Yesterday was our first time skiing. Both of us are the only complete beginners who haven’t skied before in our beginners group. And I’m the only one who fell more than anybody else. Quite embarrasing really, although I don’t mind falling down, as it’s not very painful with all the layers of clothes!It wasn’ until we took some risk to try on one of the blue runs that we started to enjoy a little bit more. Today was really good. Finally manage to get a hang on some of the basics. It really does make a difference if you have personal instructor to point you out what’s the right thing to do. We were lucky to have this guy who was willing to teach just the two of us, as our group is rather large and there is a mixture of people with different skiing experiences. W wondered why some of them are even in the beginners group in the first place!There are three more lessons to go. It’ll be interesting to find out how good we get by the end of the whole skiing trip. As it stands I’m already very happy the fact that I finally know how to do some skiing. It is really good fun. Well worth the effort, although it’s really hard work carrying our skis and boots few hundred metres to the skiing area. Especially on the return trip, when you are very likely already knackered after all the skiing. In fact we feel that this is the toughest part of the skiing so far!

Right effort

Something quite extraordinary happened when we were trying to get pass the immigration at the Geneva airport yesterday. A woman, seeing that there was such a long queue, decided to just conveniently slot in to the queue, right infront of us, pretending that nothing had happened! I “politely” told her off by telling her that the queue was behind. She then gave us excuses like her driver was waiting outside and she “can’t” queue behind. What a woman, trying to be posh yet not really, as we later found out that she has no driver actually and had to catch a cab :)I wonder what’s the best way to handle this kind of situation. I think we spoke loud enough that a lot of the people behind the queue were aware of what this woman was doing. Yet the woman has the balls, or lack of them, to stand her ground, as if she has the right to cut queue, believing that it wouldn’t make much difference to us. To be honest, it really did not make a difference, as we still ended up leaving the airport earlier that she did. At one point I was thinking of humiliating her infront of the immigration officer, to teach her a lesson, but W pleaded that we better leave her alone. And seeing that nobody else behind seemed to worry too much either I started questioning myself whether I have over-reacted. I couldn’t quite tell if it was the sense of injustice or that I wanted to get one over her or maybe something else that prompted me to react the way I had. Anyway I hope we have done enough to remind her in future that she should be embarrassed when she cuts queue again.

English music

Listening to the compilations of songs on my mobile phone suddenly reminds me of how I first started listening to English songs when I was in Malaysia. At the time I think there was only one English radio channel. Most of the time they either broadcast news or advertise. Songs were few and far between. I remember trying to record songs when they have the weekly top 40, on cassettes, yes cassettes. It was a mess, and the quality was poor. Can’t believe I actually bother to do that at that time. But I have to admit that I prefer listening to western music than chinese music. They were love songs all the time, until only recently few years ago.I could buy music cassettes from music store, but they were not easy to get to, and I couldn’t afford to buy cassettes at that age. I remember that I was still buying cassettes when I was studying college. Music CDs were still very expensive for me. So I was surprised to see British teenagers so willing to fork out so much on CDs when I first came here. Just different culture I guess. Maybe I should start listening to more music again, now that it’s so easy to get our hands on music from all over the world.

American beauty and muslim women

This article about comparing British and American women and asking why British women don’t spend the time, money and effort on their upkeep like American women do has caused such an uproar in the UK that the author has written a follow up to respond to the criticisms. I guess the author has half expected the controversy that comes with his article. But I’m sure he must be fascinated by the attention given to his article, and maybe even himself.So there are these rather “hard-core” American women who will dedicate a lot of money, time and effort to make themselves look gorgeous all the time, and throughout their lifetime. Some may even go the extra length to undergo cosmetic surgery, take botox injection, you name it. Some say that they do this for themselves. But I’m not so sure for those “hard-core” beauties. Let’s face it, if men do not pay them much attention regardless of how good or sexy they look, do you think they will be motivated to spend all that money, time and effort to keep up with their look? I don’t think so.On the contrary, there are these muslim women who cover up themselves, even the face, except the eyes, believing that by doing so people, especially men, will treat them as a person, rather than a sex object, and not be distracted by their features, body etc. Which is also a valid point, particularly for married women. But for women who are single and are looking for love, it’s probably going to be a bit tricky. Match making comes to mind, but personally I’m still not very receptive to such idea.Anyway, to be honest, I certainly don’t mind women looking good (why would I?:)). But I guess what is more important is to look after yourself. Afterall, our look can’t last forever. If you are unhappy about say the weight you put on, do something about it. Don’t get vindictive when people talk about fat, lazy people (not necessarily in a bad way)!

