temper, identity. It is straight forward for the training program, I identified myself as a student from the school and the teachers behaviour were causing injury to my identity. During the whole program my panic continued to rise when I worried about how these teachers going to destroy my school.

It is more complex when it comes to Leonardo. He is only my idol after all. However, under careful examination, I noted that he possesses the qualities that I consider important. Iit is also the very fabric that build up my beliefs, values and identities. An offending comment on him would therefore hurt me as well. It is little wonder that what my colleague did hurt my psychological self.

Everyone has different level of importance to different thing. I am particularly sensitive on my identity. May be it is due to the overwhelming number of negative identity that caused me to guard whatever little amount of positive identity left in me. The negative identity may be strong in me and continue to erode my positive ones. I guess it is time that I do some sole searching to eliminate such identities. To end it up, may be you may also want to think about who your idol is and why?