Stories of a precious Stone
My mindless, nonsensical and whimsical world


May 26th, 2010 by stone

Yes, I’m on a roll. I want to make the best use of however little time I have left in cyberspace before returning the modem later. Besides, we’ll be paying for the month of June as well. Didn’t know we had to give a 1 month notice. Darn.

Anyway, realized I’ve never taken any photos with my friends here. So I made sure I brought the camera while making the rounds and bidding final goodbyes.

Salim & Rose from Malaysia used to be the owners/chef of the restaurant we frequented. After it closed down, we remained as friends.

Lissette, my classmate from Ecuador. This capable young lady has started a business of making and selling jewellery from her hometown with her sister.

Also my classmates, Tze Hua and Ramphai come from Taiwan and Thailand. All of us can speak English but we’re always trying to converse in German which probably sounds painful to the ears of the locals. :P

With the ah laos…

With the most important man in Mr. Tan’s life here and his family. Although they only came a few months ago, but we get along quite well.

Lilia from Philippines. She’s been here for more than twenty years, is the walking Wikipedia of Switzerland, and also a very nice person to talk to.

Raquel from Brasil. She was pregnant with twins but one of them couldn’t make it. Really sad, but she’s a blissful mother now to newborn Cedric.

From left to right: Angie, Eng Cheng, moi, Taiwanese lady boss of the restaurant Ya Ke, Errna, Minh  and Ying Cong, my good friend from Malaysia who introduced me to all of the rest (who are mostly Malaysians), and also organized this farewell party for us

The guys. From left to right: Bobbi, David, Andreas, Mr. Tan, Daniel

Alle zusammen

Taiwanese boss and wife of the restaurant - the most hospitable restaurants owners we’ve ever met. I’ve patronized them since I first came and when they had their small takeaway opposite my school. That has closed down and they’ve just newly opened this restaurant.

Radiah, one of the very few Singaporeans I know (and would like to know), who actually lives in the next town in our ulu ulu area.

The ah laos again…

In one of the few restaurants, Kormasutra in our ulu ulu area

White Supremacy

May 26th, 2010 by stone

A conversation I had with a friend has been bugging me for a while. Well, I wouldn’t say he’s a friend but more the husband of my friend.

My friend is a Thai, and he’s an American. During the conversation, he was describing to us their wedding ceremony in Thailand. My friend comes from a small village in the rural areas of Thailand, and obviously it’s not common to have such inter-cultural marriages. During the ceremony, the groom’s father was asked to give a speech.

As the groom came to this part of the story, he started grinning. For a while, I thought it must have been because his father had said something funny. What he narrated shortly after drew a courteous smile from me, even though I wasn’t amused by it at all. During the speech, the father had said that my friend had done well, and that the other girls in the village should also strive to emulate her and do as well, so that they can also marry American husbands.

Behind my smile, I was dumbfounded, and imagining myself digging a hole in the ground if I were in his shoes. Not him though. He found it amusing and in fact didn’t appear the least embarassed. Apparently, the audience laughed, although I’m not sure if they were really tickled or just being polite.

What is it about marrying an American, or an ang moh for the following matter…

I have a Singaporean acquaintance who’s married to a Swiss. During each conversation I have with her, she has never failed to remind me of that fact: ‘Oh, you shouldn’t call people at their homes after 9pm ok. The Swiss don’t like it. I know because my husband is Swiss.’ Or, ‘The Swiss like to escape from Winter to go to places like Bali. My husband is one or them lor.’ Or, ‘Here ah, you cannot just pop by your friend’s home without appointment ok. The Swiss ah, like my husband, don’t like it one lah.’ You get the gist.

On a different note, this same acquaintance, after marrying a Swiss, somehow has also developed a phobia for taking HDB lifts. Each time when she goes back to Singapore for a visit, she refuses to stay with her parents, because they stay in a HDB flat. During the few times that she did, her father had to accompany her down when she was going out, and wait for her at the lobby each time she was going home. (By the way, her kids are already teenagers) As it got too troublesome, she moved to her sister’s at a condo. Apparently, her phobia has nothing to do with the lift breaking down, as I had intially thought. She was afraid of getting attacked in the lift (whether she meant getting robbed or raped, I have no idea).

