English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 26 2014, Wednesday
Urban Adventure

 Two rooftopping photographers, Vitaly Raskalov now 21, a Ukrainian and Vadim Makhorov, 24, from Russia hit world headlines with their daredevil photographs and videos shot from some of the world’s tallest buildings such as the Shanghai Tower. They started their urban adventures about four years ago after they had bought cameras and discovered that they could take good pictures from the roofs.


While we look for peace and stability and fidget with the slightest changes to our routine life, there are people out there seeking extreme thrills! And this is not limited to the young or the males but encompasses the senior and the females! Maybe to them, life is too safe and therefore too boring. The pump of adrenaline during a roller coaster ride is just too mild and the experience too common. They live on the admiration or rather the adoration of their fans when they accomplish another breakthrough. Don’t think that these daredevils are impatient with their life. In fact, they don’t rush in unprepared. They take all kinds of safety measures because they want to live to listen to the cheers and applause.


Well, even in our daily life, we do take risks though not on such blatant scale. When we make friends, fall in love, get a domestic helper, invest in shares and stocks or buy a property etc., we are taking risks.  



Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 25 2014, Tuesday     
Dragon Fruit

 For the past week, I attended a number of spring dinners organized by various educational bodies. These are always great occasions for meeting old friends and making new ones.


At one of the dinners, I was seated next to a kindergarten principal. We chatted happily over fun matters as well as serious issues. Soon, we started to comment on children these days. I remarked that for lack of siblings, children only start to learn co-operation and resolving conflicts when they begin schooling. Then the principal told me a few incidents that were truly thought-provoking.


The kindergarten gave their pupils halved but not yet peeled bananas as snacks. Looking at the halved banana, one child was quite puzzled and asked how he was to eat it. He had never seen bananas with the peel. To him, bananas were diced to be picked up with a fork! There was another child who asked the teacher to remove the black sesame seeds from the dragon fruit slices. In another activity, children were taught to use chopsticks. A boy cried out that chopsticks were too dangerous and that he was only allowed the use of the spoon!


Children these days are simply being cocooned in the warmth and safety of their parents’ protection. They are never given any chances of “trial and error”. But no matter how hard parents try, there will come a day when their children are faced with challenges they have to deal with by themselves. If they don’t experience failure and disappointment or suffer a few bruises at an early stage, they might find even the smallest setbacks or injuries traumatic. Then who is to be blamed for their fragility and vulnerability?

Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 24 2014, Monday
Bank Queue
 Today is school holiday to make up for Saturday’s Parents’ Day. What better than fulfilling my duty as a good daughter – helping my mom with bank matters!

We first had a good dim sum lunch – a rare pleasure on a week day! Then we walked in the bank. There were already several queues of various lengths. People at the long queue looked frustrated. As my mom’s account was one of those privileged priority accounts, we didn’t have to wait for too long. My mother wanted to update her signature which had become quite different from the one she gave years ago. But as it was an integrated account with quite a few other accounts attached, there were a lot of forms that had to be filled in and signed. She also wanted to withdraw some cash and to transfer some of her money to do time deposit. The whole process took one full hour. During the whole time, I was standing while my mom was seated on the bench nearby. She popped up every now and then when her signature was required. This 87-year old lady with a stick simply couldn’t be on her feet for that long!

During this one-hour long close encounter with the counter lady, I could empathize what a stressful job she had. Since it was taking her so long to serve me, the customer who stood right behind me complained that he had waited far too long and that he had to rush off to work. Then there were her colleagues probably new ones asking her for advice over various matters. All of a sudden, a lady walked up and demanded the counter lady to come out to talk to her. All these happened when she was either filling in forms or counting notes.

Though working under such pressure, the counter lady kept her smile and even apologized several times for not being able to speed up the procedure! This is the kind of service Hong Kong is proud of!




Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 23 2014, Sunday


 Every evening after dinner at around 8:30, I would face my biggest challenge of the day – whether or not to leave the comfy couch and go jogging in the park downstairs!

I am never a sports fan. I can’t swim. I don’t cycle. I am a total loser when it comes to sports. But ever since I turned 50, I have tried to coax myself into developing some sporting habits. I attended yoga classes. As much as I understand yoga can increase my joint flexibility, tone my muscles and even detox my internal organs, I only succeeded to perform a few basic postures. Therefore, I quitted but I still practise the postures that I have mastered and usually that is before the jogging.     

