Sunday, December 15, 2013

The best gift

My birthday and Christmas fall on the same month, so I get to have double gifts.

I got my birthday gift first. This year my in-laws gave me some money, and asked me to tell them what I bought.

I love reading, but all these years in France, I have never bought a Chinese book from France. I normally got them from Malaysia, our suitcases were heavy with books. Nowadays it is actually very easy to order books from Asia, the only problem is the cost. The shipping cost could be more expensive than the books themselves, that's what stops me. There is one Chinese bookstore in Paris, but they sell very limited (or outdated) selections.

The idea of ordering from Taiwan has been lingering in my mind. Several times I almost clicked the "confirm" button, with books that I so eager to read. I decided that this year I would treat myself with lots of books from an author I admire. I tried to find her books online but there were very few available. I even hoped that they could sell the kindle version, but I couldn't find it in any online bookstores.

So, I ordered 10 books on my birthday. To my surprise, just 4 days later, I got a notice that I missed a parcel. Wow, it only takes 4 days for them to deliever from Taiwan to France! Unfortunately, the distributing company they chose, DHL, does not provide good customer service, in my opinion. I followed the instruction on the notice to schedule a second delivery, I would go to pick it up, but they don't open on Saturday! Anyway, I asked them to deliver to the management office. I went to pick it up in the evening, and I was told that it was not delivered yet. Later I received a call from DHL, saying that they passed by but the management office was closed. Yes they chose to deliver during lunch hour. The woman told me that they could only delivery between 12pm and 2pm, so if I could ask someone in the management office to stay for the parcel. I told her that I have no right to stop someone from going to lunch, and she agreed.

Anyway, the second evening, I got my parcel. I was so excited! I got 6 books for myself and 4 books for Aelig. She loves them. Hubby knows that I read very fast, so he told Aelig that I would finish these books by Sunday. And how right he was, I swallowed 6 books within two evenings and a weekend.

Each book costs about 10€, about the same price for a French novel. So, I told myself, I just need to think that I'm buying books from France. Suddenly I feel so much better, and I hope I have more budget to buy books I love in the future!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

A pair of black/white shoes

During summer I bought Aelig a pair of white shoes. She chose it, I guided her to look at many other pairs, but she came back to this one.

Then came the raining season. Each time we went out, I warned her that the wet floor might dirty her shoes. Once, she wore her black shoes, but brought along the white one to her friend's house. Anyway, the shoes became muddy and dirty.

One weekend we went to pick her up from my in laws, we discovered that my MIL has painted the shoes black. I know she did it with good intention, but it just didn't look right. One week later, the black paint was gone, the shoes become ...ugly. But what do I know? When my MIL saw it, she was impressed as she thought they look great!

Nevermind, there are Aelig's shoes, so how does she feel? We told her they look ugly, hubby asked me how could I let her wear the shoes to school. Why won't I? My daughter still loves them, she says they are ugly but she likes them, she has no problem wearing them around. Anyway, I have decided that she has an image to keep at school, so she can only wear them to the sitter's place on Wednesday and during weekend.

This makes me realize how different we are in our judgment on what is beautiful and what is ugly. Also how we perceive certain colors. When Aelig wore her black shoes to Malaysia (a gift from my MIL), my mother was surprised. In Malaysia kids are associated with joy and sunshine, so we like to wear them with colorful clothes. I told my MIL about it, she said that when she went to the shoes stores for kids, black and passive colors were in the majority. True, we were hunting for some clothes for Aelig in Kiabi, we left after five minutes, it was full with black clothes / skirts with a fashion that we don't adhered. We had to go to different stores in Lorient for something more colorful.

The fashion this year in Kiabi Atlantis outlet. We just don't like it.

Black and white are the base color in the Brittany area. It is used in their flag, and in the past women used to wear in black and white. However in my culture, black and white are usually associated with mourning. When Aelig's school had their inauguration ceremony for their new building, they requested students to wear in black and white. I admit I was uncomfortable to see a sea of students in black and white, as if they were mourning for their school instead of celebrating.

I love Brittany butter cookies. The one sold in this box tasted yummy. I thought of bringing them as gifts to friends and family in Malaysia, but I hesitated for the color on the box. Surely Malaysians have been modernized with all the Western influences, for example you will see women wearing black gowns during wedding dinners. However, there remain certain people stick to the tradition, I certainly wouldn't to offend someone with a black and white cookies box.