At this time and age, when China is emerging quickly as a superpower, businesses are getting more internationalized and economies becoming more global, and people are interacting more with fellow beings of different nationalities, white supremacy still exists, no mater how subtle.

Last words from zuzuland

May 26th, 2010 by stone

The cleaners are here now. It’s a 3-men team, or rather, 2 men and 1 woman. Even then, looking at how detailed they are, I think it’ll take the whole day.

Since the packers left yesterday, we’ve been living off the suitcase. I don’t usually pack any clothes when I go back to Singapore. Most of what were in the suitcase were chocolates and local goodies to bring home. With this mentality, I almost left all my clothes for the packers, forgetting that I still have another few days here, and need some decent clothes to wear up the plane.

I’ll be returning the modem to the cable company later, which means a last night of quiet conversation and reflection. I’m appreciating the fact that the skies are still bright at 9pm, so we could have a final meal (of takeaway) out on the balcony and enjoy the last bit of our lovely neighbourhood.

At the end of this five-year hiatus, and having crossed three continents, there’re certainly memories I’d never forget. Starting with Vancouver, what is synonymous for me is its food (dim sum, Alaskan king crab, fat slices of sashimi, slurp! I know roast pork would be top of the list for Mr. Tan), the friends (with the biggest hearts) we’ve made there, and the close proximity to my favourite Rockies mountains and of course Whistler. Karachi would be hmmm… the erraticness of the country and its people (tho’ I must say it’s a very fine line between love and hate), their super duper cheap mangoes, super duper cheap pirated DVDs (hehe), the hospitality and generosity of its people, even though they’re not very well off to begin with, and of course my favourite chicken tikka from BBQ Tonight! Coming last but not least to zuzuland, having spent more time here than the first two combined, the memories are the most.

The past 38 months here have been nothing less than amazing. Honestly, the image of the huge plain of snowy white as our plane first landed doesn’t seem that too distant a memory. So is the first few months of trying to figure out the menu and product labels in Deutsch. The best parts I would say are having picked up German and snowboarding, going for hikes amongst the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen, getting to know friends I can keep for life, having had the opportunity to leave our footprints on numerous European countries, the efficiency of the people and public transport (I will miss being able to tell my friends the exact time - to the minute - I can meet them, and be punctual), the orderliness of the place, the good security (I’ve been walking in the forest everyday for 1 hour for almost the past three years and not encountered any bad incidents), the four seasons (I’d miss my winter jackets and boots in Singapore!) and of course the cleanliness and fresh air (Mmmm…Aaaaahhh… Can I pack a bag back?)

Now that it’s time to go back to the grind, its also time I unpacked my climbing moccasym, dancing black & whites, running shoes, and kayaking booties. I hope! Life will never be the same again. For one, I’ve already signed up for my C1.1 german course starting the day after I arrive back. The courses in Singapore are much cheaper, and although I don’t fancy having to sacrifice my Saturday mornings, I really don’t wish to let whatever I’ve learnt go down the drain. (French, which I took up to advance level 10 years ago is almost zilch now.) Each course lasts 10 weeks, so let’s see how far I can go. Wish me luck!


May 25th, 2010 by stone

Yup, that’s how many boxes we have. It’s almost three times the number when we left Paki. It’s either we really are such junk collectors, or the packers here are more generous with their bubble wrap. I’d prefer to think it’s the latter.

See, even Mr. Tan Sai Ke has been nicely wrapped up.

Packing - Live Update

May 25th, 2010 by stone

The packers/movers are here. As I’m here typing now, two big burly men are like cyclones, sweeping through the house and packing whatever is in their way into brown boxes of various sizes that read ‘Crown Relocation’.

The countdown is left with two days. The cleaners will come tomorrow, and on Thursday, it’s really ‘Auf wiedersehen!’

Surprisingly, I’m not feeling that sad, yet. Maybe I’ve been too preoccupied with more important stuff - packing and bidding final goodbyes to friends.

The tally as of now is 31 boxes, and it is still counting. I remember we left Paki with 19 boxes. Have we really amassed so much junk over the past three years? Most of them are small boxes, but I’m still scratching my head. And please don’t remind me of what I have to go through in Singapore when the shipment arrives.

