Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Magic Faraway Tree.

I hate exams. I hate grading papers. Everytime it's marking season, I plot to quit with great vehemence. It doesn't get me anywhere in terms of clearing my work. Neither does being distracted. And right now, re-reading old books and copious amounts of surfing seem extremely attractive.

And the copious amounts of surfing led me to want to re-read books from my childhood. More specifically, the Malory Towers collection, the St Clare's collection, the Famous Five, the Five-Findouters and perhaps the Naughtiest Girl in School collection. What they have in common, Enid Blyton, a definitive author from the childhood of a lot of my generation, myself included.

How did this come about, seeing that I no longer own any Enid Blyton's? Like I said, copious amounts of surfing led me to the Guardian site, where I discovered this article. Apparently, they want to edit the books because it's brought up generations of racist, sexist children with absolutely no imagination and fixed, stereotyped gender roles.

Well, I thought George in Famous Five was way cooler than Anne who used to do all the housework and the cooking. Of course, someone might say it made me a closet lesbian or something, but I think I liked George because she seemed to have so much fun, plus she had the dog while Anne always had to do the stuff I loathed, the cleaning up and the looking after the others.

It's ridiculous, wanting to edit the books to make it appropriate for children. It's a reflection of that time and we all grew up fine reading those books. I mean, it really wasn't the only influence in our lives and there really are a lot more harmful things out there now that should be controlled and contained before they start the whitewashing these books.

And I had such great memories with those books. I wanted so badly to have a cave, a secret meeting shed with passwords. I wanted to go to boarding school and have so many friends and have midnight feasts. I wasn't too keen about lacrosse and darning my own tunic (Of course, I had no idea what a tunic was!) but I would've liked to be able to solve the mystery of the broken plates in my estate (it took me some years to figure out it was the result of some ugly domestic argument). The power hungry me wanted to be Head Girl in the school and have a gavel when I ran school meetings. The adventurous me wanted to camp out on some island, sleep on heather and build a fire on the beach. I also wanted to live on a farm, milk cows, have a pet lamb and go on nature walks with the Wild Man who could talk to animals and lived in a tree.

So I think denying any kid who is willing and eager to read all that is a cardinal sin. As it is, kids don't read enough, don't imagine and dream enough. To whitewash and clean up such wonderful tales would reinforce in their minds that reading is dull and I think that's an even greater battle to lose. And a much scarier outcome than the unlikely possibility of them becoming socio-culturally ignorant and destructive.

Now, I feel like heading out and buying all the Enid Blyton books I can get my hands on just in case there are enough morons around to actually agree with the perpertrators and sanitise the books. And if that happens, at least I would have my precious collection and could start a highly illegal library where I could loan out the books if you came to my door in the middle of the night and knocked three times. And word would spread in hushed tones of the lady who lived by the faraway tree with all those banned books with wonderful tales hidden in the inside of the tree .

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:27

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Morons

And just when I thought I had nothing to blog about, I am privvy to two conversations which I ABSOLUTELY have to blog about. Both involve morons. One is irritating and defies all my ability to stay calm and unstressed as dictated by my doctor. The other one, while moronic is endearing.

Conversation 1:
Me: My ex student has asked me to collect her A level cert for her.
Office person: No. Cannot. Must have letter.
Me: But I'm a teacher here.
Office person: No. Cannot. Must have letter.
Me: But this student is overseas.
Office person: No. Cannot. Must have letter.
Me: You don't trust me? I'm going to steal it? I'm going to sell it to some student in India.
Office person: No. Cannot. Must have letter.


So, I promptly stomp up to my office and inform said ex student of the rigidity and stupidity of the office administration.

Conversation 1 part 2:
Me: Ay, you better call the office and kick up a fuss.
Ex student: Yah, I did. I called them and told them I was overseas. They said I had to email them with your IC number and call them back once I've done it.
Me: Wah lau. Damn kutu man!
Ex student: Ay, don't forget to bring your IC down. They need to verify that it's you.
Me: The dam that is holding back all the Hokkien expletives must now burst forth.


What a moron!

Conversation 2- much funnier and much more endearing.

Colleague One (girl) :I've had a hard year. I think I shall pamper myself and buy myself a solitaire.
Colleague Two (boy): Um. that's nice. It's a nice game to own.
Colleague One (girl): !!!!!!!!


Spider solitaire here I come.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:06

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

What She Really Wants...

It seems there's a pattern to be had. It rains on my birthday. I distinctly remember last year's birthday and how I was at breakfast and we had to rush home to shut the windows because the heavens opened on us. And this morning, I woke up to dreary weather that could rival the depressing wet winters I've seen.

Another year's gone by. My thirtieth year of existence, I wish I could say rocked, but it didn't really. It wasn't bad. But it wasn't good. I had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of facing reality and coming to terms with things that I couldn't do. It was, let's just say, a year of discovering me. Learning more about myself, about how much I can be pushed, about how much more I can be pushed. Learning that being weak isn't always a bad thing and that being strong all the time can be one's greatest handicap. Peeling off the layers of what love really means, of leadership and submission, of giving up and letting go, of being in control and of ceding control. I also discovered what committment really meant and what longing and wanting was all about.

Despite having chosen to teach, I found myself constantly being taught in the last year, lessons that I have had no choice but to follow and right up till this point, I don't think I'm quite done yet. So as much as I hate that I'm now a year older, I can't help but be thankful that the last year is over.

I start my thirty first year filled with a little bit of fear, some butterflies in my tummy, a whole lot more of faith and a tad more hopeful that this year will be as fulfilling as the last but maybe, just maybe, a little bit easier than the last.

And that, is what I want, as my birthday present.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:25

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Eating Wind

The funniest sight in Perth. And thank goodness for a super camera that allowed me to take the photos out of the window of a moving car.

Great Dane

He alternated between sticking his head out this window and nuzzling the driver.

Eating Wind

Sweet big big dog. =)




Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:09

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Don't Get Fatter, Give up the Batter

Only in Australia will this happen. Krispy Kreme has finally broken into Melbourne. Before this, Aussies would fly/drive from all over Australia to Sydney airport to buy the doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme
Picture from The Age

And in true Aussie fashion, it opened to great protests, by a salad bar and people dressed in Sumo suits. At the same time, there were people queuing 2 days before the opening because the first person in the queue would win an entire year's supply of the artery clogging, fat laden, sweet sweet rings of sin.

Doughnut Frenzy in Melbourne
Picture from the Herald Sun

And apparently, they were giving out free doughnuts outside the State Library in the city. What a time to be in Melbourne!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:30

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Streams of consciousness

We're back. Ideally, all flights should be broken down into 5 hour blocks. It's just enough to watch a little bit of the inflight entertainment and have a relatively longish nap. If only flying to New York was like that. I cannot imagine being cooped up in a steel tube for 18 hours straight. Stir crazy is the word I'm looking for here.

Anyway, Perth. Was. Nice.

What did we do there?

Landed at 6 in the morning, blurry eyed, no sleep, long Singaporean queue at immigration...Chatted with immigration officer about how Singapore migrates to Perth every June and December... He realises we are residents now...Becomes even more friendly, speaking conspirationally about all these tourists...Makes a big show of stamping our passports and officially congratulating us for entering the country as residents.

Breakfast by the bay...expensive toast...gorgeous cakes... totally out of it... checked into the Nazi serviced apartment...walked 3 km into the city...taking in the cold air...relishing the fact that I could wear my leather jacket...walked down memory lane with Packrat...all the way up Northbridge...saw where he spent a year climbing balconies and tightrope walking across zinc roofs...basically, becoming a bad egg... Had Viet food...no comparison to Melbourne and definitely not Vancouver.
UWA... prettiest campus around...
UWA
did not see peacocks... many many ducks, wild parrot standoff against sea gulls....
Bird Brawl
...saw more of Singapore there with local Catholic boys' school band on campus, sat on the grass... baked in the sun...walked along Matilda Bay...saw dead jelly fish that looked like washed up condoms...Renaissance Fair... duelling with swords and mauls...breastplates and armour, fair maidens and goblets of drink...

Soccer...Brazil vs Australia...Go Socceroos... Aussie players half a head taller than Brazillian players...Brazil scores...Packrat howls... I fear eviction...Australia vs. Croatia...Results blared into my subconscious state of mind through in flight entertainment onboard flight back... truly not a soccer virgin no more...At least it was fun while it lasted...

Freo...markets....bags of fruit for $2 each...hemp store...buskers....Cold Rock ice cream...Elizabeth's secondhand bookstore...Joe's Fish Shack...Cicerello's-wrapped in butcher paper-fish n' chips...rival Kaili's...settled for Kaili's...by the waterside...watch sky change colour before our very eyes...reds and yellows, pinks and greens, purples and oranges.......
Freo sunset
Margaret River...long drive down.... the road that never ends... Busselton...Long 1 km long jetty into the ocean with only rail on one side, strong powerful galeforce wind...
Busselton jetty
...ear hurts from wind howling...people fishing on the jetty...wind blows lens cap off camera into the Indian Ocean...Nippy but little girls in shorts playing on the beach...more road...through the jungle...trees and more trees...Find the town, navigate to the gorgeous Beach House... Kissing Fish,
kissing fish
Tuscan feel, tiles on the ground...
Fish Tile
Taking a wrong turn, discovering the surf...big waves... black specks that turned out to be real surfer dudes...crystal clear water... the waves pounding...magical...sunset
Sunset
...sunrise
sunrise...

Augusta...whalewatching...60 foot boat.... whales weigh one ton for every 10 feet...dolphins playing in the bay...Southern Right whale with her calf...blow holes...tell tale spout of a whale....splashed by spout...fishfinders spots whales swimming under the boat...waves a metre high...boat...water based roller coaster...barf bags....slamming onto porthole windows...bruised... green from lunging and rocking... whales breech
whales
twist, flip in the air....mini aerial display....splash ...humpback whales with white bellies which they flash to the public when the breech...whale footprint...the flatest and calmest bit of water...learnt wave physics while turning green...Just juice and Smith potato chips do wonders for feeling green...but colour only gets restored after tasting some Mad Fish wine
Mad Fish Winery
...takes a little bit of wine to expel all pukiness..then the world is no longer green tinged.

