Archive for June 2007

An extraordinary meeting

June 29, 2007

I had a good night out with the girls on Monday evening, where we had a delicious Japanese meal at Rakuzen at Millenia Walk.

It was a long walk from City Hall and on the way we spotted a guy one of us fancied, which immediately sent us all into a mad frenzy. This included squealing like teenage girls, hiding behind products in stores to gawk and walking past the guy a couple of times, which was totally unbecoming for women our age. I was disgusted to realise I was no better than my students.

Thankfully, we had better luck with men when we arrived at the restaurant. Sharon the Towkay Neo bumped into a male friend in the restaurant, who later sent plates and plates of complimentary sushi our way.

Melissa the Fashionista then commented that she wished this happened to us at a bar where handsome eligible men would be getting waiters to deliver free drinks to our table. This never happened and probably never would, so the rest of us stared at our wasabi in silence, then consoled ourselves by munching on dead raw fish.

We later adjourned to a deserted cafe to have some horrible cake but satisfying drinks, spoiling the study mood for two earnest students with our noisy chatter.

On the way back to the train station, Melissa decided to entertain us with her debut performance of flying down the stairs in high heels, which we thoroughly relished. Our eyes widened, jaws dropped, we squealed with delight and applauded in admiration.

I was too busy downing green teas, pigging out on the sushi rolls and honestly having too much fun that I couldn’t be bothered to snap many pictures.  So here, enjoy what I’ve got!

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A bit dizzy before the meal after walking 40 mins to get to the restaurant.

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Melissa (left)  gets crazy creative with colours, and displays her talent at flying down the stairs. 

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Smiling reluctantly after eating some yucky Jaffa Cake disguised as chocolate sponge.

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The “study group” behind were probably annoyed by the four giggly aunties.

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Towkay Neo grinning after she managed to get two cakes at a whopping 50% off. Money’s no laughing matter for her!

That time of the month

June 25, 2007

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When I went for facial in March, my beautician recommended that I use this brand of sanitary pads. It was supposed to be very absorbent, with a special ingredient which could coagulate blood so the surface of the pad felt dry and smooth all the time.

What’s more, anion (negative ion) chips were added so that it could “enhance immunity, remove toxin and germs, control odour without any side effects” according to the promotional material. My beautician told me this could help to prevent infections and improve hygiene during that time of the month.

It also came with a special “Lady Vagina Inflammation Self-Testing Paper”, which allowed me to check my pH levels and make sure my down under was not under attack. But of course if you have a “Gentlemen Vagina”, then sorry this is not for you.

I bought a packet of 10 pads from her, and I must say they are not bad. Really kept me clean, fresh and smelling good. I have no problems with the product itself.  However, upon further inspection of the packaging recently, I found a major problem.

The pads were manufactured in China and the English product information was beyond unacceptable.

It was offensive and derogatory!

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Manufacturers of Anion pads, I hope you are reading this because I think you should:  

a) Drive dangerously fast to your factory, shut your machines, sit all staff down with a box of black markers and manually cross out the first three words of Point #1 on each packet. They are rude and redundant.

b) Once that is done, you get on the phone and scream the offensive word you just painstakingly cancelled at your translator and also at yourself for being such a dumbo for hiring him/her.

c) Then you get on the phone to me and offer me a 3-year translation contract. At least I’d make sure you don’t look like a bloody (no pun intended) fool.  

Losing the grip

June 24, 2007

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Four years ago, I got to know an Indonesian girl, SP, who just moved into my neighbourhood. She hailed from Central Java. She was very tall and slim, with big eyes and long perfect lashes.

She looked after an old lady in the area, helping her around the house and cooking her meals. The old lady lived with her 2 middle-aged daughters and a grand-daughter. The old lady was really quite hard to please. This was well known in the neighbourhood.

