February 24, 2010

KO Extreme

I had another workout session at the gym yesterday. It was a KO Extreme class which is a martial arts based fitness workout. I wasn't sure what to expect from the description on the brochure, but since the timing was right, I gave it a try.  I was there at exactly 5.10 pm and surprisingly heaps of people were there. By now I could recognize half of the faces in class, which I think puts me in a comfort zone. Plus, my colleague Kata was there too, so now I have a real gym partner in class.

We started with a low impact routine - marching and side-stepping for 5 minutes. Just as I was warming up to the easy peasy routine, the instructor shouted, "Double punch and high kick!". Before I knew it, everyone's doing the Thai kick-boxing thingy; punching, bobbing, weaving, side-kicking, elbowing and ducking. KA-POW! Fueled by the energy around me, I too joined in the fun and started kicking my way through the workout. There were times I was in a blur, especially when the steps involved a lot of hand-legs coordination, but I didn't let that bother me. I applied the hentam attitude and weaved my way through KO.

After 40 minutes of kicking and punching, I couldn't help but feel like a  super-hero woman  armed with  deadly kickboxing skills. Yeah, I was having a moment there. Too much blood pumping  in your veins does stuff to you. We continued for another 10 minutes before we did some cool-down stretches. At the end of the session,  I was sweating like a pig but I didn’t feel I was working as hard as I had been in the BAT classes. I didn't feel the usual burning sensation in my muscles or leg cramps etc. I don't know. Maybe it's because of the banana I ate before the workout (cos I read somewhere that eating bananas before a workout  gives you extra fuel), or maybe my stamina has increased a little, OR maybe it's because I could let go of all the academic work+babysitting+house chores related stress by punching, kicking, bobbing and saying HAI-YA without appearing like a loonie. Yeah, I guess that's it. KO Extreme is perfect for me.  

February 17, 2010

Jack and Jill

I don't normally talk about work or people at work cos there's a thing called Office Etiquette and  one of  the commandments is Thou shall not gossip. People who break this common rule often get a lashing for being an idiot. But just for today, I'll make an exception. Not talking about my colleagues of course, just about  how certain people at work behave, in general. And since none of my colleagues know about the existence of this humble garden, I am going to throw caution to the wind and tell you a story about two people sharing an office. Nothing to do with me, mind you!*rolls eyes* These characters are totally fictional and they are not associated with anyone dead or alive. There. That's my disclaimer. Those of you working in a law firm (I'm looking right at you LW and CL) please advise and tell me if this is enough to keep me safe from future lawsuits. 

Right. As I was saying, this is a tale of two colleagues; Jack and Jill. Jack and Jill shares an office. Jack is a Mongolian whose English sounds a lot like Japanese and Jill is your all-Malaysian girl who finds it difficult to understand Jack's incoherent English. Despite the language barrier, they're cool with each other. Until recently.

When Jack first came, he hardly ever stayed in the office cos he had heaps of field work to do outside. After he's done with field work however, he started coming in more frequently. That's when Jill discovered Jack's real traits and one of them was his annoying eating habits. You see, Jack makes excruciatingly annoying sounds when he eats. It's like everything needs to be demonstrated and stressed in the eating process. Like if he eats a bag of chips with a can of coke, he'd rip the packet out-loud and munch and munch and munch on them like cookie monster would devour his cookies. Remember Sesame Street? Right. Because he's too hasty in his attempt to finish the chips, he often chokes on his food and in desperation, he would take a few big gulps of  Coca Cola to help move the food down. And then he burps. Out loud. Which is cool with Jill, if this was done during the lunch break or at the lounge suite where people have their lunches. But no. He just has to do it in the office - all the time.

Oh, by the way, Jill takes her wee baby to work every day. More about this later.

