Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creepy Crawly Caper 3: The Quest for Monitor Lizards.


During the Chinese New Year holiday, my wife and I went back to my parents’ place, a small plantation (known mostly as ‘estate’ in Malaysia) in Johor. Owned by Atlas Holding, the estate is located between two small towns called Yong Peng and Paloh in Johor. We went to visit my parents, of course, as well as to satisfy my wife’s curiosity about the one and only monitor lizard! Actually she wanted an encounter with one.

So, how many of you know monitor lizards? I mean, not in, “yeah sure, I know him when he was a kid, but last I heard they locked him up in Singapore” kinda “know”, but knows that one exists at all? They belong to the lizard family. Yeah, I heard that collective, “duh?!” So you know that, but how do you differentiate a monitor lizard from an iguana? Huh? Huh? Why the sudden silence guys? Okay, listen up.

An iguana is the one that usually found in some bad guys shoulder in the movies with diamonds necklace wrapped around it and is about as aggressive as a paper clip. Wait, a paper clip is much more aggressive. The Iguanas are very thorny, you wouldn’t want to pet them like you do a dog or cat. They just hang around, and, well, just hang around.

Monitor lizard, on the other hand, are active buggers. They run like flash, or The Flash, or at least they do in the old days when there were predators around. You city bred kids are now thinking, what predator? Who want to kill monitor lizards? A pig? A cow? Snakes? Haha, what other animals you have there in the plantation where you grew up in, you mister know-it-all?

Listen up! You want to know what was Monitor Lizard’s predator? Us? Yeah, we plantation dwellers were the hunters. Why? Coz, they taste damned good that’s why? Do it in dry Indian gravy, oh man…heaven!

If you are done puking, let me assure you this: they really taste good. Trouble is, they were hard to catch and usually you have dogs to hunt them down. Sometimes, there are some guys who are quick on the foot and do the catching themselves. If you check on some of the fastest runner in Malaysia, you will find out that they are from estate, and I’d be damned if they were not used to catch those lizards.

My mom never ate those things, she had class. My dad and my brothers did, and we used to get cooked lizards from neighbours or dad’s friends…till one day. Well, I must have been twelve or so, when there was this little monitor lizard which hung around in our neighbourhood. Like most of its kind, it was harmless…if it could speak; it would probably hang around with us saying things like, “got a fag, bro”. So there it was, around the corner, up on the tree, by the drain, being harmless, friendly, and totally non-threatening. Like those little kids you used to bully, remember?

Then, one day when dad was doing his business in the toilet, guess who appeared in the toilet bowl. Yes, our Mr. Harmless “the bro” Monitor Lizard! Apparently, as we learned later, they also eat shit. Yeah, if you insult a monitor lizard saying, “why don’t you go and eat shit, you scaly repulsive creature”, it will take it as a compliment. It’s like your friend cursing you, “I hope one day you will eat foie gras!” Well, times have changed and they are alleged endangerered specie. My dad says that these days they just don’t bother about us, in fact, they would walk with their head up knowing well that if we lay a finger on them, the authorities will pounce on us faster than they would on actual criminals hanging around.

Anyway, I used to tell tales to my wife about the monitor lizard encounters. There was once, when I was going to my good friend’s house when I had one. It was a short cut route to his house from school, a tiny cleared road amidst bushes behind one of the kampung (village) houses that led to the back entrance of the double storied house my friend lived in. Halfway my walk, there it was. And this is not your favourite next-door-type monitor lizard mind you. This one looked like one that was sired by a crocodile that mated a man-sized Godzilla. It looked like a frickin’ crocodile, except my experienced thought me that it was a damned monitor lizard. My experience also taught me that when you see something like this, do what a sensible human being do – run. Apparently the lizard did the same thing, and both of us ended up where we started from, me back in school, and the lizard probably back with his crocodile dad.

And so here I was, about twenty plus years later, back in estate with my wife this time, asking me like every hour if there is a monitor lizard around. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any around, and my wife was understandingly disappointed. Not seeing a monitor lizard was akin to not meeting your favourite aunt in a family gathering, I guess.

On the way back, I decided to pay a visit to one of the plantations I used to live in, called Chan Wing now called Gunung Mas (where incidents cited in Creepy Crawler 1 & 2 articles took place). After showing around, on the way back, as we drove, my wife still disappointed, suddenly I saw something crossing the gravelled road about thirty or so meters ahead of us. I knew it! I pressed the accelerator and there it was, a beaut, slightly more than a meter long, including it’s tail, by the shoulder of the road staring at us from one of its eye. I took a pix, the very one you see on top. My wife was delighted, and decided to give it the most reptilian, macho name she could think of, Betsy.


