Monday, 12 November 2007

Week 2 back in Wellington (5th - 11th November 2007)

The work week has been insanely busy. I’ll be working full-time for the next 2 weeks during Pillai’s absence. Still trying to figure out how to deal with the many queries I get flooded with…

Monday, 5th November 2007: In New Zealand, we celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, an annual celebration on the evening of the 5th of November that celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of the 5th of November 1605 in which a number of Roman Catholic conspirators, including a man named Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the House of Parliament in London. Frankly, it feels more like a celebration of Guy Fawkes trying to blow up the Parliament :P You might want to check out the movie V for Vendetta which gives you some idea what Guy Fawkes tried to do centuries back.

Us Wellingtonians would gather at various places around the city on this night to watch the Pelorus Trust Sky Show (lasts approximately 15 minutes) – you could go to the waterfront or places high up to view the fireworks display. Kiwis can purchase fireworks from shops a few days prior to Guy Fawkes Night and have their own mini-fireworks display too! I was very fortunate to be able to watch the firework display from the comfort of my own apartment (well, not exactly very comfortable given that I had to lean against my kitchen bench the whole 15 minutes). Photos taken from my apartment:

Wednesday, 7th November 2007: Got my internet connected yesterday – yes! Oh, and I had a job interview today with one of the government departments. Don’t think I’ll be going for it because it is a temp role and I’m looking for a permanent position.

6 of us (Michelle, Sandum, Helbert, Elham, TJ and me) went out for dinner at Masala Indian Restaurant on Allen Street. Helbert shouted everyone dinner to celebrate Elham’s and TJ’s birthday. A very nice, posh Indian restaurant that serves nice food (though it was quite odd to hear salsa/jazz music playing in the background but suits me fine!). Mango lassi (sweet yoghurt mix chilled drink), biryani (a variation of fried rice with mixed spices, meat and vegetables), naan…yum! Word of advice – don’t down the whole glass of mango lassi before your meal. I felt full just drinking it...and my main dish is not even served yet! The slight downside to eating here is that it’s costly but it’s worth paying for good food and ambience once and awhile ;)

Friday, 9th November 2007: Shannon, Ruth, Kim and I went to our regular lunch and catch-up place Chow Restaurant on Woodward Street – they’ve changed the menu! Turns out, they use 2 menus throughout the year, one for summer and one for winter. Ruth and Kim were most disappointed that their favourite curry is no available this season. We’ll have to look for a new lunch and catch-up place, ladies! By the way, Chow is a westernised Asian restaurant - western setting and meal presentation but serving Asian meals.

Had interviews yesterday and today – man, I’m so tired of interviews. I keep repeating the same things to the prospective employers because they ask the same questions. I just need a job!

I joined Helbert and flatmates for a BBQ at their place in the evening. Met everyone except for the 8th person Bruce (yes, 8 of them and one toilet - surprisingly no one ever has to queue to use it!). Faizal and Aid are from Saudi Arabia, landlord Johnny from Singapore with his Chinese wife Summer and their lovely (and cheeky) daughter Faredah, and Amir (Johnny’s brother). Very nice people. You know what, I have a feeling that this Friday BBQ will be something we’ll do every Friday this summer… :)

Went to Latinos later to ‘shake off’ all the food I’ve eaten at the BBQ...haha...Roberto’s band, the La Guagua Boys were playing tonight (well, it was made up of most of the other guys from the other bands like Carlos, Miguel etc. – we don’t have many Latin music players in town so the bands are made up of ‘recycled musicians’). $12 for good music and lots of dancing!