Driving 5 hours straight...600km....no problem getting back into the city... got lost looking for petrol station...frenzied last minute shopping...yum cha...3 shopping malls, one afternoon, 1100 capsules of fish oil, 500 capsules of Vitamin E, 1 kg of Australian Milo, 2 bottles of Vegemite, Ciao Italia!- Real Italian food served in a hole in a wall that seats only 20 people...music that conjures images of cobblestone pavements, cappucinos and streetside cafes...

Mad rush to the airport...Internet check-in is the best!...worry about 3 infants being on the same flight... no crying babies... no good movies... doze....wheels down... "Welcome to Singapore...Please note....penalties...drugs into Singapore"...No friendly immigration officer...no small chat... no "welcome home"...Luggage waiting on the belt... no eye contact with customs guy...Packrat- not so lucky...Lucky, no drugs...Singlish and spitting...

Welcome home, indeed.

No Technorati tags because it will be a post all by itself.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:11

2 thoughts...

Monday, June 19, 2006

How Singaporean!

We're staying in a serviced apartment near the city. It shall remain unnamed because I'm going to proceed to talk about how unfriendly and by extension how "un-Australian" they are.

On the little instruction sheet that was given to us upon check in, there was a list of rules we had to follow lest we face severe recrimination and penalty.

This is part of it.

1. Check out is at 10am. If you have not departed by 10.30am, you WILL be charged an additional night's stay.

2. Only ONE car park lot is allocated to each apartment. If you park in any of the lots without permit, your car will be clamped. To get it unclamped, you must call 9xxx xxxx and it will cost you $50 and labour costs. If you park in a yellow lot, your car will be clamped and then towed away and you will have to pay for the tow truck and the previously stated fees.

3.To keep accomodation rates fair, we request that the aprtment be left in a tidy state at the end of your stay. If the cleaning staff are required to remove rubbish, wash dishes or generally clean up your "mess", additional costs will be incurred.

4. For your peace of mind, we have access codes for you to enter the premises after office hours. Ensure that you have your keys on you and access codes always available. If you lose your keys, it will cost $20 to replace. Should you lock yourself out of the apratment outside normal reception hours, a $25 call out fee will be charged in addition.

5. After hours noise shall not be tolerated. Any disturbance reported will cause the occupants to receive a warning and a $75 fine as well as any reimbursement made to any units due to the noise complaints. A second complaint will cause an immediate eviction including all the above penalities.

So, all in all, the tone of this place is rather threatening and almost Singaporean in its oppresiveness. It is true what they say, that the address that should read here is "Singapore, Perth".


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:07

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Enforced Rest

Okay, this is going to be fast because we're stealing wireless from some unknown poor sod who did not have the sense to secure his wirelss connection.

It's half eight in the evening and there really isn't much to do here since stores close at 5 and our serviced apartment comes equpped only with a video and there is no video store nearby that actually rents out videos rather than DVDs. So we're watching television, doing laundry and stealing wireless signals.

But Perth is nice. There's lots of water, lots of open fields and spaces to just sit and stare. It reminds me of this little poem I learnt as a child.

What is the life
So full of care,
That we have no time,
to stand and stare.

And stare we did and stare we have. Perhaps a lot of that had to do with the weather. When the sun's out and the grass is dry, it's quite wonderful to just lie back in the field and bake, store heat for after 5.30 pm when the sun's gone down and everything drops by about 5 degrees. Now, if it weren't so bright, it would be fun to just lie on the field and just read my book.

It's really been a very long time since I've let my mind really just rest in idling mode. Even our month long holiday to Melbourne and Sydney wasn't so restful. There was always something to do there. Cake in the middle of the night at the Casino, a movie at the 24 hour cineplex- there was always something to do. Here, everything shuts down. It sucks for the typical Singaporean tourist because there isn't very much shopping to do after and there isn't anything to do except go to the casino and gamble.

We haven't seen very many of them and it has led us to the conclusion that we must be doing all the right things. That's nice to know. Now, to fully live out the Aussie experience at this point in time, we're staying up to watch the Australia vs. Brazil match at midnight. The radio stations are all pushing for companies and businesses to declare a public holiday tomorrow if Australia wins.

Now, that's a good enough reason for Aussies to cheer the Socceroos on tonight. And in true Aussie fashion, the match should be watched in a pub with lots of beer and chanting "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy!"


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:34

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Airplane fashion

Holidays are meant for indulgence. Indulgence in every sense of the word. Shopping, Spa, manicures and pedicures, high teas, travelling and while waiting for some of the above to happen, one must have an equally indulgent ditzy book. No point doing all these sorts of things and reading serious stuff like Palestinian politics. So, there was Jemima J- my chicklit indulgence. Usually, I can't bear reading these books- The Devil wears Prada, Bergdorf Blondes, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopoholic....