More on reptiles here:

Creepy Crawler Capers 1

Creepy Crawler Capers 2

Thursday, February 11, 2010

4 Job interview “Don’ts” that you may have committed unknowingly.



Yes, you have had it up here with working people, lecturers, seniors, and some helpful blokes giving you advice on the "dos" and the" don'ts" of job interview. You are always ready, but you can slip.

Yes, there could be some serious no-nos you have commited without knowing. “But dude,” you may ask, “I am very aware of what I am doing and saying, how could I have done anything wrong”. Well, for a start zip up your pants.

See? You got panicky there, because you know you can commit mistake. We are not perfect. To err is human and all that you know. So, here let me share with you some of the things that you may have done in the past. Don’t do it again. Please.

1. Bitching about previous employer

So you equate your previous employer with Hitler or Stalin or even Hitler and Stalin combined with Miley Cyrus, a truly terrifying picture that is not going to help you at all with your prospective employer.

I understand if you view your previous employer with venom. Maybe they didn’t pay your last salary. Maybe they didn’t even contribute your Employers Provident Fund. Heck, they might even have taken away your “Hello Kitty” coffee mug.

But all this does not give you the license to spit venom about the previous boss during the job interview. Right?

Why not?

Because it makes you a schmuck, no different than your previous boss. Your, what-could-have-been, prospective employer will view you as a bitter, selfish person who will have no qualms to bitch about your interviewer to others if things go wrong.

Are you that kind of person? If no, why even want to uncoil yourself that when the interviewer ask you about the reasons for leaving previous place of employment. They don’t want to see you smacking the table, having seizure or steams out of your ears. Stay calm, and just say things like, you wanted to move on, or looking for better prospects. Old, clichéd reasons, but they still work.

2. Don’t show you are desperate for job.

Times are bad, you are broke and your pet cat know very well that you have switched to a cheaper brand cat food, and disgusted, it has hitched with your neighbour’s kitty. You desperately need a job and when the interview session takes place, you blurted out pleading to the interviewer you need the job badly to afford Whiskers again. Well, don’t be so blatant, will ya?

Why not?

Look, if you are just moving on you’d be cool about it and take your time switching job. But if you are desperate and you show, chances are you might be taken for a ride. You may not be getting the kind of paycheque your skills, expertise, talent and experience might deserve, with pet cat or not.

If you had issues with your previous employer, chances are you might head onto the same problems with your new one. Why? They hired you because you are cheap and therefore they can step on you. So, watch it, don’t go in teary eyed with dopey face. They will sign you in and ask the help to bring the chain and handcuff.

3. At the same time, don’t behave like they must hand you the job on gold plate.

Of some of the recent interviews that I have done with some employers, they (some off-record and I won’t say who) commented that many job seekers come in thinking that the job is theirs…and it should be offered on gold plate. They want all the perks, privileges and be driving a brand new Beemer in just few months time. Well, go ahead and walk in with that smug outlook of the outcome, and you will still be reloading your bus card for many more years to come.

Why not?

Dude, that denotes arrogance. If you indeed deserve a gold plate, you must have that credential. If you have none of them, then they won’t even offer the job on plastic plate. I mean, forget about the plate, you are not getting that job. So, I advised you to not to be desperate, but show some moderate amount of humility and modesty, especially if you do have those credentials then you will see. Then, the job is yours though you might have to buy your own gold plate.

4. Know what your potential new job is about.

Again, you’d be retorting, “Look Rakesh, I had enough of your preaching. I know what job I am about to do. Duh!”. Sure, you walk in for that mechanical engineering job, except you didn’t actually looked at the first word when they listed for the “Sanitary Engineer” job. No, sanitary does not mean “mental state”. Look it up, will you.

Many have walked into the interview sessions without matching the job title with the organisation. You must have read that you must always do your homework before attending interviews. Some responsibilities for the same job wary from one organisation to the other. And don’t blame your dog’s dietary habit if you haven’t done your homework.

Why not?

Err…you are not the right person for it? Hello?


Hope you find the above useful and hope you have good sense of humour to take the occasional ribbing there. Happy job hunting and watch our space for more stuff. There is a Career Expo coming up on 7th of May and if you register with us, you’d be entitled to lots of workshops and personal development trainings, and you might even get hypnotised. Now, close your eyes and says this “I am attending JobsDB Career Expo”. Repeat seventeen times.

