Pray for Thailand

It’s hard to write anything non-political when most of what occupies my mind these days is politics, even on a day of love.  I think about politics every day, because it very much affects my life, and I do not mean just dealing with the commute or having to work at back-up sites or work-at-home.  External inconveniences caused by all these protests are secondary to me.  Taking four hours to drive back home will not kill me.  Seeing my country with so much potential yet no cohesiveness will kill my soul.

What worries me is the path of Thailand.  What lies ahead?  Where will this all end? How will we end up in a couple years’ time?

It doesn’t matter whose political ideals you adhere to, I think after almost four months of protests it’s time to agree that something is terribly wrong.

Even if you believed the government are in the right and that these protestors were spoiled losers who didn’t know how to lose an election, were elitist and didn’t understand the poor, I think somewhere there must be an alarm ringing.

On the other hand, even if you believed the government were in the wrong and that they are utterly corrupt, regard themselves above the law, and have vested interests in every policy they do, then after almost four months of protests you have to agree that the longer these protests drag on, the longer the country will take to recover.

What do I think? I have to admit that this is excruciatingly hard to write about in an objective manner.  Having a media that is not exactly objective makes it all the more difficult.

So all I can say for now is good night and let’s pray for Thailand.  Oh, I forgot, Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Makha Bucha Day too.

Autumn in Paris: Day 1

I like autumn. I especially like autumn in Paris with the crisp autumn air and the sound of leaves rustling as the wind gently blows through.  The rich golden red of the maple tree confirms that autumn is here and contrasts sharply with the green grass.  Parisians have all taken out their chic jackets and leather booths, fashionably beautiful. This trip, we’ve kept it simple without planned itineraries or to-do lists (which I usually can’t do without) and I discover that it really does make the trip somewhat more enjoyable.

There’s no hopping from point A to point B and missing all in between. Instead we look at the map, see where the Eiffel tower is, check out the Arc de Triomphe, and just walk. Its awesome. You really get to see life.  Along the way we get some sandwiches from the local bakery ‘Paul’ which can be found at almost every corner and I have to say it never fails to disappoint.  Upon reaching the park by the Eiffel, we find ourselves a spot with a full view and just relax.  We’re lucky we got unusally warm weather in the mid twenties  for a day or two.  The eiffel never fails to put me in awe with its sheer size.

After people watching and bird watching, we walk towards the Trocadero, opting out of going up after seeing the long lines. We make it to the Charles de Gaulle Etoile and find another spot with which to just sit and take it all in. The french really do a wonderful job of having benches everywhere for you to just sit and enjoy the view and life.

Champs Elysees comes next with its grand boulvlevard and grand buildings. Coming from quiet charming Lisboa, you see the contrast. Lisboa is a remnant of former glories, of a city by the ocean with grand ambitions.  It has now fallen on harsh times and the differances in wealth between the Lisboans and Parisians stands out clearly.  No chic bags or fancy smartphones can be seen, life is simpler in Lisboa.  Slower paced.   I must say I miss quiet Lisboa and the local pastelarias that can be found everywhere offering you a ‘bica’ for less than a euro. A price unimagineable in Paris.

We keep walking the entire length of the Champs Elysees and find ourselves looking at an egyptian obelisk taken from Luxor. It reminds me of europe’s former fascination with egypt. It stands beautifully in the middle of Place de la Concorde, the former revolution square where Marie Antoinette was quillotined. How different life was then.

We end the day walking up to the Opera then the Boulevard Haussmann for a little shopping at the Galeries Lafayette and check out their supermarket. I love checking out supermarkets wherever we go. There are always so many kinds of food.  The Musee de Louvre and the Notre Dame will be for the next day…

Mid Year, Good Year

It’s July and the first half of 2012 has passed by.  So much has happened and so much more is waiting to happen.  July, for me, is also a good time of year to take a step back and reflect on the past six months.  What have we done?  Have we reached the goals we set out?  Not only professionally but most importantly also personal goals.   After all, one must develop as a person as well as professionally.  That’s what I believe anyways.

We are not perfect human beings.  There are flaws and character traits that can be improved on and some that are undesirable.  Some like to bite their nails, some may be things like hearing and not listening.

Sometimes, if we don’t take a step back every now and then, we forget.  We go on with our daily lives, doing our daily tasks, doing our daily obligations and forget to look at ourselves in the mirror.   A real “look” at ourselves (not just to check if the hair is alright or that you put on the makeup fine).  That means really analyzing what it is we are doing with our lives.  What sort of person are we and what sort of person are we becoming.  Is this what we want to be? What are our bad points?  Do we hear but not listen? Do we talk but not act?  Of course the same can be done professionally.

So I have a few personal goals that I’m working on and yes, after having set my goals earlier there is always a time for follow up.  Am I a better person?  Am I thinking positive often enough?  Am I getting more organized?  Am I continuing on with my running regime ? Am I listening more?… The list can go on and on.

