Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Horlicks and Cultural Differences

Lately I have been drinking Horlicks in the evening before bed. Mmmm. It's hot and comforting : perfect for cold winter nights. When friends found out they were amused because Horlicks is an "old persons drink" in England. Funny, because in Brunei, it's a children's breakfast drink.

I asked Mr K-E what English children drink with their breakfast. Nothing, he said, unless they are on TV, in which case they will have orange juice. How strange.....

Here's something else I find very strange. Mr K-E calls his Aunties and Uncles by their christian Sam and Mary (not their real names, obviously). It's quite common apparently.

I call Mr K-E's parent "Mum and Dad" as I am a well brought-up young woman. All my English colleagues think that I am weird, especially the younger ones. Mr K-E calls my parents "Mum and Dad" too. There is no way that I would let him call them by their given would be like a personal insult. As my Dad once said, we are humans, not dogs and cats who only have given names. We know how to respect our parents, our elders and our friends.

I wonder how I will bring up my kids (when I have them) - eg will I teach them to take off their shoes inside the house? Our flat is a no-shoe flat and it still feels weird when friends come round and they just walk around with their shoes on everywhere....even upstairs....eek. I still think it's "dirty" especially as the whole flat is carpeted. Of course, I wouldn't dream of asking them to take off their shoes....when in Rome....

Mr K-E says - if you teach our kids to take off their shoes indoors, all their friends will think they are " weirdos" because English kids wear their shoes indoors/outdoors/everywhere. Hmmm. We will see.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I thought it would be good idea to have a luxurious breakfast today. So we had scrambled eggs on brown toast with smoked salmon. Yummy.

It was a cold sunny morning. (You can see the eggs steaming.)

We spent the rest of the day doing DIY. We've decided to start out DIY efforts in Bedroom 2, which means everything from Bedroom 2 is now stacked up in our bedroom. There is no room to move and I have move the piles of assorted junk from our bed before we can sleep tonight. It's

Saturday, January 27, 2007

65 random questions

OK, I got tagged by Jewelle.

1. Are your parents married or divorced?

2. Are you a vegetarian?

3. Do you believe in heaven?

4. Have you ever come close to dying?
I don't know. How do you know?

5. What jewelry do you wear 24/7?
Diamond cross on a platinum chain, Tag watch, wedding ring, diamond solitaire engagement ring.

6. Favourite time of day?

7. Do you eat the stems of broccoli?

8. Do you wear make-up?

9. Ever have plastic surgery?

10. Do you colour your hair?
No, but I have done in the past.

11. What do you wear in bed?

12. Have you ever done anything illegal?

13.Can you roll your tongue?

14. Do you tweeze your eyebrows?

15. What kind of sneakers?
New Balance.

16. Do you believe in abortions?
I'm pro-choice but don't think it should be encouraged as a form of birth control. Everyone should have full access to safe, effective contraception and be educated about their rights and obligations.

17. What is your hair color?

18. Future child’s name?
Girl: Paris Britney Madonna Lindsay. Boy: Romeo Caesar Cadillac Justin.

19. Do you snore?
Yes. (Poor Mr K-E)

20. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. Or Brunei. sniff.

21. Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
No. Except Barney in winter.

22. If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
Tell Mr K-E.

23. Gold or silver?
Platinum, baby.

24. Hamburger or hot dog?
Bacon double cheese burger.

25. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Bacon double cheese burger? Smoked salmon? Laksa? This is an impossible question.

26. City, beach or country?
City. After 3 days in the country I'm bored out of my brain. Ditto for beach.

27. What was the last thing you touched?
My nose.

28. Where did you eat last?
On my sofa. A Horlicks with two chocolate biscuits, if you are interested.

29. When’s the last time you cried?
Probably when reading one of my trashy novels.

30. Do you read blogs?

31. Would you ever go out dressed like the opposite sex?
Errr. I wear trousers to work nearly every day. Does that count?

32. Ever been involved with the police?

33. What’s your favourite shampoo conditioner and soap?
I use Clairol Herbal Essence all the time. But I covet the really expensive stuff, like Origins or Jo Malone.

34. Do you talk in your sleep?
Only when I have bad dreams.

35. Ocean or pool?
Olympic sized open air pool like the one in Anggerek Desa. It's one of the things I miss most in Brunei.