I’m not sure how active I’ll still be on this blog in future. One thing is for sure, I’m definitely not going to blog about work here… too sensitive, ya know. Too much is at stake, and you never know when one of those cheeky, internet-savvy monsters will chance upon this. When that happens, it’ll be no time before the entire school will become readers of ’Stories of a precious Stone’. That day, it will be Armageddon.

A farewell present for a farewell-ed Heidi

May 14th, 2010 by stone

Finally, I’ve started the packing. While clearing stuff, I came upon this.

It was given by ’short holiday nanny’ for easter. Upon reading the card again, I realized it was for last year’s easter! Gosh, has time really flown by so quickly? I seriously had thought it was for this year’s easter. Obviously, the chocolates have long expired.

On my last visit to her place a few days ago, she gave me a present to ‘pass’ to Heidi. It even came with a note that reads (in german), “For Heidi, with much love, greetings and sayang.” I’m pretty sure it’s a packet of snacks. I won’t open it and shall bring it back as it is. Hopefully Heidi will still be able to smell and remember her beloved nanny.

Now that the countdown has started, time is really whizzing by. For the first time in a long long while, I’m beginning to experience again the feeling of ’so much things to do, so little time’. It definitely didn’t feel like that in Paki. Of course, there were less things to pack, less (or rather, zilch) friends to bid farewell to, and of course, no onus to prepare for work back at home.

It’s my third time moving, but why do I still feel like a stranger to it all?

With a last burst of energy, we’ll be making a final and short short 2D1N trip this Sunday. Destination is Strasbourg in France, just a 2.5hr drive across the border. The original plan of Lisbon had to be shelved, cos’ Mr. Tan didn’t feel ’safe’ leaving ‘the station’ so far behind, not with Miss Eyjafjallajokull still fuming. Plan B was Berlin. With it being just up north, it’d be easier to rush back via the roads if needed. Who would have thought that’d be vetoed by the boss. (Like Mr. Tan says, why are they deemed so indispensable but yet so unrecognized and paid peanuts?) So, we settled for Plan C. Surely, 2.5hr away isn’t too far. It’s even nearer than to the south of Switzerland.

When we come back on Monday, it’ll be full steam ahead!

Happy 5th Anniversary!

May 10th, 2010 by stone

We’re five years old today!

I’m too lazy to write more, so I’ll just copy and paste whatever I’ve written on my FB:

Can’t imagine I’ve put up with exactly half a decade of random dosages of blah and nonsense, daily and usually incessant attacks of teasing, the becoming-more-than-occasional snoring, moodswings that would put a woman to shame, the numerous you-wouldn’t-wanna-imagine odd habits, and weekly football frenzy. (Thanks to the result this season, I’ve been audience to a particular ‘Glory glory Hotspur’ song everyday).

To save myself from getting more of the above, I should also add that I’ve had to put up with care and sensitivity that sometimes even surprise myself, showers of kitty gifts even tho’ he hates the mouthless cat to the core and risks having the house plastered with them, being a guinea pig to the more-often-than-not yummy meals cooked with love (and sometimes saliva), having my endless 101 things to do and places to go given in to, and being tolerated for my becoming-more-than-occasional sleeptalking/crying/hysterical laughing.

Happy anniversary, my dear Mr. Tan. May we have many many more half decades to go!

We’ve been back from London for almost one week now. It was another victorious game, 1-0 against Bolton, to be exact. To add to the good news, Spurs ended the season ranking No. 4, which means ousting out one of the usual Top Four - Liverpool, and qualifying for the qualifying rounds of the Champions League. I wasn’t kidding when I said that “I’ve been audience to a particular ‘Glory glory Hotspur’ song everyday”. Mr. Tan has set this as his alarm every morning, has a shortcut to the mp3 file on the desktop, and even plays it on the piano! Save me!