At the end of it, I couldn't believe the protagonist was dumb enough to do the things she did and the guy she ended up with really had nothing between his ears. But there was an interesting bit that appealed to the baby tai tai within me.

Tonight, we're off to Perth to do the necessary for our flight of fancy. So today's been dedicated to packing and running errands. Part of the packing entails trying to figure out what to wear on board the flight. Especially since it's a night flight and I will be sleepy and will want to sleep.

It is at this point that I'm reminded of the book.

" You can't wear that!" Geraldine lies back on my bed and flings her hands dramaticically over her eyes. "Jemima! for God's sake, haven't you heard of airplane chic?"

"Airplane what?" I'm being practical, I'm waiting in my tracksuit, a pair of comfrotable sneakers and a T shirt for my long-haul flight....

"Airplane chic," she repeats. "You know, the glamourous look that all the celebs and models employ when they fly anywhere..these clothes," she gestures to me, "are completely wrong for a flight." I shrug as she opens my suitcase and starts rifling around. "This," she mutters, pulling out a crisp white T-shirt. "this," she says, holding up a stretchy pair of black trousers and nodding approvingly. "And this," she says, digging out an oversized black sweater, "to loop casually over your shoulders".

She runs off to the car and is back holding a Louis Vuitton vanity case. "To look the part. Everyone carries a Louis Vuitton vanity case when they're travelling. And now, sunglasses. You don't actually need to wear them on the flight. Wear them at the airport and when you're not, wear themon top of your head." she says.

...
And that's it. I walk up to the Virgin check-in, a bottle of mineral water in hand, the Louis Vuitton vanity case in the other. I hand my economy ticket over the counter and someone, somewhere must be smiling upon me, or perhaps Geraldine's ploy is working, but what it is is, the check-in girl seems to think I might be a "made it" as well and she upgrades me to first class.

What a result!

So, the connundrum. Airplane chic to appease my inner baby tai tai with the hope and possibility of being upgraded or be in comfortable sleeping clothes and being all wrinkled and crumpled with the rest of the coach?

I'm still leaning toward the latter. Comfort still wins with me, plus I'm not going on vacation to an incredibly glam place, so no need for airplane chic. If I were my sister-in-law when she ran an international fashion magazine and flew to all the fashion shows, sometimes sitting beside people like Amber Valetta and Cindy Crawford, then I think airplane chic is a must, although I'll replace the LV bag with something else.

LV is very LC (low class =))


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:33

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Will wonders never cease

Sometimes we think we live in a society without a soul. A highly impersonable society that is cold, that is only concerned about going forward and totally forgetting about people. It is this that makes me long sometimes for the tv towns like Stars Hollow and Everwood where you know everyone, everyone knows you and you have a tab at the coffeeshop and you'll attend your neighbour's cat's funeral. Of course, reality also kicks me sharply in the butt to remind me that I will go stir crazy and die if I were left in a town like that because there would be very little shopping to be done and I wouldn't even try to look for a spa.

But there are times when I hate living in a big city. When you see people so obviously in need of help and no one steps forward but everyone is busy copying down numbers to buy the lottery. When little kids run amok, bump into you and their parents don't even chide the kid, let alone make the kid apologise. When people pretend to be asleep on the bus so that they don't have to give up their seat to the old or pregnant person in front of them. Absolutely hate it.

Then, once in a while, your faith in humankind and in Singapore is restored. When you see sights like this.

Unusual

These two women did not know one another. They just happened to be sitting together and they started chatting because the older of the two pulled out her knitting and the other was interested. That got them talking about knitting patterns and other things. By the time I was ready to get off the bus, they were fast friends and exchanging telephone numbers.

It was such a nice, heartwarming sight. These two women now have one more friend each, all because they took time to talk to one another on the bus instead of staring forward and pretending that the whole world out there of other people didn't really exist.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:51

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

I not even First Wife

This afternoon, I turn round to ask Packrat something. Then I walk out of the room. When I come back, he's still talking. I look around puzzled, there's no one else in the room, who is he talking to?

Me: Who are you talking to?

Packrat: You.

Me: But I wasn't in the room.

Packrat:Oh.

Me: You mean you thought I was in the room, even though I stood up and walked out of the room?

Packrat: Er...

Me: So you didn't even know that I was gone?

Packrat: No. Yes. Er...

Notice the monosyllabic answers. Notice the fact that he did not notice that the person he was talking to, wasn't even in the room anymore.

That, ladies and gentleman is my husband when he is playing WOW.

--------

I log onto MSN just now and notice that Tym's personal message now proclaims her to be a World Cup widow. We commiserate about how our husbands' interests have made us widows with absolutely no say in how much they indulge in it. We end up using cyberspace to whine about their all-encompassing pursuits that leave us feeling excluded and somewhat alienated.

I tell Tym that I declared Packrat's character Tylys (I don't know how he came to name his character, but after this, he cannot give me any grief for wanting to name our child Darjeeling or Tanisha) his mistress.

This was the conversation that ensued after that. It does 2 things. It reveals to me polygamy that existed in early Singapore and also how my being an educated, free and independent female hasn't really changed my station in life.