Saturday, 10th November 2007: Today, I decided to check out Salsa Therapy’s Ladies Styling Workshop taught by Lily (by the way, Salsa Therapy is Ramnish’s and Lily’s salsa dance school). It was good fun and Ramnish came to join our all-female class in the last 15 minutes. Hehe…

I later caught up with Aunty Daphnne for coffee and ended up spending the rest of my afternoon and dinner at her place. Always good food and laughs with the family – too much food at most times :)

Sunday, 11th November 2007: I had an unexpected phone call from the local Toyota car dealer to drop by their office to test drive a 1.3 litre Toyota Yaris (I went to have a look at a Yaris a week and a bit earlier but they didn’t have one for me to test drive). This little thing sure can zip! I didn’t expect a 1.3 litre car would move this fast though it felt weird being in such a small vehicle after having driven station wagons for the last 1.5 years. Hmm, it’ll be economical to own one but I can’t buy a car without a job (the dealer needed to see proof of my earnings). Oh well, maybe sometime soon…

I went to the Westpac St James Theatre tonight for the Beijing Olympics Family Showcase. It was a concert incorporating singing, solo and group dances in modern and traditional Chinese dance, and Chinese folk music performances. Cost me $15 for the 1.5 hour show.

Thought I saw my friend Sly on my way in…Sylvester aka Sly (he was originally from Singapore but lived in NZ for many years) was sitting at the other end of the grand circle (the grand circle is the seating area at the top level) with his friends. I was being mischievous and texted him asking him to look to his far right where I was seated. Haha, the surprise in his eyes! We managed to have a quick chat via texting before the show started and agreed to catch up during the week.

I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with the show as I was expecting more traditional Beijing performances such as Beijing opera, folk dances etc. – this was a very modernised version of Chinese performances. The dances were less demure (more booty-shakin’) and traditional Chinese instruments were playing latin jazz. Perhaps portraying the Beijing of today?? Oh, and did I mention that the person next to me just wouldn’t stop talking to me? Shhh!!!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Week 1 back in Wellington (29th October - 4th November 2007)

Having been back for a few days now, I’m still getting used to being here. The weather feels rather cold to me (or is it just because I’ve been away in warmer countries the past few months??) – people here must wonder why I’m wearing my ski jacket but it IS cold, even though it’s now the beginning of summer.

I haven’t heard back from the organisations I applied to and beginning to worry. I do need a job pretty fast as money is getting tight and I’ll start having bills to pay once I move into my apartment. Perhaps this is the wrong time of the year to find work? Well, the job market does slow down towards the end of the year. Hopefully find something soon…

Wednesday, 31st October 2007: I got a phone call from Jean (my former manager at SIM) yesterday evening to say that she needs a temp till the end of the year and asked me if I was keen. OF COURSE!! Pillai (my former colleague) was going to India for 2 weeks so I went to ‘learn the ropes’ of his role to help out during the time he goes away. Yay, I’ve got work, at least to help tie me over for the next couple of weeks.

Helbert and I went to see Rush Hour 3 at Reading Cinemas in Courtenay Central today. Chris Tucker looked chubbier this time…hehe…The movie was ok, nothing overly surprising. I’ve seen the first 2 movies so already knew what to expect in this one.

Thursday, 1st November 2007: I had all my stuff packed up ready for my move this evening. At 10am, I went to see my landlord William to get the keys to my apartment and sort out the contract. He’s such a nice guy – he left me some furniture, a TV and cooking utensils knowing I only had 2 bags of my stuff with me at the moment. Thanks so much! And hey, the place looks way better than when I first saw it (the previous tenants were American exchange students and they had a bed in the lounge). Photos of my quite empty apartment:

Back to work and boy were there heaps to learn! Pillai leaves tomorrow for India and I have no clue what I’m doing!! Accounts, even though was one of my majors, wasn’t and still isn’t my first love, which was why I never really continued on in this career path. I’m surprised I even managed to complete a degree in Accounting!

Wow, my apartment is so quiet...and empty…Spent my first night here sleeping on the couch (there was no bed in my room). Oh, but I’m loving it! I can’t wait to furnish the place, making it cosy – a place I can call ‘My Home’. Exciting!!!

Friday, 2nd November 2007: Caught up with Sonja today for coffee to return her house keys to her. Thanks Sonja and flatmates for housing me for the week! Really appreciate it :)

I got my landline connected today and will get internet set up sometime next week. Until then, I’ll have to go to public wireless hotspot areas in town to access internet. At least there's a TV to keep me entertained.

