TimothyTiah.com

How being distracted by my phone broke my toddler’s heart

My wife has been away for a well deserved holiday in Croatia now with Xiaxue and the gang. So I’ve spent the past week with both my kids and what I thought might have been a really stressful week turned out to be a very fulfilling one.

You see when my wife is around both kids go to mommy for everything. Sometimes when I want to do something with them like put them to bed or feed them, they go “No no I want mommy”. So naturally when Shorty left she was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to cope and that I was going to be really busy with them.

She was right about the latter, but I ended coping just fine with the help of my parents and in-laws. Yes I was really busy but the one big reward is that I became the new “mommy”. Fighter and Penny came to me whenever they wanted anything and I had a glimpse of what it’s like to be their “everything”. Being their everything felt like a great power!

They say with great power comes great responsibility, and one night I took that great power for granted.

We were having dinner in Precinct 10 when Fighter asked me to take him for a walk so I obliged. We were having a great time just father and son, walking around the shops, him pointing out at everything he saw and asking me what it was.

Then I remembered something. That I had to make a call. I told Fighter that Daddy had to make a phone call and he played around by taking my phone from me and asking that he speak to that person instead of me. After fooling around for a minute I got on the phone and started talking.

In the background Fighter was walking around me, asking me things but I wasn’t present. I was focused on my phone call and totally ignoring him as he asked me everything. The phone call took no longer than 2 minutes, but 2 minutes was all it needed to break his heart.

In that 2 minutes, Fighter realized what was going on. He was being ignored. Even though I was physically there in front of him, I really wasn’t there at all. That we were sharing this great moment together and I ruined it by picking up my phone.

At first he shouted in frustration and swung his hands in the air and then finally he kneeled on to the ground with his head down.

I hung up and I asked him

“Fighter do you want to go for a walk now?”

He ignored me.

“Fighter do you want go see some things?”.

He ignored me.

I came closer to him and asked
“Fighter are you ok?”.

At this point he said
“I want to be alone”.

A part of me was surprised that he now knew the concept of being alone but seeing him on the ground like this was heartbreaking. So I took a moment to take this picture to remind myself how painful it was to see him like that.

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I came closer to him only to be stopped by him as he said
“DADDY GO AWAY! I DON’T WANT DADDY!”.

I said okay okay and I took a few steps back.

It wasn’t good enough.
“DADDY GO AWAY !!”.

I then reasoned with him
“Daddy can’t go any further. If I go away then someone might come and take you away from me”.

I don’t know what triggered it but he then broke out into tears and came to hug my leg. I carried him as he let out a cry. Not the spoilt cry that he would give when he wanted something that we wouldn’t give him. This cry was the cry of heartbreak.

I knew then that I had let my phone ruin the great moment I was having with my son.

I apologized a thousand times as I hugged and kissed him. Then I took him for a walk.

We came across this empty seating area that had a big projector screen showing some tennis match. We walked up close to the screen as Fighter admired how big the people on the screen were.

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Then I had an idea. Something I had done as a child.

While carrying him on my arm I raised my other hand and made a dog shaped shadow against the projector light. Cue the barking sounds.

For the first time since the crying, Fighter laughed and raised his own tiny fist to try to mimic my dog. Instead the shadow turned out to look like a tiny rock. It didn’t matter to him. To him that rock was a dog and our two rock and dog shadows were fighting on the wall with sound effects that would make Quentin Tarantino proud.

At that moment my phone vibrated from messages that I was getting. It was vibrating a lot too so it felt like I was getting a lot of messages. Maybe it was important.

I was going to reach for my phone when I stopped myself. If I picked up my phone again I would once again ruin this moment with my son. Instead I ignored it and spent 100% of my attention and focus on my son.

As I put Fighter to bed that night he was happy and smiling.

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I once again apologized to him and I made a note to myself not to ever let my phone come in between my kids and I.

Already seeing us with our phones all the time has had some kind of influence on them. Fighter and Penny now both love to carry old phones around with them and pretend to talk on it like we do. Fighter too likes to bring out his tiny laptop and say “I working. Don’t disturb me. I earning money”.

