Saturday, March 30, 2013

Malaysia 2013 general election: can I vote from France?

The Malaysia 2013 general election is just around the corner, because the 12th parliament will be dissolved automatically on 28 April 2013, and elections must be held within 60 days.

I have asked the Embassy twice if I could vote. But each time they told me that only students, civil servants + their families are eligible to vote. However, it seems that this year they have changed the rule. WM, another Malaysian I met in Nantes, sent me a link with the information. I have filled the Borang 1B and sent it to the Election Commission of Malaysia. So, let's see if I can really vote from France.

You need to fulfill these requirements in order to apply to vote from overseas:
a) Malaysian citizen
b) Registered voter: check your status here
c) Live overseas except in Singapore, South of Thailand, Brunet and Kalimantan Indonesia.
c) Have been back to Malaysia for no less than 30 days within 5 years before the current parliament dissolved.

The medias have been predicting on days the Prime Ministry would dissolve the parliament, it could be today, tomorrow next week or next month. This is one of the particularity of Malaysian election systems, we could only guess, it is the Prime Ministry would decide. As far as I know the French always have their elections around the same times.

Ok, can't wait to vote for the first time in my life!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3.3 year old

She makes me speechless.
During gatherings we usually have some wine / alcohol, and for the kids we serve fruit juices.
Sometimes Aelig wants to taste our drink, so we have to tell her that alcoholic drinks are for adults.
Me: "When you grow as tall as papa, you can drink alcohol".
One day hubby put her on his shoulder.
Her:"Look maman, I'm so tall."
Me:" Oh yes you have grown so tall!"
Her:"I can drink alcohol now, can I?"
Me."..." speechless.

She likes to catch me making mistakes.
I was reading to her a bed time story.
We turned to a page with a photo of a giraffe trying to read a book.
Me:"Look,  the kangaroo is reading.."
Before I got a chance to finish, she cut me.
Her:"Maman, you did a mistake, it was a giraffe!"
Me:"Oh sorry, you are right, it was a giraffe."
Her:"Oh maman."
She was very proud of herself whenever she caught me making a mistake.

Everything is consisted of a father, mother and a baby / babies.
She collected a bunch of stones.
Her: "Maman, the one big is the papa, this is the maman, and all these are their babies."
She saw some butterflies in a book.
And each time I read that book, she has to interrupt me to show the father, mother and baby butterflies.
She picked some flowers.
The big one is a father, the medium one is a mother, the small one is their baby.

She is a lady (this is a comment from hubby).
We went to a charity fundraising run organized by the school.
While waiting for the run to start, she was playing alone. A male classmate approached her and wanted to play with her. She looked at him, decided to ignore him.
We went to a restaurant.
While seated, a boy her age drew a French flag and asked his mother to give it to Aelig.
She liked him, so she went over to make friend with him.
But, most of the time, she just sat there, and the boy kept coming over to pass her some color pencils.
Before he left, he invited Aelig to his birthday party.

I started teaching her some characters in Mandarin.
It is very handy as these words appear in most of her books.
大 = big
小 = small
一 = one
二 = two
三 = three

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ops, sorry for the language

We were having our weekly internal meeting.

A coworker was telling his issues with his client, with some French slangs that I was not familiar with. I understood that he was angry / unsatisfied, but did not understand the descriptions he used. Then, at one point, he must had split out something that was not so acceptable, as another coworker turned his head, looked at me and said: "sorry for the language".

"Don't worry, I didn't understand those words anyway, so no damage caused here." I jokingly told him.
"We will explain to you later".
Well, usually during the internal meeting, I would jot down words that I don't understand and ask someone later. Little by little I collect the slangs, but never used them, as some of them are not appropriate when used by a woman.

After the meeting, we walked to lunch. So I asked what was the word said just now that made him so uncomfortable.
Coworker A:"It was..." he hesitated..."Well, B will explain to you". He didn't know how to explain it.
Coworker B: "He just wanted to say that the situation sucked."
Me:"Ok, just tell me the sentence, I will ask my husband later".
Both of them yelled "no" simultaneously.
Ok, that got me very curious. I forced them to tell me the word, one of them finally spelled it to me.

At home.
Me:" LG, what does quequette mean in French"?
Hubby:"What???" His eyes almost popped out.
Me:"Something pronounce like quequette."
Hubby:"It means penis."
Ok, I still don't know what was the sentence used though.
Me:"But there is another word with the same meaning, which one is worst?"
Hubby:"The other one".
I wrote about this word in another post.

So you see you really need to understand the informal French /slang/street language in order to truly understand a French conversation. Language schools teach you the formal French, but I hear people using slangs in day to day conversations. I used to find these horrible, as how can people spell out these kind of words during a formal meeting. But gradually I accept them and actually find them funny and "lively". Some descriptions can really crack you up.

Some examples I have in mind:
Une maison = A house in French but a lot of times people use "une baraque"
Une voiture = A car in French but some people use "une caisse" or "une bagnole"

One day while having lunch with my coworkers, someone ended his talking with a conclusion "c'est un torchon". Torchon = Tea towel in French. I looked at him and asked what he meant. He said tea towel is usually dirty, so he wanted to say that the situation was a mess. Ok, I was not convinced, as I immediately thought of the tea towel in my in laws house: nicely ironed, folded and stored. I couldn't associate it with a mess.

It is fun learning these words actually!
If you want to learn more of these slangs, go here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A playdate

During the weekday, sometimes it would be very painful to get Aelig to go to school.

