Monday, May 28, 2012

Euro : will it stop falling?

We have booked our trip to Malaysia and in around two months we will be flying off.
I was thinking to transfer some Euro to Malaysian Ringgit until I saw how Euro has depreciated against RM and dollar. Oh that hurts!

The Euro has shrunk from RM5 to RM4 within 4 months time span in late 2009. A sharp fall due to Greece financial crisis. See how a country is capable to pull down the purchasing power of citizenship in the Euro zone against other foreign currencies. The market didn't react well as well after the socialist president was elected. Gosh now 1€ worth not even RM4! I have told hubby to control his shopping spree in Malaysia.

I have never known Euro so cheap against Dollar. 1€ could always change to E1.30 and above but now this was history. It is no longer a good timing to visit USA.

On the other hand, the prices for imported French products might falling. It is time to taste some French cheeses. Or buy LV bag, in Malaysia! :-)

Summer activities

The weather is getting nicer these days (over 20°c). Most of the French start their summer activities: BBQ, go to the beach / park / zoo /, bicycling...

Went to BBQ in a friend's place, I envy his big and kid friendly garden.

Brought the little angel to the playground and I was surprised of all the stunts she was able to perform.

A classic activity: going to the beach. She loved it but kept referring the sea as the swimming pool.

We found her a playmate, now the parents can chit-chat while keeping a close eye on them.

There is an ongoing debate in the family on whether Aelig looks like Asian or European.
Me : she looks 100% Asian with her almond eyes and my nose.
Hubby : She looks like me, she has fair skin and brown hair.
Hubby's grandma : She doesn't look that Asian

We talked about this with a couple who also has an Eurasian son.
Father (French): She looks like European. If I didn't know you as her mother, I would have thought that she was French.
Mother (Chinese) : The first time I saw her I thought she was an Asian kid. Now it depends, sometimes she looks Asian sometimes European.

As for me, it doesn't really matter as long as Aelig can be well accepted in the society. I hope she won't come home crying one day from school because she looks different.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

29th month

Big news: Aelig is accepted to a kinder-garden here.
When I told her that, she was so excited and immediately wanted to go to the school. We were on the way to the sitter's place and she protested by saying: "Pati elle fait dodo, veux à l'école" (Patricia is sleeping, want to go to school). She complained when arrived at the parking lot. I had to explain that we would go in September but she didn't understand. Since then, morning and night she asked to go to the school. If only she knows how many years of school life is waiting for her...what the rush?

It is going to be a big transition for us and the sitter. First, Aelig would miss the orientation period as we will be in Malaysia during that period. She would have to switch back to French speaking environment + jet-lag then immediately living a full day school life. School starts from 9am to 4.45pm then she will stay till 6.30pm. As for the sitter, she was anxious thinking of letting go of Aelig. We found a win win situation: kids here don't have school on Wednesday so Aelig will continue going to the same sitter once a week.

She will be the youngest at school. Her daycare buddy who is born two months after her has to wait one more year. Basically, kids born in 2009 are eligible to apply to the mainly government run or subsidized structures for enrollment in the coming school year 2012/2013. kids born after 2009 could apply if there are spot available.

As for me, a whole new discovery for the French educational system. Already, there is debate between public school Vs private school. Then, the terms and system are very different compared to the Anglo-Saxon world. Here is what I understand but I might be wrong:
1. Kinder-garden from 3 to 6 years old
2. Primary school from 6 to 11 years old
3. Secondary school (they call it College here) from 11 to 14 years old
4. High school (Lysée) from 14 to 17 years old
5. Higher education: 2 years = diploma, 3 years = bachelor degree, 5 years = master degree.

Coming from Malaysia getting used to half day school life, I feel that the school hours are too long here. I mean, a little girl like Aelig has school from 9 to 5 (with 1,5h lunch break), isn't it too tiresome?. Hubby said he had classes from 9 to 6 and Saturday morning when he was in high school, that was like living a working life. Where to find time doing revisions? homework? participate in extra curiculum activities? Go goyang kaki (relaxing)?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Prague: A glance from the swimming pool

I don't know yet how to present our trip to Prague, but just to let you have a glance of Prague, from the swimming pool situated on 26th floor in our hotel.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Winking at work

I grow up believing that if someone (especially a guy) winks at you, he is flirting with you. So when the first time a French man winked at me, I was a bit lost. Later I found out that he was winking at all the girls, I felt relieved.