Me: So, I was so displeased I changed my blog profile to express my displeasure.

Tym: hahahaha, you are First Wife-quite good already. First Wife supposed to be able to decree when Husband can and cannot spend the night with Second Wife.

Me: Ay, like that, then I'm not even First Wife leh. I think it's the other way around because when there's no one to play with online or when Internet spoil, then he'll come and hang out with me.

Absolutely pathetic. I take the scraps that the 512 kbps driven Tylys tosses to me. So the polygamous traditions of the early Chinese still have a place in today's society. And the women, are as powerless as they were before. What can they do but complain? Of course, the tools used are different now and their complaints reach a wider audience but it's similarly ineffective. There's really is absolutely no way of stopping the husband from doing what he wants, when he wants.

Especially when you're not even the First Wife.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:14

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Shoes

Olie has her Minous and I have these.

shoes

Not handpainted but equally pretty. :)

Packrat says I can now go sailing on my imaginary yacht.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:05

2 thoughts...

Mother's Love

My mother's weird sense of humour has reared its head again. She just came back from a holiday and one thing good about that is she can always be relied upon to get some spiffy presents. The last time she went away, I got a Fossil watch and a 1.4kg bag of dried cranberries which I have just about finished.

This time, she decided that the holiday wasn't long enough to induce sufficient guilt that warranted a cool present. So she went for the funny.

When I was very very little, she took me to see Bambi. Apparently, I was about 3 or 4. When Bambi's mother got shot, I was so traumatised I bawled the entire cinema down and she had to drag me out of the cinema, apologising to all the annoyed patrons.

So since then, I have had an affinity for Bambi. Or rather, a soft spot, since he did lose his mother to some evil hunter. For the very same reason, I don't eat venison- it might have been Bambi's mother!

My mother regales my first cinematic experience to everyone she knows. Recently, I asked her about this Bambi pillowcase I had as a child and wondered if we could still get them from some neighbourhood bedlinen store. I had no idea she actually registered that she heard my question until she presented me with a plastic bag supposedly with my present from Perth.

Her gleeful expression while she waited for me to open the bag should have tipped me off.

This is what she got me.

bambi

Yup.

Packrat and her were laughing so hard at the expression on my face, there were tears rolling down their eyes. Right.

I announced very loudly that I wasn't ever going to wear them because, supposing I wear them to bed and the house catches fire and firemen come in and resuce me and they drop me because they're laughing so hard at my Bambi underwear.

Or supposing I wear them out and get into an accident and they have to cut away my jeans and see the Bambi underwear underneath, then I will always be known as that Bambi girl.

N. O. No.

Wah lau!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:39

3 thoughts...

TWW vs CinC

-----Totally unfair comparison ahead-----

There's a new US-president show on tv now- Commander in Chief. We totally loved the West Wing, and miss the writing and repartee dreadfully. So when we heard that there was another American White House/Oval Office/West wing drama, we thought Yay! Maybe it will fill that hollow in our lives.

So what is Commander in Chief about?
1. A female president who was Vice-President and was in the right place at the right time to become the first female president.
2. Political Intrigue- How everyone wants to be the kingmaker and when better to do so than the present? Donald Sutherland can really play evil.
3. The first family- A female president means a First Gentleman- that must totally mess up the acronyms - FLOTUS to FGOTUS? I can't pronounce it.
4. A hodge podge collection of staffers who seem overwhelmed by the enormity of their positions and play the part extremely well.
5. It has the feel of an afternoon tele-movie.

And what does The West Wing have?
1. A grand opening that never ceases to make the hair on my neck stand (in a good way).
2. A President with a commanding presence and a wry sense of humour with a penchant for useless history.
3. A group of staffers that have amazing repartee together, rapid fire dialogue and grand ideals for the world.
4. Plot lines that focus more on what is happening within the west wing- policy, issues, speeches, reelections.
5. The sense that just by watching it, you become a teensy weensy bit smarter.

My verdict: TWW, hands down, but CinC is watchable as long as you're not expecting TWW in any form. Good for days when you're stuck at home and have nothing but the remote in your hand.

Packrat's verdict: TWW, hands down. CinC sucks big time. He's not watching it again. Plus, he can't stand Geena Davis.

So, while I watch this, he will be watching, what he deems to be a far more superior tv series- Battlestar Gallectica.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:17

1 thoughts...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Girl's Guide to surviving soccer

I'm no longer a soccer virgin. The opening match between Costa Rica and Germany just ended.

Admittedly, I dozed during some parts but I actually witnessed all the goals and I was even caught up enough to screech "Goal!!!!!" quite convincingly.

Now, how does a girl who has absolutely zero interest in soccer survive a 90 minute match?