36. Window seat or aisle?
Aisle, so I can get to the toilet or stretch my legs without any hassle.

36. Ever met anyone famous?

37. Do you feel that you’ve had a truly successful life?
I have no complaints so far. There's still a long way to go though. (I hope)

38. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?

39. Ricki Lake or Oprah Winfrey?
Go Ricki, go Ricki, go!

40. Basketball or Football?

41. How long do your showers last?
Shower 15 minutes. Bath 30 minutes (minimum)

42. Automatic or do you drive a stick?
I'm a crap driver. Automatic, please.

43. Cake or ice cream?
Cake and ice-cream. Both are good.

44. Are you self-conscious?
Not overly.

45. Have you ever drank so much you threw up?

46. Have you ever given money to a beggar?
Yes. But I usually don't. I'm much more generous to buskers.

47. Have you been in love?
I am deeply in love.

48. Where do you wish you were?
Eating Kolo Mee in Brunei.

49. Are you wearing socks?
Yes. Sometimes, in the winter, I even wear double socks.

50. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?

51. Can you tango?

52. Last gift you received?
Cheque from mother-in-law for my birthday.

53. Last sport you played?(Mr K-E sniggers) Does martial arts count as a sport? If so, about two years ago.

54. Things you spend a lot of money on?
Handbags. Shoes. Books. Magazines.

55. Where do you live?

56. Where were you born?
Miri hospital.

57. Last wedding attended?
A friend from University got married in Sudbury. We stayed in a hotel which used to be a mill.

58. Most hated food(s)?

59. What’s your least fav. food?
Don't understand this question. How can you have a least favourite anything? My favourite food this week is spagetti and meatballs.

60. Can you sing?
Of course. It doesn't matter how good I am...I just sing my little heart out....

61. Last person you instant messaged?
Mr K-E.

62. Last place you went on holiday?

63. Favourite regular drink?
Orange juice and lemonade.

64. Tag 3 friends: I don't have friends. Only dustballs.

65. Current Song?
I've had the same jeans on for four days now. I'm going to go to a disco in the middle of the town. everybodys dressing up, I'm dressing down.....The View : Same Jeans.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snow Snow Snow

I still get a buzz when it snows.

Look at that grey wintry sky.
It was about a quarter to eight in the morning; not yet fully light.

Our garden.

Mr K-E took these photos for me this morning (making him late for work). Thanks Honey.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday night

We had a seafoodey dinner tonight. To start, prawn cocktail .

Mr K-E was amused that we had a starter. Especially a 70s style one.

Then we had Jamie Oliver's fish pie with plain boiled broccoli. It's delicious and really rich; the sauce is essentially melted cheese and double cream. I've tried a few fish pie recipes and I think this one is the best. Be warned though: you need to eat it with something plain (eg boiled veg) or else it just gets too heavy.

The recipe is here. I don't normally bother to add the spinach. Also where it says "heavy cream", it means double cream. I once used single cream in a fish pie recipe and it "split" while cooking, making the pie look horrible. Tastes OK, but doesn't look appetising.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Questions, or Why are Catholics obsessed with sex?

Jewelle's post about being a lukewarm Catholic inspired me to blog about some "issues" I have with the Catholic Church. Before I start, I should say that I am practising Catholic, and my intention is not to attack the Catholic Church in any way. I can only really talk about Catholicism because I know it intimately, but I am sure that these issues apply to other religions too.

When I was a teenager, it seemed that the church youth leaders would spend a lot of time emphasising things like: no sex outside marriage, no birth control, sex is for procreation and not for pleasure (what???hahaha). Although they had my best interests at heart, it left me with the lasting impression that the "worst" sins were the "sex" sins.

Now that I am older, I wonder why was it given so much emphasis? Is going too far with your boyfriend/girlfriend really that bad? I should explain....

Take for example, Gluttony, i.e. overindulgence with food and drink, which is supposed to be a sin too. But I have never heard a priest or church leader saying that it is sinful to eat too much, that all-you-can-eat-buffets are the devil's temptation or that all fat people are going to Hell. If you really think about it, and how many people don't have enough to eat in this world while we stuff our faces - it is a sin. Consider this - some people in this world have so much to eat that they are constantly trying to diet and lose weight (including me), spending money on diet products, anti-cholesterol medication, gym memberships and plastic surgery. While their maid's family may only eat one meal a day because they have no money to buy food. Don't you think that is a sin??? When you can spend $50 on a meal, but then give your amah a $5 annual pay rise (or no pay rise at all!)

