Ms Chocaholic with lots of opinions and an attitude

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The answer is 42

So while I was busy breaking my leg, it meant I didnt pay tribute properly to the brilliant Douglas Adams. But then again, unlikely I would have carried a towel around all day :) This year I just decided to wrap one around my left foot semi-permanently instead!

Fans of DNA (Douglas Adams as he is referred to by many) will talk about how the books changed their lives. I wouldnt claim to be such an avid fan, but have to admit over the years I find myself borrowing his words a fair bit. Even if to only use some of his book titles, but why not! Who amongst us has never thought of and pondered questions such as 'Life, the Universe and Everything', and who amongst us had not had the occasion to say to people in their lives: 'Thanks for all the Fish'.

Many will also have lots to say about his brilliance as a scientist - so much so that there is a book dedicated to mathematical reasons why DNA might have chosen '42' as the ultimate answer to 'life, the universe and everything'. I wont even pretend to understand any of that talk about using what base of mathematical number to arrive at why 6 times 9 is not 54 :)

In fact, not having grown up in the UK or knowing about western literary work, I had no idea of who Doug Adams was until a couple of years after his death! The very first book I read by him was actually his last book 'Salmon of Doubt'. Interestingly, the book is a collection of all his otherwise unpublished articles - recent ones, but also going back to the days when he was still a high school boy. His talent and clever wit shone through already since then. I think I finished reading the book in 2 days (a record at that stage in my life..with all the other work pressures).

After that book, I was on a quest. A quest to read the unconventional '5-book-trilogy' (If it were normal Hollywood movie, that would have been the sequel after sequel that just refuse to go away - but in the case of the Hitchhiker, no complaints :)

Analyse it, dont analyse it - whatever works for you. But if you need a bit of humour in your life, do read the books. If nothing else, there will be something on every couple of page that should make you smile :)

Exactly 10 years after his death, and he is still remembered with fondness by so many around the world. Me included.

So, 'thanks for all the fish' Douglas!

ps. ohh and all you new gen iphone, ipad, ipod lovers - DNA was a big big Mac fan, so there you go ;)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The bright side....

I keep getting told people are visual creatures (men more so than women?)
so here are some visuals :)

The first is care package compliments of Khun Stephane

The second? care package compliments of the doctor (ofcourse at a very hefty fee!)

and of course the package compliments to my own addiction :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

I did say

I'm sure I've said this to a few friends at different times: I don't worry about dying from a chocolate overdose I'm more concerned about my clumsiness!! Rightly so

In the last few weeks alone I've had a number of misses and minor accidents - a couple of falls around town while with my friend A, then fell down the stairs at home luckily managed to catch myself in time and only a somewhat sprained wrist that healed quickly enough.

But I suppose one cant escape what was bound to happen? Last week just after a visit to my physio, calmly walking on the footpath, deciding whether to jump in a cab or to go round the corner for some food, I suddenly twisted my foot. Felt this excruciating pain, like really awful pain and thought 'I'm in trouble'. Stood still holding my left foot for a minute or so, then tried to stand on it. Was bearable so maybe things aren't too bad. Went about business as usual for the rest of the afternoon. A slight bother in the foot, but again nothing overt the top well until I sat down and tried to get up again. The foot started to hurt, initially a little more than it had all afternoon, but then within less than a minute I could no longer out weight on my left foot and was soon limping.

So straight I go to the hospital. The doc orders an X ray, looks at it - good news: no broken bone. Bad news: 2 pulled tendons that means you won't be able to walk without being in constant pain. So I'm going to put that leg in a cast for at least a week. So that was that. Took all of 30 minutes and I now have this ugly white solid leg along with an even uglier slipper to go under the cast to contend with.

Of course I try not to mention the pain. My theory: maybe if you ignore it long enough it might just go away :p but nah on a serious note, got a couple of strong pain killers to help me cope.

The bright side: (there's always a bright side!) I can now seek attention. So far managed to get that already from my future boss :), from my friend Stephane who brought some books, AND a large supply of all sorts of chocolates. Then there is P Na who sends me meals everyday! Thank you! I will soon be fat from inactivity combined with too much food and chocolates :)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Women's rights, inspirations and good editing

how are these 3 items linked together my fans must be wondering

there is no logical connection, but rather a reflection of the random thoughts that run through my head and my weird way of joining the dotted lines :)

Today is international women's day. Sure, its not any different to another day, and we should all recognise the rights and appreciate what women contribute to society everyday, not just on some dedicated day once a year. But its a good occasion to highlight the achievements, the plight, the discrimination, the challenges that women face.

