Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Asian cliché

Around once a week my coworkers would bring over something to share at coffee break hours : croissants, chocolate breads, brioches (sweet bread)...Most of the time is for their birthday, or someone leaving the company...

I only go when I really know the person. I'm not a big fan of these pastries especially I have already had my breakfast at home. One day a coworker brought over something and he was asking everyone to join him. It so happened that I was walking back to my office so he stopped me and invited me to go. I reluntantly joined them as I had tons of work to finish.

When we were in the office pantry, he asked me why I never join them for breaks, and I really do fall into the Asian cliché as someone who works too much. And this relatively show that French work less in comparaison. I was taken aback when he threw this question to me. It was not my purpose to show that I work harder than anyone. I do not take break because:
- The vending machine proposes a bunch of coffee drinks except one type of tea and tomato soup. I do not take coffee.
- Most of the time people spend like 30 minutes to chit chat, two breaks/day meaning one hour's gone. Since I need to respect a certain amount of working hours per day, I prefer to spend time enjoying my lunch break, then go home early.
- Sometimes the conversation topics bore me, a lot of bitching, complaining, I prefer conversations that give me positive energies :-).

Frankly it is just a matter of habit. My pace is set at working, lunch break, working, go home. Some people would take several breaks because they couldn't stand to sit down for too long, or some need to go out for a cigarette, everyone is different. Having said so, generally I like my coworkers in the company. I enjoy working here because most of the coworkers are easy going, friendly, there are less office politic... As for Asian cliché, I'm fair from it, I know many Malaysians who work long long hours, I'm more on the French rhythm, 37 hours / week, and I'm so eager to be on summer holidays! :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

She wants 5 kids

One day, my 5 year old told me that she would like to have 5 kids.
She would have three pregnancies.
First pregnancy would bear boy girl twins.
Second pregnancy bears a boy.
Third prenancy bears twin girls.
Total 3 girls and 2 boys.
And her sister would have 7 kids.
That means I will have 12 grandkids. Wow.

I then had an interview with her, to let her know that having 5 kids demand a lot of works.

Me: How do you handle the bath? The bathtub wouldn't be big enough to put 5 in at the same time.
Her: They would take turn to go in one by one.
Me: With 5 kids you will have to do many loads of laundry. During the evening after work, you would have to fold them, iron them, and then you would need to go inside 5 rooms to put clothes for each kid in their closet.
Her: No! There will only be one closet with 5 levels. Each kid would have one level to himself, the oldest at the top, the youngest at the lowest. When the clothes are too small for the older one, I will put them to the lower level so that the younger kids can wear them.
Me: With all the housework, most likely you will finish around midnight. You are exhausted, you go to bed, but at 5am, there is one crying and this wakes up the other 4. Now you have 5 kids crying, how would you handle this?
Her: I would tell them to go back to sleep, if they don't stop I would let them cry.
Me: But they would wake up the neigbors!
Her: But there won't be neighbors around since we will be living in a house.
Me: If all of your kids ask to have a hug at the same time, what would you do?
Her: I would ask them to make a queue, then I hug them one at a time.

It seems that she has it under control. But, life would be so simple if we could simply ask our kids to make a queue or shut up just go to bed.

I only have two kids and I have hard time handling them. 
I was cooking dinner in the kitchen while the kids were having their bath. I heard them laughing together, then at one point the younger one crying. 
Cooking interrupted, I went to the bathroom to calm them. Helped one washing her hairs, took the other out and dressed her.
Back to the kitchen, both kids were playing / messing in the living room.
Both kids crying because the younger wanted to throw everything on the floor, including what her sister was playing.
Cooking interrupted, helped one brought her games to table so that the younger one wouldn't be able to mess up her game.
Cooking resumed, the young one crawled towards me and started crying and yelling (see photo above, she would move her legs each time she protests). She wanted me to hold her. Took her with me and used one hand to cook, as soon as I put her down she cried. 
Cooking interrupted, I heated up her food and fed her.
While she was eating her bread, I finally managed to put food inside the oven.

5 kids, I couldn't imagine how my life would be.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Money and friends don't mix

A friend told me recently about a 50€ story.

She was at work and everyone was going to go for lunch.
One coworker couldn't go because she needed to go to a shopping center to pawn her glasses.
This coworker needed 50€ badly, as she would have a bounced check if she didn't bank in 50€ immediately to her bank account.
Hearing her reason, the coworkers around just nodded in understanding and went to mind their own business.

When everyone was gone, my friend turned to this coworker and noticed that she was desperate, tired and sad. She immediately proposed that she could lend her 50€.
This coworker was shocked, and touched. She didn't expect anyone would lend her money.

Indeed, French in general believe that money and friends don't mix. This could also apply to family members. In my case, if I so badly needed 50€, I would have asked to borrow from a friend, or a family member. This friend who told the story is also an Asian, so we share the same culture. For both of us, it is no brainer, someone needs help, as a friend we help. Come on, we are taking about 50€, it is really not that much if we could help a friend.

But, we live in a different world. I talked to hubby about this, his immediate response was like the general French, money and friends don't mix.

Monday, May 11, 2015

6400 French on company sponsored trip to China?

There are news all over the medias regarding 6400 Chinese traveled to Paris and Nice, sponsored by their company. Indeed, it was an eye opening event for a lot of French, it was reported on prime time's news. This 4 days 3 nights company trip was estimated to bring in 13 million euros of business to France.

I wonder, what would be the possibility of a French company offering 6400 of their employees on a trip to China?

Well, financial wise, considering that the labor cost is expensive in France, and a company has to pay 50% extra for an employee on social charges (if you earn 1000€ a month, the company has to pay 50% extra to the government to cover all kind of charges, so you actually cost the company 1500€). Having said so, I know of someone who's company offers an oversea trip every other year for his whole family (4), and they will pay you cash if you don't redeem this right. So in my opinion, companies in France could totally afford to do so.


However, it is less likely they would organise a trip so high profile. Just look at the photo above, it was like an army matching on the street!


And, I don't think the French would enjoy dressing up in company uniform and forming a wall of characters just like the photo above!


Rich bosses in France, are in general quite low profile. Showing off too much of their wealth will only bring negative image to their employees instead of admiration. My bosses do not drive fancy cars, they drive cars like everybody else. In short, they are not going to "parade" on the street in a foreign country with their wife.

As a conclusion, I think financially French companies could afford to offer their employees a trip to overseas, but it is not in their culture to come in such a huge number and to catch the attention of the whole nation. In one of the news, an employee told the media that she spent 7000€ in the morning buying luxury bags and she was very very happy. I think these employees are very proud to be one of the members of this trip. However, I wonder, would they prefer to have a trip overseas once a while, or would they hope to enjoy the social coverages just like the French?

Monday, May 04, 2015

Applaud, or not?

We were having our company annual information session in a castle.
The environment was perfect, peaceful with green scenery, except that it was raining.
So we were restricted to a conference room, with top managers at the front row, and employees following behind.
A manager finished his PPT presentation and the next one was ready to give his speech.
I was going to clap my hands, but I noticed that nobody moved.
I looked at my coworker who sat beside me, he shaked his head, dispproved of what I was trying to do.

And I was just trying to applaud. We do this when someone finished a speech, right?
Well, not when the person is a manager, and in a company internal meeting, appearantly.
So, during the whole presentation, several managers stood in front of us, informing us on various issues, but non got any applause. The only applause we got that day was when someone provoked the managers with questions difficult to answer. Yes, the spirit of challenging the authorities is in the blood of French people.

Anyway, later, I was having lunch with a group of coworkers, and the coworker who stopped me from applauding told everyone what I was trying to do. They all said no no to me. I defended, that  it was out of politeness!

Yes, I'm the weird one, again.  lol

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The evil training on her sleeping habits

We heard babies sleeping overnight (8 hours straight) at 1 month old.
Not ours.
I read that young babies sleep between 16 to 17 hours a day.
Not ours.

At around 8 month old, we put her to sleep around 8pm, she would walk up at 11pm, 2am, 5am &7am. It was very tiresome, I breastfed her to go back to sleep. Sometimes she ended up sleeping in our bed, and since I didn't get enough sleep I actually had to take the second morning off as I was sleep deprived.

During winter school holidays, we sent both girls to my in laws' house. She received what I considered an evil training there. Three days later, she was sleeping through the night (12h straight)!

So what did we do?
First night : we put her to sleep around 8pm. At around 11:30pm, my MIL woke her up and fed her a bottle of milk. Then, she slept in a room alone, and we only picked her up at around 7am the second morning. No response to her crying during the night.

Second night and third night : same strategy except that we withdrew the 11:30pm bottle. She slept from 8pm to 8am, with some whining in between, but we let her cry and she fell back asleep after.

After the holidays, she came home and ajusted to the new routine with us. She woke up during the night but we insisted that no one would come to tend to her. Gradually she got the message, and since then has been sleeping sound for a around 11-12 hours during the night.

Down the memory lane

Photo shows the baby sleeping in her bassinet. She refused pacifier since she was born. After we got home from the birth clinic, every night I felt like entering a war zone (my room), as I shared the same bed as her, and she was waking up every 2 hours for milk. Hubby had since escaped from the scene, he prefered to sleep somewhere else.