(And before you say - I deserve it because I work so hard, I'm clever etc - isn't Pride a sin too? All blessings come from the Lord, right?)

And what about the sin of Greed? Are people who drive luxury cars going to Hell? If they drove a cheap car, they could give US$50,000 to charity. Just think that one billion people live on less than US$1 a day. I guess I shouldn't be surprised when even the Pope wears Prada shoes! What?? How can he??? When he tells the poorest people in the world that it is wrong to practise birth control? Is this crazy, or am I crazy?

So I guess my question is - why are young Catholics taught that it's wrong to live together without marriage, but nobody talks about how wrong it is to be an obese, bad-tempered, Mercedes-driving, granny-swindling millionaire? Well? What's the answer?

I'm not trying to be some kind of goody-two-shoes, as if I give all my money to charity and live on two beansprouts a day. I want a big big house and to have lots and lots of money. But hey, that's OK right? As long as I don't do the birth control thing? :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Life in a Big City

It's been windy today and all the trains are messed up because of trees being uprooted etc etc. Poor Mr K-E had a meeting in Tywford today. I don't know where it is either, but it's far away from London. This morning, Mr K-E had to take a taxi from Newport to Twyford, it cost him £65!!
Anyway, he's home now...hooray.

And the news is full of Shilpa Shetty, Jade Goody, Celebrity Big Brother and racist/non-racist bullying. Everything in the world must be familiar with the Big Brother format now - this year, there is a Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in the Big Brother house. I think she's quite a big star in India, but of course unknown in the UK. Also in the house this year are three stupid young women - Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo (failed S Club singer).

Jade Goody - ex Big Brother contestent. Has been the most successful Big Brother survivor, despite being famous for being stupid.
Danielle Lloyd - Won Miss England contest but lost her title when it came out that she was sleeping with one of the judges, Terry Sheringham. A B-list WAG.
Jo from S Club - failed solo career. Now breeds dogs.

The three meanies have been nasty to Shilpa, who could be slightly annoying I guess. But I must admire her dignity and self control - she doesn't respond to Jade's awful comments eg "your head is far up your own fucking arse you can smell your own shit". Hmmm what a nice woman.

Danielle called Shilpa "a dog" and also said " I wish she would just fuck off home..."

I don't know if the racist element has been blown all out of proportion. I think it's more that they are just from such different backgrounds. Jade and Co obviously feel threatened by Shilpa, I believe part of the problem is that she doesn't fit in with their idea of what an Indian person should be like.

And of course they are doubly suspicious of her because she doesn't drink alcohol. I've worked in the UK for nearly ten years now and I can honestly say that people in England have a strange and complicated relationship with alcohol. It's their main way of socialising, relaxing and establishing social bonds. It's not just about getting roaring drunk and being sick in gutters, it's also about dinner parties, office get togethers and boozy lunchtimes in the pub. If someone asks you if you fancy a drink, he's not just asking you out for an alcoholic beverage - what he's really saying is - I want to be your friend. Not drinking means that you can't be trusted because obviously you are a "control freak", you can't be trusted etc etc.

Whether you agree with drinking alcohol or not, this is a fact of life here. I guess you could compare it to the status of food and eating in Brunei. In Brunei, if you love someone you feed them. You show your love by saving them best morsels from your plate and buying the most expensive food for them to eat. When you ask someone to join you for lunch, it's not just about the eating, is it? It's about the bonding over eating together. And would you ever invite someone round to your house and NOT feed them?

A few years ago I was invited to a party given by one of my (English) friend's parents. I didn't feel like drinking that day, so I stuck to the soft drinks. My hosts obviously didn't feel comfortable with this. I gently explained that it wasn't against my religion and I wasn't pregnant (!!!) but they must have felt that it was a failure for them as hosts. They kept offering me different drinks (wine? beer? port? sherry?) until it got really embarassing. Even my friend stepped in said - look. she's fine. she doesn't want a drink. Finally I had Amaretto (a kind of almond liqueur) just to escape.

But you can imagine something like that happening in Brunei, but with food not drink. You don't like chicken. Okay eat the lamb? How about the beef? Whats wrong, diet ka? You so thin, why don't you eat? Eat. Eat. Do you eat eggs? I can fry some eggs for you if you want eggs......etc etc....