When he's done eating, he'd start making himself a cup of coffee at the pantry. He comes back from the pantry with his Nescafe, places the mug on the table (loudly) "THUD" and then stirs it with a spoon "TING TING TING" before he starts sipping on  it and making this sound SLURRRRRRPPPPPPPP...Ahhhh  Don't know what's with the ahhhh.., but he constantly does this when he's slurping on his coffee. It's like a finale to his extraordinary eating habits. When this happens, I, I mean Jill, just feels like shouting "Can you stop eating like a pig?" but for the sake of harmony, she normally keeps her mouth shut.

After a few sips and slurps, Jack gets on with his work. He takes out his files, puts them on the table THUD THUD THUD and starts typing on his keyboard, CLICK CLACK CLUCK CLICK CLACK CLUCK. This goes on for hours. It is as if he's playing mortal combat with his keyboard. It is traumatizing cos she can hardly hear herself think with that CLICK CLACK CLUCK CLICK and SLURRRRRRPPPPP Ahhhhh. This happens all the time.

Aside from that, Jill's baby also has a hard time having Jack around cos he always closes the door loudly with a bang. This startles the baby of course especially when she's sleeping. Baby starts crying and poor Jill has to stop whatever she's doing to comfort her. And Jack? Oh, he's oblivious to all this cos he's so caught up in his own little world. Being the kind and patient person that she is, Jill remains silent and drives herself crazy with imaginative murder plots.

One Sunday (about a month ago), Jill decided to go to the office to catch up on her work. As she was about to open the door to her room, she noticed that someone was inside. It was none other than Jack! What was he doing in the office on a Sunday? Jill peeked through the see-through window on the door and got the shock of her life. Jack was watching an adult entertainment site! How interesting. Jill knocked on the door 3 times before turning the knob. This of course pushed  the fella's panic button. Hehe. He quickly clicked the X button on the screen before turning to say "Hi". His face, pale white. Guess what happened next? Nothing of course. Jill just smiled knowingly and pretended like nothing happened. Poor Jack has to live with the fact that he will never know what Jill knows.
Since that incident, Jack has been conveniently occupied and doesn't go to the office on a regular basis anymore. When he does show up, it's usually in the late afternoon, when Jill's about to leave. Jack probably feels awkward being around Jill and deep down she does feel sorry for him. Well, only a little. Now that Jack can't annoy her with his eating habits, she can finally do her work in peace. Life is good again. 
The End.

The moral of the story? I'll leave that to you. :)

February 15, 2010

Not any given Sunday

It was just us this year, but that's okay. I've sort of got used to having low-key celebration for all things - birthdays, Christmas, New Year. And yesterday was no different. For Chinese New Year, we had this tiny, miniscule celebration at home with just the kids. 

I don't even know whether I can call it a celebration cos what we did was wake up, wish each other Gong Hei Fat Choy and eat the sticky rice cake for breakfast. That was it. I couldn't get the angpow packets from China town  market cos I was busy cooking on the eve of CNY and hubby being hubby didn't even bother searching for it. So that explains the absence of angpows. Anyway, after making my family eat the sticky rice cake, our CNY was deemed official and we were all free to get on with our lives again.  

By mid afternoon, we've forgotten about CNY cos it was time to celebrate Valentine's Day. So after lunch, we all got ready and hubby took us out to watch this movie.


You can't go wrong with this one on Valentine's day. It's highly entertaining, to say the least. After the movies, we headed to Burger King for takeouts and I screwed up my diet by eating a double cheeseburger combo, loads of chips and fizzy drinks. And that's how we celebrated the day of love. How's that for cincai?

February 11, 2010

The Challenge Continues

My second workout session on Wednesday was BAT - a buttocks-abdominal-thigh workout. I wasn't sure it was wise to put my BATs for another torture after such a grueling session on Tuesday, but being the desperate girl that I am, I dragged myself to the centre.