I can be reached at rakeshkumar@jobsdb.com.my if you need help to dehypnotise yourself.Cheers.

Rakesh Kumar.

Editor, JobsDB Malaysia.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

2 Random Job Interview Questions Tackled pt 1


Note: Article I wrote for JobsDB.com

First, I thought of picking just tough interview questions for this article, but I guess that would be subjective. You can probably give an easy answer to the question, “what will be the best contribution you can give to the company?”, unless you give answers like, “my entire EPF”. Other candidates may be stumped. They might go, “Contributions? I did it in church last week…” and trail off in total confusion.

So, I thought let’s pick up some random questions and deal with it.

1. Question: Tell me about yourself.

After all the intros about yourself in social networking areas like Facebook, blog, website, toilet (graffiti), and suddenly you are stumped not knowing how to answer this. Here’s the deal: they really want to know who you are before they put you next to a cubicle of an employee who probably doesn’t like coffee. If you are a coffee addict, they would most likely not hire you. Of course, why they hired a coffee hater in the first place could be baffling, but that’s the nature of human being you see. Especially the long suffering Human Resource (HR) managers.

What do they want to know?

Qualities that will fit into the organisation, that’s all. So, if in your Facebook you describe yourself as “Lollypop loving person striving for world peace by posting various famous quotes and not crediting it”, then chances are you have to talk more, especially your love for uncredited quotes.

What should be the best answer?

Hey, here’s a chance to brag about yourself, go ahead and boast what you can. But…but don’t be obnoxious. Your ability to clip your nose hair without a clipper will not interest the interviewer…especially so if you want to do a demo. Sure, there are fine human qualities you possess, like your cheery outlook of life and your friendliness or anything that makes you a swell addition to the organisation instead of another anti-social coffee hater.

So, chose and present yourself carefully. If you are a team player, say so. If not, then you have leadership quality and please if you want to reaffirm that skill don’t say you are a big fan of Star Wars, in particular Darth Vader.

Good answer:

“…People always said that I have leadership qualities and true enough I have led many wonderful projects during my student days...”

Worrying answer

“Well…I am a good boy…I help old people, especially my parents at the old folk’s home…”

Answer that will send you to the exit door.

“I read many leadership books that help build my character, including ‘Mein Kampf’”.

2. Question: How can you contribute to the company?

Sure, I kidded about it in the opening paragraph of this article, but look at it again, it says, “What…” HR managers don’t want you to contribute “things” to the company, so don’t offer your preserved grasshoppers collection. It’s what part of you that can best benefit the company, and we are not talking about your kidney either…unless it’s legal to sell one to private enterprises here.

What do they want to know?

Look. They are taking you in, paying you every month with the best ability, and putting you amongst the best they got and you better have something to offer to this team in terms of capability, skills and experience. Your experience in killing domestic lizards using lime paste (this writer excelled in it when he was a kid) can in no way contribute to the team, unless they are pest busters. Even then the method is questionable and your team member may not be comfortable with you alternating the use of lime paste to killing little reptiles and mixing it to chew betel leaf. I am digressing, but you get the picture. Do you? No? Moving on…

What should be the best answer?

Think carefully. What was the part your former employer, or your college lecturers, fellow students or seniors they praised the most? That you have keen eye for numbers? That you are a great critic? Note that great critic here means someone able to come up with constructive criticism, not an obnoxious whiner. Use these positive aspects of yourself and translate them into efforts you can put in to make the current team stronger.

In short, remember the question about yourself? Yeah, rework on it and say that these traits will definitely be your contribution to the company. Instead of fan of Darth Vader, say that you will be part of The Force and that The Force will always be with you. Of course, if you get strange stares from the HR managers when you say that, it’s time to switch your strategy.

Good answer

“…I can bring my experience as a moderator during many debates we had in college and my aptitude for discipline to help with the company’s mission…”

Worrying answer

“Why contribute when I can distribute? I love to rap, ha-ha.”

Answer that will send you to the exit door.

“…I know how to deal with people, especially with my hands…”

Happy job hunting. Keep an eye on our website, www.jobsdb.com.my and don’t forget to check out other articles, upcoming events, etc. While you were reading this, someone else would probably have snatched your dream job. Try again.

Rakesh Kumar

rakeshkumar@jobsdb.com.my

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