When I first started working in the UK, if I was invited round to colleagues' houses for "drinks", I used to turn up hungry - thinking that I would be fed when I got there. Instead I used to get drunk because there would be lots of alcohol and a bag of Kettle chips. I remember one time, Mr K-E and I were invited by his colleague to visit his flat after work. We went there straight from work and I was starving....he produced two big bags of crisps (there were about ten of us) and some beer. I remember thinking OMG. How could you invite people round and not provide food...especially after work??

Now I know better. Eat first. Then drink orange juice mixed with lemonade. (It's more grown up then Diet Coke)

Monday, January 15, 2007

What's a few billion between friends?

I know this must be old news in Brunei by now, but just in case you are the only person in Brunei who can't get hold of the latest Prince Jefri article in the Times, here it is.

(Thanks to my lousy computer skills, it looks bad but if you double click on the images, you should be able to read the whole article.)

I'm sure everyone has his or her own opinion on the whole fiasco, so there is no point for me to add anything here I think.

I'll say one thing though - Don't Mr and Mrs Derbyshire (and that Jay Maggistro guy) sound like such dodgy characters? One might even use the word "parasites". Thomas Derbyshire is a criminal barrister specialising in "fraud and money laundering".......must be a really ethical, morally straightforward kind of guy, hahaha.

This article and the people involved have made me think about some of the "downsides" of being really, really rich. I don't mean £20 million lottery winner rich, but mega-rich. You know, Bill Gates/Oprah Winfrey/royalty type rich.

Goodness knows I wouldn't turn down a million quid, but I think two problems with being super-rich are

a) Everyone is out to get a piece of you
b) No-one tells you the truth

Everybody wants a piece of you. When you are mega-rich, I guess you attract the kind of people who see you as a cow to be milked. There must be a kind of "well, he's got plenty more so why shouldn't I have some too?". You can see this effect when visiting some tourist-trap in a poorer country, and it seems like everyone is trying to sell you something, or con you, or both. It must be magnified a zillion times if you are richer than almost everyone on the whole planet.

No-one tells you the truth. I gather that being mega-rich means that you are constantly surrounded by yes-men, who are always laughing at your jokes, saying how handsome, how clever etc etc you are. If people tell you how fabulous you are every day, eventually you start to believe it.

I think that if you are self-made, you can probably get past all the bullshit. You can still remember what money (i.e. the paper stuff) actually looks like and you might have a few old friends who knew you "way back when".

Not that I am anti-wealth by the way. That lottery win is coming soon, I can feel it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday breakfast

We had an English breakfast this morning. It wasn't really a "full" English breakfast because we didn't have sausage, black pudding or grilled tomatoes. We had toast instead of fried bread (too greasy). Mr K-E doesn't like beans either. It was delicious all the same.

Some weekends we go to the local "caff" for breakfast. It's alright, but in some ways breakfast cooked at home is nicer - not so greasy and better quality ingredients. On the other hand, if you are feeling lazy and slightly hungover, you can't beat a greasy fry up in your local caff.

Last night, Mr K-E's sister and her husband came over to our place and we went out locally. We had a few drinks followed by dinner at a Turkish restaurant. I had the mixed grill and it was yummy. At the end of the evening, Mr K-E showed off his new ukelele which was a Christmas present from me. I will post a picture of the ukelele in the next few days, but in case you don't know what they look like, here's a picture of Elvis with a ukelele.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Express yourself, don't repress yourself....

Although I keep blogging about Brunei, it has been nearly ten years since Mr K-E and I left for the UK. I do realise that maybe my opinions are based on a Brunei that has since moved on. I'm sure that lots of things have changed so I apologise if I am "ketinggalan zaman"*.

For example, when Mr K-E and I were living there in Bandar Seri Begawan**, we sometimes thought that Brunei (and by extension, Bruneians) was a bit of a cultural wasteland - lacking in artistic stimulus, social awareness and creativity. I'm sure that we were not the only ones who felt this way.

A quick browse through Brunei's blogs and I have never been so happy to be wrong! Its obvious now that what we lacked was a medium to express ourselves. To those of us who grew up in Brunei's tightly controlled and stifled society, it's fantastic to be able to discuss issues comparatively freely. Okay, so it's not 100% risk free - some measure of self-censorship is required unless you want find yourself in prison for offending the wrong person.

