English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 2018
I am a woman

I am a woman. In the eyes of the world, my function as a woman has been fulfilled – I reproduced. But I do not always look at myself as a woman, the female of human. In other words, I do not always show or exercise my femininity as some women are so skilled in executing. When I work with my colleagues or socialize with friends, my behaviour is never decided by the gender of the person I am with but rather a number of other factors such as the occasion, the degree of familiarity etc. In fact, I have been posed with embarrassing comments like “Oh, you’re too tough for men to get along with!”  The harshest would be “You are strong! You can survive the trauma!”

Women should always uphold themselves with pride and dignity. But the problem is we care too much about how others look at us rendering us live a life in others’ shadows. This eagerness to please or to reach up to people’s standards brings in compliments at times but more often disappointment, self-degradation and even self-destruction.

Women and maybe men can go to extremes to meet the expectation of their men or the circle they are in – plastic surgery to enhance their looks, child-bearing even in their 40s to satisfy their men’s hope of a descendant etc. But surgeries can fail, a child cannot hold a cheating heart. Children born of such relationship are most unfortunate. Horrific child abuse cases are not uncommon.

Women do not need men to live a fulfilling life. We do not need to wait for orders. But most important of all, we should not whine and moan and yet stay there in a victim mentality. We always have choices. We get stuck in a situation only because we allow it.

May all women love themselves and be their own masters! Happy Women’s Day!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 2018
 Last Christmas

I had never imagined that I would be left home alone for Christmas! Oh, yes, there was Mimi, the 11-year old Pekingese I adopted a year ago.

I was discharged on December 22, winter solstice, just in time for the traditional festive dinner with family. The doctor instructed me to wear that hard gear for a month so that the fracture in the knee joint could recuperate. But Hong Kong Women Teachers’ Organization had planned an exchange tour of 40 teachers to Chengdu from December 23 to 26 with me as the group leader. I could but forfeit the paid tickets. The Vice-chairperson and the Consultant had to take up the leaders’ role. 

To make my fate even worse, I had earlier allowed my helper to take extra days off since her mother was in town. That would mean from December 23 to 26, the situation was me, an old woman and Mimi, an old dog sitting in front of the television watching whatever programmes we were fed with. I began to contemplate how I was to spend the Christmas night.

At about 6pm on 24th, came Teresa, my youngest sister with her basket full of goodies – salmon sushi, pizza, pasta and even the Christmas cake from my favourite cake shop. That was a very pleasant surprise because she has a phobia of dogs and Mimi has a phobia of strangers. I could not imagine the two of them spending a quiet silent night together in the same room. But that evening, except for the initial few barks, Mimi settled down very quickly. Teresa could sit comfortably without fidgeting or worrying that Mimi would bark.  

Miracles do happen. After all it was Christmas! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 2018
The treatment
Mandy and Ken kept me company until I was admitted. Their drowsy eyes told me they were very tired. They even brought my helper from home to get me a change of clothes. I felt so indebted.

My knee was x-rayed right after. Luckily, no bones were broken or dislocated but the kneecap was very swollen. I had to wait till morning to be examined by the orthopedist. At about 11, I was wheeled to the room of Dr. Chang, the Resident Consultant in Orthopaedics and Traumatology. He suggested magnetic resonance imaging of the injury to evaluate the situation of the ligaments and cartilage within the knee joint.

That took place after another hour. Later in the afternoon, Dr. Chang showed me the images taken earlier. Fortunately, there was only a slight bone fracture but the joint was surrounded by fluid causing the swelling and the pain. He suggested arthrocentesis or using a syringe to draw out the fluid so as to reduce the swelling and therefore, the pain. However, l had to endure twinges during the process. Arthrocentesis was a treatment I had never heard of but I did not think I had a choice. So I agreed.

With the needle inserted and the doctor’s hands pressing hard on the swelling, three syringes of dark red blood were drawn. To distract me from the pain, Dr. Chang joked with me saying that the process was like milking a cow. And I replied saying that too bad, the blood was not good enough for donation. Here was one good doctor with a heart!

I was discharged the next day, 22nd of December, winter solstice, carrying a heavy knee brace to actually immobilize the right knee joint for it to heal itself! But home is on the third floor of a building with no lift!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 2018
 The accident

In the late afternoon of 20th, Friday, I was careless and missed the last step as I walked down the staircase after a meeting at The University of Hong Kong. My 120-pound plus weight landed on my right knee. My friend Mandy, who was with me, though petrified could still say that I should go to the clinic nearby immediately. I gestured that I would have to sit there for a few minutes before I could stand up. It must have been an awful sight.

Two other events had been lined up for the rest of the day. I limped to the two meeting places and managed to present myself properly. But by 10:30, the pain crept in and I could hardly move my foot without moaning. The injury had to be taken care of. Ken, Mandy’s husband who had arrived to take her home drove me to the emergency ward of the Baptist Hospital. By then, the slightest movement of the inflamed right knee would bring chronic pain enough to make me scream. It was already 11 at night.

I was the 15th patient waiting to be attended to by the one doctor. If each would take up 10 minutes, my turn would be past midnight. As expected, the doctor examined me at 1:00. He insisted that I would first be x-rayed and then hospitalized. Might as well because there was no way I could walk up to our apartment on the third floor of an old block with no lift service! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

November 2017
Guilty as charged

Call me a foodie or a gourmand or whatever. I love food and the satisfaction it brings to my taste buds and stomach but more importantly to my spirit. A good meal paired with wine in good company is heaven on earth.

Food does not always have to be expensive or exotic but must be made from fresh raw materials, simply seasoned and served at the right temperature. Presentation is important as the eyes are also feasted. But it shouldn’t be overdone. I hate to think of all the fingers going over the food to have it elaborately arranged into a peacock or a panda. As to wine, I am not a sommelier but can tell good wines from the bad. One glass or at most two are all that I can and will consume even among close friends. And such relaxing evenings are not too frequent, maybe monthly.

Company is of paramount importance for a truly enjoyable meal. Bills are usually split but the birthday girl will be treated. So even though there can be one who does not fancy oysters, another can’t stand lamb, each pays the same. There shouldn’t be finger-pointing in restaurant choice. The principle is “if it is good, there can be the second visit or else, it will be one-off”. 

Whenever I dine out, I refrain from any calculation or consideration of calories, nutritional value, health risks etc and just let go. But underneath there is always a twinge of guilt of what I am doing to my health. I usually “punish” myself to have a simple salad the next day to keep the balance. I love fruits and never drink coke or those cartons of sugary water in all kinds of pretentious names.

Once in a blue moon, I cook. I also love watching cooking programmes and restaurant reviews. So before my teeth yield or my health deteriorates, I will keep this love of mine. 


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.