Sunday, May 30, 2010

The practical side of eating lunch at home

In my earlier years in France, I couldn't really understand when people tell me that they go back home during lunch break. Since eating out is relatively cheap, most Malaysians would go eating out with coworkers, or they bring their own lunch to work. I hardly hear people going home for lunch no matter how close by they live compare to where they work. For me, it is an important moment to hung out with coworkers, plus, it relaxes me thinking of which restaurant and what type of food I could eat that afternoon.

Little by little I understand the logic, eating out is expensive here so people prefer to have lunch at home. Plus, lunch break is longer, some people take around 1 hour 30 minutes compared to 1 hour in Malaysia. If you pay with restaurant ticket lunch is still quite affordable but not everyone has restaurant ticket, it depends on the company size. One of my coworkers told me that by eating lunch at home, she could eat in her garden during a sunny day and eventually take a nap.

Now that I'm working in my city 2 days per week, I'm seeing the practical side. My company is located a little more than 10 minutes from my apartment, it takes about 25 minutes for a round trip from the office and it still leaves me one hour to do my errand which I didn't manage to do when Aelig is around. I fix myself a quick lunch then I have time to sort through letters that need reply / action; tidy up the apartment; turn on the washing machine or dryer and do some ironing, make doctor appointments, thaw meat / fish for dinner later.

Now my company is trying out the working at home method. I hope it will come out successfully and that I'm entitled to it. In this case I can avoid all those travels to / from work and more time to take care of my own business lol.

Monday, May 24, 2010

5 months old: like father like daughter

My baby is 5 months old today. How time flies.

Most of the people commented that she looks more Asian than French, which I totally agreed. When she was born, she didn't look like hubby at all, someone said she is Bee No 2 with her almond eyes and pear shape nose. We joked that people might think hubby adopted her if he goes out with her alone.

5 months passed by and her features changed. Me and hubby think that her face starts to resemble hubby little by little. Browsing through hubby's baby photos we found that she has the same smile as hubby, just look at this photo.

Everyone says she has slanted eyes but our grandma disagreed. Well, my eyes are smaller but she certainly has my shapes.

We will see whether she will show more European features next month.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Aelig has a friend

R: Hi Aelig.
A: Hi R.

R: You have a nice toy here, can I borrow it?
A: No.

R: Can I touch your face?
A: No.

R: You are such a NO girl. I want to touch your hair and I'm touching it.
A: No!

A: Why can't man understand that a NO is a NO?

A: Could you stop touching my hair?
R: No.

A: Daddy, someone is bullying me, can you come save me!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

What muguet reminds me of

1 May = labor day = the day people offer muguet (lily of the valley) to each other. As for me, muguet reminds me of my first job ever in France.

After attending one year of French classes at the University of Nantes and another year taking all kind of government French classes for foreigners, I had hard time finding a job that matched my qualification simply because I didn't speak and write good French. I was desperate and would accept any kind of job that would give me salary. I went to temporarily agencies and they told me I needed to have experience to apply for factory or cleaning post. When I heard that people are hiring for the muguet season, I rushed to register and was hired on the spot.

I remember waking up at 5am to be able to catch the company bus at 6am. We started work at 6.45am. We have to bend the whole day picking up muguets and tied them with rubberbent. At one point I felt like going back to the 18 century being the black slave working in the cotton field. Most of the seasonal workers are either black, Hispanic or Asian and white workers were the minority. The field belongs to white bosses who hired white watchdogs to supervise us. We were not allowed to talk nor rest. The watchdogs yelled at us with comments like "you are not paid to chit-chat here", "you are not paid to sit down here". Interesting enough, most of the foreigners didn't dare to talk back, but some local white students fought back by saying "Don't I have the right to sit down after bending the whole day?".

We were divided in many groups, some picking the muguets and some picking the green leaves. The employer hired local women for packaging who worked inside the factory. From time to time a watchdog would approach some people to go help in the factory. Everyone liked to work inside the factory as they didn't need to be exposed under the sun and bend down. Sometimes the work finished at 2pm and those who got chosen would continue to work until 4pm in the factory. People who had to leave at 2pm were disappointed as people seemed to want to work longer to earn more money. I was working in the factory for several days and it was indeed a lot more comfortable compared to working outside. We were treated nicely in an air conditional room.

I hurt myself the first day which leaves me a permanent scar on my wrist. Well, the muguet is separated by alley and were covered by glasses. The allies were very narrow and we were bending down back to back. When a fat lady got up she bumped into me and pushed me onto the glasses. Blood running out from my wrist and a woman helped me stop the bleeding. I didn't pay much attention to it instead I insisted on continue working. I only went to the doctor one week after and it was too late. The scar remains and it itches from time to time especially when I breastfeed.

Well, the muguet didn't bring me luck even though it is supposed to be a porte-bonheur (a bringer of happiness and luck).