Thursday, 25 December 2003

I think this is probably the first time in which I've truly experienced a Christmas atmosphere. Granted, it's not a white Christmas, but this is ultimately a Western tradition and being in a Western country kind of helps to set the atmosphere.

This is what I call Christmas. With ALL the shops closed, Christmas is not about commercial activities, but staying home with loved ones and enjoying yourself. I guess it's kind of hard when you're not with your family, but my friends have certainly become the family that I'm missing here in England.

We're at Gabor's place now, cooking a Christmas lunch, with Christmas songs playing on the stereo. It's cold and windy outside, but warm in the house. There's a small Christmas tree that cannot hold the amount of presents we have under it, as well as the lollies, sweets and chocolates we have on it, and there's just a general feel of peace, joy and contentment.

Love...I've truly felt the Christmas experience...would be perfect if all my family and friends I've ever made were all with me, as well as some snowfall.

I can't wait for heaven.

Wednesday, 24 December 2003

I'm baaaack...absolutely knackered, but in one piece nonetheless.

Really don't know where to begin on my trip to Hungary. It has been a real eye-opening trip in the sense that I saw and experienced so many things that I really never thought I would.

Firstly, there is the unbelievable hospitality of the Hungarian people. Truly, they never go hungry in Hungary. My entire trip seemed to consist of one big neverending meal. Gabor's parents truly spoilt all of us with their warmth, love and genorosity.

Then there was the freezing cold. It never actually snowed on me, although of course I saw lots of snow still. The temperature ranged between -5 and never went above 2 degrees celcius, which meant that we were all wrapped up like Eskimos during the whole trip. But also meant breath-taking beauty of snow covered ground, white trees and a lovely romantic fog.

Central European architecture is distinctively different from anywhere else that I've been and once again, I have been exposed to a different sort of beauty. And the lovely countryside with its forests, hills and lakes...

For the first time in my life, I saw an entire lake frozen over, as well as an open-air ice-skating rink. For the first time in my life, I had a snowball fight and lay on the snow. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the meaning of Central European hospitality and tasted their absolutely delicious food.

I had a real wonderful trip.

And I have to add that today was the day that I fulfilled a promise I made to myself back in 1997 - I returned to the Tower of London.

Friday, 19 December 2003

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Stepped out of my dorm this morning and I literally gasped, thinking that it had snowed over the night. Turned out simply to be a thick layer of frost, which was rather hazardous to my heath as I had on shoes that weren't quite suited for ice. Radio has reported that it might jolly well snow either on Sunday or Monday, the day I get back from Hungary (and let's not forget the snow storm that happened a few days ago.)

...I may have a white Christmas yet.

Last day of work today, was quite sad, having to walk around saying goodbye to all the College staff. Got a little present from the College...a guidebook to the hidden secrets of Britain. Sweet gesture, although one wonders what am I supposed to do with it seeing that I'm leaving in little more than a week.

Pat gave me this really lovely cushion as well. Bright yellow with a big M cross-stiched in the middle and a tiny giraffe to its side.

Christmas is well and truly here...everybody's becoming really nice, presents being exhanged all over the place and people shopping like mad.

Looking forward to Vienna/Hungary, but not the 6am wake up call. Be back on Monday. Will write then!

Forget to mention, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is fantastic. Can't it be anything else? But as Maya says, now that it's come to the end, what else is there to look forward to? We both feel the hole in our hearts...

Thursday, 18 December 2003

been really hectic lately. last day of work tomorrow, and trying to tie up loose ends, especially after being sick, is an extremely busy task. have been working till rather late these last few days, but after tomorrow, there will be no more work!!

leaving for vienna/hungary early friday morning. was just informed that there has been a snow storm. jolly good.

oh oh oh! and in approx 3 hours, i will be catching the final installment of the lord of the rings trilogy!!! I can't wait!!!

Monday, 15 December 2003

i am sick. actually, i have been sick since thursday. all thanks to glen who gave the bug to me. or as he so aptly puts it, he did not so much as gave it to me as I took it from him. After all, he is too kind a person to give something as horrid as a flu bug to someone else.

I do question my sanity. His boss banned him from going to work for days because she was afraid of him spreading his bug around. Guisele had him under house arrest for the very same reason. That should have told me something about the bug. And still, I go over to their house twice in 3 days to visit them, and then stay up late till wee hours in the morning playing monopoly with friends.

Lack of sleep, lack of water, and to top it off, lovely English winter...I guess I deserved to get sick.

By the way, if any of you are planning to go watch Love Actually....DON'T. Played too much on the whole feel-good romantic comedy heartstrings. I admit, I was never one for romantic comedies, but I did kind of liked Notting Hill for its wit...Love Actually was just plain cheesy. So unless you really have nothing to watch and would like a good laugh, as well as watch a rubbish movie with a rather good cast, put your £5/A$10/S$8 (or however much it is to buy a movie ticket wherever you are) somewhere else.

