My Playmate Hans

As an expat working and living in Singapore, there are a lot of advantages….

  1. First is security. Singapore is very secure country to live. With very minimal crime rates, residents can walk and stay outside until 4AM without the fear of being mugged by strangers.
  2. Lower personal tax. In Asia, I must say Singapore has the lowest tax rates compared to neighboring countries.
  3. Competitive purchasing power. For shoppers like me, I totally enjoyed this. As the currency of Singapore gains power over other currencies, the better buying power we can have. The inflation rate is also lower as opposed to other Asian countries.

If there’s one thing that is a disadvantage to Singapore, that’s the property or house rental. Singapore is an island thus the house rents are pretty high. However, it is not as expensive as living in Dubai.

So most of the Asian expats are pretty smart to avoid the high house rents. It is the practical side of things that is more important to such kind of situation. So, since my job requires frequent traveling (every month), I decided not to rent an entire flat or condo unit. I  decided to go for flat share with which I can save SGD 1,000+ per month.

October 2008 when my company decided that I relocate back to Singapore after working in Malaysia for two years. I stayed in Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore for two weeks allowing me to search for flat rents then I am on my own. With luck, I was able to find a flat share within the two-week period. I decided to share it with a very nice family; a couple with their 3-year old son. The toddler’s name is Hans. He’s a very sweet and very active kid. Shy in the beginning but when I showed him my Nikon D200 D-SLR, the shyness suddenly disappeared. He always posed in front of my camera and he became my subject most of the time. We always play inside the flat whenever I’m not on business trip and those occasions that I am working from home.

He calls me ‘Tita Lai! Tita Lai!’…. He sometimes sounded like my dad…. When I reached home and I decided to go out and meet friends, he will be asking me:

Hans: Where are you going Tita Lai?

Me: I have to go out and have dinner with friends.

Hans: But you just got back?

He’s a very good observer and openly admires every time he sees me in business clothes with make-up due to my client meetings. He would normally ask for a kiss before I go to work.

However, as my work demanded a lot of my time, my interaction with Hans has become lesser and lesser. I was not able to play with him anymore. I didn’t know he was already giving me the cues that he wanted to play with me. In short, I wasn’t able to give time to him.

And all of a sudden, he shut down his attention and totally ignored me. Everybody was surprised last January, 2010 when he said he didn’t know me at all. He’s very shy and didn’t even want to talk to me.

Slowly, I introduced myself again to Hans. Slowly, I spent time with him playing and talking. He’s now attending Pre-school within our neighborhood. Every time I had the chance, I talked to him in English and played with him and his cars. When I’m on travel I made sure I visit the duty free shops in the airport to check for toys and buy them for Hans.

And now, Hans recognized me again but not the same as before. Well at least he opened up his world again and accepted me back. When previously he calls me ‘Tita Lai’, now he calls me ‘Friend’. Well maybe because he feels he’s a big boy now. Every time we’re playing and chit-chatting and his mom would call him he would normally respond: ‘Mom I’m still talking with my friend…’ I sometimes can’t help but laugh.

Right now Hans is on the age of inquisitiveness. He demands a lot of answers so I made sure that I will respond to all of his queries. He’s a very sweet kid when he’s in the mood but he can be a total pain when he’s on his tantrums period.

What Hans didn’t know is that he taught me a lesson in life. When it comes to relationship regardless of personal or business, the quantity of time is very essential. Most of the us promote the slogan ‘Quality time…’ but in reality, it is the ‘Quantity time…’ that matters. A lot of relationships personal and business fail because of not enough quantity time.

In order to maintain our relationships with others, we have to spend quantity time with them.

You may wonder how Hans looks like. Well, here he is. He’s a very cute kid.

    Photo taken at Singapore last 2008.

Til next time. Au revoir.

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