This evening, I did jog, a habit I have been keeping on and off three times a week for more than 10 years. What I engage in is not strenuous running or the type of hard work in preparation for marathon. For a duration of about one hour, I walk briskly at first and then jog. Even in cold days with the temperature standing at below ten, I can sweat a lot.

And thanks to whoever it is above looking down on me and taking care of me, I am physically quite fit for my age. I maintain my weight at around 60 kg. I stand 1.67m. My weight does swing but not too much. I stand upright and my shoulders are not bent though just this morning, I slipped and bruised my left knee.

While I jog, I listen to my favourite old songs undisturbed. It is perfect relaxation. Sometimes, I stop to enjoy the beautiful harbor views watching the glittering ferries sail by. When I finish my one-hour exercise, I feel so powerful and so energetic as though I had accomplished a big task. My self-esteem is boosted. The “can-do” feeling is indeed invigorating! And after a scented bath soak, I fall asleep easily and soundly!


But in the first place, I don’t always succeed extracting myself from the couch!


Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 22 2014, Saturday  
Ten- dollar Coin

What is the use of ten dollars in Hong Kong these days? Not much! If it is the coin, people even refrain from putting it in the red packet as laisee. Instead, the ten-dollar note is used.

I have just checked the public transport fares online and discovered that ten dollars are definitely not enough for a cross-harbour round trip. The bus fare from Kennedy Town to Kwun Tong is $9.80. An MTR ride from Central to Tseung Kwan O is $12.70. With the wide use of the stored value Octopus Card and the automatic reloading via our credit-card account, we become unaware of what we are paying each time when we commute unless we pay particular attention.

It is almost possible to go cashless in Hong Kong. We pay with our Octopus Card at supermarkets, convenience stores, supermarkets, chain fast-food restaurants and plenty more sales points. Those who drive well know that for many parking lots, cash is not accepted. Besides the smart card, we also use credit cards to accumulate points in return for flight mileage or cash rebates. 


While enjoying all the convenience, we have to remain cool-headed and not over-spend. Resorting to making only the minimum payment at the end of the month is the beginning of a one-way trip to degradation. Keeping an itemized account of our expenses is a good exercise to monitor our expenditure. I have been doing this for several years. It doesn’t take up too much time. An Excel spreadsheet will do. But it does hold back my insatiable desire for more. 


Four slices of bread can cost $8.50 at one bakery but only $4.50 at another. I have to rationalize to myself if these extra four dollars do make a difference. When the answer is negative, I choose the cheaper one. I want to maximize my money! Call me thrifty if you want! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 21 2014 Friday


We all face pressure every day – pressure coming from self, family, peers, colleagues and society in general. At different stages of life, we have to attain targets and meet deadlines either self-imposed or imposed on us.

Be the top in class! Achieve distinctions in public examinations! Embark on an enviable career! Get married by twenty-five! Own a property by thirty! The list is endless! So is pressure!

People handle pressure differently. Some yell out all the time that they are under pressure. Some endure quietly. When up to the neck, they explode like a volcano wreaking havoc on themselves and others. And of course, there are those who take life easy and refuse to succumb to any demands. They claim that their life is pressure-free!

To think of it, I am actually quite experienced in managing pressure. I was at school before free education. I had to study hard and be among the top three to enjoy scholarship so that I could continue my schooling. At that time, my only relief from pressure was writing. I created stories to nurture my fantasy and have myself lifted from the gruelling reality.

In my decades of teaching career and life as a working mother, I have faced really exhausting challenges. I have tried various relief measures. Some work. Some don’t.

Here is a summary of “what works” – the 4R Approach:

1.Recycle experiences to look for inspiration

There is a Chinese saying which goes “Remember the past for future reference.” Be reflective.

2.Reduce expectations to enjoy successes

We should have clear knowledge of ourselves. Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and set reasonable targets for ourselves. Don’t be too ambitious. Don’t always say “yes” to demands. Take the “plus-1” not “plus-10” approach. Then there will be more frequent opportunities to celebrate successes to fuel future endeavours. 


