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52 CH52: Simplicity at its bes

    "Be simple, be honest. Don't overcook and don't undercook,

    But it's better to undercook than overcook."

    - James Beard

    =========================

    It was February and the country was busy with the upcoming celebration of the National Day, which will be held at the end of the month. Newsletters and official letters from the government offices had been passed around to every government bodies and non-government bodies, whereby it was announced that all shops and offices should be closed. For the government bodies, they were specifically warned not to travel outside the country during the National Day. Though, this does not apply to those who were working in the private sector, for example, Delilah.

    Yet, it was not as if Delilah made plans to travel. She would rather stay at home and sleep. After all, it was not everyday she would get a day-off like this, where she could laze around in bed. And even sleep late the night before.

    Unfortunately for her, her sister was feeling patriotic that year so she told Delilah that she wanted to go and see the parade in the city during the National Day. Delilah had stared at her with an expression that says, 'You're kidding me, right?'

    Miya looked serious at that time and said determinedly, "Yes, I really want to go."

    "What about Kael?" Delilah had asked. "And why can't you bring your husband, instead?? Don't you have a husband to annoy and bring around with??"

    Miya pouted. "He doesn't want to accompany me. But at least, he can take care of Kael for me while we go," she smiled with wide puppy eyes.

    Delilah sighed. She couldn't ignore her sister's request. She knew that if she had asked a favor from her as well, Miya would do it for her too. So, it would be ungrateful and selfish for Delilah to reject it.

    Unwilling, Delilah had said yes, which made Miya so happy.

    Few days before the National Day, Delilah was inside her cubicle, typing some reports when a call came in. She immediately stopped what she was doing and picked up the call.

    "Hello. Delilah speaking," she greeted.

    'Hello Delilah. This is Isaac from the Finance department,' the caller said.

    Delilah's eyebrows shot up. This was new. She never received a call from him before and she doesn't think she ever talked to him before either. So, receiving a call from him probably seems to be important. "Ah, yes. May I help you with something, Isaac?" she asked politely.

    'Well, you see. I received an email from the office that requires my presence for a meeting this afternoon. Unfortunately, I'm not able to come due to other commitments,' he replied.

    "Other commitments?" she repeated.

    'Yes. I'm actually on leave today but it seems that it is important for me to attend the meeting.'

    "Wait. Do you mean, for today's meeting?" Delilah asked, feeling confused. From what she had remembered that the meeting for that afternoon was only for the new employees. Isaac has been working in the company for more than a year. Nearly two years, to be exact. Why would he need to attend a meeting that was specifically for the new employees? The meeting was actually an induction.

    'Yes, yes. So, is it possible for me to mark my absence because I have other commitments?' Isaac asked patiently.

    "Yes, of course," Delilah answered. "I'll inform the management of your absence. It should be fine since you're on leave, after all."

    "Alright then, thank you, Delilah."

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    Delilah put down the phone and immediately texted Amy about the meeting.

    'Hey Amy. Are you in the office? What's this that I heard about older employees joining in the meeting?' Delilah texted.

    Seconds later, her mobile phone beeped with a notification. Looking down at her phone, Delilah saw it was a reply from Amy. She quickly swiped open the text message and read.

    'Older employees? What older employees?' the reply came.

    'I mean, older employees as in those who have been working in the company for more than a year. Why do they have to join too?' Delilah typed back.

    'Ah, do you mean those like Isaac and Yee Feng?' Amy asked in the text message. Yee Feng was another one of their employees who have been working in the company for more than a year. Even longer than Delilah.

    'Yes,' Delilah confirmed. 'Why are they still required to attend the meeting? Isn't this for the newcomers?'

    'It is,' Came Amy's answer. 'But Howard told them to come because they haven't joined any of the inductions before.'

    Delilah rubbed her forehead in resignation. Then she replied back, 'The thing is, Amy, that they have been in the company for more than a year. At least, they did come for the other meetings so we cannot say that they haven't attended once. And also, everything that Howard is going to talk about in the meeting would be repetitive. For the newcomers, it would be alright. But not for them.'

    Amy then sent a 'Crying' stickers as her reply. Then her text came after.

    'What am I to do? I'm just a lowly admin,' came Amy's pitiful text.

    Delilah just sighed and replied back, 'Never mind. Hope things will be fine.'

    After she was done texting with Amy, she began to sort out the documents and print out the sheets that were needed to be given to the newcomers for their notes. She also took note on the attendance on whom will be attending the induction and so forth.