She doesn't want to dress nor comb her hair.
She wants mummy to send her instead of daddy.
She wants to be held instead of walking alone.
She wails, tries to slow down the process, refuses to put on the shoes herself.

This morning, she was super motivated, she obeyed everything we asked her to.
She jumped into the bathtub and sang happily to all her animals.
She finished her milk in no time.
She dressed willingfully.
She tidied up her toys.
She even went to pick up her coat and scarf so that we could move our asses quicker.

And what made her being so motivated?
We were going to her friend's house for a playdate.

I'm seeing already how she would behave when she's going to see her boyfriend.

Air ticket and Kermasse

With Aelig going to school, organizing a trip to Malaysia is becoming more and more complicated.

I got the approval pretty easily, and my company allows me to pre-use my annual leaves.
It took hubby a longer time to get a go from his work, and since he couldn't pre-use his leaves, we have to leave in Juin. In France annual leaves go from 1 Juin to 31 May the year after.
Another constraint, hubby doesn't want Aelig to miss school for too long, so we have to go in July.
The best time to go was in August, as Aelig would be on summer holiday, we could celebrate Hari Raya in Malaysia, the baby sitter is on holidays.
But, starting from 1 Aug, prices go double or triple.
By taking in all these considerations, I almost booked the ticket from last week of Jun to first three weeks of July, until I popped up the million dollar question.

"When is the Kermasse?"
I actually don't know what is a Kermasse, but my MIL and hubby had discussed about the fact that Aelig would miss her first Kermasse and it seems that it was a big deal. Turns out, it is just an end of school year party. I didn't grow up having it so I didn't really think it is important. But hubby said it is a memorable moment for Aelig and we shouldn't miss it. So, we have to leave on the last day of Juin and everything changed.

1. We have to pay 250€ more
2. We have to let go of direct flight and take the one with a stopover and traveling time increases 5 hours each way.
3. We have to leave on Sunday and arrive in Malaysia on Monday when everyone works. It is less convenient for my family to pick us up.
4. There is no early train on Sunday to go to the airport. They have it from Monday to Saturday except Sunday. That means we couldn't take the earliest flight but have to take the one that depart in the afternoon.
5. This one is for me: I have to let go of Malaysia Airlines who propose yummy hometown in flight food.

Frankly, does anyone one really remember what was going on during a Kermasse when he or she was 3?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

François Hollande errrrhé

I might have said it in one of my posts, that being a politician in France is not easy, as you are constantly being humiliated / criticized/ caricatured.

Being the French president, François Hollande is the easy target. For example, whenever he appears in Les Guignols on Canal Plus, they would portrait him as someone who is afraid of his girlfriend, someone who hides himself during the cat flight between his girlfriend and ex-girlfriend. And, he would finish his speech / interview with a "errrrhé", in a funny way. You can see one of the episodes on Youtube here. The "errrrhé" expression comes at the 20th second.

 Photo source

Aelig watches Les Guignols with us from time to time. Sometimes I would tell her who's who on the program. This evening we saw François Hollande on the news. Here was our conversation:

Me: Look, this is François Hollande, your president.
Aelig: Ohhhh, François Hollande, errrrhé (imitating Hollande's tone).
Me and hubby looked at each other and started laughing.
She was elated to see us laughing, so she repeated it again.
Aelig: François Hollande, errrrhé (then laugh hysterically).
We simply couldn't stop laughing and giggling.

The Chinese don't pay ransom

Just want to jot down what I saw on a TV program last week.

It was a debate program discussing about the kidnapping of French citizenship in Mali.

One of the guest had this comment:
"Why do they kidnap French? Because French people pay huge ransom (either by the government or private sector).

"You don't see them kidnapping Chinese (and we do not lack Chinese), because Chinese people don't pay".

Just found this comment interesting and hilarious. In fact I have not heard of terrorists kidnapping Chinese. My opinion, beside what the guest thought, another reason is that Chinese government does not have as high profile as The French government in Mali or in general in Africa. Is like if you want to have high attention of the world, it is better to kidnap a celebrity (in this case French) than a nobody (in this case Chinese).

Saturday, March 09, 2013

She's back

We got Aelig back as the school restarts next Monday.

She is happy to be home, was so excited that she ended up going to bed at 11pm. Last two weeks she was sleeping from 8pm to 9pm in her grandparents' place.

Anyway, just want to share a conversation we had this evening:

Me: Aelig, let's go get a bath.
Her: Not, I got a bath already.
Me: No you are not, you are all dirty now.
Her: No I don't want to take a bath.
Me: Ok, I'm filling the bathtub now, you come when it is filled.
Her: I don't want to speak anymore.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The sacrosanct weekends

Case 1
We were driving home without our daughter, so we thought of eating out.
Problem: It was a Sunday evening, most restaurants were closed
Result: KFC fried chicken for me and Subway sandwich for hubby, ironically in this gastronomic heaven.

Case 2
We got two gift cards from Christmas for 2.5 hours of massage + spa session.
Action: Called the massage center for an appointment on a Saturday when our daughter was not with us
Result: Plan abandoned as the massage center closes on Weekends. We would have to leave at 4pm on a weekday as it closes at 7pm. Or take a half day off.

Ok I admit that I should have known that most restaurants in Nantes do not open on Sunday, but why fast food chains are exempted from this then? There were tons of teenagers there...

And, a massage center that does not operate on Saturday, I wonder how they survive.