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So l get on the train and get the first free seat on a bench for four.   Three people immediately filled the space but the fourth member of that family proceeds to squeeze into the non- existent space. He is not a little kid or dwarf but a strapping 6ft adult.   Thus mama g who though a petite size 10 is squashed flat onto the glass panel of at the end ! WTF!   Utter idocy or ultra self-centredness?! 

The old me would have given them a mouthful but since l want to be a more chilled version l remind them t!hat there is a person at the end! Be so kind as to not flatten me as I am rather fat. l think they got the message and my blood pressure did not go up.

You see what Mama G has to put up with. Do l have to educate the whole of HK, neighbours, kids, parents and now commuters.




Chicken or egg

Have lost two pupils recently because I am not God and can’t perform miracles.  All the parents want me to do is drill and get them ready for exams and preferably gain higher marks.  That is all they care about and that is my sole function.  Every time they put the all too familiar textbooks and workbooks on the table I don’t know who is groaning inside more the kid or I.  To be honest I am sick of seeing those books, the contents are mind numbingly boring and the kid knows most of it already.  She is smart, she has been taught it at school already and mastered whatever there is to, so really there is no point going over it again and again.  Yet that is what I am being paid for and I need to play the game or I will have no pupils left and thus no income.

Another dilemma I am facing is the pupils with a weak foundation in English, especially the older ones, are very impatient for progress.  They are keen to score high in their impending exams and feel that my teaching them basic grammar is a waste of time and irrelevant.  All they need is for me to go through past papers with them like a mock exam, give them tips on how to do well.

What they fail to appreciate, even after my patient and diplomatic explanation is that if they don’t grasp the basics there is no way in hell they can score high marks or even pass.  It is our old friends, reading comprehension, speaking and listening and creative writing.  How can they excel in any of these skills if they can’t use tenses properly or spell?

Yes, Ms. Yau we will not abandon phonics or grammar but for now we need you to concentrate on the coming exam.  Could you please go through this practice paper with him?  And then there is this and this and that.  Thank you very much.

The customer is always right.  I am terrified of losing yet another pupil because progress is not fast enough and the marks of their last examination did not go up an iota.  I am not sure I can stand the pressure or the uncertainty.  It is an unstable income anyway, as if the kid or I fall ill, then obviously there is no dosh or if they have an extracurricular activity that day or a short trip or granny comes to town …  The possibilities for me to have loss of earnings are countless.

I wonder if I should go and find a steady job, like do supply teaching except that would interfere with the tuition work which I took a long time to establish and enjoy though this obsession with exams is getting to me a bit.

Having a bad cold and sore throat doesn’t help.  Makes me less resilient against scary negative thoughts.  Ah, tomorrow is another day …

Educating neighbours

Have spent most of my adult life teaching secondary and primary kids in England and HK.  I didn’t think that I would need to ‘educate’ the neighbours here too.  A sense of the common good or keeping our environment clean and tidy doesn’t seem to feature high in their priorities.  I put a polite note up requesting just that as this is our home.  They must have thought I was a joke or crazy.  I was preaching to the converted and a bilingual reminder wasn’t going to touch the hearts of the litterbugs.  I thought I’d set a good example and swept the path and picked up rubbish on the grassy slope but less than a day and it reverted to its original mess.  The note would just be a sore reminder of what a fool I am so I took it down.

Then a lady with a son and older husband who lives in one of those bedsits opposite collects aluminimum cans for cents.  That is fine but the other day I saw her breaking open the rubbish bags from the communal bin, pocketing the find and just leaving the whole mess on the ground!  Not only would it attract vermin and be a health risk but the lack of consideration was astounding.  I was tempted to ask her to clean up her mess but thought better of it.  I’m already seen as Public Enemy Number One by the ignorant dog owner when I stood my ground and so I don’t want to acquire a reputation as a busybody.  And it is not my job to educate her, she is a grown up and she should know better than to set such a bad example to her seven year old who was next to her.

Living in HK has taught me to mind my own business and not to perform thankless kind deeds that will be misinterpreted by the uneducated.  It will only backfire.  Now I understand why the locals just focus on themselves and their loved ones and function in their own little bubble.  It is for self protection and of course they work such long hours and are so exhausted that they barely have enough energy tor themselves.

Then there is the irritating son of the dogowner who has taken to chucking my dog bowls down the hill as revenge for calling the police on his mother.  I could go complain but she’ll just start screaming and I don’t want the kid to be beaten up again.  Since my return I have heard him screaming twice, yes, screaming and she is shouting at the top of her voice about some minor misdeed.  I don’t care what he has done but you don’t hit a 7 year old and you certainly don’t hurt him so bad that he is screaming with pain.  Twice I have been on the verge of wanting to intervene but she’ll just tell me to mind my own business, it is her son not mine and I don’t want to cause more trouble for myself.  A part of me is wary of her, I think she is unhinged and if she loses it she could be very violent and vicious.  And there is the worry that if I do interfere she will beat the kid harder and take it out on him.  I may start to note how frequently this occurs and record the screams, so if it escalates or happens more and more and I decide to report her for child abuse, I’ll have solid proof.  But of course this is the very last resort because after that I would have to move.  The kid won’t thank me and neither will the rest of the village. 

Why is it so hard to do the ‘right’ thing in this world?

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