English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

July 2017
Readiness
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? 

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!”