She behaved like the dowager, always demanding for things to be done in a certain way. She was very critical and intolerant. Since an operation years ago, the dragon lady could no longer cook or wash. She had to rely on SP. She became resentful about being reduced to her pathetic state and often lost her temper at everyone.

She never layed a finger on SP, but her really nasty words were painful enough to cause SP to die many times. Still, SP tried her best to be patient and kind toward the dragon lady. She was afterall just an old and sad woman, who could only dream of her glorious past.

She prepared the dowager’s medicine, accompanied her on doctor visits, cleaned her night pot, and massaged her legs.

The rest of the family knew how difficult it was to live with the dowager. So, they were grateful for having such a handy helper around and often rewarded her good work in many ways. They increased her pay each year. They joke and talk with her. They gave her some money when she went out on her off days. On her birthday, she received gold jewellery.

They recognised that SP was a very fast and eager learner. She never skived on her job, and tried to do everything to perfection. She was a real gem to this family. They knew it was impossible to find someone who could tolerate the dowager’s fiery temper.

Today SP came to tell me that she was planning to return home at the end of her four-year contract. I knew her employers were trying hard to persuade her to stay. They offered her bonuses, a significant pay increase and even paid computer lessons.

But her parents pressured her to return home. It turned out that her younger sisters wanted to get married, but according to Indonesian customs, they could not do so until she was.

So, she has to go back and look for a husband, so that her sisters can form their own families. “After I get married,” she said, “my parents would let me go anywhere, and do anything.”  

I almost cried when I heard that this sweet-natured girl was leaving at the end of the year. What would happen to the dowager and her family? I doubt they would ever be able to find another outstanding helper like SP.

She was definitely the most dedicated, sincere and earnest domestic helper in the neighbourhood, and I did not want her to go. I want her to stay and be here. I will miss her.

Because SP is my maid. And she is a bloody good one.

Long lost friends

June 21, 2007

I am really thankful that I live in an era where people can be connected by email, Friendster and Facebook. I have lost touch with many of my friends and classmates over the years. But by a strange twist of fate, I managed to hear from 3 of them again, all within these 2 days, thanks to the internet.

1. Diego Glikman – found me through Facebook

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 Sushi party. September 2005.

I developed a huge crush on Diego, my classmate, during my second year in Uni. In the end we turned out to be nothing more than good pals who often hung around each others’ houses after school. I remember the crazy parties he used to throw, and the rather wild people who attended them. We went back to our respective countries in 2002.

Three years later in the summer of 2005, I was lucky to be able to stay with him and his sister, Jenny, in their lovely apartment in Rome for a week. (second pic above, Jenny in blue scarf) It was nice to see him with his then girlfriend, Monique (first pic above), whom I could tell was a very special girl to him, and really tamed his wandering nature. 

This April, I received a wedding invitation from Diego (last person whom I imagined would get hitched). Unfortunately, I was unable to go as I could not get away from work. But I’m glad Diego tracked me down in Facebook two days ago, where I had access to all the pictures of his special day, and all his updates.

2. Jasmine Lee – found her through Friendster

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My friendship with Jasmine dates back even longer. She was my primary school classmate. We were very close back then, and I remember we often visited each other’s homes and had so much to talk about. We went to different secondary schools, but still tried to stay in touch till we were 15. Then, we lost contact. I tried phoning her old number, but was told her family had moved out of the Ubi flat.

For more than a decade, I often thought of her, and wondered if I could ever find her again. Last week, I got lucky with Friendster. I managed, after messaging several different Jasmines, to get through to the real Jasmine Lee I was looking for. Now a working executive with an 8-year-old daughter, she still looks as good as she did back then. I’m going to have to catch up with her soon.

3. Jacky Lu Yang – emailed me after a 2 year break

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Jacky the SNAG hails from Harbin, China, and was my housemate for a year, along with Luo Bin from Weihai, China, and Sharon from Singapore. Jacky cooked very well and the four of us used to have very homely dinners and lived together like family. We used to shout “I’m home!” when we came through the front door, make dinner together, and sat around in the living room over dessert and cigarettes.