Anyway, apart from the foul and typically depressing London weather, it was a good trip - good food, good musical, good game and good shopping. If it serves as any souvenir, I dropped my camera bag (together with the camera) in the toilet and got this in return. Luckily I decided to get the filter before our last Finland trip. Very the heng sia

We’re 17 days away from the big Move. To be honest, I have NOT started packing, AT ALL. It seems so little, with no furniture to consider, but I still get a headache whenever I open up those cabinets and wardrobe. I shall now stick the ‘Procrastination’ label on the packing instead. On the contrary, I’ve been more studious with my lesson preparations. *Pat meself on the back*

London again again…

April 30th, 2010 by stone

Ok, just a quick one…

We’re heading off to London tomorrow. It’s gonna be Spurs vs Bolton; last home match of the season. COYS! Besides that, nothing else has been planned. Oh, we’ve also booked tickets for Mama Mia! Finally decided to do that, after seeing how impossible it is to buy last minute tickets at the booths.

Will be back on Tuesday, and hopefully get my engine kicking, really. The feeling of procrastination sucks. Yet I still do it. Those chemistry books have been lying on the table for far too long. I’ve only completed one chapter’s worth of powerpoint slides so far. Heeelllppp! Either that, or pray that I’ll be second time lucky and not be assigned any upper sec classes. Lower sec science is at least not too distant a memory…

The weather’s really turning beautiful now. We popped over to Germany yesterday for a picnic, haircut and some shopping. As pessimistic as I am, I hope we’ll still do stuff like picnics in Singapore, and I don’t mean those kind where you buy MacDonald’s and sit on the bench along ECP. I prepared egg mayo croissants (filled to the brim with goodness - tomatoes and lettuce) and hot dog buns yesterday. Brought along fruits, orange juice and chocolate milk, complete with a big picnic mat. If we had the essential flask and crockery, I’d have loved to make some teh tarik to bring along as well.

Border town of Konstanz just across the swiss border

Iceland: To Love or Hate

April 17th, 2010 by stone

Mr. Tan called to say his flight coming in from SIN has been cancelled… again! Or rather, should I say that zuzuland’s airport, as with most other airports in Europe, is still closed.

All thanks to Miss Eyjafjallajokull from Iceland.

I don’t know if I’ve seen her before. She could be one of those many innocent-looking volcanoes we passed by along the ring road in southern Iceland when we were there two years ago. Well, she’s certainly not so innocent now.

Thanks to her, I’m gonna miss out on my last snowboarding session of this season, and possibly in zuzuland, which I purposely came back earlier for. We were supposed to go yesterday, but Mr. Tan ended up having to go to work. We then postponed it to tomorrow, but who would have thought that more airports would be closing. Even his off-day today has become an on-day. I could have gone alone, but the thought of lugging the board onto the bus-tram-train and vice versa, and riding down the slopes alone killed the thought. It’s the weekend, and I wouldn’t want to drag my friends away from their hubbies. It’s too last-minute anyway. Arrghhh….

Never mind. There’s always Hokkaido. *wink wink at Mr. Tan*

Now, I’m just praying that the backlog of passengers wouldn’t affect our trip to London two weekends later. That would mean missing out on the last home game of the season, and of course, our last trip (really!) to London.

Miss Eyjafjallajokull, please stop fuming lah. Tolong tolong

Tai Tai Politics

April 17th, 2010 by stone

With regard to the heading of this post, I’m writing from an outsider’s point of view. Right from the start when I left my exciting job for a life overseas that’s slowly killing my brain cells and slowly shaping me into a 黄脸婆, I’d never considered myself a ‘tai-tai’. Fine. Maybe status-wise, I am. Lifestyle-wise, I don’t think so.

Most of you probably know this - we never, and in fact, avoid attending those so-called ’singapore club’ gatherings. When I first joined Mr. Tan  and he told me the reason for his antipathy, I was doubtful. After a few first-hand encounters, I joined him wholly in his camp.

The same reason applied for my non-attendance in the periodic ‘tai tais gathering’, even though I am friends with some of the individuals. Now, I’ve found another reason to cement my stand and add to the however-short list - politics.

I know it sounds incredulous, but yes, ‘tai tai politics’ exists. Well, it’s probably not that surprising if  TV dramas are a reflection of reality. Face it. Politics exists everywhere. If it can exist in an office with a mix of representations from Mars and Venus, imagine the ferocity of cat-clawing and poisonous tongue-wagging within a group of twenty women.

Even though I have never experienced any of these I would say, interesting episodes, I’ve heard my fair share of stories. And trust me, it’s tiring enough to hear about it, much less to be a part of it.

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