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English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

June 2017
The pianist

I was going down the escalator of a neighbourhood shopping mall when I was pleasantly captivated by some beautiful piano music – Somewhere over the rainbow! I quickened my step to get a look of the pianist.

He was a very typical middle-aged bald man. Seated with his face to the big floor-to-ceiling glass wall, he was all absorbed in his own world of music not to be disturbed. I stood and admired from some distance. His fingers were almost flowing effortlessly across the black and white keys while his feet were stepping on and off the pedals with equal lightness! He made my day which otherwise was gloomy and stuffy.

I started imaging what made him sit down and start playing the piano. He could not be showing off because he was not fussing around. Was he too early for an appointment? Did he forget his house key and got locked up? Did he own a piano? Was he simply re-visiting some long gone hobby? He could not be a piano tutor trying to attract some business! For sure, he was not one of those buskers for he would have played in the busy streets of Tsimshatsui or Mongkok! But of course, the piano is too big for street performance. He could not have been a mall employee because otherwise, he would have been all dressed up like one of those performing in the posh shopping arcades in Central!

Well, I had fun lifting myself somewhere over the rainbow way up high!

Oh, someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top that's where you'll find me, oh

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dream that you dare to
Oh, why, oh, why can't I, I?

Random Thoughts by Pauline

June 2017
Private kitchen

Last Saturday evening, we four ladies were out for fine dining as we do at least once in a month.

The restaurant is one of those private kitchens that have mushroomed across the city in industrial buildings in Kwun Tong. My friend scouted it in one of the popular dining apps and made reservation the day before. Unlike other private kitchens that keep patrons in suspense of what they will be served, we were given the menu which could be changed according to our preferences. We did ask for the risotto with foie-gras and eel be changed to prawn.

The place was not fancy and could even be described as a bit untidy with the guitar tucked behind the door and the tables, three of them, pushed to one side of the small room. There were some classic posters on the wall. Our table was the only one properly laid with glasses and plates. We were the only guests.

To serve us, there were the chef, a cool guy who never uttered a word in our two-hour stay and the chatterbox waiter who commented on almost all our conversation topics. A bit annoying I must say!

For HK$500 per head, we enjoyed a five-course meal including pan-fried scallop with mango salsa as the starter followed by mushroom soup with black truffle, risotto with prawn, smoked A4 Wagyu and baked banana cheese pizza as dessert. To complement all these, there was a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.

The meal was good value for money because the ingredients were all fresh and the chef though looking quite young had all the dishes delicately flavoured, carefully done and presented to us right away. Only the dessert was a disaster. We even began to wonder how this place was able to survive. The waiter who had been overly attentive showed us the lunch menu saying that the place could be full-house during lunch time on week days because prices are much lowered. As to the evenings, like other such dens, they only open when there is booking in advance.

It was an enjoyable dining experience worth re-visiting. I would surely recommend it to other foodies. Such eateries are often dreams come true for young adults and they rely on word of mouth. I shall do my part as a show of support for small businesses. 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

June 2017
One MTR ride

It was Saturday evening. I was on board the MTR on my way to Kwun Tong. The weather with a typhoon lurking around had been humid and stuffy. The compartment was not only packed but also filled with the rank smell of body odour. Close to standing on one foot, I felt suffocated. There was not much space to move.

Suddenly, the man standing next to me shied away from the woman in front of him and started to lean back a little towards me. I looked to find out what had caused the commotion. That woman who perhaps found her t-shirt wet with perspiration too body-hugging had put one hand underneath her shirt to have it lifted from inside! Cooling! I did one very unkind act - taking a photo of her in action. Of course, I made sure her face was not shown.

Then there was a teenage girl with a big rucksack standing near the doors. She was minding her own business – using her mobile phone. But unknowingly she had occupied the space of three passengers – herself, her rucksack and her two outstretched hands! As passengers elbowed their way to get off the train, they all murmured and rolled their eyes upwards.

Earlier, the MTR had issued public announcements calling for passengers with backpacks to unload them when boarding the compartments. There have been many other reminders. The familiar ones include asking passengers to stand behind the yellow line and giving way for passengers to get off first. Others are meant to tackle some problematic phenomena – wearing flip-flops and using the mobile phone when taking the escalators or wearing of thick clothing when temperature in the compartment is warmer than outside during the winter days etc.

We would have taken these to be acts of common sense not worth making a fuss and yet corporations such as MTR will make sure that reminders have been issued for the sole purpose of shirking legal responsibility! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

June 2017
Booth talk

She virtually collapsed right in front of me burying her face in the seat and murmuring that she would be leaving while apologizing at the same time.

We used to work for the same school and have been friends for three decades. We meet every now and then for festive celebrations or simply to catch up. It was Saturday afternoon. We met for lunch. We were comfortably seated in the booth enjoying some very exquisite cuisines.

It was a simple “How are you? Are you sleeping well” that sent her to tears with face twisted. I was not prepared for this and couldn’t respond. She was one scene of desperation. I was telling myself that if she really stood up to leave, I would have to hold her in my arms. How could I let her leave alone?

I had never seen her like this until then but that was her true self and state of mind! All along, she had appeared to be calm and composed though with a touch of melancholy. She must have been masking! How dumb of me not to have detected!

I know she has been bullied at work by unfounded vicious gossips but I have no idea she is in such pain. I thought that her sleeplessness was once in a blue moon but in fact, it has turned habitual. 

She did calm down but her parting words saddened me. “I better hide myself!” 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 2017
Not the usual kind of graduation ceremony

This is the season of secondary school graduation ceremonies. One of the schools I work for held it last Thursday. It was the most touching ceremony I have ever attended. Having served the education sector for decades, I have attended tens of such ceremonies.  There would be always be the school report by the principal or supervisor or both, speeches by the guest of honour and the student representative followed by certificate and prize presentations. Sometimes, there would be student performance.

Teachers and students spend an enormous amount of time and effort to make sure that the ceremony would run smoothly so as to impress the guests but more importantly to create indelible memories for graduates and their parents. Ceremonies can last 2 if not 3 hours and when they come to a close; teachers are relieved while graduates are exhilarated. As to the other guests if they do stay until the end, they must be great friends of the school board, supervisor or principal. Others may have long left.

But this ceremony was not the same. After the routine items came the part of the class teachers presenting their parting words to the graduating classes.  One teacher recalled how her class took care of her when she was not well and how she would be forever grateful. She then sang a song encouraging her students not to fear but be brave in face of life’s challenges. She was all tears while her students cheered her on.

Then another class teacher came up to the stage. He recounted how he and his class practised so hard for the choral speaking and finally they worked miracle - champion of the category beating top schools. He encouraged students to carry forward such headstrong spirit. His class applauded.

I was among the audience. As I listened, images of what these students had experienced kept popping up in my mind bringing tears of appreciation to my eyes.