Just to illustrate, when I was in secondary school (late 1980s, early 90s), the school yearbook would often be published six months late. The reason? We were told that the yearbook had to pass through 10 or 12 government departments for "approval" before it could be officially published. This collection of class photos, lame jokes and compositions written by 12 year olds had to be read and "cleared" by each department. Like the Bomba! (The fire department!!!Yes, seriously!!) Just in case, you know, the story entitled "My life as a Parker Pen" written by B--- Y---, Primary 5B, contained subversive elements that would lead to widespread chaos, disaster and the downfall of our nation.

Compare that to blogging these days where we can post about our interests, our favourite foods or stuff that just pisses us off. Mr K-E's favourite Brunei blog is You Parking Idiot. His pet hate in Brunei was people who would park in front of the Yayasan*** doors because they were too damn lazy to walk 20m.

So for all my fellow Bruneians, wherever you may be, (as the song goes) express yourself, don't repress yourself.....

* ketinggalan zaman - behind time
**Bandar Seri Begawan - the capital of Brunei Darussalam
***Yayasan - a mall in downtime Bandar Seri Begawan

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life in a Small Town Pt 2: The Naughty Boys

The Daily Brunei Resources is one of my favourite blogsites. Mr BR is actually a high-up Brunei government official and he blogs with the intention of "helping to foster a better informed Brunei society". His posts are always entertaining and insightful - with people like him in the government, I have confidence in Brunei's future.

Anyway, yesterday he posted a relatively light-hearted entry - a list called 57 reasons why I like living in Brunei, originally written by an American expat. I was especially tickled by point number 6 i.e. giggly teenage Muslim girls with headscarves acting like giggly teenage girls all over the world.

This comment on teenage behavior reminded me about Mr K-E's experience with some Bruneian teenagers when he was working in Brunei.

Mr K-E 's office was based in an out-of-the-way shopping complex in Brunei. His office was on the first floor and there were various shops on the ground floor eg a supermarket, a DVD shop, tailor shop etc. It was quite busy downstairs but hardly anyone came up to the first floor except for the people who worked in the offices.

Every Friday, a group of teenaged boys would hang around in the stairwell near his office. They would all be dressed up for the mosque, but instead of going, they would spend their time playing cards. He used to call them "The Naughty Boys". They would sit around an old concrete bench with their bicycles lying in a pile behind them, slapping down their playing cards as if they were gangsters in a Hollywood movie.

(For any non-Bruneians reading, playing cards is frowned upon in Brunei because it is linked to gambling, which is strictly forbidden. Actually, I'm not even sure if you can buy playing cards in Brunei. So the boys were being very naughty indeed. Hee hee hee)

The Naughty Boys seemed content to spend their Friday afternoons playing cards, until one Friday in Ramadan*. Mr K-E saw one of the boys eating a large bag of crisps; waving the packet around in a "I'm eating, so what" manner. Ha ha ha! What a rebel!!!

Teenage boys seem to be the same everywhere. Anything "forbidden" is the coolest thing in the world. In big cities, rebellious teenagers are breaking into cars and vandalising public transport; in Brunei, they are playing cards and eating crisps. In a way, thinking about those boys makes me miss Brunei and small town life. Imagine living somewhere where smuggling chicken** across the border is front page news. That's my Brunei.

*Ramadan - the Muslim holy month, when all good Muslims fast during daylight hours
**by chicken, I mean chicken (the food) ....I'm not being coy and posting about prostitutes or anything like that. I am talking about Brunei after all.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Why boys shouldn't go into the "little girls room"

At Mr K-E's office they have separate toilets for men and women on every floor. As their male/female staff ratio is skewed, the men's toilet is a lot busier, and so it's accepted that men can use the ladies toilet. ( I should explain that they are actually two separate rooms complete with washbasins etc, not cubicles)

Anyway, yesterday Mr K-E and his fellow male colleagues were all in a tizz because someone had stuck a leaflet promoting "mooncups" on the back of the ladies toilet door. And these so-called "tough-guys" were fascinated and disgusted in equal measure. Mr K-E looked green when he was telling me about it, which I found highly amusing.

(Gentlemen, you might want to stop reading at this point)

If you don't know what a mooncup is, it's essentially a reusable device for women to use instead of tampons or sanitary napkins. It's supposed to be more environmentally friendly, a "greener" alternative to the normal products. You can read all about it here.

I know about all about them because there are always leaflets or stickers advertising them in ladies public toilets. But really, I can't imagine anyone other than hardened eco-maniacs using them as they just seem so messy. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So boys, stay away from ladies' toilets. You never know what manner of horrible things you will find in there.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thanks Emma!