I think it’s impossible to never be on our phones when they’re not around but I think it’s possible and perfectly reasonable to realize when I’m having a moment, and when to not let that moment be ruined by my phone.

The picture I took of Fighter on the floor. That is something that will now serve as a cautionary reminder for me every time I think of ruining a moment.

The sad but necessary truth about business

Wee Kiat is one of the people who started myBurgerlab, a really popular burger chain in KL. He recently wrote a blog article about his tough experience in business.

That article gave me food for thought. I began to think about my own business experiences and the truth is that the lessons I’ve learned in the past years were hard truths that my old naive entrepreneur self struggled to accept years before.

If I could go back in time and tell myself then what I know now, I know I would have been a far better entrepreneur.

Anyway here’s the really sad but true things that I’ve learned about business.

1) Business has no place for empathy.

I used to read about how Microsoft in the 90s fought to keep their monopoly position. They used every possible weapon in their arsenal be it legal action against their competitors, bundling IE with Windows to kill Netscape or undercutting its competitors. Facebook has the same approach too. They either buy their competitors or copy them and strive to kill them.

I used to frown upon it because I used to think “Hey… why not let the little guy make some money? They already dominate market share.”

Today I understand why they do it. Business is hard and business is brutal. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down but when you’re up you can’t afford to pull punches on your enemies or competitors. You have to really go all the way because if the situation were the reverse, your enemies wouldn’t pull punches.

I noticed that too in my own business career. Sometimes I pulled punches on our enemies and I expected them to do the same when the situation was reversed. They didn’t. They went all the way and further.

Today Microsoft and Facebook maintain their dominance in their own spaces and I believe it’s largely because they fought for every single percentage point of market share.

I’ve learned now that the business world is this hard and brutal place. It was really hard to accept this but I now accept and understand why there is no place for empathy against your enemies. Have empathy outside of business, to people, to society, to your loyal employees… but in business, you have to go all the way.

Now if I have 60% market share, I’ll be really unsatisfied because I don’t have the remaining 40%. I think that’s how many successful entrepreneurs think and how I have to think.

2) People judge you on your mistakes… until you have another a success that speaks louder than your mistakes.

Sometimes as an entrepreneur you hit a winning streak. Business does really well, people treat you like a rock star and everything you touch turns to gold. It’s the best feeling in the world… feeling invincible. Feeling that you’re unstoppable.

Except that you’re not. Nobody is. Everyone goes through ups and downs and while I knew that, what I was surprised with was how perceptions change so quickly. How you can fall from rock star to loser overnight.

I had a friend who successfully started and sold two companies. He was a rock star and so by the time he came up with the idea for his third venture, investors were lining up to fund him and fund him they did to the tune of tens of millions.

The 3rd venture hit a snag and just like many other entrepreneurs would he put in the hours to pivot and try to make it work. Yet word has already gone around that he’s “not as good as people thought” or that he’s about to be the next “failure”. Ex-employees who once sang praises of him now speak poorly of him, saying that he should have done things this way or that way. It’s like his entire career was judged on how he did on his latest venture and everyone had forgotten his past.

The same goes for many other successful entrepreneurs in the US. Jack Dorsey is now CEO of Twitter for the second time. The first time he was kicked out because the board and investors felt he wasn’t good enough. Last year when they brought him back in, there was a wave of positivity but eventually investors get impatient and they will judge him again as a loser, if he doesn’t turn things around fast enough.

3) Friends in business are not as strong as you think.

I’ve made many good friends in business and it took me some time to realize that friends in business are only friends as long as one thing remains true.

Whether with your co-founder, investor or key employees, you’re only friends as long as your business interests are aligned. If they fall out of alignment then friends can quickly become enemies.

So manage your own expectations. If you fall out of friendships like this then understand it’s not personal, it’s business (even though to an entrepreneur business IS personal).

How Fighter and Penny are like in person…

This morning I was sitting in the living room with both kids running around when it occurred to me how different both my cute kids are in personality.

With both Fighter and Penny growing up, it’s very interesting to see their personalities take shape and boy they couldn’t be more distinct.