The last time I saw him was in 2005 where I had crashed in his room in Luton the night before I left for Rome on an early morning flight. Now and then I do reminisce the good times we led as carefree students, and wondered if he was doing OK.

I was very pleasantly surprised to receive an email from him today. He mentioned that both he and his wife (above) had gone back to China, and are now working in Weihai. He left his contact number and welcomed me to visit anytime.

Without today’s technology, I think it would have been quite difficult for us to continue staying in touch, or even hunt each other down like I did with Jasmine. And what really touches me the most, is the fact that even though we live in different countries, have different lifestyles and haven’t spoken for ages, we still treasure each other’s friendship and hold the fond memories we shared close to our hearts.

Wimp gets jabbed

June 20, 2007

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 “Now dear, don’t worry, this is just gonna hurt a little.”

To prepare me for my month-long stint in Laos, MFA has kindly paid for me to get the necessary vaccinations at TTSH’s Travellers’ Clinic. I chose to go after I’d returned from Penang. I timed it such that I had 2 more weeks at home before I travel to Hong Kong with the kids. In case I react badly to the jabs, at least I could rest in bed.

The Travellers’ Clinic in TTSH was very well-decorated. It felt as if I had stepped into the lobby of a holiday resort with all the darkwood furniture, tropical plants and dim lighting. I suppose that’s to get you in the travelling mood? Well what was in store for me certainly didn’t make me want to go anywhere.

The nurse recommended that I take 4 jabs in total. Couldn’t it be fewer, I begged the nurse. ‘No’ was the answer. Better be safe than sorry. So I had influenza, thyphoid, Hepatitis A and tetanus shots. Two jabs in each arm. What a potent mix. And a new record for me.

I’m a complete wimp when it comes to syringes and needles. Drawing blood makes me cringe and injections make me sick. And now, I had to have 4, all in one go?

Thankfully, the nurse was very calm and swift about it. She assured me that as long as I relaxed, I would not feel much pain. She was very professional and nimble and in less than 2 minutes, I had all the 4 jabs and was out of the clinic with 2 plasters (1 on each arm).

It’s been about 8 hours since I was stabbed. I don’t feel particularly unwell apart from the fact I cannot lift both my arms and I feel especially tired. I felt like such a useless bum earlier on as I could not close the car door from inside and had trouble reaching across the dinner table.

I hope I’m not going to get any adverse reactions from this lethal cocktail.

Watch this space.

UPDATE on 21 June 2007:

Had the chills and fever. Arms worse today. Took 2 panadols. But am much better tonight and have feeling I will be OK tomorrow.

Back from Penang

June 20, 2007

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 “Whenever you need to pee, the traffic would be moo-ving so slowly.”

I treated Mum to a short holiday in Penang and I think we both really enjoyed ourselves. It is nice to just get away from Singapore once in a while, even if it means to just do nothing in another country.

The plane ride from Singapore took slightly over an hour and we were greeted by a downpour. Bummer! I had not realised how long it took from the airport/town to the Holiday Inn in Batu Ferringhi, and how winding the hill roads were. I started to wonder in the minivan if I had made the right decision about the hotel.

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But the room we got on the 18th floor of the tower wing proved that all was worth the effort. We had a room with a private balcony facing the rolling hills and misty clouds, two very large luxurious beds and a generous-sized bathroom.

Since it was raining hard, we decided to do some “indoor sightseeing”. We hopped onto the shuttle bus and hit the Gurney Plaza, which offers “the best shopping experience”, according to our friendly bus driver. I enjoy shopping with my mother, because we tend to like the same type of shops and we love to dig in the messy sale bins. You’re a real champion if you can find something good in the mess!  

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“Erm, the prices can’t be right!”

