What’s your current state of mind?
Mahasajahn. It’s one of my favorite Thai words, very retro, from the 1930s or ’40s, and it means “marvelous.” I have a lot of good fortune in my life, and it would be ridiculous to feel anything else.
What’s your fondest memory from your time with I-S?
Oh, definitely Mid-Autumn Festival every year, which heralded the arrival of boxes and boxes and boxes of durian mooncakes from all our favorite hotels.
What’s the weirdest thing that ever happened to you at the old offices in Singapore?
There was the time termites ate through two cartons of I-S Restaurant Guides, and it went undiscovered until I opened the boxes one day to find something so weird and disgusting I can’t even begin to describe it. There were the numerous (!) visits from irate restaurant owners who got past our Attila the Hun reception desk and sat across from me and berated me about an I-S restaurant review until they started to cry. Or the time one of the daily papers, which shall remain nameless, plagiarized a story from I-S, and when I called the editor to complain, he acknowledged it but told me I should be flattered. There was also the time, of course, when I-S lost its publishing license for a month in 1997; the ensuing dealings were a bit like entering The Twilight Zone.
Was there any local celebrity that you had wanted to meet, but never did?
Does a Minister Mentor count as a celebrity?
Whom did you meet that you wish you had invited to dinner?
I have a peculiar soft spot for Singapore taxi drivers.
Looking back, would you have done anything any differently?
I’m not sure we’d do it differently, but to this day, the acronym I-S still befuddles people. That was one of the decisions we labored over longest, because in 1995, SG hadn’t yet become the Internet extension for Singapore, S was too stark, and SQ was already taken. Pay attention everyone: It means IN SINGAPORE.
What’s your most unique buy in Singapore?
A book by Chee Soon Juan that I bought from the man himself one lunchtime at Amoy Street hawker center. (Although I still haven’t read it.)
What about you scares others?
I am the world’s fastest walker. High heels, high temperatures, high curbs … doesn’t matter.
What’s your biggest achievement?
Starting a company 17 years ago with two of my favorite people in the whole world, who, 17 years later, are still two of my favorite people in the whole world.
What did you believe 10 years ago that you wish you still believed now?
For better or worse, most of my beliefs have stayed the same.