English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

November 2016

Respecting life

Every night at around ten, a neatly-dressed petite woman in her fifties would come to the small park at Eastbourne Road to perform an act of great charity – feeding a family of three yellow cats!

This gentle lady brings along with her a picnic basket complete with a big cardboard or sometimes a plastic sheet, plates, cans of cat food, bottles of water and tissue paper. The feline trio would sit there quietly on the bench waiting for her to open the cans, dish out the food and water before they jump down to enjoy their dinner. Then the lady would take a walk nearby before she returns to collect the plates and clean up the places.

After bumping into her and watching her daily routines several times, I started chatting with her. From our brief conversations, I come to know that she is a Korean housewife who has come to settle in Hong Kong because her banker husband was transferred here from the headquarters in Seoul about a decade ago. Her Cantonese is limited and I don’t speak Korean. She doesn’t speak English. But we are still able to understand each other. She pointed out to me which one of the three is the mother and that the other two of similar sizes are her kittens. She went on to say that last month when the kittens were six months old, she had taken all three to a vet for neutering. The operations cost her about five thousand dollars.

The above is an eye-witness account of kindness to animals taking them as living beings to be respected and loved in ways that we can. There are many such good people in our city caring, sheltering or campaigning for animals. But on the other hand, every now and then, we hear news reports of gruesome animal abuse cases.

Animals kill for food. We human beings are killing for fun! We have to end this! Our police has to start treating dogs and cats as living things and conduct criminal investigations into animal abuse cases.

The message is clear - zero tolerance for animal abuse!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

November 2016

Have you ever taken the route from MTR East Rail Station Mongkok East to Sai Yeung Choi Street via the footbridge on a Sunday? If you had, you would have, like me, thought that you had, by mistake, landed in Jakarta, Indonesia!

Indonesian or a language I don’t know but sounds familiar, is the only language heard, Indonesian songs are sung along with guitar played, Indonesian food of all kinds including fried fish, bowls of sticky rice, puddings and many more are displayed on the plastic sheets or cardboards laid out on the ground! The maids are on holiday and somehow for many years, this footbridge has been taken over by the Indonesians as the Central District by the Filipinas! Businesses of every type such as money exchange, hair-cut, reflexology, tailoring, tattooing, manicure and pedicure and many more not just the selling of Indonesian cuisines are conducted here. The air filled with spicy aroma, perfume and body odour smells exotically East Asian.

The maids spread themselves out along both sides of the whole length of the footbridge leaving the middle section for pedestrians. With broad smiles on their faces, most of them indulge themselves in various activities while a few others are just lying there on the cardboard resting. They are so at home!

Hong Kong is home to around 340,000 domestic workers – about half are from Indonesia. Some wear head-scarves but most don’t. Some refrain from eating pork but others don’t. Some speak fluent Cantonese but others are almost utterly incomprehensible speaking neither English nor Cantonese. In other words, they are not really a homogeneous group as no groups really are. But on Sundays, the one day in a week, they gather here enjoying one another’s company as though they had never left home.

This Indonesian occupation of two-thirds of the width of the footbridge if not more has definitely inconvenienced the locals as this passage is one of the direct routes going from the train station to central Mongkok unless one takes the street but that again is always jammed with shoppers. Though some pedestrians would complain about the noise and smell of the Indonesian gathering on the footbridge, they still opt for it. Sometimes, when it is really crowded, they might be rubbing shoulders with the Indonesians who get carried away partying. As yet, no rows have ever happened though eyes might be rolling with disgust or foreheads frowned with annoyance.

That is the spirit of Hong Kong – a city of tolerance of differences!  

Random Thoughts by Pauline

November 2016
It was a bit chilly this morning. I was in a queue waiting for the green bus going down to the MTR station. Right behind me were a mother and her daughter who looked like a primary 4 student. The girl was in her summer school uniform of a white shirt and shorts.

As we were waiting, draughts kept blowing bringing shivers to us all. The mother immediately took off her thin blouse exposing her shoulders to cover the daughter. I was so touched though this might be the response of most if not all mothers.

In the morning, the school neighbourhood abounds with love. There is a primary school just opposite to the MTR station where I get off. Every morning after the children have walked inside and the gates are closed, parents would still linger peeping through the small holes of the intertwined chain-linked fences until their children disappear beyond eyes can reach.

Mothers and these days fathers as well are so tender and prompt in rendering themselves to their children in dire contrast to parents of our times. This does not mean they love us less. The difference is in the lack of those small deeds and minute acts of demonstration. They are much more subtle.

As much as parents love their children selflessly, they have to “educate” themselves into not just giving but also considering if that love is really felt or detested. Too much nagging is hated. Hovering round all day is loathed. And as children grow, parents have to practise detachment. The one ultimate principle they have to internalize is not to expect their children to reciprocate.

Parenthood is a blessing already! So don’t expect dividend!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

October 2016

The Wishing Tree
The next stop of the leisurely afternoon was to visit the Wishing Tree at Lam Tsuen, Taipo, first time for the family.

The local Chinese New Year practice of wishing upon this particular banyan tree at Lam Tsuen follows a very colourful tradition – throwing “Bao Die” literally meaning “precious plate” to the tree to get it successfully hung up on the branches for wishes to come true. This “Bao Die” includes an orange tied with a yellow paper on which the name and wishes of the worshipper are written.

However, as years went by, the tree gradually gave way to the heavy load of “Bao Die” and on Feb 12, 2005, the fourth day of the Chinese New Year, one of the branches snapped injuring an elderly man and a young boy. The tree was subsequently diagnosed to be infected and had to be left to heal. The tradition of throwing “Bao Die” was soon banned. Months later, a fake plastic 25-foot small-leaved banyan tree was erected for worshippers to carry on the tradition. This time, even the oranges thrown are also plastic.

Hayley, my grand-daughter said that the original tree standing there near the narrow entrance with its branches supported by various structures looked “extremely sad”. I had to agree. It did resemble an elderly celebrity lady from the last century wearing heavy make-up making her appearance on crutches.

Instead, the plastic tree with its luxuriant foliage and the many red “Bao Die” right in the centre of the Lam Tsuen Wishing Square is one young athlete flexing his muscles before a game!

We had a tour of the square including the temple and the award-winning washrooms. We also enjoyed the local cuisines of the sweet bean curd and the tea cake.

That is how Vincent, my son and wife spend their weekends – going places with Hayley. The difference this Sunday was with me tagging along as the chauffeur! They treasure every moment of it to make up for their not being able to spend much time with Hayley during the week days especially when Vincent has to work across the border.