Got home and went straight to bed because I was so tired. When Mr K-E got home he dragged me out of bed and we started to sort out our dinner. Ho hum, typical Monday night. Then, while I was waiting for the leftover shepherd's pie to reheat in the microwave, I thought I'll just see what the bloggers in Brunei are up to....

Eeek! I've been mentioned in EmmaGoodEgg's Brunei Online 2006. What a nice surprise and how flattered am I?

Thanks Emma! (Isn't her home gorgeous?)

Emma doesn't live in a typical Bruneian home, by the way. Where are the fake gold tissue box cases? And dodgy carpets from Mr Khan's carpet shop? Not to mention, I didn't spot a single plastic lace doiley on any of her coffee tables. What is Brunei coming to?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Life in a small town

A few days ago, Jewelle, a Sabahan blogger based in Brunei, wrote an interesting post about how she sometimes feels "unchallenged" in Brunei. It reminded me of when Mr K-E and I used to live in Brunei; the relaxed rhythm of life - get home by 5pm, amah does all the housework, lots of free time to go to Shahbandar, buy pirated movies near the "communist" shop and try all the buffets in town. Oh happy days!

I used to work for a private company in Bandar Seri Begawan. It was moderately succesful, and like most private companies, most of the staff were expats from Malaysia, Philippines, India and so on. There were a handful of "local" staff who had been there ages, but it soon became clear that they were only there so that the company could say it had X number of local staff.

Anyway, these guys (and gals) spent the days having long tea breaks, lunch breaks, etc - they didn't do any work and frankly, no one expected them to do any work. Their jobs were 100% safe because they would never get the sack. There were a few of us (by "us" I mean Bruneians) who were new, but anyone with any initiative was using it to apply for a government position.

So which came first? Do you think that a person is naturally eager-beaver to start with, but then the low expectations of the Employer turns them into a lazy waste of space? Or did the Employer invest time to train them, but then give up when it became obvious that they did not intend to do any work or progress themselves?

And after a few years, would that have been me?

Of course this is just an "snapshot"of my working life in Brunei and doesn't apply to all Bruneians. But let's be honest and admit that it does apply to many of us.

In Brunei, it was easy to be complacent, although in some ways it was an acceptance of the status quo. For example, if you are from a prominent family, you can easily get a job or start a business - even better, you can just be a "silent partner" in a business venture and get paid for doing nothing. Whereas if you don't have any connections, well, you will never get anywhere, so why kill yourself with work. At the end of the day the Permanent Sec's daughter will be promoted over you anyway. So just relax!!! Go home at 4:30!!!

I remember my parents encouraging me to do a Masters degree, because then I would be able to teach at one of the Technical/HE Colleges. Then after some years sucking-up to Ministry of Education officers, I would hopefully be able to get government sponsorship to do a PhD abroad, and then if I got through it would be on to a "goyang kaki" well paid position at UBD (Universiti Brunei Darussalam). LOL! I think they were slightly misguided - but they just wanted me to have an easy life....ha ha ha. (Goyang Kaki literally means "shaking the leg" meaning "no-effort required")

This post has brought back lots of work memories - I remember one year after the annual pay review, one of the women (lets call her Noora) was unhappy with her bonus and pay rise. Her husband came into the office, demanded to see the Boss (a Malaysian Chinese) and threatened him physically. The Filipina secretaries could hear him (Noora's husband) shouting in the Boss's office - THIS IS BRUNEI! THIS IS OUR COUNTRY! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO TREAT US PROPERLY YOU SHOULD GO BACK TO MALAYSIA .... etc etc.

In the end, the Boss gave her a slightly higher pay rise but looking back, it's scary how "normal Bruneian behavior" this was at the time. As the Filipina secretary said to me...ah, you know your countryman la....little bit, little bit, want to "tumbuk" (punch) already.....

Noora - who was always 45min late to work every day, had 2 hour lunch breaks but left at 4:30 on the dot. The office was open on Friday but she would never turn up, as almost every week she had a "function". Oh well - they had to fulfill local/expat staff ratios somehow....

(Not my intention to upset anyone by the way. As I said, it's just a "snapshot" of my working life in Brunei. If anyone has any views or comments, I would interested to read them)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mr K-E gets tickled. (Try this at home)

Every morning Mr K-E sleeps on the bus on his way to work. This morning, the bus was half-empty because a lot of people have not started work yet after the Christmas holidays. As he was dozing, he noticed that two West Indian men moved seats to sit closer to him. Then, one of the men moved again and actually woke Mr K-E up as he sat down next to him.