The food loft on the fifth floor offered breathtaking views of the sea, but the food was overpriced in my opinion. In the end, we decided to head down to the hawker centre just beside the mall to have yummy asam laksa, char kway teow, muah chee, fried taw kua and dessert.

 

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The food was extremely good, the sourish asam laksa really whet your appetite, and the char kway teow with crunchy beansprouts and fresh juicy prawns was truly heavenly. 

Unfortunately the beggars hanging around the food centre really ruined our meals as they would stand next to you and refused to budge till you put money into their cups. The taxi drivers were equally terrible. They were rude, sarcastic, and out to scam every tourist in my opinion. I would not even bother taking taxis had there been proper public transport.

Still, tired of paying RM20 – RM30 per trip to taxi drivers for a 20-30 minute ride, we decided to give the local buses a try. We hopped onto one at the bus terminal in Georgetown to get to the famous Kek Lok Si on Penang Hill. It only cost RM1.20 per person, but you had to sit with all sorts of dodgy people in an old rickety bus so dirty and grimey, and dispensed useful advice.

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“Bus rides get you thinking.”

Nonetheless, we got to our destination in one piece. Kek Lok Si, which began construction in 1893, is one of the biggest and most famous Buddhist temples on the island. You had to go up the slopes to get to the temple, but before that you must pay respect to thousands of sunbathing turtles as you entered the grounds. They were smelly!

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“We are smelly and proud of it!”

The top of the temple housed a 30m high bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, which was a real spectacular sight. The views from this point were also awesome as you could look down at the whole of Penang and the sea.

We got back to Georgetown by another old bus, which stopped for ages outside a school to wait for students who just finished classes. I enjoyed taking in the sights, marvelling at the crumbling shophouses and interesting roadside vendors. It seemed like we were stuck in the 1970s.

The beaches were nothing to shout about if you have been to the Thai islands. There were plenty of skinny horses (I could see their ribcages) around for rides on the beach, but I told one of the handlers that I was very heavy and if I sat on one it would probably die. Poor horses.

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“Ban skinny horses like they ban skinny models.”

The rest of the days got by with more rain, so we did more shopping. I loved it that malls in Penang were relatively quiet; there were usually more shop assistants than shoppers.

This made the shopping environment a lot more conducive and in the end I came home with plenty of gifts for colleagues and friends.

It was a really short trip, but I was glad I was able to spend some time with my Mum, just talking about everything and waking up to the low clouds floating outside our room.

I think laidback Penang might have become my favourite destination in Malaysia. 🙂

Thank god for term breaks!

June 15, 2007

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“Hols! Time to put on that silly hat and paint my nails fuschia!”


It’s officially the holidays! I’m so excited and overjoyed!Though I don’t really think I will get a decent break this vacation, but hey, at least I don’t have to get up at 0600 on Monday. Sweet. I will be going to Penang for a few days and then to Hong Kong with my SS students. As for the rest of the time, work will quietly slip in I expect. There would be quite a number of changes when term starts, and some familiar faces would be gone. This trend, unfortunately, is set to continue. The department will be experiencing alot of adjustments in the coming months. Some may be drastic and sudden, and I am not sure if I can handle this uncertain situation.

During my time at the college, I have come to realise and hate the widespread partiality all around me. Teachers who do not get recognised for their contribution, but by how well they play their cards. Students who are chosen as part of some political agenda and not based on their merit and hard work. Too many opportunities given to groom the good ones and the weaker ones just get left behind. I feel frustrated, angry, and this makes me want to fight even harder to uphold what I believe is right.When I walked out of the school today, I saw a few banners hanging at the main entrance. I stopped and looked at them. They got me thinking about people who can go against their morals just so they can win, and about people who are just posers and pretenders.  Something too for you to ponder about, maybe?

“If getting ahead meant doing the wrong thing, would you?”

“If nobody was watching, would you still try your best?”

p.s. I’ll try to be less “preachy” during this 3 weeks. It’s holidays afterall! Weee.