The ideal job

If you are a working wife, is finding the right job just as important as finding the right husband? I have spent the past four years working for four different companies none of which I truly liked. Yet, here I am still struggling on. I know that I never really like working soon after I graduated from university. I prefer engaging myself in intellectual conversations or sometime in not so intellectual activities. I like to have freedom to do what I want at any point in time without having to account for my actions.May be this is to do with my discipline. But I never really had any disciplinary problems in my life. In fact so much so that I wished I had more fun. May be this is really about not finding the right job. A lot of other factors can affect how you like your job, like your immediate boss, your co-workers, your salary and benefits etc etc. Which makes me wonder whether there is ever anyone who likes what they do disregarding all the above factors. But with a plethora of choices available, some people like myself have become more and more picky that we may never find any employment that we will enjoy.

The virtual world

Do you live your life in the virtual world? I was just discussing with my colleagues about facebook and the likes during our Christmas lunch today. Many people seem to spend a majority of their time living in the virtual world these days. In a way, it is a total revolution as to how people communicate. It takes the pressures off from having to talk to someone face to face or any form of instantaneous communication. However, the drawbacks are that it is so comfortable to hide behind the veil that it has reached a state of beyond control. You can virtually have two lives and one of which you can have absolute freedom as to how you want it to be without any boundaries or moral responsibilities to abide by.If it is merely a form of occasional past time, it may not affect a person’s health. But if you are so hooked up that you spend all your free time living in the virtual world, then it is a worrying sign.I still think that nothing should replace the occasional socials with friends and families to share your joys and sorrows. After all, humans need to live in a real community, not through a machine.

Where not to go for retirement?

I was just chatting to a friend on the phone about retirement today. She now lives and works in Singapore and has lived there for the past six to seven years.She seemed pretty settled in Singapore and intend to make her home there for the future of herself as well as her future children, if any. The idea of living in a condensed high rise flat with my children was simply too revolting for me to consider. I could not understand why anyone, if given a choice, would choose to bring up their children in a flat without their own garden but a cummunity area shared by tens and hundreds of other families. The reason given to me was that she is used to the lifestyle there and does not think of it as a major issue anymore.That makes me wonder, do people adapt their thinking and principles to suit the convenience of their circumstances? This is not a case of hardship where there is no other option. This is a conscious decision. I was brought up in a homely environment where I could keep pets and helped out with my mum on her gardening and constantly chasing around with my siblings. I would love my children to be able to have that kind of fun rather than sitting in front of the computer all day or play playstation or Xbox non-stop. I wish her well and hope she will make the right decision.

Going green, is it worth it?

I am reading the New Scientist magazine and there are yet several more articles on climate change. One of the article raised the question that most of us would probably have considered at one point. Does it make a difference whether I walk or drive? Or if I leave my tv and computers on standby rather than unplugging the power? Or if I just “forgot” to recycle? The conclusion, as you might guess, is: of course it does!It may not be significant if one person does it, but if everyone else does, then it would make an enormous contribution towards reducing our carbon footprint. Of course the obstacle is to persuade everyone to change their habits. If only everyone can do their bit and help, then this would probably be the most significant contribution you can make to the society and the future generations.

Getting fit during winter

It’s not an excuse, but getting fit during the winter is harder than I thought. Unless you are another gym fanatic, or hard core athlete, it would take more than just determination to attain the at least four times a week recommended regime. For normal people like myself who have to work from Monday to Friday, it means that I can only try to compensate by exercising more during the weekend or eat less, just to fool myself.The weather is extremely harsh in the winter not to mention the limited number of hours of sunlight that we get. For example, it was pouring over the weekend and wind blowing at about 25 miles per hour. For anyone wishing to do something outdoor, a glance at the weather forecast would have dampened even the most warm-hearted.C and I went cycling on Saturday. We thought the weather would be fair although the wind was rather strong. Being more intolerable to coldness than most people, I went out in full gear, which involved super warm cashmere earmuffs, ski gloves, waterproof walking boots for rough terrain, microfleece doubled up with a windproof jacket with thick fleece layer, extra layer of thermal pants and super warm socks for winter use. I mean it does take a lot of preparation. It just not meant to be our day when half way through our birdwatching affair, the rain started pouring. Water started sipping into my gloves because it was not skin tight and we had to cycle through puddles of muddy water that stained my trousers to beyond recognition. My gloves were soaking wet by the time we got home.This was just another example of those dreary winter days when we try to brave the weather to do something to concur my winter blues. It’s really not surprising why most people would choose the easy option to be a couch potato given the adversities. Once you get into that habit, it is even harder to convert yourself.