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Here’s how they’re like…

Fighter:

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  1. He’s very very cheerful. He’s always smiling and laughing at things.
  2. He’s very good with people and generally very friendly. When we ask him to, he’s not afraid to say hi to people he had just met.
  3. He generally doesn’t mind sharing things with other people except Penny. For some reason he doesn’t like Penny touching his stuff.
  4. Increasingly picky on the things he eats. Likes to pick and choose now.
  5. Very conscious about the outfits he wears. He generally likes to wear clothes with words on them because he thinks adults wear a lot of clothes with words on them. He calls them “ABC clothes”. He doesn’t like to dress like a baby. He likes to dress like an adult. He does not like wearing anything on his head. Not even a cap.
  6. Very attached to mommy and a babysitter of ours but generally okay with me and everyone else too.
  7. Generally more cautious and afraid of danger.
  8. Wakes up at 7.30AM every morning.
  9. Generally likes playing with older kids.

 

Penny:

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  1. She’s very cheerful too but in her own quiet ways. Unlike Fighter you don’t often see her running around laughing when there are people around but when she’s on her own or with a small group of people that she knows and trusts she lets all her smiles and laughter go then.
  2. She’s really shy with strangers. Not too much of a people person.
  3. She too doesn’t mind sharing stuff with people but not with Fighter.
  4. Loves fruits like bananas and loves trying different things.
  5. Kinda indifferent when it comes to clothes she wears but very picky about the shoes she wears. She loves shoes. Even when we’re not going out she’ll go around looking for shoes and occasionally try them on.  She’s also very used to (and very happy) wearing headbands with big flowers on them.
  6. Very attached to mommy and one babysitter. Everyone else is hostile unless proven otherwise. I’ve been working on building trust with her so that she’ll let me carry her and I can proudly say that I am indeed making progress.
  7. Not cautious and not afraid of danger even after having being hurt once for doing something.
  8. Wakes up at 6AM every morning.. sometimes even 5AM.
  9. Likes playing with any kids.

Of course there are things the both of them share in common:

  1. They both like playing with kitchen sets
  2. They both love eating whatever I’m eating for breakfast.
  3. They both happily give you a hug and kiss when you ask for one.
  4. They both fight a lot but have times when they’re really loving to each other.
  5. They both love Mommy and Daddy :)

Investigative documentary of child sex predators in Malaysia

There’s been a lot of news lately on pedophiles in Malaysia given the recent case of Richard Huckle, who used Malaysia as his hunting ground.

I gotta admit that becoming a father now has made me a little more concerned about this kind of thing than I used to be. That someday someone might go after Penny and she wouldn’t tell me about it until it’s too late.

I came across this documentary done by The Star Rage which I thought was really good.

Watching it was just surreal. Seeing these men talk in Malaysian accents was a rude reminder that all this was happening here, in our every day lives, men that would do harm to under-aged kids.

I think this is a good video to educate Malaysians about how real this is. I hope The Star Rage continues with this series.

The one great thing about being in a relationship….

Being a guy sometimes I can’t help but dream of what life would be like if I weren’t married or attached. If I had the independence to do whatever I want or date whoever I want. I sometimes live vicariously through my single friends.

I realize too that maybe I’m not the only one, heck the movie Hall Pass was made based on this notion.

Sometimes it just takes one moment of crisis to make me realize what I really have. It all started with a stomach flu.

I’ve been down with stomach flu for the past few days. Well it’s not just me. It started with patient zero here.

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And then spread to my wife, then to my sister and then to Fighter. I think I got it from Fighter.

Because I got it later than everyone else I was yesterday going through the most painful phase while everyone else was recovering. When I wasn’t sleeping I was vomiting or on the toilet tending to my diarrhea.

Last night though something really bad happened.

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling very very cold from the air conditioning. I rubbed my legs together and make sure I was tightly tucked under the sheets but it wasn’t enough. I was freezing.

Finally I decided to do what I knew I had to do. I had to leave the warmth of my comforter, get out of bed and turn off the air-conditioning.

That went well at first…. except that by the time I got back underneath my comforter I went into a shivering fit. It was one of the most painful experiences I’ve endured in a long time. I kept wondering when I was going to cool down but it wasn’t happening. My body was out of control. I was shaking violently and breathing heavily.