1. Have many other girls around.
2. Comment on how cute the German soccer players are.
3. Make fun of their names that sound suspiciously like different types of sausages.
4. Eat Mamee, with and without the seasoning.
5. Watch Jaime Oliver make Chilli Con Carne during time.
6. Fight with the boys for the remote control since boys want to watch bad B grade shark movie that stars Lou Diamond Phillips.
7. Place bets on which team might win, with nothing to win except pride and a couple of M&Ms. Change score margins every five minutes reinforcing fact that girls are fickle and flippant.
8. Discuss how painful various groin directed injuries are, revelling in the fact that we will never get kicked in the balls.
9. Discuss where Costa Rica actually is and wonder if it's a nice place to go on vacation.
10. Drive boys crazy by asking every five seconds what a penalty is, who the defenders and strikers are.
11. Comment on how clean and pretty the German boys looked at the beginning and how muddy and possibly smelly they became at the end of 90 minutes.
12. Wonder about how true it is that soccer coaches traditionally do not allow their players to have sex the night before a game.
13. Speculate how badly the Costa Ricans could beat the Singapore soccer team with both arms tied behind their backs and half the number of players.
14. Reminisce about watching Liverpool and Manchester United thrash Singapore and how they so deserved to win because they were absolutely the cuter team.
15. Drink copious amounts of alcohol/iced tea/beer and talk very very loudly.

All in all, a very successful introduction into the world of soccer. Maybe I might even concede to watching another match.

Packrat has already made his predictions on the Paraguay-England match for tomorrow.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 02:14

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Many Million Dollar question

Last night I was at dinner with some ex school mates from secondary school. We all had a lot in common. We were all in the track team. We were all short distance, hurdler type athletes and we were all teachers.

The conversation revolved around a great many topics but one thing became glaringly clear as we started commiserating about what our classmates/schoolmates were up to today- there was an inordinate number of us that had ended up in the teaching profession. Now the question was why?

Some reasons had to do with the environment that we were brought up in during those years with teachers who were nurturing, who went out of their way for us- which I must admit, they did. Even our principal who would boil cooling drinks for us during camps and bring the huge pot to school.

Another take on it is that we were all very all-rounded girls, who did quite well at everything. But that was just it. We did quite well at everything and we were happy with having dabbled with so much. And we lacked the killer instinct- the one that makes us go getters and become high flyers.

I'm not certain which category I fall into. Perhaps maybe option C. But this is worth pondering- why I got into teaching- and it's especially appropriate today since today is the day that marks the end of my indentured servitude to the profession. Hereon, I'm in it, because I want to be in it and not because some years ago, the kind institution paid for my training.

Students and people ask me why I got into teaching and to tell the truth, I'm often stumped. Of course, I have a stock answer I prattle off but deep inside, I'm not certain why I joined it. Did I just settle, was I not ambitious enough to look further and beyond what was easy and comfortable? Was it because of something more noble in me, something more idealistic that wanted to make a difference, to be someone like my teachers were, to me?

I suppose it depends on the day and the mood- whether I'm feeling a little bit more selfish and self-centred that day or whether I'm feel big-hearted and giving. Or is it just a job, a means to get by?

It really is the million dollar question- that which I really have no answer to, even after being in it for this long.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:45

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Photo of the Day

Just something I came across while wandering the streets today.

Pimp wear.

Seriously?
Well. I guess it is a hard job to do and blowing it isn't an option! It requires one to rise to the occasion. and be in the thick of action.

I'm not really sure how having part of this limited collection will be of any use.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:47

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30 Going on 13

Today was a surreal day. I felt like a teenager again.

It's not difficult to feel like that now because it's the school holidays, but where Olie and I hung out today, really dialled us back to the time where we were 14.

Because it was just the 2 of us and because we wanted to do something mindless, we decided to watch She's the Man- a teeny chick flick romance masquerading very lamely as a rehash of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was showing at Orchard Cineleisure and against my better judgement, we went to see it there. Now the problem with cineleisure is that it is not just a cineplex, it's a cineplex where all the kids hang out. All the stores are targeted at the kids, cutesy stores, totally pink stores, cheap bikini/clothes/shoe stores, sports stores, CD stores and a million fast food joints.

Being the school holidays, the cineplex was chock full with teenagers. We felt a little out of place because the mean age of the person there was probably half ours. To make matters worse, we had unknowingly or rather most unaware-ingly bought tickets to see a major teeny chick flick in the most teeny cineplex ever. The audience laughed at the most juvenile of stunts and antics in the movie. Admittedly, the movie was quite entertaining albeit formulaic and predictable. At the end of the movie, Olie turns to me with this look of sudden realisation and whispers very loudly to me; "I think we're the oldest in here and the only ones with genuine wedding bands!"

Looking around, I confirmed this. There were school uniforms all around us and squealing girls who were totally in love with the male lead. Yup. Surely, we were about the only two who were around when the Challenger exploded and Hotel New World collapsed.

To drive home the point further, Olie wanted to look for minou shoes which took us to yet another teeny shopping dimension- Far East Plaza, bursting with young 'uns because it was the school holidays and where else is there to hang out in Singapore? By the end of that, we were all teen-ed out.

And the funny thing is, when we were teens, we did the exact same thing during the vacation as we did today. We'd have junk food for lunch, go to the movies and watch something equally inane and go window shopping after that, buying silly things and commenting about people who were outrageously dressed.