Went to Lonestar on Tory Street with Ramnish and John to meet up with our salsa friends for drinks and nibbles before heading to Salsadrome (tonight was the last Salsadrome for the year). Salsadrome is a salsa event that occurs every fortnight on Fridays at the Wellington Performing Art Centre. You pay a fee of $8 and you can pretty much dance from 7.30pm till 12am to the songs played by the DJ. An introductory salsa class is held around 8.00-8.30pm and the dance floor officially opens for social dancing from 9.30pm. In the studio next door, you could dance tango. Some of us who dance both types of dances would hop in and out of the studios. Occasionally, bachata (a form of music and dance that originated in the countryside and the rural neighborhoods of Dominican Republic) is played next door instead of tango. Bachata is becoming a popular music played in salsa events. I enjoy dancing bachata – it’s sensual, dancing very close to your partner as you sway to the music. I had a good night dancing though there were times when I felt left out and just sat down to watch others dance.

Saturday, 3rd November 2007: This morning was my turn to help Helbert shift his stuff to his new flat (he helped me move my things to my apartment on Thursday night). Quite a nice place in Newtown though I wonder how the flatmates cope sharing the 1 toilet and shower among the 7 of them...

We caught up later in the evening and went to visit Sandum at 217 Taranaki Hostel (where we used to live) for a couple of drinks. Elham (TJ’s girlfriend) was celebrating her 21st birthday and we all headed to Eclipse for drinks and nibbles. Hmm, some of the boys were already tipsy before we even arrived at the bar! Photos from the party:

Helbert and I didn’t stay too long at Elham’s party as we had been invited to Josiane’s costume party, which was also on the same night. I was dressed up as Pebbles from The Flintstones (well, I ‘tried’ to be Pebbles in my sarong and jandals – went shopping in the afternoon and couldn’t find a last-minute costume so raided my cupboard and came up with Pebbles) and Helbert in his vampire costume. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone dressed up (most were vampires), Jo was Snow White, Juliano came in a scuba diving suit (ooo, nice butt…hehe…), and Andrea, Paula and Marcelo looked like they had just walked out from a posh casino! Lots of chit-chat, dancing and drinks – exactly how a Brazilian party should be :)

Sunday, 4th November 2007: Followed Hew (my good friend from uni), Jonathan (Hew's partner) and Edmund (her 4-year-old son) to their church service at The Rock City Church situated at Ngauranga Gorge approximately 20 minutes drive away from Wellington Central. The Rock is very similar to Ah Mike’s church in Perth, with a band playing as the followers sang modern worship songs - nice :)

We went for yum cha (is a tradition on weekend mornings, and whole families gather to chat and eat dim sum and drink Chinese tea) at Regal Chinese Restaurant after the church service and Jonathan’s younger sister, Kymberly, joined us for lunch. Wow, the place was packed! If you ever plan to have brunch here during the weekends, you had better make a booking. Even though we had booked a table, we still had to wait for about half an hour before we got seated! The yum char here is really good so I guess waiting a bit longer for good food is worthwhile…hehe…I suggest coming here in a big group so you and your family/friends can try out the various savouries and sweet stuff served. And for the adventurous, perhaps try out 'feng zhao' (these are chicken feet, deep fried, boiled, marinated in a black bean sauce and then steamed) - they are nice, really! And you musn't forget to have an egg tart to complete your yum cha session.

After lunch, I went to meet up with Marcos (who was having lunch with Helbert) at Courtenay Central and had coffee with the boys. I haven’t seen Marcos since I left for my trip – it was lovely to see him again and happy to hear of his promotion at work. Congratulations!

Helbert and I went to see Game Plan (Marcos had other plans so didn’t join us) – heart-warming movie that touched me and made me cry in some parts. One of those Disney family movies with The Rock (this is the actor, not the church) in the lead role.

Sigh, tomorrow's Monday and it would be a busy (and crazy) day at work with Pillai not around…