Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Sitting around in my parents home, I slowly started to see and realize the true meaning of sacrifice and unconditional love. My journey at INSEAD starts in a couple of weeks. And while I honestly have a lot of people to Thank for helping me get admitted (one in particular as well ;) I can't help but pause for a moment to see that where I am today is clearly a reflection of my humble beginnings - I truly am standing on the shoulders of giants.

From making it through Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok to my days at Vassar and then the journey that finally led to Chicago and eLoyalty... so many little gestures. so many little things. so many ways in which I've found my path - and none of them by coincidence. My family - yes, the immediate nucleus - has resonated with energy and support in ways that I don't think I'll ever fully understand, but always hope to pay forward to my own family. The sacrifices made, generally in the name of education, is something that I am thankful for every single day.

Anyhow, this is just one of those reflective moments.

But first (as The Mask might say it) I have to go through my checklist of INSEAD documents and requirements ASAP before I can even contemplate enjoying the rest of my break at home!

Health Insurance
Housing Insurance
Surveys to fill out

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Massages & Microecon

My gf loves massages. So we've been getting foot massages (aka fish nibbling on your feet), back rubs, head massages, and so on - I think we're averaging one every three days. And the cost for most of the massages ranges from $9 - $50 per person. Ubiquitous parlors = more selections = relatively low cost to consumers (I have been reading a bit of Mankiw's Intro to Microecon in prep for class :) 

Anyhow, the thing that amazes me about the massages is the fact that so far - NONE of the massages - even the one I got from Devarana at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok has been painless. Parts of the massages have been extremely amazing but parts of them have been really painful! I just do not understand why this is the case. Some of it I chalk up to the fact that maybe I'm sore from restarting certain workouts while in Thailand (swimming/free weights/etc...) - but how is it that no matter where I go I am in quite a bit of discomfort at various points during the massage. Intrigues me... but I continue to forge ahead (mainly because my better half's favorite place in the world is in the patron's seat at a massage parlor) - and I think I will find the massage technique most suitable for me.  Next stop Swedish massage. I'm hopeful (or maybe I'm just foolish).

Back to the FYIs - been in Bangkok a few days now... eating my way through the city. Enjoying every minute of it. Spending time with family (my maternal grandmother just landed) and with my gf's family (parents here as well). Hear it is blistering cold in Chicago and that France is getting quite a bit of snow as well.

Starting tomorrow I plan to buckle down on two fronts - swimming & reading (in prep for classes). Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Missing the Windy City...

Recently I started getting a few thank you notes from co-workers via email (as I had left a few presents for folks before leaving that I hoped they would get after I had already left Chicago).

I have to say... hearing from them, both the words of thanks and random thoughts/musings - basically just hearing from folks that were such a big part of my life - it is making me miss Chicago a whole lot more. And the madness in Bangkok is just getting started - 4 days so far. Non stop. Tomorrow promises to be no less.

So, thank you (for the Thank You ;) - yeah that's a cycle isn't it? It is helping me get through some of the busy-ness here and reminding me of the good times!

Still jetlaggin...

Monday, December 13, 2010

First 24hrs in Bangkok

I was lucky enough to be received by my parents & girlfriend at the airport - warmed my heart to see so many hugs awaiting - ALTHOUGH, my gf was sneaky enough to hide and act as though she was unable to make it to the airport... if she had a blog she would tell you about the mad wedding extravaganza in Penang that lasted 4 days and during which she only slept 8hrs. I am pretty sure there will be some sort of a post on any site that covers South Asian weddings :)

Highlights of the first 24hrs:
1. Zinger Burger on the way back home... honestly, fast food in Bangkok (and most parts of Asia) are just so much better than anywhere else (USA) and I have this weird childhood memory of always eating a burger in the airport - something my parents continue to entertain :)

2. Seeing Rex, who expressed both his love/excitement & disappointment/sadness in seeing me and realizing I left him for USA ;) - he has taken over my bed to ensure that I'm always aware that he's around and his mark in this house is more permanent than mine :P

3. Fuji Seafood Restaurant - Sashimi, Sushi, Miso, Edamame, and Goma Wakame!

4. Walk in the Park...

5. Fish Massage (not my feet, but will upload mine shortly):
Fish Nibbling away at Dead Skin and Smoothening out my skin!