Somethings don't change. Whether you're 13 or you're 30.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:19

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Behold the strange sight

Leaving Hanoi last night, two sights made the trip complete for me.

Because it was a communist country, the currency (known as the dong) is useless outside of it. So, I looked round for a charity box to put my leftover change into. There were quite a few boxes and I chose to donate my dong to this particular one, for obvious reasons.

For Especially Difficult Children

The second sight that made me wish I had a camera with a long lens was what I saw as I walked through the aerobridge onto the plane. Sitting prettily on the tarmac was this.

Air Force One

This isn't the exact one, but it's close enough.

A diplomat in front of me asked an officer whether it was indeed Air Force One. The reply was that Air Force One is whatever plane that POTUS was on and POTUS wasn't on this one. It was however, part of the fleet. What it was doing in Hanoi, I'm still waiting for my diplomatic sources to tell me.

But for now, *Dead faint*.

Spook commented that I was the only girl he knew that had a crush on an airplane. My answer is to that is, Have you seen how pretty she is???

How can anyone not?


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:17

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Singapore vs. Hanoi

Singapore - bustling, clean, brightly lit. Mostly cars, bikes weave in and out through traffic, but generally, cars outnumber bikes. Honking occurs when drivers are being idiots or Sunday drivers, but then I repeat myself. Drivers and riders know that red means stop, green means go.

Hanoi - bustling, dusty, roads are uneven, gravel sprays everywhere when cars drive through. Packs of bikes and scooters with cars weaving in and out. Honking is used as a precautionary device- it's more a "LOOK OUT! I'M RIGHT BEHIND YOU, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!" device. Pedestrians cross at their own risk. Sometimes the bikes swerve out of the way, sometimes they head right at you.

Singapore- blistering hot. But we've managed to effectively bubble ourselves in airconditioning. The only time we're ever exposed to the elements are when we walk between air-conditioned spaces, when we wait to get into air-conditioned transport, when we're on an austerity drive at home and using the fan rather than the air-conditioning.

Hanoi- blistering hot. No reprieve. Everywhere is hot, most shops aren't air-conditioned, there are no malls and when you find air-conditioning, you don't move from it. Ice is also a precious commodity, when you have it, relish it.

Singapore- food courts in abundance. Local food is average and costs about SGD$ 4-5. Vietnamese food costs anywhere from SGD$8 - $15. All in air-conditioned comfort.

Hanoi- one Marche like place with those fans that spew fine vapour mist and that's it. Local food (Vietnamese food there is just called food) is about SGD$2- $3 and that's considered expensive. It's exquisite- I could live my entire life eating pho. Although ideally, I'd like it with egg noodles rather than rice noodles.

Singapore- shopping, Malls. Need I say more.

Hanoi- Little stores, in the expat district, some wonderful stores like Ipa-nima that's dressed up like a drag queen's boudoir, some Australian designers who set up there. All very individual, every store holding secrets that it'll only reveal when you step through the door.

Singapore- concrete jungle.

Hanoi- a lot of colonial architecture, very quaint, very pretty, a whole mish mash. Very tight, uneven side streets, very vast open spaces, especially where Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum is and Lenin Park, although we laughed at the fact that Lenin probably never visited Vietnam. We also giggled at the fact that the pictures of Ho Chi Minh, in his communist glory, if you cut it out and used it in Europe, Stalin's face could fit pretty easily and same with Mao and China. All interchangeable.

So there, Singapore and Hanoi. I'm back from my short sojourn to Hanoi. I stayed at the Somerset Grand Hanoi which in its not so ancient previous life was the Hanoi Hilton. Part of the facade is still there and walking by it sends tingles down my spine.

Hanoi Hilton

I think it's probably the same feeling people have gotten when they walked into Auschwitz.

Another thing we did was to go to a spa, Zen Spa, by the lake, which was very pretty. It really drives home the definition of idyllic and we were quite happy to while away the afternoon there getting totally pampered with massages and rubs and herbs that they planted in their own garden. The only strange bit was when they brought round this box that we were supposed to stick our feet into. It was what I thought was akin to a leg sauna using heated mung beans. And let me just say, roasted mung beans retain heat for an extremely long time and it pretty much what people describe when they talk about walking bare feet over hot, fired coals.

What I thought was extremely interesting and reminded me that I was actually in a communist country was that the spa was situated near a hotel that we we told had great potential. After all, it did sit on a lake. The problem was it was state-run and regardless of how much investors were willing to pay to buy over the hotel, it couldn't be sold. Reason being, it was a gift from Cuba. And to sell a gift from a fellow communist country would be like selling the wedding dowry your mother-in-law gave you because you didn't like the design. The most cardinal of sins.

It was strange to be in a communist country, the ideology seemed to have taken a back seat to the market economy but the vestiges of it were still so obvious, from the immigration guards in their khaki green and red uniforms with stars on the shoulder lapels to the early morning public service announcements which when I asked L to translate, it went along the lines of "REMEMBER to cook your chicken thoroughly". A very 1984-Big Brother idea with a very bird brained message.

