April 29 2014, Tuesday
April 28 2014, Monday
It was Sunday morning and I was, as usual, going to Tsim Sha Tsui for my weekly indulgence of facial treatment and body massage. I like taking the train instead of the MTR as there are fewer stops. At around 8:10, I got off the mini-bus at Kowloon Tong station and walked to the platform for the East Rail train heading for Hung Hom to change to the West Rail for Tsim Sha Tsui. I was very pleased to see a train there with doors open. I thought I was lucky as I did not have to wait. But my happiness came too soon.
The doors remained open and passengers began to get off. Then there was the announcement that the train would be shortly delayed. I was not in a hurry and stayed. Time passed and still the same announcement was repeated. I thought I had to decide. So I followed other passengers and got off to take the MTR.
By the time I arrived at Tsim Sha Tsui Station, there was the broadcast of the suspension of East Rail services due to a signal failure resulting in the MTR's operations control center "being blinded" about the whereabouts of its trains. I felt lucky that I had made the right decision of alighting instead of trusting the announcement of “shortly delayed”.
Every time, these announcements end with “apologies for the inconvenience caused”. But for passengers especially those who are going to work in the morning, every minute counts. Train delay means their being late for work resulting in loss of bonus or penalty. What good is the apology to them?
I am all for the increase of fines for train service breakdown and for the highly-paid senior management be penalized with their bonuses deducted. Pay cheques have to come with accountability!
April 26 2014, Saturday
It was Good Friday morning, I was in a taxi taking me from Hung Hom to the airport. The driver in his sixties was quite courteous greeting me with “good morning”. And as the ride was long, I started a conversation with him by asking if I was his first passenger for the day. He replied pleasantly that I was and that he had had breakfast with his wife before starting work.
We went on talking about children and schooling. He told me that he had three daughters with two already at work and one still studying. He proudly said that they were all in English as Medium of Instruction (EMI) schools and that the two elder daughters were both professionals. The eldest, 30 was an accountant and the other, 26, a physiotherapist. I commented that he must have worked very hard to support the girls’ schooling. He didn’t! They were awarded scholarships after scholarships!
Contented as he was, this father had one worry though – he didn’t know if his two elder daughters had started any romantic relationships yet! He reminisced that back then in his times, people in love would be talking on the phone a lot and parents would know a relationship was developing. But now that there is the smart phone, parents would not have any clue whether their grown up children are already in a relationship! And what’s more, people don’t talk. They just swipe!
That brought me back to the scene almost half a century ago when my father received my first call from a boy and how he interrogated me for details!
April 17 2014, Thursday
I have been interviewing teachers these few days. Once the vacancy advertisement
is out, we get lots of applications. Most of the applicants are fresh
graduates. Their application letters are of almost the same format and so are
their looks because they are all dressed in black suits. There is a general
lack of personality. It seems these days young people are more comfortable
being one of the mass rather than being different and standing out!
When reading application letters, I am very serious and read each
letter. That takes hours of work. Then I short-list interesting ones for
interview. What do I mean by interesting ones? What kind of applicants can
attract my attention? Here are just a few examples.
One applicant quitted her private tutoring and spent four years to
do a degree programme majoring in English and a one-year full-time teacher
training. She came for interview and
responded to my questions gingerly though still able to demonstrate her
Then there is a fresh graduate with coach certification in all kinds
of sports. His academic performance is not outstanding. He did not graduate
from esteemed secondary school but his enthusiasm for sports is written all
over his face!
One more interesting applicant – a law graduate applying to be a
teacher! At interview, she explained that she studied law to satisfy her mother
and that she did not even attend her own graduation ceremony. She described how
unpleasant her internship at law firms was and expounded that she wanted to be
with children and pursue a career in education.
April 16 2014, Wednesday
If by Rudyard Kipling
On the wall next to
the school lift on the ground floor, there is a big framed poster presenting
the poem If by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).
On a nearby moveable board is displayed DiZi
Gui or Students’ Rules written by Li Yuxiu (1661 – 1722). These two pieces
of celebrated work succinctly summarize what we expect of our students. I am here to share how I feel about the
I love the poem which is actually a set of highly demanding rules for growing up. Each
line is a motto and maxim for life – the very positive energy we need at confused
moments. And the elegant imagery is so vividly presented that illustrations can
be easily drawn.