6. Dinner w Parents & GF

7. Lounging with Friends

S'bout how I was hoping to spend the first 24hrs tbh. Can still feel the fish nibbling at my toes!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Surviving a 12-hr Layover...

You may have already heard about how the stewardess dropped hot soup & cold water on me when I was looking for a way to stay awake for a leg of the journey from Chicago to Seoul (to reduce fx of jetlag).

Well, one other thing to share about my journey is HOW I managed to survive the layover:

1. External Hard Drive
2. Scrubs on #1
3. Bibim Bap Lunch Bowl
4. Kim Bap 
5. Sony Headset
6. 12hrs to sit and wait for your flight... 

Up close Lunch Box Special!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Soul to Seoul (Leaving Chicago)

After 5 years with eLoyalty (i.e. first real-world job), it isn't all that strange to accept how difficult it was to turn in my laptop/keycard/etc... and walk out the front door of the building. It was hard not to look back, which I did, paused, said a few words of prayer/best wishes, and then trekked on.

The last meal in Chicago with close friends was a perfect way to start my journey. We picked an awesome Burger joint in Andersonville (sp?), enjoyed a couple of hot drinks (and one fruity-tootie) and head off to O'Hare (not using Foster as some amateurs might suggest).

312 215 5047 was disconnected at precisely 00:24 on December 11th while I was in mid-conversation with my brother and that's when the reality of the severance set in! SIM card not authorized - I couldn't independently contact anyone!

ANYhow, flight was good all in all - I wanted to stay awake as long as it was daytime in Asia (where I'm currently headed)... my wish was more than fulfilled. Shortly after boarding, my eyes started drooping. It was a constant battle to try to keep them awake and then food was about to be served. Great - trying to fight sleep on a full stomach is like listening to Michael Jackson's Billy Jean without grooving to the (awesome) beats.

Speaking of - I left my iPod in my friend's kitchen in Chicago... le.sigh.

Back to the flight. So I'm sitting there expecting the inevitable when the stewardess spills hot soup along the side of my leg... my wish was fulfilled. I was bright awake.

And I'm not sure how/why the next thing happened, but by some sick twist or someone's idea of a joke, the same stewardess (approximately 20 mins later) spilled freezing cold water on me while trying to assist me in cleaning up the mess. I was awake for the next several hours! Not too many great movies, but it is what it is...

Reminds me of something a friend/coworker told me recently: Love the trip because it is your trip. No matter what good or bad happens - lengthy layovers or delayed flights... spilled soup. It is your trip. And that makes it great, so embrace it, love it, and live it.

So here I am. 12hr layover in Seoul. At an internet lounge where the computers automatically reboot every 30 minutes to ensure that no patron is unfair to others waiting in line... except... that... it... is... 6:30am and the aforementioned line is non-existant.

BUT I'm loving it. Time to bust out the guitar and make some money!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Exit - [Stage Left]

If you live or have visited Chicago you are aware of Devon's reputation as a great late-night spot and also know of the feeling of general regret the morning after when you realize the grease you lovingly consumed...

My exit interview at eLoyalty marked the end of a 5 year journey that has changed the nature of my career. The things you learn at a start-up, especially if you're lucky enough to grow with the company, alter the way in which you process information, expect results, and generally go about your work. Nothing is really taken for granted and while there are some frustrations, since you're basically starting something - and hence might not have the appropriate tools available to make things easier since you are blazing a non-existent pathway - the satisfaction at each milestone is incomparable.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reality kicks in... Leaving Chicago in 40hrs

The reality of my one-way ticket has finally set in. My bags are packed... I'm ready to go... <song interlude!>

Um, my bags are packed, and I'm basically on my last two sets of clothing (as planned :) for Chicago.