It’s not easy, but then if not to improve oneself, what would we have learnt in this lifetime?   Lets make this lifetime a one of learning and developing. 🙂  Good night! 🙂

Press “Start” and “Go”

I’ve been away from my blog this past two months and I have missed it dearly.  After a hectic two months (which really isn’t any excuse) I am now settling down in my new house, new life and getting routines sorted out.  The other day I went back to the gym after a few weeks of absence due to my sprained ankle and was immediately commented by one of the regulars there about my absence, “It’s hard to get back in pace once you stop exercise.”  I smiled and nodded in response, “Yes it definitely is.  I will now be coming back again regularly.”

It has been hard to get back into pace and fighting the “lazy me” is no easy job.  Sometimes you fall behind your goals but as long as you keep working on it and pushing forth, it will be better than just giving up and never continuing on with your goal.  For me, saying these thoughts and promises to oneself and out loud gives me an incentive to keep my promise.  I feel it an obligation to keep my word.

The same applies for everything.

So here’s my word.  I’ve pressed “Start” and now I am in “Go”.  Tomorrow morning I am going to run.  Next week I am going to Amsterdam so keep watch.  I’m excited, I can’t remember the last time I was there. It must have been over ten years ago!!

What state are you in now? Are you ready to press “Start” and “Go”?

 

You say “Normal” ?

It’s now April and the weather has gone all awry. I wonder if sometimes there is ever a “normal.” Perhaps we just adjust and what is awry now will be the new “normal.”

On some days it is so hot you would think you could fry and egg on the scorching cement ground. Hot air rises from the ground and at ten at night, the walls to my house are still warm despite my having the air conditioning on.

The past two days it has been cooler after thunderstorm rain poured down last week and a summer storm is now blowing through Bangkok. It’s cloudy and windy. Leaves flutter in the hot wind and paper fly through the air. It conjures up images of mid western towns in the middle of nowhere where the wind blows through every nook and cranny. Only we aren’t in the midwest, we’re in Bangkok.

I say this weather isn’t normal for Bangkok. It started to be hot with temperatures in the mid 30’s Celsius even before March started. It rained in January and February when usually it is dry, cool and sunny.

How will it be next year? Will it go back to how it once was or shall will we all have to accustom ourselves to this crazy weather pattern? Maybe future generations will only know this weather.

So “normal” is really just a word we use to describe what we are used and accustomed to. Soon I bet this now “strange” weather will become “normal.” Normal therefore is in reality constantly changing depending upon your definition.

Same applies to everything else in life. What do you think ?

Congratulations. You did it!

A few days ago a student of mine discovered that she passed the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand written exam.  Sounds of happiness and excitement echoed in the air.  The results came unexpectedly early and that made it all that much more exciting.  At that moment, I couldn’t be any prouder.  I too, was happy and extremely proud of my student.  My heart beamed and smiled as if it were the moon were smiling down upon earth.  To see a student’s progress is indeed one of the most rewarding factors one gets from teaching.

I am proud because she had pursued her dream.

I am proud because only a few months ago, I remember talking to her about this Aeronautical Radio exam and how it was completely in English.  It sounded like a distant dream for she feared anything with English and doing an entire exam in English seemed far from reality.

Congratulations my dear student. 🙂  You can accomplish whatever you set your heart on. 🙂

What’s your Cheese?

The other day I read an interesting book called “I Moved Your Cheese.”  It’s a book that follows on the famous “Who Moved My Cheese?”  and I find it interesting for it tells a story of three mice in a maze that challenged the maze in which they lived.  It’s fascinating.   The story is simple and you could finish the book in one night, yet it makes one think.  It is a reflection of what life should be.

The three mice in the story were not like the other mice for they thought outside the box.  They questioned the fact that “cheese” was indeed important for everyone and if they should in fact pursue this “cheese” just because everyone else is pursuing it.   Follow the cheese and find it.  Adapt so that one can consume this cheese.

To put things short, the story basically teaches us to do some self reflection.  Think about what this “cheese” is for us.  To some, it may mean getting that limited edition bag, to others it could mean going on a trip, or for some it could just mean sitting at home on the couch with a good book with the person they love.  Discover what it is in life that makes you happy and pursue that. 🙂

Follow your own dreams not other people’s dreams. (or other people’s dreams for us) 🙂

Words & Power

This year has started out in a storm for many people I know. Even the weather gods are thinking that too with thunderstorms roaring across Bangkok when usually it is dry, sunny and cool. Nevertheless, let us not keep us from enjoying the wonderful year ahead of us. 🙂 Today I want to write about something that sometimes we forget. We use it everyday, we use it all time and yet we forget to think about them. (I do forget often times) What am I talking about? Words. Yes, words like the ones you are reading now.

