English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

July 2017
Every Sunday, I pamper myself with facial treatment and body massage. But before that, I treat myself to a set breakfast at one of the fast food restaurants rather than the usual cereal, toast and espresso at home not for the food quality but for a break from the weekday routine.

So this Sunday, I arrived at the food court at around 8. I noticed that the restaurant on this floor which only opens at noon was already bustling with activities. I couldn’t help watching what they were doing.

The two young men in crisp white uniforms were preparing fruit and cream sponge cakes. One was whisking egg whites while the other was applying coats of cream to the cake. They were focused paying no attention to me who was staring curiously at them through the glass divider. That was four hours before the restaurant was to open. I was sure that they were not the only two staff working. There should be even more in the kitchen -  arranging, organizing, cutting, dicing, slicing, peeling, defrosting, boiling, blanching and tenderizing etc.

The French names this whole process as the Mise en place literally means “set in place”. That means all is ready before the actual cooking.  The hours of preparation work are to ensure that the whole cooking process can be smooth and efficient and that perfect dishes can be brought to the customers’ tables at the soonest.

I stood there feeling the greatest respect for them and telling myself not to gobble my food again but to nibble and savour every mouthful! I also learnt a life lesson - preparation is the key to success! The greatest inventor of all, Alexander Graham Bell, had put it so aptly.  “Luck” is but “an opportunity” and for success to be ensured, there must be good preparation! 

The recipe is simple: success = opportunity + readiness!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

July 2017
Sunday morning walks
Sunday is my day for walking and public transport rather than driving. At about 8 in the morning, I walk down Ede Road to Festival Walk shopping mall, go up several floors to the food court to have my breakfast and then walk back to Kowloon Tong Station for the train to Hung Hom. Instead of changing to West Rail Line at Hung Hom, I get off there and walk to Tsim Sha Tsui.

Walks on Sunday mornings are really relaxing. There is not much traffic nor are there many pedestrians. Cornwall Road, for example, can actually be vacant with neither cars nor people. And when I arrive at the footbridge overlooking the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, I would stop and sometimes, even snap a shot of all those lazy-looking traffic lanes. One to two hours later, these would be filled with all kinds of vehicles carrying anxious drivers and passengers. I can also detour to the waterfront and walk along the promenade. There is the Victoria Harbor, though much down-sized, still amazing despite the maze of monstrous-looking mega buildings clustering the waterfront. One thought always comes to my mind as I stand there – we Hongkongers are miracle-workers. With our hands and those of generations before us, we have built this safe, clean and prosperous city we call home.

The footbridge brings me to the fountain in Urban Council Centenary Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui. I love fountains as the water columns transform the place into a fairyland. Sometimes, I would tip-toe closer to feel the mist. I become childish and girly! Well, there are not any on-lookers. The street-cleaners are too busy with their work as to pay any attention to me.

After crossing Chatham Road South, I arrive at Granville Road, one of the popular streets to tourists. But it is too early for shopping sprees. Shops except for some local restaurants offering breakfast, are not yet open. A big garbage truck is parked near the restaurants with cleaners busily removing bags and bags of rubbish from the door fronts and loading them to the truck. At the turn of the street, the newspaper vendor is doing the last bit of tidying up.

By then I would be all sweaty hyper with contentment for having exercised for about 30 minutes. I arrive at Carnarvon Road and only minutes away from my weekly 4-hour beauty session. 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

July 2017
Gym or park
I have a free pass to all the 23 branches of a leading chain fitness centre. That means I should have no excuse not to maintain my exercise routine. Well, I do have one good reason - I prefer jogging in the park and around the neighborhood of where I live to working out in the gymnasium.

Not that I have never visited the gyms. I did make an effort to familiarize myself with those work-out machines like the treadmill, the sky walker, the exercise bike, the vertical climber, the rowing machine etc. They all come with state-of-the art consoles complete with information on my heart rate, my speed, mileage covered and of course, the calories burnt.

To tell the truth, I have never enjoyed any of my visits to the gymnasiums. I don’t like the pungent smell of sweat, the deafening music, the stamping of feet on treadmills, the dazzling big television screens and in fact, the whole combat vibes of a boot camp. After all, I am not preparing for any major sporting events. I just want some physical activities for my aging body. Exercising to me has to be pleasurable and relaxing but it simply isn’t like that in a gymnasium. 

I know, I can talk myself into liking the gym. I can exercise there rain or shine undeterred by weather. I can have whole-body training. I can enjoy various television programmes. Then there are shower and drinking facilities.

But all these can hardly be compared to my jogging in the park. First of all, the air is fresh. When accentuated by the fragrance of the mock lime and the gardenia, it virtually puts me in paradise. If I go in the late afternoon, I can still savour the sun. In the evening, then I can have fun watching the lunar phases with the tune and the lyrics of Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart” vividly playing in my mind.     

As I jog, I meet real people so unlike the combatants in the gym – people walking their dogs though sadly not always the masters but the domestic helpers, couples chatting as they keep in pace with each other, families playing basketball in the nearby court, a man flexing his muscles under the tree, a kind-hearted lady attending to the stray cats or some elderly ladies sitting on the benches catching their breath. We might exchange a few words of greetings and just smile as we pass by one another.

So with my favourite tunes playing and my eyes so richly feasted, I am actually enjoying the jogging as I sweat and pant! How can I be persuaded to give up all these to exercising in the gym?