Thursday, January 31, 2008

French celery?

We got this from the farmer association we joined. We wasted one last time since we didn't know what was it. This time we decided to try it out and cooked pasta with it.

Verdict: It tastes like celery. Since I don't like celery I didn't like this either. At the end, the master of the house ate them all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When housing is a citizen's right

Yesterday I was watching a documentary about housing crisis in France. It strikes me that in France, housing is a right, that you can sue the government if you have no where to stay. This law was enacted in 2006.

Following the journalist, we visited two families who live in hotel room.

First family:
Divorced with 2 children, at age 25, she works as a secretary for a doctor and earns around 850 euros per month. To rent an apartment, one needs to have a salary which is 3 months more than the rent. It is impossible to find an apartment for under 500 in Paris, so she has to stay in an hotel, which costs her 50 euros a night, 1500 per month.

Where does she get money to pay for the hotel? Government! It pays her 900 per month for living in an hotel, plus 800 euros from another agency to pay for the childcare. At the end, she has only 200-300 a month to spend after paying the childcare and hotel.

Second family:
A family of 6 live in an hotel apartment, subleased by someone, with a rental of 2770 per month. That apartment has no toilet and has only one room. Actually, someone rented that apartment for around 700, and earn a total of 2000 euros by subleasing it. And who is paying? Again the government!

Conclusion: This is so absurd! Now I know why the French government has big deficit even though they collected so much money from the tax payers. I told hubby that he is paying for all these housing.

It is ideal that housing is a right. You can be out of work, have a bunch of children, and the government owes you housing. Of course it becomes a crisis, as the government simply couldn't build as much housing to satisfy everyone. Then they pay for people to stay in hotel, another big hole for the budget.

Looking back in Malaysia, I think we have a huge housing crisis if you want to use the French standard. Take the first family, in Malaysia, the woman would have left her children with her family, and she will rent a room somewhere in Paris. Or she will simply move to a city that is less expensive. As for the second case, well we have seen many family in low cost housing areas, where 8 family members share the two available rooms. Government paying for hotel, this is simply absurd.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm spoilt

Today I received this parcel from Taiwan. Two packs of iron eggs plus a postcard. Sin Tong Yang is a famous brand even in Malaysia, but I have never tried iron eggs. Has anyone tasted it before?

This Christmas cake flew all the way from Romania. Brought to me by a friend, who constantly amazes me with her "never give up" spirit. I loved it.

Yesterday I received a scrub treatment from hubby.

Man I'm spoilt!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lust and Caution

Have you guys watched this film? I like it a lot!

Despite the fact that the old man sitting beside me was snoring at the first 10 minutes of the movie, I was fascinated by the performance of Tony Leung, one of my favorite actors. France is quite open in terms of film standard, so I got to see all the sex scenes, the highlight of the film. I heard that those in Malaysia, Singapore and China don't even get to watch Tony Leung's butt or Tan Wei's breast. :-)

The cinema was almost full. This theater has a lot of Asian movies, and they have one thing in comment: either it has a lot of sex scene, or violence, or extremely weird movie. It has been a long time I haven't seen a normal Hong Kong movie, like those we got to see in Malaysia.

Friday, January 25, 2008

English name with French pronunciation

When I first arrived in France, I have a lot of pain in remembering and recognizing people or brand name. Even though they spell exactly like some of the English name and brand, the French pronunciation changed everything. Example:

I heard Hono, and it was Renault
Iwong = Yvon
Mikail = Michael
Hisha = Richard

What a big different in pronunciation! Just imagine that you are watching the French version of "Friends" and they are calling Rachel "Hashel".

Now that I know a bit about the culture, I discovered that for some of the name they have the feminine and masculine version, which is kind of sweet:
Michel Vs Michelle
Fabien Vs Fabienne
Louis Vs Louise
Yvon Vs Yvonne
Simon Vs Simone
François Vs Françoise

I wonder if someone manages to get twin (a boy and a girl), could they call the boy Mikael and the girl Mishel?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


In our classroom we have a white board devoted to the internship. All our names are there, and we have to indicate how many CV we sent out, how many companies replied, how many interview we got, how many offer we got, and at the end which company we chose.

At my column, I have yet anything to write down, as I haven't found an internship.

The majority of the French have found one, us foreigners are a bit lagging behind, but some of them have gotten some offers as well.