I remembered the last time I had that feeling. It was many years ago when I had dengue. I woke up all alone in the middle of the night shivering and there was nothing I could do but turn off the air conditioning and wait for the shivering fit to wear off.

This time though I wasn’t alone.

The shivering was so violent it shook the entire bed till Shorty woke up and saw what I was going through.

Shorty and I are independent sleepers. That means she sleeps on her side of the bed and I sleep on mine. Last night though once she realized what I was going through she came over to my side and held me close so that I could feel the warmth of her body heat.

I continued to shiver for 20 minutes, barely even able to speak until my breathing slowed down and I regained control of myself.

For the rest of the night, Shorty took care of me. Bringing me a bucket to vomit in when I had to, and Pocari Sweat to drink when I felt dehydrated.

It was then that I realized something.

Compared to the last time I was in this situation, this time felt better because there was someone looking out for me. Someone who genuinely loved and cared for me.

That’s the big plus of being in a relationship, as opposed to being single and free. That you have someone looking out for you during the bad times.

Life is full of good times and bad times but the good times are easy… it’s the bad times that are tough… and it’s the bad times where it’s great to have someone.

 

Is this the most expensive restaurant in KL?

Last night Derrick brought me for dinner at Taka at Sushi Saito, the new restaurant in the newly opened St Regis Hotel in KL that is getting all the rage now.

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It’s the first restaurant that the 3 Michelin star chef has opened outside of Tokyo. Now I’ve been to some expensive restaurants in KL but when I sat down and looked at the menu I instantly knew that this one was in a different league.

The menu basically had 3 sets, all of which cost over RM1,000 per head and that’s not even including any drinks. Throughout a set you typically have say over 10 pieces of Sushi and some fish or in my case some Wagyu beef. Forget Nobu or any of the other expensive restaurants in KL, this one almost certainly takes the cake.

The question of course is… is it worth it?

Dinner was around a sushi bar that my friend told me was imported directly from Japan. It apparently cost over a million bucks just to bring it in. The atmosphere is different. You kinda dine with a bunch of other people around a sushi bar so it felt somewhat communal but because it’s a small place, it feels somewhat private as well.

Then comes the food. I’m not so much into raw food so I’m not sure if I knew how to fully appreciate something like this but when it came to this experience I just closed my eyes and ate everything that was put on my plate. Heck I never even used to eat sea urchin.

Everything tasted really fresh and if there’s one other thing to really enjoy about the experience is watching how the sushi chef (if you can call them that) very skilfully cut and put together the sushi. Kinda really reminds me of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Another story I heard from my friend there was that the sushi chef here wanted to bring in their rice directly from Japan but faced some trouble at customs. So they had to resort to local rice but not all local rice could make the cut, only a specific type of grain. So what they all had to do was go through bags of local rice and pick out one by one of the grain that would qualify then use that.

I left the night feeling that what we’re essentially paying for isn’t just the quality ingredients they use, or the wonderful atmosphere of the restaurant or the great service from the staff there.  It’s the years and years of training and experience that each of these sushi chef have had in Japan, demonstrated to you in dishes that come in the smallest of sizes.

I don’t see going to Taka by Sushi Saito just as a meal. I see it as an experience and when you look at it that way, yes it’s expensive… but maybe it’s worth it.

The 5 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know About Productivity with Office 365 at work

The 5 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know About Productivity with Office 365 at work

This article is a collaboration with Microsoft Malaysia

Ever since I started working with Microsoft and got on to Office 365 for Business, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about my personal experience. Some entrepreneurs, some executives and even some people from Microsoft.

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I notice that people generally ask me a similar set of questions so I thought I’d do a bit of a Q&A here when it comes to using the Office 365 for Business.

  1. Is it worth upgrading to Office 365 for Business?

I think there are a lot of benefits to Office 365 for Business but with many features, the one you might like the most really differs based on your different personal preferences and work behaviour.

As for why I personally like Office 365 for Business, I covered this in my previous article here.

I also asked one of my colleagues that just recently got upgraded to Office 365 for Business. Here’s what she said.IMG_20160418_115713

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So really everyone has different things that they like depending on how they work.

  1. Why subscribe per user when we already have the old licensed copies of Microsoft Office?

The old version of MIcrosoft Office is device based. So you buy a license to use on one PC. Today though we work with multiple devices. When we’re on the road we work on our mobile phones, at work we work on our work laptops and at home we sometimes work on our home PCs or tablets.

Subscribing to Microsoft Office 365 for Business gives you the software you need to work on all these devices like the latest Office 365 apps, business class e-mail, 1TB cloud storage and video conferencing.

  1. But that means I have to pay every year instead of just a one-off.

Well yes and no. Most of us subscribe to cloud storage at work. My company itself has been using Dropbox for the past couple of years.

I pay about $9.99 on Dropbox a month for about 1TB. Now if you click to enlarge the table here below, you’ll see a price comparison of all the other services.

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If you pay $8.25 a month on Office 365 for Business you get 1TB of storage on Microsoft One Drive AND Office 365 for Business. So for paying about $1 less a month, I would get double the storage compared to what I get with Dropbox now and free Office 365 for Business. That’s a saving to me especially when you factor in the cost of having to buy a licensed copy of Office 365 for Business. If you were going to go for just One Drive on its own you can get it for $5 a month which is almost 50% cheaper than Dropbox.

Of course the truth is there is a bit of a transition cost if you’re already on another service. So for me it’s easy to shift to Office 365 for Business and One Drive on a personal use basis or if I have a smaller company, but to get my entire company of 200 people that’s another thing altogether. However I think if we work out the cost in the long run we’ll reach a point when it does become worthwhile to use Office 365 for Business and One Drive.

  1. How’s Skype for Business different from consumer Skype that we already use for business anyway?

Skype is a communication tool that many of us use in business. Many of our conference calls, or work calls with people overseas are done over Skype.

Skype for Business is pretty cool though. The part I like about it is that it allows someone I’m in a call with to take over my computer and do things. So say when I have e-mail problems or a tech problem, my IT guy can take over my mouse/keyboard control and trouble shoot for me.

  1. To use Office 365 for Business does this mean I have to be on Windows devices for my laptop and even mobile?

Nope. Microsoft’s mission is to have as many people as possible use their software regardless of the platform they’re on. Whether you use an iPhone, or Android or Mac… it doesn’t matter.

While you’re at it check out this video interview I had on Office 365 for Business.

So if your doubts are cast aside, you can sign up for Office 365 for Business here.

How it feels to be approaching your mid 30s…

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Tomorrow I turn 32. I still remember when I was a college student and I hear of people who are in their 30s I would be like “Wow that is so old and in such a long distant future to me”.

Today I am in my 30s… and getting older. After my little pre-birthday party tonight (you can read about it on my Dayre tomorrow), I started reflecting about what’s different and boy is my 30s a lot different than my 20s:

  1. I earn more but spend less on myself. Because I’ve had a little more time to build my career, in my 30s I find I’m not too strapped for cash. So I earn more than I did in my 20s but I feel I actually spend less on myself. I increasingly save more and more for my kids education and future and the dreams of owning a sports car become more and more distant each day.
  2. I exercise more and watch what I eat. I never used to care about what I ate. I ate and drank whatever I felt like but things are different now. I have friends around my age who have had health issues, cancer and all sorts of different illnesses. When I go to see doctors, I no longer get a “All’s good… you’re all healthy”. Instead I get a “Your sugar is way too high. Your cholesterol needs some work too”. There’s also the realization that I have to live longer not just for myself but for my kids. So I make it a point to do more things to live a healthier life.
  3. I’ve become more cynical about the world. As a young adult or a teenager I always believed that I could change the world. When people saw things in a negative light I always saw it in a more positive light and believed that I could change it. Perhaps it’s over years of experience or getting burned I’m more cynical now. I’m less eager to change people’s minds if they don’t agree with me and tend to just accept their opinions and move on. It’s a more peaceful route but I do miss that fiery passionate self always eager to convince someone else otherwise.
  4. My parents are getting older. The more time passes the more I can see my parents age and it’s become more and more real to me now that they’re going to sooner or later need a lot of our help. We’re gonna need to take care of them and more importantly spend as much time as we can with them now because they truly are getting older.
  5. Time becomes a lot more expensive. I feel like I have a lot less time for myself. My time is divided between what I want to do for myself, my family and my work. It’s a tough balance to strike. In the past I could just spend days doing nothing….. these days that’s become much less of an option.
  6. I’m more set in my ways. I hate to admit this but it’s true. I am more set in my ways now than when I was in my 20s and I can now relate to why my parents are more set in their ways too. There are some things I want done in a specific way… like how I want my bags to be packed when I travel, or that I want to drink juice every morning or something’s wrong.

