Happy New Year dear reader!
I had thought to use this blog to explore how to end and begin a year and, indeed, that is how it unfolded, as I flew from Sydney to Singapore on my way to Delhi for the ISDSI conference, overnighting here in Singapore for New Year's Eve on the way through.
Resigned to a quiet night at the hotel for New Year's Eve, I'd contacted my good friend Richard Ng to see if we might meet today for coffee and a "catch up" before I headed off to Delhi, but he wouldn't hear of it. Instead, he invited me to his home to join his family for their New Year party celebrations, and was good to his word, picking me up at the hotel about 20 minutes after I had checked in (the M Singapore). What a thoroughly enjoyable evening! Welcomed by Richard, Miriam and the whole family, we ate barbequed sea food, duck, steak and a veritable cornucopia of yummies, as Richard worked hard to ensure that I left Singapore heavier than when I arrived (which I suspect, dear reader, I will be doing). My special thanks to Richard and Miriam for a great way to end the year - with the warmth and comfort of being surrounded by "family" and friends, and, at 9.10pm Singapore time, I was able to ring Kerry at work in Sydney and wish her a happy New Year, so, while we were separated geographically and in time, there was still some sense of seeing in the New Year together.
I had also had the pleasure of meeting Richard's friends Bernd and Doris Grammer - Bernd works with Richard at GE and Doris is VP-AP for Bosch. We shared great conversation about a broad range of topics, including whether there was "too much" democracy in India vis a vis China and Singapore (and whether the same was true of Germany as its seeks to incorporate/reconcile East and West, especially in light of the imminent entry of Poland and other Eastern European countries into the EU). Bernd and Doris planned to go to Mt Faber (pronounced Farber in the German tradition) for the New Year's countdown and fireworks and, given its proximity to the hotel (and the fact that Bernd and Doris were great company anyway), I happily agreed to join them. At once we would enjoy a view of the fireworks in good company, and relieve Richard of the burden of getting me back to the hotel at some stage in the early morning.
However, the best laid plans of mice and men are oft tae gang awry, as Robert Burns once wrote. We tried a number of different ways to get to the top of Mt Faber, one leading to a dead end and the other to police with flashing batons turning us away. In the absence of "Plan B", we finished up back at the M, hoping to find a vantage point there from which we could watch the fireworks. Again, no luck - the helpful staff pointed us in the direction of a taxi to another hotel which would provide the view we sought, but it was just on midnight by this stage and the 7 minute drive would just about take care of any chance of viewing a moment of the fireworks.
We were just about to part company, thinking "well that's that", when I suggested a coffee before we went our separate ways. Bernd was ready to head off, but Doris was up for coffee, so we proceeded to the hotel cafe, which had just closed! While we were cursing our luck yet again, the great guys at the cafe, who were getting ready to go on to party upstairs, invited us to join them in a drink - and what a drink it was! About an hour later, after chats and laughs with the cafe manager and his colleagues, we'd managed to demolish just over a bottle of Mumm champagne and to toast a great, albeit unexpected, beginning to 2008.
So there you have it, dear reader, an end to one year that was characterised by a mix of great family fun, on the one hand, and the disappointment missing the fireworks on the other, and a beginning to the new year that was a totally unscripted, but wonderfully upbeat experience. At this point, Doris, Bernd and I parted company looking forward to the rest of what 2008 will bring with great relish.