Me, nothing.

Everyday in the class, while looking at the teacher, my mind flew away and sometimes I stared at this white board. It doesn't matter if I'm the last one to fill the board, as long as I could find one.

I have had 4 interviews with the same company, and during the fourth interview I discovered that the missions they have, I won't be able to deliver as good as other candidates, as all the reports have to be in French, and I would have to go out see the clients to be able to gather the information. In my region, everything has to be in French. "It is very rare we have international project", the interviewer told me.

As we started to have classes in French, I realized I couldn't outperform the French due to this language barrier, but I outperform them whenever we have classes in English. So, English is my weapon, but it is useless in this region.

So, I'm targeting Paris. And this leads to another problem...

My favorite Chinese author told me that she envies me for living in France. I have to tell you guys: Life in France is tough. It is consisted of many rejections.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Their parents kicked them out

I was watching a documentary about young mothers and their life story. These young girls were pretty much got out of the track of their life: got pregnant at young age, broke up with boyfriend, stopped school, jobless...However, they are "lucky" that they live in France, as they got many helps from the government.

Case one
The girl with her one year old son and a dog receives 850 euros per month from the government. She was living in an apartment with no bathroom and the toilet is outside of the house, but a more acceptable apartment will cost her 480 euros per month, which will leave her 370 for foods and other expenses. Since she doesn't have money to send the son to childcare, she couldn't go out and work.

Case two:
At age 17, she got pregnant and later on have a daughter. Both her and her boyfriend didn't have a job. They lived with the boyfriend's parents, who later kicked her out as she was sleeping around with other guys. She was accepted in an association, where she continues her life and child experts teach her how to take care of her daughter.

Case three:
At age 25, she was pregnant again with another boyfriend, and left her 5 years old daughter with the x-boyfriend. She hadn't visited her daughter for several months due to financial difficulty. At the end, she got kicked out from her parents place.

In all these cases, I saw a problem: Where are the supports from the family members? I'm sure that if one day I had this kind of problem, I will have a home to go back, and start again. But these young ladies, they did many bad things that hurt their parents, but still, it is the time they needed the support most. Instead, their parents kicked them out. It is something I can't really understand in this society. I see the parents here do everything for the kids when they were borned. They were horrified at the ideas and practices of the Malaysians, where the babies stay overnight with the babysitter. But when the kids grow up and have problems, the parents just rejected them. Where are all those love go?

Have you known of parents in Malaysian who kicked their children out of the house?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Can your boss be your buddy?

We were having a discussion in the class, and I raised this question which received many feedback later especially from the French.

Since I have never worked in French before, I can only compare the experience I have as a girlfriend/wife in observing the corporate culture in my husband company both in the USA and France.

It started with the annual dinner. Gosh what a huge different. The one in USA, all the big guys in the company came with their wife, kids and I got to introduce to so many people. While in France, all the big boss didn't come, but company representative who was responsible to organize company event. As for Malaysia, where I worked, the boss came with his wife.

Already, this give an image that the bosses do care to share an evening with you. Company events/outing was always interesting for me, as I get to know co-workers or bosses that I have been working with but never met. And some of the miss-understanding got resolved just by talking to that person face in face.

I gave an example that in Malaysia, company pays for the employees to go sing karaoke, as a measure to relax, and sometimes the big bosses join in. Of course, you won't be buddy with them, but the more occasion like this, the more you get to know each other, and the easier the communication goes.

As for my own working experience, my bosses in USA were very open minded, basically they gave me impression that they will be there if I need to talk or help, of course based on their ability. Many times over lunch (paid by the boss), company outing, I was more at ease to say stuffs to boss than in the office. The bosses manage to accumulate feedback more easily through informal occasions.

Well, some of my classmates said they start seeing this in France, but the French still have the mentality that after work, they don't want to do anything with the company. After work it is family time.

What do you think? Do you feel these companies outing are useful? Did you manage to speak to your boss about something that you didn't feel comfortable to talk with when you were in the office?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A trip to KFC

Can you imagine this was the first time hubby went to a KFC in France? Well, he went with me once in Malaysia, and once in USA, and he couldn't appreciate it.