So, generally, that was Hanoi, in a nutshell, or what I saw of it in like 2 1/2 days.

I also managed to fall in love with the lotus flower that I had by my bed. So pretty.

Lotus flowers

So nice that it's the first thing I see after being awoken by honking cars.



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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:27

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Friday, June 02, 2006

The Lonely Traveller

Ok, I have 13 minutes to get this post out before I get booted out of the Free Internet Access for Passengers terminal. For those who didn't know, I'm off to Hanoi for the weekend to catch up with the best friend. And so far, it's been quite an adventure and I haven't even left yet.

Packrat's extremely busy coiling and uncoiling lines which I'm told is a backbreaking and thankless job so I've had to come here on my own. The new Budget Terminal is not the most accessible by public transport. You take the train into the airport main. Then you take a long walk through the crew corridors which, I must say, is quite exciting. That's where our SIA girls preen before their flights. Anyway, at the end of the long walkway, you get to the shuttle bus that takes you to the Budget Terminal.

And the Budget Terminal looks like a shack-it's an airconditioned shack but nonetheless, it's a shack. All those around me checking in for the flight don't seem to be Singapore passport holders and one in two are sent away to repack their suitcases since Tiger Air has quite strict luggage restriction. I am puzzled until I watch some of these forlorn, turned away passengers repack. What are they taking out of their bags? Textbooks! Recognizable textbooks and I swear, I saw a Collins Dictionary too.

Now, the true reason why schools should not set holiday homework for their students. The poor kids, so many of them now from neighbouring countries, lug home their homework, instead of having pressies for the entire village. And it holds up the line at check in. The business traveller in front of me is all hissy and pissy about it until he too, gets sent away for a piece of luggage that even to the eye, could not be less than 15 kg!

There really is nothing to do in the hollow hall after you're speedily checked in and given a thankful and grateful glance by the counter clerk who just about had it with telling people their luggage is overweight. So, I walk myself into the Departure lounge and get accosted by some Immigration and Customs Authority people. No, I do not have ganja or look remotely suspicious. I just have the advantage of holding a red Singapore passport and they've got a new toy they want to test out. It's an automated immigration service.

Step 1. You slide your passport in photo down. It processes all relevant information and then BEEP! Gates open- Onto Step 2.

Step 2. You put your thumb on this glass panel and it reads your thumbprint. As you watch your thumbprint become clearer and clearer on screen you wonder what those chaps at the CSI labs could pull up about you if they had a chance. BEEP! Gates open, you've passed go and you've collected $200.

So, now I'm in the departure lounge and I'm tempted to have an O'Briens sandwich or something, but I'm not angering the gods of my tummy that hasn't been very settled the entire day.

Perhaps I will wonder around Esprit or the bookstore. Or perhaps, I should just sit facing the gate so that I can sprint into the plane the minute it starts to board.

Afterall, it's free seating on the flight and I don't want to be stuck next to some kid doing English homework where I would then feel obligated to tell him that his spelling or his grammar or both were all off.

Ok 15 minutes up!
Later.



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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:00

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ask and you shall get...

The typical Asian is often concerned about face. That means the outside must always look fine even if the inside isn't. It's got a lot to do with pride, this face, and a lot of time, it hinders a whole lot. Because I've been educated in the capacity of a mental healthcare professional, I know that sometimes to solve problems, help must be asked for first because on the outside, it may look like there's nothing wrong. Or that whatever physical manifestation of the problem there is, is just taken at face value- that it is just a physical ailment rather than an outward symptom of something more sinister going on.

The problem with us Asians is that it takes a lot for us to admit that there's something wrong. It's taboo to say that not everything is A-ok with us. Because when we do, others will talk. And frankly, that pisses me off.

Sometime ago, someone asked me what I was going to do about a problem I was facing. I told him that the answer to my problem was clear but I didn't want to think about what my family would say about my decision. Wise man that he was, he told me that at the end of the day, the solution to my problem was going to impact Packrat and I. What everyone thought or said was not secondary. It's not wisdom on par with Solomon, but it really sank in.

It would really make things easier if people who really needed help thought the same way as well. It doesn't matter what other people say, if you need help, you need help. I was talking to someone who is apparently clinically depressed. I say apparently because this was diagnosed by a General Practitioner and not by a psychiatrist. I ask if he's seeing a psychiatrist/psychologist/therapist and he says no. Because he's already on Prozac. Ok... Then I ask if he thinks he can deal with his problems now that he's on Prozac and he doesn't know. My next question stumps him- What happens when you're taken off the Prozac? So I regroup and ask another question- Why don't you want to see a therapist?

And his answer was that because there was stigma. Yup, maybe, but the world is transient. The people who will talk are transient. Their attention span is mercifully short. They might talk, but only till the next new piece of news comes around. But then again, some people who talk, also have elephant memories and I see the problem there.

But sigh, at the end of the day, I think it's silly when you know you need help, but you're not willing to go out there and get it. Because, at the end of the day, it'll just harm you more than it'll harm those inquisitive tentacles of the elusive all powerful grapevine.

Related posts: Depression

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:48

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"