3. Reuse happiness to recharge

Don’t think that we are adults and we don’t need incentives. After a big project or a long week, think of something to do to make ourselves happy. We well know what makes us laugh and so do it to make sure we laugh!


4.Replace depression with three cheers 

People are depressed because they allow themselves to indulge in self-pity. It is important to divorce oneself from such environment.  Get up! Leave the desk! Run out of the house and shout three cheers!

Whatever you do to release pressure, don’t vent it on people who get in your way!



Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 20 2014, Thursday
First Time

It was just a typical scene at the platform of the MTR Admiralty Station  at  6:30 in the evening.

The two platforms were virtually joined by the sea of passengers standing in tight rows.  I was in this crowd. Once the train came, I was being pushed until I finally got on board. The whole tortuous process lasted about twenty minutes.

When I was inside, I could hardly stand on both feet. As I was regaining my composure,  a lady with loads of shopping bags stood up. Speaking in Putonghua, she offered me her seat. This was the first time ever I was offered a seat. I must appear dreadfully old in need of sitting down.

This good Samaritan looked like one of those Canton Road shoppers! I have had unpleasant experiences with mainland tourists. I was once inside a fitting room when a mainland lady barged in. The saleslady simply could not stop her. But I would not dare to generalize. I know no groups  are homogenius. To think that "seeing one is seeing all" is pure naivety. 



Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 19 2014, Wednesday  

Chinese Medicine

The pain in my stomach was excruciating keeping me awake until almost daybreak. It must be my gall bladder stones reminding me of their presence and complaining that I haven’t attended to them in all these years! I had to call in sick! In the afternoon, I went to consult my Chinese herbal doctor.


In recent years, I choose Chinese medicine and acupuncture for most of my ailments. When I take western drugs in the form of pills, tablets and syrups etc., I feel like I am pumping a lot of chemicals into my stomach. Chinese herbal teas are more natural. I can see what I am drinking. The large packet of roots, barks, leaves, even bugs, rocks and turtle shells work together to bring about gentle but effective healing effects. Now that there is the mandatory registration of Chinese medicine practioners, the quality and safety of the service provided can be guaranteed. There have also been more and more world researches on Chinese medicines. Then there is acupuncture which can do wonders for my chronic muscular pains. 


Last summer and winter, I received a total of six treatments of moxibustion therapy which has become quite popular in Hong Kong. On the three hottest days which fell in the two months of July and August and then on the three coldest days in winter in December and January, I had six nail-sized patches of herbs applied on six key acupuncture points on the spine to generate heat so as to boost immunity. The patches were removed after one hour. And I who cough every December did not cough last December – touch wood! The charge for each treatment was $110 but it will be increased to $120 this summer. I know because I placed my reservation already. 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

February 18 2014, Tuesday

As I drove out of my block at about eight this morning, I came to the double white line and I stopped, looked at both left and right before I started the car again. It was then that I noticed a dozen people waiting for the shuttle bus at the bus-stop opposite. Men and women were all wearing black. Set against the hazy sky, it was close to a funeral procession.

Black is my favourite colour too. I have several black suits and of course, a few little black dresses! Black is such a versatile colour that it is not just for solemn events. With a jewelled brooch, I can attend a wedding. White by itself is formidable reminding me of hospital sheets. I don’t wear white anymore except maybe a white top along with the black skirt. I love looking up at the white clouds floating in the blue sky. I like brown because I love chocolate, rustic wood furniture and leather jackets. I have a lemon yellow coat. I bought it to the amazement of the saleslady who has been serving me for over twenty years! Everybody said that I looked young wearing it. I wear Chinese red on the first day of Chinese New Year. To me, denims have to be navy blue and no other colours. I love taking a stroll in the Flower Market in Mong Kok to appreciate the magic of pastel!  

I had my mom’s apartment painted shocking orange and green to create a Thai resort feel. My cell phone and iPad are in popular burgundy red. What else? Pink is for my grand-daughter – pencil case, dresses, coats, shoes, suitcase and knapsack! I once had a pink suit for the occasion of my son’s wedding. That was then when I still looked good in pink. I am sure I would look most ridiculous if I were to wear it now!