I was a huge fan for KFC when I was young, back in Malaysia, especially the chili sauce. Going to KFC was a treat for a poor student. In the 80s, my father organized a treat for his co-workers, and a guy ate 20 pieces of chicken in 10 minutes, a record that nobody could break and was a legend to talk about.

Sadly, thing has changed. I tried KFC once in USA and it was awful, too oily and big. Worst, when I got back to Malaysia for my favorite KFC, the taste changed too. The smell at the entry was no longer the same. This meal in France, the spicy version was not bad, but the original one was crappy.

KFC is simply not popular, even in USA. But in Malaysia, and a friend just told me in Mauritius, KFC is more popular thank McDonald. Yeah, it works countries who eat lot's of chicken.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My home remedy for gastric

I have always have gastric problem. If I don't eat lunch and just wait until dinner, most likely I will have gastric during the night.

Today, I had to leave the class earlier as I was having discomfort in my stomach and a sensation of vomit, a typical syndrome of gastric. I got home and laid down, and quickly got myself one of these preserved prune.

After a while the stomach discomfort went away. It was very effective. However, my husband hates the smell, and I think non Asian don't appreciate it. I once offered it to my Brazilian friend who had gastric problem, and she always vomit out of it. When we were in Redang Island, the preserved prune drinks were offered to us (including the French visitors), and I think non of them finished it. They said it tasted awful, but my husband admitted that it was effective in putting the stomach back to normal after a boat trip.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Missing Tropical Fruits

When I do my grocery shopping, the first area I visit is the fruit and vegetables section. I was craving for "kaki" or persimmon, the supermarket has sold out all of their stock. Grape session is over too, now what is out in the market is all kind of oranges and kiwi.

This supermarket has a corner for all the exotic fruits, and I saw rambutan and mangosteen. Gosh, 1kg of rambutan = 15euros = RM70. Can you imagine those black rambutan is so expensive?

Out of all the exotic fruits here, only star fruit is from Malaysia. I wonder anyone buys them. I don't because it's too expensive.

Saw this pecan nuts, I didn't know the shell is red color. Texas has a lot of Pecan but I had never seen them in the shell form.

Now I can only imaging eating my favorite tropical fruits.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cute rabbit

This rabbit is a pet of my friend. I have never seen such a cute rabbit until I came to France. Well, French people, they eat rabbit too, but not this one certainly. :-)

In French, "mon lapin (my rabbit/bunny)" is a term of endearment, use between couple or between family members.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Driving mission accomplished

I had a follow up interview in another city which is situated one hour from where I live, so I had to drive there alone. I called this a mission as I had never driven so far away by myself.

Thanks to, I managed to arrive at my destinations without much problem. I even like the roundabout now as they are good indicator of when to turn right or left. However, I still have problem finding roads. I simply couldn't look for the road name while driving.

This reminds me of the good driving experience when I was in Austin USA. I just love the road system there. You can just give me an address, I can go to and get the direction. I once drove from Austin to Dallas, a journey of 3-4 hours, and my aunt was so fascinated with my sense of direction. Well, back in Malaysia I had no sense of direction, going from on place to another was simply based on experience and memory.

In Austin, there is simply no way you can have no sense of direction. All the highways are named like I35 north, I35 east. So when I know that Dallas is on North of Austin, I simply take I35 North. Then, all the exits are numbered too. If you are at I35 exit 200 and you are going to exit 300, just pay attention when you are at exit 299. Most of the streets started with First Street, Second Street, Third people just told me I live in a block between 30 and 31 street 3 blocks to Avenue Martin Luther King, and I can find my way easily. If you are at highway and want to exit to 30 streets, it will say I35 exit 233 (Street 30-35).

Now in France I lost my sense of direction again. Highways are named D137, D386 without indication of which direction you are heading. Most of the time you just need to estimate where you need to exit. To find the road name is even worst, there is no numbering like First street Second Street, you have streets in French names and they don't warn you ahead that you are going to pass by which street.

I wish one day Malaysia or France will use the same system like in Austin. They can name the streets by number, at the same time give the streets name. For example, First Street (Jalan Batu Tiga), Second Street (Jalan Tun Razak)...I think most of the US have this system. When I was in New York, I found all the main attractions this way. If I remember correctly, the United Nations is located between 42 and 43 streets on First Avenue.