I rushed to this BAT class just in the nick of time. The class was full and everyone seemed to have come early cos they all had a yoga mat and training weights ready. I quickly went to the storage room to get a mat and a pair of hand weights before heading back to the gym. Lucky for me, there was a perfect spot next to this cute, 50-ish aunty. I quickly settled in. At this stage any form of motivation is good. You see, sitting next to a 50 year-old during a push-up routine not only lessens the pressure to do well but it also makes you feel good to see someone else's arms (apart from yours) shake uncontrollably.

Anyway gym partners aside, the class itself was interesting. This time, the range of students was wide: middle-aged ladies, teenagers, 20-somethings and 30-somethings. Oh, there was also this one petite aunty whom I recognised from the first class. Last Tuesday she was wearing a red-stripey singlet and a faded jean shorts.  Today? Red-stripey singlet and a faded jean shorts too! Nothing wrong with that but wearing the same outfit in a 3-day span? Isn't that erm...intriguing? I scanned her outfit more intently and wondered whether they had been washed.  I wondered whether she smelt bad and whether she wore any perfume to camouflage the odour. As these crucial thoughts were running through my head, the instructor suddenly broke the silence and began the workout. I looked away from petite aunty and focused on the first routine. 

We began with a warm-up — low-paced, easy and fun. Then she continued with heaps and heaps of leg training routines - leg curls, squats, lunges and calf exercise. The routines themselves weren't that hard, but the repetition was a killer! Leg cramps started to set in and my thigh and calves started to ache but I told myself, "if aunty can do it so can you". After the leg training exercise, it was time for some serious resistence training, which was HARD. So hard that I wanted to tell the instructor "ENOUGH ALREADY! I just had a c-section 7 months ago and if I continue doing these crunches, the stitches might just pop off!". Despite my disgruntledment, I managed to do hundreds and hundreds of tummy crunches, sit ups and leg lifts. Well, I'm not entirely sure how many exactly cos I stopped counting after 5. Aaaa-nyway, we finally came to the last routine which was a lot like yoga. The instructor had us stretching, twisting and bending in so many ways I had never tried before. Five minutes of contortioning and then it was over. 

Today I woke up with a dull ache in my legs, thighs and butt - a reminder of the torture I underwent yesterday. I wonder if there's a little, magic pill that I  could take to get in shape. If there is, I would take it in a heart beat. Then, I would never need to worry about tummy crunches or sit ups or leg curls or any of those  BAT workouts for the rest of my life.

*Note: I started writing this entry in the morning but was interrupted by my colleague. I then accidentally hit the PUBLISH POST button before it was completed. This explains why you might have the incomplete version in your Google reader :)

February 9, 2010

Fighting the Flab

In an attempt to achieve one of my new year's resolutions, I recently joined my uni's fitness centre. The membership entitles me, the member unlimited use of all the facilities and join all the fitness classes. For less than $100 a year, I'd say it's a pretty good deal.

Yesterday was my first class and it was a high energy, high impact workout. I was so fired up to start cos I really wanted to sweat and do something athletic. For more than a year, my only form of exercise  has been walking to the garage from my doorstep and then from the parking lot to my office. Pretty pathetic huh? Well, despite my lack of exercise, I was very optimistic about the class and was confident I could just breeze through all the routines. After all, I used to play futsal twice a week and I once attended a Kursus Senamrobik Tahap 1, so this aerobics class was really a no-brainer.

DEAD WRONG. I was okay at first but after 20 minutes of jumping and skipping and squatting and running and hopping, I almost died. The only thing that kept me going was my ego.  You see, none of the girls in class showed any sign of exhaustion. Not even a girl who looked four times my size. So I kept on going, all the while cursing under my breath, and wiping the sweat on my forehead. I ignored my shaking legs and aching muscles and gave it all out. So I continued to jump, skip, squat, run and kick. As I was getting all high to the beat of Katy Perry's I kiss a girl in techno version, I felt a sharp tugging pain on my lower abdomen. It felt like a muscle cramp, but I doubt it cos I  seriously don't have any muscles on my tummy. It's more likely to be lemak cramps, cos that's what I've accumulated in my mid section. Those fats were cursing me for waking them up in the middle of a long uneventful sleep. 

