The story of my life
Meaningful and Tumultuous 1988
The 1988 year was a meaningful and undeniably a tumultuous year. I founded my own architectural practice Acromas Akitek. I was 35 and Bee Bee was 31.
My twins were born in 1987. In 1988 when I found my own biz, they were only 1.5 years old.
That time, Malaysia was facing the serious recession. Workers had been retrenching everywhere.
My job at the first architectural practice that I joined in 1986 since returning from UK was not safe anymore.
Instead of waiting to be retrenched, I took the bold and courageous route of resigning from the company and started my own practice without a single new commission at all.
I started the biz at my own home. In a way good because Bee Bee can take care of the boys at this tender age and she can work on the new biz.
To survive, I took a job as a part time lecturer in a new Interior Design College, Saito Academy in Petaling Jaya.
I also did some part time work for an architectural practice owned by the famed Condo King Datuk Allan Tong.
I also looked for perspective drawing commissions from a few architectural practices to generate some incomes.
I worked for 6 months under the above conditions after which I had enough commissions so I resigned from all the above jobs.
The breakthroughs were architectural commissions from some of my classmates who worked in developer offices. They were my classmates from my first uni Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Housing Building and Planning, Penang.
I am always be grateful to my classmate Toh Tuan Ooi who was most instrumental in giving me the most critical good kick start to my biz.I remember this for my life.
The Acromas Akitek days 1988-1996.
8 years of architectural practice in Kuala Lumpur.
Bee Bee is my life and biz partner, being married for 35 years and she has been my biz partner since we first started my architectural practice in 1988. I studied Archiecture and Bee Bee studied Interior Design.
There in my office, I was 36 and Bee Bee was 32.
There were intense moments with no sleep days.
There were times when we had to complete our design for next days presentation and we had to work from the day till the next morning without sleep.
We had to bring our twin sons, then at age 3 to the office. and they were wild and energetic, they played non stop under the drafting tables but only dropped dead at about 4 am.
Soundless, while we slot away. Bee Bee always end up as the last person to the finale, she did all the last coloring of the designs before I drove off for the 10 am presentation to the client. We were excited, we won the job. Those crazy days.
When we decided to end our biz and changed our line, we would quote our fees 2 times higher than normal so as not to offend our clients by saying no more jobs. Sometimes, we still get the job. Crazy days.
Wow, it has been my biz partner for 25 years and still continue into Paper N Pen (1998-2015) today.
That year was 1980, we arrived in London and shot up to Glasgow
The year was 1980, 35 years ago, and immediately after our marriage, we went over to University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom. I was 27 and Bee Bee was 23.
I was pursuing my Architecture degree which needed 3 more years of full time study with 1 year of practical work. I had my first degree of B.Sc in Housing Building & Planning from Universiti Sains Malaysia which took me 4 years of study.
I remembered in unspoken real frightening fear that we had only the fund for the first year of Uni fees and about fund for 4 months of living expenses.
We had to survive. Bee Bee was looking for a clerical job to support our study there but after many attempts, she could not find any job, as UK was facing one of the most severe recession at that time.
In the end, she decided to take up a waitress job in a restaurant. With this we survive the first year.
The second year was my practical year. In recession, it was so hard to get a job in an architectural office. I wrote 50 plus application letters. In the end I got 4 interviews and I got 4 job offers. I decided to take the job at Elsom Pack and Roberts (EPR) in London. EPR is a large architectural practice with over 100 staff.
Very fortunately, my job at EPR was the breakthrough that eventually gave me many further opportunities to earn and was able to finance my fees and expenses for my last year of study. Bee Bee still got to work as waitress in a western restaurant in Glasgow and in a Japanese Restaurant in London for all these years to support us.
Penang’s Fort Cornwallis. Chinese New Year 1991
Bee Bee at 33 and Qinyang and Qinyuen at 4.
It’s intriguing; the traditional Chinese dresses are only rarely worn, and it would only be worn during the Chinese New Year session. Bee Bee was with the classic loose qipao, in the auspicious red small floral theme, her favourite theme.
It was four years ago from 1991.
After 4 months of pregnancy, our gynecologist informed us that Bee Bee had twins.
There was no way to know the sex as the babies were too compact inside. So I had to get 4 names: if we had the boys, then the names would be Qinyang and Qinyuen and the girls would be Qinying and Qinching. If we had loong feng tai, meaning a pair of boy and girl then we can choose two names from the four names.
I was with Bee Bee during delivery.It was rather easy and fast. Bee Bee said she had prepared well, she read intensely about pregnancy and nutrition, she ate with the carefully compose food intake and she read all info about pregnancy. It was no more than 10 minutes between the first one and the second one.
The doctor shouted it’s a boy with the the first one out and boy again for the second one. The doctor said they were identical twins from the single placenta that Bee bee had.
Qinyang and Qinyuen. The names. It is quite traditional to get names that always glorify the sons literally translated like Big Success, Brave Forward, Brilliant and Shining( Lee Kuan Yew name, which is truest to the name). What if they don’t turn out to be big success or shine big enough?
I choose names that avoid the above. Qin means the View. Yang means Sun, or bright, positive. Yuen means Round. Our surname Wong means Yellow. How intriguing?
Now both of my boys had grown big, both are 28 now. The chicks had flown away. Our nest is once again, empty. Go back to just two of us like when we were courting. I have the Empty Nest Syndrome sometimes. No more noise or sounds. No more looking forward to return home from work to see my boys. Lonely? No, it is all peaceful.