Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dale and I

The first time I went to the US, it was because of Dale Carnegie. I was reading "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" (which is an excellent title for a chronic worrier like me) and the US Embassy called to ask if I wanted to interview some VIP, who was part of the International Advisory Panel of the Multimedia Super Corridor (this MF of a project in a country where mega-projects are like rain).

I said OK. Embassy guy said, one problem. She has no time here. You would have to follow her to Sarawak. I said OK (a little more trepidatiously). He said, one more problem, she has not agreed to interview. You would have to ask her in Sarawak.

And the last problem. I didn't have a passport. Although Sarawak is part of Malaysia, you cross the sea to get to it. So, when you arrive there, you whip out your passport. At the time, we were having our financial crisis. Our wonderful Prime Minister didn't want us to travel. So passports went from being about 120 ringgit to 600 ringgit. 300, if you took the one with less pages. Nother problem - since I didn't have money at the time, I had put off renewing my passport. Embassy guy checked around, then called me back to say I might be turned back at the airport.

Oh, this was just getting better and better. So, I didn't have the interview, I could go all the way there (waking up at 3 in the morning, I might add, to catch the first flight out) and be turned away at the airport. Or, better still, be allowed in, and then have Ambassador Dougan refuse to speak to me. Wonderful.

I was sitting in a hotel lobby waiting to interview someone or nother when the office paged me to tell me this latest bit of news. Of course, I was sitting with my Dale Carnegie (since that was my book-du-jour and I am never without a book to beguile the wanton hours, especially if there is a possibility that I will be kept waiting. Also, if there isn't a possibility. I read in taxi cabs)

Carnegie asked: "What's the worst that can happen?"

I said: "They could turn me away at the airport!"

Carnegie said: "OK, they could turn you away at the airport. Now accept that outcome and get on with it."

So, I "accepted" that outcome, set off the next day prepared to be turned away at the airport when I got to Kuching. And instead:

They let me in with my identity card. After all, I am a Malaysian. Also, once when I got to the hall the first talk would be at (after which I would see if Ambassador Dougan would be amenable to speaking to me) I found her a delightful woman. She spoke from the heart and it was wonderful how down to earth she could make a dry topic like technology. After the speech, when everyone was buzzing around, I went up to her. She not only agreed to an interview, she asked me to accompany her on her "official tour" of Kuching. This was more than I could have expected. Anyway, at the end of her tour, we had about an hour to speak.

I did three stories. The guy at the Embassy was so impressed that he recommended me for an East West Centre fellowship (ah, Hawaii! Also San Fran and Seattle. To say it was wonderful would be to damn with faint praise).

And that is how Dale helped me get to the States.

I wonder what would happen if I actually applied the rest of the 100-or-so self help books that I've read.


Anonymous said...

I do that, too. One would think after a success such as that you'd do it again and again, but newwwwww, let's stop just when we've gotten started.

So, how can we apply Dale to us meeting somewhere in the world for tea?

Anonymous said...

Hey, you took down your blocky thingy.

jackie said...

I am impressed - you must be so proud. You're a wonder, woman!

Jenn said...

Nessa: Dale? Maybe Norman Vincent Peale. Or Sonia Choquette that. Am trying to reapply all these things though - I mean what's the use of investing a fortune in books about getting better, only to skim through them and stack them neatly on already overcrowded shelves to collect dust?

Yeah, I took it down cos I didn't need it anymore. Hehe.

Jackie: Far from a wonder woman, but thanks...:)

cindra said...

I think you are doing just fine with applying what's under you belt already! THanks for coming by today!

Just Tom said...

Fascinating story. So, I'm to gather that you got to go to Hawaii, Seattle and San Francisco. Nice places in the US to visit (I'm a Northwesterner, lived in Seattle for years and have been to SFO many times. Hawaii only as a kid but Cindra raves about it). That was your first time to the US, huh? Have you been back or was that it for the US so far?

I'd be intersted to hear your impressions of the US but perhaps that would be more fodder for a post than a comment.

Whatever crumbs you can drop in the comment box would be most welcome.



Anonymous said...

Cindra: You're welcome. So happy to share (even a little) in your day.

Tom: I loved it. Hawaii felt like home after a few days - we just sort of blended in. I went around with a lei in my hair and around my neck (OK this was only one night when they were having a festival on but still). Got seriously drunk in Seattle. What can I say, cocktail night at this place Bill Gates hangs out at. Went to a Blues bar in San Francisco...also went around Silicon Valley and found a kooky bookshop there. OK, OK, will do all of one post on it. And I came back a second time. Went to New York to see a friend. Can I just say I loved New York? Everybody was nice there. Strangers struck up conversations on the street. Taxi drivers gave me free rides (no, they didn't ask me to pay them in other ways). The owner of this patisserie (I am sure I spelled that wrong) refused to charge me for the salad or ice cream I bought. He said I reminded him of home.

All in all, how was it possible not to like America?

Jenn said...

OK that was me. Drat this system!

QuillDancer said...

If we stop when we're ahead then we can't fall behind ... right?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes those books can make good door stops.

People are often nice to visitors who are interested in where they are visiting.

Jenn said...

I dunno if we can stop Quilly. It's like Alice in a Wonderland - running to stand still, y'know?

Haha, with apologies to Justin, I think I'll make Infinite Jest my doorstop.