I sincerely believe that a good road system help build the sense of direction. Hubby has very good sense of direction in the USA and France. However in Malaysia, it took him quite some time to figure out how to go to my place, where was he, whether he was heading North or South.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Movie: American Gangster


When you are with your partner how do you get the consensus to watch a movie? As for us, hubby will always go to check on the rating in This time, he played a trick. He knew that I like cartoon and there is one coming out: The fog and the kid. He hid this cartoon and instead told me that there were two good movies, American Gangster or another police movie, both sounded "guy"'s movie to me. At the end we both agreed to try out American Gangster since it has very good review.

It turned out to be a very nice movie. It is about a black man overtaking the Italian mafia in the drug business in Harlem in the 70's. What I like was that at the end, this black man cooperated with the police and the result was shocking:
- 3/4 of the police enforcement took bribe from mafia
- 30 of his family members went to jail

If you have chance, go see this movie.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Email from the lawyer

Here is the email from the lawyer. I was surprised that I couldn't find much information about them having the plastic surgery. The comments about this issue is obviously being controlled.

from institute of maths
date Jan 5, 2008 3:29 PM
subject Photos + Comments


My name is XXX.

I am representing the Bogdanoff brothers as a lawyer. My mission is
to control all sort of misbehavior on internet blogs.

The reason why I contact you today follows the publication of some
photographies and comments about the bogdanoffs on your website :

1. The photographies you are publishing are not authorized and I am
asking you to suppress this material from your site (even if you
copied it from another unthorized website).

2. Your comments qualifying Bogdanoffs as "non human" is a direct
negative qualification of their physical look and as such should be
considered as a diffamatory comment.

For these two reasons I kindly insist that you suppress this material
from your blog.

Thank you very much for your attention and following prompt actions.

Best regards


¨PS. In order to authenticate this email I send it from the webdomain
of the Bogdanoffs.

Plastic surgery: Is it worth it?

Note: I have to delete the photos and some comment about "frère Bogdanov" after receiving an email from their lawyer (as he claimed). You can check out their photos on the internet.

I feel sad seeing them. Weren't they look handsome before the surgery? The twin brother Bogdanov are famous in France as they host some scientific shows on TV. I can't believe they are actually astronomy scientists.

Friday, January 04, 2008

My onion flower

One day at home I saw hubby put an onion on a small cup. This onion grows and it flowers! Amazing I told hubby:"Wow I didn't know onion can flower!"

He was shocked and laughed hilariously. "This is not an onion, this is a bulb!" He later told his parents about it. But, isn't bulb looks like an onion?

Now this beautiful flower becomes my "onion flower". Isn't it amazing? This flower just grow only on water and a cup without soil.

I feel like spring is here already. Look the tree starts to have some buds!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Our new year's eve party

We had a simple new year's eve party. I was in the festive mood and enjoyed cooking at the same time. We did buffer style instead of sit on dining style. The foods we prepared were:
Bread spread with tuna paste and rilettes
Roasted mushroom with cheese
Roasted prune with bacon
Chicken wings
Fried mihun
Thai curry
Homemade bread

Prune rounded with bacon waiting to go inside the oven

We started with some white wine and magaritas

At midnight we drink champagne

See how much alcohols were consumed

I didn't know whether people have enough food. We tried to limit the portion since everyone was over eating during Christmas. There were some potatoes salad and salmon left in the fridge and we ate some of them on the second day afternoon.

At around 2am I went to my room and read. I didn't know how to join in the group. I have no much to share and I couldn't stay up the whole night like others. I still couldn't get used to the idea of partying the whole night until 6am.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A prosperious year ahead

Happy New Year everyone, may 2008 be a prosperous year with bright future.

Highlight for 2007
- Feb wedding and Chinese New Year celebration in Malaysia: I had a good time helping my French guests discovering Malaysia especially the delicious foods
- June bought our apartment
- Aug my family came visit France: Stressed out for the whole trip planning but it all worst out well
- Sept my French wedding: Finally it was the last one
- Sept starts my Master degree: I'm so lucky to get known to many wonderful classmates including the genuine French

Looking ahead of 2008
- Find a job
This year I will make France my new home. It's not a game anymore. It's for real, I have to treat France as my country, where my future lies. It could sound scary, but already I like the evolution the country is making: Not more smoking in public places and areas include restaurants, bars, nightclubs and cafes!