Words to me are powerful and should be used with care. Words spoken or written have enormous influence and have resulted in either love or wars amongst men. It is with words, that people communicate and it is with words that others sometimes feel love, compassion, sympathy and understanding. Used otherwise, they cause others to feel anger, resentment or even sadness. Words can sometimes be therapeutic and healing, yet words of angerness, bitterness, judgement can also invoke within others pain and destruction. The words you hear, you say, you read affect and influence the person you become. Sometimes decades later, you hear people talking about words that were said. It can be that powerful.

For example think of children being bullied in school. Words from bullies can break down children’s confidence, wreak them emotionally and years after some may continue to remember those painful words. Yet at the same time, words of tenderness and love may keep many going on and on for years. (I’m thinking of those movies where the girl waits for her man at war.)

Words are powerful, so use your words with care this year. Becareful of what words you use. Remember to be aware of your words when you speak for that is when we often slip. Positive words generate positive energy whilst negative words generate negative energy. The world is stressful enough. Why not make it a little more pleasant by watching what we say for words form who we are and form those around us. 🙂 If you want it to be positive, use postive words! Kill those negatives!

Gut, follow it.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Even if you don’t celebrate it, I think it’s a great day to just go out, reunite with family friends and have an awesome day. 🙂 Today what comes to mind is how we humans are indeed funny creatures (or maybe it’s just me). Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a decision, yet a zillion different choices come up? Which choice do you choose?

What happens to me is that at first instinct, I say “This is what I like.I choose “A”.

However, to be sure that THIS is the choice that I really like, I end up going through all the alternatives in meticulous detail. I go through the pros and cons, check details on websites, read reviews and think about the choices day-in day-out.

The result? After painstakingly looking at all the details and having a pile of information, I go back to “A.” The first option I decided on.

It makes me wonder, why do I go through all these motions of checking, going through details, only to revert back to the very first decision one made months or years ago? It reminds me of the book “Blink” I read before by Malcom Gladwell. It talks about the human instinct and how instinctively we sometimes know the difference between a fake and a real work of art. It tells us that from our past experiences, our accumulated knowledge, our store of knowledge, our “instinct” or rather our gut feeling is often correct.

I suppose one should follow one’s gut more often. However, it takes gut to do this so it isn’t very easy to do. If you can,however, it will stop you going through all the motions of looking at every possible choice and save you much time. Choose what it is you want and follow your gut 🙂 It doesn’t lie.

The Accident

Accidents do happen. When they do, no one wants it to happen and no matter what kind of accident it is, it always brings up a range of emotions. Yesterday, I crashed my car into the car in front of me while waiting for a turn. A dumb accident indeed caused by my somehow stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake. Good thing it wasn’t serious. It was my first real accident ever after over a decade of driving (that’s if you ignore motorcycles leaving their paint on my side mirror or another car hitting the corner of my bumpber). I’ve been fortunate and count my blessings. Most importantly though, yesterday’s lesson reminded me of an important lesson : have a positive attitude no matter what.

When I realized what had happened and stopped the car, I immediately got out and went to see the lady in the car in front of me. Luckily she was alright and together we decided to move our cars to the side of the road to avoid causing any traffic jams. It was dark and for awhile both of us were sitting in our cars calling the insurance firms and others we needed to tell.

Then we both got out the car and started chatting. What struck me first was how positive the lady was. After I had said sorry who knows how many times, she just told me to not worry about it and smiled. She said, “It’s alright, no one wants to hit someone else. At least we both have insurance.” She even laughed and said it was indeed not such a good year for her as the Chinese Astrology says. She had earlier also been hit by another car and not yet had the opportunity to go fix her car, so the time to fix her car had finally come she said.

As she jumped around avoiding mosquitoes she told me how she had just come back from the fitness, bought food and was on her way home to have dinner with her boyfriend. The lovely part was that she was so sweet and even waved her hands around showing me how she had been exercising. Then we exchanged names and work information. We lived and worked not far from each other and she also had a friend who worked at the same place I did.

What a small world.

And so we had a lovely chat, talked about this and that and waited to see which insurance company would be faster. We laughed at how she could stick her finger into a gap between the car body and her back lights, and commented on our dated driver’s license cards. (We both have the old versions where it’s laminated pink paper) Even though, it was late, dark and we were both hungry, she made everything seem okay. Of course, we exchanged numbers. Next time she comes to my office, we will probably meet up.

Who knows what life brings you right? Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining and maybe I will have found a new friend amidst unexpected circumstances.

So next time something happens that you didn’t want to, remember this, be positive. Attitude makes a difference. If she had banged on her car and made a big affair over it it, we would both have had a horrible evening and gone to bed with angry hearts. Instead we laughed it off and went hope to a good meal and good night’s sleep. Be positive, be happy!