In spite of all this… do I enjoy my 30s? I’ve been thinking about it and the answer really is yes. My 20s was one of the best parts of my life (I oddly didn’t really enjoy my teens or younger). But my 30s was the first time I met my kids and while I used to think that having kids would tie me down, I don’t actually feel that way. Yes they take up a lot of my time and attention, but what they give back is well worth it.

I also enjoy that I have fewer friends but I spend a lot more time getting closer to a few very close friends. It’s different.

Ah the 30s is a nice spot to be in. I wonder what my 40s will be like but the good news is hey… I’ve got another 8 years of 30s to go.

Now it’s time for me to go to bed so I can take my kids to a childrens’ birthday party tomorrow. Good night everyone!

The first time I felt claustrophobic in an MRI and how I overcame it

I’ve never thought of myself to be the type that felt claustrophobic. Once we were in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and there was a garden maze we were playing in. Shorty got lost in the maze for a while and said she felt claustrophobic. I didn’t get it… because I didn’t.

It was not until December last year when I felt like that for the first time.

After a medical checkup the doctors found a cyst in my pancreas. Having a cyst is usually no big deal but if it’s on the pancreas all doctors tell you to take it really seriously. So I went to see a specialist who told me I could do an MRI. Upon suggesting an MRI he asked “You’re not claustrophobic are you?”.

I said no. I mean I’ve never known what it felt like to be claustrophobic to begin with.. so no. I’ve never felt it.

I happily booked my MRI and showed up on the morning totally fine. I don’t like most medical procedures that involved needles but I wasn’t worried about this one. After all it’s just staying still and not doing anything. I’ve done an MRI before many years ago but that just was on my knee so I never really went into the machine.

This time though I lay down and they inserted me head first into the machine. I was in so deep I think my feet barely stuck out.

Deeper than this if I remember correctly.

As I lay down and looked around the tunnel I was in, something hit me. The doctor’s comment about whether I was claustrophobic…. the more I thought about it the more I thought that maybe I was. Suddenly I felt like sitting up but I couldn’t. I was stuck in this tunnel that was making really loud weird noises.

I was just about to press the emergency button and irritate the technician manning the machine when I decided to do one thing.

I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. Then I reminded that it was all in the mind. Right there and then, I suddenly felt in control again…. and I was able to sit (well kinda lay down) through the entire 30 minutes.

I won’t say I’ve overcome my fear completely. I went for an MRI recently and asked them this time to slot me feet in first so it didn’t feel too bad.

This instance to me was a reminder about the role the mind plays in all our fears and challenges. Every time we’re cycling up a hill, or facing stress at work, or dealing with heartbreak… the mind plays with us and the sooner we can find the discipline and the will to arrest it, the sooner we have control of our bodies once again.

Short Films from China

Wow a week has almost passed since I last updated my blog. Sorry guys. I’ve had some inspiration to write an article recently but I just haven’t found the time to sit down and properly do it yet.

Work has been pretty busy for me this past week and I’ve been working hard on closing some deals. In my free time I’m hanging out with the kids and well… recently I’ve been watching some Chinese short films.

It first started with this one that Michael Chen introduced to me. It’s about an 8 year old boy who hired a prostitute to be his stand-in mom.

I never saw myself as a short film kinda guy. Most artsy short films I’ve seen in the past tend to be really slow and draggy and it never hung on to my attention for long. But this one held me… and I was so impressed with how well it was shot. I was particularly impressed with the boy’s acting.

So I googled “China short films” and this one called Bus 44 came out right on top.


I thought it was another good one and this one had won some awards in the past.

Anyway check these two out. They’re fully ready with English subtitles.

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