At around 3 month old, we went to grandma's place. She protested when we put her down to sleep. She moved her feet so much that one foot was rubbing the side of the bassinet which caused her to bleed. I felt so bad when I discovered that her little toe was bleeding. Around 4 months old she outgrew the bassinet, as she knew how to flip over which led her to fall on the floor. Her sister stayed longer in that bassinet.

From birth to around 3 month old, I carried her with a scarf, she loved it and could sleep for long hours in it. Now I carry her with a baby porter.

She loved to sleep in this baby bouncer. Unfortunately the mid wife said she should stay there maximum 2 hours per day, as it wouldn't be good for her bone development if she stays too long. She used it until around 4 month old. 

She used to cry a lot in the car, it seems now she gets the idea and could sleep quitely while we travel in the car. She would still cry if she is too hot.

After she outgrew the bassinet we put her in this crib. She outgrew it around 7 months old as she was moving too much and kept banging on the sides. We got rid of that crib, and her as she has been sleeping in her sister's bed and room. I miss the time sharing a room with her, as I can hear her farting, fidgeting, wiggling. lol

Just a note : she is not even one, we have to get rid of the bassinet, the crib, the bouncer and soon her car seat. That's the reason why we borrowed, reused the equipments, babies just outgrow them too fast.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A little Malaysian in Paris : Aelig

She always tells me she is both French and Malaysian.
I didn't correct her, as by blood she is French and Malaysian, but officially she has not obtained her Malaysian citizenship, yet.

Initially I planned to bring only the youngest to Paris for the Malaysian citizenship application, so that it would be a quick in and out process. But when my eldest asked me if she was going along, I didn't have the heart to say no. At her age, it was easy to travel with as she eats with us, walks along, and knows how to entertain herself.

The little girl using her fake phone telling her friend that she is going to Paris. She remembered that she had been to CDG Airport in Paris (on the way to Malaysia), so she told her friend that this would be the third time she is in Paris. I told her no, this would be the first time, as going to the airport doesn't count as visiting the city.

She was telling anyone in school that she was going to see Eiffel Tower. Before the trip, I picked her up at school, she repeated it to her teacher, and her teacher said: Yes Aelig, everyone knows you are going to see Eiffel Tower: lol

Three highlights of the trip:

I want to hug Eiffel Tower
We approached the Tower and decided to climb up using stairs since there was only 20 minutes waiting. There was a long queue if you want to use the elevator. She was elated to see the Tower and told me that she wanted to hug it. Seeing me laughing, she was annoyed and kept asking why I made fun of her. I calmly told her that I was not laughing at her, just that she was too cute to want to hug a Tower that was so tall and huge. She then declared : I would hug its leg! She was just too sweet. I then mentioned about a report I once watched on the TV : an American woman annouced that she was married to Eiffel Tower, and she would fly to Paris once a year to kiss her husband. She puzzled at this story, she couldn't understand how someone can get married to a Tower, especially she was at the moment couldn't decide who to marry among her two boyfriends. lol

After seeing the Tower she wanted to buy some Tower key chains. There were a lot of illegal vendors around the area, 5 for 1€. I insisted that we only buy from legal shops. We were rushing to another place so we ended up didn't buy any until the second day. The whole morning she was nagging me. We finally got her two for 1€, but she lost one when she was playing at the Chatelet area. She was very sad, I comtemplated to buy her more (shops at the metro station selling 3 for 1€), but I think she needed to learn a lesson to take care of her own stuffs.

Saying bonjour to everyone
She tried to say bonjour (hello) to everyone on the street. Imagine the crowd on the streets in Paris! Seeing that I didn't do the same, she complained that I was inpolite! Well, I didn't know how to explain that we just don't say hello to whole bunch of people / strangers on the street. Exactely why? I figured it is because people in big city won't response anyway and if I do so I would have to say many times of Bonjour in a day? But, to my surprise, some people did reponse to her. The cold faces turned into warm smiling faces seeing her saying bonjour. I learnt a lesson.

Respecting the traffic signs
When crossing the road, we taught her to use the zebra zone and cross only when the pedestrian light turns green. Well, we were in Paris, in some area the pedestrians just cross the road so we followed. She was so mad! She was whinning the whole journey from the train station to the restaurant where my friends were waiting. We were already late, hubby was looking for the restaurant so he didn't pay attention to her. She was angry and sad that we didn't wait for the green light, and hubby actually stepped outside of the zebra zone when crossing the road. This was so unacceptable to her. She mentioned that the police might catch us and it was totally not her fault, but her daddy wouldn't listen to her! She was literally yelling to her daddy. At this point, I wonder how much we respect the instructions we gave to the kids ourselves.

Overall she did well traveling with us. I felt that she would be equally happy if we were at somewhere else, she was still too young to appreciate the charm of Paris. Here is her drawing to remember her trip to Paris.