On another note, I got a letter back from the UN. (I sent in an application to take their Competitive Recruitment Examinations Exercise in Singapore this February.) I was kindly rejected.

Back to the old drawing block....maybe this blog shall be renamed Tales of the Unemployed for next year...

Thursday, 11 December 2003

the beauty of moving to a new place is that I get an upgraded computer (finally, Windows XP!), a new 21-inch monitor (it's huge!), a much more pleasant environment...and all of 6 days to enjoy it before I stop work for good.

Not to mention the fact that I'm still surrounded by boxes and maintenance men drilling holes in walls...

Tuesday, 9 December 2003

Have I ever mentioned that the office I am working in used to be a WW2 army barrack? And that the foundations are now so weak that everything is tilted to one side? Filing cabinets automatically shut when they are opened not because of technology, but simply because of gravity.

Besides having to battle feelings of imbalance, there is a spot right in the corner of the building where if one jumps, the entire building shakes.

It is also home to a very happy family of mice. And every few paces, along the wall, you'll find piles of rat poison.

Not to mention that exactly a week ago today, I was rained on because the roof started leaking. After lunch, I returned to find a hole in the ceiling and bits of it strewn all over the floor. Divine intervention had me out, and not under the ceiling when that happened.

After more than a couple of years, we're finally changing offices and today is moving day. I don't know how long this is going to last, but as such, I have no computer access and have to resort to the computer labs at the moment. There is no work to be done except putting things into boxes and unpacking them at the other end.

Except...we're moving into another building at least 50 years old with rotten carpets and this time, if one were to jump on the 2nd level, people on the 1st floor will feel it.

I have no idea if the move is an improvement or not...

Thursday, 4 December 2003

what am i to do?

my boss just talked to me again about the possibility of me returning for another year. Sounds like she really wants me to come back. But I'm really not sure because somehow, I don't think I can afford to spend another year of my life as a volunteer. I need to start saving for the future, for the family, for my brother's further education...

But it's just oh so tempting....they're willing to wait for me till March 2004, have offered to pay for my airticket and dropped in the possibility that it may become a permanent position (hopefully she didn't mean permanent volunteer!).

I really would love to stay here for a tad longer. I've fallen in love with the English life. The easy access to plays and musicals, the thriving arts scene, the open-mindedness of the people, the historicity, the travelling, the beauty...and sometimes even the archaic systems. I have no wish to stay here for the rest of my life, but I could take England for a few more years.

Yet, I really do miss my friends back home and after being away for 4 years, maybe it's time I returned to strengthen the bonds I've had with them. And my family too. Everybody's been so patient with me and it amazes me how distance did not seem to cause me relationship with them to disintegrate. In fact, I feel more loved than ever by my friends and family and I want to spend more time with them.

But if I leave...I'll miss my friends here as well. I have made some unbelievably fantastic friends here and I want to be able to strengthen these bonds as well. A lot of them I've only gotten close to during the last 6 months and I would appreciate more time to get to know them better.

Of course, there're also the friends I left behind in Australia whom I miss terribly too and who are demanding that I return some time soon...

What am I to do????
ARGH!!! I just found out that it wasn't any simple body part that these two men shared together! Read it for yourself.
I am extremely impressed.

By Count of Monte Cristo and Frequency star Jim (or James) Caviezel to be exact.

Was watching this BBC documentary last night about religion and celebrities. The interview with Jim was really good and the answers he gave to the questions, as well as his obvious principles made me wish there were more actors/actresses like him around. Incredible faith in God and love for Him.

Religion and celluloid/mass media culture can mix, but very very rarely and only with a firm foundation in God's Word. But it can and I know that's where I'm heading. I was led to study Communication for a reason and I sincerely believe that God gave me the passion I have for writing and movies. And Jim has made me believe that it is possible to do so without compromising my faith.

When I make that movie with Kristin, I can only hope we'd find a group of actors/actresses with his principles.

On another note...I am not entirely sure if I should be appalled or amused by this.

I mean, what exactly did the ad say?

I'm looking to eat someone. Will you let me eat you?

And someone actually responded to that??? Not only that, but the victim actually shared the meal?!?!?! Honestly, I don't think I would be very much interested in eating any part of myself!

The world is a strange strange place...

Tuesday, 2 December 2003

Christmas has arrived early for me.

The Business and Communications department had a combined Christmas lunch today and towards the end of the meal, my boss went out of the restaurant, only to return with a huge package. She laid it down and started making a speech about how someone in the department would be leaving us soon.

After turning around trying to figure out who it was, it finally hit me that she was talking about me. I started wondering about my blond roots.

I was given a Samsonite suitcase!!! Which arrived just in time, seeing that my backpack has given way. Yup...all that backpacking around Europe has taken its toll and it's time my backpack is put to rest.

But the presents did not stop there...arrived back in the office to find a package sitting on my table waiting for me.

Dearest Maya, the cookies are an absolute delight. I am having trouble stopping myself from finishing them all at once. And the belt is simply gorgeous! You are a dear...

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