Now I really wonder what does winking mean for the French as it happens also at work. During a meeting, during one to one conversation, during group discussions...there is no way the person is trying to flirt when he winks to male and female coworkers and several people one second after another?

So I "interviewed" two coworkers. They said it could mean complicity. Like we are plotting something towards someone (during a meeting) and the wink is a gesture to say that we are the accomplices. That makes sense to me.

Well, the second part of the interview cracked me out though. I asked them what gesture would mean flirting in France then. The answer: "I don't know actually", both of them said after thinking for a moment. Oh my god they forgot how to flirt, aren't French supposed to be one of the most romantic people in the world?

Site note 1

When checking on Wikipedia about winking, I saw this note: When Frederick Spencer Chapman was training Chinese guerrillas in Malaya to shoot rifles, he found that a large proportion of them were unable to close only one eye at a time. Normal, the Chinese boys are not used to flirting with eyes.

Side note 2

This led me think of the interview with too girl friends here about relationship.
"When is the cutting moment that signifies he & she are entering a love relationship? For certain Malaysians, it starts the moment the couple hold hands." I explained. "No cutting moment like the Malaysians actually", they replied. Curious, I pressed on : "Does the boy ask the girl if she wants to be his girlfriend?" They looked at each other and said "No. There is no need to ask the question, the boy would know if the girl agrees or not". I think most of the Malaysian boys would like to date the French girls then.

Side note 3

The word "dating" does not exist in French. So when a boy asks a girl out on a date, he would not say "would you like to go on a date with me?", he would say instead "let's go for a movie / to a restaurant" and you might not know ahead if he intends to date or it is just a simple friendly outing. Well, my coworker disagreed with me. "You will know if it is a date or not", he insisted. Ok, I think they are blunt enough with their feelings that you got to know.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

French presidential election: A process I envy

Last Sunday the French elected their new president. I was not eligible to vote but I was observing how the whole process was done. Conclusion: it is a democracy process that I envy in which I wish Malaysia could do the same one day.

1. Equal media exposure time for each candidate
During the first round, 10 candidates presented themselves and each of them was supposed to have the equal media exposure time. I felt that this rule was respected rigorously. Proves:
1. I saw Ms Eva Joly (candidate from the Ecology party) on TV as much as Marine Le Pen (candidate from the Front National), and I was surprised that Ms Joly got merely 2% of the votes compared to Ms Le Pen's 18%.
2. The candidates advertised on the TV: the incumbent president had the same time slot as the communist candidate (didn't know communist still exist in democratic country).
3. Around a week before the election, hubby received a letter which marked with "Urgent election", with 10 brochures inside: one brochure per candidate. The same during the second round: 2 brochures, one for Sarkozy, one for Hollande.
In Malaysia, it seems that the richest candidates get the highest exposures. I'm not sure a candidate who could only win 2% can afford to advertise on the TV.

2. Live debate
What a great debate they had during the second round Hollande vs Sarkozy. Both spoke eloquently and I was glued to the TV the whole evening. I had seen the one in 2007 and the US presidential debate between George Bush and John Kerry. They all were able to bring out the politics they advocate within a short span of time, and you can read the rest in the website if you want details. This is rare in Asian countries I guess. Taiwan has it, not sure for Japan and Korea, but for the rest, I don't think so. But things are moving into the positive side in Malaysia. I heard live debates between Chinese politicians, but Malaysia does not elect their prime minister directly so we can only hope to have debate between leaders of the biggest political parties.

3. No election scandal
I have not heard of the French complaining that the election was unfair or was not conducted in the right way. There was no accusation such as phantom voters (dead people voting), eligible young voters were not able to vote because they were using old electoral roll (it happened to me). Basically, there was no doubt that the election system was fair and carried out correctly. Well, not the case in Malaysia.

Side notes:
1. Gay marriage and religious issues (eg abortion) were not important topics during the campaign. This is such a huge difference compared to the USA.
2. The French simply do not care about the President's private life. The Petit Journal was showing an American shows commenting about the election especially about the fact the new President cheated on his x-girlfriend when she was fighting against Sarkozy in 2007. And now that he is president, his new girlfriend becomes the First Lady, and they are not even married. The guest on the show said she hoped it would not happen in US. I think many French President would not qualify to White House in the US: the one who has a bastard daughter, the one who is gay...