Kipling did not have an easy life with an abused childhood, failure at
school and deaths of his children. But he achieved fame quickly with his poems and stories. In 1907 he was
Nobel Prize for Literature.
The lines I love most are:If
you can dream - and not make dreams your master,If
you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;If
you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd
treat those two impostors just the same;
According to Kipling, to be successful in life, we have to dream but we
should not just stay dreaming. We have to make our dreams happen. Very often,
we indulge in thinking too much and acting too little. The consequence is
nothing ever happens!
Of course, we often lose our heads rejoicing when sailing is plain and
give up in desperation when faced with tragedies. But Kipling reminds us that
these moments always come and go as they are imposters. We only have to take
them easy and life will go on!
As I age, I have to agree to the wisdom of Kipling’s advice. Read the
poem and find a line that resonates with you!
Here is the link: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772
April 15 2014 Tuesday
“If you are unfaithful to me once, I will pay you back tenfold!” said wife to husband!
This couple are in their forties and both are very concerned about
their looks. They take facial treatments including intrusive lazar sessions.
They visit the gym regularly and have their own coach. The wife has the fairest
complexion and the husband is the coolest guy in the profession.
The wife puts on the most expensive skin products and cosmetics
which she only washes off before going to bed and only when the lights are out.
She gets up earlier than the husband to make sure she has time for the morning
ritual. And yet, she still does not have faith in her own looks and worries
sick that one day when her beauty fades, she will be dumped. In her moment of
desperation, she declares the ultimatum!
What kind of a relationship is this? When romantic love is built on
looks and youthfulness, it can never last. We all know no matter how hard we
take care of our body, all that we can do is at best holding back the aging
process! We will still grow old and wrinkled and weak!
Are couples not to care for each other in health and sickness till
death parts them? Is this too good or too old-fashioned a vow for modern day
people? I don’t know. Call me traditional. When I make a choice, I will honour
it! I have never broken any commitment not in the past, not now and not in
April 12 2014, Saturday
Talents are people who can do what we can’t. Poets can put scenes vividly in words. They describe moods that we can only feel. Painters do dramatic works of portraits that photographers pale. Dancers present movements that make us doubt if their bodies are different from ours. Musicians compose pieces that move our heart and rock our body. Jewellers breathe life into rocks. Sculptors carve statues with lines that can show both strength and weakness.
I can go on the list because I have so much admiration for all these great people past and present that have immortalized beauty! I am not a talent. When I see a rainbow, I can but say “Oh! So pretty” And then the lyrics of “Somewhere over the rainbow” would come to my mind. When I watch the harbour view at night with all the sparkling lights, the famous jewellery pieces would be right there in front of my eyes. When I see the willow swaying by the brook, the few ballet performances I have watched would be presented once again just for me!
I who am not a talent am fortunate enough to live in a world where all the great masterpieces are only a click away.
Here you go – the most famous woman, Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vince pained between 1503 – 1506.
April 11 2014, Friday
Parents of Teenagers
This is another MTR story.
I was at the Tsim Sha Tsui East Station going down the escalator to the platform for the train to Kowloon Tong on a Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation of the middle-aged couple standing two steps behind me.
“I talked to Katie last night and she agreed! She promised she and David would only hold hands and no kisses!” said the woman, perhaps a mother.
“You actually believe her? Look at the TV drama she is watching – all the kisses and sex scenes!” exclaimed the man, perhaps a father.
“Well, what can we do! She is 15 and we cannot watch her all day long!” sighed the mother.
Children have been brought up in fairy tales of the prince and the princess and all the gossips about who is dating whom in the entertainment world! When a boy meets a girl, and this is happening every day in school, they are teased and in a way encouraged to start what they think is “dating”. Parents should be concerned but instead of stopping or reprimanding their children, they should broaden their social life such as joining weekend classes, hiking or other sports.
In Chinese, there is a saying: bringing up a child to a hundred years old, you worry for 99 years! There is so much truth in it except why not that 1 year too?
April 9 2014, Wednesday