Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coffee or chocolate?

Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton
Coffee and chocolate are amongst my favourite things. When I need a pick me up, I make myself a coffee and when I want to wind down, I make myself a cocoa. For my choice of dessert, chocolate is a prime ingredient . Give me a few books, a laptop,  an espresso coffee and a piece of yummy chocolate cake, I can while away my time in a cafĂ© all day long.

I am also one of those people who simply cannot have enough of her solitary moments. I dread shopping malls where there is a sea of people and I avoid hypermarkets like a plague. Last October, when I went to the World Expo in Shanghai, I cringed when I saw the queues and the huge crowds hanging around the pavilions. On October 16, 2010 when the expo set a single-day record of having over 1.03 million visitors that day, I was glad to be away from the Expo and  spend my day at Qizhong Stadium located in Ma Qiao town southwest of Shanghai. I was most delighted when I caught the Shanghai Masters semi-final tennis match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. A superb match to watch between the tennis greats, I count my lucky star to have witnessed it.

Until recently, after the morning rush in getting the children to school, I would get myself ready for work and on the way to work, I used to stop by either Starbucks or Coffee Bean outlet between home and office. Apart from getting the caffeine boost, I felt I needed the time to decompress before arriving at the office. On such mornings when I treated myself to that half hour of break time, I was inclined to be carried away by reading the newspaper or novel which I had with me. Some clients who had been given my mobile phone number obviously did not realize that the number was intended only for use when they had to contact me on an urgent basis. Invariably such mornings might be interrupted by phone calls from clients. To them the mobile number is for their convenience, that is to say, mobile phone is no longer a secondary means of contacting you, it is your direct line. In a way thanks to these calls, I would otherwise not have made it to the office sooner.

Since it was easy to lose track of the time, there were times when I got out of the coffee place, spirits lifted only to be met by the parking attendant who had since placed a new ticket on my windscreen. I had earlier on paid for only thirty minutes as I wanted to set my break time for half hour only. As the parking attendant appeared with a smirk on his face, he commented in Hokkien that I had to pay another thirty cents. My watch showed that I have exceeded by one minute. When I got into my car tucking into the coins tray to get the exact change, the attendant walked away. I could easily drive away as I had seven days to make the payment and I really had to get into the office soon.  However I did not want  to be burdened with the task of remembering to pay later on and if I overlooked and pay after seven days, it would cost me fifteen ringgit.  So I patiently waited for the parking attendant to return. When he reappeared, he babbled in Hokkien dialect about how he could not wait for me as I was too slow in getting my money.

  Dragon boat race in Penang
I refused to let him ruin my day so I ignored him as he rattled on about how he had worked for twenty five years and he was efficient at what he was doing and  he would always be on dot with the ticket when you exceeded the time even by a tick. Guess so often we had to amuse ourselves and at least appear upbeat to do the things we did day in day out. Maybe that was just his way of making his work more exciting. Whatever it is the particular parking attendant must be one of the fortunate ones who appeared to believe that he was good at his job. There was one time he pointed to the stray cats and say he had been feeding them and there were a few of them. I had since given in to paying for more than half hour even though I only spent half hour so that I could drive away quickly after my coffee. A school friend told me how one of her maids would be responsible for mopping the floors of her whole big bungalow every morning. Looking around her clean floors which measured about some 5,000 square feet, I decided that I would not be able to accomplish that task. I quipped and say, “ I would rather go to court every day.”

Qizhong Stadium 
When clients vented about their concerns for their children, they  sometimes said in a self-deprecating way that it was their destiny that they had to worry about their grown up children and grandchildren. Before the start of the men’s Wimbledon tennis final this year, I remember hearing the sports commentator remark this:  “ It all depends if it is his destiny to win this Wimbledon title this year.” I believe he was referring to the defending champion, Novak Djokovic who subsequently held on to his Grand Slam title. If it was to do with destiny, winning the title must have been in the stars for him never mind the fact that  the defending champion had worked hard for the title.

So often we like to think that  it is our destiny when things spin out of our control. Once a friend and I were supposed to meet up at one of the Starbucks outlets and she somehow had in mind a new outlet and got the venue wrong so we ended up at two different Starbucks outlets. She then said, “ Ah well just not meant to be , we are just not destined to meet up today.” When I narrated the incident to my younger daughter, she said, “ That is a misuse of the word “destiny”.”  Recently I watched the movie called ‘The Adjustment Bureau’. Both my daughters and I love the movie. Who would not be impressed and love the movie that centers around the concept that you can actually change the destiny if you want something badly and what’s more the protagonist actually said, “ All I have are the choices I make, and I choose her. The concept that a guy would forgo the presidential post of the United States just to be with the girl of his dreams was mind-blowing and that concept has kept our romantic hopes alive. My younger daughter reminds me that there was one time the "angels" were quoted as saying something to the effect  : Not everything happens for a reason, some things are sheer coincidences. Yes I cannot agree more.Not everything that happens has a reason, a lot of times they are just coincidences. Anyway “The Adjustment Bureau” is definitely a feel good movie that says “ Free will usually wins”. Serendipitous encounters are just what I love even if they are random and amount to nothing significant.  Whilst not everything that happens has a meaning, if we view life not too damned seriously, we may just enjoy each and every encounter in our daily lives!

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