Mr K-E (half-asleep) didn't think too much of it.

Then gradually, Mr K-E became aware that something was "tickling" his thigh. He looked at his leg and saw some fingers "tickling" his outer thigh. The man sitting next to him also looked down and pretended that he was trying to get something out of his bag (which was on his lap) but it was obvious that something dodgy was going on.

When the would-be thief and his "partner" saw that they had been rumbled, they quickly left the bus, even though it wasn't at a bus stop.

This is a phenomenon, known as "tickling". Try it for yourself, ladies and gentlemen.

Ask a friend to put their mobile phone in their right jeans or trouser pocket. Ask them to sit down, and you sit down next to them on their right. Then place a bag on your lap and place your left arm on top of the bag, so nothing looks dodgy. Then with your right arm, reach across under your bag, and with a light touch, gently "tickle" the bottom of the bulge of the mobile phone in the pocket. The mobile phone will gradually work itself up the pocket towards the opening, and will eventually stick out of the pocket. You can then remove the phone easily, using the bag as a cover. Ta da!!

Bwa Ha Ha! , now begin your life of crime!! (Please don't)

It's amazing how little you feel if it is done with a light touch. Obviously those guys who tried it on Mr K-E were "beginners" but still.....Anyway, all they would have got was a set of house keys and £1.67.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Mr K-E's Dinner

I had leftover beef stew with rice for dinner tonight but Mr K-E didn't fancy that. So he made himself two ham, fried egg and cheese filled croissants for dinner.

The method is very easy:
  • Take an extra large croissant, slice in half (like a burger bun) and toast lightly under the grill.
  • Add a slice of ham and some cheese to the split croissant, grill lightly until the cheese melts.
  • While the cheese is melting, fry an egg (a soft yolk is yummiest). Place fried egg on top of cheese and ham.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. "Close" croissant. Eat!
Not the healthiest dinner but absolutely delicious!

Resolutions for 2007

I normally never make resolutions because I know that I will break them. And why set yourself up for failure? However, I read somewhere that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them, possibly because it indicates a higher level of commitment and self-analysis.

Well, whatever.

This year I'm making a break with tradition. And not just one lousy resolution.....we are talking list here...

  1. To go to the gym. And if I don't go to the gym, to finally cancel my gym membership after 5 years of paying but not going.
  2. To pack my work lunch everyday. I'm sick of Pret sandwiches anyway. Hopefully this will also help me to break my addiction to crisps.
  3. To cook more and not live on McCain's Oven Chips/Chinese takeaways/frozen pizzas.
  4. To throw food away when it's bad and not to eat rice that's been in the fridge for 5 days. Because it will make me ill.
  5. To get to work on time or early. Last year I got into a bad habit of getting to work at 9:30 - which is not a problem generally because my office operates flexi-time, but getting in early means I make good start to the day and get stuck in. (See next resolution)
  6. To focus my mind completely at work and not take any notice of office politics or other people's competence/incompetence. I'm normally quite good at this, but this year I am going to be uber-focussed. I will be a robot.
Also Mr K-E and I have plans to move house this year, and we have dozens of tasks to do before we put the flat on the market. So it's going to be an intense few months.

Wish us luck.

Party of Two

Mr K-E and I are both New Year Eve sceptics. Is it the one night when people who never go out make an effort to go out, and thus spoil it for the rest of us? You know what I mean. It's like Valentine's Night, the worst night of the year to eat out. Terrible service because the restaurant is overbooked, the normal a la carte menu is replaced by a crap "lovers set menu" and you are hemmed-in by other mildly embarassed couples.

So this year, we held a little party for two which was a great success.

Champagne for Mr K-E and Bucks-Fizz (champagne and orange juice) for me.

Starter: Little Indian Snacks - mini samosas, bhajis, kebabs etc and a Mixed Salad

Main Course: Chicken "Paupiettes" - i.e. chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon, stuffed with ham and parmesan, served with a white white, pepper and cream sauce. Accompanied by roasted mediterranean vegetables and rice.

Pudding: Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.

It was a lovely dinner. Mr Sainburys did most of the work while Mr K-E and I drank champagne. We could see the midnight fireworks in the distance from the spare bedroom window but it was much better on TV.

Happy New Year everybody!