My checklist (part of):
- Departure Paperwork
- Visas for Travel
- Thank Yous/Meetings/G'byes
- Apartment Lease Ended
- Disconnecting Utilities
- Closing bank accounts (only a few since I may be back soon!)
- 401(k)
- Shares/Stocks/etc...
- Essentials, like my guitar, purchased ;)
- Sold all that can be sold
- Donated & recycled items
- Paperwork for INSEAD
- Laptop & Charger
- Contact Information (Address Book) Updates
- Cellphone Contract
- CTA Transit Card Cancellation
- Pre Reading..

And of course, the most important part of the checklist is to get some R&R w/ the friends before the madness of the next month descends upon me. I will, however, have 12hrs in Seoul to ruminate.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Have a Happy Holiday!

Seriously - HAVE a happy holiday. I'm advising you (not wishing you :)

I'm sitting at the RIU Maya Palace Riviera Hotel in Playa Del Carmen - Mehico, sipping a cerveza.
And something I did want to say, early on, is that as soon as you decide you want to go to school (any graduate program) it is really helpful/healthy/important to take at least 1 month off prior to the start of the program (especially INSEAD where you have about 5 days off every couple of months) - recharge your batteries. Meet your friends. Do something ridiculous and fun (but not too new since the idea is to relax).

I got into this hotel last night, grabbed a bite and then went out with friends - we were hosting pseudo-bachelor/bachelorette parties for the bride & groom so needless to say I hit the sack around 2AM.
Got up bright and early - 7AM and with my roommate and newfound friend went to SCUBA dive in the Cenotes. Basically drove into a jungle and, in a hole in the ground that has been built after years of amazing geological phenomemna, jumped in to experience the wonder of caves/caverns. Surfaced in a bat cave in one of the dives which is like entering an old attic but with limestone and... ok I'm partially uneducated in the appropriate terminology (and trying to recollect what my divemaster told me in his heavy italian accent), but more than that, I'm speechless. I don't want to ruin the experience for you, so I'll just say this - check out Dos Ojos if you're ever in Mexico (google it).

Cenotes, as my divemaster explained to me, were created by heating and cooling of the earth over millions of years which results in flooding and drying of land masses, which, because of the space and time associated, involves quite a bit of erosion and hence creates these amazing tunnels - partially filled with water...

OK rehearsal dinner time, but more on this later!

and the typical feet-in-front-of-ocean picture :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Better Half

There's a story that goes something like this...

Barack & Michelle Obama are dining at a restaurant when the Manager walks over and embraces Michelle,  asking her, with a broad smile across his face, "How have you been after all these years?"

After he leaves, Barack asks his wife, "How did you know him?"
To which Michelle responds, "He proposed to me back in the day..." with a reminiscent smile.
Barack, keeping his composure, while obviously slightly jealous quips, "Well honey, if you had married him you would be the wife of a restaurant manager."

Michelle softly responds, "No darling, if I had married him, he would be the President of the United States today."


Great story isn't it? Humbles you. Reminds you that no one is an island. While the tough times define you, they also highlight the angels around you.

I'm very lucky. I am constantly thankful for that. I have a very close-knit family unit - My parents, brother, and sister-in-law are always by my side. Then there are many uncles, aunts, cousins, and "distant" relatives who remember me in their thoughts/greeting cards/etc...

Family has been an inexplicable pillar in my life. Come to think of it there are quite a few friends who fall in this category, too! Basically what I'm trying to say is that I did not do what I have done alone - there are so many people out there that have been integral in the journey... 

And one person (who is about to join the family unit soon as well :) has literally been my better half, esepcially through this journey to b-school (her family's great too!).

There were times that I wondered what the point of some of her difficult questions were, why she would get frustrated when I took a night off from GMAT prep, and best of all what was the point of some of the arguments over random words or phrases in my essay applications.

And now I look back at the application and what I used to think was the brutality with which it was checked, was really unconditional love - and I can't help but smile. I almost want to apologize for the madness! (which I did do, but was "refunded" after experiencing the Illinois Bar Prep vicariously through her ;)

Truth be told, I didn't get into INSEAD - we did.