Because of the unbearable lemak cramps, I had to stop and sit at one corner of the gym. I felt a bit defeated  because I was performing way below my minimum expectations. I had delusionally vowed to myself that I would join ALL the evening classes set out in the schedule. Who was I kidding? I can't even get over lemak cramps! So frustrating. As I watched my cute blonde instructor with J-Lo's butt in action, I tried to lower the unrealistic expectations I have of myself. Even though part of me felt this was all a bad idea, there was also that crazy part of me that wanted to exceed all expectations and be the best student in class. After several minutes of monologue,  my legs felt better, the cramps eased and I was ready to take on another gruelling session.

The class lasted for another 40 minutes and then it was all over. When J-Lo's butt said "Thanks for coming girls. You all did great!" I clapped and clapped to my heart's content. My legs felt like jelly but that one hour workout gave me the much-needed wake-up call.

February 8, 2010

Waitangi Day in Kaipoi, the River Town

"The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, in a marquee erected in the grounds of James Busby's house (now known as the Treaty House) at Waitangi in the Bay of Island. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Maori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British citizens" - Wikipedia

Prior to Saturday, February 6, I did not know what Waitangi Day was all about. When I asked Es to explain what the day means to New Zealanders, she too was unsure and she's been here for 6 years. She later suggested that we all go to Kaiapoi, the River town to witness the Māoris in action during the celebration of Waitangi Day.

Es told us to be there by 10 am but as usual, we were late. We missed the opening ceremony which involved the Mayor and local MP's being paddled upriver by Māori warriors in the waka Katoro and greeted by members of the Kaiapoi North School kapahaka group. We didn't miss a lot though. When we arrived, the Emcee was still telling the story of the Waitangi Treaty. Later on, the head, known as Upoko Runanga  opened the proceedings and everyone (except for us) sang the National Anthem. That was the formal part of the festival.

After the formal proceedings, there was a dance performance by a Cook Island performing group. From where I was standing, I could not get a good shot of the dancers, which was too bad. After the dance performance, the emcee, also known as the Wizard proclaimed the main programme of the day, emphasising the staged battle between the Māoris and the British. From what I gathered, before the signing of  the Waitangi Treaty, the Māori people and the Pakeha (the Māori word for New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) fought each other and many Māoris died in the war. With the signing of the Waitangi treaty, the dispute ended, Māoris were given rights to their land and they were acknowledged as the People of the Land.

We came to the festival to witness the warrior dance by the Māoris. However, from the way things were going, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. The wizard mentioned that there were going to be 12 acts altogether and the whole performance  would continue until the late afternoon. This included singing  performances from young vocalist, veteran singers and nearly everything in between.  After the dance performance, there was supposed to be a staged battle between the Māoris and the British, with a special appearance from the Viking Warriors and Pirates of Parnassus. The act should have gone hand in hand with the narration. Unfortunately, the Wizard's narration was too draggy. In his attempt to excite the audience, he sort of spoiled their enthusiasm with his long-winded exposition. He's like the King of spoilers! A lot of yapping and then action. More yapping and the firing of a canon. Fifteen minutes of yapping and then a fight scene. The same drill for an hour.

 The Vikings

The Māori Warriors

The British
The performances were very interesting but things started to get too boring for Alden and he started throwing tantrums, shouting "No, no, no" to his daddy. At one point it was too much for us to handle; the draggy narration plus Alden's screaming, so we decided to leave. We left the festival,  stopped by at the Farmers Market and bought some donuts before heading home. The festival wasn't what I expected but it was enough to give me a history lesson about the Māori.

February 4, 2010

Too little too soon?

So this morning I dropped Goliva off at daycare. I must admit it was heart-wrenching to leave her there, knowing she's the youngest baby at the centre. She's so tiny, so little and so kesian.  Don't know why I'm being so sentimental about this. I guess it's tougher than I thought it would be. Having her attend the orientation on Tuesday doesn't help either. I still have this inscrutable feeling of lost and I can't focus on my work right now cos I'm constantly  thinking about her, wondering what she's doing, whether she's crying, whether the care providers are giving her undivided attention, and most of all, whether I'm doing the right thing. I am trying to remind myself that, it is the only way I can get work done and that in time, both Goliva and I will learn to adapt to the situation. It is a struggle for both mommy and baby. We'll get through this.

February 3, 2010

Watching the Buskers

I did my weekly morning shift as Cathedral guardian last Saturday. I was not my usual self cos I was tired and sleep-deprived, yawning every 5 to 10 minutes, smiling groggily at visitors and giving wrong information about the Cathedral. "How old is the Cathedral? and what kind of wood is the ceiling made of?" asked one Brit lady. "124 years, I think. No, no,..it's 125...Emm..the ceiling? made of timber, I think" I answered unconvincingly. The lady thanked me and slowly walked towards a group of  senior citizens who came from the Diamond cruise ship. I overheard her saying "Very old indeed, 125 years...Victorian Gothic bla bla bla..." O-O! She quoted me? OMG. I had a sinking feeling my answer was wrong. So I quickly searched for George, the senior guide who was paired with me that day. He told me it's 129 years. Great! Now I have to  find the old lady and tell her it's 129. 1-2-9 Why couldn't I remember that? I searched high and low but the Brit lady was nowhere to be found. It was too late. Because of me, a bunch of people from the Diamond cruise ship have the wrong facts about Christchurch cathedral.

I didn't tell George about this incident (of course) and sort of shrugged the guilt off my conscience. No use crying over spilt milk right? I decided to spare innocent people from being misinformed again so I went outside for a little fresh air. Outside, it was a whole different atmosphere. There were heaps of people in the square sitting, standing and waiting for some kind of grand performance. I wondered what the commotion was all about. As I wandered further, I saw a banner that said: World Buskers Festival, January 2010. So, this is how a Busker Festival look like, I thought to myself. Stalls were set up everywhere selling all sorts of stuff like beaded accessories, caps, T-shirts and souvenirs (which were typically overpriced). I saw jugglers, a man on  a unicycle and clown-like performers getting ready for their act. It was like a street circus to me.

For your information, the World Buskers Festival is the most loved festival in Christchurch. Every year, artists from Canada, USA, Brazil, Portugal, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Australia and local ones perform for the public in various locations across the city - FOC.  These performers don't get paid and they make a living from the donations  they get. Therefore, each busker needs to be really funny and entertaining in order to charm the crowd. At least charming enough to get some donations for the entertainment.

The Collector was the first show I witnessed.  It was performed by a Brit guy who impressed the crowd with his comic antics. His performance was more oriented for children as it included  a lot of games, water balloons and stunts with slips and slides.  For this act, he recruited a little boy from the audience to shoot him with a water gun, which then gave him the reason to run around like a psychopath in an effort to dodge the water-bullets. Idiotic but hilariously entertaining! The climax of his performance was when he stripped down to his red underwear and slid head first on a wet kiddies pool. Everyone cheered and applauded. The crowd obviously loved him. 

The second show was  Acrobuffos: Waterbombs! The performers are real-life husband and wife who are both street performers, jugglers, mask-players and clowns. A dynamic duo. They presented a really amusing street theatre which invoved lots and lots of water bombs and comic antics, all set to loud opera music. They were hillarious! Other acts were performing at Cathedral Square but I didn't get to witness all of them. After the second show, I saw George coming out of the cathedral, searching for me. That was the end of my break. I went inside and resume my shift, more alert and attentive this time. Hehe.

I was really happy to be at the festival at just the right time. I just wish I could have stayed for the entire day so I could have caught all of the performances. Perhaps next time :)