    A couple of hours before the meeting started, Amy came into the office, carrying her handbag. The induction meeting was going to be held at the HQ so Aubree and Delilah had already set up and booked a meeting room for the induction. Since it was going to be a short meeting, Delilah did not call for any drinks and snacks.

    Delilah handed Amy a bunch of papers to be given to the newcomers and helped set up the microphone. They would not be using any electronic devices such as projectors and computers. Instead, the papers would be enough.

    That time, Aubree had to leave for home early and Howard had already given her permission to leave. So, it was only Delilah and Amy left to supervise the induction and ensure that there was nothing wrong happening.

    A few minutes before the meeting had started, all the newcomers were already in their seats, except for the few that had already informed them that they would not be coming. And shortly after, Howard came in, looking bright as usual.

    That day, he was wearing a bright green batik shirt with gold designs all over and a brown slacks. He was also wearing his gold-rimmed glasses with a few diamonds sparkling on the rims. His hair was a bit longer than before and he had swept his bangs to the side, making his glasses more pronounced.

    He nodded hello to both Amy and Delilah before heading into the meeting room.

    He began his meeting by introducing himself and then he began to talk about the company; its history, its people and product and services.

    The meeting took more than an hour with questions and answers. Delilah had recorded the meeting using a voice recorder so that she would be able to write down all the questions asked by the newcomers and compiled them into a FAQ.

    Once the meeting was over, both Amy and Delilah were mentally exhausted. This was because there were many things that Howard did not even mention and those he had mentioned were not in the sheets. Hence, the two women had to take note of them and also asked for the newcomers' feedback. As for the older employees, some were indeed dissatisfied because it was repetitive for them. Others felt it was interesting because they were able to raise more concerns and thoughts about what Howard had mentioned.

    So, after the meeting, the two women helped to clean up the meeting room and went back home.

    For Delilah, instead of driving straight back home, she stopped by at a little small shop where they served Poke Bowl [1]. After parking her car, she got out of her car and quickly went inside the shop, worried that it might be closed.

    Going straight to the cashier counter, she ordered a spicy tuna poke bowl with an addition of edamame. It only took a couple of minutes for them to prepare her order.

    Few minutes later, Delilah was sitting alone in the kitchen at her house. She was opening the lid of her poke bowl when her sister walked in.

    Her sister sneaked a look at what Delilah was eating and frowned. "That looks good," she commented. "Where's my share?"

    Delilah immediately covered her poke bowl and hid it with both of her hands, away from Miya's prying eyes. "No, it's all mine!" she exclaimed loudly.

    Miya just rolled her eyes, muttering, "Stingy," as she walked to the fridge to grab her bottle of orange juice.

    After Miya had left the kitchen, leaving Delilah alone to enjoy her dinner, she opened the lid again. She loved the beautiful colours inside the poke bowl. The colour of the tuna was so vibrant that you can tell that it was quite fresh and it does not let off a fishy smell either. The tuna was cut into cubes, where it was arranged beside a half avocado, which was sliced beautifully. Then, next to the avocado, there were some edamame and cubed cucumber on the other sides. It was then topped off with thinly sliced scallions and drizzled with spicy mayo and sesame seeds. And all these were arranged appealingly over warm red rice.

    Scooping the rice, together with the tuna, scallions and sauce into her spoon, she ate them. The tuna tasted fresh with that mild sweet flavour and a beef-like texture. Together with the spicy mayo, it added in a kick to the flavour, giving off a spicy yet tangy taste. The rice itself was cooked nicely. It does not taste much but it does have that mild nutty taste, unlike other rice. It made it more DEE-licious to munch it together with the tuna.

    Then she ate the avocado and the edamame together. The edamame itself does not have that much taste. Unlike the other beans that she had eaten before, edamame has a mild sweetness to it; almost to nothing. But she loved how she would munch them. The avocado, on the other hand, was soft with that buttery and creamy flavour. It also has that earthy flavour and it combined well with edamame, making both flavour rich and nice.

    InDEEd, it would be better if food was undercooked since there will be more loss of its healthy nutrients. Then again, to be honest, Delilah does not care much about it because she was all about simplicity and flavours.

    -----

    [1] Poke means "to slice or cut" in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish - usually tuna - which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces. [Derived from https://people.com/food/poke-bowl-food-trend-recipe/]
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