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.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Applying for Malaysian Citizenship in Embassy of Malaysia in Paris

I had applied for Malaysian citizenship for my eldest in Putrajaya Malaysia in August 2012. Until today I have no official reply on whether the application is approved.

This doesn't stop me from going through the whole process again, this time for my youngest. I chose to apply with the Embassy of Malaysia in Paris, as I heard that the success rate is a lot higher compared to applying in Malaysia. To do so I have to apply before she turns one year old, and both baby and parents present to the Embassy are required. I planned a trip to Paris for my whole family during the spring school holidays. My eldest wanted to tag along and she was so excited that she told everyone that she was going to see Eiffel Tower.

The consular section opens from 9:30 am to 12:30 am, Monday to Friday. Through email, I booked an appointment and the Embassy sent me a list of documents to bring along:

For the applicant (my youngest daughter):
Birth certificate (original & a translated copy into English or Malay)
3 passport size photos
Fees of 5€

For the parents (original & one photocopy):
ID card
Birth certificate
Malaysia marriage certificate
Carte de séjour

Forms to fill in the Embassy
Completed Application of Citizenship Form (Form B)
Form A.15(2) - Statutory Declaration (Parents Authorisation)
Form A-WN - Photograph and Thumb-print

I gathered all the documents in advance but somehow I forgot about the photos. I kept telling myself that we needed to bring the baby to a photographer, but it didn't happen and boom we were already in Paris. We were rushing all the times, to check in, to go to Eiffel Tower, to meet up with friends, so we only tried with one of those photo machines in the metro the night before our appointment. And it was so hard to take photos with a baby! The machine only allowed three tries, twice her eyes were closed, and the third one she turned her face.

We didn't have time to go for a professional photographer so I brought along the photos hoping that it would be accepted. Well, it got rejected, and it was totally my fault. The Embassy officer was nice enough to let us go for other photos, so hubby went with the baby hunting for a photographer. I filled in all the forms, hubby came back with the photos, we signed and thumbed all the papers. The translated birth certificate from the Town Hall was rejected, so I sent the Embassy the one I translated the second day. The officer told me that she would send the application to Malaysia, and I could follow up with her after that.

Overall, the process was straight forward, the officer was courteous, and we got a chance to visit Paris and met up with some friends. Fingers crossed that we will hear for the application status soon.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Malaysia Cultural Week Paris 2015

If you happen to be in Paris from 13 to 17 April 2015, why not pass by the Place du Palais Royal to discover or enjoy the Malaysian culture, especially its cuisines? I saw on the program that they will have food tasting: "Ongoing Malaysian Cultural Week Exhibition featuring Teh Tarik & Roti Canai demonstration. Malaysian Food Truck welcoming guests for the food tasting of malaysian gastronomy." That sounds exciting!

Here is the program: