Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Transitions V

We leave for our summer vacation today in the USA. I leave with mixed feelings, as this time, we will be returning without Z, who will stay behind to start his freshman year in college. I know that he is excited about this new phase of his life, but is also sad to leave his friends & the comforts of home.

For third culture kids, I am sure there is also the added uncertainty of whether their "home" (wherever their parents/siblings may be) will still be "home" by the time they graduate from college. Rest assured, no matter where we are, they will always have a "home" to come back to.

I can only hope that during my boys' college years, they will find their place in this world, find something they are passionate about doing, maybe even that special someone who will stand by their side, no matter where they are or what they do, so that they can make their own Home somewhere on this Green Earth of ours.

I can only hope that we have brought up self-confident independent beings who will make their marks on this world.

That, in a nutshell, is parenting - Hopes, Fears, with a good dose of Love.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shakira - Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (The Official 2010 FIFA ...

I am not much of a soccer fan but this song makes me feel happy. The haunting African rhythms that accompany the catchy melody, together with the energetic moves of the dancers just makes be feel so good!

Waka waka!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Transitions IV

Even though Z is the one going off to college this fall, W is also going through transitions. Apart from his brother leaving, one of his best friends will also be leaving this summer, returning back to his home country for good.

They hang out constantly with each other, trying to enjoy their last few days together in Beijing, before we head back to the USA next week. They try to make plans to visit each other, sometime, somewhere, soon.

I repeat: it is heartbreaking for me to see my boys go through the pain of these separations. I hope it will make them more resilient.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


aliendoc is ecstatically happy.

I have finally found websites from which I can buy & download digital books on to my e-reader. This was something A bought some time ago, but was left collecting dust because at the time, I couldn't find non-proprietary sites from which to get e-books. Amazon and Barnes & Noble both had proprietary versions which would only work with their own respective e-readers (the Kindle for the former, & the Nook for the latter).

I started browsing for sites again recently & found these:
and now even Barnes & Nobles has epub versions

From these sites, I can get either pdf or epub versions of books.

What a relief it is to be able to obtain books again in China albeit not of the paper variety. It is a bit of a hardship for me to not have access to English bookstores like Borders here.

Besides, I am running out of room on my bookshelves.

Impressions from China - Singapore @ the World Expo

This writer was being very polite in this letter to the press...

"Singapore Pavilion at expo lacks zing
I SPENT several days at the World Expo in Shanghai with a few Chinese friends last week. Compared with the other pavilions visited, the Singapore Pavilion gets a 6.5 rating out of 10.

While efforts on the building design, roof-top garden and video by Singapore artists are commendable, we felt that something was missing. The Singapore Pavilion did not make an impact and its features may not be enough to attract visitors."

I was not impressed at all by the Singapore Pavilion at the World Expo. 6.5 out of 10 is too much, IMHO.

A mascot named "Liu Lian Xiao Xing" (Little Durian Star)???!!! With a green durian for its head?? I was shocked & more than a little embarrassed, really, when I saw the mascot being led around in the pavilion. Who thought of this? More importantly, who approved it??? OMG.

The pavilion itself, seemed to me, a marketing opportunity for Fast East Organization. Albeit they did sponsor it; but when their ads feature more prominently than the main content of the pavilion, well, that's a bit too much, innit?

The AV presentation, vaguely named "Urban Symphony" which starred a few Singapore pop starts (I only recognized Steph Sun & Tanya Chua) left me & my family wondering: "Hmm...what's the point of this video clip?"

The highlight of the pavilion (in reality, it was outside the pavilion) was the snack bar selling Singaporean food. We had our taste of roti prata & laksa lemak to temporarily curb our cravings for "local" food.

So if anyone asks me if it's worth lining up 2 & a half hours to get into the Singapore pavilion (yes, the lines were AT LEAST that long when we were there during the Dragon Boat Festival Chinese holiday - another story altogether), I would say "NO"!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Road Trip!

Spent the whole afternoon mapping our road trip(s) in the US for this summer, one of which will involve driving 12 hours to Z's college for a one-day orientation program! Not that I am complaining as road trips are one of the highlights for our family vacations.

In the days before Mapquest & Google Maps (horrors! in my sons' eyes!), A & I would arm ourselves with our handy ol' Rand McNally Atlas, strap our boys into their car seats & off we would go! Lodging would be in a local motel chain like Comfort Inn or Quality Suites, or Hampton Inn; nothing 5-star for us budget-watchers! But it would still be fun family time for us as these motels usually have huge rooms with two double beds that could fit our family of four, and there's something about hotel rooms that kids love.

We have done road trips in the South-east, the East Coast, the New England area, the West Coast and the mother of all road trips - our trek across the continent of North America from Philadelphia to San Francisco just before our trans-global migration to the Eastern hemisphere. What a way to see the country -driving through plains & deserts & Rocky Mountain roads - seeing the Kansas roads stretch for miles ahead in a straight line bordered by fields of green on both sides; being buffeted by the Colorado winds as we crawled along the mountainous winding roads of the Rockies; seeing the great Salt Lakes of Utah & its surrounding desert; being awed by the majesty of the tall redwood forests of the North-west. To me, this is the best way to appreciate any country's beauty.

This summer, we will do a road trip in the South, an area we have never visited before. We will visit the home of rock & roll & blues, Jazz country, guitar factories, music museums & throw in a couple of college visits for W at the same time (sigh - it starts again).

With Z starting college in the fall, I really can't say when we will do another one of these family road trips again.

I certainly hope we will see many more to come.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Transitions III

Z. has to start packing for college soon. I do what I can to help him along, packing a set of stand-by medication to keep in his dorm room in case he has diarrhea/vomiting/runny nose/fever/cramps/sore throat when the college clinic is closed.

The rest is up to him. I restrain myself from telling him what to pack. I ask him to enroll himself in the uni health insurance plan. He needs to do the pre-registration tasks on his own.; the housing application; registering for orientation etc etc etc.

All this a part of the transition & the letting go.

Both for him and for me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Transitions II

When we moved from junior college into university, we did not have a graduation ceremony. I vaguely remember lining up in the school hall, according to our tutorial groups to collect our 'A' level results. Some of us cried with relief (or sadness) upon opening up that crucial piece of paper. And that was that.

Here, I see my #1 son hanging out, almost desperately, with his pals, daily, trying to spend as much time as possible with them before they all leave for college or university in different parts of the world. For some, they will return to Beijing during the Christmas break, where their parents still work, and get a chance to reconnect with friends again. For others, they will probably never see them again as they head for their home countries, unlikely to return to China again in the near future.

It's tough, this transition process. They not only have to deal with a new phase of their lives, but also with the separation, oftentimes permanent, from their good friends.

I suppose, it will be made easier with Facebook & Twitter & Skype & MSN & whatever Internet social networking tools are available out there.

Still, I feel for them, these third culture kids. It is bittersweet, this life they have, rich with worldly experiences but also poignantly difficult with frequent separations.

Monday, June 07, 2010