There was a time when I used to write opinion pieces, and what became annual pieces looking at women's rights and the progress made. Every now and then we get asked who are the women / woman that inspire us. If I had to think of a 'celeb' woman that inspires me, I would say its Mary Robinson.

I once had the opportunity to listen to her deliver a speech at a conference, and had a brief exchange with her after her speech. She talked about property rights being a key factor in ensuring true empowerment, and fundamental to human rights. She shared her experience working with women in Africa on entrepreneurial initiatives, and how private property rights, or the lack thereof, affected the success of the efforts. At the time I was working on promoting economic freedom and human rights - two things I strongly believe in. Strangely enough, most that work on human rights issues seem to have a strong view against economic freedom.

So having the biggest human rights advocate such as Mary Robinson tell an entire conference room how crucial it was that economic freedom is needed alongside human rights made me feel like I was no longer alone :) sounds dramatic perhaps, but that is truly how I felt - that the pleasant people around me would almost turn hostile when they read my business card that said "Regional Manager, Human Rights AND Economic Freedom'. Expressions changed when they saw/heard the latter part of my title :)

Ms. Robinson put in much more eloquent terms what I had tried to persuade my fellow human rights advocates to listen to. I remember writing a piece on the issue, quoting Ms. Robinson in more precise terms. The article was edited, and the unfortunate part is that the exact quote from Ms. Robinson was removed. I wish I still have my original version, since my memory is not too good anymore. And the odds of having another chance to exchange a few words with Mary Robinson? sighhhh only wishful thinking :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Violence in Egypt

I know all of you have been reading and following the news on the protest against Mobarak's rule in Egypt in the past 10 days. I cant claim to have any knowledge or understanding of the situation, and have basically read and watched news in the media just like most have. Including this interview of my former colleague, Dr. Ronald Meinardus, who is now based in Cairo.,,14805222,00.html

However, there is something more I want to share. It is not any indepth analysis of the situation. It may not have the same professional feel as the article written by Dr. Meinardus above, but it is an account given by a friend who lives in Alexandria. He disappeared off all channels of communication for a few days, and when he finally had mobile phone and internet access again, he sent us the following glimpse of what he observed/experienced:

I lost some friends (they were shot by criminals).
I lost my work, the buildings was burned.
I lost my car (I saw somebody driving it on TV)

The story is very strange, the situation in Egypt is dramatically changing every 30 minutes. It is unpredictable.
Very important do not believe the media specially "El Jazirah" it is NOT neutral at all.

Do not believe any party now, there are NO facts. only assumptions or unscientific conclusions.
I will tell you things that i witnessed myself (i am walking on the streets to collect information so i may understand what is happening):

1- Most of the police stations were burned at the same time.
2- Many police men were inside the police stations when it was burned.
3- Many historical places were attacked at the same time.
4- Many museums were stolen at the same time.
5- Many prisons were attacked at the same time.
6- Most of the protesters who were in Tahrir square yesterday are
( Highly educated - High economic class - employed - some of them hold more than one nationality) this means that they are not representing the majority of the Egyptians who are - according to the UN, USA and Egyptian authorities- : more than 60% cannot read or write- 20% are unemployed - more than 50% under the poverty line)
7- the supporters of the president who stated their campaign today are tooooooooo many and most of them ( low education or no education - poor or low income - workers or farmers (majority of the Egyptian) -

..... but what i see now makes me confused. i need more information to understand.

I am just glad to hear from him and to know that he is safe. I hope things stay relatively calm and no more innocents are hurt.

Floods and cyclones strikes Queensland

It was not that long ago when I posted about my personal experience with flash flooding in Pattani. So when I heard about how parts of Queensland had been hit by floods, I could imagine the difficulties people there are going through. People had to leave homes and their properties, some got injured, others lost their lives. A truly painful experience. Dealing with the aftermath is far from an easy task too.

The floods were so bad that even Brisbane CBD had to be evacuated. This is what it looked like after the floods:

While the federal government together with state government is still trying to deal with re-building infrastructure and helping victims, there is already more bad news on the way.

Around the weekend there had been warning of 2 possible cyclones likely to hit Queensland. On 1st Feb it hit northern Queensland, and I hear reports of wind velocity of about 200kms per hour. THAT would be one scary storm. When we had the floods in Pattani, with roofs of homes blown away, the wind was at about 50kms an hour. And I thought that was already scary, and was strong enough to almost blow me away.

Here are some pics of what cyclone Yasi did to the region:

The Federal Government had proposed a flood levy on all those earning more than $50,000 per year already when the floods stuck. I wonder how much they are going to try to raise in tax revenue to deal with the impact of the cyclone. DOnt get me wrong - Im not opposed to helping those who have been affected, or re-building infrastructure. I just believe the government need to have been more efficient with its budget management. Instead it sqaundered away the tax surplus and has now been running on a budget deficit. They then use a natural calamity as an opportunity to raise income tax - no matter what kind of levy you call it, it IS essentially a tax.

Had some discussions on the matter with a friend via facebook exchange, might see if any of those points are worth repeating here. If so, will update this post

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Flash floods in Pattani, 1 Nov 2010

I had so much to say but things got so busy dealing with the aftermath of the flooding that it has now become old news.

However, I will try to recall the experience from the night. While it was not tsunami level ferocious flooding, it was still frightening enough for me.

water levels rose quickly - from one minute seeing heavy rain, to the next seeing water had reached up to more than half the car tires, and the next you try opening the door and water was rushing into a high pick up truck. then you get out walking on the road and feel like you are being swept away, both by the winds AND the water. and so is your 6foot tall, big built brother. and when you stand still you almost start to freeze by how cold the water is.

water receeded quick enough, but damage has already been caused. trees uprooted, building roofs blown away, damaged goods and furnitures. people rushing to stock up on food over the next few days. everyone trying to clean up, and at the same time move things to higher grounds, constructing dams around their houses, etc etc

many other towns and cities around Thailand were affected by floods this year. Pattani was not the worse hit. However what got me peeved were a couple of things
1. absolutely no warning from the provincial administration. Hat Yai had their warning. People had time to make some attempt to safeguard their property and lives. Also, very likely the flood could have been mitigated if they had taken care of the drainage system and made preparations ahead of time. Couple of days AFTER the flooding, the provincial administration sent out teams to clean up canals around town.
2. In many places around the world, Thailand included, one often sees the military is mobilised to assist during natural disasters. I saw a lot on the news how the military helped people during and after such calamities, including places such as Hat Yai. Granted Hat Yai was worse affected than Pattani, but I have to say I was still surprised that I did not see any military personnel in Pattani during the disaster that struck in Pattani. Keep in mind that over the past 6 years, and the last 2 in particular, Pattani has had a large contingent of military personnel stationed here. Many camps all over town, including inside school grounds. But none to be seen after the floods. Well, until about 10 days later when the Prime Minister visited a village that was still flooded :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

being a tourist in Indonesia

after the hectic days of working on the Freedom Festival Indonesia, I decided I have earned a break. So I took off and went on a bit of a (tiny) tour of Indonesia.

Starting in the Batik town of Pekalongan, where Mom was able to buy a fair bit of batik in just a couple of days. We even managed to have a nice seafood lunch by the beach :)
(ohhh we took the train to get from Jakarta to Pekalongan. I think my expectations of Indonesian train might have been somewhat high.....but I kept hearing of how 'good' it is!)

From Pekalongan, we travelled by road to Borobudur. We stayed at the famous Manohara Hotel, on the grounds of the temple. Full compliments to the hotel for their very high level service. I was recommended the hotel by Rainer. Read quite a few not so positive reviews on the internet. Glad I decided to ignore those reviews and took Rainer's advice. the place is a true delight.
Borobudur itself was nice enough. I wasnt 'wowed' by it though. The view from the top of the temple was great of course.

From Borobudur, we hired a taxi to Yogyakarta. It is much bigger than I anticipated, with lots and lots of tourists. Marlioboro street reminded me of Khao Sarn Road. Just a longer strip. We did check out a lot of the batik shops - from the bigger ones to the smaller cheap style places. There was so many different styles, designs and a vast variety of colours. I resisted and didnt buy too much, except for some small pieces. Mom bought a bit more for samples. We also took the commuter train to Solo. Another batik-capital of Indonesia. didnt quite manage to go out to the smaller villages that make the batik. Running out of time. We decided to spend our last evening in Yogya at the Hindu temple, Prambanan. We were lucky enough to catch the outdoor Ramayana, classical ballet performance. Great performance, set against the background of the beautiful temple on the other side of the river bank. It helped that we know the story of Ramayana, and hence could follow the story of the performance.
[as an aside - many places I went to, they offered to give me student discounts for entry into sites. too bad I dont have a student card :) ]

A short but sweet trip ended far too quickly. However, what followed was not as sweet. A couple days after we flew back to Jakarta, Mount Merapi, not far from Yogya, erupted. We infact considered going there one evening to observe the active volcano. Little did we imagine that only a couple of days later, it would have turned into a disaster zone, causing much destruction.

PS. Speaking of disaster - there seems to be plenty these days. I started this post more than a week ago. Since then, I have left Indonesia, spent a day in Penang, catching up with my friend Nee, then made my way home to south Thailand. Only a couple of days later most of south Thailand, including my hometown, was hit with flash floods, causing lots of damage. I report about this in a separate post.